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Lost Melnibonean

Friends in the Reach

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Part I

In The World of Ice and Fire there is a box where twelve children of Garth Greenhand are celebrated, and anytime I see green, I think team Aegon. So, I’m guessing that the eleven houses founded by these legendary figures are the Golden Company’s friends in the Reach. (I am assuming that Aegon is the Blackfyre, and that he and Daenerys will fight eventually in the Second Dance of the Dragons.)

 

“The dragon is time. It has no beginning and no ending, so all things come round again.”

The Soiled Knight, Feast 13

I think Houses Hightower and Redwyne might be on Aegon’s side already. House Hightower, of course, was the most prominent supporter of the greens in the Dance of the Dragons, and at least some Hightowers supported Daemon in the First Blackfyre Rebellion.

Notably, Lord Manfred Hightower heeded the advice of the High Septon, and refused to march with King Mern of the Reach against Aegon the Conqueror. Manfred opened his gates to Aegon, and Aegon was crowned by the High Septon, leader of the Faith, of which Hightower is the most prominent supporter. Hightower’s support of Aegon the Conqueror could foreshadow Hightower’s support of our wee Aegon. Whereas Daenerys has been uninstructed in the Faith of the Seven other than whatever Viserys has told her, Aegon is receiving formal instruction from Septa Lemore. Although the leading theory suggests that Lemore is Wenda the White Fawn, another theory suggests that she is Malora Hightower, called the Mad Maid.

Lynesse Hightower was wed to Jorah, but she abandoned him for a Lysene merchant prince named Tregar Ormollen. She became Tregar’s chief concubine and apparently rules his house. As the Ironmen invaded the Shield Islands and began raiding the Arbor, along the coast, and up the Mander, Lord Leyton Hightower was ordered by House Tyrell to see to his own defenses. He was reportedly locked atop his tower with the Mad Maid, where he had remained for over a decade, consulting books of spells. His heir Baelor began building ships, two more sons were tending to the defense of Oldtown and training recruits, and his youngest son was traveling to Lys to hire sellsails and to enlist the aid of Tregar Ormollen. First, we have the Lys connection with Varys. This by itself does not amount to much, but, Lys is one of the Three Daughters along with Tyrosh and Myr. The Three Daughters, of course aided the greens in the Dance of the Dragons. As our saga developed we learned of a trade war between Lys and Tyrosh. Myr was about to join Tyrosh, but curiously, the Archon of Tyrosh, the brother of the man who had been noted at the betrothal of Daenerys to Drogo, which had been brokered by Illyrio, offered terms to Lys to end the war. This appeared to be because the Golden Company, shockingly, had just broken its contract to fight for Myr. Could Illyrio be brokering a new alliance of the Three Daughters?

House Redwyne fought on the side of the greens in the Dance of the Dragons. The poisoned wine meant for Daenerys bore the mark of Redwyne, possibly foreshadowing antagonism between Redwyne and Daenerys. While held hostage by Cersei, the Redwyne twins arranged to escape on a Pentoshi galley. Tyrion ordered the Pentoshi captain to be sent to the Wall, but we never read any suggestion that Varys carried out the order. Along with Mathis Rowan and Randyll Tarly, Paxter Redwyne appears to be among Mace Tyrell’s closest allies, and he is described as Mace’s oldest friend by Petyr, but in the very next paragraph, Cersei calls him a traitor. Tyrion found a cask of strongwine from the private stock of Paxter’s grandfather in Illyrio’s cellar, and the child’s clothing Tyrion used in Illyrio’s Manse bore Redwyne colors. Paxter is on his way to sweep the Ironmen from the western seas, so he might welcome an alliance with Aegon, and Aegon might see value in saving Oldtown and the Starry Sept. I wonder how Desmera Redwyne might fit into such an alliance? Daven Lannister told Jaime that his father had been negotiating a marriage contract with Paxter before Oxcross, and that she was well dowered.

A knight of House Bulwer, which is sworn to House Hightower, was present at the traitor’s tourney when Brynden Rivers snuffed out the Second Blackfyre Rebellion. The Bulwer seat is Blackcrown, and it appears Bulwer fought for the black dragon at Redgrass Field. This may be a stretch, but Ghost, who seems to share some connection with Brynden Rivers, urinated on the spear that held Black Jack Bulwer’s head after he was killed by the Weeper.

