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The Twinslayer

Killing an old R+L=J/Kingsguard theory off for good: Fire & Blood

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There is, or at least there was, an old theory that the Kingsguard oath demanded that one Kingsguard must always be with the king.  The purpose of this theory was to support the notion that Lyanna's child by Rhaegar Targaryen (presumed to be Jon Snow) must be a legitimate heir to the throne, otherwise the three Kingsguard who were present at the toj when Ned Stark arrived there would have abandoned Lyanna in order to try to protect the true king, Viserys Targaryen, on Dragonstone.  

This theory has taken a number of hits over the years.  When ASOS was published, we saw all of the available KGs assemble in the White Sword Tower leaving Tommen under the protection of non-KG knights.  The Princess and the Queen describes a scene where two KG knights are ordered by a member of the Small Council to leave the company of the (crippled) king to go do other things, and they obey the order.  Yet the "one KG must always be with the king, so Jon Snow must be legitimate" theory nevertheless has persisted on this forum.

Fire & Blood really puts that theory to bed.  Here is one quote:

"That night, under cover of darkness, King Jaehaerys and Princess Alysanne mounted their dragons, Vermithor and Silverwing, and departed the Red Keep for the the ancient Targaryen citadel below the Dragonmont...The Kingsguard arrived from King's Landing by galley a few days later."

Fire & Blood is full of other examples of kings who were not in the presence of their KGs.  I'd like to compile them all in one place.  If you have other handy examples, please post them in this thread so I can compile them in one place.

Thanks, all!

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I don't think that it's specifically part of the oath that one Kingsguard has to be around the King at all times, I think that's more out of practicality and logic. No point having a Kingsguard if they aren't there to protect the King, but as they are sworn to protect him, then they have to obey if he sends them away or gives them permission to do something else.

I could be wrong, and welcome evidence to the contrary.

2/3 of ASOIAF's "ruling" Kings are boys - Joffrey and Tommen - so I don't think it's surprising that we haven't seen a situation where the Kingsguard isn't present, especially for Tommen based on Cersei's paranoia.

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8 hours ago, The Twinslayer said:

 

"That night, under cover of darkness, King Jaehaerys and Princess Alysanne mounted their dragons, Vermithor and Silverwing, and departed the Red Keep for the the ancient Targaryen citadel below the Dragonmont...The Kingsguard arrived from King's Landing by galley a few days later."

 

The difference here is Jaehaerys and Alysanne had two big dragons! I don't think any assassins were going to get them mid flight. Or if they could (a scorpion bolt or another dragonlord attacking), there's nothing a Kingsguard could do. 

 

The situation at the time of the TOJ is long after the dragons departed. Different setup

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Off the top of my head:

Whenever Aegon I, Aenys, and Maegor flew around on their dragons. Confirmed examples would include Maegor taking Balerion to KL after he declared himself king (it is a plot point that he left Aenys' Kingsguard on Dragonstone). Another possible such example would be Maegor destroying the castles of the rebels in the West on dragonback, followed by his visit to Oldtown. One assumes some attendants joined him there, but no such thing is ever mentioned.

Jaehaerys I only seems to have taken a KG with him when he flew to Oldtown with Alysanne. During the royal progresses he and Alysanne usually flew ahead and waited for their retinue, including KGs, to catch up.

Jaehaerys I's insistence to fight in two trial-by-combat (with his mother preventing the first time) adds the fact that the KG has no right to prevent the king from risking his own life in such a thing.

Rhaenyra has never any Queensguard with her on Syrax, and neither has Aegon II any Kingsguard with him on Sunfyre. And Aegon III actually imprisoned one of his KG in Maegor's and later seemed to prefer Sandoq the Shadow to his own KG (although I expect that Sandoq is eventually going to get a white cloak).

Overall, it seems clear that the KG during the first half of Targaryen reign were nothing but a shiny instrument to make the kings look more glorious. Some certainly protected and gave their lives for their kings, but it seems that only Aegon I, Aenys, and Maegor the Cruel were ever actually personally attacked by assassins other people who tried to kill them. Jaehaerys I and Viserys I never faced that particular problem.

The example set by Jaehaerys I - to kill or send the KG of your predecessor to the Wall - also makes it clear that a king does indeed choose his own KG. If there is a peaceful transition you keep them, and if they grow old you keep the old horses until they die, but there are ways to get rid of KG you don't trust.

