The Riverlands – an Overview
This is basically the central region of Westeros. The Riverlands are made up of plains, forests, rolling hills, and rich and fertile land surrounding the endless rivers, especially around the three forks of The Trident River. The area borders on every kingdom of Westeros but Dorne. Along The Riverlands‘ northern border are the swamplands of The Neck, the southernmost area of The North. The eastern border extends to The Mountains of The Moon in The Vale of Arryn, and Crackclaw Point in The Crownlands. The southern border rests upon both The Crownlands and The Reach, while the western border meets Ironman’s Bay and the mountains of The Westerlands. The Golden Tooth, a small but heavily fortified keep, sits on The River Road and guards the only large pass between the mountains of The Westerlands which is the most direct route between The West and The Riverlands.
The Riverlands are called such because of the number of large rivers that work their way through the area. The Red Fork runs from the western mountains to Riverrun where it merges with The Tumblestone and flows east. The Blue Fork flows southeast from Seagard and The Green Fork runs southward from The Neck in close proximity to The Kingsroad. At Lord Harroway’s Town, The Red Fork, The Blue Fork, and The Green Fork converge together to form The Trident, which flows to Saltpans and empties out into The Bay of Crabs. The three forks of The Trident are the easiest and fastest way to move goods and peoples through the region. Two of the major crossings over these three rivers are The Ruby Ford, the exact location of which is non-canon but is depicted to be just north of the junction of all three forks, and The Twins, the seat of House Frey and identical castles on opposite sides of The Green Fork connected by a bridge with a tower in the center.
There are no major cities located in the Riverlands, but large towns include Fairmarket, Harrentown, Harroway, Maidenpool, Saltpans, and The Stoney Sept. The largest castles in the region are Darry, Harrenhal, Raventree Hall, Riverrun, Seagard, Stone Hedge, and The Twins.
Because of the central location and the fertile lands, The Riverlands
are a populous area with the best estimate being 4 million
. While this doesn’t make The Riverlands
the most populated area of Westeros
, it is on par with The North
, which is far and away the largest area of Westeros
, and The Vale of Arryn
, which is home to a large number of noble houses, many tribes of wildings, and port cities such as Gulltown
, and The Sisters
. The only more populated areas are the wealthy and bountiful Westerlands
and The Reach
Rivermen, or Riverlanders are a mix of warriors, fisherfolk, and loyal common people. The noble River Lords are known to be quarrelsome with one another; an extreme example of this would be Houses Bracken and Blackwood whose rivalry and aggressive relationship goes back to The Age of Heroes. The location of The Riverlands and the lack of natural boundaries amongst the lands claimed by the noble houses are major reasons for the nature of these noble houses.
The First Men settled The Riverlands during The Dawn Age and came into conflict with The Children of The Forest. The two sides fought for centuries until a pact was signed between them at The Isle of Faces. The Children withdrew to the forests and The First Men settled the lands that had once been The Children’s. Many families ruled The Riverlands during The Age of Heroes, including Houses Fisher, Bracken, and Blackwood. The Mudds were the last of The First Men to rule the entirety of The Riverlands, as The Andal Invasion brought an end to the rule of The First Men.
The Andal invaders built their own kingdoms. The Riverlands were united for nearly three centuries under the rule of House Justman. They expanded their realm east to Duskendale and Rosby. However, the region fell into chaos when King Bernarr II Justman and his heirs were murdered on Pyke by Qhored Hoare.
Houses Blackwood, Bracken, Vance, Mallister, and Charlton fought for the rule of The Riverlands for a century. It was House Teague that emerged and once again united The Riverlands. Torrence Teague, an adventurer of uncertain birth, raided The Westerlands and used the gold to hire sellswords from Essos. After six years of campaigning Torrence Teague was crowned King of the Rivers and the Hills at Maidenpool.
Though the Riverlands were united, House Teague needed to keep hostages from all the noble houses as The River Lords did not care for their rule. King Humfrey I Teague made the poor decision to repress the worship of the Old Gods with the help of The Faith Militant. This decision led to Houses Blackwood, Vance, and Tully rising up in rebellion. Teague came close to defeating the rebellion but Lord Roderick Blackwood asked for military aid from King Arlan III Durrandon of The Stormlands. The deciding conflict was The Battle of the Six Kings in which King Humfrey, his brother, and his three sons were all slain. Lord Roderick Blackwood was also slain and King Arlan III Durrandon saw this as an opportunity. He took it upon himself to claim The Riverlands as the realm of The Storm Kings.
House Durrandon/ Harren The Black
The Storm Kings would rule the Riverlands for more than three centuries. during which time, several leaders such as Lucifer Justman, Marq Mudd, Lord Robert Vance, Lord Petyr Mallister, Lady Jeyne Nutt, Ser Addam Rivers, and Ser Lymond Fisher all rose in rebellion against House Durrandon, even defeating their oppressors for a short while before the military might of Storm’s End won out.
