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Faction profiles for the Blacks & the Greens - why Westeros split the way it did in the Dance

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I'm been discussing this elsewhere for some time and brainstorming....trying to come up with a "faction identity" for the Blacks and the Greens in the Dance of the Dragons. Beyond the split without House Targaryen itself, WHY did all of the other Great Houses ally the way they did?  "Two power blocs formed during the reign of Viserys I" - well why did they form this way and what characterized them?

Compare this to a "faction profile" of the First Blackfyre rebellion....the Blackfyres aren't just "those who thought Daemon Blackfyre was cool", but had a political ideology or character. The Blackfyres were "a combination of everyone who was mistreated by Aegon IV and wouldn't forget it, plus those who had been getting the most corrupt favors from Aegon IV, annoyed that his son Daeron II put a stop to it" - as well as, of course, political opportunists. Every war has political opportunists.  The group that Aegon IV gave the most favors to, and in this case not unfairly, was securing the entry of Dorne into the realm through marriage-alliance by his son Daeron II - thus Daeron II had a strong Martell presence at court and in high offices, favors that others missed out on.  So as a short sound bite, the Blackfyre side in the first rebellion was "the anti-Martell faction", stated to be strongest in the Reach and the Stormlands because they had long grudges against the Martells (and of course, the Yronwoods of Dorne's western mountains).  And in this case all the Great Houses stayed loyal.

But you see how there's a "character" or "linking identity" to these two power blocs during the First Blackfyre Rebellion. What then was the linking identity - if any - for the power blocs that formed in the leadup to the Dance of the Dragons?  Why did the other Houses align the way they did? The factions were:

The Blacks

  • Velaryon
  • Arryn
  • Stark
  • Tully
  • northern Reach (Tarly, Rowan, etc. - Tyrell stayed neutral)
  • Greyjoy (alliance of convenience)
  • most Crownlands families

The Greens

  • Hightower
  • Lannister
  • Baratheon
  • other southern Reach Houses loyal to the Hightowers of Oldtown (i.e. Redwyne and their large fleet)

The core conflict was the Velaryon-Targaryen branch of Rhaenyra vs the Hightower-Targaryen branch of Aegon II.

At the outbreak of the war, there were two major political upsets that no one anticipated:  the Baratheons sided with Aegon II, the Greyjoys with Rhaenyra. Losing the Baratheons was a shock to Rhaenyra's side, while the Greyjoys were more "on the fence" - it wasn't a betrayal, but both sides thought they could sway the Greyjoys with promises of plunder, and the Greyjoys preferred attacking the closer and richer cities of the west coast than Rhaenyra's holdings (Aegon II really should have seen that one coming).  The Martells stayed neutral, content to watch the two Targaryen factions kill each other. The Reach split between the southern half closely tied to the Hightowers, and the northern half who were not. Otherise, most of the Kingdoms usually unified behind the choice of their leading Great Houses (barring the inevitable exceptions - Bracken went to Aegon II, for all we know the Three Sisters and Boltons or their minor vassals here and there might have had some minor squabbles quickly squashed in the first weeks of the war).  At any rate, the key point is that the Baratheons were tacitly assumed to be pro-Black during the growing tensions of Viserys I's reign. The Greyjoys, and for that matter the Starks, were generally apolitical in the first century of Targaryen rule..

In short, on further analysis, I don't think that the membership of the Blacks and the Greens was due to the random chance of personal rivalries or who could hand out political favors (the Baratheons being the large exception to that...exceptions make it more realistic)....but the logical culmination of the first century of Targaryen rule over Westeros.

In the World of Ice & Fire chapter on the Westerlands, a general summation is actually given for the major political players during the first century post-Conquest:

"Once Loren the Last gave up his crown, the Lannisters were reduced to lords. Though their vast wealth remained untouched, they did not have close ties to House Targaryen (unlike the Baratheons) and unlike the Tullys they were too proud to scrabble for a place of prominence beneath the Iron Throne."...

...King Maegor's death and King Jaehaerys's coronation moved House Lannister closer to the Iron Throne, though the Velaryons, Arryns, Hightowers, Tullys, and Baratheons eclipsed them in influence."

