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Southron Ambitions - what were they?

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So I've seen a thread recently that proposed making Lyanna the Queen was the Southron Ambition of Rickard Stark. What are the other theories? Why was Maester Walys encouraging Rickard to marry Brandon to Catelyn? What did Walys know? Or was it just the general discontent with Aerys and he saw an opportunity for his Lord to take advantage of? What are other ideas do people have?

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1 hour ago, Legitimate_Bastard said:

So I've seen a thread recently that proposed making Lyanna the Queen was the Southron Ambition of Rickard Stark. What are the other theories? Why was Maester Walys encouraging Rickard to marry Brandon to Catelyn? What did Walys know? Or was it just the general discontent with Aerys and he saw an opportunity for his Lord to take advantage of? What are other ideas do people have?

I personally think many people are way off on Lord Rickard Stark's "southron ambitions," which I think were mostly about getting closer to the south/southron houses, and the Targs/Iron Throne, and having more influence and say in the realm.

We know Rickard visited King's Landing and got King Aerys interested in the North and the Wall in 264 AC.

We know Rickard fostered his second son Ned with Lord Jon Arryn in around 271-272 AC at the same time Lord Steffon Baratheon fostered his heir Robert.

It is unclear what relationship Rickard or Steffon had with Jon or each other prior to that*.

Lord Robert, after Steffon's death, seems to have been the one to ask Rickard for the Lyanna match, and the only other betrothal Rickard appears to have made for his children was to agree to take Catelyn Tully for his heir Brandon.

For all this talk of the great houses plotting together, there sure is a lack of marriages and betrothals for Arryns, Baratheons, Starks, and Tullys leading up to the rebellion.

In fact, we literally can't name a single man or woman of the widowed lords and their heirs and daughters of houses Stark, Arryn, Baratheon, Tully, and Lannister that can be said to have been married at the time Aerys Targaryen (King) named Jaime Lannister (Heir) to the Kingsguard in 281 AC. That includes the widowed Stark, Arryn, Tully, and Lannister lords, all young enough to wed to secure allies in their alleged plot against the Targaryens, had doing so been deemed so important, as well as the four people who had been long betrothed, but whose families had apparently had no urgency to turn those betrothals into marriages.

Rickard Stark (Lord) was unbetrothed/unwed
Brandon Stark (Heir) and Catelyn Tully remained unwed
Eddard Stark (2nd) was unbetrothed/unwed
Benjen Stark (3rd) was unbetrothed/unwed
Lyanna Stark and Robert Baratheon (Lord) remained unwed

Jon Arryn (Lord) was unbetrothed/unwed
Elbert Arryn (Heir)'s betrothal/marriage status is unclear

Robert Baratheon (Lord) and Lyanna Stark remained unwed
Stannis Baratheon (Heir) was unbetrothed/unwed

Hoster Tully (Lord) was unbetrothed/unwed
Edmure Tully (Heir) was unbetrothed/unwed
Catelyn Tully and Brandon Stark (Heir) remained unwed
Lysa Tully was unbetrothed/unwed

Tywin Lannister (Lord) was unbetrothed/unwed
Jaime Lannister (Heir) was unbetrothed/unwed
Cersei Lannister was unbetrothed/wed

Out of these sixteen important people, not a single one can be said to have been married in 280-281 AC. The four who were betrothed to be wed were still unwed at the time of the Harrenhal Tourney during the False Spring of 281 AC, and remained unwed into early 282 AC. Where was the urgency to wed, even after witnessing Aerys's sorry state at the Harrenhal Tourney in late 281 AC? They demonstrate no hint of concern that they or their houses might be threatened by Aerys, let alone that they intend to band together to move against him.

As for Maester Walys, Lady Barbrey Dustin is our lone source for Rickard's alleged "great ambitions"/"southron ambitions," and her rants/theories about the Citadel influencing Rickard, and about Rickard's ambitions, are both explicitly about the betrothal of Brandon to Catelyn, a marriage which was to bring a Tully north, and infuse the Stark line with Tully ancestry.

Her idea of Rickard having "become the ruled" of Walys, and Rickard's great/southron ambitions, is his agreeing to bring a southron lady to wed his heir in the isolation of Winterfell in the north. She's a bitter widow who was deprived marrying Brandon, then Ned, not someone with inside knowledge of Citadel conspiracies, or some detective who has deduced Citadel conspiracies. 

"They heal, yes. I never said they were not subtle. They tend to us when we are sick and injured, or distraught over the illness of a parent or a child. Whenever we are weakest and most vulnerable, there they are. Sometimes they heal us, and we are duly grateful. When they fail, they console us in our grief, and we are grateful for that as well. Out of gratitude we give them a place beneath our roof and make them privy to all our shames and secrets, a part of every council. And before too long, the ruler has become the ruled. "That was how it was with Lord Rickard Stark. Maester Walys was his grey rat's name. And isn't it clever how the maesters go by only one name, even those who had two when they first arrived at the Citadel? That way we cannot know who they truly are or where they come from … but if you are dogged enough, you can still find out. Before he forged his chain, Maester Walys had been known as Walys Flowers. Flowers, Hill, Rivers, Snow … we give such names to baseborn children to mark them for what they are, but they are always quick to shed them. Walys Flowers had a Hightower girl for a mother … and an archmaester of the Citadel for a father, it was rumored. The grey rats are not as chaste as they would have us believe. Oldtown maesters are the worst of all. Once he forged his chain, his secret father and his friends wasted no time dispatching him to Winterfell to fill Lord Rickard's ears with poisoned words as sweet as honey. The Tully marriage was his notion, never doubt it, he—(ADWD - The Prince of Winterfell)

"The day I learned that Brandon was to marry Catelyn Tully, though … there was nothing sweet about that pain. He never wanted her, I promise you that. He told me so, on our last night together … but Rickard Stark had great ambitions too. Southron ambitions that would not be served by having his heir marry the daughter of one of his own vassals. Afterward my father nursed some hope of wedding me to Brandon's brother Eddard, but Catelyn Tully got that one as well. I was left with young Lord Dustin, until Ned Stark took him from me." (ADWD - The Turncloak)

