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aventador577

The relationship between the night watch and the iron throne

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How much authority does the king have over the night watch?

They are clearly subjects of the Iron Throne. But they stand kind a outside of the king's command. At least in matters directly related to the wall.

Do the laws of the king apply to them in the same manner?

And could the king abolish the night watch?

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, aventador577 said:

How much authority does the king have over the night watch?

as much as he can bring to bear on the watch 

1 hour ago, aventador577 said:

They are clearly subjects of the Iron Throne. But they stand kind a outside of the king's command. At least in matters directly related to the wall.

Yes 

1 hour ago, aventador577 said:

Do the laws of the king apply to them in the same manner?

  what do you mean? 

1 hour ago, aventador577 said:

And could the king abolish the night watch?

see first answer 

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3 hours ago, aventador577 said:

How much authority does the king have over the night watch?

 

They are clearly subjects of the Iron Throne. But they stand kind a outside of the king's command. At least in matters directly related to the wall.

 

 

Do the laws of the king apply to them in the same manner?

 

And could the king abolish the night watch?

 

 

 

 

The Watch is like the 8th kingdom but with more autonomy.  They enjoy the right to govern themselves.  Most kings respected this need because it is necessary if the Watch is to continue its function.  The Watch must remain neutral.  A friend to all and an enemy towards none.  The Watch should not take part in the political affairs of the realm.  Most kings did not drag the Watch into his political games.  Stannis was wrong to drag them into his war for the throne.  He should leave them out of it no matter how badly he needed more men.  

The king has not authority over the internal affairs of the Watch.  The king's law provides some support for the watch.  A runaway like Gared is beheaded by the subjects of the realm because of the king's law.  A king cannot go to the wall and demand more men for his war.  That is a breach of neutrality.  But not all kings are ethical.  Some will bend and even break ethics if it served their purpose.  

The law at the wall and the king's laws do not have to conflict.  The king has a duty to execute deserters and oath breakers.  The watch provides a valuable service by keeping out the troublemakers who refused to obey the king's laws.  Thus the watch helps to preserve order in the kingdom.  But the watch has a duty to give equal protection to everyone in the kingdom, regardless of their political faction.  They protect the king's political enemies as well as they protect the king's friends.  Their laws benefit one another but the watch is not a creature of the king.  The watch has a special relationship with the king because it maintains neutrality.  

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10 hours ago, aventador577 said:

How much authority does the king have over the night watch?

It depends. I would imagine that if the realm were united and the king made some demand or gave some order to the NW, they would have to obey it. They probably wouldn't resist it unless it completely went against their interests. At that point, the key issue would be whether the Northern lords supported them or not.

10 hours ago, aventador577 said:

Do the laws of the king apply to them in the same manner?

If you just mean basic laws like "don't murder, don't steal, don't rape", then yeah, though that they're the "king's laws" is irrelevant. Such laws are simply necessary. In fact, the NW has more legal restrictions, in the form of their vows, and the military discipline, not less.

10 hours ago, aventador577 said:

And could the king abolish the night watch?

Well, he could declare the NW abolished, and then send troops north to make it so if they refused to disband. Again, there would be the issue of whether the Northern lords would tolerate though.

Ultimately, like @Dorian Martell's son said, it's really a question of power. If the Iron Throne wanted the NW abolished, and had the power to make it happen, then it happens.

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I see it like the King could abolish the watch, but never actually would. Same way Queen Elizabeth II has all these powers but does not actually use them. It would be political suicide. But in theory I think yes on that one.

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There are three institutions that are independent within Westeros. The independence of these three institutions was established before Aegon's conquest and tradition (and Targaryens) kept them more or less independent. These three institutions are the NW, the Citadel, and the Faith.

We are shown in the book that the Faith has been more or less corrupted, allowing the ruling family to basically chose their High Septon until it is taken back out of their hands forcibly with the selection of the High Sparrow.

The Citadel is shown in the books to carefully guard their independence. We see this when Tyrion removes Pycelle and the Citadel threatens to replace him with someone completely unpalatable to the ruling family. Tyrion notes that if he wanted Pycelle gone he should have executed him. 

Like the previous two institutions, the NW was independent before the conquest. The NW remains independent. The proof of this is how Tywin decides to deal with them. When Tywin, as regent, receives a request for more men from the NW, Tywin sends back a letter saying that the throne cannot afford to send men at this time, but if the NW pleased the throne by making Janos Slynt the Lord Commander than Tywin would be happy to send more men after the war was over. If the NW was not independent than Tywin could have simply ordered them to make Janos Slynt Lord Commander rather than trying to bribe them.

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17 hours ago, aventador577 said:

How much authority does the king have over the night watch?

They are clearly subjects of the Iron Throne. But they stand kind a outside of the king's command. At least in matters directly related to the wall.

Do the laws of the king apply to them in the same manner?

And could the king abolish the night watch?

I think the king could do all of those things in theory, but in a practical sense it is more nuanced. If we look at Stannis vs. Jon, for example, Stannis demanded all of the abandoned castles on the Wall so he could give them to his knights. But he doesn't just march off and take them; he needs Jon to sign them over, which Jon agrees to do for only one: the Nightfort.

Without Jon's cooperation on the other castles, Stannis has only a few untenable options:

-- he could declare Jon a traitor and throw him in an ice cell or even execute him. In that case, the NW, if they don't rebel outright, would elect another LC that would probably be even less cooperative than Jon;

-- he could disband the entire NW altogether, and basically unleash hundreds of rapers and murderers on the 7K while leaving the Wall undefended;

-- he could claim the forts by right of conquest and occupy them, although this would result in only a handful of men guarding dozens of forts that are utterly indefensible to attack from the south.

 

The thing to remember is that the Night's Watch is an extremely old order, long predating the current Baratheon dynasty and the Targaryen one before that. The NW spent much of its history serving multiple kings, but in particular the Kings of Winter, so any king, whether he occupies the Iron Throne or not, needs to tread lightly when it comes to ordering the NW to do things that interfere with its sacred task: protecting and defending the Wall.

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17 hours ago, Mordred said:

The Watch should not take part in the political affairs of the realm.

I think this was more of a concern before the conquest because of the fighting between the 7 kingdoms.  Its neutrality was also based on the fact that the recruits came from all over Westeros.  

But ultimately, the Watch is an establishment which is reliant on the throne.  The laws allow men to chose to take the black rather than face alternative justice under the king's law, without which the watch would not have enough men to man the Wall. 

When Stannis comes to the Watch's aid, he does it to protect the realm, which is the Watch's mission.  Since they do not take part in the political affairs or the wars within the realm, they did nothing wrong by welcoming the King who came.

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