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Cersei was really *that* clueless regarding her authority as regent, huh?

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Posted (edited)

Hey all, reading through Aegon III’s saga in Fire and Blood, only now do I realize how powerless kings under the age of 16 truly are. His regent(s) and Hand can make decisions in his name and overrule anything that he has to say. Unwin Peake proves this better than anybody else. In AGOT, Joff is 12-13 when he becomes king, and as Ned Stark is imprisoned and Tywin Lannister is busy fighting a war when he is named hand, Cersei is the one holding all the cards in King's Landing. We know Cersei's an idiot, at least compared to the true players in the story, but even she knows killing the Lord of Winterfell when tensions with the North are at an all time high is a bad idea. Sending Ned to the wall gets him and the North off her back and provides The Night’s Watch with a valuable resource. And when Joffrey orders his head, Cersei does... absolutely nothing. Is she so ignorant of Westerosi law that she didn’t know she could stop Joffrey any time she wanted? Could it be that she still wanted Ned dead anyways, damn the consequences? She’s doesn’t show too much in the way of foresight, so I suppose it’s possible.

Edited by LHakaLH

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Cersei's take on her role as regent is actually pretty smart back when she serves Joffrey as regent.

Ultimately, all power comes from the king and needs him as a figurehead - even during Peake's era, the man needed Aegon III as a figurehead during official ceremonies and such - and when Joffrey took over a war broke out.

In such a scenario people need to see their king, they have to understand that he can rule, is an active part of the government, even if he is still a minor.

Technically, Cersei could have overruled Joffrey on the business of Ned's execution - but it would have made Joff look completely weak and it would have given the impression there was a rift in Joff's government.

But, most importantly, Ned's execution wasn't a spantaneous event. It was arranged by Littlefinger who manipulated Joff into giving the order and told Slynt to expect the order and execute it immediately. Cersei was surprised. She could have prevented the execution, one imagines, if she had acted immediately, but she didn't.

We don't know if she was too shocked to act ... or if she realized how bad it would look if she contradicted Joffrey there.

Cersei later also gives Joff leeway to make judgments and the like ... and the point there is that people realize he is the king and will rule one there. The point isn't to have him command something and then tell his people that his commands will be ignored. That would sent a very bad message, undermining the power of the monarchy as such.

But if you look at it closely the Joff pretty much takes no part in his own government. He never attends council session, never makes political initiatives, nobody ever asks his advice or input when policies are discussed. They allow him behave like a stupid idiot occasionally or execute traitors like the Antler Men, but overall Joff is just a puppet. A puppet who lashes out occasionally and works himself in a frenzy, but his regent, Hand, and council do as they please, not as the king wishes.

Which is why Tommen's minority government is actually much worse considering that Jaime even commands the Kingsguard to double-check the orders Tommen gives them, preparing the boy king not to rule but to be ruled by others. Cersei makes similar mistakes with Tommen.

In general, though, Aegon III's regency government shows what we can expect for Tommen's - the king will have no voice there, his council and court will decide who succeeds Kevan as Lord Regent, regardless what Tommen might want. And if you think how Thaddeus Rowan was arrested, then the king doesn't even have to be involved in matters of that importance. Mace Tyrell could make Moon Boy the next Lord Regent, and Tommen could do nothing about that.

But he will most likely appoint himself, of course.

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Posted (edited)

I have a slightly different perspective than Cersei being stupid or being clever; she has a need.

I think Cersei needs to be in control, and overwhelming control is her vice. Joffrey is the same, he needs to dominate utterly. When Joffrey changes Ned's sentence to execution - because he wants to - he's demonstrating that overwhelming power. He's satisfying his need, and satisfying her need as well because he is a manifestation of her power.

So she does nothing.

Edited by Righteous Indecision

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2 hours ago, LHakaLH said:

Hey all, reading through Aegon III’s saga in Fire and Blood, only now do I realize how powerless kings under the age of 16 truly are. His regent(s) and Hand can make decisions in his name and overrule anything that he has to say. Unwin Peake proves this better than anybody else. In AGOT, Joff is 12-13 when he becomes king, and as Ned Stark is imprisoned and Tywin Lannister is busy fighting a war when he is named hand, Cersei is the one holding all the cards in King's Landing. We know Cersei's an idiot, at least compared to the true players in the story, but even she knows killing the Lord of Winterfell when tensions with the North are at an all time high is a bad idea. Sending Ned to the wall gets him and the North off her back and provides The Night’s Watch with a valuable resource. And when Joffrey orders his head, Cersei does... absolutely nothing. Is she so ignorant of Westerosi law that she didn’t know she could stop Joffrey any time she wanted? Could it be that she still wanted Ned dead anyways, damn the consequences? She’s doesn’t show too much in the way of foresight, so I suppose it’s possible.

