Besides this shared ethnic heritage, their common descent means that there are also many cultural similarities between the wildlings and the Northmen. The wildlings are much closer in lifestyle and habits to how the First Men lived thousands of years ago, as the North has come under some cultural influence from their Andal neighbors who invaded southern Westeros six thousand years ago, and particularly since the Seven Kingdoms were united into a single realm by the Targaryen Conquest three hundred years ago, further alienating and marginalizing wildling culture to those who live on the southern side of the Wall.
Ygritte , a wildling spearwife. Even in the lands of House Stark, there are some followers of the Faith of the Seven, often southern noblewomen who come to the North to secure marriage alliances.
Beyond the Wall, however, the Old Gods are the only gods that are worshiped. The Free Folk consist of a wide variety of many fractious tribes and village-dwellers, some reasonably refined, others savage and hostile. Different wildling factions have very different cultures and practices, and may speak different languages. They spend much of their time fighting one another over petty squabbles, aside from the times when they are unified by a King-Beyond-the-Wall - as they are now under Mance Rayder.
The hill tribes or "mountain clans" are clans who live in the foothills of the Mountains of the Moon on the western fringes of the Vale of Arryn. They reject and resist the rule of House Arryn , and harass travelers along the Eastern Road through the mountains. They are descendants of the First Men who originally occupied the Vale during the Age of Heroes and before. They were driven into the hill by the Andal invaders. The hill tribes are also sometimes derisively referred to as "wildlings", but out of context the term is usually understood to refer to the peoples living beyond the Wall , who refer to themselves as the " Free Folk " "wildlings" is used as a generic synonym for "barbarians" or "savages".
After many centuries, the Andals intermingled with the local First Men inhabitants of the lands they had conquered. Still, they became culturally "Andal", speaking their language and following the new religion the Andals introduced to Westeros, the Faith of the Seven, which became the dominant faith on the continent. The Andals carved out their own rival petty kingdoms when they conquered the First Men, and these tiny Andal kingdoms continued to fight each other for thousands of years.
Over time these tiny local kingdoms aggregated into larger ones, as the stronger ones absorbed the weaker ones, eventually dividing Westeros south of the Wall into seven large kingdoms - which became geographically known as "the Seven Kingdoms", even after they were unified by the Targaryen Conquest three centuries ago. The Vale of Arryn often known as just "the Vale" was the first region of Westeros that the Andals invaded in their migration to the continent 6, years ago, and today the noble Houses of the Vale boast the purest Andal bloodlines.
In other regions, the Andals heavily intermarried with the local First Men, so the Lannisters, Tyrells, and Tullys all have at least some First Men ancestry. Lady Anya Waynwood , a noblewoman of the Valemen. The Vale is self-sufficient but not as rich as the Westerlands or as bountiful as the Reach. Their major advantage is their isolation: the Mountains of the Moon along the border prevent any major army from approaching by land, save through a few very narrow and heavily defended mountain passes which can repulse any attack.
As a result, Valemen place great pride in their lineages, while maintaining a certain arrogance born of isolation. They may not possess the large armies of the Reach or expensively equipped armies of the Westerlands, but throughout the centuries those armies have broken like water on rock against the narrow choke points of the Vale's mountain passes. Olenna and Margaery Tyrell , noblewomen of the Reachmen. The Andals may have begun their invasion in the Vale, but the fertile lands of the Reach soon became their cultural heartland, and remained so for thousands of years.
The High Septon , leader of the Faith of the Seven , used to be based in the major city of Oldtown for centuries until moving to King's Landing about years ago. The Reach is considered the heartland of chivalry in Westeros: the traditions of knighthood and chivalry are therefore taken very seriously in the Reach, as are associated cultural elements such as tournaments , as well as courtly love and romantic intrigue. The noble courts of the Reach are the most sophisticated in Westeros. The customs of knighthood are most important to Reachmen, such as Ser Loras Tyrell.
The Reach is also the most fertile region of Westeros, meaning that the Reach has the largest population and can field the largest army, nearly twice the size of any other kingdom though this balances out because the Reach also has twice as many bordering kingdoms as any other. Unlike the other major kingdoms, however, their rulers House Tyrell were never kings, but raised up by the Targaryens as the new regional rulers - ahead of other families in the Reach who actually had better claims to Highgarden.
The result is that there has always been a considerable amount of court intrigue in the Reach, and negotiation of marriages to secure political alliances. Reachmen pride themselves on the knightly values of martial prowess and honorable conduct though of course, this varies from individual to individual.
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The Westerlands are very mountainous and by far the richest of the Seven Kingdoms in terms of precious metals and gemstones. Their gold mines enrich the realm, and are famous even far across the Narrow Sea. While Valemen pride themselves on their lineages and isolation, and Reachmen pride themselves on knightly conduct and valor from their large armies, Westermen pragmatically value whoever has the most gold. For thousands of years, the wealthiest family in the Westerlands have been their rulers, House Lannister of Casterly Rock.
