Spoilers for Season 7 and Season 6 beyond this point. Please do not scroll if you haven't watched them yet. As the whole question is spoilersome, I won't be using spoiler tags.

Daenerys was predisposed to accept Ironborn independence in S06E09:

Daenerys: You've brought us 100 ships from the Iron Fleet with men to sail them. In return, I expect you want me to support your claim to the throne of the Iron Islands?


Theon: He [Euron] murdered our father and would have murdered us. He'll murder you as soon as you have what he wants. The Seven Kingdoms. All of them.

Dany: And you don't want the Seven Kingdoms?

Yara: Your ancestors defeated ours and took the Iron Islands. We ask you to give them back.

Dany: And that's all?

Yara: We'd like you to help us murder an uncle or two who don't think a woman's fit to rule.

Dany: Reasonable.

Tyrion: What if everyone starts demanding their independence?

Dany: She's not demanding, she's asking. The others are free to ask as well.

So at that point, she appeared to be willing to accept secession of individual Kingdoms from Iron Throne.

To be fair she did ask the Greyjoys this:

You will support my claim as queen of the Seven Kingdoms and respect the integrity of the Seven Kingdoms. No more reaving, roving, raiding, or raping.

Which is kind of vague and open to interpretations (Something which good diplomats always keep an eye out for while conducting negotiations).

If some clause or condition is open to interpretations, that often leads to break down in negotiations e.g. IRL in Prelude to Crimean war, a treaty proposed by Great Powers to reduce threat of war between Ottoman Empire and Russian Empire was rejected by Ottomans as some clauses were vague and open to varying interpretations.

So If Yara is supposed to accept her as Queen of the Seven Kingdoms and respect the integrity of the Seven Kingdoms, she can't bloody well secede, can she? And while Daenerys said others were free to ask as well, she never said that she will allow them.

In S07E02 We see:

Tyrion: I can't speak to prophecies or visions in the flames, but I like Jon Snow and I trusted him. And I am an excellent judge of character. If he does rule the North, he would make a valuable ally. The Lannisters executed his father and conspired to murder his brother. Jon Snow has even more reason to hate Cersei than you do.

Daenerys: Very well. Send a raven north. Tell Jon Snow that his queen invites him to come to Dragonstone and bend the knee.

Here she is not even willing to view him as an ally, she wants him to bend the knee and be her subject, contrary to her earlier position re the Ironborn.

In S0703 She said:

Tyrion: Pledge your sword to her cause.

Jon: And why would I do that? I mean no offense, Your Grace, but I don't know you. As far as I can tell, your claim to the throne rests entirely on your father's name, and my own father fought to overthrow the Mad King. The lords of the North placed their trust in me to lead them, and I will continue to do so as well as I can.

Daenerys: That's fair. It's also fair to point out that I'm the rightful Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. By declaring yourself king of the northernmost kingdom, you are in open rebellion.

Isles and Rivers (Later both were separated into Iron Islands and Riverlands) was one of the 7 Kingdoms Aegon the Conqueror took. So what about the westernmost Kingdom? What gives?

Why be prepared to let the Iron-Islands secede but pressure the Northmen to accept her as Queen? If Torrhen Stark swore a vow to be subject to Aegon the Conqueror and his heirs and successors, so did Vickon Greyjoy. Was she just fooling the Greyjoys with vaguely worded promises?

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    Maybe it really is just as simple as they asked. The North selected a King in the North, who then refused to bend the knee. The Iron Islanders acknowledged that the Iron Islands belong to Daenerys as the rightful Queen of the Seven Kingdoms ("Your ancestors defeated ours and took the Iron Islands."), and asked her to give them back. Aug 4, 2017 at 12:26
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    @AnthonyGrist Interesting, something like "It's not what they are asking, it's the way they are asking that's unacceptable to me". But She had taken her Stance before even meeting Jon. She couldn't possibly see if Jon would be unwilling to formally ask her permission to secede.
    – Aegon
    Aug 4, 2017 at 12:27
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    @Aegon Perhaps sees the North as a larger threat; were they to turn against her. It's the largest kingdom made up of many houses who swear fealty to Jon Snow, each house with many soldiers. She may want them under her thumb where she can control them before they can do anything to harm her position. The only threat the Greyjoys poise should they turn on her is to reave along the coast - much easier to deal with than a Northern invasion. Aug 4, 2017 at 12:32
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    @KallumTanton Being larger doesn't mean more dangerous. North is the largest in landmass but is very sparsely populated and doesn't have the natural resources and the man power of let's say Westerlands, Reach, Riverlands or Vale. Vale would be a bigger threat due to their riches, manpower, natural defenses, naval arm but as Vale and North are together, I suppose they do look more fearsome as union. Northern Invasions don't generally fare well south of the Neck, just as Southern ones don't north of the Neck.
    – Aegon
    Aug 4, 2017 at 12:37
  • @Aegon Then perhaps Daenarys is some hardcore Westerosi feminist? In seriousness, she was happy to have war council with Yara, Ellaria and Ollena - perhaps she really doesn't trust men she doesn't know? Whereas she has an easier time trusting women? Not sure why - she's been betrayed by most everyone, no matter the gender. Aug 4, 2017 at 12:48

5 Answers 5


This is using later obtained information to back into an answer but I think this is another instance of Daenerys "Giving her something by giving her nothing".

Daenerys needs Yara's ships to have enough naval power to cross the Narrow Sea and effectively combat the remaining Iron Fleet under command of Euron. She does not need the Iron Island. It has always been described a quite desolate place that has to resort to raiding and pillaging just to survive. There is practically nothing Yara has to offer besides the ships. By letting Yara call herself "Queen" Daenerys gets the ships and, as you mentioned, has promise to stop the only threat the Iron Islands ever really posed (raiding, etc).

Daenrys needs allies, so she was "negotiating an alliance", but in the end it was just "something for nothing".

The North on the other hand is larger than all the other kingdoms combined. Currently it also has one the strongest armies in Westeros. The Northmen are known to be fierce fighters, and are now allied with the "savage" Free Folk, and have the Lords of Vale in their corner as well. The Vale is of particular concern because their ranks were not decimated by the War of Five Kings (and are known as one of the best trained forces to begin with).

Jon as King in the North poses a real threat... what if he were to decide that since "Winter has Come" that he should sit the Iron Throne...

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    The North is the largest of the Seven Kingdom, but it's not "larger than all the other kingdoms combined". I think it's mentionned at some points that the North is about a third of the Seven Kingdoms.
    – Arnaud D.
    Aug 6, 2017 at 17:02
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    From The World of Ice and Fire : "It is often said that the North is as large as the other six kingdoms put together, but the truth is somewhat less grand : the North, as ruled today by House Stark of Winterfell, comprises little more than a third of the realm."
    – Arnaud D.
    Aug 6, 2017 at 17:07
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    Ironborn are described more as fierce warriors, more so than the Northmen. North being larger doesn't make it any less desolate than Iron Islands. Sure North isn't as poor as Iron Islands but it is certainly poorer than any other Kingdom. And I don't think North has the strongest Army in the realm, their armies are remnants of Long battles starting in Whispering wood and ending in Battle of Bastards. They are tired and exhausted and on brink of collapsing. Alliance with Freefolk is precisely because they are weak.
    – Aegon
    Aug 7, 2017 at 6:33
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    The Valeman are a greater concern I agree but Daenerys fully knows Northmen have no ambition to sit on the Iron Throne. They disdain it. Jon Umber said it while crowning Robb. "They can keep their Red Keep and ugly Iron chair". They stay out of Southern affairs generally, they can't possibly be suspected to have southern ambitions.
    – Aegon
    Aug 7, 2017 at 6:34
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    I just had a thought about it. What if her offer is like Renly's to Robb Stark? Keep calling yourself King but fealty and homage as your overlord, I shall have. Kinda like how Dornish were allowed to retain their regnal titles by Daeron II as a compromise.
    – Aegon
    Aug 8, 2017 at 6:59

Yara offered to fight alongside Daenerys to help her win the Seven Kingdoms, in exchange for Iron Islands independence. She had ships to offer, after Daenerys’ navy had been burned earlier that season, to bring the Targaryen forces to Westeros. So Daenerys gets something she really needs in return for the secession.

Jon offered nothing. He (along with the other Northerners) just declared himself King in the North. Even ignoring the fact that he then came and asked Daenerys to fight alongside his tired and depleted Northern forces against the White Walkers (as opposed to offering a keen and combat-hungry army to assist her in taking the continent from the Lannisters), why would she accept the North’s secession?

  • Interesting. But it doesn't explain why she is willing to negotiate with Northmen on similar terms at all. "Okay bend the knee to me, swear to help me and I promise on victory, I shall grant you independence". This is a start. As compared to "Burn teh knee, you stupid northern equivalent of Kanigitz"
    – Aegon
    Aug 7, 2017 at 6:38
  • @Aegon “it doesn't explain why she is willing to negotiate with Northmen on similar terms at all” — is she? As of episode 4, she’s still insisting the Northerners bend the knee before she’ll help them fight against the threat that could presumably destroy the entire kingdom (maybe apart from Dorne, Dorne looks warm). Aug 7, 2017 at 23:35
  • OOps I meant why she is unwilling to negotiate with Northmen on similar terms.
    – Aegon
    Aug 8, 2017 at 6:00
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    @Aegon: gotcha. Yeah I mean she does want to rule, so I guess she can’t let all her allies declare independence else she’ll only be ruling her subjugated enemies, which probably isn’t much fun. Plus the North doesn’t have much to offer: the Iron Islanders had ships when most of hers had been burned, so she really needed them to even get to Westeros; whereas the Northeners just have tired, depleted armies and people who already have winter to deal with. When Jon first comes to her, she still believes she can take Westeros with the forces she has. Aug 8, 2017 at 6:53
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    Interesting. And what if she only means to let Yara call herself Queen while still being her overlord, er overlady?. Renly made the same offer to Catelyn Stark that Robb can keep calling himself King as long as he does homage and fealty to Renly as his overlord. Dornish were allowed to keep calling themselves Prince (Dornish equivalent of King) by Daeron II as well so there is precedent.
    – Aegon
    Aug 8, 2017 at 7:01

Probably worth pointing out that Daenerys was probably not letting the Iron Islands have independence.

