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Most Powerful Houses- what evidence?

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Dustins rule Barrowlands. All of it.

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Barrowton, too, is somewhat of a curiosity—a gathering place built at the foot of the reputed barrow of the First King, who once ruled supreme over all the First Men, if the legends can be believed. Rising from the midst of a wide and empty plain, it has prospered thanks to the shrewd stewardship of the Dustins, loyal bannermen to the Starks, who have ruled the Barrowlands in their name since the fall of the last of the Barrow Kings.

 

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@direpupy

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Catelyn dismounted to stand before him. "Lord Nestor," she said. She knew the man only by reputation; Bronze Yohn's cousin, from a lesser branch of House Royce, yet still a formidable lord in his own right. "We have had a long and tiring journey. I would beg the hospitality of your roof tonight, if I might."

Royces does seem to have more than two branches.

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2 hours ago, Corvo the Crow said:

Dustins rule Barrowlands. All of it.

 

Thank you for that quote, definitively settling an argument that should not have been one in the first place if common sense had prevailed.

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2 hours ago, Corvo the Crow said:

Dustins rule Barrowlands. All of it.

 

Possibly, but then we are told the Starks rule the North, while we know that is not entirely true as they don't actually control the Gift or the New Gift.

We are also told the Tully's rule the Riverlands yet we know of Pennytree. being ruled by the crown rather than the Tullys. 

"Pennytree. That was ours once too, but it's been a royal fief for a hundred years."

 

Concerning the Barrowlands we know that the Ryswells own land on the Barrowlands

"There are ghosts here," Bran said. Hodor had heard all the stories before, but Jojen might not have. "Old ghosts, from before the Old King, even before Aegon the Dragon, seventy-nine deserters who went south to be outlaws. One was Lord Ryswell's youngest son, so when they reached the barrowlands they sought shelter at his castle, but Lord Ryswell took them captive and returned them to the Nightfort."

and given we are told that both Robert's journey into and out of the North took place on the kingsroad and is mentioned that it is part of the Barrowlands then it seems incredibly peculiar that the Dustins have never been tasked with defending Moat Cailin, which seems to clearly be Stark property 

GRRM is purposefully a vague writer, him (or Ran, I'm not sure who is responsible for the wording in the world book) him saying that the Dustins rule the Barrowlands is not the same as him saying they rule all of the Barrowlands. Given the other evidence on the subject it is clearly not known which way it is.  

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The issue isn't whether the Dustins rule the Barrowlands or not, the issue is how large their territories (or rather: the Barrowlands) are. And we still don't know that.

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1 minute ago, Lord Varys said:

The issue isn't whether the Dustins rule the Barrowlands or not, the issue is how large their territories (or rather: the Barrowlands) are. And we still don't know that.

Sorry, but the original issue of dispute was indeed whether the Dustins ruled all of the Barrowlands or not.

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11 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Sorry, but the original issue of dispute was indeed whether the Dustins ruled all of the Barrowlands or not.

No, it was both. Go back and read. We have no idea how big the Barrrowlands are from east to west or really north to south. We can guess, but that is about that so when someone claims that the Dustins are the biggest landowners in Westeros pointing out that we don't actually know that for a fact is the correct response, as we don't. 

The author is purposefully vague and even the maps in the world book, the first time we have canon borders, there seems to be some mistakes. 

 

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Aside from the Umbers and the clansmen we don't have really a good picture as to where the borders of their lands seem to be. With all the other Northern houses we have no clue. We don't even have a clue whether there are still significant houses in-between the lands of, say, the Boltons and the Karstarks, the Dustins and the Reeds, etc. Houses directly sworn to Winterfell which have not yet been mentioned.

The author doesn't care about giving us the complete feudal landscape of a region, nor does he care about developing the feudal hierarchy in any meaningful sense. If he had cared about that, there wouldn't have been only lords running around.

It still happens that we get more and more details but that's not where the focus of the story is.

