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aeverett

Brienne's Targaryen Roots.. I Think I Figured It Out

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Okay, so according to the World of Ice and Fire, House Tarth boasts ties with House Durrandons, Baratheons, and Targaryen.  Now I've been reading archive posts about how Brienne is part Targ, but they all seemed a bit far fetched.  Then I was researching the War of the Nine Penny Kings and the death of Ormund Baratheon (he's the one that married the Targ princess, Rhaelle that gave Robert, Stannis, and Renly their claim to the iron throne after Robert's Rebellion), and so much fell into place.  

So here is my theory.  Brienne's mother was a sister of Steffon Baratheon.  If I'm right, that makes Brienne first cousin to Robert, Stannis, and Renly, and considering their only legitimate heir was Shireen and she's dead as well, Brienne (or the child or grandchild of another younger sibling of Steffon) would be the rightful heir to the Baratheon claim on the iron throne).   Remember, George has never said that Steffon Baratheon was an only child, and if he did have siblings and they successfully married and reproduced, there you go.  

The reason the War of the Nine Penny Kings is so important to this theory is in Steffon's bride, Cassana Estermont.  Estermont is a tiny island in the Narrow Sea, yet a daughter of their house hooked the most eligible bachelor in Seven Kingdoms at the time, Steffon Baratheon.  That makes no sense, unless you consider that with the storms and unpredictability of Shipwrecker Bay and Cape Wrath the crown's forces would desperately need strong support from both Tarth and Estermont to launch attacks on the Stepstones (Ormund died on Bloodstone, one of the Stepstones; Tywin Lannister also fought in the Stepstones, as did the Blackfish who claimed to know Lord Selwyn), Tyrosh, or the Disputed Lands.  However, giving that level of support would stress both islands and make them targets for retaliation, so I believe that as a sweetener to gain the full support of both Estermont and Tarth, two minor vassal houses off the Stormlands, the marriage prizes of Steffon for Lady Cassana and one of his sisters for young Lord Selwyn, were agreed to. 

The arrangement would have been similar to the one that Catelyn Stark negotiated with Walder Frey to marry Robb to one of his daughters or granddaughters for safe passage through the Twins, his bannermen, and general military support.  As with King Robb to a Frey girl, both Baratheon marriages would have been highly unequal matches, but necessary to winning the War of the Nine Penny Kings, so the deal would have been struck.  

As for Brienne's claim to the throne, remember, Robert won the throne through conquest and ruled for nearly two decades.  Aegon the Conqueror and his sisters also won Westeros through conquest.  One could also argue that Cersei took the throne by conquest, just a political conquest rather than a military one.  Daenerys might like to call Robert a usurper, but her family lost the war fair and square, and if Jon and Dany die, and I’m right about Brienne’s connection to the Baratheon kings, then she could be the last Targ claimant as well. Grant it, Brienne would abdicate immediately if offered the throne, but she’d still be the last legitimate Targ and the last legitimate Baratheon till the day she died or had kids of her own.   

As for her connection to Ser Duncan the Tall, that would come from her father, as the shield was found in the armory of Evenfall Hall, Lord Selwyn’s seat.  If I’m right, but the connection to Duncan was also on her mother’s side, the shield would have been left at Storm’s End.  Not to mention, it would be kind of sweet to think that a descendant of Dunk and a descendant of his best friend and squire, Egg, ended up together.  They traveled together, they fought together, they died at Summerhall together, but Brienne remains and is going to be on the front lines of the Great War for the survival of humanity.  Indirectly their lifelong friendship saves the world.  Now that would be a bittersweet ending!

Edited by aeverett

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On 12/14/2017 at 3:07 AM, aeverett said:

 So here is my theory.  Brienne's mother was a sister of Steffon Baratheon.  If I'm right, that makes Brienne first cousin to Robert, Stannis, and Renly

If Brienne were Renly's first cousin, don't you think she would've mentioned it somewhere in her POVs, considering how much she thinks about Renly?

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23 hours ago, Apoplexy said:

If Brienne were Renly's first cousin, don't you think she would've mentioned it somewhere in her POVs, considering how much she thinks about Renly?

