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Lord Varys

[SPOILERS] Military matters and population development (including cities)

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Roddy the Ruin himself is a man looking for a glorious death in battle, and he is one of the greatest lords in the North.

Not all of his men have to second sons and the like, there could be a significant number of aged petty lords and the like.

In winter an old lord is just as much a useless mouth as an old peasant.

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14 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Roddy the Ruin himself is a man looking for a glorious death in battle, and he is one of the greatest lords in the North.

Not all of his men have to second sons and the like, there could be a significant number of aged petty lords and the like.

In winter an old lord is just as much a useless mouth as an old peasant.

How many of these two thousand you propose to be 'lords' of any sort?

We see old men going off to die even now, Whoresbane's men, Manderly and his (greybeard) knights... but for every 'lord' going to die there are tens if not hundreds of common men. So Winter Wolves being poorly equipped in comparison is not the North being poor, as I've proved above with Karstark horse, it's just that these are common old men going off to die with some old lords thrown to the mix as well 

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36 minutes ago, Corvo the Crow said:

How many of these two thousand you propose to be 'lords' of any sort?

We see old men going off to die even now, Whoresbane's men, Manderly and his (greybeard) knights... but for every 'lord' going to die there are tens if not hundreds of common men. So Winter Wolves being poorly equipped in comparison is not the North being poor, as I've proved above with Karstark horse, it's just that these are common old men going off to die with some old lords thrown to the mix as well 

Again, how poorly equipped were they truly? Considering their impact and efficacy against southron knights, if they weren’t well equipped then actual well equipped Northmen must be nigh unstoppable.

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1 minute ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Again, how poorly equipped were they truly? Considering their impact and efficacy against southron knights, if they weren’t well equipped then actual well equipped Northmen must be nigh unstoppable.

They stood out because they were nigh suicidal in their attacks, it had nothing to do with their equipment. 

But for the record I don't really recall them being called poorly equipped in comparison to their southern counterparts, just men willing to sacrifice themselves. 

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1 minute ago, Bernie Mac said:

They stood out because they were nigh suicidal in their attacks, it had nothing to do with their equipment. 

But for the record I don't really recall them being called poorly equipped in comparison to their southern counterparts, just men willing to sacrifice themselves. 

That’s my point.

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22 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Again, how poorly equipped were they truly? Considering their impact and efficacy against southron knights, if they weren’t well equipped then actual well equipped Northmen must be nigh unstoppable.

They were poorly equipped compared to a 'proper' horse soldier, which seems to be a knight or equivalent in westeros. They lacked lances and horses better suited for a charge but men themselves were armed and armored propely, though their equipment was old (ancient swords, rusted mail).

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I'm pretty sure it was mentioned that the Winter Wolves wore mail and fur. Even if it was high quality mail, it's still not at the level of plate, unless during the Dance, there was less plate available even for the southron knights. (I doubt it, as technology in Westeros seems to be at the same level since Aegon's Conquest if not even before) And yes, I know mail was a general term for armor at one point in our history, but most people associate it with "chain mail" and I'm pretty sure GRRM does so in ASoIaF. 

I see this has been mainly a thread for discussing the general military capabilities of the main regions of Westeros, but if anyone cares, I would like to bring up the relatively low numbers fielded by armies during the Dance. Considering the population growth during the reign of Jaehaerys I and probably Viserys I, as well, it's curious how small the armies that marched were for most of the Dance. About the only exception were the Hightower army as it marched on Tumbleton, and the fleets involved at the Battle of the Gullet. 

I do have two theories about why this is the case:

1) Dragons - with dragons taking the field, lords were both confident and fearful. Confident that their side with prevail because of their dragons, fearful that the other side had dragons, too, and maybe no one was eager to throw too much of their strength at once, and leave their holds vulnerable. Also, with winter approaching, even regions south of the Neck were focused on harvests.

