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three-eyed monkey

Stannis knew about the Mance/Rattleshirt switch.

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I posted this in a thread on a connected topic but thought it deserved some further exploration in its own right.

We all know that Stannis burned Mance, or thinks he did at least, because he believes "laws should be made of iron, not of pudding." And as Mance is an oathbreaker, as well as a false king, his "life is forfeit by every law of the Seven Kingdoms." So the ever-dutiful-to-the-law Stannis simply had to have him killed. Even when Jon tells him; "The law ends at the Wall, Your Grace. You could make good use of Mance," Stannis replies; "I mean to. I'll burn him, and the north will see how I deal with turncloaks and traitors."

On face value, this seems quite clear cut. Stannis is going to burn Mance to demonstrate that he is a just and lawful king, etc. A good move, no doubt, but is it the best move?

Stannis is hardly stupid and would surely consider Mance a valuable resource. Jon tells Stannis; "The only man who can bind them [the wildlings] to your cause is Mance Rayder." to which he receives the reply; "I know that," Stannis said, unhappily. "I have spent hours speaking with the man. He knows much and more of our true enemy, and there is cunning in him, I'll grant you."

So Stannis was faced with a decision. There was a trade off to be made. Burn Mance and send out a clear message as to what sort of king he is, or else keep the man who can bind the wildlings to his cause if he should need them, and who knows much and more about the true enemy. Alternatively, he could choose both, with the help of Mel's glamour.

Now, the following passage from Mel's pov is taken by many to mean that Stannis did not know about the switch. This is what Mance said to Jon about the Rattleshirt glamour: Mance Rayder chuckled. "I had my doubts as well, Snow, but why not let her try? It was that, or let Stannis roast me." The implication here is that Mel saved him from the roasting, but in truth this sentence can be taken another way. Stannis might have given Mance the option, i.e. let Mel try and disguise you with a glamour or I'll feed you to the flames.

It's arguable, so lets look again at the burning for further clues of Stannis' involvement. This is from Jon's pov in Dance:

...

Mance Rayder's thick grey-brown hair blew about his face as he walked. He pushed it from his face with bound hands, smiling. But when he saw the cage his courage failed him. The queen's men had made it from the trees of the haunted forest, from saplings and supple branches, pine boughs sticky with sap, and the bone white fingers of the weirwoods. They'd bent them and twisted them around and through each other to weave a wooden lattice, then hung it high above a deep pit filled with logs, leaves, and kindling.

The wildling king recoiled from the sight. "No," he cried, "mercy.This is not right, I'm not the king, they-"

Ser Godry gave a pull on the rope. The King-Beyond-the-Wall had no choice but to stumble after him, the rope choking off his words. ...

The first thing to notice is Rattleshirt's use of "they-", i.e. Mel was not alone in making the switch. "They-" might refer to Mel and Mance or it might refer to more than that.

Ser Godry Farring, called Giantslayer, is sworn to Stannis. He pulls the rope just in time to cut Rattleshirt off about the switch. Coincidence? I'm not that convinced it is.

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i believe it. does it matter though? i suppose it does if you're a "Stannis sent the pink letter" believer

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Mel says to Jon "And he owes you his very life"

Why would mance owe his life to Jon.

The only possible reason i can think of is his that he tried to convince Stannis and maybe stannis was persuaded.

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There's more, but I've already made this argument and I can't be bothered going and finding the quotes again.

When Mance is revealed Mel says it's Jon who saved him with his argument that the laws end at the wall, Stannis is the only one who cares for the laws so that point only works if it was Stannis that was swayed.

Stannis gives Mance as Rattleshirt to Jon himself and in a manner that suggests Jon should be grateful despite Stannis knowing full well Jon's feelings about Rattleshirt. Later in the same scene when they're in argument Stannis again points to Rattleshirt and says "I gave you him". From Stannis' point of view he has once again done what was asked of him and received no gratitude for it, it's very much in keeping with his nature to be aggrieved by this even though he has no real reason to be as Jon doesn't know.

When Jon and Mance are in conversation Jon says Stannis burned the wrong man, Mance says he didn't, that he burned the man the world had to see him burn. That even kings can't do as they please, that they sometimes have to do what they have to do, what he's implying here is that Stannis wanted to burn Mance but Mance was simply too valuable, and so he had gone along with the show execution despite such a thing being against his nature.

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You make a good case. And, with that, I am slowly shifting from the "Asha wrote the letter" camp to "Stannis wrote the letter", as Stannis' knowledge of Mance was my big hangup.

