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Angel Eyes

Renly's Plan and what he knew.

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So I'm trying and failing to wrap my head around Renly's scheming with Loras in AGOT and up to his self-coronation. He and Loras wanted to get Robert to set aside Cersei and marry Margaery. To me, it seems poorly thought out for the following reasons:

  • Tywin Lannister would not take the setting aside of a daughter lying down and could very well default on the Crown's debts
  • Only a religious fanatic like Baelor the Blessed would set aside his Queen

And did Renly know of the incest? If he didn't, why is he trying to get Robert to set aside Cersei? And how well would someone like Joffrey, a royal brat of the highest order, take the setting aside of his other? He'd be just as likely to murder any child of Robert's by Margaery. The succession is another problem; apparently Renly didn't pay attention with history when a King has two families with two different wives (thankfully not at the same time); it's called the Dance of the Dragons. If he did know, it just makes him more of a hypocrite since he's just replacing one false king with another.

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Bear in mind that Cersei believes that Robert would set her aside if emboldened, Stannis understood that Renly was plotting to have Margaery become Robert's queen while believing he did not know about the incest, and that Grand Maester Pycelle understood that Renly plotted to have Robert set Cersei aside while at the same time believing that Renly did not know about the incest.

I think you have to look at it from what Renly saw at the time, which was that the Lannisters were isolated in terms of their relationship to the rest of Westeros. By Renly's calculus, if Cersei was set aside for Margaery and Tywin went to war over it, the Lannisters would have to go up against the Stormlands, the Crownlands, the Reach, the Vale (because Jon Arryn would back Robert, to Renly's thinking), the North (ditto with Ned), and probably the riverlands (due to family ties to both Jon Arryn and Ned Stark. Dorne would at worst sit it out, given their hatred of the Lannisters.

It's noted by Varys that Robert had become increasingly unruly, so it seems Renly had some reason to think that Robert's increasingly disfunctional relationship to Cersei was something he could break up for the benefit of himself, his friends the Tyrells, and for the realm. 

Finally, regarding the setting aside of Cersei, no one -- not even Cersei herself -- speaks of this as a matter of her being executed or what have you. A big flaw in the argument for "he had to know about the incest" is that it is premised on the false notion that Renly's plot necessarily aimed to disinherit Cersei's children. But the fact is that reducing the power of the Lannisters and increasing his power and that of the Tyrells really only depended on Margaery becoming Robert's queen. There's zero evidence Renly's plot extends beyond that. Robert looked like to live for many years more, despite his gluttony and drinking. The problem of Joffrey and the other children are all far-off things.

17 minutes ago, Angel Eyes said:

; apparently Renly didn't pay attention with history when a King has two families with two different wives (thankfully not at the same time)

This makes Renly doing this likelier than not. I don't think he had long-term plans but rather things he'd deal with when he crossed that bridge.

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Renly was a friend of Mace and lover to Loras, he was also a enemy of Cersei as he knew that the moment she become regent he would be killed if stayed at the capital and Cersei herself confirms this. Renly didn't know about the incest and later on even dismissed the idea. 

Renly wanted to set his friends at strong position in the court and push away his enemies, he knew that Robert hated Cersei as the King made this pretty public, Cersei also feared this.

Having the crown in debt with you is more dangerous than an advantage, look at what happened to the templars.

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2 hours ago, Ran said:

Bear in mind that Cersei believes that Robert would set her aside if emboldened, Stannis understood that Renly was plotting to have Margaery become Robert's queen while believing he did not know about the incest, and that Grand Maester Pycelle understood that Renly plotted to have Robert set Cersei aside while at the same time believing that Renly did not know about the incest.

I think you have to look at it from what Renly saw at the time, which was that the Lannisters were isolated in terms of their relationship to the rest of Westeros. By Renly's calculus, if Cersei was set aside for Margaery and Tywin went to war over it, the Lannisters would have to go up against the Stormlands, the Crownlands, the Reach, the Vale (because Jon Arryn would back Robert, to Renly's thinking), the North (ditto with Ned), and probably the riverlands (due to family ties to both Jon Arryn and Ned Stark. Dorne would at worst sit it out, given their hatred of the Lannisters.

