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Hammers1895

Most Powerful Houses- what evidence?

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7 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Similarly there is no evidence that the Iron Throne taxes the “right to mine the ground” anymore than it taxes the right to put up a water mill or the right to use land for growing food.

It was just an example. If you check your medieval history then privileges and rights granted by the king usually come with a price.

 

5 hours ago, Jaak said:

Not quite.

In quite many medieval kingdoms, nobility and/or church were paying at least some taxes.

That is why I said they were not exempt from all taxes at all times. However, I do actually wonder what kind of taxes the Church paid to the Crown in any medieval kingdom. That wouldn't make much sense considering they usually were either part of the ruling body of the land (in early medieval times) or exempt from everything and collecting taxes themselves.

5 hours ago, Jaak said:

And unlike most medieval kingdoms, Iron Throne does NOT have large amounts of Crown lands. The "Crownlands" are largely held by petty lords (Darklyn, Rosby, Stokeworth...). We do hear of Pennytree as a "royal fief", but otherwise we do not hear of royal lands, castles, castellans and garrisons scattered around 7 Kingdoms. The King cannot "live on his own" and excempt nobility from peacetime taxation - there must be significant incomes from taxation, if at low rates.

That is a conceptual problem in those books. The Iron Throne basically has no power base of its own, but this is a problem affecting other great houses, too. How much land do the Hightower control directly (they are surrounded by the lands of their bannermen in a KL-like situation)? How much the Starks? How much land outside of Casterly Rock and Lannisport is actually Lannister territory?

And so on and so forth.

The way this monarchy is presented the Iron Throne should be weaker than the Holy Roman Emperors in their weakest days considering that they have no lands an fiefs of their own compared to the lands ruled by their bannermen.

The Iron Throne (and all the former royal houses) should have various (former) palaces throughout the Realm, castles and lands overseen by royal officials and representatives (or cadet branches of the royal family). The Starks apparently had that, in some places of their kingdom, in the distant past, but it is shady at best.

Perhaps one can make sense of this in the sense that nobody actually controls much land since all is pretty split up, but that would make real power completely arbitrary and dependent on the personal charisma and character of each lord and king since everybody would constantly be forced to convince his bannermen and vassals to actually do what they are technically supposed to do because no lord would actually have the power to demand that their calls be heard, etc.

3 hours ago, Ran said:

But in all such cases, there has to have been an assessment of what should be raised.. At some point in time, assessments and adjustments have to be made. TAs Jaak noted previously, of course, the adjustments and assessments can take a _very_ long time, with revenue lagging growth. The usual solution was imposition of new taxes when it was felt that there was such a lag, rather than doing a wide reassessment. 

For tax benefits new taxes do make sense to pay for special occasions (the building of the Red Keep, the Great Sept, etc. comes to mind - just as the building of the new St. Peter's Basilica in Rome caused the Popes to develop a special system to finance this thing).

But to actually assess the amount of grain, etc. you intend to store for winter lords everywhere (and the Crown, too, if they care about the survival of their subjects - which some kings, at least, would actually have done) you actually do have to keep an eye on the number of farms and fields your peasants do work.

This doesn't mean you can make good calculations, considering that you can't predict the weather, can't make modern agriculture, etc. but without having a realistic view of your own potential in the food-producing department these people would be at a complete loss in winter.

3 hours ago, Ran said:

2) You can't punt this downward infinitely. The Starks have to figure out how to raise what they owe -- well, how do they assess how to apply their right to tax and so on to get those funds? Somewhere, someone is making lists of property and movable property and so on and so forth, for tax purposes. I do not know how often this was done in England, but I believe the Spanish crown made up new rolls and registers of its nobility and their property every 7 years.

That sounds plausible to me. One should expect that after every winter the survivors might have been counted in some form or another. Or at least those farms and fields which were still in operation.

Whether this also involved a new assessment of taxes would be another matter. But one cannot believe that the people had no interest in knowing their resources in the farming department.

2 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Yeah, so to be clear, I don't dispute that each lord Paramount has a good idea of the tax situation in his lands. I'm thinking instead that the Crown has far less of an up to date picture, as the Lords Paramount will no doubt be doing everything in their power to project these figures at as low a level as possible.

