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Ranks of nobility in Westeros - Dukes, counts and barons in all but name

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2 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

@Free Northman Reborn

Well, I guess that has to do with me being somewhat reluctant to actually rewrite the story or to add meaning where is none intended by the author (I mean, I actually do stuff like that when working on the German editions of the books).

I see that the great lords should be (and are) set apart from the other lords, but the intricate feudal relationships and hierarchies between the vassals of the great houses is completely unclear to us as readers.

I mean, assume we'd have had such a discussion when only AGoT was out and we would do this on the basis of the appendix of that book then the Fossoways or Templetons might have become counts/earls, right?

And just look how different the interpretations are. We all agree that the great lords should be set apart from the others but how exactly there is no consensus.

The problem with the smaller houses adds the problem that lords/houses that are just mentioned in passing are difficult to pin down. Would house x first introduces in book y fit into the baron or count category?

In regards to the status of Sansa I argued against George's own interpretation of things on the basis that he did not include any honorific or title to set Sansa apart from all the other girls and women styled 'my lady'. That is a problem. If we had truly established different titles for the lords in the German edition then the children of the dukes and counts would all have become 'princes' and 'princesses' because in the German sphere any children of ruling nobility on that tier were entitled to be styled in this fashion.

Thus Sansa and the Frey daughters (if the Freys are earls) both would have become princesses. Partly also because rank-wise counts were on the same tier as dukes. This would have all gotten very confusing.

I mean, we don't know how powerful or wealthy the various mid-tier houses are, or who is necessarily sworn to whom. I'd have to check, but weren't a lot of Reach houses re-invented as vassals of the Hightowers in the appendix of AFfC?

If I understand you correctly you would want to have different titles for each different level of nobility. Anyone sworn to a vassal's vassal should have a different title than the vassal of a vassal, right? That could work if George gave us a full list of all the houses and their feudal relations but we don't have such a thing.

And inventing (or rather adopting various real world feudal titles and relations) might actually misconstrue George's intentions because his work don't include such titles.

As to the power of the Iron Throne:

You really read the book wrong. King Robert Baratheon is in charge. He grants and withholds titles as he sees fits, in his name justice is dispensed, even in the North. It is him and his wrath Catelyn fears when she urges Ned to accept his offer. And then, when Ned is Hand he can do anything against Robert's will.

This is by no means resembling the HRE. There the emperor was essentially nothing but a figurehead and he had no right to interfere with the internal matters of all the princes (which included princes, dukes, and counts). Not to mention that he didn't get any money or taxes from them or from the people trading in the lands of his subjects.

This is not true for the Westerosi society. Here the king is actually 'the king'. He is in charge. He gives commands, and he is obeyed. England may not have been an absolute monarchy in the earlier Plantagenet days, but the monarch's person was always 'holy' in a sense, thanks to his coronation. That was a trait going back to Anglo-Saxon days (and is also existent in Westeros).

Whatever titles one tries to use in one's head (because we are not going to change the books) should best reflect how things actually are in the books and you can guess at that best by checking how relations of power are actually described in the books.

First bolded section above, regarding Sansa: It is patently clear that the Starks and Freys are not on the same level. By George's own direct statement, the Starks are as far above them as the Freys are above commoners. Hence, the fact that they don't have differential titles merely bolsters the fact that different titles are not required to separate lords of different levels in the Westerosi hierarchy. I mean, that is the entire point, isn't it? George didn't use different titles. Even though there clearly are different levels. As the Stark vs Frey example clearly highlights. So lack of different title does not mean lack of differing levels.

Second bolded section: Sure, we don't know the level of every lord, and who is sworn to whom in every instance. Why should that negate the truth of the hierarchy? Just because we don't know the placing of every lord doesn't change anything regarding the fact that they are placed somewhere. As we learn more, we will be able to place more lords. But there is no requirement that we be able to place every lord, or even know the name of every lord at this stage. Or ever, for that matter. But we can still place those we have the required information on.

Third bolded section: No, the tiers don't necessarily work in terms of how many levels of vassalage there are between a lord and the Lord Paramount. Because sometimes intervening levels are skipped. A knight could be sworn directly to House Stark. Or a petty lord to House Stark.  I speak mostly for the North, as this is where I have most knowledge.

And in the North, I think it comes down largely to territory. It seems clear that the North is split up geographically. Each major lord ("Count" if you will), rules a portion of the North. And would have smaller lords within his territory sworn to him.

The Dustins rule the Barrowlands. The Ryswells the Rills. The Umbers an area about 300 miles from North to South and stretching from the Kingsroad to the Bay of Seals, from East to West. And so on and so forth. The North seems to have a simpler setup than the South, largely based on geography, with each region then broken down into smaller regions ruled by sub-lords or petty lords or whatever they should be called. It quite clearly developed due to its own unique history, over the millenia, with powerful lords serving as regional rulers under the Starks, to control the vast expanses of the North. In the case of the Glovers and Tallharts, the Starks demoted them to a lower level for some reason, maybe to exercise more direct control over those lands themselves.

In the South, things get more complex, mostly because the lords are located so closely togther that the map does not give us sufficient detail on the lands of any of them, even the most powerful ones like the Rowans or Royces. But in your system the Rowans are the same type of lord as the Webbers who are their vassals. This is not feasible. They can't both be Baron equivalents. One is clearly of far higher status than the other.

As for the Freys. Again, I argue that they are now the equivalent of Counts/Earls. Whatever they started out as. If the Osgreys can go from Wardens of the Northmarch, and the equivalent of the Rowans in ancient days down to mere Landed Knights today, why can't the Freys go from petty lords to Earls in 600 years due to an increase in their wealth, lands and holdings?

 

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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@YOVMO

There is nothing inherently special about the Daynes in a political sense. They were just one of the many petty kings of Dorne prior to the coming of the Rhoynar - and by far the most powerful were the Yronwoods, not the Daynes.

3 hours ago, Rhaechyll Targaryen said:

It's houses like Hightower, Dayne, Velaryon, Rowan, Blackwood, Yronwood, Mallister, and Royce that strike me as being entitled to the rank of Duke or Marquess. I see the great houses being princes in all but name as the Martells are.

The houses on Earl/Count level (I'm focusing on the south since the north has been covered) seem like they would be Tarly, Penrose, Frey, Florent, Celtigar, Allyrion, Swann, Bracken, and Blackmont.

I do wish that GRRM had made the system a little bit more intricate at least in terms of the great houses because I agree that there's a clear difference between a house like the Hightowers and the Cranes.

This is sort of what I meant above when responding to FNR. There is a lot of sound reasoning behind suggestions like that but we don't actually know anything about how the actual standing of certain houses is unless George tells us that. And his system actually doesn't allow him to give a lord another title besides 'lord' so, in a sense, all those mid-tier lords would have to be equals. Else the difference would not only be publicly visible via the title but also reflect itself again and again via different styling, people formally outranking each other in council (and especially at table and in court) and so on.

If we take again the English example then the title 'baron' was introduced in England by William the Conqueror to distinguish his personal vassals from the English who had had the title of earl for pretty much the same people before the Conquest.

In Anglo-Saxon England earls were heading earldoms (a bunch of shires) in the name of the king as his representatives (not as independent rulers). William changed that all. During the Anarchy earls acquired power again (the Normans made some new ones) and they sort of presumed quasi-royal authority in their regions (minting coins and stuff) but that was eventually over after the Anarchy (this is historically a sign of the loss of royal authority, of course).

In England we also have a system of royal officials with the sheriffs, something that is completely absent in Westeros, causing a problem when you ask yourself how the hell this state did work and did not disintegrate at once. It is just not very realistic in that fashion. If the only representatives of the king are the lords across Westeros then every lord is basically a little king because on his land he doesn't have an overlord, and the great lords should face the same trouble controlilng their vassals as the king has controlling the great lords.

Dukes make actually little sense as titles of the great lords if you talk about (or consider Westeros) a model inspired by English nobility. Earls might actually make more sense in such a scenario. But if we are talking about medieval nobility in general then the great lords being dukes might actually best convey the fact that they are ruling in the king's name over vast portions of lands and have barons of their own.

This is one of the main reasons why I insist that the kingship actually has meaning and great power in Westeros because only if the (great) lords buy in to the illusion that the king has any power does make the fact/idea any sense that Westeros as a state would not disintegrate at once. Without a royal bureaucracy independent from the lords the lords themselves *must be* in general the royal bureaucracy. And they must be willing to do this or else there would be neither peace nor a unified Realm (which there is).

@Free Northman Reborn

Well, seeing the Sansa thing from titular sphere Princess Sansa (the daughter of a duke) and Princess Roslin (the daughter of a count) would both have been princesses so the difference wouldn't have been apparent in the honorifics. That is my point now (and was back then, if I remember correctly). The idea is that 'my lady' as an honorific does not convey any distinction of rank, just as 'princess' does not if many people are styled as such.

And I would not take the whole rank distinction between great lords and lords with so much verve. The Hightowers certainly aren't so far below a great house than a lord is above a commoner (and this might also be true for other influential houses like the Royces, Redwynes, Reynes - while existing -, Manderlys, Yronwoods, and lords of Harrenhal). The Hightowers are informally considered a great house.

And while lords might share the same rank they might still consider their peers to be their inferiors. Jorah Mormont was very aware that it was presumptuous of him to even ask for the hand of Leyton Hightower's daughter despite the fact that they technically share the same rank. Or a less grave example: A rich Lord of the West like Lord Lefford or Lord Marbrand might look down on an impoverished Marcher Lord or a Vale Lord like Lyonel Corbray who was forced to marry a commoner (doing that cost the Westerlings they standing with their fellow lords).

I do not doubt the fact that there is a hierarchy when there is one, of course. My problem is what George didn't reflect on or mark the very existing hierarchy by using different titles. And if the titles do not reflect a hierarchy then it is difficult to proper establish and show us that a hierarchy exists. This more a critique of George on my part for dropping the ball there than arguing against you.

The problem with the hierarchies is that we don't know how the lordships are organized. Have the Karstarks, Umbers, or Boltons their land parceled out in chunks of equal size on which a petty lord or some landed knight equivalent or directly some commoners sit, or do they have, say, five powerful vassals of their own who share the majority of their land.

This could have an effect how one might interpret their rank. Say, the Umbers have a lot of smallfolk directly sworn to them. That could be a point to see them just as barons whereas the Manderlys could still bear an ancient duke title they once got from the Gardeners.

Not to mention that we don't know the size of the lords in the North (or anywhere else, really). Is the land of the North really shared by a few lords who all (might) have vassals of their own or are there also strewn many smaller lords in-between who are directly sworn to Winterfell? We don't know that. We can make some good guesses that the mountain clans, the Umbers, and the Karstarks are sort of neighbors, but we don't know if they control all the land between them. As far as I know we have no idea who controls Cape Kraken, the Stony Shore, Sea Dragon Point, and many other regions in the North.

We only know that some lords have lordly vassals of their own, but not how much land they control, what this means rank-wise, and so on.

As to the difference between rank and wealth/power/influence:

Because the title does not necessarily reflect the actual power you have. There can be impoverished kings and very rich barons or even commoners. That's true both in real life and in Westeros. In an 'ideal feudal society' the king would grant the proper titles to a person which has acquired a certain amount of wealth and a certain political standing. But there might be reason not to do such a thing, too. The aristocracy cares about the nobility of ancient noble bloodlines, basically. And the Freys aren't in that league by far yet. They are nothing compared to the Hightowers, Starks, Lannisters, Arryns, Brackens, Blackwoods, and so on.

 

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23 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

So in recent threads we have had some interesting discussions around trying to figure out how the hierarchy of the nobility works in Westeros. Having pondered on it a bit, and after doing some research, I came to the conclusion that there is a fairly logical correlation of the Westerosi system to the real world Medieval noble ranking system, despite the lack of clear titles next to a lord's name.

Firstly, we know that Martin deliberately stayed away from the minefield of assigning a complicated set of titles to the hundreds, or more likely thousands, of lords he has created across the Seven Kingdoms. This is confirmed by the 2008 quote from him below:

"The number of titles of medieval nobility multiplied over times, as the feudal system became more complex and the social structure more layered, with various degrees of precedence, etc. In the earlier periods -- say, England around the time of Henry I and William II Rufus -- all those different titles did not exist. I prefered the simplicity of those times. In hindsight, I probably should have added a least one more title to differentiate the great houses from their vassals, but I am glad I stayed clear of using the whole roster of noble stylings".

So it is clear that he stayed away from titles largely as a matter of convenience. But that there are different levels of lords is nevetheless clear. He just wants the freedom to write the interactions of various lords as his narrative demands, unconstrained by having assigned a certain level of title to lord X or Y back in Book 1, and now being constrained by that when he wants to take the plot in a certain direction in Book 5 or 6. So in short, he has certain broad levels in mind, but he doesn't want to have to research what each title would imply in any particular social interaction in the plot.

The above quote does state that he feels that there is not enough of a distinction between the Great Houses and their vassals, however. And this is corroborated by another 2008 quote from him below:

"Sansa is more than just a young lady. She's the daughter, not just of a noble, but of one of the most powerful nobles in Westeros. The great houses stand far above the lesser nobles, as the lesser nobles do above the smallfolk".

So we can see that there is a hierarchical structure in place with the ruling Houses of each region in undisputed first place, far above any of their vassal lords. The hierarchy below the level of Great House is further fleshed out in this 2002 statement from George, in answer to a question on the social structure of Westeros:

Q: "I am also a bit curious as to the social structure of westeros. I understand the seven high lords, and the slightly lower lords (ie. Boltons, Karstarks, Freys etc.). However, do these lords also have sub lords below them? Lords who maybe raise 10 or 20 men for the Karstarks?"