* As far as other recent Stark/Vale ties before and after the fosterings go: 
- Lorra Royce was the mother of Rickard's father's (Edwyle) father (Willam)
- Lorra Royce was the mother of Rickard's wife's (Lyarra) father (Rodrik)
- Benedict Royce was the husband of Rickard's father's (Edwyle) sister (Jocelyn)
- Elbert Arryn (Jon's nephew/heir) was a companion of Rickard's son/heir (Brandon)

Edited by Bael's Bastard

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1 hour ago, Legitimate_Bastard said:

So I've seen a thread recently that proposed making Lyanna the Queen was the Southron Ambition of Rickard Stark. What are the other theories? Why was Maester Walys encouraging Rickard to marry Brandon to Catelyn? What did Walys know? Or was it just the general discontent with Aerys and he saw an opportunity for his Lord to take advantage of? What are other ideas do people have?

As someone who has argued that there is indeed a political bloc that Rickard is instrumental in constructing to do away with Targaryen power, let me say I disagree with this version. We know that Ned and Jon Arryn are blamed by Robert for making him king. That the three of them made the decision who would be king, and Ned being one of them, tells us that this decision to put Robert on the throne isn't made by Rickard in the pre-rebellion construction of the marriage alliances and foster relationships. Instead it tells us the decision to put Robert on the throne is made some time after Rickard and Brandon are murdered, and after Ned, Robert, and Jon agree to raise their banners in rebellion. This is, we are told by the author, proclaimed around the time of the Battle of the Trident. Which is a long way of saying the goals of the rebellion change by the developments of on the ground and don't strictly follow a blueprint made up by Lord Rickard or anyone else in the pre-war period.

Why is Maester Walys encouraging Rickard to marry Brandon to Catelyn? Because Walys has his own agenda. It's an agenda that dovetails with Rickard's own and this marriage pact advances the aim of both - developing a political bloc aimed at getting rid of Targaryen overlordship. Walys, and Cressen, are two maesters whose actions place them at the forefront as candidates to be leaders of the maester's conspiracy that Marwyn tells Sam about in A Feast for Crows. If that is also true of Maester Kym in Riverrun, and whoever are the maesters in the Eyrie and Casterly Rock we have no evidence yet.

There are many theories about this, but I can only really tell you my own. It is that Rickard's bloc, named the STAB bloc by another poster for the Starks, Tullys, Arryns, and Baratheons, and later with an attempt to bring the Lannisters and possibly powerful Houses in the Reach all into a political alliance consummated by marriages and foster relationships to basically tell the dragonless Targaryens to go fuck themselves and that the old kingdoms of the pre-conquest would be independent from their rule. At which point, if the Targaryens wanted war they would have to rely on Dorne, and perhaps the Tyrells, to support their rule. Given the internal conflicts in the Reach, and Dorne's less than warm relations with the king that doesn't bode well for Aerys. That seems to be the aim of Rickard's "Southron Ambitions." It is not to replace a Targaryen on the Iron Throne with another king. Although events lead to that end. This coalition of High Lords would never stand together to promote only one of their number to take control. It is a coalition that can push the ambitions of all of them. Or at least, in short form, that is how I see it.

Edited by SFDanny

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Awesome - thanks for the detailed responses.

20 minutes ago, Bael's Bastard said:

We know Rickard visited King's Landing and got King Aerys interested in the North and the Wall in 264 AC.

I wonder if after the Defiance of Duskendale in 277 when Aerys II really started to go off the deep had anything to do with it. I just wondered, with the timeline, if it is significant. Rickard may have got Aerys interested in the North and after Duskendale that interest waned. Could that have been when any conspiracy between Jon Arryn and Rickard began, if there even was any?

 

5 minutes ago, SFDanny said:

Walys, and Cressen, are two maesters whose actions place them at the forefront as candidates to be leaders of the maester's conspiracy that Marwyn tells Sam about in A Feast for Crows. If that is also true of Maester Kym in Riverrun, and whoever are the maesters in the Eyrie and Casterly Rock we have no evidence yet.

Why would the Maesters be conspiring to do away with the Iron Throne? Just because there are no more dragons and it would be much easier? Or are they being directed? Is it to make Westeros weaker by destroying central authority?

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4 minutes ago, Legitimate_Bastard said:

Awesome - thanks for the detailed responses.

No problem. I'm trying to finish a long promised essay on this subject. If I actually finish it, and post it, I will be happy to let you know if you like.

6 minutes ago, Legitimate_Bastard said:

Why would the Maesters be conspiring to do away with the Iron Throne? Just because there are no more dragons and it would be much easier? Or are they being directed? Is it to make Westeros weaker by destroying central authority?

I think there are lots of reasons, but simply put they are trying to construct a world that rejects rule by those who have imposed their will through magic, superstition, prophecy, and dragons. They want a world ruled by reason. Reason supplied by their own guidance and approved learning. What we know is that Marwyn tells us that some maesters are willing to kill to bring this world about and to stop the power of magic and dragons and prophecy from returning. Which is precisely what Cressen does when confronted with Melisandre.

We don't know enough about this conspiracy's internal structure to say how it is directed, but obviously there are members in the Citadel that Marwyn feels the need to warn Sam about.

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2 minutes ago, Legitimate_Bastard said:

Awesome - thanks for the detailed responses.

I wonder if after the Defiance of Duskendale in 277 when Aerys II really started to go off the deep had anything to do with it. I just wondered, with the timeline, if it is significant. Rickard may have got Aerys interested in the North and after Duskendale that interest waned. Could that have been when any conspiracy between Jon Arryn and Rickard began, if there even was any?

I think it is difficult to know just how much the lords of the realm outside the Red Keep knew about Aerys's state after Duskendale in 277 AC, or how much concern there was among most lords prior to the Harrenhal Tourney in late 281 AC.

