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Nihlus

How powerful is the Lordship of Dragonstone?

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Posted (edited)

I'm just wondering, how powerful you think the Lord of Dragonstone is compared to other high-tier bannermen of the realm, such as the Freys and Boltons? Judging by the houses sworn to Dragonstone, the lord in charge of it seems to rule a good chunk of the north and east Crownlands coast (including Massey's Hook and the islands of Dragonstone, Claw Isle, and Driftmark). In ACOK, Stannis raises 5,000 soldiers from his territory at Dragonstone, which in Cressen's chapter is implied to include 2,000 mercenaries. The semi-canon 2005 RPG with Martin's involvement seemingly confirms that figure and says that Dragonstone can raise 3,000 foot soldiers and 400 mounted knights. On top of that the lords sworn to Dragonstone can also muster at least 10 fully crewed war galleys independent of the Royal Fleet, which would required around fifteen hundred oarsmen, sailors, marines, and other personnel to crew.

Military might alone would imply Dragonstone is a pretty powerful lordship in its own right. But then we come to the question of population density. If I'm not mistaken, a region that gets a lot of food from fishing can field more soldiers relative to its population than a mostly agricultural region like the Reach; that's how the medieval Scandinavian kingdoms fielded so many men, and why the Iron Islands have over twenty thousand troops despite their tiny area and a population generally agreed to be in the low to mid hundreds of thousands (a similar number to medieval Norway or Sweden). So how many people live in those lands really? And how much economic power do they wield? Being almost entirely coastal would imply a lot of lucrative opportunities for the inhabitants, but are those lands ever cited as particularly rich or poor?

 

 

Edited by Nihlus

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I think the power of the seat is more symbolic. During the reign of  Targs, it was traditionally the seat of the crown prince. 

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Posted (edited)

The GoT wiki does a better job than the AWOIAF wiki on Dragonstone. It shows the lands sworn to its lord. Massey's Hook, Driftmark, and the poorly populated Cracklaw Point. In terms of power it is not powerful. Its power lies in its strategic location - it controls the sea lanes running to and from Kings Landing.

The "canon"  might of the Iron Islands is lala fantasy world territory. Realistically 15-20K should be the maximum it may rise. Poorly armed and armoured as well Their strength lies in being able to strike unexpectedly at any point of the coast.

Edited by TMIFairy

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well, after the conquest, it became a symbolic position, where the crown prince gets that first hand experience on ruling, by reigning over the relatively lightly populated areas of eastern crownlands, crackclaw point, masseys hook, the the islands of the gullet. i think traditionally it was supposed to be mainly supported by the crown, rather than survive off its own incomes, given the amount of land and light population. but i think the iron throne does invest heavily in dragonstone as the main naval base for the royal fleet, given its position at the mouth of the gullet, which makes it the first line of defense of Kings Landing from threats from essos. but its importance a a symbolic position dropped after the rebellion and robert gave the keep to stannis.

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See, @TMIFairy and @Graydon Hicks have both said that Crackclaw point is sworn to Dragonstone, but it actually isn't. At least not during Robert's reign. Dragonstone's vassal's include the Bar Emmon's, the Velaryon's and the Celtigar's as well as a number of smaller houses like Rambton and Sunglass. The Massey's and the houses of Crackclaw are sworn directly to King's Landing.

 

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Posted (edited)

Stannis had 3,000 men on Dragonstone. This should include the marines from both the ships of the Narrow Sea lords, and from the Royal Navy. Given that the ships are usually of 100 oars, 1 man per oar, and given the use of the ram, the closest historical examples give a crew of ~120 including deck crew and marines. So Dragonstone and its lords can raise ~2,500 men without the marines of the Royal Navy. Most of those would be infantry, due to being mostly islands. The 400 cavalry figure comes from Renly rounding up Stannis' mounted force at Storm's End, which he described as "freeriders in boiled leather", not the equal to knights in plate. Stannis say he has 100 knights on Dragonstone who would sooner read than fight, and I think that's a fair figure for the knights of Dragonstone and the Narrow Sea lords. The other 300 are likely part of the 2,000 men who join Stannis' ranks at Storm's End. Either sellswords or local Stormlanders who joined the older Baratheon near the ancestral seat. We know of the presence of Myrish crossbowmen, but it is unclear when they showed up.

