• Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited


About cpg2016

  • Rank
    Landed Knight
  1. It doesn't matter. Renly's accession basically ditches the entire feudal concept and turns the country into an autocracy where the strongest gets the crown. My guess is that the Reach is SO predominant in the court that it turns off every other lord and there are mass revolts, especially in Dorne, the Vale, and the North (if the North isn't granted de facto independence anyway, as Renly offers), which are essentially unconquerable without dragons. Renly tries to take the throne on a platform of "I'm the strongest, so screw any better-blooded claimants" which is a radical, radical departure from existing norms, and one that is extremely dangerous to the existing social order. Someone more powerful is bound to come along and knock his ass off the throne; once he realizes the meaning of what Renly's done, why should Mace even bother to have his grandson on the throne, when it could be him or his son?
  2. Actually, I think Stannis wins. Renly has outpaced his supply train and is present with a lot of knights, but they're led by an inexperienced hothead eager for glory (Loras), and Stannis is not only an experienced battle commander, but is noted to be extremely well entrenched, with field works and all. By Catelyn's account it seems to be a pretty good excellent parallel to Agincourt. Most likely is there is a hard fought battle. If Stannis wins, which seems at least an even shot, then my guess is the the main Tyrell host fractures and they sit the war out. They won't get what they want from Stannis (royal marriage), but they also probably don't manage to purge the pro-Stannis elements so quickly; additionally, defeat in battle would be more convincing for a martial aristocracy than assasination. Even IF Renly wins, it's interesting; he probably takes heavy casualties for little return. He's obviously not reaching Kings Landing as soon as the Tyrell host does IOTL; they only make it because Tywin is hurrying them along, and Renly has shown his modus operandi is a slow crawl to show off his powerful army. If that is so, it seems possible if not likely that Tywin is back in KL in time to put up a meaningful defense of the capital, though in practice this creates a lot of butterfly effects. My headcanon would be that with a more powerful Lannister force in front of him and having seen that battle isn't always a game of math, Renly allows Robb a number of significant concessions and they move against Tywin, crushing him. Robb ends up in a similar position to the Dornish; he's considered an "overlord" or vassal king, with suzerainty over the Riverlands, and owes nominal obedience to Renly. The Seven Kingdoms break up a few years later because Renly's accession makes that inevitable, and there you go.
  3. Actually, this is wrong. Cersei legitimizes the High Sparrow's arrest by having Osney "confess" to him; and the Faith has long had a judicial arm attached to it. The Crown and the Lords supporting it most definitely can do something about this, but political exigencies force them not to. Don't take your assumptions to be facts; people on these boards know more than you. "We have foes on every hand, Lord Tarly," Ser Kevan reminded him. "Stannis in the north, ironmen in the west, sellswords in the south. Defy the High Septon, and we will have blood running in the gutters of King's Landing as well. If we are seen to be going against the gods, it will only drive the pious into the arms of one or the other of these would-be usurpers." Nowhere does Kevan say they "cannot" defy the High Septon, only that to do so would put a precarious political position in even further doubt. Once again, you are factually incorrect. Cersei appoints no one; technically it is Tommen that makes all these appointments. She is obviously making him, but it's an important political point. Moreover, as Regent, she has real, formal power. The reason her circle is her circle is precisely because she has the power to appoint them. And you're point about the dissolution of her Small Council of lickspittles is entirely correct - it would be equally correct to say it about ANY group of advisers on a transition of power. Uh, no. Aerys is killed because he extra-legally kills Brandon Stark, and straight up murders Rickard, who has done nothing wrong at all. And then demands Robert and Ned's heads for no reason at all, either. Both of them, and Jon Arryn, only rebel after Aerys calls for their heads, and not on news of Lyanna's abduction. Try again. Aerys is deposed because he makes it clear in his final years that even high lords are not safe from the Throne acting illegally. Yes, he was mad before then, but not in a way that was immediately threatening to the feudal order. Honestly, one of the major examples of GRRM's few worldbuilding failures is that anyone fights for Aerys. Ramsay's attempt to claim the Hornwood lands is widely contested and seen as illegitimate. Again, the existence of criminals does not mean the law doesn't exist. And yes, Roose performs a treasonous act - for which he is universally despised by the entire North. That he has the backing of the Iron Throne and possesses Winterfell, in addition to hostages from most Houses, keeps him in power - but even he knows he's dying and his line will likely be wiped out for his transgressions. And the point about Ramsay is that he cannot take Winterfell, nor the North in general, without the patina of traditional legitimacy a Stark provides, a point he makes explicitly. Um... Roose is a criminal. Doesn't it seem telling that the ONLY characters you can find acting in this manner are the handful of evil, insane, or just straight criminal characters in the entire series? One Northern Lord and his bastard, and one Queen Regent, and all of a sudden "might makes right" is the only law of the land? Don't be silly. The vast preponderance of Westeros clearly is bound quite strongly by tradition and precedent, and failing that, the law. Even the Night's Watch mutineers try and couch their treason in legal language. The very convolutions people like Roose and Cersei go through to normalize their seizures of power is proof positive that laws are considered important.
