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Rose of Red Lake

The North: a proto-democracy?

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I think the council before the Lords declare Robb king is really interesting, in contrast to the way decisions are made in King's Landing.

First we have the lay out of the room, with the Riverland lords and the Northern lords sitting opposite each other:

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“The war council convened in the Great Hall, at four long trestle tables arranged in a broken square.”

I like the shape, like a village square. The lords argue and say their peace, under no threat of retribution:

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“The arguing raged on late into the night. Each lord had a right to speak, and speak they did . . . and shout, and curse, and reason, and cajole, and jest, and bargain, and slam tankards on the table, and threaten, and walk out, and return sullen or smiling. Catelyn sat and listened to it all."

It sounds like they can swear and threaten whomever they want - possibly even Robb or Ned? Regardless, this looks like freedom of speech, which some people in the world don't even have right now.

Cat listens, as does Robb, before talking: 

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“It was the first time her son had spoken. Like his father, he knew how to listen.”

He also isn't afraid to admit that there are some things he doesn't know:

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“So you mean us to declare for Stannis?” asked Edmure.
“I don’t know,” said Robb. “I prayed to know what to do, but the gods did not answer. ”

However, Robb knows how to play to his audience by stoking their anger. It's remarkably similar to Jon's speech in the Shieldhall. Catelyn also gets her moment to try to persuade them, to sue for peace. Her speech is really good, I won't quote it at length. Unfortunately the Northerners really just want blood:

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“Whatever you may decide for yourselves, I shall never call a Lannister my king,” declared Marq Piper.

“Nor I!” yelled the little Darry boy. “I never will!”

“Again the shouting began. Catelyn sat despairing. She had come so close, she thought. They had almost listened, almost . . . but the moment was gone. There would be no peace, no chance to heal, no safety. She looked at her son, watched him as he listened to the lords debate, frowning, troubled, yet wedded to his war. He had pledged himself to marry a daughter of Walder Frey, but she saw his true bride plain before her now: the sword he had laid on the table.”

Whether it was the right decision or not, I really like the governmental style of the North, where everyone debates, and speaks their mind about the wisdom of going to war. It's a messy, imperfect example of freedom of assembly and free speech. While I don't think we will see them extend that concept to everyone, would you call this a proto-democracy?

Edited by Rose of Red Lake

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There is no difference between Robb's war council and Tywin's war council (which we also see in AGoT). All the lords there can speak their mind there, too, and Tywin sits back and listens to them all until he finally speaks himself or makes a decision.

The idea that noblemen in a feudal society having the right to speak their mind is also not exactly something special. They are powers in their own right. Freedom assembly has nothing to do with the new Lord of Winterfell and the heir of the dying Lord of Riverrun calling a council of their bannermen and retainers. They were told to show up for this meeting by their betters, they did not show up there because they felt like it.

And, frankly, the council proclaiming Robb king is a joke insofar as Northern representation is concerned. Of Robb's original army - which consisted of quite a few noblemen from the North - most of the lords are with Roose Bolton, not at Riverrun with Robb or at his council. From the North we do have Maege Mormont, Rickard Karstark, Jon Umber, and Theon Greyjoy (!) at this war council. That doesn't adequately represent the Northern nobility (much less the North as a whole). There are more Riverlords there making Robb King of the Trident than there are Northmen there making him the King in the North.

The fact that this small cabal created a king is, in my opinion, part of the reason why Robb failed. If Roose Bolton, Barbrey Dustin, Wyman Manderly (or his sons) and other nobles had been present things may have gone quite differently.

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2 hours ago, Rose of Red Lake said:

I think the council before the Lords declare Robb king is really interesting, in contrast to the way decisions are made in King's Landing.

First we have the lay out of the room, with the Riverland lords and the Northern lords sitting opposite each other:

I like the shape, like a village square. The lords argue and say their peace, under no threat of retribution:

It sounds like they can swear and threaten whomever they want - possibly even Robb or Ned? Regardless, this looks like freedom of speech, which some people in the world don't even have right now.

