queen of cities

Yahoo News Video Series ‘Cities Rising: Rebuilding America’ Returns Summer 2017

By Tony Maciulis, Head of News, Yahoo Studios

We’re excited to announce that Cities Rising: Rebuilding America, a Yahoo News docuseries, is returning this summer with all new episodes. Join Yahoo for an up-close and personal look at three iconic U.S. cities, as told over two episodes each.

In the first episode, launching today, Katie Couric visits Cleveland, a city residents like to call “the best location in the nation.” During her tour she visits the Cleveland Clinic, where she checks out a new breakthrough technology, the HoloLens, that is transforming the study of the human anatomy. Couric also visits the Cleveland Browns stadium with WKYC’s sports director, Jim Donovan, who discusses the Cavaliers’ historic 2016 NBA championship. She samples local treats at West Side Market, the oldest operating indoor-outdoor market space in the city, and catches up with Matthew McConaughey, who filmed his new movie in Cleveland and has plans to launch his Just Keep Livin Foundation curriculum there at John Adams High School.

New episodes of Cities Rising: Rebuilding America will publish twice a month on Yahoo. The visit to Cleveland is followed by stops in New York City’s largest and most diverse area, the borough of Queens, and finally the “Valley of the Sun,” Phoenix. The first episode of each installment explores how the city is making pivotal changes to reinvent itself, while taking a look at issues that are core to rebuilding: education, the economy and infrastructure. The second episode will focus on fun — the arts and culture, sports, food and nightlife scenes that make life exciting in the city.

Full episodes and additional clips are available at yahoo.com/cities-rising.

To approach Constantinople was to be dazzled by the most awesome cityscape in the world. So rapidly had it grown that the proud and ancient city of Chalcedon, on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, now served merely as its gateway. The Persian ambassadors – boarding a ship in Chaldecon’s harbour and negotiating the waters that surrounded Constantinople ‘like a garland’ – would have found marks of urban sprawl wherever they looked: for the conurbation, spreading in a ribbon along the European coastline, had long since broken through even the outermost ring of walls. Inevitably, though, it was to what lay within those hulking fortifications that the visitor’s gaze was drawn: for it was there that human effort and ingenuity had most astoundingly enhanced the already stunning setting. Along the waterfront, once a bleak wilderness of mud and reeds, everything now proclaimed the voracious appetites of the capital: a three-and-a-half mile stretch of harbours and warehouses, granaries and wharfs. Beyond them, packed so tightly together that visitors would often find themselves 'cramped and walking in danger because of the great number of men and animals’, there spread the homes of the city’s almost half a million inhabitants: a concentration of people vaster even than Ctesiphon. Nevertheless, as the Persian ambassadors neared their destination, the skyline of Constantinople would have conveyed to them an impression, not of seething clamour, but rather of order, monumentality and space. Along the spine of the promontory, the smog bred of countless furnaces and hearths, and which hung in a pall over the lower reaches of the great conurbation, diminished upon the sea breezes, to reveal the hills that originally, before the arrival of Constantine upon them, had constituted the upper reaches of Byzantium, and now provided the New Rome, and the Roman Empire itself, with its mighty heart.

The ambassadors, once they had disembarked and made their way up from the Golden Horn, would have approached these hills along a broad, sumptuously porticoed road: the Mese – 'Middle Street’. Ahead, framed by colossal arches and gateways, stretched a succession of marmoreal open spaces. It was in the first of these, at the foot of a column pointedly adorned with depictions of Roman military triumphs, that the ambassadors would have been officially welcomed to the city; it was in the second, the circular forum built by Constantine, that the Palladium, supposedly lay buried. It was not this forum, however, but a third, the square known as the Augustaion, that most magnificently embodied the capital’s pretensions. On its eastern flank stood the Senate House; to the south, adorning a massive bath-house, was the city’s foremost collection of domed and double-arched mass of brick and marble named the Golden Milestone. This was the monument from which imperial cartographers measured the distance to every known location: for just as the sun, and the moon, and the stars revolved around the earth, so too, it pleased the Romans to imagine, did all kingdoms revolve around Constantinople. She stood, in their confident opinion, upon the axis of the world. She was, quite simply, the 'Queen of Cities’.

—  Tom Holland, In The Shadow Of The Sword: The Battle for Global Empire and the End of the Ancient World.
Braavosi Courtesans

Braavosi courtesans are renowned worldwide and they enjoy high status. Every courtesan has her own barge and servants to work them. The beauty of famed courtesans has inspired many a song. They are showered with gifts from goldsmiths and craftsmen beg for their custom. Nobility and rich merchants pay the courtesans large amounts of money to appear alongside them at events, and bravos are known to kill each other in their names. Braavosi courtesans are famous, respected and wealthy and enjoy a kind of celebrity status as well as a certain kind of mystique. They are cultured and beautiful. Some families have produced many generations of courtesans, such as Bellegere Otherys’s, it is likely that there are other Braavosi courtesan families.


