Jump to content

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Catastrophe

How large/powerful/advanced is Westeros compared to the rest of the world?

Recommended Posts

GRRM is making that classic point about what is civilisation. Is it wearing "proper" clothes and carrying a sword or is it living somewhere where women and the landless poor have equal place with wealthy men and where the people decide who their ruler is. It's a fair point, and one that's been around since Rousseau and his Second Discourse.

But then all the other candidates for so-called "civilisation" have their own flaws too- slave owning and so on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I disagree completely. The living standards in Westeros are terrible compared to those of the free cities, literally nobody cares about the peasants when the lords wage war against each other, and knights frequently burn down villages and rape villagers they were supposed to be protecting.

Bull. We don't know how people in the Free Cities live, except for nobility like Illyrio and some some Braavosi. But considering they are brutal slave traders a large part of their populace likely live very badly. Nobody cares much about "the peasants" in any war, then or now. With that said the Westerosi soldiers are probably nicer to civilians in general than the sellsword companies that do most of the fighting in Essos, considering that the former are largelly normal people taking up arms for their people/leaders, and raised with chivalric ideals. The latter are largely a rabble of criminals, opportunists and lowborn scum fighting for looting and rape instead of any loyalties. All armies can commit atrocities if the conditions are right, but there's a reason for why mercenaries are almost universally hated around the world. Do you think the likes of Hoat or Bloodbeard seemed like juster commanders than, say, Randyll Tarly or Robb?

And slavery shouldn't not be relevant when talking about society, in our world the USA had slavery far into the 1850s yet it was one of the most advanced nations and one with the highest standards of living - compared to others which had abolished slavery.

A higher standard of living if you didn't count the slaves, perhaps. Not to mention that USA never relied on slave labor as much as what most Essossi states seem to be doing (with the Volantene claiming the prize for their utterly extreme proportion of slaves to citizens, at 4/5). I am not claiming that slavery makes a society less advanced regarding technology or wealth either, but morally, clearly.

Also it can be debated that being an unified kingdom actually ends up stagnating it, as there is lack of competition between them. Examples in our world can be seen with China, that althought it was an unified kingdom for centuries, and it was very much stable most of that time, it lagged behind fragmented Europe technologically and militarily .

Not really. They have tons of little civil wars in Westeros, and a not insignificant number of large ones.

Each of the Free Cities are probably bigger than King's Landing. I wouldn't be surprised at all if any of them could conquer one of the weaker Seven Kingdoms by themselves without much casualties; though that's impossible to know for sure. We'd have to see how well the Golden Company does in TWOW. Or how exactly the Bravos bank could act against the Iron Throne - they seemed confident.

What makes you think that? King's Landing has almost half a million inhabitants, which is pretty close to how large cities could get before industrialisation. Moreover, the only real cities of such size that existed were the capitals of enormous empires, such as Constantinople of the Byzantines, ancient Rome, or Carthage. There's no way thirteen random city states are all that large, especially since they don't even seem to use all the land they control. Only Braavos and Volantis should be of King's Landing size or larger. Pentos, Qohor, Tyrosh, Norvos etc. are probably hovering around the hundred thousand mark or so, which is still very large by medieval standards by the way.

It's not like it really matters anyway, the might of a state is not measured in how large its capital is. The total population of Westeros should be leagues above what any Essossi power has. Braavos is probably acting confidently because A. They are the most powerful of all Free Cities and B. Because Westeros is tearing itself apart in a civil war, and is thus very weakened.

IIRC even Jorah (or someone) comments how had the Dothraki horde arrived in Westeros, the Westerosi armies would try to fight them in the fields, and the Dothraki would have massacred them - the only chance for the Westeros lords would have been hiding in their castles, and leaving the peasants to their own fate.

Meh, Jorah is full of shit. Is he saying that to Dany, by the way? In that case he might just be lying, remember that he sold her out to her enemies and wanted to go home and claim his pardon.

The Qarth fleet by itself could also probably strangle and cripple Westeros' commerce.

K.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is the size of a nation's commerce an indicator of its advancement? Clearly it's on hard times at the moment, what with the civil war and all- does that mean that it is not powerful overall, or that it it is not civlised?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't thnk that you can call slavery irrelevant in a discussion of a society's development/level of advancement. Apart from the obvious moral implications it means for a society to abolish slavery, it has technological and economic implications as well.

It's only logical for societies which outlaw slavery to experience some down turn, after all, it's giving away effortless and nearly free labour. But in the absence of slaves societies are forced to develop labour saving methods; slavery halts innovation because why would you need a mechanized plough when you have a dozen slaves? Why make crop processing more efficient when you can just buy more slaves, or for that matter, why invest into the labour force at all when you have a near endless supply of cheap labour?

Certainly the Slaver Bay cities seem stagnant and primitive, holding on to a crumbling empire about to collapse should you remove slaves from the foundation. And the more enlightened/developed places seem to be those which abolished slavry and vice-versa. The Iron Islands are arguably the most backwards, ugly place in Westeros and they simulate slavery with their thrall system. As I already mentioned, Slaver's Bay is a disgusting primitive cesspool which hasn't added anything to the world for hundreds of years.