Cross-reference this with the list of Small Council members under the first three Targaryen kings, during the first century of their rule.  Fire & Blood actually rounded this out a lot - even the relatively mundane sections such as the peaceful reign of Jaehaerys gave us a pretty comprehensive list of who was on the Small Council over the first century (compared to what we knew a decade ago).


You see at first, I functionally had an...economic, breakdown for the two factions: the Greens were "the party of the wealthy coastal cities" and the Blacks were all the other regions opposing them. The Greens controlled the three largest of five cities, most of the wealth, and most of the population. But that's almost Marxist in its simplicity. Economics were *A* factor, but not the only factor.

The real breakdown was "who benefitted from the first century of Targaryen rule" versus "those who did not". 

Actually somewhat similar to how the factions in the Blackfyre Rebellion were, mostly, "those who benefitted from Aegon IV's rule, such as the Martells" and "those who did not benefit from Aegon IV's rule" (Martell enemies, lords he'd screwed over with various outrages, with a few exceptional cases being cronies who stopped getting political favors once his son came to power....but that's the exception, not the rule).  

The full realization of these factions that Martin worked out through the full Fire & Blood actually makes a lot of sense.  Not just for what he said, but what he didn't say - i.e. there had never been a Lannister member of the Small Council during the entire first century of Targaryen rule.

Those Who Benefitted from Targaryen Rule

The closest family to the Targaryens at first were those who followed them when the Conquest began: the Velaryons were their admirals, the Celtigars their treasurers. Even the vassal houses from the northern end of the Stormlands who voluntarily sided with them at the very outbreak of the Conquest, like Massey and Stonedance - families that became part of the new "Crownlands", which more broadly included Rosby, Stokeworth etc. - remember that in a feudal model, "families close to the royal house" frequently means literally securing the king's powerbase in the royal domain first. Thus we see small council members from Rosby and Stokeworth. Notably, most Crownlands houses stayed loyal to the Blacks and were staunch Velaryon allies at Harrenhal. The Greens managed to take over King's Landing through handing out political favors during Otto Hightower's tenure as Hand of the King, but on the whole, the Crownlands were part of the "old regime" of the Targaryen-Velaryon alliance.

House Baratheon was founded by their main general, who was rewarded with control over all of the Stormlands. Again, while the Baratheons later sided with Aegon II, this is described as a shock no one anticipated until Borros got swayed by more political favors - up until then, during the first 130 years of Targaryen rule the Baratheons had strong ties to the Targaryens. The "second greatest House in the realm" or "House closest to the Targaryens" during this century is alternatively described as the Baratheons or the Velaryons, depending on who you ask.

More broadly, Great Houses that were elevated by the Targaryen Conquest itself:  the Tullys voluntarily switched sides during the Conquest itself to overthrow the cruel ironborn domination. There was no reason for specifically the Tullys to be made rulers of all the Riverlands, compared to a Mallister or a Bracken - the chief reason was that they were the ringleaders of the riverlander revolt that handed the region to the Targaryens. Directly comparable, the Tyrells had voluntarily surrendered Highgarden to the Targaryens and in return been elevated above other Reach houses with better claims than they had like the Florents or Rowans. Nor was any of this an accident: Aegon I was smart enough to put people in power who were dependent on him. Think of all the examples from real life history where an invading power sets up a minority group as their direct overseers because that makes them dependent on their continued rule. 

Even the Greyjoys, while largely apolitical, technically owed their rule over the Iron Islands to the Targaryens. Yes, Aegon I made them choose a ruling house in a pseudo-kingsmoot style, but during the revolts under Aenys I, the Greyjoys put down a revolt led by the Volmarks (descended from House Hoare) rather than follow the Volmarks in turning against the Targaryens. For the next hundred years after that the Greyjoys were quiet and played no part in the affairs of the mainland...

House Arryn was among those who benefitted, and this was a crucial realization for me - it just wasn't in the immediate Conquest. I was confused by the quote saying that the Arryns would be "close" to the Targaryens, or at least, closer than the Lannisters. They did have one marriage alliance that produced Aemma Arryn, and through her Rhaenyra, and Fire and Blood set up that Aemma's father did have a Small Council seat. But what really hit me was when you think back to the four revolts that broke out right after Aegon I died, at the beginning of Aenys I's reign: a Vulture King in Dorne (of course), a robber-knight at Harrenhal, the aforementioned revolt in the Iron Islands that the Greyjoys put down....and House Arryn. Ronnel Arryn's own brother killed him and usurped control, declared himself an independent king against the Targaryens....only for the revolt to be largely put down from WITHIN, with an alliance of vassals led by House Royce.  Maegor came with Balerion to break the siege of the Eyrie, yes, but the Eyrie was already besieged by that point - no new Arryn kingdom materialized.  With Ronnel dead, his replaceent was...a cousin with a Royce wife.  So compare this to the Tyrells or the Greyjoy/Volmark situation.  The "Royce-Arryns" DID benefit from the Targaryens, owed their legitimacy to them, were dependent on them.  This was only reinforced in the final years of Jaehaerys's reign, some 60 years later, during the regency of Lady Jeyne Arryn....whose regent was *a Royce*.  Thus by the reign of Viserys I, the Royce-Arryns had benefitted from the Targaryens, even gotten a Small Council seat once and an intermarriage.

Those Who Did Not Benefit From Targaryen Rule

The Lannisters didn't benefit from the first century of Targaryen rule at all. It's stated that they had no influence at the royal court, this only slightly improved under Jaehaerys, but even then, they weren't very important and didn't have any known seats on the Small Council - conspicuously, not until the middle of Viserys I's reign...

The Hightowers are a less drastic example...on the one hand, they were reasonably "close" to the Targaryens, because Aegon I wasn't stupid enough to antagonize the family that controls the papacy (High Septon). He was polite to them, tread lightly, feasted them and may have even given them a tax break here or there....but fundamentally, there were no Hightowers on the Small Council for the first century.

The Hightowers managed to get out of the Faith Militant uprising relatively unscathed, but they hardly benefited from it. They have close ties to the High Septon, whose power was now gutted, unable to raise religious militant orders or hold ecclesiastical courts. Not quite devastating, but it was another check on the power and influence of the Hightowers, at a time when Velaryon influence was growing by leaps and bounds.

And here economics does come into play:  before the Targaryens, the Hightowers and Lannisters controlled the two largest port cities in Westeros - on the west coast.. The Targaryens came and built a huge new capital city on the EAST coast. Compare to the later Defiance of Duskendale. Trade wealth that used to go to Oldtown and Lannisport was now being siphoned off to King's Landing. And this increasingly important trade in the Narrow Sea was being controlled by the Velaryon fleets.  Fire & Blood even states that there was a rivalry at court between Daemon Velaryon and Manfryd Redwyne: Daemon is stated to have enjoyed his powerful position, while Manfryd was something of an upstart, first time we see a vassal from the Reach on the Small Council like that.  The Redwynes had their own large fleet, largely dependent on Oldtown, so it's no surprise they'd develop a rivalry with the rise of the Velaryons. This was already happening, but only exacerbated when Corlys Velaryon used his trading fleet on the east coast to make voyages to the far east, Yi Ti and the Jade Sea, and within a generation his wealth officially eclipsed even the Lannisters or the Hightowers. THAT would have really thrown the rivalries into sharp relief. 

What could the Lannisters say of the first Targaryen century? What had they gained? No real position at court, and the wealth of Lannisport was now draining to King's Landing and the Velaryon fleets in the east. To a lesser degree, the same was happening to the Hightowers, and their close allies the Redwynes (it's stated that the Redwynes sided with Aegon II, which is probably why the Greyjoy and Velaryon fleets didn't try to make a direct attack on Oldtown - the Redwyne fleet could defend it, though it dared not move against the Greyjoys to the north or Velaryons to the east for fear of leaving Oldtown open to attck from the other side).  

The eventual split that happened between the northern and southern halves of the Reach is easy enough to understand: the southern half were those with close ties to the Hightowers, while the northern half were those who didn't look too kindly on Hightower domination from farther away. Yes, there were those like the Florents or Rowans who were not amused that the Tyrells got Highgarden....but the Hightowers had much less claim to it than say, the Rowans. This ties into centuries of Reach history, where sort of like France there was a historical division between the north and south - north ruled from Highgarden and the south centering around Oldtown. 

The Wild Cards

The Greyjoys and the Starks remained apolitical and removed from events at the royal court for the first century of Targaryen rule. Given that they don't follow the Faith of the Seven (for the most part), they also played no role in the Faith Militant uprising, one way or the other.

