Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire: History of Westeros-Part 5: The War of Conquest

Aegon Targaryen landed on a hill in -2 AL. He came with his two sister-wives, Rhaenys and Visenya, their three dragons, Balerion, Meraxes, and Vhagar, and less than 1600 men to the mouth of Blackwater Rush. Aegon had chosen to come to Westeros rather than answer a call from the Free Cities of Essos. After the Doom of Valyria, the Free Cities fell into years of blood and war, and Aegon rejected their plea for his help in uniting them into a new freehold. At the time of Aegon’s landing, Westeros was still divided into the Seven Kingdoms. The rulers of each kingdom were:
  • Torrhen Stark, King in the North
  • Ronnel Arryn, King of the Vale, a boy of six
  • Harren Hoare, King of the Iron Islands and Riverlands
  • Loren I Lannister, King of the Westerlands
  • Mern IX Gardner, King of the Reach
  • Argilac Durrendon, King of the Stormlands
  • Mariya Martell, Princess of Dorne

Rhaenys, Aegon, and Visenya

Argilac Durrendon was the first to attempt peace with Aegon. Before the war even began, Harren Hoare finished construction on his huge keep, Harrenhal. Argilac had heard of Harren’s hopes of bigger conquests, so he sent an alliance offer to Aegon in order to create a buffer zone between himself and Harren. Argilac offered his daughter Argella’s hand in marriage and dowry lands, which actually belonged to Harren. Aegon declined Argilac’s offer, but made a counter-offer: Argella would marry Aegon’s best friend and rumored bastard brother, Orys Baratheon. Argilac was insulted and cut off the hands of Aegon’s messenger. The hands were sent back with a note, informing Aegon that these hands were the only ones he would be receiving. This act prompted Aegon to move quicker than expected; he called his banners and his sisters and sent ravens to all the great kings of Westeros. These ravens bore the message, “There will only be one king.” If they bent the knee, they would get to keep their lands and titles. If they did not, they would be destroyed.

Since Ronnel Arryn was only 6 years old, his mother Sharra Arryn acted as Queen Regent. Sharra was the next to attempt to negotiate with Aegon, offering her own hand in marriage and an alliance if Aegon made Ronnel his heir. Mariya Martell offered an alliance against Argilac, but she would not swear fealty to Aegon. Both offers were rejected. Before invading, Aegon allegedly visited the largest keeps of Westeros, investigating their strengths and their lords and kings. He then built the Painted Table, a table cut in the shape of Westeros. He considered the Seven Kingdoms to be one land split into different regions, rather than seven regions on the same land.

The Targaryens landed on three hills at the mouth of Blackwater Rush. On the highest point of the highest hill, Aegon built a wooden fort, to act as his first claim to Westeros. Visenya gave him as crown and Rhaenys hailed him as the true king. The two sisters were then sent on their dragons to subdue the local lords. Rhaenys took Rosby without any bloodshed, as did Visenya with Stokeworth. Duskendale and Maidenpool attempted to fight back, but were easily beaten. Aegon had conquered the area where King’s Landing now stands.

Battle of Gulltown
Daemon Velaryon took Aegon’s fleet to Gulltown, quickly followed by Visenya, riding upon Vhagar. The Arryn fleet came out from Gulltown and defeated the Targaryen fleet, killing Lord Daemon in the process. Vhagar then burned the Arryn fleet in response, so although the Targaryens lost the battle, they were able to destroy a part of the Vale’s strength. The Sistermen of the Three Sisters, a group of small isles at the top of the Vale, revolted against the Eyrie out of anger of the destroyed fleet.

Conquest of the Riverlands and Iron Islands
Harren Hoare ruled both the Iron Islands and Riverlands from Harrenhal, on the mainland of Westeros, slightly south of the Vale. Harrenhal was the greatest keep that Westeros had ever known,
Fall of Harrenhal
considered impregnable to siege or storm. But not to dragons. Harren refused to surrender to Aegon and he and his sons hid inside Kingspyre Tower. Aegon rode Balerion through Harrenhal’s defenses and burned Harren and his sons alive inside the tower, earning it it’s name. The remaining ironborn fled the burned castle and raced back to the Iron Islands, with Aegon trailing them. The Riverlords had sworn fealty to Aegon when Harrenhal was ruined and helped him trail the ironborn. Lord Vickon Greyjoy of Pyke was elected as their leader and Aegon demanded their fealty. This made the Tullys and Greyjoys the first major houses to bend the knee to Aegon. The Tullys were made overlords of the Riverlands because of this and the rest of the Riverlords had to swear fealty to them.