  4. Moat Cailin is considered impregnable from a force coming from the South. It's highly vulnerable from the North. And yes, the whole point of the thread is that the North is extremely vulnerable along the coast. Normally it isn't a problem, because decentralized feudal societies cannot equip, transport, and especially supply enough men to land and take the North. But the ironborn, who effectively live at sea, can easily raid and hold small chokepoints. As we see, they are completely incapable of holding anything in the North.
  5. Because for all that Ned Stark is a deeply insular man who has been scarred by his experiences in the South, and just wants to keep his family close to home, the Starks and the North in general play the feudal game just as eagerly and adroitly as any Southerner. Being married into the Targaryens means maybe having a Stark-blooded king on the Iron Throne, or at least a friendly and influential voice at court, which means more lands, titles, honors, and privileges flowing North. Could mean more help in the winter (think Aegon V sending food), could mean the ability to post their bannermen's second or third sons in nice sinecures in the South, earning loyalty from vassals. Could mean tax exemptions such as those granted to the Redwynes. It's honestly kind of a stupid question
  6. The answer isn't fully geographic. In the WOT5K, they suffer from some not-great generalship from Edmure, who (admirably) wants to defend every vassal and peasant, and thus splits his forces quite widely, and also from the fact that he's a bit of a gloryhound (like all young nobles). Geographically, the Tully's aren't well situated to defend from attacks from the Westerlands; the rivers are a defensive force multiplier, but most of them are in the eastern portions of the Riverlands. Additionally, it seems that Westerosi nobles are poorly positioned to react to chevauchee type raids that Clegane and Tywin conduct in the first place. But most importantly, the Tully's are weak Lords Paramount in general. They don't exercise strong control over their vassals for the same reason that no Riverland dynasty has ever had real long-term success. But even more than that, they are uniquely poorly positioned even among previous overlords of the Riverlands. They have to deal with the Bracken/Blackwood feud, of course, which is a constantly destabilizing element to Riverland politics. They have a vassal in Harrenhal that may well be wealthier than the Tully's are themselves, and who don't really answer to Riverrun in the first place; their first loyalty is to Kings Landing. Furthermore, with Hoster incapacitated, it further hurts the ability of the Tully's to demand full levies.
  7. Seriously?
  8. Says a lot about the demographic of these boards that an over-age frat boy living and reliving his glory days as BMOC is getting more love than an unbelievable statesman, general, and administrator. Even in his personal life, Aegon was a model; loved his wife (I guess he had two, but still), treated his enemies with true justice and mercy, was capable of adult relationships....
