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Nihlus

What the Seven Kingdoms are based on (image)

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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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