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Tyrion1991

Why isn’t Winterfell a city? Why not White Harbour as the Northern Capital?

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We know from AWOIAF that Moat Cailin was once the seat of the Marsh Kings. There was also a brief aside about the Lockes of Oldcastle once being kings. One (or both) of these kingdoms may have already claimed where whiteharbor was. At least with Winterfell, the Kings of Winter had no nearby competition and could work on expanding their kingdom to the shores of the North where amost all other kings set up their capitals.

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On 7/26/2019 at 7:41 PM, Tyrion1991 said:

 

Then how can the Starks be the most powerful house in the North if they don’t have the most land and more importantly people? The Tsars of Russia didn’t build a castle in Siberia and make it their capital.

1 WH pays taxes to WF along with the rest of the North. Profitable trade is also profitable taxation. Also as others have said; WF is ideal living during winter. Hot springs and walls that are warm to the touch is really priceless qualities in a land that has 7-year winters and a harsh northern climate to begin with.

2 Russia started conquering Siberia by building forts :D 

Edited by Sigella

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On 7/26/2019 at 2:52 PM, Aebram said:

Fair question. I'm not an expert on actual history like some others here, but I'll take a shot.

When the First Men settled the North, they had Kings, not Lords, who fought with each other for power. The Starks originally settled on the coast, in the old Wolf's Den castle, in what is now White Harbor. So at that time, they did have access to resources brought in by ship.

Once the Starks became the Kings in the North, they had enough resources to construct a new seat at Winterfell. The hot springs there gave it an additional source of food, and also of warmth.  Firewood is probably as important as food in a long Northern winter.  Yes, there are plenty of trees, but fresh-cut wood doesn't burn well. In a cold climate, the logs need to sit around for a few years to "season."

IIRC, after Winterfell became the seat, the Wolf's Den was home to lesser branches of House Stark, and some of them did in fact rebel against their King. But at that time, White Harbor must have been much smaller than it is now. I suppose that in an all-out war today, White Harbor could beat Winterfell, because access to shipping would be more effective than hot springs. But House Manderly has ruled there for 600 years, and they don't seem like the rebellious type. 

FYI, Winterfell is believed to be older than the Wolf's Den. Winterfell was allegedly built by Bran the Builder, the founder of the Stark dynasty. One of his descendants, Jon Stark, built the Wolf's Den thousands of years ago. Around a thousand years ago (sources differ), the Starks granted the Wolf's Den to the Manderlys, who developed White Harbor around the castle.

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He looked at the passing faces and the tales came back to him. The maester had told him the stories, and Old Nan had made them come alive. "That one is Jon Stark. When the sea raiders landed in the east, he drove them out and built the castle at White Harbor. His son was Rickard Stark, not my father's father but another Rickard, he took the Neck away from the Marsh King and married his daughter." (AGOT Bran VII)

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Ser Bartimus had no interest in the world outside, or indeed anything that had happened since he lost his leg to a riderless horse and a maester's saw. He had come to love the Wolf's Den, however, and liked nothing more than to talk about its long and bloody history. The Den was much older than White Harbor, the knight told Davos. It had been raised by King Jon Stark to defend the mouth of the White Knife against raiders from the sea. Many a younger son of the King in the North had made his seat there, many a brother, many an uncle, many a cousin. Some passed the castle to their own sons and grandsons, and offshoot branches of House Stark had arisen; the Greystarks had lasted the longest, holding the Wolf's Den for five centuries, until they presumed to join the Dreadfort in rebellion against the Starks of Winterfell. (ADWD Davos IV)

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"I know about the promise," insisted the girl. "Maester Theomore, tell them! A thousand years before the Conquest, a promise was made, and oaths were sworn in the Wolf's Den before the old gods and the new. When we were sore beset and friendless, hounded from our homes and in peril of our lives, the wolves took us in and nourished us and protected us against our enemies. The city is built upon the land they gave us. In return we swore that we should always be their men. Stark men!" (ADWD Davos III)

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"So it is." She tugged again; once, twice, thrice. "As the river is called the Mander, though the Manderlys were driven from its banks a thousand years ago. Highgarden is still Highgarden, though the last Gardener died on the Field of Fire. Casterly Rock teems with Lannisters, and nowhere a Casterly to be found. The world changes, ser." (TSS)

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"The Manderlys are no northmen, not down deep. 'Twas no more than nine hundred years ago when they came north, laden down with all their gold and gods. They'd been great lords on the Mander until they overreached themselves and the green hands slapped them down. The wolf king took their gold, but he gave them land and let them keep their gods." (ADWD Davos III)

 

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How is Winterfell different from other regional capitals in Westeros?  

The capital of the Vale (the Eyrie) is an almost inaccessible castle on the side of a mountain.  And even the Bloody Gate is hardly a metropolis.

RiverRun, the capital of the Riverlands has no city around it either.  And the Riverlands are a lot more heavily populated and prosperous than the North is.

