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This question is inspired by a comment in another question.

Joffrey was assassinated at the Purple Wedding.

I don't believe we have any specific information on who actually did it or what their motivation was. TLP speculated that perhaps

Joffrey was killed at the command of Tywin

What reasons would the latter have for pursuing such a course of action? How would he or his house benefit from it?

  • Sorry, I am new here, I do not know the etiquette yet. What if I know from the books who did this? Am I allowed to answer? – András Apr 22 '14 at 14:35
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    @Andras yes, but as this question is about the show (based on the tag), it's considered polite to mark any information from the books with spoiler tags (see the editing help). – KutuluMike Apr 22 '14 at 16:17
  • I didn't intend for this question to be about the show, since I asked the question months before the episode aired. I tagged it GOT because it seemed appropriate. Now that I see the tag description, I see that was not appropriate. – Jeff Apr 22 '14 at 22:04
  • At first I thought maybe Shea was trying to poison Tywin, but the timing was all off. – uncle brad Apr 23 '14 at 2:43
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There is specific evidence that the players behind this betrayal are

Littlefinger and the Queen of Thorns

There is no evidence that Tywin took part or had any knowledge of these events beforehand. That said, this plot will be included in season 4 of the TV series, so it is possible it could be fleshed out in more detail than the books.


As far as benefiting his house, Tywin knew that Joffrey was a loose cannon and tried - much like Tyrion - to keep Joffrey in check. Getting him out of the way puts Tommen on the throne. Another Lannister king that will be obedient to the people who are really in charge (Hand of the King, Queen Regent, small council, etc), and who will not cause them any unexpected trouble with epic acts of stupidity.

BUT, Tywin takes slights against his house very seriously. And as slights go, it doesn't get much bigger than

the public assassination of a Lannister king at his own wedding

so even though there is some long-term benefit, it is doubtful that he would actually go through with this course of action.

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  • I must have forgotten the specific evidence that you mention. I might have to reread the series soon. – Jeff Feb 18 '14 at 21:11
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    The evidence is subtle: Dontos (LF's agent) gives Sansa the hair net in ACOK 65. Then in ASOS 60, Olenna adjusts the hair net, presumably removing one of the stones. – Justin Ethier Feb 18 '14 at 21:59
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    I have to say that the debate around this question really startled me; compared to some of the other conspiracy plots in the novels I thought the Tyrell's guilt here was practically shouted from the rooftops. – KutuluMike Apr 14 '14 at 19:36
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    Regarding perceived slights on house Lannister by public assassination, in this article GRRM says that he thinks the killers wanted it to appear to be a natural death by choking. – TLP Apr 15 '14 at 22:43
  • At this point I would like to point out how beautifully that story creates awareness for the Lannisters as the ruling family, while it has been and still is the Baratheons, even though the Lannisters have the most sex inside the Red Keep. – user1129682 Apr 23 '14 at 9:07
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(New edit regarding season 4, episode 3 of the TV-show at the bottom)

It's not the first time Tywin kills a mad king (well, he meant to when he sacked King's Landing). That alone should tell you something. Moreover, lets look at the signs:

Tywin recognizes that Cersei is allowing Joffrey to make huge blunders in King's Landing, such as killing Ned Stark, firing Ser Barristan, etc, and he sends Tyrion to take charge of things.

In a specific confrontation after the battle of the Blackwater, Tywin compares Joffrey to Aerys:

“Aerys also felt the need to remind men that he was king. And he was passing fond of ripping tongues out as well. You could ask Ser Ilyn Payne about that, though you’ll get no reply.”

This is after Joffrey wants to serve Sansa Robb's head at his wedding feast. Later he makes a comment about Joffrey being too much Robert and too little Lannister:

"And what were you telling him, pray? I did not fight a war to seat Robert the Second on the Iron Throne. You gave me to understand the boy cared nothing for his father."

Lastly, he says ominously that Joffrey requires a "sharp lesson".

"The boy is thirteen. There is time yet." Lord Tywin paced to the window. That was unlike him; he was more upset than he wished to show. "He requires a sharp lesson."

Tyrion had gotten his own sharp lesson at thirteen. He felt almost sorry for his nephew. On the other hand, no one deserved it more.

I think at this point that Tywin realizes that Joffrey is very likely to bring shame on house Lannister and jeopardize the throne. If he made a plot with Walder Frey to assassinate Robb at his own wedding, it makes some kind of poetic sense that he would conspire with the Tyrells to kill Joffrey at his. Not only would it rid him of Joffrey, he could also pick a target to name as his killer, and as Prince Oberyn points out to Tyrion:

“To be sure, I have much to thank your sister for. If not for her accusation at the feast, it might well be you judging me instead of me judging you.” The prince’s eyes were dark with amusement. “Who knows more of poison than the Red Viper of Dorne, after all?”

