Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

BloodOfTheWolf

Population of Westeros

81 posts in this topic

Hi everyone. A very interesting discussion. I would just like to start by saying that, like any science fiction work, A Song of Fire and Ice, althoug extremely realistic in apearence, falls also victim to errors and miscalculations.

First of all, I believe it is accurate to confront Westeros dates to those of Medieval Europe, because Westeros is portrayed exactly like the Medieval Europe. Second of all, the distances are simply just too big. A kingdom the size of Westeros could not possibly be governed through Medieval Europe’s meens. It is a problem of logistics. The lines of communications are just too long.

I think it is inaccurate to call this an error or miscalculation on GRRM's part, since he essentially reflects what you said - note that Westeros consisted of seven independent kingdoms until the Targ invasion, was unified because the Targs had dragons that nullified the communication and mobilisation issues you discussed and fell apart again just one century after the Targs lost their dragons.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi, guys I've came with my own estimations, based in historical data for Europe, and the information we have from the books, of course.

Based on the size of the Wall, I got 4,900 km between the wall and the Dorne's shores (the distance between Lisbon and the Urals, Russia). Therefore, the size of the Seven Kingdoms is between 7,000,000-7,500,000 km². The population, 50,000,000, As divided:

North --- 3,000,000 km² --- 6,000,000 inhabitants --- 2 inh/km² density

South --- 4,200,000 km² --- 44,000,000 inhabitants --- 10,5 inh/km² density

--- Vale --- 600,000 --- 3,500,000 --- 5,8

--- Riverlands --- 600,000 --- 8,500,000 --- 14,2

--- Westerlands ---- 500,000 --- 6,000,000 --- 12

--- Crownlands ---- 200,000 --- 5,000,000 --- 25

--- Stormlands --- 600,000 --- 5,000,000 --- 8,3

--- Reach --- 900,000 --- 13,500,000 --- 15

--- Dorne --- 800,000 --- 2,500,000 --- 3,1

And the Iron Islands, 40,000 km², 400,000 inhabitants, 10 people/km² density.

What do you think? Did I get it right?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My stupid/speculative estimates on Westerosi population from recently completing the books and reading through a Wiki of Ice and Fire:

-The North: ~700,000

-The Vale: ~600,000

-The Westerlands: ~1 Million

-The Riverlands: ~550,000

-The Crownlands: ~1.2 million

-The Stormlands: ~1.5 Million

-The Reach: ~2.5 Million

-Dorne: ~250,000

-Iron Islands: ~300,000

Total: ~8,600,000

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi, guys I've came with my own estimations, based in historical data for Europe, and the information we have from the books, of course.

Based on the size of the Wall, I got 4,900 km between the wall and the Dorne's shores (the distance between Lisbon and the Urals, Russia). Therefore, the size of the Seven Kingdoms is between 7,000,000-7,500,000 km². The population, 50,000,000, As divided:

North --- 3,000,000 km² --- 6,000,000 inhabitants --- 2 inh/km² density

South --- 4,200,000 km² --- 44,000,000 inhabitants --- 10,5 inh/km² density

--- Vale --- 600,000 --- 3,500,000 --- 5,8

--- Riverlands --- 600,000 --- 8,500,000 --- 14,2

--- Westerlands ---- 500,000 --- 6,000,000 --- 12

--- Crownlands ---- 200,000 --- 5,000,000 --- 25

--- Stormlands --- 600,000 --- 5,000,000 --- 8,3

--- Reach --- 900,000 --- 13,500,000 --- 15

--- Dorne --- 800,000 --- 2,500,000 --- 3,1

And the Iron Islands, 40,000 km², 400,000 inhabitants, 10 people/km² density.

What do you think? Did I get it right?

Not bad, but the North is often said to be equal in size to the other 7 Kingdoms, possibly even bigger. The Riverlands, Stormlands and Crownlands are also too heavily populated. If we go by the the 1 soldier for every 100 people rule, then they would field armies of 85,000 and 50,000 respectively, which we know it's far from the truth.