2) The battle lines were really murky in this war - unlike the War of the Five Kings (at first), or even Robert's Rebellion, in the Dance, not all houses from a region were completely on one side of the conflict. The North and the Vale were firmly with Rhaenyra, but winter made it difficult for them to marshal their forces, while the Riverlands and the Reach were a mess, and not sure how many of the Western lords were on the green's side, but with the Red Kraken's reaving, less strength could be mustered there, too. 

On the other hand, during Aegon III's regency, we see the Crown had no trouble raising 9000 men, mainly from the Crownlands and a few houses from the Riverlands to march them to the Vale. And this despite the realm still recovering from the terrible loss of life caused by winter and the Dance.

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We actually already had a lot of conversation about that. I agree with you, however, that the low numbers have to do with dragons and the deep divisons that faced many of the regions, which meant that you couldn't necessarily trust even close allies and vassals to not turn and stab you in the back. People had to hold back to protect themselves, when it was uncertain who they could depend on and who they couldn't.

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I light of Cregan's mad desires - punishing Storm's End (which he could have done, perhaps), Oldtown, and Casterly Rock for their treason, I think we might be able to make 10,000 men out of the 8,000 Munkun says he brought (after all, he originally promised 10,000 men to Rhaenyra).

Cregan's host also don't seem to be just Winterfell/men from the farther northern regions, since it is said that men gathered at Winterfell, Barrowton, and White Harbor. In that sense, the Winter Wolves weren't all the Dustins and adjacent regions could muster.

It would have been good to know how many men Rhaenyra had from the Vale and the North when she took and ruled in KL. We learn half of the men who took KL with her were Velaryon men. The Celtigars, and the other houses sworn to Dragonstone may have contributed some men, too, but it is not clear if she already had some men from the North and the Vale with her at that point.

How many men she got from those regions while ruling would be very interesting to know to figure out how many of those went to Tumbleton. The Seven Who Rode and her Queensguard both imply that there were crucial men from the Vale and the North with her at the time, but we have no idea how many exactly.

But as I said earlier, it would have been great if Gyldayn had told us why many lords didn't raise as many troops as they did back during the Conquest, and we wouldn't have to come up with explanations all by ourselves. The small host of Stormlanders in the end, though, cannot really explained in this manner, nor can the size of Cregan's host. And one should also assume that Jeyne Arryn could have raised more than just 10,000 men.

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Borros's host is basically the force he raised earlier and led into the mountains to avoid getting caught up in the fighting, and to position himself to join whatever side suited him. Doesn't really need more explanation than that. When he heard Rhaenyra was dead, he immediately took off with the forces he had already raised to seize King's Landing, rather than waiting for someone else to come in and take it.

Cregan's force may, again, be dictated in part by uncertainty regarding his own vassals and their loyalties, and more significantly by the late season, a factor he specifically cited as a reason for their late appearance.

Lady Jeyne determined to send her forces by sea, which places logistical and economic constraints on the size of the force. 10,000 is pretty impressive in conception, and and I think larger than any other military force conveyed by ship besides some of the Ironborn campaigns. The greater part of Stannis's host at the Blackwater were on the southern banks of the Blackwater, waiting to get ferried across once the landing force established a beach head.

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3 hours ago, Ran said:

I think larger than any other military force conveyed by ship besides some of the Ironborn campaigns.

Greatest IB campaign we've seen so far is Balon's right? 

Mr. Martin has told us all the lords and captains barely make 400 men or so. We also now that the average longship is fewer than 30 oars. It makes fewer than 20000 men. Redwyne fleet alone has 200 galleys if all were just 80, it makes 16000 men manning oars alone. 

 

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23 minutes ago, Corvo the Crow said:

Greatest IB campaign we've seen so far is Balon's right? 

Mr. Martin has told us all the lords and captains barely make 400 men or so. We also now that the average longship is fewer than 30 oars. It makes fewer than 20000 men. Redwyne fleet alone has 200 galleys if all were just 80, it makes 16000 men manning oars alone. 

 

One can't count oarsmen for the galleys of most fleets, since they aren't fighters. We can only count the amount of fighting men they delivered to make a fair comparison.

