Daeron the Pretty Good: A Political Analysis of Daeron II Targaryen

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Daeron the Good, by Amok

Daeron the Good is held up as one of the best Targaryen monarchs in the 300-year dynasty by in-universe actors and the fandom alike. His commitment to just rule undoing the corruption of his father Aegon the Unworthy and ability to peacefully incorporate Dorne into the Seven Kingdoms hold him both in-universe and out as a great man, and a great king. Free from the warmongering of his more martial counterparts, Daeron the Good improved the lot of the people under his wing, and the Great Spring Sickness would cut down a king on the cusp of building a golden age the equal of Jaehaerys the Wise. Or so the conventional wisdom would teach us.

Yet under Daeron the Good, Westeros faced the largest civil war of its time. While the Dance of the Dragons was arguably more destructive, no Westerosi war would involve as many houses as the First Blackfyre Rebellion, and five generations would see the Black Dragon pitted against the Red. What caused the Blackfyre Rebellion? What part did Daeron have in its creation? Was he truly as good as the fandom believes?

Welcome to the next installment of the Three Heads of the Dragons essay series, the first multi-author essay series for the Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire site. This series looks at the kings, pretenders, and famous ladies of the storied Targaryen dynasty from fiery beginnings to bloody end. For my part, I examine who history defines as the true kings of the Targaryen dynasty, the men who wore the crown and sat the Iron Throne. There are only 100 years left in the Targaryen dynasty, and twenty-five of them belong to Daeron II.

Daeron the Prince – Auspicious Beginnings in an Inauspicious Time

Daeron was born in the last day of 153 AC, and his would not be an easy childhood. His father, at that point an idle royal far from the line of succession, despised his mother for their unhappy relationship, and continued to impregnate her despite significant health risks. Aegon IV’s shadow would haunt Daeron for the rest of the former’s life, but it would be a distant, absent shadow. After Aegon nearly killed Naerys with another pregnancy in 161 AC, King Baelor and his own father Viserys would send him to Braavos as a diplomatic envoy. While the prince most certainly returned to Westeros sporadically (Daemon Blackfyre was not sired from the ether), Aegon was not a significant presence in Daeron’s later childhood and teenage years.

Daeron’s most significant role models, then, were his uncle Prince Aemon the Dragonknight and his grandfather, the eventual Viserys II. Their influence on young Daeron are easily seen in his manner, and later, in his approach to government during his tenure as Crown Prince. Aemon the Dragonknight was the finest swordfighter that Westeros had ever seen yet he was calm, dutiful, and humble; similarly, despite having a larger-than-life, bombastic father, Daeron was rather subdued in personality. Daeron, after he reached the age of majority late during Aegon’s unofficial exile, likely assisted Hand of the King Viserys in managing the bureaucracy of the realm that was increasingly strained under King Baelor the Blessed. Viserys’s focus on efficient, orderly government stuck with Daeron, and it’s no surprise that many of Aegon IV’s moves against this sort of model would be opposed or countermanded by Viserys’s studious pupil, Daeron.

This dedication to serious, studious work complemented Daeron’s physical weakness. Inheriting his mother’s slight frame and constitution, Daeron was not as physically robust as was expected of a Westerosi noble, and he was never known to pursue the traditional knightly pursuits of horse, lance, and blade. This was unusual, as no Targaryen monarch before him was considered poor with a blade (even slender, reedy Aenys, was considered adequate enough to avoid shame); a few, like Aegon I, Maegor, and Daeron I, were even considered warriors of exceptional renown. While martial prowess is certainly no indicator of governmental prowess, Westerosi society looked upon martial virtue as a traditional function of leadership. This is not mere personal preference; lords and kings were expected to be military officers, present on the battlefield, and if Vietnam was any judge, officers that couldn’t hack the job (as well as glory hounds) found themselves hated by enlisted men and subordinate officers alike.

Daeron, in neglecting his martial training, jeopardized this sort of prestige among his future vassals, critically impacting his eventual ability to rule. In doing so, he drew unwelcome comparisons to indecisive and meek Aenys I Targaryen, who fretted and dithered while rebels murdered loyal lords (including Ronnel Arryn, the first Lord Paramount of the Vale). His lack of martial prowess and subsequent command projected weakness from his position; much like Aegon III in his unwillingness to court his vassals. Capable subordinates can only exercise so much of the authority which ought, by rights, belong to the king. As Protector of the Realm, one of Daeron’s duties was exclusively martial, and his unwillingness to do what was required of him suggested weakness and failure to perform one of his primary duties. This lack of martial prowess seems confusing for many modernist observers, but in the realities of feudalism, where a king was a senior military commander and all vassals under his military jurisdiction, lack of martial know-how is a real and credible danger to a young nation. In English history, Æthelred the Unready and King John the Softsword speak to military failure leading the central monarchy to ruin. While it seems bizarre, feudal governments suffered a genuine threat with an unmartial king, and Daeron’s willful neglect of martial training spoke to an endemic weakness in the monarchy.

Yet the moment that almost assuredly had the most impact on Daeron II during his childhood was his betrothal to Mariah Martell to seal a peace deal. Daeron’s betrothal (at eight years old) to end a war meant that the greatest impression he would get of his namesake’s great campaign was the pointlessness of Daeron’s war. The pardoning of the Dornish hostages, the grand barefoot walk down the Boneway – these over-the-top gestures of peace would be seen by the future Daeron II as the laudable and important actions of a king, a lesson he would take to heart when combatting his warmongering father.

After Viserys, that great champion of good governance, would die incredibly early in his reign, Aegon IV became King of the Seven Kingdoms. The Unworthy’s own inadequacies have already been discussed at length, but Crown Prince Daeron, 18 years old at the time of his father’s ascension, would quickly become his father’s most powerful political opponent. As Prince of Dragonstone and heir-apparent, he would almost certainly have political clout, not just among the vassals sworn to Dragonstone but with any who wished to form an early, productive relationship with the future King of Westeros. Any who opposed Aegon’s arbitrary rule would also almost certainly look to Daeron to oppose Aegon’s dangerously capricious measures. While it’s impossible to know exactly who fell in on Daeron’s side, it’s likely that he counted one or more Lords Paramount in his faction. The Lords Paramount have little to gain in standing, and had a great deal to lose to Aegon’s meddling. Even their fundamental autocratic power within their domains was jeopardized by the King; while Lady Jeyne Arryn had been well within her rights to decide the Runestone inheritance, Aegon IV had appropriated the Plumm inheritances for himself without bothering with the Lord of Casterly Rock.

Daeron was fortunate to count on Aemon the Dragonknight as his most reliable and capable ally. As Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, Aemon would have an automatic seat on the small council (giving him political influence to match and complement Daeron’s own), and his combat prowess and legendary deeds (taking a poisoned arrow meant for King Daeron I, rescuing King Baelor from the viper pit, displaying amazing combat prowess) would give Daeron badly-needed popularity among the more traditionally-minded nobles. When allegations of Daeron’s baseborn nature first surfaced, Aemon was able to challenge Morgil Hastwyck to a duel to prove them false, much in the same vein as trials by combat. Had Daeron no such ally to call upon, those rumors might have continued to plague him for far longer, potentially jeopardizing his claim or his rule.

Aegon, of course, looked to oppose Daeron, and in his bastard son Daemon Waters, the king found a fighter worthy to rival Aemon the Dragonknight. Daemon was young, quick-witted, handsome, charming, and a daring fighter capable of tremendous feats with both sword and lance. Aegon made no secret of Daemon’s favor by gifting him Blackfyre, the traditional Valyrian steel blade of the Targaryen kings. With the loss of the dragons and the crown of Aegon I, the sword Blackfyre was the last true link to Aegon the Conqueror that the Targaryen dynasty possessed. While conferment of the sword did not constitute an official naming of an heir, the sword would become a potent symbol used in the Blackfyre Rebellion’s political narrative. Daeron, however, could not protest the move, as he was no warrior himself, nor was the sword legally obliged to him.

Daeron had better luck with other political moves, especially when it came to enforcing the law over the royal whim. While there aren’t too many examples or names of people that Daeron protected from sticky royal fingers, there were enough occasions that Daeron began to craft for himself an image of just, fair rule to oppose his father. A key point of dissent between king and heir was how to handle the relationship between the Seven Kingdoms and Dorne. Baelor had forged an ‘eternal peace’ with Dorne, but eternal peaces often have a strikingly limited definition of eternity, as Tywin Lannister and the blacks and greens proved throughout Westeros’s history. Even though Daeron had long since wed Mariah Martell, Dorne was still a separate and independent land, with separate customs. Aegon, fixated on conquering Dorne, was opposed by Daeron, who was equally fixated on stopping the Seven Kingdoms from warring with his wife’s family (and with peacefully incorporating Dorne into the Seven Kingdoms, but there’s no indication that Daeron made strides to that end until he took up the crown).

For the last part of Aegon’s tenure, after Aemon the Dragonknight died at the hands of the Toynes, Daeron would retreat to Dragonstone. Conflict appeared inevitable, and Daeron found himself without his most capable and popular ally. Though Aegon’s health was failing, but he could still spit vitriol and make the barest of veiled references to Daeron’s alleged illegitimacy. As a last spiteful act, before he could formally disinherit Daeron, Aegon named his bastards as true Targaryens, a move that would almost certainly cause trouble, though perhaps even Aegon would not know exactly how much ruin it would bring to Westeros.

Daeron the Just, For Certain Definitions of Just

When Aegon IV’s body gave up after a lifetime of neglect, Crown Prince Daeron took his father’s heavy crown (hoping to silently cow rumors of his alleged baseborn nature by symbolically showing he was his father’s son) to become King Daeron II, amidst much political difficulty. The king had been widely corrupt, and while Daeron as Crown Prince could treat the symptoms, now he had to handle the disease itself. The royal court of Robert Baratheon had notable instances of corruption, with the appointments of Janos Slynt and Littlefinger as well as Cersei’s staffing of Lannister toadies in key positions. Robert however, wasn’t corrupt the way Aegon IV was, so Daeron had his work cut out for him in a way even Jon Arryn or Eddard Stark might give pause to handle.

Reform of the bureaucracy was all well and good, but Daeron also looked to incorporate Dorne into the Seven Kingdoms via treaty, now that he was no longer checked by his anti-Dornish father. Daeron immediately invited Prince Maron Martell, his brother-in-law, to the Red Keep to treaty negotiations to find a compromise that could bring Dorne under the Iron Throne,. According to Maester Yandel, there was a steep cost indeed. Princess Daenerys, Daeron’s much-younger sister, would be wed to the Martells, the laws of Dorne would remain in effect within the principality, and the titles of the native lords and even the Martell princes and princesses would be preserved. The Dornish also won significant tax incentives in the unification treaty, undoubtedly enraging the other Lords Paramount. Even the preservation of the Martell princely titles gave cause for discontent: though the Martells were now theoretically equal to the other Lords Paramount, their princely styling suggested a continued separation, a relative independence and standing which none of the other paramount lords enjoyed .

Daeron continued crafting his political image as a man dedicated to sober and temperate rule. He ousted men who had achieved their positions thanks to sated Aegon’s endless lusts, reformed the goldcloaks (who under Aegon had abducted common women for his pleasure), and re-staffed the small council with men of his own choosing. Often these men would be of similarly scholarly disposition to Daeron himself. Many other court positions would be filled as well, with a large majority going to Dornish lords. With two Targaryen marriages, many domestic advantages, and a large representation in court besides, the Dornish saw overwhelming political favor – sure to cause great consternation among, not simply the marcher lords and other traditional Dornish enemies, but many members of court as well

Daeron’s track record of just rule was not spotless. In one notable example, the Red Keep’s master-of-arms, Quentyn Ball, nicknamed Fireball, had been promised an appointment to the Kingsguard by Aegon IV, yet Aegon died before a spot would open. Fireball had made his wife join the Silent Sisters and prepared everything for this appointment, and Fireball had dutifully trained King Daeron’s sons in the arts of war as befit his position, yet when the position came open, Daeron instead appointed Willem Wylde to the Kingsguard in lieu of Fireball. To Ser Quentyn, this decision was outrageous; his service and sacrifice were not being respected by Daeron II. Fireball had given up his wife for this position only to have Daeron II snatch it away. While this might not have been beyond the pale for capricious Aegon IV, Daeron had made his mark attempting to be just, and to rescind the Throne’s offer would not have been seen favorably. Similarly, his lopsided treaty and markedly imbalanced favor for Dorne do not suggest fair and impartial treatment. Vassals could rightly fear that if a conflict came between themselves and the Dornish, that Daeron would grant Dorne yet one more victory. Daeron had crafted himself an image of a just and fair ruler, committed to repairing the wrongs wrought by the caprices of Aegon IV, but his blatant political favoritism and disregard for the sacrifices of his other vassals suggested otherwise.

Tens of thousands of men died in Daeron I’s Dornish war, yet in giving the Dornish such consideration, Daeron II gave the impression that he did not hold those deaths in any regard. Despite his own personal misgivings about war, the soldiers that died in Dorne fought on behalf of the Crown, not under their own strategic or tactical imperative. Daeron put forth the idea that the Throne did not value their losses, and for a grieving family, few cuts are as deep as the disregard for a lost family member. Nor did he take an effort to attempt to rationalize or honor their deaths, or grant them meaning. Daeron instead repeated Baelor’s mistake, and amplified it, by favoring the Dornish to such an extent, he was stating, most callously, that he did not care for the deaths of the Westerosi bannermen that fought in Daeron I’s war.

Complicating this matter even more, Daeron’s unmartial nature plagued this notion that the Throne no longer valued its bannermen’s losses. Many nobles educated themselves, and their sons, in leading of troops as a part of noble duty. Daeron, however, had let men of learning keep his company and help shape his policies, which meant that for many families, the education that they had, and that their sons had, were now worthless. These nobles, especially those who were traditional enemies of the Dornish, were robbed of any hope to gain influence to counteract the overwhelming Dornish representation and thus, just treatment under the Throne, and so they began to seethe, and simmer. His disregard seemed tied into his fear and apprehension of war, and thus, his bannermen likely believed that not only did Daeron II disregard the losses of their fathers, brothers, and sons, but that Daeron II would never value them the way he valued his Dornish contemporaries. For a king to demonstrate a willful abandonment of his vassals was certainly galling, and thus, more discontent started to seethe.

It is important to note, however, that Daeron did take strides to include his other vassals. The Targaryen tree had numerous branches, and Daeron saw marriages as the way to keep vassals satisfied. He married his son and heir Baelor to Jena Dondarrion, a lesser marcher house, and his second son Aerys to Aelinor Penrose, attempting to keep the Stormlords placated. The Vale saw yet another marriage of Arryn to Targaryen with Daeron’s mad third son, Rhaegel. The Reach however, saw no such favor, and neither did the Riverlands or the Westerlands, to say nothing of the North. Yet if Daeron thought to project fairness and win friends to his coalition, he lost them with the marriage of his fourth son, Maekar, to Dyanna Dayne, yet another royal Dornish marriage in a family already saturated with them. Maekar was low in the succession, and as such, his marriage was of little political import, allowing Daeron to indulge yet another Dornish match. This royal match cemented Daeron’s reputation as a king who overly favored the Dornish to his other vassals’ detriment.

Aegon IV’s deathbed decree was another lingering matter that Daeron attempted to manage. Daemon Waters could not be de-legitimized, but Daeron looked to keep him mollified. Daemon was allowed to keep the sword Blackfyre, and Daeron completed the marriage arrangements between Daemon and Rohanne of Tyrosh, granting him good lands and the permission to raise a castle upon them. Brynden Rivers, no stranger to court given the popularity of his mother, also found royal favor, earning a place on the small council and being granted the Targaryen Valyrian steel blade Dark Sister. While no reason is given for granting Dark Sister to Brynden instead of Baelor or Maekar, Daeron may have attempted to grant another Great Bastard a Valyrian steel blade as his father had, demonstrating that it was not the sword who made the king. Whatever the case, these two Great Bastards thrived under Daeron’s rulership, but all would not be well.

