Jump to content
The hairy bear

Was the Great Council of 101 rigged?

Recommended Posts

I've been thinking about the Great Council of 101, and there's one piece of information that doesn't add up to me. The text tells us that "the maesters who counted the results never gave numbers, it was rumored that the Great Council had voted twenty to one in favor of Prince Viserys". It's also said that Driftmark and Storm's End accept the decision only because the results had been so indisputable.

But I'm suspicious of such a resounding result. We are told that Lord Corlys Velaryon, Lord Boremund Baratheon, Lord Ellard Stark, Lord Blackwood, Lord Bar Emmon, Lord Celtigar, the Dustins and the Manderlys all spoke for Laenor. One would expect that Yorbert Royce would also side with the Laenor camp: not only he was there representing Jeyne Arryn, whose rights to the Eyrie would be in question if female primogeniture was disregarded, but also his own seat of Runestone would soon be inherited by a woman (Rhea Royce).

If the votes had been public, one would expect that a great majority of lords would side with their liege lord (to gain their favor, if not to avoid reprisals). If so, the votes of the North, the Stormlands, the Vale and the Narrow Sea would go to Laenor. Viserys may still win with the votes of the Reach, the West and the Riverlands, but it would have been a close thing.

But probably, the votes were cast in secrecy (precisely to avoid the liege lords to unduly influence the outcome). If so, the maesters counting the votes (this is, the Citadel), would have absolute control of the election, and could choose to decide which candidate suited them the best. In fact, the idea of putting the issue to vote had been idea of one of them (Archmaester Vaegon), and was probably oversighted by the recently appointed Great Maester Runcifer.

Just after Viserys is elected, one could see that House Hightower (patrons of the Citadel), begins to gain prominence: the 'learned' brother of the Lord of Oldtown is chosen Hand of the King, and becomes the effective ruler of the realm (Jaehaerys was failing and bedridden at the time). And when king Viseryes remarries, he choses Alicent Hightower (Excluding Maegor, is the first instance of a Targaryen king or heir presumptive marrying someone without Targaryen blood). Another one who soon receives royal favor is the Lord of Harrenhal, Lyonel Strong. Not only he was the lord/heir of the castle where the election had been held, but he had also studied in the Citadel for some years and earned 6 links of his chain.

So, what do you think? Possible or crackpoty?

Edited by The hairy bear

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not at all. If Jaehaerys were younger I would have thought that he had rigged it himself, but it seems he didn't care by that point. Or maybe the above was their reward for helping him rig it and for keeping their silence. After all he was partial to male heirs. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There were a total of over 1000 lords who attended. Well, at Field of Fire, 600 lords attended on the side of the Two Kings.

"Over" 20 to 1 means about 50 votes for Laenor. Where 8 lords by name spoke for Rhaenys, and others did - and more must have been quiet and cast secret votes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It would have been great if one had learned more about the machinations behind the scenes, but the way I see it the Westermen and the Reach men and the majority of the Riverlords (following Lord Grover's lead) would have won the day rather easily, especially if there were much more lords from those regions at Harrenhal than from the other regions (which is pretty likely).

In addition, it may that many bannermen and countrymen of the men speaking for Laenor did not actually agree with the arguments and voted for Viserys instead.

I don't think many of them were in disfavor of primogeniture but rather were not keen to make a young boy king in light of the fact that King Jaehaerys would likely not be around for much longer.

Jaehaerys himself don't seem to have had a favorite candidate - or rather: if he had one it would have been Vaegon, who flat out refused to take the throne. Viserys was a grandson and Laenor a great-grandson, but the way Jaehaerys is presented he would have felt closer to his sons, even the one who turned out as Vaegon did, than to the younger generations.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
49 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

It would have been great if one had learned more about the machinations behind the scenes, but the way I see it the Westermen and the Reach men and the majority of the Riverlords (following Lord Grover's lead) would have won the day rather easily, especially if there were much more lords from those regions at Harrenhal than from the other regions (which is pretty likely).

I thought about overrepresentation, but the attendance counts against it. At Field of Fire, West and Reach fielded 600 lords. Assuming "half as much again" means 360 lords for Reach and 240 for West, then 240 lords for each of the 4 other kingdoms means 1560. 3 kingdoms for Viserys (Reach, West, Riverlands) and 3 for Laenor (Stormlands, Vale, North) makes 840:720, not 20:1. Yes, the attendance was smaller - "over a thousand" - but most lords who could have showed up at an army did show up at council. North may have been underrepresented, but not so grossly. Even if only Laenor´s supporters were absent, it might have meant 840:200, not 1000:40.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Exactly. If we were talking about a 2:1, 3:1 ore even 4:1 victory, it wouldn't rise any eyebrow. But 20:1 victory seems disproportionate. It seems as if Laenor could count with all the North/First Men houses, and of course, the lords of the Narrow Sea. Boremund Baratheon and Jeyne Arryn should be able to attract to their position some of the lords of their kingdoms. And the Lord Corly's wealth, that we are told that was put into use, should have accounted for something. Being able to convince only about fifty lords sounds ridiculous.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I suspect the figure, patently wrong as it may be, is an example of deliberate propaganda to enforce the idea that a firm and final decision had been made by the king and by the realm pretty much unanimously.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, The hairy bear said:

Exactly. If we were talking about a 2:1, 3:1 ore even 4:1 victory, it wouldn't rise any eyebrow. But 20:1 victory seems disproportionate. It seems as if Laenor could count with all the North/First Men houses, and of course, the lords of the Narrow Sea. Boremund Baratheon and Jeyne Arryn should be able to attract to their position some of the lords of their kingdoms. And the Lord Corly's wealth, that we are told that was put into use, should have accounted for something. Being able to convince only about fifty lords sounds ridiculous.

Do we know for sure that all the northern houses voted for Laenor, just because the Starks did? Some of the northern lords may have felt that they got screwed by laws influenced by Queen Alysanne (the New Gift, and the abolition of the first night). I imagine lords like the Umbers, Karstarks, Boltons, Glovers, and the mountain clansmen may not have wanted another queen with so much influence over laws.

But we know a few lords showed up late, maybe the very ones I mentioned. Do we know what the voting policy was? Did houses that didn't send representatives still have a voice through their liege lord, or was is just the votes of the lords present that counted?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
45 minutes ago, Corvinus said:

Do we know for sure that all the northern houses voted for Laenor, just because the Starks did? Some of the northern lords may have felt that they got screwed by laws influenced by Queen Alysanne (the New Gift, and the abolition of the first night). I imagine lords like the Umbers, Karstarks, Boltons, Glovers, and the mountain clansmen may not have wanted another queen with so much influence over laws.

Do we know all riverlords voted for Viserys, or that all Reach did?

In Dance, blacks rose up throughout Riverlands and Reach. Yet Vale and North stayed safely Black and neither Jeyne nor Cregan faced their bannermen rising for Greens.

Another Queen? But Rhaenys was the Queen who should have been.

For one thing, Rhaenys had the better claim under Andal law (elder brother´s child over uncle vs. sister over brother).

For another, Rhaenys was the good girl. Good daughter and wife. No recorded sexual misconduct - whereas by that age Rhaenyra had effectively four bastards (her three elder sons were attributed to a lover, and fourth was begotten before wedding unauthorized by her father). Sea Snake was a hero with basically no black marks to his name, where Daemon was a rogue besides.

If so many lords would fight for Rhaenyra over the objections of their lieges, why would they not cast secret votes for Rhaenys?

Edited by Jaak

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 minutes ago, Jaak said:

Do we know all riverlords voted for Viserys, or that all Reach did?

In Dance, blacks rose up throughout Riverlands and Reach. Yet Vale and North stayed safely Black and neither Jeyne nor Cregan faced their bannermen rising for Greens.

Another Queen? But Rhaenys was the Queen who should have been.

For one thing, Rhaenys had the better claim under Andal law (elder brother´s child over uncle vs. sister over brother).

For another, Rhaenys was the good girl. Good daughter and wife. No recorded sexual misconduct - whereas by that age Rhaenyra had effectively four bastards (her three elder sons were attributed to a lover, and fourth was begotten before wedding unauthorized by her father). Sea Snake was a hero with basically no black marks to his name, where Daemon was a rogue besides.

If so many lords would fight for Rhaenyra over the objections of their lieges, why would they not cast secret votes for Rhaenys?

Not really sure why you're bring up the Dance. Apples and oranges.

I've stipulated that a number of northern lords may have lingering resentments over Alysanne's policies. They might not have wanted another woman in charge, and thus, maybe they didn't vote the way their liege voted. Also, most of the northern lords wouldn't care about Andal law, right?

The Great Council of 101 is not the same as the matter of succession for Viserys's children. Jaehaerys had trouble deciding on his own who should come after him, and put it up for a vote. Viserys, on the other hand didn't. He chose his successor, and made the lords of the realm swear to uphold his choice. The houses that sided with Rhaenyra chose to remember those oaths. It doesn't matter what kind of person Rhaenyra was compared to Rhaenys, this was about oath keeping.

It's possible that a number of riverlords didn't vote for Viserys, since it's pointed out in the book they have an independent streak and could easily defy the Tullys. (Blackwood was for Rhaenys, for sure). The Reach, I think, was firmly with Viserys, because of the economic influence of the Hightowers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We should not trick ourselves into believing all the lords of the Realm cared about this Great Council thing. Some came too late, others may have not bothered at all. Not everybody has to care who sits the Iron Throne.

