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Would Robert be a better man if he didn't marry Cersei or vice versa?

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2 hours ago, DominusNovus said:

I’d like to suggest that we’re basing these opinions on the nature of a 14-16 year old girl, of whom we read a few paragraphs, and of a 21 year old man who grew into a miserable 36 year old, of whom we have admittedly read quite a bit more.

Would Lyanna be the same person at 30 as she was at 16? Would Robert be the same person with a wife who wasn’t cuckolding him through his entire marriage as he was with one? I don’t know what they’d be like, but I can be quite confident that they’d be different.

Robert had no idea that Cersei was cuckolding him so I'm not sure how that is relevant to his behaviour. We don't know how Lyanna would have turned out but we do know that Robert had the same flaws, appetites and lack of responsibility as a young man as he did at 36. It was just more appealing in young Robert (except to Lyanna, apparently).

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7 hours ago, Wall Flower said:

Robert had no idea that Cersei was cuckolding him so I'm not sure how that is relevant to his behaviour. We don't know how Lyanna would have turned out but we do know that Robert had the same flaws, appetites and lack of responsibility as a young man as he did at 36. It was just more appealing in young Robert (except to Lyanna, apparently).

He had no idea she was fucking someone else, but there was no doubt in his mind just how much she despised him.

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11 hours ago, Aegon VII said:

I believe you’re too confident in that conclusion. Maybe it would have ended badly, but maybe Robert would have been a better man because lyanna demanded it, and they both fall in love. Robert was a good enough man to be Ned starks best friend, and he loved her. There’s a chance he would have been a good husband and over time lyanna would love him back. 

We’ll never know, but I stand by my statement that if they were happily married, he’d be a better man. If they weren’t happily married, Robert would be dead or abandoned. 

I don't think Robert was an inherently bad man, and I am sure Ned had good reasons for loving him like a brother. But Lyanna wasn't going to love Robert just because Ned did. She didn't want to wed Robert, and she wasn't going to be happy wed to Robert. She would have wed Robert and done her duty, as she had no choice but to do, but she wasn't going to reciprocate the intense feelings Robert felt for her.

Wedding Lyanna wouldn't have prevented Robert from drinking himself to an early grave, it would have just given him a different reason to drink. Just "getting" Lyanna wouldn't have been enough. He loved her, and he would have wanted her to love him, and I have no doubt he would have turned to the drink no less in that relationship than he did in the relationship that actually did occur.

I do think Robert could have been a happier and better man with some other lady, just not Lyanna. Had he been matched with someone he liked and got along with, who liked him and got along with him, and who was able to overlook his fondness for booze and women, I think he would have been much better off. But the difference between his dream of Lyanna and the reality of Lyanna would have been to great for him.

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10 hours ago, DominusNovus said:

I’d like to suggest that we’re basing these opinions on the nature of a 14-16 year old girl, of whom we read a few paragraphs, and of a 21 year old man who grew into a miserable 36 year old, of whom we have admittedly read quite a bit more.

Would Lyanna be the same person at 30 as she was at 16? Would Robert be the same person with a wife who wasn’t cuckolding him through his entire marriage as he was with one? I don’t know what they’d be like, but I can be quite confident that they’d be different.

Lyanna already didn't want to marry the man Robert already was. I don't think Robert was going to grow into someone Lyanna wanted to be married to, nor do I think Lyanna was going to change into someone that wanted to be married to him. She would have done her duty, because that is what daughters must do. But she wasn't going to play Robert's dream Lyanna, she was going to be the real Lyanna, the one that didn't want to wed Robert.

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4 hours ago, Bael's Bastard said:

Lyanna already didn't want to marry the man Robert already was. I don't think Robert was going to grow into someone Lyanna wanted to be married to, nor do I think Lyanna was going to change into someone that wanted to be married to him. She would have done her duty, because that is what daughters must do. But she wasn't going to play Robert's dream Lyanna, she was going to be the real Lyanna, the one that didn't want to wed Robert.

I don’t disagree. I’m saying that 30 year old Lyanna, 20 year old Lyanna, hell, 18 year old Lyanna, are likely to have different views than 14 and 16 year old Lyanna.

