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The Merling King

Could any pre-conquest kingdom unite southern Westeros without Dragons?

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If the Targaryens never invade Westeros do you think any pre-conquest kingdom like the Gardeners or Durandons could unite central Westeros (excluding the North, Vale and Dorne)?

I know the purpose of the great game but do you think it’s possible for example a strong Gardener king could conquer the Stormland, Riverlands and Westerlands and pacify the Lannister’s and Durandons like they did with the Hightower and Redwyne petty kings? The Gardeners came close to conquering the Stormlands in the past. Alternatively the Durandons were able to conquer the Riverlands maybe they could make common cause with the Westerlands and Reach against the Ironborn and Dornish? Perhaps the Vale would eventually come into the fold due to shared Andal culture and religion leaving only the North and Dorne independennt? Is this feasible without dragons?

Edited by The Merling King

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Imagine some European king tried to unite all of Europe or at least Western Europe. 
Its almost impossible especially with all the different cultures and customs. 

If the Durrandon line ended. The storm lords would rather choose a king amongst their own or whoever is next in line which is likely to be a storm Lord. Its the same for every other kingdom. Theyd all rather choose a king amongst their own.

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The Hoares were trying to do just that, by means of conquest. Chances are that Harren or his successors would eventually have conquered the Stormlands as well, and then they could have continued with the Reach or the West. The Vale and Dorne would have likely remained independent for obvious reasons.

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35 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

The Hoares were trying to do just that, by means of conquest. Chances are that Harren or his successors would eventually have conquered the Stormlands as well, and then they could have continued with the Reach or the West. The Vale and Dorne would have likely remained independent for obvious reasons.

The Hoares were already badly overextended, as can be seen by how every river lord rebelled against them when Aegon landed. Had they conquered the Stormlands, then at the first sign of weakness everyone besides the Iron Isles and Harrenhal would have rebelled against them. They maybe could have conquered a good chunk of Westeros with a very good king, but that conquest would have eventually imploded and they would be kicked out to the Iron Isles once more,

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1 minute ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

The Hoares were already badly overextended, as can be seen by how every river lord rebelled against them when Aegon landed. Had they conquered the Stormlands, then at the first sign of weakness everyone besides the Iron Isles and Harrenhal would have rebelled against them. They maybe could have conquered a good chunk of Westeros with a very good king, but that conquest would have eventually imploded and they would be kicked out to the Iron Isles once more,

The Riverlords decided to join an invading monarch controlling three huge dragons. Harrenhal could never be taken by conventional means.

Harren and his successors would have to throw their Riverlanders some bones in the Stormlanders campaign, of course. Dispossess/extinguish many Stormlorlds and grant the second and third sons of the Riverlords (and some Ironborn) lands and titles in the Stormlands - like Euron did when he conquered the Shields.

That's how you win and maintain the allegiance of your men. If played well the Hoares could have bought and maintain the allegiance of the Riverlanders by enabling them to finally be the people who kicked the asses of the other Westerosi - rather than continuing to be everybody's punching ball.

I'm not sure Harren would have had that foresight, but he was an old man and would not rule much longer. It would have been his son and successor who conquered the Stormlands, most likely.

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1 minute ago, Lord Varys said:

The Riverlords decided to join an invading monarch controlling three huge dragons

Yeah, but think about it, the Riverlands were the only kingdom in which the minor houses turned against their liege. And tht was before Harrenhal and Field of fire. They had no idea what power the dragons actually had.

2 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

maintain the allegiance of the Riverlanders by enabling them to finally be the people who kicked the asses of the other Westerosi - rather than continuing to be everybody's punching ball.

I'm not sure Harren would have had that foresight, but he was an old man and would not rule much longer. It would have been his son and successor who conquered the Stormlands, most likely.

