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Just Who Killed "Breakspear"? (Spoilers if You Have Not Read the Hedge Knight Obviously)


KingMaekarWasHere
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As I recall this topic may have been brought up again and again years ago when I first joined the forum. But I wanted to get some fresh opinions on this question. Maekar was obviously deeply angered with his brother for championing the side of Duncan the Tall in the Trial by Seven. Who wouldn't have been angry? Having said that, in the Targaryen family tree, brothers tend to stick by their brothers. The one major exception is obviously Bloodraven and Bittersteel, but those two were only half-brothers. Full-blooded brothers tend to share a bond that is usually beyond simple oaths of loyalty. Having said all that, Maekar was likely not responsible for killing his brother. He likely made every attempt to avoid his brother in the trial. So "Who" likely was behind Baelor Breakspear's FATAL wound? And WHY? I may be going tinfoil here but let's do this - 

Possible Attackers/Assassins - 

1. Ser Robyn Rhysling - this "mysterious knight" is hardly known about at all, even by Egg who suggests that he fight for Duncan the Tall. What is known about him is that he lost an eye from tilt five years prior to Ashford Meadow. But how sure can we be that this Ser Robyn really lost an eye, and was not faking a backstory while wearing an eyepatch? And if he did lose an eye, was the lance from Baelor Breakspear? Was Robyn Rhysling acting out of revenge? Was he being paid by Bloodraven or by the Citadel to carry out the act? 

2. Ser Steffon Fossoway - AKA "The Rotten Red Apple" - He is obviously not as mysterious as Rhysling and seems by some to be an obvious culprit. He may have been bribed by the Citadel to strike a critical blow on Baelor's head and to make it look like Maekar dealt the death blow. Who knows? But wasn't it odd how quickly the Red Apple went to join the Brightflame's side? The Fossoways are from the Reach, so we can't say for sure if they would be loyal to the Citadel over the dragon lords. But you never know. 

3. One of the three Kingsguard - Of course the Kingsguard are not meant to strike the blood royals, but not all of the kingsguard could be trusted in past ages! What is odd is that Ser Donnel of Duskendale is mentioned once by Jaime in a Feast for Crows. And we hardly know anything about him! In fact we don't know much about a lot of members of the kingsguard post the Dance. Donnel continued to serve under Aerys I it has been said in TWOIAF. Possibly a tool of Bloodraven? Did Bloodraven arrange for Breakspear's death to ensure that the line of Maekar would go on to produce TPTWP? Longshot but a possibility. 

Motives - 

1. The Maesters and the Citadel - I think that most of you have heard that they have plotted the downfall of the Targaryen dynasty. What better way to send the dynasty on a collision course of destruction than to kill off Baelor, the most noble and unifying prince in years? Add that the very real possibility that the Archmaester Walgrave possessed the gauntlet of Baelor Breakspear. Perhaps the gauntlet served as proof to the maesters that the deed had been done and that Baelor was dead? 

2. Bloodraven - If the goal of Bloodraven was to "save the world" and create the Targ PTWP out of the bloodline of dragon lords, then killing off Baelor's line may have been necessary. Perhaps he knew early on that Jon/Aegon would only come from Maekar's bloodline directly? 

3. (Longshot) Bittersteel - Could Bittersteel simply out for revenge, have bribed Fossoway or Rhysling to end Baelor's life? Not directly of course but through a contact. 

 

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Robin Rhysling was Bloodraven, and he killed Baelor.

