In Game of Thrones Renly Baratheon was the youngest of three brothers and thus fifth in line to inherit the throne after Joffrey, Tommen, Myrcella and Stannis.

After discovering that Joffrey, Tommen and Myrcella are bastards, Stannis is the rightful king of the Iron Throne (disregarding the events revealed in future seasons).

Then why did Renly try to proclaim himself King of the seven Kingdoms and why did some men follow him if Stannis was the legitimate King?

  • Myrcella was also in line to inherit the throne after all her brothers - but likewise was a bastard.
    – iandotkelly
    Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 16:59
  • Not sure how are the rules concerning women in Westeros (Salic Law). No one mentioned Myrcella so I was assuming women had no preference over men (as it happened in many kingdoms in real life: eg: Spanish Carlist wars)
    – Elerium115
    Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 17:04
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    @SembeiNorimaki - absolute male preference. Sansa, the older sister to Bran, says to him by the Weirwood tree "You are father's eldest trueborn son. You are the Lord of Winterfell." If there was not a set in stone male preference, she wouldn't be telling him that it was him over her. Had Myrcella outlived Tommen, she might have a claim, since there would be no trueborn males, but men first, eldest to youngest, before women, it seems. Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 17:14
  • 2
    He was prettier than Stannis. You could imagine him swinging his sword to a Queen soundtrack. </not a serious comment>
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 17:34
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    @SilverBebs - glad you noticed - there were meant to be ;)
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 6:55

2 Answers 2


Renly was more likable than Stannis as was shown in the series. Renly had the backing of Highgarden and most of Storm's End as well. He had the largest army and there was taking the crown by force, much like Robert had.

Renly: No one want you for their King. You never wanted any friends, brother, but a man without friends is a man without power.


Stannis: You think a few bolts of cloth will make you King?

Renly: No, the men holding those bolts of cloth will make me King.

And to reinforce what is seen on the show (I thought a similar line was said, but haven't found a clip...), while Renly is speaking to Catelyn about Robb and the North's rebellion:

Renly shrugged. "Tell me, what right did my brother Robert ever have to the Iron Throne?" He did not wait for an answer. "Oh, there was talk of the blood ties between Baratheon and Targaryen, of weddings a hundred years past, of second sons and elder daughters. No one but the maesters care about any of it. Robert won the throne with his warhammer." He swept a hand across the campfires that burned from horizon to horizon. "Well, there is my claim, as good as Robert's ever was. If your son supports me as his father supported Robert, he'll not find me ungenerous. I will gladly confirm him in all his lands, titles, and honors. He can rule in Winterfell as he pleases. He can even go on calling himself King in the North if he likes, so long as he bends the knee and does me homage as his overlord. King is only a word, but fealty, loyalty, service . . . those I must have." - A Clash of Kings - Catelyn II

  • There was definitely discussion of, since they were challenging the claim of the entrenched family, whether most legitimate rebel claim (Stannis) vs. who most would rally behind. Renly, in a self-serving statement to Catelyn, talks about how Robert's claim, though there was a blood one, was essentially one of battlefield might. Nice encapsulation of that issue/concept by the quotes in this answer. Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 17:18
  • @PoloHoleSet Yeah I am trying to find that clip, I found it in the books easily enough!
    – Skooba
    Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 17:20
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    Upvote for the book-quote (it's exactly what I thought of). I think the crux of the answer is that Renly has little to no regard for the legal way thrones are succeeded. It's like he takes Varys' "Power resides where the people believe it resides" quote too literally, with no finesse, plus he witnessed his older brother Robert take and keep the throne illegally, so that probably inspired his jealousy even further into trying to use his charisma to convince everyone he has a valid claim (it worked, too, one can hardly be blamed for not predicting shadow babies) Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 17:48

Adding to the existing answer, here's Renly Justification on his own words

Ned: What about Stannis?

Renly :Saving the Seven Kingdoms from Cersei and delivering them to Stannis? You have odd notions about protecting the realm.

Ned: Stannis is your older brother.

Renly :This isn't about the bloody line of succession. That didn't matter when you rebelled against the Mad King. It shouldn't matter now.

What's best for the Kingdoms? What's best for the people we rule? We all know what Stannis is. He inspires no love or loyalty. He's not a king. I am.

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