Robert's Rebellion, also known as the War of the Usurper, was a rebellion against House Targaryen, primarily instigated by Eddard Stark, Jon Arryn, and Robert Baratheon, for whom it is named. It lasted "close to a year" and resulted in the end of the Targaryen dynasty in the Seven Kingdoms and the beginning of Robert Baratheon's reign.
- 1 Prelude
- 2 The Rebellion
- 3 Aftermath
- 4 Quotes
- 5 References
Tourney at Harrenhal
In 281 AC, a grand tourney was held by Lord Walter Whent at Harrenhal. Many nobles from all over the Seven Kingdoms came to the riverlands to take part in the festivities. Amongst them were the heir to Winterfell, Brandon Stark, and his younger siblings, Eddard, Lyanna and Benjen.
The most prominent visitor of the tourney was King Aerys II Targaryen, however. Aerys had not left the Red Keep for many years, ever since his half-year capture during the Defiance of Duskendale in 277 AC, but he was inspired to come to the tourney by words from his master of whisperers, the eunuch Varys.
The tourney was cause for great celebration, as spring had come to Westeros, or so men thought. In addition, all of the Kingsguard had gathered to welcome their newest member, Ser Jaime Lannister. However, the tourney's ending was less joyful. After winning the final tilt, Prince Rhaegar Targaryen was to crown the new queen of love and beauty. Instead of crowning his wife, the Dornish princess Elia Martell, Rhaegar rode past her and crowned Lyanna Stark of Winterfell instead. Eddard Stark would later recall this moment as "the moment when all smiles died".
Abduction of Lyanna Stark
At the coming of the new year, Lyanna Stark was abducted by Prince Rhaegar Targaryen near Harrenhal. Her brother, Brandon Stark, was on his way to Riverrun to wed Catelyn Tully, when the news reached him. Brandon rode at once to King's Landing with his companions: Ethan Glover, Brandon's squire, Elbert Arryn, nephew to Lord Jon Arryn and the heir of the Eyrie, Kyle Royce, and Jeffory Mallister. Brandon rode for the Red Keep, and outside its gates, unaware that Rhaegar was not present, shouted for him to come out and die. King Aerys II had them all arrested for plotting the murder of the crown prince, and summoned the fathers of all those who stood accused to court. Lord Rickard Stark, who had been on his way south with the wedding party for Brandon's wedding, went to King's Landing with two hundred men. None of them returned north. In King's Landing, all of those who stood accused were executed, with the sole exception of Ethan Glover.
King Aerys did allow for trials, of a sort. Lord Rickard Stark demanded a trial by battle, and the king granted his request. Rickard dressed for battle, but Aerys declared fire to be the champion of House Targaryen. He had Rickard suspended from the rafters in the throne room, where his pyromancers, Rossart amongst them, kindled a blaze beneath the Lord of Winterfell. Brandon Stark was brought in as well, and placed in a Tyroshi strangling device, while a longsword was placed just outside his reach. Brandon was allowed to try and free his father, but the more he struggled to reach the sword, the tighter the cord around his neck became. Brandon strangled himself in an attempt to reach the sword and save his father, while Lord Rickard cooked in his armor.
Next, Aerys demanded that Lord Jon Arryn send him the heads of Lord Robert Baratheon of Storm's End, Lyanna's betrothed, and Eddard Stark, now the Lord of Winterfell after the deaths of his father and older brother. Robert and Eddard were Jon's wards at the Eyrie, however, and Jon instead raised his banners in revolt. This act is seen as the start of the war, which would last "close to a year".
Taking of Gulltown
Fighting began in the Vale of Arryn. Though Jon Arryn called for all his banners, not all of his bannermen sided with him. There were those who sided with the king, chief among them Marq Grafton. Grafton called the other loyalists to aid him in barring the rebels from entering the port of Gulltown. With the port blocked, Eddard Stark decided to make his own way back to the north by crossing the Mountains of the Moon to the Fingers, where he would need to find a fisherman to carry him across the Bite. Once north, Eddard could call his banners.
Gulltown's defenses eventually fell after an unknown amount of time, with Robert Baratheon slaying Marq Grafton in the taking of Gulltown. Robert sailed to Storm's End to call his own banners as well.
Battles at Summerhall
Just as not all the lords in the Vale had sided with Jon Arryn, not all the lords in the stormlands sided with Robert Baratheon. The first major battle in the stormlands took place at Summerhall. They were three battles (1 on the map), in truth, all fought on one day. Lords Grandison, Cafferen, and Fell had gathered their hosts and planned to join forces at Summerhall. From there, they would march on Storm's End. However, thanks to an informer, Robert learned of their plans and rode with his knights and squires to Summerhall, where he attacked each host in turn. Robert killed Lord Fell in battle.
Lord Cafferen and Grandison, as well as Lord Fell's son, Silveraxe, were taken captive and brought to Storm's End when Robert's returned there after the battles, for unknown reasons. There, Robert turned his enemies into friends, as both Lords Grandison and Cafferen, as well as Silveraxe would later be loyal to Robert.
Following his victory at Summerhall, Robert was now free to march north, to join up with Jon Arryn and the northmen.
Battle of Ashford
The next major battle was the Battle of Ashford (2 on the map). Robert marched out again, leaving his younger brother Stannis Baratheon in charge of Storm's End. At Ashford, Lord Randyll Tarly fell upon Robert's forces. Lord Randyll was the first of the loyalists to arrive, and with his van defeated Robert's forces before Lord Mace Tyrell could arrive with the main force from the Reach. Despite the fact that it had been Randyll's victory, Mace Tyrell has taken the credit for the victory. The battle is considered to have been indecisive.
During the battle, Lord Cafferen was cut down by Randyll Tarly, who sent his head to King Aerys II. Robert managed to escape capture with the bulk of his forces, to join his strength with Lord Eddard Stark and Lord Jon Arryn. Following the battle, Mace Tyrell marched on Storm's End and laid siege to the castle (6 on the map). This siege would last "close to a year".
King Aerys, due to the events in the stormlands, came to believe that his Hand of the King, Lord Owen Merryweather, was ineffectual. The king was even considering that Merryweather might have been so ineffectual as to possibly aid the rebellion. In result, Owen was stripped of his lands and titles, and exiled. Lord Jon Connington, a friend of Rhaegar's with a reputation of a warrior, was named as Hand in Owen's stead.
Battle of the Bells
Eddard Stark had managed to reach Winterfell, where he called his banners. He marched south with his forces, and joined up with Lord Jon Arryn. Together, they negotiated with Lord Hoster Tully, the Lord of Riverrun, for his support.
Lord Jon Connington led a mighty army into the field. The forces he commanded gave chase, and Robert's march became a grueling one. Robert, wounded through unknown means, and all alone, eventually took refuge at Stoney Sept, which would become the site of the Battle of the Bells (3 on the map), the first major battle known to have taken place in 283 AC. Jon Connington's forces took the town by force and began to search every house. The residents of the town were actively helping Robert however, and despite the search, the offered pardons and rewards, the threats and the hostages Connington took and hung in crow cages, they could not find Robert.
Battle began when Lords Stark and Tully arrived with a rebel army. The soldiers fought in the streets and alleys and on the rooftops, and the septons rang the bells to warn the residents to lock their doors. Battle was fierce, and Jon Connington managed to wound Hoster Tully and kill Jon Arryn's cousin, Ser Denys Arryn. Eventually, Robert Baratheon came out of the Peach, the brothel in which he had been hiding, and fought with Connington, almost killing him.
Suspicious of the loss at the Stoney Sept, King Aerys exiled Jon Connington, stripping him of his titles. Aerys began to realize that Robert was the greatest threat to his dynasty since Daemon I Blackfyre, and he named Lord Qarlton Chelsted as his Hand of the King in Connington's stead. Ser Jonothor Darry and Ser Barristan Selmy of the Kingsguard were sent to rally Connington's men, while their Lord Commander, Ser Gerold Hightower, was sent by King Aerys to find Rhaegar Targaryen. The crown prince finally returned from the south and convinced Aerys to ask Tywin Lannister for help, just as the rebels had or would do, at one point. Additionally, Aerys commanded his alchemists to place caches of wildfire on multiple locations in King's Landing.
With both Elbert Arryn and Denys Arryn now dead, Jon Arryn was in need of an heir. Hoster Tully swiftly betrothed his daughter, Lysa, who had previously proven fertile, to Jon. In a double ceremony at Riverrun, Eddard Stark and Jon Arryn married Hoster's daughters, Catelyn and Lysa, respectively. Amongst those present at the wedding was Robert.
