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"We do not sow. We are Ironborn. We're not subjects, we're not slaves. We do not plow the fields or toil in the mine. We take what is ours."
Balon Greyjoy reminding his son Theon of the Old Way.[src]

The Kingdom of the Iron Islands is the name given to the independent realm that controls the Iron Islands, an archipelago located in Ironman's Bay off the western coast of the continent of Westeros. The kingdom is named after the Iron Islands. It is ruled by the King of the Iron Islands atop the Salt Throne from their seat at Pyke. The king is traditionally chosen through a Kingsmoot by the lords and captains of the Iron Islands, though recently they have all been members of House Greyjoy.

The roots of the kingdom are unknown, though according to legend, it went through major reformations under the Grey King and was eventually controlled by the Hoare dynasty, who established the Kingdom of the Isles and Rivers when he successfully conquered the Riverlands from the Storm Kings, who had previously conquered it from the River Kings. It was conquered during the Targaryen conquest, however, and the head of House Greyjoy was named the Lords of the Iron Islands.

The kingdom was reestablished by Balon Greyjoy during the Greyjoy Rebellion eight years after Robert's Rebellion, and though it was defeated by the forces of the Iron Throne, it was restored once more during the War of the Five Kings, again by King Balon. Euron Greyjoy later took control of the kingdom, though he is opposed by Balon's last children, Yara and Theon.

History

Early history

When the First Men came to Westeros, many traveled to the Iron Islands, where they became isolated from the rest of mainland Westeros. Settling on the chain of islands in Ironman's Bay, they formed their own culture as the seafaring Ironborn and began to worship the Drowned God.

During its history, the Ironborn were not ruled by dynasties, but instead the King of the Iron Islands was chosen through a Kingsmoot, where the lords and captains of the Iron Islands gathered to choose a new king as their ruler. At times, the sons and grandsons of past kings were chosen, leading to the rise of de facto dynasties.

One of the dynasties to rise out of the Kingsmoots was the ambitious Hoare dynasty. The Hoare kings turned their attention to the Riverlands, which were ruled over by the Storm Kings of the Kingdom of the Stormlands, who had previously defeated the River Kings and the Kings of the Rock. The Ironborn defeated the Storm Kings and took control over the Riverlands, and the Hoare dynasty forged the Kingdom of the River and the Hills.

Conquest

Harren the Black commissioned the erection of a great castle in the Riverlands called Harrenhal, conscripting the people of the Riverlands into forced labor. Harrenhal was created to withstand any invasions and assaults from ground armies. It was believed to be impregnable, having the tallest towers and the strongest walls. However, by the time construction of the castle was completed, a new and unexpected threat had landed on mainland Westeros: the last of the Dragonlords, House Targaryen. Aegon Targaryen and his two sisters, Visenya and Rhaenys, controlled a formidable army and the last three dragons in the world. The Targaryens were the last surviving Valyrian noble family, having escaped the Doom of Valyria that destroyed the massive Valyrian Freehold and all of its dragons and noble families.

When Aegon Targaryen and his sisters, atop their dragons, crossed Blackwater Bay from Dragonstone and landed at a point that later became the city King's Landing, they initiated the War of Conquest. Aegon the Conqueror first looked towards the Riverlands, which the Ironborn continued to rule over. With the arrival of the Dragonlords, House Tully of Riverrun gathered the river lords and rose in rebellion against the Hoare dynasty and the Ironborn, despite their strong hold over the kingdom. As expected, House Targaryen came to their assistance. Aegon the Conqueror and Lord Edmyn Tully found that their armies indeed were unable to penetrate Harrenhal, however. Confident that he had won the short-lived conquest, Harren the Black remained held up in Harrenhal with his entire family and a garrison. However, he had not expected Aegon to unleash the full might of his dragon, Balerion the Black Dread, upon the castle. Without a proper defense from the air, Harren the Black and his entire family roasted inside the castle as Harrenhal melted and crumbled from Aegon's great dragon. The Hoare dynasty was extinguished, and the Ironborn were repelled from the Riverlands.