Let Slip the Dogs of War

There was no final insult, no great wrong that led Daemon Blackfyre to declare a war against Daeron. –The World of Ice and Fire, Daeron II

The defining moment of Daeron II’s reign, however, would be the First Blackfyre Rebellion. Save perhaps for the Great Spring Sickness, no event during his 25-year reign would impact Westeros as thoroughly. Unlike the Dance of the Dragons, where there was one key point of contention (who would succeed Viserys I), there was no single sticking point for the First Blackfyre Rebellion, and this is key to understanding the Blackfyre cause as a whole. As there were many different causes for the Blackfyre Rebellion, so too were there a multitude of reasons for nobles to support the Black Dragon over the Red.

It’s altogether too simple to dismiss the Blackfyre cause as a group of anti-intellectual warmongers and anti-Dornish racists. Daeron’s treatment of Fireball, for example, might alarm young, martially-skilled lords, as well as personal friends of Fireball and House Ball altogether. Daeron’s lopsided political support in favor of the Dornish too, suggested that far from being a just and fair monarch, he was a cronyist in the same vein as his father; not only did he empower the Dornish far in excess of other regions (giving them not only less oversight on taxation, but the rights to assess their lands themselves), but he gave them overwhelming representation at court. Dorne now represented not the chance for martial glory it had under Daeron I but a very real political threat made mighty by the crown itself, especially to the Reach, which saw little favor in Daeron’s Dornish-heavy court.

Of course, the anti-Dornish constituency did have a fair amount of warmongering to them as well, well past the point of reasonable grudge. Maester Yandel notes that many who had backed Aegon IV’s push for war resented Dorne being included as rivals for royal largesse. The glory days seemed to be just out of reach and slipping away fast, especially in the Reach, where the Warden of the South and his leal bannermen would ride to defend the Seven Kingdoms from Dorne. Only a generation ago, the Dornish lords had committed a grievous crime in murdering the Young Dragon, violating many of the same tenets that gave birth to guest right, and now they were easily the most powerful of the component regions of Westeros. To many anti-Dornish houses, this amounted to little more than a silent coup, a great reward for the basest of behavior.

The negative feelings of eventual Blackfyre supporters for the Dornish might be compared to the current animosity toward House Frey. In the novel’s original timeline, House Frey’s betrayal of guest right is looked upon by many in-universe actors, even among the Lannister-Tyrell alliance that ultimately benefitted from the killing of Robb Stark, as vile behavior undeserving of any reward. In a small council meeting, Cersei Lannister is even pushed to punish Walder Frey for his actions by her own coalition partners. While Baelor pardoned the murder of his predecessor in a royal act, few members of the honorable warrior culture so prevalent in Westeros would forgive such a vile deed, and rewarding the Dornish for such behavior could be seen as a slap in the face.

The Blackfyre cause found other justifications. Simple desire for war and advancement over others drove many of the rival houses of the Lords Paramount to support Daemon: House Reyne in the Westerlands and House Bracken in the Riverlands. Even the Yronwoods of Dorne, ever the belligerent rivals to the Martell Princes of Dorne, found cause to join the Black Dragon. Most of the Lords Paramount, by contrast, had sided with the Targaryens, as they were the most powerful vassals of their region and unlikely to advance further by supporting a rebellion. Distrust of Daeron’s intellectualism, too, was one of the base reasons, and while there is a point to be made about an entire generation of martial lords and heirs being kept from influencing policy as it was in centuries past, the peace between all continental rivals mandated an evolution in thinking that Daeron cannot be held at fault.

Daemon Blackfyre and Bittersteel too, had their own reasons for causing a rebellion, and much like the component houses that would lift them up, they had both reasonable and unreasonable reasons for rising in revolt against their half-brother. Daemon was known to resent being Aegon IV’s bastard for the status that he gave to him, and Daeron had denied him the chance to wed Princess Daenerys, instead wedding her to Maron Martell as part of his peace deal. Daemon received much from Daeron, but he would always be a bastard looking in, dependent upon his half-brother for approval.

Aegor Rivers, by contrast, received no largesses from the Throne thanks to his exile to Stone Hedge, and had been resentful of the Targaryen dynasty because of it. A martial yet intelligent man, Aegor saw his other half-brothers receive great favor and attention while he was left out in the cold. His mother and grandfather had openly advocated the replacement of Naerys for Barba Bracken, and were exiled from court because of it, largely by Daeron himself. Yet Aegor likely held himself blameless for such actions (to which he was correct; Aegor was an infant at the time of Barba’s dismissal and six years old when Bethany was executed by Aegon IV). Moreso, he saw his house’s hated rivals, the Blackwoods, with their royal bastard risen to high regard and given a Targaryen heirloom and a seat on the small council. Daemon himself received lands and a keep, but Aegor, legitimized just as the rest of them were, received nothing.

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Daemon Waters being dubbed a knight by his father with Blackfyre, by Marc Simonetti

With the principal actors – Daemon, Bittersteel, and Fireball – all nursing grudges of varying degrees of legitimacy against the Iron Throne, talk began of appointing Daemon, the Unworthy’s obvious favored, as king. He was given the traditional sword of Targaryen kings, he had the best blood link to the Targaryens, and he fit the warrior-king ideal that many Westerosi honored: three strong links to the tradition of Aegon I. The talk eventually reached the ears of Brynden Rivers, though, and as a loyalist, he counseled Daeron to order Daemon’s arrest. Thanks to Fireball, however, Daemon evaded capture, fled to the Reach, and now had the casus belli he needed to declare war. Declaring Daeron the illegitimate product of Naerys and Aemon the Dragonknight, Daemon, with a large coalition of political outsiders behind him, raised their banners in revolt.

It seems altogether odd for modern readers to see things like royal bastardry to be such a major sticking point for rebellion. Why not rebel against Baelor’s equally humiliating peace? The answer lies couched in impetus for medieval rebellion. The king, anointed by the High Septon, is akin to godly. Duncan the Tall finds this out when he strikes Aerion the Monstrous. Striking a blood royal forfeits the limb responsible. Rebellion cannot be done simply in disagreement over an issue, but rather through a sense that the king has exceeded the scope of his power, or conversely, that a king did not have the power to begin with. This is why Aenys’s alleged bastardry, or Daeron II’s over 100 years later, is so important. By lacking legitimate inheritance, the king no longer becomes sacrosanct and thus, open for rebellion. Aegon’s allegations of royal bastardry is a real threat to Daeron, because it erodes his legitimacy to rule, just as his supposed anointment of Daemon via the sword to signify an heir is a real and credible threat. Daeron could not rest secure if the potential that he did not legitimately wield royal power was credible.

Unfortunately, currently existing text does not give a detailed description of the one-year-plus campaign of the Black Dragon. However, with so many regions involved, and with Bittersteel’s long efforts in building Daemon a coalition of political outcasts, it’s likely that small conflicts broke out in various regions of Westeros. Daemon, knowing that he was outnumbered, split his forces under key commanders to launch a defeat-in-detail strategy.

Defeat in detail is a military strategy where a force with a smaller global majority but local force majority uses terrain and speed to do battle with smaller chunks of an enemy force, defeating them as quickly as possible before the enemy can rally into one large army too powerful to overthrow. Daeron was fortunate enough to count most of the Lords Paramount as his allies, but Daemon had most of the large and well-populated Reach and a significant portion of the Riverlands. The Lannisters would be separated from Kings Landing, and threatened from the east, the Grey Lion could not sail around Dorne to rally with the King and add Lannister funds and equipment to his disposal.

Steven Attewell of Race for the Iron Throne does an excellent job in theorizing a rebel sweep of kingdom to kingdom, using well-timed betrayals and the martial excellence that characterized Daemon’s campaign from the beginning, and I shall not merely repeat his words on the subject. Where I differ is that I believe that Daemon himself threatened the southern Riverlands and southwestern Crownlands while Fireball took to the Westerlands. Daemon’s show of martial force kept morale high and the Stormlanders in check, fitting with his defeat in detail strategy. Once Fireball united with Bittersteel, the two marched their large army south, around the western side of the God’s Eye, to unite with Daemon Blackfyre and march north to King’s Landing. While it is a longer strategy than simply taking to the Kingsroad, Fireball and Bittersteel risked the rear of their column attacked by the Vale forces (poetically, they would fall to the same tactic, save from Baelor Breakspear rather than Lord Arryn). With the Yronwoods holding the Dornish in the south, approaching King’s Landing from the Roseroad would be slightly safer, as the Penroses had been trounced by Fireball very early during the war. Approaching from the south also gives the Blacks an easier time of supply from the fertile Reach, with less rivers and more roads for larger wagon trains.

Whatever the reason, the Battle of the Redgrass Field would decide the fate of the Blackfyre Rebellion. Daemon’s forces, both his van on the left and the center under Lord Peake, advanced dramatically. Daemon achieved a tremendous victory, breaking Lord Arryn’s forces on the right and scattering them. Lord Peake also achieved success by having his knights slay Hand of the King Lord Hayford, yet The Sworn Sword does not give us a similar account of Hayford’s forces breaking the way Lord Arryn’s did. However, at some point, Daemon was intercepted by Ser Gwayne Corbray of the Kingsguard, and there he was delayed for nearly an hour dueling, their Valyrian swords flashing in the sun. When Daemon finally defeated Corbray, he chivalrously commanded that Gwayne be taken to the maesters lest he be trampled in the dirt. Both in the duel and in Daemon being so touched that he commanded Gwayne to be carried from the field to spare him further injury in recognition of his prowess suggest a sort of chivalric political narrative. Fireball too, would spare the youngest Penrose son as a favor so that he might not deprive a mother of all of her children. While Daemon’s move was certainly a celebrated gesture of gallantry, it also took time away from the battle. This delay allowed Brynden Bloodraven, not at all a chivalric sort, to seize a local high ridge and rain arrows upon Daemon and his sons, slaying all three and breaking the rebel cause.

To turn a bad day worse for the Black Dragon, Baelor Breakspear appeared with Dornish and Stormlander reinforcements, and there they charged upon Bittersteel and Peake’s forces, arresting their forward movement and forcing them to deal with an unexpected rear attack. With the pressure momentarily relieved, Maekar rallied Lord Arryn’s forces to form a hardened line of infantry, forming a hammer-and-anvil formation with his older brother to crush the rebels between them.

“It’s like Baelor Breakspear and Prince Maekar. We have them! We have them!” -The Winds of Winter, Barristan Sample Chapter

Hammer-and-anvil techniques have been used since maneuver warfare, almost since the development of horseback riding gave rise to the mounted warrior. An infantry force would engage an enemy in straight battle, with the goal being to pin the enemy in place. A cavalry force would use their superior mobility to circle around the pinned infantry and strike on the rear, sandwiching the battle lines between attacks from two sides. When done correctly, this technique is extraordinarily devastating. The Battle of Cannae, the archetypical battle of destruction, the battle that cemented Hannibal Barca’s reputation as a legendary general and strategist, would obliterate the largest legion force the Romans had ever mustered up to that point, and this would be due to Hannibal’s well-disciplined Carthaginian infantry forming an anvil with his Numidian cavalry forming a hammer. In the text, the Redgrass Field is held up as a sort of pinnacle of tactics; Westerosi generals aspire toward achieving their own Redgrass Field to win both victory and everlasting fame. In Meereen, during the Battle of Fire, Barristan the Bold, upon seeing the Ironborn landing with their amphibious force, rallies up and forms an anvil, proudly exhorting the victorious tactics, much the same way generals even up to Robert E. Lee in the 1860’s would strive and seek their own ‘Cannae.’ Though Bittersteel would live to fight another day, the standard of the Black Dragon would trouble Daeron II no longer.

Peace at Any Price (Even War)

In the aftermath, King Daeron showed a sternness few expected. –The World of Ice and Fire, Daeron II

Following the victory of the Targaryen loyalists at Redgrass Field, Daeron exacted a strict toll from those who had supported Daemon, though this was to be expected of rebel lords. Daeron’s son, Baelor, was named the Hand of the King and continued the policies of capable governance. Baelor, as a decorated war hero, smoothed over much of the suspicion of King Daeron’s unmartial nature and appealed more to the Westerosi traditionalist mindset (his appointment after the war suggests that Daeron learned the value of having martial advisers as well as bookish ones). Having the devotion to solid governance of his father with an appealing martial prowess, Baelor represented a joining of the two dichotomies of Westeros, the martial tradition of the noble with the new peaceful reality of a relatively integrated continent. Baelor’s advocating for peace and leniency during the Blackfyre Rebellion, combined with the dwindling political capital that Daemon’s third son and Bittersteel possessed, won him some lukewarm support among the houses that supported the Black Dragon. Baelor seemed poised to become a great king, perhaps even a new Jaehaerys.

Yet Baelor would tragically die during a trial by seven in Ashford by his own brother Maekar. The succession was not yet in crisis: celebrated tourney knight Valarr Targaryen, Baelor’s eldest, was next in line to succeed him. But the Great Spring Sickness would come, and Valarr, gentle Matarys, and Daeron II himself would succumb to the deadly plague. The 25-year reign of Daeron II would die amidst the greatest natural disaster perhaps since the Long Night, and that disaster would give new life to the Black Dragon’s cause.

How then, can we rate Daeron II when it comes to others of his dynasty? He reigned during two long eras of peace, integrated Dorne successfully into the Seven Kingdoms, and undid much of the corruption that had become increasingly commonplace under his father’s reign. Yet he also precipitated one of Westeros’s most devastating civil wars, and how much of the war was caused by Daeron’s political appointments is a question of no small debate.

Daeron’s anti-corruption stance rightly elevates his early reign, and his attempts to block a Westerosi breach of the Dornish peace treaty are the mark of good government. However, he was marred by his careless political appointments, his completely lopsided treaty with Dorne, and his unwillingness to honor the sacrifices his vassals laid for his crown. His failures are largely ignored in-universe because he ultimately won the First Blackfyre Rebellion, and his resemblance to a more modern ruler gives him fan support. In truth, Daeron II lucked out by following one of the worst kings, much as Viserys I lucked out by riding the coattails of the best. Daeron sought peace, but in the end, crafted an even greater war. He sought justice, but in the end, created an imbalanced court. He did well enough in the end, learning from his mistakes, and truly does deserve to be thought of as a decent king, but his failures caused much turmoil and strife. These failures are Daeron’s, and thus, he cannot be considered among the likes of Jaehaerys the Wise and Viserys the Thankless.

Thanks for reading. Can you not get enough of the Blackfyre Rebellions and Daeron II? Then check out as two of the fandom’s best give their take on it. Steven Attewell and Aziz of History of Westeros discuss Daeron the Good in the History of Westeros podcast here. Or, if essays are more your thing, check out Attewell’s Blacks and Reds essay series on all five Blackfyre Rebellions at Tower of the Hand.

40 Comments

Filed under ASOIAF Analysis, ASOIAF Character Analysis, ASOIAF History, ASOIAF Military Analysis, ASOIAF Political Analysis, The Three Heads of the Dragon

40 responses to “Daeron the Pretty Good: A Political Analysis of Daeron II Targaryen

  1. Megalo

    I feel like you are being way too harsh with Daeron II, while you were far too soft on Daeron I. There was no other way to get Dorne into the fold as they had dealt with the Targaryens too many times and I feel like was wise to to marry his sons of to certain lords. He married two off to Stormlords to get the Stormlands and Dorne to work together (no small feat), he married another one off to The Vale. As a result he got the support of the Eastern half of Westeros.

    I don’t blame him for basically telling the other lords to fuck off, they did shit while Aegon IV shat all over Westeros.

    • somethinglikealawyer

      The problem with telling your lords to screw off is when they decide that you’re not fulfilling your obligations. That’s when you get a war larger than Daeron I’s.

      • Megalo

        Which is why he arranged all those marriage so he would still have a ton of support. There really was no way to get Dorne into the fold that would not lead to a war.

      • somethinglikealawyer

        I think there could have been, if he hadn’t been so bad at negotiating.

  2. Sir Theodred of Pennytree

    I dont agree with the notion that daeron was negligent when comes to him not being a military person, we know that he had his mothers health an frail constitution, he problably couldn t be the warrior king due to his constitution and personality i disagree that he just didnt want to have does responsabilities due to his personail deslike of those things, and he had two very martial sons who could counsel him and take some of the work in those responsabilities, and when it comes to daerons more harsh treatment of the traitors, his defenitly the influence of bloodraven, his schoolarly personality would probably be a more forgiving one, here we can see the influence of both his son baelor and bloodraven, besides this points i really enjoyed the essay looking foward to more .

  3. georgebora

    Sorry to nitpick but wasn’t Baelor the king that sent Aegon on the “diplomatic mission” so his wife could have some peace, that’s what it says on the wiki.

    It stuck in my head because Baelor, unlike Viserys, would not have gave a damn about a diplomatic mission under normal circumstances so it was so blatantly a ploy to keep Aegon away.

    • somethinglikealawyer

      It was King Baelor, but I’d imagine Viserys would have a lot to do with it. Baelor was focused on the spiritual, more than the temporal.

  4. Kuruharan

    An excellent article!

    Nitpicks:

    “Hammer-and-anvil techniques have been used since maneuver warfare, almost since the invention of the stirrup gave rise to the mounted warrior”

    Mounted combat long preceded the invention of the stirrup and hammer-and-anvil tactics precede it too.

    Exhibited by –

    “Hannibal’s well-disciplined Carthaginian infantry forming an anvil with his Nubian cavalry forming a hammer”

    First, you mean Numidian. Second, the stirrup wasn’t in use in Europe by 216 BC.

    Question: Was the incorporation of Dorne, by either force or peaceful means, really worth the trouble it caused or was the Iron Throne (to use Bismarck’s phrase) a “saturated power” that would have been better off to leave well enough alone?

    • somethinglikealawyer

      That’s my mistake. I was trying to be clever and say the advent of the mounted warrior, but I should fix that.

      I’m not sure how Numidian become Nubian. Ugh, I must be dumb.

      I do believe that the Dornish question needed to be addressed. There was simply too much bloodshed, too many shared cultural institutions, and so on, for the two to ever really exist as two separate powers.

  5. Jbwiz

    Enjoying the analysis of the Targaryen Dynasty. My only qualm is the criticism of Daeron’s perceived preferential treatment of particular vassals. Calling it blatant political favoritism is too far in my opinion, I think it was apt of Daeron to bring Dorne into the fold so strongly, since they had just become part of the seven kingdoms. It was impossible for him to please everyone, and I think he did a good job of gaining the loyalty of the Vale, Stormlands, and especially Dorne.

    • somethinglikealawyer

      Over-representation runs at risk, especially when Dorne has so many comparative domestic advantages as well. Dorne was already motivated to be part of the Seven Kingdoms, they got a lot out of the deal, including protection from Reach and Stormlander attacks.

      It would have been wiser for Daeron to either grant one of the Dornish concessions to all the various regions, to symbolically buy them into the peace agreement, or to staff his court with a wide coalition to force as many people into the peace. Both have advantages and drawbacks, but Daeron went way overboard with Dorne.

      • Jbwiz

        Wasn’t it the Dornish that were the aggressors? Orys Baratheon died hunting the first Vulture King.
        Dorne had to give up their sovereignty, which is no small thing. Given, they kept their customs and certain freedoms, but they didn’t need to join the seven kingdoms. They had proven their ability to defend against the invasions even when the Targs had dragons, they clearly didn’t fear the power of the Iron Throne. If they didn’t like their new arrangement, they could’ve declared independence and regained their sovereignty. Daeron was smart to give them a beneficial deal and incorporate them into his court, because it created ties the Dornish couldn’t easily break.

      • somethinglikealawyer

        This mistakes how badly the Dornish fared after Daeron’s War of Dornish conquest. It’s a mistake to think that Daeron could defend themselves against the Seven Kingdoms indefinitely. Daeron proved that in his conquest, where he broke Dornish doctrine at the fundamental level. 10,000 Westerosi died in Daeron’s war, and at least that many Dornishmen died as well. The Planky Town was broken twice. Dorne was really at the end of their rope, much like the Faith Militant by the time of Maegor’s death.

        Protecting themselves from another invasion was a major victory. Declaring independence is also not a good move, until they had enough people to repopulate and fortify the defenses that had been destroyed in Daeron’s first war.

  6. minj4ever

    I feel this essay was not as fleshed out as it should have been.

    First the ‘easy part’: Kings cannot and should not please all their vassals.
    Aegor Rivers was a son of Barba who was banished after plotting to take over Dareon mother’s place. Furthermore Aegor’s aunt Bethany was executed for ‘high treason’ 6 years prior to his acknowledgement as a royal bastard. There was no way Daeron could (nor the reason he should) have honored Aegor and satisfied his ‘bitterness’.

    Willem Wylde was raised to KG (to Ball’s outrage) and 2 elder sons married a Dondarrion and a Penrose. All 3 are minor houses in Stormlands. Stormlands are an obvious choice to placate as an opposition to Dorne’s influence. The ‘minor house’ part might indicated a couple of things. Either Dareon decided to threaten House Baratheon or (more likely) there were no legible maids in Storm’s End (we know of only the Laughing Storm but he was just a knight at the time).

    I postulate that everything was still fine at that point but after his sister married a Martell, Prince of Dorne, and the third son married an Arryn, House Paramount of the Vale, House Tyrell was extremely slighted when Maekar, the youngest son, took a Dayne for his wife. It was likely a marriage of love but denying Tyrells influence at court was one of the major reasons the Blackfyre coalition could gather momentum since Lords Paramount of the Reach did not officially took sides in the conflict allowing the rebel armies to roam free in the region.

    The whole rebellion of course then predicated on Fireball and Bittersteel teaming up along their grievances and using their good relations with Daemon to persuade him to take up arms against his legitimate half-brother. ‘There was no final insult, no great wrong’ because the whole thing basically came down to greed. While it is true that Daeron could have distributed his royal favour more equally, it’s hard to blame everything on him even with 20/20 hindsight. Don’t forget the whole realm was in chaos after his father’s reign and bastard legitimization.

    The second thing that I don’t particularly like with this essay is the whole martial prowess discussion. Too many inconsistencies there for my liking. If the dragonknight really did have an influence on Daeron’s character I’d argue that he would have accomplished that while training the young prince in arms. However, it’s more likely that between learning to rule from his grandfather at court and taking care of his constantly sick mother Daeron simply did not have the time or the need to become a renowned warrior. After all, his formative years took place during Baelor’s reign when the Dornish peace was valued the most.

    If only his absentee father caught a pox and died before becoming the king….

    • somethinglikealawyer

      I’m not saying that Aegor was owed anything, I’m only saying that when Aegor sees everyone else getting presents and himself getting nothing, he’s not going to take it well. It’s clear that Aegor was allowed at court, since he had to craft a personal relationship with Daemon Blackfyre. But there’s no record of him getting any land or income despite all of his other brothers being highly favored. Also, no one is going to take something that happened to an aunt and grandfather as justifiable for being put in the doghouse. As I said, Aegor was six, he wasn’t involved.

      There was no single flashpoint because it was more a cause of grudges boiling over then a point of rebellion. To call it simple greed does a great disservice to the world-building. There were personal and philosophical differences just as much as economic ones.

      Maekar doesn’t strike me as the ‘marriage of love’ type. It’s not like Viserys, who lost his charm after he lost his love. Maekar seems to be a stern, harsh man. It might have been because of Redgrass Field, but it might have just come from years of living in the shadow of both Baelor Breakspear and Daemon Blackfyre.

      If the realm was in chaos, why then, did it take eleven years to go from the legitimization decree to revolt? It’s the same with the Daenerys marriage, which was eight years before the rebellion. Daeron had all that time to reconcile and build bridges with the nobility. He mismanaged royal patronage and kept driving away half the kingdom instead of selling them his policies.

      I’m not sure what inconsistencies you’re talking about in the martial training. First, Daeron doesn’t need to take care of his mother; there are maesters and healers for that, and servants to do things like fetch her food and linen when she feels frail. Second, peace during the time doesn’t mean that the highly-prized and traditional masculine virtues fall by the wayside. There are still tournaments, there are still hunts. An entire culture does not change because of one grand gesture of peace. Third, we know that Aemon had an effect on Daeron because the two were closely allied politically. Fourth, martial training is a normal part of education for young Westerosi men, so Daeron not having time to learn how to fight makes no sense, because part of his time is spent learning how to fight. Just because Aemon is a great fighter doesn’t mean he can teach Daeron to be one. If Daeron didn’t have the aptitude or desire to learn, he’s not going to be a good fighter. Given his personality, I’m betting that he had no desire to learn.

      • minj4ever

        ‘As I said, Aegor was six, he wasn’t involved.’ It’s not about involvement but appearances and feelings. I did not take Aegor’s presence at court as granted though so perhaps you are right but the essay was lacking this point. Still, Daeron is allowed to keep grievances too, is he not?

        I’m not saying it’s just simple greed but greed is a major factor. The major players wanted something from the king and felt slighted not getting it. Thus greed leads to a slight on honour which leads to seeking ‘revenge’. E. g. I found the Tyrel position lacking in the essay.

        As for all the minor lords there is simply no other motive that fits that well. King is not expected to honour all minor houses of the Reach, Riverlands and Westerlands, is he? The main reason they revolted is wanting to better their station. What kind of philosophical differences do you have in mind? Are we back to racism against Dornish, after all?

        Maekar’s marriage might not have been out of love for sure. Perhaps I was just being too romantic and anachronistic when considering a young marriage full of children. Daynes look Valyrian, after all. My main point is he was the youngest son and typically these marriages aren’t scrutinized that much. However, it should have been, in this case, in hindsight.

        The point about chaos was he had to act quickly to bring everything in order. It’s natural to make mistakes in such circumstances not honouring all bastards equally etc. If anything, it just shows that Daeron did comparatively well. No major lapses in judgment were made that would lead to open revolt: even after Daenerys’ marriage (which is claimed to be the pretext) years had to pass before Daemon took up arms. Then and only then chickens came to roost.
        I would argue that no matter how well you push your agenda, you are bound to leave somebody unhappy and looking for a banner to revolt with. As it happens Aegon had a very nice banner, dragon on both sides, and all. The rebellion was nearly inevitable thanks to Aegon’s last act of madness. Similarly in ASOIAF Catelyn counsels Robb against legitimizing Jon because his whole line would contend her children for generations.

        By inconsistency with martial training I meant Aemon’s supposed influence without it translating to Daeron’s martial prowess. I thought it unlikely so your explanation for lack of skill felt lacking to me. You say they aligned politically but I don’t see where you are coming from. Sure, Aemon defended his sister’s honour but that is not a sufficient example for alignment with his nephew to me.

        It is obvious that Aemon is the ultimate role model for a would-be warrior and would be the one to train royal princes. I can’t understand how you can even question it?! Look at Tommen and Loras. Naerys’ position could not have been the same as Cersei’s since there is no doubt she loved the KG, who was her brother, after all.

        I agree that Daeron probably did not want to learn but the question is why and you don’t seem to be answering it in your essay, He was not cut out to be a fighter physically, for sure. It seems to me that the young prince spending more of his time with Viserys and Naerys would add to a more consistent explanation. Having maesters and healers does not preclude a boy spending time with his sick mother, does it?

      • somethinglikealawyer

        What grievance though? Against the Brackens or against Aegor personally? Aegor wasn’t looking for Bracken patronage.

        I’m not suggesting that he honor every house with an appointment, only that he shouldn’t have so overly favored the Dornish. As for philosophical differences, the role of martial studies in government, chivalry, that sort of thing that’s so wrapped up in Reachman identity. There is an element of anti-Dornish sentiment after all (I’ve never claimed the Blackfyres were saints, or even the better cause), just that there were major differences.

        Most marriages were political and meant to further the family line. I can’t necessarily say that a fruitful marriage means a love match.

        The thing is, there wasn’t any chaos to bring order to. Sure, it was scandalous, but that’s it. So I can’t say that Daeron did comparatively well. After all, most Targaryen kings managed to not raise major revolts.

        Sure, you’re going to make some people unhappy, and others (like Tywin) are never content. But at the same time, Daeron kicked half the country into the Blackfyre camp, so he deserves a fair amount of criticism. Daeron gave Daemon a huge constituency, and that is what gave Daemon the power to rebel. Daemon was a mere landed knight, he didn’t have the political clout to make a constituency on his own.

        No, I can’t say that Daeron spent so much time with his sick mother that his fighting skills suffered as a result. That’s making far too large an assumption, in my view.

  7. minj4ever

    I meant grievances against the Brackens, of course. I’d wager Brynden Rivers had a say in that question as well, being the court favorite and all.

    I’m not denying dornishmen were favored too much and you have a valid point about chivalry. Thing is, two of Daeron’s sons seem to have displayed enough chivalry to make up for their father at that point🙂 Now that I thought about it, having a Dornish-looking heir-apparent was probably a nice pretext for many racists and their sympathizers.

    Sure, Naerys-nursing is just an assumption but it seemed a compelling one to make for me. Ultimately it may be just me over-analyzing things and reaching too much. Looking from the Doylist perspective, as the big boys say, it may have only been GRRM adding an anti-warrior trait to further the dichotomy between the contenders. I just wanted to make better sense of the fact, is all.

    Daeron was not ‘the Best’, for sure. Can we agree on ‘the-Good-enough-for-some’?😀 Thank you for the discussion.

    • somethinglikealawyer

      Oh, he wasn’t a bad king by any stretch of the imagination. He legitimately tried to do right by the kingdom, and in more than a few ways (excising corruption, restoring the rule of law) he slam-dunked, and in the places he made mistakes, he seemed to make errors out of mistake and omission rather than malice or acedia. I’m not calling him pretty good as a courtesy, I do believe he was pretty good.

      I’m a believer that when you’re a leader with lives and livelihoods to consider, intent takes a back seat to results, but intent does count for something. And when comes to intent, Daeron clearly meant well.

  8. si91

    While I agree that Daeron certainly deserves blame for failing to utilize all the resources he had at his disposal to weaken Daemon’s constituency, I think you’re being overly generous to the Blackfyres in saying that Daeron’s actions constituted casus belli for war. Unlike Maegor and Aerys II, Daeron did not physically murder his lords without due process. He wasn’t even as bold as Baelor or Aegon V in trying to weaken their traditional rights and privileges vis a vis the smallfolk, a less justifiable, but still understandable motivation for rebellion given the culture and time period. For all of the Blackfyres’ supposed outrage at Daeron’s lapses, it seems to me that most of it was retroactively manufactured to legitimize a naked power grab that even Daeron’s most egregious political mistakes did not warrant. Giving certain lords offices at the expense of their enemies hardly constitutes just grounds for rebellion. Every family has its enemies, and so no matter who a king appoints, rival families will no doubt whine about “over representation.” Aegon the Conqueror and his sons clearly favored Crownlanders and Riverlanders, which no doubt angered the Iron Islands, Viserys I favored the Hightowers to the extent that Otto was accused of being arrogant, and Robert pawned his crown to the Lannisters, to the extent that Ned was annoyed with him and Jon Arryn and Stannis were genuinely afraid of them. In light of all this, Daeron’s favoring the Dornish was clearly something that his lords could stomach had they chosen to. To equate this to Aegon IV’s cronyism strikes me as particularly unfair. Aegon IV traded offices for women, which suggests that the only qualifications of the men he appointed was their ability to supply women to satisfy his sexual appetites. In contrast, Yandel explicitly says that Daeron II was known for appointing competent people, which suggests that even his Dornish appointees were qualified. In any case, considering that the Blackfyre supporters clearly desired a return to the Aegon IV era “despite all the associated misrule.” they could hardly protest against Daeron II on the grounds that he practiced cronyism like his father.

