Robert’s Rebellion - Game of Thrones Lore
Also known as the War of the Usurper, Robert’s Rebellion took place around 17 years before the TV series began and was the last great civil war amongst the Great Houses of Westeros. It began after the Mad King Aerys executed Lord Rickard Stark, and lasted only one year, resulting in the removal of House Targaryen from power and the ascension of House Baratheon as the new royal house. But with that being said, let’s look at the conflict in more detail…
As King of the Seven Kingdoms, Aerys Targaryen, the Second of His Name, became madder as the years passed, giving him the nickname the “Mad King”. As his reign became more erratic and murderous, tensions grew between House Targaryen and several other Great Houses. Following Prince Rhaegar’s abduction of Lyanna Stark of Winterfell, many Houses in the realm rebelled against Aerys’ rule. Lyanna was a prominent noblewoman since she was the daughter of Rickard Stark and set to marry Robert Baratheon. The latter served the Mad King as Lord Paramount of the Stormlands before the abduction. Meaning, Houses Stark and Baratheon were the first to protests against Rhaegar’s actions. Brandon Stark demanded justice from Aerys in person, only to have himself captured and offered for ransom as a result. When his father, Rickard Stark, was summoned to court, the two were publicly and brutally murdered. The action gained the rebels much sympathy, causing many houses to join their cause.
Jon Arryn was the Defender of the Vale, making him a respected nobleman. In addition, Rickard’s second son, Eddard Stark, and Robert were both close friends with him. So when Aerys demanded Eddard be turned over to the King’s justice, Lord Jon refused, raising his banners in revolt. The rebels then gained more alliances through marriage when Eddard wed Catelyn Tully and Jon married Lysa Tully. Because Stannis Baratheon fought for his elder brother during the war, he became a target. Aerys used his allies in House Tyrell to besiege Stannis at Storm’s End for most of the war. Fortunately, Stannis’ forces were rescued from starvation by the smuggler Davos Seaworth, who brought to the castle a ship full of onions. During the fighting at the Battle of the Trident, Rhaegar was killed by Robert.
To ensure House Martell’s loyalty during the conflict, Aerys kept Rhaegar’s wife, Elia, in King’s Landing. However, loyalty was something the Mad King seemed to have lost nearing the end of the conflict, as his allies in House Lannister turned their backs on him. The Mad King was ultimately slain by his Kingsguard Jaime Lannister. His last words were “burn them all.” The gates of King’s Landing were then opened to allow the Lannister armies to sack the city. During the chaos, Elia was raped and murdered by Gregor Clegane. Her two children were also killed. With Aerys removed from power, the Iron Throne sat unfilled. Because he started the war, killed Rhaegar personally, and had a blood link to the Targaryens, Robert claimed the Iron Throne. Not that he faced much opposition though since the other leaders of the rebels refused the throne. The new king was mortified by the death of Lyanna. However, he married Cersei Lannister as a show of respect to her father for joining his cause late in the conflict and delivering King’s Landing to him. Speaking of which, Tywin remained the Lord Paramount of the Westerlands. Robert named Jon Arryn as his Hand whilst Eddard fulfilled his father’s role as Warden of the North. Houses Tyrell, Martell and Greyjoy all swore fealty to Robert to retain their pre-war positions, maintaining the Seven Kingdoms under their new royal house.
Queen Rhaella, Aerys’ wife, fled to the Targaryen's ancestral seat on the island of Dragonstone, alongside her son Viserys, where she died shortly after giving birth to Daenerys Targaryen. As a result, the children were taken into exile in the Free Cities by loyal retainers. Meanwhile, Stannis conquered the island and, subsequently, was made Lord of Dragonstone…
Now it’s time for this week’s question: do you think Robert Baratheon was a good king? Let me know in the comments below.