Nihlus

What the Seven Kingdoms are based on (image)

18 posts in this topic

https://i.imgur.com/o0tiIgP.jpg

Yep, it's another one of these threads. But I think I've nailed down the historical parallels very well with the starting premise that Westeros is a super-sized Britain. A lot of people like to bring up the Heptarchy when talking about what Westeros is based on; while I agree that the idea of Seven Kingdoms (and the names North/Northumbria and Westerlands/Wessex) was definitely taken from the Heptarchy, I don't think those seven kingdoms adequately reflect the ones we see in ASOAIF, in particular the Iron Islands and Dorne. So I took a different approach.

Anyway, without further ado, explanations for the coloring choices above:

Land of Always Winter = Highlands. Cold, inhospitable, full of clans of pagan Picts/Wildlings (anachronistic when considering Westeros is 15th century Britain and the Highlands had long since been Christianized, but whatever).

North = Scotland, with some northern England thrown in. The independence movement during the WOT5K is reminiscent of the Scottish independence wars of the 14th century, especially since Tywin is clearly based on Edward Longshanks. Many of the traditions of the North are northern English/Scottish inspired, and the presence of mountain clansmen and other 'uncivilized' peoples adds to the parallel. Like Scotland, the North is clan-based, cold, mountainous, and very sparsely populated relative to how big it is. The North takes up about a third of Westeros (not counting the LOAW) yet has maybe 1/7 of the population. Scotland makes about a third of the island of Britain yet only held 1/7 of the population too for most of its history. 

Iron Islands = Isle of Mann, Herbrides, and the Orkneys. Small, barren isles crawling with raiders and longships. These isles used to belong to the king of Norway. The so-called "Kingdom of the Isles" was made up of Viking settlers, and alternated between a territory of Norway and being an independent lordship. Perhaps more importantly, as the definitions of the Kingdom began to fade as time progressed, raiding and plundering their neighbors became ingrained into the Islander culture and mindset. This is the parallel that I'm most sure about; Mann's place on a map of Britain even mirrors the Iron Islands' placement on a map of Westeros. Compare them and you'll see what I mean. The geography and climate are also perfect matches.

Riverlands: north-central England. Fertile and rich lands full of rivers, but lacking natural barriers so they're often used as battlegrounds during civil wars and suffer a lot of damage when wars are waged. Their place on the map also roughly corresponds to the core areas of the Danelaw, mirroring how the Riverlands were conquered by the Viking expies of the setting in the backstory. That it also fits geographically relative to where the North and Westerlands are is a happy coincidence.

Westerlands = northwest England, particularly Lancashire. Small and rich hilly region that has always been fairly stable. The names of locations in ASOIAF make this one pretty obvious- the LANNisters of CASTerly Rock are obviously based on the Lancasters, who were based here. One of the Lannister family members, Stafford, also takes his name directly from the modern county of Staffordshire, which is also here.

Vale = Wales. Most of it, anyway. Heavily mountainous region with green valleys, with an ethnic conflict between the First Men (Celts) and Andal (Anglo-Saxon) settlers.

Reach = middle-south England. The most populated region in the kingdom, immensely fertile and rich, and the heart of the kingdom's chivalry. The historical Tyrrells hail from Essex which lies in this region. Probably not a coincidence.

Stormlands = southeast England, just fits well with everything else being taken.

Crownlands = London and the surrounding areas. Mostly due to the King's Landing-London comparison. One, London kind of sounds like Landing. Just had to point that out. Two, both are coastal cities that were considered overpopulated. Three, London was founded by the Romans and renovated extensively by William the Conqueror, mirroring how King's Landing was founded by the Valyrians and made the capital of Westeros by Aegon the Conqueror. Four, they're both obviously the capitals of their respective kingdoms.Someone else wanna take a swing at the Westerlands, Reach, Riverlands, and Stormlands? Or just poke holes in the comparisons above?

Dorne = Cornwall/Devon (that area used to be called "West Wales") superficially, Wales in terms of almost everything else. Honestly I mostly put them as Cornwall/Devon on the map because A. I couldn't find a better match for the Vale, and B. Dorne's place on a map just matches Cornwall's (plus "Cornish" and "Dornish" just sound similar). But everything about Dorne is so Wales that it hurts. This is the second surest parallel, particularly because Martin has outright said that Wales was a major inspiration for Dorne.