My stupid/speculative estimates on Westerosi population from recently completing the books and reading through a Wiki of Ice and Fire:

-The North: ~700,000

-The Vale: ~600,000

-The Westerlands: ~1 Million

-The Riverlands: ~550,000

-The Crownlands: ~1.2 million

-The Stormlands: ~1.5 Million

-The Reach: ~2.5 Million

-Dorne: ~250,000

-Iron Islands: ~300,000

Total: ~8,600,000

Yours makes the population soo small. We know that King's Landing and Oldtown alone would have well over 1,000 million people.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To the people concerned by Westeros' dearth of cities, remember that between the decline of the Roman empire (4th-5th centuries) and the reemergence of medium and long-distance trade circa 11th and 12th century, cities were extremely rare, and outside of Constantinople, a city the size of KL was simply unheard of. If we exclude Spain, due to it's incorporation into the Muslim world and the consequent attachment to a larger global trade network, Europe had maybe 7 or 8 places that could be called cities. By this I mean that they were centers of commerce, religion, and politics, and the majority of the population did not earn its living by producing food. Many royal courts, including those of England, the HRE, and France were perambulatory in this period meaning that they travelled to the desmesnes of each of their vassals in turn, living with them for a brief period and collecting what taxes were due before moving on.This diffused political power and prevented the formation of a bureaucratic structure surrounding a political heart. Rule was carried out by adhocracy.

All of this changed once rulers grasped the power of trade. It was important to become sedentary in order to lay down consistently enforced regulations on trade and collect taxes. The Italians and Flemish were the first to grasp this, which is why we see the growth of powerful city-states such as Florence and Bruges towards the end Early Medieval period. If you are interested in this kind of thing, Henri Pirenne and Max Weber have written extensively on the subject.

Overall, I think it is at least plausible for Westeros to not have very many cities, although due to the sophisticated trade structures and regulations sometimes implied in the books, one might think that there should at least be a few plucky little towns spurting up into cities.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What do people think the population of Gulltown might be?

47,539

or closer to

16,758

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What do people think the population of Gulltown might be?

47,539

or closer to

16,758

There is the number 50,000 floating around for Gulltown, Lannisport and White Harbour, the three smaller big cities apart from Kings Landing (500,000) and Oldtown.(300,000). Still somewhat speculative, KL is the only city whose population has a source in the books (Tyrion to Oberyn).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is the number 50,000 floating around for Gulltown, Lannisport and White Harbour, the three smaller big cities apart from Kings Landing (500,000) and Oldtown.(300,000). Still somewhat speculative, KL is the only city whose population has a source in the books (Tyrion to Oberyn).

We are told that Gulltown and White Harbor both have populations in the tens of thousands, with Gulltown being slightly larger, but very close to White Harbor in size.

We are talking multiple tens of thousands here, so that could be anything from 20k-90k. My personal estimate is Gulltown at 60k and White Harbor at 50k.

We are further told that Lannisport is much smaller than Oldtown, but much bigger than White Harbor and Gulltown. So I put Lannisport about halfway between Oldtown's 300k and Gulltown's 60k. Meaning around 150k or so.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Population:

1.The Reach – 1.500.000 – including *Oldtown – 400.000 - the most populated, it is known and mentioned.

We have mostly plains, fertile, with good water supply, a big city, and many many castles, towns and small towns...not to talk about villages. (as a side note, in this region there is the biggest number of nobile families, thus the biggest number of subjects)

2.Riverlands – 1.200.000 - from the wiki we find out it is the second most populated, not far from the Reach. There is no big city, but there are many minor towns. more than in the Reach. Plains, and a lot of rivers. acces to both seas(Narrow and Sunset). {

3.Crownlands – 800.000 - *King’s Landing – 500.000 - it's on this spot because of the capital, and it's booming population. it's a rather medium to small region, but populated, due to having borders with Reach and RiverL.

4.Westerlands – 600.000 - *Lannisport – 250.000 - larger pop. than StormL because of the city of Lannisport. We have a booming economy due to mining and trade. It compensates it's lack of major plains and rivers with imports of food, and export of iron, gold and other metals.

5.Stormlands – 500.000 - no major city. has castle, towns, and many villages. an important amount of forest villages. a lot of rain, modest plains, border close to KL, and strategic acces to the Narrow sea.

6.The Vale – 350.000 - *Gulltown – 70.000 - the trading of population difficult due to terrain. low economy, tendency to migrate. population resides in vales, and near the coast. the mountain clans make up from 50.000 to 1 K.

7.The North – 250.00 - *White Harbour – 50.000 - it is mentioned that not only is the least densly populated of the regions, but one with a small population overall. Vast but hard terrain, summer winters, few crops, who could not sustain a big population.