The Storm Kings were finally defeated by King Harwyn Hardhand of The Iron Islands. He established his own kingdom from The Iron Islands to The Riverlands. Hardhand was crowned King of The Isles and The Rivers. Harwyn’s son, Halleck Hoare made his seat in The Riverlands instead of The Iron Islands at Fairmarket. Harwyn’s grandson, Harren the Black ordered the construction of an immense castle as a display of his wealth and power. The castle was named Harrenhal and the construction took forty years, in addition to enormous amounts of resources and capital. Harrenhal was completed the same day that Aegon Targaryen landed on Westeros with his dragons.
As Aegon began his campaign to win Westeros, Harren the Black had risen to new levels of unpopularity with The River Lords. His cruelty was known well throughout The Seven Kingdoms, hence the name Harren the Black. Rather than support House Hoare and their tyrannical king, The River Lords rose in rebellion once again, this time joining the cause of Aegon and House Targaryen.
House Tully was the first of The River Lords to align with Aegon the Conqueror. Houses Blackwood, Mallister, Vance, Piper, Frey, and Strong quickly followed.
Harren believed that refusing to meet Aegon in battle would mean that Aegon and The River Lords would have to lay siege on Harrenhal, which was now the most powerful castle in Westeros. Instead of laying siege to the immense castle, Aegon attacked with his dragons. Much of Harrenhal burned and melted from the Dragonfire. Harren and his heirs were killed in the attack.
Aegon raised Lord Edmyn Tully to Lord Paramount of The Trident, rulers of The Riverlands and below only the rule of House Targaryen.
The Inn of The Kneeling Man was built on The Red Fork where King Torrhen Stark, The King in The North, would later bend the knee and surrender to Aegon‘s rule.
Rule of House Tully
Lord Edmyn Tully was able to undo the damage done during the reign of Harren the Black. For the most part, The Riverlands and its lords remained united under the rule of House Tully during the reign of House Targaryen. This despite the many conflicts that would easily find footing in the region-
Harren the Red, and outlaw claiming to be the grandson of Black Harren rebelled against King Aenys I Targaryen and killed Lord Gargon Qoherys of Harrenhal. Harren the Red fled Harrenhal after putting much of its people to the sword when he learned that House Tully would march with a host to take the castle. Harren was cornered in a small town by The God’s Eye by Lord Alyn Stokeworth, The Hand to The King, and several hundred men marching from Kings Landing.
Several River Lords joined Prince Aegon Targaryen when he denounced his uncle, King Maegor I Targaryen as evil and unworthy of The Iron Throne. House Tully remained loyal to Maegor and during The Battle Beneath The God’s Eye, Prince Aegon Targaryen was killed. King Maegor punished the rebel River Lords who had sided with his nephew, including Houses Frey, Piper, and Vance, by taking lands and hostages.
During The Dance of the Dragons, the Targaryen civil war that consumed the realm, The River Lords were united under the rule of House Tully. Most supported “The Blacks” and Rhaenyra Targaryen against Aegon II Targaryen and “The Greens.” During the war, Prince Daemon Targaryen led an assault on Harrenhal, and along with the Blackwoods, defeated the Brackens at The Battle of the Burning Mill and took the Bracken seat of Stone Hedge. The Green Army of Prince Aegon, made up of military from The Westerlands, was victorious in The Battle of the Red Fork. They were subsequently defeated by Rivermen and Northmen in The Battle by The Lakeshore. In response, Prince Aemon Targaryen and his dragon burned much of The Riverlands. Prince Aemon was killed in The Battle Above the God’s Eye by Prince Daemon.
Ser Criston Cole, The Kingmaker, led an army of Greens through The Riverlands but was hampered by scorched earth tactics. Rivermen and their Northern allies crushed Ser Criston and his army in an ambush south of The God’s Eye, and what would be called The Butcher’s Ball.
House Tully as of A Song of Ice and Fire
As of the events of A Song of Ice and Fire, House Tully is one of The Great Houses of The Seven Kingdoms.Lord Hoster Tully rules The Riverlands from Riverrun as The Lord Paramount of The Trident. The sigil of House Tully is a silver trout leaping on a striped field of blue and mud red. The house words are “Family, Duty, Honor.”
House Tully follows the Faith of the Seven, though Riverrun keeps a godswood.
They are an older house with origins dating back to The Age of Heroes. Ser Edmure Tully and his sons were allies of King Tristifer IV Mudd. Despite this alliance, The Tullys knelt to the Andal conqueror Armistead Vance after the death of King Tristifer. Vance gifted to Edmure‘s son Axel Tully the land where The Red Fork and The Tumblestone meet. It was here that Axel constructed Riverrun.
