40 Thousand Skeletons

Rhaegar wasn't polygamous, he was dumping Elia for Lyanna

125 posts in this topic

This has probably been discussed somewhere before, but I wanted to post a short topic about my view on the start of the rebellion and get people's thoughts.

If you're like me, you probably questioned the actions of Rhaegar after reading AGOT. What was Rhaegar thinking? Was "kidnapping" Lyanna really worth going to war? And even if Elia was OK with Rhaegar taking a new wife to bear more children, how would the other Martells ever be cool with that? Alienating the Martells, Starks, and Baratheons with one move seems reckless and stupid. Was fulfilling prophecy really that important?

Now I just thought (and I assume many people also thought this) Rhaegar was prioritizing fulfilling prophecy over everything else and thought he could still win the ensuing war, should fighting break out. And if the Freys had gotten to the Trident on time and fought on the loyalist side, Tywin likely would have joined his forces to Rhaegar's and may have even helped to force the abdication of Aerys. Rhaegar could have even promised Tywin he would release Jaime from the KG in exchange for support. So Rhaegar did actually come pretty close to having his cake and eating it too.

But at this point, after reading the series a few more times, my interpretation of events has evolved. It was Brandon, not Rhaegar, who was responsible for starting the war. Was Rhaegar trying to fulfill prophecy and acting a bit recklessly? Sure he was. But his moves also could have made sense politically if Brandon hadn't screwed everything up.

Rewind to the tourney at Harrenhal. Just for a moment, forget everything you know about what actually ends up happening with the rebellion. When Rhaegar won the tournament and crowned Lyanna, what kind of practical political statement would that make? What would the other lords present be thinking? Well, if I was one of those lords, my first thought would have been that Rhaegar was planning on setting aside his wife for Lyanna and intended on forming a new military alliance with Rickard Stark to oppose his father. Could this have been Rhaegar's true intention? We can at least infer that Rhaegar was likely responsible for setting up the tournament and was originally going to use it as a pretext to get other lords on his side and take the throne from his father peacefully. But then Varys messed up the plan by telling Aerys his son was plotting against him. Aerys was convinced to go to Harrenhal, and everyone got to witness the full extent of his madness in person.

I propose that the following scenario is actually what transpired (roughly): The madness of Aerys made some of the lords balk at the idea of joining Rhaegar. This insane king was likely not going to abdicate peacefully, and who's to say Rhaegar won't go insane just like his father? At the same time, Rhaegar was extremely concerned with fulfilling prophecy and actively searching for a healthier woman to bear his children, probably a woman with the right blood aka a skinchanger like Lyanna. Then the KotLT incident transpired, and Rhaegar met Lyanna (because she was the mystery knight). Seeing a potentially golden opportunity to kill 2 birds with one Stark, Rhaegar changed up his plans. First, he won the tournament and crowned Lyanna. Then, he intended to set aside Elia and marry Lyanna and name his children by Lyanna his heirs, forming a solid military alliance with Rickard Stark (much more valuable than a Dornish military alliance). He could also count on Tywin being on their side, because Tywin obviously preferred Rhaegar over Aerys. And of course, Brandon was still going to marry Catelyn, and Lysa probably would have still ended up with Jon Arryn. This would give Rhaegar a formidable Rhaegar-Stark-Tully-Arryn alliance. But there was an obvious flaw with his plan. Lyanna was betrothed to Robert Baratheon, and Rickard probably wouldn't have wanted to antagonize the Baratheons by breaking his word even if it helped his political ambitions. Since Rickard wouldn't have accepted a marriage offer from Rhaegar, Rhaegar and Lyanna had to force Rickard's hand. Rhaegar and Lyanna eloped, and they intended to force the offer of their marriage on Rickard once Lyanna had already given birth and was of no value to marry off to Robert. But then this plan was messed up as well. Brandon Stark, on his way to marry Cat, received some sort of message about Lyanna, and this caused him to immediately ride hard for KL. Then Aerys summoned Rickard to court and executed them, yada yada, you know how it goes.

