Tywin Lannister learned plenty of life lessons from the day he stood up to voice his anger on unfair match of his sister Genna Lannister to Emmon Frey, a younger son of upjumped Toll Collector Walder Frey to the day he was shot in the groin with a bolt. The lessons which made him what he was would be following:
- First Lesson he ever learned was that weakness or kindness is the bane of any house. He learnt that when he was a boy at Casterly Rock and brooded on the way his father Tytos Lannister went on to make himself and their house a laughing stock. Jokes were made about toothless lions of the Rock, loans were not paid and Lord Tytos was openly mocked by his vassals. Situation was so bad that King Aegon V Targaryen had to send Royal Armies multiple times to restore order to troublesome region of Westerlands. Those years formed his mind that Strength and Ruthless Power are the only way to ensure that Legacy of the Kings of the Rock would continue. He thoroughly despised weakness or any half-measures. You are either full-in or not in at all. That's why he shaved his head completely when his hairline started receding later in years.
- Second lesson he learnt was during the War of Nine Penny Kings; Mockery can destroy a house in whole Realm's eyes. Although Tywin had served in KL as cup bearer but he wasn't yet fully aware of how dire the situation was for his house. Tywin, Kevan and Tygett eldest three sons of Lord Tytos went to war with their uncle Jason Lannister who commanded an Army of ten thousand Westermen against Blackfyre pretender Maelys the monstrous. When they met with nobles from all parts of Seven Kingdoms gathered on summons of King Jaehaerys II, I suppose they came to know that everywhere the respect for house Lannister was waning and they were considered a joke now. While the three brothers were reaping glory and gaining experience, their father was busy in arms of a lowborn woman, none other than their youngest Brother Gerion's nurse maid. Tywin had already came to hate laughter and mockery, this only strengthened his distrust of laughter. He never laughed or smiled afterwards unless Lady Joanna made him so. And after her death, he never laughed at all.
- Tywin had finally had enough. He was done with stupidity of his father and mockery of their rivals. At end of the war of Nine Penny Kings, Tywin finally had an Army at his disposal. An Army of battle hardened veterans who had no doubt come to respect their young and intelligent leader. Now was the time to teach lessons to other people. First thing he did, he confronted his father. As expected, Tytos scurried to arms of his paramour. Then he sent out commands to his vassals for repayment of their debts to CR. Kevan, always the right hand of his brother in their mission to reestablish writ of Lannisters, commanded a force of Knights and collected debts and hostages from vassals. Ser Harys Swft famously quipped: "The lion has awoken" after handing over his daughter Dorna as hostage to Ser Kevan (Interestingly, The captive and the Captor later fell in love and married) . Tarbecks and Reynes were not so wise however. Reynes laughed and Tarbecks made the singular mistake of riding to CR in attempt to cow lord Tytos. Instead of weak Tytos, they found the Young lion Tywin in seat who promptly had lord Tarbeck arrested for treason. One thing lead to another, before long, Tarbecks and Reynes were in open rebellion. Tywin easily destroyed both houses stem and root, a lesson for all the realm to see that Lion still had claws.
- Fourth lesson that he learnt was during his tenure as Hand of the King. Although he served his childhood friend King Aerys II ably, he came to know that all he was ever going to receive in return was ingratitude and slights. King was fond of making ribald comments about his Lordship's lady wife and was known to have "wanted" her. Aerys even had a group of lackeys assembled soon enough who knew the way to King's favor was through insulting his hand. Tywin still kept serving, giving the realm exemplary years of peace and plenty. Yet King grew mad and madder every day. Aerys rejeced Tywin's proposal to wed Rhaegar to Cersei, a huge insult. King openly mocked Tywin when he was grieving after death of his wife. Last insult came when King stole Tywin's prized heir, Jaime. The lesson he learnt here was that You should not seek praise for your good deeds for you won't receive any. Monarchs are seldom grateful. Power is the only thing that matters.
All these events turned him into the man he was. He was naturally gifted with intelligence and administration craft but these events formed his personality.
a. He came to despise weakness.
b. He came to distrust laughter.
c. He grew cynical and bitter.
d. He detested half measures.
e. He became Ruthless.
What made him the strongest man in the Kingdoms
- His lands were historically rich. House Lannister commands the rich region of Westerlands which is famous for its Gold mines.
- He had the right background. House Lannister can trace its lineage from Kings of the Rock to Age of heroes when their legendary ancestor Lann the Clever took over Casterly Rock. They are one of the most ancient and noblest houses in the realm which gives them a lot of prestige.
- He was the most experienced and efficient administrator, general and politician in the seven Kingdoms. He had served as hand under three Kings. He had been fighting wars ever since he was a boy. And his administration is the hallmark in history of seven Kingdoms.
- He was feared for his ruthlessness throughout the realm.
- He was Good-father to one king and grandfather to two others. Relationship with the royal dynasty can't be discounted even though that relation helped Royals more than it did to Tywin. Robert was supported by endless pits of Lannister wealth and those who would have gladly pulled Robert down (Tyrells and Martells) did not dare to cause trouble because of the Alliance between Stag and Lion. (Not to mention Stag also had the wolf, the trout and the Eagle)
Life wasn't easy for Tywin. He bore the heavy burden of reversing the damages his foolish father made. Later he bore even heavier burden of reversing the damages a mad King was making to whole realm. He bore each of those burdens with grace and finished them with flying colors. However the toll the effort took on his mind made him a bitter man obsessed with what future generations would think of his house.
Kevan Lannister, who knew Tywin most closely among the living people said:
It fell to Tywin to restore House Lannister to its proper place. Just
as it fell to him to rule this realm, when he was no more than twenty.
He bore that heavy burden for twenty years and all it earned him was a
mad king's envy. Instead of the honor he deserved, he was made to
suffer slights beyond count, yet he gave the Seven Kingdoms peace,
plenty and justice. He is a just man.
Maester Pycelle, though admittedly a Lackey, said:
I have served six kings, but here before us lies the greatest man I
ever knew. Lord Tywin wore no crown, yet he was all a king should be.
Stannis Baratheon, someone who is not impressed easily said:
I remember the first time my father took me to court, Robert had to
hold my hand. I could not have been older than four, which would have
made him five or six. We agreed afterward that the king had been as
noble as the dragons were fearsome. Years later, our father told us
that Aerys had cut himself on the throne that morning, so his Hand had
taken his place. It was Tywin Lannister who’d so impressed us.