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Who was on the Kingsguard before Arys Oakheart?

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Floki of the Ironborn said:

You do know that Jaime also said that Boros was growing old, right?

And you concluded from this that Boros is exactly 47 and was appointed when he was exactly 30?    Is nothing else possible?  I am amazed by your cleverness.  And if that is not what you are trying to say, what can your point possibly be?  

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And I'm not talking about the Jaime before ASOS, I'm talking about the one-handed and humbled Jaime who's rethinking his life. He looks at Boros Blount and sees a "craven" who is "fat, aging, and never more than ordinary" yet he is also someone still capable of beating Jaime in a sword fight.

Everyone is "aging", and if they let themselves get fat, they age early.   I don't even think Blount is nearly as fat as King Robert yet.  You hardly need a full 15 years since appointment to allow for a man of no-particular virtue to go to seed.  And the suggestion that he was "never more than ordinary" if anything only emphasizes that we don't need 15 years  to elapse since his appointment to explain why he is ordinary now.   His appointment was evidently for reasons other than merit, regardless of whether he was a drinking buddy of King Robert, or a creature of Cersei, or a lackey of Tywin, or something else.  And if he wasn't appointed for his merit, he might not have been appointed for his youth either.

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I point all that out to try and establish that Jaime has no reason to be biased in his own favour in that moment, it's a depressing thought that Boros Blount of all people could kill him without much trouble.

This underscores the disadvantage of losing a sword hand but is completely irrelevant to the question of exactly when he was appointed or exactly how old he is.  To which the only sane answer is:  "unknown". 

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So no, it wasn't just the word of a teenaged girl that we need to rely on.

I was talking about Trant, not Blount.  Blount is bald and fat and grizzled, which does provide some evidence that he is likely somewhere past 40. 

And it really seems to me that you are missing the point.  Regardless of how old or fat or grey or bald Blount is, you cannot possibly imagine you can calculate from these words both his exact age, and his exact date of appointment, with no margin of error whatsoever.  It is just absurd.

Even if you could prove that Blount was exactly 80 years old in the year 300, it would not prove he was appointed exactly 17 years earlier.  It would merely show that, whatever the reasons for his appointment at some unknown point during the prior 17 years, youth was not one of them

 

Edited by Mister Smikes

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23 hours ago, Mister Smikes said:

I'm not assuming anything.  That's you, not me.  I am the one refusing to make assumptions.  I'm refusing to rule out anything, including that all 4 were appointed in 283.

It was very clever of your to conclude, based on a teenaged girl calling Trant "old", that Trant is exactly 47, and not a year less.    It was also very clever of you to conclude that he was appointed at exactly age 30 and not a year more, because of your very clever assessment of exactly what is normal for the Kingsguard.

But it might just be little more clever if you were humble enough to admit that we don't actually know when Trant and Blount were appointed, or exactly how old they are, or whether or not the circumstance of their appointment were "normal".

My thinking is not as precise as yours.  To me, if it is plausible that a teenaged girl could call a 47 year old "old", it is also plausible that she might call a 42 year old "old".  And if it is plausible that a warrior could be appointed to the KG at age 30, I find it hard to entirely rule out the possibility that he might be appointed at age 35.

ETA:  And how old was Duncan the Tall when he first joined the KG?

We are just talking probabilities here. The idea that Blount and Trant were Cersei's men before they joined the KG or that they didn't join the KG early in Robert's reign is just rather unlikely.

One can see a very famous knight from a very presitigious family joining the KG later in life ... because his very name and reputation would lend honor to the order and the king he was serving. A man like Barristan Selmy, for instance, could easily join the KG in his forties.

But the likes of Blount and Trant are low-tier nobility. They are so insignficant that we don't even know who is running their houses right now nor whether they are lordly houses or merely landed knights.

Nothing indicates that either man was ever so great a knight that folks thought he should join the KG after he was well beyond his prime.

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Posted (edited)
20 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

We are just talking probabilities here.

Why, though?  Are we playing the odds?  Are you a bookie?  Why is it so hard to just admit we don't know?

And you are not just guessing once.  You are guessing 4 times in a row and expecting to be right all 4 times.

Let's assume, purely for the sake of argument, that you could calculate that Blount was 75% likely to have been appointed in 283, and not at any later date.  And let's assume that the equivalent odds for Trant, Moore and Greenfield were 70%, 65% and 65%, respectively.    On these numbers, the chance that one or more of these people was appointed at a later date would still be nearly 78% (1 minus (.75 x .7 x .65 x .65)).

Of course, there is no way to determine whether such odds are correct.  But it does illustrate the dangers of piling guess upon guess upon guess upon guess.

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One can see a very famous knight from a very presitigious family joining the KG later in life ...

One can also imagine Duncan the Tall, who was not from a prestigious family nor AFAIK very famous before he joined the KG, joining the KG late in life.  One can also imagine Blount, whose family was at any rate more prestigious than that of Dunk, joining the KG later in life.  GRRM is an imaginative guy, and he can imagine all kinds of things occurring for all kinds of reasons.  It's up to GRRM.  It is really not up to you.  

And it really does not make GRRM's world feel more real if you assume that nothing ever happens when the camera is not rolling.  Such assumptions only appeal to those who like to pretend they know it all.

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But the likes of Blount and Trant are low-tier nobility. They are so insignficant that we don't even know who is running their houses right now nor whether they are lordly houses or merely landed knights.

It's almost as if you are arguing they should not be on the KG at all.    I guess if you were writing the story, they would not be.

 

Edited by Mister Smikes

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20 hours ago, Mister Smikes said:

Why, though?  Are we playing the odds?  Are you a bookie?  Why is it so hard to just admit we don't know?

And you are not just guessing once.  You are guessing 4 times in a row and expecting to be right all 4 times.

Let's assume, purely for the sake of argument, that you could calculate that Blount was 75% likely to have been appointed in 283, and not at any later date.  And let's assume that the equivalent odds for Trant, Moore and Greenfield were 70%, 65% and 65%, respectively.    On these numbers, the chance that one or more of these people was appointed at a later date would still be nearly 78% (1 minus (.75 x .7 x .65 x .65)).

On the basis of all the precedents on KG appointments we have - both historical and in the ASoIaF novels - we have every reason to believe that the five empty spots were filled very quickly after Robert took the throne. But note I never said that this would have happened in 283 AC. It could also have happened in the next year depending how quickly Robert and his court wished to act. Jaehaerys I had seven KG to appoint and he didn't fill them all in 48 AC.

Even without that historical knowledge we could also assume that it would have been a pretty important to name new KG simply because their job - protecting the king - seems to be kind of important.

For me, the best scenario for the appointment of weirdos like Trant, Blount, Greenfield, and Moore is that there was no list of suitable candidates and rather some kind tourney or melee whose victors were then given the chance to join the KG. If they had had a list then some prominent names would have made it into the KG ... like Arys Oakheart later did, who is basically the only prominent name in Robert's KG aside from Jaime.

20 hours ago, Mister Smikes said:

One can also imagine Duncan the Tall, who was not from a prestigious family nor AFAIK very famous before he joined the KG, joining the KG late in life.  One can also imagine Blount, whose family was at any rate more prestigious than that of Dunk, joining the KG later in life.  GRRM is an imaginative guy, and he can imagine all kinds of things occurring for all kinds of reasons.  It's up to GRRM.  It is really not up to you.

Duncan the Tall is a really special case. He is the best friend of a royal prince (or the king, if he only joined the KG after Aegon V took the throne), and a guy the Targaryens are already pretty much indebted to in the early 210s considering his deeds during the Second Blackfyre Rebellion. We can expect that such favoritism also played a role when naming guys to the KG. For instance, a man like Joffrey Doggett was not, strictly speaking, given a white cloak because he was so loyal or so great a knight ... but to buy him off, basically.

