Did the maesters conspire against the Targaryens to rid Westeros of magic?



In a recent post, we featured a video that compiled Game of Thrones scenes concerning the return of magic to the world following the birth of Dany’s dragons. Keeping with the theme of magic, this theory video delves into whether the maesters are part of a larger conspiracy to rid Westeros of the Targaryens and magic.

Like the Night’s Watch, the maesters are considered to be servants of Westeros, and in theory, have no political allegiance. We don’t often give them much thought, but in truth they hold a great deal of power and influence. They read and write letters for their Lords and manage the ravens that carry messages between castles, thus controlling the flow of information. As historians, they’re also painfully aware of the damage done to the realm by dragons through war, misrule, and madness. Could they also be manipulating politics for their own purposes?

If the maesters are generally opposed to the study and practice of magic, it seems there’s a built-in bias against the Targaryens. In A Dance with Dragons, Barbrey Dustin claims that the maesters were involved in a plot against the Targaryens prior to Robert’s Rebellion. She believes that Rickard Stark’s maester, Walys, was partly responsible for Robert’s Rebellion since the southron marriages between the Starks, Baratheons, Tullys, and Arryns were his idea. Were these marriages solely to undermine the Targareyens? Or a way for the Houses to gain greater power by aligning themselves to each other? Prior to that, Grand Maester Pycelle betrayed the Targaryens by convincing the Mad King to open his gates to Tywin’s army. This one isn’t a great argument for a larger conspiracy because, despite Pycelle’s allegiance to the Lannisters, perhaps this act was for the good of the city since the Mad King was spiraling out of control.

One maester that’s definitely pro-Targaryen is Marwyn, the Citadel’s leading authority on magic and the occult. Marwyn is ostracized by his colleagues. He spent years in the east mapping lands, searching for lost books, and studying with warlocks and shadowbinders. He also thinks there’s a conspiracy amongst the maesters against the Targaryens. In A Feast for Crows, he tells Sam:

"Who do you think killed all the dragons the last time around? Gallant dragonslayers armed with swords? The world the Citadel is building has no place in it for sorcery or prophecy or glass candles, much less for dragons. Ask yourself why Aemon Targaryen was allowed to waste his life upon the Wall, when by rights he should have been raised to archmaester. His blood was why. He could not be trusted. No more than I can."

It’s unclear what Marwyn means since we know most of the dragons died during the Targaryen civil war, the Dance of the Dragons. Without direct evidence, he can only imply the maesters’ involvement. His comment about Aemon also seems exaggerated, since by Aemon’s admission he went to the Wall of his own free will. In the books, Marwyn is now heading for Dany in Meereen, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out.

It’s fun to see all the maester threads pulled together in one video, but the evidence seems thin as to whether a larger conspiracy against the Targaryens actually exists. No matter the maesters’ feelings on dragons and magic, I have a feeling they’ll change their tune once they realize the White Walkers are heading for them.