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Westeros; the sleepy superpower

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They couldn’t even conquer Dorne. How could they conquer Essos?

The answer is that Westeros is not united, and the Targ rule was at best tolerated, and was not very stable.

A Targ king landing 150k men overseas for a lengthy campaign might well return to find he no longer sits on the Iron Throne.

The absolute power of the Targaryens over Westeros is a myth.

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On 9/20/2018 at 4:34 PM, Legitimate_Bastard said:

I have often also wondered why Westeros under the most powerful Targs never tried to colonize anywhere. Seems like they could have if they had wanted, especially while the dragons still lived like you say.

It's the not so rare phenomenon of a saturated empire; almost all stable empires did reach this point at some time (even Rome; Trajan's Dacian adventure was just an episode, and a costly too).

So there is no realism issue at all with this.

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18 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

I thought that once, too, but FaB really makes it clear that Westeros is a united continent and the Free Cities are basically just (pretty powerful) equivalents of the Italian Renaissance states. They don't have the resources to actually last long against a united Westeros. Assuming they would ever unite (which is bloody unlikely).

Where in the world are we getting that idea?  If anything, FaB and the entirety of what we know about Westeros makes it incredibly clear Westeros is only united in name only, not in fact.  The continent splits into factionalism at every chance it gets.  The Iron Throne has the ability to keep the various parties from fighting each other, when at it's most effective, but almost never to bring the full strength of the theoretical power of the various Houses to bear on one strategic target.  Yes, Stormlanders and Reachmen might unite to attack Dorne, but Valemen and Northerners aren't so psyched about it.  Yes, the Lannisters and Starks might love to cooperate to smash the ironborn, but the Stormlands don't seem to have the same enthusiasm.

18 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

The Targaryens have various fleets - through their lords. And they sure as hell have the incomes to build new fleets. The Sealord of Braavos in Jaehaerys' days acknowledges that his war fleets are superior to those of the Iron Throne (at that time, in the 50s) but even that may no longer be true in the later reign of Jaehaerys I and Viserys I - when Corlys Velaryon alone controlled enough ships to challenge and defeat the Triarchy in two wars.

It's almost certainly true.  Westeros has an ad hoc navy.  The ironborn have a "standing" navy of sorts, but the Redwyne and the Iron Throne have vastly smaller war fleets; most of their "ships" are re-purposed merchant marine vessels.  Braavos has the ability to manufacture a first rate war galley every single day.  

Even ruling out the major losses the ironborn, Lannisters, and various Reach Houses will incur in getting to the Narrow Sea - which might be as high as two thirds of the fleet lost, right there, if we can believe our in-universe sources, in the time it takes them to gather, Braavos will be more than ready, and that doesn't count the other Free Cities.

And there is a difference between driving the Triarchy out of the relatively neutral Stepstones and actually taking the fight to one of the cities.

18 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Westeros sure as hell can and did use ships as a means to transport troops. Dany intends to do that, Euron is doing that right now, Corlys and Daemon did that, the Volantenes did it with the Golden Company, etc.

Right, you get them over there.  Now you spend what?  The next twenty years shuttling supplies back and forth?  There is a reason amphibious invasion was rarely successful in the ancient and medieval worlds - it's difficult and expensive.  Euron is on a raid that even his contemporaries know is doomed to failure.  Dany intends to ship her army over on a one time basis and then rule as a legitimate monarch returning from exile.  The Volantenes similarly just dropped a bunch of soldiers off, in a notably random fashion, let me remind you.

I'm not disputing that Westerosi forces could hypothetically force a landing in Essos, merely that keeping that force supplied or reinforced would be next to impossible.  Most of the Westerosi Houses can't afford to have their fleets wandering around forever; these ships are usually the lifeblood of their income, they're converted merchant vessels for the most part.

18 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Or just kill everyone and repopulate the conquered lands with your own people.

I mean, there is no indication Westeros itself is particularly overpopulated, so where are the people coming from?  Doesn't make sense to import a few hundred thousand new serfs to farm the land (which, of course, is only a tiny fraction of the existing population you wiped out) if that leaves your farms at home in Westeros lying fallow.

And yes, you could free the slaves - but look at how that is working out for Dany.  Radical reconstruction of a society needs more than just "kill the elite and empower the downtrodden" to work.  Westeros isn't financially savvy enough to understand the implications of rebuilding a new society in Essos, and in the event they can't project force to every single one of the Free Cities, the moment they leave they'll lose control.

18 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

If I were to attack multiple cities at once I would attack from different directions, using multiple fleets not just one huge armada.

Which you wouldn't have enough ships for, because discrete units of the Free Cities (Triarchy, Braavos, Volantis, etc) are fielding fleets equal in size and superior in seamanship to Westeros.   You also then risk spreading your dragons too thin.  Plus, how do you coordinate those attacks over thousands of miles of ground?  I think it's easy to underestimate these kinds of difficulties for pre-modern societies.  