Aegon III's KG was cleansed of such men first by the Winter Fever and then the unraveling of the later conspiracy, but it might still be that he ended up throwing some of them men in his KG. He may have even brought back the Darklyn guy Peake presumed to dismiss.

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14 hours ago, The Twinslayer said:

There is, or at least there was, an old theory that the Kingsguard oath demanded that one Kingsguard must always be with the king.  The purpose of this theory was to support the notion that Lyanna's child by Rhaegar Targaryen (presumed to be Jon Snow) must be a legitimate heir to the throne, otherwise the three Kingsguard who were present at the toj when Ned Stark arrived there would have abandoned Lyanna in order to try to protect the true king, Viserys Targaryen, on Dragonstone.  

This theory has taken a number of hits over the years.  When ASOS was published, we saw all of the available KGs assemble in the White Sword Tower leaving Tommen under the protection of non-KG knights.  The Princess and the Queen describes a scene where two KG knights are ordered by a member of the Small Council to leave the company of the (crippled) king to go do other things, and they obey the order.  Yet the "one KG must always be with the king, so Jon Snow must be legitimate" theory nevertheless

...is a strawman of your making. The argument is a little bit more sophisticated than that.

The thing is: all the technicalities and fine print aside, in the grand scheme of things, the Kingsguard is supposed to guard the king. Hence the name. And it's curious, why would all three remain at the Tower of Joy, not sparing even a single white cloak for Viserys, but neither bending the knee to the new king. Why? "Our knees don't bend easily", "[Ser Willem] is not of the Kingsguard", "the Kingsguard does not flee, then or now", "we swore a vow", were their reasons, as remembered by Ned.

Why? Why would not only all three have remained at the ToJ, but also been dead certain that that was exactly what a knight of the Kingsguard was supposed to do?

Sorry, but your "Hey, Old King Jaehaerys had a dragon and even flew it!" observation, as keen and new as it is, is far from being the ultimate answer you think it is.

Edited by Ferocious Veldt Roarer

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1 hour ago, Ferocious Veldt Roarer said:

...is a strawman of your making. The argument is a little bit more sophisticated that much.

The thing is: all the technicalities and fine print aside, in the grand scheme of things, the Kingsguard is supposed to guard the king. Hence the name. And it's curious, why would all three remain at the Tower of Joy, not sparing even a single white cloak for Viserys, but neither bending the knee to the new king. Why? "Our knees don't bend easily", "[Ser Willem] is not of the Kingsguard", "the Kingsguard does not flee, then or now", "we swore a vow", were their reasons, as remembered by Ned.

Viserys III was a pretender king at that point, but the true king at this point was Robert Baratheon who sat the Iron Throne in the Red Keep. They didn't go to him, either.

There is no reason to pretend or insist they would have to search out a king. They didn't go to Aerys II when he needed them, they didn't go to Rhaegar when he needed them. They had a different job, period.

How important such jobs can be seen at the end of the Dance when Willis Fell remains with Princess Jaehaera in Storm's End even after Aegon II has been restored to the throne. He sees no need to join his king at KL, despite the fact that he is the only surviving member of Aegon II's original Kingsguard. The king can and did make new KG to replace the old ones - something Viserys III could and may have done, too.

It is not up to them to decide how many men are needed to protect Lyanna Stark, just as it was up to Aerys II to see the protection of Prince Viserys - and subsequently it was up to King Viserys III and Queen Rhaella to see to their own protection. There is no reason to believe Viserys III was without a KG on Dragonstone. Aerys II lost Jonothor Darry and Lewyn Martell at the Trident, Jaime was an accursed traitor. Viserys III could have given three white cloaks to guys on Dragonstone to protect him.

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59 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

The king can and did make new KG to replace the old ones - something Viserys III could and may have done, too.

Yet nobody at the Tower of Joy entertains such a thought. Viserys is being guarded by Ser Willem Darry, a good man and true, but not of the Kingsguard - that's what the three knights believe.

Quote

How important such jobs can be seen at the end of the Dance when Willis Fell remains with Princess Jaehaera in Storm's End even after Aegon II has been restored to the throne. He sees no need to join his king at KL

Considering that Ser Willis is mentioned but a handful of times in the books, and never speaks anything on the subject, that statement above is really not supported by the text.

Quote

It is not up to them to decide how many men are needed to protect Lyanna Stark,

How they feel about their job is completely up to them, though.  Where does the immense pride come from? And where does Ned's admiration come from?

