Jump to content
Hiigara129

Structure and Organization of the Royal Household/Court in King's Landing?

Recommended Posts

I've always found this to be a very odd topic. Despite so much of ASOIAF's action taking place at Court we know next to nothing about the organization and structure of both the Royal Household and the Court itself. For example, the Medieval Courts of London, Paris, Constantinople , Rome and the Holy Roman Empire had strictly defined offices (such as Lord High Steward, Lord Chamberlain and Master of the Horse in England or the Grand Maître d'hôtel du Roi, Grand Échanson and Grand Panetier in France)) responsible for the various departments of the Household/Court (like the Kitchen, the State apartments, the Royal mews, the Hunt, the stables ex ex)and initially the realm itself.  Yet in ASOIAF we see no organization and next to no court offices existing. It's like no one at Court has any job (not even the nominal roles Courts had for nobles) and exist simply as scenery. So do we have any information whatsoever about the positions, offices and departments at Court or is it simply a blank canvas?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We don't learn much about that - we still don't know what the hell the Master of Laws is doing when he doesn't sit on the council offering his advice on any matter that is discussed which doesn't necessarily has anything to do with laws (although laws actually do come up from time to time, too).

There are some new offices mentioned occasionally.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I suspect that Master of Laws main duty is enforcing laws in King's landing. Or he is master of gold cloaks and so Sheriff of KL. But he is not a judge. After that is king's main duty.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We also have the master of whispers, which seems to have only been filled a handful of times during the first half of Targaryen rule.

Fire & Blood gives us a couple new offices as well, such as chief steward and his understewards, the harbormaster of King's Landing (and the harbormasters of Oldtown, Maidenpool, and Duskendale), the Warden of the King's Mint, kennelmaster, and master of horse.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good topic. I’ve also wondered what it is exactly the Master of Laws does on a day to day to day basis; essentially all we know is that they oversee laws and justice but I don’t know what that means. The Master of Ships seems to be pretty simple  to me, build and maintain ships and command the navy in times of war.

 Master of Coin seems like a legit job though, but we never hear or see anything with the high lords paying taxes to their King, as we saw with the likes of Scotland to England in history.  I know there was this one English king, I forget which one, who set in place tax reforms that centralized government and limited power of barons and lords, making the capital and royal family the undisputed powerhouse of the Kingdom. That monarch was accounted as a brilliant ruler and England prospered. In Westeros, We see the Tyrells and Lannisters with prosperity and military strength that in my opinion undemines the King’s and the importance of King’s Landing. Do we know anything about taxes in Westeros?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/27/2018 at 8:54 PM, LordSeaSnake said:

We also have the master of whispers, which seems to have only been filled a handful of times during the first half of Targaryen rule.

Fire & Blood gives us a couple new offices as well, such as chief steward and his understewards, the harbormaster of King's Landing (and the harbormasters of Oldtown, Maidenpool, and Duskendale), the Warden of the King's Mint, kennelmaster, and master of horse.

True. I wonder if the Steward is supposed to be the equivalent of the Lord Stewards of England?

1 hour ago, Ser Dips A lot said:

Good topic. I’ve also wondered what it is exactly the Master of Laws does on a day to day to day basis; essentially all we know is that they oversee laws and justice but I don’t know what that means. The Master of Ships seems to be pretty simple  to me, build and maintain ships and command the navy in times of war.

 Master of Coin seems like a legit job though, but we never hear or see anything with the high lords paying taxes to their King, as we saw with the likes of Scotland to England in history.  I know there was this one English king, I forget which one, who set in place tax reforms that centralized government and limited power of barons and lords, making the capital and royal family the undisputed powerhouse of the Kingdom. That monarch was accounted as a brilliant ruler and England prospered. In Westeros, We see the Tyrells and Lannisters with prosperity and military strength that in my opinion undemines the King’s and the importance of King’s Landing. Do we know anything about taxes in Westeros?

