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Stannis's Decision to have Renly killed (long post).


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#1 Lady Nastja

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Posted 11 August 2013 - 08:57 AM

I’ve been on the forums for a while now, and I’ve noticed that Stannis seems to receive an awful lot of hate for one particular act: Renly’s death.

As we all know, when the two brothers met on the field before their oncoming battle, Stannis offered Renly terms of peace:

“I am not without mercy,” thundered he who was notoriously without mercy. “Nor do I wish to sully Lightbringer with a brother’s blood. For the sake of the mother who bore us both, I will give you this night to rethink your folly, Renly. Strike your banners and come to me before dawn, and I will grant you Storm’s End and your old seat on the council and even name you my heir until a son is born to me. Otherwise, I shall destroy you.”


IMO, these were very generous terms. Renly knew that Stannis came before himself in the line of succession, but he thought that because he was dashing and charming (though ultimately a naive boy) that this would excuse the fact that he was usurping his brother's throne. For Stannis to offer these terms at all is incredibly gracious of him.

Now, as we all know, Renly declined and so it was not long before he was dead. But this topic is not about the terms that Stannis offered and whether or not Renly should have accepted, but about why Stannis having Renly killed isn't a reason for readers to hate him (Stannis).


1. Renly was set to die either way. He had the largest army (IIRC), he was the most loved by the people, and he was close to taking the Throne. It was all set up too perfectly, he just had to die. Now, had Tywin or another character killed him in battle, it would have made for a good scene but not a particularly interesting one. In a way, Stannis being the one responsible for his death was far more interesting, surprising and it helped to build up the plot and Stannis’ character/story arc. Let’s not forget, Renly’s death also added a great deal to the character and plots of Loras and Brienne too.


2. Stannis killing Renly wasn’t a particularly horrific event. Now, that doesn’t mean that I’m condoning fratricide because I’m not. It’s not an acceptable act. But given what we know of ASoIaF and the world it’s based in, fratricide isn’t as big a scandal as it would be today. There are issues in ASoIaF that are equally “questionable”; incest, cannibalism, racism, slavery, rape…the list goes on. With all these issues featured in ASoIaF, why does fratricide stand out more than the others? Honestly, I just think it added more to the story.

3. Having Renly killed was a good plot move, not necessarily for the story itself, but for Stannis. It showed the readers that Stannis put justice and order above all, and anyone who challenged that would pay, blood or no. Renly was his brother, but to Stannis was also a traitor and a usurper and for Stannis, it needed to be done.
Of course, Renly’s death eventually backfired on Stannis but that’s not the point made here. The point is that Stannis having Renly killed wasn’t at all as despicable as it seemed, it was the norm for ASoIaF.

4. Given that Tommen, Myrcella and Joffrey are all bastards born of incest, Stannis is the rightful King and given that Renly was in open rebellion, even after being offered generous terms, Stannis had every right to sanction his death.

I might be alone here, but I’d like to hear the views of others on the matter. Do you judge Stannis harshly for his decision, or do you understand it?

Edited by Lady Nastja, 11 August 2013 - 09:19 AM.


#2 Ephicross

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Posted 11 August 2013 - 09:03 AM

Stannis did what he was supposed to do. The throne wasn't Renly's to take, nor does he have the stomach to keep it.

You're right about him being built up too perfectly. He was easy to care for, but harder to support... much like Robb.

Edited by Ephicross, 11 August 2013 - 09:04 AM.


#3 Morienthar

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Posted 11 August 2013 - 09:05 AM

2. Stannis killing Renly wasn’t a particularly horrific event. Now, that doesn’t mean that I’m condoning fratricide because I’m not. It’s not an acceptable act. But given what we know of ASoIaF and the world it’s based in, fratricide isn’t as big a scandal as it would be today. There are issues in ASoIaF that are equally “questionable”; incest, cannibalism, racism, slavery, rape…the list goes on. With all these issues featured in ASoIaF, why does fratricide stand out more than the others? Honestly, I just think it added more to the story.

