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Angel Eyes

No Western Fleet for the North

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In the centuries since Brandon the Burner burned the fleet built by his father Brandon the Shipwright, is there any reason why the North did not have a fleet on its western coast, even though it would be prudent to have one to deter the Ironborn? Is there some rule that Brandon the Burner imposed that the North feels obligated to follow? Have the Ironborn simply not been as much of a problem for the North since the Conquest (outside of Dalton and Dagon Greyjoy's opportunism in succession crises)?

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If you look at the order of the Stark statues in the crypts, it is evident that Brandon the Burner lived fairly close in time to the King Who Knelt (Torrhen Stark). I’m thinking perhaps a century before him. Maybe two at most.

So the most likely explanation is that not much time passed after the burning of the Stark fleet until Aegon’s Conquest, which presumably ended the Ironborn threat to the mainland.

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36 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

So the most likely explanation is that not much time passed after the burning of the Stark fleet until Aegon’s Conquest, which presumably ended the Ironborn threat to the mainland.

But as soon as Targs were fighting against their relatives like during the Dance or Blackfyre rebellions Ironborn returned to their old ways. Or every time "Iron Throne" (or Bloodraven) kept Royal Navy away from Sunset Sea. So the North could not really trust that Targs would protect their western coast but they would have needed their own navy for that. 

PS. I assume that real reason why the North did not have a Navy was the plot. After all if Starks had had navy at SsS the story would be totally different.

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1 hour ago, PrettyLittlePsycho said:

I don´t understand it either. Any decent Lord would at least build a token fleet to protect trade routes to the Riverlands/Westerlands from Ironborn raids.

The ironborn aren't allowed to raid anymore. Attacking the North means attacking the crown itself, and if you're going to start a war agains't  the Iron Throne, there are sweeter targets in the Sunset Sea.

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3 minutes ago, The Hoare said:

The ironborn aren't allowed to raid anymore. Attacking the North means attacking the crown itself, and if you're going to start a war agains't  the Iron Throne, there are sweeter targets in the Sunset Sea.

I have to agree that this is probably a biggest component to it.

The north is also a huge in terms of land so the majority of their military strength would reasonably be land based power made up of infantry, archers and knights. 

Theon as a hostage also served to discourage any hostile behavior by the iron men.

And if we're being honest, any token force of ships in the north would just be taken by the iron men or destroyed if there was a sudden raid. It would be a paper shield. If they needed ships they could just make them inland, but a supplementary fleet would likely be needed to take the iron men on the water. It's easier for the north the just endure on dry land until it has that help or the gathered resources to counterattack at the iron islands.

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50 minutes ago, The Hoare said:

The ironborn aren't allowed to raid anymore. Attacking the North means attacking the crown itself, and if you're going to start a war agains't  the Iron Throne, there are sweeter targets in the Sunset Sea.

But noone can blame the Ironborn if a ship just "disappears" on route.

And if there are witnesses you can always say, "Oh, that captain went rogue, we certainly have nothing to do with it."

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28 minutes ago, PrettyLittlePsycho said:

But noone can blame the Ironborn if a ship just "disappears" on route.

And if there are witnesses you can always say, "Oh, that captain went rogue, we certainly have nothing to do with it."

Yes, but one or two rogue captains capturing a merchant ship is hardly worth the resources spent on maintaining a fleet.

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On 7/20/2021 at 1:31 PM, PrettyLittlePsycho said:

I don´t understand it either. Any decent Lord would at least build a token fleet to protect trade routes to the Riverlands/Westerlands from Ironborn raids.

What is worth anything on the western side of the north? The mallisters have a token fleet and that's more than enough. Any farther north is swamp or abandoned.

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12 hours ago, Universal Sword Donor said:

What is worth anything on the western side of the north? The mallisters have a token fleet and that's more than enough. Any farther north is swamp or abandoned.

