King Robert I Baratheon was the seventeenth ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, formally styled as Robert of the House Baratheon, the First of His Name,King of the Andals and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, andProtector of the Realm.
Robert, a great warrior and charismatic man in his youth, took the throne through conquest in the war known as Robert’s Rebellion, which began when the Prince of Dragon stone, Rhaegar Targaryen, allegedly abducted Robert’s betrothed, Lyanna Stark. Killing Rhaegar at the Battle of the Trident, his climactic duel turned the tides of the war in his favour. After the war and following Lyanna’s death, Robert married Cersei Lannister to cement an alliance with House Lannister to hold the kingdoms together, but the marriage was loveless.
Robert also had two younger brothers, Stannis and Renly. He and Cersei had three children: Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen. However, unbeknownst to Robert and most of the realm, all three were actually fathered by Cersei’s twin brother, Jaime Lannister. On the other hand, Robert had many bastards from other women, including Gendry and Barra.
Robert was the first son of Steffon Baratheon and Cassana Baratheon, and had two younger brothers, Renly and Stannis. His parents died in his youth when their ship was caught in a storm; Robert, standing on the walls of Storm’s End with Stannis, witnessed his parents ship that was returning from Essos break up on the rocks. He inherited the lordship, and was fostered by Jon Arryn, the head of House Arryn, another Great House. Eddard Stark, the second son of House Stark, was also fostered by Jon Arryn and Robert and Eddard became as close as brothers. Robert served King Aerys II Targaryen (known as the Mad King) as the Lord Paramount of the Storm lands. Robert was betrothed to Lyanna Stark, Eddard’s sister. At the time of their betrothal, Robert beat Richard Lonmouth during the tourney at Harrenhal.
However, Lyanna was allegedly kidnapped by Rhaegar Targaryen. The Mad King had Eddard’s father and brother killed for protesting against the kidnapping. Their deaths sparked a massive uprising against Aerys led by Robert, Eddard and Jon Arryn. Lyanna and Aerys died during the civil war that followed. Robert claimed the Iron Throne because he started the war and killed Prince Rhaegar personally. Robert also had the best claim to the throne as a result of being related to the Targaryens through his mother. The other leaders of the rebels, Jon Arryn and Eddard Stark, believed that Robert, with his claim and charismatic personality, should be king and both stood aside. However, due to Tywin Lannister brutally sacking King’s Landing and Gregor Clegane murdering Elia Martell and her two children with Rhaegar in cold blood, Robert and Eddard briefly fell out over the former’s refusal to make Tywin and Gregor answer for their war crimes.
Robert was devastated by Lyanna’s death, but was urged by Jon Arryn to marry Cersei of House Lannister, making an alliance with her father, Tywin Lannister, who had joined his cause late in the conflict and delivered the capital of King’s Landing to him. He named Jon Arryn as his Hand while Eddard took his father’s role as Warden of the North.
Stannis fought for Robert through the war though the two brothers never loved each other. Robert tells Eddard Stark “You were the brother I chose.” Despite Stannis’s service during the war, Robert made Renly the Lord of Storm’s End following his victory. Renly was only a child during the war, so he did not fight. Stannis was made Lord of Dragon stone and served on Robert’s small council as Master of Ships. Renly later joined the small council as Master of Laws.
Robert has been the King of the Andals and the First Men and the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros since the end of the civil war. However, he was more interested in drinking, whoring and hunting than ruling his kingdom. He revels in the glory days of the rebellion. He leaves running the kingdom largely to his small council, led by Jon Arryn.
King Robert also loves to throw events such as tournaments at which he spares no expense. Unfortunately, after seventeen years Robert’s excesses have left the realm deeply in debt for a shocking six million Gold Dragons, half to House Lannister. He apparently has three children with Cersei: Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen. Unbeknownst to Robert, all three were actually fathered by Cersei’s twin brother Jaime Lannister. Robert has also fathered several illegitimate bastards, to whom he pays no attention. He has an unacknowledged bastard son named Gendry fathered on a tavern wench. He has an unacknowledged bastard daughter named Barra fathered on the prostitute Mhaegen. He has at least four other unacknowledged bastards fathered with various women in the city of King’s Landing alone.