More independent than the rest, separated from rest of the lands by a series of mountains the people call "marches", with lords on the other side of those mountains called "Marcher Lords," and ruled by a prince instead of a lord. It's a mountainous peninsula with a tiny population relative to how much land it takes up. It's culturally distinct from the rest of England/Westeros, though not too dissimilar. Like Dorne, Wales was attacked by a foreign conqueror who was literally called "the Conqueror", but managed to survive the first invasion unlike most of the rest of the island/continent. Also like Dorne, they were slowly conquered militarily later at a disproportionately great cost to the conquerors, but revolts inflicted enough damage that the new conquering dynasty agreed to grant some concessions and "go easy" on it.

Any thoughts?

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Great stuff :D
 

Do feel free to post in: 

 

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Why do people think this is a mystery to be solved? GRRM has said that each part of the Seven Kingdoms is based on multiple different places, and there's no reason to believe that isn't true.

If you have to stretch to make the Vale match Wales because one is the first place the Andals conquered and the other is the last place the Anglo-Saxons conquered, or Dorne match Wales because one is culturally distinct because it has a post-Andal culture mixed in while the other is culturally distinct because it retains its pre-Anglo-Saxon culture, maybe you're trying too hard to find a pattern that isn't there.

Wales was a major inspiration for Dorne. So was Mediterranean Spain. There's no point trying to figure out which one Dorne "really" is; it's really a place inspired by both of them, and more.

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I got the feeling that Dorne was inspired by Med Spain, Pyrennese mountains and mixed culture with the English 

in reading I felt that the reach was initially inspired y France and the rivetlands by the Rhine and Low Countries 

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On 2017-09-28 at 9:36 AM, Javelin Catcher said:

I got the feeling that Dorne was inspired by Med Spain, Pyrennese mountains and mixed culture with the English 

in reading I felt that the reach was initially inspired y France and the rivetlands by the Rhine and Low Countries 

Does this make The Alps the Vale? :D

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I basically fully agree with this post but i think as time has moved on Dorne in particular has swung from a celtic nation to a Spanish one.

I also think that the river-and are partially inspired by Ireland and some of the names eg Tully reflect this.

I would add into the iron Islands the Shetlands and most of the outer pats of Scotland and even Island. Their invasion of the riverlands is a little like the danish invasion of Ireland. I think it is also not unreasonable to include Scandinavia in the whole heptarchy concept, given how very close the two areas were as well as Ireland

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1 hour ago, Luddagain said:

I basically fully agree with this post but i think as time has moved on Dorne in particular has swung from a celtic nation to a Spanish one.

I also think that the river-and are partially inspired by Ireland and some of the names eg Tully reflect this.

I would add into the iron Islands the Shetlands and most of the outer pats of Scotland and even Island. Their invasion of the riverlands is a little like the danish invasion of Ireland. I think it is also not unreasonable to include Scandinavia in the whole heptarchy concept, given how very close the two areas were as well as Ireland

I have a separate map and list of parallels that equate Westeros to Europe as a whole (most of it, anyway) rather than a super-sized Britain. Was thinking about posting that, but I'm having a bit of trouble determining where the North fits in, since they're more clearly British (Scottish/northern English) than other regions, yet geographically and in some other areas (e.g. population density, status as more of a federation than a unified kingdom, bordering a natural border beyond which lies an apocalypse-bringing army, having a different religion than much of the rest of the continent) should correspond to northeastern Europe. 

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Given that the wall is specifically mentioned as analogous to Hadrian's wall, I always find it odd when people place the North in Scotland geographically. As far as how the lines of how the kingdoms are divided --- I think the divisions of Westeros into 7 kingdoms (and the fact that there are 7 kingdom) is meant to evoke to the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy. This works along the north and east (The North Northumbria, The Riverlands Mercia, the Vale East Angles, the Crownland Essex, the Stormlands Kent) but then it gets fuzzy in the west and south (Dorne roughly follows Wessex and the Westerlands Wales (complete with natural defenses on 3 sides) but the Reach seems to swallow a bunch of area that should be other kingdoms and the Iron Islands just pop up without a real analogy).  The cultures of course are a very different matter.

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On 30/09/2017 at 6:44 AM, Luddagain said:

I basically fully agree with this post but i think as time has moved on Dorne in particular has swung from a celtic nation to a Spanish one.

While hating myself for being pedantic, I can't help pointing out that there's a strong celtic presence in Spain.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celtiberians

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Dorne is definitely Spain. You have Moors - Roynar, you have pale Spanish from the mountains - Stony Dornishmen etc. The similarities are too big.

