Inspired by this question:

In “Clash of Kings”, what is the basis for Lord Stannis' claim to the throne?

In the first book, it was mentioned that since Robert didn't have any legitimate children, the right to the Iron Throne goes to his eldest brother, right? That means Lord Stannis would be next to rule.

But why did Lord Renly declare himself King? Did he not know that that means he is going against his brother?

Did he have any basis for that claim?

  • 5
    Renly considered himself a better king than Stannis, and was prepared to kill Stannis. No love lost between the brothers. He made the claim because he was well connected and had a big army.
    – TLP
    Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 23:28
  • 4
    He had a big gun. The rules on who is to be king after the previous king dies are mostly for show...
    – Jakob
    Commented Feb 24, 2014 at 8:12
  • 1
    They discuss this topic exactly in both the book and TV series Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 23:20

5 Answers 5


Renly was second in line to the throne, behind Stannis, although Renly may not have known about Joffrey's illegitimacy. However Stannis was not loved by the other Lords or the people, whereas Renly was. For this Renly felt that, encouraged by Loras Tyrell and the Tyrell household, that he would make a better king than Stannis.

Why the oldest son, and not the best-fitted? The crown will suit me, as it never suited Robert and would not suit Stannis.

-Renly to Catelyn Stark

Additionally Robert had made Renly the Lord of Storm's End, which is the seat of House Baratheon, and should have gone to Stannis after Roberted ascended to the throne. This afforded him great support, and enabled him to gather an army of 100,000 from across The Reach and The Stormlands.

Renly also showed that he didn't feel that the normal rules of succession were too important. He made it clear that it was strength and power that won the throne. He once said that the Targaryens didn't have any right to Westeros, they conquered it; Robert didn't have any right to the throne, he took it. Clearly he felt that he would make a better king, had the army to take it, and therefore deserved the crown.

Furthermore, Cersei considered Robert's brothers to be her enemies. Both Renly and Stannis knew this, so Renly would not necessarily have felt safe in a land ruled by Joffrey and Cersei.

  • 5
    Actually I think Renly never knew about Joffrey being illegitimate when he claimed the throne. He only learned that after Stannis sent out his letter. For all he knew, he was betraying his brother's son, as well as his own brother. Renly was 4th in line after Joffrey, Tommen and Stannis.
    – TLP
    Commented Feb 24, 2014 at 8:57
  • Good point, I've added that bit. Although wouldn't that make him 5th? Joffrey, Tommen, Myrcella, Stannis, Renly?
    – Moogle
    Commented Feb 24, 2014 at 9:31
  • That's a good point. Not sure how daughters are counted by their medieval rules. But I suppose they are counted after the sons.
    – TLP
    Commented Feb 24, 2014 at 9:35
  • 1
    Robert Baratheon established the precedent of rebellion against the laws of inheritance -- in order to become King, he killed Aegon the Mad, Rhaegar and Rhaegar's children, and exiled Viserys and Daenerys, all of whom had a better claim than he did. Renly was only following in his brother's footsteps. (Historically speaking, this kind of thing was very common.) Commented Feb 24, 2014 at 9:42
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    @TLP Westeros seems to use "Male-preference cognatic primogeniture", meaning male siblings before female siblings, but direct descendants before brothers before uncles etc. Meaning the sucession after Robert would be Joffrey, Tommen, Myrcella, Stannis, Shirren (Stannis' daughter), then Renly. After that it gets messy, since Robert had no aunts or uncles AFAIK.
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Feb 25, 2014 at 2:38

This exact issue is addressed very clearly in the books. Renly tells Catelyn exactly what the basis for his claim is (A Clash of Kings, p.319):

"It would seem that you are the one who has forgotten Stannis," Catelyn said, more sharply than she'd intended.

"His claim, you mean?" Renly laughed. "Let us be blunt, my lady. Stannis would make an appalling king. Nor is he like to become one. Men respect Stannis, even fear him, but precious few have ever loved him."

"He is still your elder brother. If either of you can be said to have a claim to the Iron Throne, it must be Lord Stannis."

Renly shrugged. "Tell me, what right did my brother Robert ever have to the Iron Throne?" He did not wait for an answer. "Oh, there was talk of the blood ties between Baratheon and Targaryen, of weddings a hundred years past, of second sons and elder daughters. No one but the maesters care about any of it. Robert won the throne with his warhammer." He swept a hand across the campfires that burned from horizon to horizon. "Well, there is my claim, as good as Robert's ever was."

Moogle's answer is great, but nothing beats a canon quote! :-D

  • 4
    Not sure why this was downvoted...take a +1 as compensation.
    – Liesmith
    Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 22:15

He just believed that he was the more rightful king, for he reasoned that Stannis was a invalid and no one would want him for a king. So, if that's the case, that Stannis is invalid, then he would be the one next in line.


He did know that he was going against his brother.
Renly felt that he had more support from the lords of the realm and therefore declared himself as king.


There is a slight problem with Renly deciding Stannis would be a bad king, infact we don't know as Stannis never was crowned. Basing something not being king/queen based on a character assassination is pretty poor by Renly, the Mad KIng was disposed as he became a poor ruler and was hurting the kingdom, how do we know Renly wouldn't become another Robert just drinking and having fun and not caring about the people of Westeros. Stannis on the other hand may well have cared about Westeros and what was in the interests of the people, infact by the looks of it few apart from

Stannis actually cares for the kingdom and what's best and doing their duty to rule within the law rather they are ruling for their own interests. It also appears Renly's claim is based on the most outgoing people making the best rulers - not always true by the way! It seems Renly based his claim on character assassinating and mocking his brother for being more introverted - there is no evidence Renly would be a better king rather he assumes he would be based on a false view of being a king ignoring that he lacked experience and knowledge.

Although it does make sense of disposing of a king if a king is in the position but is doing a poor job or who is mistreating his/her kingdom/people. Renly basing it on personal opinion is a pretty poor reason in my opinion.

  • It doesn't matter to Renly, he saw from Stannis' other capacities and his personality that Stannis wouldn't be fit to rule. He just loved himself more, and didn't need to wait to see.
    – Möoz
    Commented Oct 9, 2017 at 0:26

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