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"Lord Paramount" is a title in the Seven Kingdoms, created during the Targaryen Conquest three centuries before the War of the Five Kings. It is a hereditary title bestowed upon a major noble House charged with ruling one of the unified Seven Kingdoms, under the overall rule of the Iron Throne. When Robert Baratheon became king after Robert's Rebellion, he kept the Lords Paramount system intact.

HoldersEdit

Regions of Westeros

The territories assigned to each of the Lords Paramount: House Bolton, the North (grey); House Arryn, the Vale (blue); House Frey, the Riverlands (green); House Lannister, the Westerlands (red); House Tyrell, the Reach (lime green); House Baratheon, the Stormlands (brown).

Although Westeros has nine constituent regions, there are only six Lords Paramount. The Lords Paramount remained largely unchanged through almost three centuries of Targaryen rule, and the system was largely left in place during the reign of Robert Baratheon. Following his death and subsequent War of the Five Kings, the line-up of the Lords Paramount was altered.

Prior to the War of the Five KingsEdit

Following the War of the Five KingsEdit

ExceptionsEdit

HistoryEdit

For thousands of years, the Seven Kingdoms were each seven independent "kingdoms". They were each ruled by their own royal family, and these seven families were known as the Great Houses. When Aegon Targaryen conquered and unified the Seven Kingdoms, those Great Houses who surrendered were given the offer to continue ruling, but under the Targaryens. Thus when King Torrhen Stark surrendered to Aegon Targaryen, he stopped being the "King in the North", but he and his family continued to rule as "Lords Paramount of the North", as part of the unified Targaryen realm. House Lannister and House Arryn also used to rule as kings, in the Westerlands and the Vale respectively, but became Lords Paramount when they submitted.

In three of the other kingdoms, their ruling Great Houses had died during the conquest, so the Targaryens elevated other major Houses in those regions to Lords Paramount. House Gardener had ruled as the kings of the Reach, but all living members were killed at the climactic Field of Fire. Their stewards, House Tyrell, then surrendered Highgarden to Aegon. The Tyrells were descended from House Gardener, though through the female line. In reward for their role in handing over Highgarden, Aegon named them Lords Paramount of the Reach. As a result, a member of House Tyrell has never ruled as a king or queen. Similarly, the last of the Storm Kings of the Stormlands died in the conquest, so Aegon named his bastard half-brother Orys Baratheon as Lord Paramount of the Stormlands for his role in the victory. However, Orys then married the daughter of the last of the Storm Kings, so there was at least some continuity. House Hoare of the Iron Islands was eradicated in the conquest, so Aegon asked the ironborn to choose one line from among their major noble Houses to become Lords Paramount. The ironborn chose House Greyjoy, who ruled over the Iron Islands under the Targaryens ever since.[2]

A slight difference is that the Greyjoys are referred to as "Lords of the Iron Islands", but there is apparently no legal difference between their status and that of a "Lord Paramount". Certainly, they were conquered by the Targaryens just like all of the other regions, so there is no reason for them to be treated differently.

The Riverlands had not been an independent kingdom for centuries, merely a contested border region first conquered by the Stormlands and then the Iron islands. However, House Tully sided with the Targaryens during the conquest to overthrow the ironborn that ruled them, and in reward Aegon elevated them as Lords Paramount. Thus the "Lords Paramount of the Riverlands" are the only instance in which the title does not correspond to one of the previous regional kingships in place before the conquest.

House Martell of Dorne managed to repulse Aegon's forces and thus remained independent for another two centuries. A century before the War of the Five Kings they were peacefully united to the Targaryen realm through marriage-alliance. As a result they are allowed to maintain many local laws and customs, and still style themselves as "Princes of Dorne", not "Lords Paramount of Dorne". "Prince" is a holdover from when the Rhoynar used to live in city-states in Essos. There are therefore a few legal differences between being the ruling "Prince" of Dorne and a "Lord Paramount", though they do seem to be functionally equivalent. The only apparent difference is that Dorne continues to follow its custom of practicing equal primogeniture, thus there have been several instances of women ruling Dorne, in which case they are styled as "Princess of Dorne". It is not clear if the Targaryen kings technically have the right to dismiss the Princes of Dorne, as they apparently do with Lords Paramount (though none was actually dismissed in three centuries of Targaryen rule).

Only six Houses hold the title of "Lord Paramount" at one time, as the Iron Islands and Dorne use alternate titles. House Targaryen itself rules the Crownlands directly, not as "Lords Paramount". Four of the Lords Paramount, the Starks, Lannisters, Arryns, and Tyrells, also serve as Wardens, who lead the realm's armies in war.

Recent EventsEdit

No House was added or removed from "Lords Paramount" status during the three centuries since the title was created during the Targaryen Conquest. During this time "Lords Paramount" the political office became treated as functionally synonymous with "Great Houses". There have been various civil wars when the opportunity may have arisen to punish a Great House by removing its Lord Paramount status, but this was never carried out. For example, King Robert Baratheon reinstated House Greyjoy as Lords Paramount of the Iron Islands after he crushed the Greyjoy Rebellion.

Despite the outbreak of the War of the Five Kings, with different regions of the Seven Kingdoms declaring for rival claimants to the throne, no king innitially named alternate Lords Paramount to different regions. Given that each region tended to be unified in its choice, it seemed a moot point in most cases. Tyrion Lannister did offer to make Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish the Lord of the Riverlands if he succeeded in arranging a marriage alliance between Myrcella Baratheon and Robin Arryn, but it was later revealed that this marriage plot was just a ruse to root out Grand Maester Pycelle's treachery.[3]

After the death of Robb Stark and his army at the Red Wedding, Tywin rewarded Roose Bolton and Walder Frey for their betrayal of the Starks by naming them, respectively, the new Warden of the North and the Lord of Riverrun —which means House Frey is now ruler of the Riverlands and Walder is their Lord Paramount. Tywin forced the marriage of his son Tyrion and Sansa Stark, publicly Robb's last surviving heir, in order to legitimize the Lannisters' claim to the North. Tywin's stated intention is to name Tyrion as the new Lord Paramount of the North as soon as he produces a child with Sansa, which would strengthen his claim to the title, which would in turn be inherited by his children with Sansa. For the interim future, Roose Bolton as Warden of the North functions as the de facto Lord Paramount of the North.

In the booksEdit

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels it is not just House Greyjoy the only Great House that doesn't hold the title of Lord Paramount. Instead, the Lords Paramount are:

  • House Stark: Lords Paramount of the North. Later replaced by House Bolton.
  • House Tully: Lords Paramount of the Riverlands. Later replaced by House Baelish as Lord Paramount of the Trident.
  • House Lannister: Lords Paramount of the Westerlands.
  • House Baratheon: Lords Paramount of the Stormlands.

Meanwhile, Houses Arryn and Tyrell hold the titles of Defender of the Vale and High Marshal of the Reach, respectively, whereas House Greyjoy are only Lords of the Iron Islands - along with the rest of grandiose and (apparently) self-fashioned titles the Greyjoys gave themselves after being chosen by the ironborn to govern them. The cause of this difference is not touched upon - it may be purely stylistic.

A Lord Paramount somewhat resembles a cross between a duke and a viceroy in real world history. Though the Lords Paramount are hereditary, they govern a constituent region of the Seven Kingdoms on behalf of their sovereign overlord. Those Lords Paramount with the additional title of Warden are in effect "Marcher" Lords, who are charged with the defense of a frontier zone.

ReferencesEdit

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