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Michael Snyder

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  1. William Marshall was very much a mercenary in his early life, especially as a professional jouster going from tourney to tourney. He only settled down after he combined his earned wealth with marriage to an heiress and then pursued a career as a military commander and advisor to the Kings of England. At this current state of knowledge, to try and link the inspiration of Sir Arthur Dayne to any English myth or history should be tentative, as it could just as easily be argued that he resembles Roland or El Cid or du Guesclin or any number of mythical and historical figures in Medieval Europe.
  2. Michael Snyder

    How good a swordsman is Jon actually?

    1. Going back to the original question of how good a swordsman Jon is. 2. Well first we have the problem in that the TV universe seems to think that shields were invented to be thrown away or slipped on to the back or something. Anything but what they were designed for. Second, we have a mishmash of swords and styles that seem to equate to most of the period of medieval combat. 3. The primary weapon seems to be the war sword, also called an arming sword, the descendent of the Roman spathe and Teutonic swords. Used in a single hand in combat against individual and multiple opponents. Enough room in the hilt and on the pommel to use with two hands in an emergency. A straight blade, with sharpened edges on both sides and a point. Its weight and length and its use against armored opponents requires mostly chopping moves with some thrusts. Against an unarmored opponent, it can also be used for cuts. The steel is good enough to bend under stress and can be used to block a chop with the flat. With sufficient momentum, it can chop through mail, scale, splint, lamellar and any lesser protection. It can slice through clothing and light leather. And it can pierce gambesons and under the scales or down through the lamellar mini-plates or between gaps in splint armor and in certain circumstances through the rings of mail, especially butted, versus riveted mail. The sword is always used with a shield. The shield helps protect the user while reducing the need to parry or block the opponent's weapons, especially things like spears. While in GoT, nobles and warriors seem to go armed everywhere, that wasn't the case in medieval society and issues were settled in legal duels or at the tourney. Also as a quick comment, medieval "coats of plates" were worn over mail hauberks as a response to the improved penetration capability of arrows and bolts and the couched lance. The steel plates overlapped, like scale or lamellar, and were riveted together and to a backing and covering material. A real medieval coat of plates would not have gaps between plates. Also medieval warriors were smart enough to wear helmets in combat. GoT could have had Ned or Jon or other protagonists and antagonists wear open bascinets with aventails if we needed to see their faces to connect with them in combat. 4. Jon was evidently brought up alongside the Stark children, which means he would receive training and practice in dismounted and mounted combat with dagger, sword, lance and pole arms against experienced and trained warriors. As a "bastard", he might not be allowed to participate in local tourneys. He might have had a chance to spar with his father and uncle. Sir Selmy Barriston himself praised Ned's COMBAT prowess. It was obvious during the duel, that Jaimie expected a lesser opponent, but his combat experience was limited and his training would have been through sparring and tourneys, where Ned experienced real combat, where skill, strength and endurance were life and death. Jon would have benefitted from that experience. 5. Jon had yet to experience much combat himself and so he was tentative in his first fights and his exposure did not include fighting a veteran knife fighter at close quarters within the constraints of a hall. Yet he survived the melee at the BoB. I'm not sure Hardhome counts as the Others are using some kind of two handed assegai or short pole glaive and they too would not have been exposed to real combat against an opponent that could actually destroy them in 8,000 years. Then there is wielding a Valerian "long" sword which can carve through other swords, shields and steel plate armor. But the use of such a weapon requires skill, as a better opponent could exploit errors and soon be carrying the blade themselves. So I don't know where you can really rank him. I would surely like to see him spar against the Hound or Brienne. And given the time it took to assemble for the meeting at King's Landing, that may have happened with the Hound, not to mention Tormund. But in his world, survival is success, so that should be how we judge him.
  3. Michael Snyder

