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When did the Starks loose their military strength?

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So from what we know, the Starks in the past, especially the distant past when they were Kings of Winter, they ruled with an iron fist, their description went so far as saying they have wolf blood in them, due to them being so vicious with anyone that dared cross them.

Now to be able to achieve this, in my book this would imply that they had a much superior force than the houses around them. But from what i gather, the Starks before the events of the books, commanded the north mostly due to respect, not because of the strength of their standing army (not counting their bannermen)

Is this a wrong assumption to make? There's text evidence of their banermen's 'numbers', but i can't find any regarding House Stark numbers. 

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It doesn't matter really how strong the Starks are. There are a lot of rivalries between minor houses as well. This can be seen when Lady Hornwood becomes and widow and when she is abducted. Most minor houses would still prefer Stark rule rather than an upjumped minor house and would thus join the Starks. So in order to succesfully overthrow the Starks woth force half the North would need to unite against them. And then there is the King of the seven kingdoms who would most likely side with the Starks and aid them. So even if the Starks on their own couldnt muster as many man as say the Boltons they couldnt just overthrow them.

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Here are some parts of the North;

Neck, rule given to Reeds by the Starks, after marsh king was defeated

Barrowlands rule given to Dustins by the Starks, after Barrow king was defeated

Wolf’s Den, and nearby lands; given to Manderlies by the Starks.

Wolfswood; Glovers were kings but Wolfswood didn’t belong to them alone, now, they are the only major house in the region.

Karstark lands; granted to Karstarks after defeating a rebel lord.

Bear Isle, granted to Mormonts after it was won.

 

Now, what were you saying again?

 

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1 hour ago, Corvo the Crow said:

Here are some parts of the North;

Neck, rule given to Reeds by the Starks, after marsh king was defeated

Barrowlands rule given to Dustins by the Starks, after Barrow king was defeated

Wolf’s Den, and nearby lands; given to Manderlies by the Starks.

Wolfswood; Glovers were kings but Wolfswood didn’t belong to them alone, now, they are the only major house in the region.

Karstark lands; granted to Karstarks after defeating a rebel lord.

Bear Isle, granted to Mormonts after it was won.

 

Now, what were you saying again?

 

Boltons - formerly Red Kings, given lands after they were defeated.

Yeah not quite an iron fisted rule. I would say much more a diplomatic rule based on loyalty through mutual respect and reward.

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I have said this in another post regarding the North.  It would be a reasonable assumption that after Aegon's Conquest and the joining of the 7 Kingdoms people were more free to move about Westeros.  so it would also seem reasonable to assume that many people in the North would have migrated south to avoid Wilding raids and the harsh winters over the past 300 years. 

The books seem to support this idea.  Robb called his banners and even with the Freys he only had about 20 thousand men.  Renly was trying to overthrow the Iron throne and between the Reach and the Stormlands he was able to raise 100 thousand men

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GRRM never gives us a definitive number for how many men the Starks could raise on their own, aside from calling the banners of their vassal houses. We do know that Winterfell is a large settlement including a village; its more than just a castle housing the Stark family and associated staff. Even factoring in the smaller population of the North relative to other regions in Westeros, I think you could safely assume the Starks can raise at least 2,000 men. 

Rickard Stark (Eddard's father) went South to King's Landing with 200 men when Aerys II called him to account for Brandon's threats against Rhaegar. There is no mention made as to whether these were all Stark men or some bannermen as well. I think again you could assume the 4-5 largest houses in the North (which seem to be in no particular order the Starks, Boltons, Manderlys, Dustins, Karstarks) can raise upwards of 2,000 men in their own right. 

The Starks did not necessarily "lose" their military power. It is more so that, like others have stated above, they have not had to use their military might in quite some time. Especially against their own retainers since they have defeated the Boltons, Reeds, etc. The Starks have enjoyed the respect and obeisance of their underlings for a long time; they have not had to deal with Since banners were called for Robert's Rebellion and then the Greyjoy Rebellion, Westeros has been at peace until obviously the outbreak of the War of the Five Kings. Until betrayed by Roose Bolton and Walder Frey, the Starks were most likely still in pretty good shape outside of expected battle losses during the War. 