In Westeros first cousins are marriage material, not close kin the same way they are in our world.

And you also have to figure that there might not have been much contact between Steffon and his sister.  After all, Steffon was born the same year as Lord Selwyn, so he would have been considerably older than her, similar to the way Robert was 15 when Renly was born.  If there was that big an age disparity, taking into account the twenty year gap between the War of the Nine Penny Kings and Brienne's birth, Steffon might not have had much contact with, nor affection for, her.  Especially when you consider she was betrothed to and would become lady of such a minor house, while he would remain the Lord of Storm's End and Lord Paramount of the Stormlands despite his own unequal match.   The sex difference would also create distance as he could never take her as his squire or give her a formal position in the Stormlands the way he might have given a younger brother.

By the same token, there's no reason to think his sons would have ever met their cousin before Renly showed up at Lord Selwyn's ball as a form of courtesy to a Stormlands vassal with some blood ties recognized only on paper.   From Brienne's perspective, Renly was an eligible bachelor, who also appeared in her family tree but whom she never met before the ball.  She doesn't think of him as her cousin, but her first love, so she doesn't mention it in POV.   

The Lannisters may keep a family compound with multiple subterranean levels where many generations of cousins all live together and even retain ties when they spill over into Lannisport, but that doesn't seem indicative of all of Westeros.   Tarth is a small island and relatively unimportant, unless you need an immediate launch point in the Narrow Sea, as you did during the War of the Nine Penny Kings.  Once that conflict was over, Tarth and Estermont went back to being a couple of backwaters, but the marriage arrangements were already struck.  

Cassana Estermont then gave birth to Robert two years after the war ended, so the wedding was likely during the war or soon after.  Pulling out of the Tarth deal would have made the Baratheons and Targaryens look dishonest, especially when you consider Sir Duncan the Tall's sacrifice at Summerhall barely a year before the war started and young Lord Selwyn's connection to the famous Lord Commander (assuming the connection was publicly known or even rumored).  Doing so would have also fomented distrust between Storm's End and all its vassal houses at a time when there was already talk of Aerys  II' instability and the possible need to replace him with Rhaegar.  One minor Targaryen princess' daughter married off to a poor, but still noble, house would be a small price to pay for Stormlands stability, even a decade after the War of the Nine Penny Kings was ended.   

However, that wouldn't have created personal ties of affection between the families.  To be blunt, Brienne and her father were the poor relations of two of the most powerful houses in Westeros.  That alone might have created enough distance that Brienne doesn't seem to recognize Renly (or Robert or Stannis for that matter) as family in her POV.   Renly comes to the ball as a duty to far flung relations.  For Brienne it's a life-changing event.

On a personal note, I have twenty seven first cousins of my own who I wouldn't know from Adam if we met on the street due to the fact that my paternal grandparents had eight children, over more than two decades, and those children went off in different directions in life.   I'm an only child, but my two cousins on my mother's side are as close to me as I assume most siblings are.  Even in our world, where we don't marry our first cousins because they're too close blood-wise, ties beyond the nuclear family are subjective. 

And if this was somehow important to the story later on, George might not have mentioned it in order to set up a big reveal down the road.  He also may have just cut it out due to its irrelevance to the characters.  Either way, Brienne not mentioning the connection doesn't seem odd to me.  She's one of the few characters that doesn't seem terribly interested in family politics.  It's one of her major blind spots as those politics have nearly killed her or gotten her raped and tortured on several occasions.  

Edited by aeverett

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You're making a lot of assumptions, and ignoring the good points made above. Even if Renly did consider Selwyn and Brienne as inferior, his aunt was a part of their family and he would have shown them some level of courtesy out of respect for her memory. Plus the Baratheons were the liege lords of the Tarths, so there's no doubt that over the decades they had some interactions. Do you honestly believe they would never have acknowledged their family connections in all that time, to the point that Brienne doesn't even think of Renly as her cousin?

I mean, it's good to speculate because the mystery is there to be picked apart and solved, but it's probably best to go by what's actually in the books, rather than take what the books tell us and then disregard it.

