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three-eyed monkey

Stannis wrote the Pink Letter. (Updated)

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After just re-reading ADwD as well as lots of other theads on the subject, from Ramsay, Roose, Asha, Thorne, Lord Manderly, Lady Dustin, Mance and more, this is why I think Stannis wrote the letter. (EDIT: the OP has been updated and ammended)

1. Stannis has captured Maester Tybald of the Dreadfort, and therefore he has access to pink wax to seal the letter.

2. Stannis has ravens trained for Castle Black. He has already sent Jon a letter since leaving the wall, and it only makes sense that he would maintain a means of communication with Mel and the garrison he left at the Wall.

3. Stannis has motive. On more than one occasion Stannis offered Jon the Stark name and Winterfell, but each time Jon has refused because of his vows, his belief that Winterfell should go to Sansa, and the fact that he would have to turn against his fathers gods if he was to accept Stannis offer and claim his fathers castle.

I need more than a sword from you.

Jon was lost. My lord?

I need the north.

...

Your fathers lands are bleeding, and I have neither the strength nor time to stanch the wounds. What is needed is a Lord of Winterfell. A loyal Lord of Winterfell.

He is looking at me, Jon thought, stunned. Winterfell is no more. Theon Greyjoy put it to the torch.

Granite does not burn easily, Stannis said. The castle can be rebuilt, in time. Its not the walls that make a lord, its the man. Your northmen do not know me, have no reason to love me, yet I will need their strength in the battles to come. I need a son of Eddard Stark to win them to my banner.

...

The King set the cup aside. You could bring the north to me. Your fathers bannermen would rally to the son of Eddard Stark. Even Lord Too-fat-to-sit-a-horse. White Harbour would give me a ready source of supply and a secure base to which I could retreat at need. It is not too late to amend your folly, Snow. Take a knee and swear that bastard sword to me and rise as Jon Stark, Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North.

How many times will he make me say it? My sword is sword to the Nights Watch.

4. In Theons chapter from TWoW, Stannis tells Justin Massey:

"It may be that we shall lose this battle," the king said grimly. "In Braavos you may hear that I am dead. It may even be true."

In my opinion Stannis is warning Massey against the rumour as he knows the letter will arrive at Castle Black before Massey does. People may ask, then why not just tell Massey about the ruse? But Stannis is shrewd enough to inform his lieutenants on a need-to-know basis, and Massey does not need to know. He only needs to get the sellswords, regardless of the rumours he hears.

5. Also in that chapter, Theon says to Stannis:

"Frey and Manderly will never combine their strengths. They will come for you, but separately. Lord Ramsay will not be far behind them. He wants his bride back. He wants his Reek." Theon's laugh was half a titter, half a whimper. "Lord Ramsay is the one Your Grace should fear."

These two lines are simulated in the letter, to lend some Ramsay-esque authenticity, I want my bride back And I want my Reek.

6. Stannis repeatedly refers to Val as a princess and the wildling babe as a prince. Jon tells him time and time again that Val is no princess and the babe is no prince, but to no avail. And Stannis does it again in the letter. I want his wildling princess. I want his little prince, the wildling babe. Think about it? Why would Ramsay or any northern lord even consider them a prince and princess? To him they'd just be a couple of wildlings. Even Mance and the free folk do not consider them prince and princess. Only Stannis does.

Your men call Val a princess, but to the free folk she is only a sister of their kings dead wife. If you force her to marry a man she does not want, she is like to slit his throat on their wedding night. Even if she accepts her husband that does not mean the wildlings will follow her, or you. The only man who can bind them to your cause is Mance Rayder.

I know that, Stannis said, unhappily. I have spent hours speaking with the man...