Aerys didn't leave the Red Keep for five years after Duskendale in 277 AC, and Maester Yandel states in TWOIAF that many of those who attended the Harrenhal Tourney in late 281 AC were shocked and appalled when they saw what had become of him.

Lord Tywin would've witnessed and experienced it first hand, and Prince Rhaegar, though perhaps less so on account of living on Dragonstone. Not to say word couldn't have been spread by others at court, or maesters, but to what extent it was, I am not sure.

Some might suggest that Aerys's response to the Defiance would have alarmed the lords of the realm into worrying about Aerys and conspiring with each other, but I think the lords, especially great lords, would have been more likely to side with Aerys in a case where a house took a man who was both their liege lord and their king captive and threatened to kill him.

In Aerys's position they might not go to the full extent Aerys did, but it is not as though Aerys arbitrarily targeted a house for no reason, and I think many lords, especially great lords, would have been more concerned about the precedent of a bannerman doing what Lord Darklyn did and getting away with it, than with Aerys punishing it.

Rickard fostered Ned with Jon in 271-272 AC, so whatever ties existed there had already been established for around half a decade by the time of the Defiance, and whatever impact that had on Aerys. Lord Steffon, who apparently Aerys trusted up to his death in 278 AC, had also fostered his son and heir Robert at the same time.

Personally, I don't believe that a conspiracy against Aerys or House Targaryen existed between any or all of Jon, Rickard, and Steffon, or their sons, prior to the outbreak of the war. I believe Steffon remained loyal to Aerys until his death in 278 AC, and that Robert didn't sour on Rhaegar and House Targaryen until late 281 AC, well after his betrothal to Lyanna.

But a pretty big gap in knowledge at this point is what, if any, relationship existed between Jon and Rickard, Jon and Steffon, and/or Rickard and Steffon in the early 270s AC when Rickard and Steffon chose, and Jon accepted, to foster Ned and Robert at the Eyrie.

Did they become acquainted when King Jaehaerys II was crowned in 259 AC? Did they become acquainted during the War of the Ninepenny Kings in 260 AC? Did they become acquainted when Rickard visited King's Landing in 264 AC? Do they go back further than any of these? Or did they become acquainted some time later?

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49 minutes ago, Legitimate_Bastard said:

Why would the Maesters be conspiring to do away with the Iron Throne? Just because there are no more dragons and it would be much easier? Or are they being directed? Is it to make Westeros weaker by destroying central authority?

I'm not sure that all maesters would be involved in such a plot, but I do think there is good reason to think that at least a significant faction of such people exists at the Citadel. And I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if Grand Maester Pycelle, who assumed his position under Aegon V, a few months before the Summerhall Tragedy in 259 AC, belonged to such a faction. If his own statements are anything to go by, I also wouldn't be surprised if he and whatever faction he might belong to would have preferred Lord Tywin to replace House Targaryen.

Edited by Bael's Bastard

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16 minutes ago, SFDanny said:

No problem. I'm trying to finish a long promised essay on this subject. If I actually finish it, and post it, I will be happy to let you know if you like.

Yes, please!

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13 minutes ago, Bael's Bastard said:

I'm not sure that all maesters would be involved in such a plot, but I do think there is good reason to think that at least a significant faction of such people exists at the Citadel. And I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if Grand Maester Pycelle, who assumed his position under Aegon V, a few months before the Summerhall Tragedy in 259 AC, belonged to such a faction. If his own statements are anything to go by, I also wouldn't be surprised if he and whatever faction he might belong to would have preferred Lord Tywin to replace House Targaryen.

Pycelle was definitely a Lannister henchman. I hope we get to learn more about any conspiracy that may have been/is afoot.

Thanks!

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15 minutes ago, Legitimate_Bastard said:

Pycelle was definitely a Lannister henchman. I hope we get to learn more about any conspiracy that may have been/is afoot.

Thanks!

He definitely seems to have been a lover of Tywin. But it would be interesting to know whether his seeming loyalty to Tywin is tied to a possible higher loyalty to an anti-Targaryen faction at the Citadel, the likes of which Marwyn speaks of.

I have always found it interesting that Jaime recalls that after the Battle of the Bells, Rhaegar was able to persuade Aerys to swallow his pride and send for Tywin, but that no raven returned from Casterly Rock, while Kevan recalls after the Battle of the Bells having expected that Aerys would have no choice but to summon Tywin once more, but that he had turned to Chelsted and Rossart instead.

Did Tywin receive and ignore a raven from Aerys that Kevan is unaware of? Or did that raven never make it to Tywin? Part of me likes to think that Pycelle is responsible for that raven never making it to Tywin. Tywin could have saved the Targaryen regime had he received it. And if he had, it is not inconceivable that he would have won Jaime's freedom from the KG, been restored to the office of Hand, and perhaps even won a royal match, if only with Viserys.

If Pycelle belonged to an anti-Targaryen faction, they would have good reason to make sure that never happened. And if Pycelle was aware that Tywin never received the raven Rhaegar had persuaded Aerys to send, he might have had a good idea what Tywin was had arrived at the gates of King's Landing to do when he advised Aerys to open the gates, while Aerys would have wrongly assumed that Tywin was merely finally answering his summons.

Edited by Bael's Bastard

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24 minutes ago, Bael's Bastard said:

He definitely seems to have been a lover of Tywin. But it would be interesting to know whether his seeming loyalty to Tywin is tied to a possible higher loyalty to an anti-Targaryen faction at the Citadel, the likes of which Marwyn speaks of.

So many questions. So few answers. I'm all over the place I know but this makes me think that Leyton Hightower might be confined to his tower reading spells with Malora because the Maesters below present a threat. I also find this interesting:

Samwell: The Hightower must be doing something.
Captain: To be sure. Lord Leyton's locked atop his tower with the Mad Maid, consulting books of spells. Might be he'll raise an army from the deeps. Or not.[3]

- Samwell Tarly and the captain of the Huntress

Oh the possibilities. Come on GRRM! Hurry up with TWOW!

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3 hours ago, Bael's Bastard said:

I'm not sure that all maesters would be involved in such a plot, but I do think there is good reason to think that at least a significant faction of such people exists at the Citadel. And I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if Grand Maester Pycelle, who assumed his position under Aegon V, a few months before the Summerhall Tragedy in 259 AC, belonged to such a faction. If his own statements are anything to go by, I also wouldn't be surprised if he and whatever faction he might belong to would have preferred Lord Tywin to replace House Targaryen.

Indeed. One of the more interesting theories from before I came here on about 11 years ago is that the new Grand Maester Pycelle was the one responsible for the sabotage of Egg's attempt to wake new dragons at Summerhall (thank you, Other-in-law) and it was he that started the inferno that killed so many. I didn't list him in my response only because he wasn't one of the maesters at the the rebel houses. He is, after his betrayal of Aerys with the opening of the gates to King's Landing, a top candidate for the maester's conspiracy that Marwyn warns Sam about, although obviously not in the Citadel at the time. I agree we are talking about factions here, not all of the maesters and acolytes. Clearly, if we believe Marwyn's tale he is not part of such a faction.

It does look, however, like the members of the conspiracy are a very powerful faction if they can place their members in such powerful Houses. We don't know exactly how such decisions are made at the Citadel to send who to serve where, but it is a critical power for the Citadel however it is done. Placing one of the faction's members in the Grand Maester's chair is obviously critical as well. Perhaps we will learn more from a Samwell chapter as the Citadel chooses who to send to replace Pycelle.

But even beyond the maester's conspiracy's membership, is their influence. Maester Luwin teaches Bran and clearly influences Ned to believe that magic is dead. Dragons gone to never return, and the Others only stuff of distant legend. That even the High Lord of the North has come to believe such things is an important part of our story here. So, even if Luwin has nothing to do with being a member, or would ever harm any of the Starks, he is influenced by this disbelief in these supernatural forces. An example of the faction's teaching.

This is Martin to the core. There are no purely good guys here. There are no purely bad guys either. He has us cheering for Cressen's assassination attempt to save his beloved and misunderstood Stannis from Melisandre's evil influences. And then he lets us know later than maybe Cressen's sacrifice might have a darker side in his like minded brothers who would do what they can to destroy magic and those who believe in it. For us in the real world it is Martin asking us to ask ourselves if, in a world in which magic is real, would the rationalist ideas of the Enlightenment be all for the better? In a world where the Others walk the night with armies of undead, is it a good idea to ignore the prophecies, and kill the dragons?

Edited by SFDanny

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No one ever takes me seriously when I say this, but is it possible at all that these alliances were also born out of necessity? Is it possible at all that Lord Rickard and Maester Walys were already preparing for the Long Night?

Maester Luwin and Ned did not believe in Old Nan's stories, but maybe Maester Walys and Rickard did.

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Considering that Pycelle apparently only left the sinking Targaryen ship after Rhaegar's death I doubt he belongs to any 'anti-Targaryen faction' in the Citadel.

He is also no genuine Lannister crony considering that he condemned Tytos and only became a Tywin fan boy when he saw the man in action as Hand. Pycelle is an old, done man in the series, but he actually seems to have been a pretty competent and able guy back in the day when he was chosen as Grand Maester.

As to the Citadel:

There is not necessarily a real conspiracy there. Just an anti magic bias based on empiricism. Magic really doesn't work all that well since the dragons died, so it is hardly surprising that fewer and fewer acolytes study the higher mysteries at the Citadel. We also do know that the kind of magic that still works - the things Melisandre can do, for instance - come with a pretty high price attached. This, too, is explanation enough why the maesters don't find magic all that intriguing.

If there was a conspiracy in the Citadel in the past, it was an anti-dragon conspiracy, not an anti-Targaryen conspiracy. Marwyn indicates the maesters may have killed the last dragons (the dragons in the Dance killed each other or were killed by a mad mob) and he apparently believes Sam and Aemon may have been in danger because of their knowledge about Daenerys and the dragons - revealing that the dragons are the issue, not the Targaryens and their descendants and cousins.

There may have been treason involved at Summerhall, but while we don't even know that Pycelle was there chances are not that great that the guy was there (Egg called the people closest to him to the palace, and Pycelle was just a new Grand Maester, not one of the king's friends as far as we know). It could have just been an accident or some person we have not yet even met used Summerhall as an opportunity to get even with the king. Aegon V apparently had many enemies among the lords.

A conspiracy against the Iron Throne makes no sense from the point of view of the Citadel. They purport the rule of law and rationality. A fragmented Realm means more wars, conflicts, and a return to the barbarism and savagery of the past. Just think how the maester of the Goodbrothers argues in favor of Asha as Balon's heir - because she is the one favored by the law, and the one who is not likely to return to the old way. Which is something the Ironborn would have inevitably done if the Seven Kingdoms had fragmented again. They would have gone back to full-scale raiding and they might have even carved themselves some new kingdoms in the green lands. 

Not to mention that there is really no evidence for this STAB alliance idea aside from the circumstantial evidence of 'suspicious betrothals/marriages' and 'suspicious fostering'. If you don't see that as all that suspicious then one has literally nothing to build that theory on. And it is very difficult to create a coherent motivational setting for all the characters who are supposedly involved in that - most notably their reason of doing that.

Aside from the Lannisters, the Starks, and the Arryns there weren't even proper royal houses there. The Tyrells and the Tullys could never hope to become the kings of the Reach or the Riverlands (the Baratheons might succeed, but they cannot claim to be male line heirs of the old Storm Kings).

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16 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Considering that Pycelle apparently only left the sinking Targaryen ship after Rhaegar's death I doubt he belongs to any 'anti-Targaryen faction' in the Citadel.

He is also no genuine Lannister crony considering that he condemned Tytos and only became a Tywin fan boy when he saw the man in action as Hand. Pycelle is an old, done man in the series, but he actually seems to have been a pretty competent and able guy back in the day when he was chosen as Grand Maester.

Somehow, the "he only betrayed the king and caused his death once - that we are sure of!" defense of Pycelle's character doesn't exactly seem like a resounding endorsement. When you follow it up with he was only a "Lannister crony" from the moment Tywin showed his awesome leadership from, what?, the first days of Aerys's reign?, doesn't seem like a great argument either.

The membership of Pycelle in a maester's conspiracy isn't based on his competence or incompetence as the Grand Maester. If it's true, it based on his actions against the Targaryens, and magic, and prophecy, and any attempt to bring back dragons. Given his betrayal of Aerys, it is something that has to be considered. Given his place at court during the Summerhall fires, he can't be ruled out as a suspect in possible sabotage and murder of another king. Not saying we have the evidence to convict him of the latter, but I wouldn't expect to until the last Dunk & Egg novella is published - knock on wood.

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19 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

As to the Citadel:

There is not necessarily a real conspiracy there. Just an anti magic bias based on empiricism. Magic really doesn't work all that well since the dragons died, so it is hardly surprising that fewer and fewer acolytes study the higher mysteries at the Citadel. We also do know that the kind of magic that still works - the things Melisandre can do, for instance - come with a pretty high price attached. This, too, is explanation enough why the maesters don't find magic all that intriguing.

There is certainly a "anti magic bias based on empiricism" as I pointed out in the first post responding to @Bael's Bastard. But the evidence is pretty strong for a real conspiracy. Marwyn's warnings and rush to get to Daenerys before their agent can is evidence that he thinks the conspiracy ongoing and willing to commit murder to further its aims. And, once again, viewing Cressen's actions in the light of Marwyn's warnings, puts a whole new level of analysis on the ACoK prologue. Add in the history of Maester Walys and we have a strong case for Marwyn's view.

19 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

If there was a conspiracy in the Citadel in the past, it was an anti-dragon conspiracy, not an anti-Targaryen conspiracy. Marwyn indicates the maesters may have killed the last dragons (the dragons in the Dance killed each other or were killed by a mad mob) and he apparently believes Sam and Aemon may have been in danger because of their knowledge about Daenerys and the dragons - revealing that the dragons are the issue, not the Targaryens and their descendants and cousins.

Just how does one separate the Targaryen reign over Westeros from dragons, prophecy, and magic? Did the Targaryen kings wake up every morning after the death of the last dragon under Aegon III's reign and say, that's all right we will just be kings like these we conquered and accept the teachings of everything that separated them as Valyrians and the "rightful" kings of their domains? Do they forget their dragon dreams, or their study of magic, or their belief in prophecy? Of course, they don't! They are the embodiment of all of these things in their minds. And that is how the rest of Westeros sees them, most especially the Citadel.

As to whether this is an ongoing conspiracy or just one that stopped with the death of the last dragon, I've already responded to that argument.

19 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

There may have been treason involved at Summerhall, but while we don't even know that Pycelle was there chances are not that great that the guy was there (Egg called the people closest to him to the palace, and Pycelle was just a new Grand Maester, not one of the king's friends as far as we know). It could have just been an accident or some person we have not yet even met used Summerhall as an opportunity to get even with the king. Aegon V apparently had many enemies among the lords.

I've dealt with this above, but of course the case against Pycelle's involvement in sabotage and murder at Summerhall isn't open and shut. The evidence is extremely scanty. That doesn't mean Pycelle's later actions don't make him a likely culprit. If you commit one murder, doesn't mean you will ever do another. Nor does it rule out that a murderer may have committed a previous one than we do have proof about. It does mean you have it in your character to do such a thing under the right circumstances.

 

19 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

A conspiracy against the Iron Throne makes no sense from the point of view of the Citadel. They purport the rule of law and rationality. A fragmented Realm means more wars, conflicts, and a return to the barbarism and savagery of the past. Just think how the maester of the Goodbrothers argues in favor of Asha as Balon's heir - because she is the one favored by the law, and the one who is not likely to return to the old way. Which is something the Ironborn would have inevitably done if the Seven Kingdoms had fragmented again. They would have gone back to full-scale raiding and they might have even carved themselves some new kingdoms in the green lands.

Divide and rule. Or in this case, divide and weaken the power of a central monarch to continue to rule based on the very things and ideas which the maester's conspiracy is supposedly willing to kill to end. Do you think a newly restored king of one of the Seven Kingdoms will be more or less a power in their world than a ruler who commands everything from the Iron Throne? I'd say less.

19 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Not to mention that there is really no evidence for this STAB alliance idea aside from the circumstantial evidence of 'suspicious betrothals/marriages' and 'suspicious fostering'. If you don't see that as all that suspicious then one has literally nothing to build that theory on. And it is very difficult to create a coherent motivational setting for all the characters who are supposedly involved in that - most notably their reason of doing that.

 

I'd say this is turning a blind eye to the evidence.

19 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Aside from the Lannisters, the Starks, and the Arryns there weren't even proper royal houses there. The Tyrells and the Tullys could never hope to become the kings of the Reach or the Riverlands (the Baratheons might succeed, but they cannot claim to be male line heirs of the old Storm Kings).

The Tullys, and perhaps the Tyrells or another powerful House of the Reach that have never accepted these "up jumped stewards, see this as their only way of ever reaching that goal. Obviously, the Targaryens will never allow it. But actions in concert with other High Lords whom they have solemn marriage ties with, may be a road that brings that dream to reality.

Edited by SFDanny

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3 hours ago, SFDanny said:

Somehow, the "he only betrayed the king and caused his death once - that we are sure of!" defense of Pycelle's character doesn't exactly seem like a resounding endorsement. When you follow it up with he was only a "Lannister crony" from the moment Tywin showed his awesome leadership from, what?, the first days of Aerys's reign?, doesn't seem like a great argument either.

The membership of Pycelle in a maester's conspiracy isn't based on his competence or incompetence as the Grand Maester. If it's true, it based on his actions against the Targaryens, and magic, and prophecy, and any attempt to bring back dragons. Given his betrayal of Aerys, it is something that has to be considered. Given his place at court during the Summerhall fires, he can't be ruled out as a suspect in possible sabotage and murder of another king. Not saying we have the evidence to convict him of the latter, but I wouldn't expect to until the last Dunk & Egg novella is published - knock on wood.

Pycelle makes it clear that he saw Rhaegar as a viable alternative to Aerys - as did Tywin, who wanted his daughter to marry Rhaegar - while Rhaegar yet lived.

And he did not really betray the Targaryens as much as he helped his buddy Tywin. Would Pycelle have betrayed Aerys to the windbag Robert? I'd not be so sure of that. Pycelle wanted Tywin to be king/control the Realm because he thought the main was ideally suited for that task. And he was not wrong. Tywin would have been a better king than both Aerys and Robert.

Being Tywin's friend while Tywin was Hand also doesn't mean he betrayed his king. He may have just sided with Tywin very often because Tywin really had great ideas/suggestions, etc.

Pycelle is not really giving any indication he has severe issues with magic or dragons, either. When asked about magic he gives the impression he doesn't like or trust the concept all that much, but doesn't indicate that he loathes the concept all that much.

With the Targaryens gone there is actually no reason the Citadel has to keep it a secret that they always loathed these people - if that was the case.

Again - Aegon V apparently had many enemies. If he was betrayed and his efforts were sabotaged then perhaps the men who hated his reforms and wanted to prevent them from being pushed through with the help of dragons worked against him? We don't know.

17 minutes ago, SFDanny said:

There is certainly a "anti magic bias based on empiricism" as I pointed out in the first post responding to @Bael's Bastard. But the evidence is pretty strong for a real conspiracy. Marwyn's warnings and rush to get to Daenerys before their agent can is evidence that he thinks the conspiracy ongoing and willing to commit murder to further its aims. And, once again, viewing Cressen's actions in the light of Marwyn's warnings, puts a whole new level of analysis on the ACoK prologue. Add in the history of Maester Walys and we have a strong case for Marwyn's view.

Walys is evidence that Lady Dustin believes maesters have influence over the lords they serve. We don't even know the man really had the idea of the Tully match.

But this has nothing to do with magic, dragons, or the Targaryens.

Why do you think the Citadel killed the dragons after the Dance - assuming they did that? Because many dragons mean devastating civil wars like the Dance are a possibility. Tumbleton could have been KL, Oldtown, or Lannisport. Real dragons create the possibility of that becoming a thing again. Eggs mean nothing. Aegon V may have been betrayed, but it is just as likely the whole thing was an accident. Wildfire is pretty volatile.

I'm willing to buy Marwyn's fear of the maesters trying to kill Dany and the dragons, but that would be because of the dragons.

Some prophetic dreams and the like don't seem to be reason enough to me to conspire against the royal family - especially since they had countless opportunities to end the Targaryen line just after the Dance.

17 minutes ago, SFDanny said:

Just how does one separate the Targaryen reign over Westeros from dragons, prophecy, and magic? Did the Targaryen kings wake up every morning after the death of the last dragon under Aegon III's reign and say, that's alright we will just be kings like these we conquered and accept the teachings of everything that separated them as Valyrians and the "rightful" kings of their domains? Do they forget their dragon dreams, or their study of magic, or their belief in prophecy? Of course, they don't! They are the embodiment of all of these things in their minds. And that is how the rest of Westeros sees them, most especially the Citadel.

Them being obsessed with bringing the dragons doesn't mean that this was ever a real possibility, or that anyone believed it was. Dany hatching the eggs was a miracle.

17 minutes ago, SFDanny said:

Divide and rule. Or in this case, divide and weaken the power of a central monarch to continue to rule based on the very things and ideas which the maester's conspiracy is supposedly willing to kill to end. Do you think a newly restored king of one of the Seven Kingdoms will be more or less a power in their world than a ruler who commands everything from the Iron Throne? I'd say less.

But that wouldn't be the world the Citadel is building. It is not building a world of little kings, constant infighting, and wars without end. It is building a world of order and law. And the works much better with the Iron Throne than without it. There is going to be no law without a central authority, nor is the Citadel going to have influence over all the Seven Kingdoms if the Citadel is just going to be the university of Oldtown and the Reach again.

Do you think the Citadel will have more or less influence in another kingdom when the Reach is at war with that kingdom? I don't think so. The various lords might be more and more reluctant to employ maesters who may be seen as the creatures of Oldtown, not as an institution of the united Realm.

17 minutes ago, SFDanny said:

I'd say this is turning a blind eye to the evidence.

The only real 'evidence' there is are those betrothals and the fostering stuff. Everything else is drawn into this idea. The theory does not follow the evidence, the evidence follows the theory. And that's not how it should be. We should have real good tangible evidence - a really good hint - that something is amiss there on a very large scale. And we don't have that at this point.

17 minutes ago, SFDanny said:

The Tullys, and perhaps the Tyrells or another powerful House of the Reach that have never accepted these "up jumped stewards, see this as their only way of ever reaching that goal. Obviously, the Targaryens will never allow it. But actions in concert with other High Lords whom they have solemn marriage ties with, may be a road that brings that dream to reality.

Marriage ties mean pretty much nothing in this world. Kinship doesn't save you from a kinslayer, and having a daughter married to some great lord doesn't mean this guy is going to help you get a crown - or not invade your land if he thinks he can get away with that.

The Tullys and Tyrells are not on equal footing with the Arryns, Lannisters, and Starks. They never were kings, and pretty much nobody would want them to be kings. Why should they?

Even those guys could really trust each other - which is laughable if you keep in mind how Robert treats Jon's son, how Ned thinks of the Lannisters, how the Baratheons kill each other, etc. - then there is no guarantee that such an alliance would last into the next generation.

