Kingslayers in the War of the Five Kings. Way More than Five.

Posted: December 8, 2015 in Game of Thrones, TV
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

This post will be discussing plot points and character backgrounds from HBO’s excellent series, Game of Thrones. Therefore, if you’re not caught up on the show (or haven’t read the books) and you read this and get spoiled, you have no one to blame but yourselves. So there.

LannisterLannister

Blame, blame. Everyone’s so quick to assign blame. Like me! I do that!

Season Five wrapped up with the death of Stannis Baratheon, the last of the original royals in the War of the Five Kings.

Balon2

What? Was I killed off-screen, and no one told me? WHAT IS DEAD CAN NEVER DIE!

Oh, sorry, I totally forgot about you, Balon. We last saw you in Season Three or something, so I assume you’ve survived the War of the Five Kings by hiding. Congratulations on a winning strategy.

It’s unusual to have so many kings running around (and to tell the truth, since Mance Rayder was active north of the Wall during that time, there were more than five kings…) but to balance that out, the show has also had several kingslayers, individuals who have taken the life of a king.

The seriousness of killing a king varies from situation to situation, but historically (in our world) kingslaying was a big deal. In general, kings were treated with special status; their lives were not to be so easily taken, and usually not without the approval of a peer. (I assume a king once set this as a precedent. Establishing that kings were to be considered inviolate might turn out to be an insurance policy for themselves.)

A large number of kings die during the course of Game of Thrones, and it’s interesting (at least to me) to examine the wheres and whys of the circumstances of their deaths. Dario Morghulis! (All kings must die!*)

Ser Jaime Lannister – THE Kingslayer

kingsguard2

Squad Goals.
(You young people need to forgive me. I don’t even know what I mean by that phrase.)

Perhaps the most infamous act of kingslaying was Ser Jaime Lannister’s role in cutting King Aerys down. Ser Jaime was a member of the kingsguard, and therefore not expected to be a danger to the king. Talk about workplace violence!

Robert pardoned him, probably for political reasons. Clearly Robert didn’t think it was a problem to retain Jaime as one of his elite bodyguards. Robert didn’t really do a lot of thinking. He did do a lot of drinking, though.

If you ask anyone familiar with the show “Hey, who is the Kingslayer?” – they’d probably tell you Jaime. Even though others fit the bill.

Khal Drogo

DrogoKillsVis

Soup’s On!

Viserys’ crowning by Drogo is a fine example of one king executing another king, if we consider that Viserys’ claim to the throne was legitimate. (Please don’t argue that Drogo isn’t a king.)

Although they were effectively allies, due to Daenerys being traded to Drogo in exchange for an army to conquer Westeros, the Beggar King couldn’t patiently wait for the bargain to come full circle. It was unsurprising that Viserys’ impatience fueled some pretty outrageous behavior, and equally unsurprising that Drogo’s patience with Viserys came to an end.

And an end for Viserys.

But it can’t be argued that Viserys didn’t get a golden crown, one terrible to behold.

Lancel Lannister

lancel-cup

Your grace, shall I send your regrets to the Alcoholics Anonymous meeting? I know how that makes you laugh.

Okay, it was technically the boar that killed King Robert in the end, but certainly the king’s squire Lancel was complicit by keeping Robert well supplied with strongwine when probably everyone else on the hunt was drinking Coors Light.

Currently, Lancel seems to have gotten a pass on the kingslaying charge by the High Sparrow, but part of that stems from him ratting out Cersei’s extramarital situations and her scheming to have Robert killed during that hunt.

Should I consider Cersei a kingslayer too? Err… I don’t know if I want to go that far. Lancel took direct action to harm the king by getting him dangerously drunk. Cersei was certainly involved though. We’ll talk more about that when I cover the next guy.

Stannis Baratheon

Renlyvsshadowbaby-1024x651

If we consider both Stannis and Renly kings (Stannis had the better claim, but Renly had the bigger army) Renly’s death provides another example of one king killing another, but under less honorable circumstances than Drogo’s poetic execution of Viserys.