8.Iron Islands - 125.000 - it's hard to believe that this tiny islands haven't the smallest pop., but I put it near it. No crops, no mining, almost no trade. No economy. Just fishing, and pirating.

9.Dorne – 100.000 - named the region with the smallest pop. Desert. making it hard to trade, hard to harvest, no mining. Only modestly rich coasts, and few mountain riches.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Population:

1.The Reach – 1.500.000 – including *Oldtown – 400.000 - the most populated, it is known and mentioned.

We have mostly plains, fertile, with good water supply, a big city, and many many castles, towns and small towns...not to talk about villages. (as a side note, in this region there is the biggest number of nobile families, thus the biggest number of subjects)

2.Riverlands – 1.200.000 - from the wiki we find out it is the second most populated, not far from the Reach. There is no big city, but there are many minor towns. more than in the Reach. Plains, and a lot of rivers. acces to both seas(Narrow and Sunset). {

3.Crownlands – 800.000 - *King’s Landing – 500.000 - it's on this spot because of the capital, and it's booming population. it's a rather medium to small region, but populated, due to having borders with Reach and RiverL.

4.Westerlands – 600.000 - *Lannisport – 250.000 - larger pop. than StormL because of the city of Lannisport. We have a booming economy due to mining and trade. It compensates it's lack of major plains and rivers with imports of food, and export of iron, gold and other metals.

5.Stormlands – 500.000 - no major city. has castle, towns, and many villages. an important amount of forest villages. a lot of rain, modest plains, border close to KL, and strategic acces to the Narrow sea.

6.The Vale – 350.000 - *Gulltown – 70.000 - the trading of population difficult due to terrain. low economy, tendency to migrate. population resides in vales, and near the coast. the mountain clans make up from 50.000 to 1 K.

7.The North – 250.00 - *White Harbour – 50.000 - it is mentioned that not only is the least densly populated of the regions, but one with a small population overall. Vast but hard terrain, summer winters, few crops, who could not sustain a big population.

8.Iron Islands - 125.000 - it's hard to believe that this tiny islands haven't the smallest pop., but I put it near it. No crops, no mining, almost no trade. No economy. Just fishing, and pirating.

9.Dorne – 100.000 - named the region with the smallest pop. Desert. making it hard to trade, hard to harvest, no mining. Only modestly rich coasts, and few mountain riches.

Incorrect on many levels.

Specifically, regarding the North. It is never mentioned that the North has a low POPULATION, only that it has a low population DENSITY.

The North could have a quarter the population density of the Westerlands, but because it is about 6 times larger, it would still have 50% more people. In any case, Martin has confirmed that the North finds it much more difficult to raise men for war than the southern kingdoms do, so whenever the North raises the same number of men as another kingdom, you can be assured that the North has a significantly bigger population, because it cannot raise as large a percentage of its men to war as the southern kingdoms can.

Hence, if the North can raise 40k men to war it means it has a larger population than a southern kingdom than can also raise 40k men to war, because the southern kingdom can raise a larger percentage of its population to arms than the North can.

As for the percentage in question - for the the South it would be the medieval standard of around 1% of its total popuation. Meaning that if the Stormlands can raise 30k men, then it must have at least 3 million people.

In the North, it is probably more like 0.75% or even as low as 0.5%. Meaning that if the North can raise 40k men, then its population must be in the region of 6-8 million.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have only five big cities means nothing. Córdoba, for example, the largest and most populated city in Europe over the centuries IX and X (800,000 men) was the only mayor city in ancient Spain. The number of cities doesn't mean the number of people in a country.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Population:

1.The Reach – 1.500.000 – including *Oldtown – 400.000 - the most populated, it is known and mentioned.

We have mostly plains, fertile, with good water supply, a big city, and many many castles, towns and small towns...not to talk about villages. (as a side note, in this region there is the biggest number of nobile families, thus the biggest number of subjects)

2.Riverlands – 1.200.000 - from the wiki we find out it is the second most populated, not far from the Reach. There is no big city, but there are many minor towns. more than in the Reach. Plains, and a lot of rivers. acces to both seas(Narrow and Sunset). {

3.Crownlands – 800.000 - *King’s Landing – 500.000 - it's on this spot because of the capital, and it's booming population. it's a rather medium to small region, but populated, due to having borders with Reach and RiverL.

4.Westerlands – 600.000 - *Lannisport – 250.000 - larger pop. than StormL because of the city of Lannisport. We have a booming economy due to mining and trade. It compensates it's lack of major plains and rivers with imports of food, and export of iron, gold and other metals.

