Robert’s Rebel Yell
Lord Tywin Calls an Audible–
As Robert Baratheon blasts Rhaegar Targaryen in the chest with his mighty Warhammer, the Crown Prince falls to his death in the shallow of the river and the beautiful rubies of his battle armor shattering and falling into the water as- according to visions his young sister Daenerys has of the event- he whispers a woman’s name, The Battle of The Trident is over and done. From a historical perspective, the one we as readers and viewers get through the narration, this is plain as day. It is clear that this battle was the deciding battle of the very short Civil War within the Realm. We understand this historical perspective by reading the point of view of participants in Robert’s Rebellion many years later or the point of view of characters that are either learned in the history of the war or have heard certain facts from their own trusted sources. Six years after the publication of ADWD, we have a good grip on the way that GRRM tells his tale. Readers don’t understand while reading AGoT or ACoK, but upon completion of our reading of the published books, we then know that point of views are generally skewed and unless the written or visual narrative gives us a firsthand account of an event, it is dangerous to trust what any character says.
As we touched on last week, Robert’s Rebellion is THE historical event upon which most of the sprawling saga of ASoIaF rests. In fact, George Martin first presents the accounts of the Rebellion almost falsely or incorrectly, despite the characters telling their account of the war wholeheartedly believing the facts they are sharing.
The characters that we most identify with and come to trust in A Game of Thrones were either not involved in the war- Tyrion Lannister for example- or in the case of Ned Stark, whose point of view we trust the most as readers, he has pushed the Rebellion so far from his thoughts that he rarely thinks of it and the most telling passage we have regarding the Rebellion comes from a dream he has.
Martin presents the Rebellion the way he does with purpose. We are supposed to believe Robert Baratheon’s account of his Rebellion and, at least at first, I think that we do believe it because Robert is so passionate about his recollections and Robert is like a brother to Ned, who we view as the protagonist and a character that holds honor above all else in his life. Readers do realize that Robert is a man stuck in the past- stuck in that year of his life when he lost his betrothed and his anger and passion fueled his greatest hour. By the end of GoT, we know that Robert remembers the war a bit too fondly and it is quite possible that his account of the Rebellion is not as accurate as we initially thought.
Over the course of the next four volumes of ASoIaF, Robert’s Rebellion is presented from different points of view and told from a perspective quite different from Robert’s. These recollections and info leaks are sparse; they’re few and far between so as not to give away the twist…. so to speak. For example, Jaime’s account of the Rebellion is given to us midway through ASoS and although it doesn’t directly contradict anything that Robert has told us, it does put some major players in the war in a light that is different from Robert’s. Jaime’s account even presents himself in a completely different way than he had been portrayed up until that point in the narrative. Tywin Lannister and Jon Connington recall events of Robert’s Rebellion that also do not dispute what Robert has recalled but they do add context and perspective that tells us we don’t have the whole story of the Rebellion and more importantly, that some of the players in the war that Robert convincingly presented as pure evil are not so one-dimensional and actually had understandable, if not justifiable, reasons for committing the acts they did before, during, and after the war.
What I find very interesting is that the most truthful revelations about Robert’s Rebellion we read come in the form of Ned’s dream of the Tower of Joy, Bran’s vision through the weirwood network, or stories told to someone and told by that someone to someone else. As ASoIaF moves deeper through the first and second act, and the motif of narrators and narrations being prejudiced or skewed toward the narrators own desires or beliefs, Robert’s Rebellion- once again the historic event upon which the entirety of ASoIaF is built- changes shape and becomes a three-dimensional story with so many shades of gray on both sides. What you would think would be less truthful or less accurate accounts- dreams, visions, time travel through weirwood trees- become the best source for accurate information and these sources change the shape of the war we have in our mind by giving us the perspective we need. It’s a beautiful mechanic that Martin deploys and executing this must have required tremendous planning and outlining to make it work as well as it does.
Thus and so, The Battle of The Trident is historically considered the turning point of the war, the end of the war in some ways, and by all means the decisive conflict of the war. The Battle of The Trident can only be considered ‘Historically’ once the war is over in entirety and the dust has cleared. Even then, metaphorical wounds and scars received as a result of the war needs be healed enough for the majority of Westeros to be able to look at the war and pinpoint The Trident as the moment when the momentum swung in one direction enough for that side to go on and finish the war with a victory. So, despite having won the war for all intents and purposes at The Trident in the Riverlands, the Rebels still have quite a ways to go in order to achieve victory. The battle that maesters look at as the turning point in Robert’s Rebellion is not the case for Robert and the Rebels, for them it is a big victory but there is much still to be done.
With Rhaegar laying dead in what will soon be named The Ruby Ford, it is likely that Jon Arryn and Hoster Tully, the brains behind Robert Baratheon’s cause, realize that the best chance for peace with House Targaryen and the best chance to win the war with minimal bloodshed and damage have also been shattered by Robert’s Warhammer… physically and metaphorically. Rhaegar Targaryen was respected by all, at least up until he ran off with a 15-year-old Lyanna Stark, and Rhaegar was considered pragmatic and wise beyond his years; essentially the antithesis of the characteristics of his father, the King of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men and Defender of the Realm, Aerys II Targaryen.
Instead of an opportunity to broker peace with the man that would be King, the Rebels have no choice but to follow-through and finish the Revolution by addressing The Mad King. It is The Mad King’s overly-aggressive and poorly thought-out actions that turned a political and polarizing issue amongst the High Lords of Westeros into a war that won’t end until a majority of leadership on either side are killed in battle or executed afterward. Rhaegar Targaryen was in many ways more dangerous to the Rebellion than Aerys was. According to credible narrators and characters of ASoIaF, Rhaegar Targaryen was much loved by the smallfolk and respected by nearly all the nobility of Westeros. Rhaegar was the figurehead that Aerys needed to take away the popularity and allure that Robert Baratheon was gaining with each victory as he went on destroying the enemies that he held responsible for the abduction of his one “true love.”
If we look at the leadup to The Trident from the Targaryen point of view, Rhaegar arrived at his father’s aid just as things were beginning to look dire. Once the Prince of Dragonstone was at King’s Landing and within The Red Keep, he calmed his father’s paranoia, albeit slightly, and offered sound advice and strategy that could very well have worked had Aerys approached his old friend and Hand Tywin Lannister in a humble way.
But Tywin’s inaction for the first and second leg of the Rebellion was essentially as detrimental to the Targaryen and Loyalist cause as Robert Baratheon’s Warhammer was detrimental.
Word reaches King’s Landing quickly after The Trident battle ends. News of Rhaegar’s death must surely hit Aerys hard. Although Aerys had been nothing but suspicious of his son for a few years; paranoid that Rhaegar was plotting with both his sister-wife Rhaella and his former Hand Lord Tywin Lannister; those suspicious would have died along with Rhaegar.
The Mad King may not be in the mental place necessary to put his feelings in proper context but surely a man as paranoid and anxious as Aerys would have amplified those self-destructive worries thus making rational thought even less possible than it already was for him. Perhaps his fate is a foregone conclusion once his son’s fate is decided but if self-preservation is not on Aerys immediate priority list, the King still makes some good decisions for the survival of his House. Queen Rhaella, newly pregnant, and his younger son Viserys, the new heir to The Iron Throne and perhaps the last hope for House Targaryen all at the ripe old age of 6, are both sent away from The Red Keep by sea to ancient Targaryen fortress of Dragonstone in the Narrow Sea. Aerys comes to the belief that Rhaegar must have been betrayed by Prince Lewyn Martell of Dorne. Since Lewyn Martell betrayed Rhaegar, Aerys comes to the conclusion that Dorne is gearing up to betray him.
We don’t know much about Lewyn Martell. We know he was an uncle to Doran Martell, the Prince of Dorne during Robert’s Rebellion and during the events of ASoIaF. Lewyn’s older sister was the Princess of Dorne before Doran. We know Lewyn was a skilled enough knight that he was chosen to be a member of Aerys’ Seven and all agree that Aerys’ Kingsguard was one of the all-time greats… despite the King’s heir being killed under their watch, the King being killed by one of the Kingsguard, and the King’s House nearly being extinguished and their near thousand year rule ending. Lewyn Martell was much loved by his family. There is nothing to indicate that either Lewyn or his family, the ruling House Martell of Dorne, had any intention to betray Aerys. At most, we can possibly assume that if Elia was not married to Rhaegar, or if she was not kept at King’s Landing by Aerys when he sent his own family away to Dragonstone, it isn’t as likely that Dorne would have stayed loyal to House Targaryen. But it is too late by the time any of that happens and whatever Dorne would have done if circumstances were different is inconsequential.
The reality of the Dorne situation is this- when Prince Doran gets word that Rhaegar Targaryen had run off with Lyanna Stark of Winterfell he is furious. Of Doran and Oberyn, Elia’s two brothers, Doran is by far the more patient and pragmatic. Perhaps lucky for Aerys, because- side note- Prince Oberyn was likely across the Narrow Sea serving the Second Sons or the free company that he formed himself during his years in the free cities of Essos. It is not confirmed by canon that Oberyn was in Essos. It is possible that The Red Viper was in Dorne but highly unlikely as he would have acted upon one of the slights to House Martell or the danger that Elia was in at King’s Landing. But Doran is very angry at the way his sister Elia has been treated by Rhaegar Targaryen. He is very slow to send Dornish forces to assist House Targaryen. It isn’t until Rhaegar returns to King’s Landing from the Tower of Joy that Doran sends ten thousand Dornishmen North to join the Loyalist Army under the command of Prince Lewyn Martell. The understanding is that Elia will become Queen of Westeros when Rhaegar assumes the throne although it is canon that Aerys reminded Prince Doran that Elia was still at King’s Landing and under his protection. Doran Martell isn’t the type of man that would misunderstand a threat or not see the meaning found between words.
Regardless of where Prince Doran stood with House Targaryen when Robert’s Rebellion is said and done, House Martell is perhaps the only great House of Westeros that remains loyal to the Targaryens. Doran and his brother Oberyn will spend years plotting against Tywin Lannister and Robert Baratheon. Doran will form a secret marriage pact with Ser Willem Darry to marry his daughter Arianne to Viserys Targaryen when the time is right and the Bravoosi Sea Lord serves as witness to this alliance.
It should be noted on the timeline that I found on TowerofTheHand.com, that just before the Battle of the Trident or concurrently, Robb Stark is born to Catelyn Tully at Riverrun. Robb Stark is Ned’s first born son and we’ve had the debate as to which boy was born first- Robb Stark or Jon Snow. We decided that it was Jon Snow that was born first, by at most 4 to 6 weeks. However, this timeline may suggest differently as it is implied that Lyanna Stark died from childbirth and Ned is present when she dies.
Back to the Rebellion – Rheagar Targaryen is dead and King Aerys has sent his pregnant wife, Queen Rhaella, and his son, now heir, Prince Viserys with Ser Willem Darry via ship to Dragonstone. A good move, well thought out, both John and I agree. Ser Willem Darry is the master-at-arms at King’s Landing during Aerys’ reign. When Rhaegar makes his decision to become a warrior, it is Ser Willem that he goes to learn to fight with sword and lance. According to somewhat canon sources, Ser Willem Darry is the brother to Ser Jonathor Darry of Aerys’ Kingsguard. We will come back to Ser Willem later on.
Slightly after The Trident, there is The Battle of The Mander. The Battle of The Mander is essential of no consequence to Robert’s Rebellion and the only reason it is fought is that The Greyjoys feel they need to take the winning side and fight for it so to have access to the spoils. Once word of Rhaegar’s death reaches Pyke, the eldest Greyjoy boys Balon, Euron, and Victarion convince their father Quellon Greyjoy, the Lord of The Iron Islands, to join the war on the side of the Rebellion. Lord Quellon was comfortable and felt safe with The Iron Islands remaining neutral throughout the conflict. Perhaps he believed that no matter which side won, The Iron Islands would be unaffected.
When his three oldest sons come to him and convince him he needs to join the Rebel’s side so not to lose a chance at the spoils of war, is this truly their intention? We did an episode on The Greyjoys during our #Wo5K series and when we talked about The Battle of The Mander, we talked about the possibility that Quellon Greyjoy was killed by his sons on The Mander, most likely Euron, so that Balon would be The Lord of Pyke when they returned home.
Irregardless, if Balon Greyjoy is indeed the man we think he is, the man we’ve read about in ASoIaF, and portrayed in GoT, and the man able to remain in control of the Iron Islands and so respected or feared by the Ironborn that they support his claim to be King of the Iron Islands, there is no way that spoils is what he is after. By joining the Rebel’s side of this conflict, perhaps Balon is thinking years ahead- a new King on the Iron Throne trying to put back together a broken and fractured Realm would be the perfect opportunity for The Iron Islands to declare their independence. In fact, this is the main motivation for Balon Greyjoy to style himself King 7 or 8 years later and begin The Greyjoy Rebellion.
Lord Quellon Greyjoy sees the sense that his sons make or perhaps gives into the pressure they put on him and decides to enter the war on Robert Baratheon’s side. He personally leads fifty warships South to attack The Reach. Nobody in the Realm except Tywin Lannister, and maybe Kevan Lannister, knew if or when House Lannister would enter the war and on what side they would fight for. For the security of the Iron Islands after making a move to side with the Rebels, Lord Quellon leaves the majority of The Iron Fleet at home to defend The Iron Islands if necessary. This attack on The Reach seems like it was more for show than for actual aid to the Rebel’s cause. The 50 Greyjoy longships raided the coastal towns and villages of The Reach, sinking and capturing some ships along the way. Longships of The Shield Islands, the group of islands located at the mouth of The Mander river that flows through The Reach, the same islands that Euron Greyjoy conquers in AFfC, meet the Ironborn unexpectedly at the Mouth of The Mander and battle ensues. 12 vessels of The Iron Fleet were sunk during the fighting. Lord Quellon is slain. Balon Greyjoy, the eldest of Lord Quellon’s sons and his heir, decides his best move is to retreat back to Pyke and claim the Seastone Chair for himself. The contribution of The Iron Islands in Robert’s Rebellion was as minimal as minimal could be.
As The Battle in The Mander takes place, Lord Tywin Lannister finally stirs in Casterly Rock and marches the Westerland forces east to King’s Landing.
Tywin Lannister must have gotten word about Rhaegar’s death at The Trident. But even with Rhaegar’s death, you’d have to think that House Targaryen and the Loyalists still hold the advantage in this war. The forces of The Reach have not really entered the fighting and are camping out, living it up outside of Storm’s End. The armies that followed Rhaegar and Prince Lewyn to The Trident have fled but are still able to fight and even if the numbers are no longer in their favor, there must be a large host if they are gathered back together. Perhaps most advantageous is that Aerys still holds Kings Landing, The Red Keep, and The Iron Throne.
Moving backward a moment, the Rebels have won their victory at The Trident. The only major force to oppose their march to Kings Landing is the forces of The Reach, but they are super-busy doing the absolutely vital job of besieging Storm’s End and making sure that Stannis Baratheon is unable to leave to join his brother’s cause. We know that Stannis entering the field would immediately be the end of House Targaryen and obviously Houses Tyrell, Tarly, and Redwyne. So despite the entirety of the Rebel forces marching towards Kings Landing unopposed, the smart move is for Mace Tyrell, the Warden of The South, to remain camped outside Storm’s End in his pavilion drinking Arbor Gold and eating the best food that the Stormlands has to offer.
The Rebels have received word that Lord Tywin is marching for Kings Landing. This makes the situation very complicated. Robert, Jon Arryn, Hoster Tully, and Ned Stark are not sure of Lord Tywin’s intentions but have to assume and prepare for the worst- that Tywin Lannister is answering Aerys’ call for aid and marching to defend King’s Landing from the Rebels. Robert Baratheon was injured by Rhaegar during their single combat and although the wound was not grievous or mortal, it was bad enough that Robert Baratheon could not pursue the retreating Loyalist forces back to Kings Landing. He instructs Ned Stark to take command of the vanguard and lead the Rebel forces after the Loyalists to Kings Landing.
The pieces are in place for an explosive end to Robert’s Rebellion and it seems as though Robert Baratheon, for whom the Rebellion is named, will be sitting out the final act. Tywin Lannister and 12,000 men from the Westerlands march towards King’s Landing, the remnants of the Loyalist forces at The Trident race toward Kings Landing for protection in its walls and optimistically to protect the city from the Rebels, Ned Stark leads the Rebel forces after the Loyalists towards Kings Landing, Mace Tyrell leads the forces of The Reach in a cook out and series of games and frolic on the Iron Throne’s coin outside Storm’s End, Queen Rhaella who is with child and the heir to the Iron Throne Viserys Targaryen travel with Ser Willem Darry by sea to the safety of the ancient Targaryen island fortress of Dragonstone, and King Aerys II Targaryen sits anxiously behind the walls of The Red Keep deep inside Kings Landing protected by several thousand Loyalists. The timeline gets tricky and slightly blurred from here on out. The events as they happen, as they are reported, as they are remembered, as they are told, and as they are recorded by maesters in the annals of history are all subject to scrutiny, as is most all events that happen throughout history, but most all that survived Robert’s Rebellion and lived to remember it agree that the events that occur are true and precise, despite the timeline being a bit whacked.
Aerys had begun work on his wildfire plot after The Battle of The Bells. We have already touched on this but it warrants more discussion. He grows fearful of Robert Baratheon and views the Rebellion as the biggest threat to House Targaryen’s reign since the Blackfyre Rebellions. Aerys enlists the aid of several higher-ups in the Alchemists Guild and develops a plan to destroy the city by burning it down with Wildfire hidden throughout, should Robert Baratheon be victorious. A 16-year-old Jaime Lannister, the newest and by far the youngest member of Aerys’ Kingsguard, is present as Aerys makes his plans to destroy the city.
Hundreds of jars of the substance were placed under the Dragonpit and the Great Sept of Balor, some were placed under each of the City gates, and under The Red Keep. The pyromancers worked in secrecy and did not even trust their apprentices with their actions.
Lord Qarlton Chelstead was the former Master of Coin in Aerys’ Small Council. He had heard rumors that the Tourney at Harrenhal was a front for the great lords of Westeros to meet with Rhaegar and hold a Great Council to discuss Aerys rule and how to put an end to it. Chelstead urged Aerys to forbid the tourney but instead, Aerys attended.
Chelstead had ascended to the office of Hand after Jon Connington had been sent into exile. He seems to have had little impact on Robert’s Rebellion but he did grow suspicious at the comings and goings of a handful of pyromancers from the Alchemist’s Guild. Chelstead investigated the secret meetings and uncovered the horrible truth that Aerys planned to burn the city down.
He protested and begged for Aerys to not follow through with his plot. Neither worked so Lord Qarlton took a hardline and resigned the Office of Hand. For this, Aerys had the man burned alive.
The fourth Hand to the King to serve during Robert’s Rebellion became Rossart, a pyromancer with absolutely no experience ruling or executing law and order. His best attribute, as far as his new boss was concerned, was his willingness to burn hundreds of thousands of people, including himself and his King, with Wildfire.
Burning Lord Qarlton as an aphrodisiac for Aerys Targaryen and he raped his wife/sister/Queen before sending her to Dragonstone.
According to the timeline I researched, Rossart is made Hand to the King after the Trident. Maybe that makes things a bit clearer but it still seems like a lot of things going on and not enough time.
‘The traitors want my city but I’ll give them naught but ashes. Let Robert be King over charred bones and cooked meat.’ – Aerys II Targaryen
Tywin Lannister arrives at the gates to Kings Landing a fortnight after the Trident. He is commanding a force of 12,000 men of the Westerlands. Lord Tywin told the City Watch that he was here to assist his King and protect the city from the Rebels. Lord Varys tells Aerys not to trust Tywin and to keep the gates closed. However, Grand Maester Pycelle, forever a Lannister patsy, is somehow able to convince King Aerys that his former Hand and childhood friend was there to aid him in his time of need. Aerys ordered the gates to be open to Lord Tywin Lannister and his host.
Basically, the moments the gates open, the Lannister forces begin to sack the city. The soldiers kill people of all ages and rape the women. A previously hand-picked group of soldiers ride straight for The Red Keep to scale the walls.
Ser Jaime, the only KG at KL, was in charge of the Red Keep’s defenses. When his messenger tells him that the City is being sacked, he realizes that the City will fall. He asks Aerys for permission to make terms with his father. Aerys refuses this proposal and dismisses Jaime, ordering him to bring him Lord Tywin’s head.
Aerys holds court with his Hand, Rossart, and commands him to execute their plot. As Jaime is seeing to the Red Keep’s defenses, his messenger informs him that Rossart has left the King dressed as a common man-at-arms. Jaime realizes what is happening and immediately goes after Rossart. He catches him before he is able to leave The Red Keep.
The Grand Master of the Alchemist’s Guild puts up a fight but he is no match for Jaime Lannister.
Jaime returns to the throne room, abandoning the Red Keep’s defenses, and confronts Aerys. Aerys sees the blood on Jaime’s sword and asks where Rossart is. Jaime informs him that he has killed Rossart.
Aerys attempts to flee but Jaime wrestles him down and cuts the King’s throat.