And 21 year old Robert was not destined to become a complete sot. Well, in a Doylist sense, he was. But not from an in-world perspective.

Edited by DominusNovus

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I think Robert would have been a better man because he did love Lyanna and she would have made him be a better man.  I'm not saying he would have been perfect, but Lyanna could have had a better influence on him than Cersie. 

Cersie was angry with him beginning with their wedding night when he called her Lyanna.  She despised the trips they went on and the things he liked to do, and more importantly she always was in love with Jamie and nothing was going to change that.  She avoided him and she didn't care who he screwed around with as long as it wasn't her.  She raised her kids to be Lannisters and thus Robert never felt close to them, they were too polished.

Lyanna was more down to earth.  Lyanna may have went hunting with him so she could ride.  She wasn't used to being a spoiled brat, so being in the presence of lesser lords would not been beneath her, and instead of being indifferent to his ways, she probably would have confronted him. 

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16 hours ago, DominusNovus said:

 Would Robert be the same person with a wife who wasn’t cuckolding him through his entire marriage as he was with one? I don’t know what they’d be like, but I can be quite confident that they’d be different.

But he's unaware of her cuckolding him. I guess you mean someone who is more into sleeping with him?

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1 minute ago, Lluewhyn said:

But he's unaware of her cuckolding him. I guess you mean someone who is more into sleeping with him?

I adressed that point. The cuckolding isn’t just her sleeping with Jaime, its her seething disdain and disrespect for Robert, undermining him publicly (just think of the singer who Joffrey punished at the end of aGoT, clearly the idea that Cersei hated Robert was well known).

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22 hours ago, Bael's Bastard said:

Lyanna didn't want to marry him, and never would have been happily married to him. Had she been forced to wed him, she might have done her duty, but she never would have reciprocated the feelings Robert believed he had for Lyanna, and she wouldn't have faked loving or being happy with Robert just to keep his delusions alive. 

Frankly, I'm not even sure Robert ever actually had feelings for her.

He was excited by the prospect of marrying (owning) her, and her beauty, sure. But look at the way he behaved at Harrenhal, during one of the relatively few opportunities he would have had to spend time with her. There is no interaction shown us between them, and he is shown drinking a buddy under the table while she is listening to Rhaegar's song. Look at his whoring during the rebellion when he was supposedly fighting to free his love.

I'm of the opinion (which will never be proved one way or another) that Robert never loved Lyanna at all, and never would have. But due to his sense of loss (from his expectations), and his hateful marriage to Cersei, has made a big thing in his head about loving her.
I think his whispering her name instead of Cersei's, when drunk on his wedding night, is already an expression of his loss, not his love. But I could be wrong. Its the one single thing in the entire series (words are wind, actions count), to me, that actually points to him possibly loving her.

16 hours ago, Aegon VII said:

I believe you’re too confident in that conclusion. Maybe it would have ended badly, but maybe Robert would have been a better man because lyanna demanded it, and they both fall in love. Robert was a good enough man to be Ned starks best friend, and he loved her. There’s a chance he would have been a good husband and over time lyanna would love him back. 

We’ll never know, but I stand by my statement that if they were happily married, he’d be a better man. If they weren’t happily married, Robert would be dead or abandoned. 

The thing is, he was always a drunken man-whore. He was just better able to handle it in his youth. Before he was married, during the rebellion, after he was married, it was always the same. I'm with Lyanna on this one, 

16 hours ago, DominusNovus said:

I’d like to suggest that we’re basing these opinions on the nature of a 14-16 year old girl, of whom we read a few paragraphs, and of a 21 year old man who grew into a miserable 36 year old, of whom we have admittedly read quite a bit more.

Would Lyanna be the same person at 30 as she was at 16? Would Robert be the same person with a wife who wasn’t cuckolding him through his entire marriage as he was with one? I don’t know what they’d be like, but I can be quite confident that they’d be different.

He was the same person before his marriage, so yes.
And while Lyanna was young, those were wise words. She's not going to be less wise at 30 than she was at 14.

