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03rd Sep 2017

The details which could solve the mystery of Lyanna Stark, Rhaegar Targaryen and Robert Baratheon

Paul Moore

This changed everything in Game of Thrones.

You know what’s coming next, spoilers and lots of them.

Ever since the very first episode of Game of Thrones, fans knew that Lyanna Stark was vital to the events that unfolded.

After Robert Baratheon and Ned Stark were reunited in the Winterfell courtyard, King Robert immediately makes a beeline to visit the crypts because he wants to pay his respects to the woman that he was betrothed to.

From Robert’s perspective, Rhaegar Targaryen had kidnapped and raped the woman that he was meant to marry.

At the beginning of the series, this is the version of events that we’re lead to believe is true, but as we all know, this isn’t how things unfolded.

Clip via – Kristina R

The Tower of Joy flashbacks at the end of Season 6 confirmed the long-held theory that Jon Snow’s true parents are Lyanna Stark (Ned’s sister) and Rhaegar Targaryen (Dany’s brother)

At the end of the most recent episode, The Dragon and the Wolf, Bran Stark has a vision of Lyanna and Rhaegar’s wedding.

After hearing from Sam that Rhaegar’s previous marriage to Elia Martell was legally annulled, the Three-Eyed Raven finally learns a truth that we all knew since Gilly’s revelation at Oldtown, Jon Snow is the rightful heir to the Iron Throne.

He’s not a bastard, in fact, his name is Aegon Targaryen and his claim to the Seven Kingdoms is stronger than Daenerys’.

In that flashback, there’s also a very telling line where Bran says that “Robert’s Rebellion was built on a lie. Rhaegar didn’t kidnap my aunt or rape her. He loved her.”

After Lyanna was ‘abducted’ by Rhaegar – we now know she probably went willingly and happily – Ned Stark’s father and brother, Rickard and Brandon, travelled to King’s Landing to demand answers from the Mad King. They were both executed and Robert’s Rebellion began.

The Mad King’s decision to kill Rickard and Brandon Stark is an entirely justifiable reason for rebellion, but what about Robert’s belief that his fiancé was kidnapped by the Mad King’s son?

One passage from the novels provides an insight into Lyanna’s mindset and offers us a reason as to why she might have opted for Rhaegar over Robert.

In the book, A Game of Thrones, we’re told that “Robert will never keep to one bed,” Lyanna had told him (Ned) at Winterfell, on the night long ago when their father had promised her hand to the young Lord of Storm’s End. “I hear he has gotten a child on some girl in the Vale.” Ned had held the babe in his arms; he could scarcely deny her, nor would he lie to his sister, but he had assured her that what Robert did before their betrothal was of no matter, that he was a good man and true who would love her with all his heart. Lyanna had only smiled. “Love is sweet, dearest Ned, but it cannot change a man’s nature.” 

As we’ve seen in the show, Robert Baratheon’s tendency to sleep with as many women as he could find never really went away – Gendry is just one of his many bastards that Joffrey ordered to kill when he ultimately took the throne.

Given Lyanna’s nature, it’s very likely that she would refuse to settle for a man that bedded multiple women.

Throughout the books we’re told that Lyanna was very much like Arya – wild, independent, tough and a warrior. It’s unlikely that she would accept a future that was determined for her, especially one where she was expected to be subservient and devoid of a loving relationship.

There was also softer side to Lyanna’s personality and as we’ve mentioned previously, the story and theories about how Lyanna and Rhaegar met are absolutely fascinating.

In case you’re not familiar with the tourney at Harrenhal, we’ve included that story below this video.

Clip via – Brian Hourigan

Ok, the relationship between Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark goes back to one of the most important events in Game of Thrones history, the tourney at Harrenhal.

It’s widely believed that the tourney was organised by Rhaegar and his supporters as a chance for the young prince to secretly meet with the other high lords of Westeros. Why?

Well, it’s understood that all of these men were meeting because they wanted to secretly plan a coup to overthrow the Mad King. Due to his growing insanity and cruelty, the high lords would have preferred to see Rhaegar on the throne.

Prior to this tournament, the Mad King locked himself in the Red Keep and refused to come out in public. Following the advice of Lord Varys, his Master of Whisperers, the Mad King made a rare public appearance at this event at Harrenhal and stunned everyone by showing up.

Prior to the start of the tourney, Howland Reed (Meera’s father) was attacked by three young squires – Reed was a crannogmen of the Neck and people from this area of Westeros were frequently subjected to a fair amount of racism and hatred.

During this assault, Reed was mysteriously saved by a ‘she-wolf’, Lyanna Stark. After being treated for his wounds in her tent, Reed meets with Ned Stark and his brothers. It’s worth remembering that Howland Reed was present at the Tower of Joy as Ned Stark came to ‘rescue’ Lyanna.

During the feast, Rhaegar played one of his sad and beautiful songs on his harp and it made Lyanna weep. This is their very first interaction.

In the books, we’re told that Rhaegar is tall, handsome and a gifted musician. In fact, Cersei Lannister was incredibly attracted to him after they first met.

You can see where this is going.

Ok, back to the tourney that’s unfolding at Harrenhal.

When the event begins, a mysterious knight that’s known as the ‘Knight of the Laughing Tree’ enters the tourney and defeats those knights whose squires had previously bullied Howland Reed.

After learning of this, The Mad King instantly orders Rhaegar to discover the identity of this mystery knight. It’s claimed that the Mad King thought that this mysterious knight could be an assassin and a threat to his life.

We’re told that the Knight of the Laughing Tree never reappears. Only their shield is found.

Moving into the realms of theory now, it’s widely assumed that Lyanna Stark is this mysterious knight and that Rhaegar Targaryen had actually managed to track her down.

This theory would make sense as we’re frequently told that Ned’s sister was extremely skilled when riding a horse and that “Lyanna might have carried a sword, if my lord father had allowed it.”

Clip via – TheCell9

After this theorised meeting occurred,  Rhaegar participated in the tourney and beat a collection of very accomplished knights (Arthur Dayne and Barristan Selmy, both of the Kingsguard, were two of the men beaten by him) to win the tourney.

We all know what happened next.

Rather than present his wife, Elia Martell, with a wreath of flowers to crown her as ‘Queen of Love and Beauty’, he bestowed that accolade onto Lyanna Stark instead.

Why? Maybe he wanted to honour Lyanna because he knew that she was the mystery knight of the tournament and that her triumph was deserved of recognition.

It would make sense.

Maybe, just maybe, their conversation from the night before had convinced Rhaegar to abandon his marriage and start courting Lyanna?

Ok, why would he do this?

Barristan Selmy has previously said that Rhaegar was ‘fond’ of his first wife, but ‘love’ was not the word that he used to describe Rhaegar’s feelings towards Elia Martell.

Now we get to the reason why Rhaegar might have wanted an annulment from Elia.

As a child, Rhaegar was consumed and driven to fulfill a prophecy that he learned of, the one regarding ‘The Prince That Was Promised’ who would lead mankind  in the war against the White Walkers.

After he realised that he was not Azor Ahai reborn, Rhaegar made it his mission to produce a family line that would fulfill this prophecy.

In order to do so, Rhaegar felt that he needed three children to represent the three heads of the dragon.

He already had two children from his marriage with Elia – Rhaenys and Aegon – but unfortunately for the couple, Elia’s health suffered greatly during her first two pregnancies.

The maesters warned her that she would not survive any attempt to have a third child.

This may have encouraged Rhaegar to try to fulfill the prophecy, secure an annulment from his wife and seek another woman to have a third child with, Lyanna Stark.

As we saw in the show, this actually happened.

We see Howland Reed and Ned Stark travel to the Tower of Joy where Lyanna has given birth to a newborn baby, Jon Snow/Aegon Targaryen.

If this is prophecy is true, could Jon be ‘The Prince That Was Promised’ ?

Lyanna Stark’s motivations still remain a wonderful mystery.

Remember that she never really knew Robert Baratheon that well, apart from the fact that he was a womanizer.

Isn’t it likely that she would prefer to marry a charming, skilled and handsome prince?

This being said, she still didn’t tell her family about her decision to forsake the engagement to Robert and run away with a married man. Compare this with the honour and integrity of her brother, Ned Stark.

What were her motivations? Why didn’t she send a raven to Winterfell? If she did write a scroll and send it Winterfell explaining the whole situation, what happened to it? Did someone take it or sabotage it? Was this marriage simply a case of Lyanna falling head over heels in love and wanting to hide it? Did she run away with the crown prince of her own free will because she didn’t want a  future with Robert?

There’s one thing we are certain of, thank God that Ned Stark kept the promise that he made to his sister.

Here’s hoping that the next season of Game of Thrones addresses this mystery.

These videos provide more details about the tourney at Harrenhal and the Knight of the Laughing Tree.

Clips via –Alt Shift X and WatchersOnTheWall