Game of Thrones (SPOILERS)

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
2,127
Republika Srpska
Why are there so few cities and towns in Westeros? The only urban centers we hear of are The capitol, Oldtown (a sort of university town servicing the school for maesters) and Lanisport. All the other places named (Winterfell, Riverrun, Highgarden et al) are castles belonging to some great house. The Westerosi have money and demand (at least for luxury goods), trade (lots of shipping in Kings Landing) manufacturing and crafts (Street of Steel et al), and available exports (Dornish wine, presumably furs in the North etc), but, apparently, no towns engaged in internal trade.
Well, we have 5 cities: King's Landing, Oldtown, Lannisport, Gulltown and White Harbor. Apart from those cities, we have numerous towns, like Lord Harroway's Town, Fairmarket, Saltpans etc. The fact that the Riverlands have no actual cities is explained by the fact that old river kings deliberately prevented the rise of cities. We also have towns in the Stormlands near major castles like Bronzegate for example.

And how did the Targaryan kings rule after the demise of the dragons? There was no standing army (other than the Watch, which is barely able to maintain order in the capitol), the land actually possessed by the royal house was tiny, only the capitol, Dragonstone and the coast of Blackwater Bay. They apparently controlled no strategic castles or estates in any of the Seven Kingdoms, and the tax income was/is barely enough to support the costs of the court (at least in King Robert's time). The King apparently has none of his own officials resident in the Seven Kingdoms so all finance, justice and peacekeeping is done by locals, most of whom are the same families that ruled there before the conquest. how does the King dispense patronage to his friends or punish his enemies without land, money or soldiers? All the rebellions mentioned (Blackfire, Ninepenny Kings et al) were Targaryen dynastic squabbles, why didn't some or all of the Seven ancient houses use these opportunities to try to regain independence?
They did try. Greyjoys tried multiple times and Lyonel Baratheon crowned himself Storm King, but he was eventually defeated by Dunk in a trial by combat. The thing is, it would be very risky for a Great House to rebel against the crown because they could potentially bring the wrath of the rest of the kingdoms upon themselves, as the Greyjoys learned the hard way. Eventually, what took down the Targaryens was a coallition of Great Houses of Baratheon, Stark, Arryn, Tully and later Lannister, but, if Barbrey Dustin is to be believed, this was not a regular occurence, but a plot made by the maesters. Generally, you would need an alliance of the Great Houses to take down the crown, and you would normally seal that alliance with marriage (examples being Lysa and Jon, Brandon/Ned and Cat), but for the great lords it was often smarter to marry their sons and daughters to their own bannermen tying them closer to the great lord.
 
Jan 2009
1,181
Re: Towns. It needs to be remembered that it is a story, not a Doomsday Book. If there is no need to mention a specific place, why do so? This goes double for the TV show, since you can confuse the people watching really quickly if you have scenes in every dinky little village. Secondly, it is very much based on Medieval European/English history and large cities were not common. That being said, King's Landing apparently has half a million - million inhabitants, which makes it comparable to Rome, Alexandria and Constantinople in their heyday.

Re: Kingly power. We don't actually know the details of the landholdings. There is nothing to say that the King doesn't have holdings in all of the 'sub-kingdoms'. In fact, there is evidence that they do, such as:
Summerhall - A Wiki of Ice and Fire
Interestingly, even though Whynts of Harrenhal are said to be bannermen of Tullys, it is the King who handed the estate to them, not Tullys. This implies that if a family goes extinct, the lands escheat to the King, not to the Great Lord.
Harrenhal - A Wiki of Ice and Fire

Finally, why do Targaryens rule? Dynastic inertia and lack of cooperation between the Great Lords. See for example the French Capet Kings prior to Philip II Augustus. They were the unifying head of the state, and if they got their vassals to back them up, they could stomp on any single rebellious one. After all, why would the other dukes and count support an usurper? What would make the usurper more worthy of the crown than, say, themselves? But by backing the King, they could hope to get a cut of the usurper's lands once he is defeated. All the more so since Baratheons, Tyrells and Tullys all owe their current status to the Targaryen Kings. Their own legitimacy amongst their bannermen is reliant on the King's legitimacy. I think it is mentioned somewhere in the books that in all sub-kingdoms, there is another ambitious minor house, just waiting for the great house to put a foot wrong: Boltons in the North, Freys in the Riverlands, Reynes (used to be) in Westerlands, Florents in the Reach... It is not guaranteed that the bannermen would respond favorably to a call to arms, if it is to betray the great lord's own oaths to the King for simply ambition's sake.

Re: Finances. Robert was notoriously profligate. He was constantly hosting tournaments and feasts. Spending money like water. It is no wonder that the Crown ends up in debt. (Also, I wouldn't put it past Littlefingers to embezzle some money, but I don't know if this is explicitly stated anywhere.) As per the Medieval model, there is no standing army (well, there are the Goldcloaks and presumably the Navy is manned in Dragonstone, too), and the King relies on his vassals (both his own bannermen as well as the great lords) for the armies. For most of the history, this seems to have worked fine for Targaryens.
 
Oct 2015
686
Virginia
The comparison to the Capetian kings is a good one.

However, the Capetians had a couple of advantages over the Targaryens in that they controlled (eventually) a principality as large and wealthy as most others, and they had control, or at least significant rights, in many ecclesiastical territories within and beyond the Ile de France. And the custom of French nobility to divide their inheritance among their sons.
 
Last edited:
Jul 2016
7,353
USA
The comparison to the Capetian kings is a good one.

However, the Capetians had a couple of advantages over the Targaryens in that they controlled (eventually) a principality as large and wealthy as most others, and they had control, or at least significant rights, in many ecclesiastical territories within and beyond the Ile de France. And the custom of French nobility to divide their inheritance among their sons.
Best not overthink it. The books were written by an author who thought dwarfs were natural acrobats; he's not a professional historian or exceptionally well educated, he's just a former tv show writer who couldn't handle the stress of writing anymore so took up writing books who got carried away in detail from the original outline.
 
Feb 2016
5,049
Atlantic Ocean
Also, we need to remember that it was Robert's fault that the crown is bankrupt, Aerys II left a full treasury.
Actually it was his hand Tywin if i remember the lore book right

Best not overthink it. The books were written by an author who thought dwarfs were natural acrobats; he's not a professional historian or exceptionally well educated, he's just a former tv show writer who couldn't handle the stress of writing anymore so took up writing books who got carried away in detail from the original outline.
a bit like Tolstoy. he wanted to write a poem or something and ended up with war and peace
 

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
2,127
Republika Srpska
Yeah, it was mostly due to Tywin, but even after Tywin's resignation, the treasury remained full. Robert spent money on tourneys, and of course Baelish was creating a fortune of his own.
 
May 2017
1,177
Syria
Actually it was his hand Tywin if i remember the lore book right
How did Tywin exactly bankrupt the crown? I don't quite recall it as it has been a long time since I reread the books, but from what I recall it was Robert's extensive feasts, tourneys, and 'whoring' that caused the crown to go bankrupt.

Although I realize that the show is not following the books anymore, in episode 3 of the latest season the iron bank's representative told Cersei: 'Your vaults are empty. Your late husband's profligacy saw to that'.
 
Jul 2016
7,353
USA
How did Tywin exactly bankrupt the crown? I don't quite recall it as it has been a long time since I reread the books, but from what I recall it was Robert's extensive feasts, tourneys, and 'whoring' that caused the crown to go bankrupt.

Although I realize that the show is not following the books anymore, in episode 3 of the latest season the iron bank's representative told Cersei: 'Your vaults are empty. Your late husband's profligacy saw to that'.
"Tyrion had learned a few things about sweet Petyr, to his growing disquiet. Ten years ago, Jon Arryn had given him a minor sinecure in customs, where Lord Petyr had soon distinguished himself by bringing in three times as much as any of the king's other collectors. King Robert had been a prodigious spender. A man like Petyr Baelish, who had a gift for rubbing two golden dragons together to breed a third, was invaluable to his Hand. Littlefinger's rise had been arrow-swift. Within three years of his coming to court, he was master of coin and a member of the small council, and today the crown's revenues were ten times what they had been under his beleaguered predecessor . . . though the crown's debts had grown vast as well. A master juggler was Petyr Baelish." Clash of Kings, Chp 17

The Kingdom of Westeros wasn't bankrupt, just in debt. Done purposely, as Baelish purposely pushed deficit spending. Bankruptcy only happens when the debts cannot be paid. We see in the tv show (and a bit in the books) that the Iron Throne is dependent on the willingness of a sitting monarch to pay the debts, especially to the Iron Bank. Whatever debts owed to House Lannister were ignored at the point where Cercei made herself queen and basically destroyed her house.
 
Apr 2018
355
Upland, Sweden
The Kingdom of Westeros wasn't bankrupt, just in debt. Done purposely, as Baelish purposely pushed deficit spending. Bankruptcy only happens when the debts cannot be paid. We see in the tv show (and a bit in the books) that the Iron Throne is dependent on the willingness of a sitting monarch to pay the debts, especially to the Iron Bank. Whatever debts owed to House Lannister were ignored at the point where Cercei made herself queen and basically destroyed her house.
That really is interesting isn't it, how the Lannisters effectually destroyed their own powerbase and what leverage they had over the crown by merging with it. And now the rock has run out of gold...
 

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