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And then Stannis would sent Mance to free 'Arya Stark'? He couldn't have find something more pressing, like battle with Others to use Mance, other than sending him to save a girl? I don't think so. The only scenario I see is that Melisandre becomes obsessed with Jon, she knows how much he cares for Arya, and helps him. She even stayed at Wall when Stannis marched to northern clans. I am sorry, but I haven't read a thing that would change my mind about this. Stannis didn't know about the change, but he could have find it once when Theon is available to tell him, and we haven't read that happening.

Mel says to Jon "And he owes you his very life"

Why would mance owe his life to Jon.

The only possible reason i can think of is his that he tried to convince Stannis and maybe stannis was persuaded.

Here's another that is actually suggested in the books. Jon saved his life, despite Stannis' wishes so he could send Mance to save Arya...

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I now agree with the fact that Stannis knew. It always seemed weird to me that he would burn Mance, knowing how much of a help he could be in the fight against the Others.

However, I still don't buy that Stannis wrote the pink letter. I think it was written by Mance and the Northmen as a reaction to the other letter that Stannis sent to Winterfell.

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Mel says to Jon "And he owes you his very life"

Why would mance owe his life to Jon.

The only possible reason i can think of is his that he tried to convince Stannis and maybe stannis was persuaded.

Good point, Jon was the one who repeatedly argued Mance's case to Stannis.

Stannis gives Mance as Rattleshirt to Jon himself and in a manner that suggests Jon should be grateful despite Stannis knowing full well Jon's feelings about Rattleshirt. Later in the same scene when they're in argument Stannis again points to Rattleshirt and says "I gave you him". From Stannis' point of view he has once again done what was asked of him and received no gratitude for it, it's very much in keeping with his nature to be aggrieved by this even though he has no real reason to be as Jon doesn't know.

When Jon and Mance are in conversation Jon says Stannis burned the wrong man, Mance says he didn't, that he burned the man the world had to see him burn. That even kings can't do as they please, that they sometimes have to do what they have to do, what he's implying here is that Stannis wanted to burn Mance but Mance was simply too valuable, and so he had gone along with the show execution despite such a thing being against his nature.

Thanks, this is the quote from Jon's conversation with Rattleshirt/Mance:

"Stannis burned the wrong man."

"No." The wildling grinned at him through a mouth of brown and broken teeth. "He burned the man he had to burn, for all the world to see. We all do what we have to do, Snow. Even kings.

You make a good case. And, with that, I am slowly shifting from the "Asha wrote the letter" camp to "Stannis wrote the letter", as Stannis' knowledge of Mance was my big hangup.

Thank you, come on over.

You know I'm on board. ;)

I know it man, thanks. Your posts on other threads made me look a little closer. :cheers:

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And then Stannis would sent Mance to free 'Arya Stark'? He couldn't have find something more pressing, like battle with Others to use Mance, other than sending him to save a girl? I don't think so. ...

Here's another that is actually suggested in the books. Jon saved his life, despite Stannis' wishes so he could send Mance to save Arya...

You're a hard sell Mladen, but I wouldn't have it any other way. To address two of the points you made here:

Firstly, I don't necessarily think saving 'Arya' is why Stannis spared Mance. That may have been Mel's idea after Stannis left the Wall. I think Stannis saved Mance because Jon told him he is the only man that can bind the wildlings to his cause and because Mance knows much and more about the true enemy.

And about your point in reply to GWW. I don't think Jon saved Mance life despite Stannis' wishes so he could send him to save Arya, nor do I think it is suggested in the books. We see Mance/Rattleshirt burn from Jon's pov, and it is clear that Jon thinks it really is Mance, and it is also clear that Jon is surprised when Mel later reveals Rattleshirt to be Mance in glamour.

I now agree with the fact that Stannis knew. It always seemed weird to me that he would burn Mance, knowing how much of a help he could be in the fight against the Others.

Cheers Rooseman. I know where you stand with the GNC/Mance collaboration on the pink letter, and I agree there's a strong case, but I'm going to leave the pink letter implications to the other threads for now.

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Stannis is hardly stupid and would surely consider Mance a valuable resource. Jon tells Stannis; "The only man who can bind them [the wildlings] to your cause is Mance Rayder." to which he receives the reply; "I know that," Stannis said, unhappily. "I have spent hours speaking with the man. He knows much and more of our true enemy, and there is cunning in him, I'll grant you."

So Stannis was faced with a decision. There was a trade off to be made. Burn Mance and send out a clear message as to what sort of king he is, or else keep the man who can bind the wildlings to his cause if he should need them, and who knows much and more about the true enemy. Alternatively, he could choose both, with the help of Mel's glamour.

No, he couldn't.

