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Other than the Starks, which great house has the most loyal vassals and bannermen ?


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We all know how strong the loyalty of many noble houses in the North is to house Stark, with them having perhaps the best vassals and bannermen in the Cassels, the Cerwyns, the Mormonts, the Umbers, the Manderlys or the Reeds who have proven to be very devoted vassals many times times over Westeros history and during the current story in the books.

But if we don't take in account the Starks and their vassals, which great house is the best at inspiring the loyalty and devotion of its bannermen and has the most loyal vassals in the Seven Kingdoms ?

Who between house Arryn, Lannister, Tully, Greyjoy, Tyrell and Martell can count on its bannermen the best ?

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By all accounts Lannister bannermen's loyalty far surpasses that of Stark bannermen when taken as a whole, there is after all no Westermen Roose Bolton.

Arryn and Greyjoy vassals only start acting out when the leadership of the ruling House is questionable, but Lannister vassals don't do even that, their loyalty to House Lannister is absolute, no matter that even members of House Lannister aren't clear who represents the House.

It seems obvious to me and I don't even like Lannisters.

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I think all houses have about the same level of loyalty among their banners. Where do you get the idea that northern houses are more loyal to the Starks? Karstark disobeyed his king's command and lost his head for it. Greatjon drew his sword on Robb and lost his fingers.

Meanwhile, Lannisters have a lot of loyalty among Marbrands, Leffords, Westerlings . . . all of whom followed Tywin obediently into war over a personal matter between him and Catelyn. Tyrells led their banners to war, until they lost Renly and some of them went to Stannis, but many of them did not. Stannis had the loyalty among his lords, and then he burned his Hand for disloyalty.

Every lord places his loyalty with whomever he thinks will bring the most benefit to his house.

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I agree with pretty much everything said here. Lannisters definitely have the most loyal subjects. Starks have had their authority questioned by their lords a couple times, whilst Tywin almost never (from what I can remember). I wouldnt be surprised if the western lords stay loyal to Cersei till the end, but I also wouldnt be surprised if she somehow fucked that up too.

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10 minutes ago, EggBlue said:

it's probably their "speechlessness" that has kept all the weterlords on line

Point is, the Westerlands have a history of rebellious lords, just like all the other regions. Some moreso than others, of course, and the Westerlands is definitely less divided than the Reach or the Stormlands, but they’re not perfect. Without a strong leader in the Rock, things fall apart very fast.

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Tywin terrified the Westerlands into obedience, but who knows how loyal they’ll be once Aegon shows up.

I’m going to break the pattern and say the Greyjoys. Balon got thousands of them killed and their children taken away, and they were STILL loyal to him. A few of them even wanted to wait to crown Theon in AFFC, despite him being presumed dead.

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13 minutes ago, The Bard of Banefort said:

I’m going to break the pattern and say the Greyjoys. Balon got thousands of them killed and their children taken away, and they were STILL loyal to him. A few of them even wanted to wait to crown Theon in AFFC, despite him being presumed dead.

 Iron born are weirdly too loyal to Greyjoys, Baelon in particular. perhaps they saw the saltwives and the loots in their great rebellions as a fair trade to deaths of kinsmen and capture of children.

 

all the kingdoms are the same. all great houses have vassals who might turn against them in the right situation.

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Just thirty years ago, the lords of the West openly ignored the Lannister's orders, borrowing money from the Rock and not bothering to pay back the debt. Tytos was openly mocked, and "twisting the lion's tail" became a thing. Then Tywin massacred the Reynes and the Tarbecks, and suddenly everyone became "loyal". But it seems to me that this is not loyalty, but fear.

I'd say that the lords of the Iron Islands and Dorne are more loyal than the lords of the West.

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On 12/8/2021 at 2:59 PM, The Young Maester said:

I agree with pretty much everything said here. Lannisters definitely have the most loyal subjects. Starks have had their authority questioned by their lords a couple times, whilst Tywin almost never (from what I can remember). I wouldnt be surprised if the western lords stay loyal to Cersei till the end, but I also wouldnt be surprised if she somehow fucked that up too.