Edited by Ferocious Veldt Roarer

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1 hour ago, Ferocious Veldt Roarer said:

Yet nobody at the Tower of Joy entertains such a thought. Viserys is being guarded by Ser Willem Darry, a good man and true, but not of the Kingsguard - that's what the three knights believe.

Well, then they are stupid and arrogant. Other men can be Kingsguard and/or protect the king aside from them, no?

Besides, the dream guys are all about not fleeing - despite the fact that Ser Willem Darry did not, in fact, flee whereas these three guys did, in fact, abandon both their prince and their king to rebels and traitors. As Kingsguard they were as successful as Ser Barristan Selmy against the boar he did not fight.

We can safely dismiss any arguments claiming that stayed at the tower because the duty there superseded any other duty. They got a job and they died fulfilling it.

1 hour ago, Ferocious Veldt Roarer said:

Considering that Ser Willis is mentioned but a handful of times in the books, and never speaks anything on the subject, that statement above is really not supported by the text.

It is. Princess Jaehaera is still in Storm's End after the death of Aegon II and Cregan Stark lectures the Lads about this fact, pointing out that Elenda Baratheon could crown her queen to continue the war.

Willis Fell's duty remained the protection of his princess even after Aegon II had returned to KL, just as Arys Oakheart's duty remained the protection of Princess Myrcella even after his king - Joffrey Baratheon - died. Tommen didn't have to issue another command to him to continue in his mission.

He did what was his duty until others - Elenda Baratheon, in this case - decided to send him and his charge back to court.

1 hour ago, Ferocious Veldt Roarer said:

How they feel about their job is completely up to them, though.  Where does the immense pride come from? And where does Ned's admiration come from?

Ned never mentions anything about admiring the men at the tower. He seems to have held some esteem for Ser Arthur Dayne specifically, but we have no clue nor any reason to believe this had anything to do with the tower. Ned also does never refer to Dayne as a great Kingsguard but merely as the finest knight he ever knew. That is an important difference. 

The fact that Ned points out to his young son that the Kingsguard once were a great order of knights is not personal admiration. It is, more or less, public belief/knowledge in the Seven Kingdoms. Everybody knows the Kingsguard are the best, right?

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36 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Ned never mentions anything about admiring the men at the tower. He seems to have held some esteem for Ser Arthur Dayne specifically, but we have no clue nor any reason to believe this had anything to do with the tower. Ned also does never refer to Dayne as a great Kingsguard but merely as the finest knight he ever knew. That is an important difference. 

Then why was that line delivered to Bran by Ned specifically, not by Ser Rodrik, not by Cat, not by Maester Luwin, not by one of countless Stark retainers or Stark bannermen, but specifically by Ned, who'd happened to encounter them in very dramatic and weighty circumstances? He, of all people, was just repeating common knowledge?

And that's the essence of the problem with all your counterarguments: they're built on the foundation of ignoring the fact that "A Song of Ice and Fire" is a story, written by someone with thought and purpose, and treating it instead as a haphazard collection of pieces. Seems kinda pointless to me, especially if it doesn't even lead to some engaging alternative theories.

Edited by Ferocious Veldt Roarer

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11 minutes ago, Ferocious Veldt Roarer said:

Then why was that line delivered to Bran by Ned specifically, not by Ser Rodrik, not by Cat, not by Maester Luwin, not by one of countless Stark retainers or Stark bannermen, but specifically by Ned, who'd happened to encounter them in very dramatic and weighty circumstances? He, of all people, was just repeating common knowledge?

Ned talks about the Kingsguard of the Targaryen era as a collective body, he does not talk about the three of Aerys' Seven he met at that tower, does he? Ned contrasts the old Kingsguard pre-Kingslayer to the soiled order Robert Baratheon has now. As long as the Kingslayer serves in the Kingsguard the Kingsguard is not a shining example to the world.

And as for Ser Arthur: It might very well be that especially Ser Arthur Dayne died a great knight, and not so much a great Kingsguard, right? Perhaps because he showed too much chivalry to bumbling Ned Stark during their last duel, eventually allowing the little crannogman to attack him from behind?

Or, because Ser Arthur Dayne is actually the man from Aerys II's Kingsguard Eddard Stark was best acquainted with before he met him at the tower. Ashara Dayne was Arthur's sister, and there is a connection there. Ned may have actually seen much of Ser Arthur at Harrenhal.

