First Men equivalent to landed knights?

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First Men equivalent to landed knights?

Postby Gurkhal » Wed Oct 10, 2012 11:07 pm

Something just came up. What would be the First Men (or Northern) equivalent to a House of landed knights? Would it be untitled Houses who lacks a formal title but gets to rule some land or something lower than even petty lords?
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Re: First Men equivalent to landed knights?

Postby DaimosofRedstone » Wed Oct 10, 2012 11:57 pm

Could also be a free, non-noble farmer who owns considerable land, owns direct alligance to his lord and calls up his tenants in case of war. If he is especially prosperous he might even have his own housecarl equivalent.
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Re: First Men equivalent to landed knights?

Postby Carriker » Thu Oct 11, 2012 12:19 am

They are probably simply referred to as "landed" rather than "noble" and still given the title "Lord" by their vassals. At one point in time, Martin described such houses as "masterly houses" (as in, their lord was simply called "master"), but he seems to have rescinded that to some degree.

The Wiki of Ice and Fire still has that classification for two of the Houses that qualify, the Glovers and the Tallharts. Under the Classifications, they are given the tag of "Knightly Houses", which suggests that "masterly houses" are the equivalent of landed knights.
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Re: First Men equivalent to landed knights?

Postby Paedrig » Thu Oct 11, 2012 2:45 am

Given the fact what is known about the social order of many early societies i think that de facto there existed an equivalent to "landed knights" during the times of the First Men.
Of course without some of the religious/ cultural aspects of knighthood, but in the end "kings" in early societies were also often only "big men" (or even in some aspects something like a bandit chef).

And during time the old houses which survived were certainly incorporated into the feudal structures of Westeros...
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Re: First Men equivalent to landed knights?

Postby Gurkhal » Thu Oct 11, 2012 8:57 am

Thanks for the replies guys!

After considering the replies and the world of Westeros I've decided to simply call them "landed", to be able to call them something, and afford them no additional title and assuming its a less standardized forumla than in the South and that it could be all from official grants of land to simple "private" persons owninga considerbal ammount of land and raising troops for the lord from them.

While I did consider to make them "masterly" I decided against on the fact that both the Glovers have at least four bannermen Houses and both of them are given the ranking Major in the campaign guide. Thus I can't really see masterly Houses as being the eqvivalent of knightly Houses.
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Re: First Men equivalent to landed knights?

Postby AGlumSon » Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:10 am

Maybe I didn't understand your question correctly, but when I read this I think of the Flints (one of the mountain clans in the North). It seems that they are using "the" and then the persons name or House Name to indicate the person in charge (i.e. the Ned, the Flint). Maybe this can give a nice spin to regular titles in the case of the First Men?

Paedrig wrote:Given the fact what is known about the social order of many early societies i think that de facto there existed an equivalent to "landed knights" during the times of the First Men.
Of course without some of the religious/ cultural aspects of knighthood, but in the end "kings" in early societies were also often only "big men" (or even in some aspects something like a bandit chef).


I don't agree. Landownership is something that is alien to most "pre-chiefdom" societies. Furthermore institutionalized leadership is not found among all or even many early societies, which are often driven by strong egalitarian motives. So, depending on the actual social structure of the First Men they could have had anything from Wildling-like chiefs, to big men achieved leadership, to heterachical communities with a strong drive towards egalitarianism.

Granted, this is nitpicking. It would be only logical if you want to play them with the Chronicle system that there must be some difference in Status to keep things interesting.
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Re: First Men equivalent to landed knights?

Postby DaimosofRedstone » Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:27 am

To weigh in on this:
Almost all societies saw a contraction of landownership, e.g. more and more land in fewer and fewer hands, which needly dovetails with the erection of hierarchic rule.

The Mountain clans are actually a step behind the rest of Westeros in that regard.
There landownership seems to have contracted enough that certain families are able to occupy inheritable leadership positions, but not far enough that they wield enough power to simply push their followers down to mere subjects.
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Re: First Men equivalent to landed knights?

Postby Paedrig » Fri Oct 12, 2012 2:50 am

I am sceptic concerning to this supposed "strong egalitarian society" of early cultures - allthough of course it depends what you mean.
If you speak about stone age and pre historic times, than i can not say anything because i have no much knowledge. But as far as i know often in societies which were supposed to be "egalitarian" this was often also an construction by (sometimes "more civilzed") outsiders or the egalitarian aspect was a retroperspective constrution.

A good example are the tribes of the germans - some ancient historiens like Tacitus (who want to use them as an example to warn and to teach the roman society) and later historiens (who pictured a rather unrealistic view) ignored the fact that in reality there was something like a nobility - and most known leaders and chiefs came from such families.

And i may be wrong but i pictured i the First Men a little bit more civilized than their remnants in the mountains of the moon.
Of course if the clans (nad to some extent also the Wildlings) are socialy a more or less correct picture of the First Men in their best times than i would be wrong...
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Re: First Men equivalent to landed knights?

Postby Gurkhal » Fri Oct 12, 2012 4:41 am

AGlumSon wrote:Maybe I didn't understand your question correctly, but when I read this I think of the Flints (one of the mountain clans in the North). It seems that they are using "the" and then the persons name or House Name to indicate the person in charge (i.e. the Ned, the Flint). Maybe this can give a nice spin to regular titles in the case of the First Men?


That's an interesting idea and I think I shall indeed adopt it. Thanks for sharing. :)
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Re: First Men equivalent to landed knights?

Postby Paedrig » Fri Oct 12, 2012 5:45 am

I would that these mountain tribes of the north might be relatively close to the society of the First Men - but this is only a guessing.
Perhaps the using of the terminus "landed knight" was not so good, but i would agree that there must be families of higher social standing and the de facto control of more land than normal (proto noble so to speak).
Beside this i would assume also a relatively strong "class" of free farmers etc. should be possibly
A society not so strict like the feudal Westeros society of modern times but also not realy eaglitarian...
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Re: First Men equivalent to landed knights?

Postby DaimosofRedstone » Fri Oct 12, 2012 7:54 am

Paedrig wrote:I am sceptic concerning to this supposed "strong egalitarian society" of early cultures - allthough of course it depends what you mean.
If you speak about stone age and pre historic times, than i can not say anything because i have no much knowledge. But as far as i know often in societies which were supposed to be "egalitarian" this was often also an construction by (sometimes "more civilzed") outsiders or the egalitarian aspect was a retroperspective constrution.

Only in part. Subsistence farming society are by design only able to support very shallow hierarchies. There simply is no food for exclusivly administrative or military personal. Ergo everybody has to work and since everybody is needed for the success of a venture most everybody has to be consulted and convinced.
A good example are the tribes of the germans - some ancient historiens like Tacitus (who want to use them as an example to warn and to teach the roman society) and later historiens (who pictured a rather unrealistic view) ignored the fact that in reality there was something like a nobility - and most known leaders and chiefs came from such families.

Though the Germans seem to have been extremly averse to the idea of kingship or anything above the tribal things.
Arminius was murdered because he sought the crown, or so the histories tell us.
In fact one could make the fact that the 'nobility' you refer to was not nobility as a feudal society understands, that is leadership by right of blood, but instead leadership because those families had enough wealth that their scions could afford to mendle in politics without loosing meals over it.
And i may be wrong but i pictured i the First Men a little bit more civilized than their remnants in the mountains of the moon.
Of course if the clans (nad to some extent also the Wildlings) are socialy a more or less correct picture of the First Men in their best times than i would be wrong...

What is corrupted?
The Clans of the Moon life on land nobody else wants and for good reason. Under those circumstances a culture that is equal to that of the rest of Westeros is simply not sustainable though we can be sure that their oral traditions will be quite rich.
As for 'civilization':
What makes civilized?
Morals?
Roads?
Steel?
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Re: First Men equivalent to landed knights?

