King Stannis Baratheon is the second son of Steffon Baratheon and Cassana Estermont. He is the younger brother of King Robert Baratheon and the older brother of Renly Baratheon. He is married to Selyse Florent, with whom he has one daughter, Shireen.
Appearance and Personality
Stannis Baratheon is a tall and powerful man with a sinewy frame and broad shoulders; there are very few men taller than him, and he looks extremely imposing to most people. With dark blue eyes and a fringe of black hair on his head, he has a huge jaw and a beard that seems to cling to him. Stannis is not as handsome as either of his brothers, and he has thin lips and rarely ever smiles - much like Tywin Lannister, he is disdainful of laughter. Stannis is the most frightening of the Baratheon brothers, lacking in warmth but a laureate in strategy and warfare. It is often remarked that people can hear him grinding his teeth from a kingdom away.
Stannis is a skilled commander and strategist, and he has a perfect mind for war - a warrior and leader, Stannis is also a formidable naval opponent and was able to match the ironborn at the height of their power during the Greyjoy Rebellion, crushing Victarion Greyjoy in open battle at Fair Isle. Unfortunately, Stannis completely lacks the levity, charisma and humour that Robert and Renly were known for - he is not a lover of feasts or jousts, nor a man who easily takes his pleasures with others. In fact, he abhors people who do. Stannis is a harsh, unforgiving and painfully stubborn man who has never truly learned to flatter or submit, giving his opinions openly and unconsciously challenging people to tell him otherwise. He does not partake in wanton cruelty, but he is completely capable of being merciless: he would not have forgiven or pardoned many Targaryen loyalists after Robert's Rebellion came to an end. For this, Stannis is hugely unpopular among the lords of Westeros, who think that he lacks love or loyalty. In contrast, Renly is an incredibly popular young man, but frivolous and vainglorious and proud in an entirely different way.
In his own way, Stannis is an especially dutiful man who keeps to his word and is actually respectable in his actions. He aspires to have his throne because it is his by right, rather than any narcissistic desires or delusions of grandeur that the likes of Joffrey suffered from. Stannis was a fiercely reliable man who served Robert loyally and effectively in his capacities, and helped shatter the ironborn when they rebelled against Robert. He held Storm's End against the immense Tyrell strike force that tried to besiege it, even though it nearly cost him and his wife their lives - he respected loyalty and efficiency and duty immensely, giving Davos Seaworth a knighthood and lands of his own, but taking joints from his hand on account of his criminal past. Stannis was willing to be Robert's lieutenant and inferior because, by law, Robert was his sovereign, but he mercilessly demanded such loyalty when Robert died and Stannis, with only bastard pretenders in his way, was heir to the Iron Throne.
Stannis cared for his men at least, feeding them during the Siege of Storm's End before feeding himself. He also feared for his family, including his charmless, cruel and cynical wife and his diseased daughter, both of whom were not popular or even respected in Westeros. Those who didn't personally like Stannis respected him for his accomplishments and his dutiful nature.
Stannis has long since ceased serving the Faith of the Seven: He decided long ago that any god who took his mother and father away from him so young did not deserve his worship.
Stannis Baratheon grew up ever in the shadow of his older brother Robert. When Stannis was a child, the ship carrying his parents home was thrown against the rocks during a storm, as they were returning from a failed mission given to them by King Aerys to find a bride for his son, Rhaegar. The ship sank and his parents died before the very walls of Storm's End. Stannis witnessed this entire incident, and later claims this is the reason why he stopped believing in gods.
During Robert's Rebellion, Stannis held his brothers seat of power, Storm's End, under great adversity. They were under siege by the forces of the House Tyrell and were so low on food by the end that they had to resort to eating the rats. They would have eaten their own dead, had Ser Davos not smuggled in his onions. Despite this, Stannis was not thanked for his service. Instead, Lord Eddard Stark was thrown a feast to celebrate his "victory" over Lord Tyrell, who did not even put up a fight. Stannis was then sent to Dragonstone to capture Viserys and Danearys. However, they escaped his grasp when he stormed the castle. Robert then gave Storm's End with its lordship of the Stormlands to Renly Baratheon, who was still a small child, rather than Stannis. This slight was not forgiven by Stannis, even though he was given the lands of Dragonstone and a seat on the small council, where he served as Master of Ships. The enmity between the three brothers would continue for years, for Stannis always resented not being given the credit he deserved for being so loyal to Robert.
