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Mark Sawyer

How many people live in Westeros? in each kingdom?

163 posts in this topic

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I don't care. Westerosi miles might be shorter or longer, and the maps have never been meant to be to scale anyway. And it also contradicts the nonsense about "the size of South America" which people for some reason keep taking *literally*.

Define "significantly higher". It's probably less then 100 million, more likely something above 70 million or so, if we judge it by medieval European standards (and medieval Europe was densely populated until the Black Death and a few famines trimmed the population - these pop. levels were only reached again in the 19th century, some 500 years later). Even that is strange, because in the books it often seems the land is essentially empty - Arya and Brienne travel through the Riverlands, but aside from a few towns, keeps, and villages, and a couple inns, we don't get to see many people. I get the same impression from other regions as well, they just don't seem to be too densely populated. Plus, large areas of Westeros are mountains, deep forests, or bogs, and deserts in Dorne and subarctic barrens in the north.

So, the overall population might actually be lower than in medieval Europe - which would makes sense, due to the years-long winters Westeros experiences and which likely prevents the population from growing beyond certain limits. So, if we use early medieval Europe as our starting point, the overall population of Westeros might be much lower than 70 million, probably close to 35 million.

Saying all that, I think it's a) not that important; B) impossible to determine unless GRRM decides to tell us. Which he won't, because it's fantasy, and because in the Middle Ages even the well-administered feudal kingdoms rarely attempted something of a proper census.

Well, no arguing with you if you dispute something as basic as the length of a mile, or Martin's own words on the size of the continent.. You clearly have made up your mind, the facts be damned.

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Actually the length of mile wasnt always a constant and the maps in the books meant to scale only to the pages. However, this is just a total miss:

In any case, that's a bit off-topic. I only wanted to say that judging populations in Westeros by some random troop numbers GRRM gave us is a bit silly. I'd much rather rely on common sense aided by reasonable estimates based on comparisons with medieval Europe.

It's GRRM world and considering that he is omnipotent/omniscient he is basically its god, whatever "reason" you can come up with, he can counter with Magic. Besides most of the estimates that are basedo n his notes, give a similar number as you do.

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I can say with absolute certainty that GRRM tries to keep things easy. A year in the series is a year in our world, 24 hours is exactly the same span of time, and a mile in the books is a standard mile. He has enough difficulty keeping track of things not to throw in unique measurements to try and keep track of as well.

OTOH, I think it's probably true that Westeros is not, in fact, the size of South America. Unless there's a lot more of it going North beyond the map than we know, anyways. The Seven Kingdoms-proper seems to be less than the size of Europe itself by maybe 25 percent, but it's very stretched out. I think that that fact has thrown GRRM, so that South America seemed nearer the mark to him than Europe with its rather different appearance.

As to population densities, I'm glad to say that other people have applied medieval population density figures to Westeros before. When I did it, I came up with roughly 40 million there, as well. However, one has to take into account what the books show as differences from our history.

I think one thing that needs to be factored in is that the population of places like the Reach is more diffuse than, say, high medieval France. There's five cities in Westeros, period, according to Martin. There are certainly many more towns and villages than we see on the maps, but the beginnings of real urbanization as seen in France (or Italy) hasn't happened. I'm thinking that's a combination of just being what GRRM wants, and perhaps being motivated by the notion that the supply needs of cities make them exceedingly unattractive whenever a particularly long, harsh winter rolls around.

And the fact that the North seems to have huge swathes of completely empty areas -- the Gift is all but abandoned, the barrowlands are a vast and rather empty plain, etc.; characters regularly travel for days without seeing sight of anyone -- drags the numbers dow; it's as if the population density of Medieval Scandinavia were spread out across the whole of Western Europe. Dorne isn't too populous either, given the desert and the mountains, and not a great deal of evidence that the river valleys are intensely inhabited. Between them, they're half the size of the whole realm.

Josiah Russel estimated that in 1340, Europe had a population of about 75 million. Factoring in that the Seven Kingdoms is approximately 25% smaller, you're down to 60 million. Factoring in the fact that you have to change the proportions to account for the very low densities of the North and Dorne, you cut that down even more. And then factor the evident lack of urbanization and it comes down even more.

So, 40 million, give or take, feels right. The fact that the old, dirty "rule of thumb" happens to fit this pretty well when you look at military mobilization -- a rule of thumb I suspect GRRM is familiar with, and may be the whole extent of his knowledge of medieval demography -- just seems to be an additional support for the figure.

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Well, no arguing with you if you dispute something as basic as the length of a mile, or Martin's own words on the size of the continent.. You clearly have made up your mind, the facts be damned.

As basic? Are you aware of the fact that the name "mile" was historically used for a crapload of wildly different units of length? The "mile" we used here in Bohemia used to be about 7,6 kilometres. The modern English mile is 1.6 kilometres. And you have the nautical miles and stuff like that. The problem with all these medieval units is that they're usually totally arbitrary and ill defined, so I can easily say that the Westerosi mile is of different length than the one used in the US today.

There are no facts, actually, it's a fictional world. How I read it is my choice and I like to read books so that they make logical sense to me.

I'd rather GRRM used the metric system, but that would probably spoil the medieval atmosphere :D

It's GRRM world and considering that he is omnipotent/omniscient he is basically its god, whatever "reason" you can come up with, he can counter with Magic. Besides most of the estimates that are basedo n his notes, give a similar number as you do.

Fair enough. All I am saying is that if GRRM said today that Westeros is 10,000 km long and its population is 500 million people, I wouldn't take it seriously, because it doesn't fit the descriptions as presented to us in the books. I also think that getting worked up over this is totally useless, we're all in the dark here. All I am doing is giving you my reasons for why I think what I think :)

So, 40 million, give or take, feels right. The fact that the old, dirty "rule of thumb" happens to fit this pretty well when you look at military mobilization -- a rule of thumb I suspect GRRM is familiar with, and may be the whole extent of his knowledge of medieval demography -- just seems to be an additional support for the figure.

Yes. Of course now we have to apportion this number between the individual kingdoms, which will be more difficult.

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...

I recall you gave this estimate sometime ago, which IMO factors all that we know very nicely. However, it is eventually based on the assumption that westros demographic/landscape/situation is largely similar to that of Europe of XXXX time and it fit so nicely because we know where we want to get. But, it can be just as random numbers as calculating the other way around and considering that those numbers mostly used to try and calculate the army strength of each region, going the other way around and accounting to various factors, is just as valid.

Personally, I am most comfortable to take GRRM path, stating that the population number in the millions and let everyone else fill the gap.

Fair enough. All I am saying is that if GRRM said today that Westeros is 10,000 km long and its population is 500 million people, I wouldn't take it seriously, because it doesn't fit the descriptions as presented to us in the books. I also think that getting worked up over this is totally useless, we're all in the dark here. All I am doing is giving you my reasons for why I think what I think :)

No problem, but we all have our reasons, even if it seem to that we only going by some random troop number GRRM has stated. Personally, I like the 25-35 figure.

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The whole idea that Westeros has a fixed army-to-civilian ratio is beyond ridiculous. And the ratio being repeatedly cited is extremely flimsy at best.

Yes

I don't really know why any of you are using (and arguing over) examples from any period after 1550. The number of factors radically different are nearly immesurable - in terms of centralised government, agricultural practise, urbanisation, disease etc. Even ignoring the whole 'winter' problem which makes most comparisons meaningless, we have the apparent sophisticaiton of maesters on the one hand, and by 1700 the European triumph of the 'agricultural revolution' that facilitated spiraling demographic growth in Europe until c.1920.

I'm also not entirely convinced by this debates acceptance of the '1-2% rule'. Not only is the ASIAF world different from the real in so many ways that this becomes irrelevant, but it also ignores circumstantial data. For example, one would reasonably expect far more of the men of the Riverlands to be in arms from late GOT- DOD since their lands are immediately threatened, and many more than 2% would flock to nearby holdfasts/castles [comparable to the Rohirrim at Helm's Deep]. I just don't think we can use this rule to extrapolate overall populations with Any accuracy. Lots of these arguments underestimate the importance of Money to raising armies. I happen to have done a history degree, and the impresssion I got was that raising big armies wasn't hampered by the number of men you could get to, so much as the numbers you could pay and feed. Armies are Bloody expensive, and GRRM doens't really go into this - I don't mean 'better armed' (Lannisters) but actually paid to turn up, fed and doing their jobs. Different armies were motivated by different 'carrots' - religious duty, protecting homeland, pay, tax exemption, a parcel of land after service, the potential for plunder. We hear relatively little about taxation in Westeros (how it's assessed, how much Lords and Lords paramount keep, how much is paid to KL, whether it can be paid in kind or only in coin etc). It's striking that very few armies mutiny through lack of pay - we know of a few deserters (from Stannis etc) but no serious sedition, which doesn't reflect real-world mores.

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The urbanisation numbers remain a solid reference point to support the 40 million figure.

A million city dwellers (plus a few hundred thousand residents in all the big towns) gives you about 40 million total people, in a medieval setting.

