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Yeade

Le Grande Northern Conspiracy, Parte the Fourth

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I come here first to thank heartfully Yeade for recommending to The Winterfell Huis Clos. Writing this analysis has kept me awake late at night so many times, it's nice to see this work appreciated by someone who has written extensively on the Winterfell situation. I thought it might be useful that I offer my own thoughts here on "La Grande Conspiration Nordienne". My days of involvement in the forum are long over. Hence it will be a single post.

I am only going to discuss basic points, not the more elaborate things I put forth in many words in the Huis Clos. I'll leave aside the situation in the Riverlands, even if this is the subject of current discussion.

First a little preamble. It is worthwhile to reflect on how we have be led here. It's not an exaggeration to say that GRRM has trapped us with the (after all common and melodramatic) trick of making a lovable family suffer terrible injustice and have its children scattered to the four winds: Bran's fall, Lady's sacrifice, Ned's infamous end, Arya's exposure to the horrors of war, Sansa's torment and disillusionment, Rickon at risk of becoming feral, the Red Wedding, Jon's assassination. If making us see much of the story through the Starks' eyes wasn't enough, GRRM has played us like a Stradivarius so that we feel the Starks' pain. The ploy will see further use, I believe. And that made us thirsty for justice, if not vengeance.

Seeing the Winterfell story through that prism tends to bias our understanding. I thought it would be wise to shake up the hold that the set up of the saga had on me, to give up on expecting comfort or justice and to proceed with the determination to view the Winterfell drama with some detachment. (Recall the advice received by Brienne: “My lady,” Thoros said, “I do not doubt that kindness and mercy and forgiveness can still be found somewhere in these Seven Kingdoms, but do not look for them here.”)

That made me take the measure of the icy beauty of the story and appreciate some heroic moments: "Arya" and Theon, broken as they may be, jumping from the Winterfell precipitous walls to escape their tormentor, the sheer cojones and selflessness of the washerwomen, all rewarded by obscure and atrocious deaths, and the admirable works of a great trickster. But the Winterfell story can be read on multiple levels, and we focus here on the political dimension.

After reading Yeade's OP and Eyron I's original post, I find little to disagree about, even if I am not a supporter of the Grand Northern Conspiracy, at least not in its maximal form. I object to the occasional use of the collective term "the northern lords" which is best avoided. For instance, Manderly and the Umbers have different views on Stannis. Similarly, the Bolton side is made of individuals who all have a personal perspective – including every one of the Freys. (There is hardly such thing as a generic creature in Martin's fiction.)

Even after the most superficial of readings, the northern resistance can not be doubted, starting with Mors Umber and Manderly. It seems natural to me that Wyman Manderly would attempt to recruit the northern nobility (yes, bad use of the collective) to his cause. Davos, Roose, the maester of Deepwood Motte and Theon all put forth the notion that the north would rally behind a living Stark. Both Wylla Manderly and Lyanna Mormont seem to illustrate the French proverb: "La vérité sort de la bouche des enfants".

So the general principle is clear. How does it fit with what we see in Winterfell? As we will see, the story involves much more than the workings of conspiracy to restore the Starks (I have added a few links towards further argumentation within the Huis Clos).

The unfolding of events was impossible to anticipate. The northern nobility had been summoned to Barrowton by Roose to attend the wedding. The decision to move the wedding to Winterfell has been sudden when Roose realized that his plan to trap Stannis at the Dreadfort had failed. So Manderly could not forecast that he would end up in Winterfell. (Note that GRRM made a mistake on this point: Manderly tells Davos that he would have to go to Winterfell by barge, when it hasn't been decided yet that the wedding would happen there.) Another variable was unpredictable: the snowstorm in Winterfell. Stannis was expected in Winterfell a fortnight after the wedding. By my count, "Arya"'s escape happened approximately fifty days after the wedding. The situation in Winterfell was stable until the last three days. Consequently, events in Winterfell can hardly be the outcome of a plan devised long in advance and the players acted and reacted under circumstances beyond their control. These circumstances made unlikely that someone from the Riverlands, for instance, could have been dispatched to Winterfell, simply because when Roose decided to move the wedding there, assuming the news reached the south, not enough time was available to make the journey. [A timeline]

Roose and Ramsay are not a single political entity. Ramsay and the Freys are on a collision course. Roose's strategy includes a glaring contradiction: the legitimation of Ramsay concurrently with the marriage with Walda. Since it is revealed that Walda is pregnant, who is to inherit the Dreadfort? It's certain that the Freys want Walda's children to inherit and expect Ramsay to content himself with Winterfell. But Ramsay wants the Dreadfort. The conflict has not escaped some of the northmen, I suspect. Moreover, hardly anyone in the north would accept Ramsay as his liege lord, least of all Barbrey Dustin. Long story short: Roose uses Ramsay as a pawn and does not want his bastard to rule after him (neither does Barbrey Dustin, or the Freys and the rest of the north). While Ramsay was ostracized in Barrowton and sent to look for the missing Freys, the rest of northern nobility was in Barrow Hall, where it is likely that Roose gave reassurances to Barbrey and Walda. [The Bolton perspective. The Frey perspective.]

Roose had carefully planned his return in the north before the Red Wedding. Observe how he split the northern host under his command at Harrenhal. The Tallhart, Glover, and Harrion Karstark have been sent to die in Duskendale (and Roose covered the treachery by invoking a royal order). At the Ruby Ford, Wylis Manderly together with the Norreys, Lockes and Burleys were deliberately abandoned to an ambush on the other side of the river. Roose brought his own men to the Red Wedding. But he left behind six hundred men at the Ruby Ford, without betraying them, apparently. Those men are "Spearmen from the rills, the mountains, and the White Knife, a hundred Hornwood longbows, some free riders and hedge knights, and a strong force of Stout and Cerwyn men to stiffen them. Ronnel Stout and Ser Kyle Condon have the command. " This group of northmen roughly coincides with the houses assembled in Barrowton by Barbrey Dustin: Hornwood, Cerwyn, Tallhart (not represented at the Ruby Ford), Ryswell (spearmen from the Rills) and Dustin (House Stout is infeoded to House Dustin, which hardly sent anyone with Robb). It's not entirely clear what Roose wished for the men of the Ruby Ford and what they have become. But a logical interpretation would be that there was a concerted effort with Barbrey Dustin to spare them from the Mountain and from the Red Wedding.