Eight years after these events, Lord Balon Greyjoy wagered that King Robert had not won the support of the lords of Westeros. After much preparation, he struck, sending Victarion Greyjoy, his brother, to destroy the Lannister Fleet. Lord Tywin was caught unawares, and the Lannnister fleet was torched. Robert then sent Stannis to deal with the Ironborn fleet. Stannis then set a trap at Fair Isle, were he descended from both the north and the south when the Iron Fleet was still stuck in between. As a result, the Iron Fleet was completely destroyed, which allowed Robert to ferry men to the Iron Islands themselves. While Robert saved Pyke for himself, Stannis was sent to deal with Great Wyk, the largest of the Iron Islands. He successfully captured it as Robert stormed Pyke and forced Balon to bend the knee.
Fifteen years after the Rebellion, Stannis starts to suspect that Robert's children are not his own, and are instead bastards born of incest between Queen Cersei and her brother Jaime Lannister. He enlists the aid of Jon Arryn, Hand of the King to investigate, because Stannis knows that Robert will never listen to anything he has to say, nor did he have a sufficent power base to counter the Lannisters alone. The two investigate Robert's many bastards during this time, including Gendry, in order to gather further proof for their theory (as all Baratheon children born in the male line over the years, including Robert's bastards, have been black-haired, in contrast to Cersei's children, who are golden-haired). When Arryn suddenly dies, Stannis leaves King's Landing for Dragonstone and begins building up his forces, hiring sellswords and seizing ships, for the war he knows is inevitably coming.
A Game of Thrones
After the death of Jon Arryn, Stannis flees to Dragonstone to gather his strength, including most of the royal fleet, and plan his next move, believing Cersei poisoned Jon. Eddard Stark suggests that Robert name Stannis Warden of the East as a reward for his valour during Robert's Rebellion but Robert has already given the title to Ser Jaime Lannister. Stannis is also mentioned as to having a dislike to prostitution, even going so far to asking to have it banned, with Robert replying that if that happened , might as well ban shitting and eating.
Lord Eddard Stark wonders why Stannis left, believing it was due to the discovery of whatever secret Jon Arryn was allegedly murdered for, although not realizing that Stannis was also slighted by King Robert I Baratheon's selection of Eddard as his new Hand of the King. Ned, via Grand Maester Pycelle, sends a raven with a polite letter requesting Lord Stannis to return to his seat on the small council. During Eddard's investigation of Jon's death, he discovers that Stannis and Jon had spent a great deal of time together. When he is told Stannis and Jon visited a brothel, when Stannis is normally so righteous to the point of prudish, he gets closer to the truth.
Robert dies after a boar hunt and is succeeded by his son, Joffrey I Baratheon. Eddard has been selected by Robert to rule as regent, though plans to bring Stannis to the throne. However, he is outmaneuvered by Robert's widow, Queen Cersei Lannister. The boy king Joffrey subsequently has Eddard executed.
Lord Varys reports to the small council that Stannis is said to be building ships, hiring sellswords, and bringing a shadowbinder from Asshai to Dragonstone.
A Clash of Kings
Stannis declares himself king on Dragonstone. He sends Ser Davos Seaworth to gather support for him among the stormlords, but none are willing to join him. His maester, Cressen, suggests to Stannis that he makes an alliance against the Lannisters with Robb Stark, who has been declared King in the North, but Stannis objects to ruling only half a kingdom. Cressen then proposes that Stannis sends Shireen, his only child and heir, to the Eyrie, to make an alliance with Lady Lysa Arryn, but Stannis's wife, Selyse Florent, objects, stating that Stannis should not have to beg for help, and Stannis sides with her.
Selyse has converted to the faith of R'hllor, the Lord of Light, giving the priestess Melisandre a base of power on Dragonstone. Selyse tells Stannis that the red comet is a sign that Stannis's time has come, and that he must sail from Dragonstone now to conquer. Selyse claims that Renly's men will join Stannis once Renly dies, and that Melisandre has seen Renly dead in her flames. Cressen is horrified by the thought of fratricide and objects, but Stannis dismisses him. Though Stannis is not a follower of R'hllor, he denounces the Faith of the Seven for the Lord of Light, burning the carvings of the seven gods from the Faith as a sacrifice. During this sacrifice, Melisandre proclaims that Stannis is Azor Ahai reborn, and has him pull a sword out of the burning carvings: Lightbringer. With Davos Seaworth's help, Stannis has recruited Salladhor Saan for his cause. In private, Sallador tells Davos that the sword is not the real Lightbringer.Stannis writes a letter announcing his claim to the throne and the bastardy of Joffrey, Myrcella a and Tommen, which he plans to send to the lords of the Seven Kingdoms by raven, and to the ports of Westeros and the Free Cities by ship. Davos tells Stannis that he has no proof of the incest, but Stannis claims that at Storm's End there is proof, though he does not have access. Davos further informs Stannis that it would be unwise to declare for the Lord of Light, if he wishes to win over the followers of the Faith of the Seven, but Stannis rejects the notion, as he believes Melisandre has power.
While his brother Renly is slowly marching from Highgarden to King's Landing by the Roseroad, Stannis sails for Storm's End and besieges the castle. Renly rushes to Storm's End with ten thousand of his host to meet Stannis, claiming that he has another hundred thousand on their way. Stannis and Renly parley, and Renly offers Stannis a chance to swear him his fealthy, which Stannis angrily rejects. He calls Renly a traitor, as well as threatens Robb Stark to Lady Catelyn Stark. When it becomes clear that Renly, who does not care about Stannis's letter and is confident in his own strength, will not swear to Stannis, Stannis leaves, promising a battle at dawn. Catelyn informs Renly about the murder attempt on her son Bran's life, which she blames on the Lannisters. She now believes that Bran saw Cersei and Jaime having sex, and asks leave to go to Stannis to tell him of her suspicions, suggesting that Stannis, Renly and Robb all cast aside their crowns to call a Great Council. Renly refuses, and is about to continue preparing for battle when a shadow kills him. Stannis's shadow, according to Catelyn Stark. Most of the forces Renly had brought with him to Storm's End join Stannis.
Following Renly's death, Stannis is troubled by terrible nightmares, and only Melisandre, who now shares his pavillon, can soothe him to sleep. He confides in Davos that he sometimes dreams of Renly's death, but that he is innocent, as he had been in his bed when Renly was slain, and that his squire, Devan Seaworth, had been unable to wake him. Stannis has surrounded Storm's End by land and sea, and promises that the garrison might go free unharmed is the castle is yielded up to him in a fortnight. Ser Cortnay Penrose continues to refuse, however, even during the last parley a fortnight later, as yielding require giving Stannis Robert's bastard son, Edric Storm. Cortnay challenges Stannis to single combat to decide the matter, but Stannis refuses. Unwilling to leave Storm's End untaken out of fear that it will be viewed as a defeat, and determined to get a hold of Robert's bastard to proof the incest, Stannis orders Davos to land a small boat beneath the castle, unseen in the black of the night, without anyone else knowing about it, taking Melisandre with him. Davos brings Melisandre beneath the castle, where she gives birth to a Stannis's shadow which enters the castle. That same night, Cortnay falls off a tower of the castle to his death, and the castle yields to Stannis, who subsequently burns the godswood of Storm's End. It is said that Cortnay threw himself off of the tower, and his guards could not find anyone else in the room, nor had they seen anyone else enter. However, Lord Varys believes Cortnay to have been killed with magic.
With Storm's End fallen, Stannis is free to march for King's Landing, which has been preparing for his arrival. Tyrion Lannister has the High Septon spread the news that Stannis means to burn to Great Sept of Baelor, to prevent people in the city from joining Stannis. Tyrion Lannister has ordered his men from the Vale mountain clans to light fires to burn the grass, while killing his scouts and raiding his baggage train. In response, Stannis's vanguard sets the the kingswood afire, to smoke the clansmen out.
Stannis attacks King's Landing during the Battle of the Blackwater. Most of Stannis's ships enter the harbor, but the Lannisters light wildfire, and when a chain prevents the ships from sailing out of the harbor again, most of them are destroyed. Stannis's forces are close to victory, when Lord Tywin Lannister and the forces of House Tyrell arrive, led by the "ghost" of Renly Baratheon, who is later revealed to have been Garlan Tyrell, dressed in Renly's armor.
