This is the wiki page for House Baratheon in Season One of The Grand Campaign, if you are looking for Season Two's page, go here.
Lord Orys 'the Honorable' Baratheon (7978 - 8016)
Lord Orys was alleged to be the younger brother of King Aegon of House Targaryen, and served as his right hand during Aegon's conquest of Westeros. While his brother Aegon cut a bloody swath through Westeros carving his own Kingdom, Orys instead used his diplomatic skills to bring Lords and Kings alike to his half-brother's cause. He wed Lady Morra Stark, the daughter of King Torrhen Stark in 7996, with whom he would have two sons and four daughters with. With the marriage he brought much needed soldiers to Aegon's armies, filling their ranks with Northern men.
When Aegon first moved against House Arryn and the Kingdom of the Vale, Lord Orys led half of Aegon's forces, landing in the Fingers and taking Sunrise Keep to serve as a base of forward operations. At the Battle of Heart's Home, he commanded Aegon's infantry forces comprised of levies raised from the Claw, pinning the Vale armies against his shield wall as his brother atop Balerion the Black Dread burned the Vale line.
The Vale would be the first to bend the knee to King Aegon, and Orys took the young Ronnel Arryn as his ward, ensuring the loyalty of House Arryn. He would send ravens next to House Stark, calling upon his good-father Torrhen to pledge to King Aegon, advice which was quickly followed. With the North and the Vale under King Aegon's control, the brothers turned next to the Riverlands, rocked by rebellion against their tyrannical liege, King Harren the Black of House Hoare. Orys, still commanding the Clawmen levies, marched down from the Bloody Gate into the province of Darry, while his brother took the new Vale levies against Harren's great castle of Harrenhal. A bloody battle would take place in Darry, as Harren turned aside from King Aegon's armies and his dragons and sought to destroy Orys', believing the battle to be assured. Instead, Orys stubbornly held his line until the arrival of his brother's sister-wife Rhaenys atop the dragon Meraxes. With Harren's army destroyed and his castle taken he surrendered his Kingdom to Aegon.
Aegon would call a grand council next, to determine his next course of action. While the King's sister-wives would press Aegon to continue, Orys cautioned further advances, suggesting that they consolidate their rule over the lands they had gained before pressing forward. Stalwart advice, it would seem, for not long afterwards a series of bloody rebellions, known as the Great Riverland Rebellion would begin, with nearly every notable house from the Riverlands and Iron Isles rising up against their new King. With King Aegon beset by rebellion, the Southron Kings of Westeros would stir, banding together into a grand coalition known as the Shield of Westeros, and take the fight to the Dragon King. Battles would rage across the Riverlands for nearly half a decade, Orys himself being wounded in a skirmish near Maidenpool. Slowly though, the rebellions were squashed one by one with the assistance of the new Lord of the North, King Torrhen's son Brandon 'the Black Wolf'.
Though the rebellions slowly came under control, the greatest fight was yet to come, as the combined armies of House Gardener, Lannister, Durrandon, and Martell combined to smash against King Aegon's host at the Battle of Antlers. Weakened by the rebellions and constant fighting, Aegon's army was severely outnumbered, and even despite the dragons Balerion, Meraxes, and Vhagar, would lose the field and be forced to flee from the Shield's host. As Aegon's host scattered, the Dragon King secretely raised a new one comprised of mercenaries and Mountain Clansmen from the Vale, sailing south to lay siege to Sunspear.
With his brother sailing south, Orys was left in command of the remainder of Aegon's armies in the Riverlands. He would wage guerilla warfare against the attacking coalitions forces, utilizing his smaller numbers to pick off armies split off from the main host, and attempt to maintain order amongst Aegon's new vassal, some of which had begun to call for surrender. 'Have faith in your King. Have faith in Fire.' he would tell them.
Aegon would arrive with his host in Sunspear, taking the castle's garrison by surprise, and capturing the entirety of House Martell captive. His ravens sent to the coalitions Kings were clear - surrender and bend the knee to him - the one King of Westeros, or he would destroy House Martell. The Gardeners, tied to the Martells by marriage were the first to accept King Aegon's demands, after a half hearted attempt at defiance which cost the lives of Prince Quentyn Martell and his brother Anders. Next the Lannisters would fold, followed finally by House Durrandon. With Westeros finally conquered, Aegon would settle his new capital in Oldtown, granting the island of Great Wyk and the Iron Isles to Orys Baratheon, considering the Ironborn to be the most potentially rebellious of his new subjects and wanting a man he could trust overseeing their lands.
With the realm secured, Orys' brother turned to his family. Through the campaign he had sired four sons with his sister-wife Rhaenys, but no daughter to marry to his eldest, as was the Targaryen tradition. Without a daugter, the King instead called upon his brother again, demanding Orys eldest daughter for his son, despite a long standing betrothal between Jonella Baratheon and Lord Damon Darklyn. Orys relented, sending a healthy recompense to Lord Darklyn to maintain good relations, and the two were wed in Oldtown during a royal feast.
