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Alyn Oakenfist

The many political mistakes of Daenaerys Targaryen

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On 11/26/2020 at 12:19 AM, Lord Varys said:

The deposition of a king doesn't depose a dynasty, especially not if the same dynasty does the usurpation. I mean, don't you get it? Robert's claim, his success, goes back to him being a Targaryen descendant ... just as Henry Bolingbroke and Richard II both had the same royal grandfather (Edward III), like the Lancasters and Yorks were two branches of the same family.

The Baratheons aren't a new dynasty, they are the same dynasty as the Targaryens ... and since Robert's legal claim to kingship is based on his royal blood he cannot be king and claim Viserys III or Daenerys can't - because they have the same blood. And nobody ever did, since there is no indication that the Baratheon regime even tried to disinherit or attaint the Targaryens in exile.

This is stuff you want to believe, not something that's actually in the text.

Overthrowing a king isn't the same as overthrowing a dynasty. I mean, take rise of Henry IV ... they passed over Richard II's presumptive heir from the elder line of Lionel of Antwerp ... but that didn't prevent the Yorkists later to use that claim to cast down and eventually kill Henry IV grandson Henry VI.

And for the hundredth time - nobody says that Viserys III was the factual sitting king while Robert was on the throne. But he was the rightful king, like Aegon the Uncrowned or Rhaenyra, etc. - the chosen heir of the last king.

There is nothing rightful about King Robert. He came into his throne by treason and butchery (I mean the Sack there). Deposing the Mad King is one thing, torching the line of succession and murdering innocents to put a corrupt moron on the throne another.

The Baratheon dynasty could, perhaps, have a shot to establish themselves as the rightful kings/dynasty if they have produced more than one proper monarch ... and said monarchs had also done something to make themselves as immortal as the Young Dragon or the Conqueror.

Robert is already a dead man walking and poor excuse for a king in the beginning of AGoT. He doesn't even look kingly, as Jon notes.

All of it then means that it was one branch of family deposing another.

And of course it won't prevent Targaryen supporters from deposing Baratheons. But that is what it comes down in the end: legitimate ruler is the one who achieves acceptance by the people, and effective ruler is one who has means to impose his will.

On 11/26/2020 at 12:19 AM, Lord Varys said:

The deposition of a king doesn't depose a dynasty, especially not if the same dynasty does the usurpation. I mean, don't you get it? Robert's claim, his success, goes back to him being a Targaryen descendant ... just as Henry Bolingbroke and Richard II both had the same royal grandfather (Edward III), like the Lancasters and Yorks were two branches of the same family.

The Baratheons aren't a new dynasty, they are the same dynasty as the Targaryens ... and since Robert's legal claim to kingship is based on his royal blood he cannot be king and claim Viserys III or Daenerys can't - because they have the same blood. And nobody ever did, since there is no indication that the Baratheon regime even tried to disinherit or attaint the Targaryens in exile.

This is stuff you want to believe, not something that's actually in the text.

Overthrowing a king isn't the same as overthrowing a dynasty. I mean, take rise of Henry IV ... they passed over Richard II's presumptive heir from the elder line of Lionel of Antwerp ... but that didn't prevent the Yorkists later to use that claim to cast down and eventually kill Henry IV grandson Henry VI.

And for the hundredth time - nobody says that Viserys III was the factual sitting king while Robert was on the throne. But he was the rightful king, like Aegon the Uncrowned or Rhaenyra, etc. - the chosen heir of the last king.

There is nothing rightful about King Robert. He came into his throne by treason and butchery (I mean the Sack there). Deposing the Mad King is one thing, torching the line of succession and murdering innocents to put a corrupt moron on the throne another.

The Baratheon dynasty could, perhaps, have a shot to establish themselves as the rightful kings/dynasty if they have produced more than one proper monarch ... and said monarchs had also done something to make themselves as immortal as the Young Dragon or the Conqueror.

Robert is already a dead man walking and poor excuse for a king in the beginning of AGoT. He doesn't even look kingly, as Jon notes.

Oh, that is definitely true. And I am not certain it was only when he looked east, either: remember that Aragorn had to wrest palantir from Orthanc from Sauron's influence in order to use it, so it might well be that Denethor had to constantly fight Sauron for control. In fact, it is implied to be that way by what Gandalf says: In the days of his wisdom Denethor did not presume to use it,1 nor to challenge Sauron, knowing the limits of his own strength.

To me, the above sentence rather implies that using the palantir automatically established connection with Sauron, and Denethor had to fight him constantly. Though the full quote also implies that he was much less successful than Aragorn, who actually managed to establish full control over Palantir: 'Though the Stewards deemed that it was a secret kept only by themselves, long ago I guessed that here in the White Tower, one at least of the Seven Seeing Stones was preserved. In the days of his wisdom Denethor did not presume to use it,1 nor to challenge Sauron, knowing the limits of his own strength. But his wisdom failed; and I fear that as the peril of his realm grew he looked in the Stone and was deceived: far too often, I guess, since Boromir departed. He was too great to be subdued to the will of the Dark Power, he saw nonetheless only those things which that Power permitted him to see. The knowledge which he obtained was, doubtless, often of service to him; yet the vision of the great might of Mordor that was shown to him fed the despair of his heart until it overthrew his mind.'

On 11/26/2020 at 12:19 AM, Lord Varys said:

Not if you just ask whether Denethor is burning in hell now. He killed himself which means hell in a Christian context, and he tried to murder his own son, which is also a heinous crime. That he could have harmed even more people is clear, but we have to count him among the condemned, not the saved people.

I mean, this is a Catholic writing about a suicide.

Except he was clearly driven insane by his contact with Sauron, and Gandalf says that Denethor "fell before his city was taken". Jis insanity was a consequence of his pride, yes; but also of despair and wish to protect Gondor. As for actions stemming from it, I am not certain he can be held accountable, exactly.

At any rate, it is clear that Denethor is somebody to be pitied.

On 11/26/2020 at 12:19 AM, Lord Varys said:

Which shows his weakness. As a man from the West he should have believed in victory no matter what, knowing about what his forebears all accomplished from Beren and Tuor and Eärendil to Elendil and his sons. This is a world of demons and angels, not one where you should pretend they don't exist - or that only the demons are real.

His mistake was to misinterpret what he saw - which he wouldn't have if he hadn't used the stone to look east. Sauron still destroyed him, and his stupidity was to not see this. To not consider that the Dark Lord might be smarter than he was, that he would pick the images he saw to break him.

Oh, that much is true, and his lack of faith was definitely what doomed him. He is basically a flat-earth atheist. Problem is, we simply don't know what exactly Denethor did with the information he gained. He was merely noted as being highly informed.

On 11/26/2020 at 12:19 AM, Lord Varys said:

But he is dead wrong there. Sauron's entire power is built on sand, he himself ensured he would be destroyed by making the Ring. And Denethor should have known that after he learned of the plan to destroy it ... especially in combination with the knowledge he had about the fact that the good guys get divine help.

I mean, how stupid must that guy be to tell an angel who just came back from death and god himself that there is no hope? That is presumption and hubris. Denethor knows who and what Gandalf is.

Actually, Denethor was dead right, conventionally speaking. There was no possibility of victory by force of arms, and plan to send the One Ring to Mount Doom was a Hail Mary pass: one which actually failed, but for direct intervention from Eru at the end. Frodo wasn't able to will himself to destroy the One Ring even back in Shire.

Problem is that conventional logic does not apply in a world where God is still actively involved in determining the course of events. I personally think that his wife's death made him too cynical to believe in such stuff even when it hit him straight in the face.

On 11/26/2020 at 12:19 AM, Lord Varys said:

Still no excuse for murder. And, no, they should have been able to hold Minas Tirith even without Aragorn. Éowyn and Merry dealt with the Witch-king, and Gandalf would have kept the enemy out of the city even after the gate was broken.

Without Aragorn victory may have been more costly and would have involved more magic than it did, but Gandalf wasn't at Minas Tirith to allow the city to fall. He was sent back by Eru to ensure Sauron's downfall, and he would have seen to it that this happened. It was the divine plan that Sauron would fail.

I agree that it was no excuse for murder. Point however was that Denethor was not evil, but rather driven insane by despair.

Istari were directly forbidden from opposing force by force. In order to do what you expect him to do, Gandalf will have had to go against God's explicit order: something I do not think he will have done, except for cases which were outright supernatural (e.g. Balrog and the Witch King himself). We also simply don't know how powerful Istari are - powerful enough to force Sauron away from Dol Guldur, sure, but that does not tell much of their power vis-a-vis an army.

On 11/26/2020 at 12:19 AM, Lord Varys said:

Still no excuse for murder. And, no, they should have been able to hold Minas Tirith even without Aragorn. Éowyn and Merry dealt with the Witch-king, and Gandalf would have kept the enemy out of the city even after the gate was broken.

Without Aragorn victory may have been more costly and would have involved more magic than it did, but Gandalf wasn't at Minas Tirith to allow the city to fall. He was sent back by Eru to ensure Sauron's downfall, and he would have seen to it that this happened. It was the divine plan that Sauron would fail.

Oh, it is no coincidence for sure. But I also think it was not a coincidence that it happens just after Faramir's wounding: either event by itself might not have been able to break him, but both together did.

On 11/26/2020 at 12:19 AM, Lord Varys said:

Of course, Saruman's posthumous punishment is likely much worse than Denethor's. But both would end up in hell for what they did, assuming the idea is that there is eternal punishment for fallen Maiar (we have no idea). But Denethor won't join Eru Ilúvatar in the afterlife.

I mean, you do recall that he even tainted the Anor stone which later always showed his burning hands unless you had the strength of will to get beyond that. You can interpret this as a glimpse of Denethor's ultimate fate in the afterlife ... and it definitely also symbolizes that he died an unrepentant sinner.

Point.

On 11/26/2020 at 12:19 AM, Lord Varys said:

They have good reason to believe that Sauron is a god. If the devil showed up right now and showed his divine powers we would all worship and submit to him if no other power of equal or greater might showed up to counter him.

Which is why Denethor's failing is actually very significant. He knew the truth, he is talking to an angel, and he still abandoned all hope and destroyed himself and tried to destroy the future of his house. He is a guy who, within the framework of the story, truly does know the difference between good and evil and sin and virtue. You cannot say the same of any man growing up under the shadow of Sauron - at Barad-dûr itself, say, or in Mordor, or in a land completely under the dominion of Sauron's followers. Morals, culture, religion, etc. would all be dominated by 'Sauronism', and people could not know that there might be another way. Even more so if we assume that the taint Melkor put on everything grows stronger if you are in the presence/under the power of a Dark Lord.

Problem with Denethor is pride; it is his "fatal flaw" so to speak. It is said in the books that Denethor eventually came to see the entire conflict as one between the lord of the White Tower and the Dark Tower, between Minas Tirith and Barad-dur. While this image was not entirely wrong - Gondor was indeed by far the most powerful and significant of Sauron's remaining enemies - it does speak of Denethor's pride and inability to see the greater picture. We also see this in his discussion with Gandalf when latter arrives to Minas Tirith: Denethor basically dismisses the rest of the world as irrelevant. Of course, he is a Steward of Gondor, not of the world, so such a stance is understandable; but it is still tainted by pride.

On 11/26/2020 at 12:19 AM, Lord Varys said:

I didn't say it is exactly the same thing. But then, who knows - I mean, Orcs are a different race, so perhaps people just think men are better than they are because they want to believe it? I mean, even Gandalf's seems to have no issues with eradicating Orcs completely - he defends Gollum not being an orc and just an enemy ... but he never says that the Orcs have a right to live, no?

The point just is that the chances that you have 'free will' in the sense that theological signficant if you live under the shadow of Morgoth or Sauron - be you Orc or Man or even Elf - is not exactly well-founded within the framework of the story.

That your view might change after the Dark Lord is vanquished is another matter entirely. My point is about the people living and dying while the Dark Lords are around.

Maybe. But that would be basically like a soldier or an agent of Hitler or Stalin having or not having a free will. Story basically spells out that men who fight on Sauron's side are not mentally controlled and dominated the way the orcs are - and even orcs will not have been in the Second Age, considering how they run away when an army of Numenor arrives under Ar-Pharazon. They all just go, screw this, you aren't paying us enough to fight these guys

On 11/26/2020 at 12:19 AM, Lord Varys said:

Again, it is breaking the rules of dynastic succession to place some guy on the throne when the throne belongs to others. Even people like Robb know that - he wants to kill Joff but has no intention to harm Tommen or Myrcella, stating that Tommen has to follow Joffrey as his heir, and not one of the uncles.

This is the core principle of that world ... and breaking it means whoever steals the throne cannot say he is the rightful king. Might still be a king, though, if he wears a crown.

It is the same with Maegor - that guy also was never the rightful king, never mind that he ruled for six years.

I agree with that, as far as the legal principle goes. But does legality automatically mean legitimacy, that is, acceptance by the masses?

On 11/26/2020 at 12:19 AM, Lord Varys said:

It shows how damaged the dynasty is, and even the concept of kingship as such. But you still need royal blood to want to be king. So far nobody supported the bid of some guy for the Iron Throne. It may come to that in the future, though.

I mean, if you want to, you can also pretend that half of Westeros or so were more or less happy with Robert as their king. There were no great calamities, a lot of entertainment in the capital, and the guy knew how to party. But it is a fake peace, fake tranquility as we well know. Everybody was sharpening their knives, from Dorne to beyond the Wall, and in Essos as well.

And the way the Baratheons fucked things up after Robert's death will only strengthen the desire for the good old days, i.e. the Targaryen days. We see this happening with even Aerys II being idolized by the common people.

And this kind of thing works because the Targaryens are a myth, larger than life, the magical dynasty. They are King Arthur at Avalon or Friedrich II beneath the Trifels. They will come back when the people need them, and when they come back then everything will be fine again. It won't, in the story, but people will still believe that it will. That is the entire point of the Aegon story.

The story is not going to be that Aegon or Dany or Jon will have to prove that they should be kings ... instead people will want them to be kings because of who they are and from they are supposedly descended from. And they are (descended from) Targaryens.

It was a fake peace, yes, but it was definitely a peace. Why would anyone try to overthrow Robert as long as there was bread and peace, however fake it may have been?

Rest of it, I kinda-sorta agree with. But still, what the king is like matters - that was my point with Renly.

On 11/26/2020 at 12:19 AM, Lord Varys said:

There you show that you don't seem to understand that the Conquest of Aegon the Conqueror wasn't 'unnecessary'. Or, perhaps it was, but it wasn't bad. Very few people died in that war, and afterwards things got better for all the Targaryen subjects. The Wars of the Conquest are surprisingly bloodless (save the Dornish War, of course).

If the Iron Throne symbolizes something then most likely (1) the transformation of war and conquest into justice by means of transforming weapons of war into a throne, and then (2) by having a throne made from weapons the danger of being a king is made painstakingly explicit. If you are not cautious you cut yourself - making it clear that your decisions affect yourself as much as others and can have dire consequences. That much is made clear as early as Ned's stint on the throne and the whole 'a king should never rest easy' thing.

It was unnecessary. The Conqueror just happened to have nukes.

As for Throne, yes, the symbolism is there. It is still clear that many kings fail to follow the lesson, and a lot of evil was done by people wanting the Throne: especially in ASoIaF itself, but also before.

On 11/26/2020 at 12:19 AM, Lord Varys said:

There you show that you don't seem to understand that the Conquest of Aegon the Conqueror wasn't 'unnecessary'. Or, perhaps it was, but it wasn't bad. Very few people died in that war, and afterwards things got better for all the Targaryen subjects. The Wars of the Conquest are surprisingly bloodless (save the Dornish War, of course).

If the Iron Throne symbolizes something then most likely (1) the transformation of war and conquest into justice by means of transforming weapons of war into a throne, and then (2) by having a throne made from weapons the danger of being a king is made painstakingly explicit. If you are not cautious you cut yourself - making it clear that your decisions affect yourself as much as others and can have dire consequences. That much is made clear as early as Ned's stint on the throne and the whole 'a king should never rest easy' thing.

He did usurp the kings who ruled the independent kingdoms before his coming. After all, if taking a throne by force is usurpation, how is overthrowing legitimate dynasties by force (or threat of force) any better?

Fact that he is not presented as an usurper doesn't mean he isn't one.

On 11/26/2020 at 12:19 AM, Lord Varys said:

Oh, well, I like to think that Aldarion's change of the succession law was bad (women should not rule and did not rule in Gondor or Arnor) so all the kings of Númenor descended from Ancalime were not *really* the rightful kings, including all those who later fucked things up. It went against the natural order of things.

But the overall point is that the entire Númenor thing is also an attempted usurpation thing - the people crave powers they are not supposed to have, they want to be immortal and, eventually, they want to be the Lords of the West (which Tolkien hits us on the head with by means of Adûnakhôr's royal name). But I'd not describe Gimilzôr as evil - he was a bad king and perhaps even somewhat of a tyrant, but the point the Númenóreans go down the path of no return is with Pharazôn ... and, to be precise, with Sauron turning them into devil-worshippers. And perhaps even that could have been forgiven if they had repented, put down Sauron, and not tried to conquer Valinor. We don't know.

Numenor itself was a gift - a gift which showed clearly the Valar did not really understand the hearts and nature of Men, but a gift nonetheless. Usurpation was only done by the last rulers of Numenor, because they grew distant from God, from nature and from themselves as human beings. So I would say that while the attempted usurpation is clearly a major aspect of it, the point would be (as was with Melkor) the dangers of abandoning God's grace and turning from (self-)improvement to greed - be it greed for power, riches or something else.

Gimilzor outlawed the use of Elven languages, punished and persecuted the Faithful to the point that they started leaving Numenor, neglected the White Tree and was basically the same as Pharazon except milder. Yes, Ar-Pharazon was the point of no return, but Gimilzor was evil as well. Open tyranny in fact started with Ar-Adunakhor, the twentieth king and Gimilzor's great-grandfather.

Tolkien in fact implies that everything could have been forgiven had Ar-Pharazon repented before, or even after stepping ashore on Valinor:

And at last Ar-Pharazôn came even to Aman, the Blessed Realm, and the coasts of Valinor; and still all was silent, and doom hung by a thread. For Ar-Pharazôn wavered at the end, and almost he turned back. His heart misgave him when he looked upon the soundless shores and saw Taniquetil shining, whiter than snow, colder than death, silent, immutable, terrible as the shadow of the light of Ilúvatar. But pride was now his master, and at last he left his ship and strode upon the shore, claiming the land for his own, if none should do battle for it.

In short, Ar-Pharazon has the same flaw as Denethor: pride. But Denethor, while he fell, did not turn into a tyrant because his pride was still mitigated by his love and sense of duty for Gondor itself; Ar-Pharazon had no such "saving grace".

On 11/26/2020 at 12:19 AM, Lord Varys said:

I know that, but such a concept of property is just silly, especially if it stretches through millennia. Aragorn having a claim to anything is just a joke, after 1,000 years.

The point here is that Tolkien's concept of 'property' and 'kingship' is infinitely stronger than that of Martin - where I say people still recall the Targaryens are the true kings two decades after Aerys II was deposed, and not a thousands years later.

Tolkien's world is one of idealized divine kingship.

You will get no argument from me on that. But still, it is not a one-way street: formality it may be, but Aragorn still seeks acceptance of people of Gondor before his crowning.

On 11/26/2020 at 12:19 AM, Lord Varys said:

Not really, considering there is no basis for this palantír property concept. The stones weren't even made by Númenóreans. Their true owners are the Noldor who made them. I mean, sure, they gave them away, but so did the stewards when they gave the key of Orthanc to Saruman. He was 'the rightful owner' then the same way Denethor was as a representative/servant of the kings. Yet somehow there is a difference there.

 

So you would say that a shoemaker is a true owner of the shoes? The Palantiri were a gift:

These stones were gifts of the Eldar to Amandil, father of Elendil, for the comfort of the Faithful of Númenor in their dark days, when the Elves might come no longer to that land under the shadow of Sauron.

In short: Eldar gifted the Palantirs to Amandil. Amandil was thus true owner of the palantiri, and through him, other Lords of Andunie and eventually the kings of the Realms in the Exile. And we do, in fact, have this concept of the rightful user outlined in the text:

The palantíri were no doubt never matters of common use or common knowledge, even in Númenor. In Middle-earth they were kept in guarded rooms, high in strong towers, only kings and rulers, and their appointed wardens, had access to them, and they were never consulted, nor exhibited, publicly.

Unfinished Tales, Part 4, Ch 3, The Palantíri

These Stones were an inalienable gift to Elendil and his heirs, to whom alone they belonged by right; but this does not mean that they could only be used rightfully by one of these "heirs." They could be used lawfully by anyone authorized by either the "Heir of Anárion" or the "Heir of Isildur," that is, a lawful King of Gondor or Arnor.... In Gondor latterly..., the command and use of the Stones seems mainly to have been in the hands of the Stewards.... Since the Stewardship had become hereditary from 1998 onwards, so the authority to use, or again to depute the use, of the Stones, was lawfully transmitted in their line, and belonged therefore fully to Denethor.

It must however be noted with regard to the narrative of The Lord of the Rings that over and above such deputed authority, even hereditary, any "heir of Elendil" (that is, a recognized descendant occupying a throne or lordship in the Númenórean realms by virtue of this descent) had the right to use any of the palantíri.

Unfinished Tales, Part 4, Ch 3, The Palantíri

On 11/26/2020 at 12:19 AM, Lord Varys said:

Do you see that this kind of concept has nothing to do with the Iron Throne ... because nobody ever says anything about the power of the Iron Throne being corrupt or evil or something the people having it are not entitled to.

 

That kind of concept doesn't. But the concept of seeking power one shouldn't handle does.

On 11/26/2020 at 12:19 AM, Lord Varys said:

I know that, but such a concept of property is just silly, especially if it stretches through millennia. Aragorn having a claim to anything is just a joke, after 1,000 years.

The point here is that Tolkien's concept of 'property' and 'kingship' is infinitely stronger than that of Martin - where I say people still recall the Targaryens are the true kings two decades after Aerys II was deposed, and not a thousands years later.

Tolkien's world is one of idealized divine kingship.

If he did that, he would have destroyed the One Ring. The Ring was an expression of Sauron's will to dominate living beings: will that made Sauron evil in the first place. If Sauron had repented for real, there would have been no need for the Ring.

On 11/26/2020 at 12:19 AM, Lord Varys said:

Every monarchy is by 'consent of the people' - an absolute monarchy also needs soldiers and bureaucrats, etc. which are ... people governed by it. In fact, the amount of people Louis XIV had to get on board for his regime was likely higher than William the Conqueror needed in England.

The difference there is about the class structure of the society - does the king have to rely on a strong nobility or does he have a standing army and bureaucracy drawn from the commoners?

Ideologically, most monarchy were always absolutist. The English, French, your Byzantines, they were all absolutists. Couldn't enforce all aspects of that, but they always viewed themselves as such.

Ideologically yes. But there was difference in their ability to enforce it in practice: kings of Hungary were never even able to ensure succession of their own children, because Parliament insisted on electing or at least confirming kings. In Byzantium, generals of provincial armies overthrew rulers they saw as weak or disagreeable like a clockwork, and people of Constantinople also had their say in running the state. But yes, class structure of society makes a major difference - both states in question had a strong middle class.

On 11/26/2020 at 12:19 AM, Lord Varys said:

The reason Aragorn is king and not, say, Gandalf - the actual leader of the alliance against Sauron, and the man keeping the resistance alive and rekindling hope in the good guys - is that Aragorn has royal blood, nothing else. All Aragorn is he is because of his blood. It is what gives him healing hands, it is what gives him long life and insight and strength of will. Those are all gifts given to him by his royal birth. All Aragorn does he only can do because of who he is by right of birth and blood - that's why he can walk the paths of the dead, can command the dead, and can force them to fulfill their vows. Only Isildur's heir could do that. He just goes through the motions, if you will.

And where do you get the ridiculous assumption that Aragorn would have made an attempt sooner? We are never told why he waited ... but it seems that he did wait because he didn't bother taking over a kingdom which might be destroyed by Sauron, anyway. And which he himself could help to destroy by causing a civil war to try and take the throne.

Gondor lost its king because they crowned a false king in Earnil II. The rightful king was Arvedui, he should have been king, there was even a prophecy that things could get better if he became king. Some people in Gondor thought they knew better and they paid the price for that by losing their kings for good. You can interpret that as divine punishment, like the dying of the white tree, both in Minas Tirith and in Númenor.

Except not. Yes, royal blood is big part of the reason, but do you really think Aragorn will have made it to Minas Tirith with blood alone? Aragorn rejects the One Ring, and later Sauron himself, before he comes to Gondor. In fact, I would say that it was his rejection of the Ring that shows him as a true King. Compare these scenes:

'He is Aragorn son of Arathorn,' said Elrond; 'and he is descended through many fathers from Isildur Elendil's son of Minas Ithil. He is the Chief of the Dunedain in the North, and few are now left of that folk.'

'Then it belongs to you, and not to me at all!' cried Frodo in amazement, springing to his feet, as if he expected the Ring to be demanded at once.

'It does not belong to either of us,' said Aragorn; 'but it has been ordained that you should hold it for a while.'

-----

'You are wise and fearless and fair, Lady Galadriel,' said Frodo. 'I will give you the One Ring, if you ask for it. It is too great a matter for me.'

Galadriel laughed with a sudden clear laugh. 'Wise the Lady Galadriel may be,' she said, 'yet here she has met her match in courtesy. Gently are you revenged for my testing of your heart at our first meeting. You begin to see with a keen eye. I do not deny that my heart has greatly desired to ask what you offer. For many long years I had pondered what I might do, should the Great Ring come into my hands, and behold! it was brought within my grasp. The evil that was devised long ago works on in many ways, whether Sauron himself stands or falls. Would not that have been a noble deed to set to the credit of his Ring, if I had taken it by force or fear from my guest?

'And now at last it comes. You will give me the Ring freely! In place of the Dark Lord you will set up a Queen. And I shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night! Fair as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon the Mountain! Dreadful as the Storm and the Lightning! Stronger than the foundations of the earth. All shall love me and despair!'

Both of them had to reject the lure of the One Ring before they were able to fulfill their hearts' wishes.

Reason why Aragorn waited was spelled out, by Aragorn himself, after the Battle of Pelennor:

‘Behold the Sun setting in a great fire! It is a sign of the end and fall of many things, and a change in the tides of the world. But this City and realm has rested in the charge of the Stewards for many long years, and I fear that if I enter it unbidden, then doubt and debate may arise, which should not be while this war is fought. I will not enter in, nor make any claim, until it be seen whether we or Mordor shall prevail. Men shall pitch my tents upon the field, and here I will await the welcome of the Lord of the City.’

But Éomer said: ‘Already you have raised the banner of the Kings and displayed the tokens of Elendil’s House. Will you suffer these to be challenged?’

‘No,’ said Aragorn. ‘But I deem the time unripe; and I have no mind for strife except with our Enemy and his servants.’

And the Prince Imrahil said. Your words, lord, are wise, if one who is a kinsman of the Lord Denethor may counsel you in this matter. He is strong-willed and proud, but old; and his mood has been strange since his son was stricken down. Yet I would not have you remain like a beggar at the door.’

‘Not a beggar,’ said Aragorn. ‘Say a captain of the Rangers, who are unused to cities and houses of stone.’ And he commanded that his banner should be furled; and he did off the Star of the North Kingdom and gave it to the keeping of the sons of Elrond.

Remember the Kinslaying? Aragorn knew about it, and also knew what Denethor is like (he served under Denethor's father as Thorongil). He would have been aware of how bad an idea would declaring himself a king actually be.

As for the White Tree it only died at the time of Belechtor II, twenty-first Ruling Steward. Over 800 years after Earnil's death. Kind of a delayed punishment for an act.

It didn't have a seed because line of Kings had also died out, but its death had nothing to do with anything like a coronation.

On 11/26/2020 at 12:19 AM, Lord Varys said:

I think you know that dictators can also stage such scenes. And the will of the people pales in light of the eagle of Manwe declaring much earlier that the king has come again and will live among the people of Minas Tirith all the days of their lives.

People are at best ratifying the divine will here, they are not shaping history.

Eagles part is definitely true, but by that point everyone is aware that Aragorn being a king is a done deal. Fact still remains however that - regardless of whether you see it as a resistance to divine will or not - Gondor still has the ability to potentially refuse a claimant: we see this with both Arvedui (refused) and Aragorn (accepted).

On 11/26/2020 at 12:19 AM, Lord Varys said:

Nobody ever said that obedience to any king is absolute, neither witih Tolkien nor Martin (although I'd say that obedience to the Elder King would be absolute in Arda). Of course there are things you can differ - like when you have a heretic as king or steward (which Denethor was when he decided to kill himself - he even says that he is following the example of the 'heathen kings of old').

But a heretical king is still the king, and it is not your place to depose him. Even Gandalf has no right to depose Denethor as steward.

And in Beregond's case you should keep in mind he was still punished for his transgression. It was a veiled reward, of course, but still came in the disguise of punishment ... which tells you something there.

Generally, Tolkien and Martin both have a medieval concept of monarchy - where laws are not really made, but collected and interpreted but you rarely introduce something completely new. And that also extends to absolutist kings in early modern times. They did not think they could do what they wanted, but rather rule without being confined by other groups. But the concept of kingship of, say, Louis XIV wasn't all that far apart from the concept of Philip the Fair or the monarchistic ideology of the popes from the 11th century onwards.

Obedience even to the Elder King is clearly not absolute in Arda, or even in Valinor itself: Melkor does his thing, Feanor and Fingolfin both also reject Manwe's decrees - and are punished by fate, not by Manwe - and with Ar-Pharazon we in fact see that Valar, even Manwe, do not have the authority to force anything onto Children of Iluvatar. They have to go to Iluvatar itself.

In Beregond's case, he rebeled against legal authority and also broke military discipline. That is the same principle as Ned Stark cutting off the head of that Night's Watch ranger, and Stannis cutting off Davos' fingers in the backstory. They transgressed, and had to be punished - but it should be pointed out that Aragorn is much less severe in his own doling out of punishment.

And yes, Tolkien in fact points out outright that king does not make the laws, but rather merely interprets the custom:

A Númenórean King was monarch, with the power of unquestioned decision in debate; but he governed the realm with the frame of ancient law, of which he was administrator (and interpreter) but not the maker. In all debatable matters of importance domestic, or external, however, even Denethor [Steward of Gondor] had a Council, and at least listened to what the Lords of the Fiefs and the Captains of the Forces had to say.

That is frankly a system by far better than one where any idiot (or a group of idiots) can make laws as they want.

On 11/26/2020 at 5:28 AM, TheLastWolf said:

First time I'm seeing a Dany thread veer away from the inevitable Stark hatred to LOTR arguments 

Thanks.

Anyway, I am kinda obsessed with Lord of the Rings, so yeah. It is the book that got me into fantasy in the first place.

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On 11/28/2020 at 9:56 PM, Aldarion said:

legitimate ruler is the one who achieves acceptance by the people, and effective ruler is one who has means to impose his will.

So this thread is pretty old, but this is too good not to respond on.

So yeah, all legitimacy is at it's core is acceptance by the people. This is fundamentally what Varys is talking about with "power resides where men believe it resides".

However, only democracies can really admit that, and even they can't fully admit that, rather using constitutions and laws as means through which legitimacy by popular acceptance won't turn into all out anarchy.

But besides them, all systems need to create some lie, some artifice to give their rulers legitimacy.

Medieval Europe and Westeros used legitimacy by blood/divine right. In this, the Targaryen "Doctrine of Exceptionalism" actually served them quite well as it created a strong propaganda argument helping the legitimacy of Hose Targaryen.

This however is where the Rebellion messed up by installing Robert through force of arms. Had they at least done the job properly and murdered all the Targs and then laced the crown on Robert's head on account of him being the next in line, maybe stuff wouldn't be as bad.

However with the Targs surviving, Robert and co completely obliterated the concept of divine right, leaving instead only force of arms right. I mean think about it, even had the twincest not happened, a succession war still would have occurred, as evidence by Renly taking up arms without knowing about the twincest.

I think this is fundamentally one of the biggest long term large scale problems Westeros faces, and why I think Aegon would be a very good option, as he could plug the crisis of legitimacy, with him being the legitimate Targ heir and all that, which makes Dany inevitably killing him be all the more destructive.

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2 minutes ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

So this thread is pretty old, but this is too good not to respond on.

So yeah, all legitimacy is at it's core is acceptance by the people. This is fundamentally what Varys is talking about with "power resides where men believe it resides".

However, only democracies can really admit that, and even they can't fully admit that, rather using constitutions and laws as means through which legitimacy by popular acceptance won't turn into all out anarchy.

But besides them, all systems need to create some lie, some artifice to give their rulers legitimacy.

Medieval Europe and Westeros used legitimacy by blood/divine right. In this, the Targaryen "Doctrine of Exceptionalism" actually served them quite well as it created a strong propaganda argument helping the legitimacy of Hose Targaryen.

This however is where the Rebellion messed up by installing Robert through force of arms. Had they at least done the job properly and murdered all the Targs and then laced the crown on Robert's head on account of him being the next in line, maybe stuff wouldn't be as bad.

However with the Targs surviving, Robert and co completely obliterated the concept of divine right, leaving instead only force of arms right. I mean think about it, even had the twincest not happened, a succession war still would have occurred, as evidence by Renly taking up arms without knowing about the twincest.

I think this is fundamentally one of the biggest long term large scale problems Westeros faces, and why I think Aegon would be a very good option, as he could plug the crisis of legitimacy, with him being the legitimate Targ heir and all that, which makes Dany inevitably killing him be all the more destructive.

That's a good point, and one I heard made recently made in a lecture about the downfall of the Roman Republic.  There can be quite powerful preujudices against resorting to force to seize power, but once one person does it successfully, everyone else can say "X did it.  Why can't I?"

Armed resistance to Aerys II was perfectly legitimate, but overthrowing the entire dynasty eventually resulted in anarchy.  Robert could have taken power as Regent, similar to the way Roger Mortimer took power after he overthrew Edward II. That would have preserved legitimacy.

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8 minutes ago, SeanF said:

That's a good point, and one I heard made recently made in a lecture about the downfall of the Roman Republic.  There can be quite powerful preujudices against resorting to force to seize power, but once one person does it successfully, everyone else can say "X did it.  Why can't I?"

Heck, Renly gives that exact argument.

