Free Northman Reborn

Ranks of nobility in Westeros - Dukes, counts and barons in all but name

83 posts in this topic

3 hours ago, direpupy said:

The bolded is you bringing the discussion on a different tread into this one, i was talking about the discussion in this one where you consider the Big lords to weak.

Sorry, I got confused.

I think historically we can say that the great lords are weak when there is a civil war. The Lannisters didn't exactly cover themselves in glory during the Blackfyre Rebellion, during Maegor's wars (against Prince Aegon and against the Faith) the great houses did pretty much everything they could to stay out of the whole thing (until the entire Realm turned against Maegor - then the Tullys and the Baratheons actively turned against him).

During the Dance only the West, the Stormlands, the North, and the Vale seemed to have completely on the side of one pretender - and we don't know if that's really clear because we lack a lot of details.

3 hours ago, direpupy said:

The fact is that the hold of a lord is dependant on many factors for instans during the dance there was no strong Tyrell leadership so they where devided but during the wars in the main series there was strong leadership and you hardely see any defections, only house Florens really.

That is certainly correct, however, the question is whether a vassal is legally bound to assist his liege in a rebellion against the throne or not. I don't think that's the case.

The War of the Five Kings seemed to have all the vassals sticking to their lieges at first because of general weakness of the Crown under Robert, the particular strength of Lord Tywin and Lord Balon, the humiliation/insult of the entire North due to the incarceration/execution of Eddard Stark, and the power and splendor of alliance between Renly and the Tyrells.

3 hours ago, John Doe said:

What about Markgraf? They had a very similar function to lord paramounts and often held a lot of power. 

In the terminology of the HRE they would fall under the real princes. Their children all would be styled princes and they would be directly under the emperor (which means they were independent rulers, basically).

3 hours ago, SeanF said:

There is a royal bureaucracy (eg tax collectors, harbour masters, coiners) but we aren't told much about them, or how powerful they are relative to the local lords.

Yeah, I know about that. In absence of any good knowledge one would have to assume that the lords were acting as royal officials, basically. Because they are not in any sense independent monarchs.

3 hours ago, SeanF said:

It does seem clear, though, that are no royal judges.  Justice seems to be entirely in the hands of the lords.

At least there is no independent justice system aside from the lords. However, you might be able to appeal to the Crown if you are a lord/landed knight/peasant who has been treated by his liege unjustly. The position of Master of Laws (and whatever staff he has) might be crucial in that whole thing. One assumes that he does not only advise the king on legal matters but also sits in justice over lesser cases or decides what issues should be brought before the Hand or the King.

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2 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Sorry, I got confused.

I think historically we can say that the great lords are weak when there is a civil war. The Lannisters didn't exactly cover themselves in glory during the Blackfyre Rebellion, during Maegor's wars (against Prince Aegon and against the Faith) the great houses did pretty much everything they could to stay out of the whole thing (until the entire Realm turned against Maegor - then the Tullys and the Baratheons actively turned against him).

During the Dance only the West, the Stormlands, the North, and the Vale seemed to have completely on the side of one pretender - and we don't know if that's really clear because we lack a lot of details.

That is certainly correct, however, the question is whether a vassal is legally bound to assist his liege in a rebellion against the throne or not. I don't think that's the case.

The War of the Five Kings seemed to have all the vassals sticking to their lieges at first because of general weakness of the Crown under Robert, the particular strength of Lord Tywin and Lord Balon, the humiliation/insult of the entire North due to the incarceration/execution of Eddard Stark, and the power and splendor of alliance between Renly and the Tyrells.

Yeah, I know about that. In absence of any good knowledge one would have to assume that the lords were acting as royal officials, basically. Because they are not in any sense independent monarchs.

At least there is no independent justice system aside from the lords. However, you might be able to appeal to the Crown if you are a lord/landed knight/peasant who has been treated by his liege unjustly. The position of Master of Laws (and whatever staff he has) might be crucial in that whole thing. One assumes that he does not only advise the king on legal matters but also sits in justice over lesser cases or decides what issues should be brought before the Hand or the King.

Legally bound is a tricky one, the fact is when you swear two oats its up to you to decide which one you think is the most important Liege or King in this case.

As to them acting on behalf of the King and thus as royal officials yes they clearly do that, but is that the full extent or is that simply a extra on top of there power as lord. for example in England you had dukes who where also lieutenant general of certain area's this was also the case in France where for instans John of Berry was apart from the Duke of Berry also lieutenant general for Berry, Auvergne, Bourbonnais, Forez, Sologne, Touraine, Anjou, Maine, and Normandy. so i don't think you can say the are only royal officials.

