In A Clash of Kings, when the Small Council hears of the assassination of Renly Baratheon, Tyrion realizes that the Lannisters can no longer depend on the Baratheon brothers decimating each other in battle before either of them reaches King's Landing. He proposes marrying Joffrey to Margaery Tyrell in order to win the support of the Tyrells and other southron lords that were formerly sworn to Renly, and Cersei immediately objects, stating that Joffrey is betrothed to Sansa.

Cersei is no Ned Stark, so I doubt she is trying to preserve the betrothal out of respect or honour. She despised her late husband, who made the match, and she despises the Starks as well. Tyrion is also quick to point out that a marriage to Sansa is worth peanuts after Ned's death and Robb's march against the Lannisters.

Why is Cersei against marrying Joffrey to Margaery when there are next to no disadvantages? Does she already know somehow that Margaery will be able to tame and control Joffrey like she starts to do on the show? Or does Cersei prefer Sansa because Margaery will be much more difficult to intimidate and control?

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    In the show it seems like Cersei generally doesn't like Margaery or that she represents a new queen to take her place. Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 3:02
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    Aye, Queen you shall be. Until there comes one younger and stronger and more beautiful....
    – TLP
    Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 17:57
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    There's always one major disadvantage to arranging a dynastic marriage. It semi-permanently takes on of the most powerful cards out of your hand for the rest of the game. Commented Mar 5, 2016 at 17:29
  • @DanNeely The Lannisters were able to crush the starks and keep their powerful cards as well as Sansa. What makes Cersei think that they can't do the same for the Tyrells? Tywin surely knows that the Lannisters need the Tyrells' financial support as well as their crops, but does Cersei? Commented Mar 6, 2016 at 19:19

5 Answers 5


At that point Cersei wasn't thinking as a politician, but as a mother. Her emotions were clouding her judgement, which is a common theme for Cersei. In her mind, Margaery was no fit wife for her beloved first born for several reasons:

  1. She was damaged goods. While her marriage to Renly wasn't consummated, in Cersei's mind she was still Renly's leavings.

  2. She was several years older than Joffrey. Cersei would have liked her boy's wife to be younger than him.

  3. She was Tyrion's suggestion. Cersei hated her little brother, which in turn made her hate all his decisions, no matter how logical they were. It was also arranged without her knowledge or cooperation.

  4. In Cersei's mind, she probably hadn't given up on Sansa's Northern claim and was loathe to let go of something she had gotten accustomed to thinking was already hers.

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    Cersei "wasn't thinking as a politician". Does she ever?! Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 8:41
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    This isn't wrong, but it doesn't mention Maggy's prophecy which was a strong motivation for Cersei's behaviour. (See my answer.) Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 12:36
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    I agree with this interpretation. Especially point 3. I don't think Cersei ever liked a tactic or strategy that didn't come from herself, especially if it was from Tyrion.
    – onlynone
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 16:08
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    @RoyalCanadianBandit - I thought about putting it in, but couldn't explain how Cersei would see Margaery as the Young Queen but not Sansa. Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 18:26
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    Hehehe "little brother"
    – zahbaz
    Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 7:58

Aside from some of the suggestions in System Down's answer, there are other political reasons that could have been a factor:

  1. We see at the end of the scene that Tyrion can tell she's plotting something (she apoligises and kisses him). We later learn this is wildfire. She may have had concerns about a convoluted plot involving marriage, that would almost certainly have involved her, at a time when she was looking to advance other plans. This works in conjunction with the next.
  2. Tyrion almost immediately suggests that as Queen Mother, she would be the ideal person to broker this arrangement. It's a tactic that would have gotten her out of the city at a time when she had an active plot and potentially removed her from the circle of influence. She may have had the foresight to see this coming from Tyrion, and needed to be seen finding it dubious so that Tyrion would have to take greater involvement (and indeed, she tries to turn it so that he would have to leave the city to arrange it until Littlefinger surprises both of them)
  3. I wouldn't necessarily say that Sansa's northern claim was particularly important to her, so much as Sansa being in a position where Cersei had greater leverage over her. To bring a different queen into the fold would lose her an asset. This isn't trivial - Sansa had been demonstrated to be basically naive, helpless and easily controlled. Hoping that Margaery would be that easy would have been like winning two lotteries while being struck by lightning while being eaten by a shark.
  4. Perhaps by this point, she did already understand that Joffrey would be difficult to control. After all, he'd already bypassed her with Ned Stark, etc. Some of the objections she raises are regarding whether they can convince Joffrey to go along with it, whether he will like Margaery etc., and maybe she's just not quite confident that this is a plot they can walk Joffrey through without him taking matters into his own hands.
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    I'm tempted to give you a +1 just for would have been like winning two lotteries while being struck by lightning while being eaten by a shark. That's an excellent bit of phrasing. Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 14:34

Cersei is obsessed with the prophecy made by the fortune-teller Maggy when she was a young girl. Part of Maggy's prediction is:

Queen you shall be... until there comes another, younger and more beautiful, to cast you down and take all that you hold dear.

Margery obviously fits the bill, so Cersei will never be anything but hostile to her. She is likely to interpret "taking all that you hold dear" as meaning that Margery will take over the affection and loyalty of Joffrey, and later Tommen.

While Cersei might also have seen Sansa as the threatening "younger queen" of the prophecy, Sansa had no family to protect her, so she was less of a threat. Cersei could bully, intimidate, or otherwise harm Sansa with few repercussions; this is not so with Margery.

Leaving the prophecy aside, Cersei is extremely jealous of other women, as well as being possessive and overprotective of her children. On an emotional level, she is unwilling to share any of them with a spouse, let alone a beautiful, capable, and well-connected young woman such as Margery.

Cersei appreciated the political necessity of the marriage to secure the Tyrell alliance, and in any event was pressured into agreeing by Tywin and Tyrion, but she did so with the greatest reluctance.

  • I'm not sure how much the prophecy really holds here - at least the part about Sansa being different from Margaery for its sake. Cersei can bully or intimidate Sansa NOW. But Sansa isn't Queen now, Sansa doesn't have the experience she will later get as Queen hypothetically when she is no longer a child, and she'll be under Joffrey's protection. The idea that Cersei'll have the same leeway to get away with things after Sansa marries Joffrey would have been ... beyond insane. At the very least, Sansa would be a credible threat at that point, if events had ever gone there.
    – DariM
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 21:22
  • In the present, Cersei thought she could control and intimidate Sansa. She was wrong, as we see from Sansa's POV, but that's what she believed. Yes, there might have been problems later on, but she had more immediate things to worry about. (Also, the notion of Joffrey "protecting" Sansa is questionable, given what we see of his behaviour.) Cersei believed Margery was much more of a clear and present danger. Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 9:20

Sansa brings with her significant lands (with everyone else in the family deemed a traitor). A marriage to her significantly increases the power of the family. She can be trusted for the most part, because she has nowhere to go, and the Starks are famously terrible at playing the Game of Thrones.

Margery does not bring any land that would be directly controlled by a Lannister. She also cannot be trusted at all, having significant family influencing her, as well as training by some of the best players of the game. She brings a powerful, but untrustworthy alliance.

Imagine the USA, 1941. They are given the option of getting 100 tanks for themselves, or 200 for the USSR. Which would they choose?

  • Sansa brings with her significant lands? What about Bran and Rickon? They are just as guilty of treachery as Sansa is. Okay, say they're traitors too. If the King can just strip the Starks of their lands and inheritance like this, why can't they declare Sansa a traitor and Arya dead and simply install another house as wardens of the North? I understand that the northerners are more likely to support Joffrey if Sansa (one of their own and a Stark) is his queen. But if the rest of her family are traitors, isn't she as well? Why would the people support Joffrey after he marries a traitor? Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 2:43

Cersei has already experienced humiliation at Margery's hand. By being more socially aware of the power of the masses' affection, by calling the "old" card on her repeatedly, Margery has established dominance. That together with Cersei's paranoia and jealousy of all things extra-familiar, Cersei knows that she cannot easily bully her the way she does with Sansa. Margery clearly demonstrates she can manage Joeffrey in a way Cersei can never do.

Also a factor - she cannot hear anything Tyrion has to say and works against his strategies at every turn.

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