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Alyn Oakenfist

Are the Sparrows a religious or popular movement?

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Ok, I know the answer seems obvious at first, but really think about it. The Sparrows started not because of problems in the church, but due to the excesses of the nobles. Yes there are a lot of religious parts to it, but think about it their main goal seems to be some separations between the state and the church (though with some extra power added to the church). Also it's important how much they seem to focus on protecting the people. Yes reestablishing the Stars and Swords does have a lot of ramifications for the nobles, but they do seem to mainly stick to protecting people. All in all their ,,religious" actions seem to be more cultural actions, behaving in line with the cultural values of the people. Also their inevitable uprising against Cersei for Aegon may be a first sign of popular power in Westeros. So what do you think? Are the Sparrows more of a religious or popular movement? They clearly have parts of both, but which do you think is more preeminent?

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The people and nobles are differentiated by their orders. Poor fellows and the Warriors sons. 

Its backed by the populace, but so is everything, like the war of 5. Orders still come from Oldtown.

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42 minutes ago, Hugorfonics said:

The people and nobles are differentiated by their orders

They seem to be more differentiated by their skill at arms. A knight is obviously much more skilled at arms then a peasant. Other then that there doesn't seem to be any class divide, not to mention the High Sparrow's insistence for modesty in all the Church.

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The political program/demands of the sparrows are fairly simple - their main issues are with continuous warfare in the Riverlands and the attacks on the men and women of the Faith as well as the pious smallfolk this involves. After they understood that the noble class - trouts, wolves, and lions alike - didn't give anything about what they wanted they turned their gods for salvation. That's why they made their pilgrimage to King's Landing to lay the bones of the slain at the feet of Blessed Baelor.

The underlying ideology beneath the sparrows is the cause of the old Poor Fellows. As FaB seems to indicate at various points throughout the 1st and 2nd century up the Dance the Poor Fellows never really died out. They went underground and their cause survived among the smallfolk - the Shepherd seems to have been the last known representative of that tradition up until the High Sparrow comes along. The men and women pushing for a restoration of the Faith Militant do have a different agenda than many of the people following them who would mainly care about the restoration of order in their land. They want the Faith and the High Septon to exercise real power again, and use that (one hopes) to also protect the smallfolk. Although it is rather obvious that the new High Septon is much more interested in establishing a power base for himself and the Faith as a whole.

He is trying to take over the country one piece at a time by weakening the power of the Crown and preparing the Faith to establish a proper theocracy with him at the head. That is the sole political purpose of his double attack on the queens of the Realm. It is a means to publicly humiliate the king and his court and to show the lords and people of the Realm that the Seven are ruling Westeros, not some (boy) king.

And like the High Septon did during the Faith Militant Uprising the High Septon is calling upon the help of all the pious in the Realm, not just smallfolk (who are only Poor Fellows, poorly armed and trained) but on the nobility as well. He will want to draw as many knights into his reformed Warrior's Sons as possible as well as winning as many lords as he can as supporters for his cause.

In isolation his cause would likely be hopeless. We see how a man like Randyll Tarly is both willing and capable to use his forces to put him down. And he could do just that. It would be an awful thing to do, but he could break the sparrow movement easily enough. The Most Devout do not like this new regime, and once the High Septon is dead his successor would likely disband the Faith Militant quickly enough.

This whole thing can only gain considerable momentum in my opinion if they team up with Aegon. And that makes sense. The sparrows do look for a savior. When they learn that Rhaegar's son is actually alive they will see this as a divine miracle and jump on the chance to side with him. And for the High Septon this would be the wisest cause of action as well - both the Lannisters and the Tyrells will eventually turn against him. They cannot let this queens trial thing go unpunished. The Doctrine of Exceptionalism has been an official dogma of the Faith a long time ago. They could become Aegon's best and most fiercest allies rather than his enemies. Even the new High Septon might be content with the way things were under a Targaryen king if he could keep his Faith Militant and the Iron Throne and the Great Sept would fight in unison against the enemies of the Realm - which would include quite a few heretics and heathens in the Stannis and Euron department.

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20 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

They seem to be more differentiated by their skill at arms. A knight is obviously much more skilled at arms then a peasant. Other then that there doesn't seem to be any class divide, not to mention the High Sparrow's insistence for modesty in all the Church.

Skilled at arms, battle planning, pretty much all around command. But Lancel was a tweak right? Pretty much willing to abandon all his material gain all humble like. So, its like a humble uprising, not a popular one. 

I doubt most southron are on board with the faith gaining military power. Theyre quite extreme

Beric had something a little bit like a popular resistance, Catelyn pretty much keeps it up I think

18 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

. Although it is rather obvious that the new High Septon is much more interested in establishing a power base for himself and the Faith as a whole.

He is trying to take over the country one piece at a time by weakening the power of the Crown and preparing the Faith to establish a proper theocracy with him at the head. That is the sole political purpose of his double attack on the queens of the Realm. It is a means to publicly humiliate the king and his court and to show the lords and people of the Realm that the Seven are ruling Westeros, not some (boy) king.

And like the High Septon did during the Faith Militant Uprising the High Septon is calling upon the help of all the pious in the Realm, not just smallfolk (who are only Poor Fellows, poorly armed and trained) but on the nobility as well. He will want to draw as many knights into his reformed Warrior's Sons as possible as well as winning as many lords as he can as supporters for his cause.

In isolation his cause would likely be hopeless. We see how a man like Randyll Tarly is both willing and capable to use his forces to put him down. And he could do just that. It would be an awful thing to do, but he could break the sparrow movement easily enough. The Most Devout do not like this new regime, and once the High Septon is dead his successor would likely disband the Faith Militant quickly enough.

This whole thing can only gain considerable momentum in my opinion if they team up with Aegon. And that makes sense. The sparrows do look for a savior. When they learn that Rhaegar's son is actually alive they will see this as a divine miracle and jump on the chance to side with him. And for the High Septon this would be the wisest cause of action as well - both the Lannisters and the Tyrells will eventually turn against him. They cannot let this queens trial thing go unpunished. The Doctrine of Exceptionalism has been an official dogma of the Faith a long time ago. They could become Aegon's best and most fiercest allies rather than his enemies. Even the new High Septon might be content with the way things were under a Targaryen king if he could keep his Faith Militant and the Iron Throne and the Great Sept would fight in unison against the enemies of the Realm - which would include quite a few heretics and heathens in the Stannis and Euron department.

The first Aegon was crowned by a septon too, probably with some warrior sons to kill some lannister men, it wound up causing complications. Surely Jon knows that, and with him and Arianna as his council, I don't see piety being a cornerstone. 

I suppose the HS could take the initiative and send his warriors sons to back up Young Griff but thats still assuming that Griff will play ball. Whats to stop Aegon from making that shit illegal like his ancestors did? He wouldnt even have to create a new law, hed just say all of Cerseis shit is non valid. The faiths only true friend now or in the future is young Tommen

 

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The sparrows want more than minor reforms.  They want a better life for the small folk and a way to curb the power of the nobility.  They went directly to the top because the power of the nobility come from the monarch in feudalism.  Weakening Cersei and Tommen is the first step to weakening the nobility.  The sparrow wants the church to run Westeros.  Like Khomeini ran Iran after giving the shah the boot.  Aegon will be just a stepping stool for the sparrows.  They don't want to separate the church and the state.  They want the church to be in charge.  Aegon would be foolish to work with the sparrows.  I'm not saying he won't.  He might do it if he gets desperate.  

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On 3/27/2020 at 6:04 AM, Lion of the West said:

They are both as one don't need to exclude the other.

Correct. The modern distinction between religious and secular political spheres doesn't entirely exist. Separation of church and state doesn't either, with the current system in Westeros being something like caesaropapism, and the High Sparrow wanting it to be more like actual papism, in which an emperor might have to beg for forgiveness. The amount of religious freedom in westeros is actually oddly high, since in the past the notion would have been incomprehensible given the close ties between accepting the same religion and adhering to the same rules. The worshipers of the Old Gods and Drowned God aren't exactly under a millet system, but instead hold power over provinces in which their religion is normative.

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It's a populist movement at heart but it is showing signs of being "hijacked" by the High Sparrow's theocratic ambitions. I think Aegon and his court are going to be forced to work closely with the High Sparrow and the Faith. The power dynamic will be more like the Holy Roman Emperor and the Pope.

I think a large part of the war between Aegon and Daenerys and the tensions between Daenerys and the Starks will be a religious war. As we can tell from the Cersei's chapters in Dance, the Faith already has declared that Stannis (a worshipper of R'hllor) is their worst enemy at the moment and that he must not be allowed to assume control of the nation. R'hllor followers in Essos are likely to unite behind Dany and make her anti-slavery policies reality; since a lot of them will comprise her army and her cabinet, she'll be taking them to Westeros.

And the High Sparrow seems like the type to come down hard on the northmen's worship of the old gods and the ironmen's worship of the drowned god and utilize religious propaganda to make the people of southern Westeros willfully blind (at least at first) to the North's struggle against the Others and the problem of Euron Greyjoy.

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9 hours ago, BlackLightning said:

And the High Sparrow seems like the type to come down hard on the northmen's worship of the old gods

Yup. Prejudice will be at an all-time high as soon as the first wight makes its first public appearance and starts killing people.  Wightification will be very contagious.  And since the wights will be coming in from the north and are former northmen, yeah, the sentiments against the old gods will be negative. 

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On 3/27/2020 at 5:09 PM, Hugorfonics said:

I suppose the HS could take the initiative and send his warriors sons to back up Young Griff but thats still assuming that Griff will play ball. Whats to stop Aegon from making that shit illegal like his ancestors did? He wouldnt even have to create a new law, hed just say all of Cerseis shit is non valid. The faiths only true friend now or in the future is young Tommen

Tommen is loathed as an abomination by the sparrows. They will never be loyal to him or his regime ... nor can they. The High Septon dragged his mother through the mud and threw dirt at his wife. If Tommen ever ruled in his own right the High Septon and the entire sparrow movement would have to be afraid for their lives. And they already have reason to fear that the Tyrells will move against them as soon or even before the Margaery matter is resolved.

But Aegon is in dire need of legitimacy. If the Voice of the Seven on Earth were to publicly declare him Rhaegar's son and the rightful king it would help his cause greatly. And the Faith could demand rewards in exchange for that.

On 4/1/2020 at 6:11 AM, FictionIsntReal said:

Correct. The modern distinction between religious and secular political spheres doesn't entirely exist. Separation of church and state doesn't either, with the current system in Westeros being something like caesaropapism, and the High Sparrow wanting it to be more like actual papism, in which an emperor might have to beg for forgiveness. The amount of religious freedom in westeros is actually oddly high, since in the past the notion would have been incomprehensible given the close ties between accepting the same religion and adhering to the same rules. The worshipers of the Old Gods and Drowned God aren't exactly under a millet system, but instead hold power over provinces in which their religion is normative.

I don't think caesaropapism is the correct way to describe the relationship between Faith and Iron Throne since Maegor. The High Septons were always only influential as moral authorities - yes, the Faith Militant also existed, but they weren't that large and never were a power strong enough to rival the rule of the kings of the Seven Kingdoms (or their lords). They were also more like the Knights Templar, i.e. nominally subject to the High Septon but in practice the Starry Sept should have little to no direct influence over the chapters of the Warrior's Sons outside the Reach (if we talk pre-Conquest).

Jaehaerys I exerted very real power over the Faith when he forced them to make the Doctrine of Exceptionalism a dogma of the Faith (and Maegor earlier, too, when he forbid the Faith Militant) but it is not that the Iron Throne effectively ran the Faith ... at least not until Baelor had the High Septon move to KL.

On this moral authority level the High Septons effectively are popes to the kings and lords of Westeros and thus on a different level of authority. The High Septon is seen as the avatar of the Seven on Earth whereas the kings and lords are all just mortal men.

In that sense one has to consider the relationship between Faith and Iron Throne more as an unruly marriage since Jaehaerys I - they are working together, and at times, when a pious king like Baelor took over, they were greatly influential, and at other times they were not. The new High Septon spearheads another such movement, but one should not assume he wants to usurp or take over the Iron Throne as such ... nor should we think he would presume to treat with the abomination Tommen the same way he would treat with a Targaryen king.

The Doctrine of Exceptionalism is now an official tenet of the Faith ... the sparrows all grew up believing the Targaryens are closer to gods than men. And they look for a savior - the High Septon doesn't think he himself is going to mount a white horse and crush all the enemies of the Faith under his heels. That is a job for a king and savior send to Westeros by the Seven.

On 4/1/2020 at 6:46 AM, BlackLightning said:

I think a large part of the war between Aegon and Daenerys and the tensions between Daenerys and the Starks will be a religious war. As we can tell from the Cersei's chapters in Dance, the Faith already has declared that Stannis (a worshipper of R'hllor) is their worst enemy at the moment and that he must not be allowed to assume control of the nation. R'hllor followers in Essos are likely to unite behind Dany and make her anti-slavery policies reality; since a lot of them will comprise her army and her cabinet, she'll be taking them to Westeros.

There certainly is the possibility that part of the reason why Aegon and Dany won't get along might be in their religious power bases. However, this will also depend on the power Aegon and the Faith will still have by the time she shows up and how far south the Others will already have marched at that time.

One should also keep in mind that belief in R'hllor spreads throughout the Riverlands as we speak, and this is likely going to be a continuous trend, not something that will eventually stop.

On 4/1/2020 at 6:46 AM, BlackLightning said:

And the High Sparrow seems like the type to come down hard on the northmen's worship of the old gods and the ironmen's worship of the drowned god and utilize religious propaganda to make the people of southern Westeros willfully blind (at least at first) to the North's struggle against the Others and the problem of Euron Greyjoy.

The former I certainly can say, the latter not so much. Euron is a danger to the Reach, the Faith's heartland, already, and if he were to threaten KL that's certainly going to be a strong issue.

For the North this thing is more likely to mean that Aegon is not likely going to send them much help if they eventually ask for it.

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On 4/1/2020 at 6:46 AM, BlackLightning said:

It's a populist movement at heart but it is showing signs of being "hijacked" by the High Sparrow's theocratic ambitions. I think Aegon and his court are going to be forced to work closely with the High Sparrow and the Faith. The power dynamic will be more like the Holy Roman Emperor and the Pope.

I mean, the Faith has been re armed, there only two ways, Aegon's 1 way or Maegor's way. And Young  G simply does not have the strenght nor later would he have the authority to go against the Faith. 

 

 

Quote

 

 

Edited by frenin

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I think the sparrows are a populist movement, cloaked in religion. The smallfolk are clearly unhappy with the corrupt ruling class, who they blame for the collapse of law and order, which has led to the defilement of septs and other previously unthinkable crimes across the realm. Much of the protest has related to the issue of the king protecting the people and maintaining order, or rather his failing to, and that is what has led to the revival of the faith militant. No doubt there are plenty of pious people in Westeros who consider it a religious issue, perhaps the Father's judgement on the morally bankrupt rulers of the realm, but I'm not convinced that's how the High Sparrow sees it.

I seems to me that the High Sparrow's religious fervor must be something of an act. To begin with, there is the man himself. He is of unknown origin. He's supposedly a wandering septon, though no one seems to know anything about him. He swept into King's Landing on a disgruntled wave, orchestrated a campaign to expose and discredit other potential High Septons, and ultimately took the position by force when he was raised by men wielding axes. Sure, he gives some stuff to the poor, wears rags, scrubs some floors, but that's his unique selling point. He's going for "one of the people", not some haughty pope. He has quoted a few lines of the Seven-Pointed Star as far as I remember, but then Septon Meribald claims he can quote the whole book from memory and he can't even read.

The High Sparrow shows no evidence of being a theologian of any sort. There is no debate about religious doctrine, no 95 theses nailed to the door of the Great Sept, no sign of a schism. Religion is not the issue. Nor do I see it being a struggle between the faith and the crown for control of the realm, like the many conflicts between popes and kings or holy roman emperors for control of Christendom. The High Sparrow's efforts have been primarily focused on weakening the crown, but also weakening the faith. He wrote off the crown's substantial debt to the faith without batting an eyelid, in exchange for a reduction in the crowns powers with the abolishon of Maegor's laws as well as the reinstatement of the Faith Militant, which is basically an arming of the people.

I think the High Sparrow's goal is revolution, in terms of tearing down the establishment, both faith and crown, to make way for something better. He's part of the endgame.

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15 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Tommen is loathed as an abomination by the sparrows. They will never be loyal to him or his regime ... nor can they. The High Septon dragged his mother through the mud and threw dirt at his wife. If Tommen ever ruled in his own right the High Septon and the entire sparrow movement would have to be afraid for their lives. And they already have reason to fear that the Tyrells will move against them as soon or even before the Margaery matter is resolved.

Margaery was accused, but all the sane accusers recanted under the Faith's questioning. I think Margaery comes out looking pretty good, even if she's not on great terms with them for locking her up.

Quote

I don't think caesaropapism is the correct way to describe the relationship between Faith and Iron Throne since Maegor. The High Septons were always only influential as moral authorities - yes, the Faith Militant also existed, but they weren't that large and never were a power strong enough to rival the rule of the kings of the Seven Kingdoms (or their lords). They were also more like the Knights Templar, i.e. nominally subject to the High Septon but in practice the Starry Sept should have little to no direct influence over the chapters of the Warrior's Sons outside the Reach (if we talk pre-Conquest).

Jaehaerys I exerted very real power over the Faith when he forced them to make the Doctrine of Exceptionalism a dogma of the Faith (and Maegor earlier, too, when he forbid the Faith Militant) but it is not that the Iron Throne effectively ran the Faith ... at least not until Baelor had the High Septon move to KL.

On this moral authority level the High Septons effectively are popes to the kings and lords of Westeros and thus on a different level of authority. The High Septon is seen as the avatar of the Seven on Earth whereas the kings and lords are all just mortal men.

In that sense one has to consider the relationship between Faith and Iron Throne more as an unruly marriage since Jaehaerys I - they are working together, and at times, when a pious king like Baelor took over, they were greatly influential, and at other times they were not. The new High Septon spearheads another such movement, but one should not assume he wants to usurp or take over the Iron Throne as such ... nor should we think he would presume to treat with the abomination Tommen the same way he would treat with a Targaryen king.

I'm cribbing here from my recollection of Harold Berman's "Law and Revolution", and the initial dispute between church leaders and secular political figures was over the appointment of bishops in the 11th century. The church won out and got to be autonomous. With the Faith, it's not just bishops but the High Septon himself that has been appointed by the Crown. Prior to the High Sparrow, Tyrion selected a High Septon to replace the fat corrupt one who died in the riot, and Tyrion refers to his selection as " a trained seal who barks prettily on command". Cersei has him killed so he can be replaced with her own choice, but then the Sparrows disrupt the process and actually start acting like an independent church.

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