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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: scifi.stackexchange.com/q/28058/3253 –  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: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/28058/… as I can't see the relevance to the one on this page? :-/ –  Django Reinhardt Dec 17 '12 at 21:02
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1 Answer

up vote 6 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
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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
    
Ah, OK. Thanks! –  Django Reinhardt Dec 14 '12 at 23:49
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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
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@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
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