Jon Arryn began investigating the lineage of Cersei’s children, comparing their appearance to Robert’s bastard offspring. He died under mysterious circumstances shortly after beginning his investigation. Robert has decided to ride north to Eddard’s keep Winterfell to name him as Jon Arryn’s replacement.
The royal party arrives in Winterfell and Lord Eddard presents his household to King Robert. After initial greetings, Robert demands to see the crypts and pay his respects, stoking Queen Cersei’s impatience. In the crypts, Robert places a feather in the hand of a statue of Lyanna. He tells Eddard that in his dreams he kills Rhaegar every night anew, but Eddard replies that House Targaryen is destroyed. “Not all of them,” Robert counters. Robert formally offers Eddard the role of Hand of the King, telling him that he needs someone to run the kingdom and revealing that he feared betrayal from within his court. Eddard asks for time to think about it. Robert agrees but offers a sweetener: the hand of his son Joffrey in marriage to Eddard’s daughter Sansa. A great feast is held in honour of the king’s visit to Winterfell. The next morning Eddard and Robert go hunting and Eddard accepts Robert’s offer, with Robert stating that Ned is a loyal friend, the last one he’s got.
The parties depart Winterfell. Days later, on the Kings road south to the capital, Robert calls a halt to discuss some newly-arrived dire news with Eddard. Robert’s spies have learned of Daenerys Targaryen’s marriage to Khal Drogo whose khalasar is reported to number over one hundred thousand people. Eddard points out that the Dothraki cannot cross the Narrow Sea, as they have no ships, but Robert is concerned that the Seven Kingdoms will soon face another war. A curious Robert asks Eddard about Wylla, the alleged mother of his bastard son, Jon Snow, but Eddard refuses to talk about her.
On the King sroad, the royal party reaches the Crossroads Inn, a noted stop on the way south to the capital. Joffrey was injured by Nymeria, a dire wolf belonging to Ned’s younger daughter Arya during the halt. Arya is brought before Robert and truthfully blames Joffrey for instigating the incident but Joffrey’s falsified version of events is supported by Sansa. Robert appears to sense what is going on and becomes furious that a minor fracas has become a major incident with his wife and his new Hand accusing one another’s children; he also appears to exhibit disdain towards Joffrey over the fact his son was beaten and disarmed by a girl several years his junior. He decides to let Ned discipline Arya whilst he will do the same to Joffrey, but to appease his Queen he agrees that a dire wolf must be executed. When Nymeria cannot be found, Robert acquiesces to Cersei when she demands that Sansa’s wolf Lady be killed instead, infuriating Ned, who carries out the deed himself.
On his return to King’s Landing Robert orders a tournament to celebrate Eddard’s appointment as King’s Hand. He avoids the small council meetings where discussion of the kingdom’s mounting debts and the difficulty of paying for the tournament are raised. Robert swaps old war stories with Ser Barristan Selmy and Jaime Lannister, whilst also humiliating his ‘useless’ squire, Lancel Lannister. Robert enjoys the attentions of at least four women in his chambers. Jaime Lannister, left guarding his room outside, is (hypocritically) infuriated by the insult done to his sister by this, and vents about it to Jory Cassel.
Robert learns that Daenerys is pregnant and orders that she and her brother Viserys Targaryen be assassinated. Eddard disagrees with the decision, and resigns as Hand, enraging Robert. Later, Cersei asks the King if it was wise to lose Eddard in this way and they, with surprising civility, discuss their marriage. Robert admits that he never loved her because of Lyanna, although she died so long ago that he can no longer remember her face. Cersei asks why Robert is so worried about the prospect of a Targaryen-aligned Dothraki army. Robert explains that should the Dothraki cross the Narrow Sea, the nobles can retreat to their castles, but the small folk would be slaughtered, and the nobles in the castles will starve while the Dothraki rove outside the gates. Robert’s brother Renly reports that Robert is planning a big hunt and has asked Renly to accompany him, a prospect Renly dreads.
