GIMME ALL THE TECHNOLOGY AND FANTASY ARCHITECTURE ALL OF IT
Well, I’ll go over it with bulletpoints???
FIRST OF ALL, Valyrian smiths didn’t work with just hammers and such but also with magic. This is why people don’t know how to work Valyrian steel now, it did not only require forging-knowledge but magic as well. It could not be done with raw material either.
Smithing was not the only non-dragon thing the Valyrians used magic for. They say that they used magic with architecture as well and they had special ways of working with stone that didn’t include cutting or chiseling. Valyrian magicians were said to have known ways of shaping stone, like one might shape clay, using fire and magic.
It is said that the “topless towers” of Valyria were really beautiful. I have no idea what they mean by that but tbh I think they are actually topless towers so that dragons can enter and exit.
THEY WROTE IN GLYPHS!
Another architecture of note: They had carved sphinxes which apparently had black faces with garnets for eyes. The green sphinxes on the entrance of Citadel are also from Valyria!
GLASS CANDLES. DON’T TAKE MY WORD FOR IT!
“The candle was unpleasantly bright. There was something queer about it. The flame did not flicker, even when Archmaester Marwyn closed the door so hard that papers blew off a nearby table. The light did something strange to colors too. Whites were bright as fresh-fallen snow, yellow shone like gold, reds turned to flame, but the shadows were so black they looked like holes in the world. Sam found himself staring. The candle itself was three feet tall and slender as a sword, ridged and twisted, glittering black. “Is that… ?”
“… obsidian,” said the other man in the room, a pale, fleshy, pasty-faced young fellow with round shoulders, soft hands, close-set eyes, and food stains on his robes.
“Call it dragonglass.” Archmaester Marwyn glanced at the candle for a moment. “It burns but is not consumed.”
“What feeds the flame?” asked Sam.
“What feeds a dragon’s fire?” Marwyn seated himself upon a stool. “All Valyrian sorcery was rooted in blood or fire. The sorcerers of the Freehold could see across mountains, seas, and deserts with one of these glass candles. They could enter a man’s dreams and give him visions, and speak to one another half a world apart, seated before their candles.”
ALSO OF COURSE, there are the horns they used to tame dragons which Euron reportedly owns.
Valyria had accumulated Dragonlore from all over the world, but it was all lost in the Doom.
DRAGONLORD is the Title for members of the forty Noble Families that vied to rule Valyria.
The Valyrians tamed the Dragons with Magic and mastered the technique of raising and training them into devastating weapons of War. They began expanding their influence, establishing the Freehold with Valyria as its Capital. There, magic flowered. Topless towers rose toward the Heavens where Dragons soared, stone sphinxes gazed down through eyes of garnet, and smiths forged swords of legendary strength and sharpness.
House Velaryon lords of Driftmark and High Tide, The Old, the True and the Brave.
House Velaryon of Driftmark rules the island of Driftmark, the largest island of Blackwater Bay in the Crownlands. The head of House Velaryon uses the titles Lord of the Tides and Master of Driftmark. House Velaryon is an ancient and proud house, with the blood of old Valyria in its veins. Velaryons, like the Targaryens, often have the Valyrian features of silver hair and purple eyes. Their arms depict a silver seahorse on aqua.
House Velaryon was a closely allied family to House Targaryen in Valyria. Twelve years before the Doom, Lord Aenar Targaryen moved his entire family and their dragons from Valyria to the island Dragonstone. The Velaryons went with them, settling on Driftmark. The House continued to maintain close ties with the Targaryens, and Aegon the Conqueror’s mother was Velena Velaryon.
Lord Monterys Velaryon is the current Lord of the Tides and Master of Driftmark. Aurane Waters, also called the Bastard of Driftmark, is a bastard member of House Velaryon.
The History of the Valyrian Freehold and the ancient Valyrians
Alright, this post was prompted by a couple of quick visits to the Daenerys Targaryen tag in the last two days (also, my general love for fictional histories, but let’s not get into that). I have seen more than enough people claiming that there is no White Savior aspects to Daenerys’ storyline over the past few months, and their sightings has increased lately because of the (incredible justified, in my opinion) backlash against the Mhysa scene. I have little patience and fortitude to argue with every one of them, individually or otherwise; but one of the arguments I have seen people made was utterly hilarious to me because they seemed to lack some crucial knowledge about what they were actually talking about. Their argument was that Valyrians were Essosi, so they were actually kins with the slaves who were freed in Slaver’s Bay by Daenerys Targaryen who is of Old Valyria. This meant that Daenerys was mostly akin with these people, so there was actually no divide between them at all!
The crucial knowledge that I assume the people who made these comments lacked is, obviously, the history of Old Valyria and its ties with the rest of Essos. Namely, the history of the Valyrian Freehold.
