In honor of the new Game of Thrones series starting I am taking a break from writing about politics today to write about my favorite character in the series. Joffrey Baratheon first of his name. Monster, Tyrant, Deranged child of incest Joffrey suffers from the worst reputation in the series. The tragedy of Joffrey is this prejudice against him prevents the reader from seeing his brilliance. If you have not read the books yet please note there will be some spoilers here.
Whether the knife was given to him by Tyrion, Littlefinger, or the Night King Joffrey was the one who ordered the hit on Bran instigating the events which led the North to rebel. This is usually viewed as a sign of incompetence from Joffrey.
Take a look at events from the point view of a future king. The Starks control half the kingdom directly. In addition to this they have a marriage alliance with the Riverlands who in turn had a marriage alliance with the Vale. That puts more than half of your Kingdom under the control of someone else. To make matters worse the 3 regions are right next to each other which means they can easily support each other. Robert is blind to this because of his personal loyalty to Eddard but the king will not always have that relationship with the lord paramount. In Joffrey’s reign you would have the ruler of the North, the ruler of the Riverlands, and the ruler of the Vale all belonging to one extended family. The same region that led the assault against the mad king. It was obvious that the situation could not stand so Joffrey had to act. Waiting until he was the king would have been too late.
Executing Eddard may have been the most brilliant move in the entire campaign. Think about the information available at the time of the execution. At this point in time all Tywin Lannister, the supposed great lion, had proved is that the Lannisters were hilariously incompetent in combat. All the Starks had to do was go south with a commander who had never experienced combat yet and Tywin promptly proceeded to lose half his army and get his heir and a whole slew of nobles captured.
If Eddard were released and proceeded to lead the Stark army against the Lannisters nothing would have been able to stop him. The vale already mutinous at being kept out of the war would have ignored Lysa altogether. The Freys who only had the courage to make outrageous demands because of Robb being a neophyte would have been kept in line. Robb would not have made his errors with Jeyne as well. In short releasing Eddard would have resulted in the loss of the throne.
Out of all the kings seated on the throne Joffrey is the only one who has shown he has the vision to create a stable Kingdom. When Joffrey was asked by Cersei what he wanted to do in his reign he mentioned that he would tax the northerners and take some of them to serve in a central kings landing army. Then if they revolted he would be down violently.
Joffrey understood that the kingdom such as it is not stable. He does not have the luxury of having pet dragons like the Targaryens nor can he count on the personal loyalty of the Starks like Robert could. In any case relying on the loyalty of one man is a shaky proposition at best. It may have led to a brief period of instability but Joffreys plan was best for the realm in the long term.
The saddest moment in the whole series is undoubtedly the death of noble Joffrey first of his name.