Small problem,is it isn't acceptable in the ASoIaF world either,The Kinslayer is accursed,It's second on the list of total no no's after Breaking Guest right.

#4 Ser Luke.

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Posted 11 August 2013 - 09:09 AM

I love Stannis, but I can't defend him here. This was the worst decision he ever made, whether he did so unconsciously or not. I really wish Renly had just accepted Stannis' terms, because you're right, they were generous, especially for Stannis. But, Renly had to be cocky, which obviously turned out to be the death of him.

#5 Kienn

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Posted 11 August 2013 - 09:11 AM

1/2) Being good for the plot doesn't make it less despicable for Stannis to do...

2/3) Renly was kin, and kinslaying is mentioned as a curse-worthy act repeatedly. I'd say it's also a bigger deal than it would be today. Nowadays all those things you mentioned are pretty similar in punishment - a long time in prison, murdering a brother is the same as murdering anyone else. In Westeros where murder is more common kinslaying is raised higher in the list of despicable acts.

#6 The Red Melli

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Posted 11 August 2013 - 09:13 AM

People get on Stannis' back way to much for the death of Renly, it's so unfair.
He didn't even really understand what happened, though I think that it did begin to dawn on him afterwards.
Also, Renly was a complete and utter traitor, Stannis even offered to make him his heir and he turned that down because he's such a greedy git.
Lastly, the king is allowed to sanction the deaths of traitors, is he not? When justice can't be done with brute force it has to be done in other ways.

#7 Lady Nastja

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Posted 11 August 2013 - 09:13 AM

Small problem,is it isn't acceptable in the ASoIaF world either,The Kinslayer is accursed,It's second on the list of total no no's after Breaking Guest right.

I know that it isn't acceptable by the characters of ASoIaF, but my point was that the readers have come to accept this kind of thing from the series itself.

I love Stannis, but I can't defend him here. This was the worst decision he ever made, whether he did so unconsciously or not. I really wish Renly had just accepted Stannis' terms, because you're right, they were generous, especially for Stannis. But, Renly had to be cocky, which obviously turned out to be the death of him.

I agree with you concerning the terms, but knowing Renly, he never would have accepted them. I know it wasn't a very good decision of Stannis, but I don't think that he should receive as much judgement for it by readers as he does. By characters in the book, yes. By readers? Not really.

#8 Lady Nastja

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Posted 11 August 2013 - 09:15 AM

1/2) Being good for the plot doesn't make it less despicable for Stannis to do...

2/3) Renly was kin, and kinslaying is mentioned as a curse-worthy act repeatedly. I'd say it's also a bigger deal than it would be today. Nowadays all those things you mentioned are pretty similar in punishment - a long time in prison, murdering a brother is the same as murdering anyone else. In Westeros where murder is more common kinslaying is raised higher in the list of despicable acts.

I'm not saying it was a good thing for Stannis to do. For the plot, yes. For Stannis, no. All I was getting at was that people give him far too much hate for it, when, knowing Stannis' character and the way he thinks and the position that he was in, it shouldn't have been all that shocking to them.

Again, I realise that the character's consider kinslaying one of the most despicable acts there is, but the readers should not have seen it as such because again, these acts are the norm for the series.

#9 Kienn

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Posted 11 August 2013 - 09:16 AM

I don't think that he should receive as much judgement for it by readers as he does. By characters in the book, yes. By readers? Not really.


So essentially you don't want any character analysis by readers at all... sounds boring.

#10 Lady Nastja

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Posted 11 August 2013 - 09:17 AM

People get on Stannis' back way to much for the death of Renly, it's so unfair.
He didn't even really understand what happened, though I think that it did begin to dawn on him afterwards.
Also, Renly was a complete and utter traitor, Stannis even offered to make him his heir and he turned that down because he's such a greedy git.
Lastly, the king is allowed to sanction the deaths of traitors, is he not? When justice can't be done with brute force it has to be done in other ways.