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2 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

[...] we have every reason to believe that the five empty spots were filled very quickly after Robert took the throne. But note I never said that this would have happened in 283 AC. It could also have happened in the next year depending how quickly Robert and his court wished to act.

No need to be so precise.  When I say "283" feel free to read "on or about 283".  But that is not really what we were disagreeing about. 

I'm more concerned with the possibility - which I indeed think is a likelihood  - that when a full 15 years elapses for 4 different people, it is not unlikely that something will happen to at least one of them -- whether death, dishonor or desertion -- such that we cannot assume that the 4 we have 15 years later are the same 4 appointed 15 years earlier.

But sure.   The amount of time that might elapse between a post becoming vacant and being filled again is just one of the many many things we do not know.

2 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Even without that historical knowledge we could also assume that it would have been a pretty important to name new KG simply because their job - protecting the king - seems to be kind of important.

The importance of this is a bit arbitrary and symbolic.  Any loyal man can be assigned to defend the King.

2 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Duncan the Tall is a really special case. 

No.  Duncan may be special in many ways, but hardly for this.  He got appointed because a friend in high places wanted him in the position because reasons.  Such an explanation is common as dirt.   It may be a different friend, in a different high place, with different reasons.  The reasons may be good reasons or bad reasons.   Such reasons may or may not care overmuch about the youth of the person being appointed.

The bottom line is Duncan was appointed when he was at least 43, and maybe when he was as old as 49.  The same thing could happen to Trant or Blount.  We've heard no hint of any suggestion that Dunk's appointment broke any world records.

Anyhow, Robert Strong, if he is indeed Gregor Clegane, was 34 or 35 when he joined the KG.  Feel free to argue that is another special case.  The world is full of special cases.

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6 minutes ago, Mister Smikes said:

No need to be so precise.  When I say "283" feel free to read "on or about 283".  But that is not really what we were disagreeing about. 

I'm more concerned with the possibility - which I indeed think is a likelihood  - that when a full 15 years elapses for 4 different people, it is not unlikely that something will happen to at least one of them -- whether death, dishonor or desertion -- such that we cannot assume that the 4 we have 15 years later are the same 4 appointed 15 years earlier.

Actually, since prior to Arys' POV in AFfC we had no indication that one of Robert's newer KG was only named loosely ten years back we wouldn't have had any basis to assume that the KG Robert chose after he took the throne had been replaced during his reign. 15 years aren't that long a period and that's a novel series, not real life. Things are somewhat more simple there than in reality.

6 minutes ago, Mister Smikes said:

But sure.   The amount of time that might elapse between a post becoming vacant and being filled again is just one of the many many things we do not know.

We actually do have George telling us that part of the reason why Robert's KG aren't great guys is that he had so many empty spots to fill. Which implies that they were all appointed around the same time without the government going to great lengths to find ideally suited men which definitely could have been found if they had done a thorough search.

6 minutes ago, Mister Smikes said:

The importance of this is a bit arbitrary and symbolic.  Any loyal man can be assigned to defend the King.

Of course the KG is a joke as a bodyguard. But they are a joke which the people in this world take very seriously. I mean, you can read up how much time passed between Barristan's dismissal and his replacement coming in. Or how much time passed between the deaths of Greenfield and Moore and Clegane's desertion and their replacements being invested.

Not that much time passed. And that was in the middle of a war.

6 minutes ago, Mister Smikes said:

No.  Duncan may be special in many ways, but hardly for this.  He got appointed because a friend in high places wanted him in the position because reasons.  Such an explanation is common as dirt.   It may be a different friend, in a different high place, with different reasons.  The reasons may be good reasons or bad reasons.   Such reasons may or may not care overmuch about the youth of the person being appointed.

The bottom line is Duncan was appointed when he was at least 43, and maybe when he was as old as 49.  The same thing could happen to Trant or Blount.  We've heard no hint of any suggestion that Dunk's appointment broke any world records.

We have no clue when exactly Dunk was invested in the KG nor by which king. It could have been by Aegon V, it could have been by Maekar, it could have been by Aerys I. We have no clue.