5.Stormlands – 500.000 - no major city. has castle, towns, and many villages. an important amount of forest villages. a lot of rain, modest plains, border close to KL, and strategic acces to the Narrow sea.

6.The Vale – 350.000 - *Gulltown – 70.000 - the trading of population difficult due to terrain. low economy, tendency to migrate. population resides in vales, and near the coast. the mountain clans make up from 50.000 to 1 K.

7.The North – 250.00 - *White Harbour – 50.000 - it is mentioned that not only is the least densly populated of the regions, but one with a small population overall. Vast but hard terrain, summer winters, few crops, who could not sustain a big population.

8.Iron Islands - 125.000 - it's hard to believe that this tiny islands haven't the smallest pop., but I put it near it. No crops, no mining, almost no trade. No economy. Just fishing, and pirating.

9.Dorne – 100.000 - named the region with the smallest pop. Desert. making it hard to trade, hard to harvest, no mining. Only modestly rich coasts, and few mountain riches.

So very, very wrong on so many, many levels.

You described a far-future megasprawl, not a somewhat medieval society. Your crownlands have a higher percentage of city-dwellers than modern Germany! The Reach, the Westerlands, the Vale and the North still beat Germany 1800.

That's like asking why the North doesn't shoot some cruise missiles at Kings Landing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ran reached about 40 million and that sounds reasonable to me. Regardless if Westeros is the size indicated by measuring the length of the wall, or the size of South America, with a number like this it would be significantly less densely populated than medieval Europe was. However, considering that almost half of the continent has such a bleak climate that it snows during the summer and that all of the continent goes through winters lasting for years on a regular basis, that's to be expected in my opinion. The scarce number of actual cities also imply that not even the relatively speaking more populous regions of Westeros are all that bustling with people. People bring up the Reach/France comparison, but late middle ages france had a lot more metropolitan areas than just Paris (home to well over a hundred thousand people), while not even the bountiful Reach seems to have any other large urban centers aside from Oldtown, at all*.

*There must surely exist significant numbers of, to us readers, unnamed and insignificant towns home to a thousand or three people each or so all over Westeros, but that should be a given for any societies as advanced as the medieval European ones, even if not as peopled.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Trying to make sense of the population of Westeros is almost impossible, because of major inconsistencies; like the enormous population for Oldtown and King`s Landing.

It is simply overwhelming for the kind of logistics the Seven Kingdoms have to sustain this two cities, specially in the case of King`s Landing and because of winters of several years (2,3,4 years normally ?), that would made living in great populational centers almost like an ciclical suicide, because of the great problems in gathering and store food, and the riots, famine, diseases and subsequent enormous toll of deaths.

And the cereals?

How can the westerosi save seed to plant more cereal, and save cereal to store for several years of winter?

And the cattle?

How can the westerosi store forrage for several years of winter for their cattle?

They simply dies at the hundred of thousands during winters or, most probable, the poulation is fixed in minimal numbers, what allows a certain control over the food necessities and save the westerosi societies from breaking because of general famine and riots during the winters.

My guess about the population; based on the probable number of soldiers they can muster + not-mobilized population, plus i counted with the situation of the heavy influence the recruitments had in took men from the working fields to the wars, plus the necessity of recruiting men younger and unfit in the villages and towns to the wars:

North: c. 500.000

Riverlands: c. 500.000

Vale: c. 400.000

Iron Islands: c. 200.000

Westerlands: c. 500.000

Reach: c. 100.000.000

Stormlands: c. 300.000

Dorne: c. 250.000

Crownlands: c. 500.000

Of course this estimatives are open to debate, but its simply impossible, because of the society, infraestructures and climate, to Westeros to have a great population.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ran reached about 40 million and that sounds reasonable to me. Regardless if Westeros is the size indicated by measuring the length of the wall, or the size of South America, with a number like this it would be significantly less densely populated than medieval Europe was. However, considering that almost half of the continent has such a bleak climate that it snows during the summer and that all of the continent goes through winters lasting for years on a regular basis, that's to be expected in my opinion. The scarce number of actual cities also imply that not even the relatively speaking more populous regions of Westeros are all that bustling with people. People bring up the Reach/France comparison, but late middle ages france had a lot more metropolitan areas than just Paris (home to well over a hundred thousand people), while not even the bountiful Reach seems to have any other large urban centers aside from Oldtown, at all*.

