Wiki of Westeros

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Wiki of Westeros
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Wiki of Westeros
This page is about the region. For the short, see: The Reach
Bronn
Bronn

Reach

Map showing the location of the Reach on the continent of Westeros.

"The Reach is aptly named. We're the ones who give your hand something to do at the table. As the most fertile region of the Seven Kingdoms, we grow the lion's share of the grains and fruit that feed this country."
Margaery Tyrell[src]

The Reach[1] is one of the administrative regions of the Six Kingdoms. Prior to Aegon's Conquest, it was a sovereign realm known as the Kingdom of the Reach.[2]

Geographically, it is one of the larger regions of the Seven Kingdoms, ranking as the second largest in area, behind only the vastness of the North. It has been ruled by House Tyrell since the Conquest, and earlier than that by the Kings of House Gardener.

It is the most fertile part of Westeros, blessed with vast, blooming fields of crops and flowers, and numerous and well-populated villages and towns; it traditionally helps supply other less fertile parts of the Seven Kingdoms (most notably King's Landing) with grain, fruit, wine and livestock. The Reach is also the most heavily-populated part of Westeros and is one of the richest, second only to the Westerlands, ruled by House Lannister. However this claim is suggested to be rather outdated as Lannister gold mines—the source of their wealth—have dried out, and have been weakened by the War of the Five Kings, thus making the Reach actually the wealthiest region. Due to this, the Tyrells could traditionally field the largest army in the Seven Kingdoms, almost as large as the armies from two of the other populous kingdoms combined. This vast supply of manpower, land, and food production gives the Reach enormous strategic value during the War of the Five Kings.

The Reach withdrew from the sovereignty of the Iron Throne due to the deaths of virtually all its liege lords in the destruction of the Great Sept of Baelor, an act perpetrated by Cersei Lannister, who quickly became Queen due to the resulting suicide of King Tommen Baratheon.

The Reach was ruled from the castle of Highgarden by House Tyrell until the castle was sacked by Lannister and rebel forces in the Sack of Highgarden.

After the battle and the ultimate death of Lady Olenna Tyrell, House Tarly was made Warden of the South for its betrayal of its liege lords[3] for what Jaime Lannister had described as allying with "foreign barbarians and eunuchs."[4] Thus the Reach was presumably briefly controlled by the Lannister-Tarly houses,[3] before their host was smashed in the Battle of the Goldroad,[5] leaving the region in an ambiguous status and likely a power vacuum. Ser Bronn of the Blackwater offers to join Jaime and Tyrion with the forces of Queen Daenerys Targaryen should he be named Lord of Highgarden due to its vast size in comparison to Riverrun, a deal to which Tyrion reluctantly agrees.[6]

Bastards born in the Reach are given the surname Flowers.

Geography[]

The Reach is watered by the immense River Mander and its many tributaries. The borders of the Reach are held as the Sunset Sea to the west and southwest, the Red Mountains of Dorne to the southeast, the hills of the Westerlands to the northwest and the Blackwater Rush to the far northeast. The northern Red Mountains also form the Reach's border with the Stormlands: known as the Dornish Marches, and currently possessed by the Stormlands, these rugged mountains have for centuries been the site of shifting border wars between the Reach, the Stormlands, and Dorne.

All told, the Reach borders five other regions of the Seven Kingdoms, six if the ocean border with the Iron Islands is counted (in past centuries, the Ironborn have indeed raided the coasts of the Reach). Thus the Reach matches the Riverlands in the number of regions it borders, though the mountain borders to the northwest and southeast, as well as ocean borders, make it somewhat more defensible than the Riverlands. The regions that the Reach borders, clockwise from northwest to southeast, are the Westerlands, the Riverlands, the Crownlands, the Stormlands, and Dorne.

The large island of the Arbor, located off the southwest shore, is a major subsection of the Reach, famed for its warm vineyards and central place in the wine industry.

The Reach is linked to the capital at King's Landing by the Roseroad. The Searoad links the Reach to the Lannister seat in the Westerlands, Casterly Rock and the adjoining city of Lannisport.

Castles and cities[]

Towns and settlements[]

  • House Ashford Ashford, a holdfast on the Cockleswhent.
  • Tumbleton, a town in the far northeast of the region near the border with the Crownlands.

Rivers[]

Highways[]

Islands and coastal areas[]

Military strength[]

Tyrell man-at-arms

Reach knight.

The Reach can raise more men than the other Great Houses, being the most fertile and populated part of Westeros. The strength of House Tyrell has remained mostly unscathed during the War of the Five Kings. The combined Stormlands-Reach army, raised by Renly, was about 100,000 strong,[7] of which 9/10 were soldiers of the Reach.[a] Later, an small part of these forces is annihilated by the Lannister-Tarly forces at the Sack of Highgarden, leading to Olenna's death, thus eliminating the once formidable great house.

Reach soldiers seem to be well-equipped, yet still far behind to the Lannisters. This is particularly evidenced by the high quality swords and weapons purchased due to the Reach's fertile lands.

Tyrell foot soldier

Reach foot soldier.

Not only this, but commonly it is seen that the Reach soldiers are outfitted in high quality plate armor. Many of them protected by sturdy, bright colored dyed symmetrical cut leather augmented steel armor plates, in a striking combination. This design, is not aesthetically impressive but also symbolic, since the Tyrell knights are often considered as the "Knights of Summer". The design also provides practicality in warfare with the combination of leather and steel plates allows considerable protection and mobility for the wearer. This makes them nimble than other soldiers who might be wearing heavy plates of armor, while retaining the defensive properties of armor. Reach infantry helmets have a basic flower motif to the overall shape of their helmets, after the Tyrell sigil of a golden rose: the design gives the appearance that the entire helmet is a rose, with large metal ridges shaped like rose petals ringing the "crown" of the head. Reach infantry helmets also have cheek guards (unlike basic Northern helmets), which are an extension of the main body of the helmet (not a separate piece of metal like Lannister armor, which is more complex)

Season 6 behind the scenes Tyrell infantry costumes

Tyrell soldiers at the Standoff at the Great Sept of Baelor.

The budding crown like crests on their helmets of the Reach soldiers in Season 6, are more of an aesthetic feature rather than a defensive one, being designed to hopefully nullify the impacts of a critical blow to the users head. The design serves as a direct resemblance to the Tyrell sigil a budding golden rose despite it’s rather fallible design. Arguably, the design is as much for show, as for practical effectiveness. The intricacy required for manufacturing tens of thousands of the rather simple yet conventional parts for the helmets, indicates a capability in metalworking and craftsmanship. As seen at the Great Sept of Baelor, the small Reach force is visually spectacular in full battle formation, as witnessed by the High Sparrow and the people in King’s Landing.

Reach armor and robes, also use logically vast quantities of relatively expensive amounts of teal, gold and other brightly-colored dye, across the Reach military forces, universally. Cloaks, robes and under layers padding the armor in these colors, make for fine looking and ornate soldiers. Moreover, they are well protected by heater and ovate shields, constructed of thick wood in multiple layers. Adorning the painted golden rose, and painted blazons/sigils of House Tyrell, teal and yellow-gold being the main color palette. The well-crafted style of the Reach garments and armor, indicates an organised system of military wealth and effectiveness.

However, while most Reach soldiers indeed seem to have the classic teal-dyed leather and steel plate armor, some even having golden, bronze, and other metal embellishments over their shoulder plates and helmets, which hides the rather simplistic lifestyle of the soldier in the Reach instead giving them a more intimidating outlook in the field and at the camps.

During the War of the Five Kings, we see different variations for the Reach army, indicating different types of troops from simplistic levies to the more prominent soldiers. This variation allows a unique dynamic in the equipment used by each soldier. Regional levies, wear more basic armor relying on leather and supposedly chainmail in order to make up for the lack of plated armor. Medium infantry are unique having the combination of the heavy guard units while being superior to the levies in terms of equipment and possibly training. House Tyrell also commands a formidable group of heavy guardsmen, of House Tyrell's well-equipped infantry, being able to intimidate their opponents such as the Faith Militant, unnerving the fanatical order once ordered to be in an offensive stance.

Yet it is quite arguably debatable that the Reach in the past could actually be a dominant force, being able to win numerous historic conflicts against their enemies, most notably Dorne. The numerous civil wars under House Targaryen did not weaken the Reach's capabilities in combat, due to their decisions in maintaining neutrality in conflicts. An example of this is during the Dance of the Dragons, wherein the Reach remained neutral throughout the war, allowing their vassals to choose between factions.

The Tyrells command a formidable fleet known as the Redwyne fleet. In the books, the Reach's navy could arguably be the most powerful in the Seven Kingdoms even surpassing the royal fleet, being supported by the Shield Islands, coastal lords and the Hightower fleet.

The Reach is controlled mostly by House Tyrell, mostly due to Harlan Tyrell's surrender of Highgarden to Aegon Targaryen thus elevating their status. Despite their status, however, their vassals seem to act self-beneficially and have questionable loyalties such as the Florents and the Fossoways, who aligned themselves with Stannis rather than follow their liege lords. House Tarly, on the other hand, chose to reluctantly ally with the Lannisters in fear of the Dothraki.

In the books[]

While the Andals first landed in the Vale of Arryn when they invaded Westeros, in the four thousand years since their invasion the Reach has been seen as more or less their cultural heartland. During these long millennia the Reach contained the largest city on the continent, Oldtown, which also served as the headquarters of the Andals' religion, the Faith of the Seven. For this reason, the Reach has also always been seen as the heartland of chivalry in Westeros. It is in the Reach that knights most strictly observe the code of conduct promoted by chivalry, and most stringently follow the rules of the knightly tournament (though of course, the degree to which these values are upheld is ultimately dependent on the character of the knight, even in the Reach).

This status as the center of Westeros's culture was only somewhat displaced relatively recently in historical terms, three hundred years ago during Aegon's Conquest. Aegon the Conqueror built a new and slightly larger capital city on the east coast of Westeros, King's Landing, and forced the leadership of the Faith to move their headquarters there (in the Great Sept of Baelor). Even so, the Reach can field more noble houses with more prestigious histories than the recently created Crownlands.

Due to its southern location, the Reach has a more temperate climate than most other regions of the Seven Kingdoms, except for Dorne. Snowfall is practically unheard of in Dorne; it sometimes snows in the Reach during the harshest winters, but snowfall is still unusual in its southern regions. Samwell Tarly of Horn Hill, in the south of the Reach, states that he never saw snow in his life before he came to the Wall (though Sam has never lived through a particularly harsh winter lasting three or more years). This temperate climate supports its status as one of the major breadbasket regions of the Seven Kingdoms, along with the Riverlands. It also results in the Reach being one of the largest and best wine-producing regions in Westeros, particularly on the large off-shore island known as the Arbor.

The Reach can raise armies almost twice as large as those of any of the other kingdoms; it also has a fleet larger than any except that of the Iron Islands. Some of the other kingdoms have smaller populations than average and thus smaller armies, such as the Iron Islands and Dorne. Still, the armies of the Reach are nearly twice as large as those of another populous kingdom such as the Westerlands of House Lannister, though due to their wealth, soldiers from the Westerlands tend to be better equipped. While not quite as wealthy as the Lannisters in the Westerlands, the Reach is still a very fertile and productive land, and its knights are so wealthy that they can afford full plate armor (in contrast with the hardscrabble lands of the North, whose soldiers often have to settle for cheaper chainmail).

While the Reach has very rich lands and can field a vast army, it wasn't able to conquer all of the other kingdoms in the centuries before Aegon's Conquest, but this was largely due to simple geography: while the Reach can raise armies twice as large as any other kingdom, it also has twice as many hostile borders. Most other kingdoms only directly border two other hostile kingdoms (plus the Riverlands, which were a weak border-zone): the North borders the Vale and is close to the Iron Islands (plus the Riverlands), the Westerlands border the Reach and the Iron Islands (plus the Riverlands), the Stormlands border the Reach and Dorne (plus the Riverlands), and Dorne borders the Stormlands and the Reach. The Iron Islands, on the west coast off the continent, are within range of naval attack from the three kingdoms on the west coast (the North, the Westerlands, and the Reach), but their isolated location off of the mainland grants them some added protection. In contrast, the Reach is bordered by the Westerlands, the Stormlands, Dorne, and a close naval frontier with the Iron Islands (plus the Riverlands). With twice as many soldiers but twice as many hostile borders, any military advantage the Reach had evened out. For example, many centuries ago King Giles III Gardener of the Reach attempted to conquer the Stormlands to the east, only for the Reach to be invaded from the north by the Westerlands, so he had to withdraw from the Stormlands to repulse the invasion. Therefore, the rulers of the Reach usually form an alliance with at least one of their land neighbors.

The Reach has remained untouched by the War of the Five Kings. That changes in the fourth novel: shortly after Euron Greyjoy is coronated, he launches a military campaign against the Reach, taking advantage of the fact that most of the Redwyne fleet is away, besieging Dragonstone. The ironborn first conquer the Shield Islands, then the the Arbor and its neighboring islands, using them as bases to prey on shipping bound for Oldtown. They penetrat even to the sheltered waters of Whispering Sound. They have also tried to raid Oldtown, but the city defenders repelled the attack.

As the Reach is the heartland of chivalry and knighthood in Westeros, has a fully developed culture of sophisticated manners, and is highly fertile, it seems to be loosely based on medieval France. Like the Reach, France was one of the most fertile regions of medieval Europe, but was also bordered by a larger number of hostile neighbors (England, Spain, pre-modern Germany and Italy) than any of its rivals, so this advantage was balanced out. Also like France, which borders Spain, the Reach borders the arid region of Dorne to the south - and George R.R. Martin has stated that Dorne is loosely analogous to Moorish Spain.

References[]

Notes[]

  1. See the calculation in Armament#Armies in the Seven Kingdoms.

External links[]


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