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The reason I dont like the higher numbers is because the description that GRRM provided us so far of the land, much like in ESSOS I know that there should be more, much more, that so far it was irrelevant to the plot, but It hard for me to imagine it to be so. Also higher numbers just unsustainable in such harsh winter and now that the first month of real winter set in, I believe that people will notice they dont have enough to survive the winter and migrate to the traditional spots like winter town and when they find out they have nothing there as well they will all migrate south and while GRRM might like to place millions on the road and corpses flung left and right(banditry or starvation) I'd rather not see it.

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Mance Rayder have 30-40 K of wildlings

North , 30 k warrior... 600k total

Vale , 30 k warrior ... 600 k total

Dorne, 25 k warrior... 500 k total

Westerlands 55 k warrior , 1,100 k total

Reach, 100 k warrior, 2500 k total

KingsLanding + Crackclaw Point , 600 k total

Stormlands 30k warrior , 600 K total

IronBorns, 400 k total

(-5,000,000-8,000,000 +) total

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I'm afraid that figure can't be taken seriously. It's about twice the population of medieval England... which would fit in to some tiny corner of the Reach and leave lots and lots of room to spare.

You have to remember it's a continent, and look at it as a continent at a medieval technology level.

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I'm afraid that figure can't be taken seriously. It's about twice the population of medieval England... which would fit in to some tiny corner of the Reach and leave lots and lots of room to spare.

You have to remember it's a continent, and look at it as a continent at a medieval technology level.

Medieval England would fit in the Iron Islands, no need to go for the Reach :cool4:

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As stated in a most acceptable post about the militaries in Westeros, and applying the '1 soldier in each 50'(2%)

rule I believe it's safe to claim this:

North - Can field close to 30.000 troops: Most forces are with Robb (20.000) as Balon claims when stating that the North is relatively far less fortified and weak. And Rodrik and Ramsay were still able to field a few thousand troops and there are still several eastern castles with considerable garrisons.

If it can field 30.000 applying the rule, it has near 1.500.000 habitants which is very acceptable as George said the North was the largest but also one of the least populated 'kingdoms' in Westeros and the few cities it had, the biggest was White Harbour which still was very small when compared to other westerosi cities.

Riverlands - Can field around 30.000 troops: Many lords just like in the North. When Jaime was rampaging the Riverlords around 15.000 riverlands' troops were defeated and after Jaime's defeat they were still able to support Robb's army with around 5.000 plus the Twins forces (Tullys are Frey's overlords) that numbered 2.000 troops. Adding to the Harrenhal's garrison and other riverlands castles I think that's a solid claim.

If it can field 30.000 applying the rule, it has more than 1.500.000 habitants (> than the North's) considering they also lack cities and their territory isn't that large though I believe it's said they are somewhat more populated than the North.

Vale of Arryn - Can field around 10.000 troops: Aren't exactly known for their military might and the simple fact that when they kept themselves out of the war,no one saw them as threat nor did genuinely cared about having them as military allies.

If it can field 10.000 applying the rule, it has near 500.000 habitants considering the very few Lords and settlements, the only considerable settlement being Gulltown which is still small, and the already small territory that is mostly composed by mountains. Plus George said that along with Dorne and the North, it is one of the most depopulated kingdoms.

Crownlands - Can field around 20.000 troops: Some of the "could be military" percentage of KL population (500.000) is wasted on Golden Cloaks already and then considering the fact that all sorrounding lands to Dragonstone could only field an army of 2.000 it's safe to say that their forces are not that many even though they contain the most populated city.

If it can field 20.000 then not applying the rule (due to KL situation), I'd say they have around 2.000.000 habitants. Enough to fill in the 500.000 and still be higher than the North's population.

Westerlands - Can field around 60.000 troops: It's still worthy to question if the numbers given weren't considering the King's army together with the Lannister's as well but anyway excluding that situation, the 60.000 numbers have been mentioned several times and don't think I need to show any real evidence of it.

If it can field 60.000 troops applying the rules, it has near 3.000.000 habitants, as though small it's one of the most populated regions in Westeros and is to consider the fact that they contain one of the largest cities (by population). Also to add the fact that they have gold mines which would atract many workers to come to the Westerlands.

Stormlands - Can field more than 20.000 troops: As shown when almost all Storm lords of Renly's army which was composed by 100.000 troops, when joining Stannis could only

field 20.000 troops, it is safe to claim the 20k is the correct number though I used the "more than" because it's also wortht to count all the Storm castles' garrisons.

If it can field 20.000 troops and not applying the rule (as it must have more population than the North), it would mean they have around 1.500.000 (higher than the North's pop.) as their territory though not exactly big in expansion and though it contains many more castles than towns, with a little bit of doubt, I'd say around that number.

Reach - Can field around 100.000 troops: As mentioned above, if Stormlands forces field 20.000 of Renly's 100k, 'it is known' and obviously the Reach must have at least 80.000.

Then considering that George said it was one of the more populated regions and the fact that Redwyne's fleet wasn't being counted in Renly's forces, which alone means some more thousands of troops. Plus Shield Islands' forces and the guarrisons protecting the vast flowerly land, it's there where I stand.

If it can field 100.000 troops applying the rule, it has about 5.000.000 habitants, which would coincide with George's claims as it being one of the most populated (in this case the most) and the many Reach cities including the enormous Oldtown as well as the large size of the region. And to add ofc the fact that it can field so many forces both in land and sea.

Iron Islands - Can field around 20.000 troops: Well this was someone else's statement though I seem to agree as everyone knows that their fleet was huge and though not all the ships were thriving with crews some still didand the existance of so many longboats must mean a very large force. Then again their army was defeated very easily in their own Rebellion so I'm a bit confused.

If it can field around 20.000 troops then not applying the rule (as every Ironborn capable of lifting a sword seems to be a soldier or a drowned man, the rule certainly can't apply), I'd say around 300.000 habitants. The Islands aren't exactly known as being populated nor vast territory so a relatively very small number in their population is safe to claim.

Dorne - Can field around 15.000 troops: As it is a place with a culture somewhat similar to the Iroborn (many warriors, even women) and it doesn't compose any real threat against their northern partners. Then there's also

the low population, as stated by George.

If it can field around 15.000 troops applying the rule, it has around 750.000 habitants. As Dorne isn't exactly a very exploited territory in the books not many evidence can be shown other than it is the least populated

(as the Iron Islands don't seem to count as one)

Beyond-the-wall - No idea how many troops it can field but it seems it is pretty much everyone from child through man and woman to old man. And they're all very capable warriors.

In terms of population I'd shoot in the dark and say something like 150.000 habitants (without creatures/zombies pop. included) the most? When Mance brought his host, it fielded not only soldiers but their families. That host alone must've compromised like a 100k and as those lands don't seem to be exactly habitable for human beings much less now with the friendly White Walkers.

Anyway these would be my estimated numbers throughout the ASOIAF series. With that summed up, Westeros' population would be something around 17 million totalized which wound also be a lot more feasible numbers to me.

There's to ponder upon the fact that though George once said Westerosis could equal the size of South America, he also said the North would correspond to an united scandinavia size which puts the scale in half of the first.

When refering to the 75 million (European population during the middle ages) because of that european comparison those seem a lot bigger and unreasonable numbers. The 17 million that I mentioned however, do correspond a lot more to the somewhat(and somehow :c) estimated population of South America during the Middle-ages.

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@winterz I am going to have to disagree, there is no way the crownlands can field more men then the Vale. 10,000 seriously? More like 20,000 min. Second regarding the west Lord tywin had 20,000 jaime had 15,000 so thats 35,000 the remnants of jaimes host and the sweepings of the west combined for another 10,000 thats 45,000 max. not 60,000 dont know where that number came from. Third Dorne can field closer to 30,000 the exageration of 50,000 is not far off. and last regarding the north, most if not all of robbs forces came from the "northern part of the north" so it stands to reason that the southern part is far more populated, the norths full strength is more like 45,000 to 50,000, if robb had another month or so his army would have doubled in size, but he was rushing south. The ironborn prevented him from having one of his bannermen build him another army. In clash ser rodrick says if king robb needs more men he will send for them. Also skagos is probably another 3,000 min and lord manderly kept alot of his men back to fortify white harbor. The north is down but not out when fully roused their army is large, not as big as the reach but still big.

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Well then I'm inclined to disagree with you as well ;)

Vale was very depopulated. I doubt they could match Crownlands' "military" population. During the Rebellion, Jon Arryn mobilized half of Vale's strength, the other half joining with the Crown. In the battle of the Trident, There were like 5.000 Stormland troops, the entire North strength (which would be like what close to..30.000?), some Riverland troops and all Jon's forces. It still only made 35.000 troops. So I wonder where were all these "20.000" you claim the Vale to have.

Also, 50.000 in the North? Balon states that while the Wolf is waging its war, the North was weak and less fortified which left it very vulnerable to Ironborn attacks. If the North really had 30.000 troops still behind Robb's army, I doubt Balon would dare to attack. In fact, all houses in the north (except the Bolton lil' rivalry) were utterly loyal to the Starks (in the War's start I mean), and when Robb raised the banners it wouldn't make any sense that so many of the Northern Lords would leave those troops behind. It was obvious that most North had been emptied of troops, it's mentioned several times in the first books.