Overall, Stannis managed to punch well above his weight class. This was due to his position as Master of Ships and the fact that he starts with half the Royal Navy with him, but also to his ability to treat and deal with mercenaries and sellsails and pirates, paying mostly with his iron word and promises. He doubled his force on land, and vastly expanded his naval power. There isn't a speck of gold left on Dragonstone with which to hire new sellswords, or pay the existing ones, within the year. The local manpower (before we start rounding up teens and old men that is) is tapped out, which requires hiring mercenaries.

If we compare Dragonstone to the Freys or Boltons, they have a large, strong land force. Stannis has an army that is larger (thanks to marines and sellswords) but overall lacks armored lances to match. He also has an expensive fleet. Had he not had to worry about a fleet, I'd say Stannis' Dragonstone could have matched the Freys and Boltons on land. Without Stannis and a position on the Small Council? Dragonstone's levy is weaker.

Edited by Nyrhex

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Posted (edited)

OK - I can be wrong. Thank you Adam for correcting me. Sorry if I mislead somebody.

So, under Robert only the islands were sworn to Dragonstone? No fiefs on the mainland?

Excellent post, Nyrhex!

Edited by TMIFairy

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2 hours ago, TMIFairy said:

So, under Robert only the islands were sworn to Dragonstone? No fiefs on the mainland?

Bar Emmon of Sharp Point (tip of Massey's Hook) is sworn to Dragonstone (AGOT Appendix). Sunglass is as well, although we don't know the location of Sweetport Sound. 

Massey of Stonedance is within the crownlands, but I don't recall GRRM confirming if they are sworn to Dragonstone or King's Landing at the start of ASOIAF. Westeros.org includes them in the KL group. The Guardians of Order RPG includes the Masseys with Dragonstone, while the newer Green Ronin RPG lists them with KL.

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I see that my grasp on Westeros geography is far from the level I imagined it to be - thanks for educating me!

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3 hours ago, Nyrhex said:

Stannis had 3,000 men on Dragonstone. This should include the marines from both the ships of the Narrow Sea lords, and from the Royal Navy. Given that the ships are usually of 100 oars, 1 man per oar, and given the use of the ram, the closest historical examples give a crew of ~120 including deck crew and marines. So Dragonstone and its lords can raise ~2,500 men without the marines of the Royal Navy. Most of those would be infantry, due to being mostly islands. The 400 cavalry figure comes from Renly rounding up Stannis' mounted force at Storm's End, which he described as "freeriders in boiled leather", not the equal to knights in plate. Stannis say he has 100 knights on Dragonstone who would sooner read than fight, and I think that's a fair figure for the knights of Dragonstone and the Narrow Sea lords. The other 300 are likely part of the 2,000 men who join Stannis' ranks at Storm's End. Either sellswords or local Stormlanders who joined the older Baratheon near the ancestral seat. We know of the presence of Myrish crossbowmen, but it is unclear when they showed up.

Overall, Stannis managed to punch well above his weight class. This was due to his position as Master of Ships and the fact that he starts with half the Royal Navy with him, but also to his ability to treat and deal with mercenaries and sellsails and pirates, paying mostly with his iron word and promises. He doubled his force on land, and vastly expanded his naval power. There isn't a speck of gold left on Dragonstone with which to hire new sellswords, or pay the existing ones, within the year. The local manpower (before we start rounding up teens and old men that is) is tapped out, which requires hiring mercenaries.

If we compare Dragonstone to the Freys or Boltons, they have a large, strong land force. Stannis has an army that is larger (thanks to marines and sellswords) but overall lacks armored lances to match. He also has an expensive fleet. Had he not had to worry about a fleet, I'd say Stannis' Dragonstone could have matched the Freys and Boltons on land. Without Stannis and a position on the Small Council? Dragonstone's levy is weaker.

Excellent excellent post my friend. We will always disagree on Imry but you always bring the pain

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On 8/17/2017 at 11:08 AM, Graydon Hicks said:

i think we were talking about pre robert dragonstone power.

And even then crackclaw point was not sworn to Dragonstone, during the conquest the Lords of Crackclaw point swore loyalty to Aegon on the condition that they would be sworn directly to the king and the king only. The GoT wiki may say the are sworn to Dragonstone but that is just one of the many changes and mistakes of the tv-show.

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I rank it pretty low outside of what the show has used it for, a really great staging area for an already powerful force to gather and centralize/ mobilize on Westeros. 