    We are supposed to believe that Daeron’s refusing to name Fireball to the Kingsguard was a great injustice. However, you’re brushing aside the fact that this position was supposedly “promised” by Aegon IV, a notoriously capricious king who appointed and set aside Hands and mistresses, people clearly more important to him than Kingsguard, quite frequently and arbitrarily. Aegon IV certainly had the opportunity to appoint Fireball when he had Terrence Toyne dismembered, and later when Aemon the Dragonknight died defending him, and chose not to, which tells us how much his “promise” to Fireball meant to him. Furthermore, at best this means that Fireball was merely one of the many cronies of Aegon IV, whose subsequent ouster Daeron II is rightly praised for. To me, it seems bizarre to praise Daeron for cleaning up his father’s corrupt court, yet simultaneously say that denying Fireball a “promised” position was somehow crossing the line while kicking out sitting office holders was not. Doubtless, people who Aegon IV actually appointed to important offices, people who he clearly respected more than he respected Fireball, felt they were “promised” their respected offices as well, and had reason to resent Daeron for unplugging them from the royal teat. In any case, Fireball later proved how “qualified” he was for the job by aiding and abetting a fugitive in violation of a royal warrant and declaring war against the king he claimed he would die to protect. Ambitious, entitled, petty, hotheaded, violent, and treacherous to his benefactor, Fireball fits the Blackfyre archetype quite nicely, and illustrates how mean-spirited their “cause” truly was.

    We are supposed to believe that Daeron was overly ambitious and idealistic in attempting to integrate Dorne despite centuries of bad blood between Dorne and the Stormlands and Reach, yet these regional rivalries are not unique, and the Blackfyres were clearly selective in citing past atrocities as justification for their anti-Dornish sentiment in the present. Take Eustace Osgrey for instance, who sneers at Daeron for filling his court with Dornishmen. We are supposed to believe that Osgrey was justified in resenting Daeron for forcing him to play nice with the descendants of people who had murdered his ancestors. However, we also know that one of Osgrey’s illustrious ancestors, Wilbert the Little Lion, died defending the Reach from Lancel V’s aggression. Yet, Osgrey does not hold the present day Westermen responsible for this. In fact, he was proud to have fought alongside heroes from the Westerlands, like Robb Reyne and Redtusk, whose ancestors were no doubt proud members of King Lancel V’s army. If the lords of the Seven Kingdoms were willing to let bygones be bygones with respect to the pre-Targaryen wartime atrocities between the Reach and Westerlands, Reach and Stormlands, etc. it was rather unreasonable of them to present Dornish pre-Targaryen wartime atrocities as uniquely unforgivable.

    Additionally, the notion that the lords’ martial education was of little use under a peaceful king strikes me as being of little merit. The lords who supported Daeron were just as well trained in arms as their Blackfyre counterparts, yet did not see his peace as threatening their ability to influence the royal government. Indeed, if the lords of the North, Vale, Crownlands, Riverlands, and Westerlands, who had no historical conflicts with Dorne and had thus been at peace for several generations before the Dornish merger, had reason to value their martial abilities in spite of the peace imposed by the Targaryens, there’s no reason to believe that the Reach and Stormlands could not do the same following the Dornish merger, especially considering that that’s exactly what they did followng the failure of the First Blackfyre Rebellion. Furthermore, had Daeron I’s conquest of Dorne succeeded, there would have been peace with Dorne anyway, so what were these “angry” lords going to do then? Blame Daeron I for being “too successful” and making their martial abilities “useless” because he let them conquer everything?

    You have already discussed the baser motivations of the Blackfyre supporters, like anti-Dornish racism and a desire for social advancement at length and I do not disagree. However, it seems to me that even their “legitimate” anger at Daeron’s overly favorable treatment of the Dornish was remarkably selective and self-serving. For instance, we are supposed to believe that Daeron II “dishonored” the dead from his namesake’s war, yet these supposedly grieving families had no problem whatsoever in hypocritically accepting Yronwood support. If Daeron was “dishonoring” the wartime dead by merely favoring Dorne at court, then how was Daemon any less “callous”, when he wanted his Stormland and Reach supporters to not only tolerate, but actually fight alongside their hated Yronwood enemies, who had doubtless killed Stormlords and Reachmen both in Daeron I’s war and for centuries of war prior to that? Weren’t the Yronwoods also responsible for the “grievous crimes” comparable to those of House Frey? Clearly, Blackfyre grief could be conveniently set aside for the right price, which tells us all we need to know about their supposedly “righteous anger” at Daeron. At worst, avenging this “dishonor” only warranted breaking Baelor’s peace and restarting war with Dorne during the two year long negotiation period and forcing Daeron’s hand. In short, if they were angry at Dorne, it only makes sense for them to fight Dorne, not Daeron.

    Additionally, these supposedly “dishonored” families displayed no similar outrage when the wounds were fresh, as Baelor “rewarded” the Dornish with both peace and a marriage, only to suddenly find this “grief” a whole generation later and pick at their scabs under Daeron. If these lords had wanted to, they could have easily concocted a story about Baelor being a bastard as well and found support for a rebellion. After all, in addition to appeasing Dorne in a more insulting, one-sided manner than Daeron did, the celibate, pacifistic Baelor rejected the warrior-king model even more vehemently, was a less competent and more erratic king than Daeron, and even went so far as to openly support the smallfolk against their lords, which Daeron never did. Additionally, his notoriously cold father “was long in calling” his wife to his bed, providing ample material for gossip and rumor-mongering for ambitious, unscrupulous, warmongering lords who hated Dorne. They chose not to rebel because it wasn’t politically convenient, most probably because they lacked the crucial alternative claimant that Daemon provided. This is why Daemon deserves more blame for the conflict than you give him. Daeron gave him more than he had any reason to expect, and certainly more than he had deserved, and Daemon repaid his kindness and generosity with betrayal. Much like Bloodraven, Daemon could have risen high in Daeron’s court had he been willing to meet Daeron half way. Instead, he had the audacity to clash with Daeron over royal policy, which he, a mere landed knight, had right to expect a say in. For all of Bittersteel’s whispering and his supporters’ flattery, the rebellion would never had happened had Daemon not chosen to slander, and attempt to overthrow a brother who had done him no ill and much good, merely to satisfy his sense of self importance. Indeed, it is rather ironic that Daemon resented being considered a bastard, and then proceeded to sully his own reputation and that of bastards everywhere by proving the traditional Westerosi fears about the treachery of bastards correct. In short, Yandel was mostly correct when he said “King Daeron’s efforts at peace had been shattered, through no fault of his own save perhaps too much mercy for his envious half brother.”

    Finally, I find it bizarre that you say that the reputation of Daeron II actually benefited by his coming after Aegon IV, one of the worst kings to sit the Iron Throne. The fact that Daeron II is known as the “the Good” among both lords and smallfolk alike despite having to deal with the baggage left over by his spiteful father, is indicative of how detrimental his father was to his reign. Had he not been burdened by this, he would undoubtedly have been a more successful king.

    • somethinglikealawyer

      The biggest problem with the Blackfyre Rebellion is that it’s a war over the direction of the country, not a war over a particular action the way Robert’s Rebellion or the Dance of the Dragons was. It was a war of ideology, of what a king needed to be and represent. It’s grudges boiling over. Looking at it from the perspective of casus belli is inherently flawed. It’s reasons like this that makes the Blackfyre Rebellions more interesting than the Dance (the war I hate the most in the entire series), because you have people joining for reasons of ideology, not for-or-against a specific action. The Blacks and Reds are both incredibly diverse. You have Marcher lords who would find ideological sympathy with the Blacks joining with the Reds for marriage. You have people like Leo Longthorn seeing his family’s debt to the Targaryens as more important than falling in line with the Reach (or being a Walder Frey, if you believe the Leo Longthorn conspiracy, like I do). You have betrayals, you have conspiracies. I do take issue with the fact that you seem to suggest that I think the Blackfyres were right in rebelling. I am assigning no moral judgment to either side, Red or Black. I am simply presenting a perspective that has been lost in the fandom. Aside from Steven Attewell, everyone seems to chalk up the Blackfyres as just ‘self-serving warmongers and racists,’ and leave it at that. That does the setting an incredible disservice.

      That Daeron II stacked the court with Dornishmen is beyond doubt, and yes, it is a king’s responsibility to balance power. Equating it to Robert and the Lannisters is a false comparison. Robert had a clear coalition of Valeman, Stormlanders, and Northmen to balance the Lannister ticket. No court was ever as lopsided as Daeron II’s. As I’ve discussed in my Taking the Throne essay, Aegon was able to appeal symbolically to the Iron Islands by letting them appoint their own representative Lord Paramount in line with their ancient kingsmoot tradition, fitting in with his overarching theme of assimilating Westerosi customs into his governance as long as they didn’t interfere with his rule. And I don’t believe suggesting Daeron was a cronyist is patently unfair. Daeron took strides to end the cronyism of his father, but appeared to fall under the sway of the Dornish. It’s sort of the opposite of the ‘Nixon going to China’ mentality. For Daeron to champion anti-cronyism as just but blatantly overfavor the Dornish will stick in the craw of outsider vassals far more than any other king, because of all the effort that Daeron took to portray himself as just. Political narrative. Once you build it, you have to follow it.

      The ‘he could have appointed Fireball to Terrence Toyne’s spot’ is a fallacy, and this misconception is widespread for reasons I cannot understand. We are told that no Kingsguard spot came open between Aegon IV’s promise and his death, and that’s a simple fact. Sorry, that logic is flawed from the initial premise. As for a royal fugitive, Daemon hadn’t declared himself a trueborn king. Even if you accept the most pro-Daeron narrative available, Daemon was merely thinking about it. You can’t punish a man for thoughtcrime. Again, that logic is simply flawed.

      As for the Westermen narrative, I find that logic difficult to understand. The Little Lion was an ancestor, but the people who died in Daeron’s war were people who were still in living memory. Their sons and widows still lived in Westeros. Also, Dorne had committed a grievous war crime by murdering Daeron I under a peace flag, along with three Kingsguard members (one of whom was an Oakheart). The Westermen never seemed guilty of that, That’s incredibly low behavior (tying into guest right, that most sacred Westerosi tradition), and the Blackfyre claimants definitely were in the right to see that as a sore spot that Daeron II was callously brushing under the rug. I’d go so far as to say that the Daeron I peace conference was that generation’s Red Wedding. If the North and Riverlands can be justifiably sore at the Freys for that, then Westeros can be sore at Dorne for murdering Daeron. So, do you say that the families who lost sons to murder have accepted the Red Wedding?

      I’m sorry to say it, but the claim that they would be angry with Daeron I for being too successful is laughable. What would they do? They would have been part of the glorious completion of Aegon’s Conquest. They’d chest-thump that they were the greatest warriors ever, even better than Ryam Redwyne. They were the heirs of a successful legacy. After which, maybe the new pastime would be Westerosi interference in Free City struggles; it wouldn’t be the first time a medieval power meddled in another’s war. The notion was tied up not in peace (tournaments seem to be peaceful ways of celebrating martial prowess without war, and Daeron II learns from his mistakes and throws more tournaments after the Blackfyre Rebellion), but in Daeron’s deliberate devaluation of martial virtue, as seen in his stacking the court of “singers and septons” in addition to Dornishmen. After Blackfyre, he appoints a war hero as Hand and balances his ticket, solving a lot of problems. One of Daeron II’s chief virtues was his willingness to learn from his mistakes.

      It absolutely made sense for them to fight Daeron. Dorne was an enemy, but Daeron was kowtowing to the Dornish, to their logic (of which I don’t disagree, the Dornish treaty was so incredibly lopsided it wasn’t funny). Fighting Dorne meant violating a treaty. Fighting Daeron meant invalidating the treaty and fixing the problem from the root. It made a lot of sense to their minds. Sorry, that premise is flawed.

      I’ve already mentioned that they couldn’t rebel against Baelor. You can’t have an excuse concocted after the fact, it doesn’t fit with the narrative of rebellion. There was no rumor of Aegon III’s infidelity, so coming up with one after the fact is vain and self-serving. The rumors against Daeron II existed before he ever took the throne. You are falling into a presentist trap that you know Daeron was legitimate issue. You must rid yourself of such thoughts to examine the Blackfyre Rebellion honestly. There are those who legitimately believed the rumors against Daeron. Your hypothesis suggests that they were all self-serving, and frankly, that’s just trying to paint the Blackfyres with a black brush. But given everything you’ve written here, you’re intent on saying that Daeron could do no wrong. I call your bias, and suggest that you need to look at the war from the perspective of the nobles on the ground at the time, not from the perspective of someone knowing the Reds will win five Blackfyre Rebellions and possessing of more knowledge than they expect to have.

      I honestly find it bizarre that you find it bizarre. Anyone willing to break with the reputation and fix the damage of a detrimental king is going to be looked on favorably. It’s basic political narrative. You follow a bad king, try to do well, and you’ll be looked on favorably even if you bring a big war. If anything, Daeron’s anti-corruption reforms are barely a footnote. If he hadn’t fixed the damage of Aegon IV, he’d be known as the king who presided over the great civil war of his generation and nothing else. So, yeah, he benefited from following Aegon IV. A lot.

  9. si91

    The thing is, if the war was not in response to a specific casus belli, then it was not a war that the Blackfyres needed to fight. It was one they wanted to fight, and thus the blame falls less on Daeron, as you suggest, and more on them. Though Daeron can certainly be faulted for carelessly handing them more ammunition, it was their choice to use it, because Daeron was careful enough not to give them a justifiable reason to fight. He did not kill them, as Maegor and Aerys II did, he did not weaken their privileges, like Baelor and Aegon V did, nor did he launch a war of succession as Aegon II/Rhaenyra did.

    With respect to coalitions, it’s not like Daeron did not try to build an effective one. His Hand was a Riverlander, though that didn’t stop the Riverlords from being Daemon’s second largest constituency. He had a Stormlord as Master of Coin. He had no Dornish Kingsguard and instead had a Wyle and Crakehall. though that did not stop Redtusk from rising against him. He married his heir to a Dondarrion and another son to an Arryn. For all of Daeron’s Dornish favoritism, we don’t know the name of a single prominent Dornish appointee, probably because only “some” of them “were granted offices of note.” That’s not say that he couldn’t have done more. As you say, he could have appointed fewer Dornishmen, gotten Maekar a more useful marriage instead of allowing the Dornish to double dip, we don’t know of any concessions he made to the Reach, etc. However, the problem here is that it seems like the Blackfyres supporters objected to any sort of Dornish participation in court period; notably, Eustace Osgrey goes so far as to blame Daeron for having a Dornish wife, a marriage pact he had no control over, indicating the extent of Blackfyre irrationality regarding this issue. In any case, if the Blackfyres chose to rebel against Daeron because their enemies were on his court, that’s on them. Daeron was hardly the first king to annoy people through royal appointments, even if he did so on a larger scale. The idea that this makes him a cronyist like his father is to unfair because is clearly said to have been a reformer who ran a less corrupt government staffed with better people. He built up a reputation for good governance, and clearly deserved it. If his enemies were willing to put up with Aegon IV’s excesses, it’s rather ridiculous of them to protest against Daeron’s less corrupt government on the grounds that it could be a bit better, especially considering that “better” in their view meant more offices for themselves, hardly a pure motive. Where was this outrage about corruption and cronyism while Aegon was king? They clearly had no problem with cronyism so long as it was in their favor, and only started whining about “injustice” when the new king stopped favoring them. There was nothing inherently unjust about it; Daeron’s political opponents could hardly claim they “deserved” more royal favor, especially seeing as they were generally those who had supported Aegon IV against him. Again and again we see that the Blackfyre supporters show selective outrage regarding these issues. Regarding the comparison to the Red Wedding, recall that even the Northmen and Riverlords are not as quite as principled as you make them out to be. Many of them are grudgingly tolerating the Freys and going along with Lannister hegemony, while only a minority are principled enough to provide overt or covert support to Stannis or the Brotherhood.