Barbrey Dustin came to Winterfell as a genuine Bolton ally. Roose has had ties to the Ryswells for decades, he trusts Barbrey, while he mistrusts everyone else, and Roose can not be easily fooled. If Barbrey were determined to betray Roose, she could have acted decisively in two occasions. First, when Roose and the Freys were still south, the small Bolton host with Ramsay notwithstanding, the Ryswells and Dustins could have taken and held Moat Cailin and prevented Roose from coming north. Instead Barbrey welcomed the Hornwoods, Tallharts, Cerwyns and Ryswells in Barrowton and brought them to the Bolton cause. The second opportunity came when Roose left Barrowton for Winterfell and entrusted Barbrey to take care of "Arya". Barbrey could have jeopardized Roose's plans by letting the bride escape at this point. Why would Barbrey have let pass those opportunities for the uncertain Winterfell destination? [Barbrey and the Ryswells.]

Barbrey Dustin finally soured on the Freys. During her last scene, the night before the escape, Barbrey Dustin has just been shaken by something. Pale-faced and severe, she turned then against Aenys Frey (but not against Roose, apparently) and repeated Manderly's line "The north remembers". A few hours earlier, she had asked for merry songs with the Freys. It was just before Theon came across the hooded man on the way to the Great Hall. We are left to believe that the arrival of the hooded man caused the dissension. The next morning Roose sent away the Freys to fight Stannis. At that moment in the Great Hall, every character of note is present, but not Barbrey. Where is she? [More details.]

"Arya" is widely recognized as an imposter. Theon seems to think otherwise. But Arya recalls in Braavos having visited White Harbor twice. Hence Manderly should recognize the bride as fake, especially since Jeyne has neither the Stark nor the Tully eyes. Similarly, Whoresbane recognized Theon on the spot at the Dreadfort, a hint of his perspicacity and of his capacity to identify the Stark children. Whether Mance recognized Arya is more debatable, but, given that he recognized also Jon Snow immediately in his tent beyond the Wall, despite having seen him a couple of times only, and the fact that Mance has made a point of having a look at the Stark children during his previous visit in Winterfell, there is good reason to believe that Mance is not fooled. In any case, just on general principle, the suspicion of the imposture is in everybody's mind (see Davos in White Harbor who questioned immediately the veracity of any Stark possibly presented by Manderly). However, the recognition of the imposture is of minor importance in the political struggle, since "Arya" let pass the opportunity to deny her identity during the wedding. Who can prove anything? [More on "Arya"]

The military forces in Winterfell are overwhelmingly sworn to the Dreadfort or to the Twins. Two to four thousand Dreadfort men, two thousand men brought by the Twins. Other forces are: Ryswells and Dustins (unknown number), four hundred greybeards with Hother Umber, three hundred men with Manderly. It seems that the Cerwyns, Hornwoods, Tallharts, (who have been decimated and have no leader in Winterfell) Flints and Slates (minor houses, whose leaders are not even named) do not count for much.

Realpolitik applies to House Manderly. Indeed by recovering Rickon, Lord Wyman, or his heir, can hope to be named regent, to marry Wylla Manderly to Rickon, perhaps move the capital of the north to White Harbor. It's worthwhile to take good note of the Merman's court opulence. There is a world of difference with other northern houses, especially the Dreadfort (compare the descriptions). One has the feeling that White Harbor will take over the north sooner or later. With Rickon, Manderly can nurse the hope to have his political influence match his economic dominance in the north. Note that Manderly wouldn't be as much interested in bringing to power another Stark heir (no regency, no marriage, and out of reach). [The Manderly perspective.]

Manderly has prepared military forces against Roose. It is apparent from the Davos chapters (Manderly is raising men, building ships, and makes the inventory of his forces). The three hundred men present in Winterfell are just a personal guard and a symbolic contribution to the fight against Stannis. It seems that Manderly could transport the bulk of his armed forces in the ships he has hidden up the White Knife river. That would bring those troops close to Winterfell, or Manderly has prepared an ambush along the river for the return of Roose to the Dreadfort.

In the north, old people are not expected to survive Winter. Dixit Big Bucket and Alys Karstark. That puts a certain light on the presence of greybeards with Hother, while the green boys are with Mors. Manderly is certainly willing to give up his life: he came to the wedding without the hostages demanded by Roose. The deliberate provocation of Hosteen Frey was a decisive factor in the mounting of the tension. Similarly old Lord Locke appears to have come to the wedding without his family. But the relatively young and childless Lady Cerwyn stayed at home.

Mors Umber has cooperated with Mance for the escape. This conclusion relies on three observations. 1) Mance left Castle Black for the Long Lake area without knowing that the wedding would happen in Winterfell (a later decision by Roose). The Long Lake eastern shore belongs to the Umbers, and Mors had been informed of the wedding (via Arnolf Karstark). Who else would inform Mance? 2) Three characters call Theon a kinslayer: the hooded man, Rowan and Mors Umber. The circulation of the extraordinary epithet points to a collusion. 3) Mors was evidently expecting Theon and "Arya" outside Winterfell following the escape (he identified both on the spot in the middle of a blizzard). [More on the hooded man. And on the escape.]

Abel and the washerwomen have understood the tensions between the factions around Roose. They killed one man in each camp (a Ryswell man-at-arm, Aenys Frey's squire, a Bastard's boy) and sabotaged the stables to raise the tension further. Hence Roose was forced to send men outside the castle, and favorable circumstances were thus created for the escape and for Mors' ambushes. [Mance. The washerwomen.] The dissension within the Bolton camp is so far the main achievement of the northern resistance.