Wait a minute! Renly was stabbed by a shadow-baby! If Cersei doesn’t get a kingslayer label, how come Stannis does?

Is this some sexist double standard? Both had a flunky/sex-partner (Lancel and Melisandre) set the stage for a 3rd party (boar and shadow assassin) to get the job done!

Yeah, I recognize that, but I think there’s a significant difference. In the show, Brienne had stated that the solid smoky shadow that killed Renly had Stannis’ face. (I’ll have to take her word for it, it’s pretty hard to tell.)

After his defeat at Blackwater, Stannis was full of regrets and said that he murdered his brother. It wasn’t so much of an “I ordered his death” or “I was okay with something killing Renly.” It really sounded like Stannis was owning up to the deed, personally.

It’s a very Macbeth-y sounding moment, and I have this sense that when the demon was off to attack Renly,  Stannis was connected to it and directing it. So I’m saying that Stannis killed Renly. Feel free to argue with me, you.

Stannis is typically honorable to a fault, but not in this scenario. In Stannis’ eyes, Renly was a usurper and therefore committing a grave offense by pressing his claim to the throne, but Stannis had him assassinated during a time of truce that he himself had established. Stannis gave Renly the night to reconsider his options, but killed his brother before dawn.

Not cool, Stannis.

Daenerys Targaryen

1 HBO's "Game of Thrones" season 2 Dany- Emilia Clarke Jorah- Ian Glen Kavaro- Steven Cole Doreah- Roxanne Mc Kee Xaro Xhaon Daxos- Nonso Anonzie

Hmmm, a large empty room. It’d be easy to paint. What? We have no paint. I guess we’ll just entomb you inside then.

During Daenerys’ brief stay in Qarth, her sponsor (and suitor) Xaro Xoan Daxos staged a coup d’etat with the aid of the Warlocks, killing the rest of the Thirteen (the trading oligarchs who ruled Qarth) and declared himself the King of Qarth.

Unfortunately for Xaro Xoan Daxos, his complicity in aiding and abetting the warlocks’ theft of Dany’s dragons, as well as their attempt to entrap her did not sit well with the Mother of Dragons. The Khaleesi, after roasting the warlock Pyat Pree with dragonfire, locked the new Qartheen king in his own impenetrable vault.

Okay, we don’t know Xaro’s fate for sure, but that vault was supposed to be extremely hard/nigh impossible to get into, and odds are he’s still trapped inside and therefore dead. If so, Dany is a kingslayer. That scamp!

If anyone still wants to argue with me about Dany, disputing her being a kingslayer… she also smothered her husband, Khal Drogo, in Season One. And I’m still not entertaining arguments that Drogo wasn’t a king. Boom.

Roose Bolton

Robb-Stark-Roose-Bolton-Red-Wedding

Et tu, Roose?

“Elected” king by proclamation from the northern host (and river lords), young Robb Stark, the King in the North, appeared to be the best of the five kings in the war. Robb wasn’t trying to take the Throne, he just wanted justice for his father and independence for his parents’ two home “kingdoms” from Lannister abuse and interference.

Undefeated on the battlefield, Robb was his own worst enemy though, ruining a political marriage by following his heart and further reducing his forces by his stubborn punishment of Lord Rickard Karstark, and delivering himself as a lamb to the slaughter in the fortress of grudge-carrying hospitality-breaking Walder Frey.

Lord Walder’s crossbowmen participated in Robb’s death, but it was Robb’s fellow northman Lord Roose Bolton who gave Robb the Lannister’s regards.

Boo, Boltons!

Olenna Tyrell

Olenna_and_Sansa_2

What a lovely and deadly bead you have there, my pet. You wouldn’t begrudge an old lady the chance to poison a bastard, would you? There’s a sweet child.

Wait! Are you implying that Lady Olenna killed Joffrey? And wasn’t Littlefinger involved?

Fine, Baelish gets part of the blame, but it was the Queen of Thorns who took a poison crystal from Sansa Stark’s necklace and sleight-of-handed it into King Joffrey’s wine cup. There were a lot of moving parts: Baelish had the poison jewelry made, Ser Dontos gave it to Sansa, Sansa wore the necklace unknowingly to the feast, but it was Olenna who killed the king.

She’s so spunky and fun! (Don’t tell her I ratted her out.)

Jon Snow

JonShootsMance

Sometimes a man has to do the right thing, and kill a one-time brother of the Night’s Watch.

Stannis Baratheon was on the verge of killing his second king, Mance Rayder the King-Beyond-the-Wall, by choosing to burn the recalcitrant and uncooperative wildling king alive.

But Jon Snow, feeling pity for his former captor, ended Mance’s life with a merciful arrow to the heart, and therefore killed a king.

In many ways, this was a legitimate execution of a king, even though Jon wasn’t a royal peer himself. Mance had been a member of the Night’s Watch and his defection north of the Wall and embracing of the Wildlings made him a deserter from the Watch and therefore a man eligible for execution.

The Night’s Watch have the right to deal with their own. (Of course, it would have been more legitimate had Jon been Lord Commander, like he was in the books, before killing Mance and denying Stannis his due.)

Brienne of Tarth

BrienneVsStannis

We can do this the easy way, Stannis, or the hard way.
I’m joking. There’s only the hard way.

Oh Stannis, maybe you shouldn’t have killed your little brother Renly. Then you wouldn’t have ended up on the business end of Brienne’s sword Oathkeeper. Brienne took her oath seriously as kingsguard to Renly, and if I can reference another awesome warrior, Taarna from the movie Heavy Metal:

To defend . . . this is the Pact. But when life loses its value, and is taken for naught, then the Pact is . . . to avenge.

Brienne had a duty to defend her king, and when he died, she felt she had a duty to bring his killer to justice.

Done.

Potato Olly

olly-game-of-thrones1

Olly: Sometimes, Lord Commander, a man has to do the right thing and kill a brother of the Night’s Watch.
Jon: You bastard!

What? Jon’s not a king. Olly’s just a Lord-Commander-Slayer!

Fine. But I love talking about Olly.

But I don’t think I’m too far off base. Jon had not been far from being a king.

Acknowledged as Ned Stark’s bastard boy, he certainly had a claim on the Stark name, although Ned’s true sons and daughters have the rightful claim. So what? Ned wasn’t a king.

But Robb was, at least as far as the North was concerned.

The North knows but one king, and his name is Stark.

When Robb died, the kingship might have passed to Bran (or Rickon) but everyone assumes that those boys are dead. Rule of the north would then pass to Sansa, but had Jon accepted Stannis’ offer to be legitimized, it actually would have given him a greater claim to Winterfell than Sansa.

Had the North wanted to, they might have followed Jon Stark as the new King in the North. Which would have extremely pissed off Stannis.

But that didn’t happen, so Olly doesn’t end up being a kingslayer. Just a hypothetical one.

I mean, there’s no other reason I can think of that implies Jon was destined for the throne. Any throne…

JonSnowThrone

This chair is so depressing, Ghost.


Thank you for checking out what on the surface was just a big list of “people who’ve killed kings in Game of Thrones“, hopefully I provided something more than just that.

I could probably come up with another one or two examples if I really stretched a metaphor.

For example, Rhaegar and Elia of Dorne’s baby son Aegon technically was king (just uncrowned) since his grandfather Aerys and his father Rhaegar died before he did (and the claim of a son is stronger than the claim of an uncle.) If I can call baby Aegon a king, then Gregor Clegane is another kingslayer.

WhiteBook

Ser Jaime: I had no idea that there were so many like me. Perhaps I should kill a few more kings…

Discuss. (But follow my spoiler-discussion advice below…)


(Comments are always welcome. Super welcome! But if you want to talk spoilery Game of Thrones talk with me (also welcome) I’d invite you to visit my Safe Spoilers page on my backup blog. That way my non-book-reading friends won’t be shocked with foreknowledge.)

