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Renly Baratheon

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The Targaryens called Robert usurper. He seemed to be able to bear the shame. So shall I.
~ Renly to Stannis, trying to justify his actions.

Renly Baratheon is the Lord of Storm's End, Master of Laws on Robert's Small Council and the younger brother of King Robert I Baratheon and Lord Stannis Baratheon. His parents were Lord Steffon Baratheon and Lady Cassana Estermont. During the Siege of Storm's End by the Tyrells and Redwynes, Stannis cared for Renly, holding the castle for a year. Despite this, Robert made Renly Lord of Storm's End and Stannis Lord of Dragonstone, a less pleasant and more poorer keep.

History

What has Renly ever done to earn a throne? He sits in council and jests with Littlefinger, and at tourneys he dons his splendid suit of armor and allows himself to be knocked off his horse by a better man. That is the sum of my brother Renly, who thinks he ought to be king.
~ Stannis Baratheon to Maester Cressen.

As a child Renly was considered a nice boy who loved games and bright colors. During the reign of King Robert I, the boy Renly lived at Storm's End with Robert's bastard Edric Storm, sent by Lord Stannis who didn't want him. Renly travelled in many places in the south, enjoying feasts and being a beloved of the commons and nobles. He danced with Lord Selwyn Tarth's daughter, Brienne, and had a positive relationship with Lord Mace Tyrell and the nobles of the Reach. He also visited Dorne, where Princess Arianne Martell tried sexual advances on him, but he wasn't interested in women. During his youth at Storm's End, Renly took the fostered child Loras Tyrell as his squire and later they became lovers; later Loras becomes a knight.

At some point Renly was given a place in the small council as the master of laws. He rode to King's Landing with Ser Loras Tyrell and his household. Now a grown up man, Renly has become an arrogant handsome man, resembling a poor version of a younger Robert Baratheon. Renly acts very confident and rarely serious. He smiles easily and often laughs and jests during work with the small council, annoying serious men like Stannis, Jon Arryn, and Eddard Stark. He and Robert made a lot of parties, feasts, and tourneys during the years. </span>Maester Cressen and many other men still view him as an immature man who doesn't take things very seriously. Renly sees everything as games and loves nice colorfoul dresses. It's said that Renly has pictures that "would turn a septon blind" implying homosexual pornography.

Although he acts very confident and strong, Renly is actually eager to prove himself a strong warrior like his older brothers, Robert and Stannis, and doesn't like being treated like a spoiled child. Although they were never close in their youth, Renly and Robert always get along and act similar, both impulsive, proud, and cheerful. The same cannot be said of Stannis, who's serious, proud, stern, cold, and unforgiving; the commoners and nobles can't stand him and Renly and Robert can barely stomach him. Renly wonders how Stannis even got that "ugly little girl of his" (Shireen), when he goes to the bedroom like a man marching to the battlefield. Renly often mocks Selyse, who's an unpopular serious woman, and Shireen for her greyscale's scars on her face. Renly is not really an evil person, but he's not even much of a good one either, as he lacks morality and has no problem causing the deaths of innocent if it means gain something personal in return. He also thinks himself as an hero, the best thing the realm needs to prosper. He's aware of his lack of humility and considers it an innocent flaw. Renly's lack of morality and family loyalty is most likely a result of the absence of a true united family: his parents died when he was a baby, Robert was mostly at the Eyrie and when he was at Storm's End he didn't have time for him, and Stannis was a cold boy and not one to play with little children. Maester Cressen thinks he failed to raise Renly as a more serious and loyal person.

Not long before the War of the Five Kings, Renly and Loras tried to have Robert spourn his wife and marry the 14-year-old Lady Margaery Tyrell as his new queen. In the original version Margaery is an innocent young sweet girl, while in the show version she's older and an ambitious smart woman, also aware of Renly's relationship with Loras. Renly has a positive relationship with Ser Barristan Selmy and he's corterous to Sansa Stark. It's shown that Renly and his nephew Joffrey don't get along, as Joffrey being mean-spirited and proud, can't stand Renly's sarcasm and jokes. Renly also laughs at Joffrey's face and mocks him in front of everyone for being disarmed by Arya Stark, a skinny little girl who's barely half the size of Prince Joffrey.

During the Hand's Tourney Renly is unhorsed by Sandor Clegane and later watches Loras unhorsing Ser Gregor Clegane, using a mare in heat to distract Gregor's stallion. Sandor saves Loras from Gregor's wrath.

While tension between House Lannister and House Tully is starting, Renly supports King Robert in his plot to murder Daenerys Targaryen, and tries to convince Ned that it's the right thing to do for the good of the realm. Renly and the rest of the council are quiet and scared of Robert's wrath, and Renly sheepishly tells Ned that letting Viserys and Daenerys live for so long has always been a mistake.

Renly, Joffrey, Barristan Selmy, Yohn Royce, Sandor, Lancel Lannister, and the rest of the royal party follow King Robert in a hunt in the kingswood. During Robert's hunt, Ser Robar Royce is sent by Eddard Stark to inform the King about the imminent war between the Tullys and the Lannisters, and that Eddard has sentenced Gregor Clegane to death and summoned Lord Tywin Lannister to court. Robert doesn't tell anything to Sandor.  After killing their prey, most of the hunting party returns to King's Landing, but Robert stays behind with only Renly, Barristan, and Lancel, now after a huge wild boar. Thanks to Cersei's strongwine that Lancel gave him, Robert fails to move quickly and kills the boar only after being gutted by the beast. Renly, Barristan, and Lancel carry the huge and heavy Robert back to the capital. Robert manages to survive for 2 days before reaching his room in the Red Keep.

After Robert is fatally wounded by a boar, Renly schemes to usurp the Iron Throne from Joffrey, not realizing Cersei's children are illegitimate. Renly does not know that Joffrey, Tommen, and Myrcella are all Jaime’s children, and he’s planning to become the new king, thinking that the line of succession doesn’t matter anymore since the Targaryens were overthrown and ignoring the fact that Stannis still has a better claim to the Iron Throne and when Robert rebelled it was against a tyrant who had directly threatened him. Knowing that Joffrey is considered a “monster” by many, Renly believes that Stannis is not born to be a king, and takes advantage of the fact that Tommen is a child, and Myrcella a female with a lesser claim than a male. Renly thinks he's going to save the Seven Kingdoms from Cersei, Stannis, and Joffrey. After Ned Stark refuses his offer to seize the royal children before Robert dies, he immediately flees from the capital, followed by Loras, Ser Robar Royce, and his household from Storm's End, and also perhaps men of Robert.

He already has large numbers of troops due to ruling the Stormlands and he marrys Margaery of House Tyrell, meaning the Tyrells, who rule the Reach the most populated region in Westeros, support him. With the largest army in the Seven Kingdoms, Renly declares himself King and is crowned in Highgarden, the capital of the Reach. The noble houses of the Stormlands declare for him and ignore Ser Davos and King Stannis' letters and claim to the Iron Throne, including Stannis and Renly's uncle Lord Eldon Estermont. Stannis, being the lawful head of House Baratheon, is infuriated by the storm lords' allegiance to Renly and considers it blatant treason. As the eldest Baratheon, Stannis has the lawful right to take back the ancestral Baratheon seat of Storm's End, instead Renly doesn't bother to make his own cadet branch, thus declaring himself leader of the entire House Baratheon, provoking further Stannis.

Renly blocks the supply of food on the roseroad to King's Landing, causing the capital to suffer starvation and babies to die. The angered Tullys and river lords also stop giving food to the crownlands, as well as Robb Stark blocking the entire west and North, and not even Stannis allowing some fish of Dragonstone for the capital. The food from the south was still sufficient for the crownlands to survive, until Renly fled from the capital and blocked the entire south. Without receiving food from the west and the south King's Landing falls to starvation, as the food from the lands of the crownlands is not enough, and Cersei takes most of it for the Red Keep, the High Septon, and the nobility anyway.

While Robb Stark is hoping for an alliance with Balon Greyjoy, Brynden "Blackfish" Tully and his niece Catelyn have the idea to suggest an alliance with King Renly, hoping to have his large army on their side, however Robb is claiming the North and the riverlands as his new kingdom, so Catelyn is also afraid of Renly's reaction. Unaware of Stannis' claim and of Joffrey and Tommen's true parentage, Robb decides to send his mother to find Renly's camp in the south, since he's too busy fighting the Lannisters, much to Catelyn's disapporval, as she wanted to remain with her dying father. 

While most of Robert's bastards in King's Landing are slaughtered, Renly is preparing to leave Highgarden with his army. Later Salladhor Saan learns that Renly and his host left the Tyrell seat and started marching to the capital, with the storm lords in his army as well.