And then there is Aegon I promise regarding those who would bend the knee From TWoIaF:

On the seventh day, a cloud of ravens burst from the towers of Dragonstone to bring Lord Aegon's word to the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. To the seven kings they flew, to the Citadel of Oldtown, to lords both great and small. All carried the same message: from this day forth there would be but one king in Westeros. Those who bent the knee to Aegon of House Targaryen would keep their lands and titles. Those who took up arms against him would be thrown down, humbled, and destroyed.

Loren Lannister was captured the next day. The King of the Rock laid his sword and crown at Aegon's feet, bent the knee, and did him homage. And Aegon, true to his promises, lifted his beaten foe back to his feet and confirmed him in his lands and lordship, naming him Lord of Casterly Rock and Warden of the West.

And in the case of the Starks there where negotiations and lengthy ones, so no kneel or burn, Aegon must have given Torrhen something and in the light of his promises i think the Starks kept there power pretty much intact.

King Torrhen did send Brandon Snow across the Trident. But he crossed with three maesters by his side, not to kill but to treat. All through the night messages went back and forth. The next morning, Torrhen Stark himself crossed the Trident. There upon the south bank of the Trident, he knelt, laid the ancient crown of the Kings of Winter at Aegon's feet, and swore to be his man. He rose as Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North,

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2 hours ago, direpupy said:

Legally bound is a tricky one, the fact is when you swear two oats its up to you to decide which one you think is the most important Liege or King in this case.

It is not just that. It is what status your liege actually has in comparison to the king. What kind of oath do you swear to your liege? And what kind of oath do you swear to the king? What duties have you towards your liege and what to the king? Are you the subject of your king first and foremost or are you only the king's subject through your immediate liege (if that guy is a great lord)?

Only if the latter was true could a lord demand your fealty while marching against the king.

And we don't have to see this all through the Targaryen/Iron Throne glasses. Is a Bolton retainer first a Bolton man and only in a lesser sense a subject of the King in the North?

I'd say this view is wrong. I'd say that everybody is subject to the king and your duties to your immediate liege come after your allegiance to the king.

2 hours ago, direpupy said:

As to them acting on behalf of the King and thus as royal officials yes they clearly do that, but is that the full extent or is that simply a extra on top of there power as lord. for example in England you had dukes who where also lieutenant general of certain area's this was also the case in France where for instans John of Berry was apart from the Duke of Berry also lieutenant general for Berry, Auvergne, Bourbonnais, Forez, Sologne, Touraine, Anjou, Maine, and Normandy. so i don't think you can say the are only royal officials.

Royal officials can also hold lands hold hereditary offices. I just used the word to describe the situation. After all, the lords do seem to do a lot of stuff like dispensing justice, quenching rebellions and uprisings, and so that royal officials also would do.

2 hours ago, direpupy said:

And then there is Aegon I promise regarding those who would bend the knee From TWoIaF:

On the seventh day, a cloud of ravens burst from the towers of Dragonstone to bring Lord Aegon's word to the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. To the seven kings they flew, to the Citadel of Oldtown, to lords both great and small. All carried the same message: from this day forth there would be but one king in Westeros. Those who bent the knee to Aegon of House Targaryen would keep their lands and titles. Those who took up arms against him would be thrown down, humbled, and destroyed.

Loren Lannister was captured the next day. The King of the Rock laid his sword and crown at Aegon's feet, bent the knee, and did him homage. And Aegon, true to his promises, lifted his beaten foe back to his feet and confirmed him in his lands and lordship, naming him Lord of Casterly Rock and Warden of the West.

And in the case of the Starks there where negotiations and lengthy ones, so no kneel or burn, Aegon must have given Torrhen something and in the light of his promises i think the Starks kept there power pretty much intact.

King Torrhen did send Brandon Snow across the Trident. But he crossed with three maesters by his side, not to kill but to treat. All through the night messages went back and forth. The next morning, Torrhen Stark himself crossed the Trident. There upon the south bank of the Trident, he knelt, laid the ancient crown of the Kings of Winter at Aegon's feet, and swore to be his man. He rose as Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North,

Well, the promise was made to those who bend the knee. None bend the knee without a fight of some sort, but Aegon was often still generous.

If you check the symbolic acts between Aegon and his subjects there it is quite clear that they all lose their lands and titles and receive them back from Aegon's hands - as the gifts of an openhanded king not something they own by right. And what the king has given the king can take again, just as Aegon took all their crowns.

If you are a king and you kneel before somebody else and do him homage as your king you no longer are a king but just a subject (and eventually a vassal if the king grants you some titles and lands - or even allows you to keep your former kingdom).