Now, we can infer (mainly from the battles at Summerhall) that the Citadel was fully working against the Targaryens during the rebellion, and probably leading up to the rebellion as well (they may have been directly responsible for all the betrothals between the great houses). I'm betting that some maester, maybe the one at WF, found out about Rhaegar's plan and sabotaged it by sending a misleading message to Brandon, saying that Lyanna had been forcibly abducted and taken to KL. Keep in mind that Brandon should have no special affection for Robert Baratheon. If he had received word that Lyanna had willingly eloped with Rhaegar, I doubt he would have interrupted his trip to his own wedding to go after her. And he went the wrong place, KL, where Lyanna obviously was not being held. So who would have been motivated to falsely claim that Lyanna was abducted and brought to KL? I doubt Rhaegar would have sent such a message. It seems that the maesters are the likely culprits for tricking Brandon into sparking the rebellion.

Thoughts? :) 

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Look, you may be right, but I think it is a stretch to lay blame on the maesters, as well as to claim that eloping and having a baby was the only way before exhausting other options (how about explaining the plan and asking Rickard first before assuming his answer?).

Ultimately it boils down to this for me - Rhaegar ditching his marriage vows to Elia, even if it was for mutual consensual monogomous realm saving love with Lyanna, makes him kind of a dick.

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Posted (edited)

I've always thought along the same lines, and yes I believe the Maesters are dirty as hell. Lady Dustin and Maester Marwyn have as much as said so, Marwyn basically explicitly saying the Maesters killed the dragons, which can be interpreted as them causing the Dance of the Dragons and potentially causing the Stark + Tully + Baratheon + Arryn alliance that toppled the Targaryens. Lady Dustin's words about Walys Flowers being responsible for Rickard Stark's Southron Ambitions seem to support this anyway.

Edited by Praetor Xyn

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I think the maesters are indirectly responsible for the deaths of Brandon and Rickard. I believe Varys told Aerys about the conspiracy to make a poweful alliance to possibly overthrow the Targs and how Rickard (and to a lesser extent Brandon) was a centerpiece of it, if not the outright mastermind.

Of course, we know thanks to Lady Dustin that Maester Walys manipulated Rickard, but from Aerys' perspective it would've made sense to see Rickard as the brains of the whole thing: his son was betrothed to a Tully, his other son fostered at the Vale and his daughter betrothed to Robert Baratheon. 

The solution, as Aerys saw it, was clear: kill Rickard and you kill the Conspiracy at its root. Brandon had to go too, of course. And Ned and for Robert as well, for good measure. 

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Rhaegar was already married and he could not divorce his wife without cooperation from Aerys.  He is guilty of polygamy if he married Lyanna.  I do not think he married Lyanna.  Rhaegar wasn't thinking with the head on his shoulders.  Neither was Lyanna.  She was running away from an unwanted engagement.  We're not sure what Rhaegar's motivation was for taking Lyanna but it doesn't matter because he was already married.  Lyanna was at best a mistress.

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Why is it so hard so believe that Rhaegar and Lyanna's actions came about from falling in love? Rhaegar isn't an automaton, capable of being logical 24/7. In fact, he suppresses his feelings so much that he'd be more prone to bursts of irrational moments. That's what happens when you keep everything bottled up all the time. Besides, people do stupider things for just lust, like that Aussie boy that jumped into croc infested waters to impress a pretty tourist, last month.

It makes a lot more sense to me than these convoluted theories.

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@Lucius Lovejoy LOL I agree Rhaegar was kind of a dick. I don't think it is a stretch to blame the maesters, but that's not super important for this thread. The important thing is that someone manipulated Brandon to run off to KL and get himself killed. And I'm not claiming that the resulting plan was the only option. You ask "how about asking Rickard first". Well, maybe he did and Rickard said no. But at least Brandon was not aware of any such peaceful intentions. I'm just trying to explain Rhaegar's crazy actions.

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9 minutes ago, Hodor the Articulate said:

Why is it so hard so believe that Rhaegar and Lyanna's actions came about from falling in love? Rhaegar isn't an automaton, capable of being logical 24/7. In fact, he suppresses his feelings so much that he'd be more prone to bursts of irrational moments. That's what happens when you keep everything bottled up all the time. Besides, people do stupider things for just lust, like that Aussie boy that jumped into croc infested waters to impress a pretty tourist, last month.

It makes a lot more sense to me than these convoluted theories.

That actually makes better sense than the desperately complicated theories out there that attempt to explain his actions.  Rhaegar came to want Lyanna.  Maybe she loved him back, maybe she didn't.  It fits the main plot driver of this story, poor decisions lead to tragedy.  Bad decisions in terms of intimate relations lead to sorrow and tragedy for the many.  

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I still think the best explanation is neither Rhaegar or Lyanna had any intention to elope, to have a relationship, or anything: Rhaegar came because Aerys found out she was tKotLT, and events spiraled beyond either of their control.

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4 minutes ago, Holley 4 Barrel said:

Rhaegar was already married and he could not divorce his wife without cooperation from Aerys.  He is guilty of polygamy if he married Lyanna.  I do not think he married Lyanna.  Rhaegar wasn't thinking with the head on his shoulders.  Neither was Lyanna.  She was running away from an unwanted engagement.  We're not sure what Rhaegar's motivation was for taking Lyanna but it doesn't matter because he was already married.  Lyanna was at best a mistress.

Rhaegar was trying to become King, with Lyanna as his Queen. He doesn't need Aerys for jack shit. Lyanna was probably acting based on her feelings, but that doesn't make her stupid. She was trying to be Queen and married to a man she loved instead of Robert. Rhaegar was trying to fulfill prophecy and take power.

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1 minute ago, 40 Thousand Skeletons said:

Rhaegar was trying to become King, with Lyanna as his Queen. He doesn't need Aerys for jack shit. Lyanna was probably acting based on her feelings, but that doesn't make her stupid. She was trying to be Queen and married to a man she loved instead of Robert. Rhaegar was trying to fulfill prophecy and take power.

It doesn't matter what Rhaegar wanted or what he was trying to do.  He cannot legally marry Lyanna.  He was already married and that marriage with Elia was consummated, two children in evidence.  He doesn't have the authority to legally divorce Elia Martell-Targaryen. 

Even if Rhaegar was interested in prophecy, it doesn't mean that was his reason for taking Lyanna.  Maybe he was taking a break from reading his scrolls, got to feeling a little horny, and thought about the girl at Harrenhal. 

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2 minutes ago, Holley 4 Barrel said:

It doesn't matter what Rhaegar wanted or what he was trying to do.  He cannot legally marry Lyanna.  He was already married and that marriage with Elia was consummated, two children in evidence.  He doesn't have the authority to legally divorce Elia Martell-Targaryen. 

Even if Rhaegar was interested in prophecy, it doesn't mean that was his reason for taking Lyanna.  Maybe he was taking a break from reading his scrolls, got to feeling a little horny, and thought about the girl at Harrenhal. 

If he is King he can do whatever the fuck he wants.

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22 minutes ago, Hodor the Articulate said:

Why is it so hard so believe that Rhaegar and Lyanna's actions came about from falling in love? Rhaegar isn't an automaton, capable of being logical 24/7. In fact, he suppresses his feelings so much that he'd be more prone to bursts of irrational moments. That's what happens when you keep everything bottled up all the time. Besides, people do stupider things for just lust, like that Aussie boy that jumped into croc infested waters to impress a pretty tourist, last month.

It makes a lot more sense to me than these convoluted theories.

Because then we would have to ignore the super important fact that Rhaegar was largely motivated by prophecy. He thought his child or children would fulfill prophecy, so it only makes sense that breeding with Lyanna is also part of an attempt to fulfill prophecy. Did he fall in love? Maybe. But that is just speculation. We don't know if he was in love with Lyanna. We do know he was motivated by ancient prophecy.

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7 minutes ago, 40 Thousand Skeletons said:

If he is King he can do whatever the fuck he wants.

Rhaegar was never a king.  He was never a king for even one second.  King Aerys outlived Rhaegar and even disinherited Rhaegar's children. 

Like I said, it doesn't matter what Rhaegar intended because he never attained the power to make it happen.  Even if he meant to divorce Elia and marry Lyanna later on.  It doesn't matter because later on never happened.  Rhaegar died before he could become a king.  He might never have become king even if he lived because Aerys was favoring Prince Viserys to succeed him.  A marriage between Rhaegar and Lyanna is polygamy.

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15 minutes ago, 40 Thousand Skeletons said:

If he is King he can do whatever the fuck he wants.

I think Aerys demonstrated that you really, really can't.

