Warning: Game of Thrones spoilers ahead.
From the return of a long-departed character to news of an unexpected pregnancy, Season 7 of Game of Thrones continues to slay with the latest episode ‘Eastwatch’. Yet, another huge moment flew under the radar amidst books and a mispronunciation, a major revelation that even the scholarly Samwell Tarly didn’t catch. This moment was brought to us by Gilly, but would not have been possible without Shireen Baratheon and her lasting impact. Let’s first take a look at Gilly’s discovery:
Gilly Uncovers The Real Story Behind R+L=J
As Gilly regaled a frustrated Sam with fun facts like the number of steps in the Citadel and how many windows were in the Great Sept of Baelor, she unwittingly stumbled upon the true story behind Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. The longtime fan theory that Rhaegar and Lyanna were Jon Snow’s parents—R+L=J—was confirmed in the Season 6 finale ‘The Winds of Winter’ via Bran’s vision at the Tower of Joy. But until now audiences still didn’t know the real deal behind Rhaegar and Lyanna. Some claimed Rhaegar kidnapped and raped Lyanna while others spoke of passionate lovers that essentially eloped, their love burning too bright for the Seven Kingdoms. Now, as Gilly tells Sam via the diligent recordings of High Septon Maynard,
“Maynard says here that he issued an annulment for a Prince ‘Ragger’ and remarried him to someone else at the same time in a secret ceremony in Dorne.”
Gilly has come a long way with her reading ability, but her pronunciations are still not perfect. Prince ‘Ragger’ is actually Prince Rhaegar. Gilly thus discovers that the tale of passionate, consensual love between Rhaegar and Lyanna is the true tale. Rhaegar’s marriage to Elia Martell was annulled by this High Septon Maynard who then secretly remarried him. The ‘someone else’ has to be Lyanna based on what is known about the timing of Rhaegar disappearing with Lyanna, the beginning of Robert’s Rebellion, and eventually the confirmation of R+L=J that Bran witnessed in his Tower of Joy vision.
Not only does this put to rest the debate about Rhaegar and Lyanna’s relationship, but it also clarifies that #JonSnow is not a bastard. Since Lyanna and Rhaegar married, Jon is a legitimate Targaryen child. Had Rhaegar lived to succeed his father Aerys Targaryen—the Mad King—Jon would’ve been Rhaegar’s heir to the Iron Throne. Now by the laws of Westeros and the Targaryen claim, Jon has a better claim to the Iron Throne than his Aunt Daenerys (Aunt Daenerys sounds even weirder than I thought it would).
Brimming with justified frustration and contempt for the Citadel, Sam completely missed this revelation. For both the past and future of Jon Snow and all of Westeros, Gilly’s discovery will be crucial moving forward, though it wouldn’t have happened without Shireen Baratheon.
Shireen’s Lasting Legacy
Shireen’s death is easily one of the most heartbreaking moments in all of #GameofThrones. As fans continue to struggle with the loss of the girl both so fiercely intelligent and sweet, Season 7 has provided some closure and comfort through the likes of Gilly and Davos Seaworth. Shireen’s relationship with her parents left much to be desired, yet she formed lovely relationships with Gilly and Davos. Both Gilly and Davos were illiterate, but Shireen taught them how to read. Sam helped Gilly learn to read as well, however, Shireen was also integral to building Gilly’s literacy skills.
Without Shireen, Gilly would’ve never learned to read. Without Gilly knowing how to read, the revelation about Rhaegar and Lyanna and what that means for Jon would currently remain a mystery. On a personal level, Shireen’s teaching has also enriched the relationship between Sam and Gilly. Gilly is now just as capable at sharing obscure, fun facts that broaden one’s perspective of the world. Sam and Gilly’s relationship is therefore more intellectual and just as sweet as ever.
The legacy of Shireen also lives on through Davos. Fans reveled in Davos correcting Jon’s grammar in ‘The Spoils Of War’ but the teaching credit seems to be going towards Stannis. More credit should go to Shireen as she directly taught Davos to read during numerous hours of instruction as opposed to Stannis’s occasional mutterings about grammar. Regardless, it’s comforting to see Shireen’s legacy live on through the literacy of both Davos and Gilly, whether it’s Gilly’s discovery or Davos correcting the King in the North’s grammar. Even in the cutthroat world of Westeros, literacy is essential.
Season 7 of Game of Thrones continues Sunday, August 20th on #HBO.
Image Credit: HBO