The Submission of Crackclaw Point
Visenya Targaryen was sent to Crackclaw Point after Harren Hoare’s death to demand fealty from their lords. The lords knew they had no chance, so they yielded upon VIsenya’s arrival. She took them as their own men and promised they would not owe any fealty but to the Iron Throne. Crackclaw Point became a direct vassal of the Targaryens without any fighting and have been known as some of the biggest Targaryen loyalists since.

The Last Storm
Aegon sent Orys Baratheon and Rhaenys riding Meraxes to attack Storm’s End. Argilac’s men were still loyal despite the stories they had heard about what Aegon did at Harrenhal. Argilac brought his army forth to meet Orys’, refusing to meet the same fate as Harren Hoare. Rhaenys tracked Argilac’s movements through a huge storm, the storm that gave the battle its name. The mud created by the storm slowed Argilac’s men and broke out only to come face to face with Rhaenys and Meraxes. In
Orys and Argella
the confusion and terror, Argilac fell from his horse and met Orys in single combat. Both men came out wounded, but only Orys survived. Argilac’s death ended the battle and his daughter Argella barred Storm’s End, declaring herself Storm Queen. Her army revolted, afraid of facing the same fate of the men at Harrenhal. Argella was delivered to Orys, chained and naked. Orys gave her food and his cloak, removing the chains gently. Orys then married Argella and took House Durrendon’s sigil and words as his own. House Baratheon was then formed and made Lord Paramount of the Storm Lands.

Field of Fire
King Loren of the Westerlands and King Mern of the Reach decided that their best chance against Aegon was to join forces. The two kings had a total of around 55,000 men, 5000 of them mounted knights, while Aegon had only a fifth of that number. The two armies met in a dry field in the Reach, with Jon Mooton of Maidenpool commanding the Targaryen host. The Reachmen and Westermen charged and began to break the Targaryen lines. For the first and only time, all three Targaryen dragons battled together. Balerion, Meraxes, and Vhagar all took to the air and set the field on fire. Jon Mooton moved upwind and the fires raged downwind. The Targaryens only lost 100 men, but Visenya took an arrow the shoulder. Mooton directed the Targaryen host away from the flaming field while the allied forces burned alive. Four thousand allied men died, including King Mern. House Gardner was ended and Aegon won another victory. Loren gave up his claim and became Warden of the West under Aegon. Harlen Tyrell surrendered Mern’s host to Aegon and was rewarded by becoming Lord of Highgarden and Warden of the South, as House Tyrell now had dominion over the Reach.

Conquest of the North
Torrhen Stark marched a host south toward the Riverlands, meeting Aegon along the Trident. All of Aegon’s force was there, as well as the three dragons. Originally, Torrhen had intended to fight Aegon, but realized that would be a huge mistake upon seeing what Aegon had brought with him. Torrhen bent the knee and Aegon named him Warden of the North and Lord of Winterfell. An inn was built on the site of Torrhen’s submission, named the Inn of the Kneeling Man.

Conquest of the Vale
Sharra Arryn sent a huge army to the Bloody Gate in her Son, Ronnel’s, name. Visenya simply rode Vhagar into the courtyard of the Eyrie. Ronnel begged her for a ride on the dragon and his mother found him outside on Vhagar’s back. Sharra acknowledged Aegon as king and Ronnel got his ride. So basically, the Vale wimped out and submitted with no fighting.

Battle with Dorne
Dorne was not one of the Seven Kingdoms, but Aegon sent Rhaenys to invade them anyway, in hopes of uniting everyone. The Dornishmen had learned of the mistakes on the Field of Fire and at Harrenhal, so instead of giving Aegon open battle, they cut and engaged in guerilla warfare while Rhaenys came through the Red Mountains. The Dornishmen stayed on the move so the dragons could not find them. Rhaenys could only capture empty castles, so she flew straight to Sunspear, the Dornish capital. Princess Mariya refused to surrender and told Rhaenys that she was not wanted in Dorne and should return at her peril. Rhaenys replied that she would return with fire and blood. Mariya then recited her house’s words: “Unbowed. Unbent. Unbroken.” Rhaenys returned to Aegon, who decided that the country could not be taken and Dorne should remain an independent nation.

Conquest of Oldtown
The High Septon in Oldtown prayed for seven days and seven nights in the Starry Sept upon hearing of Aegon’s landing. The Crone showed him that opposition to the Targaryens would end with Oldtown aflame in dragon fire. Lord Hightower of Oldtown left his force in the city when Aegon came and the gates were opened freely. The High Septon anointed Aegon as the King of Westeros.

Aegon began to build a new castle near his landing spot, the Red Keep. It was built in the new capital city of King’s Landing. Aegon melted all the swords of his opposers into an throne, the Iron Throne. Aegon devoted the rest of his life and reign to the consolidation of the realm.

The Red Keep on Aegon's High Hill

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