GAME OF THRONES Season 7, Ep. 5 Mailbag: “Eastwatch”

Each week, Fawkes’ resident Maester, Matt Atwell, will be taking all of your Game of Thrones’ questions and answering them in a weekly mailbag. You can ask your questions in the comments section below, at our Facebook page, via email at FawkesDotCom@gmail.com or through twitter @FawkesCulture & @MatwellsaysYou could also catch up with all of Fawkes’ GAME OF THRONES coverage here.

Now that we know Jon is Rhaegar and Lyanna’s trueborn son, do you believe his birth name was actually Jon?

There has been many a word spilled on this topic. Targaryen names are pretty distinctive – think of the one’s were most familiar with: Daenerys, Viserys, Aerys, Rhaegar, Aegon, Rhaenys, and Baelor, just to name a few. Jon certainly does not fit into this mold, which has led many to believe Ned, to better hide his true identity, changed his name to Jon when he decided to bring him to Winterfell. This would not surprise me in the slightest.

Now, Jon is not a traditional Stark name in the least, but it’s possible Jon named him after a man he looked at as a second father, Jon Arryn. This would probably mean that Ned gave him a totally different name than Rhaegar and Lyanna did.

I also, however, would not be surprised if his name was actually Jon, as it is the name of Rhaegar’s best friend. Although he is not seen or heard of in the books, Jon Connington, the former Lord of Griffin’s Roost, was the closest friend of Rhaegar (BOOK SPOILER WARNING: looking up Jon Connington can lead to some serious book spoilers, so if you have plans of reading the books, I would hold off). During the time when Rhaegar was missing in the beginning of Robert’s Rebellion, Connington served as Aerys II’s hand and led the Crown’s forces, most notably in the Battle of the Bells, which resulted in an unmitigated failure for Connington and the Targaryen troops. There is also heavy hinting that Connington may have been romantically drawn to Rhaegar, but that is unimportant at this moment.

So, Jon may certainly be his name. His name also could have been something like “Jonaerys” to make it more Targaryen sounding or looking. The only thing I’m sure of is that his name was not Aegon, as Rhaegar already had a son by that name.

Why won’t Jon tell Daenerys that he was brought back from the dead? Would it effect his status as King in the North in her eyes? Or would she maybe be more skeptical of his claim about the Army of the Dead?

This is a great question which I really do not have a good answer for, and I doubt anyone does. I think Jon has made a host of mistakes in presenting himself to Dany, and this question cuts at the heart of many of those problems. For one, when going to treat with a Queen who has three large mythical beats, WHY WOULDN’T YOU BRING YOUR OWN MYTHICAL BEAST JON?? WHERE’S GHOST, DUDE? But, I digress.

I don’t know why it would effect his status as King in the North in Dany’s eyes or delegitimize his claim about the Army of the Dead. In fact, if I were Dany and a guy told me he had been resurrected from the dead, I’d probably be more willing to believe that there was an army of frozen zombies marching towards the kingdom I’ve come to rule. Furthermore, Jon’s claim as King in the North is already totally bogus in her mind, as she already told him she hasn’t changed her mind as to what kingdom’s belong to the Seven Kingdom’s and their ruler. So, at the very least, I think he has nothing to lose from telling her.

But, at the same time, there is the whole issue that Jon was a sworn brother of the Night’s Watch, which for some reason NO ONE SEEMS TO CARE ABOUT. Now, let’s remember that in the first episode of this show, Ned Stark beheaded someone for deserting the Night’s Watch, but now we’re to believe that no one cares that the LORD COMMANDER abandoned his post to take up arms and try to win back his family’s home? Honestly, Jon’s death and resurrection may make his claim as King in the North STRONGER as it gives him an excuse for deserting: he pledged his life to the Night’s Watch and now that that life has been ended, his vow has been fulfilled.

Also, Dany literally was reborn through fire when she birthed her dragons waaaaay back in Season One. She is also no stranger to prophecy either, after hearing about Rhaegar’s fascination with the Song of Ice and Fire and her stint in the House of the Undying, as well as the mysterious appearances of Quaithe. If anything, wouldn’t she realize that Jon’s resurrection makes him a messiah-like figure just as her rebirth did, bringing them closer together? Hasn’t she thought at all about how neatly Jon’s story would dovetail with a mythical Song of Ice and Fire? Does anyone remember that Quaithe was a real character in this show who is probably still stalking Dany right now? AM I TAKING CRAZY PILLS?

If someone were to legitimize Gendry, would he have the strongest claim to the Iron Thrones?

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P/C HBO

The thing is, the strongest claim has nothing to do with blood. Aegon the Conqueror had no claim to the Iron Thrones when he decided to invade Westeros from Dragonstone. In fact, there was no Iron Throne at that time. But three fully grown dragons were enough to eventually force the rulers of six of the seven kingdoms to bend the knee, thus uniting the Kingdoms of Westeros under one ruler for the first time (Dorne would not end up bending the knee for another century and a half). Robert Baratheon had no claim to the Throne whatsoever when, together with Jon Arryn and Eddard Stark, raised a rebellion from the Eyrie. He was only able to become King after his great victory on the Trident, when he caved in Rhaegar Targaryen’s breastplate with his warhammer, breaking the Targaryen army and forcing them to flee.

The strongest claim to the Iron Throne belongs to the most powerful leader, full stop. Taking – and holding – the Throne requires an army with the ability to do so. Right now, the only person in Westeros who has an army at her back with that ability is Daenerys Targaryen, whose claim, if we’re being honest is probably third best among living characters.

I know, however, that this isn’t exactly what this question was getting at. So, let’s briefly examine who would have the strongest claim to the Throne by blood. The answer there depends on which bloodline you choose to observe.

If you’re looking at the Baratheon bloodline, if Gendry were legitimized, he would undoubtedly have the strongest claim, as inheritance in Westeros runs through the Male line and even when the King has no heirs, the Throne is then traditionally given to next of kin rather than the Queen (remember that Cersei is the first Queen of Westeros), so therefore Cersei virtually has no claim to the Iron Throne.

If, however, we were to follow the line of Aegon I Targaryen, that becomes a bit trickier but the answer, especially after Gilly’s reveal on Sunday, would be Jon. Rhaegar Targaryen was the rightful heir to Aerys II and any of Rhaegar’s legitimate male children would then follow, thus making Jon the rightful heir to the Targaryen line. The Targaryen Throne would default to Daenerys if Jon were a bastard or to be killed, as she is the last surviving Targaryen.

After Gilly’s big reveal that Rhaegar had his marriage to Elia Martell set aside to marry another in Dorne (presumably Lyanna Stark), does that mean Jon Snow is the rightful heir since Lyanna and Rhaegar were rightfully married?

It certainly seems to mean that Jon was not a bastard, which would make him the trueborn heir to the Throne, Jon Targaryen. Who knows, maybe Jon wasn’t even his true first name but the name Ned gave him when he took him to Winterfell.

I doubt that this is what will end up happening in the books. In my opinion, Rhaegar will go the route of Aegon I (just less with less incest), who married and had children with both of his sister-wives. Regardless of the difference between show and book in this regard, some people seem to think this recent discovery absolves Rhaegar from his sins. I vehemently disagree with this.

Regardless if Rhaegar was awarded an annulment or not, he still set aside his lawful wife, Elia Martell, who had done nothing wrong, to pursue, bed, and have a child with another woman. I would say that this is objectively a pretty shady thing to.

Yet, even if we chose to disregard his extra-marital marriage/affair, there is the whole issue that his actions set in motion the events that would eventually lead to Robert’s Rebellion, beginning at the fabled Tourney at Harrenhal. I think to fully explore this, it is important to explore how the Tourney unfolded.

In 280 AC, Walter Whent, Lord of Harrenhal, announced a massive tourney to take place at his castle shortly after a visit from his brother, Oswell Whent of the King’s Guard. The rewards offered by Lord Whent were some of the largest to ever be offered, thus bringing many nobles lords and ladies from far and wide. They also were greater than what Lord Whent himself was probably able to offer, which led many to believe that he was not the one truly behind the tourney. This had led many, such as Maester Yandel, to believe that Lord Whent had a shadow backer: none other than Crown Prince Rhaegar Targaryen

By this point, Aerys II had not left King’s Landing in years and rumors of his decaying mental state had reach the ears of many noble Lords. So, the belief was that Rhaegar held this Tourney with the desire of finding a way to have his father abdicate the Throne so that he may become King. Aerys II, however, decided to attend the tourney after urging from none other than Varys.

This signifies that Rhaegar was well aware of his father’s mental state, going so far as to try and find a way to remove him as king.

Rhaegar would eventually win the Tourney at Harrenhal and crown Robert Baratheon’s betrothed, Lyanna Stark as Queen of Love and Beauty. A year later, Rhaegar and Lyanna disappeared, which led Lyanna’s brother, Brandon Stark, to head for King’s Landing and demand Rhaegar’s head, where he was captured. This in turn led Brandon’s father, Rickard Stark, Lord of Winterfell, to ride for King’s Landing where he was captured, and along with his son and 100 Northern Lords to be executed in the Red Keep. In the aftermath, Eddard Stark, Jon Arryn, and Robert Baratheon called their banners and embarked on Robert’s Rebellion.

Obviously, it was a poor choice for Brandon Stark to ride to the gates of King’s Landing and call for Rhaegar to “come out to die.” This was open treason. But similarly, Rhaegar had to know there would be a response to him disappearing with Lyanna. He also had to know that his father was in no position to rationally or reasonable respond to whatever House Stark or Baratheon did after Lyanna disappeared.

Rhaegar may not have directly caused Robert’s Rebellion but he certainly shoulders some of the blame.

 

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