Although the Lord of Honeyholt was the first casualty for Rhaenyra, and his house fought on the side of the blacks in the First Dance of the Dragons, House Beesbury is also sworn to House Hightower

The founding of House Florent was closely associated with the founding of Houses Ball and Peake, prominent Blackfyre supporters. When Renly declared his claim for Joffrey’s throne, he was supported by Lord Alester, but Alester joined Stannis after Renly was assassinated. His only son, Alekyne was left behind at Brightwater. He became Lord of Brightwater after his father was executed by Stannis for treason, but in any event, the Lannisters had their little king attaint Alester and grant Brightwater to Garlan Tyrell. Garlan took half of the Tyrell army to make good his claim, and Alekyne fled to Hightower. The Florents’ lingering resentment at being subjugated to House Tyrell by Aegon the Conqueror even though they had stronger claims to the seat of Garth Greenhand provides possible motivation for all eleven of these houses to resent Tyrell superiority.

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Part II

Since Oakenshield was captured by Euron, House Hewett is likely to support whoever comes to its aid. Will Aegon ally with Redwyne and Hightower to defeat the Ironmen?

House Fossoway supported the greens during the Dance of the Dragons. The House was later split into the Red Apple Fossaways of Cider Hall and the Green Apple Fossoways of New Barrel. Franklyn Flowers of the Golden Company was born of rape at Cider Hall, and claims to be a Brown Apple Fossoway, who seeks to kill Fossoways. I would expect that the Green Apple Fossoways will side with Aegon, and the Red Apple Fossoways will side with Daenerys. (Interestingly, Lothor Brune, called Apple Eater, killed two Red Apple Fossoways but only captured a Green Apple Fossoway in the Battle of the Blackwater.)

We know very little of House Crane. One of its knights serves as the master-at-arms at Highgarden, and one of its daughters is a lady-in-waiting to Margaery. However, another knight and another daughter of House Crane are wed to Florents. Perhaps more importantly, Ser Parmen Crane was a member of Renly’s Rainbow Guard. He stood outside Renly’s tent along with Ser Emmon Cuy when Catelyn visited with Renly during the war council the night Renly was assassinated. However, Parmen was no longer present when Renly was assassinated. Immediaely after the war council, Catelyn was beseeching Renly as Renly was attended by Brienne. Apparently, Ser Robar Royce had assumed Parmen’s post, since Robar rushed in with Emmon. Loras killed Robar and Emmon, but Parmen somehow survived, even though Loras blamed him as well. Loras returned to Bitterbridge, and Parmen joined Stannis. Stannis sent Parmen and Ser Erren Florent to treat with Mace Tyrell, but Tyrell had them both imprisoned at Highgarden.

At least some members of House Oakheart supported Daemon in the First Blackfyre Rebellion. Arwyn Oakheart expressed disdain for House Lannister when Catelyn treated with Renly, so she might be uncomfortable with her current bedfellows. Oakhearts have a traditional rivalry with Dorne, but I believe House Dayne will side with Daenerys, and since Gerold Dayne was blamed for the death of Arys Oakheart, and since Daynes have been killing Oakhearts for thousands of years, I believe fighting with other Dornish Houses for Aegon against House Dayne and Daenerys will be more palatable for Arwyn.

Admittedly, there is little reason to assume that Lord Randyll of House Tarly would turn against Mace Tyrell and join Aegon, whom Randyll believes to be a feigned boy. Randyll has been Mace’s war chief for years, and along with Mathis Rowan and Paxter Redwyne, Randyll Tarly appears to be one of Mace’s closest allies. However, Kevan suggested to Cersei how Randyll or Mathis could be turned, at least subtly, by naming one of them Hand and thereby making him her own. Aegon could scarcely do better in war than Randyll since Kevan described Randyll as the finest soldier in the realm, and once Aegon finds out that his current Hand has greyscale, he’s likely to kick Jon Connington to the curb. Beneath the surface Randyll may resent Mace for taking credit for his prowess in battle. Although Tarly backed Rhaenyra in the Dance of the Dragons, Randyll has suggested that women should content themselves with dancing and giving birth and not make war or play at soldier. Randyll has also showed great disdain for soft, plump, little boys like Tommen.