And it is not that there aren't small/petty lords around in the North hundreds of leagues away from Winterfell which are directly sworn to Winterfell - that's the case for both the clansmen and the Skagosi.

The idea that the North has to be seen as being cut in large slices of land which are, more or less, directly controlled by the great houses we know is simply not established. It would be if we had detailed maps on the lands those houses actually control. But we don't.

This doesn't mean those great houses are not pretty powerful. But we cannot pretend we know from what lands, say, the Boltons, the Dustins, the Karstarks, etc. draw their men when we don't know how large those lands are.

And then there is informal power, too. Lord Wyman makes it clear that more men will follow where he leads than who are actually sworn to White Harbor, so - depending on the situation - one has to take that into account as well.

That's what I was doing when I made it clear that many a soldier in Robb's army not sworn to the Dreadfort originally may have ended in Roose's service simply because Robb made the grievous mistake of making Roose Bolton the supreme commander of his largest host.

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21 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

We don't even have a clue whether there are still significant houses in-between the lands of, say, the Boltons and the Karstarks, the Dustins and the Reeds, etc. Houses directly sworn to Winterfell which have not yet been mentioned.

 

22 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

And it is not that there aren't small/petty lords around in the North hundreds of leagues away from Winterfell which are directly sworn to Winterfell - that's the case for both the clansmen and the Skagosi.

Actually we get some information pointing towards this; Lord Hornwood asks hunting rights north of a ridge and a holdfast taken from his grandfather. Since his only known/major neighboors are Bolton and Manderly there are probably some small lord living beyond the ridge (think of Osgrey, Webber and Wat wood) and some other lord/master holdfast is given to as Starks won't directly control some holdfast leauges away.

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2 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Aside from the Umbers and the clansmen we don't have really a good picture as to where the borders of their lands seem to be. With all the other Northern houses we have no clue. We don't even have a clue whether there are still significant houses in-between the lands of, say, the Boltons and the Karstarks, the Dustins and the Reeds, etc. Houses directly sworn to Winterfell which have not yet been mentioned.

The author doesn't care about giving us the complete feudal landscape of a region, nor does he care about developing the feudal hierarchy in any meaningful sense. If he had cared about that, there wouldn't have been only lords running around.

It still happens that we get more and more details but that's not where the focus of the story is.

And it is not that there aren't small/petty lords around in the North hundreds of leagues away from Winterfell which are directly sworn to Winterfell - that's the case for both the clansmen and the Skagosi.

The idea that the North has to be seen as being cut in large slices of land which are, more or less, directly controlled by the great houses we know is simply not established. It would be if we had detailed maps on the lands those houses actually control. But we don't.

This doesn't mean those great houses are not pretty powerful. But we cannot pretend we know from what lands, say, the Boltons, the Dustins, the Karstarks, etc. draw their men when we don't know how large those lands are.

And then there is informal power, too. Lord Wyman makes it clear that more men will follow where he leads than who are actually sworn to White Harbor, so - depending on the situation - one has to take that into account as well.

That's what I was doing when I made it clear that many a soldier in Robb's army not sworn to the Dreadfort originally may have ended in Roose's service simply because Robb made the grievous mistake of making Roose Bolton the supreme commander of his largest host.

This is such an inane discussion, based on an utterly blinkered approach to this series.

Consider the Northern lords we do know the territories of.

The Mormonts rule all of Bear Island

The Umbers rule an area about 300 miles x 200 miles in size - so around 60,000 square miles.

The Mountain Clans rule an area even larger, perhaps up to 80,000 square miles in size

There are no major lords between the Bolton and Hornwood lands, nor between the Manderly and Hornw0od lands. These Houses clashed in the Hornwood forests without any intervening lords complaining to Winterfell or getting involved in the fighting.

So we know that the Boltons' domain stretches from the Lonely Hills in the North to wherever the Hornwood lands start to their South. From what we know, the Hornwoods are significantly weaker than the Boltons and the Manderlys, so logic dictates that their lands are a relatively small patch sandwiched in between their two stronger neighbours.

So again, the Bolton lands stretch over many hundreds of miles from North to South.

