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Lord Varys

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On 1/1/2019 at 12:50 PM, Lord Varys said:

 

No, the sentence in FaB is quite clear and explicit:

There is no wiggle room there to invent stuff like 'a lord has the right to put one of his lords bannermen or vassals to death'.

I've misremembered insofar as the scope is concerned - a lord can certainly sit in judgment over another lord in minor cases - cases that do not involve the death sentence. One can see a lord sentencing another lord to pay a fine or perhaps even to imprisonment - physical punishment like disfigurement doesn't seem to be very likely in case of a lord.

But this means a lord cannot conduct treason or murder trials (or any other trials that involve crimes and offenses punishable by the death) against any other lord - be he his own bannerman or vassal or not. And this is highly significant.

For instance, if Lord Roose Bolton were accused of treason and/or murder then Lord Eddard Stark could not put him to death for any of those offenses. Only the king and the Hand have the right to do that. 

A lord can only try and sentence non-lords - Lysa/Robert sit in judgment over Tyrion Lannister because the man is not, in fact, a lord.

That also gives us a very fine view on what being a lord means in Westeros. By rank and title you have a right to be heard by the king, not by any of your lordly peers, if you are accused of a serious offense. Lords are not really little kings who can do whatever the hell they please to other lords.

We have seen glimpses of such lordly rights and privileges as early as ACoK when Rodrik Cassel makes it clear that Roose Bolton is not going to let the Hornwood case go. Ramsay may have abducted, raped, forcefully wed, and murdered Donella Hornwood, but the marriage as such was duly made and consummated, giving House Bolton a claim to the Hornwood lands. Rodrik Cassel could not possibly rule on that.

The text you quote says that no lord could put another lord to death. There is no prohibition against sitting in judgment over a lesser lord. 

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2 hours ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

The text you quote says that no lord could put another lord to death. There is no prohibition against sitting in judgment over a lesser lord. 

Wouldn't both Lord Strong and Lord Velaryon be lesser lords compared to a great lord like Cregan Stark? Neither of them are lords paramount, or are they?

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Wouldn't both Lord Strong and Lord Velaryon be lesser lords compared to a great lord like Cregan Stark? Neither of them are lords paramount, or are they?

You miss the point. Cregan Stark cannot judge Lord Velaryon anymore than Mace Tyrell or Tywin Lannister can judge Lord Bolton or Umber.

A lord cannot judge another lord, but he can judge his vassals, who have sworn an oath of fealty to him.

That is simple, logical and internaly consistent with all the information in the books.

On what basis would Tywin Lannister exercise any authority over Lord Mormont, other than right of conquest if he had conquered Bear Island? But Eddard Stark can, because Jorah was his vassal.

The same applies to Cregan Stark dealing with southron lords in King’s Landing.

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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A big no on raising lords... or perhaps a smaller one, but still, no!

We know land grant is possible, Clegane family is one example for starters.

Barristan is also granted the land not by the king but Tywin.

Quote

Lord Varys spoke, gentler than the others. "We are not unmindful of your service, good ser. Lord Tywin Lannister has generously agreed to grant you a handsome tract of land north of Lannisport, beside the sea, with gold and men sufficient to build you a stout keep, and servants to see to your every need."

 

Littlefinger’s family is also granted lands, presumably by the Corbrays  they served.

 

And Ned thinks of raising lords, not asking Robert to take lands away from NW and raise new ones but talk with 

Quote

His lord father had once talked about raising new lords and settling them in the abandoned holdfasts as a shield against wildlings. The plan would have required the Watch to yield back a large part of the Gift, but his uncle Benjen believed the Lord Commander could be won around, so long as the new lordlings paid taxes to Castle Black rather than Winterfell. "It is a dream for spring, though," Lord Eddard had said. "Even the promise of land will not lure men north with a winter coming on."

 

 

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On ‎1‎/‎1‎/‎2019 at 6:50 PM, Lord Varys said:

No, the sentence in FaB is quite clear and explicit:

No it is not, its actually very vague and it makes sence for it to have been elaborated upon by Barth and Jaehaerys when they made there unified lawbook to combat the many problems that reading the statement the way you did would cause.