Ned's case was different. Joffrey changed his mind in the front of the public. How could Cersei oppose to that? Her stupidness instead is showed by her teaching her son nothing regarding rulership that's worth a damn.

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On 4/6/2021 at 10:24 PM, Lord Varys said:

We don't know if she was too shocked to act ... or if she realized how bad it would look if she contradicted Joffrey there.

I think it was a bit of both. I think mostly it she was because of her shock/disbelief. It happened so fast that it allowed little time for much thought. Like you said, If she wanted to stop it, she would have to consider how it would make Joff look. Mommy telling him “no, bad!” would not be a good image for the monarch. With no time to find a reasonable way to approach the situation, she simply stood there frozen in her tracks. 

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On 4/6/2021 at 11:00 PM, LHakaLH said:

Hey all, reading through Aegon III’s saga in Fire and Blood, only now do I realize how powerless kings under the age of 16 truly are. His regent(s) and Hand can make decisions in his name and overrule anything that he has to say. Unwin Peake proves this better than anybody else. In AGOT, Joff is 12-13 when he becomes king, and as Ned Stark is imprisoned and Tywin Lannister is busy fighting a war when he is named hand, Cersei is the one holding all the cards in King's Landing. We know Cersei's an idiot, at least compared to the true players in the story, but even she knows killing the Lord of Winterfell when tensions with the North are at an all time high is a bad idea. Sending Ned to the wall gets him and the North off her back and provides The Night’s Watch with a valuable resource. And when Joffrey orders his head, Cersei does... absolutely nothing. Is she so ignorant of Westerosi law that she didn’t know she could stop Joffrey any time she wanted? Could it be that she still wanted Ned dead anyways, damn the consequences? She’s doesn’t show too much in the way of foresight, so I suppose it’s possible.

I think you're overestimating the weakness of underage kings. We've seen them take charge despite their youth. Daeron I led armies a la Robb Stark. Jaehaerys defied all authorities and married his own sister. Aegon III could have prevented things from going as far south as they did. If he'd stood up for himself the way he did during the secret siege, and made the lords of Westeros aware of what was going on, then he would have been able to hamstring Peake's power before it got out of control. But he was so broken and traumatised by the things he'd suffered that he wasn't willing to do that until things were truly desperate. And even then, he almost threw himself off the Red Keep. Viserys saved his life by pointing out the ridiculousness of the conspirators' claims. 

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20 minutes ago, Foot_Of_The_King said:

I think it was a bit of both. I think mostly it she was because of her shock/disbelief. It happened so fast that it allowed little time for much thought. Like you said, If she wanted to stop it, she would have to consider how it would make Joff look. Mommy telling him “no, bad!” would not be a good image for the monarch. With no time to find a reasonable way to approach the situation, she simply stood there frozen in her tracks. 

The more important thing there is the fact that Littlefinger informed Slynt what would happen, anyway. If this hadn't been the case and Joff would have gone off script then Slynt and his people and Payne would have double-checked with the Queen Regent before executing Ned. But since they were briefed in advance (aside from Payne, I assume) they went through with the execution as quickly as possible.

22 hours ago, Daeron the Daring said:

Ned's case was different. Joffrey changed his mind in the front of the public. How could Cersei oppose to that? Her stupidness instead is showed by her teaching her son nothing regarding rulership that's worth a damn.

It is not just Cersei - Robert and Tywin and Tyrion also do not teach Joffrey anything worthwhile about the business of ruling. And most of the blame lies with Robert, anyway. He was the boy's father and the king, he should have groomed him for the job of king and he didn't.

13 minutes ago, James Steller said:

I think you're overestimating the weakness of underage kings. We've seen them take charge despite their youth. Daeron I led armies a la Robb Stark. Jaehaerys defied all authorities and married his own sister. Aegon III could have prevented things from going as far south as they did. If he'd stood up for himself the way he did during the secret siege, and made the lords of Westeros aware of what was going on, then he would have been able to hamstring Peake's power before it got out of control. But he was so broken and traumatised by the things he'd suffered that he wasn't willing to do that until things were truly desperate. And even then, he almost threw himself off the Red Keep. Viserys saved his life by pointing out the ridiculousness of the conspirators' claims. 

