“Prince Aerys… as a youth, he was taken with a certain lady of Casterly Rock, a cousin of Tywin Lannister. When she and Tywin wed, your father drank too much wine at the wedding feast and was heard to say that it was a great pity that the lord’s right to the first night had been abolished. A drunken jape, no more, but Tywin Lannister was not a man to forget such words, or the… the liberties your father took during the bedding.”
Hmm. I know you have that theory about Aerys burning Joanna, but that’s never been something that crossed my mind. Honestly, from when I first read Barristan speaking of the matter, I thought that Aerys was just… highly inappropriate. More inappropriate than beddings usually are — which after all involve the men at the wedding undressing the bride, and the women undressing the groom, all making lewd jokes while they do so, then pushing them both into bed naked.
For example, if we can take the Butterwell-Frey wedding in The Mystery Knight as a standard:
The next thing he knew, he was climbing a tower stair with the bride squirming in his arms. How he kept his feet was beyond him. The girl would not be still, and the men were all around them, making ribald japes about flouring her up and kneading her well whilst they pulled off her clothes. The [troupe of comic] dwarfs joined in as well. […] Dunk had no notion where Lord Butterwell’s bedchamber was to be found, but the other men pushed and prodded him until he got there, by which time the bride was red-faced, giggling, and nearly naked, save for the stocking on her left leg, which had somehow survived the climb. […] When Dunk finally plopped the bride onto her marriage bed, a dwarf leapt in beside her and seized one of her breasts for a bit of a fondle. The girl let out a squeal, the men roared with laughter, and Dunk seized the dwarf by his collar and hauled him kicking off m’lady.
Sure, the men undress the bride, and they’re not shy about it, but note nobody actually tries anything approaching assault except the dwarf (who since he’s a comic dwarf, everyone finds it hilarious and he gets away with it).
I think what Aerys did was similar — grope Joanna and otherwise handle her inappropriately during the bedding. Perhaps he even jumped into the marriage bed and made jokes-that-were-not-actually-jokes about how they should lock the door and keep Tywin out, continuing his theme about the “first night”. (And he got away with it, because he was the king, and drunk, and so on.) But obviously Aerys didn’t actually rape Joanna, not in near-public where all the wedding guests were watching, people who would have stopped him. Frankly, anyone who thinks “liberties at the bedding” equals “rape” is stupid, tbh.
I think it could also be compared to Sansa and Tyrion’s wedding — where Joffrey took the opportunity during the cloaking ceremony to grope Sansa, during the dancing told her that marriage was no protection from him and he could have her whenever he wanted, and announced the bedding because he explicitly wanted to see Sansa naked. But no matter how power-mad Joffrey was, he wasn’t going to rape her during the bedding ceremony itself with everyone watching and where someone (Tyrion, Tywin at least) would have definitely stopped him. (Though if Joffrey had had the opportunity afterwards, I’m sure he would have tried. But not during the bedding.)
Come to think of it, a comparison between Joffrey and Aerys is actually made textually, several times. Most notably in the post-RW council scene, by Tywin himself:
“Aerys also felt the need to remind men that he was king. And he was passing fond of ripping tongues out as well. […] And any man who must say ‘I am the king’ is no true king at all. Aerys never understood that, but you will.”
Though that’s getting a bit off the subject… but anyway. Considering we know how bedding ceremonies work, and with the repeated comparisons of Joffrey to Aerys, I think we have a good idea of what Aerys’s “liberties at the bedding” very probably involved. Awful, severely inappropriate behavior, groping and such, but things that could be “excused” because of his rank and obvious drunkenness. Though not forgotten, not ever. But especially since Tywin continued being Aerys’s Hand for at least another 16 years, certainly nothing like some people who can’t read might speculate.