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Jaak

Abundance of Maesters

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How common are maesters in Westerosi society?

Apparently the number of castles employing maesters is 300 - from 300 white ravens sent out to announce seasons. Almost all castles that do employ maesters have just one. Castles with no maester are abundant, though regarded as unimportant.

One Kingdom, say North, has just a few tens of maesters.

How does North compare to medieval Europe? Like England?

Robb could and did march nearly 20 000 men out of North.

Henry V kept 13 000 men in France from 1415 to 1422 between the several field armies and garrisons. About 3000 of those 13 000 were heavy horse.

It was 7 years, Henry V´s England did not complain of unharvested fields like Umbers do. Maybe the population of North is comparable to England or smaller. On a bigger area. But Sweden and Muscovy also had sparser settlement over a big area.

England of late 14th century had, besides those 3000 gentlemen, squires and knights who could ride to France on heavy horses, other elites.

About 8000...9000 beneficed parish priests. About 7000 regular male clergy (monks, friars and canons regular) and 2000 regular female clergy (nuns and such specialized terms).

Plus the privately employed clergy (chaplains).

And England had a duopoly of universities,. About 2000 students at Oxbridge at any time late 14th century. Many dropped out without graduating, but about 200 graduates each year. Making, like, 5000-6000 graduates living at one time.

Not all or even most beneficed parish priests were Oxbridge graduates - many graduates had other careers - but a large fraction were.

And North has under 50 maesters for those over 5000 Oxbridge graduates of England!

Well, England had something else, too.

Bishops. 17 in England proper.

4 in Wales. 12 in Scotland. About 35 in Ireland. So under 70 in all Britain. Scandinavia had about 25 between the three kingdoms, about 100 in France, some in Germany, Italy, Iberia...

About 300 or somewhat more would be a reasonable estimate for the total number of bishops in Europe, as it is for maesters in Westeros.

Maesters are as rare as bishops... but bishops were lords. Even when they did not have armies and castles, they were given autonomous disposal of large revenues to hire multiple employees with - and maesters are not.

Only 300 graduates in all Westeros?

Well, University of Paris only developed in 12th Century Renaissance.

In 1113, when Anselm of Laon expelled Abelard from his cathedral school, France did not have, and for centuries had not had, any school of more than one teacher.

By 1200, Paris University had about 150 teachers and over 3000 students. And probably over 10 000 graduates.

In the two centuries, 1080 to 1280, Europe went from having 0 universities and 0 graduates to having 10+ universities (besides Paris there were Oxford and Cambridge, in France also Toulouse etc., in Italy Bologne, Padua etc., in Spain Salamanca, Valladolid etc.) and tens of thousands of graduates.

Whereas Westeros is stabilized at 1 university, about 20 teachers and about 300 graduates.

Still a lot... by the pre-12th-Century-Renaissance standards.

How do you feel the role of maesters?

 

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You are right that it's strangely few maesters.

BUT it's the same thing as the fact that there are very few lords compared to the land mass.

 

Westeros is somewhere between Europe and South America in size according to George himself, and therefore a ninth of this landmass (one kingdom/region) is maybe the size of Sweden or something (which, itself, is the same size as California). And there are only like 10 important houses in each kingdom, plus maybe ca 15-30 lesser houses or something. Each lord rules over extremely large lands but is still not super rich or important, etc etc. That is probably simply because George didn't have the power to come up with 60 houses or something for each kingdom, but he kind of should have. Also it could be because he half thinks of Westeros as one country - England - and therefore at times thinks of it as smaller than it is.

 

In many ways, not just regarding maesters, things don't make sense in Westeros, considering how massive the continent is.

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1 hour ago, Adam Targaryen said:

BUT it's the same thing as the fact that there are very few lords compared to the land mass.

 

Westeros is somewhere between Europe and South America in size according to George himself, and therefore a ninth of this landmass (one kingdom/region) is maybe the size of Sweden or something (which, itself, is the same size as California). And there are only like 10 important houses in each kingdom, plus maybe ca 15-30 lesser houses or something. Each lord rules over extremely large lands but is still not super rich or important, etc etc. That is probably simply because George didn't have the power to come up with 60 houses or something for each kingdom, but he kind of should have.

Not really.

We get totals, not actual totals but order of magnitude, twice.

At Field of Fire, Reach and Westerlands had between them 600 lords present on the battlefield.

It could not have been the full total of lords. A notable share of Lords would have been noncombatants - too old and crippled, plus a smaller share of children and ladies. Their banners would have been at Field of Fire, but under knights not lords - preferrably family members if available, such as adult eldest son and heir carrying the banner for the elderly father staying at home (a la ser Stevron for Lord Walder) but nonfamily members if necessary. Plus the combatant lords left detailed elsewhere to guard against opportunistic raids, like Dornish marches. Since military service mattered for lordship, most marginally capable lords would have tried to show up in person (late Walder showed up at Trident age 75) so my guestimate would be 1000 lords and ladies between Reach and Westerlands. With average of 300 for each of the other 5 Kingdoms, it gives 2500 lords for all Westeros.

Second time we get the total magnitude is Great Council of 101. Over 1000 lords showed up. Assuming 2200 lords under Jaehaerys (300 of Dorne were not then his subjects), about half or slightly more attending makes sense, especially since we hear some were late and only arrived at dissolution. Many of the poorer and more remote lords might not have bothered the trip, like the chiefs of mountain clans.

The numbers of 2500 lords and 300 maesters for whole 7 Kingdoms would mean an average of about 40 greater lords rich enough to hire a maester and 250 lesser lords who cannot afford a maester for an average kingdom other than Reach. Those lesser lords often stay below radar.

Is that consistent with the story?

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The assumption that the 300 white ravens means that every single maester receives one seems off. That seems more of a limitation of the number of white ravens, not maesters. The Citadel would send out send out 300 to the highest ranking lords across Westeros, who would then notify the castles/lords/knights that are their vassals.

There are likely more than 300 maesters in Westeros.

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I suspect that long winters could wipe out even most noble houses. For instance there was a volcano winter in Finland 1866-68. Or volcano in Iceland => less sunlight in Finland and temperatures were very low => not enough food => about 200 k people died either by famine, elements or diseases.

Actually reason why "only" so few people died during those years was that during that time Finland was part of Imperial Russia and so those people who lived near harbors or railway stations had very good chances of surviving. But most people who either lived too far of those or did not have some kind of access to enough food died. Or during long winters trains and steam powered steel ships are literally vital.

In Westeros winters could last longer than that volcano winter in Finland and they are not part of huge empire with ability to upkeep law and order and huge bread baskets in southern Russia, Poland and Ukraine. They also do not have icebreakers so most of their sea lines could not stay open during those long winters and also their ability to move supplies during winters should be rather limited. So mortality among areas affected by long winters should be huge and if famine is bad enough even nobles will be killed either by that or diseases. Another thing is possible rebellions and criminal actions by hungry and desperate people.

Or I assume that after long and harsh winters there would be less people and very few surviving noble houses. It is even possible that some great houses would lost control of their own bannermen and so at least some of ancient kingdoms will become battleground between many very petty kings.

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16 minutes ago, Loose Bolt said:

I suspect that long winters could wipe out even most noble houses.

Or I assume that after long and harsh winters there would be less people and very few surviving noble houses. It is even possible that some great houses would lost control of their own bannermen and so at least some of ancient kingdoms will become battleground between many very petty kings.

Or you just don´t notice most noble houses.

Manderly boasts that his bannermen include 12 lords and 100 landed knights. Try to list those 12 lords.

You cannot. They are not named.

If you take the guess that North had a total of 300 lords, 100 of whom stayed at home as unfit to fight (old and fat Manderly, ladies Dustin, Hornwood, Maege Mormont et cetera) or ordered to keep guard and 200 rode among and at the head of the 20 000 men who marched with Robb... the story names maybe 20 commanders. If so, 19 980 stay anonymous cannon fodder. Just remember that 180 more important of those 19 980 are Lords, while still being anonymous cannon fodder.

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