It's noted by Varys that Robert had become increasingly unruly, so it seems Renly had some reason to think that Robert's increasingly disfunctional relationship to Cersei was something he could break up for the benefit of himself, his friends the Tyrells, and for the realm. 

Finally, regarding the setting aside of Cersei, no one -- not even Cersei herself -- speaks of this as a matter of her being executed or what have you. A big flaw in the argument for "he had to know about the incest" is that it is premised on the false notion that Renly's plot necessarily aimed to disinherit Cersei's children. But the fact is that reducing the power of the Lannisters and increasing his power and that of the Tyrells really only depended on Margaery becoming Robert's queen. There's zero evidence Renly's plot extends beyond that. Robert looked like to live for many years more, despite his gluttony and drinking. The problem of Joffrey and the other children are all far-off things.

This makes Renly doing this likelier than not. I don't think he had long-term plans but rather things he'd deal with when he crossed that bridge.

Well it isn't a matter of Cersei being executed. It's just that it kinda muddies up the succession ala Dance of the Dragons. What's to stop someone like Joffrey offing Margaery's children just because he thinks they might be a threat?

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Why would Mace agree to this if Margaery's children would come behind Joffrey and Tommen in succession? She's his only daughter, and Robert wasn't exactly taking care to ensure his own longevity.

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1 hour ago, FictionIsntReal said:

Why would Mace agree to this if Margaery's children would come behind Joffrey and Tommen in succession? She's his only daughter, and Robert wasn't exactly taking care to ensure his own longevity.

Why did families like the Brackens and Blackwoods throw their daughters at Aegon IV? Why did Henry VIII still get marriage offers after all the shit he had going on in his marriage life?  Why does Walder Frey still keep finding wives even after having over a dozen heirs?

 

One's daughter being the king's mistress, much less wife, is a boon for a family's prestige and power even if their children don't inherit.  Moreover, it isn't like Robert particularly likes Joffrey or Tommen that they cannot conspire ways to get rid of them over time.  Robert might be a drunken glutton, but he is still relatively young that they should have plenty of time to plan for that.

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1 hour ago, FictionIsntReal said:

Why would Mace agree to this if Margaery's children would come behind Joffrey and Tommen in succession? She's his only daughter, and Robert wasn't exactly taking care to ensure his own longevity.

Because his daughter would be Queen and his grandchildren would be royalty, expected to be powerful and influential in their own right.  Being the King's father-in-law would be a boon for Mace, it usually comes with extra influence, as does being the Kings brother-in-law. Jaime was made Warden of the East because he was the King's brother-in-law.

Robert, even with sons, is still the best match in the entire kingdom. Ancient Walder Frey with hundreds of heirs is still able to get Houses invested in marrying women to him, Robert is the King.

 

3 hours ago, Angel Eyes said:

What's to stop someone like Joffrey offing Margaery's children just because he thinks they might be a threat?

The laws of the realm. His royal siblings are not the children of penniless whores, they'd have their own defences.

No one was expecting that Joffrey would murder his brother Edric, the expectation is that family would care for each other. It would be Robert and Margaery's job to make sure all the children got along, but even if they did not, it would be within Robert's power to ensure their power and influence that would protect them when he eventually dies.

Robert was only in his mid 30's. He was still a relatively young man.

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20 hours ago, Minsc said:

Why did families like the Brackens and Blackwoods throw their daughters at Aegon IV? Why did Henry VIII still get marriage offers after all the shit he had going on in his marriage life?  Why does Walder Frey still keep finding wives even after having over a dozen heirs?

 

One's daughter being the king's mistress, much less wife, is a boon for a family's prestige and power even if their children don't inherit.  Moreover, it isn't like Robert particularly likes Joffrey or Tommen that they cannot conspire ways to get rid of them over time.  Robert might be a drunken glutton, but he is still relatively young that they should have plenty of time to plan for that.

