Greywater-Watch

Lord Eddard Stark's mistakes

7 posts in this topic

Re-reading GoT for the fourth time, I looked especially for the wrong decisions, Ned Stark made, which led to his downfall. Here a summary from my Point of view:

  • No suspicion about Bran's fall but until Catelyn appeared in KL to show him the dagger and report on the assassination attempt on crippled Bran. Ned should have reflected that it was unlikely to be a coincidence that sure-climber Bran would fall exactly during the few weeks, the Lannisters and Robert were at Winterfell. Only a little thinking would have him led to the question: Who was hunting and who was not => Jaimie and Cersei were practically the only ones of importance remaining at Winterfell in the time period the accident happened.
  • After the accident at the Trident with Nymeria and Joffrey: Already at this point he should have decided that the betrothal/marriage between Sansa and Joffrey was a very bad idea, because he saw the rotten character of the prince. Remember: He knew the true story of what happened from Sansa and Arya alike. At this point he could have confronted Robert with this and send Sansa back to Winterfell.
  • Ned learned about Robert's Determination to kill Daenerys on the Kingsroad, travelling south. Already at this point he should have understood that this conflict was to be a no-go between them.
  • In KL when things already became tense he repeatedly weakened his protection without need:
    • giving away part of his guard to support the Golden Cloaks to maintain the peace during the preparation of the Hand's tourney
    • then later sending a good part of his guard with Beric Dondarrion to go after Ser Gregor's raiding Party in the Riverlands
    • refusing the offer of swords from Renly Baratheon when Robert was injured
    • after stepping down as Hand of the King (i.e. without the protection the office hade prvided him with) going out into town (visiting the brothel with Robert's natural born child) with just three man to attend him, knowing that Catelyn had captured Tyrion Lannister and that this was probably already known in KL
  • trusting Littlefinger in assuring him the support of the Golden Cloaks. Apart from what Tyrion uses to say ("only a fool would trust Littlefinger"):
    • obviously neither Littlefinger nor Janos Slynt (we learn later that he is known to be corrupt) would cherish Stannis Baratheon being installed as King, as this would definetely mean their removal from office. Ned had all elements to know that.
  • Ned trusted his secret plans to send Arya and Sansa back to Winterfell on a ship to his children at least four days in advance.
    • He must have known how important secrecy was of importance here, and that children could not be trusted to keep their mouth shut.
    • When he planned to return (himself with his daughters) to Winterfell just after laying down his Office as Hand of the King, he planned to take a ship within a few hours, why later allow himself a longer planning, knowing that the situation was at least as tense and dangerous as the first time?
  • Ned did not look out for allies, just because he did not like several people seeing them as too ambitious, sly or not soldier type enough etc.
    • Varys showed his concern for Robert in his secret meeting with Ned; when Ned could have used counsel, he never looked for Varys again. Especially after declining Renly's offer and after trying to win Littlefinger's support, he should have thought to counsel with Varys, who would for sure have told him that trusting Littlefinger in providing the Support of the Gold Cloaks was but a trap.
    • Renly's offer of swords (Ned even considered some minutes later if that had not been a mistake)
    • Loras Tyrell: for sure a possible ally as no link to the Lannisters
    • Barristan Selmy
  • His conversation with Cersei in the godswood: a witness would have been most helpful (keeping the truth for himself was extremely dangerous, especially letting Cersei know this)

All in all, not only from a political Point of view was Ned a hopeless Player, als his military decisions within KL (assuring swords when needed) were a catastrophy.

R.I.P. Ned!

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Conclusion - Ned was not very bright ...

To the above I would add - blindness to Robert's faults and inability to see that Robert no longer was his brother of 15 years ago.

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Ned was very much out of his element throughout his time in King's Landing. He was a fly caught in a massive web of lies, intrigue, betrayals, and power moves.

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On 9/8/2017 at 7:46 PM, TMIFairy said:

Conclusion - Ned was not very bright ...

