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Theory on Grandmaester Pycelle


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#1 Syphon the Sanitator

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 11:40 AM

I also posted this on another site, but I wanted to give this theory a spin on this forum too, since this site if purely for the enjoyment of a Song of Ice and Fire.

So I've been thinking...

Pycelle's obviously not dumb, or else he would not have been a Grandmaester. It is also likely that he was involved with the birth of Cersei's children, being a maester and all. But something bothers me:

Why would he counsel Aerys to open the gates? Why did Pycelle never blab to anybody about Robert's alleged children? Why did he brownnose Cersei, but not Robert?

I'm starting to think it is because

Pycelle is a Lannister or from one of the bannermen of Casterly Rock.

It's the only reason I can think of why everything Pycelle did or neglected to do aided the Lannisters.

#2 FittleLinger

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 11:44 AM

I also posted this on another site, but I wanted to give this theory a spin on this forum too, since this site if purely for the enjoyment of a Song of Ice and Fire.

So I've been thinking...

Pycelle's obviously not dumb, or else he would not have been a Grandmaester. It is also likely that he was involved with the birth of Cersei's children, being a maester and all. But something bothers me:

Why would he counsel Aerys to open the gates? Why did Pycelle never blab to anybody about Robert's alleged children? Why did he brownnose Cersei, but not Robert?

I'm starting to think it is because

Pycelle is a Lannister or from one of the bannermen of Casterly Rock.

It's the only reason I can think of why everything Pycelle did or neglected to do aided the Lannisters.


To be one's pawn you don't necessarily have to be a member of their family...

#3 TalalOfDorne

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 11:46 AM

Pycelle is a Lannister or from one of the bannermen of Casterly Rock.

It's the only reason I can think of why everything Pycelle did or neglected to do aided the Lannisters.


Pycelle is obviously a Lannister loyalist. I always thought that if he was as you say a Lannister or a Lannister bannerman, then I think it would have been mentioned at least in one of the Lannnisters chapters.

Pycelles loyalty to the Lannisters intrigues me. Its one of the things I really want to know about in the future books.

#4 mattah84

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 11:49 AM

Pycelle was always Tywin Lannister's man. Varys on the other hand is probably a Faceless Man or a Blackfyre.

Varys counseled Aerys to keep the gates closed, while Pycelle instructed Aerys to open the gates for Tywin.

Pycelle probably knew that Tywin and Aerys hated each other, and Varys probably knew it to. This explains why they both counseled him the way that they did.

#5 Syphon the Sanitator

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 11:51 AM

Pycelle is obviously a Lannister loyalist. I always thought that if he was as you say a Lannister or a Lannister bannerman, then I think it would have been mentioned at least in one of the Lannnisters chapters.

Pycelles loyalty to the Lannisters intrigues me. Its one of the things I really want to know about in the future books.


True, but there is one thing you need to keep in mind. The appendices in the back of the books are altered per book.
All the info we have so far is that Pycelle is simply a brownnoser with a penchant for the Lannisters, so any entry on him will simply show him as part of the Small Council.


Pycelle was always Tywin Lannister's man. Varys on the other hand is probably a Faceless Man or a Blackfyre.

Varys counseled Aerys to keep the gates closed, while Pycelle instructed Aerys to open the gates for Tywin.

Pycelle probably knew that Tywin and Aerys hated each other, and Varys probably knew it to. This explains why they both counseled him the way that they did.


I disagree with your assesment that Varys is a Blackfyre. If that were the case, he would not be making common cause with Illyrio Mopatis in the assistance of Daenerys. That leads me to believe (as I have thought for some time) that Varys is some sort of Targaryen or perhaps one of their old allies. I think that the Faceless Man theory is correct, but I won't go into that here because this is not the place /tongue.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':P' /> We were talking about Pycelle.

Edited by Syphon the Sanitator, 10 April 2013 - 11:54 AM.


#6 Manderlay

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 11:57 AM

Pycelle had always been a creature of Tywin Lannister since he became hand in Mad King Aerys reign, he was later replaced yes but there never was or possibly has been a better Hand of the King than Tywin Lannister, I am not saying he is a good man but sometimes bad men make good rulers, Pycelle IMO thought that Tywin would be the best man to rule the seven kindoms so he was loyal to him and he never considered that Tywin is a man to loose.