One should expect that Torrhen Stark and Sharra Arryn got better deals than Loren Lannister (after all, neither of them was captured by Aegon after a battle) but this doesn't seem to be the case. Maron Martell later really is allowed to keep a lot of the privileges of an independent ruler, but the other former royal houses were not so lucky.

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Look, there is a difference between the theoretical and practical authority of the King. Certainly after the death of the last dragons, and even more so since Robert's Rebellion.

I highly doubt a King really has the power to just take a Lord Paramount's title away. Not without a war at least.

And these wars haven't been going so well for the Crown in recent years, have they.

Good luck telling Dorne or the Vale or the North or the West for that matter that their ruling House's titles are revoked.

The Iron Throne has become a rule by consensus of the most powerful faction of Lords Paramount, and not a rule by the inherent authority of the King. Now that he no longer has his weapons of mass destruction monopoly.

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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10 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

It is not just that. It is what status your liege actually has in comparison to the king. What kind of oath do you swear to your liege? And what kind of oath do you swear to the king? What duties have you towards your liege and what to the king? Are you the subject of your king first and foremost or are you only the king's subject through your immediate liege (if that guy is a great lord)?

Only if the latter was true could a lord demand your fealty while marching against the king.

And we don't have to see this all through the Targaryen/Iron Throne glasses. Is a Bolton retainer first a Bolton man and only in a lesser sense a subject of the King in the North?

I'd say this view is wrong. I'd say that everybody is subject to the king and your duties to your immediate liege come after your allegiance to the king.

Royal officials can also hold lands hold hereditary offices. I just used the word to describe the situation. After all, the lords do seem to do a lot of stuff like dispensing justice, quenching rebellions and uprisings, and so that royal officials also would do.

Well, the promise was made to those who bend the knee. None bend the knee without a fight of some sort, but Aegon was often still generous.

If you check the symbolic acts between Aegon and his subjects there it is quite clear that they all lose their lands and titles and receive them back from Aegon's hands - as the gifts of an openhanded king not something they own by right. And what the king has given the king can take again, just as Aegon took all their crowns.

If you are a king and you kneel before somebody else and do him homage as your king you no longer are a king but just a subject (and eventually a vassal if the king grants you some titles and lands - or even allows you to keep your former kingdom).

One should expect that Torrhen Stark and Sharra Arryn got better deals than Loren Lannister (after all, neither of them was captured by Aegon after a battle) but this doesn't seem to be the case. Maron Martell later really is allowed to keep a lot of the privileges of an independent ruler, but the other former royal houses were not so lucky.

I'd be surprised if there was any legally settled view about what duties a Bannerman owes if his Lord Paramount goes to war against the King.  Naturally, the King will take the view that the Bannerman is obliged to side with the King;  the Lord Paramount will take the opposite view. 

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44 minutes ago, SeanF said:

I'd be surprised if there was any legally settled view about what duties a Bannerman owes if his Lord Paramount goes to war against the King.  Naturally, the King will take the view that the Bannerman is obliged to side with the King;  the Lord Paramount will take the opposite view. 

If that amount of unclarity existed then Westeros (and the Seven Kingdoms before it) would effectively be ungovernable.

Well, lets phrase it different again:

What kind of hold does a great lord have over his vassals? How exactly is the nature of their relationship and the relationship of both to the king?

 

Edited by Lord Varys

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5 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Look, there is a difference between the theoretical and practical authority of the King. Certainly after the death of the last dragons, and even more so since Robert's Rebellion.

I highly doubt a King really has the power to just take a Lord Paramount's title away. Not without a war at least.

Well, Catelyn seems to think that it could go very ill for Ned should he provoke Robert or wake his mistrust. And Robert was actually a very weak king. We also see Robert taking away the title of Warden of the East from the Arryns. This doesn't cause a war. I daresay there wouldn't have been a war, either, if Robert had chosen to to grant the Eyrie and the Vale to Bronze Yohn Royce rather than Robert Arryn upon the death of Lord Jon.

5 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

And these wars haven't been going so well for the Crown in recent years, have they.

Good luck telling Dorne or the Vale or the North or the West for that matter that their ruling House's titles are revoked.

I don't say that this would be easy but a king certainly could go through some ambitious second-tier lords to remove a troublesome great lord. Roose Bolton, Walder Frey, or Anders Yronwood might gladly go along with such plans. Not to mention that the king has the power to raise an army to deal with all the regions individually if he so chooses. That is what happens when Balon Greyjoy rebels, after all.