Cat listens, as does Robb, before talking: 

He also isn't afraid to admit that there are some things he doesn't know:

However, Robb knows how to play to his audience by stoking their anger. It's remarkably similar to Jon's speech in the Shieldhall. Catelyn also gets her moment to try to persuade them, to sue for peace. Her speech is really good, I won't quote it at length. Unfortunately the Northerners really just want blood:

Whether it was the right decision or not, I really like the governmental style of the North, where everyone debates, and speaks their mind about the wisdom of going to war. It's a messy, imperfect example of freedom of assembly and free speech. While I don't think we will see them extend that concept to everyone, would you call this a proto-democracy?

I agree. While people may be able to speak in Tywin's council's it certainly isn't without fear of retribution. Also contrasting Tywin, I think Robb genuinely wants to hear what they think while Tywin is going to make the decision he wants to make regardless of what is said. 

I think it's one of the things Robb did absolutely right. 

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24 minutes ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

I agree. While people may be able to speak in Tywin's council's it certainly isn't without fear of retribution. Also contrasting Tywin, I think Robb genuinely wants to hear what they think while Tywin is going to make the decision he wants to make regardless of what is said. 

I think it's one of the things Robb did absolutely right. 

Every ruler in Westeros wants to hear what his people are to say. But the bottom line is that they are not the ones who make the decision in the end.

The only council Robb calls is the one that proclaims him king. Afterwards there are no councils ever again, and Robb routinely makes solitary and lonely decisions, eventually listening to no one but himself. That is what gets him killed.

Tywin did very much listen what his lords had to say. His decision to retreat to Harrenhal after the Green Fork was motivated by the fear of his bannermen that they would lose this war - some actually did urge him to offer terms of peace after Robb captured Jaime and defeated his army.

The only people having some proto-democratic elements are the Ironborn in their Kingsmoots (where not only noblemen but all captains of the islands may speak and be chosen) and the various wildling tribes (whose practices the Northmen long abandoned and replaced with hereditary rule).

It is also factually incorrect that the kings in KL do not call council - the Small Council constantly advises the king and most kings do discuss important matters of state with their council rather than making a solitary decision. Robb never even bothers to form some sort of formal government or body of advisers, he does not appoint a regent for the North, etc.

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10 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Every ruler in Westeros wants to hear what his people are to say. But the bottom line is that they are not the ones who make the decision in the end

I doubt every ruler wants to hear what their people have to say. Some do sure. Some even take it into consideration. 

10 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

The only council Robb calls is the one that proclaims him king. Afterwards there are no councils ever again, and Robb routinely makes solitary and lonely decisions, eventually listening to no one but himself. That is what gets him killed.

Yeah that's why I said it was one of the things Robb did absolutely right. Had he kept up on his councils he may have survived. 

10 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Tywin did very much listen what his lords had to say. His decision to retreat to Harrenhal after the Green Fork was motivated by the fear of his bannermen that they would lose this war - some actually did urge him to offer terms of peace after Robb captured Jaime and defeated his army.

I'll have to reread that because I don't recall it. I'm sure you're right but for it to be the same or similar situation I need context. I'll read it & get back to you. 

10 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

The only people having some proto-democratic elements are the Ironborn in their Kingsmoots (where not only noblemen but all captains of the islands may speak and be chosen) and the various wildling tribes (whose practices the Northmen long abandoned and replaced with hereditary rule).

I agree the IB's Kingsmoot fits the bill also. I don't think it has to be only noblemen to be proto-democratic. Even our own "democratic" government has the "nobles" speaking for us small folk. Not really the best situation IMO but said to be democratic nonetheless. 

11 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

It is also factually incorrect that the kings in KL do not call council - the Small Council constantly advises the king and most kings do discuss important matters of state with their council rather than making a solitary decision. Robb never even bothers to form some sort of formal government or body of advisers, he does not appoint a regent for the North, etc.

I didn't say the kings in KL don't call a council? Nor do I disagree that Robb should have formed some sort of body of advisers. I'm speaking solely on this instance. To be fair, he probably would have done some of this eventually. He did presumable write a will to name Jon heir to WF. 

My point about Robb's council vs Tywin's is that I highly doubt the men in Tywin's court speak without fear of retribution. Any of them that know him would likely know it would only take one wrong word & it would result in their death. 

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1 hour ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

I doubt every ruler wants to hear what their people have to say. Some do sure. Some even take it into consideration.

Such rulers would then have no formal institutions like a council - they would dissolve them. Which none of the Iron Throne kings ever did, to our knowledge. Even a tyrant like Maegor still held a war council with his lords at the very end.