And it is actually made very clear how the procedure was to go:

Quote

It was decided that the council would be held at Harrenhal, the largest castle in the realm. No one knew how many lords would come, since no such council had ever been held before, but it was thought prudent to have room for at least five hundred lords and their tails. More than a thousand lords attended.

That makes it clear that was no procedure. Any lord being there likely had the right to speak and offer his opinion and cast a vote when there was some voting to be done, but the king didn't care to ask lords for their opinion who didn't attend.

But considering the numbers were never given, the 20:1 against Laenor may have actually been an exaggeration.

How much support Laenor had among the Stormlanders is also not really clear. That Boremund stood with the Velaryons doesn't have to mean anything.

But anyone at the council not caring about who was related to whom and the like would have favored Viserys. He was an adult. Laenor was just a boy, and Laena had, most likely, not yet claimed Vhagar. Had she already had that dragon things may have been quite different.

In the end of the day the fact that Jaehaerys I himself didn't attend the final deliberations, so there would have been the opportunity from whoever was in charge of the voting process or whoever presided over the council (there must have been someone doing that). Considering it is implied that Ser Otto was only named Hand after the council, chances would not be that bad that Archmaester Vaegon did that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The only issue with the idea of a rigged vote is the fact that Rhaenys and Corlys accepted the results without objections. If they truly believed that someone had manipulated the votes, they had enough support to dispute it; if Driftmark rebelled, the Velaryons could count on the support of the North, the Vale and The Stormlands, so three of the eight regions of the Realm; three and a half if the Crownlands were split on who to back. That they didn't suggests that the Velaryons either knew they couldn't win (they would only have one dragon at this point, though if they took Dragonstone they'd have many more) or saw the results as fair.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/26/2018 at 5:53 PM, The hairy bear said:

not only he was there representing Jeyne Arryn, whose rights to the Eyrie would be in question if female primogeniture was disregarded, but also his own seat of Runestone would soon be inherited by a woman

The entire mess after Maden of the Vale's death points to the idea that in a secret vote, the Vale would not have been a bastion of primogeniture with many lords supporting Viserys for the same reason the supported counter-claimants after Jeyne died.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, Myrish Lace said:

The entire mess after Maden of the Vale's death points to the idea that in a secret vote, the Vale would not have been a bastion of primogeniture with many lords supporting Viserys for the same reason the supported counter-claimants after Jeyne died.

Jeyne Arryn chose an obscure heir. Had she named her first cousin or his son things would have been fine, one assumes.

It might be the Great Council was indeed used as to give the king what he wanted, if Gyldayn is correct here:

Quote

In accordance with his own wishes, and the decision of the Great Council of 101, his grandson Viserys succeeded him, mounting the Iron Throne as King Viserys I Targaryen.

This makes it pretty clear that Baelon's untimely death was a major issue, stressing and reinforcing the fact that a grandson is not a son and not the clear heir:

Quote

With both of the heirs apparent dead and burned, there was no longer a clear successor to the Iron Throne…but that was not to say there was any lack of claimants.
Baelon had sired three sons by his sister Alyssa. Two, Viserys and Daemon, still lived. Had Baelon ever taken the Iron Throne, Viserys would have followed him without question, but the crown prince’s tragic death at the age of four-and-forty muddied the succession.

It also implies that the succession of a Queen Rhaenys or a King Laenor would have been much easier if a King Aemon had actually ruled - just as the succession of a King Viserys would have been easy enough if a King Baelon had ever ascended the Iron Throne.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think because of Andals's influence and Jaehnerys decision to make his Grandson the King and not His Grandniece into a male dominant role in society of Westeros. (Which it came from Andals)  Council apply this rule in their decision making.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/27/2018 at 12:51 PM, Sophia [email protected] said:

I think because of Andals's influence and Jaehnerys decision to make his Grandson the King and not His Grandniece into a male dominant role in society of Westeros. (Which it came from Andals)  Council apply this rule in their decision making.

Granddaughter, not grandniece. Rhaenys was the Old King's granddaughter by his eldest surviving son Aemon and rightful heiress under primogeniture. Plus the Andals themselves said (paraphrasing) "a son comes before a daughter and a daughter before a brother" so by their own laws/customs Rhaenys should have came before Baelon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Hiigara129 said:

Granddaughter, not grandniece. Rhaenys was the Old King's granddaughter by his eldest surviving son Aemon and rightful heiress under primogeniture. Plus the Andals themselves said (paraphrasing) "a son comes before a daughter and a daughter before a brother" so by their own laws/customs Rhaenys should have came before Baelon.