  9. Sorry, I am referring to the World of Ice and Fire as the Wiki, which is not right. My mistake. The King IS bound by it. He is only king because of this precedent! If it is not an iron precedent, then his own kingship is invalid and therefore, any decision he makes is equally invalid. Literally his entire platform of legitimacy rests on it. Again, until you learn about feudal politics, this discussion is pointless. It is a feudal contract. There are rights and responsibilities on both sides. The king on the Iron Throne is not an absolute monarch; Jaehaerys empowers the Great Council, which gives it's decisions the force of law. Male-line inheritors take precedence in all cases over female line, but that doesn't mean the female line is completely disinherited. And again, to my point - Aerys II violates the feudal contract, and is thus overthrown. All of that is legal from a feudal standpoint; a king who does not respect law or property or tradition will be thrown down. Which implicitly de-legitimizes his entire line. Ummm... what are the Great Councils, if not Parliaments? And we have PLENTY of indication that the Targaryen kings were limited in their powers. Aenys I nearly loses his crown because he went against the edicts of the Faith. Maegor is forced into exile over his polygamy. Aegon V plays the feudal politics game in order to gain support for his reforms because he can't just enforce them. Earlier monarchs have dragons, which allows them to circumvent law and tradition, but as we see once the dragons die, the basic form of government in Westeros is weak feudal monarchy. Go learn medieval history. Until you do, your words bear no weight. Precedent and privilege essentially are law in a pre-modern society, because our current, highly litigious society would be unrecognizable to a feudal noble. And yes, sometimes people try and manipulate precedent and tradition to portray radical new customs dressed up in the clothes of the old ones; Augustus takes absolute power in Rome by clothing himself in traditional roles and powers, not all of which are legal in nature. Julius Caeser was a threat to the optimates in Rome as much because of the transcendental nature of his unofficial auctoritas as because of his tangible wealth. Urban VI's Golden Bull of 1356 established the formal Electors for the Holy Roman Empire, positions of immense power and prestige, and it did so on the basis of "accounts and traditions from the ancients". Look. You genuinely seem to have no idea what you're talking about, as you have displayed no knowledge of medieval history or scholarship, are blatantly confusing historical epochs, and just seem to assume that your opinion is fact. On the other hand, I've been consistently citing scholarship, primary source documentation, and historical fact (or at the very least universally accepted historical opinion, since motivations are subject to discussion and aren't "fact" even if the person in question tells your their motivation outright). Until you are capable of backing up your arguments with anything, even if that anything is to quote a Wikipedia page, I will be justified in calling your arguments less serious and more specious than my own. That is literally the definition of how scholarship works; you need to cite to be taken seriously, even if only on a forum dedicated to a fantasy series.
  10. Because it undermines the entire concept of winning and losing if there are no repercussions for being on the wrong side. Why should I fight for Lord X, if his opponent Lord Y is going to get off scot-free if he loses? Moreover, while it makes some sense for a king to release his own bannermen who rise against him, it doesn't make sense in the context of several kingdoms at war. If Robert Baratheon (or a Gardener) pardons Randyll Tarly, it makes sense, because the Tarly's are his subjects and starting blood feuds makes no sense if you want a strong central authority (one of the main reasons the Riverlands never develops a strong monarchy is the Blackwood/Bracken feud). However, a King of the Rock has a lot less incentive to be merciful to a Riverlander, for example. And it has nothing to do with you being around to say how kind I've been. You went to the Wall and served out your days. There is enough communication between the Watch and Westeros to know whether you made it or not. I mean, you've taken wayyyy too reductive of a stance here. Why not send your captured nobles home loaded down with gold and gifts? At some point, it's a matter of principle that losers in war lose something. Plus, the vow of not marrying means removing potential claimants to lands if you're seizing titles in a way that exile or simple release doesn't. We know that by 101 at the very latest, and probably at least a few years before, the Watch was SO weakened that they required the New Gift just to support the Sworn Brothers. That implies a significant decline, likely at least half of their number (seeing as their land was doubled). Your argument is that the current decline of the Watch is relatively consistent with what it was for the thousands of years previously. 