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Sor Peter, the Tall

Is the Reach that powerfull?

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The Reach is an interesting region. It’s the most fertile and populous of all the Seven Kingdoms, the second richest (only losing to the Westerlands) and the home of Chivalry. 

As we see in “A Clash of Kings”, they can field 80.000 men (without House Florent, one of the most powerful House in the Reach) and probably have no problem in maintaining this large army. It represents almost the double of most of the regions of Westeros can field and the Reach also has the highest number of knights.

So… where are the disadvantages? 

1- They lack natural defenses
2- They are surrounded by several hostile regions (Kingdoms, depending on the era) 
3- I read somewhere that the vassals of the Tyrell are not so loyal and don’t gather their hole strength for their liege lord (except for Renly, because he was charismatic), but I don’t know if this affirmation is true.

But, for me, that is not enough reason to justify how overpowered the Reach is. 
Any Thoughts? 

It is my first post. I apologize if I wrote something wrong or forgot any important detail. I am also foreign and it’s not my mother language, then since now I apologize any huge mistake.

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On ‎8‎/‎10‎/‎2018 at 5:25 PM, Sor Peter, the Tall said:

The Reach is an interesting region. It’s the most fertile and populous of all the Seven Kingdoms, the second richest (only losing to the Westerlands) and the home of Chivalry. 

As we see in “A Clash of Kings”, they can field 80.000 men (without House Florent, one of the most powerful House in the Reach) and probably have no problem in maintaining this large army. It represents almost the double of most of the regions of Westeros can field and the Reach also has the highest number of knights.

So… where are the disadvantages? 

1- They lack natural defenses
2- They are surrounded by several hostile regions (Kingdoms, depending on the era) 
3- I read somewhere that the vassals of the Tyrell are not so loyal and don’t gather their hole strength for their liege lord (except for Renly, because he was charismatic), but I don’t know if this affirmation is true.

But, for me, that is not enough reason to justify how overpowered the Reach is. 
Any Thoughts? 

It is my first post. I apologize if I wrote something wrong or forgot any important detail. I am also foreign and it’s not my mother language, then since now I apologize any huge mistake.

Highgarden has been the hegemon in the realm for thousands of years, first under the Gardners and then under the Tyrells. The secret to this strength is the power bloc between the Garner/Tyrells, the Hightowers and the Redwynes. They are all one large extended family and it gives them not only the largest army on the continent but the largest navy as well.

This is why the Tyrells, and Lady Olenna in particular, since she is the one who is in charge, are so threatened by the rise of Casterly Rock. In the span of 15 years, CR has gone from a relatively weak realm to the north, formerly run by kindly, benevolent Tytos, to a powerhouse with marriage ties to the stormlands, the crownlands, the Iron Throne itself, and most recently the riverlands, the north and Dorne. This gives mad dog Tywin the ability to raise an army that could easily dwarf anything the Reach could muster, and Tywin is not the sort of lord who simply battles his foes, defeats them, and then raises them up again. Instead, he invades your lands, burns your crops, murders smallfolk by the thousands, demolishes towns, sacks cities and utterly obliterates rival houses and their castles into the dust.

Few readers seem to comprehend how much the balance of power has shifted in Westeros in a relatively short time, but it is in fact the primary motivator for much of the story.

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I think a big part is its just so indefensible and shares a border with at least four other kingdoms (Westerlands, Riverlands, Stormlands, Dorne), five if you throw in the sea and the Iron Islands. And other than their border with Dorne, none of them have natural defenses. 

If I recall correctly, I believe in a World of Ice and Fire there's a part where one of the Gardener kings was successfully invading the Stormlands, only to have it fall apart when a Lannister King invaded the Reach. There's just a lot of land to cover and defend. So yeah, being able to raise 100,000 men sounds impressive. But if you have to defend multiple fronts, you just end up with several manageable armies.

Take early modern France; it was one of the most populous countries in Europe and in several periods had the largest, strongest army. But, they had to defend borders with Spain, England (channel), the Dutch, Germany and Italy. Its risky to send most of your army south into Spain when there's a chance the Dutch could invade the north while you're gone.

Edited by LucionLannister

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1 hour ago, John Suburbs said:

Highgarden has been the hegemon in the realm for thousands of years, first under the Gardners and then under the Tyrells. The secret to this strength is the power bloc between the Garner/Tyrells, the Hightowers and the Redwynes. They are all one large extended family and it gives them not only the largest army on the continent but the largest navy as well.

I don't think we can draw a direct line there.

The Gardeners were indeed the greatest king of Westeros prior to the Conquest, both in First Men days as well as in Andal days (although we have to admit that they lost considerable prestige after the destruction of the Oakenseat).