Postby AGlumSon » Fri Oct 12, 2012 8:25 am

DaimosofRedstone wrote:
A good example are the tribes of the germans - some ancient historiens like Tacitus (who want to use them as an example to warn and to teach the roman society) and later historiens (who pictured a rather unrealistic view) ignored the fact that in reality there was something like a nobility - and most known leaders and chiefs came from such families.

Though the Germans seem to have been extremly averse to the idea of kingship or anything above the tribal things.
Arminius was murdered because he sought the crown, or so the histories tell us.
In fact one could make the fact that the 'nobility' you refer to was not nobility as a feudal society understands, that is leadership by right of blood, but instead leadership because those families had enough wealth that their scions could afford to mendle in politics without loosing meals over it.


Germanic leadership was founded on the "comitatus" system: a "chief" would be able to lead only because he was backed up by his comitatus or "warband". These were men were loyal to their leader because he redistributed gifts to them that made them "men of worth": food and mobile wealth (armour, weapons, horses, jewellery). In a sense the leader and his group were completely dependent on each other. So, the early Germanic title of chieftain was not hereditary. Wealth, however, was, which led to families that were able to hold onto power for several generations (and indeed lay a continuous claim to a certain territory).

When this system balanced itself out this led to hereditary chieftainship/early kingship and ownership of territory: a form of early feudalism which in the Early mediaeval Scandinavian countries is known as "sibbengedryht", which in turn formed the basis for the feudal kingdoms of the High Middle Ages.

Perhaps a bit simplistic in its brevity and all based on conjecture for the setting of Westeros, but this might be a version of the socio-political trajectory the First Men and their descendants (the Kings in the North and the rest of Westeros before the coming of the Andals) have taken.

BTW a "comitatus" style setting which allows for a lot of jockeying for power between men in a warband vs. other warbands seems like a great idea for a SIFRP campaign taking place in the wilder places of Westeros or its early history. Thanks for the inspiration Gurkhal!
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Re: First Men equivalent to landed knights?

Postby Kajani » Fri Oct 12, 2012 8:43 am

I see that a little bit different. There were de facto "kings" or long-time warlords in ancient "Germany". Marbod for example was not removed by his own man, but by Arminius, his power-rival, and Ariovist ruled a huge war band of men from Celtic and German warriors over years, controlling large areas of land - before he was crushed by a certain superior general from Rome which name we all know...

Even the "free" tribes of Germania Magna seem to come back to the idea of leadership within the same family at least from time to time. So it was with the Cherusci which some years after the battle in saltus teutoburgensis "asked" the Empire for a new leader and got Italicus, the son of Flavus, brother of Arminius (which other than his brother stayed loyal to Rome and did not become a traitor). That sounds for me so as if it was not in any case so that leaders were made, not born...

When it becomes to the question of civilization, I would say culture, rules and social relations made the difference. The Clans are more or less raiders which fight constantly - even each other. The first men were able to create kingdoms which mean they must have had something like law and rules; they did not live in constant war.
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Re: First Men equivalent to landed knights?

Postby stew31r » Sat Oct 13, 2012 6:25 am

Everything I've seen about the First Men before the Andal Conquest reminds me of Bronze Age Celts, who indeed did have kingdoms. They weren't huge, because they were still based around the tribe, but in the early celtic kingdoms there were essentially clans(banner houses) that controlled settlements and answered to the king of the tribe. While the early Celtic kingdoms also had trappings of a meritocracy in the way that leaders were selected and how wealth and prestige were handed out, they still had kings and chiefs and nobles, who enforced the laws, collected tribute, and led the tribe in war. The literature out there about the early Irish kingdoms would be a good reference point for this theory of the First Men.
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Re: First Men equivalent to landed knights?

