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Was Ned's act of mercy towards Cersei smarter than we give it credit for?


Mladen

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Ned's decision to say Cersei that he has found out about her incestuous relationship with Jaime, and that her children are all Jaime's is often considered as one of the stupidest actions in ASOIAF. Ned basically warned Cersei, thus showing her who her most dangerous enemy is, and literally gave her chance to survive. But, was it such idiocy? Was Ned totally mistaken in telling Cersei to flee?



First, we must remember what Ned knew. He knew about Robert's bastards, he knew about Cersei's children, and that Jon Arryn somehow stumbled upon truth. During his conversation with Cersei, his doubts cleared when she confirmed Bran had found out about her and Jaime, and was pushed off the window because of that. But, for all the things Ned knew, he had no proof. The book he had - “The Lineages and Histories of the Great Houses of the Seven Kingdoms, With Descriptions of Many High Lords and Noble Ladies and Their Children“ wouldn't be crucial evidence, given that Jon Arryn had the book, and thought of it as insufficient. The next possible evidence was the kids' looks. Alas, given that 4 out of 5 Ned's children look just like their mother, this argument would quickly fail to prove anything. Lastly, Ned could have played on the card of Robert's trust and his own honor, but then again, Robert would demand proofs for such accusations. So, basically, Ned was in stalemate position.



Without actual proof, Ned couldn't have made Robert believe in his claims. But, Ned did something that could definitely brought him the proof - he told Cersei what he knows and what he plans to tell the King, and he advised her to run. Think about it, he told her to take the children, and flee as far as she can. We all know he did it for the children, but could it be that this move was actually smarter than just being act of mercy? Cersei would undoubtedly incriminate herself by running, and that itself would be enough proof for Ned's claims. Then, he would bring the book and everything would go much smoother. Robert would instantly believe him, given the fact Cersei would have escaped with children.



But, alas, Cersei already plotted her husband's death, and Robert got pierced by a boar. Ned's plans sank and later he was betrayed by his so-called allies - Littlefinger, Slynt and Varys. Cersei trapped him and imprisoned him, and later Joffrey ordered his beheading. That is why we all believe that Ned's act of mercy was that stupid, but could it be that it was also a great plan that failed due to Robert's premature death? And does this mean that Ned was actually much smarter than many of us believe?




ETA: Thread's title is changed to evade general discussion about Ned's intelligence and focus on the situation at hand.


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The Ned had the proof. It's the kids' looks + the bastards' looks + the book that sinks Cersei.

Jon Arryn and Stannis had all of that, and they didn't act. Why? Because, that wasn't sufficient proof.

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Problem is we have Neds Pov and we know he did it just for pitty and hounor.

Interesting to read, dought.

I know he never thought of it that way, but this could be one of those unintentional smart moves people sometimes make...

I think it was because they were not strong enought and didnt have support in KL to clash with the Lannisters without them and Bob being mourdered. They understood this. Ned didnt and so it ended.

They weren't strong enough? Renly had 50 men, Arryn must have guard of its own, plus the Royces were there too. Stannis would also had his own guard. At that point, Janos wasn't bought by Cersei...

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I'd like if this was the case, but Ned warning Cersei has nothing to do with him being politically savvy. We have his POV, where he shows concern over Cersei's kids, then decides to warn Cersei and then wonders why the hell hasn't she staring packing things already. Basically everything in his chapters points out he had different motives for warning Cersei - namely honor and concern for innocent kids' lives.






Stannis didn't because he thought it couldn't come from him. Jon was going to act though, but then got taken care of.




Also, this.


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I know he never thought of it that way, but this could be one of those unintentional smart moves people sometimes make...

They weren't strong enough? Renly had 50 men, Arryn must have guard of its own, plus the Royces were there too. Stannis would also had his own guard. At that point, Janos wasn't bought by Cersei...

The royces were not in KL in that moment, they came for the tournament of the hand. And Slynt would side with whoevers pays more: Lannisters. And Stannis guard should be smaller than neds or renlys, as he is no paramount lord. Unlist thats the way I think...
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I'd like if this was the case, but Ned warning Cersei has nothing to do with him being politically savvy. We have his POV, where he shows concern over Cersei's kids, then decides to warn Cersei and then wonders why the hell hasn't she staring packing things already. Basically everything in his chapters points out he had different motives for warning Cersei - namely honor and concern for innocent kids' lives.

I am not saying Ned told her intentionally to make her incriminate herself, but telling her to run, and she obeying him, would be undoubted proof of his claims. He needed something to close his case, and Cersei's escape would provide him that. I am certain he thought only of children, I just think that this act wasn't as stupid as one would think o first hand.

