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James Steller

Who was Master of Laws before Renly?

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Posted (edited)

Did we ever get a confirmation on that? Renly was still a child during Robert's Rebellion, and there's no way Robert would have put him on the Small Council until he came of age. And it can't have been when he was 16, because then we'd hear about that as big news (Tywin's got the record for being the youngest Hand of the King at 20, so if a 16-year-old Renly sits on the Small Council, that's bound to have come up). This means Renly would have barely sat on the Small Council for two years at most. And even if I'm wrong, and Renly really did start serving the Small Council at 16, there's still a significant chunk of time before Renly can qualify.

So who was Master of Laws before that? Has GRRM ever said? Has anyone ever thought to ask?

Edited by James Steller

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That's something I'm very interested in and it is something somebody should really ask George if/when they have the chance.

Renly likely sits on the council only two years at the most since Loras squired at Storm's End and while Renly spent most of his time he wouldn't have been Master of Laws yet.

The other interesting question is who was Master of Coin before Littlefinger? There may have been only one Master of Law prior to Renly - my best guess would be one of Robert's childhood buddies, preferrably some Stormlord. An interesting idea could, perhaps, be Beric Dondarrion's unknown father. He is a young lord in AGoT, so perhaps his dad died only a couple of years before the beginning of the series. I expect there would have only been one Master of Law prior to Renly since that office wouldn't pose that many problems.

But I'm pretty sure there would have been multiple Masters of Coin before Littlefinger considering Robert's spending habits and the interest many great lords of the Realm would have had in a council seat. We can expect that Robert staffed his council predominantly with close friends and folks who backed him in the Rebellion. He didn't dismiss Varys and Pycelle and he made Barristan Lord Commander, but the Handship went to Jon and he made Stannis Master of Ships. That would indicate that the first Master of Coin was also some guy Robert could count on, although not necessarily a Stormlander (since they are not that rich). So it could have been a Riverlander or Vale man with money.

Once that guy was dismissed they cannot have turned to Littlefinger immediately since Jon and Robert would have first to go through other names. Other big families would want to try the office. They only ended up with Littlefinger, I'd think, because the finances of the Crown got worse and worse and Jon finally realized Littlefinger was this financial genius they could use.

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I say this without malice: who cares?

The Master of Laws position is the least fleshed-out and least relevant position of the Small Council. They deal with justice, supposedly. How? Are they the Chief Justice of a Supreme Court which we haven't seen yet? Do they travel across the Seven Kingdoms dealing with the magistrates? What were Renly's tasks or duties? Seems to me like he just sat on the council and spent the rest of his time doing whatever he felt like. "Master of Laws" feels like that soft cushy job you give someone for the prestige rather than for the importance. Or else maybe Robert just didn't care enough about it to put someone competent in the job, since Renly clearly wasn't doing anything.

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8 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

There may have been only one Master of Law prior to Renly - my best guess would be one of Robert's childhood buddies, preferrably some Stormlord. An interesting idea could, perhaps, be Beric Dondarrion's unknown father. He is a young lord in AGoT, so perhaps his dad died only a couple of years before the beginning of the series. I expect there would have only been one Master of Law prior to Renly since that office wouldn't pose that many problems.

It could also have been Lord Bryen Caron (Bryce and Rolland Storm's dad). The Carons seem to have been among the predominant houses of the Stormlands (or at least equal to the Swanns) and they even claimed the title "Lord of the Marches". We know that Bryen and most of his family were wiped out by a sickness in the recent past, and we also know that Carons have served on the small councils of the past. It wouldn't surprise me if Bryen had been the previous Master of Laws.

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Beric's father and Bryen Caron are possibilities. Another Stormlands House we should not dismiss is House Estermont. The genealogy of this House is a mess so it's difficult to point out someone in particular but if I had to guess I'd suggest Ser Lomas Estermont (who is either a brother or a cousin of Robert's mother) to be part of the small council. Lomas's son, Ser Andrew Estermont, squired for Stannis Baratheon.

