Could you explain the war of the nine penny kings? I know it happened relatively recently, and involved maelys blackfyre, but I'm not really sure about the why/who/where of the incident
Well, recently is a relative term, it happened in 260 AL during the reign of Jaehaerys II, so it’s 40 years prior to the start of the series, so you had to be at least in your early fifties to have seen action in the war and still be around to talk about it.
Maelys Blackfyre, along with an assorted group of rogues, decided on making a fortune for themselves, and using the Golden Company, took over the disputed lands. After that, they toppled the Archon of Tyrosh and installed one of their own, a merchant prince named Alequo, as the new ruler. Then, they took over the Stepstones as a staging area to use against Westeros, looking to attack using Maelys’s claim through Daemon Blackfyre. Maelys was the last male-line descendant of Daemon Blackfyre, so according to Targaryen agnatic-style succession, he’d be the only one left to push the Blackfyre claim.
Westeros had thought the Free Cities would take care of it, but when it didn’t, King Jaehaerys II dispatched an expeditionary force to the island that was made up of many of the great lords from across Westeros. This war is unique in that Westeros, for perhaps the first and only time, is fighting as a truly pan-Westerosi force. Seemingly every region of Westeros sent fighters to win glory, and even the Ironborn under Quellon Greyjoy sent a hundred longships. You had Brynden “Blackfish” Tully, Ormund Baratheon and his son Steffon, grandfather and father to Robert, Stannis, and Renly, Lord Baelish, Littlefinger’s father, Tywin, Kevan, and Tygett Lannister (Gerion was too young), and presumably Jon Arryn, Lord Tyrell (presumably Luthor, but we don’t know), and Lord Stark (again, presumably Rickard, but we don’t know), since it’s mentioned that the regional Warden titles were activated.
It was hard fighting, and Ormund Baratheon was among the first casualties of the war, dying in the arms of his son Steffon. But eventually, Barristan Selmy rode out and defeated Maelys in single combat. This is actually an impressive feat, Maelys was said to be so strong that he could kill a horse by punching it in the face. Barristan was rewarded by being named to the Kingsguard the next time a slot became available.
The political implications of the War of the Ninepenny Kings were enormous, because it meant that a lot of people of Westeros came into close, continuous contact with each other, and “fast friendships” were forged as a result. Peoples that might never have ever interacted with each other bonded around a campfire, swapping regional tales and jokes with each other, and it created a sense of cultural unity, so much so that after this war, the lords that took part in it had a much higher degree of inter-regional fosterages and marriage alliances. Jon Arryn fostered Robert Baratheon and Eddard Stark, Hoster Tully fostered Petyr Baelish, Rickard Stark betrothed his heir Brandon to Catelyn Tully, his daughter Lyanna to Robert Baratheon. If you believe the Southron Ambitions theory (and I certainly do) this could mean that the Great House lords were looking to build a larger power bloc in the wake of a weakening monarchy, or if you don’t, then it could have been a natural extension of their battlefield friendship.
For more on Jaehaerys II and the War of the Ninepenny Kings, check out my essay on J2 on the main site.
Thanks for the question, Random. I hope this helps you understand the War of the Ninepenny Kings.
SomethingLikeALawyer, Hand of the King