King Robert I Baratheon was the first king of the Baratheon dynasty to sit on the Iron Throne of Westeros. He was the eldest son and heir of Lord Steffon Baratheon and Lady Cassana Estermont and formerly the Lord of Storm's End.
Appearance and Character
As a younger man, Robert was proud, tall, commanding and fierce in battle, and all agree after he died that Robert was a superb soldier. He was frequently described as muscular, black-haired, clean-shaven and extremely handsome, and in battle he wore an antlered helm. After becoming king, however, he became fat, indulgent and his beard became thick and dense, hiding two chins. He was often red-faced from drinking, and had dark circles under his eyes; he often walked awkwardly, as if he were still in his cups.
Immensely charismatic, he won people to his side and to his cause through sheer personal magnetism - men who fought to kill him one day would be sharing a drink with him the next. He was never happier than fighting at the lists or on the battlefield. He celebrated hard as well, but as a younger man always took care to maintain his peak fitness. He had no love of politicking or intrigue. It was suggested that Robert was ashamed of some of the sacrifices that it took to win him the throne, namely the savage deaths of Prince Aegon and Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, but at the time Robert hatefully called them "dragonspawn" and did not punish either Tywin Lannister or Gregor Clegane for their murder. Robert was probably grateful that someone else bloodied their hands with the Targaryen children and not him.
Some of the joy went out of Robert upon the death of Lyanna, and this only increased as his loveless marriage with Cersei continued - they hated each other, and barely made a secret of that hatred. With the battles and wars won, and with his family and Kingsguard disapproving of him taking part in tourneys and melees, Robert lost his former vigour and became fat and somewhat indolent. Some of his legendary humour left him, and his temper came out more and more often, especially if the Targaryen name was mentioned - even though he had personally killed Rhaegar in a legendary duel that was the stuff of songs in the present, and the Mad King was dead, Robert's fiery hatred of the Targaryens clung to him like a disease. Aside from Jon Arryn he had few true friends at court, and didn't trust anyone other than Ned Stark or the aforementioned man, not even his brothers, with whom he mutually disliked. Very few people saw him as more than a drunken sot of a man.
He sometimes joked that he would like to leave everything behind to become a hedge knight, lusting for freedom from the responsibility that a crown and throne thrust upon him. In the end, he found that winning a kingdom was far more fun than actually ruling one. He did not commit completely to the day-to-day governance of his realm - he preferred to indulge himself en masse and this cost him a great deal of respect that he had gained so gloriously during his heroic Rebellion against the Mad King. He was disdainful at some of the processes that were required to govern the realm, leaving it to his small council. However, this meant that if he were to return to war, he would be unrelenting and ferocious, as proven during the Greyjoy Rebellion.
Robert had a deep capacity for resentfulness, as he proved in several regards: namely his eldest brother Stannis. He resented Stannis ever since he became king for allowing Prince Viserys and Princess Daenerys to escape his grasp at the end of the Rebellion, and thus never showed him the love or respect that Stannis truly deserved - Storm's End was rightfully his but Robert gave it to Renly; after Jon Arryn died, Robert would have found an able, efficient and tireless Hand in his brother, but instead turned his eyes North to his friend Ned Stark. Robert Baratheon trusted Ned Stark with his life, having grown up alongside him since they were children and become brothers in all but name. However, his relationship with the northerner meant that he lost love for both his brothers.
Robert was incredibly strong all of his life, and wielded a warhammer in battle that proved nigh-impossible for anyone else to wield. However, Robert was also a fierce swordsman, described as entering the Battle of the Bells with a sword in hand and surviving. Robert wore an antlered helm in combat that gave him an almost godlike appearance, and was unstoppable in a fight; he proved stunningly strong even after he had fallen into gluttony and drunkenness, to the point that even after his death Jaime Lannister considered the man stronger than him. He maintained a ferocious voice throughout his life, one that could rally whole armies to him.
