As a lot of people read my Ten Things about Dorne and House Martell and a similar post about House Stark and House Targaryen so I thought it might be worthwhile to actually gives some love to the actual ruling family of Westeros, The Baratheons.
For the HBO tv watchers, I wanted to get to House Baratheon because while we get Stannis all of the time, I think we sometimes forget that the actual King of Westeros is a technically (or not technically) a Baratheon. They are the royal house, not the Lannisters even though most of the Baratheon bannerman, including their seat of power in the Stormlands is not loyal to the current crown. They also had very close ties to the Targaryens almost from jump and maintained them almost throughout their history leading up to Robert’s Rebellion.
As with the others, there are no spoilers here for tv watchers, nor is there new information here for even the most passive of A Song of Ice and Fire readers.
Robert was the true steel. Stannis is pure iron, black and hard and strong, yes, but brittle, the way iron gets. He’ll break before he bends. And Renly, that one, he’s copper, bright and shiny, pretty to look at but not worth all that much at the end of the day.
“My shield, my stalwart, my strong right hand”
– Aegon I Targaryen
1. The founder of House Baratheon was Orys Baratheon.This guy goes all the way back to Aegon the Conqueror, and was said to be his only friend and perhaps his bastard half-brother. He was the first Hand of the King and he got Storm’s End the old fashioned way, by killing the last Storm King and marrying his daughter.
2. Though Robert killed Rhaegar Targaryen, his father and mother, Lord Steffon and Cassana Baratheon, were lost at sea on a mission ordered by Aerys to find a wife for Rhaegar. This should show how close the Baratheons and Targaryens were even just several years before Robert’s Rebellion. Aerys and Steffon were cousins. Robert, Stannis, and Renly’s grandmother was Rhaelle Targaryen. It’s one of, among a few, reasons that Robert made sense to be crowned.
3. I do not know if this is put across in the TV show as we see him at his decline, but Robert Baratheon was a historically viewed warrior. As we see everyone maneuver, make alliances, and passively aggressive each other to death in between weddings, trials, and a couple of beheadings, Robert took a Warhammer and put it into Rhaegar Targaryen’s — The Last Dragon that everyone but him seems to think was the smoothest dude in the damn world — chest. Ned Stark, one would imagine a fit dude, said he could barely lift Robert’s hammer, and Robert actually FIGHTS with it. You know what faux-medieval knights in armor fear? Huge dudes swinging warhammers. While there may well be people of his era who have more skill, a Jaime, Selmy, Dayne, Sandor, maybe even Rhaegar, there is an immense element of practicality that trumps skills when you have a Warhammer. A blow with a Warhammer by a guy Robert’s size, skill, and strength kills or maims. He was dubbed The Demon of the Trident.
…and if Lord Tywin dared to rouse the west, Robert would smash him as he had smashed Rhaegar Targaryen on the Trident.
4. Robert was not the first Baratheon to proclaim himself King with a side of beef with the Targaryens. Lyonel Baratheon, called The Laughing Storm, crowned himself Storm King when a marriage promise between his daughter and the Crown Prince, Prince Duncan Targaryen (aka the Prince of Dragonflies) was renigged on when Duncan found true love in Jenny of the Oldstones. The rebellion ended with a trial by combat between Lyonel and Ser Duncan the Tall, that resulted in Lyonel yielding. King Aegon pardoned him and offered his daughter, the aforementioned Rhaelle Targaryen, to Lyonel’s son to mend first world problems.
“That letter. Was it the Regency? Has my brother named you Protector?”
“My lord I have 30 men in my personal guard, and other friends besides, knights and lords.Give me an hour and I can put 100 swords in YOUR HAND.”
5. That moment made me like Renly, no matter what. The TV show makes Renly quite a bit more self serving. The dumbest thing Ned ever did in a career full of dumb things late in his life was turn down Renly’s offer when Robert died. Say want you want about him later, but Renly was about to ride with Ned, just like his brother did decades ago. One could wonder what 100 men means, but one would suspect Renly had many powerful friends at court, and much like his brother, made friends easily. The Lord of Storm’s End, a Lord paramount, who had the Tyrells in his pocket, offered Ned the best deal to be had and for me THIS is when all the smiles died. Petyr, being a very aware man, probably doesn’t turn on Ned if he has Renly with him. Remember, Renly was trying to broker a marriage between Robert and Margaery first and when he made the offer he did not know the nature of Cersei’s children. I recently spent some time highlighting the career of Barristan the Bold, but man did he really fail Ned here too. Don’t get me wrong, Renly, like anyone else, is governed by self interest, but I believe he tried to do the right thing here. This was a no brainer by Ned.
When this moment happened, it was kind of telling us the old way, the one that worked before, was not going to work. It was the sealed fate that was hinted at when we saw the dead stag and the dire wolf (with the pups) way back in chapter one.
Ned found it hard to imagine what could frighten Stannis Baratheon, who had once held Storm’s End through a year of siege, surviving on rats and boot leather while the Lords Tyrell and Redwyne sat outside with their hosts, banqueting in sight of his walls
6. In last week’s episode of Game of Thrones we had a scene with Petyr talking to Sansa, talking about Stannis Baratheon’s reputation as a military commander. Stannis is not a joke. In my piece about House Stark I talked about how busy Ned was during Robert’s Rebellion, including lifting the siege of Storm’s End. It was Stannis who held Storm’s End against a Tyrell siege for a better part of a year. Oh… He was a teenager. The Tyrell’s and the power of the Reach, if not held at Storm’s End, would have probably crushed the Rebellion with Rhaegar if they were interested in doing that.
When it was time to sail to Dragonstone and go get Daenerys and Viserys, it is Stannis who leads the attack. Viserys and Dany got away, but he took the Targaryen strongold in his brother’s name.
During the Greyjoy Rebellion he was tasked to do a little thing in destroying the Iron Born fleet.
The memory of Fair Isle still rankled in the iron captain’s memory. Stannis Baratheon had descended on the Iron Fleet from both north and south whilst they were trapped in the channel between the island and the mainland, dealing Victarion his most crushing defeat.
Sure, he lost at the Blackwater, but it took an incredible series of events. I’ve been seeing some comments that Stannis is the best commander in Westeros because of default, and I’m not sure if that’s accurate. He’s good, and people have to remember the era we are in and look up famous strategists or commanders in medieval times, and it’s not like people many people participated in or won dozens of campaigns. A lot of reputations are made on a handful.
7. Robert Baratheon fathered many bastards, at least 16, but only one was acknowledged: Edric Storm. He was acknowledged because his mother was a noble, Delena Florent. He was conceived during Stannis’ wedding, when Robert smashed Delena on the bride and groom’s bed. Bob FTW!!!!!!
Catch my recap of next Sunday’s episode of Game of Thrones if it pleases you.