You will support my claim as queen of the Seven Kingdoms and respect the integrity of the Seven Kingdoms. No more reaving, roving, raiding, or raping.

This is a promise that Yara cannot make. Eventually, some from the Iron Islands WILL break this promise, whether it is with Yara's knowledge or not. A single captain feels like reaving, roving, raiding or raping and Daenerys has a Casus Beli.

Daenerys would have been expecting that while the fleet is assembled for war, the captains would not have time for raiding, and as soon as the war is won, they will return to raiding. Then, Daenerys can reclaim the Iron Islands using the full might of the rest of the Kingdoms.


The Iron Islands are not one of the Seven Kingdoms in their own right, since they were a province of the Riverlands at the time of Aegon's Conquest (the King of the Isles and Rivers was from the Iron Islands, but the Riverlands were by far the richer and more populous part of his kingdom). So letting them go will not affect the integrity of the Seven Kingdoms in the same way as letting go of the North, which is one of the Seven.

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    Actually, Riverlands were subjects of the Iron Islanders, Iron Isles weren't a Province of Riverlands ever. The title was "King of Isles and Rivers". The move to Riverlands by Harwyn Hardhand was because the Riverlanders kept rebelling and King spent most of his reign there. His son Halleck faced the same problem and visited Iron Islands for only a few days. Harren the Black was however a third generation King, born in Riverlands and built a new capital. That doesn't mean Iron Islands weren't a Kingdom, there has always been a High King of Iron Isles before Kingdom of Isles and Rivers
    – Aegon
    Aug 4, 2017 at 14:15
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    So Isles and Rivers together are one of the seven and letting one of them go leaves only 6.5 Kingdoms behind. That logic is like since India was far more richer and populous than Britain in 1857, that made Britain a province of India rather than India being a unit of British Empire.
    – Aegon
    Aug 4, 2017 at 14:16
  • @Aegon You're claiming that the tail was wagging the dog. The most important part of a kingdom is the rich and populous bit, not where the royal family orIginated. Would you also agree with Jersey's humorous claim that England is a province of Jersey because Jersey is the remains of the Duchy of Normandy and thus the home of William the Conqueror?
    – Mike Scott
    Aug 4, 2017 at 14:21
  • Normans, the heirs and successors of William the Conqueror adopted/formed English culture eventually. Was that the case with Kings of Iron Isles and Rivers? Did they stop being Ironborn and followers of Drowned God? No? Then they remained Ironborn till end, regardless to the fact where they made their capital or which part was the most populous. The title says it all "Isles and Rivers". It's a union of two Kingdoms under one King which doesn't make the King's home Kingdom subject to the junior partner.
    – Aegon
    Aug 4, 2017 at 14:22
  • We may disagree on the details, but I don't think it can be disputed that the North is a complete member of the Seven Kingdoms, and the Iron Islands are not (although they would be if it was called the Nine Kingdoms).
    – Mike Scott
    Aug 4, 2017 at 15:12

This is just a speculation, but the Ironborn won't be as independent as it sounds. Note that Daenerys agreed to support Yara's claim to their throne. This is likely to turn the Iron Islands into client kingdom, similar to how many small kingdoms in the Levant were during Roman times.
Also, the Ironborn were defeated a long time ago by the Targaryens, and the suppression of subsequent rebellions proved that the Iron Throne can best them.

The North instead was never really defeated in battle. They submit to the Targaryens in the past because of the dragons, while the Red Wedding is regarded a heinous act by the North. Despite her few dragons, Daenerys can not force the North to be a client kingdom, therefore its independence can not be tolerated. It would forever be a lingering threat.

  • While Client Kingdom is an interesting notion, I'd have to say that yes Iron Throne can deal with Rebellion in Iron Islands, but they can also deal with rebellions anywhere else. And If Dany is ok with Yara using the Style of Queen (After all, Prince of Dorne retained his styles despite bending the knee), Why can't she make the same offer to Jon? Like Renly made to Robb, "Keep calling yourself King but you must give me fealty and homage". All Westerosi were defeated by Dragons, not just Ironborn. Only the Dornish defeated the Dragons. So yes, Dragons beat Torrhen Stark
    – Aegon
    Aug 29, 2017 at 8:59

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