Renly has left Highgarden with his army and his queen, Margaery, to march on King’s Landing. He moves his large army towards the crownlands, blocking off the Rose Road which brings starvation to King's Landing. The biggest army of the War of the Five Kings, with all the power of Storm's End and Highgarden. Meanwhile Mace Tyrell is preparing another huge host at Highgarden. Renly also thinks that Stannis will join him with his fleet and his 5,000 men, and accept him as king, as well as Prince Doran Martell with the power of Dorne. He’s spending a lot of time in the Reach, marching incredibly slowly, camping and feasting at every castle and village on the way, hosting tourneys and melees, while blocking the roseroad and starving King's Landing, waiting for the right moment to attack the capital while the Starks and the Lannisters are fightning until they're tired.

Catelyn Stark and her northern-riverlands party who escorted her to the south arrive at Renly's camp, outside the castle of Bitterbridge, seat of House Caswell. Renly is hosting a melee that day and accepts the teenage Brienne of Tarth in his own kingsguard: the Rainbow Guard. Renly had the last place for his guard for Ser Barristan, but he decided that Brienne was a strong warrior. Renly is easy for the other lords, since he gives them what they want without too much effort, unlike Stannis, and he's corteous to Brienne, who had been eager to serve him, since she met him years ago. However Renly thinks of Brienne as grotesque, because of her look and makes fun of her with Loras, though he doesn't have anything against her as well. Renly is surprised to meet again Lady Stark after so many years and during the war; he presents her his wife Margaery, while Lord Randyll Tarly accuses Robb of hiding behind his mother's skirt for his rebellion. Renly is nice to Catelyn and lets her sleep in his own big tent, since he and Margaery are sleeping in the castle before they keep marching. Brienne thinks is an honor to help Renly with duties such as dress him, in truth these are considered nothing but squire's work and not something a true kingsguard would do.</span>

That evening, during the feast at Bitterbridge, Catelyn discusses with Lord Mathis Rowan how Renly's army is full of young and strong lustful lords and knights, all full of lust for glory and girls. She views Renly as an irresponsible man who thinks everything is a game, with his Rainbow Guard cloaks, with shiny colors of the Faith of the Seven. The members of Renly's kingsguard are Ser Loras Tyrell, Brienne of Tarth, Lord Bryce Caron, Ser Emmon Cuy, Ser Guyard Morrigen, Ser Parmen Crane, and Ser Robar Royce. Later Renly and Catelyn have a talk: Catelyn is annoyed of Renly's arrogance and scolds him for not remember his brother Stannis, but she stops because she remembers that Renly is a king. Renly thinks the names are meaningless, so he accepts that Robb can continue calling himself King in the North, provided he bends the knee to him and recognize him as King of the Seven Kingdoms, thus making Robb's title nothing.

Suddently Renly receives word from a rider that his older brother Stannis, who has also declared himself King on the grounds that Robert has no legitimate children, is besieging Storm's End. With this new enemy, Renly is forced to change is plan travels to the stormlands and parleys with Stannis. He sneers at Stannis' claims of the illegitimacy of the Queen's children, thinking Stannis is the same as him but with less charisma and claiming nobody wants Stannis for their King. Stannis offers that if Renly bends the knee to him he'll let him remain Lord of Storm's End, keep his seat on the Small Council, and make him his heir until he has a son. Renly refuses this. He plans to destroy Stannis' army the next day and talks of how his forces will kill Stannis. When Stannis tells her the story of his investigations with Jon Arryn, Catelyn realises the truth of Stannis' claim and the reason of the deaths of Jon and Eddard, and asks to return to her son, but Renly refuses, intending her to see him destroy Stannis' army so she can tell Robb what will happen he refuses to bend the knee. When Catelyn suggests calling a Great Council to publicize the illegitimacy of Joffrey and let the lords decide who the true King is, Renly refuses the suggestion. Renly orders to live Stannis' body alone after he's killed, as he doesn't want to see a Baratheon mutilated.

However, a shadow assassin the Red Priestess Melisandre has conceived with Stannis cuts Renly's throat. The way the shadow of Stannis entered the tent made it seem like it was just Renly's own shadow. Suddently Catelyn saw Renly's throat being randomly opened by a shadowy sword, while the candels gutted out, and a moment later Renly was dying in the ground, with Brienne holding him. In the TV series this death has been simplified for the audience by having Stannis' shadow appearing directly like a smoke monster and stabbing him, with Brienne and Catelyn looking. In the book version the shadows appear like smoke monsters only when they are born, and Davos recognizes the face of Stannis on the second shadow assassin. When the first shadow assassin killed Renly, no one realized how Renly died, but Catelyn tells to one of Renly's rainbow guards that she felt Stannis' presence in the tent and says it was his shadow with blood magic. Brienne is accused by almost everyone for Renly's death. She fights Ser Emmon Cuy and some men-at-arms, but doesn't kill them before leaving. Ser Robar Royce decides to believe her and Catelyn and help them to escape. Ser Loras, in his grief and rage, kills Emmon and Robar, thinking they betrayed Renly by letting Brienne go. One of the two swears he's innocent before dying.