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5 hours ago, James Steller said:

It could also have been Lord Bryen Caron (Bryce and Rolland Storm's dad). The Carons seem to have been among the predominant houses of the Stormlands (or at least equal to the Swanns) and they even claimed the title "Lord of the Marches". We know that Bryen and most of his family were wiped out by a sickness in the recent past, and we also know that Carons have served on the small councils of the past. It wouldn't surprise me if Bryen had been the previous Master of Laws.

If Bryen was on the Small Council, then he would have needed to be replaced by someone other than Renly. He died in 290, when Renly was 13. 
 

1 hour ago, Thomaerys Velaryon said:

Beric's father and Bryen Caron are possibilities. Another Stormlands House we should not dismiss is House Estermont. The genealogy of this House is a mess so it's difficult to point out someone in particular but if I had to guess I'd suggest Ser Lomas Estermont (who is either a brother or a cousin of Robert's mother) to be part of the small council. Lomas's son, Ser Andrew Estermont, squired for Stannis Baratheon.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to suspect the old Lord Estermont? He could have served on the council until he chose to retire due to his age.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Thomaerys Velaryon said:

Beric's father and Bryen Caron are possibilities. Another Stormlands House we should not dismiss is House Estermont. The genealogy of this House is a mess so it's difficult to point out someone in particular but if I had to guess I'd suggest Ser Lomas Estermont (who is either a brother or a cousin of Robert's mother) to be part of the small council. Lomas's son, Ser Andrew Estermont, squired for Stannis Baratheon.

 

56 minutes ago, Canon Claude said:

Wouldn’t it make more sense to suspect the old Lord Estermont? He could have served on the council until he chose to retire due to his age.

The problem with house Estermont is precisely that genealogy, because it all depends on weather old Lord Estermont and Eldon Estermont are the same or not. If he is not the same then what Canon Claude says is possible, but if they are the same then because of the fact that we know Eldon has to be one of the uncle's who visits Kingslanding for Robert's marriage to Cersei he can not have been on the small council because then he would not just be visiting.

Edited by direpupy

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11 hours ago, Floki of the Ironborn said:

I say this without malice: who cares?

The Master of Laws position is the least fleshed-out and least relevant position of the Small Council. They deal with justice, supposedly. How? Are they the Chief Justice of a Supreme Court which we haven't seen yet? Do they travel across the Seven Kingdoms dealing with the magistrates? What were Renly's tasks or duties? Seems to me like he just sat on the council and spent the rest of his time doing whatever he felt like. "Master of Laws" feels like that soft cushy job you give someone for the prestige rather than for the importance. Or else maybe Robert just didn't care enough about it to put someone competent in the job, since Renly clearly wasn't doing anything.

The question is interesting because we would be getting a better image of the power dynamics at Robert's court prior to AGoT.

11 hours ago, James Steller said:

It could also have been Lord Bryen Caron (Bryce and Rolland Storm's dad). The Carons seem to have been among the predominant houses of the Stormlands (or at least equal to the Swanns) and they even claimed the title "Lord of the Marches". We know that Bryen and most of his family were wiped out by a sickness in the recent past, and we also know that Carons have served on the small councils of the past. It wouldn't surprise me if Bryen had been the previous Master of Laws.

That is possible, although one would imagine that Lord Bryen was no longer on the council when he died since he and his family seem to have been back home when they died. Also, it's clear he wouldn't have been Renly's immediate predecessor on the council.

7 hours ago, Thomaerys Velaryon said:

Beric's father and Bryen Caron are possibilities. Another Stormlands House we should not dismiss is House Estermont. The genealogy of this House is a mess so it's difficult to point out someone in particular but if I had to guess I'd suggest Ser Lomas Estermont (who is either a brother or a cousin of Robert's mother) to be part of the small council. Lomas's son, Ser Andrew Estermont, squired for Stannis Baratheon.

The fact that the Estermonts apparently only visited with Robert and Cersei for the royal wedding and were then rewarded with an extended royal visit at Greenstone implies that none of the known Estermonts sat on the council. That said - it might be possible that some mystery Estermont who died prior to AGoT sat on the council for some time.

For both the Carons and the Estermonts it strikes me as more likely that they were Masters of Coin - and then dismissed because of incompetence/being unable to give Robert what he wanted - rather than Masters of Law.