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1 hour ago, Corvo the Crow said:

Greatest IB campaign we've seen so far is Balon's right? 

Mr. Martin has told us all the lords and captains barely make 400 men or so. We also now that the average longship is fewer than 30 oars. It makes fewer than 20000 men. Redwyne fleet alone has 200 galleys if all were just 80, it makes 16000 men manning oars alone. 

 

How do we know this? And 30 oars can mean 30 men, or 60, depending on the size of the longship. Personally, I would give the average at 50 men for the Ironborn longships.

According to the text in F&B, when Dalton Greyjoy prepared for Oakenfist's arrival he had quite a lot of longships. "Hundreds of longships had assembled in the waters south of Fair Isle, and more off Feastfires, Kayce, and Lannisport." Maybe an exaggeration, given the narrator, but even so Dalton may have commanded more than 20,000 men.

Victarion leaves for Slaver's Bay with almost 100 ships, and some of those rival war galleys in size, so I think he starts with at least 5000 men. And then there's the rest of Euron's fleet. 

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18 hours ago, Ran said:

Borros's host is basically the force he raised earlier and led into the mountains to avoid getting caught up in the fighting, and to position himself to join whatever side suited him. Doesn't really need more explanation than that. When he heard Rhaenyra was dead, he immediately took off with the forces he had already raised to seize King's Landing, rather than waiting for someone else to come in and take it.

Cregan's force may, again, be dictated in part by uncertainty regarding his own vassals and their loyalties, and more significantly by the late season, a factor he specifically cited as a reason for their late appearance.

Lady Jeyne determined to send her forces by sea, which places logistical and economic constraints on the size of the force. 10,000 is pretty impressive in conception, and and I think larger than any other military force conveyed by ship besides some of the Ironborn campaigns. The greater part of Stannis's host at the Blackwater were on the southern banks of the Blackwater, waiting to get ferried across once the landing force established a beach head.

I have never gotten the impression that the North was divided in either the Conquest, the Dance, Robert’s Rebellion or until the Bolton betrayal in tWOtFK for that matter.

Instead, from the descriptions in the Dance it appears more a case of most Northmen not really giving two hoots about the Targaryen civil war, and the only ones who end up going south being old men, 2nd sons and other unwanted mouths to feed in the coming Winter.

In other words, the primary forces of the North do not appear to have involved themselves in the Dance at all.

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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I suspect we'd have very little sense of the internal politics of the North as seen through the lens of southron maesters concerned more with the doings of the Targaryens. I find it hard to imagine that none of the northmen cared about what Cregan agreed to, or that those who did care all necessarily saw it the same way. It makes them automatons who just do whatever Lord Stark says.

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1 minute ago, Ran said:

I suspect we'd have very little sense of the internal politics of the North as seen through the lens of southron maesters concerned more with the doings of the Targaryens. I find it hard to imagine that none of the northmen cared about what Cregan agreed to, or that those who did care all necessarily saw it the same way. It makes them automatons who just do whatever Lord Stark says.

If I recall all the mentioned Northern lords voted the same way at the Great Council and all the mentioned Northern Houses fought for the same side in the Dance.

I suspect that while there was large scale apathy regarding distant southron affairs among many Northern houses, very few would have had strongly opposing views to that of the Starks. At most they would have lacked the enthusiasm to join in Cregan’s crusade. Just because they likely couldn’t be bothered about the squabbles in the far off South.

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On 11/20/2018 at 4:51 PM, Free Northman Reborn said:

So is that it? Nothing else on population or military numbers?

militairy numbers in mid evil Britain were about 1-1.5% of the population. So for example the North has an Army 20-30k, so my best guess is estimate population of 2 million people. The Westerlands for example 50.000 * 100 = 5 million people and so on..... Exact numbers are difficult .

Westerlands 5 million inhabitants are little bit more inhabitants as in England in 3.6 mil in 1300 AD.

Lannisport has at the moment 100k inhabitants and London in 1300AD 80K inhabitants.

SO if you compare Engeland and The Westerlands together its pretty close and you can say that:

Militairy strength * 100 = Population!

So now you have more numbers.

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6 minutes ago, Seaserpent said:

militairy numbers in mid evil Britain were about 1-1.5% of the population. So for example the North has an Army 20-30k, so my best guess is estimate population of 2 million people. The Westerlands for example 50.000 * 100 = 5 million people and so on..... Exact numbers are difficult .

Westerlands 5 million inhabitants are little bit more inhabitants as in England in 3.6 mil in 1300 AD.

Lannisport has at the moment 100k inhabitants and London in 1300AD 80K inhabitants.

SO if you compare Engeland and The Westerlands together its pretty close and you can say that:

Militairy strength * 100 = Population!

So now you have more numbers.

Hehehe. Thanks for that.

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When Alysanne proposed that Brandon's Gift be expanded, Alaric Stark had to convince the lords that would lose lands, and probably offer concessions. Alysanne asked Alaric if he could it, and he said he could, but not without some hesitation. I think the northern lords can be just as belligerent as any, but perhaps the Starks were able to maintain their loyalty through various means, both diplomatic and martial. 

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4 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

I have never gotten the impression that the North was divided in either the Conquest, the Dance, Robert’s Rebellion or until the Bolton betrayal in tWOtFK for that matter.

So, you think that Cregan's 4 elder sons by his third wife all died of natural causes in adulthood so that the youngest, Brandon could become Lord? IMHO, every time when somebody so far down the line of succession inherits, there is a reason to suspect significant unrest. And we have already had an attempted power-grab by Cregan's uncle Bennard, so the North isn't some harmonious paradise, where everybody is honorable and utterly obedient to the titular Lord Stark. We also know that Ryswells and Dustins sent as few men as possible without inviting retribution to Robb's host and the clansmen didn't show up at all - though admittedly he may not have called them up since they had far to go. But they don't seem to be that much more distant than, say, Umbers, who came enthusiastically. Not to forget that clansmen themselves freely admitted that there had been conflicts between them and the Starks not that long ago.

We also now know, given the misadventures of the Blackwood wedding party in FaB, that even under competent leadership the North in Winter is a rather  lawless place, where people can't depend on the Starks for protection unless it is a matter of a larger hostile incursion and have to look out for themselves.

Yes, Cregan brought mostly people who wouldn't have needed to return - but then imagine what strain feeding them on the way back home through the North in the grip of Winter would have put on population along their route, who didn't really have any extra food to spare.  You like to forget that armies march on their stomachs and that the northmen clearly haven't yet figured out how to efficiently transport large amounts of goods overland in Winter. Which means that returning soldiers couldn't have been supplied out of the baggage train(s) the whole way.

Anyway, we now have some examples showing that it is actually rather important for the coastal regions of the North how matters stand in the south during hard winters and hungry springs following them - because the amount of food relief, trade and support for NW from the south all depends on it. Also general security of the sea lanes. IMHO, both Rhaenys's and Rhaenyra's association with Velaryons, who both traded in the north and provided overall security in the Narrow Sea was a significant factor in northern support for them both.

Admittedly, the more land-locked parts of the North, particularly those without rivers connecting them to the coasts - which turn in nice even roads when they freeze in Winter, would be much less affected. It may not be a coincidence that it was Greatjon who came up with the whole "King in the North" thing.

4 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

In other words, the primary forces of the North do not appear to have involved themselves in the Dance at all.

Is there any reason to think that Ned brought many more than 10K men south to avenge his father and brother? He certainly didn't bring 30K or whatever number you think the North should be able to raise when they are really serious... Do we know in what season Robert's Rebellion took place, BTW? Was it Spring?

IMHO, we shouldn't forget that the season very much affects the numbers of soldiers that can be kept in the field. The War of Five Kings happened at the end of an almost 10-year-long Summer and the Conquest was also a Summer war. That's when large armies are the most feasible. Robb surely could have raised more than 18K, but he needed to move quickly. Cregan was working under very different constraints.

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