Most images from HBO’s Game of Thrones (obviously.) 

I make no claims to the artwork, but some claims to the text.

* Dario Morghulis is my best guess at “All Kings Must Die”, thanks to a Valyrian -> English guide I found online. And can’t find again. 😦

If you liked this article, thank you! I have all of my Game of Thrones related articles on my handy-dandy Game of Thrones page should you want to read more but don’t want to navigate around my site.

© Patrick Sponaugle 2015 Some Rights Reserved

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Comments
  1. MewsOfTheMuse says:

    Wow you’re right. Didn’t realize there were that many kingslayers.
    Also, I am a follower of the Jon Targaryen theory. So yes I think he does have a claim to the throne 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  2. KG says:

    We definitely don’t want Olenna coming after you 😛
    That was quite a list. I feel Ser Jaime now…really ? so many ? If we take the literal meaning of King as ‘Ruler of a Kingdom’ then may be Jon Snow will also fit in right ?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. jennnanigans says:

    “Your grace, shall I send your regrets to the Alcoholic Anonymous meeting? I know how that makes you laugh.”

    BWAH HA HA HA HA!!! I can SEE this scene – Lancel so earnest, and Robert spraying food all over the table and himself as he gets a hearty guffaw. RIP ROBERT BARATHEON YOU GLORIOUS DISASTER!

    Seriously though – I don’t get the Olly hate. I mean I guess I do, but here’s a kid whose whole family were killed by wildlings being TOLD, not ASKED, by Jon Snow to forgive wildlings. No, they weren’t the same wildlings (but wasn’t Tormund there? It was the Thenns, right? Goddamn Thenns) but kids whose whole families are killed and eaten are not in a mental state to split hairs. And this is not a world where people go out of their way to be rational and think through their actions before acting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad that you liked my Lancel caption! 🙂

      And thanks for your kind words for poor little Olly, who I do feel sympathy for. The Thenns were heavily involved in the sacking of Olly’s village, but Tormund, big sexy bear-loving Tormund, was part of the raiding party.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jennnanigans says:

        Yeah I knew Ygritte was there, wasn’t so sure about Tormund.
        I love Tormund. I wish Robert were still alive for many reasons, most of which involve what would happen when he and Tormund hung out. They’d get into huge drinking bouts and talk massive amounts of bullsh*t before passing out, and Jaime Lannister would have to stand there guarding them with that look on his face.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Haylee says:

    I feel very well informed on kingslayers now – definitely couldn’t have come up with more than… erm, two probably!
    As a side note, I am also up to speed with what ‘squad goals’ means. I am totally going to drop it in conversations at school tomorrow to look cool. Maybe… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cool! Maybe you can explain to me what “Squad Goals” means. My daughter insists that I have no idea, and criticizes my usage. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haylee says:

        Ha! Well I’m not sure I’ve got it right. S explained (he has to be in the know with youth lingo for his cricket coaching!) His explanation was it basically means ‘friendship goals’ but, hmmm, now I’ve thought about it, not sure how to drop it in conversation!
        ‘You’re my BFF!’
        ‘Yeah, Squad Goals!’ (?)
        Maybe your daughter could draw us both a flow diagram to refer to for emergencies!
        Who’d use it in GoT? Nights Watch? Possibly feel obliged to in that shared, forced camaraderie. Bronn, though I think it would be sarcastic. Perhaps Jorah shouted it and did a little dance when Dany accepted him again. Who knows?!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Desperado says:

    After reading this post, the famous words of the younger Clegane come to mind.

    “Fuck the King!”

    http://sleepinggeeks.com

    Liked by 1 person

  6. rizlatnar says:

    Hey, been a while! This post makes me hate Stannis. A little hypocritical to call himself a king with Robert’s really bad claim and all. AND HE KILLED RENLY.
    I know you have a post denouncing Renly, but I think that was a rather…… selfish thing to do. If he believed in his duty as king, he would have supported his brother’s claim. He had the armies, the support, and the charisma to carry it through. Stannis is the whole reason for the War of the Five Kings.
    If Stannis was a half decent candidate(or more liked), Robb would have declared for him. If he just made Renly Co-King (not sure if that exists in Westeros, but hey, he could make it up), and wasn’t…..Stannis, the whole thing would have been averted.
    So, who do I blame for this mess? Stannis!
    (Sorry for the rant. But it kinda did have something to do with the topic).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, GREAT hearing from you! I don’t mind anti-Stannis, pro-Renly talk, glad to have it.

