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As I understand it, the "Seven Kingdoms" refer to the kingdoms before Aegon's Conquest. Aren't there more kingdoms around the time that the first book is set? (For example, the Iron Islands and Riverlands are now two kingdoms, right?)

So why does everyone refer to there being seven?

For example, Robert says to Ned:

"In the South, the way they talk about my Seven Kingdoms, a man forgets that your part is as big as the other six combined."

If there ARE still Seven Kingdoms, and I'm wrong, which are the contemporary Seven Kingdoms, and which are the Houses that rule them?

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Related: – Martin Schröder Dec 15 '12 at 11:33
Iron Islands and Riverlands are not independent kingdoms at the start of "A Game Of Thrones". Rivelands (ruled by the Tullys) never even claim to be independent in the books, and the Iron Islands proclaim themselves a kingdom only after the war of five kings begins. – Dima Dec 15 '12 at 23:43
@Dima, who are you addressing? – Django Reinhardt Dec 16 '12 at 18:43
@DjangoReinhardt, why you, of course. :) As I understand it, the comments are addressed to the author of the question, unless specified otherwise. :) – Dima Dec 17 '12 at 20:33
@Dima I see. I was just wondering if you meant to post your comment on this question:… as I can't see the relevance to the one on this page? :-/ – Django Reinhardt Dec 17 '12 at 21:02
up vote 20 down vote accepted

After the Conquest there were no more kingdoms (plural), just one single kingdom under the Iron Throne founded by the Targaryens and now ruled by the Baratheons. But the story of the Targaryens conquering the Seven Kingdoms of old is now an intrinsic part of the lore of the land, and the stuff of legend. So when people refer to the Seven Kingdoms, they really mean the lands that were once ruled as seven separate kingdoms before the rise of Aegon I. You can say it's a romantic way to refer to Westeros.

A real life analogue would be the UK, which is more officially known as The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. There's only one kingdom, but it was once many kingdoms that united into one.

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+1 Thanks! But there a few very literal examples of "Seven Kingdoms". See the edit to my question. – Django Reinhardt Dec 14 '12 at 23:42
I think you mean King Robert saying to Ned (about how big the North is) "I keep forgetting your part is bigger than the other six combined". But yes, that still just a way of referring to it. The North (and the others) are not kingdoms anymore. There are no kings there. But the name Seven Kingdoms has been around from thousands of years before Aegon I came, and it stuck. People still use it. – System Down Dec 14 '12 at 23:48
Sorry, but you are wrong about the UK. Even today the UK is made of two Kingdoms (England and Scotland) a principality (Wales) and a province (N. Ireland). The former three each being a constituent country in its own right as well as part of the larger country. (A better example would be modern Germany or Italy where in each country you see references to the historic separation into separate states of various kinds.) – Richard Dec 15 '12 at 13:18
@SystemDown No, in the sense they are separate countries. Eg. Scotland has a different legal system. Also remember there are in total 14 countries also with the same monarch (that's 14 not separating UK's constituent countries). In reality it makes no difference for almost all matters and is mostly about local cultural identity and confusing non-Britons :-). – Richard Dec 16 '12 at 8:17
Also it's worth remembering that with the religion of the Seven Gods, having "Seven kingdoms" as an expression, even if there are really another number, is probably going to happen. Seven is a number which is used all the time! – Nick Jul 16 '14 at 16:11

I quote from the recently published The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire) by George R.R. Martin, Elio Garcia and Linda Antonsson:

For centuries it has been the custom to speak of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. This familiar usage derives from the seven great kingdoms that held sway over most of Westeros below the Wall during years immediately preceding Aegon’s Conquest. Yet even then, the term was far from exact, for one of those “kingdoms” was ruled by a princess rather than a king (Dorne), and Aegon Targaryen’s own “kingdom” of Dragonstone was never included in the count. Nonetheless, the term endures. Just as we speak of the Hundred Kingdoms of yore, though there was never a time when Westeros was actually divided into a hundred independent states, we must bow to common usage and talk of the Seven Kingdoms, despite the imprecision.

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The seven kingdoms before Aegon’s conquest are:

  1. Kingdom of the Reach: Royal House Gardeners, removed by Aegon and replaced with the Tyrell seated at Highgarden, made Warden of the South.

  2. Kingdom of the Mountain and Vale: Royal House Arynn of the Eyrie, Warden of the East.

  3. King of the Iron Islands: Greyjoys of Pyke.

  4. King of the Riverlands: Tullys of Riverunn.

  5. King of the Rock: ruled by House Casterly and seated at Casterly Rock, tricked by the Lannisters ancestor. Made Wardens of the West by Aegon.

  6. King of the North: the Starks of Winterfell, Wardens of the North, descendants of the First Men, whose king (known as the king who knelt) voluntarily submitted to Aegon to spare the lives of his bannerman and soldiers.

  7. Kingdom of Dorne: House Martell, the only house not to be defeated by Aegon and subdued only by intermarriage with Targaryens.

Note the Targeryens and Baratheons did not have any kingdoms. The Targaryens came from ancient Valyria and then moved to Dragonstone before the conquest. The Baratheons are a bloodline of Targaryens whose ancestor was a bastard but were legitimised as a house when the bastard Targaryen was legitimised by his true born brother after the true born brother became king. Because they had no kingdom of their own was the main reason why Aegon set out on his conquest with Visenya and Rhaenys.

By bestowing the Wardens of the North, South, West and East, House Targaryen gave houses Arryn, Stark, Lannister and Tyrell dominion in his stead and any revolts against these houses would have been seen as rebellion against Aegon. This is why the Tyrells were able to rule peacefully in Highgarden even though they were only stewards to the Garderners (original lords), and despite the presence of other true born royal houses like the Oakhearts, and the Florents.

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You have forgotten 8) the kingdom of the Stormlands. – Peter Shor May 18 '14 at 16:52
@PeterShor: Yeah, making it not 7 kingdoms... – einpoklum May 18 '14 at 19:25
In fact points 3 and 4 should be combined as The Kingdom of Isles and Rivers, bringing us back to 7. – psicopoo May 19 '14 at 6:07

In short old habits die hard.

When Aegon I came to power there were 7 kingdoms (1-North 2-Vale and Mountain 3-Iron Islands and Riverlands 4-Rock 5-Stormlands 6-Reach 7-Dorne) of which Aegon conquered SIX as he failed to take Dorne ("Unbowed Unbend Unbroken"). The six kingdoms he took got divided into 8 sections 7 of which had their own ruling family. Dorne came into the picture much more recently making a grand total of 9 kingdoms under the rule of the iron throne (plus that wonderful tenth one on the other side of the wall).

I'd say it has most of its roots in the religion of the Andals, however, with their seven gods in one.

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