That's not entirely accurate. The western lords have to consider Tywin's reputation for brutality after the Reyne's and Tarbecks were exterminated, while Robb's bannermen in AGoT were being asked to follow a green boy into war. These are not equivalent situations. For one, Ned was still alive when Robb called the banners, so they weren't being especially unruly towards House Stark, just towards the untested heir. Whereas nobody even had to question whether or not Tywin could maintain an army. Robb's bannermen were testing him early on to see if he had the mettle to lead, which is obviously of huge importance in a feudal system. And when the Karstarks, Boltons and Freys betrayed Robb, it was clear that Robb was losing the war, so there was more incentive to cut their losses and run. The difference is the western lords know that abandoning Tywin is probably going to be met with unmitigated brutality, so why take that risk? It has nothing to do with the brave loyalty of the westerland nobility. They're just scared of Tywin.

If Kevan's treatment of Cersei is any indication, the westerlands will not be as unquestioningly loyal to her as with Tywin. Whereas the northern nobility seem to be gearing up to take revenge on the Boltons. 

So, long story short, there is nothing in particular that makes the northerners more loyal to the Starks than any other set of bannermen. Each great house has to present as the biggest, baddest kids in the playground, or their clique might start looking for alternatives.

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On 12/8/2021 at 2:13 PM, The Bard of Banefort said:

I’m going to break the pattern and say the Greyjoys. Balon got thousands of them killed and their children taken away, and they were STILL loyal to him. A few of them even wanted to wait to crown Theon in AFFC, despite him being presumed dead.

I've always found that odd. For example, image Stannis in Balon's position. If Stannis led the ironborn to such a disastrous rebellion would any of them keep following him? Yet, not only do all the ironborn houses keep following Balon, they even let him try it again 10 years later. The only way I could see that making sense is if Balon was really speaking to his people's desires, if the average ironborn longed for the Old Way as much as he did.

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37 minutes ago, Groo said:

I've always found that odd. For example, image Stannis in Balon's position. If Stannis led the ironborn to such a disastrous rebellion would any of them keep following him? Yet, not only do all the ironborn houses keep following Balon, they even let him try it again 10 years later. The only way I could see that making sense is if Balon was really speaking to his people's desires, if the average ironborn longed for the Old Way as much as he did.

The Ironborn follow Rodrik Harlaw too, despite him being a nerd who spends all day reading (granted, I’ve always found the Reader to be one of the most confident/self-assured characters, which is something people gravitate to). Despite their reputation as pirates, the Ironborn seem to have their own kind of ironclad respect for authority. 

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On 12/8/2021 at 10:11 AM, Terrorthatflapsinthenight9 said:

We all know how strong the loyalty of many noble houses in the North is to house Stark, with them having perhaps the best vassals and bannermen in the Cassels, the Cerwyns, the Mormonts, the Umbers, the Manderlys or the Reeds who have proven to be very devoted vassals many times times over Westeros history and during the current story in the books.

But if we don't take in account the Starks and their vassals, which great house is the best at inspiring the loyalty and devotion of its bannermen and has the most loyal vassals in the Seven Kingdoms ?

Who between house Arryn, Lannister, Tully, Greyjoy, Tyrell and Martell can count on its bannermen the best ?

Every great house have their share of loyal bannermen. The top honor goes to House Targaryen, the greatest family of them all. Here it is, nearly 20 years after Robert’s Rebellion and there are still people who want the return of the dragons. Varys, Doran, Marwyn, to name a few. 

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I'd say House Arryn has the most loyal bannermen. We've only ever heard of three major occasions when the Vale erupted into civil war, and in one of those cases, it was entirely in-fighting over which Arryn would succeed to the Eyrie.

Edited by Floki of the Ironborn
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3 hours ago, Nathan Stark said:

That's not entirely accurate. The western lords have to consider Tywin's reputation for brutality after the Reyne's and Tarbecks were exterminated, while Robb's bannermen in AGoT were being asked to follow a green boy into war. These are not equivalent situations. For one, Ned was still alive when Robb called the banners, so they weren't being especially unruly towards House Stark, just towards the untested heir. Whereas nobody even had to question whether or not Tywin could maintain an army. Robb's bannermen were testing him early on to see if he had the mettle to lead, which is obviously of huge importance in a feudal system. And when the Karstarks, Boltons and Freys betrayed Robb, it was clear that Robb was losing the war, so there was more incentive to cut their losses and run. The difference is the western lords know that abandoning Tywin is probably going to be met with unmitigated brutality, so why take that risk? It has nothing to do with the brave loyalty of the westerland nobility. They're just scared of Tywin.

If Kevan's treatment of Cersei is any indication, the westerlands will not be as unquestioningly loyal to her as with Tywin. Whereas the northern nobility seem to be gearing up to take revenge on the Boltons. 

So, long story short, there is nothing in particular that makes the northerners more loyal to the Starks than any other set of bannermen. Each great house has to present as the biggest, baddest kids in the playground, or their clique might start looking for alternatives.

Although Tywins subjects are loyal because they fear him. I like to believe one of the minor reason is respect and maybe admiration? As intimidating as Tywin is, he still is what you’d say a great lord/king of his time. He is arguably the greatest lord the westerlands have had since aegons conquest.

Tywin is the sort of guy that lords would have outmost respect for. I think the starks did have a lord similar to Tywin. I remember reading it on the fire and blood book. Alaric stark I think it was. The lord of white harbour at the time told queen alysanne that lord stark is disliked but very much respected.

The loyalty lords have towards Tywin I’d say are obviously due to fear but also respect. From what I can remember Tywin has never imposed himself on his lords rights. He might be cruel and ruthless but he is smart and he knows you dont shit where you eat.

In case of the starks dont get me wrong their bannermen are indeed loyal. This has to do with neds successful rule of winterfell and because the starks are the only ones theyd be willing to follow simply because they dislike southerners and would never turn to the iron throne (unless they are in extreme times).

I seem to remember the dustins and ryswells didnt answer Winterfells call to aid when the iron born took it. But this might just be because martin didnt flesh them out. Because we learn they are the big players after he scrapped his supposed 5 year gap.

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lannisters, starks, baratheons/durrandons have ruled their lands for longer than anyone actually knows so i'd say they are in a tie. starks have the boltons that rebelled, but lannisters had the reynes and tarbecks. bobby b had to defeat stormlords in battle to bring them back to his side when he rebelled against the targaryens. no one seems to have rebelled against the arryns from what we know.

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14 hours ago, The Young Maester said:

Although Tywins subjects are loyal because they fear him. I like to believe one of the minor reason is respect and maybe admiration? As intimidating as Tywin is, he still is what you’d say a great lord/king of his time. He is arguably the greatest lord the westerlands have had since aegons conquest.

Tywin is the sort of guy that lords would have outmost respect for. I think the starks did have a lord similar to Tywin. I remember reading it on the fire and blood book. Alaric stark I think it was. The lord of white harbour at the time told queen alysanne that lord stark is disliked but very much respected.

The loyalty lords have towards Tywin I’d say are obviously due to fear but also respect. From what I can remember Tywin has never imposed himself on his lords rights. He might be cruel and ruthless but he is smart and he knows you dont shit where you eat.

I'm more or less on similar lines. Tywin didn't only scare people to death, he also provided stability, security and order. One of the government's jobs is to protect its people... their rights, their lives, their property, whatever. A view that, real world aside, is brought up in the series themselves. ASoS Davos VI.

"A king's son, with the power of kingsblood in his veins." Melisandre's ruby glowed like a red star at her throat. "Do you think you've saved this boy, Onion Knight? When the long night falls, Edric Storm shall die with the rest, wherever he is hidden. Your own sons as well. Darkness and cold will cover the earth. You meddle in matters you do not understand."

"There's much I don't understand," Davos admitted. "I have never pretended elsewise. I know the seas and rivers, the shapes of the coasts, where the rocks and shoals lie. I know hidden coves where a boat can land unseen. And I know that a king protects his people, or he is no king at all."

Stannis's face darkened. "Do you mock me to my face? Must I learn a king's duty from an onion smuggler?"

ASoS Daenerys III.

"I was alone for a long time, Jorah. All alone but for my brother. I was such a small scared thing. Viserys should have protected me, but instead he hurt me and scared me worse. He shouldn't have done that. He wasn't just my brother, he was my king. Why do the gods make kings and queens, if not to protect the ones who can't protect themselves?"

"Some kings make themselves. Robert did."

"He was no true king," Dany said scornfully. "He did no justice. Justice . . . that's what kings are for."

And the westerlands actually needed protecting. TWoIaF, The Westerlands: House Lannister Under the Dragons.

