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Canon Claude

Why was the Reach so united against Robert?

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During the Dance of the Dragons and at least one of the Blackfyre Rebellions, the Reach was famously divided. Sometimes Reach houses were on either side, or else they were neutral. And yet, even though the Stormlands and Vale and Riverlands were divided down the middle, the Reach of all decide to follow House Tyrell in defence of House Targaryen.

One thing we learn about the Reach is that they have a lot of ambitious lords in charge, and some of them might defy House Tyrell. Why not usurp those stewards’ big seat and set them up as loyal to Robert? The same thing happened to House Lannister back when they were dealing with Aerys.

but nobody saw a chance? No Hightowers? No Tarly? No Florent?

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32 minutes ago, Canon Claude said:

During the Dance of the Dragons and at least one of the Blackfyre Rebellions, the Reach was famously divided. Sometimes Reach houses were on either side, or else they were neutral. And yet, even though the Stormlands and Vale and Riverlands were divided down the middle, the Reach of all decide to follow House Tyrell in defence of House Targaryen.

One thing we learn about the Reach is that they have a lot of ambitious lords in charge, and some of them might defy House Tyrell. Why not usurp those stewards’ big seat and set them up as loyal to Robert? The same thing happened to House Lannister back when they were dealing with Aerys.

but nobody saw a chance? No Hightowers? No Tarly? No Florent?

Mace Tyrell was already married to Alerie Hightower  and his 4 children with her were already born. The heirs to Highgarden are all Hightowers. 

Lord Leyton Hightower is married to Rhea Florent , who is Melissa Tarly(Florent) sister. 

Olenna Tyrell is a Redwyne by birth, and married her first daughter to her Redwyne nephew.

 

So yea, the difference between the other situations was that the marriages and blood ties werent there. 

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Robert left Stannis as his Castellan while he lived in the Vale. I imagine one of the reasons why many of the Stormlords and possibly the neighbouring Reach was initially against Robert had something to do with Stannis' leadership.

The Reach Lords may also have preferred Rhaegar more, he was clearly a beloved figure. And Aerys had done nothing to anger that region. It may also be that 20 years of peace and prosperity under Aerys reign was something the Reach Lords enjoyed very much so throwing the dice to let Robert rule, with his allies from the Vale, North and Riverlands, would see the Reach Lords pushed further down the pecking order in terms of Crown influence.

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5 hours ago, dsjj251 said:

 

Lord Leyton Hightower is married to Rhea Florent , who is Melissa Tarly(Florent) sister. 
 

That didn’t stop the Florents from siding with Stannis during the War of the Five Kings, nor did it stop Randyll from slaughtering Florent bannermen (and presumably a Florent kinsman or two).

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Family ties, like others have said. They're not perfect, but they do help keep the lords in sync.

But there is another dynamic going on in the Reach. For thousands of years, Highgarden has been the hegemon of Westeros. Have you ever wondered why it was the Riverlands that saw all the fighting and invasions and rising and falling petty kings over the centuries and not the Reach? The Riverlands at least has rivers to afford it some protection, while the Reach has only one main river and the rest is league upon league of open farmland and gently rolling hills.

The answer is the Reach's large population, easily double or triple that of any other kingdom. This allowed the Reach to field the largest army and navy in any conflict. Everyone knew that you could invade the Reach, but eventually you would get beaten. But this advantage can only be leveraged if there is political stability among the Reach houses, and the best way to provide that stability is through marriage. This is why first the Gardeners, then the Tyrells, made it a point to marry their principal banners so that they all became one big extended family. Note that the only time Highgarden ever fell was when the Gardener king at the time made a series of unwise marriages that led to conflict among the banners and the Reach was invaded simultaneously by the westerlands, stormlands and Dorne.

Of course, the other kings married their banners for the same reason, but as long as the Reach had the population advantage, the status quo was ensured. But all this started to change in the lead-up to Robert's Rebellion. Suddenly, you had Tullys marrying Starks, Starks marrying Baratheons, Lannisters talking marriage with Tullys and (gasp) Martells. This changes everything because now you have the prospect of two or three great houses becoming as intertwined as the Tullys, Hightowers and Redwynes -- potentially creating a military threat that could overcome the Reach's one and only tactical advantage.

The rise of such a power bloc is what drove the Mad King to interfere with all these machinations, and it's the same reason the Tyrells backed him -- not out of any loyalty but because they had just as much to fear from a Stark-Tully-Baratheon-whoever integration as he did.

 

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9 hours ago, Canon Claude said:

During the Dance of the Dragons and at least one of the Blackfyre Rebellions, the Reach was famously divided. Sometimes Reach houses were on either side, or else they were neutral. And yet, even though the Stormlands and Vale and Riverlands were divided down the middle, the Reach of all decide to follow House Tyrell in defence of House Targaryen.

One thing we learn about the Reach is that they have a lot of ambitious lords in charge, and some of them might defy House Tyrell. Why not usurp those stewards’ big seat and set them up as loyal to Robert? The same thing happened to House Lannister back when they were dealing with Aerys.

but nobody saw a chance? No Hightowers? No Tarly? No Florent?

Those who have it good will be conservative. They will support the establishment and maintain the order of things. Aerys is the rightful king. The realm was at peace as well as prosperous. He had done nothing that was illegal. I too would have fought against the Baratheon.  Rickard and Robert were disloyal. Brandon Stark was guilty of threatening the Targaryen family. It was Arryn who started the war. The Reach were right to support the Targaryens.  

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Each region ("kingdom") of Westeros has unique qualities. I'm not sure of the nature of the unique importance of The Reach, but my guess is that it's a sort of "Garden of Eden" destination that is highly desirable to anyone who wants to control Westeros. One clue comes from Ser Eustace Osgrey who tells the story of the Little Lion who defends The Reach when a Lannister lord seeks to "take a bite out of" it. The other clue is in the legends surrounding Garth Greenhands, who is supposed to be the original partriarch of House Gardener but who is also an ancestor of many of the great houses of Westeros. 

House Gardener died out (supposedly - in ASOIAF we can never trust blanket assertions about the extinction of a house) and House Tyrell was elevated to Highgarden and Warden of the South by Aegon the Conqueror. The "Queen of Thorns" title hints to me that House Tyrell may have a unique symbolism as the "throne" of Westeros - like the thorns of a rose, the iron throne is prickly with sharp points. The House that has the best Tyrell alliance has the best control of the throne.

We know that Houses Manderly, Peake and Florent felt they had claims to Highgarden and the Reach at points in history, in spite of the Tyrell bloodlines that were closely intertwined with House Gardener. I suspect these are the core houses we should examine as rivals or potential breakaway houses.

I hope to eventually write up one of my lengthy and mind-numbingly pedantic posts about Osgrey's "bite out of the reach" story, but suffice it to say that this bite dynamic is still at work among kings and would-be kings in Westeros. Robert didn't marry a Tyrell but, in the first pov in which he appears, he tells Ned that he has to come south so he can taste the peaches from the Reach. In other words, the best thing about being king is the access to the fruits of summer. (Robert describes them in the same breath that he describes women in scanty clothing during the hot weather.) 

Recall that Renly initially proposes Margaery as a bride for Robert, intending to displace Cersei and make Margaery the new queen. Ned thinks Renly is nuts and, as far as we know, the plan is never put before Robert before his hunting accident. After Robert dies, Renly realizes the goal of controlling the Reach through marriage to Margaery but the marriage is a sham. (Although Renly does consummate his Tyrell alliance through Ser Loras.) 

After Renly's death, Tywin makes sure that Joffrey and Tommen pursue and lock in the Tyrell alliance. We are waiting to see what happens when Tommen is old enough to consummate his marriage to Margaery. There is no wedding until there is also a bedding. The Lannisters also hold Redwyne hostages and have allied with other important Reach households. 

So Stannis never gets a chance to marry into the Tyrells and he chooses the next best option for controlling the Reach: marriage to House Florent. Robert also pursued this angle, fathering a bastard on a Florent cousin. It gives Stannis (and maybe Robert) some Reach mojo, but not enough to overcome the Tyrell-Reach mojo. So far, at least. 

We feel fairly certain that House Manderly is now loyal to House Stark, so there is the Reach mojo for the longtime wardens of the North. 

It will be interesting to see what happens with House Peake. In AFfC, there is a Lannister marriage alliance with House Peake. The narrow thread for House Peake seems to be mostly upheld by three Peakes in the Golden Company, now allied with fAegon and assisting Arianne Martell in her attempts to reach the invader at Storm's End. 

You also mention House Highgarden. They are not mentioned as having ambitions to rule the Reach, from what I can see, although they are clearly players in the Game of Thrones. Mace Tyrell is married to a Hightower daughter and there is a Redwyne-Hightower marriage alliance. They are working hard to assemble all of the pieces needed to control The Reach effectively.

There was also the famous and unexpected Mormont-Hightower alliance, however, which could be interesting now that Ser Jorah is utterly devoted to Dany. Ser Jorah once gave Dany a small peach which she felt was the sweetest thing she ever ate. 

I think it's also significant that House Tyrell has an important marriage alliance with House Fossoway. Their sigil is an apple (although we don't know if Ser Garlan's wife is a green or red apple Fossoway). 

In the symbolism department, I am circling around the meaning of "poaching," which is a way of preparing eggs, fruit or fish (each recipe very different from the others). The recipe for preparing poached fruit involves wine. (Eggs and fish are poached in hot water.) So I think the symbolism of House Redwyne's approach to controlling the Reach is on track for the peach / Reach wordplay pair - peaches poached in wine. But the word "poach" can also involve hunting animals on someone else's land and we know that House Osgrey had a conflict with House Webber over poaching and that Ser Jorah got in trouble for selling some poachers into slavery instead of sending them to the Wall. 

If poached fruit (and other poaching) is of potential symbolic importance in understanding control of the Reach, we should probably also examine mulled and spiced wine. Like poached fruit desserts, this also involves mixing fruit into heated wine. Jon Snow says that Jeor Mormont has a very specific recipe for preparing mulled wine, and it must be followed precisely. 

Maybe the Hightower presence, with their flaming tower sigil, in the Reach power struggle represents the heat source for mulling or poaching the fruits in the liquid medium? Hmm. 

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Highgarden and the Reach are traditionally pro Targ and unlike the Blackfyres, the rebels had no influence or friendship there that allow them to sway some. 

This combined with the fact that Rhaegar's and Aerys's actions did not affect them whatsoever meant that they had little gain by supporting the rebels and much to lose with an entirely dominated rebel court, as it ended up happening.

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Posted (edited)
56 minutes ago, frenin said:

Highgarden and the Reach are traditionally pro Targ and unlike the Blackfyres, the rebels had no influence or friendship there that allow them to sway some. 

This combined with the fact that Rhaegar's and Aerys's actions did not affect them whatsoever meant that they had little gain by supporting the rebels and much to lose with an entirely dominated rebel court, as it ended up happening.

I see what you’re saying, but surely they could still have something to gain if they threw in their lot with the rebels? 
You have a mad king on the throne, who is well known to be mad, and he just ordered several powerful nobles and their sons from four different regions of Westeros publicly killed without trial. He then also orders the execution of two great lords who did nothing against him. In response, four regions of Westeros rise up in rebellion, and two other regions are staying neutral. And on top of that, the only other region to ally with the crown is the Reach’s sworn enemy. I get that they might not have known all the details, but given that situation, the Reach must have realised that they were basically the only real united strength that the crown had left. If they also turned on the Iron Throne, then it would be Mace Tyrell, and not Tywin Lannister, who can deliver the throne to Robert. 

Edited by Canon Claude

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40 minutes ago, Canon Claude said:

I see what you’re saying, but surely they could still have something to gain if they threw in their lot with the rebels? 
You have a mad king on the throne, who is well known to be mad, and he just ordered several powerful nobles and their sons from four different regions of Westeros publicly killed without trial. He then also orders the execution of two great lords who did nothing against him. In response, four regions of Westeros rise up in rebellion, and two other regions are staying neutral. And on top of that, the only other region to ally with the crown is the Reach’s sworn enemy. I get that they might not have known all the details, but given that situation, the Reach must have realised that they were basically the only real united strength that the crown had left. If they also turned on the Iron Throne, then it would be Mace Tyrell, and not Tywin Lannister, who can deliver the throne to Robert. 

I mean yes, but there is some issues with that thinking. The first and more important is that many had their hopes in Rhaegar not Aerys, the rebels had/were also spending considerable time, manpower and resources in putting down loyalists among their own ranks, those rebel regions were far from being a monolith during the war, there is also personal honor, many reach houses would feel that it's their duty to support the Targs no matter their sins, this also happens within the rebel regions. 

Had Mace tried to go with the rebels, he would have ended up fighting his own bannerman, without certainty of victory. He would have made life easier for the rebels, not quite delivering the throne to them tho. 

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Posted (edited)

Rebellion is illegal. House Tyrell and their bannermen had honor. Tarly is harsh but we may learn later that he is actually a man who obeys the law. 

Edited by Moiraine Sedai

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Let's deconstruct this a bit more thoroughly:

First of all, the Tyrells owed everything to the Targaryens. That's why they never once rocked the boat by going to war against House Targaryen in all the history of their dynasty. Even when during the Dance of the Dragons, they preferred to sit on their asses and do nothing rather than offend one of the two Targaryen factions. The only reason the Reach was so divided was because the Tyrells were too weak and House Hightower was too powerful.

