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  1. Seems likely that Stannis was ordered to take Dragonstone. Given what we know about Robert, it's highly unlikely he would have (a) wanted to kill children, or (b) wanted to order anyone to. I'm not sure our perspective on this (Tywin) should be wrong. And nothing we've seen in Stannis' character indicates that he's interested in killing children. He's willing to sacrifice Edric for a greater good, but that isn't the same thing. Even GRRM says that Stannis is a righteous man. Ned Stark may object to killing on general principal, but Stannis at least will require something more than expediency to kill a child. My guess is that Daenerys gets made a Silent Sister, under heavy guard, and Viserys would have gone to the Night's Watch and have been equally closely monitored
  2. Edmure raises a host in response to an invasion of his lands; moreover, his father is mentally incapacitated. Robb raises a host to liberate his father from the grip of a tyrannical monarchy; his own father is likewise incapacitated. Tytos Lannister has his wits about him; Tywin is raising troops against his lord's wishes and in order to pursue ends his father explicitly does not condone. How is that so hard to understand? You seem to have this assumption that Westeros is an absolute monarchy where the lords (and theoretically smallfolk) have no rights whatsoever, and owe their lives and freedoms to the person up the feudal food chain. This isn't the case. We see Tywin, in rapid succession, demand repayment of loans that aren't due to him, imprison innocent petitioners who protest this, and demand the capture and imprisonment of anyone who disagrees. This is extremely similar to the circumstances around Robert's Rebellion, with the only difference being Tytos doesn't go full-Aerys and allow his son to dismember Walderan Tarbeck. Mind you, those lords have their loans forgiven in the interim, so no crimes are committed and no further monies are owed. This is common sense, and as we see in Robert's Rebellion, these kinds of actions are seen as voiding the feudal contract. By a pyromaniac madman... that doesn't seem to support your point much. And for the record, Tytos effectively does call it illegal. He explicitly forgives the debts of the Tarbecks, which is an open rebuke to Tywin, and then refuses to endorse Tywin's actions. The fact that he is then presented with a fait accompli, because there are no Reynes or Tarbecks left, is not the same as forgiving or endorsing it. All of the evidence we have suggests that Tytos does not approve, and because this is relevant to the evidence we have, lets mention the source. The World of Ice and Fire is ostensibly written by Maester Yandal, to Tommen, Tywin's grandson. Of course it will refuse to condemn Tywin for his crimes - from a Watsonian perspective this is a given and needs to be accounted for. Well, I won't disagree with this; this is a fact. It's the motives that matter. The Reynes and Tarbecks are justified in their rebellion, just the same as Eddard and Robert and Jon Arryn are. They're dealing with a counterparty who isn't acting in good faith, who is disregarding the rules and norms of their society and expecting compliance with no legal basis. Well this seems to be you claiming that he's a "more than savvy" politician. Perhaps that doesn't rise to the level of genius, but still, most of the evidence we have is that Tywin Lannister wins by either acting contrary to the norms of his society and hoping to get away with it, or by authorial fiat. If the needs of the story didn't dictate Robert dying, in an unrelated manner, at exactly the moment Tywin initiates the WOT5K, he'd have been slaughtered when he invaded the Riverlands. This is not at all the same thing. In the case of the Hornwood lands, the players involved are at least going through the motions. People go to Winterfell to petition the Starks for the right to marry Donella Hornwood, they don't just show up and murder everyone and assert that it's theirs. And the one guy who does do that is explicitly shown to not only be among the most evil, immoral characters in the series (Ramsay), it doesn't work! No one respects the fact of his forced sham marriage to take the Hornwood lands (which has some precedent in medieval history, and you'll note is again an action within the theoretical confines of "how things work"), and as a result Ramsay doesn't even have control; the Manderlys step in to keep him from getting away with it until a permanent settlement can be made, and Ramsay is hunted down like a criminal! This cannot be stressed enough. Yes, the Boltons are "getting away with it" through obvious subterfuge and force of arms, but from a moral sense, no one is buying it and they are considered to have done something illegal and worthy of punishment. This can't be stressed enough. Force of arms is all well and good, but we see in the Hornwood case that