The royces were not in KL in that moment, they came for the tournament of the hand. And Slynt would side with whoevers pays more: Lannisters. Unlist thats the way I think...

Cersei and Jaime would have been eliminated without time to act. Also, Renly and Loras could have also matched Cersei...

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I never viewed Ned as stupid. He knew what the smart thing to do would be, he was just too honorable to do it.

I think this sums it up very well. There's a difference between not knowing the smart thing to do and knowing but just not doing it.

And frankly, King's Landing mess aside, Ned's ability to hide Jon's parentage for a decade and a half without so much as a whispered doubt says that he's not an idiot.

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I am not saying Ned told her intentionally to make her incriminate herself, but telling her to run, and she obeying him, would be undoubted proof of his claims. He needed something to close his case, and Cersei's escape would provide him that. I am certain he thought only of children, I just think that this act wasn't as stupid as one would think o first hand.

Cersei and Jaime would have been eliminated without time to act. Also, Renly and Loras could have also matched Cersei...

Again, Loras shoiuld ve come for the tournament of the hand. He has no buisness ( besides ssasylner) in KL. Probably thats the history with half the men Renly offered to Ned.

And Stannis guard should be smaller than neds or renlys since he is no paramount lord and cannot afford it. Lannisters have the bigger guard, plus jaime and the hound. And they surely can buy Slynt.

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Again, Loras shoild ve come for the tournament of the hand. He has no buisness ( besides ssasylner) in KL.

And Stannis guard should be smaller than neds or renlys since he is no paramount lord and cannot afford it. Lannisters have the bigger guard, plus jaime and the hound. And they surely can buy Slynt.

But, there is also Renly's, Jon's guard, plus the Kingsguard, the fact they would possibly handle Cersei quietly, without much fuss. Jon was too smart, they wouldn't allow her to act. You count to much that Golden Cloaks would attack the King of Seven Kingdoms, just for money.

I never viewed Ned as stupid. He knew what the smart thing to do would be, he was just too honorable to do it.

Ned's not stupid he was just too honorable and made the mistake of putting his trust in bastards like LF.

I think this sums it up very well. There's a difference between not knowing the smart thing to do and knowing but just not doing it.

And frankly, King's Landing mess aside, Ned's ability to hide Jon's parentage for a decade and a half without so much as a whispered doubt says that he's not an idiot.

Just to clarify I am not stating that Ned was stupid, but this action is often perceived as one of his greatest mistakes. And I agree with Apple, his ability to hide Jon's parentage is astonishing...

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` Ned is definitely not stupid. That's another comment that's parroted by fans.

But I always like to point out that Ned had Cersei and Jaime, Varys and Littlefingefinger working against him. So he figured out the Lannister conspiracy, but not the other two. Ned was at a disadvantage from the get and he ran out of time once Robert died.

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I never viewed Ned as stupid. He knew what the smart thing to do would be, he was just too honorable to do it.

Indeed. I seem to recall him mulling over if he should confront Cersei and deciding to do it because it was the honorable thing, and he didnt want to see more children slaughtered. When doing this pondering, the image of the Targaryen children float into his mind, and then..

"Promise me, Ned!" He didnt want more innocent blood to flow. Honor was the poison, not stupidity.

I think this sums it up very well. There's a difference between not knowing the smart thing to do and knowing but just not doing it.

And frankly, King's Landing mess aside, Ned's ability to hide Jon's parentage for a decade and a half without so much as a whispered doubt says that he's not an idiot.

Quite. Ned pulled the wool over the greatest minds in Westeros. No one doubts that Jon is his bastard. No one. The rumors of the mother are what some people whisper about in gossip, but Ned's word is taken as truth almost always. Because people viewed him as the paragon of honor and lies were not his forte. Even when Ned stood on the steps of Baelor and "confessed" his treason, people took it as truth. Even though he was saying he was plotting for the throne (a pile of rubbish)...Ned's loyalists knew it was bullshit, but theres still debate in-universe about the matter. Interesting that.

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Just to clarify I am not stating that Ned was stupid, but this action is often perceived as one of his greatest mistakes. And I agree with Apple, his ability to hide Jon's parentage is astonishing...

In the North is Ned on his home turf where he is so powerful that he could even kick Varys' ass and where people dare not challenge him. It also helps that Jon does not have the Targaryen looks and that it is rude to pry into the origins of one's natural children. Littlefinger also lets Sansa pretend that she is a bastard for that matter.

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