As listed above, the Greyjoys did technically benefit from Targaryen rule in that they had been put in place after Aegon I took over - but things are different in the Iron Islands; Aegon let them *choose* their own leading House.  There was always some fear the Greyjoys would put more value in that, rather than feeling grateful to the Targaryens....though they DID put down the Volmark revolt at the beginning of Aenys I's reign...this was transactional: in return, they were granted the boon of expelling the handful of septons preaching in the Iron Islands. To be honest I think their numbers were probably few and this was a token gesture, but it's the principle of the thing: even if they weren't a large number, this was one more thing that soured the Faith's relationship with Aenys, while to the Ironborn themselves, it was a great symbolic victory for the Old Way, brought by the Greyjoys. They did stay quiet for a century after that. Still, by the time the Dance broke out, they were considered a wild card: not particularly loyal to the old Velaryon-Targaryen regime, Aegon II had serious hopes of swaying them to his side. They of course opportunistically went with the low-hanging fruit, the closeby wealth of the Westerlands rather than the less wealthy lands of the Vale etc. protected by the Velaryon fleet.  So the Greyjoys weren't quite "core members" of "the Blacks" but opportunistically sided with them. Which is fine, every war or political division has its opportunists and allies of convenience.

The Starks were aloof from the affairs of southern Westeros for the next century after the Conquest. Because they had bent the knee without battle - to focus on surviving winter and wildling attacks rather than petty politics - they had never truly been "conquered" by the Targaryens, and thus had no slain fathers and older brothers to avenge. Nor were the Targaryens stupid enough to try to force the Faith of the Seven onto them, to appease the Hightowers or something. There was some minor annoyance when refuse from the Faith Militant uprising & Maegor's men who had been sent to the Night's Watch revolted, and some Starks were lost putting them down...but this was largely smoothed over by the royal progress / listening tour that Jaehaerys and Alysanne conducted in the North years later.  Maybe some of the Northern lords were not amused at the abolishment of First Night (always more prevalent where the Old Gods hold sway), but it wasn't that widespread, and no one even suggests this was a factor. On the whole the North seemed charmed by Jaehaerys and Alysannes political visits.  

The one point of contention listed, which Yandel suspects was the deciding issue with the Starks at the Great Council of Harrenhal, was their land grant dispute over the New Gift, which Jaehaerys carved out from Stark vassals to grant to the Night's Watch. The Starks were annoyed at this, but not because of wealth: the resources generated by these lands were already being donated to the Night's Watch, and the Starks felt they could administer it better than the Watch could (and history proved them correct, as the New Gift was gradually ignored by the Night's Watch in later decades due to their focus on the Wall itself). Yandel says this may be why the Starks were still bitter with Jaehaerys and sided with the Velaryon candidate at Harrenhal.  But even then....this isn't comparable to "Lannisters annoyed they used to be kings and their wealth is going east now":  Jaehaerys had been trying to help the Night's Watch, still greatly respected in the North, the Starks just thought he was doing it the wrong way. He also sent money and builders to make entirely new forts on the Wall. So if anything, this wasn't part of the split between the Velaryon camp of "those who benefitted from the Conquest" and the Hightower camp of "those who didn't"....because for some reason, this personal disagreement with Jaehaerys made them support the Velaryon candidate (probably because Jaehaerys wanted Viserys?).

...either way, the Starks had chosen to side with the Velaryons at Harrenhal so it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that they stuck with the Velaryon faction when the Dance broke out....not without promise of a royal marriage of course, but they'd taken oaths to Rhaenyra already and weren't that hard to sway. So they weren't considered a core part of the "Velaryon-Targaryen/Blacks" faction as it was developing at the royal court of Viserys I, simply because they weren't at the royal court that much in general, but they were "within their orbit". 

The Martells of course were independent. Both sides made overtures to them of alliance but were declined: on the one hand, the Hightowers and Stormlanders were their traditional enemies, but on the other hand, in the recent generation Rhaenyra's uncle-husband Daemon had been fighting them in the Stepstones. When the man who killed your grandfather is fighting the man who killed your father, who do you side with? You sit back and watch them kill each other. 

