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theblackdragonI

Why does Harrenhal have a Godswood?

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I know this is a small matter but I was re-reading the books and just found it odd that an ironborn would include a massive godswood in their new family seat. 

Since no old gods family ever inhabited it, it seems unlikely that the godswood was added after.

Does anyone have any thoughts on it?

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Well, the fact that Harren wishes to build such a genormous castle in the conquered Riverlands, instead of the Iron Islands, shows that Harren wants to pump up his status on greenlander soil. He's not interested in impressing Iron Islanders, but greenlanders, and thus he uses greenlander elements for his castle, and that includes a godswood.

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1 hour ago, sweetsunray said:

Well, the fact that Harren wishes to build such a genormous castle in the conquered Riverlands, instead of the Iron Islands, shows that Harren wants to pump up his status on greenlander soil. He's not interested in impressing Iron Islanders, but greenlanders, and thus he uses greenlander elements for his castle, and that includes a godswood.

 

I agree.

I like Hoare monarchs because of the diversity between their numbers. Literates, travelers, warriors. I think that after the Great Houses, the Hoares are the most nourished by George in that respect. I don't know if the explanation of the godswood is exhausted in a desire to dazzle the greenlanders; I think that the Hoares in general and Harren in particular have this total ambition: in the long run they consider dominating the continent and achieving a narrative that encompasses it, and on that agenda is the acceptance of religious diversity. Who knows, if it had not been for the Targaryen irruption, and being strictly speculative, we would not have the equivalent of an Iron Throne run by a Harren II or III. With a hard hand, clearly. Pun intended.

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5 minutes ago, King Merrett I Frey said:

 

I agree.

I like Hoare monarchs because of the diversity between their numbers. Literates, travelers, warriors. I think that after the Great Houses, the Hoares are the most nourished by George in that respect. I don't know if the explanation of the godswood is exhausted in a desire to dazzle the greenlanders; I think that the Hoares in general and Harren in particular have this total ambition: in the long run they consider dominating the continent and achieving a narrative that encompasses it, and on that agenda is the acceptance of religious diversity. Who knows, if it had not been for the Targaryen irruption, and being strictly speculative, we would not have the equivalent of an Iron Throne run by a Harren II or III. With a hard hand, clearly. Pun intended.

I think the Hoares are cultural curious and exploring Iron Islanders. They want to expand their power but also their experiences and culture. So, they're picking cultural stuff up from Westeros that charms them. Of course Harren himself has megalomaniac attributes. Harrenhal is a megalomaniac architectural castle- too big to uphold and man. So, with him dazzling greenlanders certainly is part of it.

I'm not sure we'd have a united 7 kingdoms under the Hoares though. They might try, but without something like dragons, a threat to kill a whole army that can fly to a rebellious region within days, they'd end up conquering one region, moving on to the next, only to have the previous rebel again. And within less than 200 years of dragons being gone, the "empire" is falling apart again. Even the Andals only succeeded in conquering the Vale, Riverlands and Crownlands, and after that relied on marriages to become a dominant culture, which took centuries and centuries. Even Valyria had to allow for independent rule to their satellite city states in Essos. 

Euron seems set on trying the thing, and he has sorcerers and magic at his disposal, but also aims to get a dragon.

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18 minutes ago, sweetsunray said:

I think the Hoares are cultural curious and exploring Iron Islanders. They want to expand their power but also their experiences and culture. So, they're picking cultural stuff up from Westeros that charms them. Of course Harren himself has megalomaniac attributes. Harrenhal is a megalomaniac architectural castle- too big to uphold and man. So, with him dazzling greenlanders certainly is part of it.

I'm not sure we'd have a united 7 kingdoms under the Hoares though. They might try, but without something like dragons, a threat to kill a whole army that can fly to a rebellious region within days, they'd end up conquering one region, moving on to the next, only to have the previous rebel again. And within less than 200 years of dragons being gone, the "empire" is falling apart again. Even the Andals only succeeded in conquering the Vale, Riverlands and Crownlands, and after that relied on marriages to become a dominant culture, which took centuries and centuries. Even Valyria had to allow for independent rule to their satellite city states in Essos. 

Euron seems set on trying the thing, and he has sorcerers and magic at his disposal, but also aims to get a dragon.

What I think is that the word dazzle is not exhaustive for the explanation of the godswood in Harrenhal, which is the subject of discussion in this thread. In fact, I argue Harren did not just want to dazzle the greenlanders. It is not unusual that there are imperial cities with the name of its founder (Aegon fused its name in King's Landing). For the goodswood in particular I don't think that there's a spirit to dazzle, but to summon and reconcile, to forge a cultural identity with the Hoare brand in it. Harrenhal, as a castle, is immense and disproportionate, as its founder, whose figure is almost legendary for excess and cruelty, but is it to enable a goodswood something that is aimed at dazzling anyone? Is it even consistent with what we know of Harren's personality? We enter a religious and cultural terrain. It is probable that George's intention was different. Theories about the weirwoods in Harrenhal exist and are very interesting. But my reading is that the godswood is indicator of Harren's imperialistic will. And of the Hoares in general. That this empire lasts one or a hundred years remains for me in the field of the most delicious speculation.

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You introduced the word "dazzle". I used "impress" originally. What is impressionable about Harrenhal's godswood is not the fact that there's a godswood imo, but the size of it, the enormous weirwood it has (which certainly must have been there before Harrenhal was built) and it's cruel face. But then again the godswood's size matches the megasize of the castle. 

I would say that all of Harrenhal indicates imperialistic will, and not one where he imposes his own mother culture onto greenlanders, but where he adopts greenlander architectural features and then boosts them in size. And adopting greenlander features is not exclusive to Harren alone. Fairmarket's keep would have a godswood too I presume. And it's not unlike Aegon the Conquerer building a city (instead of a town) of his own that borrows from different known castles and the city of Oldtown to make his capital, and adopting the Faith.

I agree that Harren certainly had something similar in mind as Aegon: create a capital and build an empire. Except that Harren first built the capital before having an empire, whereas Aegon first carved himself a good sized empire with dragons before building a capital. And they both had the idea around the same time. 

The Red Keep's godswood has no weirwood, but Harrenhal has, and a large one at that. Riverrun has a slender weirwood for a heart tree instead. So the weirwood at Harrenhal must be old already. It is imo indicative of the differing choice between Harren and Aegon where to build their capital. Aegon chose to build it where he landed, for the strategical features there. The Hoares did not land at Harrenhal, and the seat of Harren's father a,d grandfather was Fairmarket (a large town that could have been made into a city). He chose to make a capital at the shores of the Gods Eye where a large weirwood already stood, and then he builds the biggest keep there. Whether he believed there were still Green Men at the Isle of Faces of the Gods Eye can only be speculated on, but it's safe to assume that he knew of the legends of the Isle, of the Pact, and you're almost bound to regard the lake and its rumored island as the religious capital of the Old Gods. 

So, is Harrenhal a challenge towards the Old Gods, or is he appropriating it, sort of like Aegon went to Oldtown and accepted the Faith to crown him? Or is it both? We do have the legends about the Grey King, and before the Riverlands the Iron Born held northern lands, in particular Bear Island. So weirwoods and Old Gods was certainly not something unfamiliar to the Hoares. They once had embraced the Faith, inviting septons on the Iron Islands, building septs even at Old Wyk, but the priests of the Drowned God and the war with the Lannisters probably wieded that out of the Hoares. Another feature of Harrenhal is its bear pit, again the biggest bear pit of Westeros, and then there's their sigil with the chains, the grapes of the Arbor, the black raven for Oldtown, the pine tree for Bear Island. The chains are meant to symbolize how all those regions were subdued by them (once). So, it seems to me as if Harren symbolically tries to appropriate as well as subdue the Old Gods for himself, in some twisted form.

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2 hours ago, King Merrett I Frey said:

What I think is that the word dazzle is not exhaustive for the explanation of the godswood in Harrenhal, which is the subject of discussion in this thread. In fact, I argue Harren did not just want to dazzle the greenlanders. It is not unusual that there are imperial cities with the name of its founder (Aegon fused its name in King's Landing). For the goodswood in particular I don't think that there's a spirit to dazzle, but to summon and reconcile, to forge a cultural identity with the Hoare brand in it. Harrenhal, as a castle, is immense and disproportionate, as its founder, whose figure is almost legendary for excess and cruelty, but is it to enable a goodswood something that is aimed at dazzling anyone? Is it even consistent with what we know of Harren's personality? We enter a religious and cultural terrain. It is probable that George's intention was different. Theories about the weirwoods in Harrenhal exist and are very interesting. But my reading is that the godswood is indicator of Harren's imperialistic will. And of the Hoares in general. That this empire lasts one or a hundred years remains for me in the field of the most delicious speculation.

I was thinking along the same lines as you regarding the Hoares establishing an empire. It just seems out of character with what we know about Harren. I suppose we have to assume he built a sept there as well, because there's a ruined one in the current timeline. It could be that he wanted a capital that would fill with people over the years and accommodate for all religions I guess. It just seems odd since only House Blackwood held the Old Gods south of the Neck (that we know of). On a side note, do you think if a castle was built now south of the Neck would it have a godswood? Did Whitewalls? (its been a while since I've read Dunk and Egg immediately).

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1 hour ago, sweetsunray said:

 

So, is Harrenhal a challenge towards the Old Gods, or is he appropriating it, sort of like Aegon went to Oldtown and accepted the Faith to crown him? Or is it both? We do have the legends about the Grey King, and before the Riverlands the Iron Born held northern lands, in particular Bear Island. So weirwoods and Old Gods was certainly not something unfamiliar to the Hoares. They once had embraced the Faith, inviting septons on the Iron Islands, building septs even at Old Wyk, but the priests of the Drowned God and the war with the Lannisters probably wieded that out of the Hoares. Another feature of Harrenhal is its bear pit, again the biggest bear pit of Westeros, and then there's their sigil with the chains, the grapes of the Arbor, the black raven for Oldtown, the pine tree for Bear Island. The chains are meant to symbolize how all those regions were subdued by them (once). So, it seems to me as if Harren symbolically tries to appropriate as well as subdue the Old Gods for himself, in some twisted form.

That's a very interesting point. It would fit with Harren's character as well. From what we know of him he doesn't seem like the most cultured of kings. Another point would be that Harren probably wouldn't have been the most pious Ironborn, having grown up at Fairmarket assumedly. Perhaps it was an inferiority complex of some sorts. If he was trying to outsize all other castles in all respects, maybe he needed to have the biggest godswood too.

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Seriously, guys, godswoods are everywhere, they have don't need to have any religious (or political) implications.

The Tullys kept a godswood, as all the great houses did, but it was only a place to walk or read or lie in the sun.

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Just now, Ferocious Veldt Roarer said:

Seriously, guys, godswoods are everywhere, they have don't need to have any religious (or political) implications.

The Tullys kept a godswood, as all the great houses did, but it was only a place to walk or read or lie in the sun.

Presumably though they were all built by houses that were once followers of the Old Gods like the Tullys? Wouldn't it be like sacrilegious for an Andal/Ironborn to build a Godswood in their new castle? 

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Just now, theblackdragonI said:

Presumably though they were all built by houses that were once followers of the Old Gods like the Tullys? Wouldn't it be like sacrilegious for an Andal/Ironborn to build a Godswood in their new castle? 

I've mentioned the godswood at the Red Keep earlier, haven't I?

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11 minutes ago, Ferocious Veldt Roarer said:

I've mentioned the godswood at the Red Keep earlier, haven't I?

You did but it makes sense for Aegon to have one if he's going to call himself King of the Andals and the First Men doesn't it? That doesn't apply to Harren the Black.

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50 minutes ago, theblackdragonI said:

Wouldn't it be like sacrilegious for an Andal/Ironborn to build a Godswood in their new castle? 

Not really. The Eyrie was built by the Andals and it has a godswood, but not a weirwood for a heart tree. The Andals burned weirwoods in the Vale and in the Riverlands (like the one of Blackhaven) or the grove at High Heart (which is not in a godswood at all, but a hill in a forest. Once people and regions began to adopt their Faith of the Seven they stopped their war on weirwoods. Meanwhile godswoods remained an architectural feature of castles, as a sign of status: becoming a location of natural beauty to spend time at leisure, like gardens and parks in our world.

 

59 minutes ago, theblackdragonI said:

Presumably though they were all built by houses that were once followers of the Old Gods like the Tullys?

The Tullys are the first to go over to the Andals when the Andals fought against the last king Mudd, and that's how they were granted land on which Riverrun was built. So, Riverrun is a castle built during the conquering age of the Andals as they burned weirwoods in the Riverlands. It was built with a godswood, but most likely without a weirwood tree. The weirwood tree in the godswood of Riverrun where Robb and his Northerners pray is more than a sappling, but still a young tree by its description. So it was left to grow there only over the last few decades or hundred years.

So, no to the Andals it wasn't sacrilege to have a godswood at a new castle. It was sacrilege to pray and sacrifice to a weirwood in and outside a godswood.

As for the Ironborn - they're the only ones with castles at the islands that do not seem to have a godswood, which ought not surprise as the soil is too thin and weirwood doesn't grow there. Neither Giant nor Children of the Forest dwelled there either in whatever little forest they had. Hence there never were any Old Gods at the Iron Islands. With such thin soil and needing  wood to build ships, the Ironborn aren't likely to build gardens either. Now the priests of the Drowned God certainly would call it sacrilege if someone built a godswood at a caste on the islands, but that doesn't mean that Ironborn kings would think it sacrilege, especially if their seat and castle is somewhere in Westeros.

The first Hoare kings married Andal women, allowed or even embraced the Faith. Some of them tried to build septs on the islands. One of them even tried to make an edict that there were 8 gods/aspects or turned the Dorwned God into the Stranger. So, traditionally the Hoare line are not devout Drowned God followers. Their own people revolted, egged on by the priests and then the Lannisters warred with the Ironborn after Harren the Handsome's wife (sister of the king of the Rock) was mutiliated and killed. Eventually the Hoares take Bear Island and use it as their base for reaving, until they get "wrestled" out of Bear Island by a Stark King. It's probably from this time that the Hoares pick up and learn more about the Old Gods. The Hoares that conquer the Riverlands rarely visited the Iron Islands, twice or thirce in their lives. They followed the Drowned God officially, but weren't devout followers and the Riverlands would not have been infested with priests of the Drowned God to oversee to how much they followed their fate.

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