Battle of the Trident
After at first refusing to send aid to Aerys, both due to his caution as well as due to his anger over Elia's treatment, Prince Doran Martell agreed to send ten thousand Dornishmen to strengthen the army Prince Rhaegar Targaryen was gathering. King Aerys sent Prince Lewyn Martell, Doran's uncle, to take command of these forces, but also threatened him by stating that he held Princess Elia Martell, Prince Rhaegar's wife, and their two young children, Rhaenys and Aegon, hostage.
The Battle of the Trident (4 on the map) was the decisive battle in the war. Fought in 283 AC between the loyalist and rebels, the battle took place at a place known as the ruby ford since the battle, located on the northern bank of the Trident, where Rhaegar tried to cross the river. The loyalists had forty thousand men, while the army of the rebels numbered fewer men, who were more battle hardened. Rhaegar and Lord Robert Baratheon met in single combat with the battle raging on all around them. Rhaegar managed to wound Robert before Robert killed Rhaegar with a blow to the chest from his warhammer. Eventually, the Targaryen host broke and ran.
Around the time the Battle of the Trident was fought, Robert proclaimed his intention to claim the Iron Throne. Out of all three leaders of the rebellion, Robert had the better claim, due to the fact that his grandmother had been Princess Rhaelle Targaryen, the youngest daughter of King Aegon V Targaryen. To justify Robert's claim, the maesters would later use his bloodties to House Targaryen, though it was conquest which won him the throne.
Because Robert had taken a wound from Rhaegar during battle, he gave the pursuit of the remnants of the Targaryen army to Eddard Stark. Eddard followed the remnants of the army back to King's Landing, where the Red Keep was being held by several thousand loyalists.
Battle at the Mander
Quellon Greyjoy, Lord of the Iron Islands, desired neutrality for the ironborn during the war. After Pyke was informed of Rhaegar's death, however, Quellon was convinced by his eldest sons—Balon, Euron, and Victarion—to join the rebels as soon as possible or else lose all chance at spoils. Since it was still unknown whether House Lannister of Casterly Rock would side with the loyalists or the rebels, most of the ironmen's fleet remained at home, while Quellon led fifty longships in attacking the Reach.
The Greyjoys captured some ships and raided some towns and villages. They were intercepted by the longships of the Shield Islands, however, at the mouth of the Mander. After Lord Quellon was slain in the battle at the Mander, his heir, Balon, led the remaining ironmen back to the Iron Islands, having accomplished little.
Sack of King's Landing
Already prior to the Battle of the Trident, King Aerys had been preparing his wildfire plot. His Hand of the King, Lord Qarlton Chelsted, however, eventually became suspicious of the frequency with which the pyromancers visited the king. When he discovered the king's wildfire plot, he attempted to change the king's mind, and when nothing worked, he choose to resign his position. For this, Aerys had him burned alive. Following the Trident, Aerys named Rossart, his favorite pyromancer, as his new Hand of the King. He would only be Hand for a fortnight. Meanwhile, Aerys sent his wife, Queen Rhaella, and his new heir, their second son, Prince Viserys, to Dragonstone for safety, where they would have the protection of, amongst others, Ser Willem Darry, the master-at-arms of the Red Keep, and royal fleet. Aerys refused to allow Rhaegar's wife, Princess Elia Martell, and their children Rhaenys and Aegon, to leave the city, keeping them by his side instead.
While the Trident is seen by many as the decisive battle of the war, the capital remained untaken until the Sack of King's Landing (5 on the map) in 283 AC, the last major battle of the war. Because Robert Baratheon had been injured in battle, Lord Eddard Stark and his army pursued the remnants of Rhaegar's army, who had fled back to the capital. Lord Tywin Lannister, who had refused calls to arms from both the loyalists and the rebels until that point, appeared at the gates of King's Landing with an army of twelve thousand men, mere hours before Eddard Stark would arrive. Lord Tywin professed his loyalty to King Aerys, and while Lord Varys counseled Aerys to keep the gates locked, the king chose to listen to Grand Maester Pycelle and open the gates to Tywin's men. Once inside, the forces from the westerlands began to sack the city.
Upon the realization that all was lost, Aerys ordered Rossart to ignite the wildfire caches throughout the city, wishing to leave Robert nothing but “ashes and bones”. He ordered Ser Jaime Lannister, Lord Tywin’s eldest son and the only knight of his Kingsguard present in the city, to kill Tywin and bring his head to Aerys. Instead, Jaime killed Rossart, and upon the realization that Aerys would simply give the order to burn the city down to another pyromancer, returned to the Red Keep and murdered Aerys himself in the throne room, mere seconds before soldiers from the westerlands entered.