Edmyn Tully was named the Lord Paramount of the Riverlands for his role in liberating the Riverlands and bending the knee to Aegon the Conqueror. Aegon then traveled to the Iron Islands to accept their surrender. Forcing the Ironborn to give up their tradition of Kingsmoots, they chose Vickon Greyjoy as the new Lord of the Iron Islands, and House Greyjoy, which claims descent from the ancient Grey King, has continued to rule the Iron Islands since. Meanwhile, on mainland Westeros, Aegon succeeded in forging the Seven Kingdoms into one realm, and was soon crowned the King of the Andals and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm by the High Septon.

First refounding

After nearly three centuries of rule, the Targaryen dynasty was ultimately overthrown in Robert's Rebellion. Aerys II, the Mad King, was disposed of and killed at the Sack of King's Landing while his eldest son and heir, Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, was killed at the Battle of the Trident. Lord Robert Baratheon, the head of House Baratheon, took the Iron Throne forged by Aegon the Conqueror, beginning the Baratheon dynasty. The last of the Mad King's children, Viserys and Daenerys Targaryen, fled Westeros, and were safely yet narrowly smuggled across the Narrow Sea to the Free Cities of Essos by loyalists.

Eight years into King Robert I's reign, Lord Balon Greyjoy, who believed the Seven Kingdoms to be destabilizing from Robert Baratheon's overthrowing of the Targaryen royal family, proclaimed himself the King of the Iron Islands and declared independence for the Iron Islands, reestablishing the Kingdom of the Iron Islands. His younger brother Euron Greyjoy initiated the Greyjoy Rebellion when he destroyed the anchored Lannister fleet at the Raid on Lannisport. Balon's eldest son Rodrik Greyjoy led the Ironborn invasion forces at the Battle of Seagard, but they were swiftly defeated by House Mallister, bannermen of House Tully, and Rodrik himself was slew by Lord Jason Mallister.

Robert's brother Stannis Baratheon gathered the Royal Fleet and smashed the Iron Fleet at the Battle of Fair Isle, opening a path for the royalist forces to invade the Iron Islands. Lord Stannis laid siege to Great Wyk while Ser Barristan Selmy of the Kingsguard besieged Old Wyk. After both islands fell, King Robert personally led the Siege of Pyke alongside his old friend Lord Eddard Stark, where Balon's second son Maron Greyjoy died. Gravely underestimating the royalist Baratheon forces, Balon Greyjoy opted to bend the knee to King Robert. He was allowed to keep his only daughter Yara but was forced to give up his last son Theon to Eddard Stark as a ward. Robert showed mercy to Balon, who was allowed to retain his position of Lord of the Iron Islands.

Second refounding

Nine years after his first rebellion, Lord Balon Greyjoy once again proclaimed himself King of the Iron Islands when the War of the Five Kings broke out following the death of King Robert I. Though House Lannister was his primary opponent, Balon sought vengeance against House Stark and instead opted to invade the North. The Northmen, with the backing of the Riverlands, had also declared independence with Robb Stark as their King in the North. Theon, torn between his birth family and the ties he had to the Starks, reluctantly betrayed King Robb, who had sent his old friend to negotiate with his father for a potential alliance between the Starks and Greyjoys against the Lannisters.

With the Northern armies having marched south to fight against the Lannister armies, the Ironborn easily took over much of the North. Yara Greyjoy took Deepwood Motte from House Glover while Ralf Kenning captured Moat Cailin. Theon, however, seeking to prove his worth to his father and under the influence of his first mate Dagmer, captured Winterfell, forcing Bran Stark, Robb's younger brother and the acting Lord of Winterfell, to declare Theon the Prince of Winterfell. When word reached Robb's camp, Lord Roose Bolton sent his bastard Ramsay Snow to root out Theon and his undermanned garrison. As expected, the Ironborn turned on Theon and handed him over to House Bolton, but Ramsay nevertheless sacked Winterfell for reasons unknown. Even so, Bran Stark was able to escape along with his younger brother Rickon, Osha, Hodor, and their direwolves Summer and Shaggydog. Ramsay had all the Ironborn, including Dagmer, killed while he tortured Theon into submission, renaming him Reek.