We know that there are no major lords between Winterfell and Deepwood Motte, with clans even deep in the Wolfswood sworn to the Glovers. So the only question is where the Glover lands end and the Winterfell lands begin.

We know that the Reeds rule an area even larger than the above, as much as 90,000 square miles in size.

We know the Barrowlands stretch on both sides of the Kingsroad when Ned and Robert travel South, so it is very likely that it stretches up to the White Knife in the East. Barrowton is already around 400 miles from the White Knife, and only about 100 miles from the border with the Rills, so it is very likely that the Dustin territory stretches up to the natural border between the Barrowlands and the Rills. Certainly the map indicates it to be so.

So the only question is how far North it stretches.

The point is, we know the general size of a lot of Northern lords' holdings. Why try and argue against this pattern for the sake of argument only? If one were a betting man, you would assign the entire Rills to the Ryswells, just like the entire Barrowlands belong to the Dustins. And almost certainly the entire Karstark peninsula belongs to the Karstarks.

Martin did not go for complexity in his map setup, certainly not in the North.

I really don't understand this need to try and dispute what is meant to be a most likely estimate, rather than a precise declaration of ultimate truth. There might be the odd petty lord who due to a peculiar quirk of history or act of valour is sworn directly to House Stark, even though they reside in the Barrowlands, or some other area. But this is unlikely to be the norm. It would be the exception.

The point of trying to use such rare occurrences to deny the obvious simplicity with which Martin designed the North's map seems peculiar.

And as for this ridiculous idea that the numbers of returning Boltons now suddenly include non-Dreadfort men from the original army, I'm sorry, it is the most extreme argument of desperation I have yet come across.

They are described as Dreadfort men by the author, twice. From two different points of view. There is zero evidence that their origin is anything other than the Bolton lands. Zero.

 

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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3 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

The Mormonts rule all of Bear Island.

LOL, yeah, an island. An island is about the only thing on those maps where the borders are obvious. That is - unless the Mormonts do not also claim some small rocks around Bear Island which we haven't seen or heard of at this point.

3 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

The Umbers rule an area about 300 miles x 200 miles in size - so around 60,000 square miles.

Nobody is talking about that, the question is where the borders go.

3 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

The Mountain Clans rule an area even larger, perhaps up to 80,000 square miles in size.

And what lands does a single mountain clan rule? The Norreys compared to the Flints, say? We have no idea, nor do we have a real idea how great the region is they controlled in detail because there are no border lines on those maps. 

3 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

There are no major lords between the Bolton and Hornwood lands, nor between the Manderly and Hornw0od lands. These Houses clashed in the Hornwood forests without any intervening lords complaining to Winterfell or getting involved in the fighting.

Man, Ramsay claims the Hornwood because he takes Lady Donella. And then he moves his men there, taking possession of the castle and the lands. That has nothing to do with the question whether there are other holdings of significance between the Hornwood and the Dreadfort.

And that the Manderlys and the Boltons clash on the Hornwood lands doesn't mean that there aren't holdings between White Harbor and the Hornwood, either.

3 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

So we know that the Boltons' domain stretches from the Lonely Hills in the North to wherever the Hornwood lands start to their South. From what we know, the Hornwoods are significantly weaker than the Boltons and the Manderlys, so logic dictates that their lands are a relatively small patch sandwiched in between their two stronger neighbours.

LOL, no. First, see above. And then second: What makes the Hornwoods weak is that they are apparently extinct in the male line. They have no leaders, and if a house has no leader who is able to rally his men against ambitious neighbors and enemies. We have no idea how strong the Hornwoods are.

3 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

We know that the Reeds rule an area even larger than the above, as much as 90,000 square miles in size.

But we have no idea where exactly those lands end, and where the lands of other lords begin, right?

3 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

We know the Barrowlands stretch on both sides of the Kingsroad when Ned and Robert travel South, so it is very likely that it stretches up to the White Knife in the East.

Again - we don't know.

