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Br16

Did Tywin waste his legendary wealth?

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I know that in the books House Lannister still has its gold, so much that Kevan even considered paying IB with Casterly gold. However, I can't help but think that Tywin (while he was alive) did not use his money usefully. For example:

1) After greyjoy rebellion, why didn't he use it as an excuse to build a massive (say 200 ship)  fleet and invest in the merchant shipping business? Seems like a good way to protect and extend trade/ diversify the economy, and secretly increase his martial power without attracting suspicion as he could hide behind the Iron Island's threat. Especially considering that other than mining, Westerlands has limited farming potential.

2) Lannister army seems not very impressive considering his legendary wealth. It just seems normal for a Great House, only better equipped.

3) He never seems to establish charities (philantrophy could be a powerful political tool).

4) Never heard of significant infrastructure investments in the Westerlands invested by him.

What do you guys think? 

 

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Gold is not easy to mine.  Just ask the Annunaki.  Ancient Astronaut theorists believe man was genetically engineered for the purpose of mining gold.  

The Lannisters used their wealth to get more power.  Tywin was the most powerful man in W while he was alive.  He used it the way a feudal lord would.  His children had expensive tastes.  Appearances had to be maintained.  Maintenance on Casterly  Rock.

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Commerce was considered a lowborn undertaking in middle ages so I suppose it fits with Martin world as well - "counting coppers" comes to mind. Lannister power was based on land, as all other lords, what gave them adventage were gold mines.

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I've long suspected that even in the books Lannister wealth is not all it's made out to be. As the younger brother, even Kevan might not be aware of this fact.

In addition to the above comments about trade being below the concerns of high lords (except when it comes to collecting the revenues) it would be difficult for the House Lann to become a merchant power given the geographical position of their house. There's not much trade to their north, and it would take a helluva long time to sail down the western coast, through the Redwyne straits (where they would probably have to pay a toll) around Dorne and across the Narrow Sea to Essos, let alone all the way to, say, Quarth or the Jade Sea. Such a voyage would require extremely large, durable and expensive ships, and the loss of just one would be a serious blow to Lannister wealth. Also, the only people who seem capable of building such boats, and sailing them, are the Summer Islanders, and they don't seem too eager to share their craft with the rest of the world. So mounting an enterprise of this sort would require a significant amount of gold, not to mention wood, cloth and other materials, and probably would not substantially increase Lannister incomes beyond what they already get from the existing coastal trade.

Why didn't he build another war fleet? I think he realized what little use it is after the Greyjoys burned the last one. And with the war done and the realm now under Robert's protection, there was little need for it. Sure, the Iron Men could rise up again some day and take Lannisport, but they can never take the Rock, and in short order the crown will descend on Pyke again and put everything right.

The size of the Lannister army is dictated by the number of men the lords can raise at any one time. Like you said, Tywin did spend money on equipment for his army, and he even hired sellswords to sow terror in the Riverlands.

Charity and philanthropy. I doubt those words are even in the Lannister dictionary.

Infrastructure is a tricky thing. Sure, roads and bridges make it easier for smallfolk to transport their goods, but they also make it easier for invading armies to sack and burn your towns and cities. If a land invasion were ever to hit the westerlands, it would probably be at the crown's direction, not in defiance of it, so why make it easier for your enemies?

 

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, Br16 said:

I know that in the books House Lannister still has its gold, so much that Kevan even considered paying IB with Casterly gold. However, I can't help but think that Tywin (while he was alive) did not use his money usefully. For example:

1) After greyjoy rebellion, why didn't he use it as an excuse to build a massive (say 200 ship)  fleet and invest in the merchant shipping business? Seems like a good way to protect and extend trade/ diversify the economy, and secretly increase his martial power without attracting suspicion as he could hide behind the Iron Island's threat. Especially considering that other than mining, Westerlands has limited farming potential.

2) Lannister army seems not very impressive considering his legendary wealth. It just seems normal for a Great House, only better equipped.

3) He never seems to establish charities (philantrophy could be a powerful political tool).

4) Never heard of significant infrastructure investments in the Westerlands invested by him.

What do you guys think? 

 

 

1. Do you know who has a massive fleet, more ships than Ironborn(little over 400 at best), even? Redwynes, who  have 1000 ships of which 800 are trade ships. Why do they have so many ships? Because they are both an island nation and have a valuable commodity to trade, doing the trading yourself earns you more, just look at the seasnake. Besides gold, Westerlands have nothing so valuable to export.

2. And where do you get the idea it is better equipped? House Lannister's own guards are perhaps slightly better equipped,with things such as codpieces, but it's just that, slightly. In my signature about Military Strengths, there's also info on equipments by region/house.

3. And who does? Only one I can think of is Margaery/Olenna. Perhaps there were a few more instances but that's about it.

4. Do we hear of anyone else doing that, besides the throne at it's early days? Hightowers are as rich as the Lannisters, we are told. Even richer perhaps since they control the second largest city with a lot of trade and we don't get to hear of any major investments by Hightowers.

Edited by Corvo the Crow

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Maybe George just didn't showed us his investments. We know that Tywin loaned gold to the crown(and I suppose to other lords too). Usury is a very profitable business.

A new fleet wasn't necessary. The ironborn(as Balon would later recognize) could never hope to conquer the Westerlands, and a fleet would be of little use. Really, the ironborn would manage to burn Lannisport because they had the advantage of surprise

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There are probably many "Lannisters" in Lannisport, from the various Lannister branches based there, that are heavily invested in trade, but the Lannisters of Casterly Rock are likely focused various taxes.

 

I don't really know if Tywin wasted the Lannister wealth, but Cersei certainly gives off that vibe. Cersei does not serve House Lannister, House Lannister is just a tool to further her. Her Admiral deserted with the newly built royal fleet, which made the substantial investment a waste.

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I'd say Tywin's biggest financial blunder was starting a war.  It seems out of character for him.  He was always so cold and calculating; and he didn't even like Tyrion.   -- Yes, he wanted to defend the honor of his House.  But still ... Tyrion was captured by Lady Stark, who was of the North.  Then he was tried by Lady Arryn in the Vale.    So to retaliate by sending men to rape and kill in the Riverlands seems seriously misguided, as well as overkill. 

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15 hours ago, Aebram said:

I'd say Tywin's biggest financial blunder was starting a war.

Tywin didn't want to start a war, he wanted to flex his muscles and scare everyone.  He did not anticipate Robert's death.  He probably expected Robert to intervene and have someone pay him off, either Tully or Stark, with additional lands or gold for Catlyn's "abduction of Tyrion".  While Robert's death initially seemed like a good thing, that led to the war which now Tywin was forced to fight to protect his grandson the king.  Even if Tywin never invaded the Riverlands, the war would have occurred.

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As to your third point, a slight advantage in equipment I would say is both a bigger advantage and much more expensive than you realize, in the real world, most medieval conscripts brought thier own equipment to war, the cost of equipping Lannister men even with the most basic gear should not be underplayed.

I agree with some of your other points though, especially the Navy.

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10 hours ago, Back door hodor said:

As to your third point, a slight advantage in equipment I would say is both a bigger advantage and much more expensive than you realize, in the real world, most medieval conscripts brought thier own equipment to war, the cost of equipping Lannister men even with the most basic gear should not be underplayed.

I agree with some of your other points though, especially the Navy.

Great point, also, from  Tyrion's explanation of the 10K well trained Lannister (Casterly rock) army during the Unsullied assault,   and from the fact that Tywin had 12K horse to immediately rush to KL after Trident seems to imply that Tywin had more or less a standing army of 10K men at arms (not levies) parked at his seat. This would be a big deal and probably super expensive in a feudal economy even with gold mines.

Also, thanks for agreeing with me about the navy. I know that it's not on the practical side (as from a lot of other people's responses), I nevertheless feel that a sea faring tradition (no matter show hard or how pioneering) is something the Lannisters need in the long term to diversify the economy. Wester land farms cannot match the more fertile regions, so they ought to invest in ships when they still have the capital to do so, and find a way to do business with the far east, or do what Arya is doing and go west. If Sea snake Velaryon could be wealthier than the Lannisters when he was alive, then far east trade is something worth doing no matter the risks or losses of getting it set up.

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6 minutes ago, Br16 said:

. If Sea snake Velaryon could be wealthier than the Lannisters when he was alive, then far east trade is something worth doing no matter the risks or losses of getting it set up. 

The lannisters are on the wrong side of the continent for it though.

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1 minute ago, The Hoare said:

The lannisters are on the wrong side of the continent for it though.

I agree that they are, but if they tough it out, they might be able to win. Especially as they have more resources than the Velaryons. Plus, mabye there is a pleasant surprise to the west if they were willing to launch expeditions. 

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1 hour ago, Br16 said:

I agree that they are, but if they tough it out, they might be able to win. Especially as they have more resources than the Velaryons. Plus, mabye there is a pleasant surprise to the west if they were willing to launch expeditions. 

Maybe, maybe not. Medieval sea trade was dangerous, a good part of the ships would be lost. When we consider the huge distance and the costs to replace the lost ships I don't think it would be really feasible at all.

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5 minutes ago, The Hoare said:

Maybe, maybe not. Medieval sea trade was dangerous, a good part of the ships would be lost. When we consider the huge distance and the costs to replace the lost ships I don't think it would be really feasible at all.

I agree it would be a huge risk. Perhaps Westerlands people simply won't have the motivation to bother. I still feel a few boatloads of whatever Yi Ti, Jade Sea or Asshai has to offer would probably prove a windfall of a lifetime, but it may not justify a viable merchant tradition. 

Also, do you think Arya's exploration may accidentally lead to a start of the Planetos version of the Triangular slave trade with Westeros playing the part of England?

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23 hours ago, Br16 said:

Great point, also, from  Tyrion's explanation of the 10K well trained Lannister (Casterly rock) army during the Unsullied assault,   and from the fact that Tywin had 12K horse to immediately rush to KL after Trident seems to imply that Tywin had more or less a standing army of 10K men at arms (not levies) parked at his seat. This would be a big deal and probably super expensive in a feudal economy even with gold mines.

Also, thanks for agreeing with me about the navy. I know that it's not on the practical side (as from a lot of other people's responses), I nevertheless feel that a sea faring tradition (no matter show hard or how pioneering) is something the Lannisters need in the long term to diversify the economy. Wester land farms cannot match the more fertile regions, so they ought to invest in ships when they still have the capital to do so, and find a way to do business with the far east, or do what Arya is doing and go west. If Sea snake Velaryon could be wealthier than the Lannisters when he was alive, then far east trade is something worth doing no matter the risks or losses of getting it set up.

I personally do not think pursuing naval strength would be impractical...the Lannisters already control one of the major ports in Westeros, and the only one on the entire western coast, thier seat of power is on or very near the coast and they count at least one fairly large island( Fair Isle) and several other settlements on or near the western coast among thier kingdom(for lack of a better term).

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On 6/7/2019 at 4:33 AM, Aebram said:

I'd say Tywin's biggest financial blunder was starting a war.  It seems out of character for him.  He was always so cold and calculating; and he didn't even like Tyrion.   -- Yes, he wanted to defend the honor of his House.  But still ... Tyrion was captured by Lady Stark, who was of the North.  Then he was tried by Lady Arryn in the Vale.    So to retaliate by sending men to rape and kill in the Riverlands seems seriously misguided, as well as overkill. 

Not really true.

When Lady Stark captured Tyrion, it was men-at-arms from Riverland Houses who did the physical capturing and then at least some of them went along to bring Tyrion to the Vale with Lady Stark. We know that these men acted on their own, but when Tywin would put the information he has together, it surely looks like the Riverlords were in on it.

And besides, are not lords often considered responsible for what their underlings do in Westeros anyway?

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As to the notion of Tywin having to balance seafaring and an imposing army?

 Check out John II of Portugal. He didn't have goldmines. And the seafaring expenses of trying find a way to India by sea instead of paying the various tolls and time for transporting exotic goods through the tradotional landways had not yet come to bear fruit.

He still had a very respectable army by, as the story goes, ordering every man of age to own and maintain a horse. 

Also, he was very resistant to societal games, and upon being made King instead of merely regent as he had when his father abdicated, he removed many privileges and power from the aristocracy, concentrating resources upon the crown.

He also managed to have his son promised to wed the daughter of the neighbouring King of Castilla and Aragon, threatening their line of succession and a joining of a large part of the Peninsula. Shame the poor boy had a tragic accident by falling from his horse, eh?

They named him the Perfect Prince.

I see quite a few parallels to Tywin Lannister. As the son of a weaker king, as a cunning man who recovered from an impoverished position into almost succeeding at taking a greater throne not through war but through intelligent negotiation, ruthless action and yes, some treachery.

It was on his ideas that a small strip of land off of Iberia became one of the world's powers in the centuries of exploration by sea to follow. 

Some even say he tricked the Castillian sovereigns to give up Brazil in the infamous Treaty of Tordesilhas. It is talked about that he had inferred, or truly known,  the Americas existed before Colombo's journey at the behest of Queen Isabel. He even refused to fund the 'straight' journey, which is suspicious once you consider his policies of exploration, even if his interests lied in finding a way to India. Sneaky, like Tywin.

I'd like it if he'd been an inspiration.

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On 6/6/2019 at 7:50 AM, Br16 said:

I know that in the books House Lannister still has its gold, so much that Kevan even considered paying IB with Casterly gold. However, I can't help but think that Tywin (while he was alive) did not use his money usefully. For example:

1) After greyjoy rebellion, why didn't he use it as an excuse to build a massive (say 200 ship)  fleet and invest in the merchant shipping business? Seems like a good way to protect and extend trade/ diversify the economy, and secretly increase his martial power without attracting suspicion as he could hide behind the Iron Island's threat. Especially considering that other than mining, Westerlands has limited farming potential.

2) Lannister army seems not very impressive considering his legendary wealth. It just seems normal for a Great House, only better equipped.

3) He never seems to establish charities (philantrophy could be a powerful political tool).

4) Never heard of significant infrastructure investments in the Westerlands invested by him.

What do you guys think? 

 

Bear in mind as a lord getting deep into commerce and worrying over funds is seen as beneath them ( see freys) plus like all the debtors the crown owed he was prob getting some nice interest anyway on top of his already seemingly limitless wealth

1) traders are already comming into lannisport to sell all manner of items for gold or trade goods for westerlands metals etc ....increasing the westerlands military and merchant navy isnt gonna massively alter that . If was gonna go down that path investing in essosi buissness through the iron bank would prob be an easier and more productive shout

2)its the 2nd largest force and probably tied with the reach for best equiped and best % heavy cavalry etc . Tywin also added an elite loyal force of footsmen  to protect lannisters after witnessing abductions and raised up house clegane to give him 2 of westeros best warriors.......cant do much better than that.

3) not many great lords do 

4) theres very little lords would do but theres no indication its in any great need of it either

Jamies rage at someone attacking near casterly rock ( tyrions first wife) would strongly hint at a well patroled  area where incidents of crime near the rock are rare.

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You could say lending it to the crown and then making policy that actively leads to your biggest debtor getting killed is a waste, yes. Neither fAegon nor Daenerys will honor the debts.

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