A Complete Analysis of Stannis Baratheon as a Military Commander

I know it is a medieval fiction, but it has good lessons for even modern warfare.

Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire


“Whatever doubts his lords might nurse, the common men seemed to have faith in their king. Stannis had smashed Mance Rayder’s wildlings at the Wall and cleaned Asha and her ironborn out of Deepwood Motte; he was Robert’s brother, victor in a famous sea battle off Fair Isle, the man who had held Storm’s End all through Robert’s Rebellion. And he bore a hero’s sword, the enchanted blade Lightbringer, whose glow lit up the night.” – ADWD, Chapter 42, The King’s Prize


About a month ago, I did a series of posts on Robb Stark as a military commander, and I figured that the next character from the series that I wanted to analyze militarily was Stannis Baratheon. I’m going to try to accomplish it in 3 parts. Part 1 will be looking at Stannis’s military accomplishments in the events leading up the books, part 2 will deal with…

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7 thoughts on “A Complete Analysis of Stannis Baratheon as a Military Commander

  1. It might be fantasy but it’s based on actual history: The Hundred Year War and the War of two Roses. Hundred Year War more then anything showed the efficiency of a cheap weapons system (The Longbow) which can be produced in huge numbers and allows for the training of a large number of operators versus an expensive system (the mounted Medieval Knight) which doesn’t have the numbers and while efficient, it’s useless if not used right.


    1. I find this analysis by the same author equally interesting: https://bryndenbfish.wordpress.com/2013/09/17/a-complete-analysis-of-robb-stark-as-a-military-commander/ as the story of the character of Robb Stark is finished while that of Stanis Baratheon still has some way to go. Plus Robb Stark’s style of war has a lot of characteristics that are relevant today, such as using the higher strategic mobility of cavalry to strike behind enemy lines. Basically Robb Stark fight a blitzkrieg and his success and ultimate failure highlight both the strengths and weakness of that tactic.


      1. IIRC, his failure was due to political machinatios, in which he was rather incompetent.

        Will read the article when I get time.


      1. Robb’s problems in the book are also due to loosing Hearts and Minds. By allowing Roose Bolton to run rampart in the Riverlands he looses the support of the people, because Roose, who had the Flayed Man as banner and was famous for his castle’s dungeons and torture devices, allows his men to rape , pillage loot and burn pretty much the same as the Lanisters. But because he had acknowledged Robb as King in the North Robb became responsible for his actions. So the average person saw no difference between Lions, Lanister soldiers, and Wolves, in theory Robbs soldiers but in practice actually Bolton’s soldiers. The Brotherhood without Banners despised and hunted both groups equally. So Robb is incompetent in another matter: judging the whole character of his generals. Yes Bolton was a good general and more adept then Great Jon Uber for the diversionary tactic to which Robb first tasked him, but he was uncharismatic and very bad and administering conquered lands, being the adept of it’s better to be feared then loved by your men.Great Jon with his more boisterous demeanor and much more developed moral code might have been better. Robbs is guilty again of not thinking beyond tactics and near future strategies to consider the social consequences of his and his generals actions. A parallel can be drawn between this and the way the USA tasked its generals in Afghanistan and Iraq without considering the social consequences, which resulted in the current fiasco with ISIL and resurgence of Taliban in Afghanistan.


      2. He seems to be incompetent in politics, period. Beheading one of his bannermen, breaking an agreement, plus what you pointed out… excellent tactician but shitty strategist and incompetent diplomat and politician. He would have made an excellent battlefield commander in Stannis Baratheon’s army, as long as Stannis was there to hold his hand in other matters. Pity it never came to pass.


    2. The fall is kind of like the European monarchs, or perhaps later Rome.

      Another comparison may be with Nazi Germany. Brilliant tactically at times, but strategically, they made more enemies than they could possibly take on.


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