But the Tyrells were just their stewards and while they got all the lands and incomes of Highgarden, making them, presumably, the most powerful lords in the Reach, they were lacking in prestige due to their modest ancestry.

Our Tyrells are heavily intermarried with the Redwynes, the Hightowers, and many other houses of note. But this wouldn't have been the case, presumably, back in Aegon's day. They would have needed time and patience to overcome prejudice and become the lords paramount of the Reach in truth as well as in name.

In the present they seem to have succeeded at that. It should be very dangerous to go against the will of House Tyrell in the Reach in these days. But still not everybody is on board. And as soon as they show a weakness certain grumblers might turn against them (or rather: join somebody the Tyrells are not supporting right now).

Your idea about the Lannisters/Tyrells seems unlikely to me. The Lannisters were always powerful, prestigious, and rich.

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15 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

I don't think we can draw a direct line there.

The Gardeners were indeed the greatest king of Westeros prior to the Conquest, both in First Men days as well as in Andal days (although we have to admit that they lost considerable prestige after the destruction of the Oakenseat).

But the Tyrells were just their stewards and while they got all the lands and incomes of Highgarden, making them, presumably, the most powerful lords in the Reach, they were lacking in prestige due to their modest ancestry.

Our Tyrells are heavily intermarried with the Redwynes, the Hightowers, and many other houses of note. But this wouldn't have been the case, presumably, back in Aegon's day. They would have needed time and patience to overcome prejudice and become the lords paramount of the Reach in truth as well as in name.

In the present they seem to have succeeded at that. It should be very dangerous to go against the will of House Tyrell in the Reach in these days. But still not everybody is on board. And as soon as they show a weakness certain grumblers might turn against them (or rather: join somebody the Tyrells are not supporting right now).

Your idea about the Lannisters/Tyrells seems unlikely to me. The Lannisters were always powerful, prestigious, and rich.

Whether under the Gardners or Tyrells, the key to Highgarden's power lay in its marriage alliances. The only time Highgarden fell was when a Gardner king made bad marriages that led to internal strife and they were overrun by a triple assault of the stormlands, westerlands and Dorne. Gardner power was only restored due to the efforts of a Tyrell to put the house back on a proper footing. So from that we can conclude that it takes multiple realms to take down Highgarden, and only internal weakness makes this even remotely possible.

So when the Tyrells were given the seat, they set about aligning themselves in this exact way, choosing to base their power bloc around the Redwynes and Hightowers. They have been intermarrying for centuries, and are now basically one large extended family. So you are right that this state did not exist back in Aegon's day; it took time and patience, which they had under the protection of dragons.

Historically, the Lannisters have been nowhere nearly as powerful as the Reach. Tywin had plenty of time to marshal an army during RR and showed up at KL with, what, 12k? The Reach sent nearly twice that number to the Trident and still had the bulk of its forces at Storm's End. Sure, the Lannisters have gold, but the Reach has food -- one buys you sellswords of dubious loyalty, the other keeps your homegrown army healthy and strong.

So as long as all the other realms remained fairly insular, marrying into their own bannermen, then Highgarden was secure. Whenever the other lords paramount seek to align themselves, however, Highgarden takes note. We saw this during RR, when the Reach supported the crown against an alliance of riverlands, north, vale and stormlands, and now during the Wot5K as Tywin marries his way to control the IT, crownlands, stormlands, riverlands and north.

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5 hours ago, John Suburbs said:

Whether under the Gardners or Tyrells, the key to Highgarden's power lay in its marriage alliances. The only time Highgarden fell was when a Gardner king made bad marriages that led to internal strife and they were overrun by a triple assault of the stormlands, westerlands and Dorne. Gardner power was only restored due to the efforts of a Tyrell to put the house back on a proper footing. So from that we can conclude that it takes multiple realms to take down Highgarden, and only internal weakness makes this even remotely possible.

I'm not sure if bad marriages are to blame there. Garth X had only daughters, no sons, and he apparently made rather prestigious marriages for at least two of those daughters - Lord Peake and Lord Manderlys, respectively. The real issue there was that Garth wasn't a great king and lived to senility.

I mean, this would have meant the man had Peake and Manderly grandchildren and great-grandchildren who were already adults, eager and greedy to see their respective (grand-)mother on the Oakenseat - not to mention Gardeners from cadet branches with interests of their own, etc.

But I'm in complete agreement that the Reach was in no big trouble unless to or three kingdoms made common cause against them. After the Rhoynar came it would have been harder, presumably. The Riverlands should most not have had the strength to really challenge Highgarden. But Casterly Rock and Storm's End definitely.

