Do you think Westeros would be able to function if Dany tried to reorganize the government into a republic like Rome
Dany would never reorganize Westeros into a republic, as she believes in rule via an absolute central monarchy. She has no experience or understanding of rule by republic either in the fashion of the ancient Valyrian Freehold or in the oligarchic, plutocratic style of the Free Cities, so expecting her to rearrange the very nature of the government to a Late Middle Age/Early Renaissance republic is unlikely.
In fact, given her experiences with people such as Illyrio, Xaro, and the Masters of Slaver’s Bay, I don’t think Daenerys would look too fondly at giving the wealthy landholders of Westeros, especially those who ousted her family from power (which was half of the most powerful houses of Westeros), the chance to place checks on her authority, set policy direction, to say nothing about giving them the chance to oust her from power. From a political standpoint, Daenerys wishes to reassert the authority of House Targaryen and set herself as the sole head of state, as the previous time she made concessions, she saw much of her anti-slavery efforts in Meereen get quietly undone. She would much rather prefer a much more centralized ruling structure to better enforce her vision.
Given the limited state of administration, bureaucracy, logistics, communication, finance, and all of the other limitations of medieval governments, I’d say that adopting a single Westeros-wide republic is nigh-on impossible. Arguably one of the reasons why Aegon I went with a weak feudal monarchy model of government for Westeros is how freaking huge it is. The principal vassals of the Iron Throne enjoy much autonomy and power in their own respective regions, as we find out when Eddard Stark thinks as such in the difference in his power between being Lord of Winterfell in the North versus in King’s Landing. He’s not wrong about that, either, it’s just that he’s not considering all the circumstances, since the Handship gives him such broad-reaching and significant powers. Eddard might also be wrong in that power in feudalism depends largely on the ear of the king, and as Robert’s BFF, Eddard can get Robert to listen to him.
In our own history, the growth of republics out of the system of the Middle Ages was varied. In the city-states of Italy like Venice and Genoa, arguably the most famous of the merchant republics, the rising merchant class, sidelined from power by traditional feudal forms of feudal government. The weak central authority combined with the financial and human power of the city and the merchant class to become independent city states. That’s at odds with Dany’s vision of greater central powers.
These republics hardly had universal suffrage, and voting was typically dominated by an elite caste determined by property holdings (as property taxes were one of the few taxes assessed), guild membership, or by having a council seat and appointing a successor directly.
So, I know it's SOMEWHERE on the internet unless I'm completely delusional and made it up in my head, but at one point Tammy told the internet at large what the real world equivalents of many of the countries in both the Tortall and Emelan books. Do you happen to know the general breakdown for Tortall? I can't seem to find it :(
I think you’re looking for this:
Tortall, Tusaine, Maren, and Galla are based pretty much on medieval Europe and England, without particular differentiation between countries. Scanra is more Scandinavia (I tapped medieval Russia for Kugisko in COLD FIRE). Tyra is my Venice-like merchant republic; Saraine is a medly of medieval Europe, Southeast Asia, and samurai culture (well, samurai armor, anyway). Carthak is a mishmosh that includes Egypt, but also Phoenecia, Assyria, and the Hittite Empire of the Middle East, caulked with Roman cuisine in places. The Yamani Islands are definitely based on samurai history. The Copper Isles, well, the wildlife I dumped there in earlier books was Central and South American, but the Amazonian cultures are tribal ones, and I wanted an established culture that has things like palaces, so I looked to Indonesia.
I have a fantasy merchant republic with a stratified society. To simplify - elites and serfs. I had it planned out with histories, religions, etc, none consciously modeled on a particular culture. Then I realized that this might LOOK like an inverse Indian caste system w/ darker>med. There aren’t clear similarities beyond a gradated stratification - no mirrored correspondence. Could this still be problematic? I could flip it, but I was trying to have more powerful non-white/light characters.
First of all, what you’re worrying about is not looking like the caste system, but looking like the varna system. This is a common mistake in Western circles and it’s nearly futile trying to correct it, but I’ll discuss some of this later on.
However, what you describe doesn’t strike me as particularly reminiscent of the varna system. I’d expect to see some fourfold division, and your “elites” would in turn be divided into the classic “three estates” of medieval France, actually: clergy, nobility, and freemen/urban bourgeoisie, in addition to the “serf” class.
Unless that’s your class division system, what you describe doesn’t seem much like varna, but more like a plain-old feudal system. To avoid seeming like you’re modeling a system off of varna, avoid these points, and avoid using the word “caste.” Those are the easy points, but I feel that’s actually missing the heart of the issue.
By putting darker-skinned people at the top and making lighter-skinned people oppressed, you do seem to be invoking some colorism, albeit of an inverted sort to the kind usually seen. There was a YA SF novel called Revealing Eden that used a similar conceit in its imagined social structure and it received all sorts of backlash for coming off as racist, intentionally or otherwise.
Finally, “caste” is not the same as social class, but is actually a lineage or community group who’ve been in the same line of work (or similar lines of work) over the generations. A given caste usually falls within a certain varna, though may cross varna and in different regions the associated varna may be different (for example, members of the Kayasth caste may be found in any varna depending on where they’re from). The caste “system” is less a system and more a knotted web of hangups (sometimes severe or even deadly) that certain caste groups have about associating with other caste groups based on what work they do, respectively.
In earlier times, both caste and varna were very fluid and were less about how you were born than about what work you did, but as work became more hereditary, the concepts of varna and caste started to crystallize (about the 1st century AD), and were quite entrenched in certain circles by around the 10th century. There’s been a huge amount of religious, philosophical, and legal debate about the concepts since the early Vedic period.
Overall, I would advise some reimagining of your society’s social structure, but not for the reasons you might be worried about. Why must there be a stratification based on skin color? Colorism exists in India, for sure, but even in the most restrictive imaginings of the varna system, it’s not like all the fairer skinned people automatically become Brahmins.
Serene Greatsword of Dogs: A mighty blade imbued with starlight of Sirius at the time of its forging. It was the symbol of office for the prince-presidents of a merchant republic, whose trading ships navigated by those same stars. Though it saw little bloodshed during its time in office, it’s an impeccable weapon.
Forgotten Helm of Verbing: Embroidered velvet padding in this helmet’s interior stimulates the wearer’s brain into knowing how exactly one might “rabbit” or “syllabus” or “phylactery” - or generally “do” anything that is a noun. The helm does not give the wearer the ability to articulate this information, nor does it improve their physical capabilities so they might perform an otherwise impractical action. You can see why you’ve never heard of this thing before.
Potion of the Beagle: A richly aromatic brew, a single mouthful improves the drinker’s sense of smell a hundredfold. Useful for tracking a scent trail, improving your appetite when you’ve got a nasty cold, and discerning the subtle differences between closely-related but distinctly separate species of finch.