Robert and Cersei visit Eddard as he recovers at the Tower of the Hand, from wounds sustained fighting Jaime and his guards. Cersei is furious with Eddard for having her brother Tyrion arrested and for fighting with Jaime, but Eddard is unrepentant. She wants Robert to take action against him, but Robert refuses to condemn him, without hearing Eddard’s side, and tells her to be silent. When Cersei protests further, and calls Robert a woman, he hits her. She says that she will wear the bruise with honour. Robert tells her to be silent, or he will honour her again, and Cersei leaves in anger. Afterward, Robert restores Eddard to his position as King’s Hand, and tells him not to resign again or he will give the position to Jaime Lannister. He tells Ned to end the animosity between House Stark and House Lannister, as strife between the two houses could lead them into war, and that he is leaving on a hunt in the Kingswood and wants the realm at peace by the time he returns. Robert goes hunting, taking Selmy, Lancel and Renly with him. Being supplied with wine by Lancel, Robert becomes drunk and nostalgic, and Renly becomes annoyed with Robert for glorifying the “good old days” and leaves the hunt to return to the castle.
Robert is badly wounded whilst trying to kill a boar while hunting. He is taken back to the capital and on his deathbed tells Joffrey that he wishes he could have been a better father to him. After Robert commands everyone to leave, he names Ned as Lord Regent and Protector of the Realm. Eddard has learned that Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen are not Robert’s children, but are instead the product of incest between Cersei and her twin brother Jaime, a fact he is unable to tell the dying Robert. Robert also asks him to cancel the attempt on Daenerys Targaryen’s life but it comes too late to stop it. After Robert’s death, Cersei destroys the proclamation of Eddard as Regent and Protector of the Realm and has Eddard arrested. Renly also flees the city, after telling Eddard that he would make a better king than his and Robert’s other brother (and the rightful heir), Stannis. Robert’s death and Eddard’s subsequent execution sparks the War of the Five Kings with both of his brothers, Joffrey, Balon Greyjoy, and Robb Stark each crowning themselves as kings.
After learning the true parentage of Joffrey and his siblings, Stannis Baratheon has his scribe Matthos Seaworth prepare a letter to be distributed to the Seven Kingdoms. As Matthos is reading a rough draft of this letter to Stannis, the latter orders the reference to Robert as his “beloved brother” be taken out since he and Robert never loved each other. When Joffrey hears the “rumours” about his parentage as well as the fact that Robert had other children, he realises that his enemies may think that Robert’s bastards have a better claim to the throne than he does. In response to this threat, he orders the City Watch of King’s Landing to hunt down and kill all of the bastards. Under the leadership of Lord Commander Janos Slynt, the Watch carry out a city-wide massacre of Robert’s bastards, including the infant Barra. The only bastard known to have escaped this slaughter was Gendry.
Cersei claims that at some point prior to his death (possibly as he lay mortally wounded after the boar hunt), Robert specified that he did not want to be buried in the Great Sept of Baelor in King’s Landing, where the remains of previous kings from the Targaryen dynasty are interred; instead, as per Robert’s instructions he was buried alongside his forefathers at his family’s ancestral castle, Storm’s End.
Meanwhile, Robert’s bastard Gendry – having now survived imprisonment under Gregor Clegane at Harrenhal as well as the massacre back in King’s Landing – is now traveling with the outlaw group called the Brotherhood Without Banners who ultimately exchange him to the red priestess Melisandre in exchange for two bags of gold. Unaware of what she intends to do with him, Gendry is initially cordial towards Melisandre who reveals the truth about his father as they pass the Red Keep. They arrive at Dragon stone where Gendry meets his uncle Stannis, who refers to his nephew as “half Robert, half low-born.” Melisandre later seduces Gendry before quickly tying him to a bed and leeching his blood as part of a ritual to help Stannis’s quest for the Iron Throne. However, Gendry is later freed by Davos Seaworth before Stannis and Melisandre can completely sacrifice him thus preserving Robert’s bloodline.
When Joffrey is assassinated at his own wedding feast, Tommen becomes the heir apparent despite the “rumours” about his actual parentage. As he stands vigil with Cersei and Tywin over Joffrey’s corpse in the Great Sept of Baelor, Tywin proceeds to grill Tommen as to what makes a good king. At one point, Tommen asks about strength and Tywin refutes this by pointing out that King Robert was a paragon of strength but ultimately not a good king. He goes on to cite that during his 17 year rule, Robert only attended a scant three meetings of his own small council.
Despite the way Robert treated him during his time as squire, Lancel Lannister – who has since abandoned his family name and joined the fanatical movement known as the Sparrows – is haunted by the part he played in Robert’s death. He attempts to raise the subject with Cersei at Tywin’s funeral but she feigns ignorance and brushes him off. Lancel later confesses to the High Sparrow, who has Cersei arrested. Qyburn later visits Cersei in her cell and informs her of the charges against her, including Robert’s murder, which she continues to deny.
Eventually, however, Cersei confesses to her relationship with Lancel to the High Sparrow, saying she was lonely and afraid. When reminded by the High Sparrow that she had a husband, she flippantly argues that Robert was off whoring every chance he got but the High Sparrow shuts her down by saying, “His sins do not pardon your own.” He inquires about the “rumours” that her children, including the current king Tommen, were not fathered by Robert. Despite his warning that speaking falsehoods before the gods is a great crime, Cersei continues to lie that her children were in fact fathered by Robert. Though the High Sparrow casts a rather suspicious glance toward Cersei, he relents but informs her that there will still be a trial to ascertain the truth behind the other charges that she continues to deny, including Robert’s murder.
While attempting to auction Jorah Mormont to slavers outside Meereen, Malko mentions Robert’s Rebellion, where Jorah fought alongside Robert, and refers to Robert as the “Stag King”.
In Winterfell, Sansa visits the crypts before her marriage to Ramsay Bolton and finds the feather that Robert had placed in the hands of Lyanna Stark’s statue years earlier.
In Braavos, Arya Stark witnesses a play mocking the War of the Five Kings as part of a new assignment from the Faceless Men. The actor playing Robert pokes fun at the king’s death and frequently mocks his drinking problem.
As Cersei tortures a captured Unella after killing the rest of the Sparrows, she finally ‘confesses’ to killing Robert. Meanwhile, Bran Stark discovers the true identity of Jon Snow’s mother was none other than Lyanna Stark, who died shortly after giving birth to him. As she lay dying, Lyanna begged her brother Eddard to protect her son out of fear that Robert would surely kill him if he found out that he was actually fathered by Rhaegar Targaryen.
Varys notes that Robert was a more pleasant alternative to Aerys, but Robert had no real wish to be King. Daenerys firmly accuses Varys of disloyalty to her, by hiring assassins to kill her during her pregnancy on Robert’s order. Varys forgets or neglects to mention that Ned Stark had told him that as Robert lay dying, he had rescinded his order to kill Daenerys. Qyburn and Cersei later visit the tombs where the dragon skulls are kept. Cersei mentions how Robert removed the skulls from the Throne Room but kept them as trophies. He used to go down there and admire the skulls.
When Gendry meets with Jon Snow at Dragon stone, he introduces himself as the bastard son of Robert Baratheon despite Davos Seaworth urging him to conceal his true parentage. Gendry and Jon get along well, as Jon’s father (his true parentage still unknown) was good friends with Robert. Gendry accompanies Jon, bringing with him a war hammer with a stag sigil, taking after his father and his father’s House.
After Euron Greyjoy and Cersei have sex, he asks her if he was better than “the fat king” in bed. Cersei disdainfully comments that Robert used to have a new whore every night, but still didn’t know his way around a woman’s body.
Elsewhere, in the crypts beneath Winterfell, Samwell tells Jon that he is Aegon Targaryen, the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. Jon openly doubts that Ned, the most honourable man he knew, would lie to him, to which Sam replies that Ned did this to protect Jon from Robert murdering him.
When Arya asks Gendry why Melisandre wanted him when Gendry was sold to her by the Brotherhood Without Banners, Gendry tells Arya that Melisandre told him that he is the bastard son of Robert Baratheon.