Under Viserys I

The Great Council at Harrenhal was a real turning point in these political trends. For a century, the Velaryons had been riding high, while the Hightowers and Lannisters gained nothing from Targaryen rule and indeed were losing influence and wealth. In many ways it was a backlash, a power play after the death of Baelon Targaryen:  not only were the Velaryons snubbed out of replacing Baelon's position as royal heir with someone of Velaryon blood and name, but Baelon's position as Hand of the King was replaced by Otto Hightower.  This was the first time a Hightower had actually served on the Small Council in any capacity, much less hand of the king. 

Otto Hightower then spent Viserys I's reign advancing Hightower interests, trying to fight back against the rise of the Velaryons who had outshone them for too long. Well, in the first and third decades of Viserys's rule, not the middle decade in which he reached too far and got replaced by Lyonel Strong. But Otto wasn't just trying to advance his daughter for a royal marriage - he was also promoting up royal officials who were part of the "Hightower-Lannister faction", the "we weren't favorites in the first century" faction. It's no accident that during Otto's tenure as Hand was the FIRST time that  Lannister got a Small Council seat, when Tyland Lannister became Master of Ships.  And consider the choice of that - they made a *Lannister* the Master of Ships, when a Velaryon had held the post so frequently that it was almost considered a hereditary office - and considered an affront when Manfryd Redwyne held the post, and even that only happened because Daemon Velaryon was promoted to Hand of the King itself). Corlys Velaryon also made the mistake of resigning in protest as Master of Ships after the decision of the Great Council passed over his wife and their son.

It also fits very well that the Hightower-Lannister faction (the nascent "Greens"), came to champion Aegon II under the auspices of "Andal tradition".  Yes, it was the cynical expedient that this specific legal tradition would have put Aegon II ahead of Rhaenyra in line of succession. But at the same time....this is the faction of people who weren't political favorites during the first century of rule by the Targaryens, foreigners to Westeros, which is majority Andal. Could this have been them tapping into anti-Targaryen sentiment on a more cultural level? ...to an extent. Because on the other hand, even Aegon II kept the Targaryen tradition of incestuously marrying his own sister.  Probably didn't hurt though, they probably gave different propaganda to different people. Because at the end of the day, this wasn't some grand resistance of Targaryen rule by Andals - it was jilted Andal families trying to subvert and control the Targaryens from within.


I used to conceptualize the formation of these factions, there identity, as purely "the Velaryons were rapidly growing to be more wealthy than the Lannisters and Hightowers, who had traditionally been the most wealthy up until the Conquest".....but I've realized it more broadly fits "those who benefitted from Targaryen rule and had close ties to the royal court, versus those who didn't".  Big point was realizing how even the Arryns had come to depend upon royal favors in the prior century. In contrast, the Lannisters and Hightowers had the least to show for a century of their rule. Instead of launching another revolt like the Faith Militant uprising, the Hightowers had the smart idea to push for one of their own as Hand of the King, gradually appoint more seats on the Small Council, then just intermarry with the Targaryens to displace the Velaryons. It wasn't a plan to oust the Targaryens in general, but to displace the old royal favorites to become the new favorites.

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13 minutes ago, The Dragon Demands said:

(Aegon II really should have seen that one coming)

Aegon the usurper was not known for brains, and it was most likely Ser Otto the Otter that sent the letters. Anyway: you are saying that the houses that benefitted from Targaryen rule would fight beneath the banners of Queen Rhaenyra and the houses that did not would go to Prince Aegon? Something like that?

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You know, when I was writing that, I wondered "should I keep using Aegon II as shorthand for his faction as a whole, and not his grandfather Otto or his mother Alicent?"....put I didn't want to write that out every time :)

Yeah we're really talking about Otto and Alicent here. Specifically with the Baratheons.


 you are saying that the houses that benefitted from Targaryen rule would fight beneath the banners of Queen Rhaenyra and the houses that did not would go to Prince Aegon? Something like that?

Yeah. I tried to bold that.

Just that I used to think in terms of 1 - immediate benefit from the Conquest or 2 - economic benefit, but looking at the wider context of the full century after the Conquest, that becomes a bit broader - not just "benefitted from the Conquest" but "ongoing Targaryen rule" - case in point the Arryns.

And of course there's exceptions and betrayals - in-universe, everyone was surprised when the Baratheons switched to the Greens, as logically, they were "Targaryen favorites" just like the Velaryons up to that point.

