Thursday, March 12, 2015

Supreme Court of Westeros, ruling 69

Thursday is court day!
Welcome to the Supreme Court of Westeros! Every week, three pressing questions from the community will be answered by the esteemed judges Stefan (from your very own Nerdstream Era) and Amin (from A Podcast of Ice and Fire). The rules are simple: we take three questions, and one of us writes a measured analysis. The other one writes a shorter opinion, either concurring or dissenting. The catch is that every week a third judge from the fandom will join us and also write a dissenting or concurring opinion. So if you think you're up to the task - write us an email to stefan_sasse@gmx.de, leave a comment in the post, ask in the APOIAF-forum or contact Amin at his tumblr. Discussion is by no means limited to the court itself, though - feel free to discuss our rulings in the commentary section and ask your own questions through the channels above.
One word on spoilers: we assume that you read all the books, including the Hedge Knight short stories, and watched the current TV episodes. We don't include the spoiler chapters from various sources in the discussion, with the notable exception of Theon I, which was supposed to be in "A Dance with Dragons" anyway.
And now, up to ruling 69 of the Supreme Court of Westeros! Our guest judge this week is Daniel Huigsloot, a Communications and Sociology student from Melbourne, Australia. He is more of an avid follower than an active member of the fandom, however he does pride himself in being a go to man for ASOIAF information/facts and theories in his social circles.

With World of Ice and Fire out, I'd love to see the judges rank the Targaryen Kings (with a one-sentence explanation) or list the best/worst 3.

Main Opinion: Stefan
My list of best Targaryen kings:
Jahaerys I - He has to win out the contest. Not only did he usher in a kind of golden era for Westeros, he also sustained it for decades. Peace is the pearl without price, as the Green Grace reminds us. Daeron II - Daeron is the guy who finally ends the permanent conflict with Dorne and rules as kind of an enlightened ruler, with a healthy focus on good governance, science and learning. Aegon V - Not only did he reign pretty well, he enacted a series of reforms that brought more rights to the smallfolk, although the implementation of said reforms was lacking. Honorable mentions go to Viserys I for not fucking up too much, for Maekar I for basically the same reason and Jahaerys II for showing some potential. Otherwise, the list is fairly short. 
My list of the worst kings:
Maegor the Cruel - He enacted genocidal politics in a yearlong bitter, useless and fruitless war that left the land scarred for years to come. Also murdering innocent craftsmen and generally behaving like a giant dick. Daeron I - Out of youthful arrogance starting a war that costs ten thousands of lives, followed by a period of occupation and guerilla warfare that claims at least the same number of loves again has to earn you a place here. Aerys II - Randomly killing and torturing people with not enough sense to preserve the facade, leading to a devestating war and the downfall of your house - good job. Close third place. Honorable mentions go to Aegon IV for messing up the whole political structure of the continent just because, for Baelor the Blessed for trying to impose his stupid beliefs on everyone else, for Viserys II for allowing Bloodraven to establish a terroristic police state, to Aegon III for being a traumatized guy who shouldn’t be near a throne, for Aegon II for being a stupid entitled idiot. The only one not in any list is Aegon I. Let’s say the jury’s still out for him.
By the way, the question intrigued me so much I wrote a whole essay ranking the Targaryen kings; keep on the lookout for it ;)

Concurring in Part, Dissenting in Part: Amin
I mainly concur with Justice Stefan’s assessment of the good Targaryen kings. I would say that Aegon I did enough to be in the best of Targaryen Kings: without him, there would be no dynasty, and he had a fairly good understanding of how to manage politics, the Faith, and the Realm. He also knew when it was time to make peace with Dorne, another King may not have made a deal, regardless of what the Dornish Letter Said. In terms of bad Kings, I would put Aegon IV in there higher than Daeron I. Daeron messed up in Dorne and got himself killed too early. but otherwise had the potential to be a decent King. In comparison, we can only wish that Aegon the IV had gotten himself killed years earlier.

Concurring in part, dissenting in part: Daniel Huigsloot
My list of best Targaryen kings:
Jahaerys I for bringing the Faith Militant uprising to a peaceful end, building the Kingsroad as well as other transport networks, sustaining 50 years of peace and arguably cementing the acceptance of Targaryen rule. Daeron II for not only establishing a peaceful unity with Dorne but successfully managing much of the chaos left by his father, effectively quelling the first Blackfyre rebellion. Lastly, Aegon I. His act of uniting the seven kingdoms did a lot in achieving stability and preventing war between the existing kingdoms. Although the dynasty he established certainly wasn't perfect nor necessarily complete, it was big step towards a more civilised Westeros, even if it was through the use of what is essentially the equivalent of nuclear threat and all for his own selfish ambition rather than the greater good. Honourable mention to Aegon V for being a good guy with good intentions, but doesn't make the cut due to the ambiguity surrounding what he actually achieved in the way of reforms benefiting the small folk. They certainly don't appear to have too good of a deal in recent history.
As for the worst:
Aegon IV for being a corrupt, selfish and wilfully misruling king who destablised his own family's dynasty, imposing generations of war, death and woe to the realm by legitimising his bastards on his deathbed. Aerys II for wanting to burn Kings Landing to the ground, effectively killing half a million people, just to spite Robert. Maegor I for being infamously cruel, causing countless unnecessary deaths and pretty much achieving nothing from it aside from maybe postponing an overthrow of the dynasty (through fear and murder tactics), a problem that ultimately had to be solved by his successors anyway.

Final Verdict: Jaehaerys, Aegon V and Daeron II as the good kings, Aegon IV, Aerys II and Maegor the Cruel as the bad kings.