Its big and beautiful and symbolic, historically significant, etc. You imagine location wise you'd make good money on trade and the boats coming in and out, but I think Shireen is a great example of the risks that come with being a trade port directly between the capital of Westeros and Essos, along with a variety of other risks. In terms of men do you beat the Freys? I'd guess they're closer to even amounts. The Boltons? Possibly but that'd only be because they're a northern house. The Hightowers, Royce or Yronwoods sound like they could certainly raise higher numbers and those are second tier houses. You also have to pay for, contribute men to, and maintain a decent naval force. In terms of the castle itself it ranks nowhere near the top, it just doesn't compare to trying to the walls of Storms End, the towers and bridges of Pyke, the Eyrie, etc. so forgetting those obvious ones, is it easier then taking the twins? Definitely. So again that puts it in like a low tier 3, tier 4 lordship in my mind. 

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Posted (edited)

20 minutes ago, averde said:

Its big and beautiful and symbolic, historically significant, etc.

Sorry, but that line cracked me up!

My imagine just ran off with it!

Think of the money Stannis makes on tourism!

Imagine a guided tour  - "... and it was in the shade of this pictueresque rock - a certified sketch can be purchased for 3 groats at the exit of the grounds - that Aegon the Conquerer planned his conquest. Do you see that vaguely reddish coloured rock over there? It was from the top of that rock that Visenya - the Seven Blessing Be Upon Her - had mounted her dragon for the first time at her seventh nameday ..."

 

Edited by TMIFairy

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27 minutes ago, TMIFairy said:

Sorry, but that line cracked me up!

My imagine just ran off with it!

Think of the money Stannis makes on tourism!

Imagine a guided tour  - "... and it was in the shade of this pictueresque rock - a certified sketch can be purchased for 3 groats at the exit of the grounds - that Aegon the Conquerer planned his conquest. Do you see that vaguely reddish coloured rock over there? It was from the top of that rock that Visenya - the Seven Blessing Be Upon Her - had mounted her dragon for the first time at her seventh nameday ..."

 

Haha I don't disagree, you could make a great tourist pamphlet for the place. 

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remember it was never really meant to be a great fortress and family seat. it was only an outpost of the valyrian freehold that house targaryen bought and moved his family into on the advice of seeress daughter. it is a strong keep, but not the strongest, though i doubt conventional artillery like catapults could break those valyrian stone walls. just not big enough to withstand a truly determined siege. when it was built, the valyrians were THE POWER on the planet, or at least in that hemisphere. they didnt fear withstanding sieges, they were the ones besieging, and had dragons to do it with. when it was built, what power on westeros could challenge a valyrian dragonlord and his beasts? aegon proved that when he conquered the continent.

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A castle on the side of a volcano is very impractical.  There is no reference to agriculture on Dragonstone, and I question whether there is a natural source of fresh water, which means that everything would need to be imported.  Also, all of the local lord allegiances that Dragonstone has were developed when the Targs had dragons. However, I believe there is considerable evidence that dragons require volcanoes for reproduction.  So, if Dragonstone is a rare habitat where dragons can thrive, its importance and power is real.

During the Dance of Dragons Dragonstone was the primary base of Princess Rhaenyra.  Her power was not due to the banners under her control, but because a majority of the dragons in Westeros at the time were at Dragonstone, or on the slopes of the volcano itself.

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14 minutes ago, Bobity. said:

During the Dance of Dragons Dragonstone was the primary base of Princess Rhaenyra.  Her power was not due to the banners under her control, but because a majority of the dragons in Westeros at the time were at Dragonstone, or on the slopes of the volcano itself.

It's also a huge liability to have the heir way off at Dragonstone. Let's not forget, the whole Dance was caused because the rightful heir was there, away from the intrigues of King's Landing, when the King died allowing Cole to decide to crown a king more to his liking.

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On 8/23/2017 at 3:33 PM, Bobity. said:

There is no reference to agriculture on Dragonstone, and I question whether there is a natural source of fresh water, which means that everything would need to be imported.

Looks like there's some farming. 

Quote

House Targaryen had ruled Dragonstone for more than two hundred years, since Lord Aenar Targaryen first arrived from Valyria with his dragons. Though it had always been their custom to wed brother to sister and cousin to cousin, young blood runs hot, and it was not unknown for men of the House to seek their pleasures amongst the daughters (and even the wives) of their subjects, the smallfolk who lived in the villages below the Dragonmont, tillers of the land and fishers of the sea. (TPATQ)

 

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If I was Stannis, I would have tried to convince Robert to keep the Prince of Dragostone as the heriditary seat for the heir to the throne.  That way he can still follow Robert's orders and root out the Targaryen loyalists from Blackwater Bay and then take up his rightful lordship of Storm's End once Robert has a child.  At that point Renly could be made castellan until the heir is old enough to take up his seat.

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