But in this world a secret meeting of the great lords everybody would lie to their teeth to get the others to kill the Targaryens - and then they would kill each other to gain the Iron Throne themselves. Nobody would be content with just those ridiculously small and weak kingdoms from before the Conquest if they could have all - or at least a much larger chunk.

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On 9/14/2018 at 8:05 PM, Bael's Bastard said:

 

Rickard Stark (Lord) was unbetrothed/unwed
Brandon Stark (Heir) and Catelyn Tully remained unwed
Eddard Stark (2nd) was unbetrothed/unwed
Benjen Stark (3rd) was unbetrothed/unwed
Lyanna Stark and Robert Baratheon (Lord) remained unwed

Jon Arryn (Lord) was unbetrothed/unwed
Elbert Arryn (Heir)'s betrothal/marriage status is unclear

Robert Baratheon (Lord) and Lyanna Stark remained unwed
Stannis Baratheon (Heir) was unbetrothed/unwed

Hoster Tully (Lord) was unbetrothed/unwed
Edmure Tully (Heir) was unbetrothed/unwed
Catelyn Tully and Brandon Stark (Heir) remained unwed
Lysa Tully was unbetrothed/unwed

Tywin Lannister (Lord) was unbetrothed/unwed
Jaime Lannister (Heir) was unbetrothed/unwed
Cersei Lannister was unbetrothed/wed

Out of these sixteen important people, not a single one can be said to have been married in 280-281 AC. The four who were betrothed to be wed were still unwed at the time of the Harrenhal Tourney during the False Spring of 281 AC, and remained unwed into early 282 AC. Where was the urgency to wed, even after witnessing Aerys's sorry state at the Harrenhal Tourney in late 281 AC? They demonstrate no hint of concern that they or their houses might be threatened by Aerys, let alone that they intend to band together to move against him.

 

Its not only marriage but also foster care, There was allready a bond between Jon, Eddard and Robert. Lysa was betroth to Jaimie, was also serious if aerys was not interferring by sending jaimie to the kingsguard. Hoster would have been pissed off about that and was allready a enemy of the king. Edmure was too young and had no suitable match, only Arianne was an option. But Doran used Arianne for his own agenda. So the houses accept of the Tyrells (always Targaryan loyalists) and The Matrtells (own Agenda) are all connected to each other and a real marriage could wait. 

There was also no use for the other people to get married, because the connections were allready made. The Maesters could arrange some marriages but not all and that sounds perfectly normal to me, because it are people with their own minds and rules.  

Edited by Seaserpent

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On 9/14/2018 at 7:20 PM, Lord Varys said:

Considering that Pycelle apparently only left the sinking Targaryen ship after Rhaegar's death I doubt he belongs to any 'anti-Targaryen faction' in the Citadel.

He is also no genuine Lannister crony considering that he condemned Tytos and only became a Tywin fan boy when he saw the man in action as Hand. Pycelle is an old, done man in the series, but he actually seems to have been a pretty competent and able guy back in the day when he was chosen as Grand Maester.

As to the Citadel:

There is not necessarily a real conspiracy there. Just an anti magic bias based on empiricism. Magic really doesn't work all that well since the dragons died, so it is hardly surprising that fewer and fewer acolytes study the higher mysteries at the Citadel. We also do know that the kind of magic that still works - the things Melisandre can do, for instance - come with a pretty high price attached. This, too, is explanation enough why the maesters don't find magic all that intriguing.

If there was a conspiracy in the Citadel in the past, it was an anti-dragon conspiracy, not an anti-Targaryen conspiracy. Marwyn indicates the maesters may have killed the last dragons (the dragons in the Dance killed each other or were killed by a mad mob) and he apparently believes Sam and Aemon may have been in danger because of their knowledge about Daenerys and the dragons - revealing that the dragons are the issue, not the Targaryens and their descendants and cousins.

There may have been treason involved at Summerhall, but while we don't even know that Pycelle was there chances are not that great that the guy was there (Egg called the people closest to him to the palace, and Pycelle was just a new Grand Maester, not one of the king's friends as far as we know). It could have just been an accident or some person we have not yet even met used Summerhall as an opportunity to get even with the king. Aegon V apparently had many enemies among the lords.

A conspiracy against the Iron Throne makes no sense from the point of view of the Citadel. They purport the rule of law and rationality. A fragmented Realm means more wars, conflicts, and a return to the barbarism and savagery of the past. Just think how the maester of the Goodbrothers argues in favor of Asha as Balon's heir - because she is the one favored by the law, and the one who is not likely to return to the old way. Which is something the Ironborn would have inevitably done if the Seven Kingdoms had fragmented again. They would have gone back to full-scale raiding and they might have even carved themselves some new kingdoms in the green lands. 

Not to mention that there is really no evidence for this STAB alliance idea aside from the circumstantial evidence of 'suspicious betrothals/marriages' and 'suspicious fostering'. If you don't see that as all that suspicious then one has literally nothing to build that theory on. And it is very difficult to create a coherent motivational setting for all the characters who are supposedly involved in that - most notably their reason of doing that.

Aside from the Lannisters, the Starks, and the Arryns there weren't even proper royal houses there. The Tyrells and the Tullys could never hope to become the kings of the Reach or the Riverlands (the Baratheons might succeed, but they cannot claim to be male line heirs of the old Storm Kings).

Archmaester Marwyn tells Samwell Tarley to ask himself why Aemon Targaryen was allowed to waste his life upon the Wall, when by rights he should have been raised to archmaester, and answers: "His blood was why. He could not be trusted. No more than I can." So Marwyn clearly believes the "grey sheep" at the Citadel have conspired against Targaryens themselves, not just their dragons. We don't know how far back that conspiracy goes, or the extents of it, but we have at least one archmaester telling us that it exists, and has since before the dragons came back, so it isn't just some baseless fan theory.