The Brackens and Blackwoods are feuding Riverlands vassals, they are not Lords Paramount of the Reach. And Aegon IV was willing to seize land from the Brackens and give it to the Blackwoods, which is not something Robert did. Walder Frey's wives aren't that prestigious either, in fact much of his motivating resentment is based around other families being unwilling to marry into the Freys. Tytos Lannister was willing to broker a Frey-Lannister marriage, which served as further evidence of his incompetence to Tywin and the rest of the family

20 hours ago, Bernie Mac said:

Because his daughter would be Queen and his grandchildren would be royalty, expected to be powerful and influential in their own right.  Being the King's father-in-law would be a boon for Mace, it usually comes with extra influence, as does being the Kings brother-in-law. Jaime was made Warden of the East because he was the King's brother-in-law.

After Robert dies, Joffrey or Tommen will be king. There's no reason to expect them to favor the Tyrells or their half-siblings.

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Robert, even with sons, is still the best match in the entire kingdom. Ancient Walder Frey with hundreds of heirs is still able to get Houses invested in marrying women to him, Robert is the King.

No, I think the best match would be someone without legitimate heirs. And as I discussed above, Frey is not able to get high-status families to marry into his until he obstructs Robb's army from passing through the Twins.

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Robert was only in his mid 30's. He was still a relatively young man.

Life expectancy was lower then, and it wasn't just a matter of childhood mortality. Robert jested openly about his intent to send himself to an "early grave" via his lifestyle, so he fully expected not to live as long as some other kings.

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21 minutes ago, FictionIsntReal said:

The Brackens and Blackwoods are feuding Riverlands vassals, they are not Lords Paramount of the Reach. And Aegon IV was willing to seize land from the Brackens and give it to the Blackwoods, which is not something Robert did. Walder Frey's wives aren't that prestigious either, in fact much of his motivating resentment is based around other families being unwilling to marry into the Freys. Tytos Lannister was willing to broker a Frey-Lannister marriage, which served as further evidence of his incompetence to Tywin and the rest of the family

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That might be why they were willing to settle for just being the king's favored mistress, while Mace also hopes that Margaery will become queen.  We don't know how Robert would have rewarded the Tyrells as the plan never went into effect.  Walder's wives only get less prestigious over time.  He was still able to get a Swann, Crakehall, Blackwood, Whent, and Rosby while having multiple male heirs from previous wives (such as three male heirs and a daughter from his first).

 

21 minutes ago, FictionIsntReal said:

And as I discussed above, Frey is not able to get high-status families to marry into his until he obstructs Robb's army from passing through the Twins

That isn't true, Lothor Frey, a twelfth son and 47th in line to inherit, was able to marry a member of House Lefford which is the principal lords of the Gold Tooth, a notable holding in the West.

Edited by Minsc

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2 minutes ago, Minsc said:

That might be why they were willing to settle for just being the king's favored mistress, while Mace also hopes that Margaery will become queen.  We don't know how Robert would have rewarded the Tyrells as the plan never went into effect.  Walder's wives only get less prestigious over time.  He was still able to get a Swann, Crakehall, Blackwood, Whent, and Rosby while having multiple male heirs from previous wives (such as three male heirs and a daughter from his first).

Robert was already married to Cersei Lannister, but didn't grant any lands to her house. He had some Lannister squires and Twin's Captain of the Guard as King's Justice, but that's not such an enormous boon. The main benefit Tywin got was royal grandchildren, which would outrank those of a second wife for Robert.

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That isn't true, Lothor Frey, a twelfth son, is able to marry a member of House Lefford which is the principal lords of the Gold Tooth, a notable holding in the West.

That's not equivalent to the only daughter of Mace Tyrell.

 

 

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1 minute ago, FictionIsntReal said:

Robert was already married to Cersei Lannister, but didn't grant any lands to her house. He had some Lannister squires and Twin's Captain of the Guard as King's Justice, but that's not such an enormous boon. The main benefit Tywin got was royal grandchildren, which would outrank those of a second wife for Robert.

No, but he was willing to do stuff like name her brother to be Warden of the East over the new Lord Arryn.  The Tyrells can get other prestige and influence more than just lands if Margaery is made Robert's new queen.

 

2 minutes ago, FictionIsntReal said:

That's not equivalent to the only daughter of Mace Tyrell.

The 47th heir to House Frey is also not the equivalent of the King of the Seven Kingdoms.  Heck, the Lord of House Frey isn't even the equivalent of the King of the Seven Kingdoms.  So the Freys getting less prestigious houses means less than you think.