Braavos is the greatest of the Free Cities, and arguably the greatest "nation" in the ASOIAF world and have never had slavery; Westeros seems to place some value on higher learning with the Maesters and they too have abolished slavery. Of course places with slavery will seem more prosperous than those without, they have nearly-free labour. But there's no real incentive to develop or advance because of that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think that Essos is particularly advanced militarily. They seem to be heavily reliant on mercenaries, who are portrayed as unreliable.

The combination of Knights, men at arms, professional soldiers, and peasants that a significant Westerosi Lord can put into battle is probably a rather more effective force.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Westeros is much bigger and probably has a bigger army than any other country, but it´s also quite rural and economically backward, Qarth and the Free Cities are richer, more urban and more economically advanced.

Think of say, Brazil, China or India when compared to Japan. The three of them are a lot bigger than Japan, and have a greater population (a bit greater for Brazil, but more than tenfold for China or India), but Japan is more modern, richer and more economically developed.

while the free cities are probaly more advanced and richer due to trade with the east, westeros has more power due to it being more of an organised society/nation so their existence doesn't rely on tribute to the dothraki and/or sellsword companies. And the average westerosi commoner probably has a better standard of living

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The difference between Westeros and The "Free" Cities is, Westeros does not allow slavery (I know some Free Cities do not actively trade slave, all benefit indirectly from the trade... well until Dany launched "Operation Enduring Freedom: Slaver's Bay Edition"). In Westeros, even the simplest peasant has the right to appeal for justice to his liege lord and no man may own another... women on the other hand... eh, pretty much property in Westeros. True, there are rules governing their "sale", but women in Westeros get a pretty f*cking raw deal

sothorys is a shit hole

.

Lol :bowdown:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What we see in freecities are the remnants of a technologically (or magically) superior civilization. Trade would have flourished during Old Valyrian empire and continues till now. Being highly dependent on magic they were weak militarily. Trade continues but the armies are still not there.

Westros on other hand has cotf magic and the great architectural monuments like winterfell, storm's end and the wall were (presumably) develoed by their magic. However once cotf vanished the men started developing armies.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Regarding Dokhrathi, Robert Baratheon feared them, and didn't really want to face them in the field, but realized he wouldn't have a choice. OTOH, the rest of the Essosi military, with the possible exception of the Unsullied, doesn't seem to be the great deal compared with the Westerosi armies. We also have the fact that neither Westeros nor the Free Cities seem to be able to control piracy, despite both having rather large navies.

Myr has a rather advanced optics 'industry' and Braavos seems to require a fairly educated population. Unfortunately, we don't get to see much about Westerosi merchants. There is certainly some education going on there, and some merchants seem to be turning richer than minor lords, besides being more competent bureaucrats than the aristocracy. I'd say Volantis and Braavos have a pushing bourgeoisie and a nascent one seems to be developing in Westeros

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Regarding Dokhrathi, Robert Baratheon feared them, and didn't really want to face them in the field, but realized he wouldn't have a choice. OTOH,

The Dothraki are feared by King Bob because he thought that Drogo had 100.000 Screamers in his Khalasar, which would make the Khalasar itself even more bigger.

Ned said that Robert has to fear them when they learn to ride across the narrow sea. But they never really were a threat in a way a standing disciplined Army is. First they have to cross the narrow sea, so they need a lot of ships. Lets just say they somehow manage to get enough ships and lose their fear of seawater. They would be sailing to Westeros while being attacked constantly by the royal fleet and the Redwyne fleet, hell, maybe even some pirates attack them on their way.

But let us say they somehow manage to land the majority of the Khalasar somewhere in the Stormlands.

If they land in the Stormlands they are screwed. The armies of Robert just have to wait for them to land and then they can start to make an exotic buffet for the crows out of the Dothraki (example: Pitfight in Meereen 10 Pitfighters in Mail against 10 Dothraki Screamers).

The only thing about the Dothraki to worry is that the remaining ones will raid the area but that can be avoided with enough troops to secure the shore and enough ships to sink the Dothraki ships.

the rest of the Essosi military, with the possible exception of the Unsullied, doesn't seem to be the great deal compared with the Westerosi armies. We also have the fact that neither Westeros nor the Free Cities seem to be able to control piracy, despite both having rather large navies

The Unsullied are no exception actually. they fight better than Dothraki and other Slavers Bay armies, no question, but they have to prove that they are good soldiers against competent enemies. Their Style of fighting was outdated in the real world long before the first Knights appeared.

TLDR-Version: Westerosi military Yay! Essoi military meh!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Unsullied are no exception actually. they fight better than Dothraki and other Slavers Bay armies, no question, but they have to prove that they are good soldiers against competent enemies. Their Style of fighting was outdated in the real world long before the first Knights appeared.

Unsullied are highly disciplined infantry great for defense/shielding archers.

I think i read somewhere that the cavalry charges succeeded only when the defense broke up and scattered.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Unsullied are highly disciplined infantry great for defense/shielding archers.

I think i read somewhere that the cavalry charges succeeded only when the defense broke up and scattered.

But we still have no account about how good they are at fighting against an enemy like the golden company or a westerosi army. We also have to note that they have lost their supply of their Wine of Courage, which made them so disciplined.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.

×