Precisely. I have to say, your last line made the most sense for me.

Stannis, by all rights of the Seven Kingdoms, is the rightful heir to the Throne. Joffrey, Tommen and Myrcella are all bastards born of incest and therefore illegitimate. As King, he gave Renly the option to step down and offered him incredible generous terms and Renly declined.

#11 Asshai

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Posted 11 August 2013 - 09:19 AM

Stannis did what he was supposed to do. The throne wasn't Renly's to take, nor does he have the stomach to keep it.

You're right about him being built up too perfectly. He was easy to care for, but harder to support... much like Robb.


I'm not sure why anyone would really care for Renly though. He was shallow and cocky. He thought that he'd won the war, despite never fighting a battle. Robb on the other hand was someone who you knew had done foolish things, but had also shown himself to be talented and worthy of acclaim. Renly on the other hand thought that being handsome and well dressed qualified him for rule. It didn't.

#12 Lady Nastja

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Posted 11 August 2013 - 09:20 AM

So essentially you don't want any character analysis by readers at all... sounds boring.

I'm not saying that I don't want any character analysis, that's one of the most interesting things about being on the forum. What I'm saying, is that its ridiculous for Stannis to receive more hate for killing a traitor (and given that he is the lawful King, he has every right) then Gregor Clegane does for murdering, what is probably hundreds of innocents and children, and raping more women than I can count.

#13 Morienthar

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Posted 11 August 2013 - 09:25 AM

I know that it isn't acceptable by the characters of ASoIaF, but my point was that the readers have come to accept this kind of thing from the series itself.

Yes,But when you analyze decisions or characters you have to look at them through the view of their worlds morals and not ours.
Which is why most people don't call Darrio or Drogo or half of the other men in westeros pedophiles.

#14 Kienn

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Posted 11 August 2013 - 09:25 AM

its ridiculous for Stannis to receive more hate for killing a traitor (and given that he is the lawful King, he has every right) then Gregor Clegane


If by "more hate" you mean more discussion, it's because everyone(except trolls) agree Gregor is essentially pure evil so he is not discussed. Stannis is discussed more (even you brought up Stannis, not Gregor) so he gets more attention positive and negative.

#15 Mladen

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Posted 11 August 2013 - 09:27 AM

IIRC, Stannis killed Renly while he was asleep, and he wasn;t aware of that at the moment. Like he said toi Davos: I dreamt about it, and I woke up, and my hands were clean. Also, Stannis didn't commit premeditated homicide. He was told Renly was going to die in SE, and that's where he should be going from Dragonstone. Did he after his dream know about what's he done? Yes, but he justified it with clean hands. The person to blame here is Melisandre who commited the murder and who knew how to do it. Stannis was blind in his ignorance until the moment he woke up realizing he had killed his brother. I do not condone what he's done, but there certainly must exist level of understanding for him.

#16 Kolantero

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Posted 11 August 2013 - 09:31 AM

I don't think anyone needs particular reasons to "hate" or "like/love" a character. I would agree that Stannis did nothing wrong by killing Renly in the way he did because:

1) Renly was about to kill him as well

2) Renly has usurped Stannis' claim as well as his armies (Storms' End bannermen). Renly could not possibly have more right to the throne since Stannis was his elder

3) He offered Renly a pardon and he didn't take it

4) Since we are not in Starwars or some similar universe, shadow babies aren't evil just because they are shadowy and can target people for killing. In fact many lives were saved that day (those who would have died in battle) although that was not the reason the whole thing happened ofcourse

In the end every accusation against Stannis regarding the Renly situation crumbles upon a closer examination.

Edited by Kolantero, 11 August 2013 - 09:32 AM.


#17 Nyrhex

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Posted 11 August 2013 - 09:36 AM

I might be alone here, but I’d like to hear the views of others on the matter. Do you judge Stannis harshly for his decision, or do you understand it?