ignoring the legal rights and precedents involved means being attainted a criminal, not a "more than savvy" guy, and Ramsay doesn't even act as horrifically as Tywin does. We have no evidence that his peers don't consider it horrific. What we know are what the normal responses to those situations are. We know Robert is widely loved for his mercy, and Stannis disliked because of his perceived lack of same. The very fact that most Houses have a history that stretches back thousands of years means that full-sale eradication of noble lineages is intensely frowned upon. Especially when you consider that Tywin has no legal authority to be enforcing or precipitating those decisions; he is not a lord except by courtesy, and his father is in full control of his faculties - Tywin is in open rebellion against House Lannister as well. House Lannister is losing members left and right. And while foreshadowing isn't evidence, it seems obvious to any reader that the ranks of the Lannisters are going to be further culled by the Red Wedding 2.0 and Cersei's folly. And his children are doomed precisely because they are attempting to think as Tywin does. You think Cersei is in trouble because the kids aren't Robert's? Right now, Tommen and Joffrey before him should have had an unassailable position as king - with Stannis beaten on the Blackwater, and the Boltons in their camp, the Iron Throne should be in an unbeatable position. Cersei is letting a winning hand slip through her fingers precisely because she is acting like Tywin. She is internalizing the lesson Tywin Lannister left his children; that Lannisters are worth more, than everyone else is a species of sub-human. Hell, look at what is going on within the family. Kevan will only support Cersei if she leaves the capitol. The whole realm is plunged into a destructive war on the eve of the apocalypse because Tywin got in a snit that he was "insulted". His body literally rots on it's funeral bier, a pretty glaring example of authorial condemnation - Tywin's funeral is surrounded by the full pomp and circumstance of everything he sought in life; a Lannister king, to be buried in full Lannister regalia, etc, and yet the stench of his rotting body, an obvious analogue for his rotting legacy, drives his own son from the room retching. And the regime he built is likewise collapsing, as grasping allies try their best to wrench what they can from what he's left behind By contract, Ned Stark has multiple factions fighting at great personal risk to avenge him and place his descendants in their rightful place of power. If you aren't understanding this, then you've missed the entire thematic point of Feast for Crows. Tywin ruled through fear and ruthlessness, and so everything he worked for in life and achieved through those means is lost and more by his successors. Ned Stark ruled through love and a kind of benevolent paternalism, and so his legacy is being fought for by people who might otherwise take the opportunity to seize more power for themselves.
  3. Kind of a weird map. Is it supposed to be in terms of climate? Politics? Qohor is noted to be in the middle of a vast forest, and they have it in Iraq, which is in the middle of one of the most notoriously tree-less areas in the world. The Vale seems like a perfect Switzerland analogy, not the Carpathians, which weren't particularly defensible. England seems to be a Stormlands analogue (wet and rainy, strong medieval culture, history of assimilating foreign "barbarians" like the Angles and Saxons, then the Normans). And the Iron Islands couldn't be more obviously based on the Vikings, right? Pirate/raider culture in which small warbands go off, steal movable property and slaves, and then return home to a culture built around subsistence farming and access to the ocean?
  4. It's also worth pointing out that cunning implies working within a system, whereas Tywin consistently engages in norm-violating behavior. Basically everything he does during the conflict with the Reynes and Tarbecks is either illegal (i.e. raising his own armies and pursuing his own form of unsanctioned "justice", also known as being a brigand) or so far beyond the pale of what his society considers normal behavior (eradicating an entire House for basically not paying back a loan) that his contemporaries probably aren't prepared to deal with just how far he's willing to go. Which again, is the point of Tywin Lannister's story. He's not a genius, he's not a savvy politician, he's a person who thinks he's above things like "laws" and "traditions," and because of that attitude everything he's built on the back of murder and taboo-breaking will boomerang home and ruin the legacy he wanted to leave. Yes, he crushed the Reynes and Tarbecks because he was willing to do things his peers considered horrific, but at the end of the day the very fact that he was that ruthless, that very attitude, is going to result in the destruction of his family.
  5. They weren't crazy for wanting a dragon back. They were crazy for what they did to achieve it. No one would call you crazy for wanting a million dollars. People would call you crazy if you said you'd drink five gallons napalm to get it. And if there are dragons, there is no Robert's Rebellion, full stop. Robert only has Targaryen blood because Aegon V needs to shore up marital alliances to enact his social reforms. If he had dragons, he doesn't need that kind of marital support, he has his win buttons handy. Most of the problems the "modern" Targaryens face is because Aegon I built a polity on the assumptions that his dynasty would have exclusive access to dragons. And none of his followers bothered to do much in the way of centralizing power in the hands of the monarch while they could. Which is why the Targaryens, alone of the Great Houses, have little in the way of direct military support they can levy. It seems likely that Houses like the Redwynes and Hightowers can raise more troops than the Crownlands can. But to answer the original question more directly - if the Targaryens have fully grown dragons at the time of Robert's Rebellion, the rebels lose. We see that the dragons are pretty much a win button when it comes to combat in an open field. You won't see rebel armies gathering or marching, because they'll be burned alive on the march.
  6. Another example of show watchers getting confused as to the significance of a character. Book!Bronn is pretty much done with. He was there to help Tyrion a bit, but also to show the extent to which money can't buy Tyrion's way out of every problem. He pops up in the narrative here and there again to emphasize how poor of a ruler Cersei is, and how her capricious and cruel decisions (a) almost always backfire on her, and (b) how truly powerless she is to punish those who defy her without the consent of her allies. In other words, she's eroding her own grasp on power by driving away the Tyrells & Co, because without them she doesn't even have the ability to punish an upjumped sellsword who is usurping a noble family's seat (effectively) and spitting in her face while doing so. Jerome Flynn was a great actor and had great rapport with Peter Dinklage, so like everything else the show was known for, they decided to destroy everything that made the show good by thinking that audiences tuned in for nudity, clever quipping, and "shocking!" surprise twists. GRRM is, you know... not a f**King moron like Benioff and Weiss, and thus won't be shoehorning tertiary characters into every possible scene he can.
  7. This is why I think your opinion is a joke. You are asserting this without any kind of knowledge of what makes a kingdom "backwards", let alone any evidence to justify it. Pre-Norman England had an unusually high degree of centralization and taxation compared to it's counterparts on the continent. France was an anarchic no-man's land, and Hugh Capet barely ruled anything beyond the precincts of Paris. This is in the late 10th century, comparable to the time we're talking about for England. The Holy Roman Empire was notoriously fractured and difficult to manage, as it had many over-mighty vassals. You seem to think of an advanced "state" as one that had the trappings of feudalism and knighthood and all that. That isn't the case. An advanced state, by any real definition, is one that has a monopoly on violence, where centralization and the ability to extract money through taxation is more developed, where (in this case) royal justice institutions were strongest. That is, in this time period, unquestionably England. The danegeld alone is evidence of a more advanced and centralized state than anything in contemporary continental kingdoms Toledo was already a large city well before the Reconquista got there. And it was never the capital. Again, I encourage you to actually read a little bit about these subjects. It's not even a point of scholarly contention; Castille never had a single capital, and as the mode of itinerant kingship fell out of fashion, various cities in Castille/Spain took on different functions. Seville, Burgos, and Valladolid also were important royal centers. Paris was only the "capital" of France because it was essentially the only part of France the Capetian kings controlled when they assumed the throne. And you don't need to lecture me on the relevant history; with all due respect, I clearly know a bit more than you on the subject. Meanwhile, you've chosen one single kingdom to prove your point, when in all other polities this wasn't the case. Spain and England, to use the shorthand, both had kings and courts which were fully itinerant and thus had no set capital (despite your protestations to the contrary). The Holy Roman Empire was notorious for the fact that the imperial seat shifted so often; emperors conferred legitimacy on their preferred place of residence, and not the reverse, as would be normal in a later kingdom (where holding the capital and the physical throne, as in Kings Landing, would be of massive symbolic importance). So I am sorry to say it again, but your example is the exception that proves the rule, not compelling evidence in and of itself. In the Kingdom of Poland, administrative functions were carried out at Krakow but coronations really only took place at Gniezno - which is the "capital" then? Paris is the one example of a medieval European state where the king resided mainly in one city, which also happened to be the largest city in the "country". Except... it didn't. This is precisely my point. Winchester was the administrative center of England for a good long while, and it did not grow into a major city; London did, despite having no formal role in the governance of the state. I'm not putting words in your mouth, I'm taking the argument you made and showing how it is entirely erroneous. Now who is putting words in whose mouth? I never said real world kingdoms "never" developed a populous political center. What I said, or what should have been clear from my argument, was that there was no strong correlation between towns that became cities and towns which were also major (or in your argument, permanent) seats of royal power. There are certainly some kings who moved their capital over time to larger population centers, but that isn't the same thing. Trade and industry cause population growth. As for some of these other, awful arguments, I mean... lets go. The Mongols had a set capital, it was called Karakorum. Most historians and archaeologists agree that it's permanent population never got above 10-20,000. I'm not well versed in Ethiopian history but 10 minutes of research on the internet shows that a permanent capital wasn't established until the 16th (!!) century. So, you know... well after the medieval period and into the Renaissance. This is a foolish argument. You've provided almost no evidence and the few times you've tried, you're either been wrong (as int he Mongols), completely wrong on the chronology (Abyssinia), or found a single example in a sea of counterexamples (Paris). So here's the rub. There is nothing unusual in Winterfell being a "royal" seat without being the most populous town in the area. Medieval administrative centers don't need to be big, because there is little in the way of a centralized bureaucracy, and because the king moves around and political influence is determined by physical proximity to the king. Economic centers get larger, and as time goes on and centralization picks up, it becomes more intelligent to put your bureaucracy in or near a city with a large and reasonably/relatively well educated population. So as the medieval period moves into the Renaissance and Early Modern periods, you see the establishment of fixed capitals in cities like London and Vienna, even if the reigning kings spend their time elsewhere, because the bureaucracy has grown so large that it can no longer easily move. But you've put the cart before the horse on this one, because it isn't political importance that drives growth, but the reverse.
  8. But the point is, you are wrong. Demonstrably so, as I had shown above. Storm's End is a castle without a city. Highgarden is a castle without a city. The Eyrie is a castle without a city. Riverrun is a castle without a city. Need I go on? Far from Winterfell being exceptional, it is actually the norm. It is rare for Westerosi kingdoms to have their "castle of residence" located in or near a major population center. Lannisport is near Casterly Rock, we presume, but that's about it. Gulltown and the Eyrie are not close to each other. White Harbor wasn't even a city when Winterfell became the traditional capital, so Winterfell may actually be the one example of a castle located in the largest population center in the region, contrary to your inane and uneducated remarks. Storm's End is far from the Weeping Town. Highgarden is nowhere near Oldtown. And who says the North is 600 years behind anyone? You have a rare talent for comprehending literally nothing of what you read. Westeros is "high medieval" in tone but as I said, is a mix up of various cultures through various time periods. Essos is, generally speaking, a few centuries ahead of Westeros, but aside from that any difference in what you perceive as chronological differences are incidental.
  9. Umm.... that is ONE of the inspirations. Essos is Renaissance Italy. Dorne is Moorish Spain. The Reach is Aquitaine under Eleanor/Richard. The War of the Five Kings as an event is based on the War of the Roses; the influences for all of Planetos span time and space. Those three influences I mentioned? None are contiguous with either the War of the Roses or the Hundred Years War (save perhaps the Renaissance). I think you meant Winterfell. The Starks can go anywhere. They choose to live in Winterfell. It has plenty of advantages. It is explicitly noted as comfortable, since it's fed by hot springs and has it's own greenhouse. It isn't luxurious, but those are not synonyms, sir. And this idea that a "capital" must be located in a large urban area... well, the capital is where the court is, and the court is where the king is. Both Henry II and Richard I spent barely any time in England despite being kings, and the court travelled with them. Even after this ceased to be the case, the capital wasn't London but was Westminster, and it was only when those two municipalities merged that the administrative capital technically became London. Because it's the capital today, and because it was the economic center of the Kingdom of England, people wrongly assume it was always the capital. For most of the medieval period it was not. In fact it wasn't a particularly important town until relatively late in the medieval period. But your last point is instructive. The Starks choose to stay in Winterfell. Where you would go is immaterial; they stay. Just like the Durrandons stayed in Storms End and the Gardeners in Highgarden and the Arryns in the Eyrie and the Lannisters in Casterly Rock.... do I need to go on, or is this sufficient evidence that you're wrong? You know, that almost every other pre-Conquest kingdom has a capital which is in no way, shape, or form in the most populous city?
  10. Is this a joke? England was one of the most advanced states in Western Europe prior the Norman Conquest. In fact it was the conflict against the Vikings and the degree of centralization of administration and taxation which laid the foundation for later Plantagenet success. You can argue that "Winchester would have grown" until you're blue in the face - the reality was that it didn't. I could be a billionaire if I had invented Amazon, but I didn't. I'm not really sure what you want out of this. You said most medieval nations had capitals that were based in a large (for the time) city. This is demonstrably untrue - I gave you three distinct examples, and you poorly refuted only one of them. Winchester was the "capital" such as it was. Your rebuttal of this is circular reasoning - you're saying that because Winchester was small, it couldn't be a true capital, because a true capital is populous. I'll remind you that the Stormlands, the Vale, the Kingdom of Isles and Rivers, and the Reach are ALSO pre-unification Kingdoms, and none of them are based around a city, but around a castle. So... you know, again, your argument is wrong on it's face. You can't make the claim that a continuously unified kingdom would have a populous capital when we see that isn't the truth in the majority of cases, and this is consistent with real world history, in which many medieval kingdoms had itinerant courts and so never developed a populous political center
  11. Think harder. England's capital was Winchester until the Norman Conquest. But in any case, in medieval geopolitics, the capital is wherever the king is, not a fixed location. The court has all the functions of government traveling with it, so if the court isn't in, say, Paris, then Paris is just another town. Indeed, under Louis XI Tours was effectively the capital of France, because his favorite residence was in/near that city. The Kingdom of Castile didn't even have a permanent "capital"
  12. Yes but this isn't an instance where we can reasonably assume characters are wrong. If you've got a character making an off the cuff remark about how far it is to the next castle, or something like that, then sure. When you are discussing a thousands of years old structure which happens to be the most impressive feat of magical engineering in the world, I think we can assume it's been studied, measured, and discussed enough to have a determined set of dimensions. And if you want to make the case that GRRM has made contradictory statements, fine. Why are we even talking about it, then? If we cannot determine the approximate size of Westeros then choose whatever suits your fancy. Personally, I am taking the one set measurement we're given and applying it to the world at large. Obviously an exact land mass is impossible but we can come close enough for government work. Besides, just an ethnographical analysis gets you close. The Reach is medieval Aquitaine. Dorne is Moorish Spain (all these in rough terms, obviously, they're amalgamations). The North is pagan Scandinavia. The forests of the Stormlands have always struck me as being similar to German forests (for no particular reason, I admit). But taking all that you basically get the idea that Central and Western Europe are roughly analogous to Westeros.
  13. Are you being serious? Of course we have a scale. It's called the Wall. It's 300 miles long. If you can't determine the approximate size of Westeros from that than you need to go back to primary school. You mean aside from the 80,000 men marching with Renly? Or the Battle on the Green Fork, where both sides field something closer to 20,000 men. The Battle of the Blackwater had between 75,000-100,000 men on the field at once, not counting the naval forces. Battles in Westeros, the Dance notwithstanding, tend to be on the large size. Not sure where this is coming from but it doesn't seem very true at all. Byzantium was far, far more centralized than the Westerosi monarchy is.
