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In Game of Thrones after

the death of Ned Stark,

we get to know that Stannis Baratheon is the true heir to the throne, as stated in the raven message that Ned Stark sends to Stannis before he is taken captive.

Stannis also makes that information known to everyone subsequently. What puzzled me is the fact that the Starks are known for their loyalty, like Ned Stark had for Robert Baratheon all these years. If Ned Stark had been alive he surely would've followed Stannis to his grave and on top of that their alliance could've easily overwhelmed the Lannisters with their sheer individual military expertise (both Stannis and Robb are shown as brilliant battle strategists).

I just can't figure why Robb, who had similar traits to his father, didn't choose to follow Stannis in his cause? Stannis probably would've given sovereignty of the North completely to Robb if he had helped him (but that's just pure speculation on my part).

  • At the time reply had a much stronger force. They should have gone to stannis after but I think Cat dropped the ball and decided to save Brianne Instead. By the time she return to Robb he had more pressing concerns. If stannis took the capitol Robb prob would of made a deal – Alexander Presser Jun 6 '17 at 21:47
  • I misread this as "Why didn't Tony Stark form an alliance with Stannis" and was very confused. – Stevoisiak Jun 7 '17 at 4:57
41

This is a great question. Here's my take on it:

Towards the end of Season 1, Ned Stark is arrested in King's Landing. Incensed by this, Robb raises his bannermen to march on the South. When Ned is killed, he reaches a point of no return and vows revenge.

Then, in the Season 1 finale Fire and Blood, we hear this speech:

Robb: Renly is not the King.
Other Character: You cannot mean to hold to Joffrey, My Lord. He put your father to death.
Robb: That doesn't make Renly King. He's Robert's youngest brother. If Bran can't be Lord of Winterfell before me, Renly can't be King before Stannis.
Other Character: My Lords. If we put ourselves behind Stannis ...
Jon Umber My Lords! Here is what I say to these two Kings [spits] Renly Baratheon is nothing to me, nor Stannis neither. Why should they rule over me and mine from some flowery seat in the South? What do they know of the Wall or the Wolfswood? Even their Gods are wrong! Why shouldn't we rule ourselves again? It was the Dragons we bowed to and now the Dragons are dead! There sits the only King I mean to bend my knee to ... the King in the North!

Now, there's something very important revealed in this speech. Or rather not revealed. Robb intends to march on the South to fight for his father and the North. At no point is it shown that he is aware that Joffrey is a false King.

Instead, he simply thinks there are two other claimants for the throne and he wants nothing to do with it - he just wants revenge. Why would he swear a claim to Stannis, who has no chance to rule the throne? It's Joffrey's by right - as Robb mistakenly thinks. Based on this, and his bannermen's support, he declares himself King in the North.

Even Stannis only becomes aware of his true status of King in the Season 2 opener, The North Remembers, when Ned's letter arrives.

A few episodes later, in What is Dead May Never Die and Garden of Bones, Lady Catelyn actually arrives at the camps of both Renly and Stannis to try to negotiate a peace between them. However, by this stage Robb's claim as King in the North is well known. And Stannis will not back down from being King over the whole kingdom. As he tells Catelyn:

Stannis: It is strange to find you beside my brother, Lady Stark. Your husband was a supporter of my claim. Lord Eddard's integrity cost him his head. And you sit beside this pretender and chastise me. We share a common enemy. The Iron Throne is mine by right. All those that deny that are my foes.

At this point, despite her attempts to broker some sort of peace between Stannis and Renly, he is beyond redemption. Pride, desire to rule the whole kingdom and the Red Priestess mean he will not negotiate and thus Stannis and Robb become enemies, albeit ones who never meet on the field.

Of course, it could still be argued that Robb could renege on his desire to become King in the North, but with an army of bannermen behind him wanting freedom, this would be no easy task and would likely lead to further conflict with Stannis down the line. Not to mention Stannis, being the type of person who remembers wrongdoing (see: Ser Davos' fingers), would likely punish them after the war was over for their attempted uprising.