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I think that the numbers the Starks can raise on thier own is probably well more than 2 thousand, I would say at least 5, perhaps closer to ten.

We are not really given many hard numbers other Robbs Army(20k)in the main series, and a few examples from the world book and FaB, Torrehen,the king who knelt is estimated to have brought 30k men south and Lord Cregan 20k at the dance. We are not given any real break down of the nature of any of these armies.

So back to why I estimate the Starks full strength as slightly higher than others in the thread so far seem too....it is indicated in all of these examples(and others throughout the series, The Lannisters for example raise another army at least as large as the one Robb defeated in the Riverlands) that a lord calling his banners is not equal to forcibly conscription of every able body. The harsh conditions and vast distances in the north make it so more able bodies are left behind than in other regions.(except perhaps in winter)

Present day I would put Manderley and the strongest Stark bannerman and would estimate they could raise over 5k on thier own. I base this on the ships we see in the Davos chapter, and on White Harbor itself, much easier to raise an army from a real city than a sprawling countryside, tbh the city watch in White Harbor is probably at least 1000 men when Davos goes there, perhaps more. The city watch in Kings Landing, when Ned arrives in AGOT, is 2k men during peacetime, Tyrion swells this to 6K men during wartime, a few months later. 

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1 hour ago, Hammers1895 said:

GRRM never gives us a definitive number for how many men the Starks could raise on their own, aside from calling the banners of their vassal houses. We do know that Winterfell is a large settlement including a village; its more than just a castle housing the Stark family and associated staff. Even factoring in the smaller population of the North relative to other regions in Westeros, I think you could safely assume the Starks can raise at least 2,000 men. 

Rickard Stark (Eddard's father) went South to King's Landing with 200 men when Aerys II called him to account for Brandon's threats against Rhaegar. There is no mention made as to whether these were all Stark men or some bannermen as well. I think again you could assume the 4-5 largest houses in the North (which seem to be in no particular order the Starks, Boltons, Manderlys, Dustins, Karstarks) can raise upwards of 2,000 men in their own right. 

The Starks did not necessarily "lose" their military power. It is more so that, like others have stated above, they have not had to use their military might in quite some time. Especially against their own retainers since they have defeated the Boltons, Reeds, etc. The Starks have enjoyed the respect and obeisance of their underlings for a long time; they have not had to deal with Since banners were called for Robert's Rebellion and then the Greyjoy Rebellion, Westeros has been at peace until obviously the outbreak of the War of the Five Kings. Until betrayed by Roose Bolton and Walder Frey, the Starks were most likely still in pretty good shape outside of expected battle losses during the War. 

They may be spread out, but all these skirmishes are going to add up after a while in diminishing the Stark's numbers.  First Rickard taking 200 men to King's Landing, then Robert's Rebellion, then the Greyjoy Rebellion, then Ned taking some of his household guard w/ him to King's Landing, the War of the Five Kings and finally the Red Wedding.  Compared to the other great houses, no other family has been involved in so many battles/losses over the past 18 years or so.

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Based upon the text one would think they lost their edge after the Red Wedding...and if we start playing the presumption game it is likely that their lands would have more potential fighters than most as Lords Paramount.

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Quote

A Clash of Kings - Tyrion II

"Because these child kings and drunken oafs can call other strong men, with other swords."
"Then these other swordsmen have the true power. Or do they? Whence came their swords? Why do they obey?" Varys smiled. "Some say knowledge is power. Some tell us that all power comes from the gods. Others say it derives from law. Yet that day on the steps of Baelor's Sept, our godly High Septon and the lawful Queen Regent and your ever-so-knowledgeable servant were as powerless as any cobbler or cooper in the crowd. Who truly killed Eddard Stark, do you think? Joffrey, who gave the command? Ser Ilyn Payne, who swung the sword? Or . . . another?"
Tyrion cocked his head sideways. "Did you mean to answer your damned riddle, or only to make my head ache worse?"
 
Varys smiled. "Here, then. Power resides where men believe it resides. No more and no less."

Did the Starks lose their military power? Really?

If the Stark banner was raised, would no-one come? No, they will come, because they believe....

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When did the Starks loose their military strength?

 

I believe that it was fairly soon after Ned was taken prisoner, Arya disappeared and Sansa was taken hostage.

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The likely scenario is that the Starks’ lands (including the petty lords and landed knight equivalents sworn directly to Winterfell), can probably raise around 3000-4000 men.

This seems to be roughly in the current Bolton range (although the Boltons may well be in the 4000-5000 range once they  tap into their reserves). The Dustins are also likely in this range. But the Manderlys are very likely in the 5000+ range.

The Tully quote from F&B is being taken out of context by people with obvious agendas. It is meant to portray that the Tullys were not traditionally among the powerful Houses of their region and in fact was of lesser power than many of their fellow Riverland Houses when they were propped up as overlords by the Targs 300 years ago. And this situation has not changed, and in cases like the Freys’ growing wealth and strength, the ratio has just gotten worse.

By contrast the Starks were the undisputed heavyweight champions of the North, winning every corner of it by force over the course of thousands of years. How much of it they then chose to dish out to their vassals, and how those various vassals then grew at different rates over the centuries is immaterial to that reality.

When the Manderlys arrived, there was just a crumbling fortress at the Wolfsden. Today it is the fifth biggest city in Westeros with a population of 30-50 thousand. And the surrounding countryside benefited as a result, with lucrative trade up and down the White Knife and villages no doubt popping up all through the Manderly lands where there were none 1000 years ago when they arrived.

The Starks weren’t going to discourage this growth. They were rather going to encourage it.

Similarly the Starks might have granted the Cerwyn and Tallhart lands to those vassals relatively recently, with those populations formerly falling under Winterfell’s direct control. Thus reducing Winterfell’s directly controlled lands, but leading to better rule of those lands by more invested local overlords, ultimately leading to increased populations and a growth of the Starks’ overall power.

Similarly, I think there is zero chance that the Tyrells can raise more men from their direct lands than the Hightowers can from Oldtown and its vassal lords.

It just won’t make sense.

Time to use our brains a bit, people.

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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14 hours ago, Rufus Snow said:

If the Stark banner was raised, would no-one come? No, they will come, because they believe....

Yes.

Ned came to KL with 50 men (IIRC). And he thought it would be enough. The Starks were leading the North because everyone was fine with it. If something happened somewhere, and the Lord Stark judged it wrong. And a majority of the lords and clan leaders agreed with him. Then the Lord Stark would call his banners. And he would have enough men to fix what need fixing. The Starks are not keeping an army. They are not taxing the other houses. The North is not plentiful enough for that.

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This is the quote about the relative strength of the Tullys in comparison to the other great houses:

Quote

House Tully was unique amongst the great houses of Westeros. Aegon the Conqueror had made them the Lords Paramount of the Trident, yet in many ways they continued to be overshadowed by many of their own bannermen. The Brackens, the Blackwoods, and the Vances all ruled wider domains and could field much larger armies, as could the upstart Freys of the Twins. The Mallisters of Seagard had a prouder lineage, the Mootons of Maidenpool were far wealthier, and Harrenhal, even cursed and blasted and in ruins, remained a more formidable castle than Riverrun, and ten times the size besides.

If the Starks or Tyrells or any of the other great houses were in a similar position as the Tullys they wouldn't be unique at all. The Tullys would be in exactly the same position as the Tyrells who apparently are not overshadowed by their own bannermen in many ways despite they never ruling as kings, too (at least not during the main series; back in the 1st century they clearly don't have the same prestige as their own bannermen due their humble heritage - but they have the wealth, lands, and military strength of Highgarden from the start). The same also goes for the Greyjoys, by the way. They, too, don't seem to have as relatively weak a position among their bannermen as the Tullys have.

If all the former royal houses were in an equally weak position as the Tullys then there would be no difference here.

The Starks and the Tyrells and the Lannisters and the Baratheons and the Arryns and the Greyjoys and the Martells do control more men directly than any of their respective bannermen.

Could be that the Hightowers can field nearly as many men or as many men as the Tyrells themselves, but no other house should have that power.

The lands directly sworn to Winterfell would also include the lands of the clansmen, by the way. They are directly under the jurisdiction of Winterfell, and if that goes then it is not unlikely that all the lands north of Winterfell outside the Wolfswood up to the mountains and Long Lake are also populated by people directly sworn to Winterfell.

The same goes for the lands east of Winterfell - we have no idea where the Hornwood and the Bolton lands start. Even in the south the Cerwyn lands may be just an island in a sea of land directly sworn to Winterfell stretching down as far as down south as Moat Cailin and encompassing all the lands west of the White Knife.

And the Tallharts and Glovers not being proper lords makes them more beholden to Winterfell than any of the actual lords.

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58 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

This is the quote about the relative strength of the Tullys in comparison to the other great houses:

If the Starks or Tyrells or any of the other great houses were in a similar position as the Tullys they wouldn't be unique at all. The Tullys would be in exactly the same position as the Tyrells who apparently are not overshadowed by their own bannermen in many ways despite they never ruling as kings, too (at least not during the main series; back in the 1st century they clearly don't have the same prestige as their own bannermen due their humble heritage - but they have the wealth, lands, and military strength of Highgarden from the start). The same also goes for the Greyjoys, by the way. They, too, don't seem to have as relatively weak a position among their bannermen as the Tullys have.

If all the former royal houses were in an equally weak position as the Tullys then there would be no difference here.

The Starks and the Tyrells and the Lannisters and the Baratheons and the Arryns and the Greyjoys and the Martells do control more men directly than any of their respective bannermen.

Could be that the Hightowers can field nearly as many men or as many men as the Tyrells themselves, but no other house should have that power.

The lands directly sworn to Winterfell would also include the lands of the clansmen, by the way. They are directly under the jurisdiction of Winterfell, and if that goes then it is not unlikely that all the lands north of Winterfell outside the Wolfswood up to the mountains and Long Lake are also populated by people directly sworn to Winterfell.

The same goes for the lands east of Winterfell - we have no idea where the Hornwood and the Bolton lands start. Even in the south the Cerwyn lands may be just an island in a sea of land directly sworn to Winterfell stretching down as far as down south as Moat Cailin and encompassing all the lands west of the White Knife.

And the Tallharts and Glovers not being proper lords makes them more beholden to Winterfell than any of the actual lords.

Thanks for providing the quote again, which allows us to see that it actually does not say what you think it says.

The quote states that the Tullys are unique. And then proceeds to list a combination of reasons for that uniqueness.

To be specific, the combination includes:

1. The Targaryens made them overlords of the region

2. MANY of their bannerlords overshadow them

3. A number (4) rule larger domains and can raise larger armies

4. The Mallisters have a prouder lineage

5. The Mootons are far wealthier

6. Even broken Harrenhal is a more formiddable and much larger castle.

So, only one of the above 6 need not apply to the other Lords Paramount to make the statement true.

In the case of the Starks, at the very least:

1. No Northern house has a prouder lineage

2. No Northern House has a greater castle

3. They were not put in place by the Targaryens

So that already keeps the Tullys distinct from them for three reasons (two more than are needed to keep the F&B quote factual).

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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2 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Thanks for providing the quote again, which allows us to see that it actually does not say what you think it says.

The quote states that the Tullys are unique. And then proceeds to list a combination of reasons for that uniqueness.

Even if that were the case, the Tyrells pretty much fit the bill as well, even more so when we were to buy your baseless speculation that the Tyrells can not field more men than their strongest bannermen.

2 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

To be specific, the combination includes:

1. The Targaryens made them overlords of the region

True for the Tyrells and Greyjoys as well.

2 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

2. MANY of their bannerlords overshadow them

True for the Tyrells as well, at least insofar as lineage (and possibly wealth, at least in the first decades of their rule) is concerned. For the Greyjoys, too, who certainly might not be as rich as the Harlaws and some of the houses from Great Wyk.

2 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

4. The Mallisters have a prouder lineage

Some Ironborn and most of the powerful Reach lords should have a prouder lineage than the Tyrells.