(ETA Here's another reason Tarly might turn on Tyrell... Dickon's potential claim on Brightwater. You see Alester Florent and his son Alekyne were dispossessed of Brightwater after the Battle of the Blackwater. Alester Florent's eldest daughter, however, is Dickon's mum.) 

There might be even less reason to assume that Lord Matthis of House Rowan would turn against Mace Tyrell and join Aegon, but Mathis was left in command of the force laying siege to Stannis’s garrison at Storm’s End, which Jon Connington intended to take by guile. Mathis, then, may already be in Aegon’s camp, willing or not.

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There is pretty much no evidence for the whole premise, and the idea would go completely contrary to real world politicking George actually tries to describe in his books.

The Hightowers, Redwynes, (Green Apple) Fossoways, and Bulwers are heavily intermarried with House Tyrell, if you care to check the present-day family trees. Mace's sister Janna Tyrell is married to Ser Jon Fossoway, and Garlan Tyrell's wife is Lady Leonette Fossoway. This could explain why Lothor Brune dared not slay a Green Apple Fossoway.

The Hightowers have no reason to actually proclaim for Aegon VI, and neither Aegon nor the Golden Company or Dorne are in any position to actually help the Reach men to fight of the Ironborn. They all have no ships. And the Reach still has more than enough troops of its own to deal with the Ironborn once they have ships. Willas and Garlan Tyrell are already raising new troops, and the Hightowers do the same. If Aegon marches into the Reach he'll lose every advantage he has right now since that would give the Lannisters and Tyrells at KL the advantage to regroup. Cersei could call for new levies from the West, and the Tyrell armies could follow the Golden Company into the Reach, cut off their opportunity to retreat to the Stormlands, and slaughter them all after they had they had (successfully or unsuccessfully) become entangled with the Ironborn.

But even the Hightowers wanted to join Aegon on their own, without following the lead of Highgarden, there is little chance that they will be able to do so. The bond between Mace and Alerie isn't the only glue between Oldtown and Highgarden, there is also the fact to consider that Mace's uncle Gormon Tyrell is an influential de facto archmaester in the Citadel and another uncle, Moryn Tyrell, is Lord Commander of the City Watch of Oldtown. The most powerful armed forces in Oldtown itself are under the control of a Tyrell.

And it is even more striking with the Redwynes. Olenna is closely related to Paxter Redwyne, and Mace's sister is Paxter's wife. The idea that these two houses will turn against each other is about as likely as the Starks not coming to the aid of the Tullys in AGoT.

Unless you assume there is something really bad blood between those families on the same scale as the Lysa-Hoster issues, there is no chance that these houses will betray each other, especially not if there is no good reason. The Tyrells want to come to the aid of the Hightowers, after all, and not only Oldtown but Highgarden and the lands along the Mander are threatened, too. The Lords of the Reach would have to be utterly stupid to turn against each other in such a situation. Some, like the Peakes and the Merryweathers might have some plans, but then the chances that they actually raise armies and began attacking their neighbors are pretty slow even if they end up supporting Aegon in name or morally.

The Dance had the Baratheons and Lannister allied with each other. Does this means the Hightowers, Baratheons, and Lannisters will declare for Aegon VI just as they did for Aegon II? Probably not.

If you check TWoIaF you will realize that the Reach actually has a history of avoiding infighting and strife and focus on the real matters at hand (e.g. the Gardeners outmaneuvering their neighbors with treaties and negotiations and not necessarily with warfare, the largely peaceful formation of the united Reach kingdom under the rule of House Gardener, the fact that legend makes the founders of all the Reach Lords descendants of Garth Greenhand, causing them to treat each other more gently than the other noble houses in the other kingdoms treated each other, and so on).

There are the occasional troublemakers like the Peakes but that is a rare thing. There is pretty much no reason to expect that major houses in the Reach will oppose their liege lords, the Tyrells, in whatever wars are going to come.

In the long run the best candidates among the Reach Lords to proclaim for Aegon remain the Tyrells themselves. They knew how to end up on the winning side much better than anyone else in the Reach, and even if we assume that the Lannister-Tyrell alliances survives the murder of Ser Kevan and Pycelle (which is by no means clear yet) then the only thing that keeps the Tyrells in charge is the life of either Tommen or Margaery or both. If Margaery is found guilty, the alliance should be over. If Tommen suddenly dies, the alliance should be over, too.