What might have been an ending fit for songs and legends, the two brothers having conquered a continent and joined their houses together, instead ended in disaster. Upon the birth of Jonella's child, her husband, Aerion Targaryen renounced all claim to the child, claiming that the child was not his, but that of a Pentoshi merchant that had attended the marriage feast. Jonella protested, claiming she had never been unfaithful, but King Aegon in a fit of rage had her imprisoned, and issued threats to Lord Orys that he would execute her if he did not set sail for the capital immediately. Orys again bowed to his brother's wishes and boarded a ship from Hammerhorn bound for Oldtown, but when he arrived in the capital he recieved word from his daughter, who claimed she was being kept in degrading conditions and her life had been threatened.
Orys placed his family above all matters, so when his daughter demanded a trial by combat to prove her innocence, he dutifully stood as her champion, believeing the allegations of a bastard birth to be a fabrication, whether by his own brother Aegon who had perhaps found some other bride for his son, or his heir Aerion, who had been reticent to agree to the union in the first place, his affections lieing with the baseborn daughter of Visenya Targaryen.
What Orys did not expect, however, was that his brother the King would offer to stand as the other champion. His word given to stand for his daughter, Orys could not withdraw, but nor did he wish to see his brother harmed. The two brothers entered the dragon pit at Oldtown, Orys for his daughter's honour, and Aegon for his pride. Ser Gregor Goode, a kingsguard knight would later write a passage of the fight for Archmaester Harwyn's The Rule of Aegon I Targaryen, his words were as follows:
"No man alive could question either of their skill at arms, and at first I believed the duel would be an endless affair, each champion battering the other into exhaustion. How wrong I was. In truth, I know now even if Aegon had entered the pit unarmed and unarmoured the result would have still been the same. I had seen Orys fight before...I served in his army during the Great Riverland Rebellion, he was untouchable; I watched him stand against six Ironborn reavers, saw him take a blow to the head that would have felled any other mortal man and continue fighting. But this was not the Orys that fought against his brother. His strikes were timid, almost a show, and those that landed were so soft that they did not harm the King. And when the King countered, Orys would drop his guard, again, and again, willing his brother to make the killing blow. To the untrained eye it was a spectacle worthy of song, to those like myself who had held a blade since they were a child...it was clear that Orys never intended to win the fight, never wanted to win the fight. And when Blackfyre pierced Lord Orys' chest, there was no look of surprise on his face, only sadness."
Fresh from his victory over his half-brother and filled with bloodlust, King Aegon called for the head of Orys' eldest daughter, Jonella Baratheon. He watched as his dragon Balerion burned her alive in the same dragonpit he had just fought her father, the blood from their duel still warm upon the sands.
Many years later, following the death of King Aegon Targaryen, Archmaester Harwyn would publish his book The Rule of Aegon I Targaryen, devoting a great deal of the early chapters towards the life and accomplishments of Aegon's brother Orys. Of the man, he would state:
"I served on the King's council for seven years, four of those alongside Lord Orys. I never knew a man quite like him. With a single word, he could calm even the most frantic of panic in men, with a single scowl he could cause armies to flee. Quick with a blade, sharp of mind, he was nonetheless one of the kindest and most loyal men I have ever known. While his brother the King would demand children as hostages from the noble houses of Westeros and make clear to their parents he would gladly execute them if he thought it would benefit him, Lord Orys instead took them into his care and treated them as he would his own blood; teaching them to fight, to lead, to rule. His integrity and honour were unquestionable - when Torrhen Stark expressed doubts for his daughters safety as Lord Orys' new bride, Orys brought a thousand northmen loyal to House Stark to his court, to serve as bodyguards to his own wife, even against himself. Lords who had fought bitterly against him came to hold him as their most dear friend, assassins sent against him would instead turn cloak and serve as his own sworn swords, and when he died, I feel the Kingdom lost a part of itself with him. The Gods played a cruel trick upon us, I feel, when it was Aegon who was born the eldest. He was a bastard by birth, Orys Baratheon, but he was the noblest of souls, the pinnacle of chivalry and honour."
Lord Aerion Baratheon (8005 - 8055)
Lord Aerion, named after his grandfather, was ten years old at the time of his father's death. Since the age of six, he had been raised in Winterfell by his mother's family - House Stark. When news reached the North of Orys' slaying, and the subsequent execution of his daughter - the niece of Lord Paramount Brandon 'the Black Wolf', the castle took on a grim tone. A grand council was called in the great hearth of Winterfell, and upon the day of its commencement, the hall was filled not only with Lords of Northern houses. The banners of House Darklyn, Durrandon, Arryn, Frey, and Mallister also adorned the halls. Even men who had never known Aerion's father Orys gathered to pledge their swords to his son, such was his reputation.
Too young to understand the full extent of what was conspiring, the young Lord Aerion understood well enough that the Lords and Ladies gathered at Winterfell were there to avenge his father's death, and when Lord Damon Darklyn came before Aerion and went to one knee and asked if he missed his father, and wished to see the man responsible for his death and the death of Aerion's sister brought to justice, he knew in his heart the answer was yes.
Such was the legacy of Orys Baratheon, that even in death men shouted his name, sharpened their swords, and marched to war for his memory. Within a fortnight, the skies across Westeros were dark with ravens, calling every Lord, high and low to arms - For the King, For Orys. Fate plays cruel tricks upon the realms of men though, and however noble and righteous their cause may have been, King Aegon had dragons. Men in their thousands burned, cities were captured and recaptured, fleets sunk by dragonfire, and in the end it was King Aegon 'the Kinslayer' who stood above the ashes, victorious. The Black Wolf would flee from Westeros, Lord Damon Darklyn and his brother would die in battle, the Lady Lia Durrandon's head and lands would be taken from her by Aegon, and Aerion would be forced to abdicate to his younger brother.
