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Br16

How much money is needed to Social Climb in AWOIAF?

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I presume Westeros is similar to historical England where those who earned their wealth in trade would wish to save up/sell up and buy land to become Landed Gentry.

How big is the typical gentry Estate and how many silver moons/golden dragons would be needed to buy in? And how much annual generated rents are we looking at? 

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Since there don't seem to be a large ammount of snubbery from, essentially, "nobles of the sword" against "nobles of the robe" I would think that it actually isn't as common as one might think for wealthy merchants to successfully enter the nobility. If it had been, then we would surely hear of more families being descended from merchants.

Sure, there are apparently so that some nobles marry with merchants to get the money, but these socially mixed families don't seem to either last or the nobles quickly returns to marriages with other nobles once their urgent money issue is over.

Or at least that's my take on it but I can't claim to have studies this issue in detail.

 

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Posted (edited)
On 7/9/2019 at 9:03 PM, Lion of the West said:

Since there don't seem to be a large ammount of snubbery from, essentially, "nobles of the sword" against "nobles of the robe" I would think that it actually isn't as common as one might think for wealthy merchants to successfully enter the nobility. If it had been, then we would surely hear of more families being descended from merchants.

Sure, there are apparently so that some nobles marry with merchants to get the money, but these socially mixed families don't seem to either last or the nobles quickly returns to marriages with other nobles once their urgent money issue is over.

Or at least that's my take on it but I can't claim to have studies this issue in detail.

 

Good point, almost all the Westeros Houses are quite ancient, so perhaps social mobility is just wishful thinking. 

Edited by Br16

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6 hours ago, Br16 said:

Good point, almost all the Westeros Houses are quite ancient, so perhaps social mobility is just wishful thinking. 

I wouldn't go that far, but I would say that the Western Feudal "rise-and-fall" dynamic of nobles families seems to be replaced by great stability in Westeros. And with such stability perhaps the nobles just don't need the merchants' money like they did in our world?

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8 hours ago, Lion of the West said:

I wouldn't go that far, but I would say that the Western Feudal "rise-and-fall" dynamic of nobles families seems to be replaced by great stability in Westeros. And with such stability perhaps the nobles just don't need the merchants' money like they did in our world?

Yeah, the defining feature of Westeros feudalism is that it's unusually static. Perhaps a lot of the minor minor knightly houses are their version of our historical landed gentry. Maybe a merchant made it, got training/armor for his sons and bought some land from someone sworn to someone, and we'll never hear about it. 

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No amount of money is safe. Rich merchants can have their goods and families seized, gold confiscated and lives ruined by the landed rulers. 

If you are rich, you are still a renter.

The best you could hope for in ASOIAF and England is to marry your way into a poorer but still noble family so your heirs would be landed and have your wealth.

Money does not bring security in Medieval times. If anything it made you a bigger target. It’s quite precarious.

 

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Posted (edited)
On 6 July 2019 at 9:19 AM, Br16 said:

I presume Westeros is similar to historical England where those who earned their wealth in trade would wish to save up/sell up and buy land to become Landed Gentry.

How big is the typical gentry Estate and how many silver moons/golden dragons would be needed to buy in? And how much annual generated rents are we looking at? 

My guess would be 5,000 or so dragons, to buy a decent-sized estate.  The Westerlings and Arryns of Gulltown married trade.  I should think huge clans like the Tyrell's and Lannisters would have cousins involved in trade and professions.

Edited by SeanF

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On 7/6/2019 at 1:19 AM, Br16 said:

I presume Westeros is similar to historical England where those who earned their wealth in trade would wish to save up/sell up and buy land to become Landed Gentry.

How big is the typical gentry Estate and how many silver moons/golden dragons would be needed to buy in? And how much annual generated rents are we looking at? 

Buying land doesn't make you a lord.  Westeros is definetly using a hierarchal land structure, I doubt you're even able to buy land.  That doesn't mean you can't bribe another lord to make you a minor lord, but its probably going to be frowned upon, and that person's liege lord could simply cancel it as happened to Janos Slynt.   The best path to lordships are through the military, like Petyr's father.

All lordships descend from the king ultimately, and he can remove any lordships he pleases at any given time.  Doing so might cause a war of course, so its probably relatively rare.  Historically even attainted families would often get their lands back after a generation or two, because the nobility didn't like the precedent it set to lose their titles, and would often petition and influence the king to restore ancient family lands.

Marrying into lordly families happens though, and its done for status and alliance.  The local lord will protect his merchant cousins, and in exchange the mercants will support the lord financially.

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On 7/11/2019 at 4:19 AM, Br16 said:

Good point, almost all the Westeros Houses are quite ancient, so perhaps social mobility is just wishful thinking. 

I think a lot of the westeros great houses make up a lot of nonsense about their heritage.  Westeros history is implied to be unreliable by several people in the story.  

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19 hours ago, argonak said:

Buying land doesn't make you a lord.  Westeros is definetly using a hierarchal land structure, I doubt you're even able to buy land.  That doesn't mean you can't bribe another lord to make you a minor lord, but its probably going to be frowned upon, and that person's liege lord could simply cancel it as happened to Janos Slynt.   The best path to lordships are through the military, like Petyr's father.

All lordships descend from the king ultimately, and he can remove any lordships he pleases at any given time.  Doing so might cause a war of course, so its probably relatively rare.  Historically even attainted families would often get their lands back after a generation or two, because the nobility didn't like the precedent it set to lose their titles, and would often petition and influence the king to restore ancient family lands.

Marrying into lordly families happens though, and its done for status and alliance.  The local lord will protect his merchant cousins, and in exchange the mercants will support the lord financially.

It won't make you a lord, but it will propel you into the ranks of the gentry.  Your sons can then be chosen as squires, and win knighthoods, your daughters can marry into knightly and lordly families who need cash.

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House Frey goes back "six centuries" so roughly 600 years. They are STILL looked down upon, even though they are one of if not the wealthiest of the lords in the Riverlands.

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Living under/working for Tytos Lannister looks like a good way to climb socially.

The Spicers advanced enough to marry into the Westerlings, and Grandpa Clegane went from kennelmaster to landed knight with his own keep.

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I think it’s quite telling that there is an invasion coming intoWesteros backed by rich merchants essentially with a puppet figurehead, a signal of changing times perhaps, Littlefinger is also somewhat of a herald of former nobodies using wealth to change things to their liking, these people are looking to upset a stagnant system by buying into it from the inside but I can imagine, should they garner anymore success, you’ll see more favours going to the merchant classes than ever before

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On 7/9/2019 at 9:03 AM, Lion of the West said:

Since there don't seem to be a large ammount of snubbery from, essentially, "nobles of the sword" against "nobles of the robe" I would think that it actually isn't as common as one might think for wealthy merchants to successfully enter the nobility. If it had been, then we would surely hear of more families being descended from merchants.

The exact opposite seems to be true, actually.  The Westerlings are as ancient a House as any, but are looked down on for marrying the Spicers.  The Gulltown Arryn's are looked down on despite being among the most powerful and wealthy of the Arryn branches (aside from the main one, of course), for marrying into a merchant family.  Baelish isn't respected despite how obviously dangerous he is, because he comes from what is effectively now a nouveau riche family.  Tywin is openly disdainful of the magisters of Pentos, despite the fact (or the implication) that as individuals they are wealthier than almost any Westerosi lords.  Janos Slynt is denigrated as an upjumped butcher's son, despite becoming one of the most powerful lords in the Seven Kingdoms after he is gifted Harrenhal.  Hell, the Freys, who have been around for centuries, are considered barely anything more than tollkeeprs

The evidence suggests that there is a massive move towards social snobbery for those lordly houses who either (a) have married into unlanded merchant families (b) have achieved their present status in anything remotely resembling the recent past, or (c) achieved their current status through anything that has even a whiff of commercialism.  In Winds of Winter, we see Lord Belmont (IIRC) expressing his natural aversion to any kind of mercantile activity by his reluctance to even try and price gouge the market by holding on to his grain stores.

The only Houses that get away with it are ones that have such an ancient and powerful pedigree that no one can turn their nose up.  The Velaryons in the Targaryen era, the Redwynes now... that's pretty much it.

As for the rest of the question, we don't know much about this stuff.  Petyr Baelish has stolen what probably amounts to millions of dragons from the royal treasury, which has been enough for him to buy off essentially an entire sub-kingdom, which should give some indication of the sums involved.

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On 8/1/2019 at 5:06 PM, nyser1 said:

House Frey goes back "six centuries" so roughly 600 years. They are STILL looked down upon, even though they are one of if not the wealthiest of the lords in the Riverlands.

Reinforcing this. Plus, as some have alluded to, this is a Feudal Society. Money does not determine social class, the Gentry and the Monarch do.

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