  • In the Mystery Knight it is shown how Bloodraven is able to use glamor, and he uses it to disguise himself as a low-profile knight to attend significant events.
  • In the Mystery Knight we see how Bloodraven's glamor is not perfect, and Dunk is almost capable of seeing through it: "Through the rain, all he could make out was a hooded shape and a single pale white eye." What would Bloodraven do to disguise this weakness? One idea could be to wear a moonstone brooch to confuse people, as he does in TMK. But another idea would be just to wear an eyepatch.
  • The motive: Baelor was championing a lenient approach to the deafeated black rebels. The king was old, and would not live much longer (he was already 55, older than any previous Targ king had lived save for the Conciliator). Once Baelor gets the throne, not only Bloodraven would probably lose both his chair in the small council and his personal army, but he may very wall have to see how Bittersteel and the rest of the exiles came back home. His actions at the Great Council of 233 prove that he is capable of murder and betrayal to ensure that the Throne doesn't go to the wrong hands.
  • Baelor's helmet was "crushed down at the back", which would be consistent with having received the fatal blow by someone fighting "at his side".
  • ETA: Robin Rhysling's actions are consistent with someone who is actively trying to be recruited by rebels. He challenges Leo Longthorn, the main Red supporter in the Reach. He fights bravely and disregards his own safety, as would be expected of someone willing to join a coup. And he volunteers to fight for Dunk at the Trial of Seven, that before Baelor's involvement, was a conflict against the Targaryen establishment. Now, we don't know which side the Rhyslings (or the Redwynes) fought for, but given that the black dragon seems to be very strong in the southwestern part of the Reach (Ball, Peake, Costayne, plus Higtower and Oakheart keeping a foot in each camp), it's not unlikely that they were Blackfyre supporters, thus making Robin even more attractive to "recruiters".
Edited by The hairy bear
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Steffon Fossoway seems unlikely: firstly, he joined the prosecution side before he knew Baelor would be appearing for the defence; secondly, it seems most likely that Raymun lined up against Steffon in the initial charge, and since they were both still fighting at the end, in something of a private battle, it seems likely that the Fossoways were focussed pretty much exclusively on each other for the whole of the trial by combat.

I'm also inclined to believe it wasn't one of the Kingsguard, especially since Maekar seems to agree retrospectively with Baelor's assumption that they wouldn't strike him or at least not with that kind of force. 

The blow was almost certainly delivered with a "blunt" weapon, as a sword wouldn't have the force to stave in a helmet like that unless swung backwards, which you wouldn't do in a general melee: that means a mace, hammer, or flail. Maybe an axe. Now, we don't have a lot of information on who was armed with what in that fight: there are a few who we can surmise were using swords (the Fossoways, Lyonel Baratheon given he uses his sword to knight Raymun), plus Dunk of course, but from what I recall at least, the only two we know of who were certainly using blunt weapons were Maekar and Aerion.- and Aerion was essentially embroiled in a duel with Dunk. so unavailable to attack Baelor.

Both Baelor and Maekar believed that it was Maekar who struck the fatal blow. That must count for something, too. Nobody else contests this, and if someone on Baelor's side had whacked him in the head with that force right under the noses of Maekar and the Kingsguard there's a reasonable chance they'd have noticed.

So on the evidence we actually have, it's hardly conclusive but it all points to Maekar. It's not impossible that more could come out, of course, but we don't have enough to seriously suspect anyone else, even Robin Rhysling. 

 

On which note, I don't necessarily buy that Robin Rhysling was particularly low-profile or mysterious, either. He has a fairly well-known history, including his injury some years previously, he's a prominent figure at Ashford, Aegon knows him from prior tourneys. He's not a complete nobody like Maynard Plumm. If he is indeed Bloodraven in disguise, Bloodraven's been preparing it for a long time. 

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A Trial of Seven is a major shake-up and transformative event in The Game of Thrones. I believe Baelor knew this going in to the staged combat; he likely knew he was fated to "die" that day (although death is often a momentary condition in ASOIAF).

For a little perspective on the importance of a Trial of Seven, use anagrams to compare it to these transformative events in the series:

Reveal at Fist (Jon Snow finds the obsidian cache)

Aversion Left (Dany is told she must always take the door to the right.)

Oft a Sniveler (Sansa / Alayne has to appease Sweetrobin and bring him down the mountain.)

The important focus at Ashford Meadow is not necessarily on the fatal blow for Baelor - although I do think it came from Maekar. I think the author wants us to look at the seven warriors on one side vs. the seven on the other side. He is showing us a major shift in the line of succession in the Targaryen/Blackfyre dynasty and the shift is to Dunk and Egg as a new team that will eventually succeed to the throne. I agree that this is being choreographed by Bloodraven, but Baelor is in on it. The outcome of the trial helps to move Egg into place as Maekar's eventual heir and I believe that Baelor's spirit goes into Dunk. You can see it in the illustration, in case it's not clear in the text. 