To whom will the Tyrells turn when Tommen is dead? Disfigured Myrcella most likely won't last, nor do we know yet whether she will reach the capital, and she is a girl and falseborn. Aegon is male, a man grown, and a Targaryen. The decision shouldn't be that hard.

Mace might even decide to abandon Tommen prior to that should the men he sends against the Golden Company suffer a crushing defeat.

The friends of the Golden Company can reasonably be only houses with connections to the Golden Company. And the best candidates for those are the Peakes and the Merryweathers because both houses either have kin serving in the Golden Company or were recently exiled and may have had members fighting with the Golden Company. Orton and Taena clearly do not act like people who want to win the favor of Cersei Lannister and rise to office and power in her service. Else they would have brought their son Russell to court as soon as possible to make him Tommen's best friend and companion.

As to House Ball, we don't even know whether it still existed. It might have died out with Quentyn Ball, or if not, then during the later decades if other Balls insisted to join the Black Dragon again and again.

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The fact that the Hightowers granted the Florent sanctuary seems somewhat fishy to me.  Certainly the Tyrells wouldn't really be happy about that.  Above all though, for the upcoming Dance to be a real fight Aegon is going to need to have more troops than Dany.  Realistically some Reach houses are going to have to join him.

I think Rowan is the best bet of all, as we are told he looked fit to gag when the Targ babes were mentioned. + the fact that he was left besieging Storms End when Mace returned to KL.

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The fact that the Hightowers granted the Florent sanctuary seems somewhat fishy to me.  Certainly the Tyrells wouldn't really be happy about that.  Above all though, for the upcoming Dance to be a real fight Aegon is going to need to have more troops than Dany.  Realistically some Reach houses are going to have to join him.

I think Rowan is the best bet of all, as we are told he looked fit to gag when the Targ babes were mentioned. + the fact that he was left besieging Storms End when Mace returned to KL.

I don't see anything fishy about that. As far as we know the Tyrells have not yet demanded that Alekyne be handed over to them, nor is there anything inherently wrong/unlawful in harboring one of your own in-laws/kin. This is not the same as taking up their cause or marching against the newly named Lord Garlan.

Even the Tyrells themselves did not execute Selyse's brother, Ser Erren Florent, after he was arrested and taken to Highgarden.

There is no need to assume that the Tyrells insist on the eradication of the Florent line. Alekyne can very well live and breed. The Tyrell hold on the Reach is very strong, and there is no reason not to assume that the Tyrells of Highgarden will always protect their cousins, the Tyrells of Brightwater Keep.

Alekyne and his possible descendants have little chance of winning Brightwater back. At least not unless a friend/ally of theirs wins the Iron Throne.

Mathis Rowan most likely will join Aegon. But not of his own free will and not while he is a friend of the Golden Company. The Golden Company first has to seize him and his men, offer him generous terms, and Jon Connington and Aegon have to talk to him and vouch for his legitimacy - but then, I think, he'll be their men considering his anti-Lannister sentiment and the fact that his loyalty to the Targaryens is sincere, as well as his anger about the murders of the Targaryen children.

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I think it's natural the Golden Company imagine they have friends in the Reach (and who knows, it might be true). The Reach is from where the Blackfyres drew most of their support. But how many Blackfyre loyalist houses are left in a good position?

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I think it's natural the Golden Company imagine they have friends in the Reach (and who knows, it might be true). The Reach is from where the Blackfyres drew most of their support. But how many Blackfyre loyalist houses are left in a good position?

I don't think the houses that will support Aegon this time round will necessarily be Blackfyre supporters of the past. In fact, thanks to Illyrio's and Varys's ruse, he'll draw support from Targaryen loyalists too. 

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I don't think the houses that will support Aegon this time round will necessarily be Blackfyre supporters of the past. In fact, thanks to Illyrio's and Varys's ruse, he'll draw support from Targaryen loyalists too. 

I have to say I agree with this - in each of the Blackfyre rebellions, the supporters of Daemon and his descendants knew what they were supporting and how the claimants fitted into the line of succession.  Aegon is presented to the world as a Targaryen not a Blackfyre.  As such, there is no guarantee that the Blackfyre families of old (at least, those who have survived) will support Aegon's claim.  

