Faith Militant uprising

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Faith Militant uprising
Sept of Remembrance.jpg
Maegor and Balerion burn down the Sept of Remembrance in King's Landing as depicted in The World of Ice and Fire

Date 41 AC48 AC
Location Seven Kingdoms
Battles Battle of Stonebridge, Battle at the Great Fork
Result Faith Militant disbanded
The Faith's traditional right to judge its own was abolished
Belligerents
Faith of the SevenHouse Targaryen
Notable commanders
Ser Damon Morrigen
Septon Moon
Ser Joffrey Doggett
King Aenys I Targaryen
King Maegor I Targaryen
Strength
Faith Militant Rebel housesRoyalist houses
Losses
Septon MurmisonSer Damon Morrigen
hundreds of Warrior's Sons
thousands of Poor Fellows
High Septon

The Faith Militant uprising was a rebellion by the militant orders of the Faith of the Seven against the rule of House Targaryen over the Seven Kingdoms.[1][2] The uprising began during the reign of King Aenys I Targaryen, continued through the reign of Maegor I Targaryen, and eventually ended during the reign of Jaehaerys I Targaryen.

Prelude

Although the uprising began during the reign of King Aenys I Targaryen, the first seeds were already planted during the reign of Aegon I Targaryen. Within a year of the birth of Prince Aenys's eldest child, Rhaena, in 23 AC[N 1] Queen Visenya Targaryen proposed a betrothal between Rhaena and Maegor, Aenys's younger brother, to settle the issue of the royal succession, as Rhaena's birth had sparked the discussion about who was next in line behind Aenys: his own daughter, or his brother.[3] However, the High Septon protested,[4] and suggested his own niece, Lady Ceryse Hightower, as a bride for the young prince instead. Maegor and Ceryse were subsequently wed in 25 AC at the Starry Sept in Oldtown.[5][3]

Matters calmed down for a while, until Maegor secretly took Alys Harroway as his second wife in 39 AC. When Maegor could not find a septon wlling to perform the marriage, Dowager Queen Visenya Targaryen presided in a Valyrian ceremony. Maegor's polygamous marriage angered the Faith of the Seven, and Aenys felt forced to exile his brother[4] when Maegor refused to set Alys aside.[6] Maegor left for Pentos.[4] The High Septon was not yet satisfied. As such, Aenys appointed Septon Murmison as his new Hand of the King, but even he could not heal the rift between the throne and the Faith.[4]

The situation became worse in 41 AC, when Aenys wed his daughter Rhaena and son Aegon to one another. The High Septon sent Aenys a denunciation, addressing him as "King Abomination"; The uprising was about to begin, and even the pious lords and smallfolk, who had loved Aenys, turned against the king.[4]

Uprising

Early conflicts

Conflicts began in King's Landing. For having performed the wedding ceremony, Septon Murmison was expelled from the Faith. A fortnight later, he was cut to pieces by Poor Fellows, who had taken up arms. And other Poor Fellows scaled the walls of the Red Keep, attempting to murder the king and his family, failing only when Ser Raymont Baratheon of the Kingsguard intervened. The Warrior's Sons began to fortify the Hill of Rhaenys, ensuring the Sept of Remembrance could withstand the Targaryens.[4][7]

Aenys and his family fled the city and went to Dragonstone. Aenys refused to follow Visenya's advise of burning down the Starry Sept at Oldtown and the Sept of Remembrance in King's Landing. Meanwhile, thousands of Poor Fellows threatened the king's supporters, while dozens of lords gave their support to the Faith; By the end of the year, most of the realm had joined the side of the Faith. Aenys, unable to decide how to deal with the rebellion, fell ill. He collapsed when he learned that Rhaena and Aegon were besieged at Crakehall, and died three days later.[4]

Maegor the Cruel

Visenya flew on Vhagar to Pentos after Aenys' funeral in order to retrieve Maegor from exile. Maegor was crowned upon his return to Dragonstone, and executed Grand Maester Gawen for protesting his claim to the throne. Maegor then flew upon Balerion to King's Landing, where the militant orders of the Faith had seized the Sept of Remembrance on Rhaenys's Hill and the half-completed Red Keep. On Visenya's Hill, Maegor raised the banner of House Targaryen and gathered the support of thousands.

Dowager Queen Visenya challenged those who questioned Maegor's right to rule. The challenge was met by the captain of the Warrior's Sons, Ser Damon Morrigen. They agreed on a trial of seven. Though Maegor was the only survivor out of fourteen combatants, he took a blow to the head and collapsed just as the last Warrior's Son died. On the twenty-eighth day of his coma, Queen Alys Harroway returned from Pentos, bringing with her Tyanna of the Tower, a courtesan who had become Maegor's lover during his exile. Tyanna took over his care, and Maegor woke from his coma on the thirtieth day. Maegor mounted Balerion and without warning flew over the Sept of Remembrance on Rhaenys's Hill, unleashing the Black Dread's flames and consuming the Sept and all within in dragonflame. Those who tried to flee were slain by archers Maegor had placed around the hill. The screams of burning and dying men were said to echo in the streets of King's Landing, and it was claimed a pall hung over the city for seven days.[5]

Maegor raised a set of laws which forbade holy men from carrying arms,[8][9] and offered bounties of gold dragons for the scalps of Warrior's Sons and silver stags for the scalps of Poor Fellows.[2] He also punished lords who spoke out against the suppression of the Faith.[10]