 

19 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Essos as such might outnumber Westeros insofar as its population is concerned, but the territories of the Free Cities most likely do not. Even if they were, technically, free Lyseni, Myrmen, and Tyroshi are outnumbered by slaves 3:1 and the free Volantenes 5:1. That is not the kind of environment you want to live in when enemies who don't share your views on slavery come knocking at your door. Such a political and social system would collapse.

I'm not sure what this has to do with it.  We can safely estimate that the population of Western Essos is several times larger, if not order of magnitude larger, than that of Westeros.  Which means the freeborn population is larger than the entire population of Westeros.

19 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Nobody said anything of the Targaryens shipping a single vast host to Essos. If I were organizing such a campaign I'd deal with one city at a time, making alliances with the others (for the time being) to crush their ancient enemies. Like the Dothraki did with the Sarnori.

If I were to attack multiple cities at once I would attack from different directions, using multiple fleets not just one huge armada.

The Free Cities rely mostly on sellswords. Volantis has a standing slave army and navy (which may desert/or change sides if offered freedom), the Three Daughters rely greatly on sellswords (although Lys seems to have a state militia/fleet, too), Pentos is a joke (at least in later years, perhaps not yet in Jaehaerys' day), leaving Braavos as the only tough nut to crack. Norvos and Qohor are too far inland, and Lorath isn't worth mentioning.

First off, the Free Cities may squabble but they've been uniformly intelligent about uniting in the face of existential danger.  Also, the Dothraki are raiders, not conquerors - I'm not arguing that the Iron Thone couldn't burn down half of Essos if it wanted, but that isn't conquest.

I also think you're overestimating the allure of "freedom" for the enslaved population of Essos.  Or rather, how easy it would be to accomplish it.  How do you get word to the Volantene armies/navies about your plan?  How do you get them to trust you?  You don't think every slave society in Essos isn't terrified of this exact thing, doesn't have protocols and plans in place to prevent slave rebellions?  And once you give those slaves their freedom, you really expect them to conform to a Westerosi-style feudal aristocracy?  And if not, what is the plan?  Slave populations throughout history are rarely interested in "freedom" and far more often interested in replacing their former owners at the top of the heap (e.g. everyone involved with Spartacus except Spartacus himself).

From a purely military standpoint, the Iron Throne has a decent chance at engaging, defeating, and/or cowing the Free Cities.  It categorically cannot defend those gains over even a small period of time.  All of the options which might allow this to be possible are beyond the social, political, and economic horizons of Westerosi development.  Building a handful of trunk roads and installing basic sanitation in the capital is basically the crowning achievement of the entire 300 years of Targaryen rule in Westeros - why are we to believe they are capable of radically reconstructing western Essos to legitimate and perpetuate their conquest?

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2 hours ago, cpg2016 said:

Where in the world are we getting that idea?  If anything, FaB and the entirety of what we know about Westeros makes it incredibly clear Westeros is only united in name only, not in fact.  The continent splits into factionalism at every chance it gets.  The Iron Throne has the ability to keep the various parties from fighting each other, when at it's most effective, but almost never to bring the full strength of the theoretical power of the various Houses to bear on one strategic target.  Yes, Stormlanders and Reachmen might unite to attack Dorne, but Valemen and Northerners aren't so psyched about it.  Yes, the Lannisters and Starks might love to cooperate to smash the ironborn, but the Stormlands don't seem to have the same enthusiasm.

It does? Where? Do any of the mainland kingdoms ever go to war again after the Conquest? There is no doubt that the kings do command the allegiance of all their lords. They don't even have to go through those lords paramount as the campaigns of Maegor (and Aegon the Uncrowned) and during the Dance show.

And later Daeron I can apparently throw at least 50,000 men against Dorne - probably much more, considering we don't believe that the Dornishmen could kill all the invaders, do we? I'm inclined to believe that for practical reasons most of those men will be Reach men, Marchers, Stormlanders, and Crownlanders. But not explicitly as Rickon Stark's participation in the war seems to indicate. I don't think many Northmen marched with the Young Dragon but I could be wrong. But even 'not many' could be number in the thousands.

I also don't think there is any indication that the Iron Throne would need the full power of all of Westeros to conquer the Free Cities. They would need considerably less, I'd wager, if a competent man planned the campaign and things went reasonably well. If the weather and luck were completely against them they could suffer major setbacks and defeats, of course, but there is no question that the resources are there for such an enterprise.

2 hours ago, cpg2016 said:

It's almost certainly true.  Westeros has an ad hoc navy.  The ironborn have a "standing" navy of sorts, but the Redwyne and the Iron Throne have vastly smaller war fleets; most of their "ships" are re-purposed merchant marine vessels.  Braavos has the ability to manufacture a first rate war galley every single day.

Can you point me towards the textual evidence that describes the various Westerosi fleets - especially the royal/Velaryon war fleet and the Redwyne fleet - in detail? I don't remember any such hints.

Braavos' arsenal shows the capability of their industry. But that has nothing to do with the men and the resources they control. They can man and finance much fewer ships than Westeros can. Braavos would be the toughest nut to crack, but the smart way to challenge them wouldn't be to honestly declare war on them. Rather one should draw them into an alliance and then later betray them when the Iron Throne already has a foothold in the Flatlands - say, ally with Braavos against Pentos, take the latter and then use the Flatlands as a staging ground to conquer all the Braavosi possessions on the mainland of Essos, followed by an attack - both from land and sea - on the city itself. And enemy just has to take that sweetwater river from the Braavosi and should be finished quickly enough.

2 hours ago, cpg2016 said:

Even ruling out the major losses the ironborn, Lannisters, and various Reach Houses will incur in getting to the Narrow Sea - which might be as high as two thirds of the fleet lost, right there, if we can believe our in-universe sources, in the time it takes them to gather, Braavos will be more than ready, and that doesn't count the other Free Cities.

It would be stupid to attack them all at once. Did I or anyone suggest they should/would do that?

But I'm pretty sure the Manderlys, Graftons, Velaryons (and other lords of the Narrow Sea), Redwynes, Hightowers, and Tyrells alone could marshal a fleet large enough to crush the Free Cities. If Corlys Velaryon alone could defy/defeat the Triarchy two times there is no reason to believe that the asset - if put to the task - of some of the wealthiest houses of Westeros could not build a much larger army.

And Corlys Velaryon's grand armada didn't exactly cause the Free Cities to launch a preemptive strike, so chances are very good that a king could actually assemble such a fleet under the very noses of the Free Cities.

2 hours ago, cpg2016 said:

And there is a difference between driving the Triarchy out of the relatively neutral Stepstones and actually taking the fight to one of the cities.

Not sure where the difference there is? It is quite clear that the Velaryons are still capable of dealing with the Three Daughters and the pirates even after the Dance (remember Alyn's campaign down there?) And Tyrosh is situated on one of the Stepstones. 

2 hours ago, cpg2016 said:

Right, you get them over there.  Now you spend what?  The next twenty years shuttling supplies back and forth?  There is a reason amphibious invasion was rarely successful in the ancient and medieval worlds - it's difficult and expensive.  Euron is on a raid that even his contemporaries know is doomed to failure.  Dany intends to ship her army over on a one time basis and then rule as a legitimate monarch returning from exile.  The Volantenes similarly just dropped a bunch of soldiers off, in a notably random fashion, let me remind you.

Sure, but it worked. They got across. And the lands of Essos seem to be fertile enough that armies could live off the land. The Roman legions were  not exactly receive provisions from Italy when the conquered England (at least to my knowledge).

2 hours ago, cpg2016 said:

I'm not disputing that Westerosi forces could hypothetically force a landing in Essos, merely that keeping that force supplied or reinforced would be next to impossible.  Most of the Westerosi Houses can't afford to have their fleets wandering around forever; these ships are usually the lifeblood of their income, they're converted merchant vessels for the most part.

Again, can you give us any quote for that? Corlys Velaryon is said to have built war fleets as Master of Ships. The same goes for Tyland Lannister later on as Hand. The relevant part of the Redwyne fleet also seem to be war galleys not ships built and used for trade.

And again - they could live off the land. I mean, seriously, Dany crushed three major cities in Slaver's Bay with a tiny fraction of the men the Iron Throne could muster, in a region where the lands are much less fertile than those in the Free Cities region. Some of the Free Cities would be tougher nuts to crack, sure, but that's where more men, proper siege equipment, etc. would come into play.

2 hours ago, cpg2016 said:

And yes, you could free the slaves - but look at how that is working out for Dany.  Radical reconstruction of a society needs more than just "kill the elite and empower the downtrodden" to work.  Westeros isn't financially savvy enough to understand the implications of rebuilding a new society in Essos, and in the event they can't project force to every single one of the Free Cities, the moment they leave they'll lose control.

That's an argument against trying to conquer those places - but we are not discussing whether they want to do that or not (obviously they never wanted to do it, anyway), we are discussing whether they could have done it if they had wanted to try it. And I say they could have.

2 hours ago, cpg2016 said:

Which you wouldn't have enough ships for, because discrete units of the Free Cities (Triarchy, Braavos, Volantis, etc) are fielding fleets equal in size and superior in seamanship to Westeros.   You also then risk spreading your dragons too thin.  Plus, how do you coordinate those attacks over thousands of miles of ground?  I think it's easy to underestimate these kinds of difficulties for pre-modern societies.  

