Explain to me how the system of government in Westeros works?

And you think this is something easy to say. Its a Monarchy with a royal family line of succession and the King usually is the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial power. But I feel in Westeros there is more then that. And I would like to know any real world equivalents to how the System of Government in Westeros works.

So there are Seven Kingdoms ruled by Seven noble houses, Starks, Lannisters, Baratheons, Tyrells, Greyjoys, etc.

But these Seven Kingdoms are not independent and are ruled by one King on a single Iron Throne in King's Landing, first founded under the rulership of the Targaryans.

So each of the Seven Kings who rule their respective realms are essentially "Governors" of those realms while under the jurisdiction and authority of the Iron Throne?

I await any corrections and response.

Um..well, it's my understanding that the historical War of the Roses served as the general basis for Game of Thrones. Dunno beyond that.

Its basically Necromonger rules. You keep what you kill. Kill the dude on the throne, and the throne is yours. Kill the dude in the house, the house is yours.

No one ever said GoT was well written...

It's feudalism.

Or rather, it's a very modernized Crusader-Kings-esque idea of feudalism which isn't nearly as weird and stupid as real feudalism but is still recognisably feudalism.

Feudalism is a system of government based on personal agreements between members of the nobility, usually in which one person promises loyalty or service in exchange for being granted land or privileges. In this case, when Aegon conquered the 7 kingdoms with his sister-waifus, he took all the royal titles for himself, but allowed most of the former kings to keep their lands and privileges provided they swore oaths of loyalty to him. In essence, they still have much of the power they did as kings, but aren't allowed to actually call themselves kings (instead they have appointed titles like Warden and Lord Paramount)

As with real feudalism, the role of the upper nobility is somewhere between governors and kings. Like governors, they're responsible for administering a region in the name of their monarch, but like kings they're extremely autonomous, can have vassals and subservient lords of their own, have personal control over the armies raised in their regions, and can pass their titles and lands on to their children.

Medieval European society doesn't really have much of a concept of a professional bureaucracy or administration. Thus, feudalism is great because it gives the nobility lots of incentives to provide loyal service. After all, they're given a lot of privileges which they probably want to keep. The problem with feudalism is that, at the end of the day, a ruler doesn't have all that much power. They don't personal control most of the army, for example, which means that if a group of lords band together they could potentially amass more military force than the king. This inherent instability of a feudal society is a big part of why the world in ASOIAF is so jacked up.

They're not really governers, they're lords. They've not been installed to run the land, they just own it. Their lands, their farms and mills and mines, their people to claim taxes from. Its more or less how Medieval Europe worked for years and years

Palindromemordnilap:
They're not really governers, they're lords. They've not been installed to run the land, they just own it. Their lands, their farms and mills and mines, their people to claim taxes from. Its more or less how Medieval Europe worked for years and years

I think their power of the would be better align with Dukes, if we really are looking for historical similarities. Maybe you could make an argument for them being similar to counts or even electors but imho those fit worse. But a duchy made out of a former petty kingdom is a pretty good match.

Westeros is not that bad a depiction of real Feudalism. Yes, it is vastly simplyfied but still manages to beat a considerable part of historical fiction that ais set in the real world.

The one thing where Martin is really really bad at is anything with numbers. Looking for population, numbers of lords, numbers and sizes of settlements, sizes of armies, distaces, travel times etc. .. all of that is very wonky and contradictory. And that is without the several years long summers and winters and how they don't seem to any role in how the society works.

evilthecat:
It's feudalism.

Or rather, it's a very modernized Crusader-Kings-esque idea of feudalism which isn't nearly as weird and stupid as real feudalism but is still recognisably feudalism.

Feudalism is a system of government based on personal agreements between members of the nobility, usually in which one person promises loyalty or service in exchange for being granted land or privileges. In this case, when Aegon conquered the 7 kingdoms with his sister-waifus, he took all the royal titles for himself, but allowed most of the former kings to keep their lands and privileges provided they swore oaths of loyalty to him. In essence, they still have much of the power they did as kings, but aren't allowed to actually call themselves kings (instead they have appointed titles like Warden and Lord Paramount)

As with real feudalism, the role of the upper nobility is somewhere between governors and kings. Like governors, they're responsible for administering a region in the name of their monarch, but like kings they're extremely autonomous, can have vassals and subservient lords of their own, have personal control over the armies raised in their regions, and can pass their titles and lands on to their children.

Medieval European society doesn't really have much of a concept of a professional bureaucracy or administration. Thus, feudalism is great because it gives the nobility lots of incentives to provide loyal service. After all, they're given a lot of privileges which they probably want to keep. The problem with feudalism is that, at the end of the day, a ruler doesn't have all that much power. They don't personal control most of the army, for example, which means that if a group of lords band together they could potentially amass more military force than the king. This inherent instability of a feudal society is a big part of why the world in ASOIAF is so jacked up.

