‘Send the Ravens’: House Baratheon Reborn and Your ‘Game of Thrones’ Questions Answered

In this week’s ‘Send the Ravens’, we look at the Baratheon bloodline and answer your questions about ‘Game of Thrones’…

By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer

It’s interesting to observe over the course of six-plus seasons on ‘Game of Thrones’ how many great houses from the history of Westeros have been completely wiped out.

While we all wept for the Stark family being decimated — Ned was beheaded, Catelyn had her throat slit, Robb butchered at the Red Wedding, and Rickon cut down by arrows — the majority of the brothers and sisters still survived. Jon Snow may be a bastard but he’s now the King in the North with his sister Sansa acting as the Lady of Winterfell in his absence with both Bran and Arya back home again.

Of course, the Starks have definitely suffered through a lot of tragedy over the years on ‘Game of Thrones’ but it has to be noted the merciless way the series has eliminated so many great houses over the years.

Just recently, House Tyrell — a family that stretches back to the Age of Heroes — was destroyed over the past two seasons when the Great Sept of Baelor was demolished and then finished off by Jamie Lannister poisoning Lady Olenna Tyrell.

Of course there are several more but for today’s edition of ‘Send the Ravens’, I wanted to focus on House Baratheon considering how powerful this family was at the start of ‘Game of Thrones’ and what barely remains today.

House Baratheon is actually the youngest of the “great houses” of the Seven Kingdoms, first anointed by Aegon I Targaryen after he conquered Westeros. The founding member was Orys Baratheon, who was one of Aegon’s top generals and friends during the war to conquer the Seven Kingdoms (and also rumored to be Aegon’s bastard brother).

Fast forward to many hundreds of years later and Robert Baratheon was crowned the king of Storm’s End (the Baratheon homeland) after his father died in a shipwreck while on a mission to assist “The Mad King” Aerys Targaryen in a search for a wife for his son, the crown prince Rhaegar Targaryen.

Robert eventually led the uprising against the Targaryen’s after Rhaegar allegedly kidnapped Lyanna Stark and ran away with her. Robert was betrothed to Lyanna and had close ties to her family, including his best friend Eddard Stark, who he grew up with while both being trained under Lord Jon Arryn in the Vale. Lyanna’s disappearance led to Robert engaging in one of the greatest wars in history as he ended the Targaryen dynasty while also killing Rhaegar in one-on-one combat.

Robert was crowned king — the first non-Targaryen in Westeros history (although Baratheon’s do have Targaryen bloodlines going back several generations) — and he gave his younger brother Stannis control over Dragonstone and his other younger brother Renly was given their family home at Storm’s End.

Obviously we know what happened to three brothers…

Robert was killed in a drunken boar hunt after ruling the Seven Kingdoms for 16 years. Stannis was killed by Brienne of Tarth after an ill fated attack to take back Winterfell from the Bolton army. And Renly was killed by a shadow monster unleashed on him by his brother Stannis after he attempted to usurp the Iron Throne in the wake of Robert’s death.

The once great house was effectively eliminated — and even the illegitimate children bearing the Baratheon name (Joffrey, Tommen and Myrcella) have also been killed over the past few seasons.

That brings us to Gendry — the last known living son of Robert Baratheon.

Gendry was born a bastard but his bloodline has been confirmed as Robert’s son, which brings up an interesting possibility to keep an eye on as ‘Game of Thrones’ moves forward. A king or queen can legitimize a bastard just like Joffrey did for Ramsay several seasons back as he transformed from Ramsay Snow into Ramsay Bolton so he could be the heir to his father, Roose Bolton.

Perhaps Gendry’s return could relaunch the Baratheon bloodline if Queen Daenerys Targaryen (assuming she wins the Iron Throne) decides to legitimize him after the war is finished. Gendry volunteered to go with Jon north of the Wall to hunt down the army of the dead and he had no problem claiming his family when meeting the King in the North last week.

Considering the history that House Baratheon has with the Stark family, not to mention the rest of Westeros, it would be very interesting to see Gendry legitimized and handed over Storm’s End (a place we’ve never seen on the show) as a reward for his service. Just food for thought going forward.

With that said, let’s get to your ‘Game of Thrones’ questions for this week.

Last season, Edmure Tully popped back up briefly as a pawn used by Jamie Lannister to take back Riverrun from his uncle, “The Blackfish” Brynden Tully. At that time, Jamie offered Edmure a deal — he would help the Lannisters retake the castle from his uncle and in exchange he would be reunited with his wife, Roslin Frey, and he would finally see his infant son, who was born after the events of the Red Wedding when he was tossed in a cell by his father-in-law, Walder Frey.

Jamie forced Edmure to accept the offer while threatening to launch his baby at the castle walls using a catapult.

The deal was Edmure, Roslin and the baby would be taken prisoner to Casterly Rock where they would live out their days with their son raised as a warrior, trained by the soldiers from the Lannister army. We have to assume Edmure and his wife are still somewhere at Casterly Rock along with their son.

What happened to them after the Unsullied sacked the city is unclear but unless otherwise mentioned, it would seem Edmure and his family are still somewhere in Casterly Rock. His son was promised his own keep when he came of age so perhaps House Tully will live again in the future.