11 minutes ago, Ferocious Veldt Roarer said:

And that's the essence of the problem with all your counterarguments: they're built on the foundation of ignoring the fact that "A Song of Ice and Fire" is a story, written by someone with thought and purpose, and treating it instead as a haphazard collection of pieces. Seems kinda pointless to me, especially if it doesn't even lead to some engaging alternative theories.

I have no issue with putting a lot of narrative weight on the fever dream thing, nor do I have any issue with there being a lot of hints in the story. I just also put weight on the new clues FaB gave us, and I refuse to entertain the notion that three knights in the middle of nowhere presumed to do homage to an 'infant king'. Even if Lyanna's child had been universally known as the last Targaryen alive, the unquestioned rightful heir of Aerys II upon his death, that fact in and of itself would still not make him a king.

Kings are made, they are not born.

And this should have been clear to us all the moment we got Prince Aegon in ADwD, and not King Aegon VI. If Aegon is not a king, then Jon Snow cannot have been a king at his birth at the tower. It is just not conceivable that anyone saw him in that way.

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There is not theory that "one of the Kingsguard must be with him at all times. "  At present, the only plausible explanation for presence of Kingsguard at the Tower of Joy at that time, with all that had happened and was happening is that they believed Jon to be the rightful King.  The quote from Fire and Blood in the OP does nothing but support the notion that in the absence of other concerns or orders the Kingsguard go to where the King is, and at least some of the Kingsguard seem to have believed that place was the Tower of Joy.

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5 minutes ago, lomiller said:

There is not theory that "one of the Kingsguard must be with him at all times. "  At present, the only plausible explanation for presence of Kingsguard at the Tower of Joy at that time, with all that had happened and was happening is that they believed Jon to be the rightful King.  The quote from Fire and Blood in the OP does nothing but support the notion that in the absence of other concerns or orders the Kingsguard go to where the King is, and at least some of the Kingsguard seem to have believed that place was the Tower of Joy.

They were with Lyanna long before the child was born, and when it was crystal clear that any child of hers would not exactly be in a top spot in the line of succession, and they had no reason to arbitrarily end the assignment/duty they were fulfilling while Rhaegar and Aerys II were still alive.

It is that simple. There is no reason whatsoever to believe that they had any opinion on who should be king. Precious few Kingsguard ever had an opinion on that. And those who did, usually were punished for it - like Olyver Bracken and Raymund Mallery, who were rewarded by Jaehaerys I for thinking that he should be king by sending them to the Wall, and Criston Cole was killed for his role as 'Kingmaker'. The Kingsguard does not make kings - they serve the king when he is made, or they reject him then. They don't play at politics.

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2 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

They were with Lyanna long before the child was born,

And why would that be,

2 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

any child of hers would not exactly be in a top spot in the line of succession,

If Rhaegar was the father, a male child would be second in line of succession (after Aerys is dead, anyway.)

 

 

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2 minutes ago, lomiller said:

And why would that be,

We don't know. Most likely because Rhaegar and/or his royal father commanded, asked, persuaded, or permitted them to do that.

2 minutes ago, lomiller said:

If Rhaegar was the father, a male child would be second in line of succession (after Aerys is dead, anyway.)

While Rhaegar and Aerys II were still alive a tentative line of succession operating under the assumption Rhaegar would succeed his royal father would be Aerys > Rhaegar > Aegon.

Lines of succession are always tentative because people see a very strong difference between the child of a king and the grandchild of a king through a prince or princess who never ascended the throne. This is very evident in the succession of Jaehaerys I whose principal heirs from his point of view are his three sons Aemon, Baelon, and Vaegon. When Aemon died, he turned to second son, and when Baelon died, he actually turned to his third son who was an archmaester, rather than immediately settling on Viserys.

But Aerys II changed the succession after Rhaegar's death, following well-established precedents that the younger son inherits the Iron Throne if the eldest son predeceases the father rather than some grandchildren (e.g. Jaehaerys before Aerea, Baelon before Rhaenys, Viserys I before Laenor, Viserys II before Daena, and Aegon V before Vaella and Maegor), naming his son Viserys the new heir, rather than his grandson Aegon.

That does not bode well for Lyanna's child as far as his/her place in the line of succession is concerned. Even if we ignored that, the tentative status of a hypothetical Rhaegar-Lyanna marriage could very easily put their child behind all the other male Targaryen (i.e. Rhaegar himself, Aegon, and Viserys), or perhaps even behind the women, too.

It would depend how the king ruled on the status of Rhaegar's second marriage.

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22 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

 

But Aerys II changed the succession after Rhaegar's death, f

 

You have no evidence for that.

22 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

 

 following well-established precedents that the younger son inherits the Iron Throne if the eldest son predeceases the father rather than some grandchildren

 

"Well established" is a stretch.  Regardless, no one anywhere supported Viserys for the throne.  There were Kingsguard with Jon and none with Viserys, this suggests to us why they thought the rightful King was.  This is true regardless of anything Aerys may or may not have done.

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6 hours ago, lomiller said:

"Well established" is a stretch.

I'd say. All but one of those examples are rather of the male (or the male line) being favored, which is standard anyway everywhere save for Dorne.

And Aerion's established brand of complete and utter shithead rubbed off on his little boy, diminishing his appeal to the GC.

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9 hours ago, lomiller said:

 At present, the only plausible explanation for presence of Kingsguard at the Tower of Joy at that time, with all that had happened and was happening is that they believed Jon to be the rightful King. 

No, not anymore. FaB proves that the KG could be guarding lesser members of the royal family instead of the king, even when the king was at risk. That's exactly what happened with Aegon II and his children. He didn't have the KG protection when he escaped KL and hid on Dragonstone - and he was in far more danger than Viserys III at the time of the fight at the ToJ, BTW.

 

9 hours ago, lomiller said:

The quote from Fire and Blood in the OP does nothing but support the notion that in the absence of other concerns or orders

Well, you say it yourself - the 3KG had orders and there likely were "other concerns".

Also, there is evidence that Aerys named Viserys his new heir after Rhaegar's death - WoIaF straight-out says so. That's while Prince Aegon was still alive, BTW.

 

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8 hours ago, lomiller said:

You have no evidence for that.

Sure, it is mentioned in TWoIaF. Aerys II's new heir after the death of Rhaegar was his own son Viserys, not his grandson Aegon.

8 hours ago, lomiller said:

"Well established" is a stretch.  Regardless, no one anywhere supported Viserys for the throne.  There were Kingsguard with Jon and none with Viserys, this suggests to us why they thought the rightful King was.  This is true regardless of anything Aerys may or may not have done.

This is nonsense, considering King Aerys II decided not to send any Kingsguard with Rhaella and Viserys to Dragonstone, instead he had sent all remaining but Jaime with Rhaegar to the Trident. The KG at the tower had been with Lyanna since Rhaegar had left her months before the Trident.

The fact that there were KG at the tower tells us pretty much nothing, just as there being no KG with Aegon the Uncrowned and all being with Maegor doesn't make Maegor the rightful king.

2 hours ago, Ferocious Veldt Roarer said:

I'd say. All but one of those examples are rather of the male (or the male line) being favored, which is standard anyway everywhere save for Dorne.

Some of them, sure, but both Great Councils chose the older male claimant from the younger line. This is well-established precedent. And in Maegor's case the elder male line was rejected. One could also add the case of Prince Duncan abdicating as such a case.

And it is very striking that Jaehaerys I actually did not immediately choose his grandson Viserys as his new but apparently first tried to offer the throne to his third son.

That means that primogeniture is not necessary the standard when your eldest son. Then proximity comes into play, too.

2 hours ago, Ferocious Veldt Roarer said:

And Aerion's established brand of complete and utter shithead rubbed off on his little boy, diminishing his appeal to the GC.

Sure, and his age spoke against him, too, just as it spoke against Laenor, which essentially ridicules the idea, too, that anyone would have looked to a newborn infant as a king when there were other, older claimants around - like Prince Viserys.

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11 hours ago, lomiller said:

There is not theory that "one of the Kingsguard must be with him at all times. "  At present, the only plausible explanation for presence of Kingsguard at the Tower of Joy at that time, with all that had happened and was happening is that they believed Jon to be the rightful King.  The quote from Fire and Blood in the OP does nothing but support the notion that in the absence of other concerns or orders the Kingsguard go to where the King is, and at least some of the Kingsguard seem to have believed that place was the Tower of Joy.

Another plausible explanation for the KG being at the ToJ, they were following orders. KG+Jon doesn't equal that they thought Jon was their rightful King. 

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12 minutes ago, Daemon The Black Dragon said:

Another plausible explanation for the KG being at the ToJ, they were following orders. KG+Jon doesn't equal that they thought Jon was their rightful King. 

And that would also explain why that assignment filled them with such pride?

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