To do something like this would require the Ironbon to behave in a way completely against their cultural values. They always, and I mean always tried to be the biggest and the meanest and never ruled by consent. The whole point of their values is to rule by force. And ruling by force only works when you have dragons, and even then eventually you end up like Maegor or Rhaenyra. While an conquest and consolidation of Westeros could have been achievable it would have required the Ironborn to treat all conquered people humainly and as equals. If the treated them like thralls or second class people then they would inevitably end up like Harren.

5 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Harrenhal could never be taken by conventional means.

It can be starved out or just ignored. If it had a small garrison it could just be ignored and a small army be left to make sure nobody got away. If it had a large garrison it would quickly starve in case of a siege. Plus Harrenhal was as much a plus as it was a trap given that in case of a mass uprising the Hoares would be stuck in a castle very far away from their power base. Sure they couldn't be stormed and a siege would drag out, but they wouldn't have any way to win either. What could the loyal Ironborn do if the Riverlands and Stormland rose up? Attack Seagurd? Cause there's a lot of precedent as why that'a bad idea. The only other way to reach Harren would be to sail all the way around Westeros and through the Stepstone, then up the Blackwater and finally to the God's Eye, only to face an army at least twice as large (the Iron Islands seem to be able to raise around 20k, while the Riverlands are in the 20k+ area and the Stormlands in the 20k- are). The riverlands could maybe be controlled by the Ironborn though barely, but any further expansion would overextend the Ironborn.

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59 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

The Hoares were trying to do just that, by means of conquest. Chances are that Harren or his successors would eventually have conquered the Stormlands as well, and then they could have continued with the Reach or the West. The Vale and Dorne would have likely remained independent for obvious reasons.

Unlikely that they could've ever conquered the Stormlands, the Reach and Westerlands. 

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13 minutes ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

Yeah, but think about it, the Riverlands were the only kingdom in which the minor houses turned against their liege. And tht was before Harrenhal and Field of fire. They had no idea what power the dragons actually had.

They would have heard about Rosby, Stokeworth, Duskendale, and Maidenpool. Besides, it is not that hard to imagine that such dragons are going to be a huge asset in war, no?

13 minutes ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

To do something like this would require the Ironbon to behave in a way completely against their cultural values. They always, and I mean always tried to be the biggest and the meanest and never ruled by consent. The whole point of their values is to rule by force. And ruling by force only works when you have dragons, and even then eventually you end up like Maegor or Rhaenyra. While an conquest and consolidation of Westeros could have been achievable it would have required the Ironborn to treat all conquered people humainly and as equals. If the treated them like thralls or second class people then they would inevitably end up like Harren.

The Hoares aren't you average ironborn. And Harwyn Hardhand was the last ironborn king of the Iron Islands. Halleck and Harren lived and ruled in the Riverlands, caring little and less about the rocky, poor islands their ancestors had come from. And Harrenhal very much sends the message that Harren had come to stay in the Riverlands.

Kings don't treat their subjects as equals, but they can reward them for their service nonetheless. And Euron shows that the Ironborn know how to do that. Harren certainly was a hard man, but we see that he know how to reward people to, when he offered rewards for the slaying of Balerion.

Harren and his successors were the kind of kings who could have formed the kind of conquest/war engine Carlolingians (especially Charlemagne) created in the early middle ages - a kingdom dependent on constant wars of expansion to maintain itself. If you get enough people on board this could work.

It could also work for the Reach or the West, of course, but they apparently never had the stomach or the desire to conquer all the Seven Kingdoms. By the time of the Conquest Harren and his sons are the only people who may have had such a dream.

13 minutes ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

It can be starved out or just ignored. If it had a small garrison it could just be ignored and a small army be left to make sure nobody got away. If it had a large garrison it would quickly starve in case of a siege. Plus Harrenhal was as much a plus as it was a trap given that in case of a mass uprising the Hoares would be stuck in a castle very far away from their power base. Sure they couldn't be stormed and a siege would drag out, but they wouldn't have any way to win either. What could the loyal Ironborn do if the Riverlands and Stormland rose up? Attack Seagurd? Cause there's a lot of precedent as why that'a bad idea. The only other way to reach Harren would be to sail all the way around Westeros and through the Stepstone, then up the Blackwater and finally to the God's Eye, only to face an army at least twice as large (the Iron Islands seem to be able to raise around 20k, while the Riverlands are in the 20k+ area and the Stormlands in the 20k- are). The riverlands could maybe be controlled by the Ironborn though barely, but any further expansion would overextend the Ironborn.