Stannis is upset at Renly's death, but believes it was necessary. On his death, most of the houses of the Stormlands and a few of the Reach who were loyal to him declares for Stannis, the first one being Lord Alester Florent, Queen Selyse's uncle. The rest of Renly's Rainbow Guard bend the knee to King Stannis, while the storm lords and the few Reach lords ask forgiveness. Stannis is forced to spare everyone, but he's angry and doesn't forget about their treason, so he acts dismissive and sharply towards them. He sends his brother-in-law Erren Florent with Parmen Crane to recruit the rest of Renly's army still camped at Bitterbridge. However the Tyrells with Lord Randyll Tarly, Lord Mathis Rowan, and Lady Arwyn Oakheart flee back to the Reach, and take control of the camps and Renly's supplies, while Randyll has many men put to the sword, especially Florent soldiers. When Robb Stark, in the westerlands, learns about Stannis' claim and Joffrey's true parentage, and the reason of his father's death, he wishes he wasn't the King in the North and hopes Stannis takes the Iron Throne. Instead, Catelyn, who fled back to Riverrun with her escorts and Brienne, writes a letter to Robb informing him that Stannis means to punish him as well and if he takes King's Landing he will have Sansa and Arya as hostages. Ser Cortnay Penrose, castellan of Storm's End, refuses to yield the castle, fearing for the life of Edric Storm, and wants to see Renly's body. Stannis doesn't have Renly's body and has Penrose killed by a second shadow assassin. When the two shadows killed Renly and Penrose, Stannis perceived their actions as his own, seeing himself cutting Renly's throat and throwing Penrose from the walls of the castle. Later Lord Mace Tyrell, wanting Margaery to be queen, decides to support the Lannisters.

During the Battle of the Blackwater, Renly's ghost apparently fights alongside the Tyrells, helping to defeat Stannis' army. However, in reality Garlan Tyrell wore Renly's armor. Despite the fact Renly was planning to overthrow Joffrey, he is remembered in song as a heroic figure for helping to defeat Stannis.

Renly's Peach

The peach represents... Well... It's pleasure. It's… tasting the juices of life. Stannis is a very marshal man concerned with his duty, and with that peach Renly says: “Smell the roses”, because Stannis is always concerned with his duty and honor, in what he should be doing and he never really stops to taste the fruit. Renly wants him to taste the fruit but it's lost. I wish that scene had been included in the TV series because for me that peach was important, but it wasn't possible.
~ George R. R. Martin

During their meeting near Storm's End during the War of the Five Kings, Renly Baratheon offers his brother Stannis a peach as they are parlaying. As his brother's hand slides into his cloak Stannis reaches at once for the hilt of his sword, but before he can draw steel Renly produces a peach. Smiling, Renly offers the peach to Stannis, promising him he has never tasted anything so sweet. When Stannis refuses the peach, Renly advises him:

A man should never refuse to taste a peach. He may never get the chance again. Life is short, Stannis. Remember what the Starks say. Winter is coming

After Renly's death, Stannis is still haunted by the peach and wonders what was Renly trying to say. He says he didn't grieved for the unloyal adult Renly, who slighted him, and mocked him and his family, but he' grieved for the happy child Renly at Storm's End. Stannis swears he will go in his grave thinking about Renly' s peach.

Gallery

Trivia

  • Due to his more affable and heroic nature in the television adaption, many don't realize how villainous Renly's actions are. His brother Stannis does indeed have a legal claim to the throne, but because Renly thinks he would be a better ruler, he is literally willing to go to war with his brother (in an already war torn and divded nation) and ultimately murder him for an unfounded claim, refusing to help Ned Stark in helping Stannis, causing Ned's death. Renly even turns out an offer of alliance from Stannis that would probably make him King eventually and would enable him to hold a lot of power in running the Seven Kingdoms.
  • Renly's sexuality is only often heavily implied in the books (due to him not being a POV character), but George R.R. Martin confirmed he and Loras Tyrell were lovers.
  • Renly is the first king who dies during the War of the Five Kings.
  • It has been concluded by some fans that Renly knew about Joffrey's illegitimacy, as his plan to make Margaery Robert's Queen doesn't make sense unless Robert's other children can be removed from the line of succession. If true, this makes him more of a hypocrite, as Renly knows Stannis is the rightful heir but puts on an image of ignorance to justify his claim further.

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