Manderly might cooperate with Mors and Mance. As noted in the OP, Umber and Manderly have built together the northern fleet. A further indication of a connivence: Davos meets a White Knife riverman who brought furs, wood... and news from the Last Hearth to White Harbor. A clear sign of a communication channel along the river. It was natural for Manderly to have sent a message to Mors, after Mors had declared against the Boltons. It's unclear whether Mors' green boys coordinate their ambush with whatever Manderly forces. Moreover, the absence of singer with Manderly was providential for Abel to be accepted in Winterfell.

Mors and Hother are not on bad terms. A reasonable suspicion, indeed. Mors has announced to Stannis that "Umber does not fight Umber, for any cause" and asked for a pardon for his brother. Mors and Hother have made a curiously gentlemanly agreement (old men with Hother, green boys with Mors). It is a common strategy in case of conflict to have a family member with every side (see House Butterwell, House Swann). Jon Snow, Barbrey Dustin and Roose all express the opinion that Hother is not truly a Bolton ally. [The Umber perspective.]

Hother has made the curious choice of joining Ramsay. A more natural course of action would have been to go to Barrowton with the Hornwoods, Cerwyns, Tallharts, Ryswells, when Roose, then in the south, asked for fealty of the northern nobility. I tend to think that Hother has understood the conflict between Ramsay and the Freys, and plans to make use of Ramsay, with whom he has spent months. Roose told Theon to advise Ramsay not to trust Whoresbane. The Freys are direct enemies of House Umber, since they hold the Greatjon, while Ramsay has caused no harm to the Umbers so far.

Mors and Hother are indifferent to Stannis. Hother knew about the Karstark betrayal, since he was with Arnolf Karstark at the Dreadfort, and never did anything to warn Stannis. The Bravoosi banker last minute arrival saved Stannis. Stannis is ignorant of Mors' siege of Winterfell and of Mors' strength (he has to ask Theon). Mors has agreed to join Stannis' cause, but under conditions that Stannis did not fulfill (a pardon for Hother, Mance's skull). The Greatjon was never ready to accept Stannis as a king in the first place.

Stannis' presence three days away from Winterfell is a tactical advantage for Mors. Mors certainly knows what he is doing by starting hostilities just outside Wintefell. Indeed, it's propitious to a guerrilla warfare that Roose's hosts has to go back and forth between Winterfell and the crofter's village. In that sense at least, Stannis is made used of rather than followed by the northmen.

Stannis has not been informed of anything by Manderly. Indeed, on the eve of the battle, he doesn't know that Davos has been spared, and that Manderly plots betrayal against Roose. The northmen with Stannis have been informed neither of Manderly's true allegiance nor of the Karstarks' betrayal. So it does not seem there has been much contact with the northmen in Winterfell (unless the clansmen who are denied an audience by Stannis just before the battle intend to reveal something…). However, Manderly said that he doesn't dare employ the service of his maester to communicate. The conversation with Davos lets us think that Manderly is waiting for the return of Rickon before contacting Stannis. Remark: It seems that the Braavosi banker made a stop in White Harbor before sailing to Eastwatch. In that case, Tycho Nestoris might have consulted Manderly before offering Stannis the coin of the Iron Bank.

Robb's will makes no apparent appearance in the whole of ADwD. GRRM took care of reminding us of many plot points from the earlier books within the last book (the swords taken from the crypt, Ned Stark's bones), but not this one. After all ADwD was published 12 years after ASoS, GRRM changed his plans and it's possible that he did not intend the will to be important for ADwD. When Roose and Ramsay discuss in Barrowton the political situation of the north (the hypothetical reappearance of Bran and Rickon etc), the will is never mentioned. Therefore, it doesn't seem Roose has heard of it, despite being allied to the Freys. It seems likely that the document was kept with Robb's crown, and that the Freys found it, just like they found the crown. In that case, the will is a political weapon for the Freys in their conflict with Ramsay. Ramsay's personally antagonistic tone in the final letter makes me think that perhaps the Freys have disclosed the will to weaken Ramsay's position as lord of Winterfell, hence Ramsay's perception of Jon as a rival.

Jon Snow's hour will come in some form, but I do not perceive any indication that there is a consensus including Manderly to make him king in the north. But it is suggested that Jon's fate is tied to Winterfell (the recurrent crypt dreams etc). I find thought provoking that Jon Snow advised Stannis that red religion should be kept away from the northmen and that the best way to antagonize the north would be to attribute northern seats to wildlings. But Jon did exactly what he recommended against when he married Alys to the Magnar under the auspices of the Red God. (Cregan Karstark, unpleasant as he might be, reminded Jon of that.)

Concerning the conspiracy, two possible developments deserve consideration. Both might have to do with the hooded man's visit to Winterfell.

The news of the liberation of the Greatjon might be reaching the north. Jaime Lannister has informed Clemence Piper of the royal order to transfer to the Crown the hostages kept at the Twins. That happened several months before the final events at Winterfell (see Wylis Manderly's return home). Piper visibly hates the Freys but his son's captivity prevents him from taking action. But he could send a raven to the Last Hearth to pass the news of the liberation of the Greatjon. (The Pipers and Umbers fought side by side within Robb's army.) Alternatively, the two riverrun men sent to the Night's Watch might carry the news along. In the latter hypothesis, the news would travel more slowly, and wouldn't reach White Harbor before Lord Wyman left for the wedding. Such news could force Roose Bolton to dissociate himself from the Freys, which is what seems to be happening.

Osha (and Rickon) might be with Mors Umber. Indeed, about four months elapsed between the secret meeting of Davos and Manderly and the escape from Winterfell. The return of Rickon is heavily pre-announced (it's Manderly's stated plan, Davos' mission, and the subject of Roose's worries). It's worth noting that, among all members of Winterfell's household, Mors Umber asked "Arya" to remind him of the names of Mikken and Gage, two men closely related to Osha (Gage was Osha's lover, Mikken has his mark on the sword taken by Osha from the crypts). Mors even praised Mikken's steel (did he see the sword?). Could it be that Osha suggested those names to Mors?

Once again, those are only the basic points pertaining to the northern resistance. In addition, conclusions, speculations and open questions on the political aspects of the story are to be found in the Winterfell Huis Clos (and numerous non-political issues are considered, including many which continue to leave me perplex, and for which further understanding is needed).

