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Robert I Baratheon

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The gods be damned. It was a hollow victory they gave me. A crown ... it was the girl I prayed them for. Your sister, safe ... and mine again, as she was meant to be. I ask you, Ned, what good is it to wear a crown? The gods mock the prayers of kings and cowherds alike.
~ Robert to Eddard Stark

King Robert I Baratheon is a character in the A Song of Ice and Fire novels and its TV series adaptation, Game of Thrones. He is the Lord of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros and head of House Baratheon at the beggining of A Game of Thrones.

In the television adaptation he is portrayed by Mark Addy.

Robert is the firstborn son of Lord Steffon Baratheon and Lady Cassana Estermont. He has two younger brothers: Lord Stannis and Lord Renly, both of them being lords and not princes due to their father not being a king. He is married to Queen Cersei Lannister and has three children: Prince Joffrey, Princess Myrcella, and Prince Tommen.

Overview

As a teenager Robert was a tall young handsome storm lord and successful knight who was known for his talent for being the best at any kind of physical and social activity and he could easily bring any girl in his bed without much effort. Even after becoming a fat loud drunk he hasn't lost this ability, as he was able to infatuate a 15 years old whore. He is a notoriously fierce and powerful inspiring warrior who's lust is subject of famous songs throughout the Seven Kingdoms. He's known for his ability to turn foes into friends in a single day and was one of the strongest warriors in the world. During his life he only lost a single battle against Randyll Tarly, the Lord of Horn Hill. After he put the crown on his head he became less popular, especially among the smallfolk. Despite this, his young self always remembered positively and when they talk about how much of a bad ruler he is, it's more with sadness rather than anger, especially from his friends. Any risk of rebellion was avoided thanks to the hard work of the lords Jon Arryn and Stannis Baratheon. Arryn kept peace in the realm for 14 years, being able to maintain the kingdoms united, avoiding chaos from Dorne, and keeping the people well fed. Stannis helped Jon and also bent the Targaryen loyalists living in the valyrian islands, punished criminals, dealt with the king's justice and executed or imprisoned any law breaker, he led the royal in many places in the sea and destroyed pirates and smugglers. Still, Robert did as he wanted and beggared the realm to the point that the royal treasury remained empty and the realm came in debt with the Iron Bank of Braavos, the Faith, Tywin Lannister, and Mace Tyrell.

Robert's best friend is Eddard Stark. The king has also many friends in court, including Jon Arryn, Renly Baratheon, Tyrion Lannister, Thoros of Myr, Lysa Arryn, and Loras Tyrell. However, Robert let too many Lannister men-at-arms in his city, while letting most of  his main allies, the stormlanders and the Reachmen, in their homes. The Baratheon force grows smaller when, at some point his brother Stannis abandons the capital and brings the royal fleet and his household with him at Dragonstone and closed the island's port, leaving only a few ships in King's Landing. Also Lysa flees with the Arryn household to the Eyrie, due to an argument with Robert about the foestering of Jon Arryn's son, Robert "Robin" Arryn.

None of the Baratheon royal children are actually Robert's and he and Cersei often commited mutal infidelities. Robert's fathered numerous bastards in the Seven Kingdoms. Known bastards among them are Mya Stone, Bella, Gendry, Edric Storm, Barra, and two unnamed dead twins. During the second novel and the second season the Baratheon bastards living in King's Landing, except Gendry, are lynched and killed by the City Watch of the capital on the orders of the Queen Regent out of her personal deep hatred for her husband and because they could have been a danger to her children's claims for the Iron Throne. In the TV series version the order comes from Joffrey, likely to avoid any possible contender for the Iron Throne, like the Blackfyres did against the Targaryens in the past. However, Robert had sex with various women outside the capital, both before his ascension and then during his travels in the castles and towns of the south. It's impossible to tell how many bastards could be still alive in Westeros, beside Mya, Bella, and Edric. 

Robert has a deep hatred for his cousins of House Targaryen. He has a tendence of closing his eyes to the things he doesn't want to see, especially the morally ambigous choices, for example he gave a smile of relief upon seeing the dead bodies of the children Prince Aegon and Princess Rhaenys because he knew he didn't have to deal with them thanks to the Lannisters doing the dirty work for him, thus avoiding to turn into a child murderer. Instead of dealing with the other royal children and the Targaryen queen at Dragonstone, Robert had his brother Stannis to deal with them make him a villainous individual. When he beat his wife, Robert would rather lie and tell that he didn't remember any abuse due to the drunkeness instead of admitting his guilt and apologize.