Jaehaerys I and Daeron I only got the power they had because their regents deemed them fit to participate in their own government. Alyssa Velaryon allowed her son access to the Iron Throne, later authorized/approved of decisions he made (very much like Joff with the execution of Ned, one imagines) to prevent that he be perceived as weak in public. And in the matter of his marriage it was his mother's decision to finally allow it. She could have used force to separate her children and annul the marriage. She chose not to do this because she loved her children and only opposed the marriage because she feared the reaction of the Realm.

The example of Aegon III that a regency government can completely exclude the king from his own government, even when he is opposed to the decisions that are made - e.g. the Kingsguard appointments Unwin Peake revokes, other appointments Peake makes, etc. Aegon III made it somewhat easy to push him around ... but legally he had no power to interfere with his regents, no matter his personality.

Which leads us to Daeron I - we don't know the details of his ascension at this point, but we can expect that Prince Viserys agreed that there be no regency government in light of the fact that he, too, remembered the Regency of Aegon III. It may even be that Aegon III decreed on his deathbed that his son rule in his own right no matter his age ... remembering what mess his minority was.

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12 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Alyssa Velaryon allowed her son access to the Iron Throne, later authorized/approved of decisions he made (very much like Joff with the execution of Ned, one imagines) to prevent that he be perceived as weak in public. And in the matter of his marriage it was his mother's decision to finally allow it. She could have used force to separate her children and annul the marriage. She chose not to do this because she loved her children and only opposed the marriage because she feared the reaction of the Realm.

Both Jaehaerys and Alysanne had dragons. Alyssa didn’t, and neither did anyone who was invested in keeping those two apart from each other. Unless their big sister decided she was going to fight them with her own dragon, there was no force in Westeros which could have stopped them short of slaying their dragons, and that would have amounted to treason. It was always going to be their decision because of that, and they could have burned Rogar alive if he’d actually been dumb enough to order his men to attack. And then they’d have declared that Rogar had attacked them first and nobody would have been able to do anything about it. The power of House Targaryen rested with their dragons, and as soon as the dragons died, it was only a matter of time before that unstable dynasty was torn apart.

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Canon Claude said:

Both Jaehaerys and Alysanne had dragons. Alyssa didn’t, and neither did anyone who was invested in keeping those two apart from each other. Unless their big sister decided she was going to fight them with her own dragon, there was no force in Westeros which could have stopped them short of slaying their dragons, and that would have amounted to treason. It was always going to be their decision because of that, and they could have burned Rogar alive if he’d actually been dumb enough to order his men to attack. And then they’d have declared that Rogar had attacked them first and nobody would have been able to do anything about it. The power of House Targaryen rested with their dragons, and as soon as the dragons died, it was only a matter of time before that unstable dynasty was torn apart.

Alyssa gives in when her ploy of convincing the children to abandon their folly didn't work. Dragons do not legalize or consummate a marriage, and Alyssa could have taken Dragonstone if she wanted to. It would have been treason if Jaehaerys and Alysanne had resisted her. She was the regent, meaning she wielded the royal authority, not Jaehaerys I.

It is Jaehaerys I and Alysanne who act like children in all that. They don't have the right to the demand a say who their future spouses will . That's for their elders to decide if they arrange marriages for them while they are still minors. Which they did.

It would have been nice if Alyssa and the council had included Jaehaerys and Alysanne in all that - and then the entire affair may have been prevented - but they were not obliged to do so. You later see who decides who Aegon III is to marry, or his half-sisters.

Edited by Lord Varys

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On 4/6/2021 at 10:24 PM, Lord Varys said:

Cersei's take on her role as regent is actually pretty smart back when she serves Joffrey as regent.

Ultimately, all power comes from the king and needs him as a figurehead - even during Peake's era, the man needed Aegon III as a figurehead during official ceremonies and such - and when Joffrey took over a war broke out.

In such a scenario people need to see their king, they have to understand that he can rule, is an active part of the government, even if he is still a minor.

Technically, Cersei could have overruled Joffrey on the business of Ned's execution - but it would have made Joff look completely weak and it would have given the impression there was a rift in Joff's government.

But, most importantly, Ned's execution wasn't a spantaneous event. It was arranged by Littlefinger who manipulated Joff into giving the order and told Slynt to expect the order and execute it immediately. Cersei was surprised. She could have prevented the execution, one imagines, if she had acted immediately, but she didn't.

We don't know if she was too shocked to act ... or if she realized how bad it would look if she contradicted Joffrey there.

Cersei later also gives Joff leeway to make judgments and the like ... and the point there is that people realize he is the king and will rule one there. The point isn't to have him command something and then tell his people that his commands will be ignored. That would sent a very bad message, undermining the power of the monarchy as such.

