Monday, July 25, 2016

What If Aegon Never Conquered Westeros?

First, many thanks to those who read my previous two entries in this series. The Stannis and Rhaegar  'what if?' pieces received a lot of views and positive feedback. I'm so happy about that. I've decided to run with this alternate ASOIAF timeline series for a while (though I'll also continue writing other posts). 


For the third 'what if?' timeline I thought it would be interesting to go way, way back in the ASOIAF universe. What I want to look at, is a timeline in which Aegon's Conquest never happened. What would the continent of Westeros and the Seven Kingdoms would look like if the Targaryen Dynasty had never risen? Which lands and Great Houses would be the most and least affected in such a scenario? Which power if any could conceivably rise to bind the Seven Kingdoms together?

No Dragons, No Fire and Blood

Along with the invasions of the First Men and the Andals, the arrival of Targaryens was an event that changed Westeros forever. Aegon, his sister-wives and their dragons were the first to bind all of the continent's warring kingdoms (save Dorne) together. During Aegon's Conquest, old royal houses were destroyed, others brought to their knees, other houses were raised up and territories shifted ownership. A new city, King's Landing, was built and a throne made from the fused swords of Aegon's fallen enemies became the symbol of power for a new political order.

The Targaryens meet their end in the Doom of Valyria.

In this alternate timeline, though, Aegon, Visenya Rhaenys and their dragons never exist. Their ancestors who, in the cannon-history, settled Dragonstone twelve years before Valyria's destruction never leave the doomed continent. Instead, Aenar Targaryen ignores his daughter's prophetic warnings about the Doom and remains in his homeland. His entire line his wiped-out and Dargonstone, which had been a Valryian outpost, becomes the home of another house.

Dragons cease to exist and fade in to legend and myth along with Valyria itself. However, like in the cannon-timeline, Volantis and other Valyrian outposts do endure and preserve some aspects of their now deceased motherland's culture.

The Seven Kingdoms Remain...Seven Kingdoms

Since the Targaryens and their dragons are no longer on the scene, where does this leave the Seven Kingdoms that they conquered?


In the short term, pretty much where they were. With no Aegon the Conqueror, the Seven Kingdoms (shown below) remain independent realms. The long term futures of these different kingdoms are impossible to really predict and could go a number of different directions. To cover all of those possible outcomes would require more than one entry. However, based on what we know of the state of these kingdoms at the time of the Conquest (from The World of Ice and Fire and the main series) it's possible to make a few solid predictions.

The Seven Kingdoms at the time of Aegon's Conquest

Gardeners, Durrandons, Hoares and the Rest

Some houses and lands are more affected than others by Aegon's absence. The Reach, the Stormlands, the Iron Islands and the Riverlands were changed far more deeply by the Conquest than other parts of Westeros. The royal houses that ruled these lands were extinguished. With no Field of Fire, no Siege of Storm's End and no Burning of Harrenhal, houses Gardener, Durrandon and Hoare endure.

Sigil of House Gardener, the Kings of the Reach

In the Reach, House Gardner, which like the Lannisters and the Starks can trace its ancestry to the Age of Heroes, continues to rule from High Garden. Mern IX (the last Gardener King in the cannon who is killed along with all of his sons and male relatives) continues his reign and is succeeded by his son Edmund. The Tyrells remain the Gardener King's high stewards and continue to serve as trusted advisors and (perhaps at times) the power behind the Oakenseat.

Sigil of the Storm Kings of House Durrandon (adopted by the Baratheons)

In the Stormlands, the ruling house of Durrandon does not become extinct either (at least not at Aegon's hands). Since the founder of House Baratheon, Orys, was a bastard brother of Aegon, Storm's End remains the seat of Argilac Durrandon (the Arrogant). He marries his daughter Argella to another suitor and perhaps lives long enough to sire a male heir. Like in the cannon, Argilac also tries to seek out allies to counter the presence of the Ironborn in the Riverlands. Instead of sending offers of alliance to Aegon, however, he likely tries to build bridges with one of the other kingdoms surrounding the Riverlands such as the Vale or the Westerlands.

Sigil of House Hoare, rulers of the Ironborn and the Riverlands

This brings us to the Iron Islands and the Riverlands, the two regions that were arguably changed the most by the Targaryens. When Aegon arrived in Westeros, the Ironborn had carved an empire out of the Riverlands and what would become the Crownlands. Their royal house, Hoare, ruled as Kings of the Isles and the Rivers. Under kings Harwyn, Halleck and Harren the Ironborn successfully retained controlled of their conquest by fighting off the Arryns, Lannisters, Gardeners and Durrandons. The Storm Kings were the Hoares' strongest rivals for the Riverlands, since the Durrandons had ruled the territory prior to having it taken away by Harwyn. Arguably, the Kingdom of the Isles and Rivers was the most powerful by the time of the Conquest.

In this timeline, King Harren the Black still completes his monstrous castle of Harrenhal making it his seat of power. Though the Hoare line is not extinguished by dragon flame, the Kings of the Isles and the Rivers are likely unable to maintain their great castle or their empire in the long term. Like in the cannon, the construction of Harrenhal drains material and human resources from the Riverlands and the Iron Islands. While the castle is impressive and perhaps impregnable to a direct assault the project ultimately leaves the Ironborn severely weakened. Maintaining the massive castles towers, hearths, kitchens, stables and barracks only puts further strain on the already depleted lands under Harren's rule.

The construction of Harrenhal depletes resources and leaves House Hoare vulnerable

While Harren likely lives out the rest of his reign, the enemies of the Ironborn sense the weakness of his realm. Whether through invasion by one or more of the surrounding kingdoms, a rebellion on the Iron Islands or in the Riverlands or a combination of these events, it seems likely that the construction of Harrenhal would eventually lead to the Riverlands being wrested from the Hoares and given to another kingdom. Harrenhal falls largely into ruin like in the books and house Hoare is eventually driven out of power and destroyed, with the Ironborn withdrawing to their islands. Another Ironborn family, perhaps the Greyjoys, succeeds them.


The houses least affected by the Conquest, the Starks, Martells, Arryns and Lannisters endure as well. They remain the leaders of their peoples and continue the wars that they have always engaged in.

No Iron Throne to Bend To...Not Ever

Not surprisingly, conflicts continue between the various kingdoms. As time passes, their lands expand and contract with each new war. However, in the absence of a Targaryen Conquest is there another scenario in which all Seven Kingdoms could be brought together under a single ruler?


Not very likely.


Aegon's Conquest succeeded due to one factor and one factor alone: his three dragons. Without them, the Targaryens' three thousand man army would have been unable to conquer anything beyond a few smaller territories in what we know as the Crownlands. In battle after battle, Balerion, Vhagar and Meraxes decided the outcome and their mere existence and presence was enough to convince even powerful rulers like Torrhen Stark and Sharra Arryn to bend the knee.

Dragons ensured Aegon's victory over his enemies.

In a ASOIAF universe without Aegon's dragons, there's only one other way to conquer all of Westeros- with an army.


However, defeating and subduing an entire continent filled with diverse peoples, harsh and varied climates and powerful kingdoms who would fight tooth and nail to hold their lands, would require an enormous number of soldiers. At a minimum, this army would have to be several hundred thousand strong if it was to have any hope of overwhelming any of the other kingdoms' forces.  


While its hard to confirm the exact size of the armies that each of the Seven Kingdoms can raise, none of the numbers in the books (or from other estimates online) come even close to matching the army size required. Most great houses such as the Starks and the Arryns seem only able to muster between twenty to thirty thousand men. Even the wealthiest and most powerful kingdoms, the Reach and the Westerlands, can only field a little over fifty thousand men each.

No Iron Throne...or one quite like it.

Barring the emergence of some magical super-weapon (such as dragons) or the complete absorption of one of the kingdoms by another (also not likely given the pattern of warfare) its not feasible that any sort of High King would ever be able to rise in Westeros and subdue all the lands from the North to Dorne.