Postby DaimosofRedstone » Sat Oct 13, 2012 6:38 am

stew31r wrote:Everything I've seen about the First Men before the Andal Conquest reminds me of Bronze Age Celts, who indeed did have kingdoms. They weren't huge, because they were still based around the tribe, but in the early celtic kingdoms there were essentially clans(banner houses) that controlled settlements and answered to the king of the tribe. While the early Celtic kingdoms also had trappings of a meritocracy in the way that leaders were selected and how wealth and prestige were handed out, they still had kings and chiefs and nobles, who enforced the laws, collected tribute, and led the tribe in war. The literature out there about the early Irish kingdoms would be a good reference point for this theory of the First Men.

There never were celts.
It is a term like 'Asians' or 'Africans' and just as misleading if used in sweeping statements.
'Celtic' culture goes all the way from Spain to the Ural and beyond, from Caledonia to Libya.
It is useless as a ethnologic or descriptive term.
What you describe there is a system gobbled together from 50+ cultural backgrounds and most likely did not exist in this form.
Also a lot of what you claim there are leftovers from 19th century propagande were the newly awakening national states grabbed whatever antique cultures they could and twisted them till they could claim a uninterrupted pedigree dating back to the times before the coming of christ.
The Germans painted their German forebearers as fearful, moral warriors, the brits interpreted a lot into the egalatarinism of the saxons and their Fyrd, the French were overjoyed that the Franks had trounced the saxons which they read as Germans so good, and so on...
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Re: First Men equivalent to landed knights?

Postby Paedrig » Sat Oct 13, 2012 7:17 am

Yes, but setting aside the failures of 19th century historians and how they interprated the past (f. e. the idea of a "egalitarian" german warrior society were the best became leader/king - ignoring the existence of some sort of nobility) it is a fact that the different societies of the bronce age had already "High Kings" and beside this "kings" or other sort of lower nobels.
Perhaps another good example might be greek culture of the Mykene. The King of the North would in comparison to this act as some sort of High king (like perhaps - if there is some thruth in the Ilias/Odyssee like some historians claim- the king of Mykene) while other "kings" rule mostly independant, all this hold together by loose ties of alliances and gifts...
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Re: First Men equivalent to landed knights?

Postby DaimosofRedstone » Sat Oct 13, 2012 8:30 am

Paedrig wrote:Yes, but setting aside the failures of 19th century historians and how they interprated the past (f. e. the idea of a "egalitarian" german warrior society were the best became leader/king - ignoring the existence of some sort of nobility) it is a fact that the different societies of the bronce age had already "High Kings" and beside this "kings" or other sort of lower nobels.

But that obfuscates the object matter.
There are few if any indications that those were true hereditary ruler like be know from the middle ages were dynasties sometimes held the command over certain nations for century.
What the little in way of sources indicates in most cases seems to be a rather thin layer of prosperous families (oftentimes misleadingly labeled 'nobility') and from those 'kings' would come forth.
But there is not yet the specializiation, the warrior nobility, the divine right and the strict hierarchy we know from the middle ages.
These societies might not have been egalitarian as we understand it but there was certainly more social mobility than in a lord were the right to rule comes from the gods via the blood.
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Re: First Men equivalent to landed knights?

Postby Kajani » Sat Oct 13, 2012 9:23 am

But we have sources going back that claim some sort of families and "blood" which dominates - as Paedrig mentioned the tales of Homer and related stories. It is until now unknown if they are oral transmitted stories from the bronze-time of Mykene-Greece (many details of settlements and weapons, armour he describe seem to come from that time), or if the social behaviour is more that of "his" (if he was a person and not several people created this stories) time, the dark ages. In Homer's stories it seems that a lit depends on personality, but blood matters too. Nobody here claim that the society of the First Men was so strict and organized like in medieval times (which, by the way, were also not so strict if you look into early middle ages, were later knights and nobility sometimes come from very low roots), but I think they had organization in several social "classes". It may be that there was not clear partition between fighter and peasants as in most european bronze- and early iron-age societies, I guess - also I think there may be elite societies of warriors. But I think that there was clearly a class of half-free or not-free people (I think the abolition of slavery was more the result of the faith of the Andals). That in the "traditional" North such things like the "ius primen nocte" (which in reality never exists) seem to exist is a evidence of HUGE social differences in the North, because that is the negation of any egalitarian principle.
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Re: First Men equivalent to landed knights?