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5 minutes ago, Holley 4 Barrel said:

Rhaegar was never a king.  He was never a king for even one second.  King Aerys outlived Rhaegar and even disinherited Rhaegar's children. 

Like I said, it doesn't matter what Rhaegar intended because he never attained the power to make it happen.  Even if he meant to divorce Elia and marry Lyanna later on.  It doesn't matter because later on never happened.  Rhaegar died before he could become a king.  He might never have become king even if he lived because Aerys was favoring Prince Viserys to succeed him.  A marriage between Rhaegar and Lyanna is polygamy.

You are missing the entire point. Rhaegar was trying to take the throne from Aerys. The whole idea would have been to form an alliance with Rickard Stark and then use that alliance to force Aerys to abdicate. It doesn't matter if Aerys is still alive.

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5 minutes ago, 40 Thousand Skeletons said:

Because then we would have to ignore the super important fact that Rhaegar was largely motivated by prophecy. He thought his child or children would fulfill prophecy, so it only makes sense that breeding with Lyanna is also part of an attempt to fulfill prophecy. Did he fall in love? Maybe. But that is just speculation. We don't know if he was in love with Lyanna. We do know he was motivated by ancient prophecy.

Disagree. The information we're presented with about Rhaegar is admittedly very contradictory, but I struggle to believe the brilliant, well-read, thoughtful young man almost all of his peers agree on was motivated by prophecy alone - and if he was that convinced, why didn't he fight his original engagement and marriage?

I don't think love was his motive, but I do think love happened.

3 minutes ago, Holley 4 Barrel said:

Rhaegar was never a king.  He was never a king for even one second.  King Aerys outlived Rhaegar and even disinherited Rhaegar's children. 

Like I said, it doesn't matter what Rhaegar intended because he never attained the power to make it happen.  Even if he meant to divorce Elia and marry Lyanna later on.  It doesn't matter because later on never happened.  Rhaegar died before he could become a king.  He might never have become king even if he lived because Aerys was favoring Prince Viserys to succeed him.  A marriage between Rhaegar and Lyanna is polygamy.

It is widely believed that Harrenhal was his first attempt at a coup that would appoint him regent, a king in all but name.

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1 minute ago, WSmith84 said:

I think Aerys demonstrated that you really, really can't.

Yes there are obviously consequences to acting like a crazy person and literally doing whatever the fuck you want as king, but I was referring to marriages. If a king wants to divorce his wife and take a new wife, he can do it as long as that new wife gives him ample military support. Would the High Septon have been an obstacle? Maybe. But he doesn't have an army.

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2 minutes ago, velo-knight said:

Disagree. The information we're presented with about Rhaegar is admittedly very contradictory, but I struggle to believe the brilliant, well-read, thoughtful young man almost all of his peers agree on was motivated by prophecy alone - and if he was that convinced, why didn't he fight his original engagement and marriage?

I don't think love was his motive, but I do think love happened.

I'm not saying his entire life was necessarily dictated by prophecy, but his breeding was. This is made clear by Sam's conversations with Aemon. I think he didn't fight his first marriage because having children with Elia was also an attempt to fulfill prophecy, hoping that Elia would have had the right blood from her ancestor Dornish Daenerys.

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4 minutes ago, 40 Thousand Skeletons said:

You are missing the entire point. Rhaegar was trying to take the throne from Aerys. The whole idea would have been to form an alliance with Rickard Stark and then use that alliance to force Aerys to abdicate. It doesn't matter if Aerys is still alive.

Lyanna would not work to ally with Rickard, Cersei would be far better.

  1. Less scandal - broken marriage, but not betrothal
  2. Brings in another power bloc, specifically bound to Rhaegar
  3. if Lyanna goes, the Stormlands leave Rhaegar's bloc.
     

Lyanna doesn't work as a political choice, because if Rhaegar was thinking politically, he might have observed that the lords were already allying, presumably in fear of his father, so he doesn't need to marry in. Instead he can promise for Cersei, spread the rumor that Jaime will be released from the KG, and ask Hoster to keep Lysa free "because he has an excellent prospect who will be ready to marry soon". That way, Rhaegar and Tywin buy into a bigger marriage alliance web, which contains cousin Robert and Tywin.

Rhaegar was not taking Lyanna to make her his new queen.

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