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Alyn Oakenfist

Why don't the Kingsguard go full Praetorian Guard?

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Given that the Kingsguard could easily kill a king (and strike up a good deal with the successor for doing it, ensuring no repercussions for the act) why didn't they ever do it until Jaime, and even then in the last possible hour, and only because of the wildfire. Comparing with our history, we have countless examples of the king/emperor's bodyguard killing, overthrowing and proclaiming monarchs, the most famous/infamous example being the praetorian guard. What would very often happen is that the guard would quickly figure out that they could support someone a bit further away on the succession line, kill the king/emperor maybe the people between the emperor and their claimant on the succession line and then proclaim their claimant as the new king/emperor. There are also further reasons why the Kingsguard could do this kind of shenanigans. 1. They carry a lot of legitimacy, as seen by the Dance, with Aegon gaining a huge legitimacy boost simply due to the fact that the KG supported him and 2. the KG usually come from noble families, and are therefore clearly connected to the familial interests going on. To avoid exactly this problem the byzantine Varangian Guard was made up exclusively of foreigners (usually vikings). It's also clearly not a problem of KG honor as we can see that they vary just as much as everyone else (with such honorable figures as Sandor Clegane, Criston Cole, Merryn Trant and a lot more scum whose name I can't remeber). Another theoretical problem in them becoming active players is the fact that they are just seven of them. However be it either 7 or 1000 of them they would still be beaten by any army, or the city guard for that matter. Their power doesn't consist in their numbers, it consists in their power over the kings live. One could also claim, that such a murder would be severely punished by Westerosi society, however as we can see from the Jaime case besides mumbling and the cries of one hypocritical and overly righteous lord, nobody did anything about Robert ascending the Throne over the body of a king slayed by his bodyguards and the corpses of children.

So all in all given that the KG gave control over the lives of the king and the royal family and they could probably kill the king and a portion of his family and get away with it due to the gratitude of the new king, how come the KG didn't become an active player in the game?

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1) There are only 7 of them, not hundreds, like the PG. They just could not press that amount of influence.

2) At any given time, all 7 might not get along, for various reasons. If they were not all in on it, it would fair even faster, see #1.

3) I think GRRM said something about the character of a given king is reflected in his KG (within reason), though I could be wrong. So a jerk of a king might make a crowd of jerks for a KG. (Looks at Robert's, for the most part.)

4) The knightly nature of Westeros makes this less likely. The knights and lords, the class of people appointed to the KG (Sandor and Dunk notwithstanding, maybe others) lends itself to honorable knights who have codes of conduct drilled into them (for good or bad). PG was not of drawn from the comparable class in Roman times.

5) The nature of the two positions are very different. Thousands of troops with better pay and benefits and a life to live after you finish your tour vs. a life-long martial post with celibacy and no future, but fame or infamy. VERRRRRY different.

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1 hour ago, Ser Leftwich said:

1) There are only 7 of them, not hundreds, like the PG. They just could not press that amount of influence.

Like I said both the KG and PG could easily be taken out by just the troops stationed in the city. However even with just the seven of them they could still kill the king and a good chunk of the royal family.

1 hour ago, Ser Leftwich said:

3) I think GRRM said something about the character of a given king is reflected in his KG (within reason), though I could be wrong. So a jerk of a king might make a crowd of jerks for a KG. (Looks at Robert's, for the most part.)

That's only if the knight in question is who he seems to be. Also I'm pretty sure Dayne, Whent and Darry were appointed by Aerys 2.

1 hour ago, Ser Leftwich said:

4) The knightly nature of Westeros makes this less likely. The knights and lords, the class of people appointed to the KG (Sandor and Dunk notwithstanding, maybe others) lends itself to honorable knights who have codes of conduct drilled into them (for good or bad). PG was not of drawn from the comparable class in Roman times.

As shown by the story countless times the ,,honorable knight" is a joke. Maybe I could buy loyal knights but even that is imporbable when you look at the various specimens that served in the KG.

1 hour ago, Ser Leftwich said:

5) The nature of the two positions are very different. Thousands of troops with better pay and benefits and a life to live after you finish your tour vs. a life-long martial post with celibacy and no future, but fame or infamy. VERRRRRY different.

This is probably a valid answer however seeing as the people that join the KG are relatively ambition-less and dreaming more of prestige.

 

Also all in all what they lack is an inciting moment to make the KG more powerful and more independent (more men who are more loyal to the lord commander) in which the KG finally takes the fate of the realm in its hands. In the praetorians case that happened with Caligula when they were forced to kill him out of fear of what the madman might do next. However after they killed the emperor and then installed a new one they realized just how much power they actually have. So I think what's stopping the KG into becoming the PG is a moment in which they are forced to act against their king and name a new one (with a few buffs being granted by the new king)

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3 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

Given that the Kingsguard could easily kill a king (and strike up a good deal with the successor for doing it, ensuring no repercussions for the act)

Because they can't.  Jaeharys Targ and Cregan Stark showed them the way, the KG have three options, sticking to their King, execution for abondoning/killing etc said King, Wall.