Meanwhile, Ser Gregor Clegane and Ser Amory Lorch had entered Maegor's Holdfast to deal with the rest of the royal family, to secure the throne for Robert, and to prove that House Lannister had forsaken the Targaryens forever. Gregor killed Prince Aegon Targaryen, Rhaegar's son and heir in front of the child's mother, Princess Elia Martell, and then raped and murdered Elia herself with Aegon's blood and brains still on his hands. Amory dragged Princess Rhaenys Targaryen from under her father's bed and killed her, stabbing her half a hundred times.
When Eddard Stark arrived in the city, he found Jaime seated on the Iron Throne and Aerys's corpse slumped below it. Robert Baratheon arrived in the city at a later point, upon which he was presented with the bodies of Elia, Rhaenys and Aegon by Lord Tywin. Robert was pleased by these deaths, but Eddard called it murder of children. This resulted in an argument between Eddard and Robert, and Eddard rode out alone in anger to fight the final battles of the war in the south.
While Robert's Rebellion is considered to have ended at the Sack of King's Landing, not all battles were fought. In the south, the siege of Storm's End continued, while Lyanna Stark was still missing.
End of the Siege of Storm's End
The siege of Storm's End (6 on the map) had begun after the Battle of Ashford. Lord Mace Tyrell had led his forces to Storm's End, where they had laid siege to the castle for the better part of a year. Storm's End was being held by Stannis Baratheon, the younger brother of Robert Baratheon. While the castle garrison was starving and ate rats to survive, the forces of the Reach feasted in sight of the castle. A smuggler named Davos managed to sail past the blockade of the Redwyne fleet and sold his cargo of onions and fish to the residents of Storm's End, thereby preventing them from resorting to cannibalism. The new food supply allowed Storm's End to hold out long enough until Eddard Stark arrived from King's Landing to lift the siege. The lords of the Reach were quick to dip their banners.
Combat at the Tower of Joy
After lifting the siege at Storm's End, Lord Eddard Stark rode further south with six companions: Howland Reed, Lord Willam Dustin, Ethan Glover, Martyn Cassel, Theo Wull, and Ser Mark Ryswell. According to a semi-canon source, Ned's army did not accompany him south to Dorne.
Near the Red Mountains of Dorne, they found three knights of Aerys II's Kingsguard, Ser Arthur Dayne, Ser Oswell Whent, and the Lord Commander, Ser Gerold Hightower. They were guarding a tower which Rhaegar is said to have named the tower of joy. The northmen and Kingsguard fought, with only Eddard and Howland surviving the combat at the tower of joy. Inside the tower, Eddard found his sister, Lyanna Stark, who extracted a promise from Eddard, and Lyanna died shortly after with her brother by her side. Eddard later tore down the tower, so he could use the stones to make cairns for the eight dead men.
Afterwards, Eddard travelled further south, to Starfall, where he delivered the famed sword Dawn, which had been in the possession of the Sword of the Morning, to Arthur's sister, Lady Ashara Dayne. The woman jumped into the sea to her death.
Assault on Dragonstone
In between the Battle of the Trident and the Sack of King's Landing, Queen Rhaella Targaryen and her son and Aerys's new heir, Prince Viserys Targaryen, had been sent to the island of Dragonstone with the Red Keep's master-at-arms, Ser Willem Darry. There, Viserys was crowned by his mother, while on the mainland, Stannis Baratheon began constructing a new royal fleet to lead an assault on Dragonstone.
In 284 AC, nine months after the flight to Dragonstone, Rhaella died giving birth to Princess Daenerys Targaryen during a great storm that destroyed the Targaryen fleet at anchor at the island. With most of the Targaryen fleet destroyed, and with the Baratheon fleet ready to take Dragonstone, the household of the last Targaryen stronghold was willing to sell the children to the new king, Robert I Baratheon. Shortly before Stannis sailed to Dragonstone, however, Willem Darry and four loyal men smuggled Viserys, Daenerys, and her wet nurse from the nursery and sailed for the Braavosian coast, and the children subsequently lived in exile in the Free Cities. While Stannis was successful in leading the assault on Dragonstone, Robert scorned him for allowing Willem and the children to escape.