9,000 men in 300 years implies a total strength of the Watch that is well in excess of what the Gift can support. Again, the period preceding the Conquest was thousands of years of effective stagnation for Westeros. If your theory of consistent decline, it means the Watch is an order of magnitude larger every 300 years back you go! If the Watch is 10% of it's former strength now, it means at 300 BC it was 100,000, and 1,000,000 in 600 BC! Even if we take half that, it means a quarter of a million men in 600 BC. No, it is demographically impossible that the Watch was declining at even a small fraction of the rate it does post-Conquest. No. You are wrong, this is NOT what needs to be proven. The Watch has declined in numbers AND social prestige, and you are completely ignoring the second point, which is canon. If it was just a numerical decline then I'd agree, there is no compelling case one way or the other. But the fact is that at the time of the Conquest, the Wall was a place of real social importance. The son and brother of a king is the Lord Commander! So continue to ignore the evidence, but I won't. Between 1 AC and 300 AC not only does the Watch lose 90% of it's operational strength, but the quality of it's recruits drops from knights and nobles, to not even smallfolk, but rapists and murderers! You need to account for that somehow, and you haven't. My theory does. Your theory is demographically impossible in the first place, and ignores most of the evidence we have of the Watch's decline. Again, we are only given ONE paradigm shifting political event in the last 6,000 years of Westerosi history. Everything before the Conquest was just the Great Game, where we know that anyone who rose too high, got ganged up on and beaten down again. The political situation was stale, for thousands of years. They have the least fertile land in the Seven Kingdoms, we have to assume, as it's the furthest North. Moreover, we have ZERO evidence that the Hundred/Seven Kingdoms ever sent significant material aid to the Wall, so stop with that. Making something up and repeating it doesn't make it evidence. It's explicit that the North is the only community that aids the Wall. And the population of the Gift explicitly cannot support the Watch, since it's reliant on Northern help to continue as a going concern. Actually, this is fiction as well. The Wall and the Watch predates the Hundred Kingdoms. The Wall was founded at the moment of the MOST political unity in Westerosi history, a time when every single human being (and non-humans) all agreed that the genocidal ice zombies from up north had to be stopped. The truth is literally the opposite of what you are claiming. Why would it be more. Why would it be 2,000? If I am a peasant in the Reach, why am I volunteering? I'm going from the nice, fertile Reach, where I can have a family and a life, and choosing to freeze halfway to death while fighting barbarian tribes? It's not like there is the prospect of loot, or women, or anything like that. I get a bare minimum of food, the same as I do at home, without all the additional comforts that make life worth living. Moreover, how do I even get there? Travelling is expensive, especially thousands of miles to the Wall. Why is my local lord even letting me leave? He wants the manpower tilling his fields, not wandering up North. Your argument has no logical or textual foundation, and is full of holes. Um... what do you think the Roman legions were, if not a military order on perpetual guard duty (except with the ability to marry, loot conquered foes, etc)? Look, the agricultural productivity is similar to Scotland, and it doesn't make sense that the Watch is particularly more adept at logistics than the rest of Westeros. If you can find me data on how many peasants it took to support a medieval monastery (which is obviously much less expensive to maintain than a standing army), then quote it. Until then, my facts trump your fiction. Are you being serious? Why am I bothering to quote the text when I have the great Lord Varys, who knows better than Martin the history of Westeros. It is explicitly noted that the Houses descended from First Men have different customs and different beliefs. That in the South, the ancestry is all mixed is literally of no importance. What is important is what people believe, as your namesake himself says. The Royces may be mostly of ethnic Andal descent, but they openly esteem their First Man heritage, literally wearing it into battle. You have to get off this idea that blood means everything (which reflects poorly on your real-life views of ethnicity, where the idea of "pure blood" and racial characteristics and all that is long since discredited). The Yronwoods still call themselves the Bloodroyal and are noted to be of First Man descent. These are important distinguishing factors. Dude, learn to read, or stop putting up straw man arguments. In not one place do I say that the houses friendly to the Watch "have" to be First Man houses. All I've said is that the only confirmed noble volunteers for the Watch come from Houses that openly proclaim their First Man heritage, and Dolorous Edd, who in addition to being extremely poor, comes from a cadet branch of a House sworn the the Royces!!!! Actually, we know nothing of the sort, so at least have the decency to stop making things up. When I claim a fact, you can be sure I can back it up. First off, second sons aren't "useless" they are important in case of an accident to the heir. Second, Bronze Yohn clearly isn't in debt, because he can pay to equip his son in fine tourney equipment. Robar makes it clear that he joined the Rainbow Guard willingly because he was tired of seeking glory in tourneys. Every indication is that Yohn and others trust Robar and that he has an honored position in the household (as he is trusted by Ned to deliver an important message to Robert). Look.... if you don't understand cultural anthropology, feudal politics, or really anything at all except your own fantasies, then admit it and leave the conversation to those who do. Religion has a LOT to do with it. If you are an Andal, you grow up with stories of Hugor of the Hill. If you're a First Man, it's the Night's King. I'm not saying there is no cultural dispersion or appropriation, but the author goes out of his way to make a distinction between the customs and attitudes of these two cultural groups, so clearly there is something to it. And a House that esteems the First Men is more likely to have a more vivid cultural memory of the Others and the Long Night, because that was the great accomplishment of the First Men. Those are the stories that will generate pride in the next generation for their ancestors. Those stories won't be emphasized by Andals as much, because their Andal ancestors played no part in the struggle. To compare: an Indian elementary school student certainly knows who George Washington is, because he's a historical figure. Or knows who Moses is (which might be a better comparison), because he's a famous legendary figure. But that kid is not being taught to revere George Washington as an American student might be, or as a Jewish kid would revere Moses; it's culturally irrelevant, even if it's common knowledge. IT DOES NOT MATTER!!!!!! How can you be so ignorant, and yet so confident of yourself? What matters is that the Royce's view the armor as emblematic of their House, and the armor is a relic of their First Man heritage. Of course it isn't the original armor, as I'm sure they would admit. But even when they make a new suit, they inscribe it with bronze runes. The metal and the script associated with the First Men. That is a statement of identity. And yes, some of it is to play up their lineage, and how by being different they are special. But you can't play that part for 6,000 years without adopting it in reality. Seriously.... this is difficult to believe. Go learn something, anything, about cultural assimilation. Hell, go read the freakin' books! Why can't some of those First Man houses genuinely convert? And over thousands of years, if there is no attempt to proactively keep those traditions alive, then why wouldn't they die? There can be very good, very practical reasons for converting to a new faith - hence why the Franks converted to Christianity in Late Antiquity, and every other pagan tribe that wandered into Europe. If I'm a Gardener king, I see that there are a bunch of aggressive religious zealots on my borders who seem endless in number. Want a good way to encourage them to attack someone else instead of me? Why don't I convert and adopt their traditions, so they don't wage a holy war against me! Easy as that. Again, if you don't understand history, lay off. It is most certainly not meaningless. It's a patriarchal society and we know that male descent is widely considered to be the only rightful way to claim a seat. But again, it is about more than blood, which you don't understand, at all. It's about belief. The Lannisters consider themselves Andals, with all the traditions and obligations that entails. The Blackwoods proudly keep to their First Men traditions. The Royces take a blended approach. Ned drills into his kids the cultural values of the First Men; the idea that justice should be carried out by the man passing the sentence, for example. What you believe, what you choose to pass on, these are powerful symbols and shouldn't be underestimated (or, in your case, ignored for a discredited branch of racial science). If the Royces are touting their heritage, there is a reason for it. And they wouldn't be able to get away with it if they weren't walking the walk as well as talking the talk, which is why they still commission runic armor. That they are probably ethnically entirely Andal is, again, totally irrelevant.
