preasoiaf meme | 2 stories about the founding of a house: house baratheon
House Baratheon was born amidst the rain and mud of the battle known to history as the Last Storm, when Orys Baratheon thrice turned back the charge of the knights of Storm’s End and slew their king Argilac the Arrogant in single combat. Storm’s End, long thought to be impregnable, yielded to Orys without a battle (wisely, given the fate of Harrenhal). Afterward Orys took King Argilac’s daughter to wife and adopted the Durrandon arms and words as his own to honor Argilac’s valor.
*eva green as argella durrandon, aneurin barnard as orys baratheon
The favor that Aegon the Conqueror showered upon Orys Baratheon made many credit the rumors that he was Aegon’s bastard half brother. Though never proved, that tale is widely believed to this very day. Others suggest that Orys rose so high because of his prowess at arms and his fierce loyalty to House Targaryen. Even before the Conquest, he served as Aegon’s champion and sworn shield, and his defeat of King Argilac only added further luster to his name. When King Aegon granted Storm’s End to House Baratheon in perpetuity, and named Orys Lord Paramount of the Stormlands and the Hand of the King, none dared suggest that he was unworthy of these honors.
He still remembered the first time he heard the roar of a dragon. Even Balerion, roused to his fiercest and most fearsome state, never sounded as terrifying to Orys as the storm currently battering the castle.
His castle. Aegon’s decree had made it so. The Lord of Storm’s End, afraid of the sound of wind and thunder and rain, afraid of the storm? Impossible!
He emptied his goblet of wine in one gulp, and motioned to the serving girl to fill it once more to the brim. The food on his plate was barely touched, the meat already cold, the gravy congealing into an unappetizing glob of brownish substance. They were eating stag meat again. It seemed like they had been eating stag meat every night since Aegon’s decree formally naming Orys as Lord of Storm’s End and Lord Paramount of the Stormlands was announced.
What was his lady wife trying to tell him? Now that he was the stag, the stag in Storm’s End, she was eager to carve him up and serve him for supper?
House Baratheon was born amidst the rain and mud of the battle known to history as the Last Storm, when Orys Baratheon thrice turned back the charge of the knights of Storm’s End and slew their king Argilac the Arrogant in single combat.
At the approach of Orys Baratheon and the Targaryen host, Argella barred the gates of Storm’s End and declared herself Storm Queen. She announced that the defenders of Storm’s End would die to the last man. However, her garrison refused to share the fate of Harrenhal and revolted, raising a peace banner and delivering Argella to Orys’s camp, gagged, chained, and naked. Orys removed the chains with his own hands, wrapped his cloak around her, and gave her food and wine. He spoke to her gently, telling her of her father Argilac’s courage in death.
Aegon rewarded Orys Baratheon with Storm’s End, the rule of the Stormlands, and Argella. Orys Baratheon adopted the sigil and words of House Durrandon as his own.
the world of ice and fire + argella durrandon and orys baratheon
For a few days it was feared that Storm’s End might suffer the same fate as Harrenhal, for Argilac’s daughter Argella barred her gates at the approach of Orys Baratheon and the Targaryen host, and declared herself the Storm Queen. Rather than bend the knee, the defenders of Storm’s End would die to the last man, she promised when Queen Rhaenys flew Meraxes into the castle to parley. “You may take my castle, but you will win only bones and blood and ashes,” she announced… but the soldiers of the garrison proved less eager to die. That night they raised a peace banner, threw open the castle gate, and delivered Lady Argella gagged, chained, and naked to the camp of Orys Baratheon.
It is said that Baratheon unchained her with his own hands, wrapped his cloak around her, poured her wine, and spoke to her gently, telling her of her father’s courage and the manner of his death. And afterward, to honour the fallen king, he took the arms and words of the Durrandon for his own. The crowned stag became his sigil, Storm’s End became his seat, and Lady Argella his wife. They would go on to have several children, each inheriting the black hair of their parents and the famous deep blue eyes of the Durrandon.
It did not rain, he told her. It did not rain in Dorne, the day of his defeat, the inglorious defeat that led to him returning without his sword hand.
“Did you think you would have defeated Wyl of Wyl, had it rained that day? Because it rained the day you defeated my father?”
“There was a time, my lady, when I believed that it was you who summoned the storm that day. The storm that brought the rain and the howling gale that blinded us to the advance of your father and his men. Rhaenys and her dragon saved us that day. Had it not been for dragonflame, fear and dejection would not have set in the hearts of your father’s men.”
“I? Summoned the storm?”
“They said you were a witch. The Storm King’s maiden daughter, with her spells and her incantations, summoning the forces of nature against her father’s foes.”
She laughed, bitterly. “Had I truly been a witch, I could have held out against Aegon’s invasion and ruled the stormlands in my own right, like the Green Queen held out against Storm’s End and ruled the rainwood in her own right. Had I truly been a witch, I would not now, or ever, be Lady Baratheon. Had I truly been a witch -”
“- I would have lost more than just my sword hand in Dorne?”
“My lord, had I truly been a witch, you would not have lived to march to Dorne.”
Do you think Orys was the biggest member of original team Dragonstone? I can see him being tall and muscular like Robert I in his youth.
Ah yes, I do like Baratheon speculation. I’m going to take a look at TWOIAF again because I had an amusing thought I need to check on.
OK, here are the descriptions of Orys:
Aegon’s fierce, black-bearded Hand
And Orys Baratheon he proclaimed to be “my shield, my stalwart, my strong right hand.”
…a black-eyed, black-haired bastard named Orys Baratheon.
Orys rose so high because of his prowess at arms
Compare that to a description of Argilac, the last Durrandon king
When Orys Baratheon came down the muddy hill with his own men, he found the old king holding off half a dozen men, with as many corpses at his feet.
Keeping this in mind
Argilac had grown older; his famous mane of black hair had gone grey, and his prowess at arms had faded
Imagine Argilac when he was young. He was holding off half a dozen men when he’s “old” and “his prowess at arms had faded,” He managed to wound Orys Baratheon in their one-on-one battle, and Orys is Aegon’s champion! Argilac had to be pretty impressive.
So yes, my amusing headcanon is that not only is the Baratheon look actually the Durrandon look (Orys had black eyes, not blue), but I think the tall and muscular build is also passed down from the Durrandon’s. I don’t think Orys was puny at all, but when I look at that description of the aged Argilac in battle that screams Robert Baratheon to me.
I don’t think I answered your question yet but I’m getting there. I don’t think Orys was the biggest member. Aegon I is described as tall, broad shouldered and powerful by GRRM in this SSM. I’d be surprised if Orys is bigger than him, especially because there is no observation about Orys’ build and I would have expected something if his size had been remarkable compared to Aegon. I think Aegon and Orys are either equal, or more likely, Aegon has the larger build.
Argella Durrandon, another woman suffering for a man’s story
I’ve finally gotten around to actually reading A World of Ice and Fire instead of relying on wiki entries for research purposes, and the discrepancy in how men and women are treated by the text during Aegon’s conquest knocked the wind out of my sails, most shockingly was the awful treatment Queen Argella Durrandon received and how glaringly different her forced surrender to the Targaryens is from the rest of the kings.
Argella Durrandon, Argilac the Arrogant’s daughter and heir, styled herself the Storm Queen following her father’s death at the hands of Orys Baratheon during Aegon’s conquest. Originally refusing to yield, Argella bars her gates and tells Rhaenys Targaryen that she may take the castle but she’d only get blood and bone and ashes. But her men - fearing the fate of Harrenhal - open the gates to Storm’s End and deliver Argella, chained, gagged and naked, to Orys Baratheon’s camp.
Of all the kings who bent the knee to the Targaryens, literally no one else suffers from similar treatment in their surrender. No one suffers this level of humiliation or that level of pointed forcefulness and violation. The implications of what Argella suffered at the hands of her own men, the inexplicable and unnecessary physical and sexual violence against her person, the silencing of her voice, the violation of her personhood is treated so casually and carelessly by the text that I literally felt sick reading about it. Argella’s submission is forced and enforced thrice over. Not only is she forced into political submission by her men but she also literally has both her voice and her governance over her own body taken away from her. She is personally humiliated in a way that no one else suffers throughout the conquest. Her helplessness is hammered into her psyche, she suffers from both physical and sexual abuse in her forced surrender, and it’s mentioned in such a casual way that goes on to shift the focus to Orys Baratheon.
We hear no more about Argella herself after that. What we hear of is how Orys reacts to her being delivered to him naked and gagged, how he covers her and is gentle to her, how he speaks of her father’s bravery on the battlefield and ends up taking her to wife, adopting her house’s sigil and words for his own to honor her father’s bravery.
The way this whole story is handled is so carelessly misogynistic with so many ugly implications. Argella’s single defining act is one of defiance that promptly gets punished by the unprecedented and singular act of gendered abuse in the whole conquest. Her abuse isn’t even about her but about defining the character of Orys. Her abuse happens for Orys. Her voice gets taken away from her and we hear nothing out of her again. Her house, sigil, words and property are transferred to Orys. Argella Durrandon suffers and gets silenced and disappears in the text to outline the character of Orys Baratheon.
And while all that happens, Rhaenys Targaryen, the only other woman involved in the taking of Storm’s End and the one whose presence with her dragon prompts Argella’s men to surrender in the first place, mysteriously vanishes into thin air.
And I have to ask why GRRM chose to tell the story that way. Everything that happened in the story could still have happened without abuse being used as a plot device. Argella could have easily gotten imprisoned in her castle till Orys arrived to accept her surrender. He could have been decent and respectful in treating her as befits her station and speaking about her father’s bravery. He could have still taken her for a wife and adopted her house words and sigil. Such a scenario loses the ugly implication of how everything that belonged to Argella, including her voice and body autonomy, got taken away from her by men. Such a scenario allows her to keep her personhood and her voice and to keep her only defining act in the text.
So why does one of five women involved in the conquest have to be stripped of her voice and autonomy and dignity to prop up a man? Why does she have to suffer a fate so vastly different from everyone else? Why does she have to suffer in that way and lose everything that defines her for Orys Baratheon’s characterization?