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John Suburbs

About the Trident

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Once again, one thread has led me to wonder about something else, so since a lot of you guys seem to have more knowledge of medieval warfare that I do, maybe you can answer a few questions about the Trident.

As I understand it, the medieval battle flag was a crucial piece of equipment in that it allows the soldiers to know where their leaders were amid the chaos of battle and either rally to their side in case they get lost or separated from their unit, or at the very least know that their leader has not fallen. Brienne was to carry Renly's standard during the battle at Storm's End. Edric Storm carried Beric's at the Mummer's Ford, and so on.

So on the Trident, it seems we have Lewyn Martell leading the right flank, and he would naturally have his standard-bearer near him at all times. The center and left flank would, presumably, be led by Selmy and Darry, since they seem to be the knights of the most renown among the loyalists -- although this is not a given since they are KG and at least one of them should have been with Rhaegar, perhaps even carrying his standard.

On the northern side, it appears we have Robert leading the van, and then Hoster Tully's designate (since Hoster himself doesn't seem to be there), Jon Arryn and Ned Stark leading left, right and reserves.

So we are told that by the time Rhaegar and Robert met, the battle had been fought to pretty much of a draw and that once Rhaegar fell the royal army cut and ran. So that would mean Lewyn (and presumably his standard-bearer) fell before R&R faced each other, which would mean the royalist's right flank was thrown into disarray so that they were either being slaughtered in the field or running back to Rhaegar, since that would now be the banner to flock to. Either way, this is a huge loss for the royalists because now their entire right is exposed.

At the same time, we learn that Selmy barely survived the battle, which means at best his standard would remain with him, either stationary on the field or behind the lines if he was pulled back by his own men. Not a huge disaster, but certainly not great since now all of his men must find an alternate flag of some other royalist knight or fall back with their standard.

Meanwhile, Ned Stark and Jon Arryn both appeared none the worse for ware, and if the Tully commander fell during the battle, we've never heard about it. So all three pieces of the northern army should have been intact by the battle's end.

So with all of that, how can it be that the battle was a draw? Maybe once Lewyn and Selmy fell, Rhaegar knew that he was losing, and that's why he chose to face Robert alone?

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The fact that Rhaegar and the future usurper fought for so long meant that everyone on that battlefield was aware of the duel.  A lot was at stake.  A great dynasty that built the kingdom was at stake.  The Targaryens had more to lose than the lesser houses they were fighting.  Which is why Rhaegar was a fool to engage Robert in single combat.  Brave, yes.  Honorable, no.  The person leading the battle has a responsibility to his side to give them the best chances of victory.  Engaging the enemy in single combat might be admirable (I don't think so) and it might be honorable (I don't think so) but it is a foolish move.  I would choose to follow Queen Daenerys into battle before Rhaegar.  She has a better understanding of what it takes to win.  

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Its though to say for sure, as we are only given very brief descriptions of the battle itself, even from people that are actually there.

A couple facts we do know are that Reagar had a small edge in total numbers but the rebel army was considered better seasoned, which I take to mean most of rhaegars force was freshly raised levies, who had not yet seen any actual combat.

Than there is the matter of the dornish men and how committed they were to Aerys. Were Elia and her children actually needed as hostages to secure dornish support?

As far as I can remember, the only time the disposition of Robert's army is discussed is I think in Jamie's POV, when he Talks about word reaching him of Ned Stark racing south at the head of Robert's Van to secure Kings landing, while his father's men are sacking the city. This is after the trident however, and doesn't mean to me that Ned always commanded the Van, though I admit he could have.

So considering these things I can definitely see the scenario you present happening, where the rebels break the royal flanks and Reagar, commanding the reserves, either sees a chance to take Robert out or decides he can still win the day with a counter attack.

As far as the battle standards I'm not expert either but I understand them pretty much the same as you do. I will add that i know music was typically used to help men march in formation better, than timed thier steps with drumbeats for example.

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7 minutes ago, kissdbyfire said:

You must mean Edric Dayne, not Storm?

the little boy can carry a standard ? I forgot about that. 