Speaking of House Hightower, it's important to note that they seemed to take a back seat after the Dance. They got burned badly during that conflict (pun intended), and as powerful as they still are, they've never really tried to grab that kind of power since. Granted, they could very well be protecting the Citadel as they undermined the Targaryens with their plots and experiments and whatnot, but that's impossible to confirm. Point is, House Hightower seems to have learned their lesson and fallen in line behind House Tyrell.

House Tarly's clearly got some kind of ambition going on, but at the same time, they're also disciplined soldiers and haven't ever openly defied their overlords. So if House Tyrell stays loyal to House Targaryen, so will House Tarly.

House Florent's always held up as the bitter rivals to House Tyrell, but I've never really bought that they're any kind of genuine threat to House Tyrell. Rich as House Florent might be, they apparently can't field more than 2,000 soldiers, which is a pitiful number when you consider how many people live in the Reach. And we never hear of House Florent defying House Tyrell or plotting against them, not even during the Dance or the Blackfyre Rebellions. Compared to House Bolton's bloody and devious history, House Florent are mostly just bluster and metaphorical penis envy. 

The only thing I do find funny is how many Reach houses would have gladly grabbed any excuse to fight the Dornish (especially House Oakheart), but those old enmities aren't enough to turn people against House Tyrell or Targaryen after so many years in power. 

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11 hours ago, Floki of the Ironborn said:

 

Speaking of House Hightower, it's important to note that they seemed to take a back seat after the Dance. They got burned badly during that conflict (pun intended), and as powerful as they still are, they've never really tried to grab that kind of power since. Granted, they could very well be protecting the Citadel as they undermined the Targaryens with their plots and experiments and whatnot, but that's impossible to confirm. Point is, House Hightower seems to have learned their lesson and fallen in line behind House Tyrell.

 

We don’t know much about House Hightower’s history between the end of FAB and the beginning of AGOT. For all we know, they’ve gotten up to all kinds of shenanigans. We know that they supported the Blackfyre and the Targaryens during the first Blackfyre rebellion. Who knows what else they did.

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Originally, Robert's Rebellion was pretty much a joke. That only changed when Robert had as much success in the field as he did. Nobody knew he was a great general until he demonstrated that he was.

In the Reach, House Targaryen is apparently rather popular among many lords, meaning the Tyrells - who had their own issues with the dragons back in Luthor's and Olenna's days - seem to have followed the majority opinion in their land rather than themselves being die-hard Targaryen loyalists.

Mace wanted to win glory in the field, apparently, and saw this rebellion as an opportunity to do so.

The idea that there are a lot of ambitious lords in the Reach who want to defy the Tyrells just isn't the case. The Tyrells are well-connected with all their powerful bannermen, either through marriage or in other ways. The only folks who resent them to a point are the Florents, and they are pretty weak, actually, as Lord Alester shows when he backs 'King Renly' despite his niece's marriage to Stannis.

The Reach might fracture now, to a point, if Euron were to destroy the Redwyne fleet (Paxter is one of the main allies of Mace), Mathis Rowan were to be captured by the Golden Company and subsequently declaring the rightful heir to the Iron Throne, the Golden Company win a victory against the Tyrell army in KL, and the fights against the Ironborn along the Mander don't go all that well.

The Golden Company seem to believe they have friends in the Reach, but I guess those are just the Merryweathers and Titus Peake.

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

 

The Golden Company seem to believe they have friends in the Reach, but I guess those are just the Merryweathers and Titus Peake.

I'm surprised that House Peake is still a thing after the antics of Unwin, Gormon, and the Peake Uprising. Also, I don't understand why the Peake Uprising was such a threat that the king himself was taking part in bringing the rebellion down.

Edited by James Steller

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1 minute ago, James Steller said:

I'm surprised that House Peake is still a thing after the antics of Unwin, Gormon, and the Peake Uprising. Also, I don't understand why the Peake Uprising was such a threat that the king himself was taking part in bringing the rebellion down.

The original version of the Westerlands history you can read on George's page might include a hint as to how it came to be that the Peakes were still around after 233 AC. The Red Lion lost his father in the battle, and murdered seven captive Peakes to avenge him before Egg could stop the killings. An idea I tossed around is that Titus Peake was the infant heir of the last Lord Peake after that massacre, and Egg made him a ward of Gerold the Golden at Casterly Rock where he was raised and eventually married to Margot Lannister.