Years before the series began, Robert was the Lord of the Storm's End and betrothed to Lyanna Stark, the only daughter of Lord Rickard Stark. After Crown Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna disappeared together, Brandon Stark was executed by Robert's cousin King Aerys II Targaryen, along with his father Rickard and most of their parties. Aerys's demands cause Lord Jon Arryn to raise in rebellion against King Aerys, and later Robert becomes the main leader of the rebellion. He succeded in killing his cousin Rhaegar at the Battle of the Trident and took the Iron Throne after the death of King Aerys at the hands of Ser Jaime Lannister, ending Aerys's reign and becoming the new Lord of the Seven Kingdoms. After Prince Aegon's death, Dorne and the Targaryen loyalists at Dragonstone declared Viserys Targaryen the new Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, until Robert sent his younger brother, Lord Stannis, to root down the remaining Targaryens and take Dragonstone. Queen Rhaella Targaryen dies giving birth to Princess Daenerys and Ser Willem Darry smuggles the two remaining loyal children away from Westeros before Stannis can deal with them.

Robert loves making war and enjoys destroying defying lords, as he did in Greyjoy's Rebellion, where he defeated King Balon Greyjoy and the ironmen on the Iron Islands. He personally led the attacks during the Siege of Pyke and forced Balon to bend the knee after his defeat, pardoning him for his treason and having Eddard taking Balon's last surviving son, Theon as an hostage while Balon lives.

His hatred for the Targaryens over Rhaegar taking Lyanna and paranoia that one day the Dothraki with Daenerys and Viserys might cross the Narrow Sea and take the Iron Throne from him caused an alienation between Eddard Stark, and himself. Not being able to stand the murder of children, Eddard tried to persuade Robert to let it go in many ways such as reminding him that the Dothraki fear the sea and know nothing about sailing or naming Stannis Warden of the East and let him destroy the Targaryen ships with his larger fleet, but Robert ignored all of this. Instead he plots to assassinate Daenerys and her stillborn child, along with Viserys too, and later follows through on this by sending a wine-seller to poison her. Though he and Eddard do reconcile shortly after, Robert continues to unyield over her death. 

After dismissing most of his hunting party, Robert is deadly wounded in the kingswood while hunting with only Lancel Lannister, Lord Renly Baratheon, and Ser Barristan Selmy where he was mauled by a boar. He dies a few days later in King's Landing, in his bed. It's revealed that the situation was actually created by Queen Cersei Lannister where she had Lancel give him strongwine which slowed him down.

On his deathbed Robert admits he should have listened to Eddard instead of the rest of the Small Council, beside Ser Barristan Selmy, and orders for the assassination attempt on Daenerys to be called off but it was already too late as Lord Varys's little birds already spread Robert's message and not much time later, Daenerys' husband, Khal Drogo declares war on Robert and the Seven Kingdoms. Later Daenerys is attacked by an assassin at Qarth who also fails to murder her, the man tried to get the lordship promised by Robert. Daenerys jokes that Robert owes her a castle due to her killing her brother Viserys.

Personality

Robert was never the same after he put on that crown. Some men are like swords, made for fighting. Hang them up and they go to rust
~ Donal Noye to Jon Snow
Robert ... He is in my dreams as well. Laughing. Drinking. Boasting. Those were the things he was best at. Those, and fighting. I never bested him at anything.
~ Stannis Baratheon to Melisandre
Robert, in his youth was a handsome charismatic military leader who was able to successfully command battles to victory and a fierce warrior in combat. He's known for his unique ability to turn deadly enemies into loyal friends and his great lust for women, which are subjects of many songs throughout the realm. As he got older he became more lazy, short-tempered and hedonistic. In his role as king, he was an absurdly incompetent one, he had difficulty with intricate or just easy politics and was something of a party animal as he more focused on drinking, gambling and whoring rather than ruling his kingdom or taking care of his own son. Without fighting since Greyjoy's Rebellion he grew prematurely old, despite being only in his thirties. His sexual infidelities were various and he fathered many illegitimate bastards with prostitutes, maids, servant girls, and even highborn ladies during his marriage with Cersei Lannister, causing her to resume her incestous relationship with Ser Jaime. His people whom he rules are aware of how much of a poor ruler he is, normally making derogatory and insulting comments towards him. Robert, however is aware of what the Seven Kingdoms think of him but does not seem to care because in his views, life was too short. At times he could be spoilt, boastful and arrogant, with little shame towards his actions even if they were in public and what they represented of his own family name. He could be an almost cruel man with his temper but only Eddard Stark and Jon Arryn were able to bring out the best of him.

He was known to have severe hatred of Targaryens, as Rhaegar Targaryen "raped" Lyanna Stark, the woman that he loved. He hated anything remotely connected to House Targaryen, including Viserys and Daenerys. His spies followed them everywhere in the Free Cities, one of them being the exile Ser Jorah Mormont. Later Robert even considers assassinating the last Targaryens, giving priority to Daenerys, and later Daenerys' unborn child Rhaego, despite being completely innocent, when in reality he probably should have been only focused on Viserys as he was the one more focused on reclaiming the Iron Throne (though this can be argued, as Daenerys took Viserys' task as soon as he died, believing it to be her duty and mission). His love for Lyanna is what caused an extremely strained marriage with Cersei Lannister. On the eve of their wedding night, Robert while stupendously drunk whispers into Cersei's ear, "Lyanna" indicating he could not come to terms with her death.

In all of his faults, Robert could at least acknowledge his mistakes. He admits to Joffrey that he has always been a terrible father and his dying wish was for Eddard to teach him to become a good man and king. He also agrees to leave Daenerys alone (however by then it was too late as Varys' agents had already contacted an assassin to kill the Khaleesi).

Notes

  • Robert is considered the strongest of the Baratheon brothers, and the true warrior out of them. He always loved having sex with a lot of girls. One day the handsome warrior would promise the world to a girl and forget everything the next one, including the girl. Even when he was betrothed to Lyanna Stark, Robert still kept having sex with other girls, then and also during his marriage with Cersei Lannister.
  • Robert agrees with Tywin Lannister's idea of murdering Rhaegar's children, Aegon and Rhaenys, and refuses to sanction this crime, despite calls from Dorne. When Eddard Stark argued about the murder of the children, Robert only replied that he saw no children; only dragonspawns. This causes an argument between him and his friend Eddard and the two would only be reconciliated by the death of Lyanna.
  • Robert never cared about ruling and justice, as the Iron Throne bored him. He learned to close his eyes at the things he didn't want to see. After Jon Arryn and Stannis Baratheon found out about Janos Slynt's bribes with the Gold Cloaks. After Janos had two men killed to prevent them from testyfing against him, Robert decides to do nothing about it and listens to Littlefinger's advice and allows Janos to keep his office.
  • He has a negative relationship with his brother Stannis. The two are too different, and Robert and Stannis often argue about their different ideas. Stannis would often demand to Robert to get back his lordship of Storm's End, but Robert would always dismiss him with the same excuse. Robert always took other people over Stannis or Renly to do important jobs, though, Renly was generally considered unfit for duties. The only difference between Renly and Robert is that Renly has no addiction with food, alcohol, or sex.
  • Robert and Cersei kept mutual infidelity towards each other. Robert and Cersei often argue and it often results with a drunken Robert yelling and humiliating Cersei in public. Because of Robert's loudness, Sansa was always frightened by him and failed to find courage to speak with him when her father wanted to leave King's Landing.
  • Despite claims that everything is going well under his rule, he made no attempt to stop Ser Gregor Clegane from causing havoc throught the Seven Kingdoms.
  • Agrees to execute Lady, Sansa Stark's direwolf, despite her having no part in the quarrel between Arya Stark and his stepson, Joffrey Baratheon.
  • Robert is disgusted by his heir Prince Joffrey. While Joffrey desires his father's admiration, he's only a cruel vicious boy and Robert despises him and envys Lord Mace Tyrell for his sons, claiming that Ser Loras Tyrell is a true son to be proud of. The only thing that prevents Robert from abdicate the throne and joining with a sellsword company in Essos, is the perspective of leaving the realm under Cersei and Joffrey. Thus, it's possible that Robert might have choosen to believe Stannis' accusations about Cersei's children, even before and after Jon Arryn's death.
  • His brother Renly was convincing him to spurn Cersei and marry the 14 years old maid, Margaery Tyrell. Robert liked her, but the marriage vow is considered holy. Due to his contempt for his own family, it's possible that Robert would have listened to anyone who would have told him about his children's true parentage, as it would give him a reason to destroy the hated Lannisters and get rid of part of his debts, marry Margaery and make a true heir, then finally abdicate the Throne as he wanted.
  • Later, Robert orders the assassination of Daenerys Targaryen, despite the fact that she had no part in her father or brother's deeds. However, he later redeems himself when he orders Ned to put an end to this manhunt, but only on his deathbed.
  • As shown in the TV series, that revealed Jon Snow as Lyanna' son by Rhaegar, Lyanna feared that Robert would kill Jon if he found out his true parentage and made Ned promise to protect him.
  • It is comfirmed that Robert is based on King Edward IV of England, who overthrown the tyranny of Henry VI (the real history counterpart of Aerys II), but after he got the throne, he went into a obesession of drinking and doing nonsense instead of being a good king. Meanwhile, Robb Stark is based on the young Edward IV before he got the throne.

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