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@winterz

Your numbers are wrong. GRRM said that Vale can field around 40 000 troops, they have one of the five cities in Westeros and Vale is after Reach most fertile so in the Vale would live more than 500 000 people. If the Vale would have 500 000 people, Iron Islands would have much less than 300 000, because they are least fertile and the smallest part of the Westeros.

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Well then I'm inclined to disagree with you as well ;)

Vale was very depopulated. I doubt they could match Crownlands' "military" population. During the Rebellion, Jon Arryn mobilized half of Vale's strength, the other half joining with the Crown. In the battle of the Trident, There were like 5.000 Stormland troops, the entire North strength (which would be like what close to..30.000?), some Riverland troops and all Jon's forces. It still only made 35.000 troops. So I wonder where were all these "20.000" you claim the Vale to have.

Also, 50.000 in the North? Balon states that while the Wolf is waging its war, the North was weak and less fortified which left it very vulnerable to Ironborn attacks. If the North really had 30.000 troops still behind Robb's army, I doubt Balon would dare to attack. In fact, all houses in the north (except the Bolton lil' rivalry) were utterly loyal to the Starks (in the War's start I mean), and when Robb raised the banners it wouldn't make any sense that so many of the Northern Lords would leave those troops behind. It was obvious that most North had been emptied of troops, it's mentioned several times in the first books.

Here's a summary of the troops left behind in the North:

The Mountain Clans had 3,000

The Karstarks and Umbers seem to have about another 1,000 between them engaged on various sides of the Bolton/Stannis conflict.

The Mormonts send a few hundred men to attack Asha's Ironborn and burn their ships in Dance.

Skagos probably has about 3,000 men, none of which went South with Robb

Ramsay had at least 600 men left from the Bolton garrison to bring down to Winterfell

Ser Rodrick raised about 2,000 men from the Cerwyn and Winterfell area very quickly to deal with the Tallharts Ironborn problems.

All of these are from the northern half of the North. The above adds up to 10,000 additional men - all just from the northern half of the North, bringing to North's total to about 30,000 men already.

The southern half of the North should be far more fertile and populous than the northern half, and yet they sent only 6,000 men south with Robb, compared to the 12,000 that came from the Northern lords. Hence, there must be huge numbers of troops left down there.

This is confirmed by Manderly who was commanded by Robb to see to the defense of White Harbor and the eastern coast, which is the North's trade and commerce lifeline. Manderly at a conservative estimate currently has at least 8,000 men at his disposal - including the crews of his 50 warships.

In addition, Barrowton is the second largest settlement in the North, and together with the Ryswell lands about as warm and fertile as you're going to get in the North. If the Umbers and Karstarks can raise 2,000 men apiece, then these areas are each going to be able to raise at least twice as much. Hence, at the very least these areas will have about 5000-8,000 men available. Especially if the Clansmen from the barren, cold far northern mountains can have 3,000 available to Stannis.

However you look at it, if the Northern part of the North could raise 12,000 men initially, and as shown above have another 10,000 or so men available afterwards, then the southern half at the very least, must have a larger potential than that. Given that only 6,000 southern warriors joined Robb, it means that the bulk of the southern forces are still intact.

We are looking at no less than another 15,000 men in the south of the North. Add all of the above together, and we are looking at around 50,000 men for the North.

As for the Vale. Littlefinger states that the Lords Declarant on their own have 20,000 men. And they are just 7 powerful lords out of the 40 or so lords in the Vale.

The Vale can most likely raise about 40,000 men, compared to the North's 50,000.

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Furthermore. Whatever the troop to population ratio of the rest of Westeros, the North's ratio will be far more extreme, due to the harshness of the environment and the reluctance of men to leave their fields and go off to war.

Meaning that the multiplier used to calculate total population size based on army size will be much higher for the North. Hence, if in the Vale you multiply the army size by say 50 to calculate the population size (e.g. 40,000 x 50 = 2 million), then in the North you should be multiplying by twice as much. Hence, for the North the calcuation should then be 50,000 x 100 = 5 million).

Meaning that in the Vale you can raise 2% of your population to go to War, but in the harsher, vast North you can only raise 1%.

Meaning that the North's population will be larger, compared to its army size, than that of the Vale or the Reach. Martin himself has confirmed this.

EDIT

To avoid confusion, I am hereby not saying that the North has a larger population than the Reach, but that its population to army ratio is higher.

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Oh well, thanks for clearing that up. Westerosi demography just looks all weird in so many senses of the word, I can't even start describing it.

Appreciated and I acknowledge my mistakes there.

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