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I say Renly knew; there's a reason why he doesn't tell Catelyn of Stannis' letter telling everyone of the incest (which he had already received at Horn Hill).

Renly would be a worse person if he didn't know in my opinion, because it means he had no loyalty to Robert's children and was either a short sighted fool or a callous user who was willing to put Margaery's life in tremendous danger for self serving purposes. 

It doesn't have to be completely foreshadowed or hinted in the text, just like the reveal that Joffrey sent the assassin after Bran.

Edited by Peach King

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2 hours ago, Peach King said:

I say Renly knew; there's a reason why he doesn't tell Catelyn of Stannis' letter telling everyone of the incest (which he had already received at Horn Hill).

Because he thought little of it, didn't believe it, and just thought it was a ploy from Stannis. A fact that George plays up with Joff's small council planning to seed counter-rumors.

Stannis himself doesn't question Renly saying he doesn't believe it. He could have called him a liar, he could have asked him what he planned to gain from putting Margaery in Robert's bed if it didn't turn on exposing the incest, but he didn't ... because it didn't occur to him there was a problem with it. It made sense to Stannis that he knew and Renly didn't.

 

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Renly would be a worse person if he didn't know in my opinion, because it means he had no loyalty to Robert's children

If his plan was to get Cersei set aside for Margaery, it doesn't follow he had no loyalty to the children (though he probably had very little, at least to Joffrey) because there's no evidence his plan extended to having them removed from the succession. It's the error of those insisting that he knew. Nothing that anyone says about Renly's plot indicated that that was the idea.

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and was either a short sighted fool or a callous user who was willing to put Margaery's life in tremendous danger for self serving purposes. 

If by danger you mean that Cersei and co. would try to poison or otherwise get rid of her, I think that's true, but yes, Renly was callous. He certainly knew he was in personal danger from Cersei, and yet he remained at King's Landing to continue to try his plot and have his influence until the very last opportunity, so it doesn't seem strange he thought he could have Margaery arrive, see her protected, and prevent anything from happening.

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It doesn't have to be completely foreshadowed or hinted in the text, just like the reveal that Joffrey sent the assassin after Bran.

The problem is that the text has multiple characters doubting Renly knew. It's not just Renly explicitly saying he didn't, but Cersei, Pycelle, Stannis, and Catelyn as well all see no difficulty in believing Renly did not know but that he was plotting to have Cersei set aside anyways. It seems like bad writing rather than good to have all the indicators suggest one thing when it was another. Look at his actual mysteries -- who sent the cat's paw, who killed Jon Arryn -- and you'll see his laying hints pointing at several directions (including the correct one). George intended no mystery in Renly's plot, and thus there are no hints pointing at his knowing.

Edited by Ran

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We can say that Renly had about three consecutive plans:

1. Convince Robert to set aside Cersei in favor of Margaery, with the latter becoming the new queen. This would not necessarily affect the status of Cersei's children in the line of succession or of House Lannister. If Tywin and Jaime behaved, there would be no reason to wage another war (although one can certainly assume Renly would have been willing to offer his own help, the help of the Tyrells, and counting on the fact that Jon and later Ned would bring the help of the North, the Vale, and the Riverlands to deal with Lord Tywin if he called his banners over this issue). But one should also keep in mind that both Jaime and Cersei - if neither had been allowed to leave KL after the marriage was ended - would have been hostages to ensure Tywin's good behavior...

2. Seize the regency in an alliance with Ned when it became clear Robert was dying. Renly later claims he only decided to claim the throne after Ned chose to reject his offer, but I cannot help but point out that a Renly controlling the persons of Cersei and Robert's three children would have been ideally positioned to claim the throne himself by removing the remaining obstacles (i.e. Cersei's children). I think his plan to eventually become king started at that point - but that cannot be proved at this point (although Littlefinger's suggestion to Ned to eventually make Renly king may be a hint that he knew of Renly's ultimate desire to be king).