If he burns even a fake Mance, then the first of your advantages to not burning Mance disappear: Stannis can't use Mance to bind the wildlings to his cause if the wildlings believe Mance is dead, and he can't admit that he didn't burn Mance if he wants to maintain that message.

Mance's knowledge would still be available to him, yes - but he doesn't keep Mance around, so that motivation doesn't work either.

Moreover, any argument that says 'yeah, the text says character X did this, but character X totally wouldn't do that IMO, so they must not have done it' is a flawed argument right from the start. It's starting from the conclusion and then looking for evidence, which is backwards. Evidence first, then conclusions. There is evidence that Stannis was going to burn Mance: there is no evidence that clearly indicates that he didn't. Evidence that could maybe mean that if we assume that he didn't and then sort of squint at it a bit to make it fit doesn't count.

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It never occurred to me that Stannis didn't know until hearing the theory on this forum. Up until this point, Melisandre and Selyse are driving the sacrificial burnings bus...especially when king's blood might be involved. Stannis seems to go along with them reluctantly - he's skeptical of the claims and is very receptive to delaying and trying other options first. The idea that this would change and Stannis would have to be kept out of the illusion loop while Melisandre defied him to spare some kindling for R'hllor is backwards.

While "out of character" isn't great evidence, there is little direct evidence at all, and the issue is deliberately left ambiguous. There isn't much reason to presume Stannis didn't know. Melisandre defying Stannis to avoid a sacrifice is less likely than Stannis deciding he's going to make more use of Mance before R'hllor can have him. And in the meantime, he'll dispense some "justice" in public to make the show of taking out the enemy leader. The wildlings will have the option of wandering aimlessly north of the Wall or bending the knee, and Stannis figures the show will make the choice a no-brainer for the survivors, once their leader has been visibly executed.

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Mormont,

It is true that Stannis cannot pretend to burn Mance and use him to bind the wildlings to his cause at the same time, but the glamour would allow him to appear to appease the law for now, and the members of the NW who want Mance executed, and still have the option to resurrect Mance should he need the wildlings. If it came to that, then obviously he would have to forsake whatever he gained in by pretending to burn Mance. Like any decision, it would be a trade off again, but at least he would have the option. Burn Mance and the option is gone.

Stannis is fighting a war on two fronts it seems to me. He is fighting to win the kingdom south of the Wall, while at the same time fighting to protect that kingdom from the threat north of the Wall. Stannis leaves Mance at the Wall with Mel, which is the front where he is better situated, imho. Stannis knows that if he wins the Seven Kingdoms then he will have to return to the Wall to defend it against the true enemy, and that's where Mance will be (or so he thinks)

As for my argument being flawed, I have to disagree. As we don't have a pov for Stannis then we don't really know how truthful Stannis is when talking to Jon about his plan to burn Mance. He could be playing his cards close to his chest, I don't find that unreasonable. My argument is simply this:

Stannis knows Mance has value because Jon told him repeatedly. This is his reason to keep Mance alive.

There are members of the NW who want Mance executed as an oathbreaker in accordance with the law, and Stannis is aware of this. This is his reason to burn Mance.

Rattleshirt goes to his death declaring that he is not the king-beyond-the-wall and that "they-" at which point Ser Godry, a knight sworn to Stannis, pulls on the rope and cuts off the rest of the sentence before the beans are spilled.

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Mormont,

It is true that Stannis cannot pretend to burn Mance and use him to bind the wildlings to his cause at the same time, but the glamour would allow him to appear to appease the law for now, and the members of the NW who want Mance executed, and still have the option to resurrect Mance should he need the wildlings. If it came to that, then obviously he would have to forsake whatever he gained in by pretending to burn Mance. Like any decision, it would be a trade off again, but at least he would have the option. Burn Mance and the option is gone.

He'd be forsaking rather a lot. Much more than if he simply didn't burn Mance in the first place. He'd be admitting to a deception as well as making an exception to the laws: it would be incredibly damaging to his credibility and reputation, and those things matter to Stannis. If he'll lie by staging a false execution to gain a political advantage, why wouldn't he lie about Tommen's parentage for the same reason?

As for my argument being flawed, I have to disagree. As we don't have a pov for Stannis then we don't really know how truthful Stannis is when talking to Jon about his plan to burn Mance. He could be playing his cards close to his chest, I don't find that unreasonable. My argument is simply this:

Stannis knows Mance has value because Jon told him repeatedly. This is his reason to keep Mance alive.

And Stannis rejected that argument when it was put to him. He did not deny Mance's value, but he placed the value of enforcing the law higher. There is no reason to think that he changed his mind.

Rattleshirt goes to his death declaring that he is not the king-beyond-the-wall and that "they-" at which point Ser Godry, a knight sworn to Stannis, pulls on the rope and cuts off the rest of the sentence before the beans are spilled.

