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Warden is a title bestowed upon the head of a Great House by the King of Westeros. The Wardens command the armies of one of the constituent regions of the Seven Kingdoms in the name of Iron Throne for the defense of the entire realm. Thus any one Warden is expected to lawfully command a quarter of all armies in the realm during a time of crisis.

By custom, the title is functionally hereditary. However, a Warden does not necessarily have to also be one of the Lords Paramount (rulers of the constituent regions of the realm) though this is almost always the case. For example, if an elderly or infirm ruler came to be the head of House Lannister, the office of Warden might be delegated to another family member young and capable enough to lead armies in the field.

Current Wardens of the Seven Kingdoms

  • Warden of the East: One of the titles of the Lord Paramount of the Vale, historically the head of House Arryn, Lord of the Eyrie and Lord Paramount of the Vale. Currently held by Robin Arryn, the child Lord of the Eyrie.

In the books

Typically, the Warden of the North defends against Wildling attacks that come south of the Wall. The Warden of the West, from House Lannister, defends against coastal raids from the Iron Islands. House Greyjoy weren't chosen to be Wardens, because more often than not they are what the Warden of the West is defending against. Even though they submitted to the Iron Throne, illicit ironborn raiding would occur from time to time and have to be suppressed. The Warden of the South, from House Tyrell, would defend against border skirmishes with Dorne, as Dorne actually retained its independence for two centuries after the Targaryen Conquest, and was only united to the realm (by marriage alliance) a century before the War of the Five Kings. This is why House Martell of Dorne are not Wardens. The Warden of the East, from House Arryn, seems to have defended against raids or invasion from the Free Cities across the Narrow Sea, such as the threat during the War of the Ninepenny Kings when an invasion was mounted from the Stepstones in the Narrow Sea.

House Tully were not Wardens, probably because the Riverlands are centrally located within the realm and far from external threats. It is not clear why House Baratheon were not named as Wardens, as the Stormlands border Dorne to the south (and thus they could have been Wardens of the South), and also border the Narrow Sea like the Vale (and thus could have been Wardens of the East). The Tyrells may have been chosen as Wardens of the south due to the larger army and population of the Reach, and because more Dornish attacks may have been targeted at the fertile lands of the Reach instead of the forests of the Stormlands. House Arryn may have been chosen ahead of the Baratheons as Wardens of the East because they had to deal with contentious Hill tribes in their mountains and thus needed the military assets at their disposal to deal with them. Also, the Andal Invasion thousands of years ago began in the Vale of Arryn, so it has been used an invasion corridor across the Narrow Sea before.

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