Before the conquest, the Seven Kingdoms were just that. They were seven independent territories ruled by a royal house. In this timeline, Westeros' kingdoms remain sovereign with their royals houses continuing to rule and go to war with one another in pursuit of territory.


Wars continue and the power of various kingdoms wax and wane with time.



Friday, July 8, 2016

What If Rhaegar Killed Robert?




In the ASOIAF series Robert's Rebellion is arguably the most important event prior to the first book. The civil war which brought down the 300 year old Targaryen Dynasty laid the foundation for the entire book series and show. Without this successful insurrection, nearly every character in the series would be in a different place. 


But what if the rebellion's climactic battle, The Trident, had gone a different route? What if in their duel in the waters, Robert was slain by Rhaegar and the rebel forces suffered a shattering defeat? How would the Seven Kingdoms be different? 



The Trident

There are a myriad of ways that the Rebellion could have ended with a Targaryen victory. For my purposes I'll be looking at a different outcome for the Battle of Trident with all other events leading up to that point unchanged. 


A different man comes back from the Trident


In this new scenario, Rhaegar leads the loyalist army into battle and confronts Robert one on one in the waters of the river. This time though, Robert misses his swing and Rhaegar dodges the fatal blow of the Usurper's warhammer. Rhaegar rebounds and puts his sword through Robert's antler helm killing him instantly. 


Upon seeing their leader fall, the rebel army reacts in the same way that the loyalist army did in the cannon history at the death of Rhaegar. The Baratheon, Stark, Tully and Arryn forces scatter and their enemies are victorious. 



Immediate Aftermath

A victory for the Targaryens at the Trident has very deep changes for the Kingdoms and for the characters of the series. 


First, with the rebels clearly on the backfoot the loyalists are free to press their advantage and continue to march into the Riverlands. Neutral houses, seeing which way the wind is turning, declare for the Targaryens. The Freys, who in the cannon waited to send troops to the Trident after the battle is decided, join the Royal Army along with other Riverlords.

House Lannister, declares for the crown and sends their armies into the Riverlands to assist. 


Meanwhile, in Storm's End the siege continues and the Tyrells eventually starve the garrison led by Stannis. The elder of Robert's two brothers is killed or captured while the youngest brother Renly is (for sure) taken hostage to ensure the loyalty of the Stormlands. With Robert gone, the Stormland forces in the Riverlands disintegrate leaving the Arryns, Starks and Tullys to try and mount a new defense. 


The Mad King Falls

As revealed by Jaime in A Feast for Crows, Rhaegar stated before leaving for the Trident that he wanted to call a council after the battle was over. In his own words:


'When the battle's done I mean to call a council. Changes will be made. I meant to do it long ago, but ... well, it does no good to speak of roads not taken. We shall talk when I return.' 


The council Rhaegar referred to is likely a council to remove his father, Mad King Aerys, from power. POV chapters from other characters in the books indicate that Rhaegar was disturbed by his father's madness and wanted to depose him in order to preserve the Kingdoms. The tourney at Harrenhal (where Rhaegar met Lyanna Stark) was believed by some in the books to have been a cover for a meeting between Rhaegar and supporters to plot Aery's overthrow. Aerys was tipped off, however, by his spymaster Varys. He attended the tournament and, as the story goes, the plot never hatched.

In this new scenario, Rhaegar takes advantage of his victory and finally calls the long delayed council. He gathers his strongest supporters and his father's closest enemies. This includes Aery's former estranged Hand and friend Tywin Lannister. In the cannon timeline, Tywin's friendship with Aerys was ruined by the Mad King's jealously and paranoia, with Tywin resigning his post. It's also recorded that during the defiance of Duskendale, Tywin openly talked about replacing Aerys with Rhaegar. 

At Rhaegar's council, Tywin becomes a crucial player.

At the council, most likely held in the Riverlands (perhaps Harrenhal), Tywin and Rhaegar's allies back his coup against his father to spare the realm even more bloodshed.