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On 10/3/2017 at 11:41 AM, louzeyre said:

Given that the wall is specifically mentioned as analogous to Hadrian's wall, I always find it odd when people place the North in Scotland geographically. As far as how the lines of how the kingdoms are divided --- I think the divisions of Westeros into 7 kingdoms (and the fact that there are 7 kingdom) is meant to evoke to the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy. This works along the north and east (The North Northumbria, The Riverlands Mercia, the Vale East Angles, the Crownland Essex, the Stormlands Kent) but then it gets fuzzy in the west and south (Dorne roughly follows Wessex and the Westerlands Wales (complete with natural defenses on 3 sides) but the Reach seems to swallow a bunch of area that should be other kingdoms and the Iron Islands just pop up without a real analogy).  The cultures of course are a very different matter.

He said so himself in an interview that the north is like Scotland:

Q: The books have a strong sense of place. How did that translate to the screen?

A: King’s Landing, that’s the capital, is not quite so tropical — in the books it’s more like medieval Paris or London and the north is more like Scotland. You don’t get the real tropical stuff til you get down south to Dorne.

You can read it here:

http://www.denverpost.com/2012/05/31/game-of-thrones-author-george-r-r-martin-on-sex-violence-and-t-v/

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I think people get caught up with the Lannister/Lancaster Stark/York thing. Because those are just titles, the families weren't natives of those areas, even if they had holdings in them. The Wars of the Roses were more like the Dance of the Dragons than the Five Kings war, in that it was fought between two cadet branches of House Plantagenet, not two distinct regions.

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You can definitely apple TWO5K wih the War of The Roses, or the Hundred Years War as a whole, or even the seven years war. Its quite clear GRRM got some bit of his storybook inspirations from those events. I agree you cannot definitively assign any ASOIAF batte with merely one of historical nature.

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9 hours ago, mankytoes said:

I think people get caught up with the Lannister/Lancaster Stark/York thing. Because those are just titles, the families weren't natives of those areas, even if they had holdings in them. The Wars of the Roses were more like the Dance of the Dragons than the Five Kings war, in that it was fought between two cadet branches of House Plantagenet, not two distinct regions.

The Dance of Dragons is literally The Anarchy. But yes, people focus too much on names when making parallels (like Stark = York or Northumbria = North). 

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Thinking on it, I really don't get why they aren't all separate countries. 

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1 hour ago, PCK said:

Thinking on it, I really don't get why they aren't all separate countries. 

Dragons and inertia; it's unraveling now. But even with that, their level of unification is pretty ridiculous. Seven kingdoms on a nearly Europe-sized continent? Unless there were a lot more petty kingdoms like the Targ one than were mentioned, that's not really realistic. Compare medieval Europe in the late 14th/early 15th century. There's roughly seven major kingdoms of over two million people (France, the Ottoman Sultanate, Poland-Lithuania, England, Castile, Hungary, and Portugal), but there are dozens of minor states mixed between them- and those kingdoms are not 100% unified anyway.  

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11 hours ago, PCK said:

Thinking on it, I really don't get why they aren't all separate countries. 

Well they were...until the Targaryen conquest.  Unified Westeros is more of an empire than a nation state - which is why we have several Greyjoy rebellions and the Stark secession "the king in the North".  It's entirely possible they will become separate kingdoms again though my money is on the Iron Throne continuing.  It offers too much power for all those regional dynasties to ignore.

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On 9/14/2017 at 0:51 AM, Nihlus said:

Lands of always winter is the arctic 
Beyond the wall is the north of scotland. The last of the pictish holdouts
North is Scotland and scandinavia.  Bear island would be the orkneys or the isle of Mann
Iron islands is scandinavia. specifically viking warrior culture (none of the trade culture.)  IRL the vikings conquered huge swaths of europe (a parallel to the riverlands) 
The riverlands is england and Ireland. Rainy, riverine.  
The Westerlands is Wales and cornwall. Mines, coastal and rocky  
The vale is switzerland, germany and the low countries. high peaks and low coasts 
The reach is france and italy. Fertile, with wine and flowers. the arbor is corsica or sardinia 
The Stormlands is Denmark. Wet, rainy, forested and coastal. 
The crownlands could be surrounding london, or copenhagen or any other european capital for that matter. 
Dorne is spain, portugal, sicily, north africa and the levant.  especially the influx of people from another land and the unification of the kingdom under an king and a princess 
Braavos is Venice and Amsterdam
Volantis is rome and constantinople/istanbul 
Lys would be Cairo and a bit of lisbon and crete 
Myr is Florence  and a bit of venice and rome 
Novoros seems like Genoa 
Qohor seems like Vienna and budapest 
Pentos is also a lot like vienna and budapest 
Tyrosh seems a lot like Lisbon or Barcelona 
Lorath seems a lot like stockholm 



 
 

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