But it would be odd if the king wouldn't actually also double-check those numbers or do some research through his own bureaucracy.

And we do know that only the Dornishmen pay their taxes without oversight from KL. The Masters of Coin might not easily be fooled by some numbers the lords come up.

We don't really know.

2 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Given Martin's previous comments on how military figures are roughly correct based on what informed Westerosi outside of a kingdom would consider the strength of a region to be, the impression was created that the internal affairs of each kingdom is very much murky for anyone not the overlord of said kingdom.

But we don't know how this tax thing works. You have no textual evidence that all taxes (or many taxes) go to the Crown through the great lord of a region, so there is no reason to believe the Lannisters or Starks can keep their military potential a secret the way the Dornishmen might be able to do.

A person in a key position at court might be able to find out everything there is to be known about the population, taxes, and military potential of the Seven Kingdoms.

In relation to the Wardenship thing it seems to be that this is a military function which gives the Warden the responsibility to actually defend the Realm against an attack - so the Warden of the North is supposed to preserve the King's Peace in his domain against internal and outside (wildlings) foes. The Warden of the South would have had a key role there in the defense against Dornish incursions in the days before the union, whereas the Warden of the East and West would have been of less importance in relation to outside foes (while the Ironborn behaved and Pentos and Braavos did not invade the Vale).

In war times, a warden technically would likely have a higher rank than a mere lord paramount, possibly resulting in a warden taking command of an army assembled by a Baratheon or Tully, etc. And one sees how Roose's authority in the North comes from the fact that he is the Warden of the North. It grants him command not only over all the Northern armies but also over the Frey armies in his domains - which, I think, illustrates the point I just made. A mere lord paramount could not, as such, presume to command the a host assembled by a lord from another domain - whereas a warden, most likely, could do that.

But how this system works is as opaque as the exact hierarchy/command structure between the Protector of the Realm and the Hand of the King when those offices are not in the same hand. A regent would be the ultimate authority during a Regency, but whether the Hand outranks the Protector or vice versa is completely unclear at this point.

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7 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

It was just an example. If you check your medieval history then privileges and rights granted by the king usually come with a price.

 

That is why I said they were not exempt from all taxes at all times. However, I do actually wonder what kind of taxes the Church paid to the Crown in any medieval kingdom. That wouldn't make much sense considering they usually were either part of the ruling body of the land (in early medieval times) or exempt from everything and collecting taxes themselves.

That is a conceptual problem in those books. The Iron Throne basically has no power base of its own, but this is a problem affecting other great houses, too. How much land do the Hightower control directly (they are surrounded by the lands of their bannermen in a KL-like situation)? How much the Starks? How much land outside of Casterly Rock and Lannisport is actually Lannister territory?

And so on and so forth.

The way this monarchy is presented the Iron Throne should be weaker than the Holy Roman Emperors in their weakest days considering that they have no lands an fiefs of their own compared to the lands ruled by their bannermen.

The Iron Throne (and all the former royal houses) should have various (former) palaces throughout the Realm, castles and lands overseen by royal officials and representatives (or cadet branches of the royal family). The Starks apparently had that, in some places of their kingdom, in the distant past, but it is shady at best.

Perhaps one can make sense of this in the sense that nobody actually controls much land since all is pretty split up, but that would make real power completely arbitrary and dependent on the personal charisma and character of each lord and king since everybody would constantly be forced to convince his bannermen and vassals to actually do what they are technically supposed to do because no lord would actually have the power to demand that their calls be heard, etc.

For tax benefits new taxes do make sense to pay for special occasions (the building of the Red Keep, the Great Sept, etc. comes to mind - just as the building of the new St. Peter's Basilica in Rome caused the Popes to develop a special system to finance this thing).

But to actually assess the amount of grain, etc. you intend to store for winter lords everywhere (and the Crown, too, if they care about the survival of their subjects - which some kings, at least, would actually have done) you actually do have to keep an eye on the number of farms and fields your peasants do work.

This doesn't mean you can make good calculations, considering that you can't predict the weather, can't make modern agriculture, etc. but without having a realistic view of your own potential in the food-producing department these people would be at a complete loss in winter.