 

I always assumed the Master of Laws was in charge of the judiciary in Westeros, analogous to the Chancellors of the middle ages who did the same, overseeing the Courts, the implementation of laws/royal edicts and administration of justice. Yet we see no permanent courts in Westeros that could be compared to the English law Courts or the French Parlements. Nor do we have any kind of Assize Courts, Justices of the Peace, Sheriffs, local (shire in England) courts, or any circuit Courts traveling across the various administrative regions of the Seven Kingdoms. Truthfully, outside of the Court, the actual governance of the Seven Kingdoms is a huge blank.

The office of Master of Whispers seemed to have been an ad-hoc one that only became permanent in either Jaeharys' reign (perhaps related to the Dragon egg theft? IDK I'll need to re-read that part) or in the beginning of Viserys'. BTW, I think your thinking of Henry VII; he was the first Tudor King and basically wiped out what was left of the feudal powers of the Aristocracy after they were decimated in the Wars of the Roses. That's something we haven't got to in Westeros yet. Perhaps whomever wins the throne at the end of the series will become our Tudor dynasty.

As for taxation, we get more specifics from Fire and Blood than anywhere in ASOIAF.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/28/2018 at 2:54 AM, LordSeaSnake said:

We also have the master of whispers, which seems to have only been filled a handful of times during the first half of Targaryen rule.

Fire & Blood gives us a couple new offices as well, such as chief steward and his understewards, the harbormaster of King's Landing (and the harbormasters of Oldtown, Maidenpool, and Duskendale), the Warden of the King's Mint, kennelmaster, and master of horse.

Stewards are mentioned several times as being part of a household I need GoT, and there’s a brief mention of Robert’s steward when Ned arrives at KL so not entirely new. 

10 hours ago, Hiigara129 said:

True. I wonder if the Steward is supposed to be the equivalent of the Lord Stewards of England?

I always assumed the Master of Laws was in charge of the judiciary in Westeros, analogous to the Chancellors of the middle ages who did the same, overseeing the Courts, the implementation of laws/royal edicts and administration of justice. Yet we see no permanent courts in Westeros that could be compared to the English law Courts or the French Parlements. Nor do we have any kind of Assize Courts, Justices of the Peace, Sheriffs, local (shire in England) courts, or any circuit Courts traveling across the various administrative regions of the Seven Kingdoms. Truthfully, outside of the Court, the actual governance of the Seven Kingdoms is a huge blank.

The office of Master of Whispers seemed to have been an ad-hoc one that only became permanent in either Jaeharys' reign (perhaps related to the Dragon egg theft? IDK I'll need to re-read that part) or in the beginning of Viserys'. BTW, I think your thinking of Henry VII; he was the first Tudor King and basically wiped out what was left of the feudal powers of the Aristocracy after they were decimated in the Wars of the Roses. That's something we haven't got to in Westeros yet. Perhaps whomever wins the throne at the end of the series will become our Tudor dynasty.

As for taxation, we get more specifics from Fire and Blood than anywhere in ASOIAF.

There don’t seem to be courts though, justice appears to be administered by the Lord of the land alone, with the only recourse available being the next Lord in the hierarchy, or the king. Randyll Tarly’s ‘court’ I aFfC is a good demonstration of this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been pondering this subject lately and it seems to me that we, the readers, have a little responsibility for our expectations of what is portrayed in the books. Since GRRM has declared the War of the Roses as his inspiration for his Westerosi conflict in the story, we as readers seem to expect that everything else is of that period, when it is not. GRRM is pretty much all over the place as far as societal, technological and political/judicial matters.

What I've noticed is that his political strife may be 15th century, but his technological level is mostly entrenched in the 14th century, with occasional forays into eras as far advanced as the 16th century, and his societal level is stuck in the relatively simple (in comparison) life of the 12th century.

For us history buffs, it seems strange when we expect certain things to be in place in a certain era and they aren't. We might want to take that bit of advice from GRRM and put down the stopwatch. Still. I could use a few more lists about household officers and one or two less feast menu reviews.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is so true even ancient china in the warring states era had more structure for their court than what we know of KL. I don't get why the lord of ships needs to even be on the small council i mean that title just seems to serve more that it and the master of law shoudl be one thing since i assume both are military positions, but i could be wrong.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We now have an almost complete timeline of Hands in the first 135 years apart from the years 41-43, between the death of Murmison and appointment of Harroway. Given the tumultuous events in those tears it could be zero or 3-4. I guess we are never going to get it, right? 

Also why are Ryam and Smallwood considered so bad?

but Ser Ryam Redwyne was no Septon Barth, and his undoubted prowess with a lance proved of little use to him as Hand. “Some problems cannot be solved by hitting them with a stick,” Grand Maester Allar famously observed. His Grace had no choice but to remove Ser Ryam after only a year in office.

Seems pretty vague.

I really loved the Jaehaerys section, the first part GRRM really goes into detail on the effective government, how there would be little sub committees to deal with different issues was great as well as the delegation of Septon's and Septa's but then it is all brushed to the side as GRRM then  focused on the children trying to make them all individuals (the Alyssa and Baelon relationship was cute though).  The later years of his reign do read a little like he had a word quota, or just lost interest and wanted to move on. 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/1/2018 at 10:10 AM, Destiny Arrives said:

This is so true even ancient china in the warring states era had more structure for their court than what we know of KL. I don't get why the lord of ships needs to even be on the small council i mean that title just seems to serve more that it and the master of law shoudl be one thing since i assume both are military positions, but i could be wrong.

 

 

Exactly my point! George doesn't even have to mention the offices in text; he could simply mention a few in the appendix of WoW. As for the Master of Ships however, that was actually a pretty standard office for Medieval times. England, France, Castile, Portugal and even the Byzantine Empire all had some kind of Lord/Grand Admiral in charge of the Fleet. Personally I see the Master of Laws as being GRRM's equivalent of the Chancellors; hell Cersei renamed the office to Justicar and in England the Chief Justiciar was eventually superseded by the Chancellor as chief of the Judiciary. So its pretty obvious, to me at least, that these offices are supposed to be the equivalent of each other. However, whats really odd to me is that the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard sits on the Small Council. What qualifies a skilled warrior and chief bodyguard to have such a place? Is he supposed to be the equivalent of the Medieval Lord High/Grand Constables? I mean one can be excellent with the sword but be a terrible commander, so the comparison isn't really there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the masters of laws main responsibility would be that all lords apply the law more or less homogeneusly across the 7 Kingdoms. Since all lords are ultimate courts in theire respective feuds, someone should overview that there are not great divergences in their interpretations of the laws issued by the Iron Throne.

On 12/7/2018 at 3:30 PM, Bernie Mac said:

Also why are Ryam and Smallwood considered so bad?

but Ser Ryam Redwyne was no Septon Barth, and his undoubted prowess with a lance proved of little use to him as Hand. “Some problems cannot be solved by hitting them with a stick,” Grand Maester Allar famously observed. His Grace had no choice but to remove Ser Ryam after only a year in office.

Seems pretty vague.

I see it as purposefully vague.

The Hightowers are the patrons of the Citadel, and the Redwynes seem to be their lifelong friends and allies. Glyndayn himself is surely influenced by the political enviroment of the institution he works for, and it wouldn't agree with his interests to minuciously describe all the failures of Ryam as a Hand.

The Hightowers themselves are always portrayed in a much more positive light than their actual actions would merit. Their accomplishments are lauded, and their wrongdoings are justified or diminished. Or at least that's how I read it.

Edited by The hairy bear

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

I think the masters of laws main responsibility would be that all lords apply the law more or less homogeneusly across the 7 Kingdoms. Since all lords are ultimate courts in theire respective feuds, someone should overview that there are not great divergences in their interpretations of the laws issued by the Iron Throne.

I see it as purposefully vague.

The Hightowers are the patrons of the Citadel, and the Redwynes seem to be their lifelong friends and allies. Glyndayn himself is surely influenced by the political enviroment of the institution he works for, and it wouldn't agree with his interests to minuciously describe all the failures of Ryam as a Hand.

The Hightowers themselves are always portrayed in a much more positive light than their actual actions would merit. Their accomplishments are lauded, and their wrongdoings are justified or diminished. Or at least that's how I read it.

Holyshit renly was way way over his head doing this job. He put zero effort into it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, lysmonger said:

Holyshit renly was way way over his head doing this job. He put zero effort into it.

He's one of the people on the small council who does appear to try and do his job, given his pressing Slynt to keep law and order in King's Landing prior to the Hand's tourney.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, lysmonger said:

Holyshit renly was way way over his head doing this job. He put zero effort into it.

Given that Renly is not a POV character, nor is there an equivalent of Davos for him it is impossible to come to that conclusion. 

26 minutes ago, Ran said:

He's one of the people on the small council who does appear to try and do his job, given his pressing Slynt to keep law and order in King's Landing prior to the Hand's tourney.

The position seems pretty fluid depending on the needs of the king and kingdom, but it seems a mixture of keeping the peace and implementing the king's will and justifying his law. 

In Jaehaery's regency a religious lord was given the position to appease the Faith (the biggest threat to the Targs at the time), his successor was more learned and cunning which was needed as Jaehaerys changed the laws of the realm and needed to justify his changes to the faith and lords of the land, later we see more amiable choices, Rodrik Arryn & Aemon, as the position was about keeping the status quo, ensuring the lords  are happy with his rule maybe swaying them into supporting his positions. 

Men like Randyl or Kevan are needed in the direct aftermath of war/rebellious lords as they may be needed to go and keep the peace and install the king's peace, Renly's role will have perfect for Robert who did not want to rock the boat and wanted people happy with him. 

It will be interesting to find out Robert's original Master of Laws. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One thing I kinda wish we had was more clarification on who was in the Kingsguard for each era here and there. For example, after Aegon I's Kingsguard is appointed, we don't find out the next full Kingsguard lineup until after Maegor's death.

We have several Kingsguard members that we don't know which era they belong to, such as the Demon of Darry, Long Tom Costayne, and Ser Jeffory Norcross the Neveryield. At what point did Ser Addison Hill replace Ser Corlys Velaryon as the Lord Commander? Ser Raymont Baratheon wasn't even mentioned in Fire & Blood. Which two members of Aegon's Kingsguard died defending him? Which members where slain by Lord Rupert Falwell? We still don't know if Ser Gyles Greycloak and Ser Gyles Belgrave are the same person.

Obviously this isn't a major issue, it would have just been cool to know. I would have loved if Fire & Blood included an appendix containing the small council and Kingsguard for every king, with the years they served (though I was also hoping for a complete family tree for the great houses and the Velaryons and Hightowers).

Edited by LordSeaSnake

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Ran said:

He's one of the people on the small council who does appear to try and do his job, given his pressing Slynt to keep law and order in King's Landing prior to the Hand's tourney.

Perhaps I am judging them by what a  free city magister would be managing the court. Someone who somewhat resembles a technocrat civil servant with years of experience. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, LordSeaSnake said:

One thing I kinda wish we had was more clarification on who was in the Kingsguard for each era here and there. For example, after Aegon I's Kingsguard is appointed, we don't find out the next full Kingsguard lineup until after Maegor's death.

We have several Kingsguard members that we don't know which era they belong to, such as the Demon of Darry, Long Tom Costayne, and Ser Jeffory Norcross the Neveryield. At what point did Ser Addison Hill replace Ser Corlys Velaryon as the Lord Commander? Ser Raymont Baratheon wasn't even mentioned in Fire & Blood. Which two members of Aegon's Kingsguard died defending him? Which members where slain by Lord Rupert Falwell? We still don't know if Ser Gyles Greycloak and Ser Gyles Belgrave are the same person.

Obviously this isn't a major issue, it would have just been cool to know. I would have loved if Fire & Blood included an appendix containing the small council and Kingsguard for every king, with the years they served (though I was also hoping for a complete family tree for the great houses and the Velaryons and Hightowers).

Do you think Ser Julian Wormwood (sent to the Free Cities to find sellswords) was the 3rd Kingsguard not in the city upon Aegon II's death? And subsequently died or disappeared which is why they have to fill Aegon III's KG with 5 new members instead of 4 (to replace Gyles and tge 3 that took the black).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×