3 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Barrowton is already around 400 miles from the White Knife, and only about 100 miles from the border with the Rills, so it is very likely that the Dustin territory stretches up to the natural border between the Barrowlands and the Rills. Certainly the map indicates it to be so.

The map doesn't indicate anything of that sort. It is your interpretation that does. But again - nobody said anything about there being a major house between the Ryswells of the Rills and the Dustins, no?

3 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

The point is, we know the general size of a lot of Northern lords' holdings. Why try and argue against this pattern for the sake of argument only? If one were a betting man, you would assign the entire Rills to the Ryswells, just like the entire Barrowlands belong to the Dustins. And almost certainly the entire Karstark peninsula belongs to the Karstarks.

We have no idea.

3 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

I really don't understand this need to try and dispute what is meant to be a most likely estimate, rather than a precise declaration of ultimate truth. There might be the odd petty lord who due to a peculiar quirk of history or act of valour is sworn directly to House Stark, even though they reside in the Barrowlands, or some other area. But this is unlikely to be the norm. It would be the exception.

How do you know? How many men are directly sworn to the Arryns, the Lannisters, the Tullys, the Tyrells? Do you know that? And even if you did - what makes you believe that the feudal landscape in the North has a lot in common with the feudal landscape elsewhere in the land?

3 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

And as for this ridiculous idea that the numbers of returning Boltons now suddenly include non-Dreadfort men from the original army, I'm sorry, it is the most extreme argument of desperation I have yet come across.

They are described as Dreadfort men by the author, twice. From two different points of view. There is zero evidence that their origin is anything other than the Bolton lands. Zero.

LOL. Would you say Robar Royce was a man of Storm's End - a Baratheon man - when he died or a man of Runestone - an Arryn man?

We all know the answer to that question.

In TSotD we have Lord Corbray the fourth son of Lord Connington and some Dustin bastard joining Prince Aegon's host (which mostly was made up of Westermen and Rivermen).

Men can do what they want - and do what they want, without asking for your permission.

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6 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

 

So we know that the Boltons' domain stretches from the Lonely Hills in the North to wherever the Hornwood lands start to their South. From what we know, the Hornwoods are significantly weaker than the Boltons and the Manderlys, so logic dictates that their lands are a relatively small patch sandwiched in between their two stronger neighbours.

 

Not significantly, at least not as far as we know.  When Tyrion looks out upon the enemy army it is the Hornwood's who he notices first

Gods be damned, look at them all, Tyrion thought, though he knew his father had more men on the field. Their captains led them on armored warhorses, standard-bearers riding alongside with their banners. He glimpsed the bull moose of the Hornwoods, the Karstark sunburst, Lord Cerwyn's battle-axe, and the mailed fist of the Glovers … and the twin towers of Frey, blue on grey.

but fails to see any Umbers... or Boltons

The Greatjon getting upset over the thought of them being above him in the march could mean a few things, they are relatively new, they are smaller or he was threatened by their size. 

And when Lord Umber, who was called the Greatjon by his men and stood as tall as Hodor and twice as wide, threatened to take his forces home if he was placed behind the Hornwoods or the Cerwyns in the order of march, Robb told him he was welcome to do so.

When Cat comes upon the Northern army, like Tyrion, it is the Hornwoods she notices first

 On a stony outcrop of land higher than the surrounding country, they passed a lord's pavilion with walls of heavy sailcloth. Catelyn recognized the banner, the bull moose of the Hornwoods, brown on its dark orange field.

and there are still a decent amount men left in Roose's host as he still sends some to guard his rear before the Red   Wedding

bolton's voice was soft, but certain. "I left six hundred men at the ford. Spearmen from the rills, the mountains, and the White Knife, a hundred Hornwood longbows, some freeriders and hedge knights, and a strong force of Stout and Cerwyn men to stiffen them. Ronnel Stout and Ser Kyle Condon have the command. 

back in the North, despite their own troubles in their own lands, they were still one of the few Houses to send support to Rodrik when Winterfell was captured