That sounds plausible to me. One should expect that after every winter the survivors might have been counted in some form or another. Or at least those farms and fields which were still in operation.

Whether this also involved a new assessment of taxes would be another matter. But one cannot believe that the people had no interest in knowing their resources in the farming department.

But it would be odd if the king wouldn't actually also double-check those numbers or do some research through his own bureaucracy.

And we do know that only the Dornishmen pay their taxes without oversight from KL. The Masters of Coin might not easily be fooled by some numbers the lords come up.

We don't really know.

But we don't know how this tax thing works. You have no textual evidence that all taxes (or many taxes) go to the Crown through the great lord of a region, so there is no reason to believe the Lannisters or Starks can keep their military potential a secret the way the Dornishmen might be able to do.

A person in a key position at court might be able to find out everything there is to be known about the population, taxes, and military potential of the Seven Kingdoms.

In relation to the Wardenship thing it seems to be that this is a military function which gives the Warden the responsibility to actually defend the Realm against an attack - so the Warden of the North is supposed to preserve the King's Peace in his domain against internal and outside (wildlings) foes. The Warden of the South would have had a key role there in the defense against Dornish incursions in the days before the union, whereas the Warden of the East and West would have been of less importance in relation to outside foes (while the Ironborn behaved and Pentos and Braavos did not invade the Vale).

In war times, a warden technically would likely have a higher rank than a mere lord paramount, possibly resulting in a warden taking command of an army assembled by a Baratheon or Tully, etc. And one sees how Roose's authority in the North comes from the fact that he is the Warden of the North. It grants him command not only over all the Northern armies but also over the Frey armies in his domains - which, I think, illustrates the point I just made. A mere lord paramount could not, as such, presume to command the a host assembled by a lord from another domain - whereas a warden, most likely, could do that.

But how this system works is as opaque as the exact hierarchy/command structure between the Protector of the Realm and the Hand of the King when those offices are not in the same hand. A regent would be the ultimate authority during a Regency, but whether the Hand outranks the Protector or vice versa is completely unclear at this point.

If the strengths were that well known, Martin would not have been at pains to point out how the general belief of a well informed Westerosi is different from the actual strength of a region.

As for the Iron Throne, yes, it is a very weak institution, without Dragons. It is extremely dependent on the goodwill of the Lords Paramount. If 2 or 3 of them become really pissed off, the Crown teeters on the brink of collapse.

As we saw in Robert’s Rebellion.

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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9 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

If the strengths were that well known, Martin would not have been at pains to point out how the general belief of a well informed Westerosi is different from the actual strength of a region.

That isn't really part of the novels, though. And I'm not sure what 'well-informed' means in that context, etc. Knowing stuff about taxes and farms and the like doesn't transfer to a correct assessment of military figures considering we don't know who is supposed to answer the call of a lord to arms, etc. in this world, and how long those people are expected to serve in a military capacity, or high the ratio of people is that can afford to answer a call to arms.

That might differ from season to season, region to region, village to village.

9 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

As for the Iron Throne, yes, it is a very weak institution, without Dragons. It is extremely dependent on the goodwill of the Lords Paramount. If 2 or 3 of them become really pissed off, the Crown teeters on the brink of collapse.

As we saw in Robert’s Rebellion.

But that goes for every lord paramount in turn, too. Their power base is not stronger than that of the Iron Throne.

And, in fact, it is not that Robert's Rebellion was a clear thing. The fact that Aerys II was an incompetent madman and Rhaegar Mr. Absent for most of the war is what resulted in their loss. If Aerys had been a competent madman (like Maegor, say) or Rhaegar had shown up and taken things in his hands before Robert even arrived in the Stormlands, the war may have been over in a fortnight.

And even with Aerys II's mad and cruel actions and his commands to execute Ned and Robert there were still Lords of the Vale and Stormlords siding with Aerys against the rebels.

In my book that indicates there was a rather strong devotion to the Targaryen king and dynasty in Westeros even during the Rebellion.

I mean, if Stannis had been Lord of Storm's End in place of Robert, his garrison would have most likely delivered him chained, naked, and gagged to the loyalist Stormlords - just like Argella Durrandon was delivered to Orys Baratheon.

What made the Rebellion a success was the ability and charisma of Robert Baratheon.

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2 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

That isn't really part of the novels, though. And I'm not sure what 'well-informed' means in that context, etc. Knowing stuff about taxes and farms and the like doesn't transfer to a correct assessment of military figures considering we don't know who is supposed to answer the call of a lord to arms, etc. in this world, and how long those people are expected to serve in a military capacity, or high the ratio of people is that can afford to answer a call to arms.

That might differ from season to season, region to region, village to village.

But that goes for every lord paramount in turn, too. Their power base is not stronger than that of the Iron Throne.

And, in fact, it is not that Robert's Rebellion was a clear thing. The fact that Aerys II was an incompetent madman and Rhaegar Mr. Absent for most of the war is what resulted in their loss. If Aerys had been a competent madman (like Maegor, say) or Rhaegar had shown up and taken things in his hands before Robert even arrived in the Stormlands, the war may have been over in a fortnight.

And even with Aerys II's mad and cruel actions and his commands to execute Ned and Robert there were still Lords of the Vale and Stormlords siding with Aerys against the rebels.

In my book that indicates there was a rather strong devotion to the Targaryen king and dynasty in Westeros even during the Rebellion.

I mean, if Stannis had been Lord of Storm's End in place of Robert, his garrison would have most likely delivered him chained, naked, and gagged to the loyalist Stormlords - just like Argella Durrandon was delivered to Orys Baratheon.

What made the Rebellion a success was the ability and charisma of Robert Baratheon.

Ah but you are wrong. Since the Age of heroes the Starks, Arryns, Durandons, Gardeners and Lannisters ruled their lands without being overthrown. Those are dynasties that lasted thousands of years. By contrast the Targaryens lasted only 285 years.

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6 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Ah but you are wrong. Since the Age of heroes the Starks, Arryns, Durandons, Gardeners and Lannisters ruled their lands without being overthrown. Those are dynasties that lasted thousands of years. By contrast the Targaryens lasted only 285 years.

And that means what? That their hold over their bannermen, vassals, and subjects was somehow *magically* stronger than that of the Targaryens over theirs?

It just means that they ruled as long as they did, not that there is a structural difference there. In fact, there can't have been because we have little to no indication that the kings of the Seven Kingdoms actually controlled more of their lands directly than the Targaryens.

In fact, lacking dragons, the power of the Starks or Gardeners in the vicinity of their large kingdoms should have been effectively non-existent. The fact that the old kings called themselves kings doesn't imply they were as powerful kings (or even more powerful kings) than the Targaryens during their reign.

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18 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

And that means what? That their hold over their bannermen, vassals, and subjects was somehow *magically* stronger than that of the Targaryens over theirs?

It just means that they ruled as long as they did, not that there is a structural difference there. In fact, there can't have been because we have little to no indication that the kings of the Seven Kingdoms actually controlled more of their lands directly than the Targaryens.

In fact, lacking dragons, the power of the Starks or Gardeners in the vicinity of their large kingdoms should have been effectively non-existent. The fact that the old kings called themselves kings doesn't imply they were as powerful kings (or even more powerful kings) than the Targaryens during their reign.

What are you even talking about? Yet another circular argument, as you are prone to fall back to when passion takes over.

You say power is defined by the amount of land and people a lord controls directly, without vassals inbetween. We dispute that. Then you state the rule of the lords Paramount is weaker than the Targs because they rule less land directly. Utterly circular reasoning.

The Starks, Gardeners Lannisters, Arryns and Durandons endured for thousands of years, without ever having dragons. The Targs lasted 130 years without dragons.

The amount of land directly ruled is immaterial. Land ruled though a vassal is land at your command. Your entire premise is baseless.

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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6 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

What are you even talking about? Yet another circular argument, as you are prone to fall back to when passion takes over.

You say power is defined by the amount of land and people a lord controls directly, without vassals inbetween. We dispute that. Then you state the rule of the lords Paramount is weaker than the Targs because they rule less land directly. Utterly circular reasoning.

The Starks, Gardeners Lannisters, Arryns and Durandons endured for thousands of years, without ever having dragons. The Targs lasted 130 years without dragons.