The Greyjoys and Starks are a bit more of a wildcard, though the Starks had a specific disagreement with Jaehaerys so it makes some sense if you look at it.

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I'm thinking of this very specifically in terms of how the Tokugawa Shogunate carved up Japan after their reunification wars:


  • Shinpan ("relatives") - six cadet branches of the shogunate
  • Fudai ("hereditary") - all the daimyos (lords) who had allied with the Tokugawa before they won the reunification war
  • Tozama ("outsiders") - all the daimyos who allied with the Tokugawa only after the climactic battle after which it became obvious they would win (outright hostile clans who fought to the death of course did not survive)

So I think of it in ters of that "Fudai" vs "Tozama" split, the in-crowd at the royal court versus the out-crowd

For Robert Baratheon, his core supporters were Baratheon-Stark-Arryn-Tully....with the Lannisters and Greyjoys opportunistically latching on only after he was winning, and reliant on Lannister money....while the Tyrells and Martells were definitely "out".

But for the Dance...when you cross-reference with the list of Small Council members, and the broad statements in the World book's Westerlands chapter, the Lannisters and Hightowers were really the "out" crowd. Well the Hightowers were "close" in that the Targaryens tread lightly with them....but they gave them no Small Council seats, and the Velaryon fleets plus King's Landing were eclipsing them.

Everyone "close to" the Targaryens since the Conquest pretty much became the Blacks: most Crownlands houses and particularly the Velaryons, the Tullys, the Royce-Arryns (after helping with succession disputes)....the Baratheons (considered a major betrayal when they went to the Greens).  The Greyjoys and Starks were wild cards with their own unique reasons. The Tyrells stayed neutral due to happenstance of a child ruler, but the northern Reach was still anti-Hightower.

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23 minutes ago, The Dragon Demands said:

The Greyjoys and Starks are a bit more of a wildcard, though the Starks had a specific disagreement with Jaehaerys so it makes some sense if you look at it.

Didn't that die with Alaric Stark?

12 minutes ago, The Dragon Demands said:

But for the Dance...when you cross-reference with the list of Small Council members, and the broad statements in the World book's Westerlands chapter, the Lannisters and Hightowers were really the "out" crowd. Well the Hightowers were "close" in that the Targaryens tread lightly with them....but they gave them no Small Council seats, and the Velaryon fleets plus King's Landing were eclipsing them.


Yokay. Speaking of ships...one of the reasons Ser Otter tried to get the Iron Islands for Prince Aegon was their power at sea. But wouldn't Lannisport, being close to the Iron Islands and just being a port, also have a fleet?


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Overall the idea of 'new men' vs. 'traditional Targaryen supporters' does make some kind of sense if you look at the core of Rhaenyra's and Aegon's supporters.

But I think it is much too complicated to go back to the early days of Targaryen reign in all that.

The core group of the Black party seem to be people who befriended Rhaenyra (and Daemon) after she was made Heir Apparent. That the Lords of the Narrow Sea would stick to her is obvious simply because her folks are heavily interrelated with the Velaryons and she herself was the Princess of Dragonstone and thus their liege lady for twenty-four years when the war begins.

Stannis has the Lords of the Narrow Sea, too, when he starts his campaign, never mind how bad his odds are. They have no other choice.

The other group are the Crownlanders who likely saw Rhaenyra grow up at court, sought the favor of the future queen, and had their daughters and sisters serve as her ladies.

Another group of eventual Blacks are the former suitors of Rhaenyra, among them Forrest Frey and other Riverlords. It is implied that Rhaenyra made a progress through Westeros shortly before her marriage, with the route being from KL to Casterly Rock (whether they returned back home from there by ship or some other route is unclear) and this would be how she cultivated some of the friends she later has in the Riverlands. Many of those men who rise in her name before their lords make a move seem to be folks who saw her visiting their lands over fifteen years ago.

The fact that the Lannisters eventually end up in the Green camp could have to do with the fact that Rhaenyra spurned the Lannister twins who both asked for her hand - the Lannisters are likely to take that a slight, whereas humbler noblemen like Forrest Frey get over that more easily.

The Green base of power is more the Hightowers themselves ... and then the Lannisters, although it is unfortunately unclear how they got onboard. Was it Otto/Alicent who arranged Tyland's appointment to the Small Council? If so, this could have been why Tyland later urged his twin brother to stand with the Greens. If not, then Alicent and Otto could have won over Tyland after Viserys I had named him to the council. We don't know. But it seems clear that the Lannister connection was only established via Tyland joining the council.

Here it is unfortunate that we have no clue who followed Corlys Velaryon as Master of Ships back in 92 AC. Did other members of his house first have the office? Did Corlys or Laenor ever serve in that office after Rhaenyra's marriage to Laenor had healed the rift between KL and Driftmark? And when exactly was Tyland appointed and was this perhaps a move by the Greens to prevent the installation of Laenor (if still alive at the time) or the reinstallation of Corlys? He is definitely old enough to have been on the council for ten years or more in 129 AC. Although I guess he was appointed to the council only after 120 AC. The same with Larys Strong. If Larys had owed his seat to his father I'm sure the Greens would have never really trusted him.

If Rhaenyra had married either Jason or Tyland we could be pretty sure the Lannisters would have become die-hard Blacks.

As a faction, the Greens seem to be just the Hightowers at court and the men associated with them. They only get a broader basis after the coup and Aegon's coronation when folks who always thought that women shouldn't rule could point to anointed king and 'He is the one who should rule us, so why not stick to him?'

As for the Reach:

It is not the case that the south of the Reach is mostly Green and the North Black. There are Blacks on the Shields and three of the houses sworn to Oldtown declare for Rhaenyra.

To me, it seems that the hold of House Hightower on the Iron Throne wasn't something that made them particularly popular in the Reach and that's what triggered so many lords to declare for Rhaenyra. There may have been some personal connections there, too - Sam Tarly, say, could have been among Rhaenyra's ladies before her marriage to Lord Ormund - but overall this strikes me as a reaction to the Hightowers overreaching themselves.

And we cannot forget the Tyrells in all that. Originally it was assumed that Highgarden would follow Oldtown's lead and the entire Reach would declare for Aegon II. But this didn't happen. The fact that Lady Tyrell didn't favor any side and left it to her bannermen to choose whatever pretender they wanted may be a sign of weakness ... but it could also indicate that she didn't like what the Hightowers were doing, but did not want to take a direct stand while her son was still as young as he was.

But we can assume that the Tyrells as a house and power bloc didn't really like Otto/Alicent's hold on the Iron Throne - they were their bannermen, after all. In the long run they may plan to supplant the Tyrells as Lords Paramount of the Mander, perhaps by installing Aemond or Daeron as Princes of Highgarden. They may have been especially pissed by the fact that Otto had been recalled in 120 AC, because that increased Hightower power even more. In that sense - it may have been a lucky coincidence for the Greens that there was no adult Lord Tyrell in 129 AC. If there had been such a lord, he may have stood firmly in the Black camp ... and that could have ended the war pretty quickly. Lord Ormund may not have dared to march against his own liege lord.

We do have another hint in that direction with the claim that the Tyrells put pressure on the Hightowers at the very end of the Dance by threatening the life of young Garmund Hightower, who was a page/hostage at Highgarden.

As for the Redwynes - they seem to have been Green in name only, possibly because some Ormund's first wife had been a Redwyne. The way Lord Redwyne very effectively does nothing when his buddy and relative Lyonel Hightower supports Alyn Velaryon wholeheartedly indicates to me that this guy really had no intention to involve himself in any fighting, be it for the succession of the Iron Throne or against the Ironborn.

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39 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Overall the idea of 'new men' vs. 'traditional Targaryen supporters' does make some kind of sense if you look at the core of Rhaenyra's and Aegon's supporters.

But I think it is much too complicated to go back to the early days of Targaryen reign in all that.


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As for the Redwynes, there was little they could do: move north to hit the Iron islands, and the Velaryons hit Oldtown and the Arbor from the east. Move east to attack the Velaryons, the Ironborn hit you from the north.  All they could do was establish a defensive position blocking Oldtown from sea attack.

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13 hours ago, The Dragon Demands said:

As for the Redwynes, there was little they could do: move north to hit the Iron islands, and the Velaryons hit Oldtown and the Arbor from the east. Move east to attack the Velaryons, the Ironborn hit you from the north.  All they could do was establish a defensive position blocking Oldtown from sea attack.