Robert had a rather difficult time with responsibility, and by extension, alcohol. Though not disloyal to his friends and fierce in battle, Lyanna Stark noted that even if he did love her, he would never keep to one bed. This was after Robert sired his first child (the illegitimate) Mya Stone. Cersei Lannister noted that he would sometimes come to her bed drunk and, essentially, rape her (husbands had the right to bed their wives regardless of what the wife says). Once, Cersei complained about it, and Robert blamed his drink. Eddard Stark once noted (in thought) that Robert would promise a woman the world and then forget everything, including her, in the morning. Finally, during the feast at the Tourney of the Kings Hand, Cersei forbade Robert to fight, with Robert drunkenly shouting that he will. The next morning, Eddard Stark and Ser Barristan Selmy are discussing the argument, and Ser Barristan notes how most men will forget such words. Eddard noted that Robert would remember, and fight. This all shows that Robert does, to some degree, remember what happens when he gets drunk. He simply can't face up to his actions.
Robert was the eldest son of Lord Steffon Baratheon and his wife Lady Cassana, of House Estermont. Robert's parents died in a shipwreck in Shipbreaker Bay when he was still a teenager, and he became Lord of Storm's End at a young age. His parents were returning from Essos when they were caught in a sudden storm. Robert and Stannis were standing on the walls of Storm's End and witnessed thir parents ship breaking up on the rocks.
Robert rose to the occasion, with the solid and reliable support of his brother Stannis, although they were not personally close. Robert also had to raise his youngest brother Renly, but he handed over this task to the castle's staff.
He was born and raised in the Baratheon stronghold of Storm's End, but at a young age was sent to foster with Lord Jon Arryn at the Eyrie in the Vale of Arryn. There he met and befriended Eddard Stark, who had also been sent to foster there by his father.
Despite their radically different temperaments, Robert and Eddard became close and loyal friends. Jon Arryn, who had no sons of his own, came to treat them as his own family, and both Robert and Eddard came to regard the Eyrie as their second home, visiting often even after they had left and returned home.
Robert fell in love with Eddard's sister Lyanna, and her father Lord Rickard approved the high-profile match. However, shortly after this event Lyanna left Winterfell with Prince Rhaegar Targaryen. Leaving everyone to believe she had been taken against her will.
News of the kidnap was slow to reach the Eyrie, where Robert and Eddard were staying at the time, and by the time they learned it Eddard and Lyanna's eldest brother Brandon Stark had already gone to King's Landing to confront Rhaegar. Rhaegar was not present, but a furious King Aerys II had him arrested for threatening the life of the prince and summoned Lord Rickard to the capital. Lord Jon exercised caution and prevented Robert and Eddard from joining Rickard. Rickard and his retainers, along with Brandon and his companions (including Jon Arryn's nephew and heir, Elbert), were executed and Aerys put a call out for Robert and Eddard to also present themselves for justice.
Instead, Jon, Eddard (now Lord of Winterfell) and Robert raised the standards of rebellion. Houses Arryn, Baratheon and Stark summoned their banners. House Tully had also been done insult, as Brandon had been betrothed to Lord Hoster's daughter Catelyn. Some hard and fast politicking was done by Lord Jon and it was agreed that Catelyn would marry Eddard and Hoster's eldest daughter Lysa would marry Jon. In exchange Hoster Tully joined his forces to those of the rebellion.
The Stark, Tully and Arryn armies began assembling north of the Trident, but the Baratheons were separated from their allies and surrounded by enemies. Robert defeated several other houses and won them to his cause through sheer charisma, but marching his army north to link up with the rest was extremely hazardous, as it involved passing close to Tyrell territory, and they remained loyal to the king. His troops succeeded in the task (although Storm's End came under siege from the Tyrell armies), although Robert was briefly separated from his men and almost killed at the Battle of Stoney Sept until Eddard's forces rescued him.
United, the formidable army of the rebels marched south and smashed the royalist forces at the Battle of the Trident, where Robert slew Prince Rhaegar during a ferocious duel with a blow of his war hammer. Robert sustained some wounds during the fight and had to send Eddard to attack King's Landing.
Whilst the rebel army bore down on King's Landing from the north, the armies of House Lannister arrived to reinforce the capital. Once the gates had been opened, they instead sacked the city. Aerys was slain by Ser Jaime Lannister and the city was surrendered to the rebel forces once they arrived.