Except laws and customs are irrelevant. Only the king's will matters.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Lion of the West said:

Except laws and customs are irrelevant. Only the king's will matters.

If he is tyrant, yes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Paxter Redwyne said:

If he is tyrant, yes.

I would like to agree. But I've been shown a quote by Lord Varys that apparently the king in Westeros is absolute and thus I must accept that GRRM considers absolute monarchy to be the thing that runs in Westeros and that laws and such are really utterly pointless.

If you have arguments against this I would love to read them because this kind system is something which I don't personally like but must accept from GRRM being the author.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
29 minutes ago, Lion of the West said:

I would like to agree. But I've been shown a quote by Lord Varys that apparently the king in Westeros is absolute and thus I must accept that GRRM considers absolute monarchy to be the thing that runs in Westeros and that laws and such are really utterly pointless.

This thing has to be put into perspective since then. The report I was citing back then was not quoting George but giving a summary.

However, on the issue of succession we actually learn that Jaehaerys issued a law - the Widow's Law - which confirmed the succession of the eldest daughter in absence of a son - which he later didn't stick to when it came to settle his own succession after Aemon died.

If Jaehaerys I wasn't bound by his own laws and Andal/First Men custom - which generally seems to agree that this is the way to go, at least after Jaehaerys I unified the laws, then there is really no reason to assume that Viserys I could not make as arbitrary a decision as his grandfather before him.

It is quite clear that the Seven Kingdoms and the various regions in there had quite different succession laws and practices prior to the Conquest. For instance, equal primogeniture seems to have been a thing not only in Dorne but also on the Three Sisters where Marla Sunderland became queen (and presumably) lady ahead of her younger brother Steffon who later toppled her. The Reach had at least one Queen Regnant, the Starks had never a Queen Regnant, the Durrandons had one bastard king, etc.

One assumes that this 'a daughter comes before an uncle' thing was spread throughout the Seven Kingdoms as part of the unification of the laws and the Widow's Law which preceded that.

Jaehaerys I's own ascension is problematic due to Aerea and the fact that Maegor is seen as a usurper and Aegon the Uncrowned as the rightful king. But Aegon never ruled and thus Aerea never properly was anointed as his heir, nor did she play any role in his downfall. From a legal viewpoint Jaehaerys' ascension is a pretty special case.

Jaehaerys' own decision to pass over Rhaenys is a more difficult matter because here the case is pretty clear. According to the way things should be a daughter should follow her father in the absence of sons, so if Aemon had been king and had died without a son his daughter and not his brother or nephews would have succeeded him. Jaehaerys should have stuck to that model.

Not doing that eventually caused the Great Council to make the rather absurd decision that only male and male line members of the royal family should sit the throne - which could easily enough create state crisis when a king has only daughters and no male line relations through the male line available.

If the iron precedent talk of the Great Council is taken actually seriously then after the Dance (and while Viserys is believed to be dead) it is only Aegon III and then ... no one. Because both Lady Baela and Lady Rhaena are female, and any sons they may have are through the female line and thus excluded from the succession. Which means the Iron Throne must remain empty.

How impractical and nonsensical this thing is is really underlined when Munkun gives Ser Tyland his 'I'll get back to you' when the latter asks him who the male line heir of Aegon III would actually be. From what we can fathom such a person no longer exists at that point.

But it is the Great Council which forces Viserys I to do his great show and ceremony to declare Rhaenyra Princess of Dragonstone and Heir Apparent to the Iron Throne. As per the Great Council Daemon stands as his heir, whether he wants that or not, so he has to make it very clear that Rhaenyra is going to be his successor no matter what. He cannot really treat her as his presumptive heir while he doesn't have any sons because his presumptive heir is already Daemon.

In that sense, it is the Great Council which didn't resolve anything but instead helped to pave the path towards the Dance of the Dragons. Which is fitting for any council or tourney held at Harrenhal. The place is cursed.

And once half the Realm or more have sworn their vows to defend Rhaenyra's rights as successor of her father the whole thing is no longer something the king decrees but rather a feudal contract sealed by vow which involves many lords of the Realm. We later see how many men - especially in the Riverlands - rise in Rhaenyra's name precisely because of the vows they have sworn to her back in the day. Even if Viserys I had later changed the succession in favor of Aegon this would not have (necessarily) affected the vows of those lords - if Rhaenyra had challenged an Aegon II who had been declared late in his father's life those men may have still risen in her name.

This, I think, can help to explain why Viserys I stuck with Rhaenyra as his heir - in addition to the fact that he also wanted her to succeed him. Even if he had changed his mind it may have been very difficult to enforce that change against Rhaenyra's followers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×