5 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

The Iron Throne has become a rule by consensus of the most powerful faction of Lords Paramount, and not a rule by the inherent authority of the King. Now that he no longer has his weapons of mass destruction monopoly.

If this truly was the case then there would be some sort of council at KL where either the great lords themselves sat, advising the king, or they would all sent representatives to KL to do that. But there is nothing of this sort. We see what amount of power even kings like Aegon the Unworthy still had, and he had neither dragons nor the reputation of a successful general.

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7 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

If that amount of unclarity existed then Westeros (and the Seven Kingdoms before it) would effectively be ungovernable.

Well, lets phrase it different again:

What kind of hold does a great lord have over his vassals? How exactly is the nature of their relationship and the relationship of both to the king?

 

Well, in most cases, the Lord Paramount is likely to loom much more heavily in the life of the Bannerman than the King would.  In all likelihood, the Bannerman will have much closer family ties to the Lord Paramount than he does to the King.  That would be one factor that would make him side with his Lord Paramount.  Another factor is that the Lord Paramount is in a better position to punish the Bannerman than the King is, if he defects.  He's closer, with troops on the ground.  A third factor is that there is in some regions, a strong local patriotism that would make side with the Lord Paramount, as opposed to the King.

As against that, some Bannermen will have especially close ties with the King.  The Targaryens intermarried with Brackens, Tarths, Hightowers, Plumms, Darrys etc.  Other Bannermen serve on the Small Council, or become prominent at Court,  Those would be strong reasons to identify with the King, in the event of conflict between the King and your Lord Paramount (indeed, no Small Council member could continue to serve unless they supported the King against their Lord Paramount). 

And then, of course, there would be the Bannerman who hoped to supplant their Lord Paramount by siding with the King.

 

 

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@SeanF

I know all that, the question really is how the legal system is supposed to work rather than how people would act in a time of crisis (i.e. a rebellion or a civil war). Can a great lord demand more from his vassals than the king can demand from the same people?

In the early Targaryen wars we see the kings often directly commanding armies of different sizes and the great lords staying out of it. That seems to be the case for Maegor's wars against the Faith, partly for the Dance, and even for the Blackfyre Rebellion (where only Lord Arryn seems to have led an army on the Redgrass Field). That strongly suggests that a king can demand the service of his people without asking or going through the great lords.

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3 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

@SeanF

I know all that, the question really is how the legal system is supposed to work rather than how people would act in a time of crisis (i.e. a rebellion or a civil war). Can a great lord demand more from his vassals than the king can demand from the same people?

In the early Targaryen wars we see the kings often directly commanding armies of different sizes and the great lords staying out of it. That seems to be the case for Maegor's wars against the Faith, partly for the Dance, and even for the Blackfyre Rebellion (where only Lord Arryn seems to have led an army on the Redgrass Field). That strongly suggests that a king can demand the service of his people without asking or going through the great lords.

My view is that in a medieval setting, the legal position doesn't matter very much.

It's somewhat similar to the perennial debate about who has the best claim to the Iron Throne.  People don't want the Throne to be seized by someone who can't make any claim other than brute force, but provided you have a claim that is viable (as Stannis, Shireen, Aegon, Dany, all do) then military might will settle it.

Edited by SeanF

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@Lord Varys I think the problem her is that you are thinking far to modern, legal position is something that really does not really come into play until after the middle ages. Before that it is much more each case being treated individually, and not on a set precedent. So really every lord would decide for himself to who he would be more loyal King or Liege-lord.

Personally i think you make to much of the kings power, he is powerful but it has limits, for example you said that Robert took away the Wardenship of the East of house Arryn, yet the Arryns and the people of the Vale responded by calling little Robert Arryn The true Warden of the East so obvieusly the did not feel Robert had the right to take it away.

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Grand Dukes are usually brothers of the King (which in Westeros don't seem to get set up with their own areas of rule). The seven great houses should probably be just dukes, and on from there.

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On 14.6.2016 at 0:16 PM, SeanF said:

My view is that in a medieval setting, the legal position doesn't matter very much.

It's somewhat similar to the perennial debate about who has the best claim to the Iron Throne.  People don't want the Throne to be seized by someone who can't make any claim other than brute force, but provided you have a claim that is viable (as Stannis, Shireen, Aegon, Dany, all do) then military might will settle it.

Well, if it is connected to the amount of taxes you have to pay, what you can and cannot demand from your smallfolk, what your immediate liege can demand of you, and so forth it would be important.

Brute force is also connected to legal issues in the sense that you have to have some legal pretext allowing you to raise an army to settle a matter by the means of violence. If you are no lord that kind of thing should be much more difficult than if you are a lord.