In 43 AC, the Battle of Stonebridge was fought between Maegor's forces and the Poor Fellows. According to a semi-canon source, the Poor Fellows were nine thousand strong, under the command of Wat the Hewer.[11] While crossing the Mander, they were caught between six lordly armies.[11] The Poor Fellows fell and died in droves during the conflict. The sheer brutality of the carnage made the Mander run red with blood for twenty leagues, resulting in the bridge and castle that commanded it forever after being known as Bitterbridge.[5] Wat managed to kill Lord Meadows, the commander of the King's army, but was taken alive himself, and delivered to King's Landing in chains.[11]

Another fierce battle was fought at the Great Fork of the Blackwater. Thirteen thousand Poor Fellows, hundreds of knights of the Warrior's Sons, and hundred from rebel lords of the riverlands and westerlands fought against Maegor's forces at Stoney Sept. The battle resulted in a decisive victory for Maegor, whose dragon left death in its wake.[5]

In 44 AC, Maegor threatened to incinerate the Starry Sept at Oldtown in response to the High Septon condemnation of his polygamous marriages. Shortly after, the High Septon died suddenly, allowing Lord Martyn Hightower to open his gates before Balerion and Vhagar could burn the city.[12] Rumors about the nature of the High Septon's death still persist today. Ser Morgan Hightower, the commander of the Warrior's Sons in Oldtown, who was the only Warrior's Son pardoned by King Maegor, has been suggested as the murderer. Others have suggested Lady Patrice Hightower, although there is little proof. The Citadel has also been suggested to have played a role in the High Septon's death, although the suggestion seems far-fetched, according to Maester Yandel.[12]

The new High Septon was a more passive man, but he too proved unable to halt the rebellion.[5] Although he attempted to disband the Stars and Swords, he made little effort to reduce the constant violence. Maegor temporarily pulled back from the war, focusing instead on the completion of the Red Keep, but in late 45 AC began a new campaign against the Faith. In 46 AC, Maegor brought two thousand skulls from his campaign against the Faith to King's Landing, claiming they were the heads of Warrior's Sons and Poor Fellows. Many suspected they were the skulls of innocent smallfolk, however.[5]

In 48 AC, Septon Moon and Ser Joffrey Doggett led the Poor Fellows against Maegor, supported by Riverrun. As more and more of the realm began to oppose Maegor, the support he received was little.[5]

Conclusion

Maegor's death

Maegor had been battling not only the Faith during his reign, but also his own family. Aenys I Targaryen's widow, Dowager Queen Alyssa Velaryon, and her two youngest children, Jaehaerys and Alysanne, had been made hostages on Dragonstone, while Prince Viserys had been made Maegor's squire in King's Landing. Aenys's eldest son, Prince Aegon, challenged Maegor's claim to the throne, but died in battle against Maegor in 43 AC.[5] Aegon's sister-wife, Rhaena, and their two young daughters, Aerea and Rhaella, evaded capture for a while, being protected by Lord Farman on Fair Isle, until they were found by Tyanna of the Tower, upon which Rhaena was forced to marry Maegor. Following the death of Dowager Queen Visenya in 44 AC, Alyssa Velaryon escaped with Jaehaerys and Alysanne. Maegor had Prince Viserys killed, hoping he could force Alyssa to come to King's Landing to claim her son's body. Instead, Alyssa's youngest son, Jaehaerys, put forward his claim for the throne, and although Maegor disinherited him, naming Rhaena's daughter Aerea as his heir instead, support for Jaehaerys grew.[5]

Lord Daemon Velaryon, the admiral of the king's fleets, eventually turned against Maegor, and gave his support to Jaehaerys. His example was followed by many of the great houses. Jaehaerys named Lord Robar Baratheon, the Lord of Storm's End, as Protector of the Realm and Hand of the King. Rhaena fled from Maegor on her dragon, Dreamfyre, when she learned of Jaehaerys's proclamation, stealing Maegor's Valyrian steel sword Blackfyre. And two knights of Maegor's Kingsguard abandoned Maegor as well, joining Prince Jaehaerys instead. Facing so much opposition with only the forces of a few lord from the Crownlands at his disposal, Maegor's situation was dire. In 48 AC, he was found dead upon the Iron Throne. The manner of his death is still speculated about today.[5]

Jaehaerys the Conciliator

Prince Jaehaerys ascended the throne in 48 AC following Maegor's death. He was crowned by the High Septon. About a decade into his reign, he became aqcuinted with Septon Barth, who tended to the books and records in the Red Keep's library. Jaehaerys soon named him Hand of the King, a position he kept for forty years.[9][13] Together with Barth, Jaehaerys reconciliated the Iron Throne with the Faith. The Poor Fellows and Warrior's Sons, much reduced in number, were still present and restless, eager to restore their orders. Jaehaerys sent Septon Barth to Oldtown to speak with the High Septon. Eventually, it was agreed that the Iron Throne would always protect and defend the Faith, if the last few Stars and Swords would put down their weapons, and if the Faith agreed to accept justice from the Iron Throne instead of the Faith. So the rift between the crown and the Faith was healed.[9]

Notes

  1. The World of Ice and Fire states that "[Ceryse Hightower] was advanced by her uncle, the High Septon, after he protested the betrothal of the thirteen-year-old Prince Maegor to Maegor's newborn niece, Princess Rhaena. Ceryse and Maegor were married in 25 AC." (The World of Ice and Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Maegor I); However, it has since been stated that Maegor was eleven at the suggestion of betrothing him to the newborn Rhaena. Notes taken from a reading of The Sons of the Dragon state that Maegor had just turned twelve when the betrothal to Rhaena was suggested, placing the attempt in 24 AC

References

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