But as you yourself admit, 'they' in that utterance does not necessarily imply Stannis was involved. And even if the timing isn't a coincidence, Godry Farring is a Queen's Man, devoted to R'hllor: there's no more reason to assume he was acting on Stannis' orders than there is to assume that he was acting on Mel's. This piece of evidence only suggests Stannis' involvement if you first assume Stannis' involvement.

ETA - I'll happily grant that there's no evidence that Stannis didn't know, and that it's possible he did know. But we have no evidence that I can think of that makes the case for him being in on it.

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You're a hard sell Mladen, but I wouldn't have it any other way. To address two of the points you made here:

Firstly, I don't necessarily think saving 'Arya' is why Stannis spared Mance. That may have been Mel's idea after Stannis left the Wall. I think Stannis saved Mance because Jon told him he is the only man that can bind the wildlings to his cause and because Mance knows much and more about the true enemy.

And about your point in reply to GWW. I don't think Jon saved Mance life despite Stannis' wishes so he could send him to save Arya, nor do I think it is suggested in the books. We see Mance/Rattleshirt burn from Jon's pov, and it is clear that Jon thinks it really is Mance, and it is also clear that Jon is surprised when Mel later reveals Rattleshirt to be Mance in glamour.

I wouldn't like it any other way too. I am tough cookie :). And it;s better toi have debate with someone who'll question you on every step, then just agreeing with you. That is how you know someone is paying attention to your posts.

Like mormont said, he can't use MAnce if he had 'killed' him in front of wildings, and more than that. You can argue that Stannis' wanted him to help him with Others, but then you can't have him in Winterfell, and Stannis knowing it. You argued that Melisandre saved him when Stannis went south, but then you have that peculiar line about saving the life. What does Jon have to do with anything? Unless of course, Melisandre acted upon Jon's pleas, and send Mance to Winterfell

And about your point in reply to GWW. I don't think Jon saved Mance life despite Stannis' wishes so he could send him to save Arya, nor do I think it is suggested in the books. We see Mance/Rattleshirt burn from Jon's pov, and it is clear that Jon thinks it really is Mance, and it is also clear that Jon is surprised when Mel later reveals Rattleshirt to be Mance in glamour.

Let we go it other way around then. We know Melisandre had visions and dreams about Jon. Who can tell what she really saw there, and if those dreams haven't made her act? That way Jon's presence in her visions would certainly save Mance's life.

snip

ETA - I'll happily grant that there's no evidence that Stannis didn't know, and that it's possible he did know. But we have no evidence that I can think of that makes the case for him being in on it.

Basically all of this. Stannis' highest ideal is justice. From Davos, to Renly, and clear intention what all those lords that supported Renly. And I can't see him sacrificing that for anything Mance can offer him. Especially if Mance ends up in Winterfell...

No evidence of not knowing simply isn't evidence of knowing, and there's huge gap this theory needs to jump to work.

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You make some good points, for a moment there I was about to sway... but I still don't think he knows about Mance. The risks are simply too great, and for what?? He can't use Mance in the open, yes, he could use his mind.... but he has already talked a lot with him, so Stannis probably knows all that Mance does about the Others. Why would he go with such a deception? just to appease the Night's Watch?? In his mind he is their king, he can order them to do what he wants, they don't need to agree with it.

In the end, if Stannis had decided to keep Mance alive, I think he would have made it public.

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Why would he go with such a deception? just to appease the Night's Watch?? In his mind he is their king, he can order them to do what he wants, they don't need to agree with it.

Disagree. More than once he has deferred to the Watch's independence, including their selection of their new commander. And Stannis would stand to gain from extracting "Arya" from Winterfell - more influence with and a "reward" for Jon; favor with the loyalist northmen houses...and of course having a living Stark heir in hand. Why would he agree to use Mance for that? Probably none of Stannis' own men has been in Winterfell, or would be able even to get in the gate. Mance has been inside - and can get inside. Stannis' commitment to justice isn't all that inflexible or hasty - he's already shown himself to be more practical-minded and "flexible" about his ideals when they conflict with the bigger mission. "Justice" doesn't have to mean an immediate execution - we have no reason to assume that Stannis thinks justice delayed is justice denied.

Also, the alternative is Melisandre sticking her neck way, way, way out to defy and deceive Stannis, and that makes even less sense than Stannis going along with this plan. Not only is out even more out of character for Mel to do that, she stands to lose more (all of her standing and influence with Stannis, if not her life), with probably even less to gain than Stannis. Maybe one day down the road she will betray Stannis - but over this? I don't see it.

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