16 hours ago, direpupy said:

@Lord Varys I think the problem her is that you are thinking far to modern, legal position is something that really does not really come into play until after the middle ages. Before that it is much more each case being treated individually, and not on a set precedent. So really every lord would decide for himself to who he would be more loyal King or Liege-lord.

The middle ages weren't that chaotic. There were states and courts, and defined relationships between kings/rulers and their subjects. We might now get the full picture of that in modern days, of course, but we have to keep in mind that rebellions and civil wars and the like weren't the rule in the middle ages. Stuff like that did happen on occasion, but the general rules how society worked would have been overseen in peace times.

16 hours ago, direpupy said:

Personally i think you make to much of the kings power, he is powerful but it has limits, for example you said that Robert took away the Wardenship of the East of house Arryn, yet the Arryns and the people of the Vale responded by calling little Robert Arryn The true Warden of the East so obvieusly the did not feel Robert had the right to take it away.

If you recheck AGoT then you'll realize that the consensus seems to be that Lysa's command to call young Robert the 'true Warden of the east' is seen as an empty gesture. Robert certainly had the right to take away the title, even Ned does not dispute that. He tries to convince him to allow Robert to keep the title by referring to the fact that as of yet it had always gone with the lordship over the Vale but Robert didn't care, making it clear that a king has the right to name whoever he wants a warden.

And in general all lordships would be fiefs, so nobody but the king owns lands, and technically every inheritance would have to be confirmed by the king. Usually you can revoke the grant of a fief to this or that nobleman on this or that grounds.

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20 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Well, if it is connected to the amount of taxes you have to pay, what you can and cannot demand from your smallfolk, what your immediate liege can demand of you, and so forth it would be important.

Brute force is also connected to legal issues in the sense that you have to have some legal pretext allowing you to raise an army to settle a matter by the means of violence. If you are no lord that kind of thing should be much more difficult than if you are a lord.

The middle ages weren't that chaotic. There were states and courts, and defined relationships between kings/rulers and their subjects. We might now get the full picture of that in modern days, of course, but we have to keep in mind that rebellions and civil wars and the like weren't the rule in the middle ages. Stuff like that did happen on occasion, but the general rules how society worked would have been overseen in peace times.

If you recheck AGoT then you'll realize that the consensus seems to be that Lysa's command to call young Robert the 'true Warden of the east' is seen as an empty gesture. Robert certainly had the right to take away the title, even Ned does not dispute that. He tries to convince him to allow Robert to keep the title by referring to the fact that as of yet it had always gone with the lordship over the Vale but Robert didn't care, making it clear that a king has the right to name whoever he wants a warden.

And in general all lordships would be fiefs, so nobody but the king owns lands, and technically every inheritance would have to be confirmed by the king. Usually you can revoke the grant of a fief to this or that nobleman on this or that grounds.

I think you misunderstood me certainly there are rules and courts are held to uphold them, wat i meant was that that upholding was often no more then the person holding the court interperting the rules as he saw fit. During my university studie in history one of the things that was Always brougth upm again and again is that mediëval rules where vague because both kings and lords wanted to have as much leaway as the could.

A unified law codex does not apear untill after the middle ages.

Altough some laws where based on the ancient roman laws, these where usually a little more fixed but even they where open to some leaway.

Its not that robert did not have the right to take the title away, its the fact that it is not accepted by everyone thats important, and more importantly when presured by Ned Robert comes up with an excuses for taking it away (a boy can not lead armies) and says that when Sweetrobin is an adult he will give it back. So obvieusly even robert feels he has to have a reason for taking it away other than "I am the King" so i would not be to convident in this idea that robert can just take something and give it to somewon else at the drop of a hat.

They idea that only the king owns land is not entierly true, its an idea that kings liked to put forward and in they end they won that argument but not untill the late middle ages. earlier this was a much debated and hotly contended isseu.

Even in England where most indeed recieved there land from the king the domesday book that was compiled to see who was in possesion of wat and by wat right records that not everybody considered the king to be they ultimate owner of there land.

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I have been reading the discussion boards for a while now, but this is the first time that I have ever commented.  The topic of noble ranks in Westeros has really interested me ever since I read AGOT.  There is clearly a hierarchy, but there are no ranks!  There is just a king and a bunch of lords.  I wish Martin had at least given us two or three different ranks. He wrote/ is writing an awesome series, so I am not criticizing.  Its just something that I would have done differently.

I have an idea of what ranks could have been used. They are not based on a detailed historical analysis, just my own logic that I think can be easily followed.