2 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

5. The Mootons are fr wealthier

Hightowers should be wealthier than the Tyrells.

2 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

6. Even broken Harrenhal is a more formiddable and much larger castle.

Many a castle on the Iron Islands might be more impressive than Pyke.

2 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

So, only one of the above 6 need not apply to the other Lords Paramount to make the statement true.

Where are you taking that from? The Tullys are unique because they differ in all the cited aspects from the other great houses, not just in one of those aspects. The great houses are portrayed as a homogeneous group there, a group the Tullys differ from in a number of ways. That's what makes the Tullys unique among the great houses. Not just one aspect, all of them. There is no reason to believe the members of the group differ in any meaningful sense - especially where power is concerned, since that's at the heart of this matter - from each other to the degree each of them differs from the Tullys.

2 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

In the case of the Starks, at the very least:

1. No Northern house has a prouder lineage

Where is that stated? The Dustins certainly could have a prouder lineage. The Manderlys could have a prouder lineage, too. If by 'proud lineage' we refer to age.

2 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

2. No Northern House has a greater castle

While that's very likely, it is not proven at this point.

2 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

3. They were not put in place by the Targaryens

In a sense they were. Aegon unmade the kings and then he made them lords. The difference between the Tullys is that they ruled as kings before, but they were made Lords of Winterfell by Aegon the Conqueror, just as the Arryns were made Lords of the Vale, and the Lannisters Lords of the West. 

2 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

So that already keeps the Tullys distinct from them for three reasons (two more than are needed to keep the F&B quote factual).

Even if this were true (which it is not, but let's pretend it was a for a moment) - you still have no basis for your assertion that the Starks cannot raise more men than their strongest bannermen, do you? Or can you give us any textual evidence for that?

FaB gives us a strong hint that a situation as that of the Tullys is unique, especially in relation to bannermen being stronger than their lords.

If the Starks are not the strongest guys in the North, then it seems very likely that a handful of lords would be more powerful than they are - the Manderlys, Dustins, Boltons, and possibly even the Karstarks and Umbers.

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2 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Even if that were the case, the Tyrells pretty much fit the bill as well, even more so when we were to buy your baseless speculation that the Tyrells can not field more men than their strongest bannermen.

True for the Tyrells and Greyjoys as well.

True for the Tyrells as well, at least insofar as lineage (and possibly wealth, at least in the first decades of their rule) is concerned. For the Greyjoys, too, who certainly might not be as rich as the Harlaws and some of the houses from Great Wyk.

Some Ironborn and most of the powerful Reach lords should have a prouder lineage than the Tyrells.

Hightowers should be wealthier than the Tyrells.

Many a castle on the Iron Islands might be more impressive than Pyke.

Where are you taking that from? The Tullys are unique because they differ in all the cited aspects from the other great houses, not just in one of those aspects. The great houses are portrayed as a homogeneous group there, a group the Tullys differ from in a number of ways. That's what makes the Tullys unique among the great houses. Not just one aspect, all of them. There is no reason to believe the members of the group differ in any meaningful sense - especially where power is concerned, since that's at the heart of this matter - from each other to the degree each of them differs from the Tullys.

Where is that stated? The Dustins certainly could have a prouder lineage. The Manderlys could have a prouder lineage, too. If by 'proud lineage' we refer to age.

While that's very likely, it is not proven at this point.

In a sense they were. Aegon unmade the kings and then he made them lords. The difference between the Tullys is that they ruled as kings before, but they were made Lords of Winterfell by Aegon the Conqueror, just as the Arryns were made Lords of the Vale, and the Lannisters Lords of the West. 

Even if this were true (which it is not, but let's pretend it was a for a moment) - you still have no basis for your assertion that the Starks cannot raise more men than their strongest bannermen, do you? Or can you give us any textual evidence for that?

FaB gives us a strong hint that a situation as that of the Tullys is unique, especially in relation to bannermen being stronger than their lords.

If the Starks are not the strongest guys in the North, then it seems very likely that a handful of lords would be more powerful than they are - the Manderlys, Dustins, Boltons, and possibly even the Karstarks and Umbers.

This is a spectacular example of faulty logic, followed by a moving of goalposts. I say spectacular because you end up contradicting your own logic in a single post.

To keep it simple and to the point - despite the temptation of expanding greatly on all the other reasons your point doesn't make sense - consider this:

You yourself acknowledge that the Hightowers are wealthier than the Tyrells. That in itself proves that not all of the factors that apply to the Tullys are unique to them. Because if the Tyrells are also less wealthy than some of their bannermen, then clearly the Tullys are not unique in that respect.

So if the wealth requirement is not unique to the Tullys, then why should any of the other factors mentioned (military strength, size of lands, pride of lineage) be unique either? Clearly, the logical inference is that it is the COMBINATION of those factors that are unique to the Tullys.

As for the Starks lineage. Come on. Their lineage is that they were the undisputed Kings in the North for thousands of years. THAT is what they derive the strength of their lineage from. Compared to that, whether the Dustins descend from some mythical Barrow King who ruled a small portion of the North 8000 years ago is miniscule in importance. That's what you fail to grasp in the Tully situation. They never were rulers of their region. Nor are they connected to the former rulers of their region (like the Tyrells are who inherited the Gardner mantle). Instead, they were minor lords in the Riverlands who were simply favored by Aegon.

As for the second part of my introductory sentence: Why do I accuse you of goalpost shifting? Because your point was that the Tully quote from F&B incontrovertibly proved that all of the other Lords Paramount can directly raise more men than any of their bannerlords.

Now that I have debunked the validity of that conclusion, you shift the burden of proof onto me to demonstrate why the Starks cannot raise more men than some of their bannermen. I was not the one making a definitive statement supposedly proven by a piece of text. You were. And you were wrong.

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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5 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

This is the quote about the relative strength of the Tullys in comparison to the other great houses:

If the Starks or Tyrells or any of the other great houses were in a similar position as the Tullys they wouldn't be unique at all. The Tullys would be in exactly the same position as the Tyrells who apparently are not overshadowed by their own bannermen in many ways despite they never ruling as kings, too (at least not during the main series; back in the 1st century they clearly don't have the same prestige as their own bannermen due their humble heritage - but they have the wealth, lands, and military strength of Highgarden from the start). The same also goes for the Greyjoys, by the way. They, too, don't seem to have as relatively weak a position among their bannermen as the Tullys have.

If all the former royal houses were in an equally weak position as the Tullys then there would be no difference here.

The Starks and the Tyrells and the Lannisters and the Baratheons and the Arryns and the Greyjoys and the Martells do control more men directly than any of their respective bannermen.

Could be that the Hightowers can field nearly as many men or as many men as the Tyrells themselves, but no other house should have that power.

The lands directly sworn to Winterfell would also include the lands of the clansmen, by the way. They are directly under the jurisdiction of Winterfell, and if that goes then it is not unlikely that all the lands north of Winterfell outside the Wolfswood up to the mountains and Long Lake are also populated by people directly sworn to Winterfell.

The same goes for the lands east of Winterfell - we have no idea where the Hornwood and the Bolton lands start. Even in the south the Cerwyn lands may be just an island in a sea of land directly sworn to Winterfell stretching down as far as down south as Moat Cailin and encompassing all the lands west of the White Knife.

And the Tallharts and Glovers not being proper lords makes them more beholden to Winterfell than any of the actual lords.

People really take this quote the wrong way. It doesn’t necessarily mean other lords aren’t overshadowed by ANY of their lords, it just means they aren’t overshadowed by MANY.  So it really could mean they are overshadowed by a bannermen or two but not many; Hightowers and Redwynes, Manderlys and Dustins, Royces, Yronwoods, Reynes, Harlaw and Goodbrother are all candidates for their respective regions.

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Their strength is the strength of their bannermen, that's how feudalism works. When Rob calls his banners and summons 20,000 men that is his army, in the same way that the armies of the individual lords making up that army have lesser lords sworn to them making up their armies. The Starks may have lesser lords in their own lands sworn directly to them but why does it matter when they rule the entire North and everyone is sworn to them regardless. 

Edited by Trigger Warning

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