3. After Ned rejected his offer he made himself a pretender to the throne with the help of the Tyrells. His own justification for this makes little sense and shows his desire to be king is more important than his desire to preserve his life or position. Renly could have sold his men at court as well as the support of the Stormlands (and possibly the Reach as well) to Cersei or Tywin or even Stannis instead of forging them into a power bloc to crown himself. He was the youngest brother of the king, a man more suited to be a kingmaker than a king. And the idea that Tywin or Cersei would have been stupid enough to reject a serious offer for support against both/either Ned/the Riverlands or Stannis is, quite frankly, ridiculous. They later also made common cause with the Tyrells.

By crowning himself Renly (like Robb!) burned any bridges still connecting him to both Stannis, Joffrey/the Lannisters. Welcoming a crowned pretender back into the King's Peace is much more difficult than simply pardoning some rebel lord. And since it is quite clear that Renly must have known this it is also quite clear, I'd argue, that Renly's chief desire was to be king himself - at least when he had fully thought through what Robert's sudden and quite early death meant.

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And Renly definitely didn't know about the incest. If he had, he would have told Robert. He would have told Ned. He would have used his knowledge as ammunition in his own bid for the throne - it could have only helped his own position to dismiss the claims of Cersei's children on the basis that they weren't Robert's. But he did not do that.

And back when he wanted to replace Cersei with Margaery he would have not needed to find a new Lyanna to seduce Robert - he could have just revealed the incest to destroy Cersei that way. And when she was dead - because she would have been executed for this - Renly could have presented Margaery as a suitable replacement for Cersei, a young woman Robert would not (necessarily) need to fall in love with to marry her. As a childless widower king (Cersei's children would have been declared bastards and cut from the line of succession if Robert had not killed them) Robert would have been in need of a fertile young queen to give him heirs of his own body.

Everything we know about Renly's plans and actions after Robert's death confirms that Renly had no clue until he received the letter - and this is supported by the various testimonies of crucial court players who knew or believed that Renly had no clue about the incest (while knowing about his plan to replace Cersei with Margaery).

There is simply no basis to believe that Renly knew about the twincest. If he did know the entire thing would have likely come out while Robert was still alive. Renly wasn't exactly the most cautious or careful of people.

And one should also keep in mind that neither Jon Arryn nor Stannis actually *knew* anything. Stannis had a suspicion, a suspicion Jon was willing to entertain, too, planning to eventually tell Robert about it (but he never did tell him, not even on his deathbed, indicating he didn't necessarily believe it to be true even then). For Stannis suspicion became fact when Jon Arryn suddenly died, but that wasn't actual evidence much less proof.

Littlefinger seems to have learned of the suspicions and of Jon/Stannis' 'investigation', but he wouldn't have had evidence/proof, either. Varys may be the only guy who as actual knowledge of the twincest, either because he helped Cersei to arrange early meetings with Jaime (back during the reign of Aerys II when Cersei and Jaime met in the city to have sex when she convinced him to join the KG) or simply by having his little birds watch and overhear their clandestine meetings in the Red Keep (those taking place outside of Maegor's Holdfast).

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On 9/7/2019 at 5:15 PM, Angel Eyes said:

So I'm trying and failing to wrap my head around Renly's scheming with Loras in AGOT and up to his self-coronation. He and Loras wanted to get Robert to set aside Cersei and marry Margaery. To me, it seems poorly thought out for the following reasons:

  • Tywin Lannister would not take the setting aside of a daughter lying down and could very well default on the Crown's debts
  • Only a religious fanatic like Baelor the Blessed would set aside his Queen

And did Renly know of the incest? If he didn't, why is he trying to get Robert to set aside Cersei? And how well would someone like Joffrey, a royal brat of the highest order, take the setting aside of his other? He'd be just as likely to murder any child of Robert's by Margaery. The succession is another problem; apparently Renly didn't pay attention with history when a King has two families with two different wives (thankfully not at the same time); it's called the Dance of the Dragons. If he did know, it just makes him more of a hypocrite since he's just replacing one false king with another.

 

If Renly's plan was to simply have Cersei set aside and then bring in Margaery is Queen #2 with all her children following Cersei's in the line of succession, then no, this was not a very well-thought out plan. I can see Renly, Loras and even Mace concocting this, but as soon as Lady Olenna found out about it she would have quashed the whole thing.