And of course obscure knights don't get into the KG easily. Many highborn knights want in the order, and they make up the bulk of the best fighters in the Realm ... and nearly all of the pool of men deemed honorable enough to join the order. Hedge knights and the like only get in when multiple spots are empty ... or when Queen Visenya handpicks them. The idea that this kind of thing is 'as common as dirt' is just not true.

6 minutes ago, Mister Smikes said:

Anyhow, Robert Strong, if he is indeed Gregor Clegane, was 34 or 35 when he joined the KG.  Feel free to argue that is another special case.  The world is full of special cases.

Clearly the Robert Strong case is another special case. That's even made explicit in the text when Cersei literally persuades Kevan to circumvent the normal procedure of appointing a KG which apparently involves the Lord Commander selecting a candidate from a list of suitable knights and have Tommen appoint a guy who was handpicked by her for the sole purpose to ensure her acquittal in a trial-by-combat.

If we get back to Blount and Trant it is just not very likely that Cersei of all people was close to those two guys before they joined the KG. Which is what this discussion basically is about.

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Posted (edited)
19 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

We actually do have George telling us that part of the reason why Robert's KG aren't great guys is that he had so many empty spots to fill.

Providing his exact words might help.

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Which implies that they were all appointed around the same time without the government going to great lengths to find ideally suited men which definitely could have been found if they had done a thorough search.

No.  If your paraphrase is accurate, it merely implies that some of those who were appointed in or around 283 are still on the KG.  It does not rule out 1 of the 5 being replaced; and it does not rule out 2 of the 5 being replaced either.  Nor does it rule out 3 of the 5 being replaced.

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We have no clue when exactly Dunk was invested in the KG nor by which king. It could have been by Aegon V, it could have been by Maekar, it could have been by Aerys I. We have no clue.

I am happy to agree that we don't know.  It is only when you start arguing that it is impossible to get appointed past 30. that we disagree.  Despite his age, Dunk being appointed under Aegon V is at least as plausible, if not more plausible, than the alternatives.

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The idea that this kind of thing is 'as common as dirt' is just not true.

Please don't misconstrue what I say.  People getting appointed because they have friends in high places who want them appointed for various reasons, is what I said was "common as dirt."  There is nothing abnormal about influential people having influence.

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Clearly the Robert Strong case is another special case.

Doesn't matter.   The world is full of special cases.   And no case is identical to any other.  

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If we get back to Blount and Trant it is just not very likely that Cersei of all people was close to those two guys before they joined the KG. Which is what this discussion basically is about.

No.  It's not what it is all about.  Why do you keep fixating on this?  Your disagreement, as far as I can tell, is with me, and I make no assumptions about the dates, reasons or circumstances of the appointments of Trant and Blount.  My position is that we do not know.   I neither assume nor rule out that Cersei was somehow involved in their appointments.  

Edited by Mister Smikes

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The KG Oakheart replaced is probably no one we have ever heard of, and probably nobody of any consequence.  The fact that GRRM hasn't given us a name or other identifying characteristics is evidence of that.  Actually, strictly speaking, until and unless GRRM does give us a name, the proper answer to the question is "nobody".  The Kingsguard does not exist outside of the pages of ASOIAF, nor do any of its members. 

I know, it can be hard to remember that Westeros, and it's characters, don't really exist.  I'm sometimes guilty of forgetting that myself.  But forgetting that fact leads to unanswerable questions like this one, and sometimes even more circuitous trips down a rabbit-hole.

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16 hours ago, Nevets said:

The KG Oakheart replaced is probably no one we have ever heard of, and probably nobody of any consequence.  The fact that GRRM hasn't given us a name or other identifying characteristics is evidence of that.  Actually, strictly speaking, until and unless GRRM does give us a name, the proper answer to the question is "nobody".  The Kingsguard does not exist outside of the pages of ASOIAF, nor do any of its members. 

I know, it can be hard to remember that Westeros, and it's characters, don't really exist.  I'm sometimes guilty of forgetting that myself.  But forgetting that fact leads to unanswerable questions like this one, and sometimes even more circuitous trips down a rabbit-hole.