8 minutes ago, SeanF said:

Armed resistance to Aerys II was perfectly legitimate, but overthrowing the entire dynasty eventually resulted in anarchy.  Robert could have taken power as Regent, similar to the way Roger Mortimer took power after he overthrew Edward II. That would have preserved legitimacy.

Exactly. And like I don't get why. Sure Tywin wanted to settle scores and Robert had a revenge hard on, but the fact that Ned, Jon and Hoster went along with it and crowned Robert never fully made sense, especially when Jon and Hoster both would have profited from a regency, to help steer the realms and get more power respectively, while Ned I would expect to support crowning Aegon given how much he's obsessed with honor. Like what did he think would happen when they made the rebellion about crowning Robert as opposed to deposing Aerys and maybe Rhaegar?

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1 minute ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

Heck, Renly gives that exact argument.

Exactly. And like I don't get why. Sure Tywin wanted to settle scores and Robert had a revenge hard on, but the fact that Ned, Jon and Hoster went along with it and crowned Robert never fully made sense, especially when Jon and Hoster both would have profited from a regency, to help steer the realms and get more power respectively, while Ned I would expect to support crowning Aegon given how much he's obsessed with honor. Like what did he think would happen when they made the rebellion about crowning Robert as opposed to deposing Aerys and maybe Rhaegar?

And he hated being king, and was very bad at the job. So, what was the point?

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8 minutes ago, SeanF said:

And he hated being king, and was very bad at the job. So, what was the point?

So let's say they didn't know that, thought given who Robert was, they definitely should, even then crowning Robert is such a bad idea.

If they wanted to usurp the throne, literally any other rebel leader, be it Ned, Hoster, Jon or Tywin, would have been better, just put it in there to marry Rhaenys to their first born, locking the claims Henry Tudor style. Putting Robert on the Throne just because he was somewhere in there on the succession line did nothing. It would have been better to tie the new regime's claim through one of the living female Targaryens.

 

Which brings me to another piece of stupid. Killing Rhaenys. Rhaenys would be an invaluable piece to any new regime, and it's especially dumb for Tywin. So at the point of the Sack he knows that Cersei will likely be Queen if Robert is the claimant. Now, Aegon, it makes sense to kill, his claim is too strong to do anything else, but Rhaenys? He could do one of two things:

- Capture her and use her. If Robert marries Cersei, betroth her to their eldest son, thus not only securing his legacy, but making sure no other rival house (like the Tyrells) get blood in the Royal House for a generation, and securing the realm with House Lannister having blood on the throne. Also, it creates something he can blackmail Robert with should he refuse to marry Cersei by threatening to support her claim Or...

- Armory goes stab, stab, thus not only weakening the claim of his claimant, but making sure Dorne has an ever lasting revenge boner, and eliminating any chance of compromise with the Targ loyalists.

I'm not even gonna comment on what killing Elia meant. And all to satisfy his petty vengeance for Cersei getting spurned by Aerys (no I don't believe he didn't order Elia's death). And they say Tywin was smarter than Cersei...

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4 hours ago, SeanF said:

That's a good point, and one I heard made recently made in a lecture about the downfall of the Roman Republic.  There can be quite powerful preujudices against resorting to force to seize power, but once one person does it successfully, everyone else can say "X did it.  Why can't I?"

Armed resistance to Aerys II was perfectly legitimate, but overthrowing the entire dynasty eventually resulted in anarchy.  Robert could have taken power as Regent, similar to the way Roger Mortimer took power after he overthrew Edward II. That would have preserved legitimacy.

Admittedly, that didn't work out too well for Mortimer in the long run. Although, Aegon would be a small child, unlike teenage Edward 111, so a regent would have more time to gain influence over him.

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4 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

So this thread is pretty old, but this is too good not to respond on.

So yeah, all legitimacy is at it's core is acceptance by the people. This is fundamentally what Varys is talking about with "power resides where men believe it resides".

However, only democracies can really admit that, and even they can't fully admit that, rather using constitutions and laws as means through which legitimacy by popular acceptance won't turn into all out anarchy.

But besides them, all systems need to create some lie, some artifice to give their rulers legitimacy.

Medieval Europe and Westeros used legitimacy by blood/divine right. In this, the Targaryen "Doctrine of Exceptionalism" actually served them quite well as it created a strong propaganda argument helping the legitimacy of Hose Targaryen.

This however is where the Rebellion messed up by installing Robert through force of arms. Had they at least done the job properly and murdered all the Targs and then laced the crown on Robert's head on account of him being the next in line, maybe stuff wouldn't be as bad.

However with the Targs surviving, Robert and co completely obliterated the concept of divine right, leaving instead only force of arms right. I mean think about it, even had the twincest not happened, a succession war still would have occurred, as evidence by Renly taking up arms without knowing about the twincest.

I think this is fundamentally one of the biggest long term large scale problems Westeros faces, and why I think Aegon would be a very good option, as he could plug the crisis of legitimacy, with him being the legitimate Targ heir and all that, which makes Dany inevitably killing him be all the more destructive.

I think I wrote this before, but IMNSHO their mistake was being too thick to understand that another Aerys could've come from Robert's line all the same. They should've changed the system, turning it into election based legitimacy, maybe only the great Lord's vote, and that would make Robert (or whomever the STABs chose) the king, while not causing this much secession problems.

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1 hour ago, CamiloRP said:

I think I wrote this before, but IMNSHO their mistake was being too thick to understand that another Aerys could've come from Robert's line all the same. They should've changed the system, turning it into election based legitimacy, maybe only the great Lord's vote, and that would make Robert (or whomever the STABs chose) the king, while not causing this much secession problems.

Elective monarchy would've been the worst. It just simply makes like 40% of the realm unpleased all the time. That generates even more conflict due to people not only thinking to have the right for the Throne, but actually having it. And once they began taking up arms... It's just a bad idea (for Westeros especially), believe me.

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1 hour ago, Wall Flower said:

Admittedly, that didn't work out too well for Mortimer in the long run. Although, Aegon would be a small child, unlike teenage Edward 111, so a regent would have more time to gain influence over him.

Mortimer got too greedy.

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1 hour ago, Daeron the Daring said:

Elective monarchy would've been the worst. It just simply makes like 40% of the realm unpleased all the time. That generates even more conflict due to people not only thinking to have the right for the Throne, but actually having it. And once they began taking up arms... It's just a bad idea (for Westeros especially), believe me

As I said before, noble elective monarchy is a terrible idea, generating an all powerful nobility and a crippled central authority. Just look what it did to the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth.

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43 minutes ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

As I said before, noble elective monarchy is a terrible idea, generating an all powerful nobility and a crippled central authority. Just look what it did to the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth.

Exactly. And take into consideration that Westerosi noble society is even more unable to fit into such a system. They put a lot of weight on legitimacy and birthright.

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55 minutes ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

As I said before, noble elective monarchy is a terrible idea, generating an all powerful nobility and a crippled central authority. Just look what it did to the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth.

Something like Hungary or Holy Roman Empire could have worked, though. Both kingdoms had an elective monarchy, but with very strong hereditary tradition. So question is why former two worked out while PLC did not?