Even the idea of how the War of Five Kings came about is very similar to real world equivalents. Wars of Royal Succession happened because the King did not left a male heir.

To me the most "why did this had to happen?" kind of War was the Seven Years War concerning the rivalry between Prussia and Austria, all because a female was crowned Holy Roman Empress.

I assume of course there is a far more deeper explanation to the Seven Year's War and Frederick's motivations, but there it is.

Samtemdo8:

So each of the Seven Kings who rule their respective regions are essentially "Governors" of those Regions while under the jurisdiction and authority of the Iron Throne?

I await any corrections and response.

Well... almost. Kind of.

Westeros is not ruled by separate kings any more. About 300 years before ASOIAF begins, Westeros was composed of seven independent Kingdoms: the North, the Westerlands, Kingdom of Isles and Rivers, Kingdom of Mountain and Vale, the Reach, Stormlands, and Dorne.

When Aegon I Targaryen conquered Westeros, he brought 6 of the 7 under the authority of the Iron Throne. The seventh, Dorne, was then brought into the fold peacefully centuries later. From then, Westeros had only one King (well, in theory).

The regions are now ruled by Lords of the Great Houses, under the King. Each Lord has quite a bit of devolved power: they set their own taxes, maintain their own armed forces, and decide on their own expenditures. But most of the laws of the land are decided by the Iron Throne, and the Iron Throne can compel the Lords to commit their armed forces.

Feudalism.
Whoever sits on the Iron Throne is de iure king of Westeros, with most former kingdoms reduced to vassal states.

MrCalavera:

Whoever sits on the Iron Throne is de iure king of Westeros [...]

This isn't quite true. De jure, Kingship passes upon the King's death to a relative-- usually the eldest trueborn son, or failing that, a brother or grandson. Exceptions can exist if the King nominates a successor specifically, as Viserys I nominated Rhaenyra.

De facto, the one sitting the Iron Throne has a great number of the powers of state at their disposal, and someone is unlikely to sit the Iron Throne unless they have convinced the Small Council and a good chunk of the Lords that they are the de jure King.

But people other than the de jure King have sat the Iron Throne, and wielded the powers of that Throne.

I'll get the obvious joke out of the way and just say that it doesn't work.

Short and flippant version? If your butt belongs in the Iron Throne, you're the Emperor/Empress (though they don't use the term). If a crown belongs on your head on the continent of Westeros, but your butt doesn't belong on the Iron throne, you're a King/Queen who owes fealty to the butt on the Iron Throne. If you're a noble house but don't have a crown on your head, you owe fealty to the crown which oversees your lands, and thus by transitive property to the butt on the Iron Throne.

Of course, that is ignoring the succession crisis and fracturing of the empire that's taking place in the course of the books.

Asita:
If a crown belongs on your head on the continent of Westeros, but your butt doesn't belong on the Iron throne, you're a King/Queen who owes fealty to the butt on the Iron Throne.

No Kings owe fealty to the Iron Throne, and de jure there is only one King. The regions are ruled by Lords, not Kings.

The Seven Kingdoms are not actually seven separate Kingdoms.

Silvanus:

Asita:
If a crown belongs on your head on the continent of Westeros, but your butt doesn't belong on the Iron throne, you're a King/Queen who owes fealty to the butt on the Iron Throne.

No Kings owe fealty to the Iron Throne, and de jure there is only one King. The regions are ruled by Lords, not Kings.

The Seven Kingdoms are not actually seven separate Kingdoms.

And there isn't an emperor/empress, either. You're right that I played fast and loose with the terminology for the sake of quippiness. And despite my claim of it ignoring the succession crisis, it leans heavily on recognizing the major houses based on their claims of kingship. My hope was that it would make an easy to understand (and mildly amusing) approximation.

I think one important player to mention would be the Hand of the King.

In the series proper we only see the Hand when there's a lack of royal power. The various Hands serve as regents for child kings, loony kings and inept kings. But how does the Hand function when there is royal authority? How powerful is a Hand of the King when a competent and sane king sits on the Iron Throne?

Hades:
I think one important player to mention would be the Hand of the King.

In the series proper we only see the Hand when there's a lack of royal power. The various Hands serve as regents for child kings, loony kings and inept kings. But how does the Hand function when there is royal authority? How powerful is a Hand of the King when a competent and sane king sits on the Iron Throne?

This would depend on the King. The Hand is supposed to speak with the King's authority, execute his will, and advise them in their course.

So, some Kings have chosen them for their insight as an advisor (such as Jaehaerys I choosing Septon Barth), while others have preferred to leave day-to-day duties to the Hand while they focus on big-picture stuff. And still others have chosen to sideline them altogether (like Maegor the Cruel).

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here