Send the Ravens: The Faith Militant, the Starks and the Prince That was Promised

In the latest Send the Ravens columns, we answer your Game of Thrones questions and discuss the history of the Faith Militant….

By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer

It’s hard to believe that Game of Thrones will come to an end for another season this Sunday night, but ahead of the finale there are still plenty of questions about what’s ahead as well as what just happened in the past episode — “The Battle of the Bastards”.

The finale — titled “The Winds of Winter” — will feature several storylines including the fallout from Jon and Sansa’s victory over the Bolton army as well as Daenerys Targaryen finally gaining full control of Slaver’s Bay as she begins to prepare her invasion of Westeros. But most likely the main story taking place in the finale will be the trial for Cersei Lannister and Loras Tyrell before the Faith of the Seven.

As we learned two weeks ago, King Tommen outlawed trial by combat, which means Cersei and Loras now have to face judgment from a group of seven septons who will decided their fate and punishment. Of course, Cersei has no one to blame for the Faith Militant gaining power in King’s Landing other than herself. She welcomed The High Sparrow into her fold a season ago and gave him the idea to resurrect the Faith Militant in an attempt to separate Margaery Tyrell from her son.

Unfortunately, Cersei forgot that she has more skeletons in her closet than a cemetery and it didn’t take long for a few of those to start rattling out, which ended with her making a walk of atonement and now standing trial for her crimes, which include the death of her husband Robert Baratheon as well as sleeping with her cousin Lancel Lannister.

But this isn’t the first time the Faith Militant have been a thorn in the side of a ruling king and/or king. Actually, the roots of the Faith Militant go back hundreds of years.

The roots of the Faith Militant — the military arm of the Faith of the Seven — stretches back further than the reign of Aegon Targaryen, the first king of the Seven Kingdoms. The Faith Militant were comprised of two arms — the Warrior’s Sons and the Poor Fellows — and carried the nickname of the Stars and Swords. This faction within the Faith carried out military rule under the command of the High Septon for many, many years and they typically didn’t clash with the Targaryen rulers until Aenys I Targaryen — son of Aegon — was ruling the Seven Kingdoms and he ended up “slighting” the Faith with a number of actions.

Without getting too detailed, The Faith Militant turned against Aenys and he eventually died although details about his death are sketchy at best but what happened next was even worse. Instead of Aenys’ son taking the Iron Throne from his father, it was his half-brother Maegor, who ended up ruling instead and he killed pretty much anyone who argued with him about it.

The Faith Militant were one of the main groups who opposed Maegor’s ascent to the throne, so he essentially declared war on them throughout his reign. At one point, the Faith challenged King Maegor — his nickname was Maegor the Cruel — to a “trial of seven”, which is basically a trial by combat with each side having seven warriors. In the end, King Maegor was the last man standing with all other 13 combatants dying at the end of the fight.

From there, Maegor continued to go after the Faith Militant, even using his dragon Balerion the Dread to pour fire onto them from the sky and burn their Sept to the ground. The war between the Faith Militant and Maegor continued throughout his reign, but eventually the king died — once again under suspicious circumstances — and he was succeeded by nephew King Jaehaerys I Targaryen.

He eventually made peace with the Faith by removing the bounties on their heads and the ban on the group that Maegor placed while he was ruling and they agreed to disband the military arm and live within the rules and regulations set forth by the Seven Kingdoms.

At the height of their power, the Faith Militant were a very influential group, but the war with Maegor the Cruel virtually wiped them off the map and took away whatever power they had over the Seven Kingdoms outside of the practice of the religion. Now thanks to Cersei’s own plan backfiring, the Faith Militant once again have seized control of the capitol and getting them out of there won’t be easy.

It might take a little bit of what Maegor prescribed to get rid of them this time — and through a lot of wild fire Cersei may make them disappear.

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

There have been a lot of questions about this theory, especially after Ramsay gave Sansa a rather ominous message just before his death on the most recent episode.

“Our time together is about to come to an end. That’s all right. You can’t kill me. I’m part of you now.”

That coupled with the afore mentioned conversation with Petyr Baelish seems like Sansa may be pointing towards a pregnancy after she was raped repeatedly by Ramsay while serving as his wife in Winterfell. It’s hard to argue with all the hints that have been dropped but there are a few things working against this theory as well.

First off, a lot of time has passed since Sansa left Ramsay at Winterfell during the beginning of Stannis Baratheon’s “invasion” of the North. Sansa left Winterfell with Theon Greyjoy and they made a run for it before finally teaming up with Brienne and Podrick during their travels.

From there, Sansa made her way to Castle Black, which would have taken quite some time as well, before she met up with her half-brother Jon Snow. After teaming up with Jon, Sansa traveled around the North with him gathering as many houses as possible to support them in the war against the Bolton’s.

Now there’s no doubt that Game of Thrones has hit the throttle when it comes to time jumps this season. Where the first five seasons seemed to follow the strict letter of the law when it came to travel inside the Seven Kingdoms, the rules have gone out the window this year. The distance between Winterfell and Castle Black is reportedly 650 miles so imagine walking that on foot.

Obviously, those distances are just rough estimates but the point is a lot of time has passed since Sansa left Ramsay before returning to Winterfell where she killed him. It’s hard to imagine that she’s carrying a child at this point and not showing any signs of the pregnancy but then again this is Game of Thrones and anything is possible.

This one just doesn’t seem likely.

The line of succession within any of the great houses of Westeros always follows between male heirs so when Ned Stark died, his eldest son Robb Stark was the next person in line to become the Lord of Winterfell. The same rule applies here because Robb is now dead, his next brother in line would be Bran Stark and that would make him the true Lord of Winterfell.

The problem is no one currently occupying Winterfell knows if Bran is alive or dead. Jon knows that Bran when north of the Wall thanks to his brief encounter with Samwell Tarly a few seasons ago, but since that time, they’ve received no word about whether he’s living or dead. Now clearly, Bran is headed back to the Wall at this point in the story so he could still make a rightful claim as the Lord of Winterfell if that’s what he wanted.

Technically based on family bloodlines, Sansa Stark is the true ruler of Winterfell for now although there would probably be some arguing among the other Northern houses about a woman ruler. That being said, we already saw Lyanna Stark — the 10 year old bad ass head of House Mormont — this season so chances are Sansa will be the person in charge of Winterfell for now.

Considering the favor she now owes Lord Petyr Baelish for saving her ass in the Battle of the Bastards, that might be his angle to become her husband, which then gives him even more power. Remember, for all the creepy ways Lord Baelish wants to possess Sansa, he wants to rule more than anything and this is a guaranteed path to rule over the largest region in the Seven Kingdoms.

Melisandre’s actions when she burned Shireen Baratheon alive last season still haven’t come back to haunt her until now. Davos Seaworth discovered the pyre where little Shireen was burnt a season ago and the stag toy that he made for her before he departed for Castle Black. Now he knows for certain that Melisandre played a hand in Shireen’s death because she already ordered a lot of people burned alive and that’s exactly what she intended to do to poor Gendry if now for Davos freeing the boy and sending him back to King’s Landing.

So the preview did show a brief look at Davos confronting Jon Snow about the Lady Melisandre and her actions that cost Shireen her life. It will be interesting to see what Jon will do about his new red priestess.

On one hand, she did bring him back to life after he was dead, but on the other hand killing a little girl because you believe it will allow your king to win a fight is just all kinds of bat shit crazy.

Jon’s decision on what to do with Melisandre will likely make a major impact in the war to come as the Starks prepare for a battle with the army of the dead in the very near future.

When Tyrion Lannister freed the dragons from underneath the pyramid a few weeks back, he did so because they weren’t eating or doing much of anything while in captivity. What we have to assume is after Tyrion freed them, Viserion and Rhaegal, left to hunt but then returned to the lair underneath the pyramid because that’s where their “mother” wanted them to be.

So when they come exploding out of the pyramid to join Drogon and Daenerys it’s a much cooler effect for the battle against the masters in Slaver’s Bay. The easiest explanation is really that the two dragons never really left their home after Tyrion freed them.

As far as their knowledge goes, the slavers knew the dragons existed — the wise master from Yunkai met the dragons a few seasons ago when he offered Daenerys a fleet of ships and a mountain of gold to leave Slaver’s Bay — but the masters disregarded that her dragons would be able to stop them. Dragons haven’t been seen in Westeros for many, many years and the last dragons who were alive died early and only had heads as big as apples.

So really it’s the masters own hubris that essentially allowed them to attack Meereen without worrying about the dragons. Of course once Daenerys arrived, they found out a harsh lesson in underestimating a queen and her three fire breathing children.

It’s certainly possible.

In Melisandre’s mind, Jon Snow is “the prince that was promised” — an ancient prophecy that says a great warrior will stand up to the forces of darkness and bring the world back into the light. The assumption is that Jon Snow is the warrior who will save the Seven Kingdoms from the invasion of the White Walkers.

The prophecy says that this prince — often times interchangeable with another character named Azor Ahai — will rise with his great flaming sword known as Lightbringer and together they will battle the invasion of the White Walkers, who want to bring cold and darkness to the Seven Kingdoms forever. If the prince that was promised fails then the entire world will fail as well.

So if Jon Snow really is the “prince that was promised” it’s possible that the Lord of Light protected him during the war with Ramsay Bolton to ensure he was still alive to fight the White Walkers. Then again as Melisandre points out — no one truly knows what the Lord of Light wants or needs from Jon Snow other than the fact that he was brought back to life. Perhaps his purpose was to take back Winterfell and that’s it or maybe he really is the second coming of the prince that was promised and he’s meant to save the world.

We won’t find that out for sure until the series continues next year!

Remember if you have Game of Thrones questions, the last Send the Ravens column for season 6 will debut next week after the finale ask away on Twitter @DamonMartin.

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