5 hours ago, Canon Claude said:

 Wouldn’t it make more sense to suspect the old Lord Estermont? He could have served on the council until he chose to retire due to his age.

That could make sense. I'd expect if Robert ever favored an Estermont with a council seat it would have either been his grandfather or an uncle. But the whole visit thing makes it pretty unlikely that this ever happened. We also don't hear much about Estermonts distinguishing themselves during the Rebellion ... meaning Robert may have seen no reason to advance them afterwards.

5 hours ago, direpupy said:

The problem with house Estermont is precisely that genealogy, because it all depends on weather old Lord Estermont and Eldon Estermont are the same or not. If he is not the same then what Canon Claude says is possible, but if they are the same then because of the fact that we know Eldon has to be one of the uncle's who visits Kingslanding for Robert's marriage to Cersei he can not have been on the small council because then he would not just be visiting.

It would be possible that an Estermont was appointed to the council after the visits ... but Cersei only thinks of the Estermonts in context of those visits, not in the context of having to deal with them because some of them lived at court. That makes it rather unlikely that any Estermonts were ever on the council.

In general it is also possible that Robert had some other Vale men on the council. The war started there, and he may have made more friends there than just Ned and Jon.

Also, I guess Hoster Tully is a possibility. We know he was at Riverrun during Cat's youth but after her marriage he could have been on the council for some time, resigning when he started to get sick. Then he could have been Renly's immediate predecessor.

The fact that nobody ever references him in such a capacity would speak against that, of course. But other Riverlords could have been on the council, Jason Mallister, say.

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4 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

 

In general it is also possible that Robert had some other Vale men on the council. The war started there, and he may have made more friends there than just Ned and Jon.

Also, I guess Hoster Tully is a possibility. We know he was at Riverrun during Cat's youth but after her marriage he could have been on the council for some time, resigning when he started to get sick. Then he could have been Renly's immediate predecessor.

The fact that nobody ever references him in such a capacity would speak against that, of course. But other Riverlords could have been on the council, Jason Mallister, say.

This is the big problem with trying to figure this out. Anyone who would logically be there clearly wasn't there, or else we'd have heard it mentioned at some point. Hoster Tully, Brynden Tully, Yohn Royce, Roose Bolton, Eon Hunter, Wyman Manderly, Jason Mallister, all of them would have been clear choices to put on the small council after their roles in Robert's Rebellion. And there are plenty of moments to bring up their time on the Small Council, but it never comes up. Therefore, we have to assume that the previous council members are either comprised of minor lords who don't matter (which doesn't make a lot of sense) or they haven't been introduced in the story due to their being dead or simply away from the action. It's why my thoughts turned to Bryen Caron. Beric Dondarrion's father is another good idea, and there's also Karyl Vance's dad, Silveraxe Fell, or the Morrigan brothers' dad.

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1 hour ago, James Steller said:

This is the big problem with trying to figure this out. Anyone who would logically be there clearly wasn't there, or else we'd have heard it mentioned at some point. Hoster Tully, Brynden Tully, Yohn Royce, Roose Bolton, Eon Hunter, Wyman Manderly, Jason Mallister, all of them would have been clear choices to put on the small council after their roles in Robert's Rebellion. And there are plenty of moments to bring up their time on the Small Council, but it never comes up. Therefore, we have to assume that the previous council members are either comprised of minor lords who don't matter (which doesn't make a lot of sense) or they haven't been introduced in the story due to their being dead or simply away from the action. It's why my thoughts turned to Bryen Caron. Beric Dondarrion's father is another good idea, and there's also Karyl Vance's dad, Silveraxe Fell, or the Morrigan brothers' dad.

I think the really big problem here is that George never bothered to really flesh out Robert's court and reign in detail. There are details about the reign of Aerys II and, with the history books, also about those of other kings, but Robert's reign is pretty much a blank space. It is basically the same as the effective non-existence of Ned's mother. She should have been referenced occasionally, but she isn't.

And that's the reason why I think folks should ask George about this. It is a crucial worldbuidling detail.

Whoever sat on the Small Council prior to Littlefinger and Renly should have been mentioned, too. And depending how their stint on the council ended this would also have ripple effects on the relationship between Robert and their houses. Masters of Coin who were dismissed from the council in disgrace wouldn't have been happy about that, etc.

I think Yohn Royce could easily enough have sat on the council for a while. So far we only met him once. And him being at court could also help explain why Jon named Nestor High Steward rather than Yohn. Wyman Manderly definitely not, considering he isn't really that familiar with Stannis - who would have sat on the council with him. Hoster is technically possible but not that likely. Jason Mallister definitely could work.

Lord Gulian Swann would also be an interesting candidate. Part of the reason why he stays out of the war could be that he had a falling-out with Robert and thus decided to not involve himself in the Baratheon succession struggles.

Silveraxe Fell doesn't strike me as the kind of guy who would sit on the council. But he could have been a Kingsguard, the predecessor of Arys Oakheart, say. It seems clear that Robert would have filled all the empty spots quickly after he took the throne, possibly following Jaehaerys' example to use a tourney to do this.

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Yeah.

It is weird that no Riverlander or Northman has a position at Robert's court given how important they were in winning the throne for him. What did it win? Did Robert at least lower the taxes for them?

Hoster Tully after being one of the most ambitious lords pre-rebellion somehow became completely uninterested in the realm politics. Even it seems he completely gave up the education of his heir, instead of sending him to court to squire for Robert or Stannis and learn a thing or two.

Given that there were politically intelligent movements early on, like Robert's and Stannis marriages (albeit ultimately disastrous) one cannot imagine that Jon Arryn was so lazy to leave loose ends.

Besides the names suggested above, maybe some Florents were also at court at different times.

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8 minutes ago, rotting sea cow said:

Besides the names suggested above, maybe some Florents were also at court at different times.

I think if the Florents had ever held position at Robert’s court, one of them would have mentioned it by now. They do so love to feel important, those Florents.

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6 hours ago, rotting sea cow said:

Besides the names suggested above, maybe some Florents were also at court at different times.

What we've seen doesn't bear that out. The first thing we hear about the Florents is how Edric was conceived and how Stannis felt slighted. The next is how they joined with Stannis after leaving Renly's army. Given his position as master of ships before, the best the Florents were going to do was be a ship's captain and there's about a 50/50 chance that we'd have seen one in the Royal Fleet at KL on either side. However when Stannis comes to power, we see him immediately reward his in-laws with positions of power, notably (in case of the ships) appointing Imry Florent as Admiral when he has no experience as a sailor. 

The Florents are trying to grasp power and influence wherever and however they can. That's obviously not uncommon in Westeros or real life, but we likely would have heard / seen them earlier if that had been true. As it stood in AGoT, they were just a middling vassal to the Tyrells with a politically expedient claim to Highgarden.

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20 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

I think Yohn Royce could easily enough have sat on the council for a while. So far we only met him once. And him being at court could also help explain why Jon named Nestor High Steward rather than Yohn.

Royce having been Master of Laws at some point could have been used as part of the explanation for his dislike of Littlefinger, also.

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18 hours ago, Colonel Green said:

Royce having been Master of Laws at some point could have been used as part of the explanation for his dislike of Littlefinger, also.

Hopefully GRRM makes that canon in TWOW.

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Could it have been the old Targaryen holdovers?

 

Robert seemed pretty forgiving to any loyalist that wasn't violet-eyed. He may have left them until he had who he wanted, and when they were dismissed of course, What right have they to complain about the King who so generously gave them their jobs after their defeat.

He did the same with Pycelle, Varys and Selmy.

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On 6/8/2021 at 6:29 PM, Universal Sword Donor said:

The Florents are trying to grasp power and influence wherever and however they can. That's obviously not uncommon in Westeros or real life, but we likely would have heard / seen them earlier if that had been true. As it stood in AGoT, they were just a middling vassal to the Tyrells with a politically expedient claim to Highgarden.

The Florents should have high places at court ... that they don't is odd but it cannot be helped. It is the same with the Estermonts. Robert should turn to his kin and in-laws first after turning to his own brothers. He is a usurper, he has to surround himself with men he can trust and those are, usually, family and extended family.