My theory is that Bloodraven manipulated the line of succession in order to get Aegon V to be King and ultimately sacrifice him and the others at the tragedy of Summerhall. 
See a much more detailled look at the theory as a basis for our ruling here

Main Opinion: Stefan
Funny enough, this ties in with the question from last week, regarding Bloodraven’s knowing of Bran. Assuming that Bloodraven knew of the second coming of the Others and the need for a Prince Who Was Promised, then he would also have seen the events leading up to this one (provided he already had those powers, which to me seems strongly implied in the texts). Therefore, all of this could have been playing out just as it seems - coincidences. Many actions of Bloodraven’s aren’t necessary to bring about the desired results: the Spring Sickness kills pretty much without bias, so Valarr’s death isn’t out of the ordinary, and Viserys II is old enough that the risk for progeny is low. And so on. The one event that Bloodraven definitely engineered is the murder of Aenys Blackfyre, which seems to have been a serious threat, or else it wouldn’t have been necessary. All of that, however, operates under the assumption that Bloodraven really had all this knowledge, which I kind of doubt. It seems more likely to me that the full potential of his power becomes only available after he is at the Wall (one of the hinges of the world, remember), therefore allowing him to remove himself from the world. An elaborate killing spree of dubious morality seems simply unnecessary to me.

Concurring Opinion: Amin
Bloodraven always had strong magical powers, but his full powers related to seeing the future were only unlocked when he went to the Wall and ultimately beyond the Wall to his current position. Therefore, I agree that he didn’t see that far ahead while earlier in his life, most of the events the theory lists were coincidences or him unfairly getting the blame, and the things he was responsible for had more immediate reasons than a 80 year old plan for the future.

Concurring opinion: Daniel Huigsloot
This is certainly an interesting and fun idea however I also doubt Bloodraven had such a high level of foresight to elaborately instigate this chain of events. Many of these deaths are circumstantial and he would have had to have abilities such as using the weirwood network to witness events across various timelines and locations in order to orchestrate it in such an exact manner. The deaths of Baelor and Aelor definitely strike me as intriguing and suspicious. But to blame BR for the deaths of Baelor's sons, Daeron, Rhaegal and Maekar is to me getting into tinfoil territory. Especially if on top of that the theory is implying that he convinced Aerion to drink wildfire and Aemon to join the citadel as well as rendering Aerys infertile. It may be possible that BR was behind some of these events, though I would say it is unlikely they were all for the sake of one ultimate goal he had foreseen.

Final Verdict: Likely Bloodraven developed the full potential of his powers only later in life, making these events "natural". 

Given their Machiavellian plotting how much of what Littlefinger is up to are Varys and Illyrio aware of and how much of their plot does Littlefnger know about?

Main Opinion: Stefan
Difficult to say. Since I’m not sure to what extent Littlefinger is aware of what Littlefinger will do next, Varys’ knowledge necessarily has its limits. However, I guess that Varys knows more of Littlefinger’s shenanigans than Littlefinger knows of Varys’. The thing is that Littlefinger, once you have understood his motives, is easy to consider. You never know exactly what he might do next, but you can create a range within which he will operate, a set of tools he uses. This allows you to arm your own plans against it. Littlefinger, on the other hand, might be aware that Varys has something going on in Essos, perhaps even that it involves a Targaryen renaissance, but he doesn’t know enough. Else it doesn’t make sense for him not to either sell Varys out or to prepare properly for the Targaryen invasion. Instead, Littlefinger concentrates on the existing power structure that has to be destroyed if either Aegon or Daenerys land. Therefore, I conclude that Littlefinger isn’t exactly in the know about Varys, while Varys can probably deduce that Littlefinger now wants to gain control over the Vale and then move on from there.

Concurring Opinion: Amin
Varys knows more of Littlefinger’s schemes than vice versa, but they both have secrets that nobody has managed to discover yet. Ultimately, Littlefinger is more predictable than Varys when it comes to the ultimate question: Littlefinger is not willing to sacrifice himself for his plans, because what he is doing is ultimately for his own personal gain, but I could see Varys willing to die if it the end results fit his ultimate plan, whatever it is.

Concurring opinion: Daniel Huigsloot
Varys is aware that Littlefinger is trying to gain as much power as possible and perhaps that he wants to make an eventual grab at the throne. Littlefinger on the other hand expresses little knowledge concerning Vary's schemes. Regardless of what they do know about each other, neither of them seem concerned enough to take direct action against the other at this stage. That to me points to a lack of knowledge on Littlefingers part and a perceived lack of threat on Vary's part. Considering he likely spent close to six months in the walls of the Red Keep after Tyrion's escape, he would have had access to updates on Littlefinger's antics. I wouldn't be surprised if Varys was confident about LF's eventual failure and is taking advantage of his contribution to the chaos in the current political climate for the time being. 

Final Verdict: Most likely, Varys has a bit of an edge over Littlefinger in terms of knowledge. 

5 comments:

  1. Stefan, you made two inaccurate comments on Viserys II in your remarks.

    First, Bloodraven was a child at the time of Viserys II's death in the early 170s. His rise to politicial dominance would begin with the First Blackfyre Rebellion, but wouldn't be cemented until the death of Prince Baelor, the Great Spring Sickness, and the ascension of Aerys II, all almost 40 years after Viserys II's death.

    Second, Viserys II wasn't just too old to have progeny at the time of the Great Spring Sickness - he was dead, and had been so for the entire reigns of Aegon IV and Daeron II, including the Bastards Crisis, the First Blackfyre Rebelliom, the infamous Battle of the Seven which took Prince Baelor's life, and (presumably) the births of most of Daeron II's grandchildren.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I mixed up Viserys II and Aerys I. My bad. Sorry.

      Delete
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