Lord Torrhen Baratheon (8008 - 8033)Torrhen was eight when his father died in 16AL, but unlike his brother Aerion he was raised at Hammerhorn, or at Oldtown when his father had business to attend to there. At a young age, he adopted the faith and tradition of his mother's family, the Starks of Winterfell, and would spend his younger years studying books and swordplay in the newly built Godswood at Hammerhorn. When the Year of Revolts took place, Torrhen was sent west, to the isle of Lonely Light for his protection. Unlike his older brother, Torrhen showed great promise as a warrior, even if he devoted a greater deal of his times to the study of diplomacy, in honour of his father's teachings. During his time in Oldtown, he developed a lasting friendship with the baseborn daughter of Visenya Targaryen, whom had been disowned by King Aegon and declared a bastard. While other houses might look down on such a 'stain', Torrhen did not care - his father Orys had been born a bastard as well, and if even half the stories he was told of him were true, he was one of the truest of men Westeros had even known, and the Lords of the isles had even commisioned the construction of a statue of Orys the First to be placed in the courtyard of Hammerhorn.
When he came of age, he would wed Visenya, hosting a grand feast at Hammerhorn, which his uncle King Aegon attended. Though the King's thinly veiled threats to the young Torrhen were ill appreciated, there was no blood spilled at the feast, luckily.
Torrhen's reign was short, though we would sire many children with his new wife, the first two dying young due to sickness that plagued the damp environments of the Iron Isles. Torrhen would also spend his later years plagued by madness, scribbling in a battered journal of plots and prophecies. However, when ravens began to flood Hammerhorn bearing the King's sealing and calling for Torrhen's dead father - the King's brother, as if he were still alive, Torrhen sailed to Oldtown. Those who had known his father had claimed he was his spitting image, and when Torrhen arrived in Oldtown, King Aegon greeted him as Orys. Racked by infirmity, Torrhen spent the last days of Aegon's life comforting him, despite all that had befallen relations between House Baratheon and Targaryen. The king, believing Torrhen to be Orys Baratheon, even bestowed a dragon egg unto him, an egg black as night, with golden bands that danced upon its face.
Torrhen would never live to see it hatch, or to see what would befall the realm following King Aegon's death, as he perished on the journey back to Hammerhorn, leaving his only son Orys as the heir to House Baratheon.
Lord Orys II Baratheon (8025 - 8072)When Torrhen Baratheon died of illnes in 33AL, his eldest son Orys assumed control of the House and its lands. A quiet boy, he spent most of his early years listening to the tales of his grandmother, Morra Stark, who told him of his grandfather's history and the time before Aegon Targaryen was King. When King Aerion died, leaving the throne to the young Daemon Targaryen, Orys set sail for Oldtown intent on counselling the new king.
Orys did not like what he saw in the capital, however. The dragonpit lay empty, the deaths of Aegon and his sister-wives scattering their three dragons to different corners of the realm, and the new king, Daemon, resided under the watchful eye of Garse Gardener, the Hand of the King. Knowing full well that Garse's loyalty to the King went only so far as it benefitted House Gardener, Orys convinced the young King to return with him to Hammerhorn, away from the poisonous corruption of the capital and the half-truths and falsehoods of Lords who still remembered the days before the Targaryen conquest.
On the journey back to the Isles, he spoke at length with King Daemon, listening to what tales he had been spun of his grandfather's life. Daemon was a young and impressionable boy still, and had been told at length of what a benign and just ruler his grandfather had been by men who wished to woo and impress the new King. Orys instead brought him to the Godswood at Hammerhorn to speak with his grandmother Morra, who knew the truth of House Targaryen's recent history. The two spoke for hours, of the rift between House Baratheon and Targaryen, the Year of Revolts, the Exile Lords, and how there would always be those who would plot against the crown. When Daemon came of age, he would return to Oldtown, and shortly thereafter a raven would arrive at Hammerhorn, calling upon Lord Orys to serve as Hand of the King. Orys was loathe to leave the Isles, and the peace and tranquility of the Godswood at Hammerhorn, but he finally sailed to Oldtown, and dutifully donned the badge his grandfather and namesake had worn.
Orys II reign as Hand of the King was much less tumultuous than his namesake's - the realm reamined stable throughout his life, and though tensions between Targaryen rule and the Faith was continually rising, the Lords of the realm had accepted their new positions, at least on the surface. Orys would perish during the Great South Sickness, a plague that swept the Crownlands. Though urged to abandon the capital for his own health, Orys would remain at Oldtown to fufill his duties as Hand of the King, ultimately costing him his life by the sickness.
Lord Artos 'Bloodaxe' Baratheon (8054 - 8109)Artos became lord of Hammerhorn following his father's death in 72AL. The second born son of Orys, he was never meant to rule over the Isles, though a proclimation from his father named him his heir after a falling out between Orys and his eldest son, Aegon. Artos' elder brother soon left for the Westerlands, to join his wife and rule over Fair Isle.
