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In Game of Thrones, Season 4 Episode 6 "The Laws of Gods and Men", The newly crowned King Tommen recuses himself from the trial of his uncle Tyrion Lannister who has been (falsely) accused of poisoning King blond bastard Joffrey.

Why did he leave the trail completely? He wasn't even in the room/hall/court. It is odd to me that he wouldn't be there at all, even if just to watch and learn from his advisors?

As Tommen is young and easily plied, Tywin, as the Hand of the King, took over as the first of 3 judges. Even then, having taken over for Tommen as judge, why have Tommen leave the room?

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    This is one of the issues of trying to make a kid who is very young and naive (in the books he's 7) able to have sex in the show (he's 19). It creates confusing situations where they treat a man as a little child. – kuhl Apr 2 '16 at 12:59
  • I didn't expect the actor to be older than like 16. But the trial isn't one of those "we must protect the children" things. Especially not in Westeros. – cde Apr 2 '16 at 15:46
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    I'll see if I can find a reason from the show runners for this. My guess is that the 'real' reason is that the books did it that way. Because in the books he's young enough that he gets bored in court and so leaves governing to his Grandfather. It makes less sense when thinking of Tommen as a teenager or older. – kuhl Apr 2 '16 at 15:50
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Why is Tommen not involved in the trial?

As Tywin tells Tommen shortly after he becomes king:

"Wisdom is what makes a good king. But what is wisdom? How do you know which choice is wise and which isn't? A wise king knows what he knows and what he doesn't. You're young. A wise young king listens to his counselors and heeds their advice until he comes of age. And the wisest kings continue to listen to them long afterwards..."

Which is basically Tywin taking control of the throne and the kingdom. Cersei is Queen Regent until Tommen comes of age, but even she can have little influence in the judgement of the trial, since she was the one to accuse Tyrion - the chief prosecutor, in a way. As the head of House Lannister, Tywin has some degree of authority over her and thence over the young king. In the important matter of Tyrion's trial, he shunts aside all others who might preside over it in order to take that position for himself.

Tommen is still a child, and has little wisdom in such matters (he hasn't even been groomed for kingship, unlike Joffrey), so in any case he would be unfit to take charge of the trial. All he can do is to sit somewhere, quietly observing and learning for the future when he himself might have to preside over such events as king.

Why doesn't he even sit and watch?

The simplest answer is because it's boring. While not as petulant and obnoxious as his older brother, Tommen is nevertheless a prince, brought up in luxury by Cersei Lannister, so he's probably another spoiled brat.

Not only that, but he hasn't even been preparing for kingship all his life, as Joffrey had. He's not used to the responsibility of having to learn kingly behaviour and how to take command - nor has he seen a very good example of this in his 'father' King Robert. Why should he have to sit on his arse in a courtroom and listen to a lot of boring legal proceedings when he could be out doing something interesting? That's just the sort of thing Robert would say, and Tommen could easily be following his example.

Here's a book quote to back this up:

The king sat at the head of the table, a stack of cushions under his arse, signing each document as it was presented to him.

"Only a few more, Your Grace," Ser Kevan Lannister assured him. "This is a bill of attainder against Lord Edmure Tully, stripping him of Riverrun and all its lands and incomes, for rebelling against his lawful king. This is a similar attainder, against his uncle Ser Brynden Tully, the Blackfish." Tommen signed them one after the other, dipping the quill carefully and writing his name in a broad childish hand.

[...]

Though he had Joffrey's golden curls and green eyes, the new king shared little else with his late brother. He inclined to plumpness, his face was pink and round, and he even liked to read. He is still shy of nine, this son of mine. The boy is not the man. It would be seven years before Tommen was ruling in his own right. Until then the realm would remain firmly in the hands of his lord grandfather. "Sire," [Jaime] asked, "do I have your leave to go?"

"As you like, Ser Uncle." Tommen looked back to Ser Kevan. "Can I seal them now, Great-Uncle?" Pressing his royal seal into the hot wax was his favorite part of being king, so far.

