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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:

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.

That is debatable. But loving a woman is not the same as being loved by a woman. Robert might have obsessively loved Lyanna, but she did not love him, and she was not going to reciprocate his intense feelings for her. Whether or not he would have made an effort to stop, Lyanna believed it was in his nature to sleep around, and that he wasn't going to change. Everything points to this being a deeply unhappy marriage.

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Its very easy, but unsound, to be deterministic about who Lyanna is as an adult (and potentially queen) based on who she was as a 14 year old. And about who Robert is, in hos 30s, based on his experiences since he was 21.

There’s so many variables and, assuming we treat the characters as though they have agency, choices that a strong argument could be made for virtually any possible course for their lives.

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On ‎2‎/‎5‎/‎2019 at 10:55 PM, Angel Eyes said:

In a thread a few months ago about why Lyanna Stark was betrothed to Robert Baratheon instead of other men, it was discussed whether or not marrying Robert would have made Lyanna into something resembling Cersei in cruelty and malice or would Robert be a better person if he hadn't married Cersei. 

Thoughts? I'm not sure either way.

Yes . Robert was not a bad person , he was terrible lonely ,. So he filled it with women and wine .

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On 2/8/2019 at 11:58 AM, Bael's Bastard said:

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.

At the same time, I think it's safe to say that having Lyanna is better than not having Lyanna.

(I hate to make this comparison for fear of what it might sound like)

Put yourself in Robert's shoes and think of Lyanna as a dream car. Maybe a Lamborghini, a Challenger or a Ferrari. Whatever. You've always been infatuated with said car and you have made it a goal to getting that car and owning it for yourself. You did your research and you're ready. But once you get it, you're going to find little things that surprised and/or disappointed you. And then the honeymoon phase will end and the new car smell fades. You're unhappy not because you got your dream car but because you have to pay the price of the associated car note, insurance payment and personal property taxes.

I say all that to say that I think most people would rather cry in the Lamborghini they always wanted that was out of their league rather than try to make two ends meet in the unwieldy, pretty-on-the-outside-putrid-on-the-inside lemon they had to settle for.

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On 2/8/2019 at 12:02 PM, Bael's Bastard said:

That is debatable. But loving a woman is not the same as being loved by a woman. Robert might have obsessively loved Lyanna, but she did not love him, and she was not going to reciprocate his intense feelings for her. Whether or not he would have made an effort to stop, Lyanna believed it was in his nature to sleep around, and that he wasn't going to change. Everything points to this being a deeply unhappy marriage.

Possibly.

But had Lyanna or any other woman been Robert's wife and Queen instead of Cersei, the realm would have been much, much better off.

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5 hours ago, Jabar of House Titan said:

At the same time, I think it's safe to say that having Lyanna is better than not having Lyanna.

(I hate to make this comparison for fear of what it might sound like)

Put yourself in Robert's shoes and think of Lyanna as a dream car. Maybe a Lamborghini, a Challenger or a Ferrari. Whatever. You've always been infatuated with said car and you have made it a goal to getting that car and owning it for yourself. You did your research and you're ready. But once you get it, you're going to find little things that surprised and/or disappointed you. And then the honeymoon phase will end and the new car smell fades. You're unhappy not because you got your dream car but because you have to pay the price of the associated car note, insurance payment and personal property taxes.

I say all that to say that I think most people would rather cry in the Lamborghini they always wanted that was out of their league rather than try to make two ends meet in the unwieldy, pretty-on-the-outside-putrid-on-the-inside lemon they had to settle for.

To continue your analogy (difficult because I know diddly squat about cars) I would say it’s more like getting the Lamborghini at long Last only to discover actually it’s an X-trail (I told you I don’t know cars, but you get the idea :P )

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I guess one could also ask the question of how Robert's weight gain, self respect and general inability to rule himself was affected by the death of Lyanna and marriage to Cersei, as well as how his choices regarding his physical health might have played into his mental well being.

Before claiming the IT, Robert was a thickly muscled warrior who was known for both his skill at arms and the love he had for combat. Standing about 6'4, the future King seemed to have a herculean physique, and knew how to use it, both on the battlefield and in the bed chamber. He also shared his brother Renly's handsome facial features, with Robert's famously deep blue eyes engulfing those who looked upon them. 

A vibrant personality, who loved to party as much as he loved to fight, one can imagine many soldiers, nobles and small folk alike would consider Lord of Storm's End a lot of fun to be around. With his outgoing nature, wealth, lordship, looks and fighting prowess, he had a the type of gifts that drew people to his company. All of these traits are the things Westerosi people take great pride in, therefore, with so many others being impressed by him, Robert must have been pretty proud of himself. 

The famously honourable Eddard Stark seems like the very opposite type of personality who would be best friends with someone like Robert, yet evidently the Quiet Wolf saw something good in the young Baratheon, as both men grew closer to each other than they ever were to their biological brothers. Ned and Bob seemed to love their time as wards in the Vale, and both saw Jon Arryn as a father figure. Eventually becoming Lord of Storm's End, while also being betrothed to someone he apparently had genuine feelings for, Robert's marriage to Lyanna would have brought Houses Stark and Baratheon closer, furthering his bond with Ned's kin. The future certainly would have looked bright for this young Lord, he was happy.

Of course, all was not meant to be. Flash forward to 298AC and Lyanna was dead, while Robert was drinking and eating his sorrow away, hadn't seen his best friend for years, was stuck in a loveless marriage, surrounded by schemers and looking nothing like the Knight who slew Rhaegar at the Trident. These are some pretty big changes for anyone to go through, and while we don't know how much Baratheon ever discussed his problems with Jon Arryn, it's safe to say he wouldn't have had many people he could actually have an real heart to heart conversation with. When your physical and mental health are at a place you don't want them to be, it's very unhealthy to deal with such problems alone.

We know Robert still took a lot of pride in his old abilities in later life, judging by his shenanigans regarding entering the melee. Slow, drunk, out of practice and too heavy to fit into his armour, the King was still adamant on entering the battle royal; a multi entrant, last man standing contest that would have been waged in front of half the court. Even though most other competitors in the melee might have "gone easy" on him, on account of his Kingship, Baratheon's willingness to put himself at such potential risk of harm/embarrassment, clearly shows his desire for a return to times gone by, to a time when he would have entered that melee and likely destroyed the competition, whereas now he wouldn't stand a chance against most skilled opponents. That Robert (only half jokingly) also tells Ned his idea of abdicating the Throne and travelling to Essos to become a sellsword shows more of his preference for his old ways.

While medieval combat like that of Westeros is clearly barbaric, there as certainly something spiritual about the martial arts. Robert clearly loved the thrill of battle, and was damn good at it. Over the years his weight gain and addiction to the booze would have stripped him of much of what made him a talented warrior, his speed, reflexes, will and even some of his strength. His position as King and mostly peaceful reign also meant he had no battles to take part in, with his last proper campaign being his attack on Pyke during the Greyjoy rebellion.

With no wars to wage and a growing list of unhealthy traits, it's not likely that the morbidly obese Baratheon spent much time in the practise yard either; repetition and muscle memory being two other key factors in any fighter's ability. Think how depressed this would have made him. Imagine being a lifelong, world class pianist, who, through some poor choice of their own, damaged their hands to the point of not being able to play any more. Now, imagine having to go through this while being stuck in a toxic marriage, one you can't really end because of the power your wife's family holds. Robert was clearly depressed, and his own sense of self respect must have played a part.

We don't know exactly when Robert's weight gain/descent into full on alcoholism started, but it was certainly during his marriage to Cersei, at some point after the Greyjoy rebellion. Whispering the name of Lyanna during the bedding ceremony showed he had more feelings for his deceased former fiance than he did for his new wife, something that would cause great resentment in Cersei, and helped add bricks to the wall that would grow between them. The Queen herself cared more about Jaime/the memory of Rhaegar than she did the King, and is just a cruel person in general. While we don't know if Robert had an inkling about either, this dynamic clearly added to all around miserable marriage, and helped further the King's descent.

Would things be different if Robert had married someone else? I think so. While we can't entirely blame Cersei for all of of Bob's prickish tendencies, as evidenced by his whoring during RR, had he married someone who actually wanted to make a go of things, the King may have eventually found happiness. Perhaps he would grow to love them, even have had kids who he showed real affection for, properly raising them to be worthy heirs and honourable individuals, the kind who would make Jon Arryn proud. This new betrothed would obviously have to be cool with Robert's whoring, drinking and lust for battle and love of Lyanna's memory, as well as actually liking Robert's personality and being someone he could grow fond of.

Take someone like Asha Greyjoy, for example. While the aspiring Queen of the Iron Islands probably wouldn't appreciate the man who Robert became towards his death, if her opinions on Erik Ironmaker are anything to go by, a warrior like herself might have been pretty into 20 year old Robert's"true form" - the muscular, handsome hardman who could back up his big mouth and drink with the best of them.

A relationship with a bride of similar traits could have been good for Robert, perhaps in time he would even grow to fall for them, and finally put his depression over Lyanna to rest. If the power of love was strong enough to help Robert to ruin himself over his memory of Lyanna, who's to say the love he might feel for someone well suited to him wouldn't be strong enough to make him into the best version of himself. Had such events occurred, it's possible the big man wouldn't have had that gap in his heart that he felt he had to fill with whores, hams and hooch. 

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9 hours ago, Jabar of House Titan said:

At the same time, I think it's safe to say that having Lyanna is better than not having Lyanna.

(I hate to make this comparison for fear of what it might sound like)

Put yourself in Robert's shoes and think of Lyanna as a dream car. Maybe a Lamborghini, a Challenger or a Ferrari. Whatever. You've always been infatuated with said car and you have made it a goal to getting that car and owning it for yourself. You did your research and you're ready. But once you get it, you're going to find little things that surprised and/or disappointed you. And then the honeymoon phase will end and the new car smell fades. You're unhappy not because you got your dream car but because you have to pay the price of the associated car note, insurance payment and personal property taxes.

I say all that to say that I think most people would rather cry in the Lamborghini they always wanted that was out of their league rather than try to make two ends meet in the unwieldy, pretty-on-the-outside-putrid-on-the-inside lemon they had to settle for.

It's not just that there would have been things about Lyanna that wouldn't have lived up to Robert's expectations, or that he would have been disappointed by, it's that Lyanna herself had biases against Robert that would have factored into how she approached a marriage with him she was not happy to enter into. Being confronted with the fact that the woman you love doesn't want to be your wife, and very well might resist any way she can within the framework of having to be married to him, is bound to cause Robert to become disillusioned, angry, and depressed, and to cope with that the way we know Robert does. Such a relationship would have had a high probability of straining if not damaging relationships such as that between Robert and Ned, and Lyanna and Ned. Robert wanted to get closer to Ned, who he loved like a brother, and his family, but a marriage to Lyanna isn't likely to have brought that in anything except legality and blood ties.

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12 hours ago, Jabar of House Titan said:

At the same time, I think it's safe to say that having Lyanna is better than not having Lyanna.

(I hate to make this comparison for fear of what it might sound like)

Put yourself in Robert's shoes and think of Lyanna as a dream car. Maybe a Lamborghini, a Challenger or a Ferrari. Whatever. You've always been infatuated with said car and you have made it a goal to getting that car and owning it for yourself. You did your research and you're ready. But once you get it, you're going to find little things that surprised and/or disappointed you. And then the honeymoon phase will end and the new car smell fades. You're unhappy not because you got your dream car but because you have to pay the price of the associated car note, insurance payment and personal property taxes.

I say all that to say that I think most people would rather cry in the Lamborghini they always wanted that was out of their league rather than try to make two ends meet in the unwieldy, pretty-on-the-outside-putrid-on-the-inside lemon they had to settle for.

I really don’t know how well that analogy works, but I’m picturing Cersei as a car that doesn’t let you drive her, and occasionally tries to run you over. And I chuckle.

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9 hours ago, Bael's Bastard said:

It's not just that there would have been things about Lyanna that wouldn't have lived up to Robert's expectations, or that he would have been disappointed by, it's that Lyanna herself had biases against Robert that would have factored into how she approached a marriage with him she was not happy to enter into. Being confronted with the fact that the woman you love doesn't want to be your wife, and very well might resist any way she can within the framework of having to be married to him, is bound to cause Robert to become disillusioned, angry, and depressed, and to cope with that the way we know Robert does. Such a relationship would have had a high probability of straining if not damaging relationships such as that between Robert and Ned, and Lyanna and Ned. Robert wanted to get closer to Ned, who he loved like a brother, and his family, but a marriage to Lyanna isn't likely to have brought that in anything except legality and blood ties.

I think you're right to highlight that Robert's marriage to Lyanna (or anyone else) isn't just a one-sided equation that can only be seen from Robert's point of view. Robert wanted  someone who could give him 'cheers and smiles' and I don't think he would have had much patience or understanding for a bride who was reluctant, unhappy and/or homesick - as Lyanna would likely have been. Robert seems to have been the kind of man who avoided difficult relationships (or indeed anything difficult) rather than having the patience or temperament to work at them.

Robert might have been less unhappy with another wife but he wouldn't have magically changed his personality or become a different, better man. Even people he loved and respected, like Jon Arryn or Ned Stark, couldn't make a better man or king out of Robert. Cersei might have brought out the worst in him but those flaws were already there well before he met her.

Ned remembers that Robert had always been a man of huge appetites, a man who knew how to take his pleasures, who would swear undying love in the morning and forget the woman's name by evening. He also thinks that 'Robert would do what he wanted, as he always had'. As Lyanna saw, no woman was going to change his nature.

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13 hours ago, Wall Flower said:

I think you're right to highlight that Robert's marriage to Lyanna (or anyone else) isn't just a one-sided equation that can only be seen from Robert's point of view. Robert wanted  someone who could give him 'cheers and smiles' and I don't think he would have had much patience or understanding for a bride who was reluctant, unhappy and/or homesick - as Lyanna would likely have been. Robert seems to have been the kind of man who avoided difficult relationships (or indeed anything difficult) rather than having the patience or temperament to work at them.

Robert might have been less unhappy with another wife but he wouldn't have magically changed his personality or become a different, better man. Even people he loved and respected, like Jon Arryn or Ned Stark, couldn't make a better man or king out of Robert. Cersei might have brought out the worst in him but those flaws were already there well before he met her.

Ned remembers that Robert had always been a man of huge appetites, a man who knew how to take his pleasures, who would swear undying love in the morning and forget the woman's name by evening. He also thinks that 'Robert would do what he wanted, as he always had'. As Lyanna saw, no woman was going to change his nature.

Do we know that he'd swear his undying love for some woman and then forget her?

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14 hours ago, Wall Flower said:

I think you're right to highlight that Robert's marriage to Lyanna (or anyone else) isn't just a one-sided equation that can only be seen from Robert's point of view. Robert wanted  someone who could give him 'cheers and smiles' and I don't think he would have had much patience or understanding for a bride who was reluctant, unhappy and/or homesick - as Lyanna would likely have been. Robert seems to have been the kind of man who avoided difficult relationships (or indeed anything difficult) rather than having the patience or temperament to work at them.

Robert might have been less unhappy with another wife but he wouldn't have magically changed his personality or become a different, better man. Even people he loved and respected, like Jon Arryn or Ned Stark, couldn't make a better man or king out of Robert. Cersei might have brought out the worst in him but those flaws were already there well before he met her.

Ned remembers that Robert had always been a man of huge appetites, a man who knew how to take his pleasures, who would swear undying love in the morning and forget the woman's name by evening. He also thinks that 'Robert would do what he wanted, as he always had'. As Lyanna saw, no woman was going to change his nature.

I actually think Robert could have been a reasonably happy and decent person with a noble woman who was accepting of his appetites (which, while unfair by modern real world standards, doesn't seem to be elusive in world, as we see with Catelyn Tully), who wanted to be with him, and who he wanted to be with. All the more so if it had been as Lord of Storm's End, rather than as king. The thing with Lyanna was doomed, especially since his feelings for her were so strong, or at least he felt they were. If it had been a purely political match, then the expectations would have been purely political. Robert's expectations went far beyond political, and that was going to be a problem. 

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48 minutes ago, DominusNovus said:

Do we know that he'd swear his undying love for some woman and then forget her?

We have no reason to doubt Ned. And I think it's worth taking into account that much of how Ned views Robert is based on the pre-king Robert he spent most of a dozen years with, the same Robert that Lyanna would have been wedding.

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7 hours ago, Bael's Bastard said:

We have no reason to doubt Ned. And I think it's worth taking into account that much of how Ned views Robert is based on the pre-king Robert he spent most of a dozen years with, the same Robert that Lyanna would have been wedding.

I meant to ask for the specific quote, but I found it. Anyway, I still don’t find the quote quite as definitive as it could be. Is Ned thinking of teenaged Robert? Or is he thinking of King Robert? Or both?

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Cercei wouldn't imo. I think Robert definitely would of been a better person, but the degree of how much better off he would be depends on who he marries instead of Cercei.

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On 2/15/2019 at 12:10 PM, DominusNovus said:

I meant to ask for the specific quote, but I found it. Anyway, I still don’t find the quote quite as definitive as it could be. Is Ned thinking of teenaged Robert? Or is he thinking of King Robert? Or both?

There is evidence that the two are much the same - except King Robert is no longer a young man so his excesses show. But those excesses were always there.

Quote

Robert Baratheon had always been a man of huge appetites, a man who knew how to take his pleasures. That was not a charge anyone could lay at the door of Eddard Stark. Yet Ned could not help but notice that those pleasures were taking a toll on the king. Robert was breathing heavily by the time they reached the bottom of the stairs, his face red in the lantern light as they stepped out into the darkness of the crypt.

The young man Ned knew well was a man of huge appetites - wine, women, fighting. But because he was young, they didn't show. Now he is middle aged, they show all to easily. But Robert has not really changed at all - except, as Ned thinks, at being more practiced at shutting his eyes to things he does not want to see. Which indicates he always was that way, just even more so now.

I agree with Bael's Bastard. Most of Ned's views of the King are  based on the younger man he knew. The main difference is that now those flaws are writ large for everyone to see.

Edited by corbon

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There are a lot of variables here, but two factors bear consideration.

1.  Is Lyanna willing to make an effort to make the marriage work?

2.  Will Robert respect Lyanna enough to listen to her?

If the answer to these questions is yes, then the marriage could very easily be a strong and productive one. 

One of the main problems with the Robert-Cersei marriage was that Cersei had no interest in making it work (indeed, sabotaged it at every opportunity), and consequently, Robert had no respect for her and froze her out.

Of course, if Lyanna takes the position that she doesn't want Robert, period, and/or Robert decides that he is going to do whatever the hell he likes, his wife be damned, then it won't work.   But that is probably true for any marriage

Being an optimist, and a bit of a romantic, I am going to say that Lyanna would have likely been a better influence on Robert, and marriage would have been a reasonably happy.  Certainly better than the one with Cersei, although that is a really low bar.   And I seriously doubt that any of their children would have turned out like Joffrey did.

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Question, but what exactly does Robert have to offer any woman as a husband, father to their children or anything besides his titles and lands? 

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1 hour ago, The Wolves said:

Question, but what exactly does Robert have to offer any woman as a husband, father to their children or anything besides his titles and lands? 

Best case scenario: liberty to carry a sword, mounth a horse, lot of activities like hunting, feats and tournaments, health strong bealtifull kids and probably keep her close to her family since he is a Ned fanboy.

Worst case scenario: rape, beatdowns, depression, debt, disapointment, bastards, misery, and if she is luck ealier widowhood.

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