Since such a threat was never on the table, it is kind of odd that they didn't join with the Three Daughters in their attack on Dragonstone and Driftmark. The fact that Otto felt he had to drawn in the Three Daughters into the war indicates to me that he didn't have much success with the Redwynes. They may have been as cooperative with him as they were later with Lord Lyonel. I'd expect that Otto's first attempt to neutralize the Velaryons was via the offer to the Greyjoys ... when they didn't respond (they only start their invasion after Jason started to march east) his next letters in that matter would have gone to the Arbor, possibly making a similar offer to Lord Redwyne (you become Master of Ships if you take on the Velaryons), and after that didn't have the desired result he started to write letters to Daemon's old enemies in the Triarchy.

Also, keep in mind, that, thankfully, folks in the Dance were not that obsessed with conquering or punishing obscure places. The price was the Iron Throne, and that's what both sides fought over. Yes, they also did punish rebels and stuff, but it would be a tremendous waste of resources on the Black side to dispatch a fleet to attack Oldtown ... especially while they still had dragons. If Rhaenyra had wanted, she could have sent Rhaenys and Daemon in the beginning of the war to burn down the entire city.

In regards to the Starks and the Northmen in general I think the Great Council thing is important insofar as the folks who supported Laenor were likely to also support Rhaenyra later on - both because they had no problem with the female line ruling as well as because they may have looked favorably on the Velaryon case (although Cregan allegedly never met Corlys, so there are no personal connections there). But conceptually this is also something the Greens pushed those people into doing since they draw the lines of their potential allies along the lines of the Great Council. Those lords supporting Viserys were seen as potential allies whereas those supporting Laenor were viewed as potential supporters of Rhaenyra - and treated accordingly. We don't get a complete list of the men and women arrested in KL after Viserys' death ... but it is quite clear that the friends and families and allies of those people would have been more inclined to side with the Blacks after that, even before Aegon II started to execute them.

That the Beesburys and two other bannermen of the Hightowers ended up in the Black camp might also be go back simply to the death of Lord Lyman - who could have been a very respected man among his peers. And a very well-connected one considering how long he served on the Small Council.

What I don't understand at all is how (1) the Starks actually did care to support Laenor in 101 AC when their own established succession laws seem to be also against female rule. I guess there may be cases like with Bael's son where the grandson of a Stark through the female line takes possession of Winterfell, but we do know that no woman ever ruled the North, so the Starks should actually have stood with Viserys, not Laenor. And (2) I don't understand why them being unhappy with the New Gift stuff should or could result in them supporting Laenor. Viserys doesn't even seem to have been Jaehaerys I's favorite candidate (that may have been Archmaester Vaegon, his last living son), so the king who pushed through the New Gift wasn't hurt by the stance of the Starks on the succession. And although Queen Alysanne - the architect of this entire thing - was already dead, she would have stood with Rhaenys and Laenor in 101 AC, so in a sense Ellard Stark was effectively championing Alysanne's agenda at the Great Council.

I don't think this idea that the Starks backed Laenor to get back at the Old King for the New Gift makes that much sense.

The fact that the Starks do not support female rule among their own - and, presumably, also the other Northmen since they would have had a say whenever a Stark princess of old dared to challenge the succession of a male relative (which, I guess, must have happened occasionally) - also raises the question why they ended up siding with Rhaenyra during the Dance? Were the Manderlys and the Starks just bribed with those marriage offers? Was it just that the Blacks first approached them and showed the decency of making a princely dragonrider their envoy? Sort of like Stannis showing up in the lands of the clansmen caused them to declare for him?

In a sense, Borros Baratheon - was closely related to Rhaenys Targaryen and her grandchildren - was bribed in the same manner ... which clearly indicates, I'd say, that for the great lords the personal ego and pride of being deemed important enough to be visited by a royal with a dragon, etc. were very crucial factors. Aemond came first, made a great offer, and Vhagar was much bigger than Arrax. We later also see that with the Tullys later - Elmo only moves his ass when Addam Velaryon and Seasmoke visit Riverrun, not before.

There were some folks who truly belonged to one of the factions before the war began ... but those were not that many. And how little established relations and kinship counted in the end you see with Larys Strong and Borros Baratheon ... and in a sense even with Jeyne Arryn, who didn't really send all that much help to her cousin Rhaenyra and only properly bestirred herself after Rhaenyra's death.

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