1 hour ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

Yeah that's why I said it was one of the things Robb did absolutely right. Had he kept up on his councils he may have survived.

Well, allowing his little council to make him king was another of his crucial mistakes.

1 hour ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

I agree the IB's Kingsmoot fits the bill also. I don't think it has to be only noblemen to be proto-democratic. Even our own "democratic" government has the "nobles" speaking for us small folk. Not really the best situation IMO but said to be democratic nonetheless. 

Well, then the question should be 'are the feudal aristocratic structures of Westeros proto-democratic' - because the North simply isn't different at all in how such things are done.

1 hour ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

I didn't say the kings in KL don't call a council? Nor do I disagree that Robb should have formed some sort of body of advisers. I'm speaking solely on this instance. To be fair, he probably would have done some of this eventually. He did presumable write a will to name Jon heir to WF.

No, you didn't, but the original post did.

1 hour ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

My point about Robb's council vs Tywin's is that I highly doubt the men in Tywin's court speak without fear of retribution. Any of them that know him would likely know it would only take one wrong word & it would result in their death. 

No, that's not how Tywin operates. Tywin did and does punish rebels and traitors harshly, but not men who speak their mind or disagree with him about strategy. He is not even eager to repeat the Reyne/Tarbeck thing, instead tried to teach Joffrey that you have to help defeated foes back on their feet.

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6 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Such rulers would then have no formal institutions like a council - they would dissolve them. Which none of the Iron Throne kings ever did, to our knowledge. Even a tyrant like Maegor still held a war council with his lords at the very end.

I think there is a difference between holding the council & actually wanting to hear what the council has to say. For instance Robert still held council but he rarely even attended so I think he probably could careless what any of them had to say. Then we have lords like Ramsay that I don't recall even holding council but if he does he surely doesn't take anything they say into consideration. The only person he even remotely takes advice from is his father & that is taken reluctantly. In short, I don't think the fact that they don't dissolve them means they actually wish to hear what the people have to say. 

9 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Well, allowing his little council to make him king was another of his crucial mistakes.

Maybe but I think had he not made other mistakes, being named KitN would have went better for him. I don't think that in & of itself made a whole lot of difference. 

10 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Well, then the question should be 'are the feudal aristocratic structures of Westeros proto-democratic' - because the North simply isn't different at all in how such things are done.

There is a difference though. They aren't the only ones, like you said the Kingsmoot was an example also but this doesn't seem to be the norm in Westeros. I think the main difference seems to be how freely the others are able to speak. I would assume this is a rarity on a war council, let alone any normal time council. 

12 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

No, you didn't, but the original post did.

Gotcha.

12 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

No, that's not how Tywin operates. Tywin did and does punish rebels and traitors harshly, but not men who speak their mind or disagree with him about strategy. He is not even eager to repeat the Reyne/Tarbeck thing, instead tried to teach Joffrey that you have to help defeated foes back on their feet.

I agree to an extent but even Tyrion doesn't seem able to speak too freely during Tywin's councils. I don't necessarily think he would punish someone for disagreeing with him about strategy but speaking their mind is a whole different thing. I can't really see Tywin being real tolerant to men trying to speak their mind, especially if what they are saying is offensive in some manner to Tywin or the Lannisters. 

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7 minutes ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

I think there is a difference between holding the council & actually wanting to hear what the council has to say. For instance Robert still held council but he rarely even attended so I think he probably could careless what any of them had to say. Then we have lords like Ramsay that I don't recall even holding council but if he does he surely doesn't take anything they say into consideration. The only person he even remotely takes advice from is his father & that is taken reluctantly. In short, I don't think the fact that they don't dissolve them means they actually wish to hear what the people have to say.

Robert barely rules himself - leaving his government to his council. That's a different kind of thing entirely. But when he wants to do something important (like murdering children abroad) he does include his council.

Ramsay isn't running the show at Winterfell - Roose is, as the Warden of the North. And he does hold quite a few war councils in Winterfell, doesn't he?

7 minutes ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

Maybe but I think had he not made other mistakes, being named KitN would have went better for him. I don't think that in & of itself made a whole lot of difference.

Had he stayed in the North and declared himself king there, sure, that could have worked better. But the majority of the lordly kingmakers were Riverlords, not Northmen, and Robb was both King in the North and King of the Trident - which people tend to forget. It is the latter 'kingdom' that got him into trouble (and of course being absent from the former).