In this post, I aim to gather all we know on the Valyrian Freehold from the books and GRRM’s statements. So, there will be no headcanons by me or anyone else will be involved. This is meant to be informational only and not as a full reply to what I have talked about in the first paragraph.
(Too bad the World book is not out yet, I’m sure we could have had much more information from there!)
Valyrians’ known history starts with them finding and managing to tame dragons thousands of years ago. It is said that they managed to tame dragons using sorcery, which the Valyrians were very good at. According to the maesters in Oldtown, Valyrian magic was rooted in fire and blood. It is said that their influence was gained through using their magic and dragons. It is also said that they used their magic in lots of ways including architecture and forging. In fact, this is why the forging of Valyrian steel is lost: The forging is said to have included magic in it, and since Valyria (the ruined capital of the Valyrian Freehold) had most of the information on magic… well, you don’t need me to connect the dots for you.
Before the Valyrians’ rise, the strongest and largest empire in Essos is said to be the Old Ghiscari Empire. This empire ruled over a big portion of Essos, including colonies in Slaver’s Bay. When the Valyrians rose to power with their magic and dragons, these two forces clashed with each other. The Ghiscari wanted their dragons, and Valyrians of course had problems with it. After five defeats, the Valyrian Freehold destroyed the center of the empire by burning down its capital completely and making sure it could never be rebuilt by sowing their fields with salt and sulfur. Apparently, this was also the death of the main Ghiscari lines and their culture –their language and the root of their religion were destroyed. After the fall of Old Ghis, the three Slaver’s Bay cities rose to prominence (especially in the slave trade, obviously), practically out of ashes.
After this, the Valyrians targeted the civilization of Rhoynar. While the Prince of Rhoynar held the Valyrian armies back with his own great army, the rest of the Rhoynish escaped to Dorne with Princess Nymeria, their warrior queen. The Rhoynish army was destroyed.
It seems that the Rhoynar and the Ghiscari Empire were the biggest powers in Essos apart from Valyrians at the time, since we have no other knowledge of great wars involving the Valyrian Freehold. After the escape of Rhoynish and the collapse of the Ghiscari Empire, the Valyrian Freehold began expanding to the far west, enslaving enemies and building colony cities as it went along. The known cities are; Oros, Mantarys, Tyria, Lorath, Lys, Myr, Norvos, Pentos, Qohor, Tyrosh and Volantis. (If you haven’t noticed, apart from the first three cities, all the others are Free Cities.) At its peak, the Valyrian Freehold expanded as far as Westeros in the west (by having a colony in Dragonstone and its surrounding islands).
Things worked out for the Valyrian Freehold until its fall over an unspecified event called the Doom of Valyria. During the Doom, the city of Valyria was destroyed for good, nearly all Valyrians died and the Valyrian Freehold consequently ceased to be. The surviving Valyrians weren’t much, only the ones who immigrated to the colony cities (away from the Doom) and House Targaryen (which had moved to the freehold in Dragonstone years prior to the Doom over the prophecy of the destruction by Daenys “the Dreamer” Targaryen). Most of these Valyrians intermarried and mixed with others. The prominent ones who didn’t do this were the Targaryens and the ruling class in Volantis—though the latter may be under suspicion.
Much of the details of their culture is lost, due to the Doom destroying Valyria.
As stated, the power of the Valyrians resided in their magic and their dragons. Their magic had many uses in forging, architecture, dragon-taming, etc. and was drawn from fire and blood. Their capital, Valyria, was a big and wondrous city holding many magical artifacts even after its destruction. The Doom is also said to have destroyed magic in the world, because magic had started dying away after it had happened (and it started to come back after the birth of Daenerys’ dragons, but that’s up for debate since the existence of the Others may also be a reason). Their main language was High Valyrian.
According to George R. R. Martin, the Valyrian Freehold was much like the Roman Republic. It didn’t have a monarch, but was ruled by “free holders” (freeborn landowners). In practice, the ruling was by the strongest families (much like Houses in Westeros). These houses had great wealth, sorcerous abilities and dragons. It is said that two Great Houses in Valyria were almost always in contest. House Targaryen was among the smaller Houses. These houses also practiced incest and polygamy, weddings of brothers and sisters were customary. House Targaryen continued this to preserve their bloodline. (There were only some exceptions throughout their nearly 400 years of stay in Westeros.)
Lastly, I want to mention slavery. There aren’t many references to slave trading in the Valyrian Freehold, but slave labour was very prominent. They are known to have enslaved many people during wars, and in times of peace they are known to have “bred” them for more. The slaves we know the most about are the slaves being worked in the mines of Fourteen Flames. They lived in horrendous conditions and worked until death. I can’t even decide where to begin, so I’m just going to quote the book for this particular case [cut in certain places to avoid spoilers for the show-watches].
[…], but we first took root in Valyria, amongst the wretched slaves who toiled in the deep mines beneath the Fourteen Flames that lit the Freehold’s nights of old. Most mines are dank and chilly places, cut from cold dead stone, but the Fourteen Flames were living mountains with veins of molten rock and hearts of fire. So the mines of old Valyria were always hot, and they grew hotter as the shafts were driven deeper, ever deeper. The slaves toiled in an oven. The rocks around them were too hot to touch. The air stank of brimstone and would sear their lungs as they breathed it. The soles of their feet would burn and blister, even through the thickest sandals. Sometimes, when they broke through a wall in search of gold, they would find steam instead, or boiling water, or molten rock. Certain shafts were cut so low that the slaves could not stand upright, but had to crawl or bend. And there were wyrms in that red darkness too.”
“Firewyrms. Some say they are akin to dragons, for wyrms breathe fire too. Instead of soaring through the sky, they bore through stone and soil. If the old tales can be believed, there were wyrms amongst the Fourteen Flames even before the dragons came. The young ones are no larger than that skinny arm of yours, but they can grow to monstrous size and have no love for men.”
“Did they kill the slaves?”
“Burnt and blackened corpses were oft found in shafts where the rocks were cracked or full of holes. Yet still the mines drove deeper. Slaves perished by the score, but their masters did not care. Red gold and yellow gold and silver were reckoned to be more precious than the lives of slaves, for slaves were cheap in the old Freehold. During war, the Valyrians took them by the thousands. In times of peace they bred them, though only the worst were sent down to die in the red darkness.”
“Didn’t the slaves rise up and fight?”
“Some did,” he said. “Revolts were common in the mines, but few accomplished much. The dragonlords of the old Freehold were strong in sorcery, and lesser men defied them at their peril. […]”
I actually didn’t plan to finish this write-up with that imagery, but oh well. I am open for questions if you have some about further historical knowledge on Valyrians, and I will reply if what you want to know is answered to my best knowledge. I must have forgotten to talk about some stuff. (On purpose, I didn’t go into much detail over the magical architecture and Valyrian steel knowledge because I figured that would be boring for most. Hit me up if you are interested.) Thanks for reason, hopefully I was of any help.
What a Jaenara Belaerys, a Valyrian dragonlord would have worn, Basil Soda
Jaenara Belaerys was a woman from Valyria, who flew her dragon Terrax farther south of Sothoryos than anyone had ever gone before. She returned after three years, but found only endless jungle, deserts and mountains. Jaenara declared that Sothoryos was as large as Essos and “a land without end”.
Do you know why incest between cousins is considered normal in westeros, but sibling incest is a horrible sin?
Thanks for the question!
The short answer is that the Faith considers brother-sister relationships incestuous but not first-cousin relationships. But that’s kind of a salty answer, so let me explain a little.
Brother-sister relationships, it’s pretty clear to see why those are incestuous. While Valyria had widely practiced the tradition of wedding siblings to preserve blood purity, the Faith (as well as the faith of the old gods, presumably) views such relationships as profane. It was never a practice in Westeros, so when the Targaryens came in as conquerors, there was some pushback. Now, Aegon the Dragon took important steps to make sure the Faith stayed on his side - being crowned by the High Septon, adopting the Faith over his own native Valyrian religion - steps his weak son Aenys never did, and which his cruel son Maegor openly rejected. It took a war and a severe weakening of the Faith (and banning of its martial branches) to finally settle the question; the Faith was willing, essentially, to look the other way and no longer had the power to argue anyway.
Now, cousin relationships, those are harder. In our own world, at least for the Catholic Church, any marriage within four degrees on consanguinity was forbidden. Of course, the nobility still needed to consolidate bloodlines and keep inheritance within a limited number of families, which meant that more of their marriages came within exactly these degrees. Conveniently, the Pope was usually more than willing to grant a dispensation allowing too-closely-related couples to marry (even after he split with the Catholic Church, Henry applied to his Archbishop of Canterbury, Cranmer, for a dispensation to marry Jane Seymour, since he had had intimate relationships with Jane’s second cousins, Mary and Anne Boleyn). Even when these dispensations were granted, however, couples could still be granted annulments for the very reason of forbidden consanguinity (as the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Louis VII of France was).
The Faith doesn’t seem big on dispensations, so we have to presume they don’t especially care about cousin marriages. Tywin married his first cousin and Rickard his first cousin once removed without a peep from the Faith. I can’t recall any uncle-niece marriages among the great houses of Westeros, so I don’t know how the Faith feels about them (not that the Hapsburgs got flack for that anyway).
The Queen Regent (NFriel)
Edit: thanks to 10100000 for reminding me of Serena and Sansa Stark, the granddaughters of Cregan Stark, who married their half-uncles Edric and Jonnel, respectively (and whom we might meet in whatever “The She-Wolves of Winterfell” will eventually be called)