  11. We should assume that the Watch is a viable option for any captured noble/knight. Why is Alliser Thorne at the Wall? We know he fought for the losing side in Robert's Rebellion. Obviously he couldn't afford a ransom (or he would be a free man), so that means he was given the choice between death and the Wall. Moreover, it makes sense that captured nobility are given the option of "honorable" service at the Wall; after all, this is kind of a part of the social contract. Today's winners could be tomorrow's losers, as any noble knows. If I capture you in battle today, I give you the choice between life in honorable exile over execution, because tomorrow I might be the prisoner, and would want that option. But again, take what we know. We know that the Watch was once an institution with a significant population of nobles/knights. We know that in the immediate aftermath of Aegon's Conquest, the Watch sees a significant and rapid decline in overall membership, and that some time in the past the composition of the Watch goes from one with a fair number of highborn members to one in which not only are there very few nobles, but most of the membership are literal criminals. Aegon's Conquest is the only major political shift that could cause such a demographic change, and this explanation is far and away the most likely. Is it possible the Watch was undergoing a long, millenia-long period of decline before the Conquest? Sure. I don't think it's likely, but it's possible. But the period from 1 AC to 101 AC is extremely short in Westerosi-time, and the decline is prima facie more drastic than in years prior, because I think it's possible for us to agree that the Watch couldn't possibly have been shedding thousands of members a century for thousands of years. I think it's far fewer than than 100,000. I'm quoting Wikipedia here, so obviously take it with a grain of salt, but it estimates the population of medieval Scotland (a good parallel for the North in general, I think, and it's what Martin based the North on), are a million people on the high end.  That comes out to ~35 people per square mile, which would put the total population of the Gift, if every inch of land was considered equally arable to the Scottish number (highly debatable), at about 300,000 (35 people x (100 leagues x 25 leagues) x (3.4, the league to mile ratio). Considering that about 85% of pre-modern societies are dedicated to agricultural, that puts a total strength for the Watch at an absolute maximum of approximately 44,000. And mind you, this is an extremely, extremely high estimate - the whole North almost certainly doesn't have a population in excess of 4,000,000, so its hard to believe the Gift, which is probably the least fertile land, since it's the further north, is constituting 7.5% of the total population of the North. I could see the Watch having maybe 20,000 Sworn Brothers as an absolute maximum, and that would be in a period where there were an unusually large number of recruits. But again... that means that at the Conquest, they were at half strength after thousands of years of "decline", and within a hundred years have lost the majority of that strength. Again, 40,000 is a VERY high number to assume, given the total population of the North. Generally, the rule of thumb for historians is that pre-modern societies can mobilize and support about 1% of their total population on a consistent basis. Obviously, in times of emergency, this might be higher. Take the Roman Empire, since some other folks on this thread seem to know their shit. The population was well in excess of 50,000,000 during the Pax Romana, and it was one of the best organized, most bureaucratic empires in European history, with an efficient system of taxation and a fairly high degree of militarization, and it's total operational strength was pegged at about 375,000 by Gibbon, a number which jives with what we know of Augustan military reforms + auxilia. That's well under 1%, for a non-feudal society. Even if we assume the Watch is extremely militarized and tax-efficient because of it's mission as a monastic military order, getting over 10% militarization would be extremely difficult. That's every non-agricultural laborer being part of the organization, a fact we know isn't true (since places like Mole's Town exist, implying smallish rural settlements with some specialized labor in place). I agree with you. All I'm saying is the only nobles we KNOW who join the Watch are either from First Man Houses or are essentially so impoverished that the Wall is a socio-economic step up. My headcanon is that First Man nobles revere the Watch for anthropological reasons; I have as little evidence to support that as you do that those other folks volunteered. It's just a nice thought that plays reasonably well with what evidence we have about Northern attitudes to the Watch, and confirmed noble volunteers. Again, agreed. We just don't know. In the absence of knowledge, I am giving you my headcanon. All we know is that the only confirmed volunteers for the Watch come from non-Andal families, and Dolorous Edd, who grew up in a level of poverty commensurate with a peasant, and thus is probably not a great data point. I mean... what reason does he have to lie? He repeatedly claims an extremely poor upbringing, when playing on his name and "high birth" would absolutely put him on a road to advancement within the Watch (which, while meritocratic, openly favors highborn men for positions of power). The only reason he wouldn't is because he'd be exposed as an extremely impoverished member of a cadet branch. The Royces are noted as being reverent of their own First Man heritage, "boast(ing) proudly of their descent from the First Men", if not openly being noted as worshipping the Old Gods (though I don't think it's ever stated they worship the Seven, either). And it's possible there are other families, of lesser note. And yet, of all of them, only the Royces are explicitly noted in canon to be openly boastful of that descent, and to still proudly bear heirlooms emblematic of it. The rune-inscribed bronze armor Yohn Royce wears is doubly evocative this (predating the Andal's iron raiment, and bearing the "magic" runic script of the First Men). They're also one of the only families, and the only non-Northern family, noted to have it's members openly join the Watch, despite better options. Actually, the Lannisters aren't. It's explicitly noted that House Lannister now descends in the male line from Joffrey Lydden, an Andal. That being said, I am not saying that the Watch and it's general history isn't known everywhere. I'm merely saying that the Long Night, and the fight against the Others, was waged by the First Men. It's a perfectly reasonable assumption that this great struggle is more vividly remembered, in a cultural sense, by the First Men (and the Northerners in particular). The Andals are focused on their own history, and the study of their faith encourages that. The worship of the Old Gods begs the question of why, and the answer to that goes back to the Pact, the Children, and the mutual struggle against the Others. Anyone promoting or proud of their heritage as a non-Andal (or a First Man, I guess) has to be able to explain to their kids why they still hold to that faith/heritage instead of the far more popular, numerous, and prestigious Andals.