After the Red Wedding, where Roose Bolton betrayed and murdered King Robb, the Bolton army marched back north, though Roose was forced to smuggle himself to the Dreadfort as the Ironborn still held Moat Cailin, trapping his army south of the Neck. Ramsay used Reek to convince the sickly Ironborn garrison, who turned on Ralf Kenning, to surrender Moat Cailin. Nonetheless, Ramsay had all the Ironborn killed, as he had done at Winterfell. Because of his success in taking Moat Cailin, Roose had him legitimized as Ramsay Bolton, and they marched to Winterfell to take the ancient Stark castle as their new seat of power.

The Boltons finally drove the last of the Ironborn out of the North at the Second Battle of Deepwood Motte. Though their invasion of the North ended, Balon sought to take more lands. However, before he could restart his campaign, he was assassinated by his brother Euron Greyjoy. At the subsequent Kingsmoot, the Ironborn lords and captains chose Euron as their new king. Realizing the danger their uncle presented, Yara and Theon, who had escaped the Boltons, fled the Iron Islands with their loyalists and followers, taking the best ships of the Iron Fleet with them.

Euron sought to propose a marital alliance to Daenerys Targaryen but was beaten by his niece and nephew, who did not press a marriage alliance but instead asked for their independence and to help them install Yara on the Salt Throne. Because of this, Euron instead accepted an invitation to King's Landing to negotiate an alliance with Cersei Lannister, who now sat the Iron Throne. Euron offered his hand in marriage to Cersei to solidify an alliance between the Greyjoys and Lannisters. Cersei rejected his marriage proposal, however, so Euron promised to return with a gift to win her over and earn her trust. Euron smashed his niece's fleet that sailed from Dragonstone to Dorne, capturing her, and brought Ellaria Sand and her daughter Tyene as a gift to Cersei; the two had previously poisoned her daughter Myrcella during their Coup in Dorne. Cersei promised Euron his heart's desire after the war is won, and appointed him as the new commander of the royalist naval forces.

Government

Like its counterparts in Westeros, the Kingdom of the Iron Islands is an absolute monarchy running on a social system called feudalism. In this system, various noble houses rule over lands from their castles, owing their fealty to the King of the Iron Islands, who rules the Iron Islands atop the Salt Throne from their seat at Pyke. In turn, these noble noble houses may have lesser vassals of their own. At the bottom of the social ladder are the smallfolk, or the commoners.

However, the Kingdom of the Iron Islands is unique in that it is not often ruled by a dynasty, but rather the King of the Iron Islands is elected through a gathering known as the Kingsmoot. Kingsmoots are open to landowners, lords, and ship captains. At these events, candidates are able to present their case for why they should serve as the next Iron King. The lords and captains then vote for who they deem best fit to serve; the victor is then baptized by Drowned Priests and given their own unique Driftwood Crown and are permitted to sit on and swear by the Salt Throne.

Administrative regions

Map Shield Name Rulers Capital Date absorbed Notes
Iron Islands House-Greyjoy-Main-Shield Iron Islands House Greyjoy Pyke 289 AL
(first refounding)

297 AL
(second refounding)
Claimed by the Iron Throne; currently fighting for independence

Territories

Iron Islands

The location of the Iron Islands, the primary lands of the Kingdom of the Iron Islands, in red.

The most prominent region of the Kingdom of the Iron Islands is none other than the namesake of the kingdom, the Iron Islands. The Iron Islands are an archipelago of seven rocky islands located in Ironman's Bay, a bay located in the central Sunset Sea just off the western coast of the continent of Westeros.

