Robert Baratheon

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Robert Baratheon is a fictional character in the A Song of Ice and Fire series of epic fantasy novels by American author George R. R. Martin, and its television adaptation Game of Thrones.

Introduced in 1996’s A Game of Thrones, Robert Baratheon is the eldest son and heir of Lord Steffon Baratheon and Lady Cassana Estermont of Storm’s End, the lord paramount of the Stormlands, one of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, and brother to Stannis and Renly. After his betrothed Lyanna Stark was kidnapped by Rhaegar Targaryen, Robert, along with the aid of her brother and his close friend, Eddard Stark, and their foster guardian Jon Arryn, initiated a bloody rebellion against the “Mad King” Aerys II Targaryen. After crushing the Targaryen dynasty and winning the war, Robert took the Iron Throne and established the Baratheon dynasty as its first king. However, due to Lyanna’s untimely death during the war, Robert instead married Tywin Lannister’s daughter Cersei to ensure political stability. Although Robert’s rule has been relatively peaceful, he proves to be an ineffective ruler and is unhappy in both his marriage to Cersei and his responsibilities as king, instead living a life of infidelity and wanton excess. He has fathered many bastards, unaware that his three children by Cersei were in fact fathered by her twin brother Jaime Lannister as products of incest.

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Although Robert is killed in the first novel, the legacy of his rebellion and rule continues to have great impact on the contemporary events of Westeros. His death creates a power vacuum in which both of his brothers, Cersei’s eldest son Joffrey, and several other claimants fight for control of the Seven Kingdoms, known as the War of Five Kings.

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Robert is portrayed by English actor Mark Addy in the HBO television adaptation.

Character

Robert Baratheon is not a point of view character in the novels, so his actions are mainly witnessed and interpreted through the eyes of Ned Stark. He only appears in the first book of the series A Game of Thrones, though is mentioned numerous times in the later books by characters such as Cersei Lannister.

Background

Before he became king, Robert Baratheon was the ward of Jon Arryn and was raised at the Eyrie alongside Eddard Stark. Fifteen years before the novels, Robert was betrothed to Ned’s younger sister Lyanna, with whom he was madly (and unrequitedly) in love. After Lyanna disappeared with Rhaegar Targaryen, Robert led a rebellion to overthrow the Targaryen dynasty and later killed Rhaegar in single combat. He then married Cersei Lannister to ensure House Lannister’s support for his rule, but remained attached to the memory of Lyanna, resulting in an estranged marriage with Cersei.

Personality and description

Robert is in his mid-thirties when the events of the books begin. He has the classical Baratheon look: black hair and bright blue eyes, and is a very tall man, with Eddard Stark estimating him to be six and a half feet. As a young adult, Robert was handsome, clean-shaven and muscled “like a maiden’s fantasy”. However, after he won the Iron Throne, Robert becomes very obese due to excessive feasting and drinking, gaining weight, and turns into an often red-faced man with dark circles underneath his eyes and appears half-drunk and sweating when walking, with a wild, thick, fierce beard that hides his double chin.

In his youth, Robert is as strong as a bull and fearless in battle with a powerful voice, wielding a large spiked iron war hammer too heavy for Eddard Stark to lift, and was a formidable warrior well loved by soldiers. Though headstrong, rash and impatient, Robert can be merciful towards his enemies as long as they are honest and brave, and can inspire loyalty and friendship in even enemies via charisma alone. Although deconditioned after becoming king due to weight gain and frequent drinking, Jaime Lannister still believes that Robert is stronger than him.

Robert is a jovial man of huge appetites and knows to indulge in pleasures. He is quite promiscuous, having fathered multiple bastard children (17 according to the prophecy by Lannisport fortuneteller Maggy the Frog) with whores or any women he encounters, and his lusts are the subject of ribald drinking songs throughout the realms. As king, Robert is known to impose upon the hospitality (voluntarily or not) of his subjects, but at the same time also possesses a rather careless generosity. A proud man, Robert rarely back down on words spoken in a drunken bravado. As king, Robert is no longer used to someone disagreeing with him, which makes him vulnerable to manipulation by others. Robert loathes his responsibilities as king and frequently expresses his preference to winning the throne in battle rather than sitting on it. He has never truly loved his wife and is unaware that none of his three children with her are his, but instead Jaime Lannister’s. Under his reign, the realm has been bankrupted, and Robert is deeply in debt to his wife’s family. Tyrion Lannister considers Robert to be “a great blustering oaf”, while Varys describes him as a fool. His queen wife Cersei Lannister considers him to be an ignorant, dumb, slow-witted, drunken brute who does not have the ruthless streak she believes a king requires. According to Petyr Baelish, Robert is practised at closing his eyes to things he would rather not see.

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