Is it their moral fibre? Their compassion? Their willingness to take responsibility for their actions? Military or economic ability?
Game of Thrones has an interesting answer to this.
***This blog post contains spoilers for the entire Game of Thrones series***
So, if you haven’t caught up- Game of Thrones aired its finale a couple of hours ago. And in a decision that has caused alot of discussion, Bran Stark was crowned king of the ‘six kingdoms’ and Sansa was made Queen In The North. The Iron Throne was burnt down. The ending, whilst bittersweet in many ways- is a success in many ways. The characters accept their journeys or reach their goals.
Yet through the series of Game of Thrones– many rulers did not get happy endings. Daenerys Targaryen is stabbed by her lover, Cersei is crushed to death, Tommen kills himself, Joffrey is poisoned at his wedding, Robb Stark is betrayed and murdered, Stannis is sentenced to death, Renly dies via blood magic, Margaery Tyrell dies via wildfire…
You get the point. Game of Thrones has always been a show that prides itself on characters meeting unexpected ends. Sansa and Bran Stark being given opportunities to prove their worth as rulers is interesting. It’s not that the deceased characters were bad rulers, but that there chance to truly prove themselves was cut short in the viewer’s imagination. By allowing Sansa and Bran to live, we can imagine what’s next for the people they rule over.
Because of that, I’d like to discuss what makes a good ruler, as people have already discussed what makes a bad one. I am a huge fan of King Bran and Queen Sansa- and I hope to demonstrate why.
The Case For Bran Stark
Good rulers tend to:
- Take responsibility for their actions, both good and bad. They don’t hide behind excuses of ‘they deserved it’
- Know the smallfolk perspective, and what makes people tick
- Have a knowledge of history and culture
- Strive for political and economic stability
- Be compassionate and level-headed, have core values of goodness
- Listen to the advice from others
- Never act as if they are entitled to power
- Be intelligent. They don’t have to be the smartest person in the room, but are smart enough to hold their own.
Bran doesn’t just tick those boxes, he smashes them. Ever since Season 1, Bran Stark has shown to be a loving, kind person who yielded Winterfell in Season 2 to protect his people. He struggled to leave Maester Luwin when he was dying, has active friendships with others like Samwell Tarly, listened to the counsel of his allies. I think Bran Stark’s worst action- warging into Hodor, damaging his mind- wasn’t something Bran Stark got over easily.
Adding onto that, we can see that his advisors: Tyrion, Brienne, Bronn, Samwell Tarly, Davos Seaworth- will offer valuable advice and assistance. Being a ruler doesn’t mean you have to be perfect all of the time. You don’t have to fit the ideal perfect human traits. Yet, Bran’s willingness to his best over the course of the series proves his ability at being King. He’s never arrogant, or malicious in a search for power. Therefore, I am happy with the decision to make Bran Stark king.
The Case For Sansa Stark
Sansa Stark is one of my favourite characters, and I was overjoyed at her being crowned Queen In The North. Not only did she reach her goal of Northern Independence, but through the course of the series showed maturity and growth. There were times when you may have disagreed with her actions- like her telling Tyrion about the truth regarding Jon- but she owns up to it, and asks for forgiveness. She frequently thinks about her actions in the past, and strives to do better. Not only that, but she’s a keen learner and is intelligent, like her brother Bran.
I know Sansa will adapt to the learning curve of ruling, as she did a fantastic job as Lady of Winterfell in Season Seven. Truly someone you can trust. She may not have Bran’s magical powers to lean into history and the minds of others, but she is observant and willing to absorb more information. The case for Sansa to be Queen In The North writes itself.
Overall, I am pleased with the ending for Bran and Sansa Stark- the North and the other six kingdoms are in good hands. I know that in some form of afterlife, Robb Stark would be proud of his ruling siblings.
What are your thoughts on ruling in the context of House Stark & Game of Thrones? Comment below!