Is there an alternate way to interpret Tytos Lannister's rule as anything other than weak? His surviving children don't have a very favourable opinion of him as a leader, but their inability to create lasting peace with their improved statuses makes me wonder.
I don’t think so.
While Tywin is brutal, and is a harsh life lesson on the limits of brutal rule, Tytos went too far in the other direction. By loaning out money and not getting paid back, it shows that he doesn’t expect obligations to be fulfilled, and in a feudal system of government, that’s incredibly dangerous. After all, feudalism is a series of mutual oaths, and not getting them to be fulfilled is bad news.
There’s a certain amount of faith and reliability of central authority, and that goes for the benefits as well as the drawbacks. Vassals won’t oblige a ruler who doesn’t fulfill their feudal obligation of protection, but they won’t obey a ruler who doesn’t expect duties out of them as well, and that sort of unreliability in a feudal system is weak on an ontological level. By not having his vassals fulfill their oaths, there is a sense that larger vassals could bully smaller ones, that the Lord won’t intervene in border disputes for risk of offending either a vassal of his own or the Lord Paramount of a neighboring region. You can’t have that in a Lord, not when duty and obligation are tied so intrinsically into feudalism.
Hi! Quick question, why is Cersei lady of Casterly Rock if she is already queen? Doesn't being queen take you out of the succession for family lands? We see that Arianne was supposed to give up Dorne to be queen, so shouldn't Cersei do the same?
Cersei is Lady of Casterly Rock because Tywin is dead, Jaime cannot inherit since he’s Kingsguard, and Tyrion is a disinherited and attainted convicted criminal.
Also, Cersei is not Queen, she’s Queen Dowager, since her husband the
king is dead and her son is the king now. (Margaery is the queen.)
Cersei was Queen Regent for a time… but that did not stop her
inheritance. (Many regents in ASOIAF have held a lordship at the same
Casterly Rock was hers now, and all the power of House Lannister. No one would ever disregard her again. Even when Tommen had no further need of a regent, the Lady of Casterly Rock would remain a power in the land.
–AFFC, Cersei I
Nevertheless, when Cersei asked her uncle Kevan to be Hand of the King,
Cersei had not expected Kevan to require coaxing. He never played coy with Father. “The realm needs you.” “The realm. Aye. And House Lannister.” He sipped his wine again. “Very well. I will remain and serve His Grace…” “Very good,” she started to say, but Ser Kevan raised his voice and bulled right over her. “…so long as you name me regent as well as Hand and take yourself back to Casterly Rock.” For half a heartbeat Cersei could only stare at him. “I am the regent,” she reminded him. “You were. Tywin did not intend that you continue in that role. He told me of his plans to send you back to the Rock and find a new husband for you.” Cersei could feel her anger rising. “He spoke of such, yes. And I told him it was not my wish to wed again.” Her uncle was unmoved. “If you are resolved against another marriage, I will not force it on you. As to the other, though… you are the Lady of Casterly Rock now. Your place is there.” How dare you? she wanted to scream. Instead, she said, “I am also the Queen Regent. My place is with my son.”
–AFFC, Cersei II
Kevan said he would only take
the position of Hand only if Cersei gave up the regency (to him) and
went home to Casterly Rock to take up her position there. After he rejected her offer (and she rejected his), Cersei spitefully made sure that Kevan had no position of power in House Lannister by naming her cousin Daven Warden of the West and her cousin Damion castellan of the Rock. But of course, after Cersei was arrested by the Faith, Kevan quickly showed up in King’s Landing to assume the regency. (Mace Tyrell became Hand.)
Now, Kevan had planned to send Cersei back to Casterly Rock after her trial. Though whether he intended that she take up the position of Lady of Casterly Rock in anything but name is unclear, as he deliberately shamed her and broke her power and made sure she had no guards but his men. But since Kevan has been assassinated, his plans are no longer particularly relevant… so we’ll just have to wait and see what becomes of Cersei and the Rock.
For further reference, screencaps from the appendixes of AFFC and ADWD, showing Cersei’s status and titles: