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How good of a ruler, politician and strategist Tywin really was ?


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Of all ASOIAF characters in the present story Tywin Lannister is certainely one of the most praised and extoled characters in the main series, both in and out of universe, with many other characters in the story praising his greatness as a lord and hand of the king, with Pycelle even comparing him to a king, and with many fans adorating him as a genius politician, hand and strategist.

But in in the facts how much of this is true ? How great Tywin really was as a lord, hand and as a strategist for house Lannister and the Iron Throne ? 

Overall how good of a stateman, politician and military/political strategist would you say that Tywin Lannister really was if we take in account his whole active life from the rains of Castamere to his death at Tyrion's hands, taking in account his qualities, achievements, flaws, failures and screw-ups at the same time ? 

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Sorry I hoped that someone else would make the first reply but at least I'll say my personnal opinion: 

In my opinion Tywin was certainely a really capable hand during Aerys's time and he was certainely the backbone of the Lannister regime with him making house Lannister the main power of Westeros and gaining victory with the Red Wedding but it's clear that he was not a good long-term planner when you see how he never prepared any of his children to rule (with very visible consequences for Cersei), how he refused to see that Jaime wasn't the perfect heir and wouldn't leave the Kingsguard and that Tyrion was the most brilliant of his children, as well as how power-hungry and nefast Cersei was until he saw for himself that she wouldn't content herself to be a simple obedient child and asset, not counting his overreliance on brutality and violence which he failed to see would cause long-lasting hatred by the northmen, rivermen and dornish for his family and cause deep troubles for the Lannisters and their allies in the long run. 

His blindness toward Varys and Littlefinger's schemes and sabotages is also a big failure of his part, with him not even seeing that Littlefinger had deliberately falsified and sabotaged the crown's financial accounts and treasury. 

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Tywin is good but hampered critically by his personal flaws. 

The Red Wedding was a horrible idea. The rape of Princess Elia was a horrible idea. The murder of her children was a horrible idea. And I'm not talking ethically, but from a political perspective. Tywin does not seem to understand the reality that while a lord needs to be feared, he cannot be hated. 

Tywin's overt brutality in cases where it isn't actually warranted has its roots in his own personal psychocomplex. Everybody laughed at daddy and thought he was weak, so I'm gonna be the most hardass of hardasses and prove I'm a big strong boy - basically. 

Similarly, he is obsessed with "legacy" but blind to the actual reality of his legacy. He will not accept that the generation after him is comparatively weak and stupid, because he sired them and that reflects on him. And unlike daddy, Big Boy Tywin is NOT weak or stupid. 

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Mediocre at best. Tywin wins through sheer brutality being willing to do stuff no one else would and with good reason. Most of those actions have consequences that others would understand are far too great to deal with. Tywin often deliberately picks solutions to problems which work well in the immediate or short term but come with long term problems he doesn't seem to care about. Oh You've permanently pissed off Dorne. It'll be fine. You've broken a pivotal institution which helps ensure harmony between the lords of the realms and permanently pissed off two more realms and all their friends. I'm Tywin Lannister I'll deal with it somehow.

Tywin was successful in building a Lannister regime but he built it on quicksand. Half the realms will never be his friends and his only allies are greedy and have little real loyalty to him and his cause. If he'd lived longer he may have been able to deal with some of them through fear holding some in line but sooner or later he would have suffered a genuinely serious setback and it would have fallen to pieces very quickly.

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2 hours ago, The Jingo said:

Tywin does not seem to understand the reality that while a lord needs to be feared, he cannot be hated. 

This is the biggest issue with Tywin and he failed as a Machiavellian prince on that: he did everything he could to avoid contempt by crushing those who openly defied him and inspire fear (Reynes and Tarbeck) but never cared about avoiding hatred. People will hate you if you go after their loved one without good reasons to do so, but they will respect you and fear you if you kill people who have committed horrible crimes.

Tysha's case is a good example of unnecessary cruelty, this was pure spite. The murder of Elia's children was an attempt to follow Machiavelli's advice to "end the old bloodline" but he couldn't achieve that as he did with the Reynes and Tarbeck, so the result of his actions could only lead to hatred.

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2 hours ago, Willam Stark said:

to "end the old bloodline" but he couldn't achieve that as he did with the Reynes and Tarbeck, so the result of his actions could only lead to hatred.

It was honestly even worse than that because he didn't need to do it at all. 

He could have taken Elia and her children hostage for Dorne's good behaviour. Send Aegon off to the Night's Watch as soon as he's old enough to swear vows and then marry Rhaenys to Joffrey as soon as she bleeds. He thus fortifies his grandson's claim while eliminating the most serious contender without engendering hatred. 

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1 hour ago, The Jingo said:

It was honestly even worse than that because he didn't need to do it at all. 

He could have taken Elia and her children hostage for Dorne's good behaviour. Send Aegon off to the Night's Watch as soon as he's old enough to swear vows and then marry Rhaenys to Joffrey as soon as she bleeds. He thus fortifies his grandson's claim while eliminating the most serious contender without engendering hatred. 

I have a hard time believing that Robert would have allowed that, though. His fanatical hatred of the Targaryens was well known.

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Tywin was capable in all three.  I would not call him good.  He inherited his position.  I would have more admiration for somebody who had to work their way to the position of power.  Tywin, Ned, Stannis, Walder, and Roose are alike.  How far would a young lad get on talent and will alone.  We could never know with them as examples. 

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14 hours ago, WhatAnArtist! said:

I have a hard time believing that Robert would have allowed that, though. His fanatical hatred of the Targaryens was well known.

Yes but that's on Robert, not Tywin. 

Tywin's job as the head of the Lannisters is to act in such a way that maximizes the gains of the Lannisters. The best possible resolution for Tywin is what I outlined. 

If Robert kills them himself then at least Tywin tried. He would work for the best option and if Robert acted in a way that forced him to reevaluate then he would. 

Edited by The Jingo
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14 hours ago, WhatAnArtist! said:

I have a hard time believing that Robert would have allowed that, though. His fanatical hatred of the Targaryens was well known.

I'm not so sure. Yes, Robert hated the Targaryens. Yes, he took some action to kill Danearys one time. But I think if Robert had killed Reanys and Aegon personally, he would have ended his friendship with Ned for good. The relationship was frayed badly simply by Tywin's actions. If Robert had killed the children himself, Ned would not have forgiven him, and on.some level, Robert knows that.

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