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In "The Dragon and the Wolf" (Game of Thrones, S07E07),

Jon tells Cersei he can't stay out of the war because he's already sworn allegiance to Daenerys.

Afterward, Daenerys tells him that she respects his honor to his word, but she wishes he had just promised to stay out of the fight. This question explores why it would have been a bad choice for Daenerys to release him from his oath, but why didn't she just order him not to fight in the war, without releasing him from his oath of allegiance?

Since he's sworn allegiance to her, isn't he honor-bound to follow her orders?

Cersei said that she wouldn't trust Daenerys's word but that she would trust Jon's, so I'm assuming that would include the case where he follows Dany's orders not to fight and gives his word that he'll do so.

  • I'm not sure of the current opinions regarding GoT spoilers in titles and questions, so whoever does know feel free to edit as you see fit. – Ben Sutton Sep 20 '17 at 15:55
  • An order is valid… until a new order is given. Since Cersei doesn't trust Daenerys, why would she believe such an order wouldn't be cancelled the moment she turns her back ? – Skippy le Grand Gourou Sep 21 '17 at 12:06
  • @SkippyleGrandGourou That's why it would be essential for Jon to give his word that he won't fight. Even if Dany canceled the order, Jon would say "I've given my word, I have to stick to that." – Ben Sutton Sep 21 '17 at 14:23
  • Possible duplicate of Can monarchs not release those who have sworn for them? – Skooba Nov 10 '17 at 18:42
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    @Skooba I linked to that question in mine. That one explains why Dany couldn't release him from the oath altogether, but doesn't explain why Jon remaining neutral militarily wouldn't satisfy Cersei's demands. That's the key difference about this question. – Ben Sutton Nov 10 '17 at 19:00
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It isn't just about fighting. Cersei gave them 3 conditions regarding Jon:

He will remain in the North where he belongs.

He will not take up arms against the Lannisters.

He will not choose sides.

Perhaps Daenerys could have Jon swear to stay in the North and not take up arms against the Lannisters, but the third condition cannot be met. Jon has accepted Daenerys as his Queen, and he is no longer an independent King.

Cersei has very few cards left at this point, and a great army is not one of them. One she hopes to retain is legitimacy - Daenerys was raised in foreign lands and brought foreign armies to conquer Westeros. Remember that this already cost Daenerys the potential allegiance of a Westerosi Lord, Randyll Tarly:

Say what you will about your sister, she was born in Westeros. She's lived here all her life. You, on the other hand, murdered your own father and chose to support a foreign invader. One with no ties to this land with an army of savages at her back.

What Daenerys has that cannot be taken back is the allegiance of one of the remaining great Westerosi houses (and the entire North with it). It legitimizes her. Cersei is still playing "the game," she's losing, and this is another huge blow.

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Telling Jon to stay out of the fight is exactly the same as releasing him from his oath. If he's out of the fight he might as well not be following her as he will have no say in the deciding outcome of the wars.

As such her reasons are also the same as the linked question and the answer from @GhotiandChips:

Daenerys could have released Jon from this oath on the spot, but that would be problematic:

  • She has spent every episode since the two have met trying to get him to "bend the knee" and swear fealty, and every time she was met with stubbornness and a word about honour surrounding being the King in the North - for her to give up that earned trust and sworn vow, shortly after the effort it took to establish a good relationship and a trust to pry through Jon's stubbornness is probably not worth it, in her eyes.
  • That meeting between the two major parties is all about displaying power and strong resolve, and is highly cerebral. For Daenerys to surprise Jon by relinquishing his oath and dishonouring him would cause a confusion within their party that would display a weakness that Cersei can detect and think about exploiting, and it would prove to all the witnesses that this is a weak union keeping that dynasty together, if it can fall into confusion on a whim. In this game of mental chess that is this meeting, it would represent a disadvantage.
  • Daenerys would lose the respect of her supporters. When Joffrey had Ser Barristan Selmy "dismissed", it was a very controversial move that many considered a reflection of these awful rulers, but they couldn't do anything because they feared them, and that was a relatively small dismissal (Kingsguard oath vs a kingdom's fealty to the crown). Most of Daenerys' followers choose to fight for her because they believe in her, they have a lot of faith in her resolve and invest a lot of respect and love into her words and actions because she is true to her word and her resolve is strong. To suddenly force Jon to go back on his word this way would risk her losing the respect of her followers, which could, in turn, damage her relations with the people that would fight for her.
  • She is in love with Jon Snow. Not only does she experience flattery, honour and appreciation when the man she loves stands his ground expressing his loyalty to her, but she also knows that insulting Jon by forcing him, through royal power, to go back on his word and break his oath, especially after Jon says the following:

JON: When enough people make false promises, words stop meaning anything
—"The Dragon and the Wolf" (Game of Thrones, S07E07)

Would be pretty close to breaking Jon's heart. At the very least, it would damage their relationship, which her heart obviously doesn't want to happen, given her affection for him.

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    But I thought that the outcome of the Lannister/Targaryen war was only a minor concern for Jon compared to the threat from the North. Wouldn't she gain more respect and trust in Jon's eyes by giving up an advantage in her fight in order to support his? And wouldn't it be a sign of power in Cersei's eyes since Danaerys would still be commanding Jon's obedience with that decision? I think maybe understanding more about what an oath of fealty is would help me see how the two choices would be the same thing. – Ben Sutton Sep 20 '17 at 16:21
  • @BenSutton His oath is to side with Dany by staying out of the fight he isn't siding with her anymore but being an impartial bystander. His major concern still is the war in the North. – TheLethalCarrot Sep 20 '17 at 16:23
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why didn't she just order him not to fight in the war, without releasing him from his oath of allegiance?

You're missing some key points here.

  • Cersei asks Jon to remain impartial, as a way to prevent either side (Cersei/Daenerys) from trying to gain favors with Jon in order to get his allegiance (keep in mind that, at this point in time, Cersei thinks the North is not sworn to anyone).

  • Jon mentions that he is sworn to Daenerys.

  • Cersei storms off. Daenerys speaks to Jon about not having said that.


Jon going back on his words would be meaningless to Cersei.

The damage is already done. Even if Jon would want to go back on his promise to Daenerys, and he sticks to his promise to remain impartial, what is preventing him from allying with Danaerys again when the truce ends?

Cersei knows she's lost Jon's allegiance, and he will never bend the knee to her.

After Jon reveals having bent the knee to Danaerys, everyone (Daenerys, Jon, Cersei) is aware that Jon's words have made an impact that can never be taken back. This is why none of the characters even suggest Jon takes back his words, they only say that they wish he hadn't done it in the first place.

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    Side note: Cersei was never hoping to have Jon's allegiance, she knew she'd never get it. She was just hoping that Jon would remain a 3rd power not join with Dany. – TheLethalCarrot Sep 21 '17 at 8:43
  • @TheLethalCarrot: What you say is absolutely true, but that's not what Cersei projected during the meeting. Much of the character decisions were driven by the contents of the meeting, rather than the objective truth. Jon's response of "I cannot serve two queens" (and no one correcting him) also leads me to believe that Jon wasn't expected to remain a separate 3rd power, but rather be addressable by both Cersei and Daenerys (as they would be working together while fighting the Walkers). In effect, Cersei didn't want herself to become subject to a Jon who only listens to Danaerys. – Flater Sep 21 '17 at 8:44
  • Cersei was asking Jon to be impartial, how is that trying to get his allegiance? – TheLethalCarrot Sep 21 '17 at 8:46
  • @TheLethalCarrot: See the update to my earlier comment. Most notably, Jon's comment of "I cannot serve two queens", which implies that he's not just a free third party, he would be serving both queens. – Flater Sep 21 '17 at 8:47
  • Your answers good I just have a problem with this line Cersei knows she's lost Jon's allegiance, and he will never bend the knee to her.. Also the two queens is a build up to I serve Dany. It's a comment saying that he can't take orders from Cersei, i.e. stay in the North, because he is bound to Dany. – TheLethalCarrot Sep 21 '17 at 8:50

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