It makes no sence for a Lord Paramount not to be able to judge the Lords in his region in the name of the King but instead having to write to the king first, by the time a reply gets back giving permission it could be to late. This is a lesson that Jaehaerys would have learned from the many problems Aenys had with rebels, Harren the red, the vulture king and Jonos Arryn where eventually dealt with not by the king but by his Lords taking matters into there own hands. 

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4 hours ago, Corvo the Crow said:

A big no on raising lords... or perhaps a smaller one, but still, no!

We know land grant is possible, Clegane family is one example for starters.

Barristan is also granted the land not by the king but Tywin.

 

Littlefinger’s family is also granted lands, presumably by the Corbrays  they served.

 

And Ned thinks of raising lords, not asking Robert to take lands away from NW and raise new ones but talk with 

 

“Tywin” supposedly grants Selmy land north of Lannisport, but he is not actually in KL at the time and we know he considers the dismissal of Selmy as utter foolishness so this probably wasn’t an actual example of a lord granting someone lands. It’s almost certainly ‘the King’ (or his Small Council at the very least)

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9 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Wouldn't both Lord Strong and Lord Velaryon be lesser lords compared to a great lord like Cregan Stark? Neither of them are lords paramount, or are they?

That Lord Paramount title is meaningless ( in authority, not prestige) outside of their lands. Being the Lord Paramount of the North makes Stark a greater Lord than Manderly in the North, not in the Crownlands, in the Crownlands they are just both Lords.

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9 hours ago, Corvo the Crow said:

A big no on raising lords... or perhaps a smaller one, but still, no!

We know land grant is possible, Clegane family is one example for starters.

Barristan is also granted the land not by the king but Tywin.

That was actually a lie concocted by Varys to incite Selmy against the Lannisters. Selmy does not want to be Tywin's man. But, sure, Tywin can grant lands. But nobody said Selmy would be a lord. Neither are the Cleganes.

9 hours ago, Corvo the Crow said:

Littlefinger’s family is also granted lands, presumably by the Corbrays  they served.

They must have gotten their lordly titles from the king, presumably Jaehaerys II - with Hoster Tully arranging it - after the Ninepenny Kings. We never see a lord making a lord.

9 hours ago, Corvo the Crow said:

And Ned thinks of raising lords, not asking Robert to take lands away from NW and raise new ones but talk with 

Those are not details Jon - who remembers Ned talking about stuff like that, if I'm remembering correctly - would have to mention.

If lords could make lords then many more lords would be running around, and many a lord would promise lordships as rewards for all kinds of things. This doesn't happen, though.

6 hours ago, direpupy said:

It makes no sence for a Lord Paramount not to be able to judge the Lords in his region in the name of the King but instead having to write to the king first, by the time a reply gets back giving permission it could be to late. This is a lesson that Jaehaerys would have learned from the many problems Aenys had with rebels, Harren the red, the vulture king and Jonos Arryn where eventually dealt with not by the king but by his Lords taking matters into there own hands. 

I laid out above that my original take on the matter was wrong. I misremembered. Lords can do sit in judgment over other lords, they just cannot put them to death. That's an important distinction. Armed rebellion and the like are not trial-like scenarios. You take armed men and you put them down. But if you take them prisoner then, in the end, the king and his administration have to deal with the question whether any guilty lords are put to death or not.

Whether that was already a thing during Aenys' reign or only came with Jaehaerys' legal reforms is secondary. The only 'trials' happening there were conducted by Maegor, and while he was not yet Hand back then he sure as hell can be seen as a representative of the Iron Throne, being the king's own brother. The Lodos fellow was no lord, neither were Harren the Red or the Vulture King. And Walter Wyl was a prisoner of war from a foreign country who was (presumably) murdered by his captor - although the guy may have survived the loss of his hands and feet.

The overall idea there as I see it is that being a lord means you have a right not to be executed unless the king/Iron Throne sentences you to death. You have a right to appeal to the king or demand that king/Hand actually confirm your sentence.

That this might not always be followed, or that they might be lords - the four Wardens, perhaps, as we discussed above - might have the authority to sentence lords to death, too, is certainly possible.

You have to keep in mind that the cases in which a lord is accused of an offense which results in his execution should be exceedingly rare.