5 hours ago, John Suburbs said:

So when the Tyrells were given the seat, they set about aligning themselves in this exact way, choosing to base their power bloc around the Redwynes and Hightowers. They have been intermarrying for centuries, and are now basically one large extended family. So you are right that this state did not exist back in Aegon's day; it took time and patience, which they had under the protection of dragons.

I'm skeptical that the Tyrells got in the club of the highest nobility of the Reach in the first century after the Conquest. It would surprise me very much if that was the case.

Our Tyrells are very intermarried with the Redwynes of their day, but we don't know whether this is a longstanding tradition - even more so with the Hightowers. Is Alerie the first, fifth or twentieth Tyrell-Hightower marriage since the Conquest? We don't know.

Considering that Mace's uncle has a high position in Oldtown (Lord Commander of the City Watch!) we can assume that the Hightowers and Tyrells are on very good footing, implying that there may have been more marriages in the recent past. But we don't know.

Also keep in mind that Olenna Redwyne and Luthor Tyrell weren't supposed to marry each other originally. That seems to have been a result of Egg's children breaking their marriage contracts and the spurned suitors turning to each other in their shared resentment.

We don't know the answer of Highgarden and the Arbor to those affairs but one assumes there were considerable political repercussions for Aegon V.

5 hours ago, John Suburbs said:

Historically, the Lannisters have been nowhere nearly as powerful as the Reach. Tywin had plenty of time to marshal an army during RR and showed up at KL with, what, 12k?

That's the number given, but this doesn't mean Tywin couldn't have raised a larger host. He may have preferred to use a smaller host with more horse to be able to move faster. Tywin couldn't have possible doubled or tripled his military potential in just fifteen years.

5 hours ago, John Suburbs said:

The Reach sent nearly twice that number to the Trident and still had the bulk of its forces at Storm's End.

We don't know how many men from the Reach were with Rhaegar. He supposedly had about 40,000 (a semi-canonical number) and 10,000 of those were Dornishmen. There would have been Riverlanders and Crownlanders, too, but yes, also some Reach men. But not 30,000.

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The Reach is known for its abundance, but this might also be a weakness. Food is great, but perhaps the struggle helps create better fighting men.

The Ironborn, like the Vikings of earth, are from a harsh and inhospitable environment, but still manage to use their limited resources fairly effectively. Prior to the Conquest it was Harren the Black that had carved out the biggest kingdom under one ruler Westeros had ever seen.

Another 'weakness' may be that shared power balance of Gardener/Tyrell and Hightower, Redwyne and others throughout the history. Hightower with Oldtown being the biggest, oldest, richest city until fairly recently, and home to the Citadal and Stary Sept mean there are too many agendas for one House to control.

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17 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

But I'm in complete agreement that the Reach was in no big trouble unless to or three kingdoms made common cause against them. After the Rhoynar came it would have been harder, presumably. The Riverlands should most not have had the strength to really challenge Highgarden. But Casterly Rock and Storm's End definitely.

Sure, they can challenge, and with some top-notch generalship and a bit of luck they might even prevail. But the issue here is the balance of power in the realm, not the intricacies of any given engagement. The Reach is the most populous and fertile region. Nobody comes close to their strength. If they did, then the rich, fertile Reach would have been overrun time and time again by western and storm lords looking for plunder, just as they did with the riverlands. But Highgarden, backed by Oldtown and the Arbor, is too strong -- always has been. And more often than not, Casterly Rock turned to Highgarden for help whenever the Ironmen came prowling in their longships, while Storms End usually made common cause against the Dornish.

Sons, daughters, it makes no difference. Bad marriages that lead to internal strife, instead of good marriages that strengthen internal alliances, leads to invasion from without, which it did in this case from a combined assault by three other realms. Every noble reachman would be taught this fact from a young age and come to view standing alliances between other great houses as a direct threat to their security.

17 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

I'm skeptical that the Tyrells got in the club of the highest nobility of the Reach in the first century after the Conquest. It would surprise me very much if that was the case.

The Redwynes and Hightowers are the two most powerful vassals in the region, so it stands to reason that both the Gardeners and Tyrells would use them to maintain their power. The Gardeners married into both houses ages ago, and certainly by Olenna's time the Tyrells had managed to do the same. They recognize it as the key to their power. Sure, the Redwynes would take a Targeryen prince over a Tyrell lord, just as a Tyrell would take a Baratheon/Lannister king over one of their bannermen. Runceford Redwyne had at least one other child who married another Redwyne to produce Paxter, who ended up marrying a Tyrell. It's not like these three houses only marry each other to the exclusion of everyone else, but the threads of marriage bind these three, powerful houses to form the most significant power bloc in the kingdom.

18 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

That's the number given, but this doesn't mean Tywin couldn't have raised a larger host. He may have preferred to use a smaller host with more horse to be able to move faster. Tywin couldn't have possible doubled or tripled his military potential in just fifteen years.

We don't know how many men from the Reach were with Rhaegar. He supposedly had about 40,000 (a semi-canonical number) and 10,000 of those were Dornishmen. There would have been Riverlanders and Crownlanders, too, but yes, also some Reach men. But not 30,000.

Tywin had the better part of a year to raise his host, but I agree that he probably only took his horse to KL given the time pressure he was under. Loren I supposedly had 22k at the Field of Fire, and Tywin had 35K+ during the 5K, while his naval strength is somewhere around 50 or 60 ships. But also note that this strength comes after 30 years of rule by Tywin, which is one of the reasons the Tyrells are so alarmed by his continued acquisition of power by subduing and marrying into other realms.

Historic estimates for the Reach include 30k at the FoF, while the Hightowers alone were said to have contributed 9K to Aegon II during the Dance. During the 5K, of course, they number some 80k, with another 10k in reserve, and this is without any contributions from the Redwynes, which has some 200 warships, although it does include most of the stormlords numbering approx. 20k.

So all in all, I think we can safely say that Highgarden has roughly twice the strength of CR, and this is after Tywin has spent the last 30 years bulking up his military footing.

As for the Trident, we have 30k between the Reach, riverlands and crownlands, the bulk of which came from the Reach. So that's at least 15k, and probably closer or more than 20k, all while Mace's main force is settled around Storm's End.

We can debate all night and day about numbers, but the fact is that the Reach has historically been the most powerful house on the continent, derived mainly by the Tyrell/Gardener-Redwyne-Hightower bloc, and that this balance is now shifting toward CR. The two main engagements that the Reach entered into in the recent past were Robert's Rebellion, when a potential alliance, backed by marriages, between the north, riverlands, vale and crownlands threatened both their king and their hegemony, and the 5K, after which Tywin Lannister's control, by conquest and marriage, of the westerlands, riverlands, north, crownlands, stormlands and the Iron Throne again threaten Highgarden's hegemony.

Preserving the historical balance of power in the realm is the primary motivation for everything the Tyrells, and Lady Olenna in particular, do throughout the story.

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8 hours ago, dmfn said:

The Reach is known for its abundance, but this might also be a weakness. Food is great, but perhaps the struggle helps create better fighting men.

The Ironborn, like the Vikings of earth, are from a harsh and inhospitable environment, but still manage to use their limited resources fairly effectively. Prior to the Conquest it was Harren the Black that had carved out the biggest kingdom under one ruler Westeros had ever seen.

Another 'weakness' may be that shared power balance of Gardener/Tyrell and Hightower, Redwyne and others throughout the history. Hightower with Oldtown being the biggest, oldest, richest city until fairly recently, and home to the Citadal and Stary Sept mean there are too many agendas for one House to control.

Every great house has to deal with internal conflict among its bannermen. The Tyrells, Redwynes and Hightowers are one big family, so they fight but they also support one another from external threats. And the fact is that the biggest threat right up until a few months ago was Tywin Lannister. Casterly Rock was a fairly weak frenemy to the north for ages, and until recently was led by kindly old Tytos who just wanted to get along with everybody. Then, in the blink of an eye, Tytos is dead and ruthless, militant Tywin is in charge.

Tywin has already shown how he deals with houses that defy him. He doesn't just defeat them in battle and then raise them up again after they bend the knee. He crushes them into dust, razing their castles to the ground and slaughtering every last member he can find, right down to the livery boy. Later, he shows what a turncloak he can be when he feigns allegiance to his king and then sacks and burns the capital city while his son foreswears his vows to murder said king. And most recently, he has shown that he doesn't just invade other realms and fight honorably on the battlefield, but ushers in a wave of terror by murdering smallfolk in the thousands, burning every village, town, holdfast and castle he can find, and utterly laying waste to the countryside.

And up until he died, this mad dog warlord was well on his way to acquiring a power bloc that could field an army that would dwarf anything the Reach could muster, and he is doing it the same way that the Reach has maintained its own bloc all these years: through marriage. Not only has he married the Iron Throne and put his grandson in the seat of power, but he also has a second grandson to become the next Lord of Storms end. He also has a sister as Lady of Riverrun, with a nephew as lord-in waiting, and he even has his own son poised to become Lord-Regent of Winterfell. So that brings him the westerlands, crownlands, stormlands, riverlands and the north, plus the Iron Throne itself -- more than half the kingdom. And he even has a granddaughter marring into House Martell.

This was the real threat for House Tyrell over the past 15 years. Fortunately, it all began to fall apart when Joffrey died.

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