I think that there was an anti-Targaryen faction that developed among the archmaesters of the Citadel at some point, and I think there is a good chance that faction preferred to see Tywin Lannister on the throne. That said, the Citadel got along just fine for centuries or millennia before there was a single united kingdom in Westeros, so I don't think a divided realm would necessarily do them great harm. 

I do agree with you in rejecting theories of a pre-war STAB alliance.

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On 9/15/2018 at 5:06 PM, Seaserpent said:

Its not only marriage but also foster care, There was allready a bond between Jon, Eddard and Robert. Lysa was betroth to Jaimie, was also serious if aerys was not interferring by sending jaimie to the kingsguard. Hoster would have been pissed off about that and was allready a enemy of the king. Edmure was too young and had no suitable match, only Arianne was an option. But Doran used Arianne for his own agenda. So the houses accept of the Tyrells (always Targaryan loyalists) and The Matrtells (own Agenda) are all connected to each other and a real marriage could wait.

What do you mean not only marriage? There were no marriages. And only two betrothals, which went years without being sealed into marriages. And we know for a fact that marriage can't wait when it comes to war. Hoster didn't contribute a single sword to war until two of the three rebel leaders agreed to wed his daughters, all while Robert and his rebellion threatened to be put down at Stoney Sept. Marriages are urgent matters when it comes to war. And yet there were none before the war.

As for foster care, Ned (and presumably Robert) was fostered with Jon starting in 271-272 AC. There is absolutely no hint of an issue between Rickard and Aerys, Steffon and Aerys, or Jon and Aerys anywhere near that far back. There is no evidence for these fosterings having any offensive or defensive intent towards House Targaryen.

In fact, there is never a hint of Rickard having an issue with Aerys, only Aerys having an issue with Rickard. And that wasn't until late 281 AC, when Rhaegar crowned Lyanna QOLAB, which Aerys's lickspittles tried to convince him was proof that Rhaegar was meant to win House Stark's allegiance to Rhaegar's cause to gain the Iron Throne from Aerys. Then Rhaegar abducted Lyanna, and Brandon rode into the Red Keep threatening Rhaegar, and Aerys summoned Rickard to answer for Brandon's crimes, and Aerys executed Rickard.

Just as there is never a hint of Steffon having an issue with Aerys. In fact, in the last days of Steffon's life in 278 AC, Aerys named his cousin and old friend to his Small Council, and entrusted him with finding a wife for Prince Rhaegar. It was even rumored that Aerys intended to name Steffon his Hand in place of Tywin once Steffon returned from Essos. So up to Steffon's death in 278 AC, we have no hint of him having an issue with Aerys, let alone any reason to plot against him with other great lords.

And there is never a hint of Robert having an issue with Aerys or Rhaegar until the Harrenhal Tourney in late 281 AC, when he had already been long betrothed to Lyanna, the issue being caused when Rhaegar named Lyanna QOLAB. This was further exacerbated when Rhaegar abducted Lyanna in 282 AC. All his issues with House Targaryen came after he had already asked Rickard for Lyanna's hand.  Which he did after falling in love with Lyanna, the sister of Ned, who he had been best friends with for nearly a decade. So again, no evidence of an offensive or defensive intent against House Targaryen. 

With Jon we have no evidence of an issue between him and Aerys until the imprisoning of Elbert, who was imprisoned as one of Brandon's companions when he rode into the Red Keep threatening Rhaegar in 282 AC.

So all the issue we know of come about a decade after Ned and Robert began to be fostered with Jon, and they all have to do with things that were done a decade after Ned and Robert began to be fostered with Jon. We should have no doubt that Jon had developed strong relationships with Ned and Robert, and that Ned and Robert had developed strong relationships with each other. But I think it is a mistake without basis to work backwards from what we know happened to suggest that the fosterings and relationships were made in the first place to have an offensive or defensive intent against House Targaryen.

No, Lysa wasn't betrothed to Jaime. Hoster and Tywin were negotiating to betroth them in 281 AC when Aerys named Jaime to the Kingsguard. And at the time Hoster was negotiating that betrothal, Tywin was still saving his daughter Cersei to betroth her to a Targaryen prince, as he had been doing since at least 272-274 AC. He was still Aerys's Hand. He was still one of Aerys's oldest friends. No matter how much their relationship had deteriorated, Tywin was still trying to wed his daughter to a son of Aerys.

And he had invited Hoster to complete the betrothal in King's Landing, right under the nose of Aerys, which neither man would have been so blatant as to do if they had offensive or defensive intent against House Targaryen. This is the furthest thing from proof of either Hoster or Tywin being involved in anything with offensive or defensive intent against House Targaryen. It is the exact opposite of that. It is proof that Hoster was trying to wed his daughter to a man known to be as close to House Targaryen as one could get.

Edmure was old enough to serve as twenty year old Brandon's squire during his fight with fifteen year old Littlefinger, who he appears to have been close in age with. Hoster promised Catelyn to Brandon when she was just twelve. So despite not knowing exactly how old Edmure was, yes, he was old enough to be betrothed, especially in a hypothetical where the rebel leaders were trying to piece together an alliance against House Targaryen and their many loyalists.

The lack of marriages are a glaring issue for the STAB alliance theories, not only because the great houses themselves lacked actual marriage and blood ties between them (including two betrothals which went years without being sealed by marriage), but because the great lords of the Riverlands, Vale, and Stormlands all had bannermen they could have won over to their cause with marriages, and yet every single important player in these great houses remained unmarried until months into the war, when Jon and Ned wed Lysa and Catelyn.

Hoster, Jon, and Robert didn't rule over unified regions, but all had powerful bannermen who were loyal to the king above them. And though the North was probably more unified, Rickard still had two unwed and unbetrothed sons who could be used to win more houses from other regions over to a hypothetical STAB alliance. Yet Rickard never wed or betrothed those sons, and the son and daughter of his who were betrothed had been so for years, without turning those betrothals into marriages. 

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