Part I Of III On Robert’s Rebellion: The Complete Timeline And Events!
Believe it or not, one of the best storylines in “Game Of Thrones” and “A Song Of Ice And Fire” just so happens to not occur in any of the books nor the HBO show. We are talking of course, of Robert Baratheon’s Rebellion against the Iron Throne, held by the Targaryens for almost 3 centuries, before claiming it as his.
What led to these events? And how did this entire story line, worthy of its own Spinoff Season (A Movie would barely cover all of its events), affect the events of Westeros and leave the climate we are left with when Season 1 of the show, or the first pages of the first book “A Game Of Thrones” both begin.
How The Seven Kingdoms Were Before It All Began:
At this point, in time, the Targaryen dynasty still ruled over Westeros. Almost 300 years had passed since Aegon I Targaryen had invaded Westeros with his Dragons, and had all the other families of the Seven Kingdoms in line with his.
King Aerys IV, aka “The Mad King”, sat on the throne. Continuing the Targaryen tradition of “keeping the bloodline pure”, having 3 children with his sister Rhaella: Rhaegar, Viserys, and Daenerys (although Daenerys wasn’t born yet). All these incestuous activities meant some of the Targaryens ended going bonkers. Aerys for example, enjoyed burning people alive to feel like a Dragon.
Since Rhaegar had no sisters yet to marry, he was betrothed to Elia Martell (sister of Princes Doran and Oberyn Martell), with which he had 2 children: Aegon (VI) and Rhaenys.
What Triggered The Rebellion: The Tournament Of Harrenhall
Lord Whent had a tournament held at Harrenhall. A tournament where Rhaegar Targaryen, the Heir to the Throne won by defeating his Kingsguard Barristan Selmy.
The tradition for any and every tournament is to have the winner select any woman present and name her the Queen of Love and Beauty, by giving her a crown of flowers and dedicating his victory to her.
Instead of choosing his wife Elia Martell, the mother of her 2 children, Rhaegar handed it to Lyanna Stark, who was present with her brother Eddard. “All the smiles died” when it happened as it’s recalled by Ned Stark in the books, and by Littlefinger in the fifth season when he speaks with Sansa about her aunt.
To add insult to injury, Rhaegar “kidnapped” Lyanna and ran off with her, at least that’s what one side seems to believe to this day. Lyanna had been betrothed to Robert Baratheon, heir to Storms End and the Stormlands.
Other Accounts of the same story would say that the “She-Wolf”, Lyanna Stark’s nickname, was not abducted by Rhaegar, but rather fled with him as they both fell in love. That didn’t stop Houses Stark and Baratheon to seek justice for it…
The Starks Seek Justice. The Mad King Lives Up To His Name
After Rhaegar and Lyanna had disappeared, her father and older brother Rickon and Brandon Stark rode South to Kings Landing to demand justice for the kidnapping of Lyanna by Rhaegar. Upon reaching the capital and meeting with the Mad King, the latter chose instead to have them captured for Treason. The King and his heir can do as they like.
Being from a Noble House, Rickard demanded a Trial by Combat for which he would be Champion. The Mad King accepted and chose fire as its champion. He had Rickard hung and burned alive next to his son Brandon, tied by a rope around the neck to have him choke to death if he were to attempt to reach for a sword left in place to try and save his father.
That scene was originally included in the Pilot of “Game Of Thrones” as a Flashback with Sean Bean playing the role of his brother Brandon as he gets choked to death while seeing his father burn to death, the Mad King laughing in the background.
The Baratheons, Starks, Tully and Arryn Rebel Against The Throne
At this point, Robert Baratheon, heir to Storms End and Warden of the East, and Ned Stark, now heir to Winterfell and Warden of the North, united forces to rebel against the Throne. Jon Arryn, Lord of the Vale, who had both Robert and Ned as wards growing up joined forces with the rebels.
In order to bring House Tully of the Riverlands on their side, the Starks kept the plan to join the houses by marriage. The Arryns did likewise. Catelyn Tully of Riverrun was initially betrothed to Brandon Stark. Following his death, his younger brother Ned took over the duty and married her, which united both Houses together. Jon Arryn agreed to marry Lisa Tully in order also join forces with the Riverlands.
The Rebellion had Begun.
The Battle Of The Trident
After winning key battles in Summerhall in the Stormsland and Gulltown in the Vale, but also losing one in Ashford by the Tyrells and Tarly forces, Robert and his army met with Prince Rhaegar and his forces in the Trident.
In this battle, Robert and Rhaegar met in single combat, where Rhaegar died at the hands of Robert and his Warhammer. This would single highhandedly change the course of the War, and had the Rebel Forces ahead of the Loyalists.
For More Stunning Artwork depicting this Epic Battle, make sure to check Part II: Robert vs. Rhaegar At The Trident
The Sack Of Kings Landing
Tywin Lannister had previously been Hand of The King for Aerys. He had resigned the position when Arys not only refused to have his daughter Cersei marry Rhaegar, but also had his son and only heir (Tywin would never give thought of having Tyrion as his heir) Jaime Lannister be a Kingsguard. That meant Jaime would be stripped of his title as heir to Casterly Rock.
Having been neutral throughout the entire war, he brought his forces to the gates of Kings Landing after the Battle of the Trident had ended, with news of Prince Rhaegar being killed in combat by the hands of Robert Baratheon. Trusting his old friend, Aerys opened the gates of the city to Tywin, thinking his troops were there as reinforcement. This would prove to be The Mad King’s worst, and last decision.
The Lannister forces, on Tywin’s orders, sacked the city and killed anyone loyal to the Targaryens, paving the way for the Rebel troops to eventually enter and seize the throne. Many died, including Princess Elia Martell, and her 2 children, at the hands of Ser Gregore “The Mountain Clegane.
