Was Robert Baratheon lied to? In the final episode of season seven we see an uneasy truth unveiled. Robert’s rebellion was based on a complete lie. The supposed story was that Rhaegar kidnapped and raped Lyanna from Robert, however, in reality Lyanna and Rhaegar were in love and secretly wed. The question begs was it intentional or were people misled.
Perhaps Robert was told either by Rhaegar or Lyanna that they were in love and were getting married. Robert in a fit of rage told the Starks a lie that Lyanna was abducted. A lie which would have been cause for war against a Targaryen. The situation exploded when the Mad King faithfully decided to brutally execute the Stark’s patriarchy Rickard and the heir to the throne Brandon Stark when they came to court asking for Lyanna’s release. Shortly after the execution happened the rebellion kicked off in full swing as the North completely revolted soon joined by allies in the Middle lands. What if there was foul play involved? What if Robert wasn’t as impulsive as we were made to believe? He may have been reasonable with the truth but ultimately was manipulated into creating war and chaos, as Petyr Baelish put it “chaos is but a ladder.”
The Targaryen dynasty forcedly conquered Westeros over 10,000 years ago, reigning supreme with dragons and fire. The Targaryens took and seduced Westeros for themselves, over the years some Targaryen Kings were benevolent to the people. However, increasingly many rulers began to succumb to the Targaryen madness. Presumably, the madness was due to the Targaryens losing touch with their magical heritage. Ultimately the madness had made some Targaryens into inefficient and cruel leaders. Life was not great when a Targaryen leader succumbed to madness, especially for the nobility. This was exemplified during the reign of Aerys Mad King. Aerys started out like many Targaryen benevolent and kind, however, over time the madness overtook him. Driving him to brutal obsessions and sadistic urges. He unnecessarily burned people alive and was cruel to his subjects. Rhaegar annulled his marriage to a kind and faithful Martell woman named Elia to properly marry his love Lyanna. Many suspected his interest in her especially after one incident where he won a tournament at Harrenhal. He passed by his wife to place the pot of flower to Lyanna. It wasn’t the best kept secret that he was interested in her. Ultimately Rhaegar ends up marrying Lyanna in secret.
What if the conspirators knew shortly what occurred? Perhaps they witnessed it firsthand. Perhaps they read it from the diary of the maester who conducted the ceremony. Perhaps Rhaegar and Lyanna told someone who in turn told others. With this known, it was easy to misconstrue Rhaegar’s relationship with Lyanna. She was promised to Robert, and here comes Rhaegar abusing his position of power and abducting the poor sweet and gentle and noble girl. Targaryen’s did not have enough goodwill at this time to overcome this dashing accusation, and especially it did not help that Aerys ordered the Stark patriarchs burned alive. With such a damaging story in hand, and a horrible injustice done. The powder keg exploded bringing Westeros to turn on the Targaryen rulers.
Who might have wanted this?
Tywin had tremendous cause to see Aerys and his family destroyed or diminished. Tywin once faithfully served the target crowd and even suggested the heiress that Rhaegar and Cersei marry. Aerys in his mad state refused to offer and made moves to spite Tywin. He made Jaime a member of the King’s guard, which forbids marriage, essentially robbing Tywin of his favorite son to be heir to the Lannister throne. Aerys also lusted heavily for Tywin’s wife Johanna, and it is widely rumored that perhaps, Tyrion was a son of Aerys. There are many rumors that state Aerys had his way with Joanna as well. With Tywin being Aery’s hand, he had plenty of avenues to obtain sensitive information. Taiwan perhaps did not see any opportunity for self-gain when he put his plan into motion, but this would have been a move to payback the Mad King Aerys for his insolence and disrespect to him and a Lannister house.
I can see Petyr Baelish manipulating the situation for his self-interest as a chaos an amount of noblemen killed during a conflict could open up avenues for himself to marry into nobility. I don’t think Baelish had any specific discussion over the Targaryen behavior but rather was looking for opportunities to further himself in a small house. We see evidence of this throughout the series and even in the beginning when he plotted with Lysa Arryn to kill Lord Arryn and secure himself in marriage to the Knights of the Vale. Perhaps he was trying to get Catherine Tully, her name at the time, or any powerful marriage openings that may have occur.
Varys had ulterior motives in the books and in the show. Varys wants to see a philosopher King sit on the throne, a noble man a woman who is just and righteous who cares for the people and wants to actually improve the kingdom rather than rule over it. He may have believed that to be Rhaegar or perhaps in one of the older children or maybe a whole new ruler altogether. Either way, he wanted deep down inside for Aerys to be disposed and someone new someone pure of heart to take the throne. This powder keg of a situation was the perfect opportunity tug at the string and work towards that reality.
Lastly it may have been a Targaryen who did this all along. My guess would be Rhaegar. He believed himself to be Azor Ahai, the Prince and Savior that was promised. Perhaps these delusions of grandeur made him believe that he can be of great king himself and utilize his situation to speed up that process. He may have overstated his abilities and did not predict that he would be matched in battle or that his allied houses will be defeated. You have to remember that he was in a very strong position at the beginning of the war. The Lannisters betrayed a Targaryen at the end. So he considered Targaryen forces, Dorne, Lannister House, Tyrell, storm loads, and river Lords to be loyal. Which is pretty much most of the south, and unfortunately he lost it.