7. Although contrary to popular belief, I think Stannis knows Mance is alive. In fact, I think Stannis ordered the switch. This point is discussed in more detail here:

http://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/topic/91687-stannis-knew-about-the-mancerattleshirt-switch/

8. This one might be a bit of a stretch but the letter mentions that, He (Stannis) and all his host were smashed in seven days of battle. I have thought about this long and hard and what it might mean. I dont believe it to be true. If there was a battle, I dont think it would last seven days in such conditions. I believe it is just a number selected at random by the letters author, though not by the books author. GRRM may be hinting here that the letters author is a southron. You know the southron sayings, seven save us, seven hells, and such. Why else seven days of battle?

And finally, there are many readers who believe Stannis is too honor-bound to lie, or to forge a letter, or to get Jon to break his vows. But consider what he says to Jon in ADwD:

"Your father was a stubborn man as well. Honor, he called it. Well honor has its cost, as Lord Eddard learned to his sorrow."

And this is what Stannis says of Jons Nights Watch vows:

Jons voice was stiff and formal as he said, I am a man of the Nights Watch.

Words. Words are wind. ...

The character of Stannis is not as black and white as some readers have been led to believe. Many people have objected to this theory on the basis that Stannis would not partake in such a deception. The Rattleshirt switch aside, I would like to point out a two more obvious deceptions that Stannis is willing to partake in, as suits his needs.

  • The Red God.
Stannis stood abruptly. Rhllor. Why is that so hard to say? They will not love me, you say? When have they ever loved me? How can I lose something I have never owned? He moved to the south window to gaze out at the moonlit sea. I stopped believing in gods the day I saw the Windproud break up across the bay. Any gods so monstrous as to drown my mother and father would never have my worship, I vowed. In Kings Landing, the High Septon would prattle at me of how all justice and goodness flowed from the Seven, but all I ever saw of either was made by men.

If you do not believe in gods-

-why trouble with this new one? Stannis broke in. I have asked myself as well. I know little and care less of gods, but the red priestess has power.

The whole realm thinks Stannis has converted to the Red God, and probably some readers too, but the fact is he couldnt care less about the gods and is only entertaining the Red God because he wants Mels power.

The Iron Throne is mine by rights, but how am I to take it? There are four kings in the realm, and three of them have more men and more gold than I do. I have ships... and I have her. The red woman.

  • The Magic Sword.
Melisandre swears that she has seen me in her flames, facing the dark with Lightbringer raised on high. Lightbringer! Stannis gave a derisive snort. It glimmers prettily, Ill grant you, but on the Blackwater this magic sword served me no better than any common steel.

Stannis clearly knows the magic sword is a fake, but he still persists with the charade anyway. If he truly was the no-bullshit character many readers believe he is, then he would toss the sword and the red god with it.

In summary, Stannis has the raven trained for Castle Black, he has access to pink wax, he has all the information required to write the letter, and he has clearly outlined his motive to bring Jon to Winterfell.

And let me be clear, he does not want Jon for the upcoming battle with the Freys and Ramsay. There is not enough time for that as Castle Black is at best seven days from Winterfell in good weather. Stannis plans on defeating the Bolton forces sent against him without Jon. I think he will send Maester Tybalds ravens to Winterfell as well, with misinformation about the Battle of Ice, but that is part of a different ruse. Stannis wants Jon to win him the North, not just Winterfell, so the pink letter (as well as the sellswords he sent Massey to hire who will not be arriving anytime soon) is part of a longer game in which Jon, and Val, will bind both the North and the realms newest subjects, the wildlings, to his cause. Or so he hopes.

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I haven't been that convinced of any "Who wrote the pink letter" theories but I have to say I like this one. It explains a few things that I have had on my mind.

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Enjoyed the theory. I have a feeling that it could have been sent by someone who wanted Jon to do exactly what he did, and for the black brothers to act like they did. Stannis obviously wanted Jon to march to Winterfell, not to get stabbed repeatedly. Thorne always struck me as someone who wouldn't mind seeing Jon get shanked.

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Excellent reasoning, perfectly logical, except for your reasoning of how the Night's Watch fits in, as surely Stannis knows the moment the NW find that Jon's gamble with helping him has backfired, the NW will panic (as is what actually happened), how does Stannis reason the Night's Watch will work into this?