Highgarden is the same way.   Rich, heavily populated territory, no city at the seat of government.  And the same goes for Storms End, the capital of the Stormlands.  When we saw it during the parley between Renly and Stannnis, there was no city near it either.

I guess the Tullys, Tyrells, and Baratheons are backward hicks as well.:P

At least Winterfell has an excuse for not having a city.  From what I can tell, the economy is mostly subsistence agriculture, timber harvesting, and small-scale mining.  None of which lends itself to the development of cities.

 

It is also worth mentioning that this is a work of fiction, not history.  And while Martin is an excellent storyteller and creator of characters, nobody has claimed that his world-building is much better than average.  Which, not being an expert, is fine with me.

 

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After more thought, I think that you could say the reason for some of these "capitals" not being cities, is that they're not natural capitals.  They've been chosen by the rulers for non-economic historical reasons.  

The Lord Paramount of the North doesn't have to base himself around the economic power house of the North, because that's not where his influence is coming from.  For the past 300 years, his influence has been largely tied to the central authority, which started off having dragons as its enforcement method.    We know that there were lots of periods of time where the Starks didnt exert strong authority pre-dragons, so it may be that their location periodically had detrimental affects on their ability to control the North.

But there just must be some massive critical advantage to basing your central authority fortress where they do, even though it means they don't have their fingers on the economic pulse of their region.  I'd guess that it had something to do with the Others.  If every few hundred years the Others come down and wipe out all the Stark's enemies but winterfell saves them, it would put them in a place to regain their authority each time, then slowly lose it over the years.

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On 7/25/2019 at 12:41 PM, Tyrion1991 said:

 

The  Northerners are noble savages. You have this emphasis on them living hand to mouth, having this spiritual connection to nature with the Weirwoods “your gods are the ones with all the rules” and a stress on a rustic humble honour stripped of all the false artifice of corrupt southern ways. They might be our POV but that’s what they are. The savage aspect is because they are also violent killers who chop peoples heads off, keep a penal colony, fight genocidal wars against the Wildlings and used to sacrifice people to trees. They’re also prone to keeping Direwolves and all the Northern Lords are harsh brooding and brutal men who love killing.

Well actually it really is just something they say along with “Winter is coming” since they are ignorant of the true meaning. Dead people. Lots of them. Stripped of that context these are idiotic statements. Ah, winter is coming but if I live in Dorne that winter is a mild breeze? Maybe you shouldn’t have tried to people Siberia when winters last a decade Mr Stark. 

Yes, George has set up magic being a reason to live in Winterfell. Has Stark has a destiny there and all that. But, ignorant of that they probably would just wander off and hold court elsewhere.

 

What emphasis on living hand to mouth? The only really desperate Northern noble in the series was Jorah and that was only because his wife wouldn't stop spending. The others seem to get by okay. It's not the land of milk and honey, but they aren't starving either. 

Rustic, humble honor? That's hilarious. Where'd you get that? Most of Westeros would count as "rustic" and humble by the standards of houses like Lannister, Targaryen, Hightower, Tyrell, Martell, etc. 

Nobody said the southern ways are corrupt. Ned married a southerner, and built her a sept. You're accusing the characters of biases they don't necessarily have. Northerners and Starks have no more of a superiority complex than any other characters in the series do. Everyone always thinks their own way is the best way, it's human nature. The southerners judge the northerners too, and Dany's going to find all the Westerosi pretty darn strange when she gets to Westeros...except maybe the Northerners, since she's had Jorah with her.

If you mean the Night's Watch as penal colony, that covers the whole of Westeros, not just the North. It happens to be in the North because that's the direction from which the Others were coming when the group was founded to protect the whole damn world. And it wasn't a penal colony at the beginning. It's devolved because after 8,000 years of course it would, and because GRRM needs the stakes to be high for the coming Icemageddon. He also doesn't like that straight good-guy thing so the idea of having robbers and worse saving the realm would appeal to him.

Violent killers who chop peoples' heads off? You mean like they do in the south too? That's Ilyn Payne's entire job! Beheading is actually one of the better ways to go when you look at all the ways people can die in Westeros. It's usually quick.

They've never been genocidal toward the Wildlings. If they were, the Wildlings would be extinct.

Sacrificing people to trees is an unfounded theory based on one snippet of vision that Bran has of eons of history. It was more likely just an execution done near the weirwood trees.

They're prone to keeping direwolves? Uh, not for a couple hundred years until this generation. And the Starks did not originate that custom. I don't see you complaining about Targaryens having dragons, which are far more dangerous and less fluffy.

Your assessment of Northern lords is over-generalized and exaggerated. I don't recall any Northern lords threatening to kill their firstborn son if he didn't take the black because they were so disappointed that the kid liked to read and wasn't a great fighter. Nope. That was a southron lord. The current northerners are soft and cuddly compared to the ancient Kings of Winter. And they were probably no worse than the ancient Kings of the Rock, or the worst of the Targaryens. 

Stripped of the context of the Others, winter is still a big deal if it can last a decade. Even Dorne gets cold and food production is minimal if there is any. But winter is coming is not just about the weather or even just about the Others. Winter is coming is about all hard times and the fact that you need to be ready for them in advance if you want to survive. Winter is coming is not about just one thing, the same way the title of this series is not about just one thing according to the author. 

I think peopling Siberia was a necessary step in case the Others returned, in which case well done Mr. Stark. Brandon the Builder probably didn't even choose the location for his castle. The CotF may have told him "Build it here." 

Now you're just being silly. Why would they wander off and hold court elsewhere? Some people like northern climates. Some people like tradition and having roots in a community. And of course it would be entirely inconsistent with the medieval setting for people to just migrate around. No Westerosi houses in history just packed up and moved because they could. The Blackwoods are probably descended from the Warg King who was forced out of the North. The Manderlys used to live in the Reach but were forced out, and the Starks offered them lands and friendship. There are probably other examples but it's late and I'm tired. 

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On 7/29/2019 at 5:19 PM, Nevets said:

RiverRun, the capital of the Riverlands has no city around it either.  And the Riverlands are a lot more heavily populated and prosperous than the North is.

Riverrun isn't the capital of the Riverlands, just the seat of the ruling house at the beginning of the series. Traditionally Harrenhall would be more like a capital for the Riverlands, which is part of why Littlefinger gets named Lord Paramount for the region when he gets Harrenhal. 

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1 hour ago, Lady Blizzardborn said:

What emphasis on living hand to mouth? The only really desperate Northern noble in the series was Jorah and that was only because his wife wouldn't stop spending. The others seem to get by okay. It's not the land of milk and honey, but they aren't starving either. 

Rustic, humble honor? That's hilarious. Where'd you get that? Most of Westeros would count as "rustic" and humble by the standards of houses like Lannister, Targaryen, Hightower, Tyrell, Martell, etc. 

Nobody said the southern ways are corrupt. Ned married a southerner, and built her a sept. You're accusing the characters of biases they don't necessarily have. Northerners and Starks have no more of a superiority complex than any other characters in the series do. Everyone always thinks their own way is the best way, it's human nature. The southerners judge the northerners too, and Dany's going to find all the Westerosi pretty darn strange when she gets to Westeros...except maybe the Northerners, since she's had Jorah with her.

If you mean the Night's Watch as penal colony, that covers the whole of Westeros, not just the North. It happens to be in the North because that's the direction from which the Others were coming when the group was founded to protect the whole damn world. And it wasn't a penal colony at the beginning. It's devolved because after 8,000 years of course it would, and because GRRM needs the stakes to be high for the coming Icemageddon. He also doesn't like that straight good-guy thing so the idea of having robbers and worse saving the realm would appeal to him.

Violent killers who chop peoples' heads off? You mean like they do in the south too? That's Ilyn Payne's entire job! Beheading is actually one of the better ways to go when you look at all the ways people can die in Westeros. It's usually quick.

They've never been genocidal toward the Wildlings. If they were, the Wildlings would be extinct.

Sacrificing people to trees is an unfounded theory based on one snippet of vision that Bran has of eons of history. It was more likely just an execution done near the weirwood trees.

They're prone to keeping direwolves? Uh, not for a couple hundred years until this generation. And the Starks did not originate that custom. I don't see you complaining about Targaryens having dragons, which are far more dangerous and less fluffy.

Your assessment of Northern lords is over-generalized and exaggerated. I don't recall any Northern lords threatening to kill their firstborn son if he didn't take the black because they were so disappointed that the kid liked to read and wasn't a great fighter. Nope. That was a southron lord. The current northerners are soft and cuddly compared to the ancient Kings of Winter. And they were probably no worse than the ancient Kings of the Rock, or the worst of the Targaryens. 

Stripped of the context of the Others, winter is still a big deal if it can last a decade. Even Dorne gets cold and food production is minimal if there is any. But winter is coming is not just about the weather or even just about the Others. Winter is coming is about all hard times and the fact that you need to be ready for them in advance if you want to survive. Winter is coming is not about just one thing, the same way the title of this series is not about just one thing according to the author. 

I think peopling Siberia was a necessary step in case the Others returned, in which case well done Mr. Stark. Brandon the Builder probably didn't even choose the location for his castle. The CotF may have told him "Build it here." 

Now you're just being silly. Why would they wander off and hold court elsewhere? Some people like northern climates. Some people like tradition and having roots in a community. And of course it would be entirely inconsistent with the medieval setting for people to just migrate around. No Westerosi houses in history just packed up and moved because they could. The Blackwoods are probably descended from the Warg King who was forced out of the North. The Manderlys used to live in the Reach but were forced out, and the Starks offered them lands and friendship. There are probably other examples but it's late and I'm tired. 

 

Because when we are introduced to Ned a big deal is made of the fact that he doesn’t want to use up any of the stores for the Kings feast and in general he’s fairly dismissive of southern “luxury”. These are recognisably puritanical and miserly sentiments. “This tournament is an extravagance”. He’s making arbitrary judgements on wealth without thinking about the context or the math. He could be saying “well repairing those irrigation ditches is an extravegance we can’t afford” or “this contraption is an extravagance the realm cannot afford”. Simply refusing to spend money because “Winter is Coming” is not actually always a good thing. You do need to spend money to make money.

Ned complains about Knights being puffed up and full of vain glory when he’s in Flee Bottom. This is a southern custom since there are not Northern Knights and he’s ignoring “an Glover marches before a Umbar!” and even his own brothers character. This is good old fashioned racism being spun by the author as an honest observation.

”Your gods are the ones with all the rules”, replace the name with a real world faith and that sentence is kind of backhanded. Likewise you have endless statements about Winterfell and Moat Calin never falling. The Kings of the North beating armies ten times their size. These people are arrogant and actually believe they’re Wolves.

Yes they’re depicted as humble by the author compared to the southern houses as a crude way of signalling that these are the good guys. This is assigning virtue to a Puritan world view and is offensive. George is basically comparing an idealised view of Anglo Saxon England and comparing it to a satirical depiction of 15th century England. That is not being balanced or grounded. Even popular TV shows like Vikings and the Last Kingdom  note the issues already inherent in Anglo Saxon England. George has took the most favourable view he could of the source material.

Because when Ned or Rob does it the whole execution affair is depicted as a just and reasonable decision; a result of the harsh conditions of the  orthodox our nature characters must accept. When it’s just as arbitrary and without any application of law as Joffrey saying “bring me his head”.

You’re implying this is the character bias when it’s actually the authors bias. George is not critical of the Starks or the  North. The Bolton’s basically aren’t depicted as a Northern House as soon as they are introduced. George clearly likes the image of the Anglo Saxon warrior king rubbing shoulders with his people and is making an arbitrary distinction between that and a 15th century English Lord of the Manor. 

Yeah I forgot, the Northern army is this invincible army who could easily conquer the Far North if they wanted. You’re right, my mistake, these are not mortal men and beyond such limits. I mean they had shoes for winter! They’ve got this whole mastered to an art!

Yes Winter is Coming is the fable of the Ant and the Grasshopper. I don’t appreciate an author telling me I should work harder and be less frivolous. Maybe the Kings of Winter should have considered abolishing a parasitic feudal warrior caste who are mismanaging the land? 

I am being told to like this faction and I resent that. They are not held to the same standard as other factions. If a Lannister says he a Lion it’s a joke but people calling a Stark a wolf is natural and deserved? 

 

Edited by Tyrion1991

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13 hours ago, Tyrion1991 said:

“This tournament is an extravagance”. He’s making arbitrary judgements on wealth without thinking about the context or the math. He could be saying “well repairing those irrigation ditches is an extravegance we can’t afford” or “this contraption is an extravagance the realm cannot afford”.

A tournament is very different to an irrigation ditch. Ned dosent like tournaments, simple. He sees them as a waste of money and blood. Especially when the crown is on debt, Ned dosent want to spend more money on an expensive tournament.

13 hours ago, Tyrion1991 said:

Simply refusing to spend money because “Winter is Coming” is not actually always a good thing. You do need to spend money to make money.

You can clearly see Ned spending money on recruiting more men for the Gold cloaks. A character like Ned will only spend money on things that will help the crown (financially), not on tourneys held in his name.

13 hours ago, Tyrion1991 said:

 Ned complains about Knights being puffed up and full of vain glory when he’s in Flee Bottom. This is a southern custom since there are not Northern Knights and he’s ignoring “an Glover marches before a Umbar!” and even his own brothers character. This is good old fashioned racism being spun by the author as an honest observation.

He is complaining about the green boy knights. Summer knights. Those that have never seen war and act as if they were Aemon the Dragon knight.

Its the same thing in the North. When Robb called his banners, most of the northern lords werent taking him seriously and were challenging him. Robett Glover and Roose Bolton were bold enough to demand command. All this because Robb was a green boy playing at war. 

13 hours ago, Tyrion1991 said:

 ”Your gods are the ones with all the rules”, replace the name with a real world faith and that sentence is kind of backhanded.

Likewise in the South, they see worshipping and kneeling to trees as stupid. One of the reason why northman are considered savages is because they worship trees.

14 hours ago, Tyrion1991 said:

Likewise you have endless statements about Winterfell and Moat Calin never falling. The Kings of the North beating armies ten times their size. 

This is GreatJon Umber talk. The same one that proclaimed Robb king. Although the greatjon is a fearsome warrior and commander of men, he aint smart and he probably thinks a single umber can take out 10 southerners. The Greatjon dosent represent the entire North. 

Yeah kings in the north probably did beat armies ten times their size, but at moat cailin.

14 hours ago, Tyrion1991 said:

These people are arrogant and actually believe they’re Wolves.

Everyone thinks themselves as to whats on their House sigil. The lannisters consistently compare themselves to lions. boltons to their flaying, baratheons to their stag, targaryens to their dragons. All these houses think themselves as whatever is on their sigil. So technically all the nobility in Westeros are arrogant

14 hours ago, Tyrion1991 said:

Because when Ned or Rob does it the whole execution affair is depicted as a just and reasonable decision; a result of the harsh conditions of the  orthodox our nature characters must accept. When it’s just as arbitrary and without any application of law as Joffrey saying “bring me his head”.

The difference is that as the readers we know who was innocent or not. Ned was innocent but to the eyes of Westeros he was guilty and deserved his death, but to us the readers we can clearly see that his cause was just and moral. Its the same as how everyone in Westeros thinks Brandon and Rickon are dead but in truth we the readers know that they are alive and breathing. 

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1 hour ago, The Young Maester said:

A tournament is very different to an irrigation ditch. Ned dosent like tournaments, simple. He sees them as a waste of money and blood. Especially when the crown is on debt, Ned dosent want to spend more money on an expensive tournament.

You can clearly see Ned spending money on recruiting more men for the Gold cloaks. A character like Ned will only spend money on things that will help the crown (financially), not on tourneys held in his name.

He is complaining about the green boy knights. Summer knights. Those that have never seen war and act as if they were Aemon the Dragon knight.

Its the same thing in the North. When Robb called his banners, most of the northern lords werent taking him seriously and were challenging him. Robett Glover and Roose Bolton were bold enough to demand command. All this because Robb was a green boy playing at war. 

Likewise in the South, they see worshipping and kneeling to trees as stupid. One of the reason why northman are considered savages is because they worship trees.

This is GreatJon Umber talk. The same one that proclaimed Robb king. Although the greatjon is a fearsome warrior and commander of men, he aint smart and he probably thinks a single umber can take out 10 southerners. The Greatjon dosent represent the entire North. 

Yeah kings in the north probably did beat armies ten times their size, but at moat cailin.

Everyone thinks themselves as to whats on their House sigil. The lannisters consistently compare themselves to lions. boltons to their flaying, baratheons to their stag, targaryens to their dragons. All these houses think themselves as whatever is on their sigil. So technically all the nobility in Westeros are arrogant

The difference is that as the readers we know who was innocent or not. Ned was innocent but to the eyes of Westeros he was guilty and deserved his death, but to us the readers we can clearly see that his cause was just and moral. Its the same as how everyone in Westeros thinks Brandon and Rickon are dead but in truth we the readers know that they are alive and breathing. 

 

He was opposed to the tournament before he knew the crown was in debt. Even if they had a surplus he would still have objected to it. This is the sentiment of a Puritan. The point is against the principle of luxury and spending money in general. You could say “oh the peasants shouldn’t be wasting time and money on a harvest festival” or “well sorry Sansa but we really want to have a small scale wedding for you”. People aren’t machines. Plus it’s racism since this is another southern custom that Ned doesn’t get since melees are a thing in the North according to Ice n Fire. But the point is that he’s not doing a cost benefit analysis here; it’s an arbitrary principle. This is thoughtless and in some ways as harmful in the long run as spending outrageously.

Does he ever suggest investing the crowns funds in infrastructure as opposed to more thugs to bash people’s skulls in? Do we hear how Lord Stark invested in that new canal to White Harbour? Roads? 

Why bring up them being Knights then? You could say that of all the Northern army who would have been too young to serve at Pyke. The only reason to bring up Southern custom is to mock it specifically as inferior to Northern martial prowess.

Because the prejudice against the Northerners is depicted as baseless and insincere. Whereas any Northerner saying bad about a southerner is presented as sound observation.

Nobody really considers the Northerners savages. The Vale and Riverlands think they’re amazing. Tywin and Balon as equally worthless. Neds kind of seen as a bit uncouth. If they thought they were savages they would just kill them on sight and burn their weir woods. There would be no pretext of them being human. Instead the Northerners are treated as any other opponent within this civil war.

The Greatjon is there to represent the Northern Lords and the spirit which raises Rob up as King. So his opinions are meant to reflect all Northerners. They follow his lead.

Because when somebody like Theon thinks he’s a Kraken it’s depicted as foolish and silly. If a Stark does it then it’s depicted as the real deal. Plus they do it a lot more than most “the lone wolf dies but the pack survives”.

 

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With the possible exception of Lannisport being built in the shadow of Casterly Rock, none of the original Seven Kingdoms had a capital city. Even the Gardener kings didn't rule from Oldtown. Westeros as a continent is only considered to have 5 cities - King's Landing, Oldtown, Lannisport, Gulltown and White Harbor.

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On 7/25/2019 at 5:30 PM, Tyrion1991 said:

 

Well the North being 600 years behind the rest of Westeros is quite a funny thought. Not sure how they have plate armour and can keep 20k men in the field for several years with a Saxon society.

I didn’t realise the Starks had mismanaged their realm so much. Then again they haven’t clocked the boltons might be actually really bad so they’re obviously a few screws loose. Plus they still believe that war is a question of Northern valour rather than real things like wealth and management; things the Northerners detest as beneath them. It’s contemptible that they think they’re better than the Wildlings. They are a vile and wretched people who’ve done nothing to warrant an inch of respect or adoration.

No I still think George made Winterfell a castle without a city because it sharpens the distinction between the North and South.

 

But the point is, you are wrong. Demonstrably so, as I had shown above.  Storm's End is a castle without a city.  Highgarden is a castle without a city.  The Eyrie is a castle without a city.  Riverrun is a castle without a city.  Need I go on?  Far from Winterfell being exceptional, it is actually the norm.  It is rare for Westerosi kingdoms to have their "castle of residence" located in or near a major population center.  Lannisport is near Casterly Rock, we presume, but that's about it.  Gulltown and the Eyrie are not close to each other.  White Harbor wasn't even a city when Winterfell became the traditional capital, so Winterfell may actually be the one example of a castle located in the largest population center in the region, contrary to your inane and uneducated remarks.  Storm's End is far from the Weeping Town.  Highgarden is nowhere near Oldtown.

And who says the North is 600 years behind anyone?  You have a rare talent for comprehending literally nothing of what you read.  Westeros is "high medieval" in tone but as I said, is a mix up of various cultures through various time periods.  Essos is, generally speaking, a few centuries ahead of Westeros, but aside from that any difference in what you perceive as chronological differences are incidental.

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On 7/25/2019 at 6:53 PM, The Young Maester said:

Prior to Norman conquest England was a backward kingdom, To Western Europe England was an uncivilised kingdom that lacked the proper hierarchy of the feudal society. William and his Normans revolutionised England into becoming a feudal society. So stating that it was an advanced state in western Europe is rather wrong. Some people might argue that England already had a feudal society (which is kinda true), but this anglo-saxon feudalism wasn't what you call proper medieval feudalism. This is where historians that support the anglo-saxons and those that support the Normans start to clash. And yes Winchester would've have grown into the largest city in England if it had remained as its capital. But William choose London.

This is why I think your opinion is a joke.  You are asserting this without any kind of knowledge of what makes a kingdom "backwards", let alone any evidence to justify it.

Pre-Norman England had an unusually high degree of centralization and taxation compared to it's counterparts on the continent.  France was an anarchic no-man's land, and Hugh Capet barely ruled anything beyond the precincts of Paris.  This is in the late 10th century, comparable to the time we're talking about for England.  The Holy Roman Empire was notoriously fractured and difficult to manage, as it had many over-mighty vassals.

You seem to think of an advanced "state" as one that had the trappings of feudalism and knighthood and all that.  That isn't the case.  An advanced state, by any real definition, is one that has a monopoly on violence, where centralization and the ability to extract money through taxation is more developed, where (in this case) royal justice institutions were strongest.  That is, in this time period, unquestionably England.  The danegeld alone is evidence of a more advanced and centralized state than anything in contemporary continental kingdoms

On 7/25/2019 at 6:53 PM, The Young Maester said:

Yes medieval kingdoms established a capital in a province and this province will naturally grow into a larger settlement with time. Castille never had a permanent capital until some king made Toledo the actual capital. This caused Toledo to grow as a city, but later on Toledo started to decline when some Spanish king moved the capital of Spain to Madrid.

To the French Paris has always been considered its capital. And yes from time to time some french king would hold court on multiple places like in artois. But Paris was always the capital where most French kings resided and look how big Paris was by 1200. The English held Paris for a while during the 100 years war, and the french king was forced to hold court in different provinces. 

Toledo was already a large city well before the Reconquista got there.  And it was never the capital.  Again, I encourage you to actually read a little bit about these subjects.  It's not even a point of scholarly contention; Castille never had a single capital, and as the mode of itinerant kingship fell out of fashion, various cities in Castille/Spain took on different functions.  Seville, Burgos, and Valladolid also were important royal centers.

Paris was only the "capital" of France because it was essentially the only part of France the Capetian kings controlled when they assumed the throne.  And you don't need to lecture me on the relevant history; with all due respect, I clearly know a bit more than you on the subject.  Meanwhile, you've chosen one single kingdom to prove your point, when in all other polities this wasn't the case.  Spain and England, to use the shorthand, both had kings and courts which were fully itinerant and thus had no set capital (despite your protestations to the contrary).  The Holy Roman Empire was notorious for the fact that the imperial seat shifted so often; emperors conferred legitimacy on their preferred place of residence, and not the reverse, as would be normal in a later kingdom (where holding the capital and the physical throne, as in Kings Landing, would be of massive symbolic importance).  So I am sorry to say it again, but your example is the exception that proves the rule, not compelling evidence in and of itself.  In the Kingdom of Poland, administrative functions were carried out at Krakow but coronations really only took place at Gniezno - which is the "capital" then?

Paris is the one example of a medieval European state where the king resided mainly in one city, which also happened to be the largest city in the "country".

On 7/25/2019 at 6:53 PM, The Young Maester said:

I never said Winchester couldn't be England's capital, dont put words in my mouth. I said Winchester would've grown into a city if it had remained as England's capital. 

Except... it didn't.  This is precisely my point.  Winchester was the administrative center of England for a good long while, and it did not grow into a major city; London did, despite having no formal role in the governance of the state.  I'm not putting words in your mouth, I'm taking the argument you made and showing how it is entirely erroneous.

On 7/25/2019 at 6:53 PM, The Young Maester said:

 

You are confusing my argument here. My argument refers to the post of this topic. 

Why isn’t Winterfell a city? Why not White Harbour as the Northern Capital?

The argument is that a permanent capital causes that said capital to have an increase in population and later on a large town or city. The argument is against the fact that none of these westerosi capitals have a large settlement around its hold-fasts. Henceforth real medieval kingdoms are being used as an example of why a permanent capital results with a large populous around it. This is a fiction and we are debating the realism of it. You are saying that real world kingdoms never developed a populous political center, this truth only applies to kingdoms that never had a Permanent Capital. The Empire of Abyssinia never had a capital, and instead the emperor would travel around his kingdom with his court. But when one of the Emperors established a capital in the middle of a mountain, the province grew into the largest city in the Kingdom. Same goes for castille, and the mongols who once settled themselves with a permanent capital this capital would've had a large increase in population. 

Now who is putting words in whose mouth?  I never said real world kingdoms "never" developed a populous political center.  What I said, or what should have been clear from my argument, was that there was no strong correlation between towns that became cities and towns which were also major (or in your argument, permanent) seats of royal power.  There are certainly some kings who moved their capital over time to larger population centers, but that isn't the same thing.  Trade and industry cause population growth.

As for some of these other, awful arguments, I mean... lets go.  The Mongols had a set capital, it was called Karakorum.  Most historians and archaeologists agree that it's permanent population never got above 10-20,000.  I'm not well versed in Ethiopian history but 10 minutes of research on the internet shows that a permanent capital wasn't established until the 16th (!!) century.  So, you know... well after the medieval period and into the Renaissance.

This is a foolish argument.  You've provided almost no evidence and the few times you've tried, you're either been wrong (as int he Mongols), completely wrong on the chronology (Abyssinia), or found a single example in a sea of counterexamples (Paris).

So here's the rub.  There is nothing unusual in Winterfell being a "royal" seat without being the most populous town in the area.  Medieval administrative centers don't need to be big, because there is little in the way of a centralized bureaucracy, and because the king moves around and political influence is determined by physical proximity to the king.  Economic centers get larger, and as time goes on and centralization picks up, it becomes more intelligent to put your bureaucracy in or near a city with a large and reasonably/relatively well educated population.  So as the medieval period moves into the Renaissance and Early Modern periods, you see the establishment of fixed capitals in cities like London and Vienna, even if the reigning kings spend their time elsewhere, because the bureaucracy has grown so large that it can no longer easily move.  But you've put the cart before the horse on this one, because it isn't political importance that drives growth, but the reverse.

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Also: the about 2000 people summer population of Winterfell´s Winter Town about matches the (year-round) population of medieval Turku.

Which also was unfortified outside the Castle.

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On 7/24/2019 at 1:19 AM, Jaak said:

Aachen was not a major city. And that´s the capital of Charlemagne. By far the biggest city in Carolingian Empire was Rome. Which Charlemagne did visit but only briefly.

Quentovic was never capital of France.

Or how about Pavia? It was a city, as they existed in North Italy... but the presence of Lombard and then Italian court till 11th century did NOT make ot overshadow nearby Milan.

The Frankish court was an extremely itinerant one before Charlemagne, and though he did seem to decide on making a kind of capital, ground wasn’t even broken until ~ 794 and by 870 it was no longer even an political Center...though it continued to be something of a symbolic location...something like a less formalized Rheims...for a long while. So i’m not sure there would have been any time for much of the kind of urban outgrowth the OP was mentioning. Pavia is a bit closer, but Pavia also was a fairly large by the standards of it’s day, and important quasi-civic buildings like churches and mints were built there during it’s fairly brief (very, very, very brief by Westeros standards) run as a capital. It’s part of the pattern of change. 

But that to me is where the real answer lies. Westeros is an incredibly static society. The Mannerlys are considered newcomers in the North because they have only been in place for around 1000 years. So instead of thinking about how what we consider normal social patterns would apply to Westeros, maybe consider that if those did apply Westeros would be a vastly different place, a much much much more unstable one than in the books. Things in the books have involved a fair degree of change, but if that had been true for the history of Westeros it would not look like it does. 

Winterfell (and to about the same degree Storm’s End and the Eyrie and maybe Highgarden, though we don’t know much about the last yet) don’t seem to possess things like mints and public buildings and other things we associate with political centres. KL, Oldtown, Lannisport and maybe kinda Sunspear do, and who knows wtf goes on on the Iron Islands. Anyways, my point is that that means at least 3 of the major former kingdoms have virtually none of the accoutrements of centralized political power that you’d expect, so I think we need to adjust the expectations. Just as another for instance, the briefest glance at a map of Westeros makes the idea of KL being a fairly uninhabited fishing village for like thousands of years extremely unlikely...bordering on impossible. It’s an extraordinarily obvious ego-strategic/commercial axis point without any obvious detriments like uncontrollable tidal incursions or lack of natural harbourage, so it just woukdn’t have stayed empty that long. Even if, say, Duskendals guarded it’s commercial control zealously and jealously, that would inevitably lead to acquiring control of/developing control if the entrance to one of the major river systems on the continent which stretches all the way to the Westerlands. But, it didn’t happen. Ergo, normal rules don’t apply.

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Watch this video and you will see that WF is actually a city because it's massive. Someone build a 3D model according to the descriptions in the books. From the sheer size, thousands can live in WF itself.

Also makes it ridiculous that this monster was taken by Theon and his 20 men.

Edited by Mystical

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On 7/29/2019 at 6:19 PM, Nevets said:

Highgarden is the same way.   Rich, heavily populated territory, no city at the seat of government.  And the same goes for Storms End, the capital of the Stormlands.  When we saw it during the parley between Renly and Stannnis, there was no city near it either.

 

On 8/4/2019 at 8:09 PM, EvanSol919 said:

With the possible exception of Lannisport being built in the shadow of Casterly Rock, none of the original Seven Kingdoms had a capital city. Even the Gardener kings didn't rule from Oldtown. Westeros as a continent is only considered to have 5 cities - King's Landing, Oldtown, Lannisport, Gulltown and White Harbor.

That's ridiculous to be honest.

Sunspear, Planky Town, Bitterbridge, Harroway's Town, Seagard, Lordsport and Saltpans should absolutely be cities. Particularly Sunspear and Bitterbridge. And there should absolutely be a city (or, at least, a very large town) nearby Highgarden, Brightwater Keep, Goldengrove and Storm's End both.

The armies of the Reach are far too numerous and powerful for them to only have one city.

8 hours ago, Mystical said:

Watch this video and you will see that WF is actually a city because it's massive. Someone build a 3D model according to the descriptions in the books. From the sheer size, thousands can live in WF itself.

Also makes it ridiculous that this monster was taken by Theon and his 20 men.

Wow thanks for this.

I always knew Winterfell was huge because it is said to be bigger than both the Red Keep and Storm's End in the books and the Red Keep is big.

But this is wow. I'd actually want to name Harrenhal, Winterfell, the Hightower and Casterly Rock as the top four biggest castles in the realm. In that order.

Well, to be honest, the behemoth that is Winterfell never actually was taken by Theon and his 20 men. It was infiltrated by Theon and his 20 men when it was undermanned. Bran, the ruler of Winterfell at the time, ordered a surrender.

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46 minutes ago, Jabar of House Titan said:

Well, to be honest, the behemoth that is Winterfell never actually was taken by Theon and his 20 men. It was infiltrated by Theon and his 20 men when it was undermanned. Bran, the ruler of Winterfell at the time, ordered a surrender.

But when you look at the construction it makes you wonder how they got in. There is a moat between the 2 outer walls so you can only get into WF by crossing draw bridges. Theon is a very recognizable face in WF after all. There is really no sneaking in when your only way in is draw bridges that are probably manned by soldiers.

50 minutes ago, Jabar of House Titan said:

But this is wow. I'd actually want to name Harrenhal, Winterfell, the Hightower and Casterly Rock as the top four biggest castles in the realm. In that order.

A lot of people in the comments for the video mentioned Harrenhall. Maybe Shady will do it at some point. When looking at WF though and realizing that Harrenhall is what, 3 times bigger than WF, no wonder no one wants to touch that.

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18 minutes ago, Mystical said:

But when you look at the construction it makes you wonder how they got in. There is a moat between the 2 outer walls so you can only get into WF by crossing draw bridges. Theon is a very recognizable face in WF after all. There is really no sneaking in when your only way in is draw bridges that are probably manned by soldiers.

Theon had inside knowledge of Winterfell, so he was able to  sent four men over the walls with grappling claws and ropes, and they opened a postern gate for the rest of his men. The Ironmen then by surprise overwhelmed the token garrison that Ser Rodrik Cassel had left at Winterfell, since Ser Rodrik had taken every man of fighting age he could lay his hands on to Torhenn's Square. There even wasn't a guard at Bran's door when Theon took Winterfell.

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