Edited by SirArthur

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1 minute ago, SirArthur said:

the little boy can carry a standard ? oO

Both Edric Dayne and Edric Storm are ~ 13/14. The difference is Edric Dayne was actually Beric’s squire. :D

 

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I think the most common take is that Robert and Rhaegar met due to the battle going so disastrously for the Targaryan army.  Rhaegar's forces, as in those assigned to his person, were only committed after the greater part of his host had been destroyed or scattered.  It would explain why the two actually clashed in the ford, and not on land. 

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On 1/13/2019 at 6:04 AM, John Suburbs said:

Once again, one thread has led me to wonder about something else, so since a lot of you guys seem to have more knowledge of medieval warfare that I do, maybe you can answer a few questions about the Trident.

As I understand it, the medieval battle flag was a crucial piece of equipment in that it allows the soldiers to know where their leaders were amid the chaos of battle and either rally to their side in case they get lost or separated from their unit, or at the very least know that their leader has not fallen. Brienne was to carry Renly's standard during the battle at Storm's End. Edric Storm carried Beric's at the Mummer's Ford, and so on.

Note that both of these are the commanders of forces, not van or wing leaders.

But most great lords would have a standard.
KG knights, less sure. Lewyn Martell was probably using a House Martell standard at the Trident, rather than a personal one, if any.

On 1/13/2019 at 6:04 AM, John Suburbs said:

So on the Trident, it seems we have Lewyn Martell leading the right flank, and he would naturally have his standard-bearer near him at all times. The center and left flank would, presumably, be led by Selmy and Darry, since they seem to be the knights of the most renown among the loyalists -- although this is not a given since they are KG and at least one of them should have been with Rhaegar, perhaps even carrying his standard.

Be wary of assumptions like this. You make an ass out of u and me every time you assume something.

The Targaryen army had many forces from Dorne, the Reach, the Stormlands, the Crownlands, the Riverlands and possibly more. Only the Dornish contingent is noted as a separate force.
We don't know, and can't assume, that the KG operated as 'battle' (medieval term for divisions) commanders. Martell makes sense because he is also a Prince of Dorne and thats one relatively homogenous command group. Other Lords could have had command with Darry and Selmy supporting Rhaegar both as bodyguards and/or as advisors, or as subleaders within his own 'battle', or as leaders of other battles. We don't know.

On 1/13/2019 at 6:04 AM, John Suburbs said:

So we are told that by the time Rhaegar and Robert met, the battle had been fought to pretty much of a draw

Are we? Where are we told that?

On 1/13/2019 at 6:04 AM, John Suburbs said:

and that once Rhaegar fell the royal army cut and ran.

Right.

On 1/13/2019 at 6:04 AM, John Suburbs said:

So that would mean Lewyn (and presumably his standard-bearer) fell before R&R faced each other, which would mean the royalist's right flank was thrown into disarray so that they were either being slaughtered in the field or running back to Rhaegar, since that would now be the banner to flock to. Either way, this is a huge loss for the royalists because now their entire right is exposed.

No. These are not assumptions required by what we know.

We know that Rhaegar dies after Darry and Martell (well, at least we take that as truth, though it could be poetic licence on Yandel's part). That does not mean that he and Rhaegar didn't fight until the Targaryen army was already losing.
In fact, what we are told is that Robert and Rhaegar came together as the armies clashed (ie near the beginning of the battle). And that they fought for some time. Rhaegar wounded Robert (badly enough for Robert to be unable to travel to KL immediately after the battle) before Robert killed him.

On 1/13/2019 at 6:04 AM, John Suburbs said:

At the same time, we learn that Selmy barely survived the battle, which means at best his standard would remain with him, either stationary on the field or behind the lines if he was pulled back by his own men. Not a huge disaster, but certainly not great since now all of his men must find an alternate flag of some other royalist knight or fall back with their standard.

We don;t even know, or in fact expect, that he had a standard, that he was a significant commander of forces rather than a bodyguard, advisor, or effectively free agent.
And its not true to expect that every time any leader is killed, the forces under his command cease fighting.