    My point regarding the Kingsguard spots is that Aegon could easily have appointed Fireball after either Tyone or the Dragonknight’s deaths, but only chose to “promise” him the spot after these two spots were filled, despite Fireball’s years of service in training his grandsons and favorite bastard son – not exactly indicative of high confidence, especially considering Aegon’s capriciousness with regarding offices. In any case, like I said, Fireball’s later treason only proves Daeron’s judgment correct; rebellion is hardly a justified response to something like this. With respect to his aiding Daemon, he was certainly aiding a fugitive in violation of a royal warrant for his arrest. Daeron heard that Daemon was not merely thinking about, but actively planning to crown himself king within two weeks and ordered the arrest. What was he supposed to do? Wait patiently until Daemon had left the Red Keep and crowned himself in a safe place, surrounded by his supporters before sending the Kingsguard after him? If Fireball was truly as worthy of being a Kingsguard as he claimed, one would expect him not to interfere with their arrest. Had Daeron appointed Fireball, and Fireball turned traitor anyway, figuratively or even literally stabbing Daeron in the back, would you be praising Daeron for his “justice” or criticizing him for his naivety? It’s also important to remember that this Kingsguard spot went to Willem Wylde, a Stormlander, no doubt to pacify anti-Dornish sentiment there. Who’s to say Fireball and Wylde wouldn’t have switched places if Daeron had picked Fireball? Daeron’s enemies were simply too entitled and prickly for their own good.

    I’m not saying that Dorne’s murder of Daeron I was not a horrendous crime, I’m saying that the Blackfyre outrage regarding this was selective. If they were so outraged about Daeron’s overtures towards the hated Dornish enemy, why did they accept Yronwood and Santagar support during the rebellion? If Daeron was “callous” for expecting Stormlords and Reachmen to tolerate the Dornish in peace, then surely, Daemon was even more “callous” in expecting them to trust and fight alongside the murderers of Daeron I, and that too, against their fellow Dornishmen? Furthermore, if this outrage was as compelling as you say it was, then why did any of the Stormlords or Reachmen who sided with Daeron do so? Surely, they too lost family members to the Dornish, yet were willing to put that grief aside and accept Daeron’s bribes for loyalty, like marriages and court appointments. This is why I view the “righteous anger” argument with no small amount of skepticism: Daeron’s enemies were clearly less concerned with honor and principle and very much using this grief as a political tool, which explains why so many of them were so willing to set it aside in exchange for Daeron’s favor or Dornish military support for an ostensibly anti-Dornish cause. The reason I mentioned the Little Lion is because, as Steven Attewell has pointed out, the Reach and Stormlands’ anti-Dornish stance wasn’t merely a response to the murder of Daeron I, but rather rooted in centuries of anti-Dornish warring, of which Daeron I’s war was merely the latest. If the Tyrells could forgive the Dornish enough to fight alongside them for Daeron, despite the Dornish sacking of Highgarden and murdering a Gardener king in his own bed, and Osgrey himself could forgive the Crakehalls and Reynes despite their ancestors attacking his own, then they could have forgiven the Dornish in a similar manner for past and present killing. A good number of them did, and supported Daeron. The rest could have as well, had they chosen to do the right thing rather than the selfish thing.

    My point regarding Daeron I vs Daeron II is that one way or the other, Dorne was going to join the realm, whether through war or diplomacy. Sooner or later, the lords of Westeros would run out of enemies to fight, so their blaming Daeron for “devaluing” their martial training by peacefully annexing Dorne and thus depriving them of an enemy is ridiculous. If they were willing to go so far as to wage unprovoked attacks across the Narrow Sea to the Free Cities merely because they had martial ability, then that only lends credence to the idea you are criticizing: that many Blackfyre supporters were irrational warmongers. You might say that Daeron “devalued” them by filling his court with septons and singers, but even before the Blackfyre Rebellion, Daeron did go out of his way to show his warrior lords some respect. We know of two tourneys during his reign prior to the Rebellion: the one at his sister’s wedding, and the one at King’s Landing that Arlan of Pennytree attended. He had two martial sons. He had an (admittedly sketchy) warrior Hand who dealt with the rebellion until Redgrass Field, and had the warriors Baelor and Bloodraven on his council. If Daeron had truly “devalued” warriors, half the warriors in the realm would not have sided with him.

    Concocting an excuse after the fact is exactly what the Blackfyres were doing. If they truly thought that Daeron was illegitimate, one would expect them to object to his coronation, and never accept him as king, as Stannis did in response to Joffrey. Instead, despite the rumors about Daeron peddled by Aegon IV and his cronies, they nevertheless accepted him as the rightful king for *eleven years*, almost half of Daeron’s entire reign, (and actually benefited from his generosity, as Daemon did) before suddenly “realizing” that he was illegitimate. They expected everyone to take their claim seriously despite the fact that the Dragonknight had disproved the idea of Naerys’ infidelity via trial by combat, a verdict that Daeron’s martial opponents, of all people, could hardly dispute the validity of. If that isn’t “vain and self-serving” I really don’t know what is. Presentism has nothing to do with it; even if Daeron actually was illegitimate, the Blackfyres were undermining their own credibility by waiting over a decade to challenge Daeron’s legitimacy. Manufacturing claims about Baelor’s illegitimacy from whole cloth isn’t a whole lot more vain or self serving. In any case, if Renly could rebel against Joffrey without declaring him a bastard and still amass a sizable army, I don’t see why anti-Dornish lords could not rebel against Baelor in the same way.

    If Daeron’s cleaning out Aegon IV’s corruption was, as you say, merely a footnote, then that only suggests that succeeding Aegon IV was more detrimental to Daeron’s reign than it was beneficial. If Daeron enjoyed a minor PR boost in response to his anti-corruption measures, he suffered an even larger PR drop thanks to Aegon IV’s malicious rumors and blatant favoritism towards Daemon, since it all contributed significantly towards Daemon’s eventual rebellion. This marred Daeron’s reign more thoroughly than his anti-corruption campaigns benefited it, and it is all thanks to Aegon IV’s malicious influence. In contrast, had Aegon IV died early of an STD, Daeron would have succeeded Viserys II, and, unencumbered by Aegon IV’s political time bomb, would have had a free hand to continue his policies of good governance. He would probably also have had much more political capital to spend on a Dornish merger treaty, as Daemon would lack the political allies to plot rebellion. Instead, Daeron faced a sullen, volatile pro-Daemon faction ready to get rid of him – exactly as Aegon IV intended. Given how much he despised his son and attempted to undermine and ultimately disown him, I’m sure Aegon IV himself would no doubt vehemently object to the idea that he benefited Daeron more than he hurt him.

    • somethinglikealawyer

      This is going to sound cruel, but it doesn’t really matter if you think it’s a war they needed to fight. They thought they did. Looking at war as a purely reactionary move is too modernist a mindset to look at this.

      I took Eustace’s objection to the Dornish wife to be in the same vein as TWOIAF, in that they mistrusted “the influence of his Dornish wife” (TWOIAF, Daeron II). The councilors didn’t care so much that she was Dornish, but her ‘influence,’ i.e. they believed that she had a significant hand in the Dornish stacking of the court. This ties into the ‘evil councilor’ theory of political rebellion that is typically common of sacred kings. Just like we see with Otto and Alicent being blamed by the blacks as evil, or Tyrion being blamed for Joffrey’s misrule by the street preacher, Meriah Martell, truly or falsely, was blamed for the Dornish over-representation at court. You seem familiar with Race for the Iron Throne, so I believe we both have a handle on this concept.

      Cronyism is an absolutely fair word to paint Daeron. He got rid of the corrupt officials, but he replaced them to a large extent with Dornishmen. In essence, while Daeron removed corruption, he wasn’t too good about placing honest men in their place. He went overwhelmingly with the Dornish. This was a huge political mistake for Daeron and arguably this is what cost him so many houses to the Blackfyres. Going back to Aegon I, the court appointment system is built as a careful political balancing act. In theory, all Lords Paramount are equal, with the means of advancement solely under the purview of the Throne. The Princes of Dorne were already hilariously unequal because of the treaty, but the one avenue that was available to other regions was increasingly being occupied by the Dornish. So in essence, Daeron formed an exclusionary, imbalanced political environment that the lords of the region are naturally going to agitate over. After all, any Reacher lord is going to expect that he would never get a seat in court (which Daeron proved to be true, since no Reachmen occupied his court). Why wouldn’t he be railing against an outrageously stacked deck that Daeron didn’t even have the decency to pretend was fair?

      The Fireball logic doesn’t hold water. Fireball doesn’t make any mention of being cheated a spot twice in a row. Likely, Fireball was promised the spot after those positions were filled. Likely Fireball was occupied with teaching Daemon (who would not become an adult until after Daeron II ascended to the throne), Why should Fireball be obliged to help Daeron, if Daeron shorted him on a promised position. And again, we come to the information gulf about whether or not Daemon actually meant to crown himself king. If Fireball believes that Daeron is arresting Daemon falsely (which he has reason to do so, given that Daeron was already willing to welch on Fireball’s own lordly due), then by all accounts, Daeron is pulling an Aerys II, unlawfully arresting a man and falsely accusing him of treason. If that’s what Fireball believes, then he would be a knight saving Rickard Stark from Aerys II. Presentism and omniscience creates this trap where Fireball can only be a grasping schemer stabbing Daeron in the back, but you can’t use that in your judgment. Daemon never declared himself until after this incident, so his intent is something we explicitly don’t know. And if Fireball, wearing the White, betrayed Daeron, no, I’d just criticize Fireball, because he got was he was owed and paid him back in treachery.

      I don’t really understand how you can doubt the righteous anger claim, or claim it was selective. By your own admission, some use it as a reason to fight, and others ignore it and fight for a different reason. The Red Wedding example just proves my point. The Blackwoods have to roll over, since the attitude is utter extinction. Same with the Mallisters. They are principled, certainly. They’re just forced to go along with it because it’s either that or death. Just like with the Blackfyre cause. It’s foolish to think that people will just march to their death. They waited for the chance and the claimant, and took it. That’s hardly selfish or self-serving. Practicality does exist. As for the Dornish going with him, so what? The Arryns and Starks fought over the Sisters for generations, but they fought together in Robert’s Rebellion. There’s always going to be reasons pushing someone one way or another, and outside evidence to the contrary, painting one as inherently more selfish is flawed, an attempt to paint one side as ‘good’ and one side as ‘evil.’ If this series and setting has taught us anything, there are virtuous and vile people fighting for a variety of reasons on every side, yet in the Blackfyre Rebellions, the common perception in the fandom is that Daeron was unambiguously good, attacked for no good reason by an evil usurper Daemon.

      Of all your points, the one about Daeron I devaluing warriors is the one that makes the least sense, and is taking my words completely out of context, to an extent that I’m actually inclined to take offense. Daeron wasn’t devaluing them for incorporating Dorne, he was doing it by giving them such an overwhelmingly imbalanced peace treaty that it was clearly evident that the Dornish ‘won’ the war, being granted a victor’s prize after already getting away with murdering Daeron I. I never claimed ‘baseless’ attacks against the Free Cities as a thing, and I’ll thank you not to put words in my mouth.

      As for accepting Daeron as the king for eleven years, people believed that Maegor wasn’t the lawful king for years, but in absence of another claimant (since Aegon the Younger was killed), they can’t do anything. That argument doesn’t pass muster.

      I’ve already explained why Baelor got away with his treaty. And as for Renly, Renly’s claim was a naked power-grab. The anti-Dornish lords weren’t interested in one of those. They had some principles.

      Daeron got a massive boost from Aegon. Had Daeron succeeded Viserys without Aegon in the way is an impossible argument, since so much of Daeron’s reign depends on how he negotiates the Dornish incorporation treaty. That’s where the bulk of Daemon’s party was formed, so the political capital argument is impossible. Daeron certainly benefited from being better than a terrible king, and then having a convenient rebel faction to blame the civil war that Daeron had a significant hand in starting. The maesters and the fans give Daeron far too much of a pass, and this piece is meant to say that, contrary to popular conception, Daeron made several key mistakes that mar his reign.

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        Sasank Isola

        10:26 PM (10 hours ago)

        to me
        “They thought they needed to fight” is hardly a reasonable excuse. Whether in fiction or in real life, the only people who fight wars are those who feel they “need” to. Everyone from Robert Baratheon to Balon Greyjoy fought wars because they felt they “needed” to do so. That doesn’t change the fact that some wars, like Robert’s Rebellion, truly did need to be fought, and others, like Balon’s, only served the personal vanity and ambition of the usurper. Daemon’s rebellion clearly falls in the latter category. What “need” was he serving by rebelling exactly? What was so intolerable about the pre-war state of affairs that the Blackfyres had literally no choice but to fight? The sky would not have fallen if Daeron had been allowed to rule unmolested. Daeron II was not a tyrant arbitrarily murdering innocent people like Maegor or Aerys II. He wasn’t initiating a civil war like Aegon II/Rhaenyra or even weakening the rights of the nobility, like Aegon V or Baelor. He didn’t steal his lords’ lands or wealth like Aegon IV, nor was he ineffective in dealing with threats to internal security like Aenys or Aerys I. All he really wounded was his lords’ pride, and their willingness to rebel in response to this places them in the dubious company of other petty usurpers like Balon Greyjoy, Hugh Hammer, and Renly Baratheon, who tried to seize power merely because their ego demanded it.

        The notion that Daeron II appointed dishonest, corrupt Dornishmen as you imply simply isn’t sustained by the text. We know that he replaced Aegon IV’s cronies with “men of his own choosing, most of whom proved wise and capable councillors” a fact that clearly precludes any accusations of dishonesty and corruption, which even the Blackfyres don’t make. The fact that the Dornish appointees were over-represented does not make them corrupt or dishonest along the lines of Aegon IV’s. This distinction is important because every definition of the word “cronyism” I’ve ever read says that it means appointing friends and favorites to positions without regards to their qualifications, something that Aegon IV clearly did, but Daeron II clearly didn’t do, even if his court was imbalanced. Indeed, given that you say “He got rid of the corrupt officials, but he replaced them to a large extent with Dornishmen” if I didn’t know any better, I’d say that you were implying that Daeron II’s Dornish appointees were inherently dishonest merely by virtue of being Dornish, a grossly unfair charge. An imbalanced court is not necessarily a court full of cronies, which means that the charge of cronyism against Daeron II is unfair.