#7 The Sullen Sellsword

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 12:00 PM

I agree that the reason behind Pycelle's die-hard allegiance to the Lannisters is pretty intriguing.

I doubt we'll ever get an answer though, which is a shame, I rather liked Pycelle.

#8 Groat

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 12:02 PM

Pycelle had always been a creature of Tywin Lannister since he became hand in Mad King Aerys reign, he was later replaced yes but there never was or possibly has been a better Hand of the King than Tywin Lannister, I am not saying he is a good man but sometimes bad men make good rulers, Pycelle IMO thought that Tywin would be the best man to rule the seven kindoms so he was loyal to him and he never considered that Tywin is a man to loose.


/agree.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':agree:' />

In fact I seem to remember a quote at least hinting that Pycelle's loyalty stems from his respect for Tywin as a ruler. And as Ser Iln Payne once said, it was really Tywin who ruled the 7 kingdoms.

#9 Syphon the Sanitator

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 12:08 PM

True, an entry on Pycelle I found that he admires Tywin. But certainly someone who has knowledge of bloodlines and access to information on the subject would abhor incest, even if it were from his shining example?

#10 Aelos

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 12:13 PM

This has nothing to do with loyalty, but with the Goldmine in Casterly Rock.
Pycelle knows Robert had no gold, but Tywin had lots and lots. Surely he's getting something in return for his spying.

Though, now that I think of it...he lives in small chamber within the castle.. dons old robes and fucks kitchen wenches instead of Littlefinger's women. Why would he need gold?

#11 Runaway Penguin

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 12:13 PM

I disagree with your assesment that Varys is a Blackfyre. If that were the case, he would not be making common cause with Illyrio Mopatis in the assistance of Daenerys. That leads me to believe (as I have thought for some time) that Varys is some sort of Targaryen or perhaps one of their old allies. I think that the Faceless Man theory is correct, but I won't go into that here because this is not the place /tongue.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':P' /> We were talking about Pycelle.


Varys is in it with Mopatis. Dany was a decoy - if she gets killed, well, as long as she drags attention of Usurper and everyone else...

This obviously changed when she hatched, but they didn't expect it.

#12 Groat

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 12:14 PM

True, an entry on Pycelle I found that he admires Tywin. But certainly someone who has knowledge of bloodlines and access to information on the subject would abhor incest, even if it were from his shining example?


He's Tywins man, through and through, and if that means serving his horrific daughter then so be it. Plus, after Tywin dies there is a lot of friction between Cersei and Pycelle. Though mostly caused by Cersei, I think when Tywin dies Pycelle may start questioning the integrity of the remaining Lannisters.

#13 DarkSnow

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 12:19 PM

he has a man crush on Tywin.

#14 Penguin king

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 12:56 PM

Good topic. I was thinking about this subject just the other day.

Pycelles motivations are something of a mystery. We know he serves the Lannsiters, but we really have no idea why. I've got a few theories though.

1) As the op suggests, Pycelle was a Lannister by birth or came from a prominent Westerland family. This is very possible. Maesters give up their family names when they finish their training, and Pycelle has been a maester for a long time. I doubt many know who he was originally

2) Tywin was bribing Pycelle for his services. We know that Tywin has plenty of cash to throw around, so this is plausible. Pycelle seems to live a rather spartan life though. If he's being paid in gold then its hard to see where that gold is going. Maybe he has family somewhere that are benifiting from the money

3) Blackmail. Pycelle was clearly not as virtuous as he liked to pretend. It's possible that tywin had evidence of Pycelles more immoral activites, and was using it to secure the Grand Maester's service. Pycelle knew a lot about what the Lannisters were up to as well though, which would have given him leverage against Tywin so maybe this one's not so plausible

4) Personal loyalty to Tywin. It might be that Pycelle built up personal admeration of Tywin during his time as hand, and wanted to continue serving the Lannsiters dispite Tywin's absence from king's landing.