But if you look at it closely the Joff pretty much takes no part in his own government. He never attends council session, never makes political initiatives, nobody ever asks his advice or input when policies are discussed. They allow him behave like a stupid idiot occasionally or execute traitors like the Antler Men, but overall Joff is just a puppet. A puppet who lashes out occasionally and works himself in a frenzy, but his regent, Hand, and council do as they please, not as the king wishes.

Which is why Tommen's minority government is actually much worse considering that Jaime even commands the Kingsguard to double-check the orders Tommen gives them, preparing the boy king not to rule but to be ruled by others. Cersei makes similar mistakes with Tommen.

In general, though, Aegon III's regency government shows what we can expect for Tommen's - the king will have no voice there, his council and court will decide who succeeds Kevan as Lord Regent, regardless what Tommen might want. And if you think how Thaddeus Rowan was arrested, then the king doesn't even have to be involved in matters of that importance. Mace Tyrell could make Moon Boy the next Lord Regent, and Tommen could do nothing about that.

But he will most likely appoint himself, of course.

Joffrey’s legitimacy was on danger thanks to Stannis, the whole Ned thing was made in order to put to rest the “bastard rumors”, and, as propaganda for Joffrey to be seen as a just ruler. Cersei had no choice but to let the kid get Ned’s head, considering he even addresses her mother’s intentions, it was a public act.

My mother bids me let Lord Eddard take the black, and Lady Sansa has begged mercy for her father. But they have the soft hearts of women. So long as I am your king, treason shall never go unpunished. Ser Ilyn, bring me his head!“

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2 hours ago, Kolx said:

Joffrey’s legitimacy was on danger thanks to Stannis, the whole Ned thing was made in order to put to rest the “bastard rumors”, and, as propaganda for Joffrey to be seen as a just ruler. Cersei had no choice but to let the kid get Ned’s head, considering he even addresses her mother’s intentions, it was a public act.

My mother bids me let Lord Eddard take the black, and Lady Sansa has begged mercy for her father. But they have the soft hearts of women. So long as I am your king, treason shall never go unpunished. Ser Ilyn, bring me his head!“

Yes, but as I said - if there hadn't been scheming behind the scenes to ensure that Joff would give that order - and Slynt and his people expecting it to come - the execution could still have been prevented. If Slynt had been briefed that the king would definitely pardon Ned, if they hadn't even bothered bringing Ilyn Payne along because there would not be an execution ... thing things wouldn't have gone the way they did, because the people Joff was addressing would have been confused. And then they would have turned to the Queen Regent to make the final decision.

That they didn't do this is evidence for Littlefinger's foul play there.

I'd expect that if they Slynt and Payne had double-checked with Cersei first before killing Ned, she would have told them to stop ... knowing what kind of a problem would arise if they were to kill him. She would have talked to Joffrey and she would have ensured he publicly issued another command.

It would have still made them look somewhat bad, but them looking bad would have been immensely better than a dead Ned.

Where Cersei clearly shows a lack of judgment is in her inability/unwillingness to actually investigate why the hell Joff's command was executed so quickly as well as ensuring that Joff do as he is told from now on. But we never actually see how Joff and his mother talk to each other behind closed doors or how the boy could play his mother ... or what kind of influence Cersei had over Joff.

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Comparing Joffrey to Aegon III, the former overrode his regent when it came to an execution while the latter had more conflict over appointments. It's notable that the conspiracy against the Rogares never made it all the way to executions. Victor Risley was the one accused conspirator who demanded a trial by combat to prove his innocence, and that lack of executions meant he never acted in his official capacity (knowingly or not) on behalf of the conspiracy. I suppose in a hypothetical where it had, the question would be whether Aegon III could forbid an execution his regent ordered.

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12 hours ago, FictionIsntReal said:

Comparing Joffrey to Aegon III, the former overrode his regent when it came to an execution while the latter had more conflict over appointments. It's notable that the conspiracy against the Rogares never made it all the way to executions. Victor Risley was the one accused conspirator who demanded a trial by combat to prove his innocence, and that lack of executions meant he never acted in his official capacity (knowingly or not) on behalf of the conspiracy. I suppose in a hypothetical where it had, the question would be whether Aegon III could forbid an execution his regent ordered.

We already know Aegon III couldn't do that. Aegon III bonded with and (sort of) reinstated Grand Maester Orwyle ... but that couldn't save Orwyle from his execution.

Joffrey also didn't exactly 'override' Cersei, since Cersei used Joffrey as her mouthpiece in the execution setting. She herself didn't declare that Ned be pardoned and then also gave Joff the opportunity to speak ... she had him run the entire show and could not (or failed to) publicly contradict him. Cersei chose/failed to override the king, but the king didn't override his regent.

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