        The lords of the Reach certainly had reason to be upset at being left out of court. However, rebelling over this is clearly an overreaction. Given the limited number of court positions, every king is going to have to leave someone out, and therefore any lord looking for a reason to fight can claim that the court is “imbalanced.” Give the vicissitudes of life at court that accompany succession, these lords were not the first, or the last, to feel that they were unwelcome at court. By this point, power had passed from dove to hawk fairly regularly. I’m sure the pro-peace lords felt “left out” of Daeron I and Aegon IV’s administration, yet kept the peace because it was the right thing to do. If every lord reacted with violence because of this, there would be rebellions every time a new king replaced his predecessors advisers with new people. Daeron II would probably have seen the future Blackfyre supporters more favorably had they supported him when he needed it. Instead, they backed Aegon IV, did everything they could to weaken Daeron’s position at court by spreading rumors about him, corrupted Daemon with thoughts of rebellion, and then had the gall to demand that Daeron show them favorable treatment as though they were the most loyal lords ever. Despite this, Daeron still should have made his court more balanced, but his opponents should really have met him half way. Instead, they demanded positions they had not earned through loyal service, and so should hardly have been surprised when Daeron repaid their open antagonism with disfavor.

        The fact that Fireball was training Daemon is hardly an excuse not to appoint him to the Kingsguard. Criston Cole managed to train Aemond Tagaryen while remaining a Kingsguard. So again, we have Aegon IV supposedly valuing Fireball, yet only promising him a Kingsguard spot after two previous spots have already been filled, hardly a sign of confidence, especially coming from such a mercurial king. It seems rather strange to praise Daeron for cleansing the court of Aegon IV’s cronies, yet simultaneously demand that he keep this one crony. I’m sure that all of Aegon IV’s supporters felt attached to their jobs, resented Daeron for firing them, and joined Daemon in hopes of regaining their lost positions. How was Fireball any different?

        Why should Fireball have helped Daeron? Because he claims to have been qualified to serve on the Kingsguard. Again and again we see that these Blackfyre lords are all talk and no action. Fireball claims to be qualified to serve as a Kingsguard, yet when given the chance to prove it, interfered with their arrest. The Blackfyre lords claimed to be qualified to serve on Daeron’s court, yet opposed Daeron even before he became king and were part of the cronyist faction Daeron sought to remove. In spite of all this, Daeron tried to appease them through some marriages and some appointments, yet instead of coming to a workable arrangement, they responded to his conciliatory efforts with more demands. Never do we see an attempt on their end to prevent conflict. Indeed, irrational entitlement and insatiable greed coupled with a stubborn unwillingness to compromise and a complete lack of gratitude seems to be a defining theme here: Fireball felt entitled to a Kingsguard spot, the Blackfyre lords felt entitled to court positions (Fireball), lost lands (Osgrey), higher social status (Reynes, Freys) and of course, Daemon felt entitled to a second wife and ultimately, the Iron Throne itself. When Daeron dared defy them, they tried to overthrow him. Even after losing and being shown mercy, some of them took advantage of this and chose treachery yet again (Peake, Butterwell, Frey, Osgrey), with more rebellion. In light of all of this, it’s not exactly surprising that Daeron would be uneasy about rewarding such people, who seemed to treat him like an ATM with a crown, much as they had treated his father.

        To compare Daeron II to Aerys II is clearly unfair. Though he did deny Fireball his “promised” Kingsguard spot, everything we know about Daeron’s relationship with Daemon suggests that he treated Daemon fairly, taking nothing and giving quite a lot. Given his close relationship with Daemon, Fireball, of all people, ought to have been familiar with this and thus had no reason to think Daeron’s arrest was unjust, especially given Daemon’s previous history of defying Daeron II, and how Daemon was actually entertaining suggestions about rebelling. Indeed, we are told that Daemon “made his decision” and that Daeron attempted to thwart his “plans of treason” by arresting him. In contrast, by the time he arrested Brandon Stark, Aerys II already had a history of murdering and maiming in response to trivial insults or for no reason at all.

        The reason I claim that Blackfyre anti-Dornish outrage was selective is precisely because some chose to use it as justification for rebellion and others chose to let it go in exchange for Daeron’s bribes. The very fact that Daeron could have weakened the rebellion or prevented it entirely by bribing more lords indicates that the lords could be bought, making their outrage less a genuine outpouring of grief and more a tool used to wring concessions from Daeron. Grief that can be set aside in exchange for mere marriages and court appointments is weak grief indeed. If Daemon Blackfyre is seen by fans as an evil usurper who attacked Daeron for no reason, it is because everything we know about the man suggest that this was the case. Daeron gave him everything he could reasonably feel entitled to and more besides. As far as we know, Daemon never returned Daeron’s generosity with any political support, or even expressed any gratitude. Instead, he demanded more, and went so far as to entertain talk of treason merely “for the sake of his vanity” and finally chose to rebel against the brother who had done him much good and no ill.

        The reason the Dornish support for the Blackfyres is important is because so much of the Blackfyre cause is rooted in their supposed disgust at Daeron’s favorable treatment of the Dornish murderers of Daeron I. Yet in the rebellion, we see these Blackfyre lords fighting alongside the murderers of Daeron I, indicating just how little they actually cared about Daeron I’s murder. They can hardly complain about Daeron II rewarding the murderers of Daeron I when they are doing the same, especially if your theory that Daemon would give the Yronwoods the same privileges that Daeron gave the Martells is true.

        With respect to baseless attacks against the Free Cities, I was referring to your reference to Westerosi “interference” in Free City struggles, a word that I have always seen in the context of foreign policy as meaning “unwanted meddling.” If that isn’t what you meant, then I’m glad that you clarified. Given that the last time the Free Cities have attacked Westeros proper was back during the reign of Jaehaerys I, I see the Iron Throne interfering in the Free Cities merely to satisfy the base impulses of martial lords to be baseless and unnecessary.

        The Blackfyres certainly could have pushed Daemon’s claim to the throne as soon as Aegon IV died. Daemon was 14 years old, knighted, and freshly legitimized. He was the same age that Jaehaerys I was when Robar Baratheon supported his claim against Maegor, and that Daeron I was when he assumed power. Even Steven Attewell apparently believes that Daemon could have pushed his claim immediately. Instead, the Blackfyres waited for more than a decade, indicating that their concerns about Daeron’s supposed illegitimacy was a manufactured excuse designed to retroactively legitimize a power grab after they had secured the appropriate amount of political support.

        I’m surprised that you imply that it is impossible to accurately speculate what would have happened had Daeron succeeded Viserys II, considering that you touched upon it in the warsoficeandfire Q&A. We know enough to reasonably speculate. We know that Daeron II’s earliest memories would still have been during Daeron I’s Dornish war, followed by Baelor’s unexpected peace and Daeron’s betrothal to Mariah Martell. You speculate that the adolescent Daeron assisted Viserys during Baelor’s reign, and that still would have happened. Thus, if Aegon IV predeceased his father, an 18 year old Daeron II would have ascended the Iron Throne the following year with his penchant for good governance, his admiration for Baelor, and his Dornish wife’s influence retained, which in turn would probably still result in his desiring to merge Dorne peacefully. Aegon IV’s reign probably hardened Daeron’s resolve, but the pro-Dorne influence would clearly have been there regardless. However, without Aegon IV having been king, the anti-Dornish faction would have been leaderless, just as it was during Baelor’s time, as Daemon would not have been given any royal favor at all, let alone legitimization and the sword Blackfyre. Even if there was a rebellion, it would probably have been much easier to crush. Without Aegon IV’s slandering Daeron II, and deliberately cultivating a stronger faction for Daemon to inherit, Daeron ascends the Iron Throne with a better reputation, and more political support, especially considering that the Dragonknight never dies at the hands of the Toynes. Having a convenient rebel faction to blame doesn’t strike me as much of a benefit; all wars have two sides, each of which blames the other for the hostilities. Removing Aegon IV entirely, however, might just prevent the rebellion entirely, or at least weaken it, which tells you how detrimental Aegon IV was to Daeron II. Daeron certainly benefited to a certain degree by cleaning up Aegon IV’s mess and thus cultivating a reputation for good governance, but without Aegon IV, he’d be seen as continuing Viserys II’s policies of good governance anyway. If Daeron II was still known to posterity as “Daeron the Good” in spite of Aegon IV’s influence, then that only indicates how much better a ruler he could have been had he not had to deal with Aegon IV’s malicious baggage.

      • somethinglikealawyer

        The thing is though, Daeron II’s continued pro-Dornish policy does indeed have a real problem. The Dornish won their war largely through perfidy, and in no uncertain terms, that was the Red Wedding of its generation. Daeron lavished honors upon Dorne, so it’s hardly just pride, there’s very real economic considerations at stake, and greater notions of justice. Daeron II’s gave the perception that his Westerosi lords were wrong in following Daeron I’s call to arms, that Dorne committed a right and proper action by showering royal appointments upon them. No, this war is not just pride. Certainly, there’s an aspect of warmongering and racism to it, but Daemon’s war was hardly a petty power grab like Balon’s or Renly’s. There was a deep wound that Daeron was deliberately salting and preventing the people from having a catharsis over. Even Baelor’s peace was more tolerable, because Dorne was out of sight. Only in Daeron II’s regime did Dorne not only be raised to a separate level above other kingdoms, but also exhibited more influence on the Seven Kingdoms than any other kingdom.

        I did not imply anything that Daeron’s Dornish councilors were corrupt (beyond the normal; no government is corruption-free and it’d be hard for Daemon’s new government not to be a net positive), and I do thank you for acknowledging that I’m not suggesting that Dornishmen are naturally deceitful. The only implication that made was that the vassals of the kingdom could correctly fear that there was no place for them in the royal court any longer, robbing them of any stake in the future of Westeros. This is a royal duty and it’s one that Daeron II neglected. The Seven Kingdoms was founded on the Aegon Doctrine, which gave the regions buy-in with Westeros, but Daeron refused to balance the court or give his vassals buy-in with his new regime. Cronyism might not be the right word, but Daeron overwhelmingly favored the Dornish. Daeron couldn’t give off the notion that loyal service meant reward, because for everyone observing his court, being Dornish gave you a leg up over anyone. Daeron could get rid of corruption, but he couldn’t build a court. This is normal, of course, it’s easier to get rid of something bad than make something good, but Daeron had a duty to all of his vassals and constituents, and ignored it in favor of giving the Dornish more and more pieces of the pie. As a king, especially in a kingdom built off the Aegon Doctrine, vassals are held to be equal, and honors are given through service to the Throne. For Daeron to give overwhelming favor to the Dornish suggest partiality and bias on the account of the Throne. Daeron, building himself a political narrative that he is ending the corruption and venality of government, cannot afford to look unjust, as it runs counter to the grain of his political platform. It’s the opposite of the ‘Nixon going to China’ mythos. Daeron is building himself up as just, yet all of his moves increasingly suggest that he isn’t just, and this hurts him politically.

        As for the notion that there will always be political outsiders, of course. However, no court was as imbalanced as Daeron’s. Half the country were political outsiders. The notion that such a large group of people had no stake in the country during any other regime is simply not supported by the text. Only in Daeron II’s court do multiple sources state the clear imbalance in the court, thus, we can accept it as truth as opposed to knee-jerk anti-Dornish sentiment.

        As for Fireball, I’ve made the point clear. Fireball was promised the spot and faithfully fulfilled his obligations giving Daeron no reason to back on the arrangement. If we use you definition, Fireball was no crony, he was clearly qualified in his position. Daeron undermined royal credibility by denying Fireball’s appointment, and we know this because Daeron felt obligated to fulfill the marriage dowry to the Archon of Tyrosh. His selective nature about fulfilling his obligations testifies that Daeron denied Fireball his appointment for no good reason, and unfortunately, that makes it unjust. I’m sorry, but you have missed the point I made about that entirely.

        As for the grief issue, I cannot comprehend that point. People can act or not act on grief as it suits them. Some hold it harder and higher than others. And in feudalism, where so much of politics depends on personal relationship, establishing a personal relationship can smooth over grief.

        As for Fireball believing the arrest, I refute that point. You are looking at everything from a presentist standpoint, with more knowledge than any character might have. Fireball might not have known what Daemon was doing, or perhaps suspected that Bloodraven lied to King Daeron, or may have actually been plotting without Daemon’s interference (Fireball and Bittersteel, indeed, might have been the puppetmasters behind a king who didn’t understand the motives of his faction, ala Varys and Aegon VI). Without actual evidence of what the communications were, we have no idea what Daemon’s ideas were on the subject, what was the suggestion of other councilors. You are grabbing sources written by the victors after the fact, and unfortunately, Martin is very keen on presenting biased sources.

        Well, the Free Cities actually meddled in Daeron’s administration of post-Conquest Dorne. Daeron looked to alleviate supply problems and combat pirates with Braavos, and in response, the Three Daughters fed support to the Dornish resistance. So Essosi meddling in Westerosi politics is nothing new, and I’m pretty sure Daeron I clearly didn’t want Essos meddling in the administration of his recently-conquered territories. It’s just the nature of politics that countries will meddle in their neighbors’ affairs for outcomes to benefit them.

        I think you’re failing to understand that bastardry can’t be proven. All it takes is for someone to ‘find’ new evidence for people to start questioning again. It’s hardly an manufactured excuse. Sure, for some people, it undoubtedly was, but I’m willing to believe there were true believers, or at the very least, people who came down on the line of: ‘sure, maybe.’ You’re suggesting a vein of cynicism among every member of Daemon’s coalition which isn’t really supported by the text. I don’t think Daemon could have pressed his claim because Daemon, at this point, is still a minor.

        The reason I don’t want to give a complete answer is because so much of Daeron II’s politics as an adult is forged in reaction to his father. Sure, he would probably had some pro-Dornish influence, but what about his notions of ‘peace at any price.’ Was that birthed out of Daeron I’s War of Dornish Conquest, or was that molded by Aegon IV’s disastrous two attempts to attack Dorne that led to a quarter of the Rainwood going up in flames? Viserys II was not shy about wanting to go to war with Dorne over the murder of Daeron I, so would that have played a part if Daeron II hadn’t associated the anti-Dornish faction with his hilariously corrupt father? There’s simply too much influence that Aegon IV had over his son’s philosophy on rule to view how Daeron II would have been without his father mucking up the water. I’m not a fan of baseless speculation, and Daeron II without Aegon IV requires far too much of it for me to feel comfortable knowing who Daeron could have been.

  10. KrimzonStriker

    Two things I’ll say and leave there.

    One, why are we faulting Daeron for lacking the proper constitution/formal training of a knight when we do have examples of predecessors with no formal training, Baelor and even Viserys being the prime example, while I’d also make the point that even if he himself was unable that Daeron had no ability to manage a war as his removal of Butterwell indicated.

    Second, the point about his distribution of offices and that he unfairly favored the Dornish. I’d like to point out that one, he DID keep Butterwell on from his father’s previous administration as his Hand of the King of all things and Butterwell STILL betrayed him, or likely played both sides anyway. But in any event given the divisions and abuse of office during his father’s reign I would say many of the people who were denied office in the government probably disqualified themselves based on their own actions and previous opposition to Daeron while he was a Crown Prince rather then Daeron just caring about Dorne alone.

    • KrimzonStriker

      Edit my first point, I meant to say even if Daeron couldn’t fight in a war himself that didn’t preclude him from being able to administer one.

  11. ecr56

    Just wanted to say that I enjoyed this essay very much. I don’t always agree with you, but I don’t have much to disagree with on this one. I guess I haven’t really gotten to know the fandom, since I don’t know their stance on the Blackfyre Rebellion (the comments here suggest people don’t like Daemon very much, as you stated in your essay). I was simply unable to disagree with Ser Eustace Osgrey and nothing since then has made me change my mind.

    • somethinglikealawyer

      No problem. The Blackfyre cause gets a lot of flak in the fandom, usually dismissed as warmongers and racists, but I argue it’s much more nuanced than that.