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Good one three-eyed monkey. Stannis is clever enough to figure out he cant do it alone,He may beat Freys and get Manderly on his side but still,not enough power to storm Winterfell. He ill be thinking " So how im gonna do it`? Need more men!!! ""

Clever Clever Clever.

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I am sorry but this honestly doesn`t work for me. Especially the thing about pink wax. If Stannis won Winterfell(since broken seal of Asha`s letter wouldn`t suffice), why would he need Jon? Also, let`s not forget that Stannis managed to persuade some of Hill tribes to join him on his quest, that he already has Jon`s support in retaking Winterfell. Further more, I don`t see the connection between letter Ramsay sent to Asha and Stannis`s arrival. Not mentioning that I believe, all the Northern castles certainly have ravens trained to fly to Castle Black.

You have written it to sound logical, but alas it`s not...

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Excellent reasoning, perfectly logical, except for your reasoning of how the Night's Watch fits in, as surely Stannis knows the moment the NW find that Jon's gamble with helping him has backfired, the NW will panic (as is what actually happened), how does Stannis reason the Night's Watch will work into this?

I don't think Stannis foresees them stabbing Jon, that's for sure. He knows there are those in the NW unhappy with Jon and how he was elected. Maybe he just hopes they'll be glad to see the back of him, don't know. Stannis wants Jon to give the NW up and take his father's seat anyway.

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I am sorry but this honestly doesn`t work for me. Especially the thing about pink wax. If Stannis won Winterfell(since broken seal of Asha`s letter wouldn`t suffice), why would he need Jon? Also, let`s not forget that Stannis managed to persuade some of Hill tribes to join him on his quest, that he already has Jon`s support in retaking Winterfell. Further more, I don`t see the connection between letter Ramsay sent to Asha and Stannis`s arrival. Not mentioning that I believe, all the Northern castles certainly have ravens trained to fly to Castle Black.

You have written it to sound logical, but alas it`s not...

I'm confused about the seals. Does the pink seal have a flayed man imprinted on it or is it just pink wax? If it's imprinted on it I imagine that would be hard to recreate.

I don't understand your point about Winterfell. Wouldn't the suggestion be that Stannis is sending the letter to win Winterfell. He hasn't already taken it. He knows getting Jon down to Winterfell will give him extra men that are very comfortable in the snow and that it will mayhaps provide the Northmen in Winterfell to support Stannis.

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Thank you three eyed monkey, you have just convinced me that Stannis wrote the letter, and wow Stannis is such a genius, I knew there was a reason I chose him as my King.

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I am sorry but this honestly doesn`t work for me. Especially the thing about pink wax. If Stannis won Winterfell(since broken seal of Asha`s letter wouldn`t suffice), why would he need Jon? Also, let`s not forget that Stannis managed to persuade some of Hill tribes to join him on his quest, that he already has Jon`s support in retaking Winterfell. Further more, I don`t see the connection between letter Ramsay sent to Asha and Stannis`s arrival. Not mentioning that I believe, all the Northern castles certainly have ravens trained to fly to Castle Black. You have written it to sound logical, but alas it`s not...
It is logical because Stannis had access to the Bolton's pink wax which only the Boltons use, and our King Stannis wants Jon to come to Winterfell because he wants to legitimize Jon and make him Warden of the North.

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I'm confused about the seals. Does the pink seal have a flayed man imprinted on it or is it just pink wax? If it's imprinted on it I imagine that would be hard to recreate.

I don't understand your point about Winterfell. Wouldn't the suggestion be that Stannis is sending the letter to win Winterfell. He hasn't already taken it. He knows getting Jon down to Winterfell will give him extra men that are very comfortable in the snow and that it will mayhaps provide the Northmen in Winterfell to support Stannis.

And the letter was sealed with a smear of hard pink wax

ADWD

Since the letter was sealed, there must be a seal. And I don`t see how would that be done with letter Asha received. So, either Stannis won the battle and had access to Bolton`s seal and wax, or this theory is flawed.

