- "I'm brokering an alliance with House Martell of Dorne. Princess Myrcella will wed their youngest son when she comes of age."
- ―Tyrion Lannister
Dorne is one of the nine constituent regions of the Seven Kingdoms. It is the southernmost part of the continent of Westeros, located thousands of miles from Winterfell and the North, and has a harsh desert climate. The Dornishmen are ethnically distinct from the rest of the Seven Kingdoms, being largely descended from Rhoynar refugees who intermarried with the local population of Andals and First Men roughly a thousand years ago. As a result they have very different customs and traditions compared to the other regions of Westeros.
Dorne was a sovereign kingdom before the invasion of Aegon the Conqueror, and weathered his attack to remain one afterwards, the only one of the Seven Kingdoms to retain its independence. It joined the Seven Kingdoms through peaceful marriage alliance nearly two centuries later, only one century before Robert's Rebellion. As a result of joining through marriage and not conquest, Dorne was allowed to keep many of its local customs and laws, such as equal inheritance laws for male and female heirs. Due to these different ethnic, legal, and political factors, the Dornishmen are very independently minded, with a stronger sense of "national identity" than many of the other Seven Kingdoms.
Dorne is ruled from the castle of Sunspear by House Martell. Bastards born in Dorne are given the surname Sand. Things from Dorne are known as "Dornish", while the people of Dorne are properly known as the "Dornishmen", though its people are sometimes simply referred to as "the Dornish".
Dorne contains the only desert on the entire continent of Westeros, and due to its arid climate it has the smallest overall population. Dorne is therefore also ecologically very different from the rest of Westeros. It is the only part of Westeros where citrus fruits grow. Dornish wine is also highly prized throughout all of Westeros, and considered to be among the best imports available.
Dorne is separated from the Stormlands by the Sea of Dorne and is surrounded by water on three sides. However, the coast of Dorne is rocky and mostly consists of towering cliffs. The only notable port is at Sunspear, and even this is poor compared to Oldtown to the west or King's Landing to the north. For this reason, Sunspear lacks any major strength at sea and is not a notable center for trade. However, the Dornish traditionally have greater ties to Essos than many of the other parts of Westeros, with the Prince of Dorne enjoying friendly relations with several of the Free Cities.
According to legend, Dorne once formed part of a land bridge, called the "Arm of Dorne", that linked Westeros and the eastern continent of Essos. The First Men arrived in Westeros by crossing this land bridge some 12,000 years ago, and came into conflict with the non-human Children of the Forest that already inhabited the continent. To try to halt the advance of the First Men, the Children of the Forest are said to have called upon powerful magics which shattered the Arm of Dorne, sinking large portions of it into the Narrow Sea. All that remains of the Arm of Dorne in the present day is a string of islands called the Stepstones, which run between Westeros and Essos. The eastern peninsula of Dorne which terminates at the ocean is thus often called the Broken Arm of Dorne. The destruction of the Arm of Dorne did not, however, ultimately stop the advance of the First Men throughout Westeros.
Western Dorne and the Dornish MarchesEdit
Overland travel between the Dorne peninsula and the rest of Westeros is severely restricted due to the Red Mountains, a large mountain chain along Dorne's northern and western borders, which possess only a few passes such as the Boneway and the Prince's Pass. The rough valleys of the Red Mountains have been the site of border squabbles between Dorne, the Reach, and the Stormlands, for the better part of the past thousand years. The salient of territory possessed by the Stormlands in the Red Mountains, along Dorne's northern border, is thus called the Dornish Marches.
Eastern Dorne and the valleys of the GreenbloodEdit
Dorne's population is congregated around the coasts, and the few major rivers such as the Greenblood. The valley of the Greenblood begins in the hills of eastern Dorne and continues east until it empties into the Narrow Sea. Most of the population is concentrated in the river valleys of the east, and are so crowded that casual observers visiting Dorne don't realize how small its total population actually is (not realizing that the towns they see in the valley of the Greenblood represent almost the entire population). Even the eastern region of Dorne is arid, but irrigation in the river valleys makes it agriculturally productive.
Central Dorne and the harsh desertEdit
Central Dorne, east of the Red Mountains and west of the hills where the Greenblood river system begins, is completely inhospitable. Central Dorne is a true rolling-sands desert, with no plant life and almost completely uninhabited by people, save for the occasional oasis-castle.
While overland travel trough the desert is possible by caravan, it is very difficult for large armies to move across. No major roads comparable to the Kingsroad or Roseroad connect Sunspear in the east with the Boneway and Prince's Pass in the mountains of the west.
- Sunspear, the seat of House Martell and the regional capital.
- Blackmont, a holdfast in the far west of Dorne near the border with the Reach.
- Starfall, a holdfast in the far west of Dorne near the border with the Reach.
- Kingsgrave, a holdfast in the north west of Dorne near the border with the Stormlands.
- Vulture's Roost, a holdfast in the north west of Dorne on the border with the Stormlands.
- Wyl, a holdfast south west of Storm's End across the border with Dorne.
- Yronwood, a holdfast in the north west of Dorne at the foot of the Kingsroad.
- Sandstone, a holdfast in the south west of Dorne west of the Brimstone.
- Hellholt, a holdfast in the south west of Dorne near the Brimstone.
- The Tor, a holdfast in the north of Dorne on the shore of the Sea of Dorne.
- Vaith, a holdfast in the centre of Dorne in the headlands of the Greenblood.
- Godsgrace, a holdfast in the centre of Dorne where the Scourge meets the Greenblood.
- Saltshore, a holdfast on the southern shore of Dorne.