Establishment of Baratheon Dynasty
Following the conclusion of the rebellion, Robert I Baratheon was successfully installed as the new Lord of the Seven Kingdoms. Robert named his foster father, Jon Arryn, as his Hand of the King, and he named his middle brother, Stannis, as Lord of Dragonstone.
Robert had no wish to marry following the death of his betrothed, Lyanna Stark, but Jon convinced him otherwise by informing Robert that the realm was in need of an heir. Jon suggested Lord Tywin Lannister's daughter, Cersei, as the marriage would ensure Tywin's support, should Viserys Targaryen ever attempt to win his throne back. Robert and Cersei married in 284 AC. Maester Yandel described the marriage as Robert's "first act" as king.
Rumored Dornish Resistance
The deaths of Princess Elia Martell and her two young children, Rhaenys and Aegon Targaryen, infuriated House Martell. Prince Oberyn Martell, Elia's younger brother, attempted to raise Dorne for the exiled Viserys. Messages were sent by both raven and messenger, though their contents have remained a secret. Jon Arryn, the Hand of the King, went to Dorne the year after the rebellion, returned the bones of Prince Lewyn Martell, and sat down with Doran Martell, the Prince of Dorne and the older brother of Elia and Oberyn. During his stay in Sunspear, Jon was "questioned closely" regarding the fates of Elia and her children, and a hundred others were questioned as well. While all talk of war ended in Dorne after Jon's visit, Doran continued to plot a Targaryen restoration in secret, working closely together with Oberyn.
There are still those in the Seven Kingdoms who call me Usurper. Do you forget how many houses fought for Targaryen in the war? They bide their time for now, but give them half a chance, they will murder me in my bed, and my sons with me.
Robert was betrothed to marry her, but Prince Rhaegar carried her off and raped her. Robert fought a war to win her back. He killed Rhaegar on the Trident with his hammer, but Lyanna died and he never got her back at all.
And so ended both the reign of House Targaryen and Robert's Rebellion—the war that put an end to nearly three hundred years of Targaryen rule and ushered in a new golden era under the auspices of House Baratheon.—writings of Yandel
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 12, Eddard II.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 2, Catelyn I.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 22, Arya IV.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 21, The Queenmaker.
- So Spake Martin: The Siege of Storm's End (July 18, 1999)
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 58, Eddard XV.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 24, Bran II.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aerys II.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 67, The Kingbreaker.
- 281 AC is called "the year of the false spring", showing that it had been winter previously. The term "false spring" shows that the warmer weather had only been for a short period of time, and that winter weather thus returned shortly thereafter.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Fall of the Dragons: The Year of the False Spring.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 55, Catelyn VII.
- George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Catelyn Tully.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 53, Bran VI.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 39, Eddard X.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 4, Eddard I.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 2, Catelyn I.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Fall of the Dragons: Robert's Rebellion.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 9, Davos I.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 54, Davos V.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 36, Davos IV.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Reach: House Tyrell.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 19, Tyrion III.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 78, Samwell V.
- George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Robert Baratheon.
- A Clash of Kings, Prologue.
- So Spake Martin: Young Lord Connington (August 25, 2000)
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 3, Tyrion I.
- George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Hoster Tully.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 29, Arya V.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 61, The Griffin Reborn.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 1, Jaime I.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 37, Jaime V.
- George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Rhaegar Targaryen.
- So Spake Martin: The Baratheon Brothers (September 11, 1999)
- A Forum of Ice and Fire: TWOIAF Spoilers Inconsistency or Intentional?: Earlier editions of The World of Ice and Fire erroneously state 282 AC in "The Fall of the Dragons: Robert's Rebellion"
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 15, Sansa I.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 28, Bran IV.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 36, Daenerys IV.
- So Spake Martin: US Signing Tour (Huntington Beach, CA) (November 19, 2005)
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 30, Eddard VII.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 35, Samwell IV.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 22, Catelyn II.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Iron Islands: The Old Way and the New.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Fall of the Dragons: The End.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 3, Daenerys I.
- A Dance with Dragons, Appendix.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 33, Catelyn IV.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 6, Catelyn II.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Dorne: The Andals Arrive.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 43, Arya VIII.
- George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Viserys Targaryen.
- See the calculation for Cersei Lannister's wedding to Robert I Baratheon.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Glorious Reign.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 53, Tyrion VI.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 38, Tyrion V.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 41, Alayne II.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 38, The Watcher.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 66, Bran VII.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 17, Tyrion IV.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 25, Tyrion VI.