When Jon informs Daenerys of his true parentage and identity, he mentions that Robert would have murdered him had the secret not been kept that Jon was in fact a Targaryen.
Daenerys asks Gendry accusingly whether he is aware that his father took her family’s throne and tried to have her murdered. Yet, she does not resent Gendry for his father’s deeds and instead legitimises him as Robert’s last true born son, the Lord of Storm’s End and Lord Paramount of the Storm lands.
Archmaester Ebrose and Grand Maester Samwell pen A Song of Ice and Fire, which chronicles the wars following Robert’s death.
Robert Baratheon, as a young man, possessed the typical talent for warfare and leadership as his brothers, as expected of Baratheon men, gentler than his brother, Stannis, and less intelligent than Renly. He was a charismatic and fearsome military commander and a formidable warrior, shown by his famous defeat of Rhaegar Targaryen on the Trident, pending the death of Aerys Targaryen. His command of his armies at Summerhall showed his strong ability to command and forge relationships with others through war and battle.
Robert was considered a very good man at heart, and he ultimately was, but people often couldn’t see this because externally he appeared to be a brutal, heavy-drinking party animal. He had a fondness for strong drinks, women, tourneys, and extravagant parties, which he heavily immersed himself in after the end of his Rebellion against the Mad King- perhaps to drown his grief over having lost Lyanna. People often commented derogatorily that he was a drunken fool (which was true to an extent), and failed sometimes to see past his powerful temper. The death of Lyanna and no battles to fight left him with a profound loss of purpose, causing him to lose his fighting form and grow fat from the excess the crown provided him. He did however mention that the only reason he never abdicated the throne was because he never wanted Joffrey or Cersei to have control of the realm when he was gone, likely realising his heir and wife would be more ruthless and just as incompetent as he was.
Admittedly, however, Robert proved to be a poor peacetime ruler; a soldier more than anything else, he understood nothing about administration nor cared to learn about it, and frequently ignored the sound advice his small council gave him. His behaviour in “A Golden Crown” underscores his incompetence as a king: he should have used his authority to put an end to the mutual hostilities between the Starks and Lannisters, before the situation got out of control; instead, he just ordered Ned – not very firmly – to have Tyrion released and to make peace with Jaime, then left the capital for his entertainments. When the Greyjoys rebelled early on in his rule he actually showed brilliance in putting down the rebellion and was rather happy there were battles to fight and win rather than ruling. This indicates he likely would have made a very good Master of War rather than a king.
Robert’s greatest strength lay in his ability to win himself allies after battle and his charismatic leadership. Stannis recounts that men who he had fought with during the day would often be drinking, feasting, and laughing with him the same evening. He did have a good sense of humour and took slights well openly on most occasions unless they were towards people he loved, and his temper was fearsome when roused – he resorted to striking Cersei across the face when she insulted his masculinity, but verbally regretted this in private. His charisma also made him loved by many women, and he was noted for his womanising even while he was betrothed to Lyanna Stark. It was said Lyanna did not appreciate this nor did she expect him to change with marriage to her, which may have pushed her away from him to a degree. His charisma made him an excellent leader of soldiers, but betrayed his incompetence and lack of patience when it came to the actual necessity of detailed planning to rule the realm effectively.
Robert showed some good judgement by choosing Jon Arryn and later Eddard Stark as Hand, but then unintentionally undermined their good administration with his reckless spending on luxuries and entertainments, which eventually bankrupted the Seven Kingdoms and forced him to take loans from the Iron Bank of Braavos and the Lannisters. Robert always dismissed financial matters casually as “counting coppers”, according to his brother Renly, ignoring the danger of being in debt both to the Iron Bank and to a man as ruthless and ambitious as Tywin Lannister. It is worth noting that the two men Robert selected as Hand were two men who had been extremely close to him, whom he trusted, as opposed to men like Tywin, who had already proved himself an extremely effective, but unapologetically ruthless Hand; denying Tywin the title of Hand was Robert’s way of keeping him (however weakly) in check. Thus, Robert isn’t completely prone to errors of judgement. Also, he expressed a certain amount of charisma when he met Ned’s children at Winterfell, shaking hands with Robb, complimenting Sansa’s beauty and even playfully suggesting that Bran would be a soldier. He also showed a good sense of humour in remarking that Ned had ‘gotten fat’, before raucously laughing when Ned silently indicated that he had done too. He was also completely capable of laughing at his own expense, as evidenced by this, and when he almost attended the tourney with his belly on display before Ned pointed it out.