Theon studied their banners through Maester Luwin's Myrish lens tube. The Cerwyn battle-axe flapped bravely wherever he looked, and there were Tallhart trees as well, and mermen from White Harbor. Less common were the sigils of Flint and Karstark. Here and there he even saw the bull moose of the Hornwoods. But no Glovers, Asha saw to them, no Boltons from the Dreadfort, no Umbers come down from the shadow of the Wall

and some even joined their new leige lord in helping rid Moat Cailin of the Ironborn

And now the Bastard of Bolton was riding south with Hother Umber to join them for an attack on Moat Cailin. "The Whoresbane his own self," claimed a riverman who'd just brought a load of hides and timber down the White Knife, "with three hundred spearmen and a hundred archers. Some Hornwood men have joined them, and Cerwyns too."

 

They hardly seem insignificant. Possibly below the Boltons and Manderlys, mostly due to how strong we presume them to be, but not that different from the average northern house, probably inbetween the Karstarks and Umbers. 

 

 

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29 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

Not significantly, at least not as far as we know.  When Tyrion looks out upon the enemy army it is the Hornwood's who he notices first

Gods be damned, look at them all, Tyrion thought, though he knew his father had more men on the field. Their captains led them on armored warhorses, standard-bearers riding alongside with their banners. He glimpsed the bull moose of the Hornwoods, the Karstark sunburst, Lord Cerwyn's battle-axe, and the mailed fist of the Glovers … and the twin towers of Frey, blue on grey.

but fails to see any Umbers... or Boltons

The Greatjon getting upset over the thought of them being above him in the march could mean a few things, they are relatively new, they are smaller or he was threatened by their size. 

And when Lord Umber, who was called the Greatjon by his men and stood as tall as Hodor and twice as wide, threatened to take his forces home if he was placed behind the Hornwoods or the Cerwyns in the order of march, Robb told him he was welcome to do so.

When Cat comes upon the Northern army, like Tyrion, it is the Hornwoods she notices first

 On a stony outcrop of land higher than the surrounding country, they passed a lord's pavilion with walls of heavy sailcloth. Catelyn recognized the banner, the bull moose of the Hornwoods, brown on its dark orange field.

and there are still a decent amount men left in Roose's host as he still sends some to guard his rear before the Red   Wedding

bolton's voice was soft, but certain. "I left six hundred men at the ford. Spearmen from the rills, the mountains, and the White Knife, a hundred Hornwood longbows, some freeriders and hedge knights, and a strong force of Stout and Cerwyn men to stiffen them. Ronnel Stout and Ser Kyle Condon have the command. 

back in the North, despite their own troubles in their own lands, they were still one of the few Houses to send support to Rodrik when Winterfell was captured

Theon studied their banners through Maester Luwin's Myrish lens tube. The Cerwyn battle-axe flapped bravely wherever he looked, and there were Tallhart trees as well, and mermen from White Harbor. Less common were the sigils of Flint and Karstark. Here and there he even saw the bull moose of the Hornwoods. But no Glovers, Asha saw to them, no Boltons from the Dreadfort, no Umbers come down from the shadow of the Wall

and some even joined their new leige lord in helping rid Moat Cailin of the Ironborn

And now the Bastard of Bolton was riding south with Hother Umber to join them for an attack on Moat Cailin. "The Whoresbane his own self," claimed a riverman who'd just brought a load of hides and timber down the White Knife, "with three hundred spearmen and a hundred archers. Some Hornwood men have joined them, and Cerwyns too."

 

They hardly seem insignificant. Possibly below the Boltons and Manderlys, mostly due to how strong we presume them to be, but not that different from the average northern house, probably inbetween the Karstarks and Umbers. 

 

 

Great! Always assumed them below Umbers because of march order but not so sure now.

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The Umbers are actually likely one of the weaker Northern lords, considering where they live and how fertile their lands are likely to be. They control large lands, to be sure, but it doesn't seem as if those lands are densely populated (when compared to other regions in the North).