Grandpa Was a Deity: How a Tribal Assertion Created Modern Culture
Because their kingdom is the richest in precious metals, and also useful metals such as iron, Westermen armies tend to be the best equipped in Westeros, with even their infantry wearing large amounts of plate armor and full-visor helmets in contrast to the resource-poor Northmen, who often have to make do with chainmail. Because they do not value lineage or knightly conduct so much as they value wealth, Westermen nobles such as the Lannisters have come to be calculating and pragmatic in politics, often defeating their enemies not through valor but simply hiring larger armies.
King Robert Baratheon and his younger brother Renly , Stormlanders. Stannis Baratheon , middle brother of Robert and Renly. The borderlands in the southwest of the Stormlands are known as the Dornish Marches , because they are along the mountainous border with Dorne to the south, though they have also been contested by the Reach from the west. The Marcher lords of the Stormlands have always been the first line of defense in constant border disputes over the centuries, resulting in them possessing an even stronger martial tradition than the rest of the Stormlands. The champion archer Anguy is also a Stormlander from the Dornish Marches.
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Edmure Tully , new head of House Tully , a Riverman. Located in the middle of the continent, the Riverlands have long been a contested borderland between the more powerful kingdoms. Before the Targaryen Conquest , the Riverlands were conquered and held by the Stormlands for three centuries. Three generations before the Targaryen Conquest, the Iron Islands in turn drove out the Stormlanders and conquered the Riverlands themselves. When Aegon Targaryen and his sisters invaded Westeros, the Rivermen saw them as liberators from brutal ironborn rule, and assisted them in a popular uprising led by House Tully.
click For this reason the Riverlands didn't have a king at the time of the invasion, and the Riverlands are not technically counted as one of the "Seven" Kingdoms instead essentially making up the eighth "kingdom". However, for administrative purposes, the Riverlands and their rulers are equal to any other region of the realm. Edmure and his uncle Brynden , Rivermen. Because the Riverlands had not ruled themselves as a unified independent kingdom for thousands of years, but were border territories which shifted between control of neighboring kingdoms, the Rivermen are more diverse than other Andal kingdoms, with less of a unified identity.
House Blackwood and House Bracken loathe each other, and have been feuding for thousands of years. House Frey is a newer House that rose about six centuries ago by exacting tolls on their bridge crossing, but are looked down upon by the other older Rivermen Houses as greedy and selfish upstarts. Walder Frey and his new wife Joyeuse , Rivermen. Therefore, if the defining characteristics of Reachmen are their fertile fields and chivalry, of Westermen their gold and riches, of Stormlanders their martial prowess, and Valemen their proud lineages and isolation, the defining characteristic of the Rivermen is their diversity.
Ser Dontos of House Hollard , a Crownlander. The Crownlands are the newest region in the Seven Kingdoms, created only three hundred years ago as a result of the Targaryen Conquest , carved out of territory from neighboring kingdoms to make a new capital region.
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As a result, it does not have much of a distinct "cultural identity", so much as it is shaped by its distinction as the region containing the capital city, King's Landing , which Aegon I Targaryen ordered built there after his conquest. Davos Seaworth , born in King's Landing, though he later moved to the Stormlands. Culturally and historically, the Crownlands were primarily an extension of the Riverlands for thousands of years, but with cultural influences from neighboring regions which periodically captured territory in the region.
The greatest of these was the conquest of all the Riverlands by the Stormlands, which lasted for three centuries. The Stormlanders were ultimately driven out when the ironborn invaded the Riverlands from the west, under Harren Hoare 's grandfather. Harren's father then conquered the area of the future Crownlands, though Harren later died during the Targaryen Conquest. Lollys Stokeworth : House Stokeworth is one of the major noble families from the Crownlands, who lived there for centuries before the Targaryens even created "the Crownlands".
The Crownlanders are an ethnically disparate mix of former Rivermen, former Stormlanders, holdout First Men, and even some Valyrians, divided into basically five geographic sub-sections: King's Landing itself, the main farmlands north of the Blackwater River and west of Crackclaw Point, the pine barrens of Crackclaw Point, the strip of land on the southern coast of Blackwater Bay running from the Blackwater River to Massey's Hook, and the islands in Blackwater Bay. Rosby , Duskendale , and Stokeworth are part of this group. Crackclaw Point is a wooded backwater that was rarely held for long by outsiders, and thus has a greater descent from the First Men, though they have intermarried with powerful Andal families over the centuries.
The southern strip including Massey's Hook was actually still part of the Stormlands during the Targaryen Conquest, but the Stormlords of the region had already developed closer ties to the Targaryens and openly joined them at the beginning of the invasion. These began as Valyrian trading outposts, and later became refuges after the Doom destroyed Valyria.
King's Landing itself, meanwhile, is practically another category unto itself. When the Targaryens built their new capital city from the ground up, it was a boom town quickly populated by artisans, merchants, and commoners who came from all over the rest of the Seven Kingdoms.
As the largest port on the east coast of Westeros, a large number of foreigners from the Free Cities and beyond also live in the city such as the master-blacksmith Tobho Mott , from the Free City of Qohor. Above them all for three hundred years were the Targaryens, who were ethnically Valyrian, though in such small numbers that they did not constitute another demographic group.