All very true, but contrary to suspension of disbelief.  I prefer to suspend disbelief, and instead just admit that we just don't know the answers to these questions.  I find it inconsistent with suspension of disbelief to assume that nothing every happens when the camera is not rolling.

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18 hours ago, Mister Smikes said:

Providing his exact words might help.

You can look for them in the SSMs on the topic. This is a very old discussion.

18 hours ago, Mister Smikes said:

No.  If your paraphrase is accurate, it merely implies that some of those who were appointed in or around 283 are still on the KG.  It does not rule out 1 of the 5 being replaced; and it does not rule out 2 of the 5 being replaced either.

This is literature, not reality. We do not usually assume a lot of subplots and events if things are just casually introduced. The Oakheart example only establishes that one KG died and had to be replaced.

18 hours ago, Mister Smikes said:

I am happy to agree that we don't know.  It is only when you start arguing that it is impossible to get appointed past 30. that we disagree.  Despite his age, Dunk being appointed under Aegon V is at least as plausible, if not more plausible, than the alternatives.

I never said it is impossible that a man beyond thirty couldn't be appointed to the KG. I said that the older you get the less likely it is that you will be appointed, meaning it actually doesn't make much sense to assume that Blount and Trant were already pretty old when they were chosen. Keep in mind that this is a society in which people rarely expect to get very old. Roose Bolton is well past forty (i.e. not yet fifty) and he fears that he doesn't seem to expect to live long enough that his sons by Walda could succeed him as adult men. Which means he basically doesn't expect to live another 16+ years. The idea that the king and his council would want to name a man to the KG who wouldn't be able to do his duties for more than 10-15 years - which strikes me as likely if we think about a man around forty being named to the order - isn't something I can take very seriously.

A man like Barristan Selmy certainly could join the KG even at the age of forty in light of his abilities and the fame he won during his career. But Blount and Trant are not even remotely in Selmy's league, so it is even more likely that they were chosen at a younger when they were in their prime.

18 hours ago, Mister Smikes said:

Please don't misconstrue what I say.  People getting appointed because they have friends in high places who want them appointed for various reasons, is what I said was "common as dirt."  There is nothing abnormal about influential people having influence.

What's unusual is that hedge knights or the scions of obscure houses do have friends at court. The Blounts and Trants and Moores are so obscure that we have no idea who the current heads of those houses are. And the Greenfields are scarcely more prominent. The idea that Boros and Meryn and Mandon and Preston did have sponsors in Robert's court who influenced the Lord Commander and the Hand and the king himself to name them is just not very likely.

At the same time there are dozens and scores of more prominent houses with actual connections to the king and his council who would have a vested interest to secure a white cloak for a younger son or brother or cousin. The fact that this didn't happen can be read as a hint that Greenfield, Blount, Trant, and Moore were not named to the KG because they had friends at court but for other reasons - say, as I suggested, because Robert staged a tourney or melee whose victors would then be named to the KG.

4 minutes ago, Mister Smikes said:

All very true, but contrary to suspension of disbelief.  I prefer to suspend disbelief, and instead just admit that we just don't know the answers to these questions.  I find it inconsistent with suspension of disbelief to assume that nothing every happens when the camera is not rolling.

There are a number of hints that especially Robert's reign isn't fleshed out in great detail. This is why we also have no clue who was on the Small Council prior to Littlefinger and Renly, how it came to be that Loras became Renly's squire, why Stannis married obscure Selyse Florent, when exactly Ned last saw Cersei and her children, etc.

Technically a lot of things should have happened in those fifteen years, but as long as the author doesn't talk about any of that nothing of substance didn't happen in that era.

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Posted (edited)
On 6/11/2021 at 4:04 PM, Lord Varys said:

You can look for them in the SSMs on the topic. This is a very old discussion.