Rhaegar leaves Barristan Selmy or another lord to lead part of the Royal Army in the Riverlands and continue the right against any remaining rebel forces. He and Tywin though take the lion's share of the army to King's Landing.

While Rhaegar may try to disguise this move, Aerys's paranoia, perhaps coupled with information from Varys, prevents him from accepting his son back into the capital. He keeps the gates of King's Landing shut and threatens to kill Rhaegar's wife and children (who are still in the Red Keep). The Mad King also has the caches of wildfire scattered around the city which he plans to use in this timeline as well.

Though the standoff continues for some time, the outcome probably remains very much the same as in the cannon-timeline.

Jaime Lannister remains the only Kingsguard in the Red Keep, since he was left behind before the battle. Though he is a Kingsguard, it's also established in the books that he had a close relationship with Rhaegar and that he is not above breaking vows for what he perceives as a greater good.

With that mind, it's possible that Jaime would, eventually see the writing on the wall and take it upon himself to spare the city and his father's forces.

The Mad King falls, most likely stabbed once more by Jaime. 



King's Landing is spared being sacked or burned and Rhaegar becomes king.



The Peace

With Rhaegar now King and his father gone, the new Targaryen monarch begins the process of bringing all seven kingdoms under his control.

With the Stormlands all but secured by the Tyrells, the Riverlands, the Vale and the North are the only three territories left uncontrolled by the new Dragon King. 


House Arryn, House Stark and House Tully form the backbone of the rebels


Rhaegar would no doubt hear a number of different opinions from his small council on how to deal with these rebellious territories. While an all out military invasion of these lands would be possible, especially with the Royal Army intact, continuing the war would be problematic. Apart from the Riverlands, which have few natural barriers, the North and the Vale would prove difficult to invade and conquer by force.

The Vale is extremely mountainous while the North is huge (as large as all the other kingdoms combined). Though the forces of the Great Houses backing Rhaegar could mount invasions of these two kingdoms, the campaigns would cost a number of lives and could ultimately result in a war of attrition that might cause the loyalists to suffer burnout.

Therefore, Rhaegar's best course of action would be to negotiate the reentry of the North and the Vale into the Seven Kingdoms.

This might seem like an impossible task at first, especially when it comes to making amends with House Stark. After all, Rhaegar's absconding with Lyanna Stark was the flash that ignited the rebellion in the first place. How could Ned Stark (assuming he escaped the defeat at the Trident) or his brother Benjen (who would have become lord of Winterfell had Ned fallen) possibly make peace with the man who 'abducted' their sister? How could Ned, if he survived, have forgiven the man who in this alternate timeline, killed his best friend?

Well a negotiated peace, is actually not as crazy an outcome as you might think. In this alternate timeline, Rhaegar has two aces in his already stacked deck.

First, there's the fact that Rhaegar's dalliance with Lyanna, wasn't really what started the rebellion.

Sure, taking off with Robert's fiance was a dumb move. Whether you like the abduction narrative or the star crossed lover story, there's no doubt Rhaegar made a mistake when he rode away to Dorne with Lyanna. Yet it was the actions of Rhaegar's father, the Mad King, that actually set off the war. 


The Mad King burns Rickard Stark


Brandon Stark, the heir to Winterfell, and Rickard Stark, (the Stark patriarch) were both executed when they approached Aerys seeking justice for what they saw as a slight on their family's honor. It's their deaths at the hands of Aerys, and his subsequent order for Jon Arryn to send him the heads of Ned and Robert, that kicked off the rebellion. Though negligent, Rhaegar had no direct responsibility for the war.

With his father now dead, in this alternate timeline, Rhaegar can argue that he actually avenged the Stark family by deposing his father and bringing the man responsible for Brandon and Rickard's deaths to justice. With the Mad King gone, the rebels no longer have a hated figure to rally against. Though Rhaegar is his father's son he's also well loved.