Lewyn Martell killed Lyn Corbray's father and the Martel forces on the Targaryen right were threatening Robert (centre)'s flank (by implication winning against the Rebel left) before the younger brother Lyn took up his fathers sword and slew Martell.

On 1/13/2019 at 6:04 AM, John Suburbs said:

Meanwhile, Ned Stark and Jon Arryn both appeared none the worse for ware, and if the Tully commander fell during the battle, we've never heard about it. So all three pieces of the northern army should have been intact by the battle's end.

By the battle's end, yes. But while Ned and Jon were unscathed, there were rebel notable killed too.

And the Rebel left was initially losing, until Corbray kill Martell. But the Targaryen right was in retreat by the Time Rhaegar died.

On 1/13/2019 at 6:04 AM, John Suburbs said:

So with all of that, how can it be that the battle was a draw? Maybe once Lewyn and Selmy fell, Rhaegar knew that he was losing, and that's why he chose to face Robert alone?

Very easily it can have been a draw - if Rhaegar had not died. The rebels were victorious on their left, but bloodied everywhere, and if the Targaryens had pulled back without Rhaegar dying, they may well have still had strong enough forces to prevent the rebels crossing.
Its a moot point though, as Rhaegar died, leaving the Targaryen cause with nothing really to fight for.

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"When I died in the Battle of the Trident. I fought for Prince Rhaegar, though he never knew my name. I could not tell you why, save that the lord I served served a lord who served a lord who had decided to support the dragon rather than the stag. Had he decided elsewise, I might have been on the other side of the river. The battle was a bloody thing. The singers would have us believe it was all Rhaegar and Robert struggling in the stream for a woman both of them claimed to love, but I assure you, other men were fighting too, and I was one. I took an arrow through the thigh and another through the foot, and my horse was killed from under me, yet I fought on. I can still remember how desperate I was to find another horse, for I had no coin to buy one, and without a horse I would no longer be a knight. That was all that I was thinking of, if truth be told. I never saw the blow that felled me. I heard hooves behind my back and thought, a horse! but before I could turn something slammed into my head and knocked me back into the river, where by rights I should have drowned.

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Lord Grandison was wounded on the Trident and died of it a year after. <one of the Stormlords Robert converted after defeating at Summerhall>

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They had come together at the ford of the Trident while the battle crashed around them, Robert with his warhammer and his great antlered helm, the Targaryen prince armored all in black. On his breastplate was the three-headed dragon of his House, wrought all in rubies that flashed like fire in the sunlight. The waters of the Trident ran red around the hooves of their destriers as they circled and clashed, again and again, until at last a crushing blow from Robert's hammer stove in the dragon and the chest beneath it. When Ned had finally come on the scene, Rhaegar lay dead in the stream, while men of both armies scrabbled in the swirling waters for rubies knocked free of his armor.

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When Ser Bartimus was in his cups (and Ser Bartimus was in his cups most every day), he liked to boast of how he had saved Lord Wyman<Manderley>'s life at the Battle of the Trident. The Wolf's Den was his reward.

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When Prince Rhaegar at last marched up the kingsroad to the Trident, with him were all but one of the Kingsguard who had remained in King's Landing: Ser Barristan the Bold, Ser Jonothor Darry, and Prince Lewyn of Dorne. Prince Lewyn took command of the Dornish troop sent by his nephew, the Prince Doran, but it is said that he did so only after threats from the Mad King, who feared that the Dornishmen looked to betray him. Only the young Ser Jaime Lannister remained in King's Landing.
Of the famous battle on the Trident, much has been written and said. But all know that the two armies clashed at the crossing that would ever after be called the Ruby Ford for the scattered rubies on Prince Rhaegar's armor. The opponents were well matched. Rhaegar's forces numbered some forty thousand, a tenth part of which were anointed knights, while the rebels had somewhat fewer men, but those they possessed were tested in battle, while much of Rhaegar's force was raw and new.
The battle at the ford was fierce, and many lives were lost in the fray. Ser Jonothor Darry was cut down in the midst of the conflict, as was Prince Lewyn of Dorne. But the most important death was yet to come.
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King Stannis said, "Lord Snow, tell me of Mors Umber."
The Night's Watch takes no part, Jon thought, but another voice within him said, Words are not swords. "The elder of the Greatjon's uncles. Crowfood, they call him. A crow once took him for dead and pecked out his eye. He caught the bird in his fist and bit its head off. When Mors was young he was a fearsome fighter. His sons died on the Trident, his wife in childbed. His only daughter was carried off by wildlings thirty years ago."

 

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The battle screamed about Lord Robert and Prince Rhaegar both, and by the will of the gods, or by chance—or perhaps by design—they met amidst the shallows of the ford. The two knights fought valiantly upon their destriers, according to all accounts. For despite his crimes, Prince Rhaegar was no coward. Lord Robert was wounded by the dragon prince in the combat, yet in the end, Baratheon's ferocious strength and his thirst to avenge the shame brought upon his stolen betrothed proved the greater. His warhammer found its mark, and Robert drove the spike through Rhaegar's chest, scattering the costly rubies that blazed upon the prince's breastplate.

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 On the Trident, when their father fell wounded, it was Lyn who snatched up Lady Forlorn and slew the man who'd cut him down. Whilst Lyonel was carrying the old man back to the maesters in the rear, Lyn led his charge against the Dornishmen threatening Robert's left, broke their lines to pieces, and slew Lewyn Martell. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, Takiedevushkikakzvezdy said:

I still don't understand how Robert and Rhaegar could have randomly met on the battlefield...

It makes a lot more sense if you consider the KG Knights were commanding individual battles and the royalist were losing (probably badly). That would put Rhaegar in the reserve, which would move up to engage wherever needed. It wouldn’t surprise me if he moved to attacks the rebel van and attempt to get Robert killed as a way of saving his army. 

Rebels would be in a much more tenuous position without Robert as a figurehead. 

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Battles in the middle ages were usually set piece affairs, like described in the text and above. The wings or divisions would have been commanded by liege lords (Barons or Dukes in English peerage) Mostly those related to the king by blood or marriage. Turning command over to a professional soldier (KG) was simply not done. One's right to rule was directly related to ability to lead in the field. Later middle ages and early modern times saw the last of that (Richard III I think last English monarch to die in battle, 1485).

 

 

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On ‎1‎/‎12‎/‎2019 at 1:47 PM, Here's Looking At You, Kid said:

The fact that Rhaegar and the future usurper fought for so long meant that everyone on that battlefield was aware of the duel.  A lot was at stake.  A great dynasty that built the kingdom was at stake.  The Targaryens had more to lose than the lesser houses they were fighting.  Which is why Rhaegar was a fool to engage Robert in single combat.  Brave, yes.  Honorable, no.  The person leading the battle has a responsibility to his side to give them the best chances of victory.  Engaging the enemy in single combat might be admirable (I don't think so) and it might be honorable (I don't think so) but it is a foolish move.  I would choose to follow Queen Daenerys into battle before Rhaegar.  She has a better understanding of what it takes to win.  

Exactly, which is why I'm thinking it was an act of desperation. Rhaegar has just lost two of his commanders, and presumably their standards as well. The battle is clearly turning against him, or is about to because he is losing command and control over his army. Thus, a roll of the dice to see if he can't take out their commander and even things up a little.

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8 hours ago, Takiedevushkikakzvezdy said:

I still don't understand how Robert and Rhaegar could have randomly met on the battlefield...

Its not random. Leaders are distinctly marked out with banners, heraldry, distinctive armour etc. In fact thats the only way you can tell who is who on the battlefield (remember the 'reappearance' of the dead Renly at the Battle of the Blackwater?).

Robert had personal beef with Rhaegar, as well as recognising the value of taking him out. Rhaegar would equally know the value in taking out Robert. Both would have aimed for the other.

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16 hours ago, corbon said:

snip

Thanks, that explains a lot. I'm not sure where I got the idea that the fighting lulled when R&R came together. I think maybe the part in the WB where men stopped fighting to look for rubies after Rhaegar fell.

But it seems to be that Lewyn was leading the right flank, even though there is no text that states it. He is a prince of Dorne, he's leading 10k Dornishmen and he's attacking the rebel left.

But I don't see any mention that the Dornish were attacking the center when Lewyn fell. For what it's worth, here is Littlefinger's account to Sansa:

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On the Trident, when their father fell wounded, it was Lyn who snatched up Lady Forlorn and slew the man who'd cut him down. Whilst Lyonell was carrying the old man back to the maesters in the rear, Lyn led his charge against the Dornishmen threatening Robert's left, broke their lines to pieces, and slew Lewyn Martell.

And the only reason I'm putting Barry and Darry in charge of the left and center is because they seem to be the only other men of note on Rhaegar's side, but that certainly doesn't mean they were leading a wing. Still, with all three KG gone, it seems like the royalists are taking a lot more lumps in this battle than the rebels -- a few bannermen or sons of bannermen vs. the Prince of Dorne, Barristan the Bold and Ser Jonothor Darry.

So with their left "broken to pieces" and Rhaegar's top men either dead or disabled, it still seems like the royalists were already on the ropes when R&R came together.

And FYI, "assume" means to accept as true without proof. I never assumed anything in the OP. I merely asked a question based on my understanding. There are ways to answer questions without being snarky.

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8 hours ago, Takiedevushkikakzvezdy said:

I still don't understand how Robert and Rhaegar could have randomly met on the battlefield...

Both of them would be pretty easy to spot, especially since they were still horsed. Robert with his antler helm swinging his mace left and right, Rhaegar with his black dragon helm decorated with gold, orange and red streamers to look like flames.

But I also don't think their meeting was random.

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1 hour ago, jthurman14 said:

Battles in the middle ages were usually set piece affairs, like described in the text and above. The wings or divisions would have been commanded by liege lords (Barons or Dukes in English peerage) Mostly those related to the king by blood or marriage. Turning command over to a professional soldier (KG) was simply not done. One's right to rule was directly related to ability to lead in the field. Later middle ages and early modern times saw the last of that (Richard III I think last English monarch to die in battle, 1485).

 

 

True, but if Rhaegar had any major lords to give command to, we've never heard of them. Both Barry and Darry were sons of noble houses.

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32 minutes ago, John Suburbs said:

But it seems to be that Lewyn was leading the right flank, even though there is no text that states it. He is a prince of Dorne, he's leading 10k Dornishmen and he's attacking the rebel left.

Yep.

32 minutes ago, John Suburbs said:

But I don't see any mention that the Dornish were attacking the center when Lewyn fell. For what it's worth, here is Littlefinger's account to Sansa:

Check that quote again.

"Threatening", not 'attacking'. But the Dornish can only be threatening Roberts flank if they have driven back his wing or he had badly mismanaged his deployment and maneouvering, which isn't anywhere indicated (although... Robert credits Ned for winning the battles, so its possible he did mismanage it before becoming personally involved and Ned redirected things while Robert was fighting - we don;t really know much).

Also note that the Corbrays are a fairly senior House, with a famous Valyrian Steel blade,  famous KG (one fought Daemon Bkacfyre for an hour on the Redgrass Field) and a Regent in their past. Lord Corbray has been wounded and his heir retired with him, so things are going badly it seems for the Rebel left, before Lyn Corbray picks up his fathers sword and turns the tide.

32 minutes ago, John Suburbs said:

And the only reason I'm putting Barry and Darry in charge of the left and center is because they seem to be the only other men of note on Rhaegar's side, but that certainly doesn't mean they were leading a wing. Still, with all three KG gone, it seems like the royalists are taking a lot more lumps in this battle than the rebels -- a few bannermen or sons of bannermen vs. the Prince of Dorne, Barristan the Bold and Ser Jonothor Darry.

There are many other men of note, we only hear a few partial stories. 

For example, there were three Darrys killed at the Trident, all older brothers of the Lord who sits during ASoIaF. So there was definitely senior Darry's present, probably the Lord or his Heir, as well as Jonor. Probably his nephews or brothers, I don't think we can tell. But the most senior of them would certainly be strong candidates for local command.
There were also Mootons, Rygers, Brunes, Crabbs and more, all of which have featured elsewhere in the storys or histories.

And yes, the loyalists took considerably more lumps than the rebels. That happens when an army breaks. I don't think you can extrapolate out from a few known figures and generalise over the battlefield.

32 minutes ago, John Suburbs said:

So with their left "broken to pieces" and Rhaegar's top men either dead or disabled, it still seems like the royalists were already on the ropes when R&R came together.

Again, there is no indication that this happened before Robert and Rhaegar came together. In fact it is indicated otherwise by what little we have.

1. Robert and Rhaegar came together "as the armies clashed", which indicates, though not definitively, early on in the battle.

2. They fought for quite a while. "circling and clashing, again and again" Bear in mind again, the Corbray KG vs Daemon Blackfyre fight lasting an hour (not that I expect Robert and Rhaegar must have been that long, but its an example).

3. Rhaegar wounded Robert badly enough that he couldn't travel for several days.

4. The royalists were not on the ropes for a start. At least on their right, the rebel left, they appear to have been winning initially.

5. According to Yandel, Darry and Martell died before Rhaegar did. Though not necessarily before he met Robert.

32 minutes ago, John Suburbs said:

And FYI, "assume" means to accept as true without proof. I never assumed anything in the OP. I merely asked a question based on my understanding. There are ways to answer questions without being snarky.

When you say x plus y means z, and infer further claims from z or ask questions based on z, it means you are assuming x and y (to get to z). You just did it again when you assumed that all of Rhaegar's top men were dead or disabled before Robert and Rhaegar even came together.

I apologise, I didn't mean to be snarky. Just pointing out that X+Y=Z won't lead to true Z if X or Y are wrong.

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3 hours ago, jthurman14 said:

Battles in the middle ages were usually set piece affairs, like described in the text and above. The wings or divisions would have been commanded by liege lords (Barons or Dukes in English peerage) Mostly those related to the king by blood or marriage. Turning command over to a professional soldier (KG) was simply not done. One's right to rule was directly related to ability to lead in the field. Later middle ages and early modern times saw the last of that (Richard III I think last English monarch to die in battle, 1485).

That's true in real life, however GoT differs from real life in a few ways. We already know that it's not uncommon for a royal army to be commanded by non-royal nobility / soldiers. Ormund Baratheon led the Westerosi against the Nine, and when he died Gerold Hightower took over total command. The Lannister troops were led by Roger Reyne (after Jason died), even though Tywin and his brother were there. Darry and Selmy were sent to re-assemble the remnants of JonCon's army after Stoney Sept. It makes sense that one of them would retain command during the Trident.

The Warden system pretty much supplants that IRL comparison too. Daven is command RL troops, Frey troops, and Lannister troops as Warden of the West until Jaime arrives, acting as overall commander at the command of the throne. Jaime is still technically Warden of the East at this point.

I'm sure there were quite a few prominent nobles on Rhaegar's side but not many seem to be named. The crownland levies would most likely be under the command of Rhaegar or a KG. The most prominent RL loyalists there were the Darrys and four of them died.

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On 1/13/2019 at 11:14 AM, LindsayLohan said:

I think the most common take is that Robert and Rhaegar met due to the battle going so disastrously for the Targaryan army.  Rhaegar's forces, as in those assigned to his person, were only committed after the greater part of his host had been destroyed or scattered.  It would explain why the two actually clashed in the ford, and not on land. 

Rhaegar had forty thousand.  He should have won that battle.  But this is a callback to Ser Weymar Royce leading that ill-fated ranging.  Rhaegar was put in command because of who he was.  How different that battle might have turned out if it had been Randyll Tarly in command.  

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