Oberyn would have a motive as well: Killing Joffrey would not simply be a petty murder, but it would allow for Dorne to crown Myrcella, as she would be Joffrey's heir according to Dornish law.

It was clear that Prince Oberyn wanted Tywin's head on a platter. He knew Tywin was responsible for murdering his sister Elia and her children. It would be a very neat plan indeed to frame Prince Oberyn for Joffrey's murder. If only Cersei had not got the jump on Tywin and accused Tyrion instead. Tywin might have called that only a minor setback, since he never liked Tyrion much.

Also, as a little treat at this point, (Spoiler ASOS, Season 4:3+)

there is the theory that Oberyn had poisoned Tywin, and that he was dying of that poison when Tyrion killed him.

The Tyrells were also not very friendly with Oberyn, and it would have been an easy thing to convince them of this plot. When it turned out to be Tyrion instead... oh well. Tywin would not kill his son, just make him take the black.

What evidence is there to the contrary? That Tywin loves his family? Hardly, he loves his family's reputation, that is all. That he would not plot dishonourable assassinations? Ask Robb Stark about that one. That he would not harm his kin? Ask Tyrion about that.

Would Tywin risk the wrath of Dorne by accusing Oberyn? That's a weak spot in this theory. Prince Doran still holds Myrcella, and they have nothing but the betrothal between her and Trystane Martell to hold firm the peace between them.

Is it more likely that Littlefinger acquired a magic necklace to poison Joffrey? That old Olenna Tyrell tweaked Sansa's hairnet to target Joffrey? We all know that Littlefinger is a liar.

Anyway, it is a neat theory that ties up some of the loose ends, and it is always fun to speculate on. It sounds all but certain that Tyrells were involved, judging by what Olenna Tyrell told Sansa, that the marriage would happen, despite Joffrey being a monster. But would they act alone? Would they trust Littlefinger to be part of such a plot and go behind Tywin's back?

EDIT:

After watching Season 4, Episode 3, the event described in this question, Tywin's history lesson with Tommen, I think demonstrates that it is not at all unlikely that Tywin was involved in Joffrey's murder. He clearly relishes this moment to tutor Tommen, to the point that he does it beside Joffrey's dead body. He even says that Joffrey was not wise, which was the whole point of his history lesson, but Tommen "will be". He will listen to his advisors, as Joffrey would not have, and continue to do so after he is a King in his own right.

It is fairly clear that Tywin was convinced that Joffrey would not have allowed Tywin much control once he was the King.

I believe that Tyrion even mentions it in the scene afterwards.

In this article GRRM himself says that he thinks the murderers (yes, plural "s") thought that Joffrey's death would be seen as an accident, which is consistent with the method of choice that Tywin would have chosen, if he wanted to avoid the scandal of a Lannister being assassinated.

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  • Did you mean to say the Tyrells in your last paragraph? You know, it's shocking how calm they are when discussing Joffrey with Sansa in the TV series... – Justin Ethier Feb 19 '14 at 3:53
  • Oh, and +1. Lots of great speculation, especially about Oberyn. – Justin Ethier Feb 19 '14 at 3:54
  • @JustinEthier Indeed I did, thanks. You should have read the chapter of the book, it was very intense and much better. – TLP Feb 19 '14 at 5:08
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    Murdering his own child as a "lesson" to him seems pretty insane for such a fiercely rational person as Tywin. Who is also repeatedly shown as being very protective of the family - even of one he despises and considers shame on the family name, such as Tyrion. Tywin's method of teaching would be to inflict pain and emotional shock, to take away something one holds dear, to put the person in the situation where one has no good options but to obey - but not to murder. Moreover, he is very confident he can control Joffrey - after all, Joffrey is just a boy. – StasM Apr 22 '14 at 19:06
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    Disinheriting, cutting ties off (like Jamie), taking freedom away (like Cercei) - that is what Tywin does. But murder is altogether different category. For that, he'd have to acknowledge he can not control his own grandson, and this is not what Tywin would do. And despite all his hate, he have made Tyrion the Hand, and later Master of Coin, and not killed him or put him somewhere where the sun does not shine. Yes, he imperils even his own family - the king can not rule without willing to risk some of his subjects, and Tywin purports to be a king in all but the name. But that's not murder. – StasM Apr 23 '14 at 0:57

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