Tag: Game of Thrones

The Case of Daenerys Targaryen

The Case of Daenerys Targaryen

 

Having considered the legality, morality, and expediency of burning the Tarlys, we move from the act to the woman herself. The viewers of the show are unsure of her. No other character is so changeable, so unpredictable. Other characters have changed, and usually for the better, but Jaime and the Hound have changed slowly over a gradual arc. But Daenerys is noble and merciful one moment, cruel and murderous the next.

Daenerys is a killer but there are many killers on Game of Thrones and some are very popular. Bronn kills for money, and he’s made it quite clear he’d kill anybody for the right price. But he doesn’t make the viewers uneasy in the same way Dany does. He’s unrepentant but he doesn’t pretend to be anything he’s not. He has no illusions about being good and he doesn’t hide what he is. Like his double from Rome, Titus Pullo, he acknowledges that killing is a dirty line of work but it’s the one thing he’s good at.

Perhaps her killing troubles us because she’s a woman. Women bring forth life, they don’t take it. We may admire homicidal prowess in a man, but in a woman it’s an abomination, a violation of her sacred function. No, that’s not it. Maybe in the past, but no longer. Brienne of Tarth is hugely popular as is Lagertha from Vikings, and both these women have killed again and again.

We admire Brienne not only as a fighter but also as a person. She’s killed but she’s always killed armed antagonists in the course of a fight. And she’s never dispatched any of her opponents in a deliberately painful or grisly fashion. Arya took both of Meryn Trant’s eyes before she finished him, Lagertha cut off her enemy’s penis, and Sansa fed Ramsay Bolton to his own dogs. All three women killed men who were their enemies, men who’d tried to kill them, men they had every reason to hate. Their revenge, however gruesome, doesn’t seem to trouble the viewer. Some had begun to worry that Arya was going down a dark path but that was because she’ll travel the length and breadth of Westeros to hunt down old enemies but she gives no thought to searching for surviving members of her own family.

Daenerys has burned and buried her enemies alive but the others have taken their own dreadful revenge. But for the other women, that enemy was an individual a man they knew all too well, a man who’d attacked her, raped her, or killed those she loved. Daenerys counts as enemies men she’s never met, men she doesn’t know and isn’t even certain of their identities. For Daenerys an enemy isn’t a face but a group: the masters, the slavers, Robert’s assassins, anybody who opposes her claim to the crown. She’s allowed or ordered the execution of men she didn’t know to be guilty, former supporters, her own brother.

 

Brienne, Lagertha, and Daenerys are admired because they are women who can contend with men. All three women are redoubtable but Brienne and Lagertha are formidable because they are superb fighters while Daenerys is formidable because she has dragons. But in fairness to Daenerys, she has many great qualities, compassion, rectitude, integrity, warmth.

Viewers were thrilled when she walked out of the flames unburnt dragons perched on her shoulder, when she freed the slaves of Astapor, when she saw Gray Worm, Missandei, and Tyrion for who they were and raised them to positions of power. But they were appalled by her frequent rages, her ingratitude to Jorah Mormont, her pompous declamations. Why does she flash from such kindness to such cruelty? How can she have such laudable intentions but, when thwarted, fly into unthinking fury?

We don’t know whether to love or hate her because we’re brought to love or hate her in turns. We never know which Daenerys we’re going to get. Why does such a fine woman let her anger blaze into tantrums, tantrums that are terrifying because of her propensity for violence and the forces at her command, her host of Unsullied and her menagerie of dragons?

Daenerys is very much like Alexander the Great. The same Alexander who treated the defeated Porus with such magnanimity, murdered one of his best friends in a drunken rage. The same Alexander who showed such kindness to the Darius’ widow, razed Thebes and Tyre for the obstinacy of their opposition. Peter the Great brought Russia into the modern world but he also strangled how own son and heir.

Kings take themselves to be greater than other men but men nonetheless. Their blood and their crown make them special but kings die and princes are born. The King is dead; long live the King. Alexander came to believe himself something more than a man, something more than a king even. He came to believe himself a god.

As Oswald Spengler remarked, Alexander was a vain and silly boy. No man could have his head turned by the flattery of a pack of insinuating priests and fawning courtiers. Yet in the end, Julius Caesar, the same Caesar extolled by Spengler, took to wearing red shoes. When adulation turns into veneration, and veneration to worship, how can any man keep his head, let alone a mere child. In the movie The Man who would be King, a man just like Bronn, a jaded man, a man who’d seen it all and done most of it twice, a man who had no illusions, a man who knew himself and the world for what they were, succumbed to the same illusions.

Daenerys grew up in fear. As a girl she was warned to stay hidden, to trust no one, to watch for danger everywhere. She moved from hiding place to hiding place, sometimes borne off in the middle of the night, fleeing a menace she didn’t understand. She was sheltered but terrified, utterly reliant on those around her but told that every hand was against her. Had she been brought up coddled and spoiled and completely innocent of the world and its perils, it would have been a far better nursery for a queen. To fear without understanding, to depend without trusting is far worse than to grow up vain and selfish and spoiled, yet loved and trusting as Sansa did.

Priests told Alexander he was a god and he believed them. Priests told Peter the Great he was Emperor of a Third Rome, the ruler of the holy and he believed them as well. Daenerys had far more than the encouragement of priests. It was more than words, it was miracles that convinced her she was more than just a woman. She alone could survive the fire. She alone can touch her dragons.

Titles are most useful. Voltaire may sneer at the costly and lavish pageantry of royalty but it is far better to rule through veneration than through terror. We wish that Daenerys should show some hint, the smallest and briefest of smirks, that she knows this long and ever growing list of titles is helpful but faintly ridiculous. But to her these are more than titles. The likes of Tommen is given titles: Protector…Andals and the First Men…Seven Kingdoms…etc. Tommen is but a boy who wears a crown; she is far more than just a queen. Daenerys Stormborn, the Breaker of Chains, the Mother of Dragons, the Unburnt: these aren’t titles, they’re epithets.

The simplest solution to the world’s ills is a righteous ruler who will right wrongs, break chains, feed the poor, strike down the oppressors however powerful they may be. This simple solution has never proved to be a workable one. We check our worst impulses because we fear the retaliation of our fellows. And what if there are no fellows, no equals of any kind. What if there will be no retaliation. From the Squire of Gothos to the monstrous child from It’s a Good Life, the result is terrifying.

Men as intelligent as Beethoven and Hegel were sure that Napoleon was going to found a new order, that he was more than just a conqueror. Tyrion and Varys want to believe that Daenerys will break the wheel, that she’ll fix what is wrong with Westeros, that she’s something more, something better than Aegon the Conqueror.

The fate of the world can’t hang on the beating of one heart. Every Trajan, Charlemagne, Ashoka, Henry IV, is only a short respite from the carnage and chaos. Even if you find that one astounding personality wise and virtuous enough to hold their pride and temper in check, strong enough to curb the mighty and kind enough to succor the weak, that prodigy will get you only a few good years. Men and women, good and bad, come and go. They are born and they grow and they fade and they die, all in the blink of an eye. It’s offices and institutions that last. Tradition holds them up and constitutions set them together so they mutually check and support one another.

In the very attempt to place all our eggs in one fragile and short-lived basket, to center all power in one frame, the king-maker must tear down all of these offices and institutions. For every Trajan, there are a thousand Joffries. The search for a savior who will fix this world destroys the framework necessary to establish a workable and long-lasting government. The workings of such a government are slow, and halting, and prosaic, but every generation builds upon the achievements of the last and what is built endures.

Jorah Mormont, John Brown, and the Bay of Pigs

Jorah Mormont, John Brown, and the Bay of Pigs

 

Advising Daenerys Targaryen on the feasibility of a Targaryen restoration, Jorah Mormont observed:

“The smallfolk pray for rain, health, and a summer that never ends. It is no matter to them if the great lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace. They never are.”

A cynical assessment, and like most cynical statements, largely because of its mordant bite, it’s far too readily credited than it should be. Are the poor, the small, the uneducated, the toilers on farms, and in factories and workshops so apathetic about the fate of their own nation? There are many episodes that support Ser Jorah in his contention.

James Scott, the Duke of Monmouth was a natural (illegitimate) son of Charles II, but on the death of his father, the crown had passed to his uncle James II. Monmouth was a more appealing and certainly a more dashing figure than his uncle. What is more, James’ religion was highly suspect and many feared that in his heart he was a Catholic. An invasion was planned and launched from Holland, and Monmouth landed in South West England where he was extremely popular. A proclamation against James was read, the pretender’s banners were unfurled, and men did flock to these banners. However, in numbers, in armaments, and in training, these men were far inferior to the professional royal armies that came against them. The rebels marched and countermarched; the royal armies pursued and harried them. The rebels were trapped and brought to battle, and at Sedgemoor they were defeated. Monmouth deserted his supporters and fled the field to be himself captured soon after. In spite of his royal blood and his pleas for mercy, he was executed and many of his hapless supporters went to the gallows.

Fidel Castro had overthrown Fulgencio Batista and established his own government on the island of Cuba, but the American government had become convinced that his regime was likely communist in its tendencies and sympathies and decidedly unfriendly to the United States. The CIA planned an operation to topple the regime using Cuban anti-communist exiles to land on the island and lead a revolt against the government. This invasion force was supported by the US Air Force and Navy but their direct involvement was to be limited, and it was hoped that American role in the operation might go unnoticed. The Cuban rebels were landed at the Bay of Pigs, but their forces were so tiny that they were quickly overwhelmed. Kennedy didn’t dare commit the full might of the American military, and the operation could succeed only with a general uprising of the Cuban people. The Cubans didn’t rise against Castro and the invasion turned into a dismal, embarrassing, and damaging failure.

An abolitionist named John Brown and a small group attacked and captured the federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia. So far successful, Brown and his men had a large store of rifles and pikes at their disposal. They’d planned to use these weapons to arm slaves from the surrounding plantations and ignite a slave revolt throughout the entire South. He expected a host of slaves to come streaming down from the hills, fugitives needing only the arms he could provide to be made into an army of liberation. They never came. The call went unanswered because it went unheard. Isolated in their cabins on plantations that covered wide areas, almost all the slaves around Harper’s Ferry never learned that the day of Jubilee may be on hand. Had they heard that they had a chance to rise and fight for their freedom, would they have been bold enough to take that chance, no matter how dreadful the penalties for defeat and how daunting the odds against them? There is no way to know but the outcome was much the same as that of Monmouth’s Rebellion. Brown’s raid attracted no support and he and his men were surrounded, and those not killed in the fighting were captured and hung.

There are many examples of landings and invasions meant to fire revolts and topple thrones that failed in a similar manner and these three have been selected as representative because they are so widely separated in time, place and circumstance. These all point to one undeniable truth, if you want to be sure of an invasion, you must bring forces sufficient to overcome any opposition. If the smallfolk, hating the present regime or loyal to the cause of the invaders, choose to join the rebellion, all the better. Their aid will make the invasion easier and less costly, but they are to be merely an ancillary force and their involvement may be helpful but it must not be needed. Any undertaking that can succeed only with their support is almost surely doomed.

From this it seems evident that the smallfolk are as heedless, apathetic, and lethargic as Jorah Mormont supposed. They are not. Invasions that count upon their support fail, but those that count on their acquiescence also fail. During the Napoleonic Wars, Spain was torn between the king, the crown prince, and a scheming prime minister. Frustrated that Spain wasn’t upholding his Continental System and needing a better ruler for what had become an ineffectual and undependable ally, Napoleon summoned father and son to Bayonne for a conference. Before long disgusted by both, and convinced they were too stupid and vicious to be of any use, he replaced them. Napoleon had acquired a habit of making kings of his brothers and he appointed one them, Joseph, to reign in their stead. Charles IV had been a bad king and Napoleon was sure that the indifferent and illiterate Spanish peasantry would tamely submit to the replacement. While Charles had been a bad king, he’d been their bad king and Napoleon’s interference and the insult to their national sovereignty touched off a revolt in Madrid. The uprising was suppressed and the French exacted reprisals brutal enough to prevent any further resistance.

The executions, however, didn’t have the intended effect, and the Grand Armee was pulled into a ghastly guerilla that dragged on and on, slowly sapping its strength. This irregular warfare set the pattern for the guerillas that came after. Frenchmen who fell out of the column of march, who strayed from their comrades, who went off in foraging parties too small to defend themselves, were taken, tortured, and killed in the most gruesome and painful manner human ingenuity can devise. The French answered these barbarities with atrocities of their own. Civilians were rounded up and put up against the wall to be shot dozens of Spaniards dying for every Frenchmen. Women were raped, towns burned and the inhabitants butchered. The Spanish took every punishment, no matter how grievous, as a provocation, and they fought more bitterly and savagely the more they suffered.

The smallfolk are unpredictable. If a great lord counts on them being sluggish, craven, and harmless, they will be peevish, irascible, and deadly. If the scion of a beloved former dynasty or a more deserving and attractive claimant to the throne will count on their affection and loyalty, they will prove too wise to follow him on his mad escapades but may come by as spectators to his beheading. Their motives are inscrutable and their responses are imponderable and that makes them as dangerous as Littlefinger in all his machinations. If the great lords understood the smallfolk they could manage them. The smallfolk may be taxed, tithed, and levied into forced labor but they can’t be predicted. The high and mighty must tread lightly because they can never know if they will encounter the sheep or the viper.

Tyrion Lannister and three other Silenuses

Tyrion Lannister and three other Silenuses

For most who watch Game of Thrones or read the books, Tyrion Lannister is their favorite character. A dwarf, with a jutting forehead, a squashed in face, and mismatched eyes, Tyrion is often disliked or mistrusted by the other characters because of his ugliness. George R. R. Martin does everything he can to sharpen the contrast between the hideous face and the great mind behind it. In much the same manner, Plato wrote of Socrates in The Symposium:

I shall try in this way, men, to praise Socrates, through likenesses. Now he perhaps will think it’s for raising a laugh; but the likeness will be for the sake of the truth, not for the sake of the laughable. I declare that he is most strictly like those silenuses that sit in the shops of herm sculptors, the ones that craftsmen make holding reed pipes or flutes: and if they are split apart and opened up, they show that they have images of gods within. And I declare, in turn, that he bears a likeness to the satyr Marsyas. Now, that you are like them at least in looks, Socrates, surely not even you would dispute;

Like Tyrion, Socrates was remarkably ugly, and if we are compiling a list of great men with unsightly faces we must not omit Abraham Lincoln or Henry of Navarre. Lincoln characterized himself as the homeliest man in Illinois, and Henry was the ugliest man in the French court. All these men have come to be revered for their wisdom and compassion. When the generals had returned to Athens from the Battle of Arginusae and were going to be put on trial for the lives lost, Socrates serving as president of the assembly for the first and only time in his life, stood against everyone and refused to put the measure to a vote, and the generals were unconstitutionally and illegally tried and executed in spite of his opposition. Lincoln was famous for pardoning deserters who were to be shot, and Henry went so far as to pardon men who’d just tried to assassinate him.

The four men are also alike in being unfortunate in their marriages. Xanthippe is reported to have been a termagant. Neither Socrates nor his wife ever wrote anything down, but Plato and Xenophon wrote a great deal about them and the picture handed down is of Socrates as the patient, afflicted husband and Xanthippe as the shrew. The Greeks believed that a good wife should be submissive and perhaps Xanthippe was merely forthright and independent but she’ll never get to tell her side of the story.

We know a great deal more about Mary Todd Lincoln and while we must feel pity for a woman coping with mental illness and suffering the loss of a child, her fits of rage and prodigal spending were hard to bear.

Tyrion so repulsed his second wife, Sansa, that, too proud to endure her revulsion and too kind to force her to submit to a touch she found so distasteful, he gallantly forewent his conjugal rights. Despite his intellect, wit, wealth and station, he’s always been denied any female affection or intimacy. Never knowing the tenderness of a mother, sister, or lover, he’s always resorted to prostitutes.

Henry became estranged from both his wives, and Marguerite of Valois and Marie de’ Medici hated him in the end, but he was a faithless husband and the fault was his own. An enthusiastic, in fact a compulsive philanderer, he adored beauty and many of the most ravishing women in France welcomed him in their beds. Even if he were not a king, it’s hard to believe that a man with his wit and charisma would stay lonely for long.

Socrates, the ugliest man in Athens was pursued by Alcibiades, the most beautiful man in Athens. In another part of the Symposium, Alcibiades tells of his flagrant yet unsuccessful attempts to seduce Socrates. The other Silenuses found love, and it’s hard to believe that some woman won’t come to love Tyrion for his wisdom and kindness and see past his grotesque appearance. Perhaps Sansa will come to appreciate him for the man he is and they will reunite to live as man and wife. Millions across the world fervently wish for Tyrion to find the love and happiness he so richly deserves.

There is one respect in which Tyrion is very different from the other three men. Socrates, Lincoln, and Henry all enjoyed good health and were gifted with great bodily strength. In his youth, Lincoln worked as a rail splitter and legends abound testifying to the tremendous strength of his long arms. Socrates was famed for his indifference to cold and fatigue, and it is said that he never became drunk no matter how much wine he drank. It is difficult to credit that he was unaffected by alcohol, but his vitality and endurance were obviously exceptional. Henry was renowned both for his prowess on the battlefield and in the bedroom. In contrast, Tyrion’s stunted body brings him terrible pain and he walks long distances and climbs stairs only with great difficulty and discomfort.

As we review the great benefactors of mankind down through the ages, not all the saints and sages of history are physically repulsive. Galileo, Ashoka, FDR, Pasteur, Hillel, and many others are unexceptional in looks and indeed some are quite handsome. Yet as a rhetorical species, we delight in paradox and antithesis, and for this reason were fascinated by the idea of a Silenus, a twisted, grotesque figure hiding something wondrous and divine within.

Why it was Sansa Stark who won the Battle of the Bastards

Why it was Sansa Stark who won the Battle of the Bastards

Sansa Stark has been criticized for her conduct leading up to the battle fought between an army of Free Folk and the forces of House Bolton, commonly known as the Battle of the Bastards. The action is named in honor of the opposing commanders, natural sons of Ned Stark and Roose Bolton respectively, but it is the timely intervention of Sansa Stark that decided the outcome. This is the most highly rated and regarded episode of an extremely popular, almost ubiquitous and inescapable, television show and the events are well known to most. The Stark forces were outnumbered, but having no choice, they fought a larger, better equipped, and better trained army to retake the northern fortress of Winterfell, ancestral seat of House Stark. Jon Snow accepted battle on these unfavorable terms because he believed he had no other choice. Sansa, however, did have recourse to a large contingent of heavy cavalry, the knights of the Vale. She said nothing of this, and Jon went into the struggle with nothing but his outmatched Wildling infantry, many of whom perished in the fighting.

It’s thought that her silence lead to the unnecessary deaths of many of these brave Free Folk, and that if she’d told Jon the truth, she could have saved many lives. Why did she keep the coming of these allies to herself? Although she must have sent for them much earlier, she may not have known if they were going to come. She had to trust the treacherous Littlefinger, a man who’d betrayed her and her family in the past, to act as her envoy. Will they arrive in time? Will they come at all? If he does bring these troops, on whose side will they fight? It was Littlefinger who suggested using these knights against the Boltons, mentioning the possibility of such a step during their chilly encounter at Molestown. It was Littlefinger again who convinced Sweetrobin to join Sansa’s cause. It is unlikely that Sansa was certain of these knights joining them, and that mentioning such a hope to Jon and the rest only to have it disappointed would be ruinous for their already shaky morale. This is a generous construction and not at all improbable but I’m going to assume the opposite. I’m going to assume that Sansa was certain but that she didn’t trust Jon with that knowledge. I’m going to assume that she hid the imminent advent of the cavalry Jon so desperately needed.

How would Jon have reacted to these tidings? He would certainly be cheered. He would have waited and later confronted the Bolton army on terms of parity, or perhaps even superiority. He wouldn’t have sent his meagre force of infantry into a fight it couldn’t possibly have won. And that is precisely what he needed to do if they are to destroy the Bolton army and retake Winterfell. If they had assembled their combined host of Wildling infantry and Vale cavalry, the accession of the knights of the Vale to the Stark army would no longer be a surprise. Ramsay would have altered his dispositions, or more likely, refused battle and retreated into the fortress. Afterwards, the Free Folk and their giant were able to breach the gate and take the castle because it had already been denuded of its garrison. If Winterfell were fully manned and properly prepared, any assault was unlikely to succeed, and an army with no provisions, hungry and already close to starving, cannot undertake a siege. Mance Rayder had an enormous host and several giants, but he was repulsed in his attack on Castle Black. To recapture Winterfell, the Starks must destroy the Bolton forces in the field. They need an overwhelming battlefield victory.

How do you win an overwhelming battlefield victory if your men and resources are about equal to those of your enemy? Throughout history, the great captains have won their signature victories by thinning their ranks in some places to strengthen their reserves. The fight is joined, and these weak spots have bent but not broken. Great battlefield commanders are gifted with the coup d’oeil (it should be noted that this is a French term), an ability to watch a group of men fighting for their lives and tell, even from a distance, whether they will hold or if they are about to break and run. They may feel betrayed, they may fall, but so long as they keep fighting, that doesn’t matter. Their leader sacrifices their lives to win the battle. No one likes to fight against impossible odds. The leader of these overmatched forces will plead for help. He will beg for reinforcements. These pleas must be ignored. To lead men into battle, you must be willing to let them die. This is cold; this is hard; but that’s the price that must be paid. Many Free Folk died in the Battle of the Bastards but they didn’t die because Sansa kept it a secret that they were soon to be joined by a troop of heavy cavalry. They died because they fought a battle against a large, well-armed, and well trained, force of experienced professional soldiers. Sansa kept her secret and because she did, that enemy force was annihilated.

Most battles are won by the side that can pitch in the last reserve. This means that this reserve must be held back until the very end. At Austerlitz, Napoleon weakened his right flank, and although his men were under terrible pressure, facing onslaught after onslaught, he waited until the enemy moved their troops off the Pratzen Heights in the center to join those attacks. Only after the enemy had thrown their last reserve troops into the fight, did he strike his final blow. The timing is everything. Had he launched his assault against the center too soon, there would be troops still present to meet and repel the attack. Had he waited too long, the overburdened right would have given way and he would have lost the battle before he could put in the killing stroke.

At the Battle of Issus, Alexander and his best cavalry were deployed on the right wing, and Parmenio was assigned auxiliary troops to hold the left wing against the Persians who were far superior in numbers and quality. The Persians hit Parmenio again and again, and his wing was pushed back. His Thessalian auxiliaries gave ground as more and more of their number were cut down. They bent but they didn’t break. They fought and died to buy Alexander time, and he used that opportunity to unleash his own charge on the other end of the field, and this charge frightened Darius into fleeing and won the battle. Were they happy? They won the day but they must have felt aggrieved that their lives were treated as a commodity to be bartered for a foreign king’s triumph.

When the Army of the Potomac was coming against him in overwhelming strength, Lee broke up his own army into pieces. The smallest of these pieces was given to Jubal Early to hold off Union forces much stronger than his own. He was given a fight he couldn’t win but he wasn’t supposed to win. His defeat was inevitable but he must make sure that he fights long enough for Lee to win a much larger battle miles to the west. A thankless job to be sent into a certain defeat, but the greater victory is impossible without this sacrifice. The Confederates lost the minor Second Battle of Fredericksburg, but won the Battle of Chancellorsville and that decided the entire campaign.

The knights of the Vale mounted their charge only after the Bolton army had surrounded the Wildlings and were crushing the life out of them. The Wildlings had fought valiantly, but the arms, the weight, and the discipline of their foes were too great. The Bolton men interlocked their shields, couched their spears and advanced in an impenetrable shield wall. The Wildlings heedlessly and savagely rushed the enemy trying to break through, but not even Wun Wun could shatter their formation. Ramsay threw everything into the fight, holding nothing back, and all his men were committed, and that is when the knights of the Vale were unleashed. As far as timing goes, the moment was perfect. The Bolton deployment was much like a Macedonian phalanx, and at the Battle of Cynoscephalae a Macedonian phalanx was slaughtered when Roman legionaries managed to get in behind them. It was just the same for the Bolton army. When the wave of heavy cavalry hit them, their entire army was swept away. The Free Folk suffered losses but the Bolton men were nearly extirpated.

 

Am I saying that Sansa Stark is a superb battlefield commander, like Caesar, Frederick the Great, or the Duke of Marlborough? I like the girl and take up cudgels to defend her, but I won’t make such a ridiculous claim. It’s clear that while Arya reads about Nymeria and Visenya Targaryen, Sansa reads about Jonquil with flowers in her hair. But it wouldn’t be out of character for Littlefinger to have familiarized himself with battlefield tactics in his reading. Maybe the knights had been on the march throughout and entered the fray as soon as they came up. Whatever the case, whether deliberate or inadvertent, things could not have worked out better for the Starks. The Free Folk suffered and died on the field, but most of them survived to fight again in the wars to come, and it was their enemies who perished nearly to a man. It was Sansa who called on the knights of the Vale; it was Sansa who won the battle; and it was Sansa who retook Winterfell.