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Why does Clive’s mother betray the Rosfield family in FF16?

If you’re left with a lot of questions and no answers after the Fall of Phoenix Gate, here’s why Clive’s mother betrays the Rosfield Family in Final Fantasy 16.

Why does Clive's mother betray the family in Final Fantasy 16: Anabella Lesage wearing a cloak in Final Fantasy 16

If you’ve been a witness to the Fall of Phoenix Gate early in the story of the latest Final Fantasy entry, you may be wondering why Clive’s mother betrays them in Final Fantasy 16. It isn’t exactly clear why this happens at the start, but thankfully, we’ve got the full rundown.

This plot point was one that caused us some initial confusion during our Final Fantasy 16 review playthrough, so you’re certainly not alone if you’ve reached this point in the demo or the main game. However, we’ve now rolled credits and dug into FF16’s Active Time Lore feature to bring you a full explanation as to why Clive is betrayed by his own mother and why she destroys the Kingdom of Rosaria. Note that there will be spoilers ahead if you haven’t made it past this part of the story.

Why does Clive’s mother betray his family in Final Fantasy 16?

Clive’s mother betrays his family in Final Fantasy 16 because she believes that her Phoenix-bearing bloodline deserves to be passed to only the mightiest descendants. She marries the Emperor of the Holy Empire of Sanbreque, and bears a child that has the blessing of the Eikons Bahamut and the Phoenix.

Before the Fall of Phoenix Gate, it’s clear that Anabella Rosfield, Clive and Joshua’s mother, is plotting with the Holy Empire to destroy the Rosfield family. She’s shown to be particularly nasty to Clive, dismissing him frequently and acting as if he is below her, while she shows a lot of love and respect to his brother, Joshua.

The betrayal seems to go to plan for her, with Elwin Rosfield killed and many of the soldiers of Rosaria’s army defeated. However, what she didn’t plan for is for Joshua Rosfield to die, as well as the arrival of Ifrit, the second Eikon of Fire. In the aftermath, Anabella finds Clive still alive, and she orders the Imperial soldiers to kill him. However, she then backs down, forcing him instead to become one of the Empire’s Branded, a slave for their army.

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It’s a known secret that Anabella betrayed her family to enter into higher powers, with Clive mentioning it with Jill during a few moments in the story, thirteen years after the Fall of Phoenix Gate. However, it wasn’t clear to him why she did it, until their encounter during the Fire in the Sky. After almost reaching the Mothercrystal within the Crystalline Dominion, Clive finds his mother and his half-brother, Olivier Lesage, hiding in a building.

It’s within this building that their confrontation finally happens. Anabella confirms her resentment towards Clive, as he failed to awaken as the Dominant of the Phoenix. Because of this, Anabella believes that the people of Rosaria slandered their names and mocked the Rosfield family, with Clive being a huge disappointment to his mother. She also mentions that Joshua was meant to be spared, but she is unaware that he is actually alive.

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After Clive and Joshua combine forces to defeat Bahamut, it’s revealed that Dion Lesage formed a coup against his father and his half-brother, Olivier Lesage, as he believed Anabella to be changing his father into a tyrant, rather than a lover of his people. Dion attacked Olivier, attempting to kill him, but his father sacrificed himself to save the life of Olivier. After being defeated by Clive and Joshua, Dion is weak but impales Olivier with his spear, right next to Anabella, revealing Olivier to be a puppet for Ultima.

Losing her pure son of noble blood, Anabella kills herself despite Clive trying to reason with her. Eighteen years after the Fall of Phoenix Gate and Anabella’s betrayal of her family, she meets her fate, knowing that all of it was for naught with the death of Olivier Lesage.

Despite the trauma that Anabella inflicts on Clive, and the amount of pain she put him through, it seems clear that he still loves her. Plus, the fact that he tries to stop her from ending her life in hopes of a better relationship either shows that Clive has grown past his pain, or that he is truly virtuous and is willing to save any life he can.

However, Anabella’s true intentions shine through from the start. Despite her noble son being a simple puppet to Ultima, and not even truly existing as a human, she’d rather end her life knowing she can’t create a pure bloodline descendant than go with her own son. It’s a selfish demise, and one that truly fits Final Fantasy 16’s world and themes of ideological conflict. We definitely think that it’s a standout story moment in the Final Fantasy series.

That’s why Clive’s mother betrays them in Final Fantasy 16. If you want to find out more about some major plot points in the game, check out our Final Fantasy 16 ending explained guide, or check out the Final Fantasy 16 walkthrough for plenty of guides to help you on your journey.