When the Night's Watch sent ravens to the southern lords, calling for aid against a new King beyond the Wall, Artos called his banners and sailed North, landing near the Shadow Tower with 12,000 men and crushing the main wilding army there. He would then lead his men east, sweeping the Wildings from the wall. Conspicuously, Lord Torrhen Stark, the Warden of the North, was nowhere to be found, instead having left the Wall to deal with its trouble while he attacked White Harbour. For his inability (or refusal) to honour his duties as Warden of the North, King Daemon stripped the title from the Starks and awarded it to Artos Baratheon, who alongside the Night's Watch pushed back the Wildlings and protected the Wall. During his life span, Lord Artos would march to the aid of the Wall no less than six times, helping destroy the armies of four Kings Beyond the Wall, and restore the Night's Watch twice.
Upon returning from the wall, Artos made the decision to attempt to hatch the dragon egg that had been passed down from Orys the First. When he was successful, he named the new dragon Blackwing. Shortly thereafter, he took the new heir to the throne as his own ward, and saw him educated into a great commander.
When the Faith rose up against King Daemon, Artos raised his banners in defense of the King and set sail for the Crownlands, smashing a large Faith host at Bandallon and helping retake the capital, earning the nickname 'the Bloodaxe' for the half-hand axe he wielded during the battles of the Faith. At the onset of the War of the Faith, there were 6 dragons alive, but at its end only two remained - the wild and untamed dragon in Crackclaw point, and Artos' own, Blackwing.
Artos would sire four daughters, though to his dismay no sons. When the Lord of the Kingswood proposed that he marry his son, Lucas Langward, to Artos' eldest daughter Lia, Artos first took it as an insult, though it became apparent that Lord Langward meant a matrilleneal marriage, to continue the line of House Baratheon. Artos graciously accepted, and it was said that there were few houses that Artos placed his full trust within, but House Langward of the Kingswood were ranked among those few.
Not too long after the marriage of his eldest daughter, House Baratheon and Stark lost a legend among them, for the Lady Morra Stark, the Old Wolf, finally passed at the age of 123. Artos immediately sailed for Winterfell, despite the harsh winter. There, he laid his great grandmother and the wife of Orys the First to rest in the cyrpts of Winterfell, meeting with Lady Beth Stark and reaffirming their allegiance and dedication to maintaining the order of the Night's Watch.
Artos placed his family above all else, and so when his good-brother, the Lord Lannister of the Golden Tooth called for his aid against the Riverlands, Artos once again raised his banners and sailed forth through the Red Fork, first setting upon the armies of Lord Hoare of Harrenhal, and then again upon the full force of the Tullys of Riverrun, slaying Lord Mohor Tully personally. Atop the dragon Blackwing, Lord Artos was unstoppable, routing the armies, only returning from the Riverlands to deal with a peasant revolt upon the isle of Great Wyk.
The remainder of Lord Artos' life would be a period of peace, his failing health preventing him from taking a central role in the politics of the Kingdom. Though a staunch supporter of the King, and one of his chief generals, Artos was nonetheless slighted numerous times by Queen Rhaena, naming instead the Lord Martell as Hand of the King, and then the pirate lord Steffon Durrandon as master of ships. Artos would take such slights in stride, though his daughter was a far more prickly being.
Lady Lia Baratheon (8077 - 8131)Lady Lia ascended to the title of overlord of the Isles of Orys just weeks prior to the death of Queen Rhaena and the ascension of Aeryn the First. Upon her father's death, she managed to tame his dragon, Blackwing, and was shortly thereafter summoned to the capital to serve under her father's old position as master at arms of the Kingdom. When she arrived, King Aeryn was preparing an expedition to Dyre Den, to attempt to tame the wild dragon there. Lady Lia eagerly went with him, and though during the expedition King Aeryn attempted multiple times to sleep with the Lady Lia, she refused him each time, given that the King was married to her own sister. The King even promised the title of his own Hand if she would sleep with him. Given her continued refusal, the King soon developed an infatuation with the Lady Brune of Dyre Den, visiting her chambers and siring numerous bastards upon the woman, even granting the badge of Hand of the King upon the woman, even though her own lands were in constant revolt and her rule over them incompetent, at best.
Disgusted by the King's infedelity and insults to the office her ancestors had once held, Lady Lia resigned her position upon the council and returned to Hammerhorn. Upset by this decision, the King refused to legitimize Lady Lia's own bastard child, born nearly a decade earlier when she was younger and more naive. This, coupled with the appointment of Lord Mandon Belmore as master of ships (despite the Belmores being unable to raise more than a handful of galleys, compared to the fleet House Baratheon commanded) widended a growing rift between the two houses.
When the young Lord of the Stormlands, Aenys Targaryen came to Hammerhorn requesting tutelage under the Lady Lia, she was gracious to accept. There she spoke to him at length about the history of House Targaryen and Baratheon, including the reasons as to why the Baratheons remained loyal to the Old Gods of the North, and the troubled relations between their two houses. While under her wardship at Hammerhorn, Aenys was wed, and sired a daughter of his own, whom he named Lia in honour of his mentor.