It's part of the pattern of balancing opposites that has been a hallmark of the Targaryen dynasty for centuries - Aegon had two wives. There was a civil war and offspring from the two sides eventually marry. Some Targaryens try to break the cycle, but the balancing act keeps reasserting itself in different ways. 

We do see a fair amount of brothers-killing-brothers violence in ASOIAF and related stories. Arryk and Erryk Cargill come to mind. Lump and Bump, the free folk skinchanger and his brother. There is a lot of suspicion about deaths in the Frey family. Jon Snow is apparently killed by his "Black Brothers." 

We also see a number of uncles who seem to disappear - Gerion Lannister, for one. I wrote about this in a long-ago thread called the Vanishing Uncles of Westeros.

I can't remember the details of the vanishing uncle analysis, but I think the gist of it is that the remaining brother loses the qualities of the missing sibling - Tywin became a humorless jerk after Gerion was lost. (But Gerion gave a dagger as a wedding gift to Robert Baratheon, and we know that giving a blade to someone is a huge big deal in recognizing an heir in Westeros. He also left behind a daughter named Joy, who is seen as a prize by Tywin but an insult by Lady Westerling.)

I think we can also examine stories such as Gendel and Gorne, where the brothers went into combat together. One was killed and the other lost forever (but living in the Underworld). 

If you carefully parse the words used to describe Prince Doran and Prince Oberyn, I think you can tell that Oberyn knows he is going off to his death when he makes the journey to King's Landing. There is the bit about the Dornish water game where the small child sits on the shoulders of the bigger child -- meaning that the small child is the one who eventually falls. Doran also uses a metaphor about being the grass and Oberyn being the snake in the grass. I suspect that the willing sacrifice by Oberyn is similar to Baelor Breakspear going to his death in Dunk's trial.

Sometimes GRRM seems to use a cousin, step-brother, good brother, or foster brother as a brother substitute. 

I can see the logic behind the idea that Robyn Rhysling is Bloodraven. Earlier in the story, I think Bloodraven is Plummer, who is introduced to Dunk as the Master of the Games. Dunk tells Plummer that a robin was the only witness to Ser Arlan knighting him. I think Plummer knows that Dunk is lying, and that would be fitting for a man with 1000 eyes and 1. 

Well, I can see that this is bringing out the tangents in me. Good topic.

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On 12/12/2023 at 2:57 AM, The hairy bear said:

Robin Rhysling was Bloodraven, and he killed Baelor.

  • In the Mystery Knight it is shown how Bloodraven is able to use glamor, and he uses it to disguise himself as a low-profile knight to attend significant events.
  • In the Mystery Knight we see how Bloodraven's glamor is not perfect, and Dunk is almost capable of seeing through it: "Through the rain, all he could make out was a hooded shape and a single pale white eye." What would Bloodraven do to disguise this weakness? One idea could be to wear a moonstone brooch to confuse people, as he does in TMK. But another idea would be just to wear an eyepatch.
  • The motive: Baelor was championing a lenient approach to the deafeated black rebels. The king was old, and would not live much longer (he was already 55, older than any previous Targ king had lived save for the Conciliator). Once Baelor gets the throne, not only Bloodraven would probably lose both his chair in the small council and his personal army, but he may very wall have to see how Bittersteel and the rest of the exiles came back home. His actions at the Great Council of 233 prove that he is capable of murder and betrayal to ensure that the Throne doesn't go to the wrong hands.
  • Baelor's helmet was "crushed down at the back", which would be consistent with having received the fatal blow by someone fighting "at his side".
  • ETA: Robin Rhysling's actions are consistent with someone who is actively trying to be recruited by rebels. He challenges Leo Longthorn, the main Red supporter in the Reach. He fights bravely and disregards his own safety, as would be expected of someone willing to join a coup. And he volunteers to fight for Dunk at the Trial of Seven, that before Baelor's involvement, was a conflict against the Targaryen establishment. Now, we don't know which side the Rhyslings (or the Redwynes) fought for, but given that the black dragon seems to be very strong in the southwestern part of the Reach (Ball, Peake, Costayne, plus Higtower and Oakheart keeping a foot in each camp), it's not unlikely that they were Blackfyre supporters, thus making Robin even more attractive to "recruiters".

Interesting idea.  Do you think Egg would have known who Rhysling really was?  The Egg/ Bloodraven relationship is very compelling. Egg almost seems like as he matures to be king he's got Dunk the angel on one shoulder and Bloodraven the devil on the other and though he travels with the angel, he's in the devil's sway. Until of course, he sends Bloodraven to the Wall, but more and more I'm skeptical that the relationship was severed or that BR wasn't even complicit in the order.

I guess my next question would be, if Bloodraven secretly took the stage in the Hedge Knight and the Mystery Knight, was he absent from the Sworn Sword, or just as of yet unidentified? 

Edited by Aejohn the Conqueroo
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20 hours ago, Aejohn the Conqueroo said:

Do you think Egg would have known who Rhysling really was?

Surely not. Or else he would have denounced him.

20 hours ago, Aejohn the Conqueroo said:

 if Bloodraven secretly took the stage in the Hedge Knight and the Mystery Knight, was he absent from the Sworn Sword, or just as of yet unidentified? 

If Bloodraven's goal was to infiltrate large gatherings in glamour to detect Blackfyre sympathizers and destroy conspiracies from within, then it would make sense for him to attend to the Ashford Torney or the Butterwell wedding. But a remote border conflict between two minor lords would not be of much interest.

That said, it must be stressed that when George wrote THK, Bloodraven and Daemon Blackfyre hadn't been created as characters. So the theory shouldn't be taken too seriously. It's just a fun theory. :P

Edited by The hairy bear
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4 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

That said, it must be stressed that when George wrote THK, Bloodraven and Daemon Blackfyre hadn't been created as characters. So de theroy shouldn't be taken too seriously. It's just a fun theory. :P

Yeah, that's what I figured, he doesn't really come up until #2. It's interesting all the same and the fact that it's Egg that introduces and vouches for Rhysling... the idea that he might have been under Bloodraven's influence from the very beginning... The hedge Knight stories are all very sweet and that, but we know how they end.  Dunk and Egg are on the long march to Summerhall. Might Bloodraven have made the journey with them?

 

5 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

But a remote border conflict between two minor lords would not be of much interest

Sometimes I think I ascribe too much potential power or foreknowledge to old man Rivers, but if he did show up there I think he would have been there for Egg and the implication would be that he identified whatever it was in Egg that prompted him to set the wheels in motion that eventually put Egg on the Iron Throne at a very young age.  Maybe the Hedge Knight stories are actually scenes from Bloodraven's interventions? Regardless, you've given me an excuse to reread them over the holidays so I appreciate that.

 

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1 hour ago, Aejohn the Conqueroo said:

Yeah, that's what I figured, he doesn't really come up until #2. It's interesting all the same and the fact that it's Egg that introduces and vouches for Rhysling... the idea that he might have been under Bloodraven's influence from the very beginning... The hedge Knight stories are all very sweet and that, but we know how they end.  Dunk and Egg are on the long march to Summerhall. Might Bloodraven have made the journey with them?

 

Sometimes I think I ascribe too much potential power or foreknowledge to old man Rivers, but if he did show up there I think he would have been there for Egg and the implication would be that he identified whatever it was in Egg that prompted him to set the wheels in motion that eventually put Egg on the Iron Throne at a very young age.  Maybe the Hedge Knight stories are actually scenes from Bloodraven's interventions? Regardless, you've given me an excuse to reread them over the holidays so I appreciate that.

 

Egg was 33 when he became king, which actually makes him one of the older Targ kings at accession (all the first nine kings were younger, as were Daeron II and, later, Aerys II.) Aegon IV, Jaehaerys II and Aerys I were of similar age, as was Rhaenyra if we count her. The only kings to have succeeded at a significantly higher age were Viserys II and Maekar.

We have an image of Aegon V as a child because of the stories and Aemon's "kill the boy", but he was a fully-grown adult, married with children, by the time he became king. 