Regardless of the legality of killing Renly (a traitor and userper who was going to kill at least his nephews for the throne, and his brother as well if Stannis had not bent to him. Not realy a question), personally I disbelieve that Stannis was aware that he had any part in Renly's death. His behavior when talking to Davos about Mel and her future reading, his dream of killing Renly while sleeping, and his line to Davos about how Davos sound a fool when he blames Renly's death on Mel "because she was with me", all point to Stannis not being aware that he had anything to do with it. We have seen Mel act on her own several times. She glamors Lightbringer, she glamors Mance/Rattllshirt. She burned lord Sunglass when Stannis was fighting on the Blackwater. Is it realy out of her charachter to kill Renly and only tell Stannis that "he will die in Storm's End"? I think not. She has no problem to lie when she wants to accomplish something. The leeches had no real power. All of the deaths of kings were the outcomes of plots long in the making. Yet she told Stannis that it was the direct result of the leeches when she wanted him to sacrifice Edric. Stannis was only aware that the morrows that Mel sees need one to act to accomplish them when Mel needs to cross SE's magic shield. Renly had no such shield, and so Mel did not need Stannis to be aware of any part of her plan.

#18 Frozentree

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Posted 11 August 2013 - 10:08 AM

The fact that joffery was physically sitting the throne confuses a lot of people; it makes it look like one rebellious king killing another rebellious king who was his brother. However, Stannis was not a rebel from his point of view. Renly did not defy only Joffrey, he defied Stannis just as much. Imagine situation where Bob simply dies heirless and Stannis sits on the throne, then Renly raises banners, allies with the Tyrells and tries to win the throne. What would you expect Stannis to do after defeating him? "Bad Renly, bad, you should not do this, now return home and never do this again!". Renly was a traitor, by right he should be exiled at best, but executed more likely. Stannis was extremely generous with his offer.

#19 valtolin

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Posted 11 August 2013 - 10:09 AM

I don't particularly "hate" Stannis for killing Renly, and sure it was an interesting plot twist.
But the argument "Renly was a usurper, and the one true king had the right to punish him" doesn't make any sense. Stannis was the only person in Westeros (the other two, Ned Stark and Jon Arryn, had been killed for this) knowing that Joeffrey wasn't the legitimate heir. When he told Renly, it obviously looked like a lie invented to strengthen his claim.
From Renly's point of view, the "one true king" was legally Joeffrey, and therefore both Stannis and he were pretenders claiming the throne for themselves, with as their only legitimacy the support of people and armies, and from this point of view Renly was more legitimate than Stannis.
I'm not arguing that Stannis wasn't the legitimate heir ot that he should have bent the knee to Renly. What I'm saying is that in order to play the "one true king" card, Stannis would have had to prove the rest of the world that he was. Until he didn't, he was just a pretender like any other.

#20 Frozentree

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Posted 11 August 2013 - 10:18 AM

I don't particularly "hate" Stannis for killing Renly, and sure it was an interesting plot twist.
But the argument "Renly was a usurper, and the one true king had the right to punish him" doesn't make any sense. Stannis was the only person in Westeros (the other two, Ned Stark and Jon Arryn, had been killed for this) knowing that Joeffrey wasn't the legitimate heir. When he told Renly, it obviously looked like a lie invented to strengthen his claim.
From Renly's point of view, the "one true king" was legally Joeffrey, and therefore both Stannis and he were pretenders claiming the throne for themselves, with as their only legitimacy the support of people and armies, and from this point of view Renly was more legitimate than Stannis.
I'm not arguing that Stannis wasn't the legitimate heir ot that he should have bent the knee to Renly. What I'm saying is that in order to play the "one true king" card, Stannis would have had to prove the rest of the world that he was. Until he didn't, he was just a pretender like any other.

This thread is about whether or not Stannis killing Renly is abominable. For those purposes, we should use Stannis's motives, not what commoners thought were Stannis's motives