With Aegon being presented to Westeros as Rhaegar's son, it is perhaps more likely that Targaryen supporters will support his claim. The Tyrells, Lords Paramount of the Reach, stuck by the Targaryens until after the fall of Aerys II.  While Margaery is married to Tommen, I don't think it unreasonable to think that their alliance with the Lannisters will hold.  That said, Margaery and Tommen have not consummated their marriage - which means that it is easier for the Tyrells to extricate Margaery from the marriage and themselves from the alliance than it would be otherwise.  Whether the Lannister-Tyrell alliance holds or not, given that the Reach families supported Aerys II to the end, it is not unreasonable for the Golden Company to believe that the Reach is a region that might have families to support them. 

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I have to say I agree with this - in each of the Blackfyre rebellions, the supporters of Daemon and his descendants knew what they were supporting and how the claimants fitted into the line of succession.  Aegon is presented to the world as a Targaryen not a Blackfyre.  As such, there is no guarantee that the Blackfyre families of old (at least, those who have survived) will support Aegon's claim.  

With Aegon being presented to Westeros as Rhaegar's son, it is perhaps more likely that Targaryen supporters will support his claim. The Tyrells, Lords Paramount of the Reach, stuck by the Targaryens until after the fall of Aerys II.  While Margaery is married to Tommen, I don't think it unreasonable to think that their alliance with the Lannisters will hold.  That said, Margaery and Tommen have not consummated their marriage - which means that it is easier for the Tyrells to extricate Margaery from the marriage and themselves from the alliance than it would be otherwise.  Whether the Lannister-Tyrell alliance holds or not, given that the Reach families supported Aerys II to the end, it is not unreasonable for the Golden Company to believe that the Reach is a region that might have families to support them. 

That is mostly correct. But the topic of this thread - due to LM's phrasing of 'Friends in the Reach' seemed to allude to the friends (some members of) the Golden Company (think they still) have in the Reach.

The members of the Golden Company most certainly are not friends with any lords in Westeros who have been stalwart Targaryen loyalists in the past due to the very history of the Golden Company. But not necessarily all the friends the members of the Golden Company might have in Westeros are necessarily old Blackfyre loyalists or enemies of the Targaryens since there are those men in the Golden Company - like Franklyn Flowers - who went into exile and joined the Golden Company for reasons that had nothing to do with the Targaryens or the Blackfyres.

Aegon's success completely hinges on the fact he successfully convinces the people that he is Rhaegar's son despite the fact that he works with the Golden Company. Recruiting Jon Connington was obviously part of that plan.

We don't know if or how many 'old Blackfyre loyalists' remain in Westeros. There are certainly houses left who rose in many Blackfyre Rebellions - the Sunderlands and Ironwoods for instance, who both participated in three Blackfyre Rebellions - but there is little reason to assume that they define or see themselves as Blackfyre loyalists. They would have had their reason to join the Black Dragon during each of those rebellions, but their loyalty never went as far as to go into exile with them (or at least not all branches of those family did).

If you look at the participants of the Second Blackfyre Rebellion then the Sunderlands, Smallwoods, Costaynes, Vyrwels, and Caswells survived to this day on a lordly level, but they most certainly lost lots of prestige and power in the process (assuming they had any - the Costaynes most likely once did). The Butterwells seem to be extinct, the Freys most likely weren't stupid enough to flirt with the Black Dragon again, and the Heddles sank to the level of innkeeps. The Risleys, Shawneys, and Cockshaws are either gone or pretty much insignificant.

Perhaps the Third Rebellion was a bigger deal and all, with the Golden Company invading full force, and many houses flocking to their banners, but we know for a certainty that only a few houses joined Daemon III in 236 AC, and virtually no Westerosi house supported the Ninepenny Kings on the Stepstones.

It is very unlikely that the term 'Blackfyre loyalists' actually has any real meaning in Westeros at this point. If the descendants of Daemon I's followers were already tired of the Blackfyre pretenders back in 236 AC and 260 AC, there is little reason to assume that anyone would rise for a Blackfyre pretender in 300 AC.

Therefore, anyone flocking to Aegon's banner and supporting the Golden Company will do so because he wants to support a Targaryen not a Blackfyre pretender, even those few houses who have close ties to Golden Company and are motivated to join Aegon because of their kin across the water rather than the Targaryen claim to the Iron Throne. The result will be the same, all of them will back Aegon.