To the above I would add - blindness to Robert's faults and inability to see that Robert no longer was his brother of 15 years ago.

He semms to be of two minds in this. Either trust Robert, and therefore tell him from the start of his suspicions about Jon Arryn's death, or refuse to go to KL, alone among enemies. If he did not trust the king, what was the purpose of going south to find Jon Arryn's assassins? He never had a plan. He knew from the beginning that Lysa accused the Lannisters, and he knew that Robert was literally in bed with the Lannisters. Even so, he could have told him he suspected that JA had been murdered, whitout saying immediately that he suspected Cercei o Jaime or Tyrion.W hat exactly was he hoping to accomplish? And, as the OP said, he did not even try to find allies. He was hopeless at the game of thrones. 

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On 8/9/2017 at 11:16 PM, TMIFairy said:

Conclusion - Ned was not very bright ...

To the above I would add - blindness to Robert's faults and inability to see that Robert no longer was his brother of 15 years ago.

I'm re-reading GoT and this is exactly what I thought. He is totally blind to all the awful things Robert does, and somehow seems to justify them. I don't think this is new. It's possibly that Ned has always been like this with Robert. I mean, Ned must at least suspect now that Rhaegar did not kidnap Lyanna. But he keeps his mouth shut. I know he considers Robert a friend, but I think he was always a bit intimidated by him too. 

The godswood scene with Cersei was the dumbest he has been. How could he possibly believe that Cersei would just pack up and leave for a life of exile in the Free Cities? The Lannisters are rich, is one of the oldest houses on the realm, they have a great army. and the crown owes them. Also, Tywin could more than match Robert's anger. I can't believe Ned thought they would all pack up and leave. I don't think the outcome of the incest would have ended up the way Ned thought it would have. Robert would have been pissed, but wouldn't be able to do anything in the end. He owes too much to the Lannisters. His anger would pass, and Joff would remain the heir, or Tommen at least. 

Ned considers himself honorable, but it is  a sort of ignorant honor. I think the biggest indicator is this is him agreeing to kill Lady. He realizes after he had done it what a terrible mistake it was (especially if the gods gave his kids direwolves).  In the end, he, too, is beheaded for a crime he did not commit. 

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I believe that the story of ned is part of Martins idea of what if fantasy met real medieval worlds. Unfortinately the knights of honor and song would have been torn apart. Especially in medieval capitals. So we see Ned your classical honorable knight in shining honor (somewhat), gets devoured by what the real politcal power schemes of the middle ages was. He was destined for death, because he was a fantasy trope devling into the real medieval world.

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13 hours ago, HouseFrancis93 said:

I believe that the story of ned is part of Martins idea of what if fantasy met real medieval worlds.

This is my take, too. The generational split in the books demonstrates the death of a paradigm and the emergence of another. There's definitely a feudalism vs capitalism thing going on with many of the characters adhering to honor and tradition rather than opportunity and power, and suffering for it. 

 

On 8/9/2017 at 11:46 AM, TMIFairy said:

Conclusion - Ned was not very bright ...

To the above I would add - blindness to Robert's faults and inability to see that Robert no longer was his brother of 15 years ago.

I don't think Ned was dumb. Remember he was killed in large part for his savvy in undermining Lannister legitimacy. Littlefinger led Ned to the big clues of Joffrey's parentage believing that Cersei would have him killed. When Cersei offered clemency instead, Littlefinger knew that Ned could still pose a risk even from the Wall. 

I also disagree that Ned was blind to Robert's flaws. I think he knew them very well, but felt he had a duty to serve as Hand, as well as using the opportunity to sniff out Jon Arryn's murderer. You could justifiably call it a savior complex, trying to buffer the kingdom from its own king. It's certainly not trust and admiration for Robert that push Ned to accept the position.

GRRM is a bit understated about it, but when you go through the scenes where Ned and Robert interact, it's pretty clear that they were never very close. They disagree constantly both in the present story and in Ned's memories. Understandably they have more of a familial relationship than one based on trust and shared values. 

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