To ensure there was no threat to Robert's line, Lord Tywin Lannister had arranged the deaths of Rhaegar's children, which Eddard constituted unjustified murder, leading to a schism between him and Robert that was only healed when they learned of Lyanna's death.
It is unclear when Robert decided to claim the Iron Throne directly. Although he had decided that Aerys and Rhaegar had to die for their crimes, it is unknown if the fate of their heirs had similarly been decided. Eddard's reaction suggests maybe not.
Robert's claim to the Iron Throne was based on the marriage of his grandfather to Princess Rhaelle Targaryen, the daughter of King Aegon V, thus making Robert the legal heir to the Targaryen dynasty if Aerys and all his descendants were killed; however, Robert liked to say that his warhammer was his claim. This gave Robert a much stronger claim to the throne than anyone in the Arryn, Tully or Stark camps. After Aerys and Rhaegar's deaths, and with Aerys' remaining children surrounded and effectively imprisoned on Dragonstone, the remaining lords of the Seven Kingdoms agreed to swear fealty to Robert and accept him as King.
Robert began his reign by marrying Cersei Lannister, in thanks for Tywin's service in delivering the capital to him. Robert had no wish to marry any woman after the death of Lyanna, but Jon Arryn convinced him that a king must have heirs and Cersei Lannister would ensure her father's loyalty and the loyalty of House Lannister. The marriage was not happy, and although Cersei bore three children (Joffrey, Myrcella and Tommen), Robert was not especially satisfied. He did not like his eldest son and heir Joffrey, beating him once for cutting open a pregnant cat to see what her insides looked like, and in his unhappiness took to drink, feasting and sleeping with other women. In this way he had several bastard children, most notably Mya Stone, Edric Storm and Gendry, a blacksmith's apprentice in the capital.
Robert appointed Lord Jon Arryn as the Hand of the King, and Jon was an able and effective administrator, repairing relations with Dorne which had turned sour after Lannister bannermen slew Princess Elia Martell during the Sack and preventing another war.
Six years after the war, Lord Balon Greyjoy of the Iron Islands declared independence from the Seven Kingdoms, with the ironborn attacking and destroying the Lannister fleet at Lannisport and sacking Seagard to forestall any attacks on their territory. Greyjoy believed that Robert's response would be weak, as befitting a traitor and usurper, but instead Robert rallied a substantial force and fleet against him. In a pitched battle at Pyke the castle was taken. Both of Balon's elder sons died in the war and his youngest, Theon, was taken as hostage by Eddard Stark. Balon brought in chains to Robert and was forced to swear fealty once again to the Iron Throne. The swift and brutal repression of the Greyjoy rebellion earned Robert much respect, but this dwindled as he spent far too much of the realm's coin on feasting and tourneys. Without an enemy to fight, he went to seed and became noticeably fat and tired.
A Game of Thrones
After the rapid decrease in health of Jon Arryn, which culminates in his death, Robert decides to ride north to Winterfell and ask Eddard Stark to serve as Hand of the King. He visits the Winterfell Crypts to see the resting place of Lyanna. Robert is escorted into the feast by Catelyn. Jon Snow is unimpressed and disappointed with the king.
Robert demands that Eddard ride with him on one of the days on their journey. He tells Ned that he intends to have Daenerys Targaryen executed. Ned insists that Robert shouldn't give so much power to Jaime Lannister, and offers Stannis Baratheon or Robert Arryn as potential Wardens of the East. At Castle Darry, Robert is called upon to judge Arya Stark for her attack on the crown prince. He orders the execution of Lady, but silently refuses to do the act himself. He also commands the small council to arrange a tourney in the Hand's honour, though Ned finds that Robert attends no meetings himself.
Robert plans to fight in the melee section of the tourney, though Cersei suggests that he should not. He publicly shouts at her over the issue during the feast to celebrate the first day of the jousts. Ned and Ser Barristan Selmy manage to convince Robert to withdraw from the melee the following day. He later intervenes in the confrontation between Ser Gregor and Sandor Clegane.