Realistically speaking the only house with ties to the Golden Company should actually be the Peakes considering that the Peakes in the Golden Company seem to be the only true noblemen with kin in Westeros. The Mandrakes, Coles, Strongs, Lothstons, Mudds, etc. are either fakes or scions of houses that have long been dispossessed and attainted in Westeros, if they ever held any lands at all (unlike in the Cole case, considering that Ser Criston, the only important Cole known, was born as the son of a steward). If there are non-lordly branches of some of those houses in Westeros then those people won't help Aegon all that much.

As to the Tyrells:

The Tommen-Margaery marriage isn't the important thing. The important thing on that front is when exactly Tommen is going to die, and whether Margaery is found innocent or guilty in her trial (if it occurs - if not, then the High Septon most likely will take her refusal to subject herself to the trial as a divine sign of her guilt).

It is by no means certain that the Lannister-Tyrell alliance or the marriage between Tommen and Myrcella will still exist when the Tyrells army and the Golden Company fight their first battle.

Speculating how Aegon's campaign could weaken or tear the Reach from the grasp of the Tyrells is a dead end in my opinion. The Tyrells aren't stupid enough to go down with Tommen, especially not if Varys ensures that they see the light in time. Not to mention that it seems as if George is finally intending to give Garlan and Willas some time in the spotlight. If the Reach is further explored it will be through the Tyrells, not so much they hardly known bannermen (Hightowers excluded, since another POV is in Oldtown).

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Yeah, the topic title is a bit of a misnomer. A more explicit title would be something like "Which houses in the Reach will back Aegon's claim?" 

As suggested in the OP, I think that Hightower and Redwyneare already behind Aegon, and I suspect that they might even know Aegon is the Blackfyre. 

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Yeah, the topic title is a bit of a misnomer. A more explicit title would be something like "Which houses in the Reach will back Aegon's claim?" 

As suggested in the OP, I think that Hightower and Redwyneare already behind Aegon, and I suspect that they might even know Aegon is the Blackfyre. 

Both makes little sense. Neither the Hightowers nor the Redwynes have a history of being prominent Blackfyre supporters, and even if they were Varys and Illyrio would be insane to tell anyone who Aegon actually is if he is not Rhaegar's son.

Even the people they work more closely with - the Golden Company officers, possibly Orton and Taena Merryweather - might be under the impression they are trying to install a Targaryen pretender on the Iron Throne. Anything else would be too risky, and it is quite obvious that the Golden Company finally wants to return to Westeros. It is not important what color the dragon has they are backing.

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Both makes little sense. Neither the Hightowers nor the Redwynes have a history of being prominent Blackfyre supporters, and even if they were Varys and Illyrio would be insane to tell anyone who Aegon actually is if he is not Rhaegar's son.

Even the people they work more closely with - the Golden Company officers, possibly Orton and Taena Merryweather - might be under the impression they are trying to install a Targaryen pretender on the Iron Throne. Anything else would be too risky, and it is quite obvious that the Golden Company finally wants to return to Westeros. It is not important what color the dragon has they are backing.

I could agree with the assumptions in your first paragraph. But I think Orton and the Myrish swamp are all in. She being from one of the three daughters, and him being the son of a lord who suffered greatly at the hands of a Targaryen. 

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I could agree with the assumptions in your first paragraph. But I think Orton and the Myrish swamp are all in. She being from one of the three daughters, and him being the son of a lord who suffered greatly at the hands of a Targaryen. 

Taena's origins don't connect her to Varys at all, and Orton's family suffered at the hands of Aerys II, not from Rhaegar or his son.

Jon Connington didn't become a Blackfyre loyalist either, so why the hell should we think the Merryweathers did?

It is much more likely that Varys/Illyrio recruited them as tools/pawns promising them the return of the Merryweather lands and wealth in return for their help as agents. They don't have to be in on much to help destabilize the Lannister-Tyrell regime - and that's their job.

If Ysilla, Yandry, Jon Connington, Duck (and possibly even Haldon and Lemore) don't know the truth, there is no reason to believe that as secondary allies/pawns as the Merryweathers know anything important.