I guess it may be that Alester and his kin got pissed at the king after the whole Edric incident, explaining, for instance, why the boy was fostered at Storm's End rather than being brought up at Brightwater.

The only Florent who really profited from Selyse's marriage was Axell Florent.

23 hours ago, Colonel Green said:

Royce having been Master of Laws at some point could have been used as part of the explanation for his dislike of Littlefinger, also.

If he was on the council I'd expect this took place prior to Littlefinger joining it, because nothing so far indicated they ever worked closely together.

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1 hour ago, Lord Varys said:

The Florents should have high places at court ... that they don't is odd but it cannot be helped. It is the same with the Estermonts. Robert should turn to his kin and in-laws first after turning to his own brothers. He is a usurper, he has to surround himself with men he can trust and those are, usually, family and extended family.

I guess it may be that Alester and his kin got pissed at the king after the whole Edric incident, explaining, for instance, why the boy was fostered at Storm's End rather than being brought up at Brightwater.

The only Florent who really profited from Selyse's marriage was Axell Florent.

I'd challenge them as deserving or theoreticcally deserving a high place in court. He's merely dutiful toward his brothers. The other appointments are either holdovers (whom he clearly doesn't hold a grudge against) or people close to him and their trusted advisors. None of the Florents we've met since particularly competent or likable; the best of the bunch  seems to be Alester, which isn't an amazing endorsement given what little we see of him. 

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2 hours ago, Universal Sword Donor said:

I'd challenge them as deserving or theoreticcally deserving a high place in court. He's merely dutiful toward his brothers. The other appointments are either holdovers (whom he clearly doesn't hold a grudge against) or people close to him and their trusted advisors. None of the Florents we've met since particularly competent or likable; the best of the bunch  seems to be Alester, which isn't an amazing endorsement given what little we see of him. 

Robert handing lordships and council seats to his two brothers is more than him being dutiful. And he also favors his wife's family by taking on two Lannister squires.

It stands to reason that Robert should have favored other relations in a similar manner, notably his mother's family and the family of his sister-in-law. After all, it seems as if Robert was the guy who arranged Stannis' marriage in the first place.

The idea that a Florent could have sat on Robert's council in the beginning of his reign actually would make some sense. And the best candidate for that would actually be Selyse's late father, Ser Ryam Florent, since we know effectively nothing about that guy. His early death could have resulted in the Florents losing whatever standing they had with Robert, especially since Stannis also chose to keep both Selyse and Axell away from court.

If George wanted to flesh out the Florents some more he could turn them into a Reach house who stood with Robert during the Rebellion ... or at least have Ser Ryam as a younger brother of Lord Alester side with Robert and distinguishing himself in battle. Afterwards this could have led both to him getting a seat on the council as well as him being able to marry his daughter to Robert's brother. It could also help explain why Lord Alester himself was never truly able to profit from the royal connections his family had.

The Florent match for Stannis is very odd in any case, considering they are not that prestigious or powerful. And surely there was many a rebel house to be rewarded for their loyalty to Robert during the Rebellion. It is odd that Stannis wasn't married to a woman from a powerful/loyal Northern, Vale, Riverlands, or Stormland house.

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Posted (edited)
23 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

The Florent match for Stannis is very odd in any case, considering they are not that prestigious or powerful. And surely there was many a rebel house to be rewarded for their loyalty to Robert during the Rebellion. It is odd that Stannis wasn't married to a woman from a powerful/loyal Northern, Vale, Riverlands, or Stormland house.

It's a question that I've speculated about numerous times over the years, particularly since Selyse is rather low on the totem pole for the Florents (the daughter of a third son). The main theories are that Jon Arryn arranged it as a threat to the Tyrells; if they step out of line Robert or Jon can oust the Tyrells and put a puppet like the Florents in their place. It wouldn't be the first time Jon arranged a match for politics that wasn't happy. The other is that Robert arranged the match just to troll Stannis; give him an unattractive wife, I could care less what he thinks if he objects, etc.

Edited by Angel Eyes

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