Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Legitimacy Comes From the Barrel of a Gun ... Or Whoever Controls The Fire

Just wanted to opine about Game of Thrones a smidge:

spoilers below

Lots of discussion about who has a legitimate claim to the throne now that all of Robert Baratheon's official kids are dead.  My response: meh.  Remember, Robert gained the throne via war, not via inheriting it.  Cersei has the throne now via a coup--she destroyed the heads of the previous order--her son and the Sparrow and now commands the capital via the Lannister troops and the King's Guard (with the very big semi-zombie). 

But Cersei only has control over the capital and not much more than that.  Their only remaining major ally--the Freys--are like the Brits today--leaderless.  Every other major family is arrayed against the Lannisters from the north to the south to the east and to the west.  So, Cersei will fall soon enough, but not because she lacks legitimacy--she lacks enough power.

When Dany arrives with her fleet, her Unsullied (who are better at conventional war than at insurgency), her Dothrokai, her dragons and her allies (Iron Born defectors, Sand Snakes, Tyrells), she should be able to win the throne not because she has a claim via her Mad King father, but via her power. 

The irony is that the only place where legitimacy mattered more than power is in the North, where Jon Snow is hailed as the King in the North despite being a bastard and despite actually having little power.  His forces were destroyed in the battle, so he has to rely on the strength of a ten year old lady with 60 some soldiers and the shame she wields to get those who did not lose forces in the big battle to commit to Jon.  And his rep as Ned's son is, of course, a fraud. 

All I really want to say is that we ought not get lost in who has the right claim to the throne, as the claim is decided not by the courts and not by public opinion but by fire and steel.  And who has got the most of that stuff?  The ladies... from the south and east, not the one in King's Landing. 

Of course, the real fight is ahead in the North, but that will have to wait. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Au contraire... Robert acceded only after the last of the formal royal dynasty had either died or abdicated by absentia. You seem to miss that the Baratheons were the cadet house in relation to the Targarions, so Robert was the legitimate heir by the time of his accession, and his material power clearly did flow from public opinion re legitimacy. The Baratheons seem inspired by the Capetians (vs-a-vis Carolingians), or more recently the Oreanists, if you like.

Whether fleeing the realm really does disqualify Danerys is, of course, the contentious question for legitimacy in the stiry, as it was often in European history. (I believe it's still on the books of our own constitutional law that a foreign born or resident member of the royal house cannot accede to the UK/Canadian Crown, no?)

If flight from defeat seems a flimsy technicality, it's worth remembering that the series opens with the execution of a deserter... i.e. hardly a light accusation from the perspective of the yeoman soldiery. Consider that the series also presented to Cersee"s accession emphatically in the context of prior advice that she flee the spectre of hopeless defeat herself. She still has a (nativist) case to make for legitimacy vs. the foreign invader.