Especially in light of the fact that the Martell alliance is at the core of the whole plan. If Dorne does not join Aegon's cause they are done. But Dorne's allegiance and support can only be ensured if no one ever doubts that Aegon is Rhaegar's son. If anyone outside the innermost circle of Varys and Illyrio knew the truth this whole thing could not possibly be controlled, and therefore it makes no sense that they told anyone.

Even the Golden Company leadership might not know the truth. Blackheart may have died to suddenly to ensure that no one besides Varys and Illyrio would ever know.

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I think the Golden Company leadership knows the truth. The whole "some contracts are written in blood" comment.

This doesn't mean they know. This is a hint as to how Illyrio was able to make a deal with the Golden Company. They would take an awful risk if they revealed the truth to so many people. Some might suspect the truth because they know or suspect from whom Illyrio is descended but even that I'd doubt. Strickland points out that he had had nothing to do with this secret pact - it was Blackheart's doing and Tristan Rivers isn't exactly very respectful of 'the fat man', suggesting that he isn't aware of the whole plan.

But Myles Toyne may have known the truth - which may have been the reason why Varys and Illyrio felt they had to remove him from the board before the plan entered into its final phases.

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I think the Golden Company leadership knows the truth.The whole "some contracts are written in blood" comment.

I agree. I think every person in the tent already knew when Jon Connington introduced Aegon Targaryen, firstborn son of Rhaegar, Prince of Dragonstone, by Princess Elia of Dorne... soon, with their help, to be Aegon, Sixth of His Name, King of Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men, and Lord of the Seven Kingdoms. 

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I agree. I think every person in the tent already knew when Jon Connington introduced Aegon Targaryen, firstborn son of Rhaegar, Prince of Dragonstone, by Princess Elia of Dorne... soon, with their help, to be Aegon, Sixth of His Name, King of Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men, and Lord of the Seven Kingdoms. 

At that point the Golden Company officers certainly knew about the fact that Jon Connington was bringing them a Targaryen pretender. What I doubt is that they all know that Aegon is actually Illyrio's son if that's the case.

Strickland and the other officers must know about Connington and Aegon from Illyrio since Illyrio would have been the guy who commanded the Golden Company to break its contract in the Disputed Lands and rush to Volantis to meet with Aegon and Connington there. One assumes that Illyrio sent some agents to the Golden Company and only informed them about the pact he had forged with Blackheart when the time was right (i.e. I'd say some time, perhaps a year or so, before the events of AGoT - perhaps Strickland himself was personally informed when he was elected captain-general).

A hint that Illyrio and Strickland had a good working relationship for quite some time is that Strickland sent his former squire Rolly to serve Aegon as a sparring partner tutor once the need arose. Connington himself apparently did not arrange that but did so through Illyrio.

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At that point the Golden Company officers certainly knew about the fact that Jon Connington was bringing them a Targaryen pretender. What I doubt is that they all know that Aegon is actually Illyrio's son if that's the case.

Strickland and the other officers must know about Connington and Aegon from Illyrio since Illyrio would have been the guy who commanded the Golden Company to break its contract in the Disputed Lands and rush to Volantis to meet with Aegon and Connington there. One assumes that Illyrio sent some agents to the Golden Company and only informed them about the pact he had forged with Blackheart when the time was right (i.e. I'd say some time, perhaps a year or so, before the events of AGoT - perhaps Strickland himself was personally informed when he was elected captain-general).

A hint that Illyrio and Strickland had a good working relationship for quite some time is that Strickland sent his former squire Rolly to serve Aegon as a sparring partner tutor once the need arose. Connington himself apparently did not arrange that but did so through Illyrio.

Of course, members of the Golden Company knowing/suspecting that Young Griff is not Aegon VI leaves open the question of if/when one of those in the know might mention it to Jon Connington (and whether they realize he thinks that the boy he has presented to them is actually Rhaegar's son). It also raises the question of Haldon Halfmaester and Septa Lemore in particular - who are they, how did they come to be involved in this boy's upbringing, and are they under the same impressions as Jon Connington? Or if, as you suggest, the Golden Company (or some of their members) know they are supporting a pretender rather than a true Targaryen, do Haldon and Lemore know that too?

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At that point the Golden Company officers certainly knew about the fact that Jon Connington was bringing them a Targaryen pretender. What I doubt is that they all know that Aegon is actually Illyrio's son if that's the case.