    • Eustace Osgrey says that we can know men by their friends. Daeron’s friends were maesters, septons, singers, and women, people of good governance, honest, learning, culture, and peace. But who were Daemon’s friends? His top generals were Bittersteel, Fireball, and Gormon Peake, each of whom was motivated by some noxious emotional cocktail comprised of varying degrees of ambition, greed, entitlement, bloodlust, anti-intellectualism, hidebound conservatism, racism, misogyny, vengeance, wounded pride, and ingratitude, men who stewed in their own hate and bitterness, allowing their basest emotions and impulses to consume them and everyone around them. This is the kind of company kept by the Daemon Blackfyre First of His Name, Eustace’s “better man.” I can’t say I expected anything better than this from Eustace, a man who was willing to sacrifice his poor smallfolk in a war he knew he had no hope of winning over territory to which he had no right, whose ego was as titanic as it was bruised, and matched only by his pettiness, spite, and astonishingly stubborn refusal to learn from his own stupidity.

      • somethinglikealawyer

        I think that’s a fairly inaccurate read of the Blackfyre cause.

      • What was inaccurate about it? We know, for instance, that Fireball felt entitled to a Kingsguard position and was willing to force his wife into the Silent Sisters to get it. We know that Bittersteel resented Daeron for kicking him and his mother out of the capital, and resented Bloodraven and his mother for taking “their” spots at court, not to mention Shiera Seastar. We don’t know what Gormon Peake wanted during the first rebellion, but he must have wanted some higher station either at court or in the Reach. In any case, the fact that he was obsessed with regaining his castles to the point of willful blindness, which is why he supported a movement as poorly planned as the Second Blackfyre Rebellion, does not help his reputation, nor does his willingness to torture the innocent Glendon Ball, all after Daeron II showed him mercy that he clearly did not deserve. Right there we have misogyny, vengeance, entitlement, ambition, greed, wounded pride, ingratitude, and hate. All I’m saying is that by Osgrey’s own measuring stick, Daemon’s closest friends seem to fall short, as their only positive quality seems to be their skill at killing. That’s not to say that Daeron’s friends were complete saints, as they had Bloodraven and Aerion in their ranks, but nowhere in the Blackfyre ranks to we see anyone with the sagacity of Baelor Breakspear or Daeron II. For all his obsession with his family’s history, Osgrey himself seems to have missed the underlying theme: every time he or his ancestors crossed swords with the Red Dragon, their social status fell further and further. Despite this, he sided with the Blacks against the Reds, and when his House lost out yet again, he took advantage of Daeron’s mercy and chose to deliberately break the King’s Peace to face off against an opponent who had the means and the political cover to kill him and his smallfolk, who looked to him for protection. This spiteful behavior, as well as his facile analysis of the Red faction, laden as it is with misogyny, racism, and anti-intellectualism, indicates to me that he was not a man with good judgment.

      • somethinglikealawyer

        What was wrong about it? Everything I previously spoke about in my essay. To call Daeron sagacious does a great insult to the term, especially to compare him to Baelor (at least you didn’t compare him to Jaehaerys I). He wrote a deliberately lopsided treaty and secured a peace few wanted because of his inability to rein in his biases, his hang-ups regarding his father, and his blatant favoritism. Reading the treaty terms in TWOIAF for the first time, I was amazed that Daeron didn’t immediately face riots for such a poor negotiation.

        As for Fireball, sorry, but Daeron’s the one who deserves the blame for that, not Fireball. Royal credibility demands fulfilling promises made by the crown, and Daeron was willing to honor previous arrangements such as the Rohanne of Tyrosh dowry. And really, misogyny? Monastic vows were one of the few ways to annul a marriage. I think you’re trying too hard to paint with the brush there.

        Daeron didn’t inherit a kinship borne out of whole cloth, he had a responsibility to everything that happened beforehand as befits an institution. He chose deliberately to disregard everything that happened prior, throwing salt into thousands of wounds of families who had kin die in the Crown’s war. Sagacious? Hardly!

        As for the Chequay Water, Dunk decides of his own volition to scope out the dam that leads to a fight. So your assertion that Osgrey deliberately broke the peace is just wrong. Osgrey was the one who sent Dunk to pay weregild. Sure, he’s nostalgic, but he’s not the fiend you claim he is.

        As for torture, that’s a standard tactic for the time, and the crown did it’s fair share of torture. Daeron II had a royal torturer, and Bloodraven is hardly above letting hundreds of people suffer for his benefit, so I can’t see that point as having any merit to testify the character of one side over the other, sorry.

      • Daeron’s treaty was certainly lopsided, I’m not disputing that. He probably could have gotten a better deal, and really should have distributed marriages and appointments more widely. However, I’m saying he was sagacious despite that, because he was devoted to cleaning out corruption, promoting peace, giving patronage to the cultured and educated, and giving women what seems to have been an unprecedented voice in governance, if Eustace Osgrey’s whining about how “always there were women whispering in his ear” is to be believed. We know that Elaena Targaryen was his de facto Master of Coin, and seems to have had considerable influence in other areas as well given that she was “trusted by King Daeron in all things as she labored on his behalf and on that of the realm.” Eustace Osgrey was clearly disgusted by this, and if his opinion was representative of the Blackfyre mainstream, then I think it is more than fair to call them misogynistic. Elaena was clearly good at her job and her work benefited everyone, yet they disliked her and any other women Daeron listened to merely because they were women. I don’t really know what to call that except for misogyny. Even other above-average Targaryen kings, like Aegon I, Jahaerys I, Aegon III, and Viserys II, are not known to have empowered women aside from their wives. My larger point here is that though there were plenty of men like Daemon Blackfyre, Fireball, and Bittersteel on the Red side, I don’t see anyone like Baelor Breaksprear or Daeron, let alone Elaena, on the Black side. Instead, we get, angry, ambitious men like Bittersteel, Gormon Peake and Fireball, whose hot headedness was clearly not balanced by calmer, rational voices, let alone those devoted to making Westeros a better place through good governance or the promotion of culture.

        With respect to the wounds of the war, Daeron certainly deserves criticism for trying to wipe the slate clean (though any sort of peace treaty would involve some of that) through unbalanced appointments, but it’s not like the Blacks really cared about that. They had no problem recruiting the Yronwoods and may well have kept the autonomy agreement Daeron created, an act of hypocrisy that reveals that neither side could really claim the moral high ground in this issue. The Blackfyres can hardly claim to care about the people whose kin died in previous wars while simultaneously calling for more war and more death. As bad as Daeron’s deal was, he had a way out, and had the gumption to sit down at a negotiating table with his enemies and hammer out a deal. That takes strength of a sort that the Blackfyres were clearly incapable of understanding, let alone appreciating. Unlike Daeron, they had no solution, lopsided or otherwise, save for more war and more suffering and more grieving families to put Daemon on the Iron Throne.

        With respect to Fireball, my point is that this is a man willing to not only set aside his wife, but force her to join a monastic institution for his own gain. That speaks to his character, or lack thereof. A man who respect his wife and his marriage would not have done such a thing. I don’t see how that is a positive quality, and if Daemon counted him as a close adviser, then that speaks to the poor quality of his supporters. It makes sense that Daeron II, who saw his father abuse his mother relentlessly, would not want a wife-abuser on his Kingsguard, who was promised a spot by his wife-abusing king. Though you have insisted that Fireball was qualified based on his history as master at arms, there is clearly more to being a Kingsguard than being a skilled knight; honorable conduct is clearly an important component, which is why Aemon the Dragonknight and Dunk are considered among the greatest, and Criston Cole and Mervyn Flowers among the worst, despite all presumably being skilled warriors. Daeron wanted a moral Kingsguard; I can’t fault him for that.

        Regarding the Chequey Water, Osgrey definitely deserves blame for Bennis’ actions. He set Dunk and Bennis with the task of policing his territory without telling them that the Chequey Water was no longer his. Neither Dunk nor Bennis would have gotten involved with the dam had Osgrey given them clear instructions about where the borders of his territory lay. We know this wasn’t accidental because when Dunk and Bennis tell him about this, Osgrey acts as though the water was his all along, and sends Dunk to treat with Rohanne Webber without telling him the truth. In doing this, he was faced with a choice of either giving up Bennis or having his smallfolk go to war and die. None of them would have had to die had Eustace not been deceptive, willing to let his subordinates suffer for his delusions of grandeur. This speaks to his character, or lack thereof in this case. He owed his subordinates protection and instead, recklessly endangered all of their lives for no good reason either than pride, a quality that other Blackfyre supporters seem to share.

        With respect to torture, my point was not that Peake was willing to use torture per se, but rather that he was willing to torture Glendon, who he knew was perfectly innocent, which tells us about what kind of man Peake was. That aside, it’s worth noting that Daeron II was the last known king to have employed a torturer, which suggests that he may well have been the one to have ended the practice or at least created an environment that discouraged torture, such that none of his heirs, even Bloodraven, retained the job.

      • somethinglikealawyer

        Oh, I’m not disputing that there wasn’t an element of misogyny in the Blacks, but I was stating that Fireball doesn’t appear to fit your criteria, which is what you had said in your previous comment. As for not having councilors on his side, well, someone was clearly smart enough to mint Daemon coinage, which requires facilities and a bureaucracy. So no, I’d say there’s plenty of evidence that some in the Blackfyre camp knew about bureaucracy and governance. I can’t agree that your point there holds up.

        No, see, I disagree entirely about the Yronwoods meaning that the Blacks didn’t care about the war, and this point really should do more to quell the ‘Blacks are all anti-Dornish racists’ BS that keeps getting bandied around. The anger for the lopsided treaty isn’t directed at Dorne, but Daeron. Sure, there’s going to be some grudges against Dorne, there always is in a culture as bloodline and history-obsessed as Westeros, but Daeron (and they’d probably lump Maron Martell in there too) is the one that basically spat at their losses with his treaty. And yes, they absolutely can take the high ground in this, and your suggestion that they can’t confuses me as to why not. They’re angry that Daeron ignored their sacrifices they’ve made on behalf of the crown. Daeron’s peace treaty, the one that gave the Dornish everything, took no strength or courage, and I would love to know how it took strength to essentially roll over during negotiations. Daeron failed his people and his kingdom with his peace treaty. Not only was it a poor treaty on it’s own merits, it was absolutely a bad long-term effect for Westeros, because it made the Kingdoms deliberately and wildly unequal. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, peace is not inherently superior to war on it’s own merits. Peace has to be sustainable, and Daeron’s treaty clearly wasn’t.

        You’re distorting my point. I’m not saying that simple skill at arms is required to be a Kingsguard. What I am saying is that Fireball was promised the appointment, and did nothing to deserve the appointment being taken away. And we can’t claim that Daeron didn’t feel obligated to previous appointments of Aegon IV, as we see with Rohanne. This is yet another example of Daeron’s less-than-just policies and appointments. And remember, Fireball put aside his wife because he was promised a spot on the Kingsguard. He had to do it. This was not him doing it for his own gain, this was him doing what he had to do in order to be eligible for the position. The order of the actions in your scenario is backwards. As for honorable conduct, Daeron’s the dishonorable one here, reneging on the crown’s deal to placate someone else.

        Osgrey’s not blameless, but you cast him as a deliberate breaker of the peace, and that was incorrect. And I don’t understand your final point. If he owes his subordinates protection, than shouldn’t he stand for Dunk, who was slapped by Lady Webber? Sure, Bennis fought and hurt a man, but if it was Osgrey’s fault (as you claim), then in your scenario, you are encouraging him to forfeit Bennis to pay for his own crime. The weregild makes more sense if you take it to be Osgrey admitting fault and protecting Bennis because of his own inaction rather than the scenario you are portraying. If he was so fixated on his own pride, he wouldn’t have sent the weregild, or he would have thrown Bennis under the bus.

        Oh, I’m not saying Peake is a good man by any stretch, he clearly framed Glendon to pave the way for Daemon II. But I’ve not been championing these men as great men of virtue. I disagree about the Lord Confessor position. If Daeron ended the position though, why would Jaime remark that he had a Lord Confessor at all? His words are clearly: “he realm had not had a Lord Confessor since the second Daeron,” which suggest that he had one employed, otherwise he would have ended the position when he took office and would have never had one. My guess is that the Great Spring Sickness ended the position, not Daeron.

      • All Targaryen kings, event those utterly uninterested in governance, had people to run their mints for them. There is a difference between having underlings capable of running machinery and having *leaders* actually believing in good governance for its own sake. So no, I don’t see Daemon’s coins as evidence that he was akin to Daeron in commitment to good governance. The very fact that Aegon IV’s former corrupt councilors were apparently among his ranks suggests otherwise.

        The Blackfyres have no business claiming the moral high ground with respect to Daeron “insulting” the memory of the fallen in Daeron I’s war, because they are the ones calling for more war and more death. I don’t see how warmongers can claim to champion the grievances of those who have already lost family members in war. If they see Daeron II as rubbing salt in the wound by giving too many concessions to the Dornish, how are they doing any better when they demand that families who have lost people to the Yronwoods fight alongside them? If anything, Daeron II was a better representative of those who had lost family members in his namesake’s war, because his peace, flawed though it was, ensured that no one else had to die.

        Daeron II’s treaty definitely took strength and courage, precisely because he was willing to make painful sacrifices for the sake of peace. It doesn’t take any strength or courage at all to do the popular thing, which would mean renewed war or, at best, one sided negotiating in favor of the Targaryens where Dorne is expected to give away sovereignty won on the battlefield at the negotiating table in exchange for nothing. It does, however, take a lot of strength to pursue an unpopular measure for the sake of the greater good. Granted, Daeron could have, and probably should have, used the Blackfyre coalition as leverage into getting a better deal from Maron, but that would involve essentially blackmailing his brother in law and bullying him into capitulating, and that wasn’t the kind of king Daeron wanted to be. He wanted Dorne to join with dignity, but went overboard in implementation.

        To say that Daeron failed his people and his kingdom is ridiculous. It was the Blackfyres who failed their people and their kingdom by starting a war for no good reason. Daeron’s peace saved thousands of lives, and the Blackfyres took thousands of lives. I also don’t see how Daeron would have faced rioting for his deal. The smallfolk are the ones who riot and they wouldn’t have cared about the political implications of the treaty. No one outside of the nobility would have. If anything, the smallfolk would like the fact that they would no longer be called to fight and die against Dorne. Additionally, it seems to me that Daeron’s treaty was sustainable. If your speculation that the Blackfyres would have kept the treaty after replacing the Martells with the Yronwoods, then that only shows that the treaty was so sustainable that it would have survived a change in dynasty. Indeed, the treaty was maintained for generations after Daeron, even when the Targaryen dynasty was at its weakest point. After the Blackfyres were crushed, the treaty persisted under Jaehaerys II and Aerys II, and was maintained by the Baratheon regime. I don’t see any evidence that the terms of the treaty were ever questioned by anyone outside the Blackfyres, or resulted in any great imbalance between the kingdoms. All of the lords paramount who were ostensibly unequal to Dorne due to the treaty, supported the Targaryens in all the Blackfyre rebellions. It doesn’t seem like anybody was complaining about “wild” inequality

        Fireball certainly deserved to have “his” Kingsguard spot taken away. He was a wife abuser promised the spot by his wife abusing king. He could have asked for anything when Aegon IV offered him an award, but he asked for a Kingsguard spot knowing that he’d have to get rid of his wife to claim it, and had absolutely no problem forcing her into a life of silent, celibate monasticism against her will, all so that he could rise in society at her expense. Aegon IV didn’t care and Fireball didn’t care but Daeron II, who both saw his father abuse his mother and seems to have cared about women’s opinions in his court, seems to have cared quite a bit. And so he repaid one betrayal with another. All you have to do is look at the situation from Fireball’s wife’s perspective to see how unjust it was. Perhaps it was “officially” unjust in the sense that the Crown was perceived as ungrateful and backtracking on a promise, but it is a perverse sort of justice indeed where wife abusers are rewarded and their wives are left to suffer. Daeron II wouldn’t stand for that and I can’t say that I blame him.