5) Tywin was threating either Pycelle's life or his position as grand maester. Tywin's not above making such threats to get what he wants. Certainly the Lannisters were feared enough to drive Stannis out of kingslanding. it's possible that Pycelle only served the Tywin because he was too scared to disobey.

6) Pycelle was secretly working for another power, or for his own ends, and making the Lannisters think he was theirs was part of a greater plan. Not much evidence to support this, but I figure it's worth mentioning.


Not sure which theory is most convincing, there's not a lot of evidence either way. The secret Lannister theory is probably the most interesting though.

#15 PrimeRhaegar

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 12:57 PM

just was a big tywin fan boy

#16 Knight Of Winter

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 01:11 PM

I have nothing but contempt and distaste for Pycelle. He just seemed to me as a smug jerk willing to sacrifice everything in the world in order to benefit the Lannisters. Some instances that manage to stand out are him bedding his young servant (well, he's either 80 year old Casanova or he somehow abused his position of power over her - and I somehow think latter is much likelier), and him saying that "Joffrey was the sweetest child that ever walked the face of earth" (or something similar) on Tyrion's trial. If I find time, I'll write a rant about him someday.

About his motivation - I think these two are the most likely options: either he's a Westerner, or he feels great personal loyalty to Lannisters and particulary Tywin.

1) As the op suggests, Pycelle was a Lannister by birth or came from a prominent Westerland family. This is very possible. Maesters give up their family names when they finish their training, and Pycelle has been a maester for a long time. I doubt many know who he was originally
4) Personal loyalty to Tywin. It might be that Pycelle built up personal admeration of Tywin during his time as hand, and wanted to continue serving the Lannsiters dispite Tywin's absence from king's landing.


Edited by Knight Of Winter, 10 April 2013 - 01:12 PM.


#17 Groat

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 01:17 PM

I have nothing but contempt and distaste for Pycelle. He just seemed to me as a smug jerk willing to sacrifice everything in the world in order to benefit the Lannisters. Some instances that manage to stand out are him bedding his young servant (well, he's either 80 year old Casanova or he somehow abused his position of power over her - and I somehow think latter is much likelier), and him saying that "Joffrey was the sweetest child that ever walked the face of earth" (or something similar) on Tyrion's trial. If I find time, I'll write a rant about him someday.


I love how everyone comments on how amazing his beard is/was and how cruel it was of Tyrion to chop it off. It's like his beard was his best quality. Also claming Sansa has traitor's blood and lieing about Margery getting the moon tea are a few more examples of Pycelle being a giant douche. I really liked it in the show when Tyrion wakes up and Pycelle is literally gloating over Tyrion because Tywin is back. The guy is the worst kind of lackey.

#18 Lord Illidan Stormrage

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 01:27 PM

Pycelle is not loyal to house Lannister - he is loyal to the people who he thinks are best for the realm. He served with Tywin for 20 years and obviously worshiped him and so tried to help him. When Tywin died and Cersei ruled like a complete moron Pycelle abandoned her - she is a bad ruler and he does not support her in favour of the Tyrells who are the better choice - when Kevan is named hand and so the Lannisters are again the best rulers in kings landing he supports Kevan. I disliked Pycelle at first but now i believe that from all the small counsils he is the one member who truly wants to serve the realm.

#19 Toos

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 01:34 PM

i believe that from all the small counsils he is the one member who truly wants to serve the realm.

It's funny when you remember that he helped kill Jon Arryn.

#20 Lady Arya's Song

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 01:35 PM

There is an interesting point to be made. It was Tywin who sent Tyrion to be his hand for him. Pycelle was scheming with Cersei and Tryion caught him at it...or set him up. Pycelle was not working for Tywin then, as Tywin specifically told Tyrion to thwart the damage Joffrey and Cersei were making. Pycelle was supporting Cersei against Tyrion. That is not being loyal to Tywin.
Martin uses adjectives in his description of Pycelle that evoke images of snakes. I noticed that on my reread. It is only much later after Tywin's death when Cersei is making a complete hash of things and Pycelle is falling out of favor with her that he starts aligning himself with Kevin Lannister.