-- * A Storm of Swords*, Chapter 72 (Jaime)

That doesn't look like a mature and responsible king who takes keen interest in the running of his realm and wishes to learn as much as possible about it.


OK, that covers why Tommen wasn't interested in watching the trial proceedings. You might still argue that Tywin could have made him do so. Tywin is evidently trying to educate him to be a wiser king than his brother was or could have been, and part of that should be to encourage him to observe important events that as king he would preside over, so that he can learn for the future.

But there's a lot more to this trial than meets the eye. The various members of House Lannister are up to all sorts of machinations around it. Cersei sees it as a way to get rid of her hated valonqar forever; Tywin's motives are less clear, but it's likely that he also wants to see his younger son convicted (and probably sent to the Wall) so that he doesn't have to proclaim him as his heir to Casterly Rock.

With all that politics in the air, which Tommen is blissfully unaware of, it makes sense to keep him out of the proceedings - he could be a liability. If he was present in the courtroom, he might easily say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Anything he said could be taken pretty seriously, so if he can't be trusted to keep his mouth shut or say only what Tywin tells him to, better he be kept out of it altogether.

  • But both this, and what they say/show of him in the show, makes me believe he's the type of child that's never heard. A very passive, rule following child that would sit there quietly the whole trial. Unlike Joffery who never would. That quote doesn't even describe him as whining or fidgeting. He dutifully signs everything that's expected of him. – cde Apr 3 '16 at 17:52
  • @cde Jaime asks the king's leave to go; Tommen addresses him as "Ser Uncle" and Kevan as "Great-Uncle". And yes, Tommen doesn't seem the type to interfere in the trial, but even the possibility is to be avoided. Also, maybe Tywin doesn't know his younger grandson well enough to realise this; he may be judging him by the standard of Joffrey. – Rand al'Thor Apr 3 '16 at 17:59
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Considering that it was mostly Tywin that convinced Tommen to give up his seat in the trial allowing himself to step in, let's look at why he chose to do it.

1. Tommen is very easily manipulated

The most important thing to note is that he recused himself because Tywin pretty much asked him to. He wanted to be in control of the trial, and make sure that it got the outcome he wanted.

Considering that Tywin's ultimate goal was to restore Jaime to being the heir to Casterly Rock, he was going to use the trial to manipulate Jaime into resigning from the Kingsguard in exchange for his brother's life. If Tommen had been in control of the trial, Jaime could have simply asked him and convinced him more easily to proclaim Tyrion innocent.

2. He's a Wildcard

He's the very new, very young king. Nobody knows what he might do, whether he will be like his brother Joffrey, like Robert, or something else entirely.

He might have messed up all the plans that had been put into place by Tywin, by being told make a particular decision by someone he trusts, such as Jaime, Kevan or more likely Cersei. He might have even just been merciful to his uncle and let him off scot-free for old times sake. He is about 9 years old after all.

It would be much more difficult for Tywin to make Tommen do what he wanted than to just take his place.

3. Tommen would have to understand the trial

It's probably a long and arduous process, with lots of evidence to consider and laws to be aware of when passing a sentence. Again, probably not reasonable for a 9 year old who will likely be unable to understand a lot of the proceedings or ask the correct questions to glean the truth.

4. It's his Uncle

Considering that the outcome might be that Tyrion needed to be sentenced to execution, it would have been quite cruel to make someone so young to give that order considering he would be sentencing his own uncle to death.

Also, he might be unduly merciful because it is portrayed that Tyrion is quite a good uncle to Tommen. For this reason alone he can't really be impartial (I realize that hypocrisy that it is the defendant's own father who replaces him as the judge, but it's still probably a better option).

Even just watching his uncle go through such a trial would be quite traumatizing for someone so young, which would likely be why he did not sit in attendance either. It is also his brother that Tyrion was accused of murdering, which would be even worse to hear how he allegedly killed him.

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