        It is because Osgrey owes his subordinates protection that he should have told them to stay far away from Webber land. When you tell people to police your lands without telling them what’s not yours, you’re begging for a border conflict. He certainly should not have *lied* to Dunk, sending him to treat with Rohanne without telling him that the stream was no longer Osgrey territory. From what we see of Osgrey, he simply could not let go of the fact that he’d lost control of the Chequey Water and was willing to fight a pointless battle in a doomed attempt to reclaim it. That is not indicative of a man with good judgement, but a man with more pride than sense, which would explain why he was so drawn to the Blackfyre cause.

        With respect to the Lord Confessor position, Daeron II may have kept one during the rebellion, but abolished the position after. I don’t see how the Great Spring Sickness would have abolished the position. Bloodraven, of all people, would have had reason to employ a torturer, but the fact that neither he nor any of Daeron II’s descendants kept a torturer suggests that Daeron II did something to discourage the practice.

      • somethinglikealawyer

        The coins have to be a sign that Daemon understood governance and institutions, because it means that he is manufacturing coins and paying people in worthwhile currency. That Bloodraven passes a prohibition banning their circulation shows that people were indeed accepting them as legitimate currency. Soldiers were purchasing supplies in Black Dragons and receiving wages in coins stamped with King Daemon I’s face on them. It requires staffing in the mints and an established bureaucracy for Daemon to have spun together. It’s not a continuation of an old regime, but rather the establishment of a new bureaucracy. Thus, I cannot accept your logic as valid, because it’s clear that Daemon established a new bureaucracy to mint his coinage and pay his troops. You do not make a functioning bureaucracy by not caring.

        I’ve already answered your claims that the Blackfyres disrespected the families by calling for more war earlier. As I’ve said, Daeron was the one who callously forgot their sacrifices by giving the Dornish so many concessions that he was essentially telling the people who fought for Daeron I that they were in the wrong for following the king. How is it dishonoring their position, unless you’re suggesting that they were all simply racist against the Dornish (which I have heard before)? Daeron and the Martells are the creators of this treaty that codified Dornish supremacy, that welcomed the Dornish with rewards that gave the very real indication that the Targaryens were surrendering. People die in war, and it may or may not cause a grievance. Dishonoring the dead that fought for you, however, as we see in the text, is something that sticks in the craw of the Westerosi. Notice how pissed Rickard Karstark is so proud of the King in the North speech? His sons died for something meaningful, and he can take pride in that. The reverse is also true. If Daeron II publicly states (as he did with this treaty) that all those people died for nothing, and that the ones who fought them were now raised in a position over them, yes, that’s throwing his people under the bus.

        Daeron’s treaty took no strength and no courage. It is a clear mistake to think of Daeron’s action as principled here, and this is important Daeron II isn’t sacrificing anything! He personally is getting a great deal, new vassals and allies, new rights and privileges for his goodbrother’s family. Daeron’s fear (and it’s truly fear) of war and his lunatic commitment to ‘peace at any price,’ made him unable to set wounds to right. He basically let the Dornish take whatever they wanted and failed to fulfill one of his primary duties as a king, being a protector and overlord for his vassals, and looking out for their best interests. That is an abject failure as a king! It’s not a principled action to fail your constituents for the sake of your own gain. I cannot understand for the life of me how this peace treaty that launched a war and created a highly imbalanced ruling minority enjoying political favor and a large number of political outcasts could possibly be construed as a positive thing.

        As for the treaty making an imbalance in the kingdoms, the text from TWOIAF explicitly proves you wrong. As for the treaty being questioned by anyone outside the Blackfyres, remember that half the country was the Blackfyres. So if I rewrite your sentence: “I don’t see any evidence that the terms of the treaty were ever questioned by anyone outside one-half of the entire kingdom,” I can’t see that argument as holding any merit. If half of the country is complaining about it and willing to go to war over it, I’d say that the treaty was imbalanced. And I’m not sure what you mean by Daemon keeping the treaty. There’s plenty of ways it could go and I don’t feel comfortable saying what Daemon would have done with it.

        As for the Lords Paramount supporting the regime, well, why wouldn’t they? The Targaryens made them the top dog of their regions, the status quo means they continue to be supreme. They can’t rise any higher. But let’s look at each of the Lords Paramount. Arryns were married into the family, and the Lannisters couldn’t expect any reward given that the Crakehalls and Reynes were fighting for the Blacks (and their gold reserves means the economic disparity of the treaty doesn’t hurt them too much). Leo Longthorn is being Walder Frey and waiting to see who wins Redgrass, the Starks and the Greyjoys don’t show, the Baratheons are MIA and may have stood to the side given that they were still recovering from the Dance. Only the Tullys were the ones who made the active decision to support Daeron.

        Your Fireball thing is an unbelievable fabrication. He asked for the spot specifically because he wanted to get rid of his wife?! That Daeron denied Fireball the spot because for the sake of Lady Ball? Do you even have a single scrap of evidence to suggest this? You are trying way too hard to demonize the Blackfyre cause as nothing more than a bunch of warmongering misogynists in the face of much evidence to the contrary.

        Osgrey sent Dunk to pay weregild, not to dispute the stream. I’ve already gone over this.

        As for Bloodraven employing a torturer, if you seriously think Bloodraven didn’t employ a torturer, I have some swampland I’d like to sell you. Bloodraven kept everything in house with the Raven’s Teeth. Aerys wasn’t interested in government, so he left that to Bloodraven, but Bloodraven was all about spies and secret informants, so knowing who his justice system was wouldn’t serve him. No, I cannot say that Daeron II discouraged the practice without more evidence.

        I can’t support ‘peace at any price’ especially when it creates such a large caste of political outsiders. Daeron failed his people, there’s no other way to view it.

      • Making coins isn’t some great achievement. It’s an essential aspect of running a kingdom. While it certainly means that Daemon understood the bare minimum required to be a king, it doesn’t really show us anything beyond that. It certainly doesn’t suggest that he was anything like Daeron II, Viserys II, or Jahaerys I, who were committed to good governance well beyond the necessities.

        Daeron wasn’t throwing his people under the bus, he was saving them from more war, at great expense. Daeron’s certainly is sacrificing a lot here. He’s giving up tax revenue, positions at court, his sister’s hand in marriage, and the marriages of his children to Dorne’s rivals in an effort to placate them and sell his treaty. I really don’t see how you can say that the treaty was imbalanced because Daeron gave the Dornish too much while simultaneously saying that Daeron sacrificed nothing. The best interests of his people and his lords was peace and good governance, which Daeron ensured by protecting them from yet another pointless war with Dorne. It was Daemon, on the other hand, who decided to go to war, which tells us exactly how committed he was to his vassal’s best interests. It wasn’t the treaty that launched the war, it was the Blackfyres themselves that did that, using the treaty that they had accepted for over a decade as a retroactive excuse. Unlike Daeron, they sacrificed nothing as a result of the treaty. Daeron may have made them less important than the Dornish, but that’s a relative measure. He didn’t take anything tangible away from any of the Blackfyre lords (except Fireball). In fact, he gave them marriages to get them on board. The only thing they lost was their pride, which is hardly a good reason to fight a war. All of the things they have a problem with, like Daeron II’s “insult” to the war dead, their resentment at Dorne’s special treatment, etc are really ridiculous reasons to fight a war over considering that none of it actually hurts them.

        If the treaty created an imbalance between the kingdoms, we would actually see evidence of that even during peacetime. We don’t. Westeros seems to have run just fine in the years following the Fifth Blackfyre Rebellion, without anyone complaining about the Dornish imbalance under any king following Jaehaerys II. There wasn’t anything inherently destabilizing about Daeron’s treaty. The Blackfyres *chose* to be offended about it. Had they simply accepted it, as half the entire realm did under Daeron and the entire realm did by the time of Aerys II, the sky would not have fallen.

        You’re misunderstanding me regarding Fireball. I’m not saying that he asked for the Kingsguard spot simply to get rid of his wife, I’m saying that he wanted the spot for personal gain, and was wiling to force his wife into a silent, celibate monastic order if that’s what it took to claim the position. Not exactly indicative of a man of high character. We don’t know why Daeron II denied him the spot, but if I had to guess, I’d say it was a combination of his fiery temperament, his closeness with Daemon, and his abuse of his wife, all of which are things that we know Daeron had reason to dislike. I’m accusing the Blackfyres of being warmongers and misogynists because their behavior suggests that. Whether it is Daemon, who insulted his own wife by going to war in the name of another woman, Fireball, who threw his wife under the bus for his own gain, or Osgrey, who sees the idea of women having influence over Daeron as unacceptable, the Blackfyres do not come across as woman-friendly and all too willing to wage war for spurious reasons. I can’t imagine that Daemon would have had much use for Elaena Targaryen’s financial aptitude or her Michael Manwoody’s intellect and musical talents, which is why I’m disputing ecr56’s claim that Daemon was indeed the better man. Whether it’s Daemon, Fireball, Bittersteel, Peake or Osgrey, all Blackfyre supporters we see are overly proud, insult-obsessed people, insistent on looking to the past and picking at scabs instead of looking towards the future. None of them seemed to care for good governance, culture, or peace beyond the Aegon IV era status quo.

        Regarding Osgrey, if he wanted peace, he would have made it very clear that the stream was not his. His repeated failure to do that, both before Bennis’ attack and before he sent Dunk to negotiate the weregild, help promote conflict, resulting in Bennis’ attack and Dunk’s failed negotiation. He tells both Dunk and his smallfolk that the Chequey Water belongs to him, and even before sending Dunk to negotiate, starts preparing his people for war because “she took our water” a blatant lie. Before he sends Dunk to negotiate, he tells him that he’d pay the weregild *only* if she takes down the dam. Getting the dam removed was always part of Dunk’s mission, and it was based on Osgrey’s irrational refusal to let go. He wanted his stream back, and was willing sacrifice his people to get it back, an attitude that nicely encapsulates Blackfyre intransigence.

        The problem with saying that Daeron did not abolish the Lord Confessor position is that we know that none of his successors had it, even Bloodraven, despite having good reason to have an official torturer. No doubt, Bloodraven had unofficial torturers, but did not fill this particular office. Why would Bloodraven, of all people, do this? The only explanation that I can think of is that Daeron II either abolished it or severely discouraged the practice to the extent that none of his descendants filled the position.

      • somethinglikealawyer

        Now you’re just moving the goalposts. I’ve proven that Daemon understood finance and bureaucracy (because remember, none of the other rebel claimants in the books ever went so far as to establish a currency), so it’s clear that Daemon had a political side to his rebellion.

        No, you’re deliberately ignoring the entirety of Daeron’s peace treaty if you think that Daeron is losing out and his vassals aren’t paying the price, and it’s stemming from your presentism. The treaty is accepted because Daeron defeated (and largely got rid of) many of the people who opposed it, and then the cause got gutted again through the Second and Third Blackfyre Rebellions. To you, the Blackfyre Rebellion has to be pointless because the treaty proves to be sustainable, yet three wars were fought over the cause (I don’t count Second Blackfyre or Fifth, since the former wasn’t a real war and the latter was more based on the ideology of the Band of Nine), but since the Targaryens won all of them, the treaty is sustainable, and that’s circular logic. You can’t say it’s a good cause because the Targaryen victory will vindicate them, and you can’t say everyone agrees with you because you’ve killed or exiled everyone who disagreed.

        But let me go over your claims and prove why Daeron II lost nothing and gained a great deal. He didn’t lose out on tax revenues, because Dorne wasn’t paying any taxes before that treaty. Dorne didn’t become a party of the Seven Kingdoms until that treaty, so he lost nothing. Positions at court is also false. Daeron is clearly appointing the people he wanted in those positions, he’s not fulfilling a quota or a term. His children’s hands weren’t part of the treaty, he married out because he had to build dynastic alliances. Same with Daenerys’s hand. Marrying someone for political alliances is just part of the business. The ordinary cost of business is not a sacrifice…it’s just an ordinary cost of business. In exchange, Daeron gets new territories under the Iron Throne and an incredibly strong (two marriages) alliance with all the requisite troops that it can bring. The only true loss might be if he honored his uncle’s murderers, but it’s pretty clear that Daeron II thought very poorly of his namesake and his war, so no loss.

        Then, take what the vassals get out of this treaty. They have a new rival for courtly favor and position, and these people enjoy greater tax benefits. They get a royal marriage and a spot as Lord Paramount (and it’s pretty clear they’re the lead Lord Paramount) despite murdering a king under a parlay flag (easily the Red Wedding of its time). A hand in marriage was typically reserved to alliance partners and the most leal of bannermen (the Arryns, the Hightowers for their years of service as Hand, the Velaryons for their close blood ties, and so on) and now, it’s being given to murderers. All their loyal service did was put them in a weaker position. If Baelor’s peace was an unhappy truce, Daeron’s treaty was an admission that the Seven Kingdoms was at fault, that the War of Dornish Conquest was a wrong act and that the 50,000 dead died being in the wrong, and telling these grieving relatives that spits on the sacrifices they made at royal command. Remember, this war was not started by the vassals. The Iron Throne commanded them to do this, and Daeron II simply ignored that in favor of giving the Dornish everything they wanted. Daeron II told half his kingdom that he did not respect their contributions to the Seven Kingdoms and that they died doing the wrong thing.

        You need to separate Daeron II from the Seven Kingdoms. The Seven Kingdoms lost a lot in Daeron’s treaty, but Daeron (and Dorne) personally gained a great deal. It was Daeron’s vassals who paid the price in Daeron creating a horrifically imbalanced noble environment by enriching the Dornish and then over-representing them in court. This is one reason why I don’t like Daeron II. He misused his office to secure great personal gain at the expense of his constituency.

        Again, you’re just making that up Fireball’s reason being personal gain. We see that Aegon is the one who promised the position and sending her to the Silent Sisters was done because of the promise. You’re trying too hard to paint him with that brush and concocting reasons why it must be the case. And as for spurious reasons, I’ve already refuted that logic. Daeron misused his position to codify a legal inequality and create a de facto exclusionary political environment. Daeron insulted his vassals by demeaning their losses and failing to secure buy-in with his treaty.

        As for not caring about good governance, culture, or peace, I say again we know nothing about these people or their attitudes on government. In fact, if I might be so bold, I would say that you don’t like them because they don’t fulfill your definition of culture. Martial virtue, tournaments, these things are part of Westerosi culture too, and it’s not like they were refusing the development of music and craft. And as for caring for peace, they didn’t care for Daeron’s peace, and I can hardly blame them. Codified inequality and disrespect hardly would make one amenable to a peace treaty. As we see with the Yronwoods, they’re clearly willing to work with the Dornish, so the war was against the Daeron-Martell regime. So no, I can’t say that they care nothing for peace, it’s just they didn’t like Daeron’s peace because of how bad it was.

        I could say more about how Webber was promoting conflict, how her men burned the woods on Osgrey’s land (her denial and talk about how a man might have done it seeking her favor is fairly damning), how the dam was hurting the Osgrey smallfolk (and Webber knew it) but it’s clear that doesn’t mean anything. As for Osgrey getting his smallfolk drafted, it was pretty obvious that Osgrey says it will be conflict between them. Sure, he’s selfish, but so is Webber.

        I just explained why Bloodraven didn’t have a torturer. The position ends, interrogation starts being covered by other members of the King’s Justice, Aerys never bothers to fill the position. Once Maekar takes the throne, it’s been years since they had the position filled, everything seems to be working just fine, why bother adding another expense to the treasury? The royal piggy bank was really hurting after the Blackfyre rebellions and droughts cost them so much money. You’re inventing a reason to make your line of reasoning hold and to prove other points in your statements when there’s plenty of reasons that require less leaps of logic.

  12. Pingback: Episode 12: Year in Review | Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire

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