A betrayed Aerys then ordered his Kingsguard Jaime to kill his father and protect the crown. Having none of it, Jaime thrust his sword behind the Mad King’s back, killing him and earning himself the nickname “Kingslayer”.
Having been injured at the Trident, Robert had Ned Stark send his troops to Kings Landing first, and Storms End later. When he arrived in the capital, Eddard was shocked at what the Lannisters had done to the city. He entered the throne room, only to find the Mad King laying dead on the floor, and Jaime Lannister sitting on the Iron Throne.
Asking The Kingslayer to step out of the throne is where the first tensions between the Starks and Lannisters began.
The Siege Of Storms End
Stannis Baratheon, Robert’s younger brother and at his orders, had been holding the fort at Storms End from any loyalist forces to overtake. The Tyrells, led by Mace Tyrell had laid siege to Storms End throughout the majority of the war.
Stannis and his men starved while they were under siege by a blockade the Tyrell forces had put in place, preventing any supply to come in and out of Storms End.
All changed when a smuggler named Davos Seaworth was able to pass through the blockade and smuggle Onions and salt fish in the city. This is what would let Stannis’ troops to survive the siege, and have Davos earn his unofficial title: “The Onion Knight”.
Upon Ned Stark’s arrival to lift the siege, Mace Tyrell retreated his troops and returned to Highgarden. The Siege was ended once and for all.
The Tower Of Joy
After lifting the siege of Storms End, Ned rode South to The Tower Of Joy near Dorne, where his sister Lyanna was believed to be held. Upon his arrivel with 4 of his men, they were confronted by 3 Kingsguard, one of them Ser Arthur Dayne “The Sword of the Morning”, one of the most fierce Kingsguard in combat.
Ned’s group was 5, the Kingsguard were 3. When the battle ended, only 2 survived: Ned Stark, and his trusted bannerman Howland Reed.
Upon entering the Tower, he found his sister Lyanna lying “in a bed of blood”. Before she died, she had asked a promise from Ned. “Promise Me Ned” as he recalls in the books when dreaming of this event. Lyanna died here and then.
One of the most important theory in the “A Song Of Ice And Fire” and “Game Of Thrones” begins at this particular event. A “bed of blood” can be interpreted as Lyanna dying of childbirth, and the promise to be for Ned to protect this child with Targaryen blood from Robert’s wrath.
Another element of the theory is the presence of the Kingsguard to begin with.
Kingsguard had no business protecting the Heir’s “mistress” while the realm was at war. Their duty is always to protect the Royal Family. The only valid argument for their presence, is if another Heir to Rhaegar had been there, in other words: Lyanna was pregnant with Rhaegar’s child.
This child would have the Honorable Ned Stark sacrifice his honor for the love of his sister. He would lie and present this child as a bastard from some tavern whore he impregnated during the war, only to hide his true identity from his friend Robert, who was bent on killing any and every Targaryen members left.
This child of Ice (Lyanna Stark – L) and Fire (Rhagar Targaryen – R) is (most probably) Jon Snow (J)… R+L=J
UPDATE: It Is No Longer A Theory. As Seasons 6&7 of Game Of Thrones not only confirmed that Jon IS Rhaegar & Lyanna’s child, but that his name is actually Aegon Targaryen. The 2 were secretly married by High Septon Maynard, making Jon/Aegon the Rightful Heir to the Iron Throne; ahead of Daenerys Targaryen.
Robert Baratheon Is Proclaimed King Of The Seven Kingdoms
Having Targaryen blood through his grandmother, Robert Baratheon’s claim to the throne following Aerys’ death was deemed valid, and he was crowned as the Protector of the Realm, King of the Seven Kingdoms.
To thank Lord Tywin for his help, and to also have his financial aid when needed, House Lannister being the richest family in Westeros, Robert Baratheon agreed to marry his daughter Cersei Lannister, making her the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms.
Before taking the throne though, Robert would send his brother Stannis on a final mission: to head to Dragonstone, the Targaryen Stronghold for centuries, and kill the remaining Targaryens alive (Viserys, Rhaella and Daenerys had she been born).
When Stannis arrived, it was too late. Princess Rhaella had died giving birth to Daenerys, and the rest had fled to the Free Cities beyond the Narrow Sea. Stannis would keep Dragonstone as his Stronghold, Robert handing over Storm’s End to their younger brother Renly Baratheon.
A move that still leaves Stannis bitter towards his brother Robert.
What makes this story so interesting is how its events progressively unfold throughout the books and the show. Everything is told through the memory of those that were present on either side of the war.
Targaryen loyalists would refer to Robert as “The Usurper” and his allies as “Traitors”. Robert and his side would claim the entire rebellion started when his betrothed was “Kidnapped and Raped” by Rhaegar Targaryen.
Perhaps the greatest mystery from this entire storyline remains what Ned Stark encountered in the Tower of Joy. Only Howland Reed and him survived and know the whole story. And at the current state of affairs, only Howland Reed, who has yet to be introduced in the HBO series, knows for sure…
The storyline even briefly appears in the HBO title sequence at each episode as shown above: “The Stag, The Lion and The Wolf Attack The Dragon”. Many fans have requested for this story line to be turned into a standalone movie, or entire mini series of its own, to complement the HBO Show.
Sadly, George R.R Martin has publicly stated, many times over, that he would not vouch for it. Maybe because what makes this story so appealing, is the mystique of it, as its events and timeline are always mentioned through flashbacks and memories of those that survived it.
We gave our choices for the Ideal Casting Of The Major Characters In Robert’s Rebellion In Part III Here.