Dragonriders could very much help with the coordination thing. I'm sure the Braavosi have a very large fleet, but I doubt the Sealord was talking about all the Westerosi war ships when he talked to Barth. He would have meant the royal fleet (i.e. Velaryon, Targaryen and Narrow Sea ships) not all the fleets the Iron Throne could call upon in times of need. And even there it is unclear whether the Braavosi fleet outnumbered the Iron Throne's or whether the Sealord just thought he had the better ships/men and would thus, at first, prevail.

Other Free Cities' fleets are clearly outnumbered by the Velaryon fleet alone - at least in the days of Corlys Velaryon and the Dance.

2 hours ago, cpg2016 said:

I'm not sure what this has to do with it.  We can safely estimate that the population of Western Essos is several times larger, if not order of magnitude larger, than that of Westeros.  Which means the freeborn population is larger than the entire population of Westeros.

On what do you base an assertion like that? In ADwD there is no indication that the Flatlands and the lands along the Rhoyne are populated at all (until we reach Volantene territory) and Dany's POV in AGoT points in a similar direction.

The lands are not completely empty but the lands of the Rhoynar were apparently never repopulated after the war with Valyria. And even Volantis is in decline and vast reaches of the city are actually empty.

I certainly assume that their towns and villages in the lands controlled by the major Free Cities, but I don't think those those populations come even remotely close to entirety of the Seven Kingdoms.

But of what lands do you speak when you talk of 'Western Essos'? Do you include Dothraki territory there?

2 hours ago, cpg2016 said:

First off, the Free Cities may squabble but they've been uniformly intelligent about uniting in the face of existential danger.  Also, the Dothraki are raiders, not conquerors - I'm not arguing that the Iron Thone couldn't burn down half of Essos if it wanted, but that isn't conquest.

If Aegon the Conqueror can conquer Westeros his dragonriding descendants commanding the assets of the Seven Kingdoms could certainly conquer nine city-states. There is really no question about that.

Not sure when exactly all the Free Cities ever united 'in the face of existential danger'?

2 hours ago, cpg2016 said:

I also think you're overestimating the allure of "freedom" for the enslaved population of Essos.  Or rather, how easy it would be to accomplish it.  How do you get word to the Volantene armies/navies about your plan?  How do you get them to trust you?  You don't think every slave society in Essos isn't terrified of this exact thing, doesn't have protocols and plans in place to prevent slave rebellions?  And once you give those slaves their freedom, you really expect them to conform to a Westerosi-style feudal aristocracy?  And if not, what is the plan?  Slave populations throughout history are rarely interested in "freedom" and far more often interested in replacing their former owners at the top of the heap (e.g. everyone involved with Spartacus except Spartacus himself).

I don't really know or care about those details at this point. We are talking whether a conquest as such is possible, I see no reason to envision a very detailed scenario here. I'm not insisting such an enterprise has to work under any possible circumstances. Rather that I think it could work in a number of them.

And, honestly, Dany is not even moving west and the red priests in Volantis are already doing her work for her. If something like that happened during such a campaign done on behalf of Jaehaerys I or Viserys I I'm sure things could go the way they are likely to go for Dany.

2 hours ago, cpg2016 said:

From a purely military standpoint, the Iron Throne has a decent chance at engaging, defeating, and/or cowing the Free Cities.  It categorically cannot defend those gains over even a small period of time.  All of the options which might allow this to be possible are beyond the social, political, and economic horizons of Westerosi development.  Building a handful of trunk roads and installing basic sanitation in the capital is basically the crowning achievement of the entire 300 years of Targaryen rule in Westeros - why are we to believe they are capable of radically reconstructing western Essos to legitimate and perpetuate their conquest?

How could the Turks conquer Constantinople? How could Alexander the Great topple the Achaemenids? How did Cortes crush the Aztecs? Those things can and do happen. You can take over existing infrastructure, you can win the allegiance of the conquered, you can kill a considerable amount of them, etc.

Again, if three incestuous brats with large pets could conquer an entire continent then taking nine cities is not that much of a problem.

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On 12/21/2018 at 8:01 PM, Lord Varys said:

It does? Where? Do any of the mainland kingdoms ever go to war again after the Conquest? There is no doubt that the kings do command the allegiance of all their lords. They don't even have to go through those lords paramount as the campaigns of Maegor (and Aegon the Uncrowned) and during the Dance show.

I mean... yes, they do, all the time.  The Dance.  All of the Blackfyre Rebellions.  Robert's Rebellion.  Nominally these are civil wars between competing Targaryen claims, but they represent the inherent factionalism and power politicking of a loosely united, almost federal feudal country.  A lot of these wars start or are made worse by various lords maneuvering for more power, more land, more honors, more offices.