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Tywin ordered Lord Reyne and Lord Tarbeck to Casterly Rock "to answer for their crimes".  That suggests that he did intend to try and punish them.  Ned Stark intended to try and punish Jorah Mormont.

Even if a Lord Paramount cannot execute a lord who is a vassal ((or perhaps can do so only with the  King's consent) there are severe punishments that could be imposed that fall short of execution, such as imprisonment, or confiscation of a vassal's lands, or exile.

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1 hour ago, SeanF said:

Tywin ordered Lord Reyne and Lord Tarbeck to Casterly Rock "to answer for their crimes".  That suggests that he did intend to try and punish them.  Ned Stark intended to try and punish Jorah Mormont.

As I said, conducting trials as such seems to be in order for lords dealing with other lords. Just not issuing/executing death sentences.

However, Tywin is a really bad example here. He was usurping the lordly powers of his lord father. What he did wasn't exactly legal, and one assumes he only got away with it because Tytos didn't do anything to stop/punish him later and because he had a great friend and ally in the Prince of Dragonstone.

One assumes the king could have had Tywin's head for what he pulled there. Castamere was an atrocity and the murders of innocent children at Tarbeck weren't better.

1 hour ago, SeanF said:

Even if a Lord Paramount cannot execute a lord who is a vassal ((or perhaps can do so only with the  King's consent) there are severe punishments that could be imposed that fall short of execution, such as imprisonment, or confiscation of a vassal's lands, or exile.

That is true, although we don't know whether lords can attaint other lords. That, too, seems to be something only kings can do. I guess fines, the taking of certain lands, and imprisonment works.

Keep in mind that the Iron Throne doesn't feel any need to include Lord Baelish when Jaime deals with Lord Bracken and Lord Blackwood.

And as I said earlier, I doubt Jorah was already sentenced to death when Ned went to Bear Island. Accusations and reports are not a trial. Jorah would have had the right to a proper trial. We don't even know whether dabbling in the slave trade is an offense which has to result in a lord's execution.

Overall, it seems Jorah became a pariah and outlaw because he ran away into exile.

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2 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

As I said, conducting trials as such seems to be in order for lords dealing with other lords. Just not issuing/executing death sentences.

However, Tywin is a really bad example here. He was usurping the lordly powers of his lord father. What he did wasn't exactly legal, and one assumes he only got away with it because Tytos didn't do anything to stop/punish him later and because he had a great friend and ally in the Prince of Dragonstone.

One assumes the king could have had Tywin's head for what he pulled there. Castamere was an atrocity and the murders of innocent children at Tarbeck weren't better.

That is true, although we don't know whether lords can attaint other lords. That, too, seems to be something only kings can do. I guess fines, the taking of certain lands, and imprisonment works.

Keep in mind that the Iron Throne doesn't feel any need to include Lord Baelish when Jaime deals with Lord Bracken and Lord Blackwood.

And as I said earlier, I doubt Jorah was already sentenced to death when Ned went to Bear Island. Accusations and reports are not a trial. Jorah would have had the right to a proper trial. We don't even know whether dabbling in the slave trade is an offense which has to result in a lord's execution.

Overall, it seems Jorah became a pariah and outlaw because he ran away into exile.

In practice, it seems to have met widespread approval.  The Reynes and Tarbecks had likely made themselves extremely unpopular (probably hundreds, if not thousands of the Smallfolk in the West were killed in their private wars),

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6 minutes ago, SeanF said:

In practice, it seems to have met widespread approval.  The Reynes and Tarbecks had likely made themselves extremely unpopular (probably hundreds, if not thousands of the Smallfolk in the West were killed in their private wars),

Yeah, it was Tytos who could not keep the King's Peace and Tywin permanently restored it, etc. but his measures were extreme - and what he did would have been punished in any other circumstance. Even Cersei is advised to punish some Freys for the Red Wedding. Justice or the appearance of justice has to be served.

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Posted (edited)
18 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

I laid out above that my original take on the matter was wrong. I misremembered. Lords can do sit in judgment over other lords, they just cannot put them to death.

Missed that one somehow, sorry about that.