  12. Right, but sometimes a ransom can't be paid. Sometimes a ransom isn't offered. Sometimes, ransoms don't make sense (for a 4th son, perhaps). I don't see why the Wall is considered "more savage". Especially since the Wall used to be considered an honorable place to serve. Your theory doesn't account for the fact that the Watch loses a majority of it's strength in the space of a couple generations. Any theory that doesn't account for this is invalid. A theory of gradual decline posits that the Watch must have been hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of men strong for most of history. Which is prima facie ridiculous. We have no idea whether Denys Mallister, Othell Yarwyck, or Thoren Smallwood joined of their own free will. Thoren Smallwood, at least, may not have, as his friendship with Alliser Thorne may predate their service, but that is just headcanon. Edd Tollett did join up willingly, you're right. However, he also mentions that he grew up as poor as the poorest of smallfolk (assuming the average wildling lives in similar poverty to very poor smallfolk, which is mostly reasonable I think). Which sort of underlines the point - the Watch is for the dregs of society; he's so poor that despite being a cadet branch of a notable noble House, his only chance of getting laid is by being a Sworn Brother. I think it's reasonable to think that the First Men Houses maintain different traditions than their Andal counterparts. Not being inculcated in the mysteries of the Faith is a point in that direction at the very least. Obviously I don't know that is why Waymar Royce joins the Watch. But again, the only people who we know voluntarily join the Watch despite having better options (better way to put it, I think), they're all First Men Houses. Why is it absurd that they'd have different traditions? Andal kids (or rather, kids who grow up with the traditions of the Faith) are taught the history of Andalos and the Faith. First Men kids learn stories of the Long Night and the heroism of "their" ancestors.
  13. Yeah, people do, including the very people you've quoted. The High Sparrow won't revive the Swords and Stars without Crown permission. Cersei acknowledges she can't marry Jaime and admit to the incest without disinheriting her children. Aerys tries to take extralegal action and is deposed and killed for it. Roose is very eager to obtain the "legal" title of Warden of the North, and even more eager to marry into the "Starks" to legitimize his claims. That characters sometimes flout custom or law is not proof that custom and law do not matter. We see they matter immensely, because those who do are reviled and held accountable for those actions. Saying that the existence of criminals disproves the existence of laws is just stupid. The existence of criminals, and the social opprobrium they endure, is proof positive that laws and customs DO matter to the vast majority of real world and Westerosi people.
  14. Yes, but he had nothing to do with that... I've been plotting to build a lot of expensive housing in New York City, and it seems as if it's getting built. See how those things don't have a causal relationship, either? What have Doran's plots achieved? His son is dead, his daughter is so psychologically scarred by her supposed disinheritance that she's going to ally with a fake Targaryen in order to preempt her dead brother, Oberyn is dead looking for vengeance, and none of the vengeance Doran hoped for has come at Martell hands.
  15. Then have a bunch of illegitimate kids with Alicent and legitimize them if Rhaenyra dies. Easy peasy. Bringing in more kids, especially a son, from a second marriage is an invitation to civil strife. I am quoting the Wiki. Which is canon. And even if it isn't, Viserys comes to the throne on the idea that females cannot inherit before males. He KNOWS how his lords will react. Which brings me to my second point. If you don't know how feudal politics work, don't talk about them. You don't. Kings explicitly don't set legal precedent, because the Great Council of 101 has the legitimizing seal of Jaehaerys I on it. It is legal precedent. Westeros isn't an absolute monarchy, as we see once the dragons die; it is called a feudal contract for a reason, there are rights and responsibilities on each side. Right. His marrying anyone is going to cause problems. Which he knows. That's how feudal politics work. You insist on looking at this from a modern point of view, but if you're a feudal noble, this is a clear message. And Viserys, again, knows it! He knows his Lords don't want a woman sitting the Iron Throne as anything more than regent, because they made that vocally clear in 101. So he knows knows knows that having a legitimate son means civil war. That Rhaenyra and Aegon II are some of the most awful people in Westeros is secondary. And we get no indication, at all, that Viserys marries to propogate more Targaryens - which, by the way, would be actively against the practice of all feudal nobles, who don't want tons of branches competing for one seat. "heir and a spare" is the phrase, and it applies to overgrown family trees as well. This is impossible to know. They launch their bid for the throne because lots of people hate Rhaenyra, for reasons that are almost all explicitly tied up in her gender. And if no one but the Hightowers, and a cadet branch at that, are part of the "coup" (and it isn't a coup, Aegon is the legitimate heir) are rebelling, then... it's not much a rebellion and who cares? Right, but he's saying one thing and doing another. Rhaenrya is the "heir," but every single action Viserys takes belies that. Again, you are ignoring years of actions by Viserys, let alone the fact that the nobles do have a say. Again, the Great Council of 101, which we know set an "iron precedent", declares that a woman cannot inherit above a man. We are additionally informed that Viserys I was told this many times, and refused to acknowledge it. Lord Varys, this is one of those times when the text explicitly contradicts what you're saying. Your counterargument is also not historically accurate. So there isn't even an interpretation to be brought in from feudal poltiics in the real world. Explicitly not true, both in universe and in the real world (see: English Charter of Liberties as an example). You are confusing the idea of an absolute monarchy with that of a feudal monarchy. Yes, the king has a great deal of power, mostly through the dragons. But in both Westeros and the real world, the king's legal authority is often tenuous, and he needs buy in from his barons to do anything unless he does so through force of conquest. Again, this is not a negotiation or matter of opinion. You are wrong. GRRM thinks you are wrong. Every feudal historian living will tell you you're wrong. This isn't Breitbart, where you get to create the opinion you want and then declare everything else fake news. Go learn a little history. But both children have a valid claim to the throne. Aegon II isn't a "potential pretender". He has a very valid legal claim, notably the same legal claim which allowed Viserys I to take the Throne! This isn't a Daemon Blackfyre situation, where a clear pretender is capitalizing on widespread discontent to make a plea for the Iron Throne. The Great Council of 101 sets an iron precedent; men inherit before women. Viserys knew this, so if he wanted Rhaenyra to be his heir, he shouldn't have had more kids, because he had been explicitly told by his nobles, before and since, that a male child would be considered the rightful heir over his daughter, regardless of his wishes. He ignored that advice. He is 100% to blame for what happened, because both Rhaenyra and Aegon II have decent to excellent legal cases for inheriting. No, no, no, no! In feudal societies, precedents ARE considered binding. Which is why feudalism as we know it came to exist! Usually fiefs are given out by the king every time the vassal dies. As time goes on and certain families inherit individual titles/lands, that tradition becomes binding. To be the most generous, Viserys I knows that having a son will cause a disputed succession, because there are a ton of lords who have effectively said as much, because to allow that precedent to be cast aside would imperil their own successions. At least generous, we take the actual, canonical text, which says that the Great Council sets an "iron precedent". To allow Rhaenyra to ascend over Aegon II implicitly delegitimizes Viserys I himself and all he did. Well that is the problem with a feudal monarchy. But Daemon as king doesn't mean civil war. Viserys I actively and knowingly causes the Dance, and this is all but made explicit by the text, which calls him weak willed in addition to all the other very clear evidence that Aegon II would be considered the legal heir of Rhaenyra.