I mean, guys, we know what happens when there is no adult Stark in the North. Basically nothing. And when the Starks are all dead the Northmen also sit on their asses and don't raise armies all by themselves to avenge their rulers or throw out some Ironborn.

Leaders have to come forth and force them to take action.

I mean, we all know that a Stark of Winterfell serving Robb as castellan would have been able to marshal a much larger army to deal with the Ironborn (including Theon at Winterfell) than Ser Rodrik could. He wasn't a Stark, and he had no authority over the Lords of the North. That's why there are so few men there with him at Winterfell.

On a lower level a similar thing happened in the Hornwood lands. All the Hornwoods are dead, so their vassals and men have no one to rally behind.

The clansmen also needed Stannis to rally behind because they were unwilling or incapable to overcome their own petty struggles and rivalries and anoint one of their own the leader of a clansmen army marching against the Ironborn and the Boltons.

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25 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

The Umbers are actually likely one of the weaker Northern lords, considering where they live and how fertile their lands are likely to be. They control large lands, to be sure, but it doesn't seem as if those lands are densely populated (when compared to other regions in the North).

I mean, guys, we know what happens when there is no adult Stark in the North. Basically nothing. And when the Starks are all dead the Northmen also sit on their asses and don't raise armies all by themselves to avenge their rulers or throw out some Ironborn.

Leaders have to come forth and force them to take action.

I mean, we all know that a Stark of Winterfell serving Robb as castellan would have been able to marshal a much larger army to deal with the Ironborn (including Theon at Winterfell) than Ser Rodrik could. He wasn't a Stark, and he had no authority over the Lords of the North. That's why there are so few men there with him at Winterfell.

On a lower level a similar thing happened in the Hornwood lands. All the Hornwoods are dead, so their vassals and men have no one to rally behind.

The clansmen also needed Stannis to rally behind because they were unwilling or incapable to overcome their own petty struggles and rivalries and anoint one of their own the leader of a clansmen army marching against the Ironborn and the Boltons.

I have no problem with the Hornwoods being powerful. I would in fact welcome it.  It just does not seem that way from the evidence. If there were sufficient men remaining in the Hornwood lands Lady Hornwood could have protected herself against Ramsay.

And we know the Hornwood lands were once merely a sub region of the Red Kings’ domain.

And as for the Umbers, their land is likely to be at least as fertile as the Gift, which is not deemed bad farmland at all by Northern standards.

They could be at the Karstark level for all we know. In fact, climate wise their land should not be very different from that of the Karstarks at all and is larger in size.

Similarly, the Mountain Clans live in even harsher territory than the Umbers and have raised 3000+ men to date.

So downgrading the Umbers is not based in fact.

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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9 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

I have no problem with the Hornwoods being powerful. I would in fact welcome it.  It just does not seem that way from the evidence. If there were sufficient men remaining in the Hornwood lands Lady Hornwood could have protected herself against Ramsay.

What are you talking about? The woman was set upon and abducted on the street, when traveling only with a small retinue. You can do that with anyone.

9 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

And we know the Hornwood lands were once merely a sub region of the Red Kings’ domain.

That has no bearing on anything. The Boltons lost their crowns ages ago, and the Starks might have taken more land from them than they still retain today. Not to mention that the size of the Bolton kingdom (while it still existed) would have waxed and waned just as many of the other petty kingdoms did.

9 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

And as for the Umbers, their land is likely to be at least as fertile as the Gift, which is not deemed bad farmland at all by Northern standards.

Well, one assumes there is much better farmland down at the Bite than there is there up in the shadow of the Wall. But the Gifts are a special case. They were set aside as farmland for the Watch for ages and were used as such. The Umber lands are nowhere described as consisting of a lot of farmland, be it good or bad. We hear the Umbers are grazing a lot of sheep up there, that's it.

And culturally the Umbers are clearly halfway between the clansmen and 'proper lords'. They are not seen as the elite or the powerhouse in the North.

9 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

They could be at the Karstark level for all we know. In fact, climate wise their land should not be very different from that of the Karstarks at all and is larger in size.