Strickland and the other officers must know about Connington and Aegon from Illyrio since Illyrio would have been the guy who commanded the Golden Company to break its contract in the Disputed Lands and rush to Volantis to meet with Aegon and Connington there. One assumes that Illyrio sent some agents to the Golden Company and only informed them about the pact he had forged with Blackheart when the time was right (i.e. I'd say some time, perhaps a year or so, before the events of AGoT - perhaps Strickland himself was personally informed when he was elected captain-general).

A hint that Illyrio and Strickland had a good working relationship for quite some time is that Strickland sent his former squire Rolly to serve Aegon as a sparring partner tutor once the need arose. Connington himself apparently did not arrange that but did so through Illyrio.

Agreed.

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Of course, members of the Golden Company knowing/suspecting that Young Griff is not Aegon VI leaves open the question of if/when one of those in the know might mention it to Jon Connington (and whether they realize he thinks that the boy he has presented to them is actually Rhaegar's son). It also raises the question of Haldon Halfmaester and Septa Lemore in particular - who are they, how did they come to be involved in this boy's upbringing, and are they under the same impressions as Jon Connington? Or if, as you suggest, the Golden Company (or some of their members) know they are supporting a pretender rather than a true Targaryen, do Haldon and Lemore know that too?

Just to clarify. I don't think the Golden Company officers know who Aegon actually is if he isn't Rhaegar's sons. Telling them or allowing them to know would inevitably cause too much of a risk. They could tell Aegon. They could let something slip to Jon Connington. And talk from them could find its way to the ears of Doran or Arianne Martell, and that would be the end of the entire plan (and possibly even the Golden Company itself should they end up being caught between 20,000 Dornish spearmen and the two Tyrell armies).

What Haldon and Lemore know or don't know greatly hinges on who the hell they actually are. What we know of Haldon - that he is known by the men/officers of the Golden Company - could be a hint that he is the descendant of one of the lords who went into exile with Bittersteel and Daemon's sons. I could see him as a scion from one of those families who make up the 'nobility' of the Golden Company, bloodlines that have been with them since the beginning (like the Stricklands, of example), who was then sent to Oldtown to learn at the Citadel for the specific purpose of becoming Aegon's teacher. If that's true then the 'halfmaester' part doesn't have to be the complete truth since Haldon could not possibly forge a complete chain and become a maester since that wouldn't allow him to return to Essos (or at least would make matters more complicated).

Who Lemore might be I really don't know. I once tossed around the idea that she could be Aegon's mother rather than the Serra character. Lemore could have dyed heir, too, after all, and we don't know her eye color. In addition, we have no idea about Illyrio's eye color as far as I know, nor do we know the exact shade of his fair hair. Could be Valyrian for all we know, and he may be using golden dye for decades to hide it.

Mostly because I find the idea very odd that Varys and Illyrio wouldn't keep one of the people they trust completely with their lad to keep an eye on Aegon and especially Jon Connington - who essentially is nothing but a pawn, to be discarded as soon as Aegon has taken the throne. His main purpose now during the war is to vouch for Aegon's legitimacy, but that's it. We don't know what Illyrio and Varys plan, but the chances are not so bad that Illyrio eventually intends to tell Aegon the truth, and this is clearly not going to work if Connington is still alive.

The question what Aegon might think/say/do when he finds out the truth about himself is actually a very interesting question, and I really hope this plot line comes up eventually. There must be a reason why George decided to refuse to allow us to see how Joffrey reacted to such a revelation delivered to him in a way that he had to believe it, and Tommen and Myrcella are now too young to really act independently after they learn the truth about their parents. But Aegon certainly could.

If that's bogus then my best guess is that Lemore is somebody important from the Targaryen court who can add her voice to Connington's that Aegon is Rhaegar's son - say, a lady-in-waiting to either Rhaella or Elia, or a noblewoman overseeing the royal nursery either on Dragonstone or in the Red Keep.

Some people have even suggested she might be Ashara Dayne.

But I don't think Haldon or Lemore know the truth about Aegon (unless Lemore is Aegon's mother, of course). My guess is that only Myles Toyne, Varys, and Illyrio know the truth - and if there was a Serra, she might have been killed because she knew the truth, too.

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