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Population of Westeros


Army size

As noted in my “Military Organization of Seven Kingdoms” post, “at Agincourt in 1415., English field 6 000 – 9 000 trops, while the French field 14 000 – 15 000 professional soldiers and some 10 000 armed servants (so cca 25 000). French defeat was enough to cripple military capability of France, suggesting that the force fielded was the bulk of the military power of the kingdom“.

Total population of England in 1415. was around 2 050 000, and that of France was 11 000 000 in 1400. As such, number of troops as percentage of population was 0,29 – 0,44% for England, and 0,23% for France. Westeros has 235 000 ground troops, which would suggest total population of anywhere between 53 million and 102 million. It should be noted that France was actually incapable of fully mobilizing due to factionalism, while England was engaging in offensive warfare and thus likely did not deploy majority of its army. Thus more likely number of potential military strength is around 1% for both kingdoms, which – if navy is included into numbers as well – would give population of cca 40 million.

More specific data is available for kingdom of Hungary. In 1453., council of nobles in Budim called for raising of 35 banderies. Each province had to make a census of village habitats (sessio colonalis) and on each hundred, raise four cavalrymen and two infantry archers. Assuming 5 per house, this would imply 1,2% population in military (at population of 3 400 000 – 5 000 000 people, Hungary would have army of 40 000 – 60 000 at 1,2%, which tallies with actual historical numbers). Matthias Corvinus requested nobles to raise one cavalryman per 10 houses, which – assuming 5 per house – would give 2% of population in the military (for total of 68 000 – 100 000). This too ignores navy – although Hungarian-Croatian kingdom did not have much naval strength except on Danube – giving total population of Westeros as 11 750 000 – 19 600 000. If navy is included into numbers, total of 388 000 troops would lead to population of 19,4 – 32 million.

What muddles numbers somewhat is the nature of militaries in Westeros. Armies discussed above consisted of professional soldiers, even though organization of the army itself was not truly professional (and was thus at disadvantage against fully professional Ottoman army). Yet information on Westerosi armies is contradictory, confusing, inconsistent and weird. Sizes of armies and their general organization and behavior suggest military organization based on Edward I’s indenture system, which is to say, professional soldiers with at least somewhat standardized organization. But Tywin also deploys “a swarming mass of undisciplined freeriders and sellswords, fieldhands on plow horses armed with scythes and their fathers’ rusted swords, halftrained boys from the stews of Lannisport and Tyrion and his mountain clansmen”. While these troops were a bait, fact that Tywin expected the bait to work suggests that such deployments are not unknown. This would push the population numbers significantly downwards.

CONCLUSION: Population of Westeros is around 32 million, with minimum of 12 million and maximum of 40 million.

Division would be as follows:

  • North: 29 500 soldiers, 1 475 000 – 2 458 000 people
  • Riverlands: 20 000 soldiers, 1 000 000 – 1 700 000 people
  • Westerlands: 35 000 soldiers, 32 500 sailors, 1 750 000 – 2 920 000 people
  • Crownlands: 11 000 soldiers, 42 250 sailors, 550 000 – 917 000 people
  • Stormlands: 25 000 soldiers, 1 250 000 – 2 083 000 people
  • Reach: 65 000 soldiers, 35 750 sailors, 3 250 000 – 5 417 000 people
  • Vale: 25 000 soldiers, 1 250 000 – 2 083 000 people
  • Dorne: 25 000 soldiers, 1 250 000 – 2 083 000 people
  • Iron Islands: 42 000 sailors, 420 000 people
  • TOTAL: 235 500 ground troops, 12 195 000 – 20 081 000 people (2% – 1,2%)

If naval forces are counted, situation is as follows:

  • North: 29 500 soldiers, 1 475 000 – 2 458 000 people
  • Riverlands: 20 000 soldiers, 1 000 000 – 1 700 000 people
  • Westerlands: 67 500 soldiers and sailors, 3 375 000 – 5 625 000 people
  • Crownlands: 53 250 soldiers and sailors, 2 662 000 – 4 437 000 people
  • Stormlands: 25 000 soldiers, 1 250 000 – 2 083 000 people
  • Reach: 100 750 soldiers and sailors, 5 037 000 – 8 396 000 people
  • Vale: 25 000 soldiers, 1 250 000 – 2 083 000 people
  • Dorne: 25 000 soldiers, 1 250 000 – 2 083 000 people
  • Iron Islands: 42 000 sailors, 420 000 people
  • TOTAL: 388 000 troops, 17 719 000 – 29 285 000 people

Population density

Westeros is, essentially, 14th to 15th century Europe, although exact specifics vary from 9th century up to 15th century, depending on the area – and further east, Free Cities may go up to 17th century while Slaver’s Bay and much of Essos in general is set firmly in antiquity (Dothraki being Huns at best and Slaver’s Bay armies drawing from influences such as Sumeran phalanx). If this is followed through, it becomes possible to find out likely or at least plausible population densities by looking at historical influences, as George Martin was not really all that inventive or inspired when creating his world (definitely less so than Tolkien, and so his influences are much easier to discern). It should be noted that basic idea of Seven Kingdoms is a direct copy-pasta of Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy. Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, Kent, Essex, Sussex, Wessex even have similarity in naming pattern to Seven Kingdoms of Westeros (Northumbria – North, Wessex – Westerlands). However, demographic, cultural, political, military and much of historical influences are taken from all over the Europe.

In 1300., population of Europe was between 80 and 100 per square mile, to drop to 55 – 60 in 1400. and 1450., rising to 60 in 1500. England had population of cca 6 500 000 in 1317., or else 4 500 000 in 1300. as a minimum estimate. It fell to 2 000 000 in 1400. – 1450.

Population densities I will be using are are as follows:

  • Scotland 1300. – 400 000, 80 000 km2 = 5 per km2
  • Scotland 1350. – 300 000, 80 000 km2 = 3,75 per km2
  • Scotland 1400. – 400 000, 80 000 km2 = 5 per km2
  • Scotland 1450. – 500 000, 80 000 km2 = 6,25 per km2
  • England 1350. – 2 600 000, 145 000 km2 = 17,93 per km2
  • England 1400. – 2 080 000, 145 000 km2 = 14,34 per km2
  • England 1450. – 1 900 000, 145 000 km2 = 13,1 per km2
  • Wales 1350. – 300 000, 20 800 km2 = 14,42 per km2
  • Wales 1400. – 200 000, 20 800 km2 = 9,62 per km2
  • Wales 1450. – 200 000, 20 800 km2 = 9,62 per km2
  • France 1300. – 17 000 000, 340 000 km2 = 50 per km2
  • France 1350. – 15 000 000, 340 000 km2 = 44,12 per km2
  • France 1400. – 14 000 000, 340 000 km2 = 41,18 per km2
  • France 1450. – 14 000 000, 340 000 km2 = 41,18 per km2
  • Norway 1000. – 150 000, 400 000 km2 = 0,5 per km2
  • Norway 1300. – 400 000, 400 000 km2 = 1 per km2
  • Germany 1300. – 9 100 000, ~350 000 km2 = 26 per km2
  • Germany 1350. – 8 500 000, ~350 000 km2 = 24,29 per km2
  • Germany 1400. – 9 600 000, ~350 000 km2 = 27,43 per km2
  • Switzerland 1300. – 700 000, 40 000 km2 = 17,5 per km2
  • Switzerland 1350. – 600 000, 40 000 km2 = 15 per km2
  • Switzerland 1400. – 700 000, 40 000 km2 = 17,5 per km2
  • Spain and Portugal 1300. – 6 000 000, 596 740 km2 = 10,05 per km2
  • Spain and Portugal 1350. – 5 000 000, 596 740 km2 = 8,38 per km2
  • Spain and Portugal 1400. – 6 000 000, 596 740 km2 = 10,05 per km2

Links:

For this, area is also necessary. George Martin appears to use length of Wall of 300 miles as a measure fairly consistently, so that is what I will use as a basis. 300 miles is 483 km. At the map I am using, Wall is 160 px long, so 1 px = 3 km seems a reasonable approximation.