Harrenhal is large enough a castle to store tons of provisions (and even plant and harvest new crops within the castle walls). Starving out that castle would likely take decades - and to maintain a siege you would need a very strong army, possibly tens of thousands of men.

Aegon's only chance to defeat Harren was his dragon - after a conventional siege had started, Harren would just sent word back to the islands for a relieving army.

I don't think the Riverlords would have felt as second class lords under Hoare rule if they had been rewarded with lands and titles in the Stormlands - they would have enjoyed it very much to be the rulers of their old oppressors.

I mean, they jumped into Aegon's lap as soon as he showed up. They know how to bend the knee.

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20 minutes ago, frenin said:

Unlikely that they could've ever conquered the Stormlands, the Reach and Westerlands.

Had Aegon not been a thing they probably could have conquered the Stormlands, though taking Storm's End would have been a pain in the ass. At that point however they would be badly over extended, and any attempt to conquer anything more would end with their entire empire collapsing (not to mention the fact that the Westerlands and Reach would probably ally and field a 100k army).

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2 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

I don't think the Riverlords would have felt as second class lords under Hoare rule if they had been rewarded with lands and titles in the Stormlands - they would have enjoyed it very much to be the rulers of their old oppressors.

Their lands were horrifically pillaged to make Harrenhal and a lot of their subjects were enslaved. I doubt there would have been any loyalty left. Harren's Riverlands were a ticking bomb, waiting for the first opportunity to rebel. The moment Harren went to war with the Stormlands and had his hands full, the River lords will rebel, especially if he has to take years to siege Storm's End.

26 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

They would have heard about Rosby, Stokeworth, Duskendale, and Maidenpool. Besides, it is not that hard to imagine that such dragons are going to be a huge asset in war, no?

Yes but still they were the only ones to rebel. The Stormlords stayed loyal, the Westerman, the Reachmen, the Dornish, probably the Valemen would have, as did the Northmen. The only case of minor lords rebelling were the Sistermen (who despised being ruled from the Eyrie) and the riverlords, which goes to show how much they hated Harren's guts.

4 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Harren and his successors were the kind of kings who could have formed the kind of conquest/war engine Carlolingians (especially Charlemagne) created in the early middle ages - a kingdom dependent on constant wars of expansion to maintain itself. If you get enough people on board this could work.

The only thing is that the Carolingians were of the same culture and religion as their subjects, and they never had the habit of enslaving and pillaging their people for their megalomanical projects.

8 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Harrenhal is large enough a castle to store tons of provisions (and even plant and harvest new crops within the castle walls). Starving out that castle would likely take decades - and to maintain a siege you would need a very strong army, possibly tens of thousands of men.

A couple of things. First off it's doubtful that they could field their own crops. Second off the food supply couldn't be that big or it would get stale (it could be thing like salted meat and other food that doesn't go bad, but we'll touch on that later). Third off you wouldn't need an army of tens of thousand, you would need one about twice as big as the one inside. That army couldn't be that big, or else they would starve in months. Thus the besieging army could be quite small. As for a protracted siege, there were a couple of ways to make sure that the garrison would surrender in a matter of a couple of years tops. Off the top of my head:

1. Dig under the walls. A castle is only as strong as it's foundation, digging under the walls is a very old method of bringing down large castles.

2. Poison the water supply. Throw some corpses in the lake near the place were water enters the castle and in a few weeks everybody will be dying of dysentery.

3. Catapult dead bodies in the castle. Historically the way the plague got to Europe, given that a war camp is a natural place to find every flavor of disease, just throw the diseased bodies in the castle and soon the castle populace will be dying as well.

4. Turn the siege around by pulling off a Caesar. Build proper walls facing the castle, thus only needing a fraction of the men to finish the siege. Now if Harren doesn't want to starve he will be the one to have to attack a wall.

5. Fire. Throw fire jars at the castle to make sure no crops or wood survive in the sunlight. This also solves the problem of them growing crops, as they would be easy to set on fire with a well aimed trebuchet shot.

6. Wait for the garrison to succumb to scurvy. They might have enough crackers and dried meat to survive for years or decades, but they sure as hell can't conserve vitamin C, or grow enough fruits or cabbage in the castle. In 2 years tops everybody will by horrifically dying of scurvy.

7. Demoralize the forces. After a couple of months of being locked in the castle with no relief in sight the morale of the Ironborn soldiers will be pretty bad. Just offer them their lives and the chance to go home and they will turn on their leaders immediately (see the Ironborn at Moat Cailin).

It's incredibly hard to hold any castle, no matter how impregnable for more then a couple of years. The only examples we have of sieges lasting longer are those were the castle had a supply route via the sea (clearly not the case here).

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5 hours ago, The Merling King said:

If the Targaryens never invade Westeros do you think any pre-conquest kingdom like the Gardeners or Durandons could unite central Westeros (excluding the North, Vale and Dorne)?

I know the purpose of the great game but do you think it’s possible for example a strong Gardener king could conquer the Stormland, Riverlands and Westerlands and pacify the Lannister’s and Durandons like they did with the Hightower and Redwyne petty kings? The Gardeners came close to conquering the Stormlands in the past. Alternatively the Durandons were able to conquer the Riverlands maybe they could make common cause with the Westerlands and Reach against the Ironborn and Dornish? Perhaps the Vale would eventually come into the fold due to shared Andal culture and religion leaving only the North and Dorne independennt? Is this feasible without dragons?

No.  Black Harren was the strongest and he was not strong enough to create a united Westeros.  The Targaryens are special even without dragons.  There is no history of a family feud between them and any of the houses.  It is easier for a family to accept the dominance of a foreign family rather than allow somebody whom they've had a feud with rule over them.  No bad blood to deal with and no pride to have to protect.  

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The Hoares could possibly conquer the storm lands. But it takes a smart king. And harren the black isnt a military genius unlike his ancestors whom conquered the riverlands. 
Even if the storm lands were conquered thats where the iron born empire ends. They can barely field a 15k force of iron born, and the levies from the river lords are not very trustworthy. Theyll be overextended and their empire would either end from the inside or from exterior forces.

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As long as Harrenhal has access to Gods Eye any traditional siege should fail. After all garrison could use boats move supplies or troops into or from HH. Or anyone hostile to HH should have a navy to take control of that lake. Besides I would be surprised if HH does not have their own navy of fishing boats.

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6 hours ago, The Merling King said:

If the Targaryens never invade Westeros do you think any pre-conquest kingdom like the Gardeners or Durandons could unite central Westeros (excluding the North, Vale and Dorne)?

Of course. It is entirely feasible for one kindom to catch a lucky break and overrun central Westeros.

Durrandons, Lannisters and Gardeners are obvious contenders: they have considerable resources, they are well-established in the minds of their subjects and they have a history of expansion. Unification via marriages a la Charles V is just as viable option as conquest.

There are of course Riverlords, but they are too quarrelsome to get anything done. Ironborn under Hoares were essentially a paper tiger: their initial success relied on division between their enemies. Hallek's attempts to conquer anything were mostly fruitless. And for all of his infamy, Harren could not deter Argillac from stabilizing the border. In fact Argillac felt confident enough to take his army to Essoss, so while Harren was a point of concern, his threat to other kingdoms had been vastly exaggerated. Probably as an attempt to lend more legitimacy to Targaryen conquest.

However such hypothetical new kingdom would not last without some major reforms. Westerosi kingdoms are extremely primitive in their governance, lacking even bare bones bureaucracy. Without a sophisticated government apparatus, ruling a vast kingdom would become an impossible task. The kingdom would then collapse from within - just like Durrandon empire or Targaryen/Baratheon empire did.

Edited by Myrish Lace

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7 hours ago, The Young Maester said:

Imagine some European king tried to unite all of Europe or at least Western Europe. 

Merovingian or Carolinians?

 

4 hours ago, Alyn Oakenfist said:

The only thing is that the Carolingians were of the same culture and religion as their subjects, and they never had the habit of enslaving and pillaging their people for their megalomanical projects.

The Stormland, Reach, Westerland and Riverlands are mostly Andal and follow the  Seven. What if it was a Durandon or Gardener?

 

3 hours ago, Mon ami said:

No.  Black Harren was the strongest and he was not strong enough to create a united Westeros.  The Targaryens are special even without dragons.  There is no history of a family feud between them and any of the houses.  It is easier for a family to accept the dominance of a foreign family rather than allow somebody whom they've had a feud with rule over them.  No bad blood to deal with and no pride to have to protect.  

The Gardener and Durandon kings both had larger Kingdoms then the Hoars at one time. According to Yandel, the Gardener kingdom "reached the apex of its power under King Gyles III Gardener, who led a glittering host of armored knights into the stormlands, smashed the armies of the aged Storm King, and conquered all the lands north of the rainwood save for Storm’s End itself, which he besieged without result for two years”. That’s an extremely broad kingdom, stretching from Red Lake in the north (brought into the fold by Garth III) to Sunhouse (established by the Three Sage Kings) in the south and from the Shield Islands in the west (formally settled by Garth VII) to the Narrow Sea and possibly even Tarth in the east. The Durrandons had an even greater empire for a time: according to Yandel, “King Arlan I (the Avenger) swept all before him, extending the borders of his kingdom as far as the Blackwater Rush and the headwaters of the Mander”, while “[h]is great-grandson King Arlan III crossed both the Blackwater and the Trident and claimed the riverlands in their entirety, at one point planting his crowned stag banner on the shores of the Sunset Sea”. That’s a kingdom that stretched from the Neck in the north to the Dornish Marches in the south, and from Ironman’s Bay in the west to the Narrow Sea in the east. Of the three, the Hoares had the smallest continental central holding:

 
Imagine if the Reach planned this differently or had a wiser king like Garth Goldenhand and were able to lay siege to both StormsEnd and Casterly Rock. All you have to do is then divide the many river lords and Dornish kings to keep them fighting amongst each other and out of your territory while you are overextended. The Gardeners would probably be much more lenient overlords then the Durandons or Hoares.

2 hours ago, Myrish Lace said:

Durrandons, Lannisters and Gardeners are obvious contenders: they have considerable resources, they are well-established in the minds of their subjects and they have a history of expansion. Unification via marriages a la Charles V is just as viable option as conquest.

What if a Gardener prince married the only daughter of king Gerold III Lannister instead of the Andal adventure Joffrey Lydden and united the 2 kingdoms?

5 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

The Hoares aren't you average ironborn. And Harwyn Hardhand was the last ironborn king of the Iron Islands. Halleck and Harren lived and ruled in the Riverlands, caring little and less about the rocky, poor islands their ancestors had come from. And Harrenhal very much sends the message that Harren had come to stay in the Riverlands.

If Aegon did not come, I think the Lannister’s and Gardeners would have united to face a different enemy. Perhaps the Reach would absorb what was left of the Stormlands to “protect” it’s faith worshipping brethren from the Iron Born and Dornish threats?

Edited by The Merling King

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Doubtful, it’d take more than one strong Kings lifetime to complete and history often shows one Kings hard work can be undone by his sons/grandsons. If it was possible it would have been done.

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