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Relative army strengths of the Great Houses


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#1 noobilly

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Posted 08 October 2010 - 10:07 AM

I was at work today and very bored, when the question struck me: "How do the Great Houses of Westeros stack up against each other in army sizes?" So to avoid keeling over onto my table during the meeting, I began pondering on the question, and I've listed them in their rough order of strength, before the start of the War of the Five Kings. Tell me what you guys think of my analysis.

Firstly, GRRM himself tells us that the Reach is the strongest of the 7 kingdoms, and the Vale, the North and Dorne the least populated. Doran Martell himself acknowledges that Dorne is the least populous of all. So we have the Reach at the top and Dorne at the bottom in the lists of army sizes, and now we have to sort out the ones in between.

The Reach is high up on the top obviously. When Renly marched with his army he claimed to have 100,000 men, and Catelyn was shocked by the size of his camp. Of course, this comprised of some from the Stormlands, but given that he was marching up from the Reach, I think it's a safe bet that the majority of his army came from the Reach. Most of his key advisers in that march were Reach lords too. Besides, Mace Tyrell had kept back a significant portion of his army (10,000 IIRC), so I would judge the Reach's fighting strength as very, very high, probably between 80,000 and 100,000 men, and I would not be surprised if it exceeded 100,000.

After the Reach, I would put the Lannisters. Lord Commander Mormont called Tywin Lannister the most powerful lord in the Seven Kingdoms, and although that was probably partly because his daughter was the queen, I think the strength of the Westerlands must be a factor as well. When the Lannisters were fighting with the Starks and Tullys, Tywin outnumbered Bolton significantly at their first clash, and Jaime had 3 troops to Robb's 1 at the Whispering Wood. Let us not forget this was before Stafford Lannister was raising his "huge army" in the shadow of Casterly Rock. Catelyn also remarks that Edmure's army is smaller than Tywin's. So overall I would put the Lannisters at 2nd, I'm guessing their full fighting strength to be perhaps 50-60,000 men.

It's really hard to say who is 4th between the Riverlands and the Stormlands. They look about the same size on the map. The Riverlands should be pretty fertile with their rivers, but then the Stormlands may have monsoon rains too, as their name seems to indicate.

I just checked the Citadel information, and it seems the Riverlands has 42 noble houses while the Stormlands has 35. So my guess is that the Riverlands has slightly more manpower. Poor logic I know, but I really don't have anything else to go by. In any case, the Reach which is the most populous has the most houses, while Dorne, the least, has the fewest noble houses, so there is a slight basis to my logic.

I would guess their total fighting strength at somewhere around 35-40,000.

Next we come to the Vale and the North. Who has more? The North has 33 houses and the Vale 31, not enough difference to count. The North is very cold while the Vale is very mountainous, so both of them have less population than other kingdoms with the same area as them. (If the North had population corresponding to its area it could fight the other six kingdoms singlehandedly!) The Vale armies have not been seen in action, so there is really not much information on their fighting strength.

Very roughly, I would still guess the North to be slightly stronger, as they are just that much bigger in area. How many soldiers would they have in total? Robb brought 12,000 men south with him when he first marched, but so far we have all seen that after the first army marches out, the lords still have significant levies in reserve. (Note: the full figure should be 18000 when he had reached Moat Cailin, 1200 was the amount which had gathered at Winterfell, my mistake). Add to that the fact that the North is so huge so gathering armies takes longer, and that Robb's march was very hasty, I think probably the percentage of total fighting strength he brought out initially would be even less than the other Lords Paramount in the war. I think the total fighting strength of the North is somewhere around 25-30,000.

In that case, the Vale would probably be slightly lower, maybe around 25,000.

Dorne is the last of all, as admitted by Doran himself. I do wonder how he managed to hide that fact from the Iron Throne though, doesn't he have to pay taxes? It's difficult to gauge their power as they haven't really fought yet. But when the Iron Throne called for their help twice, once led by Baelor Breakspear and another time by Prince Lewyn, I noticed that Dorne always sent around 10,000 men. Maybe that is half their total fighting strength, which seems to be the rough percentage most Houses Paramount can call up on short notice. So I would put their full power at roughly 20,000.