Years later, when a dragon egg of red and black was found in the pits of Hammerhorn, Lady Lia set sail for the Stormlands. Her father Artos had said to her before that should Blackwing ever grant an egg, it should go to the crown, but Lia had known no gratitude or respect from King Aeryn, despite the King having grown up at Hammerhorn itself under the watchful eye of Artos Baratheon. She arrived at Bramsfort where Lord Aenys Targaryen had raised an army in suspicion of Riverlander involvement in the Bay of Claws. There she presented the young lord with the egg, who was overwhelmed with surprise and gratitude. The last time a dragon had laid an egg it had been granted to Aenys' own grandfather, who was badly wounded in the attempt to hatch it.
King Robert Baratheon (8093 - 8149)Robert was the first and only son of Lia Baratheon, who was raised at Hammerhorn alongside his three sisters. He was a quiet boy in his youth, and grew to become a patient and capable lord.
Following the death of his mother Lia Baratheon, the last vestiges of good will between House Baratheon and Targaryen died with her. Robert had grown disillusioned with Targaryen rule and their continued slights against not only his house, but the greater realm. In this he found an ally in Lord Ronel Tully, the son of Lord Mohor Tully, who had died in battle against Robert's own grandfather, Artos 'Bloodaxe' Baratheon. The two, despite the contention that Mohor's death may have caused, found common ground in the despisement of the ruling Targaryen branch.
Lord Ronel and Robert discussed at length what could be done, and ultimately came to the conclusion that the ruling line of Targaryens were unfit to rule the Kingdom. When Lord Robert proposed the line of Vaemond Targaryen, second born of Aegon 'the Kingslayer King', Lord Ronel vehmently protested, stating that the Targaryens had shown they were unfit to rule the Seven Kingdoms long ago, and fighting to place another of the same house upon the throne would lead to the same misfortune. Lord Ronel proposed that Robert claim the throne for his own, and though Robert was reluctant at first, the reminder that his ancestor Orys was descended from the same man as King Aegon, and that House Baratheon had long maintained stability within the realm was enough to convince him to press for his own claim.
When the time came for war, Lord Robert's diplomatic skills and the actions of his own mother Lady Lia Baratheon paid dividens. Lord Tully struck the banners of House Targaryen from their walls, and replaced them with those of House Baratheon. Lord Rodrik Stark declared for Robert, the long lasting bond between House Stark and Baratheon holding true. Lord Renly Belmore, the son of Lord Mandon Belmore, who Robert's mother had helped place at the head of the Vale of Arryn also rose in rebellion for Robert, as did Lord Bertram Lannister, whose marriage to Robert's sister had been arranged just months prior. Finally, the Reach rose against the King, the diplomatic endeavours of Lord Robert solidifying the alliance of Five of the Seven Kingdoms, plus the Riverlands. The only ones who stood opposed were the Targaryens of the Stormlands, and House Brune of the Claw, alongside King Aeryn's own host.
In the opening stages of the war, disaster would befall not only House Chester of the Reach, as their army was caught unawares by the King's army, but King Aeryn's own dragon would fall to an lowly knight, eager to prove his worth. With the King's dragon dead, the armies of the 'rebels' assembled in the Crownlands, and sacked and burned the castles of those still loyal to the King. With panic clearly evident, King Aeryn demanded Lord Bertram Lannister disband his armies and return to his home, or he would kill Lord Lannister's own brother, the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. When a response was not received within the King's liking of time, he executed his own Lord Commander of the Kingsguard.
Robert had never intended to personally harm King Aeryn, or his family, at the onset of the war. But with the execution of Lord Betram's own brother his hand was forced. When the armies of Lord Osgrey took Oldtown, they delivered King Aeryn in chains to him. Desolate, the former king demanded a trial by combat, declaring Robert to be a craven and a bastard should he refuse. Lord Bertram Lannister stood beside the newly crowned King Robert, and asked of Aeryn a simple question - 'Was my brother given a trial, 'King' Aeryn?'. Robert would take the head of Aeryn Targaryen, though would spare his sons and daughters, and all others of House Targaryen, even those of the Stormlands whose lady, Lia Targaryen, had been raised in Hammerhorn alongside his own son.
King Robert's rule would largely be regarded as stable throughout the remainder of his life, his main priority being in organizing the lands of the Kingdom so as to prevent further bloodshed between the Lord Paramounts, and the reward of those who sided with him in his rebellion against King Aeryn. He even rewarded the Lord Paramounty of the Claw to a cadet branch of House Targaryen, in exchange for a dragon egg and their oath of fealty.
King Benjen 'Bloody Ben' (8118 - 8157)When Benjen's father declared for his claim to the throne, the young Benjen was advised by his father to remain at Hammerhorn, so as to secure the succession of House Baratheon. Benjen had other ideas, and instead stowed away aboard one of the ships leaving Hammerhorn, only revealing his identity when the ship was halfway to the Crownlands, leaving his father no choice but to accept his son's inclusion in the campaign for the crown.