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It is logical because Stannis had access to the Bolton's pink wax which only the Boltons use, and our King Stannis wants Jon to come to Winterfell because he wants to legitimize Jon and make him Warden of the North.

Where did he find Bolton`s seal and wax?

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Stannis isnt' the type to go for that level of subterfuge, especially w/Jon, he would consider it beneath him in my opinion. Stannis doesn't bother with this kind of intrigue.

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I am sorry but this honestly doesn`t work for me. Especially the thing about pink wax. If Stannis won Winterfell(since broken seal of Asha`s letter wouldn`t suffice), why would he need Jon? Also, let`s not forget that Stannis managed to persuade some of Hill tribes to join him on his quest, that he already has Jon`s support in retaking Winterfell. Further more, I don`t see the connection between letter Ramsay sent to Asha and Stannis`s arrival. Not mentioning that I believe, all the Northern castles certainly have ravens trained to fly to Castle Black.

You have written it to sound logical, but alas it`s not...

Don't quite get what you mean here, (bolded). Stannis did not win WF, he needs Jon's help to win WF.

Agreed that all the northern castles have ravens trained for Castle Black, but Stannis is not in a northern castle. He does have raven though and the remenants of the seal from Asha's letter is the source of the smear of pink wax the letter was sealed with.

While Stannis does have Jon's support in retaking Winterfell, what he really needs is his person, for reasons Stannis explained to Jon in the passage quoted above.

And thank you, it does sound logical. If it quacks like a duck...

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I'm confused about the seals. Does the pink seal have a flayed man imprinted on it or is it just pink wax? If it's imprinted on it I imagine that would be hard to recreate. I don't understand your point about Winterfell. Wouldn't the suggestion be that Stannis is sending the letter to win Winterfell. He hasn't already taken it. He knows getting Jon down to Winterfell will give him extra men that are very comfortable in the snow and that it will mayhaps provide the Northmen in Winterfell to support Stannis.
Yes exactly if the Northmen in Winterfell found out that Eddard's bastard just showed up then they would betray Bolton plus Stannis wants Jon at Winterfell to legitimize him and make Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North. It'll be a big ceremony and everything, and a party too.

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Where did he find Bolton`s seal and wax?

It was sealed with a smear of wax. There is no mention of the Bolton seal, on either of the letters Jon recieved or the one sent to Deepwood Motte. They were sealed with a button of hard wax. Can you give a citation where the Bolton Seal is mentioned as having been pressed into the button of wax, because if you can I missed it.

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Don't quite get what you mean here, (bolded). Stannis did not win WF, he needs Jon's help to win WF.

Agreed that all the northern castles have ravens trained for Castle Black, but Stannis is not in a northern castle. He does have raven though and the remenants of the seal from Asha's letter is the source of the smear of pink wax the letter was sealed with.

While Stannis does have Jon's support in retaking Winterfell, what he really needs is his person, for reasons Stannis explained to Jon in the passage quoted above.

And thank you, it does sound logical. If it quacks like a duck...

Basically, he has wax. The only way he could get the wax is to win Winterfell and then Jon wouldn`t be needed. Asha`s broken seal isn`t enough, because Jon`s letter was sealed. I imagine there were also a skinned men so he could know exactly where the letter came from, because you know sealed letters have seals.

As for ravens, I was arguing that Ramsay sent the letter and that it would be normal for Winterfell or any castle in the North to have ravens delievering messages to Castle Black.

At the end, if he needed Jon, Stannis would just summon him. That`s his way of handling things. This, as was said, is completely off Stannis`s character not to mention it doesn`t make any sense at all.

Yes, text seems logical, but it`s not. actually, is quite fallible.

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1. When Asha held Deepwood Motte, a letter arrived from Barrowton with news that Moat Cailin had been taken from the Ironmen. It was signed Ramsay Bolton, Lord of Winterfell, appended with the signatures of Lady Dustin, Lady Cerwyn, four Ryswells, and the mark of an Umber, and sealed with a button of pink wax. Asha has little interest in the letter and allows the maester take it to Lady Glover. Soon after, Stannis takes possession of Deepwood Motte, and most probably the letter too, with what’s left of its pink wax seal.

