It would also be fair to say uneasy rests the rear that sits on an iron throne, but this blog post is about fashion not furniture. It’s time to talk about crowns.

battle-for-baratheon-house-crown_1920x1200_694-wide

This article will be discussing characters and plot points from the first three seasons of HBO’s excellent series Game of Thrones. If you are caught up on the television show (or have read up through roughly 2/3rds of the way A Storm of Swords) then there won’t be any spoilers here.

I am going to mention very small details from the books in the same timeframe as the show, but I promise, non-spoilery details.

Kings and Crowns

Robert-Baratheon-game-of-thrones-20187351-1280-720

King Robert BUUUUURRRRRRAAATTTTHHHeon

In the beginning of the A Song of Ice and Fire epic (in both book series and TV show) there is a king of the Seven Kingdoms, an uncrowned king in exile, and a northern barbarian who has declared himself King-Beyond-the-Wall.

As the story progresses, we lose two of these kings but quickly there are five more. (And Daenerys, I am not forgetting her. I promise to add her in later.)

Then we lose some more kings.

The television show is more or less on track with the books in regards to kings. The main difference is in the number of crowns.

War of the Five Kings, War of the Five, or Two, Crowns

In the books, each monarch who participated in the War of the Five Kings had a unique crown.

King-Joffrey-in-Game-of-Thrones-Season-2

I AM THE KING!

Joffrey Baratheon inherited his crown from the previous king, Robert Baratheon (I assume King Bob had a bigger crown for his big manly head and Joffrey had one made to fit.)

king-stannis-baratheon

Actually, I am the King. I am prepared to debate the matter. Or stab you in the face. I’m deciding on one of these courses of actions. Stabbing is more appealing to me.

Stannis Baratheon, the legitimate heir by blood wore a crown with a flame design, signifying his devotion (or at least, connection) to the fiery Lord of Light.

robb-wolf-crown-game-of-thrones

I SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO Want to be King! Totally So! Totes!

Renly Baratheon, who just couldn’t wait to be king, sported an impressive crown of antlers growing like vines.

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I was Elected King. Just Sayin’

Robb Stark’s practical northern blacksmiths fashioned him an iron crown with a theme of sword points, fitting head gear for a king forged in war.

GoT_Mhysa016

No One Gives Me a Crown. I’ll Make Mine Out of Driftwood, Like a True Ironborn. And We Really Don’t Have Much More than Driftwood on these Scrabbly Islands.

Finally, Balon Greyjoy wore a crown made of driftwood. Like Stannis, this crown was a symbol of royal power but also divine power, a reference to the Ironborn Drowned God.

Here the television show differs from the books.

Of those five crowned heads in the books, only Renly and Joffrey are sporting coronas. The other three wear no crowns. (Which is why my pics of those kings have them crownless.)

So, why is that? Why are most of the heads of state in HBO’s Game of Thrones missing a crown?

A Plausible Theory

It’s possible that the show-runners wanted to show that Balon, Robb, and Stannis had something to prove, and were delaying a coronation.

Television Stannis might not want to wear a crown until the entire realm actually agreed that he was king. He might have his heart set on having a coronation in the ancient sept of Baelor in King’s Landing. Because that would be the right thing to do.

Robb Stark might want to solidly establish the secession of the Riverlands and the North from the Seven Kingdoms first, before wearing a crown. It certainly seems that he wanted Joffrey to pay for the execution of his father, Lord Eddard. So his crown might be waiting for his ultimate victory over Joffrey. (A victory that would never come. Poor Robb. Damn you Walder Frey! Roose Bolton!)

Balon, likewise, might be waiting for the secession of the Iron Islands to be an indisputable fact before putting on the Driftwood Crown. After all, he wore it during the last rebellion and got spanked. (But for all we know, Balon might be constantly wearing the crown in public already. We haven’t seen any scene taking place with Balon outside his living room by the cool squid fireplace, so it’s hard to say. But I’m going with what we’ve seen.)

Renly, of course, is just super-eager to wear a crown, so he had a coronation and a celebration as soon as he could.

Although these theories are somewhat plausible, I don’t buy any of them. There’s no evidence in the show that the characters have these kind of goal-centric motivations that are restricting them from wearing crowns.

Instead, I think that the show-runners have decided that wearing crowns in lame. And that only lame kings wear them.

Uneasy Lies the Head that Wears a Lame Crown

The kings that wear crowns on the show are all somewhat less-than-stellar kings.

Robert Baratheon, although a brave man and powerful warrior, was an awful king. His excesses drained the kingdom’s resources and he turned a blind eye to shenanigans. When he died, he had so little legitimate authority that his dying wishes were ignored by his court, dooming Ned Stark.

Joffrey Baratheon is a mad king in the making.

Renly Baratheon was only briefly a king. And I just don’t like him. He had the chance to assist Ned but selfishly opted to pursue his own path to the throne, as a pawn of the Tyrells. The realm has already forgotten about him.

The uncrowned kings are somewhat more impressive.

Although Stannis had a tremendous setback at the Battle of Blackwater, he otherwise is an effective war-leader, being the first off the boats and up the walls. He was a hero of the previous rebellion, stoicly defending Storm’s End during a hellish siege. Although he’s in bed (double entendre!) with the somewhat malevolently aspected Lord of Light, he seems a stand up guy otherwise. (Feel free to read my full thoughts on Season 1-3 Stannis.)

Robb Stark sadly made several bad decisions, but was super-kingly. Young, brave, handsome, charismatic, he was elected king by his men, who’d rather follow a King in the North than bow to some flowerly southern clown. He’s dead, but not forgotten. The North Remembers.

Balon Greyjoy (who I admit might wear his Driftwood Crown when not chilling by the fireplace) is also an imposing force. Just surviving his last rebellion against Robert is a point in his favor, not against him. Had he been a weaker individual, Robert (who respected strength) would have had the Lord of Pyke’s head on a King’s Landing pike. (I’ve said more about Balon Greyjoy in the past.)

Not convinced that Wearing a Crown == Not All That Kingly?

Mance Rayder is King-Beyond-the-Wall, has an army on the move in the range of a hundred thousand. He united dozens of warring clans and peoples to follow him as their king, and the Wildlings notoriously don’t follow anyone.

game-of-thrones-season-3-in-production-trailer-mance-rayder

No crown on that head. Although to be fair, the only thing I’d want on my head would be something fur-lined. Dude, put on a hat at least!

Viserys Targaryen, the beggar king, was so eager to get an army with which to take back the Iron Throne, he sold his sister into sexual slavery to Khal Drogo.

2-crown-of-gold

He couldn’t be patient, and ended up with a golden crown.

Where Does Daenerys Fit In With All This?

Daenerys Stormborn, Mother of Dragons and Breaker of Chains hasn’t been shown wearing a crown.

Daenerys-Targaryen-and-dragon-season-3

It’s not like she needs one. She has dragons.

Crowns in the Future

Obviously, I could be wrong. Next season, Balon, Stannis, and Mance all might be running around with amazing crowns. But I’m predicting that they won’t be.

A crown is something very obvious that says “I Am The King!” and we know what Tywin Lannister has to say about that:

“Any man who must say, ‘I am the king’ is no true king.”

Tywin-Lannister

Tywin needs no crown. He’s in charge.

It is known.

(I hope you enjoyed reading my second Fashion-post for Game of Thrones. If you are interested, my first one can be found here.)

Images from HBO’s Game of Thrones, obviously.

* “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown” is from William Shakespeare (Henry IV)

I make no claim to the artwork, but some claims to the non-Shakespearian text here, so there.

© Patrick Sponaugle 2014 Some Rights Reserved

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Comments
  1. jamchelsea says:

    Hey, thanks for the comments on my Website.
    I’m doing it for a A level prjoect but may continue it for the future, I have currently finished my coursework essay debating the women and sexism within Game Of Thrones, i will be posting it to the site soon enough if youre interested.

    Thanks, Great site

    Like

  2. jamchelsea says:

    Have you read the books? most of your theories are incorrect, but i won’t spoil anything

    Like

    • Hey, thanks for the comments, and I’ll check out your essays when they get posted.

      I’ve read the 5 published books, and the Theon and Arianne sneak peek chapters… are you talking about my theories on the Crackpot Theory post I have on what’s going to happen in Books 6 and 7? I’m curious what theories are incorrect. (If you want to reply, I recommend you go to my Season Four trailer post, and click through to the spoiler prediction page, that way you can be as spoilery as you want.)

      Like

      • jamchelsea says:

        Apologies thought the crown wearing segment was who is going to be king, but I like your site and content, refreshing compared to some who only watch the show

        Like

        • No problem, I figured it must have been a misunderstanding. I’ve read the books, but I tend to try and only use TV show details, since that has some cross-pollination.

          I appreciate the compliment, thanks for reading my stuff.

          Like

          • “Tywin is in charge. it is known” LOL this was very insightful and so true. Those who flaunt and wear the crown have proven themselves to be unworthy. I was rooting for Robb, but his family’s devotion to honor was their downfall! Having “guest” protection didn’t matter to Frey ugh! I hope he gets what he deserves! I could read/talk about Game of Thrones for hours!

            Like

  3. I really like this idea. Looking at the images, I think that wearing a crown somehow makes a guy look less intimidating. It would be good if the show runners really did have this in mind, particularly with your point that the less-than-great Viserys technically does get a crown of his own (still one of my favourite scenes).

    Like

    • Thanks! It might just be me projecting my biases onto the show-runners (I think crowns look dumb, even if they do communicate the message that “Hey, KING here”) but it seemed weird to me that some of the kings went bare-headed in the show.

      Yeah, they nailed the Viserys getting the golden crown scene. It was one of the scenes that got people to sit up and take notice (my boss had assumed that Viserys would be around for a long time, as the Big Bad of the series. My boss was such a naive, summer child.)

      Like

  4. erinb9 says:

    I like this article! Good points… it hadn’t occurred to me that Dany never wears a crown, but you’re right. Maybe rulers whose territories are in dispute avoid wearing them because it would “box them in.”

    By that, I mean Dany, for example, keeps adding territory whereas the Greyjoy’s aren’t planning on claiming more than their Viking-esque region. Just a thought.

    The driftwood crown does look silly. Only King Tommen looks sillier, maybe because the guy looks about twelve years old. Even so, the crown looks too small for him.

    Liked by 1 person

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