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Alyn Oakenfist

Why did Aegon allow the former kings so much power?

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So after conquering Westeros why did Aegon allow all the former kings who bend the knee so much power. He obviously had the means to massively reduce their power and domain so why didn't he break up the kingdoms into smaller vassals independent of one another. In the long term such a move would centralize a lot of power, make the king way more powerful and the nobles weaker and would probably have averted Robert's rebellion or the war of the 5 kings. So why did Aegon chose to have very few very strong vassals?

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Probably for the same reason that Britain and Russia didn't go in to stop Bismarck in the 1860s and thus prevent the Great War in 1914. They didn't have a clue about what was coming about 40-50 years later. Aegon wouldn't have a clue what the world would be like centuries after his death.

The Targaryens did know the present though in that the dragons, not gold mines or knights, was the key to their success. And really given for how long the system held, even after the dragons died, I would think that arrangement was a great success. It took over almost three centuries, the loss of the dragons and an Aerys II to bring the Great Houses over in a majority against the Targaryens. Before that, House Targaryen had no problem that I l know with Great Houses loyalty. Yes, there was the Dance of the Dragons, but all Great Houses supported one Targaryen or another. Not one of them supported a non-Targaryen and they closed ranks against the Blackfyres, to my knowledge.

So my final answer is that the power of the Lords Paramount wasn't really interesting at that time, as the Field of Fire had demonstrated. Three of them had already been humbled, one was Aegon's friend and two were his chosen candidates. And keeping them in power prevented Aegon and his sisters from being swamped with work trying to run the hole kingdom from Aegonfort without any kind of civic administration or senior feudal managers to delegate tasks to.

And on a different note; Aegon and his sisters might just have figured it was easier to keep watch on a few fat cats, who kept the smaller cats in line, than to take on the whole cat population themselves and try to herd them this way or that.

Edited by Lion of the West

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5 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

So after conquering Westeros why did Aegon allow all the former kings who bend the knee so much power. He obviously had the means to massively reduce their power and domain so why didn't he break up the kingdoms into smaller vassals independent of one another. In the long term such a move would centralize a lot of power, make the king way more powerful and the nobles weaker and would probably have averted Robert's rebellion or the war of the 5 kings. So why did Aegon chose to have very few very strong vassals?

It was the best and quickest way to establish his kingdom. After the Field of Fire and Harrenhal, even the strongest kings (save for Dorne) know they cannot take on the Targaryens, even if they unite. Once he has their fealty, he needs only to manage the workings of six major houses and let them tend to their own banners. Having hundreds of minor lords all answering directly to the king represents an administrative nightmare and all but guarantees a fractured, squabbling kingdom.

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1 hour ago, Lion of the West said:

And on a different note; Aegon and his sisters might just have figured it was easier to keep watch on a few fat cats, who kept the smaller cats in line, than to take on the whole cat population themselves and try to herd them this way or that.

This is a very succinct way of breaking it down. Plus, cats! 

On top of what Lion of the West said, I believe it's also in the best interests of the realm to have and keep familiar faces in charge locally. It would probably be more damaging to Targ rule if they installed loyalists whom the smallfolk don't recognize or respect. Also, keeping the heads of the great houses in charge locally shows the smallfolk that while the Targs are in charge they are trying to respect their heritage and customs without changing their day to day lives on a dramatic or larger scale. I doubt there was a better way to handle the situation than the way it played out. Aegon had no way of knowing what would become of the 7K fifty years, let alone hundreds of years, from his conquering. 

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He was lazy, and would be too much trouble trying to craft a new sistem to rule each kingdom, so better just keep everything as it is and bite a piece of each kingdom income.

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10 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

So after conquering Westeros why did Aegon allow all the former kings who bend the knee so much power. He obviously had the means to massively reduce their power and domain so why didn't he break up the kingdoms into smaller vassals independent of one another. In the long term such a move would centralize a lot of power, make the king way more powerful and the nobles weaker and would probably have averted Robert's rebellion or the war of the 5 kings. So why did Aegon chose to have very few very strong vassals?

It has to do with governing.  Having the middle men, great lords, do the actual governing of the people made it easier.  Although they could have divided the land three ways and each Targaryen running her or his region.  No doubt he had no intentions of micromanaging such a large land mass.  

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1 hour ago, Moiraine Sedai said:

 No doubt he had no intentions of micromanaging such a large land mass.  

So whyd he conquer it?

11 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

So after conquering Westeros why did Aegon allow all the former kings who bend the knee so much power. 

Thats the only way they would bend to begin with

11 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

He obviously had the means to massively reduce their power and domain so why didn't he break up the kingdoms into smaller vassals independent of one another.

He had the means to reduce their power but not really to extinguish it, I mean Harren sure, but he was in luck that the Riverlands lords were scheming for power. Places like Dorne however , the great lords wielded more power (loyalty) and thus more resistance.

Its three people vs a whole continent, you've got to reach some type of compromise 

12 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

In the long term such a move would centralize a lot of power, make the king way more powerful and the nobles weaker and would probably have averted Robert's rebellion or the war of the 5 kings. 

No doubt

12 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

So why did Aegon chose to have very few very strong vassals?

Because, like all other feudal kings, he was a scaredy cat

5 hours ago, Lord Daedrunk said:

It would probably be more damaging to Targ rule if they installed loyalists whom the smallfolk don't recognize or respect. Also, keeping the heads of the great houses in charge locally shows the smallfolk that while the Targs are in charge they are trying to respect their heritage and customs without changing their day to day lives on a dramatic or larger scale.

Smallfolk don't matter

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9 hours ago, Hugorfonics said:

Thats the only way they would bend to begin with

Well the kings who bent the knee were the Lannisters, the Arryns and the Starks. The Lannisters and the Starks would have bent the knee regardless so this only means that the Arryns might have put up more resistance, nothing Balerion can't fix.

9 hours ago, Hugorfonics said:

He had the means to reduce their power but not really to extinguish it, I mean Harren sure, but he was in luck that the Riverlands lords were scheming for power. Places like Dorne however , the great lords wielded more power (loyalty) and thus more resistance.

Its three people vs a whole continent, you've got to reach some type of compromise 

I'm not talking about really extinguish him, just reducing their power to their individual castles and their lands. Also there were a lot of second houses like the Hightowers, the Tarlys, the Reynes, the Brackens, the Blackwoods, the Waynewoods, the Royces and the Boltons just to name a few, that would have been very good at establishing rival power to the ancient great houses. Basically what I'm suggesting is that Aegon should have brought everybody to duchy level. The compromise would have been with all the kingdom vassals, just not with the kings. When faced with Balerion, most of the vassals, especially after the field of fire would have turned cloak, so Aegon would only have had to appease them and not the former kings.

Also if we want a historical precedent for something like this, we can look at Mathias Corvinus, who managed to conquer and rule Hungary with the support of only the small nobility and not that of the traditional high nobles. In fact Mathias reformed Hungary massively, centralizing the King's power and ushering in a golden age for Hungary (that is until the ottomans conquered most of it)

9 hours ago, Hugorfonics said:
14 hours ago, Lord Daedrunk said:

It would probably be more damaging to Targ rule if they installed loyalists whom the smallfolk don't recognize or respect. Also, keeping the heads of the great houses in charge locally shows the smallfolk that while the Targs are in charge they are trying to respect their heritage and customs without changing their day to day lives on a dramatic or larger scale.

Smallfolk don't matter

They do matter, but only in the most extreme circumstances like war, famine and horrific tyranny.

Edited by Alyn Oakenfist

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14 hours ago, Arthur Peres said:

He was lazy, and would be too much trouble trying to craft a new sistem to rule each kingdom, so better just keep everything as it is and bite a piece of each kingdom income.

This, Aegon did not know what to do with his kingdoms, he had a very general idea and he loved the idea of being called King, but the rest he left it to Jaeharys.

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Because you can't conquer an ancient territory like Westeros and shape it from 0 in one Dynasty, that's why some of the biggest Empires in real History like all the Persian Empires allowed the civillizations they conquered to keep their traditions and ruling systems intact to a big extend, they just adjusted that rule under their umbrella. If Aegon destroyed all great houses and removed the power from every Great Region of Westeros they would have constant rebellions and Dragons can't save you from knives in the dark. Also every region had different traditions and laws, (and even relegion) so it would be extremely difficult to adjust all these kingdoms in one system without keeping a local lord to rule them under their own traditions. Think of it, not much changed for the plebs after the Targaryens conquered Westeros, they lived similarly to how they lived before but they just had less wars. If their lives changed in one day there would be rest.

Edited by Dreadscythe95

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2 hours ago, Dreadscythe95 said:

If Aegon destroyed all great houses and removed the power from every Great Region of Westeros they would have constant rebellions and Dragons can't save you from knives in the dark. Also every region had different traditions and laws, (and even relegion) so it would be extremely difficult to adjust all these kingdoms in one system without keeping a local lord to rule them under their own traditions. Think of it, not much changed for the plebs after the Targaryens conquered Westeros, they lived similarly to how they lived before but they just had less wars. If their lives changed in one day there would be rest.

I'm not talking about wiping out the great houses I'm just talking about removing vassalage, and making the former vassals of the kings swear fealty directly to the king and not to the great houses.

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Agree with @John Suburbs and the administrative nightmare. The Targs didn't have the infrastructure of truly loyal people to keep watch on that many people spread over that much space who were forced into submission.

On the side, they lost Valyria and I think they wanted a home beyond an island by themselves. But they're Targs, so they just gotta rule it. If they wanted to be accepted, have some peace and not be mired in constant wars, then they did the right thing: tell the great houses that they only need to kiss up to them now and again but they'll otherwise be left alone with few changes to their daily life and local culture.

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32 minutes ago, Lollygag said:

Agree with @John Suburbs and the administrative nightmare. The Targs didn't have the infrastructure of truly loyal people to keep watch on that many people spread over that much space who were forced into submission.

On the side, they lost Valyria and I think they wanted a home beyond an island by themselves. But they're Targs, so they just gotta rule it. If they wanted to be accepted, have some peace and not be mired in constant wars, then they did the right thing: tell the great houses that they only need to kiss up to them now and again but they'll otherwise be left alone with few changes to their daily life and local culture.

I think it actually adds to Aegon's power and majesty to be overlord to a handful of former kings rather than a bunch of squabbling petty lords.

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On 2/13/2020 at 12:38 PM, Alyn Oakenfist said:

So after conquering Westeros why did Aegon allow all the former kings who bend the knee so much power. He obviously had the means to massively reduce their power and domain so why didn't he break up the kingdoms into smaller vassals independent of one another. In the long term such a move would centralize a lot of power, make the king way more powerful and the nobles weaker and would probably have averted Robert's rebellion or the war of the 5 kings. So why did Aegon chose to have very few very strong vassals?

If he hadn't given them as much power they'd be less likely to bend the knee. Dragons are the whip and power the carrot.

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2 hours ago, Sigella said:

If he hadn't given them as much power they'd be less likely to bend the knee. Dragons are the whip and power the carrot.

The Targaryens are, relatively speaking, better people than most of the High Lords of Westeros.  The Targaryens were not looking to enslave the people.  They were looking to better the lives of the small folk.  

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It isn't that much power ... the most powerful former kings in their own lands would have been the Starks. The North wasn't properly conquered, they just submitted without good reason. And very few Targaryen kings later on did care much about the North. Direct royal oversight in any issue would have been literally nonexistent. But as a power the Starks were constantly at odds with their own lords and people and the wildlings and winter, meaning they were never a threat to the cohesion of the united Realm as such. In fact, Winterfell likely was more interested in keeping close ties with the Iron Throne to get help in winter, against wildlings, or in case of a rebellion than the Targaryens cared about support from the North during an invasion, a Dornish war, or an uprising in the West, the Vale, or some other kingdom.

And in a sense the same also goes for the Arryns and the Lannisters, although considering them being physically closer to KL their direct power would have been somewhat diminished.

The Lannisters were always a house which had the potential to become a powerful rival to the royal house (as where the Hightowers in the 1st century) but they were kept in their place by sidelining them. But even with the ties to the Crown they have thanks to Cersei in the main series ... it is, in the end, Tywin, the man of the century, who really leads the Lannisters to the very top. A lesser man wouldn't have been able to do that, never mind the resources Casterly Rock gave them.

Structurally, one has to assume that Aegon the Conqueror thought and acted in the same feudal terms as his lords. He didn't want to create a new system of government, he just wanted to become the only king in Westeros and to continue to rule in the same manner his predecessors had ... with the addition that he used his dragons to enforce this new thing he called the King's Peace which robbed both the former kings as well as the greater and smaller lords to no longer settle their differences by means of (private) wars and blood feuds.

We do have to imagine the rule of the Iron Throne as substantially different than the rule of the previous royal houses because they either didn't have the concept of the King's Peace yet - or were too weak to enforce it. Some of the kings before the Conquest would have been little more than figureheads or nominal rulers of their domains - with their lords exercising much more power in their own domains than they later did under the Targaryens. And this, in turn, would have actually strengthened the position of the lords paramount, especially those who acted as Wardens, because they knew that whoever bannerman or subject challenged them would also challenge the Iron Throne and the dragonriders.

Anybody rebelling against Highgarden or Riverrun or Winterfell after the Conquest would also rebel against the Iron Throne.

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3 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

It isn't that much power ... the most powerful former kings in their own lands would have been the Starks. The North wasn't properly conquered, they just submitted without good reason. And very few Targaryen kings later on did care much about the North. Direct royal oversight in any issue would have been literally nonexistent. But as a power the Starks were constantly at odds with their own lords and people and the wildlings and winter, meaning they were never a threat to the cohesion of the united Realm as such. In fact, Winterfell likely was more interested in keeping close ties with the Iron Throne to get help in winter, against wildlings, or in case of a rebellion than the Targaryens cared about support from the North during an invasion, a Dornish war, or an uprising in the West, the Vale, or some other kingdom.

Isn't that much power?? The Great ruled as Kimgs in all but name… Nor do i know what would be the difference between the Starks, the Arryns and the Lannisters.

Dubious that the Starks was "constantly at odds with the wildlings and their own bannerman". The Boltons were the only reel ones and they were put in cjeck since Karlon Stark days. We know for a fact Winterfell wasn't interested in keeping any ties with Iron Throne, both Jaeharys and Aegon were the ones trying to Sway the Starks to their common vision and both of them failed, Jaeharys  made things worse and Winterfell only started to be more loyal after the Dance-

 

 

3 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

The Lannisters were always a house which had the potential to become a powerful rival to the royal house (as where the Hightowers in the 1st century) but they were kept in their place by sidelining them. But even with the ties to the Crown they have thanks to Cersei in the main series ... it is, in the end, Tywin, the man of the century, who really leads the Lannisters to the very top. A lesser man wouldn't have been able to do that, never mind the resources Casterly Rock gave them.

Honestly, this a comment Rhaena makes, no one else does. The only way the Lannisters could become a powerful rival was with dragons and with dragons everyone is a powerful rival. Not that Targs sidelined them, we're told that the Lannisters simply did not have close ties with the Crown, unlike the Baratheons and Velaryons, and were too proud to bed a position of prominence, unlike the Tullys and Tyrells, the Lannister situation was any different tan the other royal houses tha bent the knee.

 

 

 

 

 

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15 hours ago, frenin said:

Isn't that much power?? The Great ruled as Kimgs in all but name… Nor do i know what would be the difference between the Starks, the Arryns and the Lannisters.

Distance. Check the royal progresses we know of. Aegon I went up north only three times in his reign, and Jaehaerys I also took his time visiting Winterfell and the North. But the Vale and the Westerlands were much closer to KL and were thus visited (and thus directly controlled) more often.

15 hours ago, frenin said:

Dubious that the Starks was "constantly at odds with the wildlings and their own bannerman". The Boltons were the only reel ones and they were put in cjeck since Karlon Stark days. We know for a fact Winterfell wasn't interested in keeping any ties with Iron Throne, both Jaeharys and Aegon were the ones trying to Sway the Starks to their common vision and both of them failed, Jaeharys  made things worse and Winterfell only started to be more loyal after the Dance-

We know that the wildlings were a constant threat in winter even after the Conquest - it would have been worse before that. Also, the Stark kingdom was the largest, which means Stark power would have been nonexistent in the far reaches of their realm. In the late 2nd and 3rd century the Starks had to deal with incursions and rebellions and invasions constantly - that kind of thing would have been much worse before the Conquest where they would also have to deal with proper wars with the other kingdoms.

After the Starks had become the Wardens of the Targaryen kings their position strengthened - any invader or rebel would have known that if push came to shove the Starks could call upon the help of the Targaryen dragonriders to crush their enemies.

15 hours ago, frenin said:

Honestly, this a comment Rhaena makes, no one else does. The only way the Lannisters could become a powerful rival was with dragons and with dragons everyone is a powerful rival. Not that Targs sidelined them, we're told that the Lannisters simply did not have close ties with the Crown, unlike the Baratheons and Velaryons, and were too proud to bed a position of prominence, unlike the Tullys and Tyrells, the Lannister situation was any different tan the other royal houses tha bent the knee.

FaB is the most actual version. The Lannisters not having close ties comes from TWoIaF before the Lannisters during the reign of Aenys, Maegor, and Jaehaerys I were actually covered in more detail. Obviously Lyman Lannister and Tymond Lannister actually tried to get closer to the Iron Throne - the former by trying to marry one of his sons to Queen Rhaena, the latter by putting himself forth as a suitor for the hand of Princess Daella.

Rhaena's issues with the Lannisters are that they - due to their royal past and the splendour and power than came with Casterly Rock - never gave up the idea to reclaim what they lost. Meaning royal power. They were the only non-Valyrian house which actually openly tried to acquire dragons. Not other house ever dared to suggest to buy a dragon.

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On 2/13/2020 at 6:49 PM, Hugorfonics said:

So whyd he conquer it?

It's not for you to ask, Fonics!!!!  It's none of your business what he does.  It's not your place to question a Dragonlord.  :P  Understand?  :D

Seriously, maybe he needed to help the people.  They were in serious need of rescuing.  All that quarreling causing never ending suffering on the regular folk had to stop.  

Or maybe the Targaryens just wanted a change in scenery.  Away from the cool dampness of the island fortress to somewhere with more sunny days.  

"Changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes, nothing remains quite the same"

Edited by Moiraine Sedai

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