    True Heir to the Throne

    1. Jon is NOT the Heir. While he might be the issue of marriage in the eyes of the Faith, due to Prince Rhaegar's marriage to Lyanna, such a marriage, involving as it did, the need of a royal decree in support of the divorce and then a royal decree allowing the marriage and Lyanna's father's permission given Lyanna's status as a daughter of House Stark and a minor, could be considered illegal. Jon would then have no claim on title, land, family name or succession. He would legally be a bastard and remain one until the holder of the iron Throne can grant a decree legitimizing him. Perhaps Prince Rhaegar intended such an action after the Rebellion when he forced his father to abdicate. 2. Westeros is evidently under something like Salic Law, which grants inheritance to the eldest living male and the division of an inheritance such as Charlemagne did with his empire at his death. It is also obviously a patriarchal society, feudal in nature with undertones of clan and tribal culture. As such the last remaining male with any of the dynasty's blood is the Heir. If not, then a female might be considered. There might also be a conclave of the "great" Houses to pick an heir. As far as legitimacy, the Lannisters hold the Throne by right of conquest through a coup d'├ętat executed by Lady Cersei Lannister Baratheon, the Queen Mother, in the absence, supposedly, of any male heir of Baratheon blood. Gendry is an unacknowledged bastard, the lowest of the low, even lower than a serf or slave legally (which also applies to Robert's other bastards, which meant they were legally no real threat to Geoffrey or Cersei and killing them had no real political context or rational). For him to claim the succession, he would need to be legitimized either by the head of the Baratheon family or by the King/Queen. If there are other males with Baratheon blood, then they would be Pretenders to the Throne in their claims of succession, as they do not hold the Throne. And it could be argued that Robert's claims of Targaryan bloodline was fig leaf for his seizure of the Throne through military action (and trying to wipe out any other claimants). The same can be said of the Targaryans, having been removed from the Throne by the Baratheons by both blood right in their relationship to ancient Targaryan blood and by right of conquest. Danerys claims to be the Targaryan Pretender in the absence of any male with Tragrayan blood. As I pointed out above, legally Jon is a bastard. He would even be like Gendry, an unacknowledged bastard as Prince Rhaegar never made any public acknowledgement of his issue. A bastard, however, has no legal rights, no family rights or name. It doesn't matter that Jon was not Lord Edard Stark's son by any other woman. He acknowledged him as a Stark bastard, giving him a name and specific family and legal rights. In doing so, Lord Stark changed Jon's "bloodline" from Targaryan to Stark. While Jon is by blood and Faith, Danerys' nephew, legally he has no family relationship to her that would prevent marriage. Only the head of the Targaryan family and or either a king or queen can now make Jon legally a Targaryan. Also, legally any male head of the Stark family could legitimize Jon as a Stark as could a queen or king. Finally, it could be argued since only a Stark can be King in the North, Jon's acclamation by the Northern Houses as King legitimizes him as a Stark, regardless of his bloodl relationship to Danerys. Believe or not, one reason studying at law and becoming a lawyer was actually important during the later Middle Ages was the litigious nature of medieval society just over such legal issues as we just covered. Lawyers could argue before the Faith, the Royal Court or a Conclave of the Houses as to who really was legally heir to the iron Throne. Of course, in the end, military might matters, as with the succession to Edward the Confessor, when William of Normandy took the Throne of England by conquest and covered it by arguing the legalities of Edward's and Harald's promises to him. 3. This doesn't prevent a female from inheriting, especially if a House, like Mormont, has made provisions for accepting a female as head of family and lord. A Queen, however, was always uneasy on the Throne when there were other male claimants ( "The White Princess" captured the essence of this in its last episode, though it was Henry VII on the throne, but Queen Elizabeth I's career is another example, see the Duke of Norfolk). She ruled with the consent of the politically powerful males of her realm (note at Cersei's conference with the lords of Westeros, not a woman among them). This was a residual impact of the ancient tribal customs. The leader of a tribe was the leader because he led the tribe to war, fighting in the front line. His military leadership was a major part of his reason for being. Male kings and lords who did not do so, risked the disapproval of their vassals and neighbors and the possibility of being replaced. This was one of the reasons for Salic law. Note that there was never a female Holy Roman Emperor, no Queen of France that ruled in her own right. This is also why Bran would probably not be accepted as Lord Stark, even with his stepping aside. His physical limitations create political, social and cultural barriers to leadership.
  4. Michael Snyder

    Casterly Rock Why?

    1. What was Casterly Rock doing without a moat? Really? Unless you built Krak de Chevalier or Chateau Galliard, you put a moat around the wall. Some castles even had moats around the inner concentric walls. 2. Agree. Casterly Rock was the center of Lannister political power. It was a legitimate target when your plan was that part of your fleet would transport the "Unsullied" to Lanisport and part would pick up the Tyrell and Martell armies and bring them north to put King's Landing under siege, while the Dothraki moved overland, though from where? They didn't land 10-15,000 Dothraki on Dragonstone. Were they dropped off at Sunspear? Then why didn't they pick up the Dornish army then. Were they landed somewhere else along the south side of the Blackwater Bay? The thing is a medieval cog could carry around 100 men or thirty horses and they must have used around one hundred to carry the "Unsullied" to Lanisport, which would have taken, oh say 15-20 days from Sunspear at five-six knots without going ashore for food, water or fire wood. That left less than 900 to carry about 35,000 men with their horses, mules, oxen, wagons, carts, supplies, parts of siege engines, camp followers and baggage. The problem is that a feudal city had not only a Watch, but a militia, whether London, Paris or Milan. If a million people lived in King's Landing that means a militia of 100,000 and a mobile force (the London, Paris and Milanese militias engaged in campaigns away from their cities) of around 50,000. And don't put these militias down. The Swiss defeated Burgundian and Hapsburg armies, the Flemish defeated the French, the Milanese defeated the knights of the Holy Roman Emperor. Add in the resources of the Crown Lands and Cersei and Jaimie would have had a mobile force of at least 75,000 to defend King's Landing. And with Randle Tarley, Jaimie probably left a garrison of a couple thousand men at Casterly Rock and assaulted Highgarden with around 10-15,000 men, when the Reach could mobilize at least three times that, leaving garrisons in the Reach of 10-15,000 men while marching the other 20-30,000 men to Sunspear. There is much in GoT that doesn't make military sense, but it's great fantasy writing. 3. Tyrion was Master of Coin, he knew the Lannisters were broke and had been "mining" the government revenue through Littlefingers' loans from the Iron Bank. 4. If dragon fire is anything like napalm, napalm gets its oxygen for its combustion from the surrounding air. It sucks air out of adjacent and target structures, even when underground. There would also be any amount of flammable materiel within a castle, even one hewed from the Rock. Using an army to besiege and contain Casterly Rock and a navy to blockade Lanisport and constant attacks by dragons to keep the defenders pinned into their underground fortifications, a besieging army could slowly clear parts of the castle while starving out the rest. 5. The TV show has compressed time in its episodes. The time line could be like this. Euron has his fleet in Blackwater Bay. About the same time, Yara dropped off the Dothraki somewhere along the south shore, Yara joins her fleet after consulting with Danerys at Dragonstone on later on Day 2 and departs for Sunspear. She is proceeded by the ships with the "Unsullied". Late that night on day 2 or 3, Euron attacks the fleet under Yara and destroys it. The battle damages his fleet sufficiently that he has to pause to repair his ships. This gives Grey Worm a further head start of a couple days. 15 days later, Grey Worm lands the Unsullied near Lanisport, encircles Casterly Rock and begins his assault a day later. This gives Euron time to catch up with the fleet that carried the Unsullied, about one hundred ships and destroy them. So no mass transporter, simply story telling alternating times and locations without sufficient explanation of what's going on.