The Seven Kingdoms is a realm located on the continent of Westeros, ruled by the king who sits on the Iron Throne in the capital city, King's Landing. The name dates before the time of when Aegon the Conqueror set to unite the lands of Westeros, when there were seven independent kingdoms. Today there are nine distinct regions.
When Aegon used dragons to conquer the seven individually ruled kingdoms that existed on the mainland and forged a huge, strong empire. The Kingdoms were: The Kingdom of the North, the Kingdom of Mountain and Vale, the Kingdom of the Isles and Rivers, Kingdom of the Rock, Kingdom of the Reach, Kingdom of the Stormlands and Dorne. Aegon managed to conquer only six of the seven kingdoms, consolidating them under the rule of House Targaryen and the Iron Throne. Dorne was joined to the realm only two centuries later through diplomatic means, after a few hurdles on the way, thus making the name somewhat inaccurate.
For most of their history the regions of Westeros were independent kingdoms. The number of these kingdoms and their borders have changed many times. Following a successful conquest of all the lands of Westeros south of the Wall but Dorne, and their consolidation under the rule of the Iron Throne, Aegon established his new empire's capital on the spot of his landing, for which it was known as King's Landing. Due to the vast size of the new Kingdom, in each region Aegon raised 'great houses' who swore fealty to him. The lords were granted a degree of autonomy and granted authority over their minor lords and small folk. In the original six kingdoms House Baratheon married into the Targaryens and were awarded the Stormlands, after the defeat of King Argilac the Arrogant; the House Tyrell was granted over-lordship over the Reach, while House Lannister was allowed to keep their family holdings after they bent the knee, following the defeat at the Field of Fire; House Stark chose to submit and was confirmed as overlords over the North. House Greyjoy was granted the Iron Islands after the defeat of King Harren the Black. For supporting Aegon against Harren, House Tully of Riverrun was awarded over-lordship of the Riverlands.
Regions and Territory
The Seven Kingdoms are divided into nine administrative regions, seven of which, The North, Iron Islands, the Vale, The Westerlands, The Reach, the Stormlands and Dorne, were independent kingdoms at the time of conquest. The Riverlands had been independent before, but had fallen to the Storm Kings and more recently to the ironborn. They regained independence after the local lords rebelled against Harren the Black and swore fealty to Aegon during the conquest. The area around King's Landing, which had also been a battleground between several kingdoms, constituted the royal demesne and became known as the Crownlands. The island stronghold of Dragonstone, ancient seat of the Targaryens, was successively granted to heirs apparent to the throne. The realm's territory includes all but the northernmost tip of the continent, where the Wall defines its northern border. The king on the Iron Throne also controls the many islands off the coast of Westeros, such as Tarth, Greenstone, and Dragonstone. It is occasionally drawn into conflicts over the Stepstones off its southeastern coast, but it has rarely controlled a significant portion of them.
The population of the Seven Kingdoms numbers in the millions. It is sparsely populated in the vast regions of the North and the deserts of Dorne, and mostly densely populated in the fertile lands of the Reach. The kingdoms are speckled with villages and holdfasts and a few large townships, but only five settlements can be called cities, their population numbers in the hundreds of thousands. Listed in decreasing order of size, they are:
- King's Landing, the capital of the Seven kingdoms, with a population of half a million.
- Oldtown, Located within the Reach. The oldest city on the continent, and home of the Citadel of the maesters.
- Lannisport, Located within the Westerlands.
- Gulltown, Located within the Vale.
- White Harbor, Located within the North
The rest of the Seven Kingdoms is primarily rural, with the rare exception of port towns because of their economic importance.
The people of the Seven Kingdoms are a mixture of several ethnic groups which have migrated to the continent over the centuries and intermarried. As such these original ethnicities are more of a blurred trend than firm political units. Today they are mostly identified through their place of residence, where each kingdom retains its unique flavor. The influence of the Andals is strongest in the south, while the Northmen still follows many customs of the First Men. Dornishmen are heavily influenced by the mass immigration of the Rhoynar. Small groups, such as the Ironmen and the mountain clans, maintain very different cultures from the rest of the realm. Its feudal society is based on the model of the old kingdoms on which the Targaryen dynasty was built with each region retaining some sovereign rights and ruled by a high lord that answers only to the King.
Commerce and Currency
Most transactions in Seven Kingdoms involve currency. The coinage is minted by the Master of Coin appointed by the King on the Iron Throne. There are golden Dragons, silver Stags and copper Stars. Golden Dragons are worth the most and have a dragon stamped on one side and a Kings face on the other. Most smallfolk would never own a gold Dragon, using mostly copper Stars for their needs. Trade within the Seven Kingdoms is quite vigorous, as the products of Dorne are very different from those of the North. However, long distance trade is almost entirely in luxuries, as transport is very expensive, not to mention dangerous. Transport by land is around ten times as expensive as transport by ships, which means that almost all goods travel by river or coastal ship for at least part of their journey. Furs from the North, silks and gems from the south, fine craft work from anywhere these are the items that are gathered at great markets. Grain, meat, and fish are also found there, but they have almost exclusively come from nearby areas. Furthermore there is regular trade between the Seven Kingdoms, Essos, and the Summer Islands.
The people of the Seven Kingdoms follow several different faiths. The Faith of the Seven is the primary religion of the realm, the only regions where it is not practiced are the Iron Islands, where worship of the Drowned God holds sway, and the North, where worship of the old gods of the Forest remains strong.
- The Faith of the Seven, is the primary religion of the Seven Kingdoms, it was brought to the continent by the Andals, thousand of years before the country formation. The Faith worships the Seven, a single deity with separate aspects: the Mother, the Father, the Warrior, the Smith, the Maiden, the Crone and the Stranger (death).
- The old gods, the faith of the North and the lands beyond the wall. The faith of the children of the forest, who used to inhabit the land thousands of year ago, a faith that worship numerous and nameless gods of the forests, who are always watching through the faces carved into the bark of ancient weirwood trees.
- The Drowned God, the indigenous deity of the Iron Islands, a harsh deity who rewards those who plunder in his name.
- The Red God, R'hllor is a god popular in Essos who is little-known in Westeros, although gaining in popularity. The followers of R'hllor claim their deity is the Lord of Light and will stand against the Great Other, the god of darkness and cold, in a war that is to come.