@Angel Eyes

There are Flint lands on Cape Kraken and then Ryswells along Blazewater Bay, but in terms of wealth they pale in comparison to the Fair Isles, Lannisport and points south. So my guess is that rather than build settlements and ports along the western shore, the northern lords left them empty, since the ironmen would cut them off from the southern trade anyway. This is much easier than building ships -- which are made of trees that northerners hold sacred -- and sending their young men to die out on the ocean. Only after the conquest would populations return to the western shore.

 

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11 hours ago, Trigger Warning said:

Maintaining a fleet to stop little fishing villages getting raided seems a bit much. Not that they'd even manage to catch most of the raiders.

Barrowtown and Torrhen's Square seems to be reachable via rivers from Blazewater Bay. Or Ironborn might be able to sail directly to those places. So any lordlings ruling either BT or TS should have either some boats/ships patrolling those rivers or build fortresses that would stop those possible IB raids.

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Frankly, it seems silly that there is no major port town or city on the west coast of Westeros outside of Lannisport.

A continent the size of Westeros with a population of about 50 million?

Lannisport should not be the only major port in the west. Bear Island, Lordsport and Seagard don't count because if they did, they'd be much larger.

 

 

In any case, I bet a lord will be raised and installed on the west coast of the North to help defend the coasts

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1 hour ago, Loose Bolt said:

Barrowtown and Torrhen's Square seems to be reachable via rivers from Blazewater Bay. Or Ironborn might be able to sail directly to those places. So any lordlings ruling either BT or TS should have either some boats/ships patrolling those rivers or build fortresses that would stop those possible IB raids.

And since nobody was there during the Wo5K, the Ironborn took Moat Cailin by storm, trapping Robb's army in the south.

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I think this is one of those instances where the unusual seasonal pattern of Martin's world can provide a good justification.

During a long winter, the seas around all the Northernmost parts of the North would get completely frozen. Not only the fleet would be rendered useless, but all ships on the water would be destroyed. Small fishing ships could be moved up to a dry dock, but that would be very hard to do with war galleys.

Building a sizable fleet would be very expensive and hard to maintain, without much gain: the Northern coast is huge and the ironborn will always be better seafarers. They could still pillage any coastal settlement while the fleet is miles away, and be back home before.

It's also worth considering that the Northmen wouldn't have let Brandon the Burner destroy the fleet if it was a key item to the defense of the kingdom. It seems to me that having a fleet never really helped the North much in preventing raids from the Ironborn, and that the tale of the two Brandons is just a colorful excuse to justify the absolute naval superiority of the Ironborn.

On 7/20/2021 at 5:26 PM, Free Northman Reborn said:

If you look at the order of the Stark statues in the crypts, it is evident that Brandon the Burner lived fairly close in time to the King Who Knelt (Torrhen Stark). I’m thinking perhaps a century before him. Maybe two at most.

So the most likely explanation is that not much time passed after the burning of the Stark fleet until Aegon’s Conquest, which presumably ended the Ironborn threat to the mainland.

Fire and Blood establishes that Brandon the burner lived "thousands of years" before the conquest:

Thousands of years before the Conquest, when the Kings of Winter still reigned in the North, Brandon the Shipwright had built an entire fleet of ships to cross the Sunset Sea. He took them west himself, never to return. His son and heir, another Brandon,
burned the yards where they were built, and was known as Brandon the Burner forevermore.

18 hours ago, BlackLightning said:

Frankly, it seems silly that there is no major port town or city on the west coast of Westeros outside of Lannisport.

A continent the size of Westeros with a population of about 50 million?

Lannisport should not be the only major port in the west. Bear Island, Lordsport and Seagard don't count because if they did, they'd be much larger.

In any case, I bet a lord will be raised and installed on the west coast of the North to help defend the coasts

Complaining that the North doesn't have many coastal cities is similar to complaining that there are no big settlements on the Northern coast of Canada or Russia. Those are inhospitable places, with difficult communications, and with land that produces little agricultural output. Large agglomerations of people just can't be sustained.