- Lemonwood, a holdfast in the east of Dorne near the estuary of the Greenblood.
- Ghost Hill, a holdfast in the north east of Dorne on the shore of the Sea of Dorne.
In the booksEdit
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Dorne is one of the nine constituent regions of Westeros. It lies in the far south, along the large peninsula which makes up the southernmost part of the continent. It is bordered by the Sea of Dorne to the north, the islands known as the Stepstones to the east, the Summer Sea to the south, and the Red Mountains to the west and north-west. Dorne consists of rocky mountains and parched deserts, with more fertile lands along the rivers. It is ruled from the castle of Sunspear by House Martell.
One thousand years ago, Dorne was a shifting patchwork of small Andal states, with no ruler strong enough to seize control of the entire region. However, a people of Essos known as the Rhoynar had fled to Dorne in ten thousand ships after their homeland was overrun and destroyed by the expanding power of Valyria. Their leader, Queen Nymeria, forged a marriage alliance with Lord Mors Martell of Sunspear and with his support conquered the entire peninsula, uniting it as the Kingdom of Dorne.
Seven centuries later, when King Aegon I Targaryen invaded Dorne, the Dornish refused to give open battle. Having heard of the defeat of the Reach and the Westermen at the Field of Fire, they knew that giving a pitched battle would have allowed Aegon to deploy his dragons, so they instead adopted guerrilla warfare tactics, striking at Aegon's flanks and supply lines. Aegon was forced to concede defeat and leave the kingdom untaken. A century and a half later King Daeron I, the Young Dragon, invaded Dorne and successfully subdued the kingdom, losing ten thousand soldiers in the process. However, it almost immediately rose in rebellion after Daeron's troops returned home. In the resulting conflict forty thousand Targaryen soldiers died, including the Young Dragon, and his successor King Baelor made peace with Dorne instead. Fifty years later, after the long and fruitful marriage of Princess Myria Martell to Prince Daeron (later King Daeron II), Dorne finally joined the Seven Kingdoms through peaceful alliance.
The people of Dorne, the Dornish, are considered a passionate and fiery people, with more relaxed views on sexual morality then other parts of the Seven Kingdoms. Dorne joined the Seven Kingdoms through peaceful alliance and a marriage contract, and as such its people are allowed more indulgences than the other regions conquered by the Targaryens in war. In particular, the rulers of Dorne are allowed to style themselves "Prince" rather than "Lord" and inheritance always passes to the eldest child regardless of gender, in contrast to the male-favoring primogeniture practiced elsewhere in Westeros.
Dorne and the Reach are old enemies, and their ambivalence remains strong despite being unified under the Iron Throne. In the current generation there is also great antipathy for the Lannisters, due to the death of Princess Elia Martell, married to Rhaegar Targaryen, and her two children during the Sack of King's Landing by Lannister armies. Dorne has maintained something of an isolationist policy for much of the last generation.
According to author George R.R. Martin, Dorne is loosely inspired by Moorish Spain in the Middle Ages. There is also some slight inspiration from the example of real-life Wales, but only in the sense that just as the Norman Invasion of 1066 didn't succeed in conquering the mountainous peninsula of Wales, and it took generations to bring Wales under control, within the narrative the Targaryen Conquest didn't succeed in conquering Dorne, and it remained an independent border state which frustrated any further attempts at conquest by the Targaryens for another two centuries, before being peacefully absorbed through marriage-alliance. The similarities with Wales stop there. Climatically and culturally, it has many more similarities with Moorish Spain. Even so, Martin discourages making one for one comparisons:
- "Dorne is definitely influenced a bit by Spain, a bit by Wales. But nothing is one and one. I took that together. Dorne is a very special land, with a slightly different cultural basis than the rest of Westeros...it was politically apart for a long time, it was also culturally apart because of the Rhoynar and the traditions they brought, but they didn’t influence the rest of Westeros so much. So the dornish have their own particular sort of customs. I see that in Spain with the whole history, particularly the Moorish history of Spain, you know...it really sets it apart from France."
- "I read a lot of history, and mine it for good stuff, but I also like to mix and match. That is to say, I don't do straight one-for-one transplants, as some authors do, so you can't really say that X in Westeros equals Y in real life. More often X in Westeros equals Y and Z in real life, with squidges of Q, L, and A.
In the case of Dorne, yes, Wales was definitely an influence, for all the reasons you cite. But there's also some distinctly unWelsh elements down there. South of the wall of mountains [the Red Mountains] you have a hot, dry country more like Spain or Palestine than the cool green valleys of Wales, with most of the settlements along the seacoast and in few great river basins. And you also have the flavor given the culture by the great Rhoynar influx led by Nymeria. I suppose the closest real life equivalent to that would be the Moorish influence in parts of Spain. So you could say Dorne is Wales mixed with Spain and Palestine with some entirely imaginary influences mixed in. Or you could just say it's Dorne."
Castles of DorneEdit
- Sunspear, the seat of House Martell, the ruling family of the region.
- Starfall, the seat of House Dayne.
- The Tor, the seat of House Jordayne.
- Yronwood, the seat of House Yronwood, the most powerful of the Martell bannermen.
|Lord:||Prince Doran Martell||Heir:|
|Title(s):||Prince of Dorne · Lord of Sunspear|
|Ancestors:||Prince Maron Martell · Princess Daenerys Martell · Queen Myriah Martell|
|Current members:||Prince Trystane Martell · Prince Oberyn Martell · Ellaria Sand|
|Deceased members:||Princess Elia Martell|
|Household:||Princess Myrcella Baratheon · Septa Eglantine · Ser Arys Oakheart|
|Overlord:||House Baratheon of King's Landing|