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Lord Selwyn Tarth is the son of a daughter of Ser Duncan the Tall and his wife, Princess Daella Targaryen, daughter of King Maekar. It is known. That would combine the fact that Brienne is descended from Dunk as well as from some Targaryens.

And it would be great and funny twist if Dunk ended up marrying the sister Egg was supposed to marry before he fell in love with Betha Blackwood. If that happened during the later years of King Aerys I it may be a considerable scandal but not something that's impossible. Daella is a girl and not exactly at the top of the line of succession while Rhaegel and his children were still around.

Dunk is then going to join the KG only after Daella's early death, perhaps during the last years of Maekar's reign, perhaps only after Maekar's death (chances are that some Kingsguard may have died at Starpike, where Maekar was slain, too).

I don't see Dunk joining the KG while there was still a chance that Daeron the Drunk or Aerion Brightflame might be king or in a position where he, Dunk, would have to serve Aerion as a sworn shield.

Which means Dunk would join the KG either while Rhaegel or Aelor were still the heirs of Aerys I, or only after Aerion's death. And since Maekar died only a year after his second son chances are not that bad that making Dunk a Kingsguard may turn out one of the first acts Aegon V after he becomes king.

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On 12/18/2017 at 6:31 AM, maudisdottir said:

You're making a lot of assumptions, and ignoring the good points made above. Even if Renly did consider Selwyn and Brienne as inferior, his aunt was a part of their family and he would have shown them some level of courtesy out of respect for her memory. Plus the Baratheons were the liege lords of the Tarths, so there's no doubt that over the decades they had some interactions. Do you honestly believe they would never have acknowledged their family connections in all that time, to the point that Brienne doesn't even think of Renly as her cousin?

I mean, it's good to speculate because the mystery is there to be picked apart and solved, but it's probably best to go by what's actually in the books, rather than take what the books tell us and then disregard it.

I am not disregarding anything.  George has not revealed Brienne's Targ heritage in detail, and the explanation above makes the most sense to me.  I can easily see Brienne not mentioning the connection to Renly and the other Baratheon bros because it means so little to her personally.  It's something she's seen on a family tree, but her feelings for Renly come from her father's ball and her time on the Rainbow Guard.  It's not important to her that they shared grandparents who died before she was born, so she doesn't think about it in the POVs.  I might be wrong, but this is my theory.  Until George says otherwise, this is where I'm led by my own analysis.  

Edited by aeverett

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You are absolutely wrong. Brienne would think of Renly as her first cousin if he was. And much of your argument is based on the statement that the Estermonts and Tarths are minor families. Where is that ever mentioned? They appear to be among the most prominent of the Baratheon bannermen. If Princess Elaena and King Aerys I can marry Penroses then I see no problem with Lord Steffon marrying an Estermont or Princess Daella marrying a Tarth. 

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17 hours ago, Jaehaerys Tyrell said:

You are absolutely wrong. Brienne would think of Renly as her first cousin if he was. And much of your argument is based on the statement that the Estermonts and Tarths are minor families. Where is that ever mentioned? They appear to be among the most prominent of the Baratheon bannermen. If Princess Elaena and King Aerys I can marry Penroses then I see no problem with Lord Steffon marrying an Estermont or Princess Daella marrying a Tarth. 

They aren't minor families, but they are bannermen, vassals.  They certainly aren't in the same league as the Baratheons, and all Ormund' and Rhelle's trueborn children would be highly sought after marriage partners due to their mother's Targ blood and connections.  By all accounts the daughter of a Targ princess and the Lord Paramount of the Stormlands should marry into one of the major houses, if not back into the royal family itself.  Steffon had the added benefits of having been heir to Storm's End, having made a name for himself as a fighter, and was considered quite handsome, like his father before him and at least two of his sons to follow.  Yet, somehow, he married a bannerman's daughter, and not one of his wealthier bannerman like the Swanns or Dondarrions.   The Estermonts and the Tarths were noble, but they would have not have been first choices.  Unless there were love matches involved, it would not make sense.  

As to Brienne's mentioning any cousinhood with Renly, I think that's a matter of interpretation until or unless George says otherwise.   I don't think she would for the reasons I've mentioned before.  You see her perspective differently.  Until the the author says otherwise, to each his own.

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