At the top you have the King on the Iron Throne, who is really more of an emperor.  Rather than referring to him/her as Your Grace, I would refer to him/her as Your Majesty: His Majesty, Aerys of the House Targaryen, King of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm.

Next you have the Kings children. They would be princes and princesses and be referred to as Your Royal Highness: His Royal Highness, Rhaegar, Prince of Dragonstone or His Royal Highness, Prince Viserys.

Prior to Daenerys, Westeros seemed to be following something like Salic law so princesses would lose their titles upon getting married and then take their lord husband's title.

The eight great houses of Westeros would be those sworn directly to the Iron Throne, but they would not necessarily all be of equal rank. Some would be ranked higher than others and rank would not necessarily be based on how much power or wealth they commanded, but their status at the time of Aegon's conquest.

Prince: House Martell - This makes sense as House Martell was the only great house that successfully resisted the conquest and did not submit under duress.  They joined the Iron Throne willingly through marriage. I know that in medieval Germany and the Holy Roman Empire, dukes actually outranked princes, but most people don't know that so I think this makes sense. The ruler of House Martell would be a non-royal prince so they would be referred to as Your Highness, without the word royal being in their title: His Highness, Doran of House Martell, Prince of Dorne.

Duke: Houses Stark, Arryn, Lannister, and Baratheon.  Stark, Arryn, and Lannister were all kings at the time of Aegon's conquest so they would be accorded the highest noble title normally given. Baratheon was not a king, but he defeated a king and took his daughter as his wife. Plus House Baratheon is an offshoot of House Targaryen so they get some special treatment: His Grace, Eddard of House Stark, Duke of Winterfell; His Grace, Jon of House Arryn, Duke of the Eyrie; His Grace, Tywin of House Lannister, Duke of Casterly Rock; His Grace, Stannis of House Baratheon, Duke of Storms End (he totally should have been).

Count: Houses Tully, Tyrell, and Greyjoy.  Tully and Tyrell were never kings.  They owe their supremacy in their respective regions solely to the Iron Throne, not to their own noble lineage.  In the Riverlands, multiple other houses seemed to have been more prominent than House Tully. It wasn't until the Tully's stepped up and backed Aegon's invasion of the Riverlands that they became Lords Paramount of the Trident.  In the Reach, house Tyrell were mere stewards.  The other lords would not have chosen them to be their leader, or probably even considered them.  The Greyjoys are a bit different.  They were kings at different points throughout history and did have an impressive lineage.  However, at the time of Aegon's conquest, they were merely bannerman of House Hoare.  Considering Aegon had just finished baking the iron kings alive in Harrenhal, I doubt he would have accorded them much respect. Here is how they would be styled: The Lord Hoster of House Tully, Count of Riverrun; The Lord Mace of House Tyrell, Count of Highgarden; The Lord Quelon of House Greyjoy, Count of Pyke.

I imagine the great houses that were merely counts would have inferiority complexes.  This could further add to the chip on Balon Greyjoy's shoulder and it could explain why Mace Tyrell was so eager for his daughter to marry into the royal family.

The level below the great houses could become confusing.  I think almost all the other lords of Westeros should just be styled lords.  There should only be a handful of houses that have special titles, denoting their rich heritage and great power.

House Hightower should be the Viscounts of Oldtown.  They should be the only house in Westeros that has this rank, demonstrating that they are almost a great house in their own right. 

Houses like Bolton, Manderly, Redwyne, Yronwood, Harlaw, and Blackwood could be given the title of Baron.  Normally this is the lowest rank of nobility, however if there was a lower rank that was just styled lord this would make sense.  I think I would refrain from doing this however as it would just be confusing.  If the rank of Baron did exist in Westeros, it would be important that House Frey did not have it.  House Frey should always have the lowest rank of nobility, despite their wealth and power, in order to denote how little respected they are and explain why they are so jealous of other houses and desperate for respect.

These are just my thoughts.  I'd love to hear what people think of my proposed system.

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17 hours ago, Lord Paramount said:

I have been reading the discussion boards for a while now, but this is the first time that I have ever commented.  The topic of noble ranks in Westeros has really interested me ever since I read AGOT.  There is clearly a hierarchy, but there are no ranks!  There is just a king and a bunch of lords.  I wish Martin had at least given us two or three different ranks. He wrote/ is writing an awesome series, so I am not criticizing.  Its just something that I would have done differently.

I have an idea of what ranks could have been used. They are not based on a detailed historical analysis, just my own logic that I think can be easily followed.

At the top you have the King on the Iron Throne, who is really more of an emperor.  Rather than referring to him/her as Your Grace, I would refer to him/her as Your Majesty: His Majesty, Aerys of the House Targaryen, King of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm.

Next you have the Kings children. They would be princes and princesses and be referred to as Your Royal Highness: His Royal Highness, Rhaegar, Prince of Dragonstone or His Royal Highness, Prince Viserys.

Prior to Daenerys, Westeros seemed to be following something like Salic law so princesses would lose their titles upon getting married and then take their lord husband's title.

The eight great houses of Westeros would be those sworn directly to the Iron Throne, but they would not necessarily all be of equal rank. Some would be ranked higher than others and rank would not necessarily be based on how much power or wealth they commanded, but their status at the time of Aegon's conquest.

Prince: House Martell - This makes sense as House Martell was the only great house that successfully resisted the conquest and did not submit under duress.  They joined the Iron Throne willingly through marriage. I know that in medieval Germany and the Holy Roman Empire, dukes actually outranked princes, but most people don't know that so I think this makes sense. The ruler of House Martell would be a non-royal prince so they would be referred to as Your Highness, without the word royal being in their title: His Highness, Doran of House Martell, Prince of Dorne.

Duke: Houses Stark, Arryn, Lannister, and Baratheon.  Stark, Arryn, and Lannister were all kings at the time of Aegon's conquest so they would be accorded the highest noble title normally given. Baratheon was not a king, but he defeated a king and took his daughter as his wife. Plus House Baratheon is an offshoot of House Targaryen so they get some special treatment: His Grace, Eddard of House Stark, Duke of Winterfell; His Grace, Jon of House Arryn, Duke of the Eyrie; His Grace, Tywin of House Lannister, Duke of Casterly Rock; His Grace, Stannis of House Baratheon, Duke of Storms End (he totally should have been).

Count: Houses Tully, Tyrell, and Greyjoy.  Tully and Tyrell were never kings.  They owe their supremacy in their respective regions solely to the Iron Throne, not to their own noble lineage.  In the Riverlands, multiple other houses seemed to have been more prominent than House Tully. It wasn't until the Tully's stepped up and backed Aegon's invasion of the Riverlands that they became Lords Paramount of the Trident.  In the Reach, house Tyrell were mere stewards.  The other lords would not have chosen them to be their leader, or probably even considered them.  The Greyjoys are a bit different.  They were kings at different points throughout history and did have an impressive lineage.  However, at the time of Aegon's conquest, they were merely bannerman of House Hoare.  Considering Aegon had just finished baking the iron kings alive in Harrenhal, I doubt he would have accorded them much respect. Here is how they would be styled: The Lord Hoster of House Tully, Count of Riverrun; The Lord Mace of House Tyrell, Count of Highgarden; The Lord Quelon of House Greyjoy, Count of Pyke.

I imagine the great houses that were merely counts would have inferiority complexes.  This could further add to the chip on Balon Greyjoy's shoulder and it could explain why Mace Tyrell was so eager for his daughter to marry into the royal family.

The level below the great houses could become confusing.  I think almost all the other lords of Westeros should just be styled lords.  There should only be a handful of houses that have special titles, denoting their rich heritage and great power.

House Hightower should be the Viscounts of Oldtown.  They should be the only house in Westeros that has this rank, demonstrating that they are almost a great house in their own right. 

Houses like Bolton, Manderly, Redwyne, Yronwood, Harlaw, and Blackwood could be given the title of Baron.  Normally this is the lowest rank of nobility, however if there was a lower rank that was just styled lord this would make sense.  I think I would refrain from doing this however as it would just be confusing.  If the rank of Baron did exist in Westeros, it would be important that House Frey did not have it.  House Frey should always have the lowest rank of nobility, despite their wealth and power, in order to denote how little respected they are and explain why they are so jealous of other houses and desperate for respect.

These are just my thoughts.  I'd love to hear what people think of my proposed system.

I think that in your system Tully Tyrell and Greyjoy would most likely be Earls or Marquess/Margrave.

The more powerfull houses like Hightower and Redwyne who where both once kings in there own right before becoming part of the reach would be Counts, the same goes for other former royal houses like Bolton and Blackwood.

The houses that where not royal but do have a storied past and that have some significant power like for instance Oakheart would be Vicounts.

Younger or less powerfull storied houses would be Barons.

The second lowest rank would be Seigneur or Lord of the manor which was the normal title for a nobleman who rules a smaller local fief.

Knight or rather landed knight would be the lowest rank.

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26 minutes ago, direpupy said:

I think that in your system Tully Tyrell and Greyjoy would most likely be Earls or Marquess/Margrave.

The more powerfull houses like Hightower and Redwyne who where both once kings in there own right before becoming part of the reach would be Counts, the same goes for other former royal houses like Bolton and Blackwood.

The houses that where not royal but do have a storied past and that have some significant power like for instance Oakheart would be Vicounts.

Younger or less powerfull storied houses would be Barons.

The second lowest rank would be Seigneur or Lord of the manor which was the normal title for a nobleman who rules a smaller local fief.

Knight or rather landed knight would be the lowest rank.

Your edits to my system make sense. I like the idea of calling Tully, Tyrell, and Greyjoy margraves. I also really like the sound of Seigneur Frey. The guy thinks he shold be a margrave but he isn't even a baron.

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@Lord Paramount

The problem with that kind of thing is that there would be different ways to make such rules. A good idea would have been to have the Targaryens as emperors and the former kings as actual kings beneath the Lord Emperor of the Seven Kingdoms, etc.

If we go with the duke system it makes that the demoted kings would be demoted to dukes but what to do with the other former kings who, presumably, would have been dukes under the Gardener, Lannister, Stark, Arryn, etc. kings? Would the Conqueror demote them further? Possibly.

But then there are houses that gave up their crowns peacefully - like the Hightowers, Redwynes, and later the Arryns and Starks (and also sort of the Lannisters). Why should they lose their ancient privileges in regards to titles when we also know they retained those privileges even in the Targaryen era (confirmed for the Hightowers). If they were dukes in the days of the Gardeners they would also be dukes under the Targaryens. A similar thing could have happened with the Manderlys - they might have been dukes under the Gardeners and then also dukes under the Starks.

Other houses which resisted severely might have been demoted rather severely. For instance, it is possible that the Arryns demoted the First Houses they conquered quite severely, making them earls. A similar thing could have happened to the Boltons.

There could have been a difference between royal dukes - Stark, Lannister, Arryn, Baratheon (through the female line), and the non-royal dukes like the Tullys, Tyrells, and Greyjoys.

That is all pretty difficult.

One would also assume that the vassals of other vassals would have different titles than their overlords (although there could be exceptions).

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There are also the rulers of "shires" - the sheriffs. These would be the houses that oversee a village or small town and the lands with it.

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12 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

@Lord Paramount

The problem with that kind of thing is that there would be different ways to make such rules. A good idea would have been to have the Targaryens as emperors and the former kings as actual kings beneath the Lord Emperor of the Seven Kingdoms, etc.

If we go with the duke system it makes that the demoted kings would be demoted to dukes but what to do with the other former kings who, presumably, would have been dukes under the Gardener, Lannister, Stark, Arryn, etc. kings? Would the Conqueror demote them further? Possibly.

But then there are houses that gave up their crowns peacefully - like the Hightowers, Redwynes, and later the Arryns and Starks (and also sort of the Lannisters). Why should they lose their ancient privileges in regards to titles when we also know they retained those privileges even in the Targaryen era (confirmed for the Hightowers). If they were dukes in the days of the Gardeners they would also be dukes under the Targaryens. A similar thing could have happened with the Manderlys - they might have been dukes under the Gardeners and then also dukes under the Starks.

Other houses which resisted severely might have been demoted rather severely. For instance, it is possible that the Arryns demoted the First Houses they conquered quite severely, making them earls. A similar thing could have happened to the Boltons.

There could have been a difference between royal dukes - Stark, Lannister, Arryn, Baratheon (through the female line), and the non-royal dukes like the Tullys, Tyrells, and Greyjoys.

That is all pretty difficult.

One would also assume that the vassals of other vassals would have different titles than their overlords (although there could be exceptions).

I think the error that underlies a lot of your interpretation is that you are too fixated on the Targaryens. And as a result you then insist on interpreting everything else in a kind of trickle-down approach from the Targaryen/Iron Throne as a starting point.

It is a far simpler affair if you look at the state of Westeros as it was for 7700 years, with regional kings, major vassals, their vassals, petty lords and landed knights in layers beneath each King. That is a very nice, tiered system (obviously with its eccentricities, localized exceptions and various Houses with "special" origin stories that place them in somewhat unique positions).

And then add the Targaryens afterwards, as a kind of Imperial House on top. Don't try and change the entire system just because you want to link them all to the Targaryens. I know you like the concept that all power flows from the Iron Throne downwards, and like to have that flow through any narrative that you propose. But in actual fact, the system has existed for thousands of years, and the Iron Throne is a mere added layer on top.

The regional ruling Houses are Kings in all but name, and each region can have its noble classes allocated accordingly, flowing from there. No need to confuse the system by trying to link them all to the so-called Imperial House.

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