He would take command of a third of the Baratheon host, numbering some 15,000 men, leading them into battle near Brightwater against King Aeryn and Lady Lia Targaryen's host. With the assistance of Lord Lannister and Chester, they would prevail, and drive the remaining Crownland forces to ship, where Benjen would follow, commanding the Iron Fleet of the Isles of Orys and taking battle to the Royal Fleet off the coast of the Shield Isles. With the Royal navy decimated, what remained of their fleet and army fled to north, hoping to take Hammerhorn and the capital of House Baratheon and thus bring a swift end to the war. Alarmed, Benjen sent a hundred ravens speeding north to outpace the King's fleet, warning Hammerhorn of the impending attack. Word arrived just in time, and Hammerhorn's master-at-arms, Lucimore Hoare, managed to bring the smallfolk of Great Wyk inside nearby castles, and burn and pillage the nearby farmlands to deny resources to the enemy. With no food and dwindling supplies, the King's army turned around and sailed for the nearest port, Greyshield.
Given that Lord Chester had backed the claim of Robert Baratheon to the throne, Benjen's father sent word that he should do everything in his power to prevent the Shield Isles from falling to the hands of King Aeryn. Emboldened by his father's words, Benjen ran his ships aground on Greyshield, and led his own host against that of King Aeryn personally. A bloody battle ensued beneath the walls of Grimston, where Benjen slew seven men in personal combat as they came against him before his men could come to his aid. After the battle, his surcoat and body was drenched in enemy blood, and those under his command took to calling him 'Bloody Ben', a nickname which stuck with the young lord (and soon to be Prince).
Benjen however lacked the diplomatic charm of his father, and upon his father's death drew the ire of some of the lords who had fought for the claim of House Baratheon for his remarks regarding his father's death. His father had been ill for many months following his death, and when that death finally came it seem to be almost a relief, however Benjen's comments painted him as an impatient and ambitious Prince, impatiently counting down the hours of his father's passing so he could take the throne. He was a skilled battlefield commander, and a ruthless ruler, but fell short in uniting the Great Houses as his father had, and so his rule was troubled from the very beginning. No doubt, the death of Lord Ronel Tully, Bertram Lannister, and Gormon Chester also contributed to the discord within the realm, with three of the five Lord Paramounts that had fought for his father's claim perishing before he was crowned by the High Septon.
Much like his father, Benjen refused to appoint a Hand of the King until late in his life, and when he finally did, he did so in the form of a tournament, with the winner of a trial by arms being awarded the position. Prince Daeron Martell ultimately prevailed in the the contest, but before he was given his position, Benjen mysteriously fell ill and shortly thereafter died. Given the alarming quickness of it all, many claimed that he was poisoned, though nothing was ever proven.
King Stannis Baratheon (8134 - 8158)Stannis had been groomed from his birth to be a King, and was well regarded as an adept swordsman, an able diplomat, and a competent administrator; and unlike his father he was quick to appoint an able bodied council, naming Daeron Martell as Hand of the King, and Lord Rormund Tully as his designated Regent. He possessed all the qualities that would have made him a great King, but following his father's untimely death, Stannis would attempt to tame the dragon Blackwing and perish by its flames, leaving behind his only living son, Maric, a child of just nine months. Shortly after his death however, his wife gave birth to a second son by the late King Stannis, and then another woman claiming to be the mistress of Stannis gave birth to yet another.
King Maric Baratheon (8157 - 8189)Being only a child of nine months when his father died, the rule of the realm passed to the small council of the late King Stannis, which included the Dowager Queen Lady Lyra Stark, the Hand of the King Daeron Martell, King Maric's regent, Lord Rormund Tully, and Stannis' younger brother Renly.
Not long following King Stannis' death, unrest began to grow. Lord Renly Belmore, spurred on by Stannis' failure to tame the dragon Blackwing, claimed that that the Baratheon line was unfit to rule the seven Kingdoms, stating that the 'blood of the dragon' was what determined who could hold together the Kingdoms. Many lords and ladies across the realm were emboldened by his words, and when Lord Belmore declared that Lady Lia Targaryen was the rightful ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, thousands flocked to his banner, including House Targaryen of the Stormlands, House Osgrey of the Northern Reach, and House Chester of the Southern Reach.
War had come to Westeros, and ravens flied freely from the capital, calling the Lord Paramounts to war, to honour their oaths of allegiance to House Baratheon. While King Maric was King in name, it was his uncle Prince Renly that ostensibly held the title of head of House Baratheon, though rule of the Seven Kingdoms was split between himself, Lord Rormund Tully, and Lord Daeron Martell. The ravens returned with expected results aside from one - the banners of House Stark, Tully, and Martell would rally for the crown - it was the ravens from House Lannister that troubled Prince Renly the most. At first there was no response, and then later blatant refusal to honour the King's call to arms, claiming neutrality in the war.
Lacking the support of House Lannister, despite of the strong marriage ties between the two Houses, Prince Renly nonetheless pressed forward, rallying the banners of House Baratheon and commanding the Royalist forces to assemble in the Riverlands. The rebels however were narrowly ahead of them, as the combined forces of the Reach rallied with the men of the Vale and Stormlands and pushed forward, past Esgaroth and into the heart of the Riverlands. Lord Rormund Tully ordered Lord Theon Hoare to hold the crossing at Stone Hedge, and at first a force of 15,000 Rivermen formed battle lines agaisnt the combined might of the Reach, the Stormlands, and the Vale - numbering over 110,000 men. Lady Kyra Bracken later wrote to one of her relatives in Flint's Finger of what unfolded:
"I stood upon the battlements of Stone Hedge and it seemed to me that every man and every horse from the Seven Kingdoms had gathered across the field, facing down a seemingly insignificant force of men mustered by House Hoare. The South would trample them, overwhelm them, and then burn my castle to the ground, and for a moment I thought it might be best to dip our banners and bend the knee to them, and then I heard the war drums from across the river...The banners seemed to fill the horizon - the crowned dragon of House Baratheon, the trout of Tully, the direwolf of Stark, the sun and spear of Martell, a thousand thousand other banners - Manderlys, Ironsmiths, Yronwoods, Allyrions, Jordaynes, Freys, Pipers, Flints, Mudds, Lockes..even the banners of House Blackwood."