The amount of land directly ruled is immaterial. Land ruled though a vassal is land at your command. Your entire premise is baseless.

You don't even understand the issue.

The question is what power constitutes - and if there is no visible difference between the Targaryens and the kings of the Seven Kingdoms but the dragons then their power basis is basically the same. Or is there any indication that Starks, Lannisters, etc. had some other hidden means of power giving them far greater control over their vassals than the Targaryens had?

The fact the one group ruled thousands of years and the other only a couple of hundred years doesn't change that. It has nothing to do with that. The fact that one human being lives only ten months and another a hundred years doesn't change that both a human beings, right, with the same biological systems, etc.

It is just a historical accident that nobody ever overthrew them - perhaps this wasn't even necessary because the lords could still do whatever the hell they wanted on their lands and just no longer called themselves (petty) kings.

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56 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

And that means what? That their hold over their bannermen, vassals, and subjects was somehow *magically* stronger than that of the Targaryens over theirs?

It just means that they ruled as long as they did, not that there is a structural difference there. In fact, there can't have been because we have little to no indication that the kings of the Seven Kingdoms actually controlled more of their lands directly than the Targaryens.

We actually do have a little such indication.

New Gift is a huge chunk of land. And a long way from Winterfell.

We never hear of lords dispossessed by New Gift. Just Starks. Nor of lords or northern landed-knight-equivalents owing taxes, military service and fealty to Watch. That was just Eddard´s proposal.

Which means that pre-Alysanne, the Starks must have somehow run the New Gift directly.

How? Who were the non-lordly, non-hereditary castellans of holdfasts of Stark New Gift?

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4 minutes ago, Jaak said:

We actually do have a little such indication.

I know that. That's why I said little to no indication. For the Starks were have the Wolf's Den, the talk about those mystery keeps Bran might one day hold in his brother's name, and even Karhold back in the day when the Karstarks were still Starks.

The Lannisters have Lannisport, the Arryns the Eyrie and the Gates of the Moon, and the Targaryens do have KL, Dragonstone, and Summerhall in later years.

But there is no indication that they had a vast system of palaces and royal fiefs crisscrossing their kingdoms - which definitely limits royal power to the point that it is ridiculous to assume it had much teeth.

Which is the reason why chances are very good that the kings before the Conquest were actually weaker kings than the Targaryens - considering that they had no dragons and did - in the case of the Starks, Gardeners, Durrandons (in their prime), and Hoares rule rather large kingdoms.

For the Durrandons there are garrisons in the Riverlands mentioned.

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In the Westerlands I would say Lannister at 1 and 2 then Crakehall then Brax then Lefford. The reason I say Brax is that they were quoted after the Blackwater ax being one of the three great houses of the Westerlands, the others being Crakehall and Lydden. However I suspect Lefford would have been on that list if Lord Leo Lefford hadn’t died at the end of the first book.

for the reach I would say Hightower Tyrell Redwyne Florent Rowan.

for the north I would say Stark Manderly Bolton Karstark Umber.

Crownlands I say Baratheon/Lannister, Baratheon of Dragonstone, Velaryon, Massey, Rosby

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On 6/11/2018 at 10:47 PM, Hammers1895 said:

 

The Iron Islands:

1. Greyjoy- Have powerful navy at their disposal, and have essentially been the Kings on the II, as they remain aloof from rest of Westerosi society for the most part

2. Harlaw- Have their own islands/vassals, multiple branches and castles/keeps

3. Goodbrother- Have multiple branches and castles/keeps

4. Botley- Prominent family

5. Drumm- ditto

 

Drumms are quite powerful as they hold the religious capital of the Drown god so I think they are 3rd. They also own a VS sword which ( even thought it is not really ironborny ) sell it for a fortune (if during valyria brightroar costed that much, can't imagine how mych it would cost after Valyria's doom)

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On 6/11/2018 at 10:47 PM, Hammers1895 said:

The Westerlands:

1. Lannister- Rich, access to gold, Casterly Rock nearly impregenable. Jaime great warrior, Tywin feared leader, Tyrion clever as all get out and Cersei master schemer/evil bitch capable of anything.