Edit: I've just realised I might have misinterpreted you. Whoops. Still, I think the thing about TMK and the dragon dream was that that was where Egg "became a dragon", and while Bloodraven might have taken an interest in him earlier thanks to his unusual association with Dunk, he only started looking at him as a future king after that. 

I find it hard to credit that Bloodraven would for the sake of a prophecy kill off Baelor, who would have been a truly great king, for the sake of arranging the succession of an ultimate heir who wouldn't even be ready to take the throne for another ten years. Even if we accept that BR was always angling to get Egg on the throne, why not bank the years of good king Baelor and engineer Egg's succession to him?

Edited by Alester Florent
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26 minutes ago, Alester Florent said:

Even if we accept that BR was always angling to get Egg on the throne, why not bank the years of good king Baelor and engineer Egg's succession to him?

Good question. Perhaps BR wasn't confident in his ability to manipulate Balor and he saw in Egg someone he could groom? Perhaps he would have lost his standing under Balor and been unable to machinate Egg's accession? Perhaps even the good that Balor would have done would have run contrary to Rivers' agenda?  

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17 hours ago, Alester Florent said:

Even if we accept that BR was always angling to get Egg on the throne, why not bank the years of good king Baelor and engineer Egg's succession to him?

Maybe BR does not want Rhoynish blood entering the royal family? The old bird is really hard to sound out, his actions in the 'great game' of magic and temporal politics melt around and into each other.

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On 12/16/2023 at 5:16 AM, SaffronLady said:

Maybe BR does not want Rhoynish blood entering the royal family? The old bird is really hard to sound out, his actions in the 'great game' of magic and temporal politics melt around and into each other.

It's possible of course. By why would BR be prejudiced against the Dornish? I don't think that it would matter who mixed with the occasional Targaryen as long as Targs kept intermarrying down the line. For example if Aemond had survived the Dance and had legitimate children of his own, its very likely that he would have wanted his sons and daughters to marry the descendants of his brother Aegon II. As far as the whole bloodline thing goes I think that as long as 50% or so of Targaryen ancestry gets passed down, the partner's DNA holds little relevance outside the realm of those of us who love genealogy and politics. 

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On 12/15/2023 at 11:52 AM, Aejohn the Conqueroo said:

Good question. Perhaps BR wasn't confident in his ability to manipulate Balor and he saw in Egg someone he could groom? Perhaps he would have lost his standing under Balor and been unable to machinate Egg's accession? Perhaps even the good that Balor would have done would have run contrary to Rivers' agenda?  

Baelor's reign and that of his heirs would have likely meant the end of BR's power. At most he would have had a seat on the King's council. 

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1 hour ago, KingMaekarWasHere said:

By why would BR be prejudiced against the Dornish?

Not Dornish, Rhoynar. They are of a different blood, a different strain of magic, and IIRC the only strain that has confirmed dragon kills. BR may not want that if he was already planning ahead for the showdown of Ice and Fire.

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12 hours ago, KingMaekarWasHere said:

Baelor's reign and that of his heirs would have likely meant the end of BR's power. At most he would have had a seat on the King's council. 

That's what I suspect. Well, really I think it was probably Maekar, but if it had been BLoodraven under he guise of Rhysling or someone else then it would be because Baelor would have marginalized Rivers. 

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Absent further information yet to come, it's not clear that Bloodraven had any formal power under Daeron II anyway. He wasn't Hand, and he may not have been Master of Whisperers. Bloodraven came to be the power behind the throne under Aerys, but he wasn't while Daeron was king: Daeron himself was the key figure for most of his reign and in his twilight it was Baelor. So unless Daeron was protecting BR from Baelor in some way, the decisive moment should already have come.

Nor do we have any particular reason to suppose that Baelor and Bloodraven had anything other than a good relationship. We know that Maekar didn't get on with him, but Maekar seems to be the sort of guy who struggles to get on with people in general. And Maekar still kept him on as Hand, so he could clearly see BR's value - it seems unlikely then that Baelor, much more genial than Maekar, would have thrown BR out on his ear on the basis of personal animosity. 

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