Despite the Crown's overwhelming victory at Stone Hedge, the war would continue for another 12 years, withing fighting going on all across Westeros, from Sealskin Point where Lord Benjicot Stark broke a Stormland army and the Dornish fleet laid waste to its reinforcements, to Turnbridge where the last dying push of House Osgrey broke against a shieldwall of Tully and Baratheon men. The only region to remain untouched by the war was the Westerlands, due to Tywin Lannister's refusal to choose sides, despite his own wife being a Baratheon and his only daughter betrothed to the heir to the Kingdom. As the war drew to a close however, Lord Belmore agreed to stand his men down in exchange for the King's mercy, and though Lord Belmore had been one of the driving forces behind the rebellion, Prince Renly agreed to the proposal, freeing the Baratheon and Tully forces to focus on the southern war against House Chester and Osgrey.
The final battle of the war came at Blackheart, where Tully and Baratheon forces stormed the walls of the keep, capturing their children of Lia Targaryen. An army of House Osgrey arrived shortly following the siege to force the royalist forces back north, but were defeated during the battle as Ser Elmo Tully led a charge against their right flank. It marked the end of the war, but also the first time King Maric had appeared on the battlefield - the war had begun when he was just a year old, but at the Battle of Blackheart he was seen armoured and ahorse, riding beneath the royal standard held by his uncle Prince Orys.
King Maric would rule ably until the age of 32, though his upbringing during war and his uncompromising attitude would earn him the nickname of 'the Unsmiling'. Following the solidification of his rule, he would lure Lord Tywin Lannister to Hammerhorn under the pretense of granting him the title of Hand of the King, citing Lord Tully's old age as a barrier to the completion of the Hand's duties, but when Lord Tywin arrive he was promptly arrested and executed by Maric for failing to honour his pledge of fealty and support the crown during the civil war.
Though it would immediately cause large division between House Baratheon and their most powerful vassal the Lannisters, King Maric would spend the next decade attempting to improve relations with Tywin's son, who would eventually come to accept that his father's actions had led to a justifiable execution. Maric even appointed Lord Tyrion Lannister as Hand of the King, raising some skeptical eyebrows who believed that Lord Tyrion would attempt to use his position to exact some sort of vengeance on the King for the execution of his father.
Maric would perish under rather suspicious circumstances in 8189AL, leaving his 16 year old son Rodrik as the new King of Westeros.
King Rodrik 'Ironheart' Baratheon (8173 - 8221)Upon the death of his father, Rodrik assumed the throne as King of Westeros at 16 years old. An attempted assassination attempt on him when he was an infant had left him horribly disfigured and plagued by constant painful headaches. His first act upon taking the throne was to send ravens to House Stark at Winterfell, ordering his Warden of the North to begin stockpiling supplies for an expedition beyond the wall. By the end of his second year as King, the Baratheon fleet set sail with 20,000 men - Rodrik riding upon the dragon Blackwing at its head. They landed at the Shadow Tower and quickly set forth beyond the wall.
It was at this time that the rumours of King Rodrik's...odd behaviour began to surface in force. With the King north of the wall, the realm was left in charge of Lord Rormund Tully, the Hand of the King. Without the iron fist of the throne, the rumours spread like wildfire - that King Rodrik prayed to foreign Gods, that he was a servant of the Great Other...whatever action such tales might have sparked were quickly crushed however, when word came south of what was going on beyond the wall. The Wildlings had long proved a problem, not just for the Wardens of the North and the wall, but Rodrik viewed their constant proclimations of Kings Beyond the Wall to be an insult to his own kingship, and Rodrik was not a man to take slights lightly. Centuries of warfare between the Free Folk and those south of the wall had led to this time as King Rodrik upon the dragon Blackwing led 40,000 men north and set fire to the entirety of the haunted forest, driving the wildlings north in vast hordes that his army then descended on. Entire villages were exterminated, leaving only a grey wasteland of burnt trees and ripped apart timbers. The death toll for the wildlings is impossible to place a number upon, given the lack of written records, but of the 40,000 men King Rodrik led beyond the wall, only 1600 returned through the gates at Castle Black - and according to royal records at least, the Wildlings lost ten times the number, near half a million men, women, and children.
Not all was well with the realm at home, as Rodrik led his men North. With Lord Tywin Lannister's recent execution for his failure to support Rodrik's father's ascension to the throne, there was growing discontent and hostility brewing towards House Baratheon, and Rodrik is particular. Having left Lord Jorah Stark in charge of the realm did not help either, due to the distance between the North and the rest of the realm. When King Rodrik returned with hardly any of his force remaining from the Great Ranging, it further compounded the growing talks of insurrection, the Southron lords of Westeros believing that the ranging had been a disastrous failure - even if across keeps and towns north of the Neck there were feasts and celebrations for King Rodrik ending the threat of the Kings Beyond the Wall for good.
