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King Robert Baratheon and several Targaryen Kings before him adhered to the Faith of the Seven.

The crown/throne and the High Septon are on really good terms with each other and most people of the Seven Kingdoms are followers of the Faith of the Seven, Except for the Northmen who believe in the Old gods and the Ironborn who believe in the Drowned God.

What would happen if someone (like Stannis Baratheon), who doesn't follow the Seven, the Old gods or the Drowned god, were to (or try to) become the new King of Westeros?

  • I think your question is part of the main theses question of the series. Are there rules that dictate who i sin power, or is it always down to the individual to rule – Andrey Feb 8 '18 at 17:08
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    @Andrey "Power resides where men believe it resides." – Virusbomb Feb 8 '18 at 17:33
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Other than what TLC has covered, religion is a sensitive issue in Westeros.

Majority of the people in Westeros adhere to the Faith and followers of other religions are in minority, specifically limited to the North and Iron Islands disregarding small exceptions like Blackwoods in Riverlands and Manderleys in the North. Ever since Aegon took the throne and converted to the Faith, it has been generally accepted that the King must be from the majority religion i.e. the Faith. It is implied due to the fact that Northmen and Ironborn kept their vows for most of the times. That can be attributed to the internal autonomy of the both regions, neither of them answer to anyone other than the King and are free to rule themselves as they wish as long as they keep faith with the Crown and do not break the King's laws. These responsibilities lie on shoulders of the Lords Paramounts of both regions.

But that does not mean that People in Westeros do not generally care about the religion.

When King Aenys I tried to marry his daughter to his son, he was denounced as "King abomination" by the High Septon and was soon fighting a rebellion. This Valyrian tradition was not welcome at all in the faith of the Seven. Lords and Commons alike took sides with thousands rallying to the Sept to protect the Faith. It would end only in the reign of King Jaehaerys I who disbanded the faith militant and vowed that the Crown shall always defend the Holy Mother Sept, a vow all Targaryens kept.

Some counselors urged the Old King to deal with the remnants of the Faith Militant harshly—to stamp them out once and for all before their zealotry could return the realm to chaos. Others cared more for ensuring that the septons were answerable to the same justice as the rest of the realm. But Jaehaerys instead dispatched Septon Barth to Oldtown, to speak with the High Septon, and there they began to forge a lasting agreement. In return for the last few Stars and Swords putting down their weapons, and for agreeing to accept outside justice, the High Septon received King Jaehaerys's sworn oath that the Iron Throne would always protect and defend the Faith. In this way, the great schism between crown and Faith was forever healed.
TWOIAF -Targaryen Kings : Jaehaerys I

So while the Faith is happy to be peaceful as long as a follower of the Faith, in this case the King, guarantees to always defend the Faith against religious threats, why should they believe vows of a non-believer to be genuine? If someone who kept other gods than the Seven took the throne, that would force the Sept to reconsider their arrangement with the Crown naturally. How long before the heathen outlaws their one true faith eh? Or persecutes them? Or forces people to convert to their superstition?

The religious minorities were forced to tolerate the Faith once Aegon converted and took the throne, given the Targaryen power.

And since Aegon had accepted the Seven as his gods and been anointed by the High Septon in Oldtown, Lord Vickon allowed the septons to return to the islands once again to preach the Faith.

This angered many pious ironborn and provoked the wroth of the priests of the Drowned God, as it always had before. "Let them preach," Lord Vickon said, when told of the unrest. "We have need of winds to fill our sails." He was Aegon's man, he reminded his son Goren, and no man but a fool would dare rise against Aegon Targaryen and his dragons.
TWOIAF -The Iron Islands : The Greyjoys of Pyke

They let them preach because as long as the Throne did not force the conversion, there was no reason to risk a confrontation with the Crown. But Goren got rid of the Faith soon.

These were words that Goren Greyjoy would remember. When Lord Vickon died in 33 AC, Goren succeeded him as Lord of the Iron Islands, putting down a clumsy conspiracy to restore the black line by crowning Qhorin Volmark's son in his stead. He faced a more serious test four years later, when Aegon the Conqueror died of a stroke on Dragonstone, and his son Aenys was crowned king in his stead. Though amiable and well-meaning, Aenys Targaryen was widely perceived as a weakling, unfit to sit the Iron Throne. The new king was still on his royal progress when rebellions began to break out all across the realm. One such revolt convulsed the Iron Islands, led by a man claiming that he was the priestking Lodos returned at last from visiting his father.

But Goren Greyjoy dealt with it decisively, going so far as to send the priestking's pickled head to Aenys Targaryen. His Grace was so pleased with the gift that he promised Lord Goren any boon that was within his power to grant. As sage as he was savage, Greyjoy asked the king to give him leave to expel the septons and septas from the Iron Islands. King Aenys was forced to agree. A century would pass before another sept was opened on the islands.
TWOIAF -The Iron Islands : The Greyjoys of Pyke

While the Septons did return, that shows that the minorities, while willing to accept the Crown's authority, were not okay with influence of the other religions on them. If minorities feel that way, Majority would feel that as well and more strongly if follower of some other faith was to rule them.

Lannisters used exactly that against Stannis when he took the faith of the Red Priests.

Tyrion made a show of glancing over the writing again. There had been some niggling phrase . . . "Done in the Light of the Lord," he read. "A queer choice of words, that."

Pycelle cleared his throat. "These words often appear in letters and documents from the Free Cities. They mean no more than, let us say, written in the sight of god. The god of the red priests. It is their usage, I do believe."

"Varys told us some years past that Lady Selyse had taken up with a red priest," Littlefinger reminded them.

Tyrion tapped the paper. "And now it would seem her lord husband has done the same. We can use that against him. Urge the High Septon to reveal how Stannis has turned against the gods as well as his rightful king . . ."
ACOK - Tyrion III

Since the High Septon is considered to be voice of the gods on Earth by the majority, his words will carry great weight.

Cersei tried to use the same support for Tommen:

“Most have lost their homes. Suffering is everywhere... and grief, and death. Before coming to King’s Landing, I tended to half a hundred little villages too small to have a septon of their own. I walked from each one to the next, performing marriages, absolving sinners of their sins, naming newborn children. Those villages are no more, Your Grace. Weeds and thorns grow where gardens once flourished, and bones litter the roadsides.”

“War is a dreadful thing. These atrocities are the work of the northmen, and of Lord Stannis and his demon-worshipers.”

[...]

The realm is full of kings. For the Faith to exalt one above the rest we must be certain. Three hundred years ago, when Aegon the Dragon landed beneath this very hill, the High Septon locked himself within the Starry Sept of Oldtown and prayed for seven days and seven nights, taking no nourishment but bread and water. When he emerged he announced that the Faith would not oppose Aegon and his sisters, for the Crone had lifted up her lamp to show him what lay ahead. If Oldtown took up arms against the Dragon, Oldtown would burn, and the Hightower and the Citadel and the Starry Sept would be cast down and destroyed. Lord Hightower was a godly man. When he heard the prophecy, he kept his strength at home and opened the city gates to Aegon when he came. And His High Holiness anointed the Conqueror with the seven oils. I must do as he did, three hundred years ago. I must pray, and fast.”

“For seven days and seven nights?”

“For as long as need be.”

Cersei itched to slap his solemn, pious face. I could help you fast, she thought. I could shut you up in some tower and see that no one brings you food until the gods have spoken. “These false kings espouse false gods,” she reminded him. “Only King Tommen defends the Holy Faith.
AFFC - Cersei VI

But Zealotry is a two-way street. Luckily, most of the Kings, even Aerys II, had the wisdom to tread carefully in the matters of faith and did not vex the religious minorities in the North and Iron Isles. Baelor the Blessed was however not that wise and in his reign, the relations were set to be soured between the Crown and the minorities due to his zealotry. Thanks to the alleged intervention of his uncle Viserys, the King could not begin his project to force conversion of all his subjects and the Targaryen dynasty did not face a revolt in the North and the West.

Malicious rumors that followed in the wake of Viserys's ascension—begun, some say, by the pen of the Lady Maia of House Stokeworth—suggested that Viserys poisoned the king in order to finally gain the throne after a decade and more of waiting. Others have suggested that Viserys poisoned Baelor for the good of the realm, since the septon-king had come to believe that the Seven called on him to convert all the unbelievers in his realm. This would have led to a war with the North and the Iron Islands that would have caused great turmoil.
TWOIAF -Targaryen Kings : Baelor I

So in conclusion, yes it definitely matters which religion does the King follow. The King is the defender of Holy Mother Sept and therefore cannot espouse any other religion if he is to be seen that way. Furthermore, given the demographics of the realm, it is imperative that the King must have the same religion as the majority of the People. That being said, it is also equally important for the King to refrain from antagonizing the powerful minorities in the West and North and act like a symbol of unity for all the Westerosi people, regardless to their faith.

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The throne is won through a variety of reasons but the two most common ones being via bloodline or via force, sometimes a combination of the two. Winning through either doesn't help in holding the throne afterwards though and it is necessary to make some changes for political reasons. This is exactly what Aegon I Targaryen did when he conquered the Seven Kingdoms. It has been answered by George R. R. Martin that he changed to the Faith of the Seven for political reasons.

[Did Aegon Targaryen convert to the Faith as a political maneuver?]
yes
So Spake Martin, Asshai.com Forum Chat

It's worth noting that Aegon was crowned by the High Septon in Oldtown so it makes sense to have the Faith on your side.

The day of Aegon's Landing was celebrated by the king and his descendants, but the Conqueror actually dated the start of his reign from the day he was crowned and anointed in the Starry Sept of Oldtown by the High Septon of the Faith. This coronation took place two years after Aegon's Landing, well after all three of the major battles of the Wars of Conquest had been fought and won.
The World of Ice and Fire, The Reign of the Dragons: The Conquest

From the above we can see that having the Faith on your side, and so the majority of the people, would seem to be a good move to stay in power. So to answer your question "Does it matter what religion a king has?" yes it would seem so. However, I also think it's worth pointing out that if you can take the throne by force and hold it by force it doesn't really matter if you're an atheist from Flea Bottom because no one can win it back off you.

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    Faith Militant uprising is a good example showing us that the faith have sort of power over the king, but that the relation between the crown and the faith can be handle with force – Kepotx Feb 8 '18 at 17:02
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Well, I don't know about Game of Thrones, but in reality as long as that religion grants Divine Right it'll work. That suggests that he is king because god himself makes it so! How can you possibly beat that? The majority of the followers were superstitious believers. The few who weren't were cowed by the physical might of his armies.

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    That can't work for every religion. Take the old gods for example: there is no one single and all powerfull god, but nameless and numerous gods, everywhere. What does Divine right mean? tha ALL entities agree that you are the leader? only the majority of them? Plus, there is much less connection between gods and huans: there are no priests, no holy texts, so how can the gods express themselves? – Kepotx Feb 8 '18 at 20:46
  • Who says? Why couldn't it mean that all the gods agree that this one particular blood line is granted divine right? All these mythological gods were man made anyway, as is the idea of divine right itself, so the rule is whatever the person who created it says it is. Especially if that person IS the King (which it probably was). As for texts: ever hear of the bible? (also man made IMO, but I digress) Surely there's a GOTG version (if that's what we're talking about). – Len Feb 8 '18 at 21:21
  • "That suggests that he is king because god himself makes it so! How can you possibly beat that?" What you are referring to is often called the 'Mandate of Heaven', and it has a critical weakness -- if someone rebels against you and succeeds, that too was by 'the god's will', and indicates the gods have withdrawn their favor from you, the formerly anointed. As long as the gods don't deny the existence of other gods (as Christianity did) even changes in faith just represent a change in the power structure among the gods. – K-H-W Feb 8 '18 at 22:03
  • If no one believes in your god, no one will acknowledge you as their king or your claim based on "I'm your king because My God chose me" – Jungkook Feb 9 '18 at 10:33
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    Lord Stark said this about King Aegon II's murder, "To kill a cruel and unjust king in lawful battle was one thing. But foul murder, and the use of poison, was a betrayal against the very gods who had anointed him". It does seem to imply that Divine right to rule exists in Westeros and even the Followers of Old gods like Lord Stark recognized that. Each King has to be anointed by the High Septon or other representatives of the Faith. Even Aegon the Conqueror considered his anointment to be the start of his reign. – Aegon Feb 9 '18 at 12:20

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