In 255 AC, Lord Tytos celebrated the birth of his fourth son at Casterly Rock, but his joy soon turned to sorrow. His beloved wife, the Lady Jeyne, never recovered from her labor, and died within a moon's turn of Gerion Lannister's birth. Her loss was a shattering blow to his lordship. From that day forth, no one ever again called him the Laughing Lion.

The years that followed were as dismal as any in the long history of the westerlands. Conditions in the west grew so bad that the Iron Throne felt compelled to take a hand. Thrice King Aegon V sent forth his knights to restore order to the westerlands, but each time the conflicts flared up once again as soon as the king's men had taken their leave. When His Grace perished in the tragedy at Summerhall in 259 AC, matters in the west deteriorated even further, for the new king, Jaehaerys II Targaryen, lacked his sire's strength of will and was besides soon embroiled in the War of the Ninepenny Kings.

TWoIaF itself does not go into as much detail, but if the sample on GRRM's website is to be trusted, the Tarbecks stole the land of their neighbours, dispossessing them (and some complained to Casterly Rock), while the Reynes attacked that Marbrand guy who later was to bring the Tarbecks to answer for their crimes. That would make said lords anything but innocent victims. The sample also mentions some minor vassals swearing loyalty to the Tyrells, as they offered more protection. And Tywin as per TWoIaF seems to have offered protection, as those golden years then followed. The protection is also what Genna credits him for. AFfC Jaime V.

"Did you love him?" Jaime heard himself ask.

His aunt looked at him strangely. "I was seven when Walder Frey persuaded my lord father to give my hand to Emm. His second son, not even his heir. Father was himself a thirdborn son, and younger children crave the approval of their elders. Frey sensed that weakness in him, and Father agreed for no better reason than to please him. My betrothal was announced at a feast with half the west in attendance. Ellyn Tarbeck laughed and the Red Lion went angry from the hall. The rest sat on their tongues. Only Tywin dared speak against the match. A boy of ten. Father turned as white as mare's milk, and Walder Frey was quivering." She smiled. "How could I not love him, after that? That is not to say that I approved of all he did, or much enjoyed the company of the man that he became . . . but every little girl needs a big brother to protect her. Tywin was big even when he was little." She gave a sigh. "Who will protect us now?"

So when all that is taken into account, would it be so surprising if some westermen, lords or not, recognized the better effects of Tywin's governance, were grateful and even respected him for it?

Kevan certainly loves him. ASoS Tyrion IX.

"Do you think he would allow you to take the black if you were not his own blood, and Joanna's? Tywin seems a hard man to you, I know, but he is no harder than he's had to be. Our own father was gentle and amiable, but so weak his bannermen mocked him in their cups. Some saw fit to defy him openly. Other lords borrowed our gold and never troubled to repay it. At court they japed of toothless lions. Even his mistress stole from him. A woman scarcely one step above a whore, and she helped herself to my mother's jewels! It fell to Tywin to restore House Lannister to its proper place. Just as it fell to him to rule this realm, when he was no more than twenty. He bore that heavy burden for twenty years, and all it earned him was a mad king's envy. Instead of the honor he deserved, he was made to suffer slights beyond count, yet he gave the Seven Kingdoms peace, plenty, and justice. He is a just man. You would be wise to trust him."

Tyrion blinked in astonishment. Ser Kevan had always been solid, stolid, pragmatic; he had never heard him speak with such fervor before. "You love him."

"He is my brother."

Yandel claims he was respected.

Ser Tywin was but twenty, the youngest man ever to serve as Hand, but the manner in which he had dealt with the rising of the Reynes and Tarbecks had made him well respected, even feared, throughout the Seven Kingdoms.

Jaime doesn't disagree. AFfC Jaime I.

It was queer, but he felt no grief. Where are my tears? Where is my rage? Jaime Lannister had never lacked for rage. "Father," he told the corpse, "it was you who told me that tears were a mark of weakness in a man, so you cannot expect that I should cry for you."

A thousand lords and ladies had come that morning to file past the bier, and several thousand smallfolk after noon. They wore somber clothes and solemn faces, but Jaime suspected that many and more were secretly delighted to see the great man brought low. Even in the west, Lord Tywin had been more respected than beloved, and King's Landing still remembered the Sack.

Of all the mourners, Grand Maester Pycelle had seemed the most distraught. "I have served six kings," he told Jaime after the second service, whilst sniffing doubtfully about the corpse, "but here before us lies the greatest man I ever knew. Lord Tywin wore no crown, yet he was all a king should be."

Yet as one can see, the fear is there, and there is little to no love. Enter Machiavelli. Tywin is, obviously, one of the most glaring examples of Martin writing about how bad men might make good kings... and yet even that is a sham, because Pycelle is wrong, and Tywin is not all that a king should be. He fails Dany's test of doing justice. Tysha got no justice, nor did the Cleganes (Sandor, their sister, their father), nor did the innocent people he massacred during the Reyne-Tarbeck rebellion, nor did the people of Sherrer, Mummer's Ford and Wendish Town. And against Machiavelli's advice, he makes himself widely hated, at least outside the westerlands.

Back to the westermen. Tywin definitely did have a positive effect in the west, and people like Kevan and Genna may remember that. Yet he looks like a someone who mostly defends the rights and privileges of the nobility, House Lannister especially. TWoIaF, The Targaryen Kings: Aerys II.

It was Tywin Lannister who settled the crown's dispute with the Braavosi (though without "making the Titan kneel," to the king's displeasure), by repaying the monies lent to Jaehaerys II with gold from Casterly Rock, thereby taking the debts upon himself. Tywin won the approbation of many great lords by repealing what remained of the laws Aegon V had enacted to curb their powers. Tywin reduced tariffs and taxes on shipping going in and out of the cities of King's Landing, Lannisport, and Oldtown, winning the support of many wealthy merchants. Tywin built new roads and repaired old ones, held many splendid tournaments about the realm to the delight of knights and commons both, cultivated trade with the Free Cities, and sternly punished bakers found guilty of adding sawdust to their bread and butchers selling horsemeat as beef. In all these efforts he was greatly aided by Grand Maester Pycelle, whose accounts of the reign of Aerys II give us our best portrait of these times.

Yet despite these accomplishments, Tywin Lannister was little loved. His rivals charged that he was humorless, unforgiving, unbending, proud, and cruel. His lords bannermen respected him and followed him loyally in war and peace, but none could truly be named his friends. Tywin despised his father, the weak-willed, fat, and ineffectual Lord Tytos Lannister, and his relations with his brothers Tygett and Gerion were notoriously stormy. He showed more regard for his brother Kevan, a close confidant and constant companion since childhood, and his sister Genna, but yet even in those cases, Tywin Lannister appeared more dutiful than affectionate.

There's also the case of Lord Farman, which shows that Tywin indeed used fear against his own vassals, beyond his treatment of the Reynes and Tarbecks. ASoS Tyrion III.

This Westerling betrayal did not seem to have enraged his father as much as Tyrion would have expected. Lord Tywin did not suffer disloyalty in his vassals. He had extinguished the proud Reynes of Castamere and the ancient Tarbecks of Tarbeck Hall root and branch when he was still half a boy. The singers had even made a rather gloomy song of it. Some years later, when Lord Farman of Faircastle grew truculent, Lord Tywin sent an envoy bearing a lute instead of a letter. But once he'd heard "The Rains of Castamere" echoing through his hall, Lord Farman gave no further trouble. And if the song were not enough, the shattered castles of the Reynes and Tarbecks still stood as mute testimony to the fate that awaited those who chose to scorn the power of Casterly Rock. "The Crag is not so far from Tarbeck Hall and Castamere," Tyrion pointed out. "You'd think the Westerlings might have ridden past and seen the lesson there."

"Mayhaps they have," Lord Tywin said. "They are well aware of Castamere, I promise you."

Machiavelli apparently claims a prince can avoid hatred if he refrains from robbing his subjects, and can earn goodwill by demonstrating prowess and protecting his people. Seems like an exact match (in the westerlands), as long as Tywin is seen as a proponent of nobility, but not necessarily smallfolk. Which is not to say that smallfolk didn't also benefit from his rule here and there. ACoK Arya VI.

"It's a sin and a shame," an old man hissed. "When the old king was still alive, he'd not have stood for this."

"King Robert?" Arya asked, forgetting herself.

"King Aerys, gods grace him," the old man said, too loudly. A guard came sauntering over to shut them up. The old man lost both his teeth, and there was no more talk that night.

TL;DR: Yeah, Tywin ruled by fear, and wasn't a nice guy by any means, but I feel that focusing on just the fear as an intrinsically bad thing would miss something.

Edited by TsarGrey
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