21 minutes ago, Chris Mormont said:

I think Robert would have been a better man because he did love Lyanna and she would have made him be a better man.  I'm not saying he would have been perfect, but Lyanna could have had a better influence on him than Cersie. 

...

Lyanna was more down to earth.  Lyanna may have went hunting with him so she could ride.  She wasn't used to being a spoiled brat, so being in the presence of lesser lords would not been beneath her, and instead of being indifferent to his ways, she probably would have confronted him. 

First, this assumes he did love her. I'm not so sure on that. His actions nowhere show he loved her at any time. Only the idea of having her.

Second, this assumes anything other than Robert could make him a better man. I'll concede this is possible. I don't think it likely. Robert is the stereotypical high school sports star who never ever grew up. Given his power and position, I don't think anything would have made him grow up, and therefore become a better man. But we'll never know. 

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Lyanna would never become like Cersei. Cersei is what she is because of herself. And maybe her father.

Robert would never have cared for administrating . But he was OK for dealing with rebellions. All in all, not a too bad king, if he had a good Hand. Maybe he would have stayed faithful to Lyanna. But it's unsure. Except that, he was not a bad man.

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Just now, corbon said:

 His actions nowhere show he loved her at any time. Only the idea of having her.

Well, that and the idea of becoming true family with Ned. Frankly, from everything we have seen from Robert, I am not sure that he was even capable of really loving a woman. Certainly, like you said, he seemed to neglect and ignore Lyanna at Harrenhal - which was likely his first opportunity to meet her face-to-face.

The whole idea that "the love of a good woman" can change a man is pernicious nonsense, IMHO. And if Robert had at least tried to be considerate to Cersei in bed, rather than hurting her, he may have even gotten some legitimate kids out of the deal. It was that, along with the rampant cheating, that cemented her decision to only have Jaime's kids.

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Robert was House Stark's number one fanboy. He loved his Ned and loved the idea of being his brother by marriage. Then later loved the idea of marrying his son to his Ned's daughter. He was hellbent on making the Starks apart of his family somehow. Had Benjen been born a girl Robert would have married him and made him his Queen.

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Robert would have still been Robert. But being linked to the Starks through Lyanna would have been a more healthier environment for Robert. On top of that, Lyanna being Lyanna would have changed Robert over time. So, yes, Robert would have been different had he married Lyanna (or, when the alternative is Cersei, anyone else for that matter).

I disagree with Lyanna's "love cannot change a man's nature" quote. Love may not but marriage certainly does.

Look at Catelyn. Several characters - including Catelyn herself - have made a point to comment on how her marriage to Ned (including life in the North  and mothering the next generation of Starks) has changed her. Tyrion, perceptive as he is, feels it more comfortable and appropriate to call her a wolf rather than a fish. Even seers such as the Ghost of High Heart refer to her as a wolf that was fish.

At the very least, Robert and Lyanna had similar interests. Robert given Lyanna the freedom to bear arms unlike her father. He might have appreciated someone to teach. They would have enjoyed racing on horseback together. And hunting trips would have been more fulfilling.

And Lyanna would make a far better consort as she would have kept his affairs clean and running smoothly. She might not have enjoyed it (at first) but I think Lyanna would have been good for Robert.

Again look at Catelyn. She was not looking forward to marrying Ned. And she definitely wasn't happy about Jon Snow. But she, nevertheless, came to adore him in spite of those things.

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17 hours ago, Maia said:

Well, that and the idea of becoming true family with Ned. Frankly, from everything we have seen from Robert, I am not sure that he was even capable of really loving a woman. Certainly, like you said, he seemed to neglect and ignore Lyanna at Harrenhal - which was likely his first opportunity to meet her face-to-face.

 The whole idea that "the love of a good woman" can change a man is pernicious nonsense, IMHO. And if Robert had at least tried to be considerate to Cersei in bed, rather than hurting her, he may have even gotten some legitimate kids out of the deal. It was that, along with the rampant cheating, that cemented her decision to only have Jaime's kids.

There are loads of things that can change a person, and the love of a good woman is one of them, regardless of whether or not it is a cliche.

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20 hours ago, DominusNovus said:

I don’t disagree. I’m saying that 30 year old Lyanna, 20 year old Lyanna, hell, 18 year old Lyanna, are likely to have different views than 14 and 16 year old Lyanna.

And 21 year old Robert was not destined to become a complete sot. Well, in a Doylist sense, he was. But not from an in-world perspective.

There are very few words in A Song of Ice and Fire that can be attributed to Lyanna. We have Ned's account of her last words, as she pleaded with him to promise her. We have an account of some of her statements at the Harrenhal Tourney, like what she roared as she laid into the squires picking on Howland, and when she convinced Howland to attend the opening feast, and, most likely, when she required the knights she had defeated as The Knight of the Laughing Tree to chastise their squires. And we have her beliefs about Robert's nature, and the likelihood of it changing.

"Robert will never keep to one bed..."
"I hear he has gotten a child on some girl in the Vale..."
"Love is sweet, dearest Ned, but it cannot change a man's nature"

- AGOT: Eddard IX

Regardless of whether or not Robert was destined to sleep with women other than his wife, or whether or not he was destined to abuse alcohol, we know that Lyanna believed that it was Robert's nature, and that even love would not change Robert's nature. Would Robert have tried to change for Lyanna? We don't know. But we know that Lyanna would have gone into her marriage with these views that Ned obviously kept from him, and it is hard to see how Robert wouldn't have been devastated, and become angry and depressed, over how Lyanna actually viewed and felt about him.

At best one can argue that we can never know for certain since it never happened, and thus we can't completely rule out the possibility. But I think we have enough information to say that all indications are that Robert would have been deeply unhappy that the Lyanna he wed was much different than the Lyanna he dreamed of, and we know how a deeply unhappy Robert copes. It doesn't matter that Lyanna and Cersei are completely different people, completely different types of people. They would have had an unhappy relationship, and they would have strained Robert's and Ned's relationship.

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20 hours ago, Chris Mormont said:

I think Robert would have been a better man because he did love Lyanna and she would have made him be a better man.  I'm not saying he would have been perfect, but Lyanna could have had a better influence on him than Cersie. 

Cersie was angry with him beginning with their wedding night when he called her Lyanna.  She despised the trips they went on and the things he liked to do, and more importantly she always was in love with Jamie and nothing was going to change that.  She avoided him and she didn't care who he screwed around with as long as it wasn't her.  She raised her kids to be Lannisters and thus Robert never felt close to them, they were too polished.

Lyanna was more down to earth.  Lyanna may have went hunting with him so she could ride.  She wasn't used to being a spoiled brat, so being in the presence of lesser lords would not been beneath her, and instead of being indifferent to his ways, she probably would have confronted him. 

Love doesn't inherently make people better, especially the obsessive love Robert is indicated to have had for someone who did not love him back. That is a recipe for disaster. Lyanna did not love Robert, and believed it was in his nature to sleep around. She was going to be unhappy going into the marriage, and Robert was going to be unhappy to learn how Lyanna really thought and felt about him. Lyanna was a highborn lady who spoke her mind. 

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20 hours ago, corbon said:

Frankly, I'm not even sure Robert ever actually had feelings for her.

He was excited by the prospect of marrying (owning) her, and her beauty, sure. But look at the way he behaved at Harrenhal, during one of the relatively few opportunities he would have had to spend time with her. There is no interaction shown us between them, and he is shown drinking a buddy under the table while she is listening to Rhaegar's song. Look at his whoring during the rebellion when he was supposedly fighting to free his love.

It's hard to say. Those are definitely things that raise questions, and which I would love to have more information about, but they don't necessarily tell us that Robert didn't genuinely feel he loved Lyanna. At the very least, I think we can say that if Robert did feel he loved Lyanna, it was his own idea of Lyanna, and not the actual woman-child. And even if Robert did feel he loved Lyanna, that did not stop him from sleeping with prostitutes in Stony Sept (and who knows when else between the time Lyanna was kidnapped and the time Lyanna was confirmed dead).

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20 hours ago, BalerionTheCat said:

Lyanna would never become like Cersei. Cersei is what she is because of herself. And maybe her father.