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Concerning food and the north the harvests of the north went mostly untouched. At the harvest feast or whatever it was called in clash all the northern lords had to come to winterfell and tell winterfell what they were laying down for their winter stores. I think they'll be ok on the food part mostly

Yeah, but remember what Alys tells Jon during her wedding feast in Dance:

“My lady, how do things stand at Karhold with your food stores?”

“Not well.” Alys sighed. “My father took so many of our men south with him that only the women and young boys were left to bring the harvest in. Them, and the men too old or crippled to go off to war. Crops withered in the fields or were pounded into the mud by autumn rains. And now the snows are come. This winter will be hard. Few of the old people will survive it, and many children will perish as well.”

ETA: and I bet the Karstarks aren't the only ones going through the same things.

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It doesn't matter how much money or which stark he has, manderly can never change the northern Capitol. In the first place it seems like every time a empire or w/e you would have it as changes there capital they soon fall. Too much resentment and so many other problems with that. That aside I can 100 percent believe that especially manderly but not only him but many if not all the northern lords excluding Roose obviously would put a stark back in winterfell without the obvious super personal gains(like making white harbor the capital). I say this not because of the love regarding the Starks but how they were brought low and by whom. I think that considering the circumstances honor, duty, and self preservation(yes fighting wars is not healthy but under the rule of Roose and any southerner or southern kingdom that would use the north and northern lords as nothing more than another source of cattle easentially I'd say having a king/liege lord who loves them as well as them loving their liege lord.

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Lady Gywn.. In regard to Robb meeting with Howland , I've cut and pasted the following paragraph from part two in my Benjen/GNC thread...this is in regard to the " Below Winterfell " part of the GNC..

** Wyman Manderly appears to be the hub of the main resistance, but Howland Reed must be playing a very important role , albeit off-page. When Robb called the banners and rode south , maester Luwin tells Bran he will be joined by more men along his way.. "Others are waiting to join him all along the kingsroad , barrow knights and crannogmen and the Lords Manderly and Flint..." The crannogmen didn't march with him , but given Robb's certainty that Howland would find Maege and Galbart as long as they weren't intercepted and given his plan for taking Moat Caillin, he must have met with Howland or his representatives on his way south for in depth discussions. Because ravens can't fly to Greywater Watch, the crannogmen would already have had other ways to send and receive messages...And considering that in ADWD, neither Robett Glover nor Alysanne Mormont seem at all concerned that their near and dear are missing , messages and perhaps more than that have been getting through.Though guarded , both speak of their relations in a very off-hand way , as if they know exactly where they are, and they're fine , thank you very much. **

So I think Robb must have had a clear understanding of the kinds of aid Howland could provide and that Howland would remain watchful for any sign of need, given that ravens are a no go... Look at the curiosity and comment stirred up by the appearance of Jojen and Meera at the harvest feast...I'd imagine even men who were not privy to any agreements , would remember the crannogmen coming to swear alleigance to Robb , and would try that route ,when they found themselves cut off or abandoned.

ETA: and Moat Caillin seems to me the most likely place for this to occur... Here we could have Manderly ( or his representative) and Howland in one place , to set their lines of communication , or Robb could have ordered one or the other to set some up..

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Yeah, but remember what Alys tells Jon during her wedding feast in Dance:

“My lady, how do things stand at Karhold with your food stores?”

“Not well.” Alys sighed. “My father took so many of our men south with him that only the women and young boys were left to bring the harvest in. Them, and the men too old or crippled to go off to war. Crops withered in the fields or were pounded into the mud by autumn rains. And now the snows are come. This winter will be hard. Few of the old people will survive it, and many children will perish as well.”

ETA: and I bet the Karstarks aren't the only ones going through the same things.

Yeah, I made a post above detailing that a lot of people in the North and Riverlands have commented on their severely depleted winter stores. It sets up a problem that only has a few solutions but really only one: somebody powerful procuring food from other sources to replenish their stores. My money's on Stannis with his line to the Iron Bank.

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Or better yet , Jon with his line of credit with the IB :)

I have a few other niggles.. not just with bran vras above..but I seem to have noticed a number of people think Barbrey was truly aligned with Roose at one point , maybe even up until their arrival in Winterfell. I beg to differ..

The Ryswell/Dustin ties to House Bolton were formed by 2 people , Bethany and Domeric, both of whom are dead. Domeric is widely believed to have been murdered by Ramsay. Even Roose says so , but this ( in part ) leads me to believe it was actually Roose who poisoned Domeric,( or maybe Ramsay,because of ideas planted by Roose and an understanding that ,as usual , Roose would not object.) ...I think the why is found in Roose comparing Domeric's riding skills to Lyanna's.. Why would he , when they were not contemporaries ? Domeric had not hob-nobbed with any Starks... Roose, himself was a bit old to have been hanging out with Lyanna and pals or even Brandon. Roose is a cautious man, but will allude to what's gone on while carefully obscuring the details ,or any part of it that may lay blame at his door . ..OK , the other Stark known to be an outstanding rider was Brandon , who loved to ride the Rills ( it was Brandon he really compares Dom to )... I think Roose killed Domeric because he concluded he was Brandon's bastard ..and Bethany , not Lady Barbrey was Brandon's lover. Bethany was married off to Roose , because Lord Rickard arranged the marriage with Cat for Brandon ( a "delicate condition" may not have been noticed, or even known ).. Barbrey's "Brandon" story is what she gives out so Roose will not know she's onto him.

ETA: Barbrey was the younger daughter and may have been very close in age and acquaintance with Lyanna, and therefore, not more than a year or two older than Benjen..just sayin.

Bethany may also have died under suspicious circumstances. Domeric died 2 yrs before TWo5K ,soon after returning home from the Vale... Bethany died just before Roose left for TWo5K, "of a fever " . Most medicines can be used to poison as well.. and some poisons can be used to prolong suffering greatly over a very long period of time.

Roose tells Ramsay that Barbrey is a woman who knows how to nurse a grievance , and I think she's been nursing one against him for at least 5 yrs.or so.. She's an intelligent woman and her scathing remarks about Manderly ( as if she was buying his act ) don't convince me any more than her supposed hatred of Starks does. The lady doth protest too much.

I don't mean to derail the thread.. I just want to point out there's reason to suspect she's been party to the conspiracy from day one.

I haven't read too much of what's been said about Roose , but as I see it ,there's no end to the amount of land , or number of houses he wants to eat up. He's already snatched Hornwood ( I assume he was party to Ramsay's actions and probably suggested the idea.) He was a big part of everyone's concern about Lady Hornwood having no heir. .. He has since decimated House Cerwyn , leaving Jonelle in a precarious situation..undermanned, with no direct heir. Roose is in the process of trying to snatch Winterfell , and Lady Barbrey, herself ,is vulnerable with no children ( that we know of , but women can have secret children , too) and an unknown situation in regard to suitable cousins , etc. Lady Hornwood is mentioned frequently by Barbrey ( and others )..I'm sure her sad example is not lost on Jonelle and Barbrey...They're the ones at risk, now..

All this ,along with the talk of maesters being suspect ,and the Hornwood and Cerwyn maesters being at WF with Roose ( cutting off communication) makes me think there are things going on at both those Houses , or on their lands , to help retake WF ( supply , secret passage , Benjen ), to shore up Cerwyn and retake Hornwood ( for Larence Snow )..simultaneously cutting off a Bolton escape route to the Dreadfort.

Depending on how many men have been filtering through the neck..how many men they may have like the freeriders , crofters , survivors of the first battle outside WF , etc. that have supposedly been flocking to Stannis ( flocking , or sent )..they could have a substantial number of men - enough to undertake all 3 actions at once..I think this was already the plan in motion before Stannis stuck his oar in.( and before Roose decided to hold the wedding at WF.)

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Or better yet , Jon with his line of credit with the IB :)

I have a few other niggles.. not just with bran vras above..but I seem to have noticed a number of people think Barbrey was truly aligned with Roose at one point , maybe even up until their arrival in Winterfell. I beg to differ..

The Ryswell/Dustin ties to House Bolton were formed by 2 people , Bethany and Domeric, both of whom are dead. Domeric is widely believed to have been murdered by Ramsay. Even Roose says so , but this ( in part ) leads me to believe it was actually Roose who poisoned Domeric,( or maybe Ramsay,because of ideas planted by Roose and an understanding that ,as usual , Roose would not object.) ...I think the why is found in Roose comparing Domeric's riding skills to Lyanna's.. Why would he , when they were not contemporaries ? Domeric had not hob-nobbed with any Starks... Roose, himself was a bit old to have been hanging out with Lyanna and pals or even Brandon. Roose is a cautious man, but will allude to what's gone on while carefully obscuring the details ,or any part of it that may lay blame at his door . ..OK , the other Stark known to be an outstanding rider was Brandon , who loved to ride the Rills ( it was Brandon he really compares Dom to )... I think Roose killed Domeric because he concluded he was Brandon's bastard ..and Bethany , not Lady Barbrey was Brandon's lover. Bethany was married off to Roose , because Lord Rickard arranged the marriage with Cat for Brandon ( a "delicate condition" may not have been noticed, or even known ).. Barbrey's "Brandon" story is what she gives out so Roose will not know she's onto him.

ETA: Barbrey was the younger daughter and may have been very close in age and acquaintance with Lyanna, and therefore, not more than a year or two older than Benjen..just sayin.

Bethany may also have died under suspicious circumstances. Domeric died 2 yrs before TWo5K ,soon after returning home from the Vale... Bethany died just before Roose left for TWo5K, "of a fever " . Most medicines can be used to poison as well.. and some poisons can be used to prolong suffering greatly over a very long period of time.

Roose tells Ramsay that Barbrey is a woman who knows how to nurse a grievance , and I think she's been nursing one against him for at least 5 yrs.or so.. She's an intelligent woman and her scathing remarks about Manderly ( as if she was buying his act ) don't convince me any more than her supposed hatred of Starks does. The lady doth protest too much.

I don't mean to derail the thread.. I just want to point out there's reason to suspect she's been party to the conspiracy from day one.

I haven't read too much of what's been said about Roose , but as I see it ,there's no end to the amount of land , or number of houses he wants to eat up. He's already snatched Hornwood ( I assume he was party to Ramsay's actions and probably suggested the idea.) He was a big part of everyone's concern about Lady Hornwood having no heir. .. He has since decimated House Cerwyn , leaving Jonelle in a precarious situation..undermanned, with no direct heir. Roose is in the process of trying to snatch Winterfell , and Lady Barbrey, herself ,is vulnerable with no children ( that we know of , but women can have secret children , too) and an unknown situation in regard to suitable cousins , etc. Lady Hornwood is mentioned frequently by Barbrey ( and others )..I'm sure her sad example is not lost on Jonelle and Barbrey...They're the ones at risk, now..

All this ,along with the talk of maesters being suspect ,and the Hornwood and Cerwyn maesters being at WF with Roose ( cutting off communication) makes me think there are things going on at both those Houses , or on their lands , to help retake WF ( supply , secret passage , Benjen ), to shore up Cerwyn and retake Hornwood ( for Larence Snow )..simultaneously cutting off a Bolton escape route to the Dreadfort.

Depending on how many men have been filtering through the neck..how many men they may have like the freeriders , crofters , survivors of the first battle outside WF , etc. that have supposedly been flocking to Stannis ( flocking , or sent )..they could have a substantial number of men - enough to undertake all 3 actions at once..I think this was already the plan in motion before Stannis stuck his oar in.( and before Roose decided to hold the wedding at WF.)

Why would the IB allow Jon to use his line of credit to supply the North and/or Riverlands? Stannis is allowed to take on debt because he can repay it with the Crown's incomes. Jon would only have access to the North's incomes if he's declared Lord or King of the North, and not dead, and even then the Iron Bank would be reluctant to give him such a huge loan if Stannis was already alive. They don't want to maintain secessionist movements, they want their money.

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Why would the IB allow Jon to use his line of credit to supply the North and/or Riverlands? Stannis is allowed to take on debt because he can repay it with the Crown's incomes. Jon would only have access to the North's incomes if he's declared Lord or King of the North, and not dead, and even then the Iron Bank would be reluctant to give him such a huge loan if Stannis was already alive. They don't want to maintain secessionist movements, they want their money.

Oh , I assume Jon would only be helping the North .The plight of the northerners was being discussed. North and South would be a hell of a lot for either Jon or Stannis to take on..and the south has suffered all the ravages of war. The waste and destruction ( as well as numerous armies feeding off the land ) has been incredible. If Stannis can win through in the south, it will be his responsibility ( temporarily ,at least ). ;)

I assume that Stannis will have to (grudgingly) accord the North some form of autonomy in exchange for alliance..saving all of them from having to duke it out. ( perhaps Jon will have to reprise his "Crone with a codfish " routine , or take on an understudy)... Stannis already faces the IT debt , and the cost of 20,000 sellswords, and goodness knows what else , before it's over.

I assume Jon will eventually be in WF in some capacity , for some duration , and I'm very confident he's not dead...The repairs will be costly , even if he can call in a giant or two ( glass gardens , restore heating system , new winter town, livestock ,foodstuffs just to start ..and assist the bannermen whose harvests suffered from lack of man power )

He made an arrangement for the Wall. He could extend it ( if WF and the Wall are shown to be part of the same defense system ), or if that's a no-no, make a second agreement for WF... If he's not to be The Stark in WF ,he could help whoever is to secure a loan .( e.g. , if it's Rickon ).

Because I think the IB is 1/3 of some form of triumverate ( IB,FM , Sealord ) governing Braavos , I think the advantage of having political stability in the north and dealing with someone whose vision they approve of (which must be the case, or they would never have approved the first line of credit ) will be well worth it to the IB.

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Oh , I assume Jon would only be helping the North .The plight of the northerners was being discussed. North and South would be a hell of a lot for either Jon or Stannis to take on..and the south has suffered all the ravages of war. The waste and destruction ( as well as numerous armies feeding off the land ) has been incredible. If Stannis can win through in the south, it will be his responsibility ( temporarily ,at least ).;)

I assume that Stannis will have to (grudgingly) accord the North some form of autonomy in exchange for alliance..saving all of them from having to duke it out. ( perhaps Jon will have to reprise his "Crone with a codfish " routine , or take on an understudy)... Stannis already faces the IT debt , and the cost of 20,000 sellswords, and goodness knows what else , before it's over.

I assume Jon will eventually be in WF..The repairs will be costly , even if he can call in a giant or two ( glass gardens , restore heating system , new winter town, livestock ,foodstuffs just to start ..and assist the bannermen whose harvests suffered from lack of man power )

He made an arrangement for the Wall. He could extend it ( if WF and the wall are shown to be part of the same defense system ), or if that's a no-no, make a second agreement for WF... If he's not to be The Stark in WF ,he could help whoever is to secure a loan .( e.g. , if it's Rickon ).

Because I think the IB is 1/3 of some form of triumverate ( IB,FM , Sealord ) governing Braavos , I think the advantage of having political stability in the north and dealing with someone whose vision they approve of (which must be the case, or they would never have approved the first line of credit ) will be well worth it to the IB.

The debt to the IB isn't as significant as people think, at only 3 million dragons. There was also a mill owed to the Faith, which has been wiped, and 2 mill to the Lannister's, and unless the Lannister's practice fractional reserve banking then they've got quite a bit of gold. The Tyrell's are mentioned as being nearly as wealthy as the Lannister's, and curiously the Hightowers are mentioned as being as wealthy as the Lannister's. Manderly's vaults are supposedly overflowing with silver, and that's only mentioning 4 houses. The Vale and Dorne are untouched. Is the debt significant? No doubt, as Ned was worried about it. Is it manageable? Most definitely. The cost of Stannis' sellswords would be significant but he may never have cause to hire them once he realises he holds an unusually strong hand post-Winterfell. The Lannister's may be about to lose their last hard man in Daven, and Aegon, Euron and Mace are going to deplete each others strength while Stannis sits pretty in a lockstep North at White Harbor. The solution to buy food to replenish the North with his line of credit is a no brainer, and helping the Riverlands is only the next step in that thinking, winning the crown by saving the realm.

And you're completely right about the iron bank's attitude to Jon, but I just don't see a logical step by step in which that could happen. Nestoris will arrive at the Wall post-mutiny, and even so, Jon would have to recover, be declared Lord or King, accept it, even with the presence of Rickon, or act as regent, then approach the Iron Bank for a loan while acknowledging he has no intention or obligation of paying back the Iron Throne's debt, unless they could somehow ascertain the North's portion of it. Seeing as the North aren't too keen on the tourneys and partying, wouldn't that be sorta none of it?

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Well , I agree Stannis could do it , I'm just saying he's not the only one.. and I'm not saying that if it's Jon it will necessarily happen instantaneously... Ned was responsible for the North under Robert and I'm really feeling that Stannis will have to settle for the North, under The Stark , being more of a full ally and less of a subordinate .. There'll be an unbending of the knee to some degree or other, whatever nomenclature they settle on ..( Lord , King ..titles,titles ..you know how it goes..) I think the North would sacrifice the title to attain the autonomy ..and so long as they don't insist on calling anyone "King" ( and so long as he thinks he can trust them not to turn on him ), I think Stannis would make that concession .

And I don't think the IB would balk if Jon had no title , or if his title was merely The Stark , I think they'd extend credit to him to restore and secure WF , and whether he saw fit to parcel the proceeds out among his bannermen would be up to him. There may be many lords who have credit with the IB independent from their King or overlord.

I sense we may have some underlying points of divergence ( and if so , that's OK) that will colour the situation depending on whether either one of us is anywhere close to the truth ( Oh, George , we love you !).... I suspect Jon will quickly be shown to have survived , and though he will probably have a very important epiphany , and find himself on an accelerated learning curve where "warging" is concerned , I have a feeling he won't be out of the action for as long as many assume. ( Wildling medicine , religious beliefs and practices coming into sharper focus in the process. )

Am I correct in thinking you see Stannis taking Winterfell after winning the battle at the two lakes and feigning his own death ?.. Because I don't... I think Stannis will get to Winterfell only to find it's already been taken from within by GNC forces under the leadership of one of their generals, Benjen Stark ...Think of the way Dany took Meereen ,only using a secret passage , not sewers , and with many more men. (hmmm..yet another parallel I must go back and add to my thread )... At least, I think this is what the GNC is aiming for , ideally. This way , Stannis would be brought in as an equal ally , and would never have a say in the disposition of WF, or any marriages or guardianships involving Starks ( also preserving the godswood )...and the help they give him going forward would be under an honourable agreement , not an overriding obligation... Beyond WF , not only would Roose not be able to eat up more lands , but Stannis would not be able to force Barbrey or Jonelle into marriages with any of his unpleasant collection of Knights , either.

So , while I think he will have help from the North , he will still need those sellswords.

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Well , I agree Stannis could do it , I'm just saying he's not the only one.. and I'm not saying that if it's Jon it will necessarily happen instantaneously... Ned was responsible for the North under Robert and I'm really feeling that Stannis will have to settle for the North, under The Stark , being more of a full ally and less of a subordinate .. There'll be an unbending of the knee to some degree or other, whatever nomenclature they settle on ..( Lord , King ..titles,titles ..you know how it goes..) I think the North would sacrifice the title to attain the autonomy ..and so long as they don't insist on calling anyone "King" ( and so long as he thinks he can trust them not to turn on him ), I think Stannis would make that concession .

And I don't think the IB would balk if Jon had no title , or if his title was merely The Stark , I think they'd extend credit to him to restore and secure WF , and whether he saw fit to parcel the proceeds out among his bannermen would be up to him. There may be many lords who have credit with the IB independent from their King or overlord.

I sense we may have some underlying points of divergence ( and if so , that's OK) that will colour the situation depending on whether either one of us is anywhere close to the truth ( Oh, George , we love you !).... I suspect Jon will quickly be shown to have survived , and though he will probably have a very important epiphany , and find himself on an accelerated learning curve where "warging" is concerned , I have a feeling he won't be out of the action for as long as many assume. ( Wildling medicine , religious beliefs and practices coming into sharper focus in the process. )

Am I correct in thinking you see Stannis taking Winterfell after winning the battle at the two lakes and feigning his own death ?.. Because I don't... I think Stannis will get to Winterfell only to find it's already been taken from within by GNC forces under the leadership of one of their generals, Benjen Stark ...Think of the way Dany took Meereen ,only using a secret passage , not sewers , and with many more men. (hmmm..yet another parallel I must go back and add to my thread )... At least, I think this is what the GNC is aiming for , ideally. This way , Stannis would be brought in as an equal ally , and would never have a say in the disposition of WF, or any marriages or guardianships involving Starks ( also preserving the godswood )...and the help they give him going forward would be under an honourable agreement , not an overriding obligation... Beyond WF , not only would Roose not be able to eat up more lands , but Stannis would not be able to force Barbrey or Jonelle into marriages with any of his unpleasant collection of Knights , either.

So , while I think he will have help from the North , he will still need those sellswords.

It may well turn out that Jon does solve the North's problems, though at this stage his agreement exists only theoretically as Nestoris had no way to convey the agreement to Braavos, and is currently on his way to the Wall. So, who knows, I'm not a religious adherent to Stannis being the solution. I just sort of see him as the most likely of the candidates as he has the least obstacles to overcome.

As for Stannis taking WF I pretty much subscribe to the idea that he's going to use the ice lake filled with holes to drown the Freys and that the Manderly's will return with Stannis' sword to prove his death, as outlined in the Pink Letter. After the destruction of the Freys it's up for grabs how Stannis takes WF, the GNC could just make their move and open the gates. But assuming Stannis' next step after taking WF, it would surely have to be either White Harbor or Moat Cailin, unless he hears about the crap at the Wall. My money's on White Harbor. His knights need food, rest and a place to properly rearm themselves. I definitely think that instead of them just sort of dying anticlimactically in the snow that they'll emerge from the experience harder and stronger, with their previously mentioned sweet new beards.

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Well , I agree Stannis could do it , I'm just saying he's not the only one.. and I'm not saying that if it's Jon it will necessarily happen instantaneously... Ned was responsible for the North under Robert and I'm really feeling that Stannis will have to settle for the North, under The Stark , being more of a full ally and less of a subordinate .. There'll be an unbending of the knee to some degree or other, whatever nomenclature they settle on ..( Lord , King ..titles,titles ..you know how it goes..) I think the North would sacrifice the title to attain the autonomy ..and so long as they don't insist on calling anyone "King" ( and so long as he thinks he can trust them not to turn on him ), I think Stannis would make that concession .

And I don't think the IB would balk if Jon had no title , or if his title was merely The Stark , I think they'd extend credit to him to restore and secure WF , and whether he saw fit to parcel the proceeds out among his bannermen would be up to him. There may be many lords who have credit with the IB independent from their King or overlord.

I sense we may have some underlying points of divergence ( and if so , that's OK) that will colour the situation depending on whether either one of us is anywhere close to the truth ( Oh, George , we love you !).... I suspect Jon will quickly be shown to have survived , and though he will probably have a very important epiphany , and find himself on an accelerated learning curve where "warging" is concerned , I have a feeling he won't be out of the action for as long as many assume. ( Wildling medicine , religious beliefs and practices coming into sharper focus in the process. )

Am I correct in thinking you see Stannis taking Winterfell after winning the battle at the two lakes and feigning his own death ?.. Because I don't... I think Stannis will get to Winterfell only to find it's already been taken from within by GNC forces under the leadership of one of their generals, Benjen Stark ...Think of the way Dany took Meereen ,only using a secret passage , not sewers , and with many more men. (hmmm..yet another parallel I must go back and add to my thread )... At least, I think this is what the GNC is aiming for , ideally. This way , Stannis would be brought in as an equal ally , and would never have a say in the disposition of WF, or any marriages or guardianships involving Starks ( also preserving the godswood )...and the help they give him going forward would be under an honourable agreement , not an overriding obligation... Beyond WF , not only would Roose not be able to eat up more lands , but Stannis would not be able to force Barbrey or Jonelle into marriages with any of his unpleasant collection of Knights , either.

So , while I think he will have help from the North , he will still need those sellswords.

It may well turn out that Jon does solve the North's problems, though at this stage his agreement exists only theoretically as Nestoris had no way to convey the agreement to Braavos, and is currently on his way to the Wall. So, who knows, I'm not a religious adherent to Stannis being the solution. I just sort of see him as the most likely of the candidates as he has the least obstacles to overcome.

As for Stannis taking WF I pretty much subscribe to the idea that he's going to use the ice lake filled with holes to drown the Freys and that the Manderly's will return with Stannis' sword to prove his death, as outlined in the Pink Letter. After the destruction of the Freys it's up for grabs how Stannis takes WF, the GNC could just make their move and open the gates. But assuming Stannis' next step after taking WF, it would surely have to be either White Harbor or Moat Cailin, unless he hears about the crap at the Wall. My money's on White Harbor. His knights need food, rest and a place to properly rearm themselves. I definitely think that instead of them just sort of dying anticlimactically in the snow that they'll emerge from the experience harder and stronger, with their previously mentioned sweet new beards.

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Some spectacular posts there.

On the Iron Bank.

Game Theory might come into play. With Cersei as Tommen's regent, they have no chance of repayments, so by going deeper into lending, this time to Stannis and to Jon/Night's Watch, they're giving themselves an opportunity to recover some of that debt sitting with the Iron Throne.

There's a portion that the IB will have completely written off, but if Stannis succeeds they get back more than they would have done by doing nothing.

(Am I right or?)

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Some spectacular posts there.

On the Iron Bank.

Game Theory might come into play. With Cersei as Tommen's regent, they have no chance of repayments, so by going deeper into lending, this time to Stannis and to Jon/Night's Watch, they're giving themselves an opportunity to recover some of that debt sitting with the Iron Throne.

There's a portion that the IB will have completely written off, but if Stannis succeeds they get back more than they would have done by doing nothing.

(Am I right or?)

That's the basic gist, yeah. There's always the chance they lose whatever they loaned Stannis, but there's also the chance they get it back, whereas by now they KNOW Cersei won't repay them.

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That's the basic gist, yeah. There's always the chance they lose whatever they loaned Stannis, but there's also the chance they get it back, whereas by now they KNOW Cersei won't repay them.

Thanks.

I realise that there will be other motives for the IB too, but that another whole theory on Braavos involvement with what's happening in Westeros .

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Some spectacular posts there.

On the Iron Bank.

Game Theory might come into play. With Cersei as Tommen's regent, they have no chance of repayments, so by going deeper into lending, this time to Stannis and to Jon/Night's Watch, they're giving themselves an opportunity to recover some of that debt sitting with the Iron Throne.

There's a portion that the IB will have completely written off, but if Stannis succeeds they get back more than they would have done by doing nothing.

(Am I right or?)

Cersei would pay it pack too, but not on their terms. It's not that strange for a country in crisis to get a little breathing room on their debts. The IB just won't have that because it would suggest weakness/softness on their side and they have their reputation to uphold. Loaning to Stannis and Jon is not to recover some of the debts, loaning to Jon is pure for the profit and the loan to Stannis is because of their reputation 'Don't fuck with us.' But of course they profit a lot if Stannis eventually wins.

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Cersei would pay it pack too, but not on their terms. It's not that strange for a country in crisis to get a little breathing room on their debts. The IB just won't have that because it would suggest weakness/softness on their side and they have their reputation to uphold. Loaning to Stannis and Jon is not to recover some of the debts, loaning to Jon is pure for the profit and the loan to Stannis is because of their reputation 'Don't fuck with us.' But of course they profit a lot if Stannis eventually wins.

Cersei has lost the plot spectacularly by that point. The IB are right to be wary about seeing anything back from her.

It's not weakness for the IB to help Stannis, they're spreading their risk I reckon.

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Some spectacular posts there.

On the Iron Bank.

Game Theory might come into play. With Cersei as Tommen's regent, they have no chance of repayments, so by going deeper into lending, this time to Stannis and to Jon/Night's Watch, they're giving themselves an opportunity to recover some of that debt sitting with the Iron Throne.

There's a portion that the IB will have completely written off, but if Stannis succeeds they get back more than they would have done by doing nothing.

(Am I right or?)

That is a proper reading of the possible reasons for the IB coming to Stannis. However, since it is the Iron Bank they are dealing with, I presume they still want it all back from whomever sits upon the Iron Throne.

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That is a proper reading of the possible reasons for the IB coming to Stannis. However, since it is the Iron Bank they are dealing with, I presume they still want it all back from whomever sits upon the Iron Throne.

Getting back all the debt to the IT is the best possible outcome and most unlikely. The Iron Bank will be more pragmatic than their reputation and if Either Aegon or Dany looks a better bet, they'll change horse.

The Braavos angle is interesting. The Iron Bank, the faceless man at the citadel, Arya's training, Mycella stopping there before going to Dorne, was Dany's house with the red door there? And so on.

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Getting back all the debt to the IT is the best possible outcome and most unlikely. The Iron Bank will be more pragmatic than their reputation and if Either Aegon or Dany looks a better bet, they'll change horse.

The Braavos angle is interesting. The Iron Bank, the faceless man at the citadel, Arya's training, Mycella stopping there before going to Dorne, was Dany's house with the red door there? And so on.

Just depends on whether Aegon or Dany would bend enough to pay back Robert's debts. I already argued in another thread about Massey and Stannis that there is no way Dany can get out of paying without throwing the realm into economic chaos. The notion that you don't have to pay your predecessors debts is a really modern one mostly seen in the 20th century. It's referred to as odious debt. And we all know that GRRM loves his history, and so I'm sure he's aware that the Bourbons paid Napoleon's debts, Charles II paid Cromwell's debts, Henry Tudor paid England's debts and the Swedish, Prussians and Danish all had pretty complex debt swapping arrangements in their wars of the 17th and 18th century. So there will be no convenient refusal to pay on the Targaryen's part

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