A: "Yes, it is a feudal system. The lords have vassals, the vassals have vassals, and sometimes the vassals of the vassals have vassals, down to the guy who can raise five friends."

So, what we are left with is a pretty clear picture, in my view, on how the noble structure works in Westeros. And by doing some quick Wikipedia searches on various noble titles from the Middle Ages, it is even possible to assign the most likely titles that can be attributed to the various lords based on the evidence at hand. I will use the North as my example, as this is the region I - and probably all of us - know the most about as far as individual lords' domains are concerned.

Grand Duke: House Stark - The monarchic title Grand Duke (feminine: Grand Duchess) ranked in order of precedence below Emperor and King, and above that of sovereign Prince and sovereign Duke. It is or was used in some independent nations or states in Europe. It arose because the title of Duke had gradually lost status and precedence during the Middle Ages by having been granted to rulers of relatively small fiefs (feudal territories), instead of the big tribal regions or even nation territories to which the title was once attached.

So it seems to me that this ties in very well with George's comments about the ruling Houses being so far above other nobles that they are effectively Kings in all but name. They are former Kings after all, and Grand Duke is the closest you can get to their status, in the Medieval noble list of rankings.

Count: Houses Umber, Karstark, Bolton, Manderly, Hornwood, Mormont, Dustin, Ryswell, Reed, Flint, Locke, Slate, Cerwyn - Count (male) or countess (female) is a title in European countries for a noble of varying status, but historically deemed to convey an approximate rank intermediate between the highest and lowest titles of nobility. The British and Irish equivalent is an earl.

A count was essentially in charge of a county, which was a large area of territory that formed a constituent part of a Duchy. I think this ties in very well with what we know of the Umbers ruling land for a hundred leagues next to the Kingsroad and the Bay of Seals, the Dustins ruling the Barrowlands, The Ryswells ruling the Rills, the Reeds ruling the Neck, and so on and so forth.

Baron/Baronette: Various lower level lords sworn to the Counts. The ruler of a barony. A modern geographic barony, in Scotland, Ireland and outlying parts of England, constitutes an administrative division of a country, usually of lower rank and importance than a county. Baronette: A lord of lesser stature than a Baron.

These seem to be petty lords in the North, such as House Stout. A Baronette is of a lower level than a Baron and this is the level where most of the confusion in Westeros exists, as there seems to be some fluidity between Barons and Baronettes. Martin does not seem to distinguish between them, and rather uses a kind of sliding scale, depending on the actual power and strength of the individual lord. So Barons and Baronettes may be largely the same thing in name, although the term "petty lord" may be used colloquially to refer to what would be a Baronette in the real world.

Knight: The basic rank of the aristocratic system. This is the lowest level and would effectively be the Landed Knights and then below them the Household Knights of Westeros. AT the lowest level would be the Hedge Knights, travelling around in search of employment.

So in conclusion, I think that while Martin has not assigned titles overtly, he has nevertheless imlicitly given us the information to construct the general social order of Westerosi nobility. And it goes, from top to bottom, with a single example included for explanatory purposes:

Grand Duke: House Stark

Count: House Dustin

Baron/Baronette: House Stout

Landed Knight: One of the hundred landed Knights sworn to House Manderly

Household Knight: Ser Rodrik Cassell

Hedge Knight: The Mad Mouse (not Northern, but the only example I can recall).

Of course there are many unique Houses - due to their specific histories, past deeds, connections to the Crown etc. who don't fit precisely into this structure. But they merely make the setting richer, and shows us the exceptions to the general system, rather than negating the system that nevertheless is in place. Examples of these would be the Mountain Clans, the Skagosi lords, the Glovers and Tallharts who are Masterly Houses, and of course the many similar examples in the South, which I have not delved into for purposes of this initial post.

I wouldn't want to assign real life titles to the lords of Westeros.  I don't think we're given enough details about the country's social structure (and quite possibly, the social structure varies across the country), to make it possible to compare titles in Westeros to titles in any real medieval society.

Grand Duke is a post-medieval title for the ruler of Tuscany, and members of the Russian royal family.

Count could cover immensely powerful magnates like the Counts of Toulouse, or Counts of Burgundy, who were almost kings, but it also covered petty lords of a few hundred acres.  I don't consider it would be of much assistance in the setting of Westeros.

Baron is (in medieval England) the title for a very powerful magnate.  An Earl is, like a Baron, a Peer, that is someone who holds land directly from the King, rather than being sworn to another lord.  Earls were usually richer and more powerful than Barons, but someone like Baron Mortimer of Chirk, or Baron Mortimer of Ludlow, would regard someone like the Earl of Hereford as being more or less his equal, not his superior.

Baronet is a hereditary knighthood.  It's a post-medieval title.

Knight is a reward for military service.  Some lords and landowners are knights, but many are not.  Conversely, many knights are not landowners.

There are probably thousands of substantial landowners who are not lords.  Many of them are probably richer than the poorest lords, and some of them are knights.  In Westeros, the distinguishing feature of being a lord is the right to administer justice (pit and gallows) on his estates.

 

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In my head cannon, Westeros (excepting Dorne, the North, and the Iron Islands) resembles late 14th century England, socially and economically.  Politically, though, it's rather different.

The basic feudal unit in England at that point was the Manor.  There were about 10,000 manors, in a country with about 2.25 million rural inhabitants.  Therefore, one can assume that about 225 people lived on a Manor, on average.  But, of course, the numbers would vary hugely.  Some Manors, up on the Scottish Border, were completely depopulated.  Others were more populated.  But, about 50 families, inhabiting 2-3,000 acres is a reasonable rule of thumb.

The Lord of the Manor was always a tenant.  He might be a tenant of the King (if he lived on the King's domain lands) the tenant of a Mesne Lord, or the tenant of a Peer, or the tenant of an Abbey or diocese.  The Lord might also be a corporate tenant (for example a university college).  Each Manor had a Court, which largely tried civil disputes and minor criminal cases.  Most Lords of the Manor had no right to try felonies (which contrasts with Westeros).  But, some Manorial Courts did have special rights to try cases of theft (by inhabitants of the Manor, and more rarely, strangers).  Some of them had the right to hang thieves, but other felonies had to be referred to the Sheriff of the County (an official appointed by the King).  They would be tried at Quarter Sessions at the County Court.

To be Lord of one manor was not very high in the feudal hierarchy.  You might have an income of £15-£20 a year from your estate, and you generally did not have the right to try serious criminal cases.  You could maybe equate them to the Petty Lords of Westeros, like Peter Baelish, but with fewer rights of jurisdiction.  After 1367, some would be appointed Justices of the Peace, but JP's were always royal appointments.  English judges were always accountable to the King.

Further up the hierarchy were the Mesne Lords.  They were generally tenants of several Manors.  They were the sorts of people who got elected to the House of Commons as County MPs.  Perhaps they were roughly equivalent, in terms of power and influence, with someone like Lady Rohanne Webber, or Lady Smallwood.  Sheriffs and Justices of the Peace would be drawn from this group.

Further up the hierarchy were the Peers, Peers temporal (Earls, Barons, and after 1337 Dukes) and Peers spiritual (Bishops and Abbots of the greatest monasteries).  They attended Parliament as of right.  They held land directly from the King, and were sworn to no other lord.  Many of them had the right to try a whole variety of cases (eg the Bishops of Durham, Earls of Chester, Dukes of Lancaster) and could hand down death sentences.  If I were to try and find an equivalent in Westeros I would say that Lords Paramount, and Great Houses would all be roughly equivalent to this group.  So for me, the big distinction would be not between Lords Paramount and the rest, but between Great Houses and the rest.  Houses like Hightower, Royce, Redwyne, Florent, Velaryon (under the Targaryens), Manderly, Frey, Bolton, Umber, Karstark, Yrnwood, would all form part of this upper tier, along with Stark, Tyrell, Lannister, Greyjoy, Martell, Arryn, Baratheon.

 

Edited by SeanF

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13 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Well, seeing the Sansa thing from titular sphere Princess Sansa (the daughter of a duke) and Princess Roslin (the daughter of a count) would both have been princesses so the difference wouldn't have been apparent in the honorifics. That is my point now (and was back then, if I remember correctly). The idea is that 'my lady' as an honorific does not convey any distinction of rank, just as 'princess' does not if many people are styled as such.

 

 

This graetly depends on what sort of count you where, The daughter of the count-palatine in the HRE sure, but the daughter of the count of Hamaland most certainly was not. It really depends on if your county was a peerage or not. To give a example of my own country wich was part of the HRE, the count of Holland was a peer, but he was also count of Zeeland and that was not a peerage title.

Edited by direpupy

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Just now, direpupy said:

This graetly depends on what sort of count you where, The daughter of the count-palatine in the HRE sure, but the daughter of the count of Hamaland most certainly was not. It really depends on if your county was a peerage or not. To give a example of my own country wich was part of the HRE, the count of Holland was a peer, but he was also count of Zeeland and that was not a peerage title.

That is correct, but you would still have the problem to figure all that out. And things would be confusing even further if we had different counts in Westeros if there is no indication that such exist there. Thus they would have to be technically all the same. Perhaps it would be better to then make all counts not Imperial immediate counts. But we would then have sort of equal ranks between Myrcella and Sansa (and all the children of the Ruling Prince(ss) of Dorne) which would be also potentially muddy the water.

I guess one could rectify all that by referring to members of the royal family with 'Royal Highness' and the members of the duke family with 'Your Grace' but that would not fit with George's vision of things. Oberyn Martell makes a pretty strong case out of being a prince compared to all those non-princes rank-wise yet he would still be not on the same level as a royal prince like Tommen and Myrcella.

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11 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

That is correct, but you would still have the problem to figure all that out. And things would be confusing even further if we had different counts in Westeros if there is no indication that such exist there. Thus they would have to be technically all the same. Perhaps it would be better to then make all counts not Imperial immediate counts. But we would then have sort of equal ranks between Myrcella and Sansa (and all the children of the Ruling Prince(ss) of Dorne) which would be also potentially muddy the water.

I guess one could rectify all that by referring to members of the royal family with 'Royal Highness' and the members of the duke family with 'Your Grace' but that would not fit with George's vision of things. Oberyn Martell makes a pretty strong case out of being a prince compared to all those non-princes rank-wise yet he would still be not on the same level as a royal prince like Tommen and Myrcella.

wel since the Frey's are sworn to the Tully's they would not be Imperial immediate, that is a large part of the defenition of a peerage that there is no one between you and the monarch. (there where other factors aswell since Barons could also have no one between them and the Monarch but it was still a important factor) But to stick to my example the reason that Zeeland was not a peerage was because part of it known as Zeeuws-Vlaanderen was held from the count of Flanders and not from the Emperor.

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3 minutes ago, direpupy said:

wel since the Frey's are sworn to the Tully's they would not be Imperial immediate, that is a large part of the defenition of a peerage that there is no one between you and the monarch. (there where other factors aswell since Barons could also have no one between them and the Monarch but it was still a important factor) But to stick to my example the reason that Zeeland was not a peerage was because part of it known as Zeeuws-Vlaanderen was held from the count of Flanders and not from the Emperor.

Yeah, well, according to Lord Walder he also has sworn some vows to the Iron Throne, too. What exactly does this mean and how does it affect the legal situation of a mid-tier lord? I've mentioned this before in one of the other threads.

And if you check the history only the Crown takes and gives lands and lordships, not those great lords (e.g. the kings granting Harrenhal to various people; Aegon the Unworthy taking the wealth of the Plumms for himself and taking lands from the Brackens to give them to the Blackwoods; Robert taking the Connington lands to give them to various other lords, and so on).

Can we thus say the mid-tier and lesser lords only owe allegiance to their immediate lieges? I don't think so. But how exactly those relationships are is never discussed or shed light on in the series.

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26 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

That is correct, but you would still have the problem to figure all that out. And things would be confusing even further if we had different counts in Westeros if there is no indication that such exist there. Thus they would have to be technically all the same. Perhaps it would be better to then make all counts not Imperial immediate counts. But we would then have sort of equal ranks between Myrcella and Sansa (and all the children of the Ruling Prince(ss) of Dorne) which would be also potentially muddy the water.

I guess one could rectify all that by referring to members of the royal family with 'Royal Highness' and the members of the duke family with 'Your Grace' but that would not fit with George's vision of things. Oberyn Martell makes a pretty strong case out of being a prince compared to all those non-princes rank-wise yet he would still be not on the same level as a royal prince like Tommen and Myrcella.

Going back to 14th century England, one typically referred to wealthy members of the gentry as "Sir", or "My lady" even if they were untitled.  Wealthy clergy were generally referred to as "Sir" as well.  But, nobody would mistake a well to do woman on £100 a year for a Countess.

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2 minutes ago, SeanF said:

Going back to 14th century England, one typically referred to wealthy members of the gentry as "Sir", or "My lady" even if they were untitled.  Wealthy clergy were generally referred to as "Sir" as well.  But, nobody would mistake a well to do woman on £100 a year for a Countess.

Surely not. But on the mid-tier level there weren't so much real differences. Earls and counts technically outranked lower nobility, but weren't necessarily wealthier or had more privileges than others.

In that sense, one could actually throw dice to decide who was granted the title of an earl. I mean, through an accident of history the Brackens could be earls but the Blackwoods not.

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12 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Yeah, well, according to Lord Walder he also has sworn some vows to the Iron Throne, too. What exactly does this mean and how does it affect the legal situation of a mid-tier lord? I've mentioned this before in one of the other threads.

And if you check the history only the Crown takes and gives lands and lordships, not those great lords (e.g. the kings granting Harrenhal to various people; Aegon the Unworthy taking the wealth of the Plumms for himself and taking lands from the Brackens to give them to the Blackwoods; Robert taking the Connington lands to give them to various other lords, and so on).

Can we thus say the mid-tier and lesser lords only owe allegiance to their immediate lieges? I don't think so. But how exactly those relationships are is never discussed or shed light on in the series.

So that was also normal in mediëval times you where sworn to both your direct liege and to the annoited king.

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Just now, direpupy said:

So that was also normal in mediëval times you where sworn to both your direct liege and to the annoited king.

Yeah, but what set of duties and responsibilities does this entail in Westeros? What kind of power has a great lord over his vassals if it is the king who grants lands and titles (and can take them away)? Sure, he can call his banners in the name of the King or the Warden, and so on, but whom is a mid-tier lord to follow if he has to choose between his immediate liege and the king?

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17 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Yeah, well, according to Lord Walder he also has sworn some vows to the Iron Throne, too. What exactly does this mean and how does it affect the legal situation of a mid-tier lord? I've mentioned this before in one of the other threads.

And if you check the history only the Crown takes and gives lands and lordships, not those great lords (e.g. the kings granting Harrenhal to various people; Aegon the Unworthy taking the wealth of the Plumms for himself and taking lands from the Brackens to give them to the Blackwoods; Robert taking the Connington lands to give them to various other lords, and so on).

Can we thus say the mid-tier and lesser lords only owe allegiance to their immediate lieges? I don't think so. But how exactly those relationships are is never discussed or shed light on in the series.

It looks as though Tywin was able to confiscate the holdings of the Reynes and Tarbecks.

I think that if you're sworn to a Lord who is in rebellion against the King, yours is a difficult situation.  Broadly speaking, I would expect a fair-minded monarch to give some leeway to vassals who had followed their liege lord in rebellion against him, even if he punished the liege lord.

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16 minutes ago, SeanF said:

It looks as though Tywin was able to confiscate the holdings of the Reynes and Tarbecks.

It does? Castamere is granted to Rolph Spicer by King Tommen. It would have reverted to the Crown. Even if Tywin took their assets he might have done so by permission of the Crown (either during the reign of Jaehaerys II or later when he became Hand under Aerys II). Having the ear of the king helps you with that.

And if Tywin ended a rebellion against the Crown (or rather against the Lannisters as representatives of the Crown at this point) then there is no reason why the Crown shouldn't reward him for that.

Quote

I think that if you're sworn to a Lord who is in rebellion against the King, yours is a difficult situation.  Broadly speaking, I would expect a fair-minded monarch to give some leeway to vassals who had followed their liege lord in rebellion against him, even if he punished the liege lord.

Sure, but there certainly should be the question (and answer) whether the oath to the Crown or the oath to the liege take precedence.

And that touches upon the legal situation of Westeros at its heart. Are those great lords little kings/semi-independent rulers just acting in the name of the big king, or are the more like hereditary royal officials who technically don't have any authority that doesn't derive from the king?

I'm of the opinion that they are closer to the latter than the former because it is simply not believable that Westeros (or even the independent kingdoms) would remain under the control of a monarch if their lords were all little kings.

Not without an independent royal bureaucracy.

Edited by Lord Varys

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5 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

It does? Castamere is granted to Rolph Spicer by King Tommen. It would have reverted to the Crown. Even if Tywin took their assets he might have done so by permission of the Crown (either during the reign of Jaehaerys II or later when he became Hand under Aerys II). Having the ear of the king helps you with that.

And if Tywin ended a rebellion against the Crown (or rather against the Lannisters as representatives of the Crown at this point) then there is no reason why the Crown shouldn't reward him for that.

Sure, but there certainly should be the question (and answer) whether the oath to the Crown or the oath to the liege take precedence.

And that touches upon the legal situation of Westeros at its heart. Are those great lords little kings/semi-independent rulers just acting in the name of the big king, or are the more like hereditary royal officials who technically don't have any authority that doesn't derive from the king?

I'm of the opinion that they are closer to the latter than the former because it is simply not believable that Westeros (or even the independent kingdoms) would remain under the control of a monarch if their lords were all little kings.

Not without an independent royal bureaucracy.

And you have to accept that others can have a different opinion, just because you don't think its beleivable does not mean that it is so.

28 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Yeah, but what set of duties and responsibilities does this entail in Westeros? What kind of power has a great lord over his vassals if it is the king who grants lands and titles (and can take them away)? Sure, he can call his banners in the name of the King or the Warden, and so on, but whom is a mid-tier lord to follow if he has to choose between his immediate liege and the king?

Well then you get the situation you had in the dance of dragons, each lord follows who they feel is most entiteled to ther loyalty. Or look at Stannis who said choosing between his king and his brother was the hardest thing he ever did.

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16 minutes ago, direpupy said:

And you have to accept that others can have a different opinion, just because you don't think its beleivable does not mean that it is so.

I certainly accept that other opinions exist, but I really don't see any good arguments for them. At least insofar as phantom trade or phantom roads in the North are concerned. That is just fan fiction.

16 minutes ago, direpupy said:

Well then you get the situation you had in the dance of dragons, each lord follows who they feel is most entiteled to ther loyalty. Or look at Stannis who said choosing between his king and his brother was the hardest thing he ever did.

Stannis is an interesting example but not really comparable to this situation because he was talking about family and not a lord in his own right. He was just a second son at this point, holding neither lands nor any titles of his own. What he did didn't really matter, actually. Just as Robar Royce joining Renly was no statement who the rest of the Vale considered to be the true king.

But the Dance actually shows that many lords actually did not follow their lieges lead on that question, suggesting that their hold on them isn't all that strong.

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16 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

I certainly accept that other opinions exist, but I really don't see any good arguments for them. At least insofar as phantom trade or phantom roads in the North are concerned. That is just fan fiction.

Stannis is an interesting example but not really comparable to this situation because he was talking about family and not a lord in his own right. He was just a second son at this point, holding neither lands nor any titles of his own. What he did didn't really matter, actually. Just as Robar Royce joining Renly was no statement who the rest of the Vale considered to be the true king.

But the Dance actually shows that many lords actually did not follow their lieges lead on that question, suggesting that their hold on them isn't all that strong.

The bolded is you bringing the discussion on a different tread into this one, i was talking about the discussion in this one where you consider the Big lords to weak.

The fact is that the hold of a lord is dependant on many factors for instans during the dance there was no strong Tyrell leadership so they where devided but during the wars in the main series there was strong leadership and you hardely see any defections, only house Florens really.

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1 hour ago, Lord Varys said:

It does? Castamere is granted to Rolph Spicer by King Tommen. It would have reverted to the Crown. Even if Tywin took their assets he might have done so by permission of the Crown (either during the reign of Jaehaerys II or later when he became Hand under Aerys II). Having the ear of the king helps you with that.

And if Tywin ended a rebellion against the Crown (or rather against the Lannisters as representatives of the Crown at this point) then there is no reason why the Crown shouldn't reward him for that.

Sure, but there certainly should be the question (and answer) whether the oath to the Crown or the oath to the liege take precedence.

And that touches upon the legal situation of Westeros at its heart. Are those great lords little kings/semi-independent rulers just acting in the name of the big king, or are the more like hereditary royal officials who technically don't have any authority that doesn't derive from the king?

I'm of the opinion that they are closer to the latter than the former because it is simply not believable that Westeros (or even the independent kingdoms) would remain under the control of a monarch if their lords were all little kings.

Not without an independent royal bureaucracy.

There is a royal bureaucracy (eg tax collectors, harbour masters, coiners) but we aren't told much about them, or how powerful they are relative to the local lords. 

It does seem clear, though, that are no royal judges.  Justice seems to be entirely in the hands of the lords.

 

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On 6/12/2016 at 7:11 AM, Ser Something said:

Seems good to me!

Though, what do you mean by Glover and Tallhart being 'Masterly Houses'?

It's not confirmed in the books yet, but Ran recently explained:

Quote

Yes, long ago when we were hashing out this stuff, GRRM's indicated that the "master" title -- at least in the north -- was his way of indicating the equivalent of a landed knightly house, like the way the Templetons are Knights of Sevenstars. The Glovers and Tallharts are never called lords, one notes.

I can't speak with a certainty what this means in the south, although it's possible that basically they hold multiple feudal stations -- Lord of the Tides is obviously feudal lordship over some jurisdiction, Master of Driftmark is a great knightly holding, etc -- or is simply a style used by some lords. Curiously, both examples given are island lords. We never quite discover what "Lord of the Tides" actually _means_ in practical terms, for example the jurisdiction in which they have the right of pit and gallows. Or maybe it's even a notion that lords of small islands tend to try to big themselves up by tacking on additional titles ...

"Masterly" seems to be a fan term, however, since I can't find any usage of it by George.

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