Please share your opinions on my analysis born out of boredom!

Edited by noobilly, 13 October 2010 - 06:20 AM.


#2 Spastic Plastic

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Posted 08 October 2010 - 10:18 AM

As of A Dance With Dragons, I'd put the military power of the Great Houses like this:

1. Tyrell
2. Lannister
3. Frey
4. Bolton
5. Arryn
6. Baratheon
7. Martell

Edited by Terrorist Fist Jab, 08 October 2010 - 10:19 AM.


#3 Horza

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Posted 08 October 2010 - 10:30 AM

Previous discussion here. There have been others but that was the only one I could find.

As of A Dance With Dragons, I'd put the military power of the Great Houses like this:

1. Tyrell
2. Lannister
3. Frey
4. Bolton
5. Arryn
6. Baratheon
7. Martell



Frey and Bolton can't rely on most of their bannermen and their forces have suffered a battering. I'd put them behind Arryn and possibly Martell as well. Baratheon would be dead last - Stannis would be lucky to scrap three thousand men at this point.

#4 noobilly

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Posted 08 October 2010 - 10:40 AM

Previous discussion here. There have been others but that was the only one I could find.




Frey and Bolton can't rely on most of their bannermen and their forces have suffered a battering. I'd put them behind Arryn and possibly Martell as well. Baratheon would be dead last - Stannis would be lucky to scrap three thousand men at this point.


I think by the Baratheons he means the Stormlands, under Tommen, at least in name.

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Posted 08 October 2010 - 12:55 PM

The Freys are not the ruling house of the Riverlands. Emmon wasn't the only one who didn't read the fine print. /tongue.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':P' />

Also eight of those Riverlands houses are long extinct and the Naylands are very likely no longer landowners, so the 42 houses is not a measure of their strength.

Edited by Other-in-Law, 08 October 2010 - 12:58 PM.


#6 Gurkhal

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Posted 08 October 2010 - 02:34 PM

I would probably put the list somwhat along this

Tyrell - Cause they seem to be able to raise a SHITLOAD of soldiers and can probalby grind down almost anyone in a war of attribution if needed.

Lannister - Because they seem to have a pretty large population and with their gold they can supply alot of sellswords and freeriders to bolster the ranks

Tully - The impression I've got from them is that despite being kicked around alot by Lannisters they still manage to keep themselves in fighting condition. I think the Riverlands are actually among the military stronger parts - but have very poor strategic position.

Baratheon (Stormlands) - Arryn: I haven't really got a good impression at how strong they are but I'd say that they are probably around equal, perhaps the Stormlands are a bit stronger

Stark - Somehow I don't think that the Starks are really that very powerful.ot They have mostly been able to keep out of direct confrontation with the more powerful Houses and had a great commander in Robb during the latest war.

Dorne - While Dorne don't seem to be able to field much in the way of soldiers for offensive warfare and such they do seem to be able to make themselves very effective defensively.

Greyjoy - Their strenght is the longships which means that they can dominate the seas and harass the coastlines, at least temporarily but they lack the numbers for a prolonged war and can't compete with the others beyond the coast. I think they are actually the weakest when it comes to it.

#7 Demon In Me

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Posted 09 October 2010 - 02:05 PM

I have very little to contribute but I thought I would mention that, at least in terms of area of control(Not necessarily wealth, resources, or manpower), the Starks seem to have everyone beat.

This is a quote from the first few pages of AGoT, pg 41, Eddard's first chapter:

"'I was starting to think we would never reach Wintefell,' Robert complained as they descended. 'In the south, the way they talk about my seven kingdoms, a man forgets that your part is as big as the other six combined.'"


How much bearing this may have on the Starks relative strength, I don't know, but I thought it interesting to point out.

#8 Dolorous J

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Posted 09 October 2010 - 02:28 PM

I think you guys underestimate the Redwyne's....Thier navy can dominate the seas around the realm against most foes...probably even the Greyjoy's , whose navy is more suited for quick strikes and raiding. The fact that they reside on a island , and have a dominant navy , would make them very tough to defeat...

#9 Spastic Plastic

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Posted 09 October 2010 - 02:41 PM

The Freys are not the ruling house of the Riverlands. Emmon wasn't the only one who didn't read the fine print. /tongue.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':P' />


And the Starks don't exist as a House anymore, yet everyone keeps putting them on their lists.

House Frey is the ruling house of the Riverlands now, for all intents and purposes. Almost all river lords marched under them in the Siege of Riverrun. In AFFC, you hear people in the Riverlands going Walder Frey this and Walder Frey that. House Baelish rules the Riverlands only on an official scrap of paper. Littlefinger probably knows that, and chooses to concentrate on the Vale instead (a wise move, since the Vale was undamaged by the war).

Oh, and I included the Redwyne navy under House Tyrell. That's why the Tyrells are in first place.

Edited by Terrorist Fist Jab, 09 October 2010 - 02:44 PM.


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Posted 09 October 2010 - 04:23 PM

And the Starks don't exist as a House anymore, yet everyone keeps putting them on their lists.

House Stark works if one's list is before the war of the 5 kings. House Frey simply never works.

House Frey is the ruling house of the Riverlands now, for all intents and purposes.

Flat out wrong.

Almost all river lords marched under them in the Siege of Riverrun.

Nope. The siege was under the command of Daven Lannister, Warden of the West, before Jaime showed up, acting on behalf of the Iron Throne. The Pipers and Vances weren't taking any orders from the Freys, Piper openly insults them. Who actually does take orders from them, besides their own direct pre-war vassals (Charltons, Erenfords, and Haighs)? Even the other houses that acted in concert with them in the Red Wedding like the Vyprens are allies rather than subordinates.

In AFFC, you hear people in the Riverlands going Walder Frey this and Walder Frey that.

As vague as it is meaningless.

House Baelish rules the Riverlands only on an official scrap of paper.

Sure, but that doesn't mean anyone else de facto rules. The Riverlands are in a state of turmoil and disorder, with no effective government.

Edited by Other-in-Law, 09 October 2010 - 04:32 PM.


#11 Lord Mord

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Posted 09 October 2010 - 05:11 PM

What about sheer wealth?

1. Lannisters (obviously)
2. Tyrells (likely, given the vastness of their holdings)
3. Martells (very large kingdom, all of it along the south sea route)
4. Crownlands (rich lands, surrounding the very wealthy capital city)
5. Tullys (rich lands all on the river)
6. Arryns (Gulltown is a pretty big port, yeah? and the Vale is verdant, but the rest of it's rocks)
7. Stormlands (lot of land lost to the Kingswood, and a lot of Rocks in the south)
8. Starks (White Harbor does brisk trade, but that's pretty much it; again, mostly rock and swamp)
9. Dragonstone (tiny islands, and rocks -- strong traders but they can't be self-sufficient)
10. Greyjoys (also tiny, barren islands, and besides, they disdain gold trade)

#12 Gurkhal

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Posted 10 October 2010 - 04:56 AM

Even the other houses that acted in concert with them in the Red Wedding like the Vyprens are allies rather than subordinates.


Wait a minute, more Houses? I thought it was only Frey and Bolton + sworn Houses that took part in the Red Wedding. Is there any list regarding what Houses that helped Roose and Walder with the Wedding stuff?

#13 Prince of the Narrow Sea

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Posted 10 October 2010 - 05:08 AM

You have to remember with the North that it may be big but vast areas of it are basically wilderness. The Wolfswood, the mountains, the barrowlands. These are all pretty empty places. Bran and co only encountered one man on the entire journey north. Since the vale includes powerful houses like the Royces and a big city such as Gulltown, I'd put their strength above the North's.

#14 Horza

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Posted 10 October 2010 - 05:31 AM

Eh, White Harbor ain't no cluster of mud shacks. The North is about as populous as yer average Kingdom, it's just got more moors between its population centres.

#15 Spastic Plastic

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Posted 10 October 2010 - 11:26 AM

Wait a minute, more Houses? I thought it was only Frey and Bolton + sworn Houses that took part in the Red Wedding. Is there any list regarding what Houses that helped Roose and Walder with the Wedding stuff?


The Houses that took part in the Red Wedding:

Lannister
Frey
Bolton
Spicer
Westerling
Vypren
Haigh (Frey bannermen)
Erenford (Frey bannermen)

Edited by Terrorist Fist Jab, 10 October 2010 - 06:21 PM.


#16 Jaqen Fett

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Posted 10 October 2010 - 11:49 AM

To reiterate that size does not necessarily correspond to population/strength in extreme climates, take a look at the largest of these United States - Alaska. Although the largest state land-wise, it ranks at the bottom (47th). The North of Westeros also lies in a somewhat extreme climate (though it does seem to have more arable land than Alaska) so I think it would be safe to assume their population density is relatively thin.

However, as a defensive position the North can be very formidable, even though the Starks basically lost control of it when Robb when south. For example, Moat Cailin (sp?) is repeatedly mentioned as a great defensive position. Plus, the political center of the North - Winterfell - seems to be so far from the major armies of the south, getting supplies for a siege would be a nightmare considering the lack of raiding potential. Also, IIRC the Starks/North was the only of the seven kingdoms not to bend the knee to Aegon the Conqueror. Thus, I think we underestimating the North's power to repel an attack from the south (i.e. where all the other kingdoms are).

Of course all my arguments for the North being one of the strongest/safest of the 7 kingdoms - based solely on defensive position, are moot at this point since Ned and, to a lesser extent, Robb cost the North much of its power through political miscues.

Also, I agree that the Redwyne's are being somewhat underrated here, too. Just look at how well England did for a 400 year period or so as a small island country with a dominant navy.

#17 Ahmrogar

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Posted 10 October 2010 - 06:16 PM

In terms of raw strength of single houses, I think Hightower is close to the top of the list.

#18 Gurkhal

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Posted 11 October 2010 - 10:03 AM

Also, IIRC the Starks/North was the only of the seven kingdoms not to bend the knee to Aegon the Conqueror. Thus, I think we underestimating the North's power to repel an attack from the south (i.e. where all the other kingdoms are).


I think you're wrong here. If my memory serves the Starks went south with an army into the Riverlands, saw the dragons and lifted a white flag. Wasn't it Dorn that never surrendered to the first Targaryen?

The Houses that took part in the Red Wedding:

Lannister
Frey
Bolton
Spicer
Westerling
Vypren
Haigh (Frey bannermen)
Erenford (Frey bannermen)


Thanks! /thumbsup.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':thumbsup:' />

Edited by Gurkhal, 11 October 2010 - 10:04 AM.


#19 Queen in the North

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Posted 11 October 2010 - 03:03 PM

Torrhen Stark was the king who knelt, the last King in the North (until Robb). The Dornish disappeared into their deserts and gave the dragons no huge army to barbecue. Baelor the Blessed and the Young Dragon (can't remember his real name) both tried to bring Dorne into the realm, but it was later brought in by marraige, and the Targaryens promised that "Dornish law would always rule in Dorne."

#20 Gurkhal

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Posted 12 October 2010 - 02:11 AM

Since I've come into the possession of the A Song of Ice and Fire RPG book I thought that I would add what they have writen regarding the military strenght of each of the Great Houses.

Starks: 45 000 men - a ratio of 4-1 foot and horse, no navy

Greyjoy: 20 000 men - all foot, 500 longships and a handful that dips more than 100 oars

Tully: 45 000 men -a ratio of 3-1 foot and horse, some Houses maintain ships to patroll the rivers

Arryn: 45 000 men - a ratio of 3-1 foot and horse, no navy except for Gulltown

Lannister: 50 000 men - a ratio of 2-1 foot and horse, a fleet of 50-60 larger ships and an unknown number of longships

Tyrell 100 000 men - a ratio of 2/3-1 foot and horse, a fleet of 200 ships with 100 oars or more

Baratheon (Stormlands): 30 000 men -an unknown but probably poor foot to horse ratio, no mentioning of a navy but of very strong castles

Martell: 50 000 men - unknown foot to horse ratio but probably rather high, a small fleet