Tensions would finally erupt into open warfare in 8195, as word raced across the realm that the legendary dragon Vhagar had returned to Westeros. Over two hundred years old and the size of a keep, the beast had landed upon the battlements of Storm's End, and when word reached Matarys Blackfyre of Fyre Den, he took his fastest ship and set sail, arriving well before the King's men, and tamed the beast. This was proof enough to many that the legitimacy of House Baratheon had ended - one of the dragon's that the first Targaryen King had taken Westeros with had chosen Matarys Blackfyre as the rightful King, at least...that is what many said.
The battle lines were drawn - on one side stood the loyalist forces of House Baratheon, Stark, Tully, Martell, and Chester, and against them not only those of House Roxton, Osgrey, Targaryen, Blackfyre, Belmore, and Tarth - but also the great beast Vhagar, a dragon of legend able to swallow armies whole.
The war waged for near a deacade, with battles all across Westeros - at Harrenhal the armies of House Baratheon, Stark, and Tully met Roxton, Osgrey, and Blackfyre, and again along the Rose Road they clashed, a rolling surge of death that swarmed across the continent. Twice the dragons Blackwing and Vhagar met in single combat, and at first Blackwing held his own, despite being vastly outsized by the monstrous beast Vhagar, but the second time at the Battle of Oceanroad, Vhagar's jaws closed upon Blackwing's neck and the Baratheon dragon perished, sending King Rodrik plunging a thousand feet to the ground. The rebel forces cheered as they saw the King plummit, and then broke in dismay as he rose from the ground and drew his battleaxe, Winterblood. It was the sixth time King Rodrik had died - each time being revived by the Red God, each time losing a piece of what made him human.
Realising the rebel forces were slowly losing the war, Matarys Blackfyre made a last ditch attempt to force peace, taking his forces and the dragon Vhagar to ship and laying waste to the capital of Hammerhorn, sacking the city and taking the entire royal household prisoner, save for King Rodrik who was afield leading his forces. He promptly sent word to the King, his demands clear - give up the throne, or his family would die. Rodrik's reply was simple - then so would yours. For when he had heard that Matarys had made for Hammerhorn, he made haste to Matarys' own home, at Fyre Den. What followed was the greatest blow to both houses, as both men wholesale slaughtered the prisoners they had taken.
The lords of Westeros that supported Matarys' claim soon realized their cause was lost - with dwindling forces and no royal prisoners, they began to lay down their arms, begging for mercy from the King. The first to do so was Lord Corliss Belmore, followed by the Martells of Dorne. Abandoned by his allies, Matarys' small fleet was caught off the coast of Dragonstone, and even the dragon Vhagar could not save him from his death at the hands of King Rodrik. The resolution of the war was swift enough - the Lord Paramountship of the Claw, held by Matarys Blackfyre, was stripped away and its lands given to House Tully. The Northern Reach that had stood against the King was dissolved, reuniting with its southern half to reform the Reach as it was before the Targaryen conquest of Westeros, and the Targaryens of the Stormlands were driven across the Narrow Sea, its lands granted to House Tarth.
When Rodrik returned to Hammerhorn he was greeted by his kinsmen and family's heads displayed upon the scorched walls of Hammerhorn - even the skull of two year old daughter. It's said that after the war he became increasingly withdrawn, and though he remarried to Lady Bethany Stark, he never managed to have a child with her while he lived, only fathering another son and daughter with his mysterious concubine from Asshai.
Though the realm returned to stability, King Rodrik never truly recovered from the deaths of his children and kinsmen, and an increasing amount of power was turned over to his Hand of the King - Lord Tywin of Casterly Rock, and his closest advisors Lord Elmo Tully and Jorah Stark. Finally, at some point in 8219 King Rodrik took sail from Hammerhorn heading North, intending to finish what he had intented with the Great Ranging when he first ascended the throne. He headed beyond the wall with only a handful of men and never returned, thougn word filtered back to the Realm from the Wall of a great battle along the Frozen Shore, where King Rodrik and his men fought for seven days and nights against The Night King, before the King was slain. Those that had supported Rodrik during his reign would claim he sacrificed himself to save the realm, though there were always those who believed the whole tale to be a fanciful story. Either way, in 8221 Rodrik's only surviving son, the child of a concubine whom he had named Orys after his houses' founder had the crown of Westeros placed upon his brow, and ascended the throne.
King Orys I Baratheon
Orys ascended to the throne following reports of his father's death north of the Wall in 8221, but he did not remain on the throne for long. Bastard born to a concubine from Asshai and with no ambition to become King, when his brother was born, the only trueborn son of King Rodrik and Bethany Stark, he disinherited himself and travelled to the Wall to take the Black and serve as its Maester, handing the crown and the ancestral battleaxe of House Baratheon to Edrick Stark, the Hand of the King and grandfather of the new King, Torrhen.
King Torrhen I Baratheon
Continued in the Season Two page of House Baratheon.