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Why does house Stark have the smallest army in the north?


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#1 Lord Warwyck

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Posted 13 January 2014 - 02:34 AM

this is a very serious matter. In the 12,000 man host at winterfell bolton has 3500 men, karstark 2300, manderly 1500. umber, hornwood, cerwyn, flint, ryswell, dustin altogether should've brought at least 4000 men with them. If glover and talhart brought 700 men, which is ridiculous, then the levy of house stark would be 1200 men( added to 600 at winterfell). 

Of the remaining 6000 most 1700 come from manderly and the rest from the neck.

 

Even if we consider that 1500 out of Ser Rodrik's 2000 men where stark men then that still gives winterfell only 2700 swords!!!

 

House stark held the north for 8000 years, when there where no karstark, manderly's. They controlled such a harsh people, crushed repeated rebellions, kings beyond the wall and skagosi. And earned the fear and awe of their bannermen. I strongly doubt they did this with only 3000 men.

 

And looking at the north. The karhold lands are deeply wooded and smaller than the wolfswood and they field 2300 men. The wolfswood being twice as large and being under the starks for some time( glover is master under winterfell) should give at least 3000 men. 

 

And furthermore the main winterfell land is characterized by a triangle like river in the south and mountains in the north. This is a plain land and much bigger than the bolton lands and it is surrounded by rivers meaning fertile plains. This land too should yield more troops than the boltons, at least 4000.

 

Then there are the talharts who also are masters and look out for a large plain land.

They too must have a 1000 men.

So, a tally of 8000 stark men is much reasonable.

 

So i'm not sure whether this is a writing flaw on part of george martin or if this is deliberate to stage the makings of a new Stannis/rickon host.



#2 TheButcherCrow

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Posted 13 January 2014 - 02:40 AM

Because the Stark's have vassals, why would they need to raise their own army? It's feudalism in action.



#3 Free Northman Reborn

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Posted 13 January 2014 - 03:04 AM

This is most likely a mistake by the author, which will probably be rectified in future books. To illustrate:

 

The original 12000 had upwards of 3000 Boltons, 2300 Karstarks and likely around 2000 Umbers in it. That adds up to around 7500 men. Leaving only 4500 to be split between the Hornwoods, Cerwyns, Mormonts, Mountain Clans, Glovers and Starks. (The Tallharts might have sent their men to join along the road instead of coming to Winterfell, as did the Dustins, Ryswells, Manderlys, Reeds and Flints of Flint's Finger).

 

The Stark lands are easily as large and easily as fertile as the Bolton lands, so there is no way that they have less men than the Boltons. And yet, given the above scenario, it is unlikely they contributed more than 1000 men to the war effort.

 

Clearly, the numbers don't make sense. So it is a mistake by the author. No way around it.



#4 LordBloodraven

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Posted 13 January 2014 - 03:13 AM

The Starks don't have the smallest army in the North /thread.



#5 Free Northman Reborn

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Posted 13 January 2014 - 03:19 AM

The Starks don't have the smallest army in the North /thread.

 

Considering Robb's haste to march South, logic dictates that he would have raised more men from the lands closest to Winterfell, rather than the other way around. So you would expect a smaller percentage of Last Hearth or Karhold troops to arrive than of the troops in Winterfell's own catchment area. 

 

The fact that this was not the case by a considerable margin, is clearly an error by the author.



#6 mighty potato

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Posted 13 January 2014 - 03:35 AM

 

Considering Robb's haste to march South, logic dictates that he would have raised more men from the lands closest to Winterfell, rather than the other way around. So you would expect a smaller percentage of Last Hearth or Karhold troops to arrive than of the troops in Winterfell's own catchment area. 

 

The fact that this was not the case by a considerable margin, is clearly an error by the author.

exactly .

 

estimating the North's power at 35-45 thousand yet the 20 we get due to the haste shows the error more clearly 



#7 TheButcherCrow

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Posted 13 January 2014 - 03:45 AM

I seem to have been ignored so I shall say again. The Starks called their banners & their vassals provide the army, that is how feudalism works.  When Aegon set up the structure of the 7 kingdoms after the conquest is it likely he would have allowed the great lords to maintain standing armies of more than 1000-2000 men? No, that would be completely mental. Instead he instituted a feudal system whereby several great houses swore oaths to the crown, the noble houses swore oaths to the great houses, the lesser to the noble etc.  In this way an army could be assembled quickly but without giving direct control of too many swords to any one lord.  The point I am trying to make is that all the 12,000 swords at Winterfell were Stark swords by virtue of the oaths their liege lords had made.



#8 Free Northman Reborn

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Posted 13 January 2014 - 03:56 AM

I seem to have been ignored so I shall say again. The Starks called their banners & their vassals provide the army, that is how feudalism works.  When Aegon set up the structure of the 7 kingdoms after the conquest is it likely he would have allowed the great lords to maintain standing armies of more than 1000-2000 men? No, that would be completely mental. Instead he instituted a feudal system whereby several great houses swore oaths to the crown, the noble houses swore oaths to the great houses, the lesser to the noble etc.  In this way an army could be assembled quickly but without giving direct control of too many swords to any one lord.  The point I am trying to make is that all the 12,000 swords at Winterfell were Stark swords by virtue of the oaths their liege lords had made.

 

You have an incorrect grasp of the state of affairs in the Seven Kingdoms, I'm afraid.

 

Aegon did not reconfigure the feudal setup in Westeros. The feudal system in the North is no different now than it was before Aegon's Conquest, other than the fact that the Starks swore allegiance to the Iron Throne. Below that, the North was left to manage its own affairs.

 

So with that little misconception out of the way, let's look at the map and apply logic.

 

Between the Starks and the Glovers there are 300 miles of territory, with no prominent lords occuppying it. At least, not lords that were mentioned as contributing to Robb's army at Winterfell. Similarly, between Winterfell and Torhenn's Square, and between Winterfell and Barrowton etc.

 

The point is that other than the Cerwyns, none of the primary Stark bannermen have territories that come within hundreds of miles of . There would presumably be many petty lords living in their direct neighbourhood, however. These petty lords would be too numerous to mention by name, just like Wyman Manderly mentions the dozen petty lords and hundred landed knights that make up his army, without naming each one.

 

These would be men in pure Stark colours, not in Hornwood colours, or Umber colours or Bolton colours. They would have the Stark direwolf as their banner.

 

In any case, there is around  60,000 square miles of territory directly around Winterfell that is not ruled by any of the  main Stark bannermen excluding the Cerwyns who are a bit of an anomaly, and that territory is where the Stark's personal forces should come from.

 

If Rickard Karstark can raise enough men from his cold, forested northern region, and march them 600 miles to Winterfell with 2300 still remaining by the time he gets there, the Starks must be able to raise twice that in the same period of time from their direct holdings right next to Winterfell.

 

The fact that they did not is an error.


Edited by Free Northman Reborn, 13 January 2014 - 03:58 AM.


#9 Boxman

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Posted 13 January 2014 - 03:59 AM

The entire North is house Stark's army, like TheButcherCrow said, that's how feudalism works



#10 Free Northman Reborn

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Posted 13 January 2014 - 04:06 AM

The entire North is house Stark's army, like TheButcherCrow said, that's how feudalism works

 

OK, so explain this, then.

 

The 50,000 square miles of Karstark territory produced 2300 men (probably they produced significantly more than that to start with, but after 600 miles of marching 2300 were left when they arrived at Winterfell.)

 

The 50,000 square miles of Bolton territory produced around 3000 men.

 

The 50,000 square miles of Umber territory maybe 2000 men.

 

The 50,000 square miles of Hornwood territory presumably a similar number.

 

The list goes on, with the Glovers, Tallharts, Dustins, Ryswells etc, and the territorial sizes are rounded to an average 50,000 square miles - some are larger, and some smaller but that's roughly the standard in the North.

 

So, given that none of these territories cover the 50,000 square miles of territory directly around Winterfell, why were more men not gathered from this area, irrespective of who holds it?



#11 TheButcherCrow

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Posted 13 January 2014 - 04:27 AM

 

You have an incorrect grasp of the state of affairs in the Seven Kingdoms, I'm afraid.

 

Aegon did not reconfigure the feudal setup in Westeros. The feudal system in the North is no different now than it was before Aegon's Conquest, other than the fact that the Starks swore allegiance to the Iron Throne. Below that, the North was left to manage its own affairs.

 

So with that little misconception out of the way, let's look at the map and apply logic.

 

Point. Missed.  Ok, I'll try again.  When a feudal lord assembles an army he does so by instructing the lords who owe allegiance to him to gather a force, he does not physically raise the army himself. Yes Winterfell would have a household guard, several men-at-arms & maybe the occasional sellsword but why, in the name of all that is holy, would a lord instruct his vassals to gather his army & then still be obligated to provide swords to that force? It is contrary to the basic principles of a feudal system

 

...

So, given that none of these territories cover the 50,000 square miles of territory directly around Winterfell, why were more men not gathered from this area, irrespective of who holds it?

This is more sensible. Robb didn't levy the area around Winterfell because he had no need to at that point. He had swords coming from all over the north, he had to leave some smallfolk behind or who would work the fields? Who would prepare for winter? It would also seem prudent to me to leave some sort of population to levy in case it all went pear-shaped & he had to retreat & raise another host.

 

 

EDIT

Also, it should be noted that the north is as big, if not bigger than the other 6 kingdoms put together but the population density is extremely sparse. The 50,000 sq miles around Winterfell could, for all we know, only have 5000-10,000 people living on it.  Even if we said 15,000, half are women & half again are either too young or too old. That leaves 3600, maybe push to 4000? Robb is under no obligation to raise this force and he didn't.


Edited by TheButcherCrow, 13 January 2014 - 04:35 AM.


#12 Usrnmhsnomning

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Posted 13 January 2014 - 04:38 AM

Because Winterfell is a castle with a small town, and thats it. The Dreadforts lands and Last Hearth are hilariously bigger in area than Winterfells land and encompass several towns and castles. In fact, that Winterfells army matches that of the Cerwyns and the Mormonts and the other minor lords makes perfect sense because those lords have similar sized lands to Winterfell.

#13 Free Northman Reborn

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Posted 13 January 2014 - 04:39 AM

Point. Missed.  Ok, I'll try again.  When a feudal lord assembles an army he does so by instructing the lords who owe allegiance to him to gather a force, he does not physically raise the army himself. Yes Winterfell would have a household guard, several men-at-arms & maybe the occasional sellsword but why, in the name of all that is holy, would a lord instruct his vassals to gather his army & then still be obligated to provide swords to that force? It is contrary to the basic principles of a feudal system

 

This is more sensible. Robb didn't levy the area around Winterfell because he had no need to at that point. He had swords coming from all over the north, he had to leave some smallfolk behind or who would work the fields? Who would prepare for winter? It would also seem prudent to me to leave some sort of population to levy in case it all went pear-shaped & he had to retreat & raise another host.

 

 

EDIT

Also, it should be noted that the north is as big, if not bigger than the other 6 kingdoms put together but the population density is extremely sparse. The 50,000 sq miles around Winterfell could, for all we know, only have 5000-10,000 people living on it.  Even if we said 15,000, half are women & half again are either too young or too old. That leaves 3600, maybe push to 4000? Robb is under no obligation to raise this force and he didn't.

 

Assuming a 1% ratio of troops to population, the Umber lands have around 200k people in their 50,000 square miles. That is 600 miles further North than Winterfell. The Bolton lands seem to have around 500,000 people in it.  

 

Why would the lands around Winterfell - historically the most powerful of the original petty kingdoms that made up the ancient North - be any less populated?



#14 Free Northman Reborn

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Posted 13 January 2014 - 04:42 AM

Because Winterfell is a castle with a small town, and thats it. The Dreadforts lands and Last Hearth are hilariously bigger in area than Winterfells land and encompass several towns and castles. In fact, that Winterfells army matches that of the Cerwyns and the Mormonts and the other minor lords makes perfect sense because those lords have similar sized lands to Winterfell.

 

Hilarious.

 

So then, who rules the people living in the 300 miles between Winterfell and Deepwood Motte, or the 300 miles between Winterfell and the Dreadfort etc?

 

Are these people Free Folk, owing fealty to no one? Is this a proverbial no man's land, then?



#15 Lord of Groans

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Posted 13 January 2014 - 04:43 AM

I think it's pretty clear that GRRM isn't spending a tremendous amount of time worrying about this sort of thing. If you want to call it a mistake by the author, fine. There have been other threads where people tried to make sense of the numbers given around the size of various forces and it doesn't seem like anyone ever gets anywhere. The best explanation I've heard is that the estimates are inherently unreliable because they're based on POV narratives and also that this reflects the historical reality that estimates of the sizes of armies in the middle ages was notoriously imprecise.

 

My take is that detailed descriptions of armies and armaments just isn't GRRM's thing. If you go read the Malazan novels, you'll find much more detail there because the author of those books obviously nerds out on that stuff to some degree. But GRRM just isn't super-interested.



#16 Free Northman Reborn

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Posted 13 January 2014 - 04:45 AM

I think it's pretty clear that GRRM isn't spending a tremendous amount of time worrying about this sort of thing. If you want to call it a mistake by the author, fine. There have been other threads where people tried to make sense of the numbers given around the size of various forces and it doesn't seem like anyone ever gets anywhere. The best explanation I've heard is that the estimates are inherently unreliable because they're based on POV narratives and also that this reflects the historical reality that estimates of the sizes of armies in the middle ages was notoriously imprecise.

 

My take is that detailed descriptions of armies and armaments just isn't GRRM's thing. If you go read the Malazan novels, you'll find much more detail there because the author of those books obviously nerds out on that stuff to some degree. But GRRM just isn't super-interested.

 

I don't give credence to some randomer giving an estimate of this or that army size.

 

But when Maester Luwin tells Bran the number of Karstarks that just arrived, down to the closest hundred men (2300), and when Robb tells Catelyn he has 18,000 men in his army, then these are sources to be believed. Particularly when the number is corroborated again and again later in the story.



#17 Usrnmhsnomning

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Posted 13 January 2014 - 04:52 AM

 
Hilarious.
 
So then, who rules the people living in the 300 miles between Winterfell and Deepwood Motte, or the 300 miles between Winterfell and the Dreadfort etc?
 
Are these people Free Folk, owing fealty to no one? Is this a proverbial no man's land, then?


Minor lords and Deepwood Motte itself. East of Winterfell is Dreadfort territory. You do realize these lords don't just own their castles, but the lands around them right? That space between Deepwood Motte and Winterfell is largely controlled by Deepwood Motte. I don't see how you can't see that.

#18 Belisarius09

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Posted 13 January 2014 - 04:57 AM

Robb ordered House Manderly to keep the vast majority of its forces in the North to defend the kingdom while Robb took the other troops South iirc.  THat explains why house Manderly is still so strong come adwd.  There's your missing Stark troops, the troops you're saying were house Manderly soldiers. 



#19 Lord of Groans

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Posted 13 January 2014 - 04:58 AM

 

I don't give credence to some randomer giving an estimate of this or that army size.

 

But when Maester Luwin tells Bran the number of Karstarks that just arrived, down to the closest hundred men (2300), and when Robb tells Catelyn he has 18,000 men in his army, then these are sources to be believed. Particularly when the number is corroborated again and again later in the story.

 

Okay, that's fine. But I still think GRRM just wasn't overly worried about this type of subject matter. It just isn't his thing. Notice as well that he doesn't go into tremendous detail in the books describing the precise feudal arrangements of vassal to liege lord. I mean, we can assume there are feudal obligations on both sides, but we don't know the exact details because he was either being purposely vague or he simply didn't want to write about it in detail.

 

I do agree with the original premise though. One would assume that House Stark on it's own could raise a larger army than any of the other Houses in the north.



#20 Free Northman Reborn

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Posted 13 January 2014 - 05:01 AM

Minor lords and Deepwood Motte itself. East of Winterfell is Dreadfort territory. You do realize these lords don't just own their castles, but the lands around them right? That space between Deepwood Motte and Winterfell is largely controlled by Deepwood Motte. I don't see how you can't see that.

 

The minor lords part I agree with. In fact, in Asha's PoV in Dance, we see that they leave the direct Glover lands 2 days ride out of Deepwood Motte. Meaning the Glover's rule roughly a 40 mile radius around Deepwood Motte. After that you get Houses Bole, Branch Foreseter and other petty houses that owe fealty to the Glovers.

 

The same would be true with the Manderlys, Boltons, Hornwoods etc.

 

So in my view, each major House in the North likely rules lands for a radius of around a day or two's ride around their keeps. These are the lands that are used to grow food for and provide people directly to the household of the Major lord. Beyond that radius, you venture into the territory of petty lords that are sworn to the major house, like the dozen petty lords and 100 landed knights that are sworn to Lord Manderly. 

 

So it is clear that all the empty parts between large Lords's keeps are in fact occuppied by a host of petty lords and Masterly Houses that fill up the gaps between regions.

 

Where I apparently differ from you, is that I think it utterly illogical to assume that Deepwood Motte rules over all the petty lords from the Deepwood Motte up to a day's ride from Winterfell, and that House Bolton rules all the petty lords from  the Dreadfort to a day's ride from Winterfell.

 

This is a ridiculous notion. Instead, logic would dictate that the Glovers have the allegiance of Wolfswood Houses up to roughly halfway between Deepwood Motte and Winterfell, and that those that are located closer to Winterfell are sworn directly to Winterfell.

 

Similarly, there aren't petty lords sworn to House Bolton 2 days ride Northeast of Winterfell. Nope, if there are 300 miles between Winterfell and the Dreadfort, the petty lords sworn to each could be expected to be split roughly halfway between the two territories, or wherever a historical treaty or natural boundary created a convenient border.


Edited by Free Northman Reborn, 13 January 2014 - 05:02 AM.