18 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Whether that was already a thing during Aenys' reign or only came with Jaehaerys' legal reforms is secondary. The only 'trials' happening there were conducted by Maegor, and while he was not yet Hand back then he sure as hell can be seen as a representative of the Iron Throne, being the king's own brother. The Lodos fellow was no lord, neither were Harren the Red or the Vulture King. And Walter Wyl was a prisoner of war from a foreign country who was (presumably) murdered by his captor - although the guy may have survived the loss of his hands and feet.

That they where not Lords is erelevant to the point i was trying to make i was speaking of how it would be a lesson in how ineffective it is for they Iron Throne to have to give permission for these sort of things to be dealt with.

As to the bolded part the same goes for a Lord Paramount who as they responsibble Lord for a region can and in my mind is seen as the representative of the king for that perticular region.

18 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

The overall idea there as I see it is that being a lord means you have a right not to be executed unless the king/Iron Throne sentences you to death. You have a right to appeal to the king or demand that king/Hand actually confirm your sentence.

That this might not always be followed, or that they might be lords - the four Wardens, perhaps, as we discussed above - might have the authority to sentence lords to death, too, is certainly possible.

I agree that a Lord could probably appeal to the King if he so wishes, but that would not be a new trial just the King confirming the sentence or granting mercy.

18 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

You have to keep in mind that the cases in which a lord is accused of an offense which results in his execution should be exceedingly rare.

I have no idea how rare this is and neither do you, but i do agree they would not be commonplace. However when it does acure a Lord with armed forces is a hell of a lot more dangereus then a commoner which is the reason they need to be dealt with fast which means you can't wait for permmision from the King.

Edited by direpupy

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20 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Yeah, it was Tytos who could not keep the King's Peace and Tywin permanently restored it, etc. but his measures were extreme - and what he did would have been punished in any other circumstance. Even Cersei is advised to punish some Freys for the Red Wedding. Justice or the appearance of justice has to be served.

Out of interest, do you know how much  control feudal lords had over the administration of justice in countries like Germany and France?

In medieval England, their power was limited by the King.  Generally speaking, from the Twelth Century onwards, felonies (crimes that carried a potential death sentence) could only be tried by royal judges, and defendants had to be first convicted by juries of freemen (there were exceptions, as some manorial and borough courts could try and execute thieves).  Of course, some lords did kill people who offended them, without trial, but strictly, they were acting outside the law when they did so, and were relying on their power to get away with it.  A lord of Westeros would surely regard such a system as an outrageous infringement of his rights.

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4 hours ago, direpupy said:

That they where not Lords is erelevant to the point i was trying to make i was speaking of how it would be a lesson in how ineffective it is for they Iron Throne to have to give permission for these sort of things to be dealt with.

Not really, considering that this only applies to lords - and likely no longer to attainted/outlawed lords. And if we think of Jonos' rebellion again for a moment, then there is no confirmed lord among his people. Jonos himself is the brother of Lord Ronnel, not a lord himself, and while there highborn accomplices among his supporters, we don't know whether any proper lords were among them or not.

But even if they were - Maegor Targaryen isn't the kind of guy anyone should expect to uphold the law.

4 hours ago, direpupy said:

As to the bolded part the same goes for a Lord Paramount who as they responsibble Lord for a region can and in my mind is seen as the representative of the king for that perticular region.

He would be - but he would still not have the right to execute another lord if Gyldayn is correct. That's not that hard to understand. This would be only prerogative protecting a lord and his lordly rights against the arbitrary rule of his liege lord.

4 hours ago, direpupy said:

I agree that a Lord could probably appeal to the King if he so wishes, but that would not be a new trial just the King confirming the sentence or granting mercy.

No, if Gyldayn is correct there then this means that a lord is not allowed to put to death another lord. He would either ask the king to do it - and that might perhaps be done by letter - or he has to hand over such a lord to the king to have him or his Hand sit in judgment over such a lord.

And we see traces of this in the main series when it becomes clear that Walder Frey's prisoners are not exactly his prisoners but the prisoners of Kings Joffrey and Tommen. Neither Roose or Ramsay Bolton - as the Warden/lord paramount of the North - or Lord Baelish - as Walder's liege lord - have any jurisdiction over them. Nor Lord Walder Frey himself, of course.

4 hours ago, direpupy said:

I have no idea how rare this is and neither do you, but i do agree they would not be commonplace. However when it does acure a Lord with armed forces is a hell of a lot more dangereus then a commoner which is the reason they need to be dealt with fast which means you can't wait for permmision from the King.