No King is going to suffer a KG he doesn't trust, they would get rid of them asap.

 

3 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

why didn't they ever do it until Jaime, and even then in the last possible hour, and only because of the wildfire

And even then, Jaime's lot was the block, he saved the neck, and poisoned the cloak,  because of Robert's idiocy.

 

 

3 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

Comparing with our history, we have countless examples of the king/emperor's bodyguard killing, overthrowing and proclaiming monarchs, the most famous/infamous example being the praetorian guard. What would very often happen is that the guard would quickly figure out that they could support someone a bit further away on the succession line, kill the king/emperor maybe the people between the emperor and their claimant on the succession line and then proclaim their claimant as the new king/emperor.

And why would the new King honor his Word and no just kill them off??

 

 

3 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

There are also further reasons why the Kingsguard could do this kind of shenanigans. 1. They carry a lot of legitimacy, as seen by the Dance, with Aegon gaining a huge legitimacy boost simply due to the fact that the KG supported him

Rhaenrya was also supported by the KG, the Lord Commander of the KG was the ¿ice on the cake?  by themselves they don't carry much weight.

 

 

3 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

the KG usually come from noble families, and are therefore clearly connected to the familial interests going on.

KG are expected to lose all kind of interest and ties, just as the Black brothers are e xpected to do the same, no one is going to cheer for them, not even their family. 

 

 

3 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

It's also clearly not a problem of KG honor as we can see that they vary just as much as everyone else (with such honorable figures as Sandor Clegane, Criston Cole, Merryn Trant and a lot more scum whose name I can't remeber).

Criston Cole was the worst Lord Commander ever and he is set as an example not to be followed. 

 

 

3 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

Their power doesn't consist in their numbers, it consists in their power over the kings live

Which is none, at all.

 

 

3 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

One could also claim, that such a murder would be severely punished by Westerosi society, however as we can see from the Jaime case besides mumbling and the cries of one hypocritical and overly righteous lord, nobody did anything about Robert ascending the Throne over the body of a king slayed by his bodyguards and the corpses of children.

 

The only reason, Jaime is not dead or in the Wall is because Robert simply didn't feel like it, he hated the Targs too muxh to ver cared about the deed and he obviously considered it a one time thing since he saw Jaime as incapable of repeating the deed with him. Dead children, as awful as it might be, is not so upsetting as killing a King, that's why Jaime is remembered as the Kingslayer and vilified for it from Dorne to the Wall.

 

 

3 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

So all in all given that the KG gave control over the lives of the king and the royal family and they could probably kill the king and a portion of his family and get away with it due to the gratitude of the new king, how come the KG didn't become an active player in the game?

Because they couldn't get away with it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

Like I said both the KG and PG could easily be taken out by just the troops stationed in the city. However even with just the seven of them they could still kill the king and a good chunk of the royal family.

What good does that do them? Possibly kill a bunch of people and then murdered by the GC or sworn swords? 

They'd have to have dozens of conspirators and hold hostages inside of Maegor's Keep to have any chance of success. In the words Doran, someone always tells.

2 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

Also all in all what they lack is an inciting moment to make the KG more powerful and more independent (more men who are more loyal to the lord commander) in which the KG finally takes the fate of the realm in its hands. In the praetorians case that happened with Caligula when they were forced to kill him out of fear of what the madman might do next. However after they killed the emperor and then installed a new one they realized just how much power they actually have. So I think what's stopping the KG into becoming the PG is a moment in which they are forced to act against their king and name a new one (with a few buffs being granted by the new king)

Frankly unless the KG gets reorganized into a large, royal unit like the Scots Guards of France, Varangians, or Praetorians 

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Oaths are taken very seriously by everybody except the worst of people.  It is not the job of the Kingsguard to decide who will sit the throne.  It is their job to protect the person who has the throne.  The Targaryen kings have not deserved to get deposed.  Perhaps Aegon IV or Aerys II.  But disagreeing with how they do their job, which is not in the job description for a Kingsguard, does not give them the right to remove the king.  The king they swore to protect.  The king whose life they swore to value above their own.  

Roose Bolton had better reasons to kill Robb Stark compared to Jaime Lannister.  Roose was killing a rebel who had no right to even pretend to be king.  The northmen had no right to name him king until they successfully separate the north from Westeros.  

 

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3 hours ago, Here's Looking At You, Kid said:

Roose Bolton had better reasons to kill Robb Stark comtpared to Jaime Lannister.  Roose was killing a rebel who had no right to even pretend to be king.  The northmen had no right to name him king until they successfully separate the north from Westeros.  

Yeah, that’s rich, a rebel killing the leader of his rebellion. Roose fought under Robb’s banner as King in the North. Only when he thought the tide was turning against Robb did he decide to betray Robb. That’s not the action of a man defending his King, that’s the action of a turncoat/ turncloak. 

Jaime, otoh, killed a mad man who was going to blow up an entire city with all its inhabitants.

But of course in your Targ-centric view of things, Jaime killed the poor Targ King and Roose killed the evuul Stark King. 

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3 hours ago, teej6 said:

Yeah, that’s rich, a rebel killing the leader of his rebellion. Roose fought under Robb’s banner as King in the North. Only when he thought the tide was turning against Robb did he decide to betray Robb. That’s not the action of a man defending his King, that’s the action of a turncoat/ turncloak. 

Actually by killing rebel king Roose protected lives and property of his subjects. After all I think that a lord should take care interests of people who had sworn to him. Or keep fighting in losing side of war would not have very good idea. So in a weird way lord Bolton is a good lord.

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Cos there is seven of them, and for every one that wants to play Kingmaker there are hundreds or Barristans who take their oaths seriously and probably more than a few brutes who like to do the Kings killing. It’s posed as a plain life for a plain man, honour and prestige for sure, but plain, plain, plain. Not an institution for the thinkers

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Some of the answers to these questions might come from a close study of the Defiance of Duskendale and related bits of the narrative - the Dontos Hollard story and Brienne's quest and repainted shield.

House Darklyn is strongly associated with the King's Guard. Understanding the qualities of House Darklyn will reveal more about the nature of the men who join the guard and their purpose in Westeros.

I am inclined to believe the suspicions that Tywin Lannister put the idea into the head of Denys Darklyn that he should kidnap the king. There is something about the "shit for honor" phrase associated with Jaime / Kingslayer that may hold true for Tywin as well.

If it's true that Denys Darklyn was acting in concert with Tywin, this would be a situation where the man from "House King's Guard" felt his alliance with the Hand of the King allowed him to take that risk to defy the king (although Denys didn't seem to want a full coup).

Could Ser Barristan's miraculous rescue of King Aerys at Duskendale reflect a desire by Denys Darklyn to release the king without harm? Was Barristan's amazing feat so amazing, or did Darklyn let him succeed?

There may also be some clues in the strange death of Arys Oakheart. He allowed himself to be persuaded to advance the interests of Myrcella over the interests of Tommen. Arianne is baffled by the illogic of Arys seeming to invite combat instead of standing down when the plot was foiled. What is it about being a member of the King's Guard that caused Arys to seemingly leap to his death by engaging with (other king's guard) Areo Hotah?

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10 hours ago, Here's Looking At You, Kid said:

Oaths are taken very seriously by everybody except the worst of people.  It is not the job of the Kingsguard to decide who will sit the throne.  It is their job to protect the person who has the throne.  The Targaryen kings have not deserved to get deposed.  Perhaps Aegon IV or Aerys II.  But disagreeing with how they do their job, which is not in the job description for a Kingsguard, does not give them the right to remove the king.  The king they swore to protect.  The king whose life they swore to value above their own.  

Roose Bolton had better reasons to kill Robb Stark compared to Jaime Lannister.  Roose was killing a rebel who had no right to even pretend to be king.  The northmen had no right to name him king until they successfully separate the north from Westeros.  

 

Roose Bolton was sworn to Robb Stark.  His act was treason.  

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3 hours ago, SeanF said:

Roose Bolton was sworn to Robb Stark.  His act was treason.  

But Robb Stark was traitor or rebel. So very interesting question is that why one should stay loyal to a man who had broken his own vows.

Besides there is a possibility that as a lord of Dreadfort Roose had at least some demand of loyalty to Iron Throne and by slaying a pretender he just proved his loyalty to his legitimate master.

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3 hours ago, Ser Leftwich said:

Can we not turn this into another discussion of Robb and Roose Bolton? They have nothing to do with this discussion.

It is a fair comparison.  

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8 hours ago, Loose Bolt said:

But Robb Stark was traitor or rebel. So very interesting question is that why one should stay loyal to a man who had broken his own vows.

Besides there is a possibility that as a lord of Dreadfort Roose had at least some demand of loyalty to Iron Throne and by slaying a pretender he just proved his loyalty to his legitimate master.

Roose Bolton would have an easier time getting acquitted by law. Robb Stark was technically a criminal for rebelling.  It is public knowledge that his father admitted to treason too.  

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14 hours ago, Trigger Warning said:

Using the Praetorian Guard to make this point feels like cheating. 

They're not the only example of this thing happening, only the most extreme, to the point that death by praetorian guard became the most common death for roman emperors. The only example of a guard doing it's duty properly and not getting involved in politics I can think of is the Varangian guard, who were by design made only out of foreigners and as such didn't have any interest in byzantine politics. And while the praetorians were way more numerous and more loyal to their leader, I can see the KG leveraging a couple of privileges from their support in some civil war (all they would need would be no more chastity, and larger numbers and you would have the perfect recipe for devastation). On a side note given his hubris I'm actually surprised Unwin Peake didn't try to do something of the sort, in order to make the KG a much stronger force and loyal to him through it's Lord Commander.

Edited by Alyn Oakenfist

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On 2/12/2020 at 9:02 AM, SeanF said:

Roose Bolton was sworn to Robb Stark.  His act was treason.  

Robb Stark was in the act of rebellion.  Which is treason.  The Starks, in the eyes of the public, started a war to get even with Joffrey for executing Eddard Stark.  Eddard Stark is a known traitor.  Bolton's first loyalty is to the king in the capital and not to the Starks.

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