A Storm of Swords
Defeated during the Battle of the Blackwater, Stannis returns to Dragonstone on the ships of the Lyseni Salladhor Saan with the few men that remain to him, most of them the queen's men. He names Lord Alester Florent as his Hand of the King, but refuses to see anyone but Melisandre, brooding in the Stone Drum instead. He does not eat, and tales are told claiming that Stannis and Melisandre go down into the Dragonmont to watch the fires inside. After Davos Seaworth is arrested for his plan to kill Melisandre, Melisandre visits him, and informs him that she dare not make another shadow son with Stannis as his "fires burn so low" that doing to might kill him. Stannis's Hand, Alester, loses faith in Stannis's chances for succes, and prepares to offer peace to House Lannister, to be sealed with the promise that Stannis gives up his claim to the Iron Throne and retracts all he said regarding the bastardy of Cersei Lannister's children in exchange for being accepted back into the King's peace and being allowed to rule as Lord of Dragonstone and Lord of Storm's End. Alester wishes to seal the bargain by offering Shireen in marriage to Tommen Baratheon. However, before he can send his letter to King's Landing, he is arrested for treason.
Stannis has Davos brought before him. While escorting Davos to Stannis in the Chamber of the Painted Table, Ser Axell Florent tries to make Davos tell Stannis that Axell should be named the King's Hand. Stannis informs Davos that Axell wishes to resume the war, and has Axell put his plans to sack Claw Isle to Davos. Stannis wishes to know Davos's opinion on the plans, and sends Axell away when the conversation turns badly, while asking for Melisandre. Davos shares his suspicions about Melisandre with Stannis, but Stannis states he does not believe Renly's death was Melisandre's doing. He shares Davos's opinion on Axell's plans, however, and raises Davos up to be the Lord of the Rainwood, Admiral of the Narrow Sea, and his Hand of the King. Stannis reveals that he has seen a high hill in a forest, where men in black had made a ring of torches, and where shapes were moving through the snow. Though Melisandre has been trying to convince him to sacrifice Edric Storm, Robert's acknowledged bastard, Stannis refuses, ordering her to use leeches instead. Stannis throws the three leeches into the fire one by one, stating the names of the other three kings (Joffrey Baratheon, Balon Greyjoy, and Robb Stark).
Both Balon and Robb die not long after, leading to a discussion among Stannis's counselors whether Edric should be sacrificed to wake a dragon from stone, as Melisandre claims will happen. Davos attempts to convince Stannis not to sacrifice Edric once they are alone, but Stannis admits that, should Joffrey die as well, he is willing to consider doing it. Upon hearing the news of Joffrey's death, Stannis is willing to sacrifice Edric, though he still does not like the idea. However, several of the men still loyal to him have forsaken R'hllor and returned to the Faith again, and Davos has found several of them willing to help him smuggle the boy to safety under the care of Ser Andrew Estermont. Stannis is furious, but Davos urges Stannis to sail for the Wall, claiming that "a king protects his people, or he is no king at all", and presents his king with Maester Aemon's letter asking for aid.
Melisandre sacrifices a man to R'hllor to gain favorable winds and sails north. He leaves Selyse and Shireen at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea while marching west with all his forces. They arrive in time to defeat Mance Rayder's wildling army during the Battle of Castle Black. Stannis occupies the King's Tower at Castle Black. Though he plans to burn Mance Rayder, he is willing to allow the other free folk through the Wall if they swear to R'hllor, settling them in the Gift. He has Jon Snow brought to him, and offers to legitimize him and name him Lord of Winterfell in exchange for Jon's help in winning the north to his side. He allows Jon time to think about the offfer. As Stannis needs to negotiate with the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, he is displeased that after ten days of voting, the black brothers still have not yet chosen a new commander, and calls several of the higher ranking men to him to inform them that he will chose a Lord Commander for them, if they do not come to a decision that same day. Stannis informs maester Aemon and Samwell Tarly that he has send word to his castellan to begin mining dragonglass at Dragonstone to fight the Others, and confirms that he is aware of Aemon's ancestry. Aemon requests to see Lightbringer, and Stannis grants the request. Thanks to Samwell's involvement, Jon Snow is elected as Lord Commander, preventing him from accepting Stannis's offer.
A Dance with Dragons
Stannis keeps his wildling prisoners beyond the Wall. He rides down the kingsroad almost as far as Queenscrown, prowles through the empty hovels of Mole's Town, inspects the ruins at Queensgate and Oakenshield, and walks atop the Wall each night with Melisandre, while selecting prisoners for questioning during the day. House Mormont has refused to join Stannis, whereas House Manderly's reply to Stannis's letter only made excuses. Jon Snow cedes ownership of the Nightfort to Stannis, but refuses to give Stannis ownership of the other fifteen castles at the Wall that are unoccupied by the black brothers, and asks Stannis for men instead to serve under the command of his own commanders.
Stannis sends Davos Seaworth to White Harbor to treat with Lord Wyman Manderly on his behalf, as well sends Richard Horpe and Justin Massey as envoys south. Stannis approves of Jon's execution of Janos Slynt, and has Mance Rayder burned in sacrifice to R'hllor as punishment for having deserted the Watch. In reality, however, Stannis has unknowingly burned Rattleshirt, who had secretly been glamoured by Melisandre to look like Mance. He offers the remaining free folk the choice between bending the knee or returning beyond the Wall to die. Most of the free folk bend the knee and are allowed south of the Wall.
Stannis wins the support of half of the forces of House Umber, commanded by Mors Umber. The remainder of the Umber forces have marched for House Bolton, under the command of Hother Umber, as the Greatjon remains a captive of the Lannisters. Stannis plans to march with the wildlings on the Dreadfort, as Ramsay Bolton has marched south to Moat Cailin. Jon Snow tells him his plan will never succeed. The Dreadfort will learn of his approach long before he can ever reach the castle, and Moat Cailin will fall quickly, which means that Ramsay and Roose Bolton are free to march against Stannis with their entire force. Additionally, marching with the wildlings will only serve to turn the northmen against Stannis. Instead, Jon proposes that Stannis visit the mountain clans, including the Flints, Wulls, Norreys and Liddles. Instead of the Dreadfort, Jon suggests marching against Deepwood Motte to fight the ironborn. In exchange, the wildlings remain at the Wall.
At White Harbor, Lord Wyman Manderly arrests Stannis's envoy and Hand, Davos Seaworth, and fakes his execution. In secret, he promises to swear loyalty to Stannis if Davos can bring him Rickon Stark.
Stannis follows the advice of Jon Snow and wins over several of the moutain clans, gathering an additional three thousand men for his army. Stannis then takes Deepwood Motte from the ironborn, returning the castle to House Glover. The Mormonts, as well as smallfolk fleeing from the ironborn and survivors from the battle outside of Winterfell, once sworn to House Hornwood, House Cerwyn, and House Tallhart, join Stannis. Asha Greyjoy and several ironborn are taken captive at Deepwood Motte. Stannis and his army march on Winterfell, taking Asha with them, but they are slowed by heavy snows, and Stannis is forced to encamp at a small crofters' village three days west of Winterfell. Arnolf Karstark and Mors Umber have begun to march as well, and plan to join Stannis near Winterfell. Arnolf eventually finds Stannis at the crofters' village.
At the Wall, Tycho Nestoris, an emissary from the Iron Bank of Braavos, arrives. As the Iron Throne has ceased payments of the loans, the Iron Bank wishes to broach the subject to Stannis. Jon Snow receives Tycho and realises that if Stannis gives in to the demands of the Iron Bank, the Braavosi will give him their support, which might win him the Iron Throne. Alys Karstark arrives at Castle Black, and warns Jon that her uncle, Arnolf Karstark, is only feigning loyalty to Stannis. In truth he sides with the Boltons, and is planning to betray Stannis at the oppertune moment. Jon sends a message to Deepwood Motte in an attempt to warn Stannis. Tycho travels to Deepwood Motte in search of Stannis, and from there continues to the crofters' village as well. Near Winterfell, Tycho finds Mors Umber with a captive Theon Greyjoy and "Arya Stark", who he brings with him to Stannis.
Jon Snow receives a taunting letter at Castle Black from Ramsay, stating that Stannis was killed along with most of his army in seven days of battle. The validity of this letter remains unknown.
The Winds of Winter
Stannis is actively and efficiently preparing for the looming battle against the Boltons. He signs a contract with the Braavosi banker Tycho Nestoris, and plans to send Tycho back to the Wall for safety. Tycho brought a message from Jon Snow informing Stannis of Arnolf Karstark's planned treachery, after which Stannis arrests Arnolf, his son Arthor, and his three grandsons and plans to execute them. He sends Ser Justin Massey to escort "Arya Stark" back to Castle Black to reunite her with Jon Snow, in gratitude for Jon's counsel of gathering the northern mountain clans. Massey is to then travel to Braavos and use money from the Iron Bank to hire twenty thousand sellswords for Stannis. Stannis tells Massey that he may hear of Stannis' death in Braavos, but even if that news is true, Massey is to follow the orders as to seat Shireen on the Iron Throne. Stannis next receives Asha Greyjoy, and informs her that her brother Theon must be executed, as showing him mercy would mean losing all of the northmen.