Dude, it's your argument.  But fine.  Here are GRRM's words,, from back in 1999:

The Citadel: So Spake Martin - The Kingsguard (westeros.org)

5) Why were men like Meryn Trant, Boros Blount, Preston Greenfield and Arys Oakheart ever accepted as White Swords? Nobody thinks much of their skill.

GRRM:  Sometimes the best knights are not eager to take such stringent vows, and you have to settle for who you can get. Other factors also enter into the choices -- politics, favoritism, horse trading, rewards for past service, etc. It's a plum appointment for a younger son, or a knight from a minor house. Less so for the Great Houses. Also, Robert had five vacancies to fill all at once, an unusual situation -- imagine the nominations we might get if six of the nine members of the Supreme Court all died within a few months.

Institutions like the Kingsguard change over time. The original Knights of the Garter were warriors all, the strongest, bravest, deadliest men of their time, with an average age under thirty. The present Knights of the Garter are octagenarians and their parades are processions of wheelchairs and walkers.

His exact words are not exactly 100% convenient to your arguments.

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This is literature, not reality.

Dude.  Just admit we don't know.  It's not hard.  Even if it is "just literature", GRRM is the writer, not you.  

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The Oakheart example only establishes that one KG died and had to be replaced.

Was it established that he died?  I don't recall.  Maybe he deserted, or got stripped of his White Cloak and sent to the Wall, or whatever.

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I never said it is impossible that a man beyond thirty couldn't be appointed to the KG. I said that the older you get the less likely it is that you will be appointed, meaning it actually doesn't make much sense to assume that Blount and Trant were already pretty old when they were chosen.

You keep repeating an argument that was not helpful the first time.

First off, this argument does not help with Moore and Greenfield at all.  For all we know they might still be under 30 or 35, and each appointed 5 or 10 years ago.

Secondly, it does not help with Blount, because the question with Blount is not whether he was more likely to have been appointed at 20 than at 35.  We already have considerable evidence he was not as young as 20 or 25 when appointed.  It's more a question of whether he was 30 or 35 when appointed.  One might be marginally more likely than the other, but it is hardly going to be night and day.  When you roll the dice 4 times, you are not going to get an average result every time.

Similar things could be said for Trant, unless you think he is more comparable to Moore and Greenfield.

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Keep in mind that this is a society in which people rarely expect to get very old.

That only explains why nobody worries overmuch about octagenarian KG members.  When they die off, you just replace them.

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The idea that the king and his council would want to name a man to the KG who wouldn't be able to do his duties for more than 10-15 years - which strikes me as likely if we think about a man around forty being named to the order - isn't something I can take very seriously.

It's almost as though you are arguing they should not be able to serve for life.  

Also see GRRM's curious remarks above about how institutions change over time.

Anyhow, GRRM does not seem to think it is a big deal:

"With seven Kingsguard, there are usually enough who are young and strong to allow older members to serve out their lives with honor."

It is apparently not essential that all 7 be able-bodied.  Which makes sense.  The number of members of the kingsguard is symbolic and connected to the Faith of the Seven; and in practice the King can be defended by as many guards as he likes.

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What's unusual is that hedge knights or the scions of obscure houses do have friends at court. The Blounts and Trants and Moores are so obscure that we have no idea who the current heads of those houses are. And the Greenfields are scarcely more prominent. The idea that Boros and Meryn and Mandon and Preston did have sponsors in Robert's court who influenced the Lord Commander and the Hand and the king himself to name them is just not very likely.

At the same time there are dozens and scores of more prominent houses with actual connections to the king and his council who would have a vested interest to secure a white cloak for a younger son or brother or cousin.

GRRM does not seem to agree.  He suggests that the Great Houses are less likely to be interested in such an appointment.  

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The fact that this didn't happen can be read as a hint that Greenfield, Blount, Trant, and Moore were not named to the KG because they had friends at court but for other reasons - say, as I suggested, because Robert staged a tourney or melee whose victors would then be named to the KG.

GRRM, as quoted above, was asked directly about these people, and in this context mentioned, among other factors, "politics, favoritism and horse trading".  

 

Edited by Mister Smikes

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