Despite being on the losing end of the war in the cannon-timeline, Rhaeagr is still widely praised even in death for his honor and noble character. Apart from Robert, everyone else who knew the prince personally remarks on how good a person he was and laments that he never got a chance to be King. Even Ned speaks well of him, despite having no apparent reason to.

Second, and maybe most importantly, Rhaegar has a Stark in his care. I don't mean Lyanna. Just like in the books, Lyanna dies at the Tower of Joy in her bed of blood. And she also gives birth to the boy we all know as Jon Snow. (Yes, there may be a half percentage chance that R + L does not equal J but at this point the show has almost certainly confirmed it). 


Unfortunately, Lyanna Stark still dies in childbirth.



In this alternate version though, Jon is given a Targaryen name (I'll use the popular fan name Jaehaerys) and is taken back to his father by the three Kingsguards left to protect him and his mother in Dorne. 


It's the revelation of this little boy's existence, more than anything else, that convinces either Ned or Benjen to submit to Rhaegar's rule. While the Starks may nurse strong grudges against Rhaegar for the rest of his life, they would still feel a strong devotion to Lyanna's son. Ned's code of honor and his dedication to family, would ultimately bring him to the table and back to submission to the Targaryens. While Benjen is not quite as honor bound as Ned is, we can safely assume that he would also submit.

Assuming the North is brought back to the fold the Vale and the Riverlands would then follow suit, seeing no purpose to continuing the fight. The Arryns remain in charge of the Vale and the Tullys, the Riverlands. Rhaegar lacks his father's penchant for cruelty and would most likely not seek any vengeance. 


The Rule of Rhaegar

With the Kingdoms at peace, the reign of King Rhaegar truly begins. Though the rebellious lands are pacified, bitterness over the events of the rebellion would no doubt remain. Though their houses remain intact, the Baratheons and the Starks would have grudges against the throne. They, the Arryns and Tullys, as well as other large houses that supported Robert, would need to be kept in check. Children from those houses would stay in King's Landing, Dragonstone or in loyalist Great Houses, as hostages. The best candidates would be the heirs of these houses such as Robb, Renly, Robert Arryn and Edmure Tully. Renly, as the heir of Storm's End, would be an especially valuable captive to the new Targaryen king.


Prince Jaehaerys Targaryen


Jaehaerys (Jon Snow) also serves as a sort of hostage against any future Stark rebellions. Though regarded as a bastard, Rhaegar legitimizes his son through Lyanna Stark (as King he has that power). This is done out of a sense of honor but also as a way to empower House Stark, who would have a blood relative as a Prince. Additionally, legitimizing Jaehaerys and making him a Targaryen prince would allow Rhaegar to add another head to the dragon as part of his plans to fulfill the Prince Who Was Promised prophecy.

Despite his legitimization, Jaehaerys would still probably be considered a bastard by many in the Court. He would also not be his father's heir since Rhaegar's children through Elia Martell would still be alive. The eldest son through Elia, Aegon, would still be first in line for the throne.

While it's not clear how well Elia would have accepted her husband's love child, we can assume that she would have certainly been uneasy and most likely wouldn't regard him with the same affection as her own children. She might even come to see him as a threat to her own son's succession.

The Mad King's wife, Rhaella, survives only long enough to die giving birth to Daenerys. In this world, the Mother of Dragons, never crosses the narrow sea and does not become the BA heroine we know in the books and show. Instead, she grows up a princess and is most likely wed to one of her male relatives as per Targaryen tradition. While her brother Viserys or her cousin are prime candidates, she may also be married off to loyalist house as a reward for their support during the war. 

Rhaegar reigns well, and the Targaryen Dynasty endures. House Baratheon is left extremely weakened, but intact, while Houses Martell, and Tyrell are empowered for their loyalty. The Lannisters, due to Tywin's support for Rhaegar's council, are also close to power. Though Tywin does not initially have the same leverage over the throne as in the canon story, he is rewarded with a seat on the small council. Likely Rhaegar's first hand is his close friend Jon Connington, who he brings back from exile.

