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Wednesday, 22 July 2015

The War of the Five Kings (Part 1)


“When you play a game of thrones you win or you die.” 

The War of the Five Kings, a major conflict that erupts in the wake of King Robert Baratheon's death. Initially the 5 men fighting for the throne are:

  1. King Joffrey Baratheon, The King on the Iron Throne: Technically not a true heir as he was not Roberts biological son. In the beginning he was supported by the westerlands under his grandfathers house (Lannister) and the crownlands that were sworn directly to the Iron Throne.
  2. King Renly Baratheon, The King in Highgarden: Renly was Roberts youngest brother. Although Renly has no rightful claim to the throne he commands the loyalty of the houses in the stormlands and earns the support of the Reach by marrying Margaery Tyrell of Highgarden. Margaery would later marry King Joffrey.
  3. King Robb Stark, The King in the North and the Trident: Robb became Lord of Winterfell after his father Lord Eddard Stark was beheaded by King Joffrey. He was proclaimed King by his bannermen and is supported by his own northern lords and by the riverlords that are sworn to his mother's family, House Tully.
  4. King Stannis Baratheon, The King in the Narrow Sea: Stannis is the eldest of King Roberts younger brothers and is initially supported only by the lords of the narrow sea, he then gains the loyalty of most of the storm lords as well as House Florent and for a brief period of time House Fossoway.
  5. King Balon Greyjoy, The King of the Isles and the North: Balon previously tried to gain independence but failed. This war now gives Balon another chance to fight for independence. He is supported by the lords and captains of the Iron Islands. 
Technically speaking however, Balon crowns himself after Robb Stark is murdered so really there are never 5 kings vying for the throne at the same time.


Setting the Stage
The stage for this war was set long before it began. 15 years prior to the beginning of the war, King Robert staged a rebellion to overthrow the Mad King Aerys II Targaryen. After the rebellion Robert became King and married Cersei Lannister (for political reasons). A few years later the royal succession was secured with 3 children, Joffrey, Myrcella and Tommen.

Roberts brother Stannis soon became suspicious of the legitimacy of Robert's children. He shared his concern's with Jon Arryn, who, at the time was Hand of the King. The 2 men investigated and believed that Robert had not fathered Cersei's children, rather, they had been fathered by Cersei's twin brother Jaime Lannister. Before Stannis and John could bring their findings to King Robert, Jon was fatally poisoned. Stannis now feared for the safety of his family and he fled with them to his stronghold of Dragonstone.


King Robert is now in search for a new Hand and so he travels North to offer the position to his friend Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell. During the Kings time at Winterfell, Eddard's wife Lady Catelyn receives a letter from her sister Lysa Arryn (the widow of Jon Arryn) that implicates the Lannisters were responsible for poisoning Jon Arryn. As a result Catelyn convinces her husband to accept Roberts offer and go to Kings Landing to investigate matters further.


Bran is known for his love of climbing things, while the King and his family are visiting Winterfell Bran climbs one of the towers in Winterfell and see's Queen Cersei and her brother Jaime having sex. To hide their secret Jaime pushes Bran from the tower in an attempt to kill him, but Bran survives although he is in a coma. After the royal family leave Winterfell with Eddard Stark and 2 of his daughters, a hired assassin tries to kill Bran while he is still unconscious. Bran's direwolf, Summer, kills the assassin before he can harm Bran. After the attack Catelyn is now certain that Bran's fall was not just an accident and decides to leave Bran's bedside and tell her husband personally of the attack.

When Catelyn arrives in the capital she is met by an old friend, Petyr Baelish (who is a little weirdly obsessed with her). Petyr tells Catelyn that the dagger the assassin used belonged to Tyrion Lannister, the queens other brother. Catelyn finds her husband and tells him the news, not knowing what Petyr has told her is a lie. During her return to the North, Catelyn finds Tyrion at the crossroads inn and has him arrested for the attack on Bran. She takes him to her sister Lysa in the Eyrie where he faces a trial for his "crimes". Tyrion wins his freedom after a trial by combat, but his arrest has made tensions between the Starks and the Lannisters even worse.

During this time in Kings Landing Lord Eddard was investigating Jon Arryn's death and comes across the truth about the royal children. This is when Eddard makes his first wrong move that leads to his death. He confronts the Queen and offers her the chance to go into exile with her children before he informs King Robert. Being Cersei Lannister however the Queen does not like being threatened and while King Robert is on a hunting trip she has him given very potent wine. In his drunken state Robert is mauled by a boar. On his death bed he orders that Eddard serve as regent until Joffrey comes of age. Immediately Eddard organizes for power to be given to the rightful heir Stannis Baratheon. This was Eddard's second wrong move.  


Roberts younger brother, Renly, see's the power struggle that is about to erupt and he offers to help Eddard seize the royal children. Eddard refuses, so Renly flees Kings Landing with his secret lover Loras Tyrell of Highgarden. Later Eddard realises he may actually need soldiers behind him and enlists the help of Petyr Baelish to ensure he has the help of the City Watch. However Baelish and the City Watch support the Lannisters. Eddard is imprisoned and Joffrey takes the throne with Cersei as his regent. When Robb Stark hears of his fathers arrest he calls his bannermen together and marches south. Although King Joffrey is still the only King in the realm, it is now that the War of the Five Kings begins.


As we all know this war is on going and new contenders for the throne seem to be popping up all the time, as a result I will be covering this topic over a number of posts. So if you liked this post give it a like and let me know in the comments below what other Game of Thrones topics you would like to see or know about. Thanks for reading.