This map may be useful to get some perspective on the issue. The North is equated with the Scandinavian countries, and if we look at the population of their capitals around thee 15th century, we see that Oslo had around 5,000 inhabitants, Stockholm had 7,000, and Copenhagen around 30,000. Again, considering that the conditions in Westeros are even harder due to the extra-long winters, it makes plenty of sense that no big cities have appeared, and the only big settlements (White Harbor and Barrowton) are located in the Southernmost part of the North.

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2 minutes ago, The hairy bear said:

I think this is one of those instances where the unusual seasonal pattern of Martin's world can provide a good justification.

During a long winter, the seas around all the Northernmost parts of the North would get completely frozen. Not only the fleet would be rendered useless, but all ships on the water would be destroyed. Small fishing ships could be moved up to a dry dock, but that would be very hard to do with war galleys.

Building a sizable fleet would be very expensive and hard to maintain, without much gain: the Northern coast is huge and the ironborn will always be better seafarers. They could still pillage any coastal settlement while the fleet is miles away, and be back home before.

It's also worth considering that the Northmen wouldn't have let Brandon the Burner destroy the fleet if it was a key item to the defense of the kingdom. It seems to me that having a fleet never really helped the North much in preventing raids from the Ironborn, and that the tale of the two Brandons is just a colorful excuse to justify the absolute naval superiority of the Ironborn.

Fire and Blood establishes that Brandon the burner lived "thousands of years" before the conquest:

Thousands of years before the Conquest, when the Kings of Winter still reigned in the North, Brandon the Shipwright had built an entire fleet of ships to cross the Sunset Sea. He took them west himself, never to return. His son and heir, another Brandon,
burned the yards where they were built, and was known as Brandon the Burner forevermore.

Complaining that the North doesn't have many coastal cities is similar to complaining that there are no big settlements on the Northern coast of Canada or Russia. Those are inhospitable places, with difficult communications, and with land that produces little agricultural output. Large agglomerations of people just can't be sustained.

This map may be useful to get some perspective on the issue. The North is equated with the Scandinavian countries, and if we look at the population of their capitals around thee 15th century, we see that Oslo had around 5,000 inhabitants, Stockholm had 7,000, and Copenhagen around 30,000. Again, considering that the conditions in Westeros are even harder due to the extra-long winters, it makes plenty of sense that no big cities have appeared, and the only big settlements (White Harbor and Barrowton) are located in the Southernmost part of the North.

Fire and Blood is wrong.

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1 minute ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Fire and Blood is wrong.

And why is that? Because it doesn't fit with your preconceived notions of how Westeros should be? <_<

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Posted (edited)
17 minutes ago, The hairy bear said:

And why is that? Because it doesn't fit with your preconceived notions of how Westeros should be? <_<

Really didn’t feel like rehashing all of this again.

For one, the Hungry Wolf had a large fleet when he invaded Essos during the Andal invasion.

Two, the Starks clearly had a fleet 2000 years ago when they invaded the Three Sisters. (Which likely was during the Hungry Wolf’s time as well).

Three, this started the War Across the Water, which lasted for the next 1000 years, during which the islands changed hands a dozen times, and the Starks invaded the Vale itself, even burning all the ships in Gulltown’s Harbor. Clearly they had a substantial fleet at this time.

We know Mathos Arryn set sail to liberate the Three Sisters with 100 longships, so we get a sense of the the size of fleets involved during this war.

Clearly Brandon did not end the North’s power at sea while this war raged on.

So that brings us up to 1000 years ago, when the Manderlys arrived in the North.

Leaving only a 700 year gap until Aegon’s Conquest. And conveniently tying in well with Wyman Manderly’s statement that “We have not had any strength at sea since Brandon the Burner burned his father’s fleet”, strongly implying that it happened during the Manderlys time in the North.

Clearly we are in fact talking hundreds of years ago, not “thousands” as Fire and Blood incorrectly claims.

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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On 7/22/2021 at 12:36 PM, BlackLightning said:

Bear Island, Lordsport and Seagard don't count because if they did, they'd be much larger.

For medieval standarts they're large enough.

Pebbleton in Great Wyk is smaller than Lordsport and it has 7000 inhabitants.

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