The Real Game of Thrones: Tywin Lannister -v- the Kingmaker

Rich, influential, and unscrupulous; the saviour and downfall of kings…

…say hi to Richard Neville, the 16th Earl of Warwick AKA “the Kingmaker”, and his literary doppelgänger, Tywin Lannister.

A split image or Warwick and Tywin Lannister.
One man’s practical battle gear is another man’s birthday suit…
though they both look good in red.
Warwick: detail from “The Earl of Warwick’s Vow Previous to The Battle of Towton” by Henry Tresham, 1797, image c/o Wikimedia Commons. Screencap from HBO’s Game of Thrones with Charles Dance as Tywin

Spoiler notice: this post mentions plot points from Seasons 1-3 of Game of Thrones, and the equivalent events from A Song of Ice and Fire. As we are still a few months away from Season 4 (ARE YOU EXCITED?! I’M EXCITED!!!), please mark any comments which mention yet-to-be-shown-on events with a giant ***spoiler warning***. Thanks in advance.

Rich, influential, and unscrupulous: Warwick was born into the noble and wealthy Neville family; through his mother Alice and later his wife Anne, he acquired great titles and wealth. After Edward IV’s accession, Warwick’s annual income of ~£7,000 made him the second-richest man in the kingdom (after Edward himself): he was not only the holder of numerous hereditary titles but also Warden of the Western Marches and the Captain of Calais. His influence on the king and the kingdom was unparalleled:

[In England] they have but two rulers; Monsieur de Warwick, and another whose name I have forgotten.

– governor of Abbeville to Louis XI of France, 1464.

Tywin Lannister shares a very similar title as Warden of the West, and as the ruler of the Lannister gold mines, has money to spare — money which he used to shore up the spendthrift habits of King Robert. Hand of the King to both Aerys and now Joffrey, Tywin is just as influential in the Seven Kingdoms as Warwick was in England. He’s also fiercely conscious of his family’s honour, and takes extreme measures to preserve it.

It’s the family name that lives on. That’s all that lives on. Not your personal glory, not your honor… but family. – Tywin to Jaime.

Though he never dirties his own hands, he is responsible for many nasty doings, including the wholesale slaughter of a noble family under his rule for disloyalty (immortalised in the song The Rains of Castamere); the gang-rape of his son’s wife; the murder of the Targaryen heirs; and, of course, the Red Wedding. Warwick’s reputation was more wholesome; he had been hailed as:

…that noble knight and flower of manhood,
Richard, earl of Warwick, shield of our defence

– anonymous ballad posted in Canterbury, 1460

but was also quick to behead men who were disloyal to him, and had the Queen’s father and brother summarily beheaded in 1469.

Father of the year: Lacking sons, Warwick made the most of his two daughters, marrying the eldest, Isabel, to Edward IV’s younger brother George to position George as Edward’s rival. When that failed, Warwick married his other daughter Anne to the Lancastrian contender for Edward IV’s throne, the son of Henry VI whom Warwick had helped depose, Edward of Lancaster. Isabel and Anne’s reaction to all this, sadly, isn’t directly recorded (though it is dramatised in Philippa Gregory’s Cousins’ War series, and there is some evidence Isabel conspired on her husband’s behalf against her father and sister).

A picture of two women, from BBC's "The White Queen."
Sure Dad, those power-hungry princes sound like excellent husbands… Screencap from BBC’s “The White Queen”, with Faye Marsay as Anne and Eleanor Tomlinson as Isabel.

Tywin has two sons, but as one is unmarriageable (Jaime, being a member of the “celibate” brotherhood the Kingsguard) he makes his daughter Cersei do double-time: when she was a teenager, her father planned to betroth her to the Targaryen heir, Rhaegar, but was beaten to it by the Dornish. After Robert’s Rebellion, he then married Cersei to the victorious Robert, thus ensuring his grandchildren’s succession to the throne and the king’s reliance on his money. When Robert dies (ahem), Cersei gets a little breathing room before Tywin makes her the sister-in-law of her own son by betrothing her to Loras Tyrell, as Joffrey is betrothed to Loras’s sister Margaery.

Father, don’t make me do it again, please!

Cersei to Tywin

Almost as an aside, he also marries his good-for-nothing (he thinks) son Tyrion to Sansa Stark as his behind-the-scenes machinations have made her the heiress to Winterfell (not suspecting that both Bran and Rickon are still alive). Tywin’s iron will rules his children’s lives, even from afar, and all have difficult relationships with him — Tyrion most of all.

Kingmaking, kingbreaking: The Lancastrian king Henry VI was notoriously weak, and his reign saw many threats before his final, permanent deposition in 1471. When Richard, Duke of York, first rose against Henry in 1452, Warwick attempted to broker a peace between them, despite his aunt Cecily being married to Richard. Similarly, when Robert Baratheon first rebelled against Aerys, Tywin stayed removed, refusing to take part on either side. Later, however, Warwick came down on York’s side when his neighbour and rival the Duke of Somerset became Henry’s favourite, and his money, military strength and influence were instrumental in crowning York’s son, Warwick’s cousin Edward, as Edward IV in 1461. Tywin was more cautious, waiting until almost the last minute to switch his allegiance to Robert. When he did, though, his army’s sacking of King’s Landing, and murder of Rhaegar’s wife and heirs, was equally decisive:

When I laid those bodies before the throne… Robert’s relief was palpable. As stupid as he was, even he knew that Rhaegar’s children had to die if his throne was ever to be secure. Yet he saw himself as a hero, and heroes do not kill children. – Tywin to Tyrion.

As Warwick had been so instrumental in Edward IV’s accession, however, he was possessive of “his” king, and rifts began to appear in the cousins’ relationship when Edward married an obscure English noblewoman, Elizabeth Woodeville, in 1464, instead of the Savoyard duchess Warwick preferred. As Tywin did when Rhaegar married the Dornish princess Elia instead of Cersei, Warwick began to spend more time away from court, but the final straw was the growing influence of Elizabeth’s father (now Earl Rivers) and Edward’s refusal to allow his brother George to marry Warwick’s daughter Isabel. Warwick orchestrated a rebellion against Edward in 1469, even holding Edward prisoner at one point; when that proved unsuccessful and his alliance with George collapsed, Warwick made common cause with Henry VI’s wife Margaret of Anjou — his enemy for decades, by this time — to launch a final, unsuccessful assault on Edward IV’s rule.

A split image from "Game of Thrones" and "The White Queen."
They also both have excellent “you have got to be kidding me” expressions.Screencaps from HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and BBC’s “The White Queen,” with James Frain as Warwick.

While he was not the instigator of the rebellion against his grandson Joffrey, Tywin has shown himself to be as adept at behind-the-scenes moves as he is in battle, orchestrating the assassination of Robb Stark and the Northern armies with the collusion of the Freys and Lord Bolton.

Warwick was finally killed at the Battle of Barnet in 1471. He would have been proud that one of his daughters became Queen of England — just not through either of the marriages he’d planned.


Sources: She-Wolves by Helen CastorWikipedia; Dictionary of National Biography; A Wiki of Ice and Fire; The Memoirs of Philip de Comines.

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