That way, Egg ensured that the last Peake would be raised far away from the influence of his rebel kin and he would be brought up as a proper Targaryen loyalist (Gerold the Golden was apparently a close friend of Dunk & Egg and quite instrumental at the Great Council).

If Titus Peake was born in 232 or 233 AC he would be 67-68 years old in 300 AC, and such an advanced age on his part would also help explain why neither he nor any Peake levies have shown up in the books so far. Especially if it turned out that he and Margot didn't have any children.

There is no indication that the Peake Uprising was a big threat to the Targaryen reign. Maekar was a warrior king, meaning there is nothing curious about him personally leading an army to put down a rebellion. In that sense, Maekar seems to have been like Robert, who also personally put down the Greyjoy Rebellion - which was also no real threat to his rule on the continent. It also seems as if Aegon V emulated his father in this regard - he, too, seems to have taken up arms personally to fight against the Blackfyres and the other rebels challenging his rule.

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On 8/26/2021 at 8:50 PM, Moiraine Sedai said:

Rebellion is illegal. House Tyrell and their bannermen had honor. Tarly is harsh but we may learn later that he is actually a man who obeys the law. 

Genuine question, when you watch Star Wars, do you root for the Empire? 

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Posted (edited)
On 8/28/2021 at 4:03 AM, Canon Claude said:

We don’t know much about House Hightower’s history between the end of FAB and the beginning of AGOT. For all we know, they’ve gotten up to all kinds of shenanigans. We know that they supported the Blackfyre and the Targaryens during the first Blackfyre rebellion. Who knows what else they did.

Jon Hightower was the last hand for Aegon IV and also brought Sereni of Lys to court. I can only imagine that Lord Hightower was not happy to be removed from court with the other sycophants by Daeron ii and replaced by the Dornish….

Edited by The Merling King

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On 8/26/2021 at 7:50 PM, Moiraine Sedai said:

Rebellion is illegal. House Tyrell and their bannermen had honor. Tarly is harsh but we may learn later that he is actually a man who obeys the law. 

It is not a coincidence that we are introduced to Ned Stark when he is meting out the King's Justice (using the sword Ice to behead the deserter Gared) and we get a big scene with Randyll Tarly when he is meting out the King's Justice at Maidenpool. There is contrast with Ned, to be sure, but also additional parallels: both men have a "son" in the Night's Watch, for instance. Catelyn's animosity toward Jon Snow and Randyll's hostility toward Sam Tarly may be parallels. I suspect that the "flower" symbolism of House Florent (Randyll's wife's family) and "flow" with House Tully (the flowing river association with Ned's wife's family) may also be a parallel. 

I think it's also fair to say that GRRM makes the point that rebellion is in the eye of the beholder. Tyrell and Tarly may have seen instability and harsh rule if Stannis succeeded Robert; they felt Renly was the logical and safe choice. Following Renly's death, the Tyrells saw the Lannister branch of the Baratheons as the best alternative and Randyll Tarly dutifully followed as a loyal bannerman. They could probably rationalize their actions as the best choice for the Seven Kingdoms and would never see themselves as rebels. 

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On 8/29/2021 at 11:13 AM, Seams said:

It is not a coincidence that we are introduced to Ned Stark when he is meting out the King's Justice (using the sword Ice to behead the deserter Gared) and we get a big scene with Randyll Tarly when he is meting out the King's Justice at Maidenpool. There is contrast with Ned, to be sure, but also additional parallels: both men have a "son" in the Night's Watch, for instance. Catelyn's animosity toward Jon Snow and Randyll's hostility toward Sam Tarly may be parallels. I suspect that the "flower" symbolism of House Florent (Randyll's wife's family) and "flow" with House Tully (the flowing river association with Ned's wife's family) may also be a parallel. 

I think it's also fair to say that GRRM makes the point that rebellion is in the eye of the beholder. Tyrell and Tarly may have seen instability and harsh rule if Stannis succeeded Robert; they felt Renly was the logical and safe choice. Following Renly's death, the Tyrells saw the Lannister branch of the Baratheons as the best alternative and Randyll Tarly dutifully followed as a loyal bannerman. They could probably rationalize their actions as the best choice for the Seven Kingdoms and would never see themselves as rebels. 

Choosing Renly over Stannis is not the same as rebelling against Aerys Targaryen.  Aerys inherited the throne and he came from an unbroken dynasty which lasted 300 years. He was crowned and had ruled for over 20 years. The right to rule was his. To rebel against his rule and against the Targaryen is illegal and much more serious. 

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