How often do we see a lord rebelling only against his liege lord (and not the king also)? The only case we know seems to be the Reyne/Tarbeck rebellion.

And is there any case in the history of Westeros we know where a lord put to death another lord in a scenario in which guilt first has to be established in a trial? That's the scenario we are talking about here. Cregan Stark didn't seize and execute some rebels who took up arms against their liege or king and everybody knew this. He arrested men he suspected of poisoning the king and then conducted investigations and trials to establish their guilt.

That kind of scenario seems to be very rare indeed in Westeros. No lord we know of is ever accused of a mundane crime like murder - in the sense of it not being part of a rebellion or war. And that's not necessarily were 'normal peace rules' apply.

In that sense, my guess is that Gyldayn talks about the right of a lord to be immune to arbitrary rule/tyranny of another lord, his liege lord included.

But as I repeatedly said - if you break the King's Peace (i.e. rebel against the lawful authority by either going to war without the king's leave or going to war against the king) then you basically outlaw yourself. That is what the First Law of the land states, as per Gyldayn's account of Aegon I's reign. If you no longer are a lord you no longer have the right to be treated as a lord, presumably.

Even if this were not so by default - attainders are very quickly issued by the kings in Westeros - just remember who King Joffrey attaints back in AGoT when he takes his throne. And once you are attainted you and your family are neither lords nor noblemen. They are nobody, with no lawful lands, titles, offices, etc.

31 minutes ago, SeanF said:

A lord of Westeros would surely regard such a system as an outrageous infringement of his rights.

That is true, because apparently pretty much any lord seems to have the right of pits and gallows - i.e. the right to maim and execute commoners on their lands. However, we see the limits of that when somebody like Lady Webber tries to force noblemen not sworn to her to actually hand over men to her who stand accused of a crime. They don't have the right to do that. Technically, Lady Rohanne was breaking the law when she demanded that Ser Eustace deliver Ser Bennis to her.

But this is not really relevant in relation to lords executing lords. Lords are not common men. They are part of the ruling class and with that come special rights and privileges one of which seems to be that a lord cannot condemn another lord to death.

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4 hours ago, SeanF said:

Out of interest, do you know how much  control feudal lords had over the administration of justice in countries like Germany and France?

In medieval England, their power was limited by the King.  Generally speaking, from the Twelth Century onwards, felonies (crimes that carried a potential death sentence) could only be tried by royal judges, and defendants had to be first convicted by juries of freemen (there were exceptions, as some manorial and borough courts could try and execute thieves).  Of course, some lords did kill people who offended them, without trial, but strictly, they were acting outside the law when they did so, and were relying on their power to get away with it.  A lord of Westeros would surely regard such a system as an outrageous infringement of his rights.

A nice systematic contrast with 13th century Scotland:

https://frh3.org.uk/redist/pdf/Carpenter_Scottish_Royal_Govt.pdf

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In regards to Little finger I had always assumed that before he was granted harrenhal his title was purely honorary as a member of the small council, similar to Varys 

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1 hour ago, Back door hodor said:

In regards to Little finger I had always assumed that before he was granted harrenhal his title was purely honorary as a member of the small council, similar to Varys 

Actually, it wasn´t. He WAS Lord of "Sheepshit" after his father.

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Yes, Littlefinger and his father were "the smallest of small lords", as Tyrion noted in ACoK.

And @Jaak, thanks for that PDF. Very interesting, and it underscores, I think, that Scottish history has a lot of influence on George's vision of Westeros. Scotland's monarchy was much less powerful and pervasive than that of England, and that decentralizing effect includes lords having the right of "pit and gallows" in a way that their counterparts down south of the border did not have, and this seems to have been more what George was aiming at for Westeros.

 

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2 hours ago, Jaak said:

Actually, it wasn´t. He WAS Lord of "Sheepshit" after his father.

 

4 hours ago, Jaak said:

A nice systematic contrast with 13th century Scotland:

https://frh3.org.uk/redist/pdf/Carpenter_Scottish_Royal_Govt.pdf

Thanks, and interesting.

i think England was unusual in the way that enforcing justice became a Royal, rather than a Noble, prerogative.

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