  14. Qarkash is not that close to Qarth. Again, eyeballing it, but it seems to be about the same distance as White Harbor is from Barrowton - that's hardly a suburb, and presumably is much smaller than Qarth despite having a surrounding arable area of roughly the same size (if we assume the Red Waste is about equally close to the coast in both cases). It isn't stated one way or another. All we know is that when the Tyrells close the Roseroad, the city starves. Not "has to begin rationing" but is actively starving. It's said the the food supplies coming in from Stokeworth and Rosby are the only thing that has allowed the city to have any food at all, really. Since the city could be importing food from the Crownlands to alleviate the problem, it means the Crownlands cannot deal with the magnitude of the issue on their own. While merchants and other commoners might hoard food, we know that the nobility don't like to. Lord Belmore is explicit that when prices are fair, the nobility feels obligated to sell. They aren't (Littlefinger excepted) interested in price gouging. If Houses other than Stokeworth and Rosby had food to sell, they've already done so, and KL is still facing famine conditions. Actually the lands of the Yronwoods are south of the Red Mountains, as I recall, but point taken. That being said, you have some small mountain valleys that are fertile (Vale of Arryn is a good example), but really that is the only one. And the Vale of Arryn is BIG. Uniquely large, in fact. We have no indication that the other Houses that in mountains, like the Fowlers or Wyls, are particularly wealthy. Except that the lands surrounding the Free Cities are either stated or assumed to be arable, whereas in the case of Qarth it's exactly the opposite. The only certain information we have is that there is a huge arid desert nearby. It is implied that Qarth controls lands on Great Moraq, which I think we can safely assume to be owned in the kind of manner that Ghiscari land is owned, and thus produces even more of a surplus than Westerosi peasants do. By which I mean, barely fed slaves on industrial latifundia type estates. But again, transport is the issue here, not fertility. What makes you say that? You have to load and unload wares. You have to bring those foodstuffs to the dock. Even if we assume all this food is coming from Great Moraq, you still need an approximately equal sized hinterland of agricultural estates on the island as would feed Kings Landing. So it's not "a day or less". It's an additional day plus all the other time it takes. Rght... but Qarth doesn't own any of those goods? You have independent merchants doing all this. Many of them are Qartheen, presumably, but not all... so at the end of the day Qarth is merely taxing the existing trade, not "controlling it". As in, we have no indication that one needs Qartheen permission to trade in the East, or needs to apply for a pilot or a license to navigate the Saffron Straits. Corlys Velaryon's journey indicates that Qarth profits off being the entrepot of the East, but hasn't established a monopoly on it. I mean... this isn't how it works? Look at ancient Rome. The Senate was overwhelmingly patrician for most of its history, most especially under the Republic. Even when patricians were poorer and less accomplished than their equestrian counterparts, they still managed to do as well or better in elections and in controlling the ship of state. Even hyper wealthy or talented equestrians had an extraordinarily difficult time breaking in to the social elite. Being in the Senate meant it was illegal to engage in trade. Just because the merchant princes of Qarth are wealthier than their noble counterparts, doesn't mean that that power is for sale. Or even that those merchants want that power. I think, all other things being equal, we have to assume we know the outlines of the power structure in Qarth. In any case it makes sense. You have a quasi-noble political elite that runs the city and commands the armed forces. You have a hyper-wealthy and more socially mobile mercantile power bloc, and finally a quasi-religious and formerly magical faction of Warlocks who have prestige but no power. Every one of those factions has what it wants and has no cause to upset the applecart - there isn't room for another power bloc. Any additional mercantile interest will be co-opted or bankrupted by the existing commercial elite. A nobility based on blood is by it's definition impossible to break into, and the merchants won't allow it because it might allow the Pureborn the financial resources to edge them out. The warlocks are living on former glory and won't bother anyone, because to do so would remind everyone of how little influence they have compared to when their magic was stronger. And the Pureborn get the glory and prestige of running and protecting the city without having to dirty their hands in trade. There is literally no evidence that the Crownlands can feed Kings Landing. Quite the opposite. As I said, privation begins and ends with the opening of the Roseroad. The obvious inference is that food supplies from the Reach are critical to feeding the city. Sure... but we cannot prove a negative. All we know is that when the Reach cuts off exports, Kings Landing starves. And in Qarth it'll be even more pronounced. Westeros is fundamentally an agricultural society, so there isn't much else for local merchants to transport even if they wanted to. It's perishable foodstuffs or nothing, for the most part. So there isn't an opportunity cost the way there is in Qarth. Where if you have an expensive ship that is expensive to maintain, you don't want to use it to transport bulky, low cost, low margin produce. You want to load it up with cinnamon or cloves or pepper or whatever, things worth more than their weight in gold. High margin, low volume luxury goods. To have a ship sitting around making a measly 2-3% return on making the run to Great Moraq for vegetables and meats, and going in ballast in one direction, when it could be making 200-300% returns shipping spices or silks to the Free Cities, is economic suicide. My point being, yes, Qarth may have the shipping tonnage necessary to feed a city of a million people, but only if those ships are doing nothing else. As you say, these are hyper wealthy merchants. They didn't get that way by being financially illiterate. They can't be that wealthy if they're shipping food while their competitors are shipping high value goods.
  15. Our maps show that the Red Waste has come effectively to the limits of the city. Obviously that isn't accurate down to the mile or anything, but it's reasonably to assume that there is little to no fertile hinterland. Consider that the Crowlands are insufficient to feed both Kings Landing and Tywin's army (so a little over half a million people in total); considerable help is needed from supplies coming up the Rose Road. Anything in the foothills of mountains as inhospitable as the Bones are unlikely to be particularly fertile. The point being that shipping in that quantity of food, at that time period, isn't likely. Produce and uncured meat spoil on long journeys; sailors ate mostly hardtack and salted beef. It's just not logistically feasible to be shipping in large quantities of fresh food, because of the time it would take to be shipped but also because those are low value goods and any merchant prince worth the name is going to be employing those valuable, hugely capital-intensive assets to engage in more lucrative long distance trade. They don't control it. They can tax it, but that isn't the same thing. Yes, the wealth of the Qartheen is bound up in ships and not land. I get it. I'm not saying your average lord in Westeros is as wealthy as a Qartheen merchant prince, but they are wealthy, it's just that that wealth is bound up in the land, in their castles, in the expensive acts of noblesse oblige they must perform. For example, the Cinque Ports provided ~60 ships in lieu of knights/squires/levies, and that isn't a particularly large area of England. Obviously I'm assuming a lot here, but that area makes up only a portion of the Earldom of Kent, which was neither particularly small nor particularly large/important in medieval England. In other words, it's not crazy that a middlingly powerful Westerosi lord might be perfectly capable of raising as many ships as Xaro Xoan Daxos, if only Westeros' wealth was bound up in movable transport and not land and manors. I am not saying that the Qartheen are poor. I'm saying that when your wealth is reliant on trade and (mostly) movable property, and your military is built on ships crewed by slaves, and geographically you are so isolated as to be impervious to attack from land, you don't need a huge population to project force. Also, there are three blocs of mercantile powers, as you say, presumably all of which are approximately equal in wealth. So XXD represents something more like 2.5% of that wealth, a substantial amount. The Pureborn are military/political leaders; their legitimacy is based on tradition and bloodline, not wealth. I'm sure they are wealthy, but not to the level of the merchants. And the warlocks are the last faction. So really there are three power blocs, and one of those has three parts. I agree that they can feed themselves. We're not arguing that. We're debating how many people live in the city. I do not think it is possible, for the reasons described above, for Qarth to be of a size with Volantis or even some of the larger (other) Free Cities. The opportunity cost for these hyper wealthy merchants to be bringing in low-value perishable food is enormous, and they're not as rich as they are because they're stupid. And that ignores the logistical issues with bringing material amounts of foodstuffs into the city via the sea. It's also a security issue. Sure, our maps could be wrong by exponential factors, and maybe the Red Waste doesn't extend that far south, but to the human eye, the Crownlands seem bigger than the potentially fertile lands around Qarth, and we know the Crownlands aren't up to the task of feeding even the relatively-modest sized city of Kings Landing.
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