House Tully never ruled as Kings- one of two Great Houses to have not done so (the other being House Tyrell). They did, however, hold Riverrun for a thousand years as powerful vassals to those houses that were Kings of Rivers and the Hills. Often, House Tully defended The Trident and its lands from the Kings of the Rock, House Lannister. There were times that House Tully did not support the King of Rivers and the Hills, in particular when Lord Elston Tully died supporting Lord Roderick Blackwood against House Teague and King Humfrey I Teague, and when Lord Tommen Tully supported a failed rebellion led by Lady Agnes Blackwood against Harwyn Hoare, King of the Iron Islands.
House Tully rose to their power during Aegon’s Conquest of Westeros. Lord Edmyn Tully led those River Lords rebelling against the rule of King Harren the Black and joined Aegon. After the defeat and death of Black Harren, Edmyn Tully was rewarded with dominion over all the Riverlands and named Lord Paramount of The Trident. One of Lord Edmyn‘s daughters married Lord Quenton Qoherys, the new Lord of Harrenhal. Lord Edmyn served as Hand of the King to Aegon Targaryen for two years.
House Tully continued to prove their worth to House Targaryen. King Aenys I was able to lean on House Tully during the brief rebellion of Harren the Red, and House Tully supported King Maegor I against Prince Aegon Targaryen during The Battle Beneath the God’s Eye. A short time later, however, House Tully turned their support to Prince Jaehaerys Targaryen against the cruel and unworthy Maegor.
Lord Grover Tully spoke in favor of Prince Viserys Targaryen as the successor to King Jaehaerys I during The Great Council of 101 AC.
The Great Council of 101 AC
Aemon Targaryen, the son and heir to King Jaehaerys I, died in 92 AC fighting Myrish pirates on Tarth. Jaehaerys chose Aemon‘s younger brother Baelon as his heir, thus passing over Princess Rhaenys, who was Aemon‘s daughter. Baelon Targaryen was named Hand to the King and had three sons of his own. He served well but a year after being named Hand, in 101 AC, Prince Baelon died of a burst-belly during a hunting trip, thus creating the need again for a new heir.
King Jaehaerys I would be known as The Old King, with many Westerosi historians calling him the greatest of The Dragon Kings– ruling for 50 years of peace and prosperity. In a decision he believed wise, Jaehaerys decided to not name a third heir following the death of Baelon Targaryen. Instead, he called upon the High Lords to decide at Great Council who would be his successor.
Despite as many as nine nominees having been considered, there were only two REAL candidates to succeed The Old King to The Iron Throne. Both Laenor Velaryon and Viserys Targaryen were of Old Valyrian blood and by the time of The Council, both had their own dragon with Viserys riding Balerion the Black Dread and Laenor recently acquiring Seasmoke. Favor went to Viserys as he was Targaryen, but more importantly, because he was of the male line, which the High Lords believed took precedence over the female line. Viserys was also 24 while Laenor was but 7. Lord Grover Tully and Lord Tymond Lannister supported Viserys.
The Dance of The Dragons/ The Blackfyre Rebellions
The Great Council indirectly led to the Dance of the Dragons. During this conflict, House Tully ruled over the normally quarrelsome River Lords. Lord Grover wished to support Queen Alicent and the Green faction. However, by this time Grover Tully was aged and his grandson Elmo and his great-grandson Kermit went over the elderly lord’s head and supported Princess Rhaenyra and what would be the winning faction of The Blacks. Elmo and Grover both died during the Targaryen civil war. Kermit survived and slew Lord Borros Baratheon during The Battle of the Kingsroad.
House Tully remained loyal to House Targaryen during the Blackfyre Rebellions.
House Tully has always seemed to be survivors. They have always chosen the right side in any region-wide conflict and they have a predatory sense of choosing the winning side in any Realm-wide dispute. Because of their fortune in choosing alliances, and more so because of the location and vulnerability of the Riverlands they ruled, seeking alliances both from their bannerman and outside their rule to noble houses in other regions of Westeros has become a vital part of Tully politics and policy.
The Fifth Blackfyre Rebellion was called The War of the Ninepenny Kings. During this conflict, House Tully once again supported the Targaryens, though this time it was alongside the rest of the High Lords of Westeros. Hoster Tully and Brynden Tully, his brother, fought alongside Lord Ormund Baratheon and his son Ser Steffon, Ser Jason Lannister fighting for his brother, Lord Tytos of Casterly Rock, and his nephew Tywin, Prince Aerys Targaryen. Winterfell, Pyke, and Dorne also fought for House Targaryen.