The Iron Islands were not always the only territories controlled by the kingdom, however. The Riverlands, due to the location in the center of Westeros and because of its many prominent rivers, such as the River Trident, has historically been a common battleground for the warring states. Originally fought between the warring River Kings seeking to establish a unified Kingdom of the River and the Hills, the Riverlands were instead conquered by the Storm Kings of the Kingdom of the Stormlands. However, their reign was short as the Storm Kings were eventually driven out by the Ironborn under the Hoare dynasty, who established the Kingdom of the Isles and Rivers and declared themselves the Kings of the Isles and the Rivers. After the Targaryen conquest, the Riverlands were finally freed from foreign rule and were granted to House Tully of Riverrun, while House Hoare was driven to extinction. Abandoning the Kingsmoot tradition once and for all, the Iron Throne named House Greyjoy as the Lords of the Iron Islands.

In the War of the Five Kings, Balon Greyjoy declared himself the King of the Iron Islands just as he did eight years prior during the Greyjoy Rebellion. Despite this, Balon did not just lay claim to the Iron Islands, but also laid claim to the North based on the right of conquest. This was done in response to the armies of the North marching south, as the North was also fighting for its independence against the Iron Throne. as the Kingdom of the North. King Balon also sought vengeance; as punishment for his first rebellion, he was forced to give up his eldest son, Theon Greyjoy, as a ward to House Stark, the rulers of the North. Balon's campaign ultimately failed, however, and the Ironborn were repelled from the North permanently.

Military

Despite being a feudal society, the noble houses of the Iron Islands do not control their own large-standing army, though they do have their own personal guard and landed knights, and certain noble houses may be able to boast of a greater sized host than another. Many of the troops of the Iron Islands are used as raiders, reapers, and pirates and not for full-scale invasion, and thus are not as well suited for infantry combat as the soldiers of mainland Westeros are.

Instead, the largest military force is the Iron Fleet, the collective warships controlled directly by the King of the Iron Islands and contributed to equally by all the noble houses of the Iron Islands. Because the Ironborn culture is based off of seafaring, they are both expert sailors and pirates, and the Iron Fleet is regarded to be one of the best, if not the best, naval force in Westeros, surpassing the skill of even the Royal Fleet of the Iron Throne.

Culture

The people of the Iron Islands have a very distinct culture from the rest of Westeros similar to the Northmen and the Dornishmen.

The First Men that crossed onto the chain of islands in Ironman's Bay that became known as the Iron Islands ended up isolated from mainland Westeros, and began to form their own culture: the Ironborn. The Andals that came to the Iron Islands during their invasion also ended up adopting this culture.

The Ironborn culture primarily revolves around seafaring. The Ironborn are expert sailors, and also often engage in acts of piracy, raiding, and reaping that mainland Westerosi look down upon as it often involves the raiding of their own lands, an act that creates feud between the Ironborn and the mainland Westerosi, particularly in the Westerlands, the Riverlands, and the North.

The Ironborn, like the Northmen, have their own Old Way that they cling onto, though mainland Westerosi often forbid many of its practices as it involves piracy and raiding against the mainland Westeros. This sort of "subjugation" is despised by many of the Ironborn; Yara Greyjoy states that the high lords of Westeros only care for them when their little raids become a nuisance to them.

Religion

The Drowned God

The Iron Islands, separated from the mainland, possesses its own local religion which is not practiced anywhere else in Westeros. The ironborn worship a harsh deity known as the Drowned God, a deity which favors and allegedly rewards those who undertake reaving, war, and plunder in his name, and whose enemy is the Storm God. The most fanatical worshipers of the Drowned God are "drowned" in salt water and, if worthy, are then revived by the Drowned God's priests. Both in number of adherents and range, the local worship of the Drowned God is much smaller than either the Old Gods or the Faith of the Seven, to the point that when people on the mainland take oaths, they often swear "by the Old Gods [of the Forest] and the New [the Seven]" without mention of the Drowned God.

See also

See also

References