While Mace might be content with just having royal children, etc., Lady O would not. She wants nothing less than a Tyrell butt on the Iron Throne, so unless Cersei and all three of her children could be removed from the line, this is an utter waste of Margaery's true benefit to House Tyrell.

Also, all of this talk about how the houses would support Robert and go to war against the Lannisters is overlooking one thing: the faith would certainly not support a king setting aside his queen just because he wants to be a younger, prettier maiden. Yes, this particular High Septon might be a wuss in most matters, but this goes to the core of one of the church's most holy sacraments, The entire church hierarchy would be fully aware of what acquiescence on this matter would do to their moral authority: let kings plays fast and loose with their marriage vows and you've just given license to all of society to do the same thing, and then the church loses its ability to be a guiding moral force in the realm. So with the church not on board with this, any house that backs Robert is essentially warring against the church, and that is not something that any lord south of the Neck will do lightly.

Why did Renly not react with surprise at Stannis' letter? Simple, because he's known it all along and his claim to the crown has nothing to do with lines of succession but with military might. It's Stannis who needs to expose the incest now, not Renly, so Renly is free to mock it and pretend like it's all just a made-up story.

So in the end, I think we can conclude that Renly did know of the incest and revealing it was part of the plan to make Margaery queen. And as usual with all things Tyrell, this plot originated at the very top with the lady who is really running the show in Highgarden.

 

 

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For past discussion on Olenna, the Tyrells, and whether Renly knew, I think I'll just link herehere, and here rather rehash the counterpoints from myself and @Bernie Mac to the argumens @John Suburbs  makes.

I will note one bit though:

1 hour ago, John Suburbs said:

Why did Renly not react with surprise at Stannis' letter?

We do not see Renly's reaction when he received it. It was weeks earlier in Horn Hill, and not depicted. That said, Renly says that it "took [his] breath away", which implies he was surprised... but then he indicates that it's because he didn't realize Stannis would be so clever as to concoct a political lie like that.

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19 minutes ago, Ran said:

For past discussion on Olenna, the Tyrells, and whether Renly knew, I think I'll just link herehere, and here rather rehash the counterpoints from myself and @Bernie Mac to the argumens @John Suburbs  makes.

I will note one bit though:

We do not see Renly's reaction when he received it. It was weeks earlier in Horn Hill, and not depicted. That said, Renly says that it "took [his] breath away", which implies he was surprised... but then he indicates that it's because he didn't realize Stannis would be so clever as to concoct a political lie like that.

Renly is not above lying. As I said, he has no stake anymore in whether the children are legitimate or not, but Stannis does.

Renly also says he'll get a son on Margaery within the year. Does he not know he is gay?

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1 hour ago, John Suburbs said:

Renly is not above lying. As I said, he has no stake anymore in whether the children are legitimate or not, but Stannis does.

Renly also says he'll get a son on Margaery within the year. Does he not know he is gay?

Being gay doesn't preclude getting a son into Margaery.  Being gay doesn't make you infertile, or make your organs not work.  It just means you're attracted to dudes.  He can just close his eyes and "think of westeros" or something.  Plenty of gay men have fathered children throughout history.  And that's assuming Renly is 100% gay and not just bisexual.

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2 hours ago, argonak said:

Being gay doesn't preclude getting a son into Margaery.  Being gay doesn't make you infertile, or make your organs not work.  It just means you're attracted to dudes.  He can just close his eyes and "think of westeros" or something.  Plenty of gay men have fathered children throughout history.  And that's assuming Renly is 100% gay and not just bisexual.

Martin says he is gay:

https://www.westeros.org/Citadel/SSM/Entry/To_Be_Continued_Chicago_IL_May_6_8/

But yes, plenty of gay men have fathered children through the ages, but I dare say that few of them openly bragged about knocking up their wives as if it was no big deal to them. The way Renly states it, it is the most natural thing in the world for him to shag Margaery, when in reality it is not.

Renly is not above lying when it suits him. He could very well be lying about how Stannis' letter "took his breath away."

But it is also quite probable that he is not lying, that the letter and the whole idea of incest did take him by surprise, in which case this "plan" of his to marry Margaery to Robert was a non-starter. Lady Olenna would never give up her Margaery to become a second queen with little or no chance of birthing the next king. This is the goal in her Game of Thrones.

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