Robert’s relationship with Eddard Stark brought out the better side of Robert. Since he did not have a particular fondness or relationship with either one of his actual brothers, he considered the Stark lord a surrogate brother. Ned was the only person who could genuinely counsel Robert on any subject, and the only person he appeared to want to listen to, since he seemed extremely impatient with anybody else, especially his wife (something he didn’t make any attempt to hide). Robert trusted Ned deeply and had a very strong sense of empathy and reason for him, assuring him that he only asked Ned to be Hand because he needed him – Robert openly told Ned that he was a loyal friend, showing his extreme admiration of Ned’s character. In addition to this, Robert had a deep personal love for Lyanna Stark, Ned’s sister, and often lamented about her death, but this lamenting often gave way to Robert intensely tirading about his hatred for the Targaryens – he called Rhaegar Targaryen a monster and scorned him as he believed that he had raped Lyanna, and even after he had vanquished Rhaegar on the Trident, his brutal hatred of the surviving Targaryens continued. Robert’s love for Lyanna went to such a vast extent that, on their wedding night, he visited Cersei in their bed (critically drunk) and openly mistook her for Lyanna, showing that he was unable to accept that Lyanna was apart from him. It is worth noting that Robert’s first priority once he arrived at Winterfell was to visit the crypts of Winterfell and pay his respects to Lyanna’s tomb, even though he, his family and entourage had been riding for ages and he could have paid his respects at any time.
Despite plunging into the temptations of drinking, feasting, gambling and suchlike, Robert Baratheon was not a stupid man in some respects. Even years after his climactic rebellion and his famous defeat of Rhaegar Targaryen and later the iron born, Robert still had a sound mind when it came to military matters; he was still able to precisely recite the strategies of the Dothraki if they invaded and provided statistical arguments as to why the Dothraki, with Viserys Targaryen as the figurehead, would eventually gain the upper hand. He also understood that the priorities of the realm lay with political power rather than actual stability, lamenting that their purpose had died along with King Aerys. When Gregor Clegane attacked his brother during a tourney, Robert was quick to furiously end the fight by commanding them to stop, rather than getting one of his Kings guard to do it (however, he did not reprimand the Mountain for nearly killing Loras Tyrell in this incident). He was also able to recognise and lament for his mistakes, and apologised to Joffrey that he had never been a particularly good parent. Also, on his deathbed, he begged for Eddard to help him in some way that Robert himself had been unable to, and finally let go of his hatred for the Targaryens when he asked Eddard to do what he could to protect Daenerys Targaryen from being assassinated, accepting that she did not have to suffer for her father and brother’s actions.
Robert had a tendency for being cruel or harsh towards Jaime Lannister, referring to him personally as King slayer (even though it was Aerys Jaime had killed, enabling Robert to take the throne) and laughingly mocking his status as Tywin Lannister’s son forced to guard his extravagant king. He also had the gall to mock Jaime’s execution of the Mad King, only to be shocked into silence when Jaime coldly reminded him of Aerys’s madness. Robert could be smug, and arranged for Jaime to be on guard when Robert was entertaining his whores, knowing that Jaime (closer than anyone to Cersei) would be aware that this was a vicious insult. However, Robert at least suggested out loud to Eddard Stark that he would even consider naming Jaime as Hand if Ned refused to retake the position. He was also emotionally abusive toward Cersei and had physically struck her at least once, though he did feel remorse about it, saying it wasn’t a kingly thing to do. Robert had a habit of taking out his frustration on his squires, often through petty and often cruel jokes at their expense.