Overall, the impression we get is that the land gets less and less populated the farther you go up north. There is no reason to believe the Umber lands are as populated as the lands farther down south. And the Karstarks sit in the middle of a huge forest. If they don't have a significant portion of land outside that forest then they should be weaker than a Northern lord controlling lands where it is easier to live (and, no, mountains are not a good place to live, either).

The Karstarks really overextended themselves. They have basically nothing left after Arnolf takes his men to Stannis. Cregan basically walks naked to the Wall, and there seems to be no garrison in the castle left, with Alys implying her father's servants will open the gates to her.

9 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Similarly, the Mountain Clans live in even harsher territory than the Umbers and have raised 3000+ men to date.

How do you know their lands are more harsher? Winter could routinely be worse in the Umber lands than in the clansmen lands (at least down in their vales)

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25 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

I have no problem with the Hornwoods being powerful. I would in fact welcome it.  It just does not seem that way from the evidence. If there were sufficient men remaining in the Hornwood lands Lady Hornwood could have protected herself against Ramsay.

the trouble with this argument is that it can be flipped back on the Starks and Winterfell, it can be flipped on the Umbers or Karstarks being unable to provide enough people to farm the north or the North in general were the Kingsroad even close to the Wall, is no longer  a safe place to be. 

The entire North has become vulnerable without its army, the Hornwoods are not some exception to the rule. 

25 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

And we know the Hornwood lands were once merely a sub region of the Red Kings’ domain.

 

Yep, a thousand years ago. What possible changes could have taken  place in the last thousand years

25 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

And as for the Umbers, their land is likely to be at least as fertile as the Gift, which is not deemed bad farmland at all by Northern standards.

Correction, not all northerners, the Reeds who grew up in a swamp and had to hunt for frogs, actual noble children, were actually taught to hunt for frogs. 

To swamp dwellers I daresay most dry land seems an improvement of sorts. 

25 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

They could be at the Karstark level for all we know. In fact, climate wise their land should not be very different from that of the Karstarks at all and is larger in size.

they could be. The Karstarks are actually the only Northern House we have a very good idea of their strength. From what they supplied Robb at Winterfell, and in comparison to the Manderlys, we can assume they are one of the more powerful Northern bannermen in terms of numbers, though obviously it being mostly foot limits them. 

25 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Similarly, the Mountain Clans live in even harsher territory than the Umbers and have raised 3000+ men to date.

Yup, after summer some, maybe most, to sacrifice themselves from the upcoming winter. 

Them doing nothing during Summer when Bran and Rickon were captured speaks volumes, much of these 3,000 are working stiffs. All the North is likely to have these kind of men available in winter, death in battle is better than starvation. 

25 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

So downgrading the Umbers is not based in fact.

No one is downgrading them, we genuinely have no idea what their power is. We have no idea how many men they sent with Robb, all we know is it was too many and the harvest suffered as a result. Meanwhile come ADWD they have two forces of roughly 400 each; one of grey beards and the other green boys and it is not looking pretty for one faction. 

There can be no down or up grading on the Umbers given that they are largely a mystery to us. 

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45 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

What are you talking about? The woman was set upon and abducted on the street, when traveling only with a small retinue. You can do that with anyone.

That has no bearing on anything. The Boltons lost their crowns ages ago, and the Starks might have taken more land from them than they still retain today. Not to mention that the size of the Bolton kingdom (while it still existed) would have waxed and waned just as many of the other petty kingdoms did.

Well, one assumes there is much better farmland down at the Bite than there is there up in the shadow of the Wall. But the Gifts are a special case. They were set aside as farmland for the Watch for ages and were used as such. The Umber lands are nowhere described as consisting of a lot of farmland, be it good or bad. We hear the Umbers are grazing a lot of sheep up there, that's it.

And culturally the Umbers are clearly halfway between the clansmen and 'proper lords'. They are not seen as the elite or the powerhouse in the North.

Overall, the impression we get is that the land gets less and less populated the farther you go up north. There is no reason to believe the Umber lands are as populated as the lands farther down south. And the Karstarks sit in the middle of a huge forest. If they don't have a significant portion of land outside that forest then they should be weaker than a Northern lord controlling lands where it is easier to live (and, no, mountains are not a good place to live, either).

The Karstarks really overextended themselves. They have basically nothing left after Arnolf takes his men to Stannis. Cregan basically walks naked to the Wall, and there seems to be no garrison in the castle left, with Alys implying her father's servants will open the gates to her.

How do you know their lands are more harsher? Winter could routinely be worse in the Umber lands than in the clansmen lands (at least down in their vales)

So here’s the situation:

In the Northernmost parts of the mainland North we  have the Karstarks, Boltons, Umbers and Mountain Clans.

The Karstarks have raised around 3000 men to date. You are the first to argue that the Karstarks might not rule their entire peninsula. I argue that they do. And even if they do, which seems logical, their territory is still smaller than the confirmed lands of the Umbers. Furthermore their lands are mostly covered by forest, which usually lessens population density. 

Next, we have the Mountain Clans, who have also raised around 3000 men to date.

Their lands are in Mountains, which, even more so than forests, reduces population density in every other situation. Furthermore, given the climate, greater altitude will result in even colder conditions than lower lying areas on the same latitude. It is illogical to think that Mountainous areas will have a higher population density than low lying areas next to it.

Next we have the Boltons, who have demonstrated a strength of 4000 men based on a reasonable interpretation of the evidence.

And then you have the Umbers, one of the few houses we have very clear territorial boundaries for, and which confirms a huge territory for them, certainly larger than the maximum size of the neighbouring Karstark lands, and almost certainly larger than a reasonable guestimate of the current Bolton holdings.

We don’t have a direct statement of their numbers, and therefore we have to try and infer it from whatever evidence we do have. And based on all of the above, I find it very difficult to place them lower than the likes of the Karstarks.

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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7 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

The Karstarks have raised around 3000 men to date. You are the first to argue that the Karstarks might not rule their entire peninsula.

Man, I said we don't know where their lands begin and where they end. That's what I said. Perhaps they are larger than the peninsula, perhaps not, perhaps they only control a portion of the peninsula? We don't know.

7 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

I argue that they do. And even if they do, which seems logical, their territory is still smaller than the confirmed lands of the Umbers. Furthermore their lands are mostly covered by forest, which usually lessens population density. 

Again: winter might be colder up there, and the land and climate might be shittier.

7 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Their lands are in Mountains, which, even more so than forests, reduces population density in every other situation.

There is no indication that those mountains are, by and far, very large mountains, nor is there an indication that the clansmen live up the mountains or have to concern themselves with mountains that are too high/unpleasant that you can live on them.

Bran and the Reeds have no trouble getting through the lands of the clansmen. While mountainous regions definitely support fewer people than agricultural land, I daresay that large forests like the Karstark forest and the Wolfswood are much worse off in that regard.

But then - in the North there are also a lot of moors and windswept plains and the like which are completely invisible on the maps, so we cannot make any good guesses on that basis, either. We only know some about the geography, not everything.

7 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Furthermore, given the climate, greater altitude will result in even colder conditions than lower lying areas on the same latitude. It is illogical to think that Mountainous areas will have a higher population density than low lying areas next to it.

While true in principle, we don't know how high those mountains are, nor whether the clansmen actually live up there. They could all live in reasonably fertile vales.

After all, they assemble their men rather quickly in ADwD, implying that their people are not exactly spread out through the breadth of their lands but rather concentrated in certain regions.

7 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

And then you have the Umbers, one of the few houses we have very clear territorial boundaries for, and which confirms a huge territory for them, certainly larger than the maximum size of the neighbouring Karstark lands, and almost certainly larger than a reasonable guestimate of the current Bolton holdings.

Not sure how you get the notion that the Umber lands are larger than what you consider the maximum size of the Karstark lands. Do you know where the border between the Karstark lands and the Umber lands is?

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