So let’s see if we can explain this without getting too wordy…

When “The Mad King” Aerys Targaryen died, the rightful heir to the throne was his son, Rhaegar Targaryen. When Rhaegar was killed by Robert Baratheon, the rightful heirs would have been his legitimate children, but they were murdered by “The Mountain” on orders of Tywin Lannister. The next in line would have been the eldest living male Targaryen, which was Viserys but he met a rather ominous end back in season one when Khal Drogo dumped a pot of melted gold on his head.

That brings us to Jon Snow.

Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark are Jon Snow’s parents but if he was born out of wedlock, he’s still considered a bastard. But thanks to an accidental discovery last week when Gilly was reading through a book written by former High Septon Maynard, she found out that Prince Rhaegar actually divorced his first wife (Elia Martell) and then married again in a secret ceremony (we have to assume that it’s to Lyanna Stark).

If that’s the case then Rhaegar and Lyanna’s child would be legitimized and that means Jon Snow would be the true, rightful heir to the Iron Throne.

The line of succession always goes through the eldest son (when available), which is why when Robert Baratheon died it was his son Joffrey, who was crowned the new king. His brother Stannis only made his claim when he discovered that Robert had no true born children so he was next in line for succession based on being the next oldest brother.

Gendry would not be in line of succession because he is a bastard and especially considering his mother was not high-born but rather a commoner who had an affair with Robert Baratheon. Daenerys is staking her claim based on being the last living Targaryen but she doesn’t know Jon is actually family and the rightful heir to the Iron Throne.

It’s all a bit confusing but let’s put it this way based on Westerosi history….the bloodline always goes from father to eldest son and it’s always a male heir (when available). That means from “The Mad King” Aerys Targaryen to his eldest son Rhaegar Targaryen. Rhaegar Targaryen to his eldest son (or in this case only living child) who is Jon Snow.

There’s your new king.

Now wouldn’t that be awesome?

Let’s not forget Benjen Stark aka “Coldhands” helped Bran Stark and Meera Reed reach the Wall last season after rescuing them from the army of the dead. He’s still north of the Wall and he had a closer relationship with Jon Snow than anybody else as fellow members of the Night’s Watch. There may be no better way to re-introduce Benjen Stark than as a late arrival to help Jon fight back the army of the dead this week.

Anything is possible but my guess is with only eight total episodes remaining in the entire season, the biggest reveal will be his true parentage as Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark.

And let’s not forget the information is out there.

Gilly discovered a passage in a book confirming Rhaegar’s marriage to Lyanna, which makes their child a legitimate heir to the Iron Throne. Howland Reed — Meera’s father — was with Ned Stark at the Tower of Joy when he went into save his sister and came back down with a baby. That means Howland Reed knows for a face that Jon Snow is not Ned Stark’s son.

And finally, Bran visited the Tower of Joy last season in one of his visions to witness Jon’s birth and he overheard what Lyanna whispered to Ned just before she died. My guess is at some point between now and the first couple of episodes to start next season, Jon’s true parents are finally revealed when we learn that he’s a Targaryen and the last true heir to the Iron Throne without any further curveballs being thrown at him.

At the end of ‘The Long Night’ (read more about that here in a past edition of Send the Ravens), when the Children of the Forest and the First Men fought back the White Walkers along with the original members of the Night’s Watch and a legendary warrior sometimes known as ‘the last hero’, Azor Ahai or ‘the prince that was promised’. At the final fight called ‘The Battle of the Dawn’ when it was discovered that dragon glass could kill the dead, the White Walkers were defeated and then retreated north.

That’s when the Wall was constructed.

According to legend, Brandon Stark — fabled founder of House Stark better known by his nickname ‘Brandon the Builder’ — along with the Children of the Forest and giants built the Wall out of ice, stone and earth. The Wall stretches over 300 miles and stands over 700 feet tall so it was quite the construction project.

There are also mystical spells carved into the Wall that will allegedly prevent any dead men from passing through it. That’s why Benjen Stark was unable to follow his nephew Bran Stark through the Wall last season because he’s technically dead. It’s also why I’ve predicted numerous times that the Wall will come down at some point between this season and next because that would finally allow the Night King to lead his army south into Westeros to bring the second long night.

There has always been a special kinship between the Targaryen’s and dragons, especially considering the vast bloodline that stretches back all the way to Valyria, long before the Seven Kingdoms even existed. That being said, dragons bond with riders based upon numerous reasons, not the least of which is a relationship that’s built over several years. Dragons are also very smart animals so they can sense danger or in the case of Tyrion Lannister, a person who is there to help them after he unchained them from the basement dungeon where they were stuck after Daenerys was kidnapped.

It’s also important to note that the Targaryen’s weren’t the only family to be dragonlords during the height of the Valyrian freehold that stretches back hundreds of years before Westeros existed. Of course all of the families from Old Valyria are presumed dead except for the Targaryen’s, who were wise enough to escape before a cataclysmic event brought the city to ruin.

So it’s certainly possible that the dragon sense Jon was actually a Targaryen or perhaps the animal sensed that he was a kind person who meant them no harm. I’m still betting on the former rather than the latter.

Don’t forget if you have questions about ‘Game of Thrones’ make sure to send them each and every week on Twitter to @DamonMartin and we can answer them in our next Send the Ravens column!

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