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EvanSol919

A middle lane view of Rhaegar and Elia

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Much has been made of Rhaegar and Elia's marriage, with many calling Rhaegar a terrible husband who left Elia to go be with Lyanna. I don't see it that way. 

To start, there's was an arranged marriage and even Barristen couldn't say that Rhaegar loved Elia but he was fond of her. We aren't reliably told whether Elia loved Rhaegar but it was certainly a better marriage than the one between Rhaegar's parents and others we've seen in the series. They seemed to care about each other. 

So we come to the Tourney at Harrenhal and the crowning of Lyanna Stark as Queen of Love and Beauty. Some see this as Rhaegar wanting Lyanna, either for love or prophecy, but this was before Aegon was born and before maesters told Elia she couldn't have any more children. My view is that Lyanna was the Knight of the Laughing Tree and Rhaegar felt she deserved to be recognized. We aren't told of Elia's reaction, so she probably didn't react publicly, but I see no reason why Rhaegar wouldn't have told Elia about what had happened, either after Rhaegar came back from his search or once they were on Dragonstone again. 

Then comes Aegon's birth. Based on Dany's vision, Rhaegar had told Elia about his beliefs and of course about wanting "one more". Some readers interpret the events as Rhaegar just up and leaving Elia but I think she knew. Why wouldn't they have talked about what Rhaegar's plan was? Elia was Dornish so her husband having at least a paramour wouldn't have been shocking and given Dorne's more egalitarian views towards women, Elia might have admired Lyanna for defending her father's bannerman and sympathized with her not wanting to marry Robert.

A common misconception of the war was that Elia and her children were always in King's Landing but they were originally on Dragonstone before being called by Aerys. Some have criticized Rhaegar for not sending them to Dorne or back to Dragonstone but again that was the king's order - Rhaegar couldn't refuse. He had tried to organize a Great Council so that he could have the power to refuse his father's orders.

As GRRM has said, their relationship was complicated but I don't see Rhaegar as the selfish, uncaring, prophecy fanatic who completely discarded Elia that some fans see.

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Rhaegar is a fantasy.  He is a noble, virtuous hero, who just HAS TO cheat on his wife with a teenaged girl, and probably with Ashara Dayne as well, in order to save the universe.  It's his DUTY!

Edited by Platypus Rex

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I agree there are pretty good chances that Elia wouldn’t been schoked or outraged if Rhaegar had a relationship with another woman.

But just because their marriage was a political marriage I don’t think is safe to say that the Martells could have been 100% fine with that.

Elia had “only” two children (a male infant and a little girl) and no chances to bare any other child

That’s a fragile position is the purpose of your political marriage is to put one of your kin on the Iron Throne.

Any mistress, paramount, if not second wife could have gave Rhaegar one or more children. And that child or children could have raised a claim vs Elia’s children.

People like the Martells know that infants like Aegon may not survive childhood.

That Rhaenys as other women before her may have been ururped by a male heir.

That a bastard may be legitimized - just like Bittersteel - and rise a claim etc...

I still believe that R+L=J but I also think the Martells didn’t know the truth or they were part of some plot or simply forced to stay true to Aerys because Elia, her children and Price Martell were basically hostages.

Edited by lalt

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I believe Rhaegar was driven by his prophecy. Rightly or not is open to debate. And I believe Lyanna too. Whether it was from what Rhaegar told her, or before. At Harrenhal, she seemed already quite in the Old Gods business. Maybe she just wanted to shame Robert. Maybe there was more. IMO, lust had nothing in it. We have no other evidence of Rhaegar failure this way.

Whether they knew where it was heading, I don't know. But I don't think Rhaegar knew his wife and children would die.

 

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11 hours ago, EvanSol919 said:

Then comes Aegon's birth. Based on Dany's vision, Rhaegar had told Elia about his beliefs and of course about wanting "one more". Some readers interpret the events as Rhaegar just up and leaving Elia but I think she knew. Why wouldn't they have talked about what Rhaegar's plan was? Elia was Dornish so her husband having at least a paramour wouldn't have been shocking and given Dorne's more egalitarian views towards women, Elia might have admired Lyanna for defending her father's bannerman and sympathized with her not wanting to marry Robert.

Yeah dude, these are such intriguing points. The nature of paramours in Dorne really does make me wonder if Elia might have been quite relaxed regarding the Lyanna situation. Lewyn Martell was said to have a secret lover, while the Red Viper certainly had many public paramours. Might be that Elia evn had one of her own.

While Elia has been somewhat painted as a willowy, fragile person steeped in tragedy, there's certainly a high chance she shares a drop of that "Dornish Spice" seen by pretty much every one of her relatives (perhaps with the exception of Quentyn). Elia would have grown up reading stories of Nymeria, perhaps meaning she would indeed have gained some respect for the wolf girl's will.

One should also consider how Elia's own opinion of her "Dragon Blood" might influence her outlook towards Lyanna. Doran and Quentyn both seem to be well read on the tales of the first Danaerys' wedding to Maron Martell. Both Prince's repeatedly bring up their own Targaryen DNA, and seem to be extremely proud of it. I do wonder if this pride extended to Elia. Perhaps she would have considered the Lyanna situation to be merely a modern version of Aegon, Rhaenys and Visenya.

Elia's Targaryen heritage could also mean she was just as into fulfilling the PTWP prophecy as her husband seemed to be.

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I think there is a middle in all of this. 

I personally don't think they ran away together because they were in love or anything of the sort. 

Robert claims kidnapping and Dany tells us that Rhaegar carried Lyanna off at sword point, so there is something here. What Rhaegar did when he gave Lyanna the crown of roses at Harrenhal was shine a light on her. He turned her into a pawn in the game, inadvertently most like. If Aerys, spurred on by some of his advisors, that Rhaegar is looking for allies to remove him from power, then she is perhaps perceived as a threat by the king. Add to that the whole episode of the KotLT and Aerys saying that the mystery knight is no friend of his, and it becomes ample reason for him to want her gone. 

I think it's a set of circumstances rather than love or prophecy that threw Rhaegar and Lyanna together at the very beginning. And when you spend enough time around someone, there's a chance more feelings can develop, which I think is the case here. I don't think he married her right away, if he did at all. I think it's something that would have happened after both her father and her brother were killed and Ned's head was called for. At that point, does anyone know how far Aerys will go? Does he intend on decimating the Starks (and Baratheons)?

In the end, I think Elia knew what was going on and if it's not Jon Connington who revealed Rhaegar's location to Gerold Hightower, then I think Elia is a really good candidate for it. 

Edited by Alexis-something-Rose

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It is implied if not outright stated that Elia and Rhaegar were friendly toward each other.  It was an arranged marriage.   We have Zero indication that he was unfaithful to her or she to him.   Even Ned doesn't believe Rhaegar would hire prostitutes.   Rhaegar does not seem to be a sexually motivated person, nor a bad husband.   Marriage between Lyanna and Rhaegar is a show only thing.  That's not canon nor is it clear from the text what the ultimate disposition of the relationship between Lyanna and Rhaegar was upon their deaths.   We know Aerys wanted Elia and the babies hostages to Dorne's support during Robert's Rebellion.   We are told an awful lot about what a dirt bag Aerys was.   But Aerys wasn't always a mean nasty insane person.   He had ideas that may have been beneficial for the realm.   We know Rickard was taken prisoner and Brandon after him and calling Rhaegar out at the gates.  Aerys was fully aware of the conspiracies between the rebelling houses.    

The laws of inheritance seem designed to fit whomever is deciding who is heir in the 7 Kingdoms.   Even a bastard of Rhaegar's would have a better claim over another child.   In my part of the kingdom, at any rate.    Rhaegar and Lyanna don't have to be married for Jon to be a prince or attain legitimization.    Though I like the sweet idea that his parents were married and my favorite bastard is a secret true born prince the story does not demand this.  There are much harder things to do than for a bastard to be legitimized or to "rise" high.   The deal between Rhaegar, Elia and Lyanna isn't really that complicated.   He fathered children and he died.   He may have even died disinherited.   Plenty of room to argue about that.   The Targaryans lost the throne.  Dorne has their own throne.  The Starks don't even want a throne.   Jon doesn't have to be the heir to anything to play his part in the story.   

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On 2/10/2019 at 1:50 AM, EvanSol919 said:

Elia was Dornish so her husband having at least a paramour wouldn't have been shocking and given Dorne's more egalitarian views towards women, Elia might have admired Lyanna for defending her father's bannerman and sympathized with her not wanting to marry Robert.

Dorne isn't all that different from the rest of the realm in that regard, just look at how and why Oberyn got his nickname for example.

Anyway, Elia may have been fine with her husband having a lover, sure, but not if said lover was the daughter of the lord of Winterfell. Any child from such a relationship would have been a gigantic threat towards Rhaenys and Aegon, Elia would have known that.

Lyanna not wanting to marry who her father told her to would be seen as an irresponsible act by a spoiled brat by anyone in Westeros.

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Rhaegar I think is just another piece on the chess board carefully manipulated by Bran & other Greenseers to fulfil the prophecy. If anything he did his duty in a sense, making sure he had an Heir & a sister to Wed him to. Jon & Lyanna where a means to a end to his plan (Really I believe Brans plan)

He may have loved Lyannas, makes for a nice tale. He may have loved Elia as well.

Hopefully all will be explained when the books arrive

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The fact that Rhaegar openly talked to her about TPTWP/The Song of Ice and Fire and the need to have more children indicates that she was okay with whatever he was up to. Especially considering that that conversation happened after the Harrenhal tourney, where he crowned Lyanna.

Edited by Takiedevushkikakzvezdy

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