  • Note: I say "other character" in the first quotation as I I'm drawing a complete blank right now on who it is. Feel free to chime in if you know!! – Andrew Martin Feb 19 '15 at 8:35
  • I'd add the fact that almost everyone thinks Stannis would be a very bad king. He is described as an impossibly difficult man, as exemplified by the fact that his most loyal supporter is both promoted to knight and has his fingers chopped off for the same act, smuggling food. Little finger and Varys try to dissuade Ned from supporting Stannis, just short of explicitly telling him he is about to start a civil war, just swallow your damn pride and accept the bastard, but no, he goes ahead and does it anyway. The other characters have priorities other than Ned's pride. – Mzzl Feb 19 '15 at 15:37
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    @AndrewMartin This happened before Ned was beheaded. The Battle of the Green Fork and the Battle of the Whispering Wood both happen before Ned is killed. Robb calling his bannermen and going to war is a reaction to Ned's arrest. – BCdotWEB Feb 19 '15 at 15:55
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    They might have changed things around in the TV-show, but in the books, Stannis was the first to figure out Joffrey was not King Robert's son, and he took his grievance to Jon Arryn. They went around looking at Robert's bastards, including Gendry and the prostitute's son. That was the reason Stannis left King's Landing and went to Dragonstone when Jon Arryn died -- he was afraid he would get murdered as well. That was in fact the reason Jon Arryn was murdered, and the reason Ned Stark became Hand of the King. – TLP Feb 24 '15 at 16:41
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    Ahh, Poor Catelyn... She tried... She tried... – Möoz Mar 16 '15 at 22:13
10

Andrew already provided a superb answer, so I'll just add some insights:

  • "Stannis probably would've given sovereignty of the North completely to Robb if he had helped him"

No, he wouldn't, and he said so in some occasions ([citation needed], I know). Stannis is both a proud and righteous man, so if he has the right to the Iron Throne, that means the whole 7 kingdoms, North included. Any claims of separatism, like Robb's, would be considered treason. And, "legally" speaking, it would indeed be. Why would he split something that has been united for centuries?

  • "If Ned Stark had been alive he surely would've followed Stannis"

True, as Ned chose to support for Stannis' claim as the right heir. But Robb is not Ned!

  • "Why Robb who had similar traits like his father didn't choose to follow Stannis in his cause?"

Because he was pushed by his bannermen to fight not only to avenge his father, but also to claim independence to the North. Something Ned would probably never be persuaded to. Robb may be a bright military strategist, but he is still young, thus greedy and somewhat persuadable. He shares some traits with Ned, but not his father's obsessive (and almost naive) correctness. He broke his promise with Lord Frey, for example.

  • "Starks are known for their loyalty like the one Ned Stark had for Robert Baratheon all these years"

True, and Ned was Warden, not King, of the North. He kneeled to Robert, something Robb was not willing to do for Stannis.

  • "Their alliance could've easily overwhelmed the Lannisters with their sheer individual military expertise"

Perhaps, but the moment Robb claims a thone for himself, he is an usurper by Stannis' eyes, and thus such alliance is impossible.

Either Stannis would waive a major part of what was rightfully his, or Robb would give up on his separatism and bend the knee. And neither did, for their own reasons.

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A big issue is that Robb's position as overlord of the North is much weaker than Neds would have been because he's young and has only just inherited it. When Ned is killed Robb needs the idea of Northern independence in order to hold his force together.

That means if Robb backs Stannis and gives him his claim to being King of the North he likely loses his bannermen at a point he clearly needs them.

We don't know for sure what would have happened had Stannis taken Kings Landing and held onto the crown long term. I suspect though it's quite likely Robb would have been willing to slowly renounce independence or maybe take on a status more like Dorne as a client prince rather than just a Warden whilst bending the knee to Stannis as a middle ground similar to what Renly offers.

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I think Robb would have bend the knee to Stannis if he would have taken Kings Landing at the battle of Blackwater He does try to draw the Lannister forces into the West hoping to draw them away from the Baratheon hosts in the Stormlands. (Edmure foiled this plot) Also, his main reason for not bending to Joffrey is due to his father beheading, he could have been reasonable and bent the knee to Stannis as he knows hope of independence is lost It clear the Northern lords see him backing Stannis as some want to negotiate peace with Joffrey once Stannis is defeated

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I like Stannis but he never would have made a pact/deal with Robb Stark or anyone. He's more stubborn than the Starks as he says and I quote from the horses mouth himself:

Joffrey, Renly, Robb Stark, they're all thieves. They'll bend the knee or I'll destroy them.

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