      I was a bit more harder on Stannis after Season 5, but I don’t think I’ll back away from my earlier pro-Stannis post.

      I hope you don’t take this as me arguing with you, exactly, but Stannis’s claim can’t be any more hypocritical than Renly’s lesser claim to the throne. Even if Renly was more liked.

      Some of the fact that Renly had more support than Stannis could be explained by Stannis being exiled essentially to Dragonstone, without constant ties to the Stormlands, where Renly became Lord of Storm’s End.

      So I blame Robert for the War of the Five Kings.

      And… I blame Melisandre, a lot. Stannis probably should have abdicated his claim, even if it was the rightful one, in face of the realpolitick situation, but that darned Melisandre…

      Liked by 1 person

      • rizlatnar says:

        Go Renly! (Though I don’t mind arguments against him :))
        Anyway, in reply to your comment, I don’t believe that Stannis would have been popular even if he’d been at Storm’s End. Remember, he’d been staying with Robert in King’s Landing before the war had started as Master of Ships, and I doubt that he could have won over the Tyrell’s.
        As for Renly being hypocritical, he does admit that his claim is shaky (that’s where the ‘bigger army’ bit comes in). He cuts of Davos’s fingers for being a smuggler, and then he excuses himself for betraying a king? He may be unshakable, but he’s only unshakable with people apart from himself.
        Oh, and Melisandre’s also a kingslayer in a way. She basically dooms Stannis by sacrificing Shireen in the show, doesn’t she?

        Liked by 1 person

        • You might have lost me on the Davos reference, the use of the pronoun made it sound like Renly chopped off Davos’ fingers, but I know you didn’t mean that.

          I don’t know if that’s being hypocritical either, in regards to Stannis, Davos, and Aerys. Stannis sweated what he should do, obey his immediate liege lord Robert, his eldest brother, or defy his brother and reaffirm fealty to Aerys. Going with the Mad King would be a more straightforward path to being lord of Storm’s End, so I don’t know if I hold it against Stannis for turning down the opportunity to get what he wanted at the expense of his older brother (Renly took the other path later on…)

          As for Davos, he was a notorious smuggler, and Stannis felt that his smuggling crimes had to be reckoned with. In exchange he ennobled Davos and gave him lands, which was a huge bonus for the crabber’s son. So I don’t think that speaks badly of my man Stan.

          Liked by 1 person

          • rizlatnar says:

            Yeah, you do have a point. But if he’s so loyal to family, he then burns Shireen at a stake? (at least in the show) That’s a little messed up.
            Sorry about the pronoun mess up 🙂 my bad.
            And good post! I forgot to say that.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Thanks! And don’t think that I’m trying to absolve Stannis of murdering Shireen. I don’t think it’s inconsistent with his loyalty to Robert though, Shireen was a casualty of the whole Azor Ahai mentality and mysticism that Melisandre was feeding Stannis. But we don’t need to accuse Stannis of lesser crimes. Killing Shireen is monstrous in its own right.

              Thanks for all the interaction! I’m sorry I’m not faster at responding (I assume you and I are in opposing timezones.)

              Like

  7. The Speevers says:

    Good God. I never did the math. That is a lot of kingslayers.

    On the bright side, Jaime is going to have a hell of a comeback the next time someone calls him the Kingslayer. “Dude, it’s 301 AL. Everybody’s a kingslayer.”

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It would appear that the Mad King’s father, Jaehaerys II, currently holds the distinction of the last king to die of natural causes. Though he was only 37 when he died, and his illness is described as sudden…

    Liked by 1 person

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