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Chris Mormont

Is Walder Frey the smartest man in Westeros?

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Robb is rebel and a pretender, he is not really a king. He has no right to declare himself king, meaning he is about as legitimate a king as Renly and Stannis, who are both pretenders (and Renly is worth there than Stannis, of course). He also has no one but his own sycophants as yes-men acknowledge him as king - no peace treaty, agreement, etc. with any 'foreign power' - meaning the representatives of the Seven Kingdoms he thinks he has seceded from.

It is quite clear what sets the pretender apart from the actual monarch - the recognition not only of your friends and followers but your enemies as well. Aegon the Uncrowned died a pretender because he did not succeed. Maegor the Cruel and Robert Baratheon usurped the throne but died as kings because everybody - even their enemies - acknowledged them as kings.

Robb also has the problem that he essentially loses his own castle and vast portions of his own domains to the Ironborn, a development that further weakens his standing. He doesn't die a king but essentially a warlord pretending to be a king. All he has left, in the end, is the army that's slaughtered at the Twins. Just like Stannis is right now essentially just a warlord calling himself king.

There was a brief window of opportunity for Robb to properly establish his kingdom and kingship - had he been able to make a peace with the Iron Throne acknowledging his so-called 'kingdom' after the Whispering Wood and before the Blackwater. Had Cersei/Tywin/Tyrion sealed some kind of pact with 'King Robb' officially ceding the Riverlands and the North to him there could be made a case that Robb's kingdom actually officially existed in the eyes of the Westerosi public. His successors - or people pretending to succeed him - could then cite such a pact as evidence that the Iron Throne recognized 'King Robb' and his independent kingdom. But that never happened.

Pretending that Robb was a proper king and his kingdom a proper kingdom is the same as pretending the USA magically established itself in 1776 and not only after they won the first war against the British and had been properly recognized as an independent political entity but other such entities. It is like saying Northern Ireland is part of the Republic because the IRA says so, that Catalonia is independent just because the Catalans want it to be that way, etc.

One also has to keep in mind that not even a handful of Northern lords actually were with 'King Robb' when he was proclaimed king. If we were to talk about proclamations then Robb certainly has a very narrow basis to claim the Lords of the North chose him to be their king. He has a better case for the Riverlands in this regard. Also, Robb was still a minor when he was declared king - even if the lords not present at Riverrun were somehow beholden to accept this arbitrary war council's mad decision as legally binding to them - which they definitely weren't - the boy king didn't exactly have a right to presume to rule over them until he came of age.

And this leads to the interesting fact that neither Roose Bolton nor Walder Frey ever were asked whether they wanted Robb Stark to be their king. They never did Robb homage as their king, either, they only meet with 'King Robb' until after the decision for the Red Wedding was already made.

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24 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Robb is rebel and a pretender, he is not really a king. He has no right to declare himself king, meaning he is about as legitimate a king as Renly and Stannis, who are both pretenders (and Renly is worth there than Stannis, of course). 

Except that’s not how it works. 

“Winterfell’s not in the south,” Jon objected.
“Yes it is. Everything below the Wall’s south to us.”
He had never thought of it that way. “I suppose it’s all in where you’re standing.”
“Aye,” Ygritte agreed. “It always is.”

 

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22 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Robb also has the problem that he essentially loses his own castle and vast portions of his own domains to the Ironborn, a development that further weakens his standing

I think the ironic fact is that if Robb had simply parked himself at Winterfell with Theon still around and sealed off Moat Cailin, sooner or later time alone could make him undisputed King.

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2 minutes ago, kissdbyfire said:

Except that’s not how it works. 

“Winterfell’s not in the south,” Jon objected.
“Yes it is. Everything below the Wall’s south to us.”
He had never thought of it that way. “I suppose it’s all in where you’re standing.”
“Aye,” Ygritte agreed. “It always is.”

Not sure what that's supposed to have to do with the question at hand.

1 minute ago, Br16 said:

I think the ironic fact is that if Robb had simply parked himself at Winterfell with Theon still around and sealed off Moat Cailin, sooner or later time alone could make him undisputed King.

Sure, the North as such could certainly be a place that could hold out against the southern invasion for quite some time if it were united under a competent leader with a strong hold over his lords bannermen (which Robb unfortunately never had).

And time could certainly have eventually made the Iron Throne's claim to Robb's kingdom (or rather: the North at least) as toothless as Taiwan's claim to China, the Jacobite claim to Britain, or the Targaryen claim to Dorne (prior to Daeron's Conquest). But he never had that time. If Robb had defended his kingdom with the same ferocity and success as the Yellow Toad the Iron Throne would have eventually acknowledged his kingship and kingdom.

But that never happened.

If we see Robb as a proper king then Renly is a proper king, too. Daemon Blackfyre and his descendants as well. Gaemon Palehair, Trystane Truefyre, Hard Hugh Hammer, Marla Sunderland, you name it.

We can't even count Stannis and Balon and Euron as proper kings at this point. They are just pretenders until such time as they are properly recognized.

One of the crucial things you have to do if you want to be counted as a King on the Iron Throne - is to actually sit that seat, at least once. That's one of the crucial feats that differentiates a pretender from a proper king (which is actually part of the reason why I don't count Rhaenyra as a 'proper pretender').

Balon and Euron can at least claim they sat the Seastone Chair - a rather important feat for an Ironborn king. But they are still not acknowledged as kings by the lords and king(s) of the green lands.

Robb did never rule the North from whatever ancient royal seat the Starks have at Winterfell. The majority of the Lords of the North never did him homage on his throne/at his seat nor at any other place.

And his kingdom didn't even survive his death as an idea. The Riverlords have bent the knee to the Iron Throne, and whatever secret plots they have going revolve around avenge for the Red Wedding and restoration of the Tullys to Riverrun nor a revival of the independent kingdom idea. And it is the same in the North, really - those who know there are still Stark boys out there want to restore the Starks to Winterfell, but there is no talk about a continuation of a war for independence for the Iron Throne if that king were to be Stannis. And it would be utter stupidity and madness to even entertain such a notion considering that Stannis saved them from the wildlings, helped them get the Ironborn out, and is helping them now to deal with the Boltons and Freys. If they tried to use Stannis and throw him away when it was convenient they would be nearly as dishonorable and treasonous as the Freys and Boltons they fight - not to mention moronic since it would mean Stannis couldn't/wouldn't help them against the Others.

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On 6/18/2019 at 2:09 PM, Chris Mormont said:

If a man's primary goal as a Lord is to protect his House and ensure his family stays in power, then Walder has outsmarted all the other houses by having 22 sons. 

Many children do increase the survival of the house but it introduces the problem of finding spouses of equal social status for such children.  It offered little to nothing financially.  Old Walder had to pay dowry to the husbands.  

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Walder Frey is generally a smart man.  He didn't build one of the wealthiest houses in Westeros by being dumb.  His greatest strength is his support group.  He doesn't lack for capable advisers with sons like Lothar at his disposal.  He was smart enough to shut Olvar's mouth to make his plan work.  He kept good discipline with his troops and his planned worked beautifully.  Robb was not smart enough to do the same to his minions.  Theon and Cat betrayed him for love of family.  Cat's betrayal is more damaging than her fans would care to admit.  RW might have not happened if they had Jamie in custody.  

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Posted (edited)
55 minutes ago, Andrew Yang for President said:

Cat's betrayal is more damaging than her fans would care to admit.  RW might have not happened if they had Jamie in custo

This is true, having Jaime was Robb's greatest trophy and gain. With Jaime and Theon, he secured his flank and had great leverage over IT/Tywin. And he threw one away and his mother threw the other one away. 

Edited by Br16

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1 hour ago, Br16 said:

 This is true, having Jaime was Robb's greatest trophy and gain. With Jaime and Theon, he secured his flank and had great leverage over IT/Tywin. And he threw one away and his mother threw the other one away. 

And those were both emotionally-fuelled decisions, based on attachment (love): Robb threw Theon away because Theon was his friend, and Cat threw Jamie away because she was hoping to get her daughters out of KL. And earlier Ned threw his advantage away because he was unwilling to act dishonourably and possibly harm children.

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50 minutes ago, Aldarion said:

And those were both emotionally-fuelled decisions, based on attachment (love): Robb threw Theon away because Theon was his friend, and Cat threw Jamie away because she was hoping to get her daughters out of KL. And earlier Ned threw his advantage away because he was unwilling to act dishonourably and possibly harm children.

True, despite ruling such a cold region, Starks sure are emotional.

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29 minutes ago, Br16 said:

True, despite ruling such a cold region, Starks sure are emotional.

I think the reason is precisely because they rule a cold region. Consider: harsh climate, limited food, sparse population, necessary shelted. They cannot play games; they depend on each other to survive. One side of this is that they have neither time nor resources for the political games that South plays, and they are not good liars. But the other side is that they depend on each other, and thus have to form emotional attachments. So I don't think "protect my family by any means necessary" impulse is really illogical for Starks.

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Just now, Aldarion said:

I think the reason is precisely because they rule a cold region. Consider: harsh climate, limited food, sparse population, necessary shelted. They cannot play games; they depend on each other to survive. One side of this is that they have neither time nor resources for the political games that South plays, and they are not good liars. But the other side is that they depend on each other, and thus have to form emotional attachments. So I don't think "protect my family by any means necessary" impulse is really illogical for Starks.

Mabye this is why scandanavian socialism works well.

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Walder Frey certainly was a smart man for most of his life, but he either lost grasp with reality as his age advanced, or he is really a grumpy old man who doesn't give a damn what happens after his death (and I think the latter is actually more likely).

Punishing/betraying/killing Robb for his slight is, more or less, fine in this world. One can discuss the details of such a vengeance but the Red Wedding went way beyond anything that can be accepted or forgiven by the Westerosi people. Not just because guest right was broken, but also because of the scale of people that were killed.

However, chances are that Walder actually understood what he was doing there, and really left that kind of poisoned legacy to his grandchildren and younger sons. He must know what he did to his house by doing that - but he is not the kind of man who would care.

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Walder Frey is undoubtable clever and cunning, but his lack of actual foresight, and it seems lack of understanding of the long run and big picture, means I can't possibly see him as intelligent.

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On 7/9/2019 at 1:54 AM, Br16 said:

True, despite ruling such a cold region, Starks sure are emotional.

And not particularly honorable.  The family has a history of oath breaking.  Lyanna to Robert.  Rickard to King Aerys 2_for conspiring against the Targaryens.  Robb to Walder Frey _for something so unimportant as preference in a mate.  Jon betrayed the watch for his sister.

 

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15 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Walder Frey certainly was a smart man for most of his life, but he either lost grasp with reality as his age advanced, or he is really a grumpy old man who doesn't give a damn what happens after his death (and I think the latter is actually more likely).

Punishing/betraying/killing Robb for his slight is, more or less, fine in this world. One can discuss the details of such a vengeance but the Red Wedding went way beyond anything that can be accepted or forgiven by the Westerosi people. Not just because guest right was broken, but also because of the scale of people that were killed.

However, chances are that Walder actually understood what he was doing there, and really left that kind of poisoned legacy to his grandchildren and younger sons. He must know what he did to his house by doing that - but he is not the kind of man who would care.

Only time will tell if it was the correct decision for the long term.  But it is the right one for the moment because he owed nothing to the Starks after Robb broke his oath.  The Starks were going to lose after they lost control of Jaime, Theon, and the north.  It's dumb to go down in a sinking ship when it's captain had already proven that he has no respect for the Freys.

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3 hours ago, Moiraine Sedai said:

And not particularly honorable.  The family has a history of oath breaking.  Lyanna to Robert.  Rickard to King Aerys 2_for conspiring against the Targaryens.  Robb to Walder Frey _for something so unimportant as preference in a mate.  Jon betrayed the watch for his sister.

 

Thing is, it is a case of "damned if you do, damned if you don't". Lyanna... I agree with that. But OTOH, if she knew he would be unfaithful to her and that she would not be able to remain faithful to him, running away might have been the most honourable thing to do - they were betrothed, not married (of course, fact remains that she ran away with a married man). Rickard... did he conspire against Targaryens? As I remember, he merely ran off to King's Landing and demanded that Rhaegar be tried in court. Robb... as somebody put it, he chose girl's honour over his own. Which is still honourable thing to do, if mighty stupid.

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35 minutes ago, Aldarion said:

Thing is, it is a case of "damned if you do, damned if you don't". Lyanna... I agree with that. But OTOH, if she knew he would be unfaithful to her and that she would not be able to remain faithful to him, running away might have been the most honourable thing to do - they were betrothed, not married (of course, fact remains that she ran away with a married man). Rickard... did he conspire against Targaryens? As I remember, he merely ran off to King's Landing and demanded that Rhaegar be tried in court. Robb... as somebody put it, he chose girl's honour over his own. Which is still honourable thing to do, if mighty stupid.

I am afraid you are mistaken here. Its rather clear that Brandon made threats to the crown prince's life. Anyone making these kind of threats, idle or serious, can only expect the harshest censure from any monarch who intends to actually sit on his throne. Not all monarchs will be as brazen or blunt with their response, but I can't see a good king, or a bad king with a good hand, not acting at such words.

The only king I can think would accept such threats would be Baelor the Blessed, but his Hand Viserys is likely to start making arrangements for you as soon as possible.

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2 minutes ago, Lion of the West said:

 I am afraid you are mistaken here. Its rather clear that Brandon made threats to the crown prince's life. Anyone making these kind of threats, idle or serious, can only expect the harshest censure from any monarch who intends to actually sit on his throne. Not all monarchs will be as brazen or blunt with their response, but I can't see a good king, or a bad king with a good hand, not acting at such words.

 The only king I can think would accept such threats would be Baelor the Blessed, but his Hand Viserys is likely to start making arrangements for you as soon as possible.

Thanks. But even that is "just" stupidity, not conspiracy. So Aerys' response was still bit too much. He could have taken Brandon as a hostage.

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The smartest? I would give that to LF, or Varys, or Doran Martell, or Olenna Tyrell, or Tywin, or Tyrion. Siding with Robb was insane. Murdering the Northmen as he did, was not improving his opportunities of alliances. BTW, he has no allies, no network. A loser like the IB.

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