Areas:

  • North: 222 285 px = 2 000 565 km2
  • Riverlands: 58 339 px = 525 051 km2
  • Westerlands: 42 463 px = 382 167 km2
  • Crownlands: 16 556 px = 149 004 km2
  • Stormlands: 44 090 px = 396 810 km2
  • Reach: 92 459 px = 832 131 km2
  • Vale: 53 182 px = 478 638 km2
  • Dorne: 66 425 px = 597 825 km2
  • Iron Islands: 2 233 px = 20 097 km2

North

North is essentially Scotland – though more similar to actual Scotland than to Braveheart one. North even has its own Highlanders in form of Mountain Clans – their name and description Jon Snow gives make this pretty clear. North is also shown to rely heavily on pike blocks but with fewer cavalry than others, much like Scotland did historically. Ethnically and genetically, North is populated predominantly by the First Men – much like most of Scottish population draws origin from Celts. It shares Scotland’s independent streak and disdain for outsiders. Northern belief in the Old Gods is actually a direct copy-paste of (certain aspects of) Celtic religion. Its geographic span is much more similar to Scandinavia, but actual physical geography does appear to be rather Scottish. Therefore, population density might be similar to (that is, in-between) population density of these two places.

Area: 2 000 565 km2

Density: 3,75 / 5 / 6,25 per km2

Population:

  • 7 500 000
  • 10 000 000
  • 12 500 000

Riverlands

Riverlands are Germany. Much like Germany, they are situated in central part of the continent, are full of rivers, politically fragmented and prone to getting invaded by their neighbours. While they do have strong economy, political fragmentation makes them playing ground for battles between their more powerful neighbours – much like medieval Germany.

Area: 525 051 km2

Density: 26 / 24,3 / 27,4 per km2

Population:

  • 12 759 000
  • 13 651 000
  • 14 386 000

Iron Islands

Iron Islands are Scandinavia, or rather, Norway. Specifically, 10th century Norway, as they utilize longships and shield wall – things which were by 15th century extinct, though shield wall modified into similar pavise wall. Iron Islands are rocky and mountainous, which makes them rather different from fertile Denmark, Sweden or even Iceland.

Area: 20 097 km2

Density: 0,5 / 1 per km2

Population:

  • 10 000
  • 20 000

The Vale

The Vale is extremely mountainous region that is near-impossible to invade and has so far stayed neutral in the War of the Five Kings – much like Switzerland today.

Area: 478 638 km2

Density: 15 / 17,5 per km2

Population:

  • 7 180 000
  • 8 376 000

Westerlands

Westerlands are England. They are very rich in gold – much like England was due to its trade (although ancient Romans did mine a lot of gold in England). Both Lannisters and historical England rose to their superpower status largely on the strength of their economy. Lannisport is a significant port, echoing English focus on maritime trade, and Lannister rivalry with North and Reach echoes English rivalry with Scotland and France.

Area: 382 167 km2

Density: 17,93 / 14,34 / 13,1 per km2

Population:

  • 6 852 000
  • 5 480 000
  • 5 006 000

The Reach

Reach is medieval France. It is a military superpower with significant economic and population advantage over any other single competitor. Reach is also noted to be birthplace of chivalry, much like French knights of 14th and 15th centuries were chivalrous to the point of stupidity – as best shown in Battle of Nicopolis. And just like France, main power of Reach lies in its heavily armoured shock cavalry. Island of Arbor makes the best wine in the world, similar to French regions of Burgundy and Bordeaux. City of Oldtown is – much like Paris – the biggest and most sophisticated on the continent.

Area: 832 131 km2

Density: 50 / 44,12 / 41,18 per km2

Population:

  • 41 607 000
  • 36 714 000
  • 34 267 000

Stormlands

Stormlands are Wales. It is small, with rough and green terrain, and weather is rainy. Much like Prince of Wales is the heir to the Crown, so are Stormlands home to the ruling house of Westeros (though actual title of heir to the Iron Throne is Prince of Dragonstone).

Area: 396 810 km2

Density: 14,42 / 9,62 per km2

Population:

  • 5 722 000
  • 3 817 000

Dorne

Dorne is Spain. It is very dry, rocky and is culturally apart from most of the rest of Westeros. Its population is diverse, and Dorne is noted for its tolerance – something which is often (incorrectly) attributed to Moorish Spain. Much like Spanish developed reputation for military excellence and propensity for guerilla warfare (guerilla – “small war” – itself being Spanish loanword), so did Dornish resist Targaryen conquest in an assymetrical guerilla war.

Area: 597 825 km2

Density: 8,38 / 10,05 per km2

Population:

  • 5 010 000
  • 6 008 000

The Crownlands

Crownlands are the area around King’s Landing – which is to say, London. I will thus use population density for England.

Area: 149 004 km2

Density: 17,93 / 14,34 / 13,1 per km2

Population:

  • 2 672 000
  • 2 137 000
  • 1 952 000

Total population

Minimum: 7 500 000 + 12 759 000 + 10 000 + 7 180 000 + 5 006 000 + 34 267 000 + 3 817 000 + 5 010 000 + 1 952 000 = 77 510 000

Medium: 10 000 000 + 13 651 000 + 15 000 + 7 778 000 + 5 480 000 + 36 714 000 + 4 769 000 + 5 509 000 + 2 137 000 = 86 053 000

Maximum: 12 500 000 + 14 386 000 + 20 000 + 8 376 000 + 6 852 000 + 41 607 000 + 5 722 000 + 6 008 000 + 2 672 000 = 98 143 000

Comparison with estimates by army size

As it can be seen, estimates arrived at by comparison with army sizes usually result in rather underpopulated kingdoms. One way to fix this would be to assume that mobilization rates have been vastly overstated, which is a possibility as medieval mobilization rates may have varied from 0,5 to 2,5%.

  • North
    • population by army size: 1 475 000 – 2 458 000
    • population by density: 7 500 000 – 12 500 000
    • military: 29 500
    • mobilization at density: 0,2 – 0,4%
  • Riverlands:
    • population by army size: 1 000 000 – 1 700 000
    • population by density: 12 700 000 – 14 400 000
    • military: 20 000
    • mobilization at density: 0,14 – 0,16%
  • Westerlands
    • population by army size: 1 750 000 – 5 625 000
    • population by density: 5 000 000 – 6 900 000
    • military: 67 500
    • mobilization at density: 0,98 – 1,35%
  • Stormlands
    • population by army size: 1 250 000 – 2 083 000
    • population by density: 3 817 000 – 5 722 000
    • military: 25 000
    • mobilization at density: 0,44 – 0,65%
  • Reach
    • population by army size: 3 250 000 – 8 396 000
    • population by density: 34 267 000 – 41 607 000
    • military: 100 750
    • mobilization at density: 0,24 – 0,29%
  • Vale
    • population by army size: 1 250 000 – 2 083 000
    • population by density: 7 180 000 – 8 376 000
    • military: 25 000
    • mobilization at density: 0,30 – 0,35%
  • Dorne
    • population by army size: 1 250 000 – 2 083 000
    • population by density: 5 010 000 – 6 008 000
    • military: 25 000
    • mobilization at density: 0,42 – 0,50%
  • Iron Islands
    • population by army size: 420 000
    • population by density: 10 000 – 20 000
    • military: 42 000
    • mobilization at density: 210 – 420%
  • Crownlands
    • population by army size: 550 000 – 4 437 000
    • population by density: 1 952 000 – 2 672 000
    • military: 53 250
    • mobilization at density: 1,99 – 2,73%

Overall, all these ranges are possible with feudal system. But regardless how one calculates population, it is clear that mobilization rates are way too low to justify “conscripted peasants” trope assumed by some people – including, on occasion, the author (George Martin) himself. The only exception are the Iron Islands, which apparently have advanced “zombie soldier” recruitment model, allowing them to field several times as many soldiers as they realistically should be able to.

Conclusions

As it can be seen, realistic population sizes are several times higher than those reached through military comparisons. What they do square with are mobilization rates during Hundred Years War – which implies that Westeros, in fact, is not capable of mobilizing its full potential, not even for a civil war, even though that is the only scenario where a feudal society could be reasonably expected to fully mobilize. Iron Islands are also severely overstrength compared to what they should realistically field. Fact that kingdoms with significant navies achieve much higher mobilization rates than others also indicates that Martin had not really understood the severe resource, financial and manpower requirements of the galley fleets he has Westeros using. In fact, he appears to have ignored navies in his calculations of military potential alltogether.

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