Cersei marries someone else while Jaime remains in King's Landing as a Kingsguard for Rhaegar. Likely they never have children.

Ned remains Lord of Wintefell and has his family with Catelyn. He is kept far away from King's Landing however with his daughter's likely married. The war continues to haunt him, much like it does in the books. 




Tuesday, July 5, 2016

What If Stannis Won the Iron Throne?

In a news series of posts, I'd like to take a look at 'What if?' scenarios related to GRR Martin's Song of Ice and Fire. 


For the first of many entries, I though I'd look back on Stannis Baratheon's failed campaign for the Iron Throne in book two. The questions I want to answer are: How could Stannis have succeeded in capturing the Iron Throne? How would the War of the Five Kings have played out if he had? And finally, would his reign have lasted? 

How Could Stannis Win The Throne? 


First, we need to look at the factor that contributed the most to Stannis' failure: his relationship with his brother Renly. In A Clash of Kings, Stannis' claim is weakened when his younger, and more popular brother, Renly also declares himself king. Bannermen in the Stormlands who would have joined Stannis' cause are taken away from him. This prompts his use of Melisandre's black magic to assassinate Renly and steal his bannermen. 


Renly's support was essential to secure the throne for Stannis.

Renly's death however eventually comes back to bite Stannis in the ass. The Tyrells, Renly's wealthy and powerful allies through his marriage to Margaery, don't join Stannis' cause. Instead they make a new alliance with the Lannisters. Their military forces, combined with Tywin Lannister's army, arrive at the last minute during the battle of Blackwater Bay. King's Landing is saved from Stannis' and the last remaining Baratheon brother loses his bid for power.

In this alternate timeline, however, Renly does not declare his kingship and instead throws his weight behind Stannis. Stannis, who knows that his brother still desires power, agrees to make Renly his hand and appoints him as his heir. The diminished likelihood of Stannis producing his own son (thanks to his wife's frequent miscarriages) is enough to assure Renly that he has a strong chance of succeeding.

With Renly's support, Stannis gains the allegiance of all the houses of the Stormlands and more importantly the fealty of House Tyrell. In this scenario, Renly would still have married Margaery to secure the Baratheon-Tyrell alliance and the combined forces of the Stormlands and the Reach march on King's Landing. 

With Tyrell backing, Stannis wins the battle for King's Landing.

Assuming that other factors remain unchanged from the book, Stannis still loses a number of men trying to take the city. Tyrion's battle plan kills many Tyrell and Baratheon soldiers and Tywin does arrive to try and save the day.

This time, however, the powerful Tyrell army is on the other side meaning that Stannis has a numerical superiority that isn't diminished. Though his casualties are still high his men enter the Red Keep and secure it.

Stannis is crowned king the next day.

How Would The War Of The Five Kings Play Out?  


So Stannis takes King's Landing. The Lannister faction is diminished and the King of Dragonstone is further legitimized. How does this affect the other Great Houses in the Seven Kingdoms. In particular, what becomes of those who were in rebellion against King Joffrey and the Lannisters who backed him?

First, the Arryns and the Martells would likely pledge allegiance to Stannis easily. The Martells would either keep Myrcella as a hostage as part of their Master Plan or if pushed would have her executed to endear them to Stannis.

Assuming that Joffrey and Cersei were captured alive during the sack or failed to escape the city, it would probably be in Stannis' best interest to keep them as hostages to secure Tywin Lannister's allegiance.

However, in my view that would be unlikely. In the books, Stannis is shown to be hard-nosed and legalistic especially in the way he deals with his enemies or rivals. He's not a flexible or forgiving ruler and invariably treats those who violate his code of ethics harshly.

Because of this Stannis would probably execute both Cersei and Joffrey if they were captured, along with anyone else in the city's leadership who supported the Lannister faction's claim.

This would destroy any hope of reconciling the Lannisters and drag the war with the Westerlands out further. Stuck between the forces of the Starks and Tullys on one side and the Stormlands and the Reach on the other, the isolated Lannister army would be in a difficult spot. Without any allies, and already weakened by a number of defeats at the hands of Robb Stark, the Westerlands would inevitably be conquered by one of the many armies pitted against it. House Lannister would either be extinguished or become a puppet of whichever Great House happened to conquer Casterly Rock first. 


House Lannister continues to fight but is isolated.

What of the other rebelling houses? The Starks, the Tullys and the Greyjoys? Reconciliation between Stannis and the first two houses would be more possible given the Starks' close relationship with the Baratheons. However even if Stannis was forgiving enough to accept a request for peace, any reconciliation would be dependent on Robb Stark giving up his title as King in the North and the Trident.

While Robb himself might be open to this, its unclear if his Northern and Riverland bannermen would accept the arrangement given recent grievances and Stannis' faith in the Red God. In all likelihood, Robb would continue to fight the Lannisters while trying to hash out a lasting agreement with King's Landing, all while resisting any forays Stannis might send into the Riverlands. 

The Greyjoys would be the most unaffected by the change of leadership in King's Landing. The Ironborn would continue their campaign to capture land in the North and resist any attempt to bring them back into the fold.

In sum, the war would likely continue after Stannis' coronation with the Lannisters likely being defeated completely. Periods of negotiation and conflict between the Iron Throne and Robb Stark would be the norm while the Ironborn would continue to reave. 


Would His Reign Last?  

Of all the pitfalls Stannis would face while sitting on the Iron Throne, his belief in the Red God and his relationship with Melisandre would be the biggest.


Melisandre- Stannis' Achilles Heel

The greatest danger to his rule would come not from other Great Houses but from religious strife with the Faith of the Seven, who would be uneasy about his worship of the Red God and would fail to endorse his kingship.

If Stannis took the Iron Throne, Melisandre would continue to exert influence over her King and would push for policies that promoted the Red Faith.

Stannis' faith in R'hllor would slowly become more fanatical. Pressure would grow on the nobility and the smallfolk in lands under his domain to convert to the Red Faith. Followers of R'hllor in King's Landing would feel emboldened while devout believers of the Seven would feel vulnerable. This is a recipe for disorder. It seems likely that the Faith Militant would reform as Septons begin to preach against Stannis and his Red Priestess. Religiously motivated violence and rioting would grow, ultimately culminating in smallfolk rebellions led by the Faith Militant and encouraged by the Septons.

Even if Stannis' armies could put down these initial rebellions, they would continue as long as he remained committed to promoting the faith of R'hllor. Melisandre would be a figure of hatred for the smallfolk and the devout.

Her influence would be seen by many at Stannis' court as a liability, with Davos and Renly vying with her for influence over the King. The presence of the Red Woman and the constant religious strife would endanger the fealty of Stannis' supporters especially the Tyrells. 


A new Faith Militant with a High Sparrow like figure would rise

In order to remain in power, Stannis would be encouraged by other advisors to renounce the Red God and send Melisandre away.

However, since he appears staunchly devoted to both R'hllor and his Red Priestess in the books this doesn't seem likely. Melisandre's magic would continue to give her great influence.

Inevitably, one of three scenarios would play out.

One, Melisandre is successfully killed by a rival member of Stannis' small council. There wouldn't a strong chance of this happening, since Melisandre can use her abilities to see into the future and stop threats against her.

Two, Stannis is deposed by his brother Renly (either through open rebellion or secret plotting) and his brother restores the Faith of the Seven to its previous status.

Three, Stannis kills or imprisons Renly at Melisandre's behest and is promptly abandoned by the Tyrells, who use their considerable weight to take the throne from him. The Tyrells secure the throne (through Margaery) and restore the Faith of the Seven.

Sadly (for Stannis fans) there's really no scenario in which he could have remained in power even if he had succeeded in taking the throne. His association with Melisandre and the Red God would have made him too unpopular among the people of the Seven Kingdoms and would inevitably caused religious strife that would have been his undoing.

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.
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America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.
Read more at:
America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves
Read more at: