Jump to content
The Coconut God

Of army sizes and agriculture: a rebuttal of Westeros's 40 million population estimate

Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)

The common reckoning of Jaime's trip from KL to Darry puts it as being approximately 3 weeks (feels a little long to be honest, but I suppose he hung out at Harrenhal for a bit before moving on). Robert's particular issue with the Neck was the wheelhouse and its apparent regular breakdowns over the rough road.


Sam refers to having seen snow for the first time that previous moon, but that means anywhere from 1  day to as much as 59 days, technically speaking. Depending on where they were, the trip could be done in just about 22-30 days given that GRRM seems to regularly calculate small groups of horse as moving ~30-40 miles a day. So no real issue here.

Westeros has an area larger than Europe (if you subtract Russia) by about 20%. Between 1000 and 1450, estimates place the population of Europe at anywhere between 32 and 65 million. Just a straight up extraploation would suggest anywhere from 38.5 to 78 million. This isn't really fair, though, as 40% of that is the North, which is closer to Scandianvia than to, say, France, whereas the Scandinavian countries amount to only about 15% of Europe. And another bit of it is Dorne. Which is why a figure nearer to 40 million than higher seems closer to the mark.

The agricultural argument falls down on it just not being an area where GRRM has done much research. It is a conceit of the world. But he has done research on medieval armies, their logistics, their sizes, etc, and the numbers we see fall in line with numbers from those eras, using those rules, suggesting these populations.I can see a bit less than 40 million -- I often give a +/- 5 million range, but that's arbitrary -- but 14 million is simply a non-starter. The estimates suggest that in 650 AD (aka the "Dark Ages"), Europe (less Russia) had ~16 million, and that's in a much more  backward and decentralized world, still filled with levels of post-Roman collapse and anarchy that would take centuries more to stabilize. 

Edited by Ran

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, The Coconut God said:

@Ran 

If you think 14 million is impossibly low for the society depicted, allow me to explain why I believe 40 million is ridiculously high.

If you count all the bannermen of the great houses and the crown, you will come up with a little less than 120, which I'll round it up for simplicity. With a population of 40 million, that means each bannerman lords over an average of 300.000 people. If you count the Iron Islands separately, since they have an abnormally large number of lords for some relatively small lands, you can take that up to 350.000 people per bannerman on the continent.

There are approaching 400 known houses in ASoIaF, including many not named (yet) in the books but present in George's notes. No-one is saying that these are all of the noble houses in ASoIaF. Army sizes mention there being thousands of knights alone, let alone lords, petty lords and so on. For many of the lowest-ranking noble lords the number of people under their rule is in the dozens, and for landed knights that number may effectively be close to zero (perhaps just their household staff and immediate family). Realistically, there are probably several thousand noble families of one rank or another in Westeros.

To support this there are six hundred lords (not counting knights and landed knights, who are said to exceed 5,000) present from the Westerlands and the Reach alone at the Field of Fire. Even given their status as the two most populous regions of the Seven Kingdoms, simple extrapolation suggests the total number of lords (and thus houses) in Westeros may be closer to 1,300. And we have to remember that the population of Westeros has more than doubled since then.

 

Quote

Their vast majority hold vaguely defined lands which they control from a single castle or town, and only have two layers of peerage bellow them, the lesser lords and the landed knights.

This is incorrect. There are no set levels of lords, with the hierarchy depending on the region. The general idea is that you may have a bottom-tier lord like Osgrey who commands maybe a few dozen people in a village or two, and then above him is someone else, and then some tiers above that you get to Rowan, the local "most powerful" lord, in turn sworn to the Tyrells. In very populous regions like the Reach there are probably around a dozen tiers in some places, in desolate regions (like the Fingers or the North) there may only be 3-5.

Quote

Westeros's shape is England upside down, however I seem to recall reading somewhere that its supposed to be larger - like the size of South America. Even so, city density and the number of large cities needs to be considered. 2019 England has 69 major cities, but medieval England only had like, 7 or 8 - which is much like Westeros's 5: Kings Landing, Oldtown, Lannisport, Gulltown, and White Harbor.

The term "city" in Westeros and Essos has a specific meaning as both a very large population centre and also the commercial centre of a region. So the "five cities" of Westeros (King's Landing, Oldtown, Lannisport, Gulltown and White Harbor) are actually massive metropolises by real medieval standards. However, there are also plenty more population centres in Westeros with populations in the thousands (maybe the low tens of thousands) which would easily count as cities by medieval standards: Duskendale, Tumbleton, Stony Sept, Weeping Town, Planky Town, Maidenpool, Saltpans, Barrowton, Fairmarket and a lot more (and, amusingly, George has not set a limit on these town-cities, so can continue to place hitherto unknown ones in future works). There are also settlements listed as castles which are really fairly populous towns surrounding a castle: Sunspear, Ashford, Seagard and (at least during the winter) Winterfell.

As a result the real number of "cities" as we understand the term in Westeros is comfortably in the dozens. The big five are just the really big ones.

You can also see the same thing taken to a crazy extreme in Essos: Valysar, Volon Therys and Selhorys all rival Oldtown or even King's Landing in size, so are cities even by Westerosi standards, but are dwarfed and ruled by Volantis, so are only called "towns."

Quote

 

Westeros's shape is England upside down, however I seem to recall reading somewhere that its supposed to be larger - like the size of South America.

 

The continent of Westeros as a whole - including all the lands beyond the Wall (which according to George rival Canada in size once you get past the mapped portion) - is approximately the same area as South America. However, Westeros is never more than a third the width of South America at its widest, and is frequently far narrower. From the Wall to the south cost of Dorne, the Seven Kingdoms seem to clock in at around 3 million square miles, or approximately the same size as the United States shorn of Alaska and Hawaii.

The one caveat I would add to that - and am investigating a new mapping project at the moment - is that the size of the Seven Kingdoms is drawn from the Wall, particularly the line of the Wall used on the original maps in AGoT-AFFC. However, Lands of Ice and Fire and the ADWD map both extend the Wall further west than in the older maps. If we assume that the original claim that the Wall is exactly (or as close to as to make no matter) 300 miles long remains true, that would mean that Westeros is slightly smaller than previously thought. Perhaps not massively so, but enough to reduce the north-south distance from the Wall to the Summer Sea from 3,000 miles (as it appears at present) to maybe 2,700 or something on that order. Enough to cause some recalculations of army and travel times, with the effect diminishing if the journey is shorter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
58 minutes ago, Werthead said:

There are approaching 400 known houses in ASoIaF, including many not named (yet) in the books but present in George's notes. No-one is saying that these are all of the noble houses in ASoIaF. Army sizes mention there being thousands of knights alone, let alone lords, petty lords and so on. For many of the lowest-ranking noble lords the number of people under their rule is in the dozens, and for landed knights that number may effectively be close to zero (perhaps just their household staff and immediate family). Realistically, there are probably several thousand noble families of one rank or another in Westeros.

To support this there are six hundred lords (not counting knights and landed knights, who are said to exceed 5,000) present from the Westerlands and the Reach alone at the Field of Fire. Even given their status as the two most populous regions of the Seven Kingdoms, simple extrapolation suggests the total number of lords (and thus houses) in Westeros may be closer to 1,300. And we have to remember that the population of Westeros has more than doubled since then.

 

This is incorrect. There are no set levels of lords, with the hierarchy depending on the region. The general idea is that you may have a bottom-tier lord like Osgrey who commands maybe a few dozen people in a village or two, and then above him is someone else, and then some tiers above that you get to Rowan, the local "most powerful" lord, in turn sworn to the Tyrells. In very populous regions like the Reach there are probably around a dozen tiers in some places, in desolate regions (like the Fingers or the North) there may only be 3-5.

The term "city" in Westeros and Essos has a specific meaning as both a very large population centre and also the commercial centre of a region. So the "five cities" of Westeros (King's Landing, Oldtown, Lannisport, Gulltown and White Harbor) are actually massive metropolises by real medieval standards. However, there are also plenty more population centres in Westeros with populations in the thousands (maybe the low tens of thousands) which would easily count as cities by medieval standards: Duskendale, Tumbleton, Stony Sept, Weeping Town, Planky Town, Maidenpool, Saltpans, Barrowton, Fairmarket and a lot more (and, amusingly, George has not set a limit on these town-cities, so can continue to place hitherto unknown ones in future works). There are also settlements listed as castles which are really fairly populous towns surrounding a castle: Sunspear, Ashford, Seagard and (at least during the winter) Winterfell.

As a result the real number of "cities" as we understand the term in Westeros is comfortably in the dozens. The big five are just the really big ones.

You can also see the same thing taken to a crazy extreme in Essos: Valysar, Volon Therys and Selhorys all rival Oldtown or even King's Landing in size, so are cities even by Westerosi standards, but are dwarfed and ruled by Volantis, so are only called "towns."

The continent of Westeros as a whole - including all the lands beyond the Wall (which according to George rival Canada in size once you get past the mapped portion) - is approximately the same area as South America. However, Westeros is never more than a third the width of South America at its widest, and is frequently far narrower. From the Wall to the south cost of Dorne, the Seven Kingdoms seem to clock in at around 3 million square miles, or approximately the same size as the United States shorn of Alaska and Hawaii.

The one caveat I would add to that - and am investigating a new mapping project at the moment - is that the size of the Seven Kingdoms is drawn from the Wall, particularly the line of the Wall used on the original maps in AGoT-AFFC. However, Lands of Ice and Fire and the ADWD map both extend the Wall further west than in the older maps. If we assume that the original claim that the Wall is exactly (or as close to as to make no matter) 300 miles long remains true, that would mean that Westeros is slightly smaller than previously thought. Perhaps not massively so, but enough to reduce the north-south distance from the Wall to the Summer Sea from 3,000 miles (as it appears at present) to maybe 2,700 or something on that order. Enough to cause some recalculations of army and travel times, with the effect diminishing if the journey is shorter.

The 300 mile scale is reconfirmed by the straight line distance between Deepwood Motte and Winterfell, which is stated to be  a hundred leagues as the raven flies.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So coming back to the Osgrey example, what does it actually prove? If a real medieval English lordling sent a knight into the 3 impoverished villages on his lands, commanding the men to present themselves at the keep, would you expect a different outcome than Ser Eustace got?

8 peasants strolling in, hopeful for a hot meal and maybe a piece of clothing they might gain out of the exercise?

It seems a quite reasonable outcome, especially given that their villages are right next to the keep, with virtually no effort required to get there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Lord Varys

Excellent comment overall.

The only (admittedly dodgy) explanation I can think of for not having winter supplies in King's Landing is a fear that such large quantities of food in a single place run the risk of being ruined by the higher concentration of pests, contamination from sewage, cellars flooding due to the city being located between a river and the sea, etc.

@Werthead

No, there is a hierarchy of the nobility in Westeros, even though they're all called lords and it can get a bit confusing. You've got:

- the King

- the Great Lords (the Tyrells)

- their bannermen (the Rowan)

- the lesser lords (the Webbers)

- the landed knights (the Osgreys)

Aside from them, there are also lords in title only, like Varys.

The landed knights and the lesser lords both have their lands from the bannermen, it's just a difference of how large they are and what rights they have (knights don't have the right of pit and gallows, lesser lords do). This is explained in The Sworn Sword.

I was only referring to bannermen in my calculations, all of which are listed in the character sheets. The lands of the lesser lords obviously overlap with theirs.

So no, we are not talking about thousands of lords, unless we want to invent a slew of new bannermen, which would be awkward to say the least.

@Free Northman Reborn

Osgrey is the one example we have of recruitment down on the ground.

It does not result in 3%, but rather 6-10%. 3% is a number you can comfortably get to if you assume recruitment doesn't go as well everywhere else.

I agree we can debate the numbers to some extent, but to want to throw out an in-text example because it doesn't align with out of text fan calculations is patently absurd, and not a conversation I am interested in having.

@Ran

You bring up infrastructure, but you keep making these macro level continent to continent comparisons. Population densities can vary, and plenty of reasons can be found in Westeros to explain a lower density (agricultural habits, deaths from constant wars, deaths from long winters, etc.).

But tell me this, when you look at Roose Bolton or Wyman Manderly, do you imagine them governing over the equivalents of Scotland or Sweden? Or maybe they're more like one step below that? Were you imagining ten kings of Scotland trailing after Robb in his campaign south? How is that properly conceived infrastructure?

And another thing. No European city had more than 250.000 inhabitants in the middle ages, and that's on the high estimates, more conservatively they were below 150.000. Constantinople only reached 500.000 in the 1500s, some time after the ottoman conquest, which brought more efficient means of administration not typical to medieval Europe. If such a significant inflation is acceptable for the size of a city, which very much depends on infrastructure, after all, why not recruitment as well? Why is this the one thing that must be on parity with historical estimates from the real world? Do you at least acknowledge that it is causing problems in other places? :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
26 minutes ago, The Coconut God said:

@Lord Varys

Excellent comment overall.

The only (admittedly dodgy) explanation I can think of for not having winter supplies in King's Landing is a fear that such large quantities of food in a single place run the risk of being ruined by the higher concentration of pests, contamination from sewage, cellars flooding due to the city being located between a river and the sea, etc.

@Werthead

No, there is a hierarchy of the nobility in Westeros, even though they're all called lords and it can get a bit confusing. You've got:

- the King

- the Great Lords (the Tyrells)

- their bannermen (the Rowan)

- the lesser lords (the Webbers)

- the landed knights (the Osgreys)

Aside from them, there are also lords in title only, like Varys.

The landed knights and the lesser lords both have their lands from the bannermen, it's just a difference of how large they are and what rights they have (knights don't have the right of pit and gallows, lesser lords do). This is explained in The Sworn Sword.

I was only referring to bannermen in my calculations, all of which are listed in the character sheets. The lands of the lesser lords obviously overlap with theirs.

So no, we are not talking about thousands of lords, unless we want to invent a slew of new bannermen, which would be awkward to say the least.

@Free Northman Reborn

Osgrey is the one example we have of recruitment down on the ground.

It does not result in 3%, but rather 6-10%. 3% is a number you can comfortably get to if you assume recruitment doesn't go as well everywhere else.

I agree we can debate the numbers to some extent, but to want to throw out an in-text example because it doesn't align with out of text fan calculations is patently absurd, and not a conversation I am interested in having.

@Ran

You bring up infrastructure, but you keep making these macro level continent to continent comparisons. Population densities can vary, and plenty of reasons can be found in Westeros to explain a lower density (agricultural habits, deaths from constant wars, deaths from long winters, etc.).

But tell me this, when you look at Roose Bolton or Wyman Manderly, do you imagine them governing over the equivalents of Scotland or Sweden? Or maybe they're more like one step below that? Were you imagining ten kings of Scotland trailing after Robb in his campaign south? How is that properly conceived infrastructure?

And another thing. No European city had more than 250.000 inhabitants in the middle ages, and that's on the high estimates, more conservatively they were below 150.000. Constantinople only reached 500.000 in the 1500s, some time after the ottoman conquest, which brought more efficient means of administration not typical to medieval Europe. If such a significant inflation is acceptable for the size of a city, which very much depends on infrastructure, after all, why not recruitment as well? Why is this the one thing that must be on parity with historical estimates from the real world? Do you at least acknowledge that it is causing problems in other places? :P

Yes, I imagine Lord Bolton has approximately 400k-500k people in his lands - equivalent to medieval Scotland’s population. Note that his territories are about twice the size of medieval Scotland, so would only need half of Scotland’s population density to achieve that number.

Lord Manderly likely rules over a 750k - 1 million people, from his city of about 30k-50k people - a city larger than medieval London by a significant margin.

I note again. In Westeros it should be MORE difficult to raise armies than in the real medieval Europe, due to the larger distances over which the mobilization has to occur. Not LESS difficult. That distance penalty is removed when you only have to gather men from the three villages around your keep, as in the case of Ser Eustace.

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Free Northman Reborn

Again with the land size comparisons... I'm talking about governance and administration here, the very "infrastructure" Ran brought up. Read a few things about governance in medieval Scotland. It had its own court, council, parliament and laws. Bolton is one dude with a castle, to claim he can reliably govern over 300.000 people turns any pretense at historical realism into a farce.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 minutes ago, The Coconut God said:

@Free Northman Reborn

Again with the land size comparisons... I'm talking about governance and administration here, the very "infrastructure" Ran brought up. Read a few things about governance in medieval Scotland. It had its own court, council, parliament and laws. Bolton is one dude with a castle, to claim he can reliably govern over 300.000 people turns any pretense at historical realism into a farce.

I have created an entire thread (maybe more than one) on the governance inconsistencies of Westeros. I will search for the link if you are interested. Fact is, even Winterfell does not have the equivalent of the Scottish king’s court. I always joke that Maester Luwin must be a wizard, given that he is simultaneously Minister of Finance, Health, Science, Education, Agriculture, Communication, Legal Affairs, Trade and Industry etc etc, on top of being personal tutor and physician to the Stark family.

If you are looking for a fully fleshed out governance system you are reading the wrong fantasy series. 

I accept it just like I accept that somehow the animals above the Wall can survive a 5 year Winter, or that the food storage system is not more prominently described across Westeros.

However, for an army of 30k to be raised in a sparsely populated medieval society like Westeros, equipped and marched on a campaign across thousands of miles, would require a population of at least 3 million to logistically make it feasible.

I believe in the 1% mobilization rate, particularly given all of Westeros’s other constraints.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
37 minutes ago, The Coconut God said:

@Free Northman Reborn

Again with the land size comparisons... I'm talking about governance and administration here, the very "infrastructure" Ran brought up. Read a few things about governance in medieval Scotland. It had its own court, council, parliament and laws. Bolton is one dude with a castle, to claim he can reliably govern over 300.000 people turns any pretense at historical realism into a farce.

But these lords - including Bolton - used to be kings. Only to get conquered by the Roman Empire equivalent. So each "great lord" (former king) would have middling lords to administer provinces, and these would have lesser lords etc. Problem here is, as @Free Northman Reborn points out, none of these lords are shown to have anything resembling the infrastructure required. But that has nothing to do with being in a castle: after all, even Roman (Byzantine) Imperial Palace could have been placed in a castle. What I have a problem with is 1) lack of infrastructure (and how do you get enough administrators if apparently Maesters are the only ones with education) and 2) that Winter's Town is apparently a town, not a city - as it logically should be - and that AFAIK there is no river in sight from Winterfell.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, The Coconut God said:

 

@Werthead

No, there is a hierarchy of the nobility in Westeros, even though they're all called lords and it can get a bit confusing. You've got:

- the King

- the Great Lords (the Tyrells)

- their bannermen (the Rowan)

- the lesser lords (the Webbers)

- the landed knights (the Osgreys)

Aside from them, there are also lords in title only, like Varys.

The landed knights and the lesser lords both have their lands from the bannermen, it's just a difference of how large they are and what rights they have (knights don't have the right of pit and gallows, lesser lords do). This is explained in The Sworn Sword.

I was only referring to bannermen in my calculations, all of which are listed in the character sheets. The lands of the lesser lords obviously overlap with theirs.

So no, we are not talking about thousands of lords, unless we want to invent a slew of new bannermen, which would be awkward to say the least.

Incorrect.

There are multiple levels of lords, with minor landed knights and lords who command a few tiny villages up to the great lords. They are all counted as lords and nobility by Westerosi standards (which is why Ser Hugh is preening around like a peacock when he gets made just a knight, as it is a huge shift in his social status).

And The World of Ice and Fire tells us explicitly that there are thousands of lords in Westeros, by virtue of there being six hundred from two kingdoms alone on the Field of Fire at a time when the population of the continent was less than half what it is at the time of the novels (and that's certainly not all of them from those two regions). Please do not cherry-pick canon sources where they suit you and ignore them when they do not, that is argument in bad faith.

 

Quote

 

Yes, it is a feudal system. The lords have vassals, the vassals have vassals, and sometimes the vassals of the vassals have vassals, down to the guy who can raise five friends.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, Ran said:

The common reckoning of Jaime's trip from KL to Darry puts it as being approximately 3 weeks

Right, my mistake. But he doesn’t follow a strict path, he makes stops at Hayford, Sow’s Horn, Harrenhal and perhaps other places as well. Hayford is a day’s ride or less, Sow’s Horn another 3-4 if I recall.

As for Sam, he traveled the same road as Robert for parts of his Journey and apparently he never saw him. Neither did he see Tyrion it seems. In Jon III Jon learns Bran will live, Tyrion is there. In Jon IV he is gone and Sam’s come. In Tyrion III Tyrion is at the Wall. In Bran IV Winterfell and In Tyrion IV encounters Catelyn who has already went to KL and is on her way back North. All these should somewhat restrict Samwell’s “Last Month”

Jon IV also has a half moon.

Though not directly related, Prologue also had a half moon by the way so it has been a few exact months from this time until that. 

Catelyn VI Lysa sends word from Eyrie she wishes to see Catelyn,  the moon is “not even full” later same chapter we learn it’s “horned”

Catelyn VII and Tyrion V Tyrion demands trial by combat and is freed.

Jon V moon is full again Tyrion VI it’s a half moon. Not sure which takes place earlier.

Bran I and Tyrion II, Jon is still fourteen. Catelyn III and perhaps Jon III, Robb is fourteen Bran V he is fifteen, Catelyn VIII he is “sixteen soon enough” These are agot.

ACOK Catelyn VII he just turned sixteen.

Some of these are not directly related, but could help. With some effort(comparing other travel times) Sam’s last month could be narrowed down further

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Free Northman Reborn

I find it funny how it's totally fine to suspend our disbelief when it comes to agriculture, administration, winter survival and city sizes, but when it comes to recruitment rates nothing else will do than to be historically accurate to the mother #@$%ing letter.

It doesn't even matter that recruitment went much higher than that for various countries in various moments of history, we must use continent-wide average, because that's the level of professionalism we invest in our fantasy literature over here, gosh dang it!

What's wrong with suspending our disbelief with the armies a little bit in order to transfer some of that realism to the system of governance?

@Aldarion

There were several petty kings in Scotland too, prior to the unification. Nothing wrong with the Boltons having been something similar in the distant past

@Werthead

Come on, try to actually understand what I'm saying before you accuse me of arguing in bad faith. :P

I am strictly referring to the bannermen of the Great Houses, of which there are ~100 on the continent. Yes, these bannermen have vassal lords themselves, but the vassals take their lands from their liege lords, and this the territories overlap.

The Lannisters and Tyrells have 27 bannermen between them, so each of them would have had an average of 22 lesser lords on their lands judging by the number you quoted. Now, going back to the Sworn Sword example, one of these lesser lords would have been Lady Webber. According to the novella, her lands supported twenty times as many smallfolk as Ser Eustace's, which is at most 3.000. Multiply that by 22 and we get 66.000. Double it to account for any knights' holdings, and we'd end up with 132.000 people under each bannerman.

Once again, if we actually check the numbers, the closest estimate is my 14 million. And no, I'm not actively trying to weak the numbers, but now that I think about it, I think I understand why it's happening. George designed the political structure of Westeros around the idea of a large European kingdom comprised of eight smaller states (not counting the Crownlands). That's basically medieval France, which was made up of eight duchies. So whether he planned it or not, if you try to extrapolate the population from the ground up, based on administrative elements rather than land size, you'll get close to, well... the population of medieval France.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

@The Coconut God

We know that maesters are expensive the richer, more powerful of the lords have them. To be clear, by richer I don’t mean very rich, but not all can afford one. Can’t recall the year but 300 White Ravens were sent to announce the Winter so this is the number of lords with a Maester. Stannis sends “two score ravens” but obviously he wouldn’t send any to those lords who declared for the Boltons so North has perhaps twice that number of lords with maesters. On lesser lord scale, Webber, Rosby, Hayford, Smallwood and a few of the more powerful Northen mountain clans have maesters. You may get some idea from this.

Edited by Corvo the Crow

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, Corvo the Crow said:

Can’t recall the year but 300 White Ravens were sent to announce the Winter so this is the number of lords with a Maester. 

 

Quote

On Maiden’s Day in the year 130 AC, the Citadel of Oldtown sent forth three hundred white ravens to herald the coming of winter, but Mushroom and Septon Eustace agree that this was high summer for Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen. (FAB Rhaenyra Triumphant)

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, Corvo the Crow said:

Since size is now also a part of the discussion, Robert’s sluggish convoy take more than 12 days to cross the Neck and a fortnight to go from Darry to KL. Jaime on the other hand covers that same distance(Darry-KL) in a shorter time and had a small army at his back and constant stops at the road. So small groups would cover it in even fewer days.

I vaguely recall Samfat Tarly going from Barrowlands to the wall in a month.

America sized continent doesn’t really seem to hold up.

 

The comparison was to South America. 

Asha Greyjoy is captured by Stannis and his men at Deepwood Mott in ADWD chapter 26 The Wayward Bride. By chapter 42 The Kings Prize they are just leaving Deepwood Mott and beginning the 300 mile march on Winterfell. By the end of chapter 42 they have been marching for about 30 days. According to some of the men that are with Stannis, Robert moved very fast - 300 miles in ten days. At the same time, the length of the Wall is said to be 300 miles, and its located at a narrow section of the continent. Using the Wall as a kind of ruler, and I'm eyeballing this...the width of the north appears to be 900-1000 miles across. For comparison, the width of South America at its widest is 2705 miles - length is 4443 miles.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, Feather Crystal said:

 

The comparison was to South America. 

Asha Greyjoy is captured by Stannis and his men at Deepwood Mott in ADWD chapter 26 The Wayward Bride. By chapter 42 The Kings Prize they are just leaving Deepwood Mott and beginning the 300 mile march on Winterfell. By the end of chapter 42 they have been marching for about 30 days. According to some of the men that are with Stannis, Robert moved very fast - 300 miles in ten days. At the same time, the length of the Wall is said to be 300 miles, and its located at a narrow section of the continent. Using the Wall as a kind of ruler, and I'm eyeballing this...the width of the north appears to be 900-1000 miles across. For comparison, the width of South America at its widest is 2705 miles - length is 4443 miles.

And we have fans believing it is 3000 miles, Wall to Dornish coast. So that doesn’t hold up either.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, The Coconut God said:

@Free Northman Reborn

I find it funny how it's totally fine to suspend our disbelief when it comes to agriculture, administration, winter survival and city sizes, but when it comes to recruitment rates nothing else will do than to be historically accurate to the mother #@$%ing letter.

It doesn't even matter that recruitment went much higher than that for various countries in various moments of history, we must use continent-wide average, because that's the level of professionalism we invest in our fantasy literature over here, gosh dang it!

What's wrong with suspending our disbelief with the armies a little bit in order to transfer some of that realism to the system of governance?

@Aldarion

There were several petty kings in Scotland too, prior to the unification. Nothing wrong with the Boltons having been something similar in the distant past

@Werthead

Come on, try to actually understand what I'm saying before you accuse me of arguing in bad faith. :P

I am strictly referring to the bannermen of the Great Houses, of which there are ~100 on the continent. Yes, these bannermen have vassal lords themselves, but the vassals take their lands from their liege lords, and this the territories overlap.

The Lannisters and Tyrells have 27 bannermen between them, so each of them would have had an average of 22 lesser lords on their lands judging by the number you quoted. Now, going back to the Sworn Sword example, one of these lesser lords would have been Lady Webber. According to the novella, her lands supported twenty times as many smallfolk as Ser Eustace's, which is at most 3.000. Multiply that by 22 and we get 66.000. Double it to account for any knights' holdings, and we'd end up with 132.000 people under each bannerman.

Once again, if we actually check the numbers, the closest estimate is my 14 million. And no, I'm not actively trying to weak the numbers, but now that I think about it, I think I understand why it's happening. George designed the political structure of Westeros around the idea of a large European kingdom comprised of eight smaller states (not counting the Crownlands). That's basically medieval France, which was made up of eight duchies. So whether he planned it or not, if you try to extrapolate the population from the ground up, based on administrative elements rather than land size, you'll get close to, well... the population of medieval France.

The Reach is more fertile than France and about twice France’s size. And has a city much larger than medieval Paris. And yet you want to give it as little as a tenth of France’s medieval population density?

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, The Coconut God said:

 

@Werthead

Come on, try to actually understand what I'm saying before you accuse me of arguing in bad faith. :P

I am strictly referring to the bannermen of the Great Houses, of which there are ~100 on the continent. Yes, these bannermen have vassal lords themselves, but the vassals take their lands from their liege lords, and this the territories overlap.

The Lannisters and Tyrells have 27 bannermen between them, so each of them would have had an average of 22 lesser lords on their lands judging by the number you quoted. Now, going back to the Sworn Sword example, one of these lesser lords would have been Lady Webber. According to the novella, her lands supported twenty times as many smallfolk as Ser Eustace's, which is at most 3.000. Multiply that by 22 and we get 66.000. Double it to account for any knights' holdings, and we'd end up with 132.000 people under each bannerman.

Once again, if we actually check the numbers, the closest estimate is my 14 million. And no, I'm not actively trying to weak the numbers, but now that I think about it, I think I understand why it's happening. George designed the political structure of Westeros around the idea of a large European kingdom comprised of eight smaller states (not counting the Crownlands). That's basically medieval France, which was made up of eight duchies. So whether he planned it or not, if you try to extrapolate the population from the ground up, based on administrative elements rather than land size, you'll get close to, well... the population of medieval France.

Not every bannerman of the Great Houses has been mentioned by name. George introduces new ones all the time (more new ones have already appeared in the sample chapters for TWoW), so there are far more bannermen than those named in the series to date.

Quote

The comparison was to South America. 

Asha Greyjoy is captured by Stannis and his men at Deepwood Mott in ADWD chapter 26 The Wayward Bride. By chapter 42 The Kings Prizethey are just leaving Deepwood Mott and beginning the 300 mile march on Winterfell. By the end of chapter 42 they have been marching for about 30 days. According to some of the men that are with Stannis, Robert moved very fast - 300 miles in ten days. At the same time, the length of the Wall is said to be 300 miles, and its located at a narrow section of the continent. Using the Wall as a kind of ruler, and I'm eyeballing this...the width of the north appears to be 900-1000 miles across. For comparison, the width of South America at its widest is 2705 miles - length is 4443 miles.

The continent of Westeros is the size of South America. The nation-state known as the Seven Kingdoms does not cover all of the Westerosi continent, and appears to only cover around 50-60% of it (the rest being off the northern edge of the map; World of Ice and Fire's map shows a much greater extent of land to the north and hints at a lot more), so there is no inconsistency.

Quote

And we have fans believing it is 3000 miles, Wall to Dornish coast. So that doesn’t hold up either.

The distance from the Wall to the Dornish coast is very roughly ~ x10 the length of the Wall, so it holds up reasonably well, but not in detail (see below).

Edited by Werthead

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

The Reach is more fertile than France and about twice France’s size. And has a city much larger than medieval Paris. And yet you want to give it as little as a tenth of France’s medieval population density?

Medieval France is estimated at 17 million, whereas England was only 1.5 million. Kings Landing has the highest density population of all the cities, so land mass doesn’t necessarily dictate population. In actuality, farmland has low population, because the land is used to grow crops.

France is 590 miles wide. I have the maps of The Lands of Ice and Fire. If you measure the Wall and use that to measure the Reach...the area between the two rivers that branch off the Mander is the same distance as the Wall - 300 miles. West of the river belongs to the Lannister’s, and southeast of the Mander are the Dornish Marshes. Does the area northeast of the Mander belong to the Reach or is it part of the  Crownlands or Stormlands?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

The 300 mile scale is reconfirmed by the straight line distance between Deepwood Motte and Winterfell, which is stated to be  a hundred leagues as the raven flies.

This is not helped by the various maps sticking Deepwood Motte in the wrong place (it should be 15 miles from the sea, some of the maps stick it a hundred miles or more inland).

On my current Westeros over-map project (which puts the Known World map on a 10,000-pixel-wide image), the length of the enlarged Wall (from Lands of Ice and Fire), Westwatch to Eastwatch, is approximately 393 pixels. However, if you follow the Wall in detail (every curve and wriggle), it's more like 410 pixels, and we don't know what counts as the 300 mile figure. The distance from Deepwood's real position to Winterfell is 398 pixels. However, the north-south distance from Castle Black to the southernmost point on the Dornish shore is 3,482 pixels, which means the 3,000 mile figure will have to be reconsidered.

If we average 400 pixels = 300 miles, then the total length of the Seven Kingdoms becomes 2,611.5 miles, which is a significant shift from the previous figure (we lose 400 miles).

This also makes the total width of the South of Westeros as about 1,263 miles (1,684 pixels) which does match the figure given in AFFC (400 leagues) a lot better.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×