8 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

So this thread is pretty old, but this is too good not to respond on.

So yeah, all legitimacy is at it's core is acceptance by the people. This is fundamentally what Varys is talking about with "power resides where men believe it resides".

However, only democracies can really admit that, and even they can't fully admit that, rather using constitutions and laws as means through which legitimacy by popular acceptance won't turn into all out anarchy.

But besides them, all systems need to create some lie, some artifice to give their rulers legitimacy.

Medieval Europe and Westeros used legitimacy by blood/divine right. In this, the Targaryen "Doctrine of Exceptionalism" actually served them quite well as it created a strong propaganda argument helping the legitimacy of Hose Targaryen.

This however is where the Rebellion messed up by installing Robert through force of arms. Had they at least done the job properly and murdered all the Targs and then laced the crown on Robert's head on account of him being the next in line, maybe stuff wouldn't be as bad.

However with the Targs surviving, Robert and co completely obliterated the concept of divine right, leaving instead only force of arms right. I mean think about it, even had the twincest not happened, a succession war still would have occurred, as evidence by Renly taking up arms without knowing about the twincest.

I think this is fundamentally one of the biggest long term large scale problems Westeros faces, and why I think Aegon would be a very good option, as he could plug the crisis of legitimacy, with him being the legitimate Targ heir and all that, which makes Dany inevitably killing him be all the more destructive.

Actually, it is not necessarily true that only democracies really admit that. Byzantine Emperors were keenly aware of the fact, and much was made out of popular legitimacy - not just in practice, but also in theory and in ceremony. The practice of acclamation and general importance of spectacle in confirming and maintaining power makes it clear that popular will was both recognized and respected:

https://theses.ubn.ru.nl/bitstream/handle/123456789/4548/Berkers%2C_T.L.W._1.pdf?sequence=1

Holy Roman Empire meanwhile saw massive influence of cities and other units of local governance, which also meant that it essentially democratized.

In fact, monarchy drawing legitimacy solely from divine blessing is a rarity - you had it in Roman Empire under Dominate (Diocletian) and also in Europe during era of Absolutism (so XVII and XVIII centuries). But most of the time, legitimacy is drawn from other things, such as popularity. I have already mentioned Byzantine tradition of acclamation. But Roman Emperors of Principate were likewise acclamied by the army and the Senate (hence Principate - princeps inter patres), which might have been just a ceremony but at the same time was not just a ceremony as an Emperor who failed to confirm his legitimacy in the traditional manner (via Senate) faced a real possibility of being opposed and deposed. Fact that Senate never again became a ruling body as it was during the Republic does not mean it was toothless. Where Byzantine Empire differs is that it moved away from military dictatorship model and into more republican model while still maintaining monarchist core.

What all these systems have in common however is that they have recognized systems of legitimacy and succession - and that they keep to same systems for a long period of time. Problem with Robert, as you point out, is not that he merely took the throne - it is that he destroyed a system of legitimacy which had been in place for a long time, and which one could argue to be hardwired into Westerosi feudal society. So yeah, the best option would actually be Aegon + Daenerys, followed by Aegon himself. Even if Daenerys is a better option personally (which is not clear), Aegon is a better choice in terms of succession as he is from the direct line (Aerys - Rhaegar - Aegon) whereas Daenerys is not*. But the fact that Daenerys can dispute his legitimacy (though frankly she has just as much proof of her own legitimacy as Aegon does) means that civil war is a real possibility.

* Whether he truly is who he claims he is is irrelevant; what matters is the perception.

EDIT:

7 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

So let's say they didn't know that, thought given who Robert was, they definitely should, even then crowning Robert is such a bad idea.

If they wanted to usurp the throne, literally any other rebel leader, be it Ned, Hoster, Jon or Tywin, would have been better, just put it in there to marry Rhaenys to their first born, locking the claims Henry Tudor style. Putting Robert on the Throne just because he was somewhere in there on the succession line did nothing. It would have been better to tie the new regime's claim through one of the living female Targaryens.

 

Which brings me to another piece of stupid. Killing Rhaenys. Rhaenys would be an invaluable piece to any new regime, and it's especially dumb for Tywin. So at the point of the Sack he knows that Cersei will likely be Queen if Robert is the claimant. Now, Aegon, it makes sense to kill, his claim is too strong to do anything else, but Rhaenys? He could do one of two things:

- Capture her and use her. If Robert marries Cersei, betroth her to their eldest son, thus not only securing his legacy, but making sure no other rival house (like the Tyrells) get blood in the Royal House for a generation, and securing the realm with House Lannister having blood on the throne. Also, it creates something he can blackmail Robert with should he refuse to marry Cersei by threatening to support her claim Or...

- Armory goes stab, stab, thus not only weakening the claim of his claimant, but making sure Dorne has an ever lasting revenge boner, and eliminating any chance of compromise with the Targ loyalists.

I'm not even gonna comment on what killing Elia meant. And all to satisfy his petty vengeance for Cersei getting spurned by Aerys (no I don't believe he didn't order Elia's death). And they say Tywin was smarter than Cersei...

Thing is, Tywin never cared about power, or rule, or anything really, as much as he did about his own pride. If he gets insulted, insult has to be avenged, no matter the consequences. And that is the reason why the system he built could never survive him - it was built by Tywin, for Tywin, screw everybody else.

In terms of government building and actual ruling, Tywin was probably among the worst options there were - despite being a rather competent administrator.

Edited by Aldarion

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18 minutes ago, Aldarion said:

Something like Hungary or Holy Roman Empire could have worked, though. Both kingdoms had an elective monarchy, but with very strong hereditary tradition. So question is why former two worked out while PLC did not?

Actually, it is not necessarily true that only democracies really admit that. Byzantine Emperors were keenly aware of the fact, and much was made out of popular legitimacy - not just in practice, but also in theory and in ceremony. The practice of acclamation and general importance of spectacle in confirming and maintaining power makes it clear that popular will was both recognized and respected:

https://theses.ubn.ru.nl/bitstream/handle/123456789/4548/Berkers%2C_T.L.W._1.pdf?sequence=1

Holy Roman Empire meanwhile saw massive influence of cities and other units of local governance, which also meant that it essentially democratized.

In fact, monarchy drawing legitimacy solely from divine blessing is a rarity - you had it in Roman Empire under Dominate (Diocletian) and also in Europe during era of Absolutism (so XVII and XVIII centuries). But most of the time, legitimacy is drawn from other things, such as popularity. I have already mentioned Byzantine tradition of acclamation. But Roman Emperors of Principate were likewise acclamied by the army and the Senate (hence Principate - princeps inter patres), which might have been just a ceremony but at the same time was not just a ceremony as an Emperor who failed to confirm his legitimacy in the traditional manner (via Senate) faced a real possibility of being opposed and deposed. Fact that Senate never again became a ruling body as it was during the Republic does not mean it was toothless. Where Byzantine Empire differs is that it moved away from military dictatorship model and into more republican model while still maintaining monarchist core.

What all these systems have in common however is that they have recognized systems of legitimacy and succession - and that they keep to same systems for a long period of time. Problem with Robert, as you point out, is not that he merely took the throne - it is that he destroyed a system of legitimacy which had been in place for a long time, and which one could argue to be hardwired into Westerosi feudal society. So yeah, the best option would actually be Aegon + Daenerys, followed by Aegon himself. Even if Daenerys is a better option personally (which is not clear), Aegon is a better choice in terms of succession as he is from the direct line (Aerys - Rhaegar - Aegon) whereas Daenerys is not*. But the fact that Daenerys can dispute his legitimacy (though frankly she has just as much proof of her own legitimacy as Aegon does) means that civil war is a real possibility.

* Whether he truly is who he claims he is is irrelevant; what matters is the perception.

EDIT:

Thing is, Tywin never cared about power, or rule, or anything really, as much as he did about his own pride. If he gets insulted, insult has to be avenged, no matter the consequences. And that is the reason why the system he built could never survive him - it was built by Tywin, for Tywin, screw everybody else.

In terms of government building and actual ruling, Tywin was probably among the worst options there were - despite being a rather competent administrator.

The Eastern Empire was an oddity.  Quite often, Emperors just sort of emerged by consensus, like leaders of the Conservative Party, pre 1965.

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48 minutes ago, Aldarion said:

Something like Hungary or Holy Roman Empire could have worked, though. Both kingdoms had an elective monarchy, but with very strong hereditary tradition. So question is why former two worked out while PLC did not?

The HRE had checks against the power of the nobility with the free cities, and the Pope (which they kinda created themselves with the investiture controversy), while with Hungary it can be argued that they got screwed just like the PLC, only it wasn't Russian, Austria and Prussia giving the finishing blow, but the Ottomans.

1 hour ago, Aldarion said:

Thing is, Tywin never cared about power, or rule, or anything really, as much as he did about his own pride. If he gets insulted, insult has to be avenged, no matter the consequences. And that is the reason why the system he built could never survive him - it was built by Tywin, for Tywin, screw everybody else.

In terms of government building and actual ruling, Tywin was probably among the worst options there were - despite being a rather competent administrator.

Yeah, just pointing out how bs both the claim of him being a great ruler/politician, and the claim of him caring about legacy is.

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On 11/18/2020 at 11:18 PM, Lord Varys said:

Oh, come on, give up that stupid parallel. That makes no sense. Tolkien wrote a fairy-tale, and Martin writes a series about, let's say, a more complex political world with a consequentialist morality

Well said, I've been searching profusely for books that come close to the realism, characterization and complexity of ASOIAF to no avail. Do you perchance have any recommendations?

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1 hour ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

The HRE had checks against the power of the nobility with the free cities, and the Pope (which they kinda created themselves with the investiture controversy), while with Hungary it can be argued that they got screwed just like the PLC, only it wasn't Russian, Austria and Prussia giving the finishing blow, but the Ottomans.

 

Actually, Hungary got screwed over by the Ottomans. You can read about it in more detail in the From Nicopolis to Mohacs: A History of Hungarian-Ottoman Warfare, but the reason why Hungary was eventually conquered were:

  • Gradual increase in size, power and resources of the Ottoman Empire which was not matched by similar increase in Hungary - Ottomans were expanding in the Balkans and in Asia between 1389. and 1526.; the only similar expansion by Hungary was achieved by King Matthias during Austrian-Hungarian war of 1477 - 1488 (and, on smaller scale, in Bosnia in 1463.).
  • Superior ability of Ottomans to mobilize resources that were available. Hungarian military was actually superior to Ottoman in one-on-one comparison. Thing is, Ottomans had better organization and a more centralized state. While Hungary could easily raise large number of professional and semi-professional soldiers, they only established standing fort garrisons in 1400s, and professional field army in 1458. (the Black Army). Between lack of a standing army and feudal nature of Hungarian society, Hungarian armies were small and slow to raise by Ottoman standards, and the kingdom was never able to fully mobilize available resources - in part because nobles always objected to having to pay tax. Ottomans however had a standing army of Janissaries, as well as large numbers of semi-professional timariots which could be mobilized much more quickly and effectively thanks to the much more developed administration. Between this and superior light cavalry, Ottomans enjoyed considerable advantages in large field battles.
  • Further, Ottoman military was structured around endless warfare: status and resources depended upon it. As a result, even soldiers who were not professional in the sense of belonging to a standing army were professionals in the sense that they lived from war. In Hungary, bulk of armies always consisted of people whose chief calling was other than military. Ottoman Empire was thus seen (not entirely incorrectly) as a "predatory confederacy".
  • Above point also meant that in a protracted war, it was not set-piece battles which were most significant. Rather, Hungarian realm had to face constant raiding - which had enormous human and economic costs. By the time of Battle of Mohacs, some southern counties (as well as some areas in Croatia) were almost entirely depopulated due to Ottoman raids. Between ruthless taxing of Matthias and Ottoman raiding, tax-paying population was nearly crippled by early 16th century: and this was significant as mercenaries were the only thing Hungarians had which could counter Janissaries.
  • As a result, by early 16th century Hungarian revenues were not enough to cover even the costs of maintainting the peacetime border defensive system - let alone to finance professional field armies, or any field armies, required for the wartime. Total military expenditures did not actually reduce by early 16th century: nobles took over much of taxation, but this still went to military needs. What did change was the ability of the realm to sustain financing the required defensive system - something that would have happened irrespective of the presence and influence of nobility.
 
EDIT:
13 minutes ago, Yucef Menaerys said:

Well said, I've been searching profusely for books that come close to the realism, characterization and complexity of ASOIAF to no avail. Do you perchance have any recommendations?

Which of these you want? If you want realism, you have Lord of the Rings, Videssos, and quite a few others.
Edited by Aldarion

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On 2/15/2021 at 9:21 PM, Aldarion said:
On 2/15/2021 at 9:11 PM, Yucef Menaerys said:

Well said, I've been searching profusely for books that come close to the realism, characterization and complexity of ASOIAF to no avail. Do you perchance have any recommendations?

Which of these you want? If you want realism, you have Lord of the Rings

I think you're exaggerating. Sure LoTR has a lot more historical details then people give it credit for, but it doesn't come close to ASOIAF. Sure ASOIAF's feudal and societal structure is deeply flawed, and is more based on how people think the middle ages were as opposed too how they actually were, but it's still a structure. LoTR by compression doesn't have any such complexity

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50 minutes ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

I think you're exaggerating. Sure LoTR has a lot more historical details then people give it credit for, but it doesn't come close to ASOIAF. Sure ASOIAF's feudal and societal structure is deeply flawed, and is more based on how people think the middle ages were as opposed too how they actually were, but it's still a structure. LoTR by compression doesn't have any such complexity

There is a lot of horror and depravity in LOTR, but it is implied, rather than stated bluntly, as per The Witcher, ASOIAF, or The First Law.  It’s really rather subtle.

But, the Silmarillion and some of the Appendices show exactly how dark and depraved Middle Earth is.  It is our world.

 

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