2. Stannis has ravens trained for Castle Black. He has already sent Jon a letter since leaving the wall, and it only makes sense that he maintains a means of communication with Mel and the garrison he left behind.

This does take care of the letter's authenticity and deliverance. I think the contents of the letter are too in-character for Stannis to forge though; he doesn't know much about Ramsay.

3. On more than one occasion Stannis offered Jon the Stark name and Winterfell, but each time he was refused because of Jon’s vows and his belief that Winterfell should go to Sansa. On the last occasion, in ADwD, Stannis explains his reasoning:

… The King set the cup aside. “You could bring the north to me. Your father’s bannermen would rally to the son of Eddard Stark. Even Lord Too-fat-to-sit-a-horse. White Harbour would give me a ready source of supply and a secure base to which I could retreat at need. It is not too late to amend your folly, Snow. Take a knee and swear that bastard sword to me and rise as Jon Stark, Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North.”

How many times will he make me say it? “My sword is sword to the Night’s Watch.”

Assuming that Stannis knows the letter would lead to Jon pulling the wildlings into the conflict with him, this would be a huge gamble for northern loyalty. Jon the LC leading wildlings without a banner does not lend him legitimacy.

4. He’s going into battle so of course it may be true, but something about that line “It may even be true,” equally suggests that it may not be true. In my opinion Stannis is warning Massey against the rumour as he knows the tidings of the letter arriving at Castle Black with news of his death will soon make its way to Braavos via Eastwatch-by-the-sea.

I'm not sure how much this vouches for Stannis' survival. He's the one who states that "it may even be true"; this would be a stronger point in your favour if an observer had said it. The nature of rumours doesn't change based on what their subject states about them.

5. These two lines are simulated in the letter, to lend some Ramsay-esque authenticity in my opinion, “I want my bride back… And I want my Reek.”

6....

“… Your men call Val a princess, but to the free folk she is only a sister of their king’s dead wife. If you force her to marry a man she does not want, she is like to slit his throat on their wedding night. Even if she accepts her husband that does not mean the wildlings will follow her, or you. The only man who can bind them to your cause is Mance Rayder.

“I know that,” Stannis said, unhappily. “I have spent hours speaking with the man...”

These are your strongest points. It goes with the way the letter is constructed.

8. This one might be a bit of a stretch but the letter mentions that, “He (Stannis) and all his host were smashed in seven days of battle.” I have thought about this long and hard and what it might mean. I don’t believe it to be true. If there was a battle, I don’t think it would last seven days in such conditions, though I can’t be sure of that. I believe it is just a number selected at random by the letter’s author, though not by the books author. GRRM may be hinting here that the letter’s author is a southron who keeps, or for a long time kept, the seven as their god(s). You know, seven save us, seven hells, and other such common sayings. Why else seven days of battle?

Stannis wouldn't put an arbitrary number of days, nor would he reference the Seven gods. It could be possible that a week is enough time to cover any loose ends that would otherwise lead the reader of the letter to question its authenticity.

I think the point about the spearwives needs looking into. It's difficult to believe that Stannis knew the ins of the rescue mission to that extent. On the other hand, Theon could have been questioned, and the details missing in the letter could match whatever Stannis wasn't aware of.

All in all, the letter's contents, and the level of deception within matches what Mel would do better than it does Stannis.

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Since the letter was sealed, there must be a seal

This is a rather flawed notion dependent on one interpretation of the word seal.

Seal, in the (most common) modern sense, means "to close", not "a design stamped on wax" (as the origin word, seel, from Old French, meant).

But this book is not written for readers in Westeros (who presumably would have the older version of the word in their native language, without the allegory that has developed in ours); it's written for Modern English readers, which means the most common meaning of seal is the most likely.

Thus the envelope is closed with wax. It is not necessarily closed with wax which bears the Bolton stamp.

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