2. Lannister- Yup, these guys again. Control, nominally, city and port of Lannisport, can use population to raise troops, theoretically would have the backing of Casterly Rock and vise versa due to blood ties

3. Marbrand- Similar to previous sections, these two houses seem to be close to House Lannister and provide a lot of military support  

4. Crakehall- see above

5. Lefford- The castle controls the main entrance to the Westerlands from the east

 

The Reach:

1. Hightower- Rulers of Oldtown, ancient and large family

2. Tyrell- Great House, rule large area and population

3. Redwyne- Wealthy and well-protected by island location, strongest private navy in Westeros

4. Tarly- Strong military leadership

5. Toss up between Rowan/Oakheart/Florent/Fossoway's/Costayne/Cuy/Crane/etc.

 

 

What would your list/reasons be? 

 

Tyrell over Hightower, as they are the richest house in the reach and have many troopers. Rowan for 5th

 

I think Marbrand aren;t that powerful. I believe Crakehall, Lefford, Swyft and Brax are more powerful than them

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On 6/11/2018 at 10:47 PM, Hammers1895 said:

The Riverlands:

1. Frey- control busiest crossing route on the Green Fork, wealthy and numerous, strong castle. Can field 4,000 men easily, 1,000 of which are knights. Have vassals of their own (Haigh, Erenford, Charlton)

2. Tully- the Great House, control all water traffic at junction of Tumblestone and Red Fork. Good relations seemingly with most houses in region.

3. Mallister- Seagard is a strong castle, and a town grows around it. Formidable warriors historically, usually first defense of Riverlands from ironborn. 

4. Blackwood- Putting these two houses in together and by default, as I believe from inference they are stronger than Vance/Whent/Darry/Mooton/Piper/Ryger/Roote, etc. 

5. Bracken- see above

The Vale of Arryn:

1. Royce- another surprise here, not a Great House at number one. More by default as Arryn's have very weak leadership right now, house about to pass to some amalgamation of Baelish/Sansa/Harry Hardyng

2. Arryn- the name still carries weight, nearly impregnable fortress in the Eyrie. 

3. Grafton- not much info on them militarily, but they control Gulltown and therefore have money. 

4. Hunter- these two go in by default, not much is known about their military strength but flip a coin between Hunter/Redfort/Belmore/Melcolm/Templteton/Waynwood/Coldwater/Waxley/Lynderly, etc.

5. Redfort- see above

 

Dorne:

1. Martell- Great House, two castles (Sunspear, Water Gardens), very loyal bannermen

2. Yronwood- Powerful, ancient, guard the Boneway

3. Fowler- Guards Prince's Pass

4. Wyl- Dornish Marcher Lords

5. Blackmont- Dornish Marcher Lords

 

What would your list/reasons be? 

 

Riverlands

I think for the Riverlands the house that rules Harrenhall (Baelish) should be here

Vale

I think Waynwood should be here over Hunter and Corbray over Redfort as they have a VS sword (If brighroar costed a big fortune during Valyria imagine a VS sword after the doom)

Dorne

Dayne maybe? they got the rarest sword ever (that sword could be sold for A LOT, even being able to afford many of the top sellsword companies)

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I thing you guys are miscalculating somethinng. The Great Houses have more vassals than all the other minor houses and they also TAX all their bannermen so they are defacto they stronget houses in their region.

So yeah Highgarden makes the Tyrells richer that Hightowers since it controls not only the fertile lands of The Reach but also the trading route between Oldtown, Lannisport and King's Landing/Gulltown/White Harbor etc. So yeah, the Hightowers come second (though they are probably stronger thermselves than many other Great Houses.

Also The Arryns are still stronger than House Royce, they are their bannermen and house Arryn controls not only two castles but also the Bloody Gate and TAXES of course.

The Tullys-Freys one is much closer but I still believe the Tullys are stronger simply because of the incomes of Riverrun which controls the rivers and the TAXES of the whole area + more crops. There is a reason that the Freys always were jealous and wanted RIverrun for themselves.

The Florents are NOT that strong, House Rowan definitely comes 5th.

The Kartstarks I thing must be stronger than the Umbers.

Also House Dondarion is not such a big House I think...

 

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