7 minutes ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

There is a difference though. They aren't the only ones, like you said the Kingsmoot was an example also but this doesn't seem to be the norm in Westeros. I think the main difference seems to be how freely the others are able to speak. I would assume this is a rarity on a war council, let alone any normal time council. 

It is definitely the norm. Every pretender we see - Robb, Balon, Renly, Stannis, Dany (in Meereen and before when she decides to take the Unsullied), Aegon do have war councils. Even mere lords fighting a war in the name of others do have them - Robb had one while he was still just his father's heir, Tywin has a war council, Jaime and the Freys and other Riverlords have a war council at Riverrun, etc.

And they all go the same. Somebody is charge but everybody got to speak his mind and make whatever suggestion/advice he wants to offer. Nobody is forbidden to speak, and nobody traditionally allowed to attend is forbidden to attend (at least we don't know anything about that).

7 minutes ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

I agree to an extent but even Tyrion doesn't seem able to speak too freely during Tywin's councils. I don't necessarily think he would punish someone for disagreeing with him about strategy but speaking their mind is a whole different thing. I can't really see Tywin being real tolerant to men trying to speak their mind, especially if what they are saying is offensive in some manner to Tywin or the Lannisters. 

He speaks very freely during the war councils we get in AGoT, especially the latter, which ends with Tywin naming his Acting Hand, presumably because he liked some of the stuff Tyrion said during the council. Tywin didn't punish anyone who asked for peace/terms at his war council.

And, frankly, do you expect Ned or Robb to be 'real tolerant' if men at their table were offending them or the Starks? I don't think so. Robb wouldn't have been tolerant if men in his councils had told him he should give up his crown and bend the knee to Joffrey after the Blackwater, say (which is likely the reason why nobody ever dared to suggest that to him as far as we know), nor do I think he would have taken it kindly if such bannermen of his or Riverrun who hadn't been at the council which made him king (which, for the North, would have been a majority of noblemen) would have objected to him being king on principle.

In fact, if you look at how the Northern lords approach, offend, provoke, and threaten young Robb in AGoT we can be reasonably sure that a Tywin-like harshness is the way to rule in the North. You slap everybody down who provokes you - if it was a provokes you. If it was some thing like the Greatjon really, really stretching things you can be lenient. But if it was a real attempt on your life you have to destroy them.

The North is the most savage part of the Seven Kingdoms, the place where the belief of the wildlings that only the strong should rule is lingering the most. Yes, they do have hereditary rule, but the Starks are not in charge of the North because they are a decadent bloodline. They are not soft heirs of more war-like men. They do have to fight constantly to stay in charge, and it seems that most of their kings and powerful lords were the hardest and most dangerous men in the North.

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14 hours ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

I agree. While people may be able to speak in Tywin's council's it certainly isn't without fear of retribution.

This is no different to Robb's war council. We see Northern lords fearful of Robb, we don't see that of Twyin but we can assume that is true. We would also have Lords under both Twyin and Robb who have no such fears.

I don't think the average Northern vassal was any less fearful of Lord Stark than the average Westerland vassal was of Tywin.

14 hours ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

 

Also contrasting Tywin, I think Robb genuinely wants to hear what they think while Tywin is going to make the decision he wants to make regardless of what is said. 

This seems to be based on your own bias of characters rather than something from the actual book. Given Robb and Twyin are both not POV's this is impossible to know.

Both would love to hear good advice, both have been seen to ignore advice they don't like.

14 hours ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

I think it's one of the things Robb did absolutely right. 

eh? When?

He does not consult any of his actual lords on most of his plans. His mother, Edmure and the Blackfish were hardly listened to when he decided Karstark's fate, the Riverland lords were ignored when they wanted him to recapture Harrenhal.

When it came to deciding what to do about Tywin on the Green Fork and Jaime at Riverrun it was his mother who had to gently push him into a choice rather than offering it.

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Well by this logic you could argue the Ironborn are the most progressive society in Westeros given they have a tradition of choosing their king dating back thousands of years and it's not necessarily confined to a single house. Even a female was considered a viable contender in the last Kingsmoot. 

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56 minutes ago, Lord Lannister said:

Well by this logic you could argue the Ironborn are the most progressive society in Westeros given they have a tradition of choosing their king dating back thousands of years and it's not necessarily confined to a single house. Even a female was considered a viable contender in the last Kingsmoot. 

By modern standards the most progressive society is Dorne, based on the gender equality and supposed sexual and personal freedoms.

The Iron Islands have a sort of democracy, but otherwise they're pretty debased. It's hard to see a society of rapists and thieves as civilized, even if the men do vote on things. And Asha was an anomaly rather than the rule. No other woman would have come near to her freedoms. The only reason she was even allowed to speak is that Balon has been publicly grooming her as his heir for a decade or so.

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2 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Robert barely rules himself - leaving his government to his council. That's a different kind of thing entirely. But when he wants to do something important (like murdering children abroad) he does include his council.

Well it's a different thing than the OP but what we are talking about here is whether or not all Rulers want to hear their council. They do not. Some put up a front & hold the councils (like Robert) but it they don't actually listen nor do they want to & in Roberts case he doesn't even attend most of the time. 

2 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Ramsay isn't running the show at Winterfell - Roose is, as the Warden of the North. And he does hold quite a few war councils in Winterfell, doesn't he?

He is Lord of WF. The same title Robb held when he held the council right? 

2 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

It is definitely the norm. Every pretender we see - Robb, Balon, Renly, Stannis, Dany (in Meereen and before when she decides to take the Unsullied), Aegon do have war councils.

I understand what you are saying but I'm not saying they don't hold councils. 

2 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Even mere lords fighting a war in the name of others do have them

Which is what Ramsay would be but I don't think he does. 

2 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Robb had one while he was still just his father's heir, Tywin has a war council, Jaime and the Freys and other Riverlords have a war council at Riverrun, etc.

Right, but again my argument wasn't that they don't hold councils. 

2 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

And they all go the same. Somebody is charge but everybody got to speak his mind and make whatever suggestion/advice he wants to offer. Nobody is forbidden to speak, and nobody traditionally allowed to attend is forbidden to attend (at least we don't know anything about that).

Maybe. I'm willing to admit I may be completely wrong about this. It is hard to liken Tywin Lannister to Robb Stark though. I don't dislike Tywin & I think he is very capable, it just seems personality wise that Tywin wouldn't allow some of the freedoms that Robb would. Maybe this is just me thinking too far into things. This description, though, just doesn't sit with me as something that would go on in a council of Tywin's. 

"The arguing raged on late into the night. Each lord had a right to speak, and speak they did . . . and shout, and curse, and reason, and cajole, and jest, and bargain, and slam tankards on the table, and threaten, and walk out, and return sullen or smiling. Catelyn sat and listened to it all."

 

 

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2 hours ago, Bernie Mac said:

This is no different to Robb's war council. We see Northern lords fearful of Robb, we don't see that of Twyin but we can assume that is true.

I don't recall any of the northern lords being fearful of Robb but I assume you are recalling something I do not. I think it's safe to assume there are plenty who fear Tywin Lannister. 

2 hours ago, Bernie Mac said:

This seems to be based on your own bias of characters rather than something from the actual book. Given Robb and Twyin are both not POV's this is impossible to know.

Both would love to hear good advice, both have been seen to ignore advice they don't like.

Fair enough & possibly. It stands to reason though if this is based on my character bias then the claim that they would both love to hear good advice would be based on your character bias. 

2 hours ago, Bernie Mac said:

eh? When?

He does not consult any of his actual lords on most of his plans. His mother, Edmure and the Blackfish were hardly listened to when he decided Karstark's fate, the Riverland lords were ignored when they wanted him to recapture Harrenhal.

When it came to deciding what to do about Tywin on the Green Fork and Jaime at Riverrun it was his mother who had to gently push him into a choice rather than offering it.

Well, yeah. It's one of his downfalls that he doesn't take good advice right? In this particular case he calls a council & listens to what each man has to say well into the night. It was the one time he got it right. Had he kept doing this he may not have found himself in the peril he did. 

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4 hours ago, Lord Lannister said:

Well by this logic you could argue the Ironborn are the most progressive society in Westeros given they have a tradition of choosing their king dating back thousands of years and it's not necessarily confined to a single house. Even a female was considered a viable contender in the last Kingsmoot. 

Democratic elements don't have to mean an overall progressive society. Just look at Athenian democracy.

3 hours ago, The Jingo said:

The Iron Islands have a sort of democracy, but otherwise they're pretty debased. It's hard to see a society of rapists and thieves as civilized, even if the men do vote on things. And Asha was an anomaly rather than the rule. No other woman would have come near to her freedoms. The only reason she was even allowed to speak is that Balon has been publicly grooming her as his heir for a decade or so.

This also goes for those wildlings who have more broader councils. The fact that they allow some of their women a voice and discuss clan-relevant stuff in a broader circle doesn't change that they are, for the most part, savage and brutal rapists who steal women and attack innocent travellers.

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2 hours ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

Well it's a different thing than the OP but what we are talking about here is whether or not all Rulers want to hear their council. They do not. Some put up a front & hold the councils (like Robert) but it they don't actually listen nor do they want to & in Roberts case he doesn't even attend most of the time.

There is no indication that Northern lords and kings listen more to their councils than other lords and kings in Westeros. In fact, Robb is arguably the king who listens the least to his advisers and who makes the most solitary decisions.

2 hours ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

He is Lord of WF. The same title Robb held when he held the council right?

But it is quite clear why he doesn't run the show or calls any councils, no?

2 hours ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

I understand what you are saying but I'm not saying they don't hold councils.

Well, then what are you saying?

2 hours ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

Which is what Ramsay would be but I don't think he does.

See above.

2 hours ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

Maybe. I'm willing to admit I may be completely wrong about this. It is hard to liken Tywin Lannister to Robb Stark though. I don't dislike Tywin & I think he is very capable, it just seems personality wise that Tywin wouldn't allow some of the freedoms that Robb would. Maybe this is just me thinking too far into things. This description, though, just doesn't sit with me as something that would go on in a council of Tywin's.

"The arguing raged on late into the night. Each lord had a right to speak, and speak they did . . . and shout, and curse, and reason, and cajole, and jest, and bargain, and slam tankards on the table, and threaten, and walk out, and return sullen or smiling. Catelyn sat and listened to it all."

That quote indicates that Robb couldn't keep order in his council - which is also evidenced by the end of it where he is essentially proclaimed king without having had a say in the matter. He doesn't shape his own destiny but is forced into a role he was not actively seeking.

Tywin's councils are more orderly but everybody there is still heard.

There simply is no meaningful difference there.

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19 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Well, then what are you saying?

I feel like we've spent alot of time on this when it was really a small point I was making but just for clarifying purposes: I'm trying to say that not every ruler wants to hear from their council, whether or not they hold one. Not abolishing the council isn't proof that they want to hear their opinion, as evidenced with Robert. He still has the council but he really could careless what they have to say. The presence of the council isn't proof that the ruler actually gives a shit what the council has to say. I would imagine there are plenty of rulers in Westeros that hold councils just because it's what they ought to do with no intention of being persuaded by the council or really listening to what they have to say. 

This really doesn't have a lot to do with the OP or the discussion at hand, it was just a point I was making in response to you saying if they didn't want to hear from the council they wouldn't hold one. 

25 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

That quote indicates that Robb couldn't keep order in his council - which is also evidenced by the end of it where he is essentially proclaimed king without having had a say in the matter. He doesn't shape his own destiny but is forced into a role he was not actively seeking.

Tywin's councils are more orderly but everybody there is still heard.

There simply is no meaningful difference there

Yeah, I can understand that. It isn't how I originally read the passage but it makes sense. 

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7 minutes ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

I feel like we've spent alot of time on this when it was really a small point I was making but just for clarifying purposes: I'm trying to say that not every ruler wants to hear from their council, whether or not they hold one. Not abolishing the council isn't proof that they want to hear their opinion, as evidenced with Robert. He still has the council but he really could careless what they have to say. The presence of the council isn't proof that the ruler actually gives a shit what the council has to say. I would imagine there are plenty of rulers in Westeros that hold councils just because it's what they ought to do with no intention of being persuaded by the council or really listening to what they have to say.

That is clear. However, that's taking the discussion on a personal level - which means whether individual rulers are diligent or lazy, etc. - which actually has nothing to do with alleged structural differences between the North and other kingdoms.

Saying things are structurally different because Robert the person wasn't as diligent as Ned or Tywin or Robb or any other lord/ruler in the Seven Kingdoms is wrong.

A structural difference would be if Robb had institutions the Iron Throne didn't or vice versa (and, for instance, Robb doesn't have a Kingsguard, that would be such a difference).

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I'm not getting the same vibe from Tywin's war council, like at all. First there is the messenger who gives an account of how the Lannisters lost Jaime, and Gregor responds - 

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“They saw nothing? They gave you no warning?”
The bloodstained messenger shook his head. “Our outriders had been vanishing. Marq Piper’s work, we thought. The ones who did come back had seen nothing.”
“A man who sees nothing has no use for his eyes,” the Mountain declared. “Cut them out and give them to your next outrider. Tell him you hope that four eyes might see better than two . . . and if not, the man after him will have six.”

A chilling suggestion that creates a hostile climate that makes messengers NOT want to report the truth. Tywin seems to enable Gregor by not saying anything in response. Yes, Tywin listens before he speaks like Robb, but Tyrion feels something is off and Tywin is acting strangely:

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“Lord Tywin was oft quiet in council, preferring to listen before he spoke, a habit Tyrion himself tried to emulate. Yet this silence was uncharacteristic even for him, and his wine was untouched.”

Only four people are speaking although more people appear to be there (like Brax). Kevan, Marbrand, Lefford, Swift are offering input, and of those, one is looking to curry favor with the Lannisters:

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“How could this happen?” Ser Harys Swyft moaned. . . Jaime might have lost Riverrun, but it angered him to hear his brother slandered by the likes of Swyft, a shameless lickspittle whose greatest accomplishment was marrying his equally chinless daughter to Ser Kevan, and thereby attaching himself to the Lannisters.

The conversation between lords appears to last for a very short period of time before Tywin tells them to get the hell out:

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“Surely our friends at court could be prevailed upon to join us with fresh troops,” said Ser Harys. “And someone might return to Casterly Rock to raise a new host.”
Lord Tywin Lannister rose to his feet. “They have my son,” he said once more, in a voice that cut through the babble like a sword through suet. “Leave me. All of you.”

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“Not you, Tyrion. Remain. And you as well, Kevan. The rest of you, out.”

And now it's just a Lannister affair. 

Edited by Rose of Red Lake

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1 hour ago, Rose of Red Lake said:

A chilling suggestion that creates a hostile climate that makes messengers NOT want to report the truth. Tywin seems to enable Gregor by not saying anything in response. Yes, Tywin listens before he speaks like Robb, but Tyrion feels something is off and Tywin is acting strangely:

That is because Tywin is afraid. His son and heir has been captured, and he is left with nothing but the dwarf.

1 hour ago, Rose of Red Lake said:

Only four people are speaking although more people appear to be there (like Brax). Kevan, Marbrand, Lefford, Swift are offering input, and of those, one is looking to curry favor with the Lannisters:

That's Tyrion's assessement of Slynt, not necessarily the truth. But go on and compare it to number of Northmen speaking at Robb's war council.

1 hour ago, Rose of Red Lake said:

And now it's just a Lannister affair. 

Because they then discuss internal matters. Robb also discussed a lot of things only with himself (his succession, his decision to send Theon to Balon, his decsion to send his mother to Renly, his decision to execute one of his most loyal bannermen, etc.)

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The Iron Islands seem to have had a rocky history with the kingsmoot since they haven't had one in a thousand (?) years. It was co-opted and ruled through heredity and fear, and for reasons I'm hazy on, the recent one could be declared invalid because Theon isn't there. The Northerners just elected their king for the first time in 300 years. Then there is the Night's Watch elections, and the free folk. I like how there are four different iterations of people choosing their ruler, practicing freedom to assemble, and freedom of speech at least in a proto-Enlightenment sense. People are choosing their rulers - I think this is really invigorating for the novels and I want to read more. There's no shortage of blood, but it stands in contrast to the Targaryens who were never chosen freely; people had to kneel because they were too afraid to resist them. 

22 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

The only people having some proto-democratic elements are the Ironborn in their Kingsmoots (where not only noblemen but all captains of the islands may speak and be chosen) and the various wildling tribes (whose practices the Northmen long abandoned and replaced with hereditary rule).

And the Night's Watch.

 

3 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Democratic elements don't have to mean an overall progressive society. Just look at Athenian democracy.

Some would argue the Middle Ages are an example of progress going backwards, from Athens. I've seen scholars point to Athens-->Middle Ages an example of historical progress not going in a straight line. 

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