Robert would never have cared for administrating . But he was OK for dealing with rebellions. All in all, not a too bad king, if he had a good Hand. Maybe he would have stayed faithful to Lyanna. But it's unsure. Except that, he was not a bad man.

Robert need not have been a bad man for his and Lyanna's marriage to have been unhappy. Robert seems to have had unrealistic ideas and expectations of Lyanna, and it is difficult to see him coping with the reality of Lyanna without women and booze.

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19 hours ago, Maia said:

Well, that and the idea of becoming true family with Ned. Frankly, from everything we have seen from Robert, I am not sure that he was even capable of really loving a woman. Certainly, like you said, he seemed to neglect and ignore Lyanna at Harrenhal - which was likely his first opportunity to meet her face-to-face.

The whole idea that "the love of a good woman" can change a man is pernicious nonsense, IMHO. And if Robert had at least tried to be considerate to Cersei in bed, rather than hurting her, he may have even gotten some legitimate kids out of the deal. It was that, along with the rampant cheating, that cemented her decision to only have Jaime's kids.

@corbon and @Maia

Hopefully we learn more about whether Robert and Lyanna had any interactions at Harrenhal. I think we know too little to rule it out. It is possible they had some interaction(s), whether before, during, or after the opening feast described in the tale told by the Reeds. And if they did, it is possible that it wasn't a very positive interaction.

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12 hours ago, Jabar of House Titan said:

Robert would have still been Robert. But being linked to the Starks through Lyanna would have been a more healthier environment for Robert. On top of that, Lyanna being Lyanna would have changed Robert over time. So, yes, Robert would have been different had he married Lyanna (or, when the alternative is Cersei, anyone else for that matter).

I disagree with Lyanna's "love cannot change a man's nature" quote. Love may not but marriage certainly does.

Look at Catelyn. Several characters - including Catelyn herself - have made a point to comment on how her marriage to Ned (including life in the North  and mothering the next generation of Starks) has changed her. Tyrion, perceptive as he is, feels it more comfortable and appropriate to call her a wolf rather than a fish. Even seers such as the Ghost of High Heart refer to her as a wolf that was fish.

At the very least, Robert and Lyanna had similar interests. Robert given Lyanna the freedom to bear arms unlike her father. He might have appreciated someone to teach. They would have enjoyed racing on horseback together. And hunting trips would have been more fulfilling.

And Lyanna would make a far better consort as she would have kept his affairs clean and running smoothly. She might not have enjoyed it (at first) but I think Lyanna would have been good for Robert.

Again look at Catelyn. She was not looking forward to marrying Ned. And she definitely wasn't happy about Jon Snow. But she, nevertheless, came to adore him in spite of those things.

Not necessarily. If the reality of Lyanna made Robert unhappy, he still would have resorted to drinking and women to cope. It is hard to see how he wouldn't have been disappointed and depressed with the reality of a Lyanna who didn't love him, compared with the idea of Lyanna that he loved so much. And the relationship between Robert and Ned could have very easily been strained by an unhappy marriage between Robert and Lyanna. No, Robert wouldn't have been surrounded by Lannisters that wanted to kill him and usurp him, but he was still likely to be an angry, depressed, drunk, who slept around on his wife.

Neither love nor marriage inherently make someone better. Robert wouldn't have inherently become better because he married someone other than Cersei, especially if that someone was Lyanna. He had few illusions about or expectations of Cersei, and look how unhappy their marriage was. He had great illusions about and expectations of Lyanna, and there was pretty much no chance of those illusions and expectations being met.

Catelyn and Lyanna were two completely different people, with two completely different views.

Catelyn had a generally understanding view of men fathering bastards, including Ned fathering a bastard after they had wed. Her main issue was that he brought that bastard home, and raised him as his son together with their legitimate children.

Lyanna, on the other hand, took a negative view of Robert fathering a bastard far away in the Vale before they were even betrothed, and believed that this was Robert's true nature, and that not even love would change that nature.

I am sure Lyanna would have gone through with the marriage, and done her duty as a wife, but she wasn't going to make him happy, and an unhappy Robert is a heavily drinking and whoring Robert.

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