Robert’s Rebellion was built on a lie. Robert Baratheon ignited a war over Lyanna Stark, which led to major deaths and Robert sitting on the Iron Throne. Here’s a recap of the event that shaped the course of the show!
1. Robert’s Rebellion started after Rhaegar Targaryen & Lyanna Stark ran off together. Robert Baratheon, who was betrothed to Lyanna, believed that Rhaegar had kidnapped her. However, Rhaegar and Lyanna were actually in love, as we saw in the season 7 finale. They got married in a secret ceremony and Lyanna eventually had a son, Aegon Targaryen/Jon Snow. House Baratheon and House Stark decided to rally against what they thought Rhaegar did, which led to tragedy.
2. The execution of Stark family members was a major turning point in the rebellion. Brandon Stark, who was Ned, Lyanna, and Benjen Stark’s older brother, went to see King Aerys II in King’s Landing to insist Rhaegar, who may have still been married to Elia Martell at the time, be held responsible for his actions. King Aerys II, a.k.a. the Mad King, had Brandon arrested for treason. King Aerys II demanded Rickard Stark, the head of House Stark, come to King’s Landing to pay ransom for his son. Instead of a peaceful exchange, King Aerys II decided to cause complete and utter mayhem. Rickard was burned alive inside his armor with wildfire as Brandon desperately tried to save him. Brandon was tied to a hanging device and a sword was placed just out of reach. He was told that if he freed himself, then he could save his father. Brandon strangled himself trying to reach the sword. The shocking deaths of Rickard and Brandon Stark fueled the support for a full-on war against the Mad King.
3. The war led to the end of the Targaryen dynasty. House Targaryen ruled on the Iron Throne for nearly three hundred consecutive years. That all ended after Robert’s Rebellion. King Aerys II was killed by a member of his Kingsguard, Jaime Lannister. That’s how Jaime earned the nickname “Kingslayer.” After the deaths of King Aerys II and Rhaegar, as well as being the victor of the rebellion, Robert was able to usurp the Iron Throne for himself. Rhaegar’s two eldest children, Rhaenys and Aegon, had been killed by The Mountain along with their mother. King Aerys II’s remaining children, Viserys and Daenerys, had secretly been taken out of King’s Landing with their mother, Queen Rhaella. The only person who likely knew about Rhaegar and Lyanna’s child, the rightful heir to the Iron Throne, was Ned. He went to the grave with that information.
4. Rhaegar was killed by Robert Baratheon during the war. Robert and Rhaegar came face-to-face in the Battle of the Trident. Robert killed Rhaegar with a swing of his warhammer. In A Clash of Kings, Daenerys learned in a vision that Rhaegar uttered a woman’s name with his last breath. Robert believed he was avenging Lyanna, but there was nothing to avenge. Her death had not been in vain.
5. Robert’s Rebellion altered the course of Westeros forever. What would Game of Thrones have even looked like if Robert’s Rebellion never happened? If Robert learned the truth about Rhaegar and Lyanna, he probably wouldn’t have rebelled. His ego may have been hurt, but not enough to start a war over it. Would Rhaegar and Lyanna have eventually become King and Queen of the Seven Kingdoms? Would Jon/Aegon be sitting on the Iron Throne by now? We’ll never know. The possibilities are endless!
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