On 12/21/2018 at 8:01 PM, Lord Varys said:

Can you point me towards the textual evidence that describes the various Westerosi fleets - especially the royal/Velaryon war fleet and the Redwyne fleet - in detail? I don't remember any such hints.

I'll have to find it, but the Redwyne fleet is described as being the largest fleet in Westeros at 200 strong, with 5 times as many merchant marine vessels.  The Iron Fleet is 100 galleys, and presumably the Royal Fleet is not much larger, since Cersei thinks that the 10 dromonds she's building are an effective replacement for the former royal fleet, which was mostly Velaryon ships (or Dragonstone-sworn ships) anyway.

So the main fleets in Westeros come out to approximately 400 warships.  Given our one-a-day production schedule for Braavos, that means any mustering of a year or more means Westeros cannot reasonably hope to outmatch Braavos alone, let alone the remaining Free Cities.  Volantis alone has 300-500 war dromonds, according to Victarion's estimate, essentially outstripping Westeros on it's own, and Braavos is described as being the "wealthiest and most powerful" of the Free Cities, so it seems hard to imagine they can't float a similar number.  Likewise, the tenuous balance of power would have long since been upset if the remaining Free Cities didn't have a similar naval capability.  So 1,000 ships seems an extremely conservative estimate for what the Free Cities can raise, and likely substantially more than that.

On 12/21/2018 at 8:01 PM, Lord Varys said:

ut that has nothing to do with the men and the resources they control. They can man and finance much fewer ships than Westeros can.

On the contrary, the can finance and man a much larger warfleet.  They control essentially 50% or more of the world's financial capabilities (or at least the "known" world) through the Iron Bank, which is effectively an arm of the Braavosi state.  The population of Braavos is also likely to be substantially higher, or rather more concentrated, than Westeros, and far less reliant on labor-intensive agriculture, meaning they can actually man more warships per capita than the Westerosi can.

On 12/21/2018 at 8:01 PM, Lord Varys said:

Sure, but it worked. They got across. And the lands of Essos seem to be fertile enough that armies could live off the land. The Roman legions were  not exactly receive provisions from Italy when the conquered England (at least to my knowledge).

The Romans were in Britain for a few weeks, more or less.  And the Roman administrative machine was far more advanced than anything until Napoleon.  Caesar was busy gathering supplies and building depots for months prior to his landing.  So no, not from Italy, but from all over Gaul.  Westeros simply cannot support such an effort.  Even the Romans were entirely reliant on local allies to provide supplies for the legions.

You can live off the land during the harvest season if you travel in small groups - which makes you easy picking for local resistance.  Essentially the Westerosi will starve within months of landing.

On 12/21/2018 at 8:01 PM, Lord Varys said:

And again - they could live off the land. I mean, seriously, Dany crushed three major cities in Slaver's Bay with a tiny fraction of the men the Iron Throne could muster, in a region where the lands are much less fertile than those in the Free Cities region. Some of the Free Cities would be tougher nuts to crack, sure, but that's where more men, proper siege equipment, etc. would come into play.

She was feeding 8,000 Unsullied, or about that, right?  That's a far cry from 150,000.  Second, she took Astapor and Yunkai by guile and Meereen by slave revolt, basically.  I'm not sure you can rely on that in the case of the Free Cities.  And again, the reason castles are so useful in Westeros and our world is that sieges are extremely difficult; provisioning those armies would be nearly impossible.

On 12/21/2018 at 8:01 PM, Lord Varys said:

Other Free Cities' fleets are clearly outnumbered by the Velaryon fleet alone - at least in the days of Corlys Velaryon and the Dance.

Quote.  All we hear is that Corlys Velayron drove the Triarchy out of the Stepstones. We hear absolutely nothing about relative numbers or absolute strengths.  Just that he had one specific success.  We have no idea that that is representative of.

On 12/21/2018 at 8:01 PM, Lord Varys said:

On what do you base an assertion like that? In ADwD there is no indication that the Flatlands and the lands along the Rhoyne are populated at all (until we reach Volantene territory) and Dany's POV in AGoT points in a similar direction.

The lands are not completely empty but the lands of the Rhoynar were apparently never repopulated after the war with Valyria. And even Volantis is in decline and vast reaches of the city are actually empty.

I certainly assume that their towns and villages in the lands controlled by the major Free Cities, but I don't think those those populations come even remotely close to entirety of the Seven Kingdoms.

But of what lands do you speak when you talk of 'Western Essos'? Do you include Dothraki territory there?