*There must surely exist significant numbers of, to us readers, unnamed and insignificant towns home to a thousand or three people each or so all over Westeros, but that should be a given for any societies as advanced as the medieval European ones, even if not as peopled.

We have not seen much of Westeros outside of the Riverlands. Winterfell actually grows to about 20,000 people or so in the winter. Highgarden is a castle but I could it see it having a large population. The village outside of Dragonstone seemed like it had at least a couple of thousand people living there.Sunspear has the shadow city, 10,000 seems reasonable, and then you have Planky Town, about of similar size perhaps. Most of the population probaly lives by the Sea. The Sheids mobilised 40 ships against the Ironborn on short notice, within hours, maybe 2,000 men, those 4 rocks have 20,000-30,000 people alone. These town are out there, you can find them all over the book.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Trying to make sense of the population of Westeros is almost impossible, because of major inconsistencies; like the enormous population for Oldtown and King`s Landing.

It is simply overwhelming for the kind of logistics the Seven Kingdoms have to sustain this two cities, specially in the case of King`s Landing and because of winters of several years (2,3,4 years normally ?), that would made living in great populational centers almost like an ciclical suicide, because of the great problems in gathering and store food, and the riots, famine, diseases and subsequent enormous toll of deaths.

And the cereals?

How can the westerosi save seed to plant more cereal, and save cereal to store for several years of winter?

And the cattle?

How can the westerosi store forrage for several years of winter for their cattle?

They simply dies at the hundred of thousands during winters or, most probable, the poulation is fixed in minimal numbers, what allows a certain control over the food necessities and save the westerosi societies from breaking because of general famine and riots during the winters.

My guess about the population; based on the probable number of soldiers they can muster + not-mobilized population, plus i counted with the situation of the heavy influence the recruitments had in took men from the working fields to the wars, plus the necessity of recruiting men younger and unfit in the villages and towns to the wars:

North: c. 500.000

Riverlands: c. 500.000

Vale: c. 400.000

Iron Islands: c. 200.000

Westerlands: c. 500.000

Reach: c. 100.000.000

Stormlands: c. 300.000

Dorne: c. 250.000

Crownlands: c. 500.000

Of course this estimatives are open to debate, but its simply impossible, because of the society, infraestructures and climate, to Westeros to have a great population.

While I agree with your arguments concerning how fucked up human civilization in Westeros realistically should be due to the winter cycles, there's just no way in hell that they'd be able to field as large armies and fleets as they do if their population was even five times larger than you claim. Just no way. We are talking about medieval agricultural societies here, not Germany during the end phase of WW2*

*Likely the closest any state has come to achieving total war, and out of those roughly ten percent the Third Reich had under arms many existed as soldiers just on paper. In reality they were teenage boys and cripples with nothing more than some old rifles and a few of days of "training" (basically without live ammo, since there was so little of it to go around for everybody).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd say the population is roughly somewhere in the 30 to 40 million range.

Reach- 10 million

North- 5 to 6 million

Westerlands- 5 to 6 million

Riverlands- 6 million

Iron Islands- 1 to 2 million

Vale- 4 to 5 million

Crownlands- 1.5 to 2 million

Dorne- 2.5 million

Stormlands- 3 million

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We have not seen much of Westeros outside of the Riverlands. Winterfell actually grows to about 20,000 people or so in the winter. Highgarden is a castle but I could it see it having a large population. The village outside of Dragonstone seemed like it had at least a couple of thousand people living there.Sunspear has the shadow city, 10,000 seems reasonable, and then you have Planky Town, about of similar size perhaps. Most of the population probaly lives by the Sea. The Sheids mobilised 40 ships against the Ironborn on short notice, within hours, maybe 2,000 men, those 4 rocks have 20,000-30,000 people alone. These town are out there, you can find them all over the book.

Makes sense. I think most of the greater lords (such as Boltons, Umbers, Freys etc) would have a town or two on their lands, regardless of which part of Westeros we are talking about. With actual cities as scarce as they are, and Westeros being so big, the common people in the lands would need some places to sell their produce and buy stuff they need, that aren't located hundreds of miles away from were they live. Enormous distances with their level of logistics.

That said, these towns would be comparatively small. Your example the Shadow City is by Arianne implied to be the largest settlement in all Dorne, and it doesn't seem to be all that large. The average Westerosi town is likely way below ten thousand inhabitants, more like two or three.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites