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Aldarion

King's Landing - an unrealistic city?

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8 minutes ago, The Grey Wolf said:

@Lord Varys

Maybe that's why the Manderlys were kicked out of the Reach by Perceon III? Because they were trying to build a city using their "swelling power"?

Could be. But I think Perceon III was more concerned that they intended to take his place.

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Posted (edited)
14 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Could be. But I think Perceon III was more concerned that they intended to take his place.

If you control a city built on a river's chokepoint...

Edited by The Grey Wolf

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21 minutes ago, The Grey Wolf said:

If you control a city built on a river's chokepoint...

Oh, yeah, could certainly help. Perhaps we'll eventually learn where Dustonbury was and whether there is a large market town in the neighborhood that once was essentially a city.

But I actually expect that the Manderlys had too close family ties to the Gardeners, with those Manderlys who were hounded out the Reach having, perhaps, an even better claim to the throne than Perceon III himself (easily imaginable if he was some second cousin to the previous king and the Lord Manderly a son of the king's eldest daughter).

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Civil engineering was not the science back then.  The fort was built where it was convenient to do so for military reasons.  The city grew out of it.  Water flow rids the sewage and provides drinking water.  Yikes all from the same source.  Gross isn't it.  Oh the stench.  Kingslanding was the bog of eternal stench.  

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13 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

KL is not so much of a problem - it is the fact that there are no great cities at the mouth of both the Trident and the Mander. The latter is especially ridiculous, just as the fact that Highgarden is not both a castle and a city/large town (although I guess we'll learn that the castle is surrounded by quite a few market towns when we ever visit it) and that there are no other large towns/cities of note alongside the Mander. We know the Reach is very rich and a hub of trade, but it is missing the places where it would be conducted (i.e. in ports at or close to the mouth of the Mander up to the point where the river is no longer navigable by large ships). 

Or rather, the place is at the wrong place. Oldtown on Honeywine, not Dunstonbury or Highgarden.

It is significant that neither Dunstonbury nor Highgarden ever matched Oldtown as trade cities.

13 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

The Trident situation is sort of remedied by the fact that Maidenpool lies alongside the Bay of Crabs which is the bay at the mouth of the Trident - meaning Maidenpool may be the place where a lot of the international trade was done in ancient days up till now.

Still, Saltpans should be major city/town - or at least should have been one such in pre-Conquest days. It could have been a royal residence of some of the Trident kings - the Teagues or the Justmans - only to decline due to some tragedy.

The idea that the mouth of the huge Trident river system is not going to be the center of trade in the Riverlands - especially international trade with the Free Cities or those kingdoms of Westeros who would send goods by ship to the Riverlands - just doesn't hold any water. Just as it is ridiculous that there are no great harbors and ports on the Shield Islands and alongside the mouth of the Mander.

And charters and the like seem to be irrelevant here, considering none of the five cities of Westeros actually seem to have been gotten charters. Instead they grew large and prosperous and powerful because they were the residences and under the protection of powerful kings and lords (Hightowers, Lannisters, Manderlys, and Targaryens).

And we see what happened at Maidenpool.

Walls did exist around the outer city - but when the enemies came, the lord ordered his guards to retreat to castle.

And the guards did.

They were not a city smallfolk militia protecting their homes, wives and warehouses, who might have defended their walls disobeying their lord. They could do nothing but curse their lord's cowardice.

 

"Charters" may be one example, but look around Pyke, Storm's End, Moon Gate, Riverrun. Again you see lack of accompanying trade town.

I suggest that the lords who actually know how to foster a town (by charter or otherwise) are exception not rule. Lannisters of Lannisport, Hightowers of Oldtown, Grafrons of Gulltown, Manderlies of White Harbour... perhaps a few more. While the rule would be, too little protection outside castle gates and too much oppression for anyone with visible wealth.

13 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

It is a pity that we have no idea where the Teague and Justman kings had their capitals/royal residences. They could have had both great castles as well as towns/city around such castles. If they did, we don't know anything about that at this point.

Lack of "charters" is attributed to ancient kings. Recall lack of towns for Arryn and Durrandon capitals.

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12 hours ago, Jaak said:

Or rather, the place is at the wrong place. Oldtown on Honeywine, not Dunstonbury or Highgarden.

I think Oldtown as such is certainly not unrealistic. The Honeywine is no small river, and historically the conditions to found a great city there may have been better than at the mouth of the Mander. What makes no sense is that the Gardener kings did not later establish towns and cities at the mouth of the Mander and its lower reaches.

12 hours ago, Jaak said:

It is significant that neither Dunstonbury nor Highgarden ever matched Oldtown as trade cities.

That there is no town/city around Highgarden also makes no sense. Kings as powerful and wealthy as the Gardeners should have their own city even if they decided - for some reason - to not make it their main residence. 

But at this point we have only a very sketchy view of the Reach as such, anyway. However, FaB implied that both Bitterbridge and Tumbleton weren't exactly small towns during the Dance. If they are representative of the average market town in the Reach then the place might be actually visibly crowded.

In fact, many of the lordly seats from the Reach we know at this point might be referring to both a castle and a surrounding/connected town.

12 hours ago, Jaak said:

And we see what happened at Maidenpool.

Walls did exist around the outer city - but when the enemies came, the lord ordered his guards to retreat to castle.

And the guards did.

They were not a city smallfolk militia protecting their homes, wives and warehouses, who might have defended their walls disobeying their lord. They could do nothing but curse their lord's cowardice.

Well, that was the present Lord Mooton who seems to be a coward. Others acted rather differently. And we have to keep in mind that the first sack of Maidenpool during the War of the Five Kings was conducted by a Lannister army, possibly greatly outnumbering whatever defenders House Mooton could muster.

12 hours ago, Jaak said:

"Charters" may be one example, but look around Pyke, Storm's End, Moon Gate, Riverrun. Again you see lack of accompanying trade town.

Oh, well, Pyke has Lordsport. The Stormlands are pretty backwater, so I've less issue with that, and Riverrun never was a royal seat. However, it is still odd that it is basically just a castle in the middle of nowhere, considering it sits at a confluence of two rivers which could be an important trading hub.

12 hours ago, Jaak said:

I suggest that the lords who actually know how to foster a town (by charter or otherwise) are exception not rule. Lannisters of Lannisport, Hightowers of Oldtown, Grafrons of Gulltown, Manderlies of White Harbour... perhaps a few more. While the rule would be, too little protection outside castle gates and too much oppression for anyone with visible wealth.

Lack of "charters" is attributed to ancient kings. Recall lack of towns for Arryn and Durrandon capitals.

Well, they all should have towns somewhere, and do in the Reach and the Riverlands at least. The odd part is that some castles which should have towns accompanying them simply don't. Even Winterfell has some sort of town, after all.

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13 hours ago, Jaak said:

"Charters" may be one example, but look around Pyke, Storm's End, Moon Gate, Riverrun. Again you see lack of accompanying trade town

Just a few notes:

  • Lordsport is a trading town that provides anchorage to Pyke and is the largest town in the Iron Islands.
  • Riverrun definitely has at least trade villages around it. Edmure is mentioned wenching more than a few times, and Tom of Sevenstrings knew Edmure or a girl well enough to write a song about him

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The lack of cities and towns in Westeros is commented upon enough. Especially around major trading routes.

That being said, King's Landing position is similar to say Hamburg, Bremerhaven, Le Havre (Harfleur), Saint-Malo, Belém, New York, Norfolk, Hull, Edinburgh... It is not so unlikely. It is not in a river delta (then again say Saint Petersburg is THE river delta), but on a border of estuary, so there may not even be marches etc., at least on the rockier side of river. And at the same time the floods may not be that much of a problem - I would just assume the Southern bank is the flood zone and if the hovels between the walls and the river get washed away, who cares?

In general Medieval cities were built on the first plateau above the river, with the area next to the river that was flooded on a regular basis being left to poor. So if there is something iffy it is "flea bottom" being inside the city walls instead of between the city and the river - then again major port there would explain why that estate, while risky, is valuable.

 

So the King's landing position and even size are not suspicious - lack of other large cities is. And lack of notable bridges over large rivers.

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1 hour ago, Runaway Penguin said:

So the King's landing position and even size are not suspicious - lack of other large cities is. And lack of notable bridges over large rivers.

On Rhine, Caesar built the first bridge, and then Romans several others. And then - unbridged till 19th century.

On Danube, Romans built two great bridges on lower river - Traian´s and Constantine´s. And then... 12th century bridge at Regensburg, but Danube below, such as at Vienna let alone Iron Gates, was also unbridged till 19th century.

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23 minutes ago, Jaak said:

On Rhine, Caesar built the first bridge, and then Romans several others. And then - unbridged till 19th century.

On Danube, Romans built two great bridges on lower river - Traian´s and Constantine´s. And then... 12th century bridge at Regensburg, but Danube below, such as at Vienna let alone Iron Gates, was also unbridged till 19th century.

Yes, that is still more than exist on Trident and its major tributaries - and in few centuries, not 8000 years. the Romans also routinely employed large pontoon bridges.

Especially if the Twins are told to be the only crossing point for hundreds of miles, and other lords being jealous of the wealth it brings - it would make sense for the lords or even the Targ King to commission another bridge across the Green Fork. And the rest of tributaries. Esp. around the Ruby Ford...

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On 7/5/2019 at 3:20 AM, Aldarion said:

I had been doing some research for worldbuilding, and came across this. This is important point:

Now, normal estuary may not be as bad as a river delta. But even so, major cities seem to be away from estuaries:  London is miles inland, and so is Rome. Ostia seems to have been located at the river estuary, but it is merely a port of Rome, not a major city in its own right. Yet King's Landing is right at the estuary of Blackwater Rush. So am I missing something here?

There should probably be a "geographical problems with Westeros thread", but this particular subject is a little off as others have mentioned. 

Aegonfort existed only because it was a place that was basically equal distance from Storm's End and Harrenhal so that no King could truly challenge Aegon with a large host quickly while debating who's problem he was. 

The city grew around his crowning, And its location allowed for trade with the free cities which helped it grow.

 

For those reasons, it makes more sense to compare King's Landing to Alexandria instead of  Rome. 

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King's Landing isn't situated on a river delta so I'm confused.

But yes, cities and towns in Westeros. This is a problem that George R.R. Martin failed to address. Only 5 "big" cities? There should be at least 12 big cities in Westeros. Sunspear, White Harbor, Lannisport, King's Landing, Oldtown and Gulltown should be the main ones.

But Saltpans, Barrowton, Seagard, Spicetown, Lordsport, the Weeping Town and the Wintertown should have the population big enough to be considered a city.

Castles such as Starfall, Highgarden, Ten Towers, Dragonstone, Deepwood Motte should have a large named market towns nearby. 

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I've always thought that the low level of urbanization of the Seven Kingdoms could be explained by the unusual span of the seasons. Actually, Westeros would be a clear example of the classic Malthusian arguments.

Every winter the population would be dramatically reduced. Farmers would have better survival odds than artisans or traders living in cities (stored food, access to hunting, less competition in the immediate surroundings,...).

Not only that. Immediately after the end of the winter, every single able hand that had survived it would be required to produce food. People living in cities would have a great incentive to move to the country to work on the land and produce food (and there would even be lots of free land after the families that had died during winter).

I can imagine how this cycle could make the growth of cities very complicated. Specially when there's not a lord wealthy and powerful enough to store food for winter (bearing in mind that all your starving neighbors will want to take them from you).

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3 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

I've always thought that the low level of urbanization of the Seven Kingdoms could be explained by the unusual span of the seasons. Actually, Westeros would be a clear example of the classic Malthusian arguments.

 Every winter the population would be dramatically reduced. Farmers would have better survival odds than artisans or traders living in cities (stored food, access to hunting, less competition in the immediate surroundings,...).

Not only that. Immediately after the end of the winter, every single able hand that had survived it would be required to produce food. People living in cities would have a great incentive to move to the country to work on the land and produce food (and there would even be lots of free land after the families that had died during winter).

I can imagine how this cycle could make the growth of cities very complicated. Specially when there's not a lord wealthy and powerful enough to store food for winter (bearing in mind that all your starving neighbors will want to take them from you).

Thanks, makes sense. But would in that case even be any city as large as King's Landing? And especially as densely populated? I could easily imagine a city where walls surround not only houses but also a fair area of farmland.

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4 hours ago, Aldarion said:

Thanks, makes sense. But would in that case even be any city as large as King's Landing? And especially as densely populated? I could easily imagine a city where walls surround not only houses but also a fair area of farmland.

If winter is long and harsh enough sea route to KL will froze so they could not import any food via ships and even Reach would have famines. So feeding any major city in northern and middle Westeros during long winters should be impossible.

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6 hours ago, Aldarion said:

But would in that case even be any city as large as King's Landing? And especially as densely populated? I could easily imagine a city where walls surround not only houses but also a fair area of farmland.

I assume the Targaryens would have enough wealth and power to ensure that a stable flow of food keeps arriving at the city. At least to feed their valuable subjects. People at Flea Bottom would surely starve, of course.

 

 

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On 7/8/2019 at 1:48 PM, Lord Varys said:

KL is not so much of a problem - it is the fact that there are no great cities at the mouth of both the Trident and the Mander. The latter is especially ridiculous, just as the fact that Highgarden is not both a castle and a city/large town (although I guess we'll learn that the castle is surrounded by quite a few market towns when we ever visit it) and that there are no other large towns/cities of note alongside the Mander. We know the Reach is very rich and a hub of trade, but it is missing the places where it would be conducted (i.e. in ports at or close to the mouth of the Mander up to the point where the river is no longer navigable by large ships). 

The Trident situation is sort of remedied by the fact that Maidenpool lies alongside the Bay of Crabs which is the bay at the mouth of the Trident - meaning Maidenpool may be the place where a lot of the international trade was done in ancient days up till now.

Still, Saltpans should be major city/town - or at least should have been one such in pre-Conquest days. It could have been a royal residence of some of the Trident kings - the Teagues or the Justmans - only to decline due to some tragedy.

The idea that the mouth of the huge Trident river system is not going to be the center of trade in the Riverlands - especially international trade with the Free Cities or those kingdoms of Westeros who would send goods by ship to the Riverlands - just doesn't hold any water. Just as it is ridiculous that there are no great harbors and ports on the Shield Islands and alongside the mouth of the Mander.

And charters and the like seem to be irrelevant here, considering none of the five cities of Westeros actually seem to have been gotten charters. Instead they grew large and prosperous and powerful because they were the residences and under the protection of powerful kings and lords (Hightowers, Lannisters, Manderlys, and Targaryens).

It is a pity that we have no idea where the Teague and Justman kings had their capitals/royal residences. They could have had both great castles as well as towns/city around such castles. If they did, we don't know anything about that at this point.

KL, on the other hand, is clearly at the vicinity of Westeros up until the Conquest. It was an insignificant borderland and the trade that happened in the region would have passed through Duskendale and Maidenpool. And once Valyria controlled Dragonstone, Driftmark, and the Gullet the Westerosi may not have been all that keen to pass through those waters if they could go around them ... causing the region to decline even further.

This.

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