Postby Flagg » Sat Oct 13, 2012 9:48 am

Cutting through the pedantry, I think that the important thing to consider in comparing the First Men to historical cultures is not what the "true" version of that history is, but rather which version GRRM drew his inspiration from.

Our modern notions of these European cultures may be influenced by 18th century revisionist history, but perhaps so are Martin's. Which myth seems to fit best with what he's shown us of the First Men?
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Re: First Men equivalent to landed knights?

Postby DaimosofRedstone » Sat Oct 13, 2012 2:20 pm

Flagg wrote:
Our modern notions of these European cultures may be influenced by 18th century revisionist history, but perhaps so are Martin's. Which myth seems to fit best with what he's shown us of the First Men?

Any noble savage fairy tale.
Choose your poison.
There are probably more out there than 19th century nationalist.
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Re: First Men equivalent to landed knights?

Postby Paedrig » Sun Oct 14, 2012 1:22 am

Anyway the stories of kings, great families and gigantic buildings and other great project (like the wall f. e.) clearly indicates that the First Men were certainly better organized than the Wildlings or Mountain of the Moon Clan (who would never be able to do such things because they simply are a to unstable, fragmented and violent society).

And the existence of such great fortifications (Winterfell, Storms End, Casterly Rock) and other projects like they were already built by the First Men indicates the existence of longer lastings dynasties which are also supported by stories (remember the kings of the rivers and the hills in the Riverlands - the dynasties of the Fishers, Justmans and Muddkings King, namely Tristifer IV "Hammer of Justice" and his son Tristifer V who fought against the Andals) and i. m. o. also some sort of higher and lower nobility simply to organize the land and have the ability to mobilize the means for greater projects...
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Re: First Men equivalent to landed knights?

Postby DaimosofRedstone » Sun Oct 14, 2012 3:32 am

Paedrig wrote:Anyway the stories of kings, great families and gigantic buildings and other great project (like the wall f. e.) clearly indicates that the First Men were certainly better organized than the Wildlings or Mountain of the Moon Clan (who would never be able to do such things because they simply are a to unstable, fragmented and violent society).

Don't be so hard on the Mountain Clans.
They are what is left of the Southern First Men after the Andals stole all the land and drove them into the wild.
Considering they did pretty well for themselves, preserving a unique identity and surviving in the Mountains.
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Re: First Men equivalent to landed knights?

Postby Kajani » Sun Oct 14, 2012 5:29 am

I agree that it is not so much their fault or wish to be so (if not - what may be or not - that some of them never left the mountains and later were joined by the fleeing "civilised" First Men which interbreed with the "barbarians" and lost most of their abilities). But they seem to be even in the field of mastering bronze superior to their relatives of old days. I mean, nobody speaks about sophisticated weapons and armour in their hand...
They have to live an very rough land under harsh conditions. But I think that is it what divide them from the First Men when they ruled the whole continent and build such fortifications as Paedrig mentioned above. So I believe they gave a bad example for the situation during the Age of Heroes etc...
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Re: First Men equivalent to landed knights?

Postby Flagg » Sun Oct 14, 2012 5:59 am

Perhaps the Thenn give us a better in-game comparison to the First Men?

They seem to have a pretty organized society with strong central leadership, agriculture, and while they can't make steel (for lack of technology or lack of iron, I don't know), they have fairly advanced bronze metallurgy.

If anything, I'd expect the First Men to be more advanced because they had access to more land and better climate, but the Thenn are certainly far head of the other examples of pre-Andal culture we have.
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Re: First Men equivalent to landed knights?

Postby Kajani » Sun Oct 14, 2012 9:05 am

It is a pity that we did so little know about the early history of house Stark - they were some sort of High King (but in the old days not without rivals for example from the Dreadfurt) of the North, and the tradition of their house and castle seem in some aspects go back to the days of Brandon the Builder...
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