First off, Volon Therys, Valysar, and Selhorys are individually bigger than Kings Landing.  And all are smaller than Volantis, presumably.  Which means a minimum of 2,000,000 people in just those urban areas.  That requires a HUGE agricultural base to support that kind of urbanization.  Which means millions more.  Lets say, inaccurately, that for every one city dweller you need two agricultural workers to support them (and the number should be much, much, much higher).  You're looking at a minimum of 6 million and probably a lot closer to, or even higher than, 10 million.  That's Volantis.  Even admitting that Volantis is likely to be the largest by a substantial margin, the Free Cities are referred to as such because they're the largest and wealthiest, which means they are individually likely to be larger than the subsidiary Volantene towns.  So now we're talking another 4+ million at least.  Admittedly cities like Lys or Tyrosh may have substantial fishing fleets, and thus not have quite as large of a dependent population, but we also know that Essos is heavily urbanized even outside the Free Cities.

And no, I wasn't referring to the sparsely populated Dothraki Sea, but it's quite obvious that Essos is vastly more densely populated, and more populous, than Westeros.  Volantis alone has a larger urban population than the entirety of Westeros.  We haven't even begun to discuss the various smaller towns we never hear about, the Gulltowns or White Harbors.

On 12/21/2018 at 8:01 PM, Lord Varys said:

If Aegon the Conqueror can conquer Westeros his dragonriding descendants commanding the assets of the Seven Kingdoms could certainly conquer nine city-states. There is really no question about that.

Not sure when exactly all the Free Cities ever united 'in the face of existential danger'

During the Century of Blood, basically all of the non-Volantene cities united in order to prevent Volantis from achieving hegemony.  The Triarchy was formed to keep the balance of power between Myr, Lys, and Tyrosh on one side and Volantis on the other.

And Aegon and his sisters essentially placed themselves on top of the Westerosi hierarchy and changed nothing else, socially, politically, or economically.  That isn't feasible in this case, because no Westerosi is going to fight unless there is a chance for rewards or, more likely, lands.  Since the existing social structure of Essos isn't feudal, there is no way to recreate the conditions of Aegon's Conquest.  Thus, there is no way to rule Essos without an existing armed presence, which means that in anything but the short term, there is no way to rule Essos.  Hence my agreement with you that a chevauchee could be effective and possible, but actual conquest and rule is not.

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1 hour ago, cpg2016 said:

I mean... yes, they do, all the time.  The Dance.  All of the Blackfyre Rebellions.  Robert's Rebellion.  Nominally these are civil wars between competing Targaryen claims, but they represent the inherent factionalism and power politicking of a loosely united, almost federal feudal country.  A lot of these wars start or are made worse by various lords maneuvering for more power, more land, more honors, more offices.

The impression I have is that the lords couldn't care less who sits the Iron Throne. There are morons who side with one pretender or the other out of principle, but most are either nudged/persuaded into participating (especially during the Dance by visiting dragonriders) or stay out of it. Very few men actually heavily involved themselves in the Dance or any of the Blackfyre rebellions that we know of.

1 hour ago, cpg2016 said:

I'll have to find it, but the Redwyne fleet is described as being the largest fleet in Westeros at 200 strong, with 5 times as many merchant marine vessels.  The Iron Fleet is 100 galleys, and presumably the Royal Fleet is not much larger, since Cersei thinks that the 10 dromonds she's building are an effective replacement for the former royal fleet, which was mostly Velaryon ships (or Dragonstone-sworn ships) anyway.

The Redwynes have 200 great war galleys, yes, and they are not part of merchant fleet.

The Iron Fleet is only the personal fleet of House Greyjoy - it isn't even remotely the entire naval strength of the Iron Islands. The fleet Euron controls right now is vastly larger than the 100 ships Victarion took to Slaver's Bay.

How large the royal fleet was/is in the main series is unclear.

1 hour ago, cpg2016 said:

So the main fleets in Westeros come out to approximately 400 warships.  Given our one-a-day production schedule for Braavos, that means any mustering of a year or more means Westeros cannot reasonably hope to outmatch Braavos alone, let alone the remaining Free Cities.

The fact that the Braavosi can technically built a single war galley per day doesn't mean they have the resources to actually do that every day. Even if they had the resources they clearly do not have the men to man thousands of warships.

1 hour ago, cpg2016 said:

Volantis alone has 300-500 war dromonds, according to Victarion's estimate, essentially outstripping Westeros on it's own, and Braavos is described as being the "wealthiest and most powerful" of the Free Cities, so it seems hard to imagine they can't float a similar number.

That is likely true - but this doesn't mean Westeros cannot built 5,000 or 10,000 of its own by the command of the Iron Throne if the kings put their resources to such an endeavor. The Lannisters alone could likely finance such an enterprise. The combined resources of the great houses should have no problems with that.

1 hour ago, cpg2016 said:

Likewise, the tenuous balance of power would have long since been upset if the remaining Free Cities didn't have a similar naval capability.  So 1,000 ships seems an extremely conservative estimate for what the Free Cities can raise, and likely substantially more than that.

That really depends. The Braavosi don't really want to be seem to be seen as all that threatening nor seem they have any interest in conquest. The only real wars they ever fought seem to have been with Pentos - and, of course, to ensure the Stepstones were open to trade.

Not all Free Cities do need to have great strength at sea. Lorath is pretty much a joke, and Myr might also be more concerned with their power on land, with it not on an island.

1 hour ago, cpg2016 said:

On the contrary, the can finance and man a much larger warfleet.  They control essentially 50% or more of the world's financial capabilities (or at least the "known" world) through the Iron Bank, which is effectively an arm of the Braavosi state.  The population of Braavos is also likely to be substantially higher, or rather more concentrated, than Westeros, and far less reliant on labor-intensive agriculture, meaning they can actually man more warships per capita than the Westerosi can.

Not sure how you reach that number. The Iron Bank is a large bank, but not the only bank in the Free Cities, nor in Westeros (there is a bank in Oldtown). The Lannisters alone might control larger assets than the Iron Bank. We don't know.

The Braavosi population cannot possibly be larger than that of Westeros. That makes no sense.

1 hour ago, cpg2016 said:

The Romans were in Britain for a few weeks, more or less.  And the Roman administrative machine was far more advanced than anything until Napoleon.  Caesar was busy gathering supplies and building depots for months prior to his landing.  So no, not from Italy, but from all over Gaul.  Westeros simply cannot support such an effort.  Even the Romans were entirely reliant on local allies to provide supplies for the legions.

No, the Romans conquered a huge chunk of Britain during the reign of Claudius and controlled the island for centuries.

1 hour ago, cpg2016 said:

You can live off the land during the harvest season if you travel in small groups - which makes you easy picking for local resistance.  Essentially the Westerosi will starve within months of landing.

How so? Autumn isn't even that much of thing down in Volantis. How shouldn't an invading force not be able to live off the land? Did Tywin not live off the land in the Riverlands? Robb in the West? And so on. There is no reason to believe an invading force of Westerosi couldn't seize all the assets in the region and make the people there feed and pay for their occupation.

1 hour ago, cpg2016 said:

She was feeding 8,000 Unsullied, or about that, right?  That's a far cry from 150,000.

We never said all those men should be amassed into a single army or hang out weeks at the same place. But if Garin's 250,000 men could live off the lands along the Rhoyne and Drogo's khalasar can do that, too.

1 hour ago, cpg2016 said:

Second, she took Astapor and Yunkai by guile and Meereen by slave revolt, basically.  I'm not sure you can rely on that in the case of the Free Cities.  And again, the reason castles are so useful in Westeros and our world is that sieges are extremely difficult; provisioning those armies would be nearly impossible.

I'm pretty sure that treason, deception, and guile can - and would - be part of any campaign in such a hypothetical war.

Siege engines would just have to breach city and town walls/gates, not strong castle walls. Volantis doesn't appear like a place that is difficult to attack, and neither does Pentos. Braavos is more difficult, but here you can cut off the city from the freshwater river - or better still: poison it.

1 hour ago, cpg2016 said:

Quote.  All we hear is that Corlys Velayron drove the Triarchy out of the Stepstones. We hear absolutely nothing about relative numbers or absolute strengths.  Just that he had one specific success.  We have no idea that that is representative of.

No, but know that Corlys Velaryon and a petty army of second sons and sellswords were able to successfully beat back and hold their ground against the Triarchy. And later the Velaryon fleet alone defeated the fleet of the Triarchy in the Gullet - causing them so much damage that they fragmented again.

It makes no sense to assume that the Triarchy could stand against the power of both the Velaryons and the Redwynes, say. 

1 hour ago, cpg2016 said:

First off, Volon Therys, Valysar, and Selhorys are individually bigger than Kings Landing.  And all are smaller than Volantis, presumably. 

Volantis is vast but largely depopulated. The other towns are larger than KL but there is no reason to believe that the lands around them do more than just supply them with food. The Flatlands feed Pentos, too, but this doesn't mean the Flatlanders outnumber the Westerosi.

But even if this were the case - resources do not necessarily equate into great warriors. The Free Cities are apparently filled with many fat and complacent people who don't stand a chance against a proper Dothraki invasion.

1 hour ago, cpg2016 said:

And no, I wasn't referring to the sparsely populated Dothraki Sea, but it's quite obvious that Essos is vastly more densely populated, and more populous, than Westeros.  Volantis alone has a larger urban population than the entirety of Westeros.  We haven't even begun to discuss the various smaller towns we never hear about, the Gulltowns or White Harbors.

Certain regions are more densely populated - others along the Rhoyne seem to be not populated at all (nor do they belong to any Free City). There is no indication that the totality of the lands actually controlled by the Free Cities are more populated than the Seven Kingdoms.

1 hour ago, cpg2016 said:

During the Century of Blood, basically all of the non-Volantene cities united in order to prevent Volantis from achieving hegemony.  The Triarchy was formed to keep the balance of power between Myr, Lys, and Tyrosh on one side and Volantis on the other.

The did not unite as such, they just all fought Volantis at one point. They did not even forge an alliance including them all. There is no reason to assume that they would be able to get on one page against Westeros - especially not if a cunning conqueror were playing them against each other.

1 hour ago, cpg2016 said:

And Aegon and his sisters essentially placed themselves on top of the Westerosi hierarchy and changed nothing else, socially, politically, or economically.  That isn't feasible in this case, because no Westerosi is going to fight unless there is a chance for rewards or, more likely, lands.  Since the existing social structure of Essos isn't feudal, there is no way to recreate the conditions of Aegon's Conquest.  Thus, there is no way to rule Essos without an existing armed presence, which means that in anything but the short term, there is no way to rule Essos.  Hence my agreement with you that a chevauchee could be effective and possible, but actual conquest and rule is not.

Why couldn't the Iron Throne not replace the elected triarchs, magisters, and princes not with governors from Westeros? That shouldn't be that hard. I also see no reason why great lords and knights could not receive lands and estates taken from Essosi ending up dead or enslaved.

If the Iron Throne can rule over the Seven Kingdoms it could also establish itself above the Free Cities like Valyria (effectively) did in ancient days, and like Volantis tried to do after the Doom. There is really no question about that.

Rogar Baratheon apparently even entertained the notion of trying to do just that.

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3 hours ago, cpg2016 said:

So the main fleets in Westeros come out to approximately 400 warships.  Given our one-a-day production schedule for Braavos, that means any mustering of a year or more means Westeros cannot reasonably hope to outmatch Braavos alone, let alone the remaining Free Cities.  Volantis alone has 300-500 war dromonds, according to Victarion's estimate, essentially outstripping Westeros on it's own, and Braavos is described as being the "wealthiest and most powerful" of the Free Cities, so it seems hard to imagine they can't float a similar number.  Likewise, the tenuous balance of power would have long since been upset if the remaining Free Cities didn't have a similar naval capability.  So 1,000 ships seems an extremely conservative estimate for what the Free Cities can raise, and likely substantially more than that.

 

The warships that Robb had build and are hidden at the white knife by the manderlings and umbers could be numerous and what about  the fleet of the hightowers and the ships that Euron allready have finished. I think 400 warships are just a very big guess. What about Dorne and the ships that are guarding the shores of Lannisport, faire isle and Bear island? 

 

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1 hour ago, Seaserpent said:

The warships that Robb had build and are hidden at the white knife by the manderlings and umbers could be numerous and what about  the fleet of the hightowers and the ships that Euron allready have finished. I think 400 warships are just a very big guess. What about Dorne and the ships that are guarding the shores of Lannisport, faire isle and Bear island? 

Westeros as a continent has been compared to South Americal size-wise. It is completely out of the question that the united Seven Kingdoms could not build and man thousands of war ships if they choose to do that. Not to mention that all existing great ships combined may already get them beyond that number.

There are very few professional war fleets in Westeros, but there must be countless unmentioned ships at the eastern coast of the North and in the Bite, along the coast of the Vale/Gulltown, at the shores of the Riverlands and Crownland, in Blackwater Bay and Shipbreaker Bay, etc. Even in Dorne there are ships. Not many and not all that great ships, but still ships.

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14 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Westeros as a continent has been compared to South Americal size-wise. It is completely out of the question that the united Seven Kingdoms could not build and man thousands of war ships if they choose to do that. Not to mention that all existing great ships combined may already get them beyond that number.

There are very few professional war fleets in Westeros, but there must be countless unmentioned ships at the eastern coast of the North and in the Bite, along the coast of the Vale/Gulltown, at the shores of the Riverlands and Crownland, in Blackwater Bay and Shipbreaker Bay, etc. Even in Dorne there are ships. Not many and not all that great ships, but still ships.

Yes thats what i maned, maybe some people hear some numbers and going to calculate without thinking about the bigger picture. Same for military; A mid evil region can produce at least 1% armed man and in war times maybe 2% or more and even children in that time (some regions woman). So also in this matter 7 kingdomes can produce a lot more military than what is in the books and dont forget that a lot of houses let some military at home for defense. I think if Westeros really put aside all internal problems and work together they can have a very big army. 500.000 or more i think, because my view of this continent is that it has between 60-75 million people    

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