The Black Pearl- Bellegere Otherys, also known as the Black Pearl of Braavos, was a smuggler, trader, sometime pirate, captain of the Widow Wind, born of a union between a Braavosi merchant’s daughter and an envoy from the Summer Isles. She meet Aegon IV Targaryen and became his fourth mistress, their affair continued for ten years though it was said that Bellegere had a husband in every port and that Aegon was but one of many. Her daughter Bellenora Otherys became a courtesan called the Black Pearl after her mother and since there has always been a Black Pearl courtesan in Braavos descended from the first.


The Black Pearl- The current Black Pearl is also called Bellegere Otherys and she is descended from the first Black Pearl and Aegon IV. Her mother, Bellonara Otherys was the previous Black Pearl before her. She is young and lovely, with black hair, light brown skin and full breasts. A some say the name the Brown Pearl would be more fitting, due to Bellegere’s light brown skin tone

The Merling Queen- Is a beautiful Braavosi courtesan, she is never seen without her Mermaids to hold her hair and veil, the Mermaids are always young maidens in the blush of their first flowering, and a replaced as necessary. The Merling Queen has her own barge, and servants to pole her to trysts.

The Veiled Lady- Wears veils to cover her face in public it is said she is incredibly beautiful though none but her lovers ever see her face. Like all courtesans she has her own barge and servants to pole her to trysts.

Moonshaow- Is beautiful and only dresses in silver and white, when she heard Dareon of the Night’s Watch singing and playing by the Moon Pool in Braavos she gave him a kiss for his talent.

Daughter of the Dusk- Not much is known about her other than her beauty and that she like most courtesans has her own barge with servants to cruise the canals of Braavos.

The Nightingale- Is renowned for her beauty, Braavos will challenge duels with any man who does not say that the Nightingale is the most beautiful woman in the world, Cat of the Canals claims that her father was killed because he said her mother was more beautiful than the Nightingale.

The Poetess- She is always carrying a book with her, and is quite mysterious, she is beautiful and has her own barge and servants.

The Coming Conquest of Qarth

When the Dragon Queen returns to Vaes Dothrak, it is generally assumed that something wondrous and terrible will happen wherein a terrified dosh khaleen recognizes Daenerys and her “child” Drogon as the Stallion Who Mounts the World. By this Dany will gain the allegiance of all or at least most of the Dothraki and mobilize them to destroy her Slaver enemies and seize the Iron Throne. But dragon-riders and messiahs aren’t immune to politics, and the Dothraki will not consent to be a mere vehicle for someone else’s ambitions. They are a proud people with their own idea of how things should go, so this relationship will require quite a bit of give on Dany’s part. Dragon or no dragon, if Daenerys is going to cement her authority as Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, if she is going to successfully command the Dothraki to refrain from their usual rape and slave taking, if she is going to prevent them from destroying her subjects and allies along with her enemies, and if she is going to convince them to leave their homeland and climb aboard rickety ships to cross the poison water that marks the end of the world, then she is going to have to meet some of their messianic expectations.

Consequently, before embarking on her own grand plans, the Dragon Queen is going to have to prove herself to the horse lords by winning victories. For the Stallion Who Mounts the World, no small, ordinary victory will do. Daenerys is going to have to give the Dothraki a symbolically powerful conquest, something that the khals could never have accomplished on their own, something that awakens their deepest desires and inflames their souls, something that will cause the entire world to tremble in fear and expectation. And so she will. She will give the Dothraki the Greatest City that Ever Was or Will Be.

Daenerys will do this because the Dothraki will consider Qarth the ultimate conquest. Westeros means little or nothing to the horse lords. It is the great cities of the east that hold their imagination and which they desire to plunder when their long-awaited messiah arrives:

“You must talk to my lord husband,” Dany said. “Drogo says the stallion who mounts the world will have all the lands of the earth to rule, and no need to cross the poison water. He talks of leading his khalasar east after Rhaego is born, to plunder the lands around the Jade Sea.”

The knight looked thoughtful. “The khal has never seen the Seven Kingdoms,” he said. “They are nothing to him. If he thinks of them at all, no doubt he thinks of islands, a few small cities clinging to rocks in the manner of Lorath or Lys, surrounded by stormy seas. The riches of the east must seem a more tempting prospect.” (GoT, Dany VI)

And Qarth happens to be the nearest and perhaps greatest embodiment of the fantastically wealthy east:

They were tall pale folk in linen and samite and tiger fur, every one a lord or lady to her eyes. The women wore gowns that left one breast bare, while the men favored beaded silk skirts. Dany felt shabby and barbaric as she rode past them in her lionskin robe with black Drogon on one shoulder. Her Dothraki called the Qartheen “Milk Men” for their paleness, and Khal Drogo had dreamed of the day when he might sack the great cities of the east. She glanced at her bloodriders, their dark almond-shaped eyes giving no hint of their thoughts. Is it only the plunder they see? (CoK, Dany II)

But Qarth is unique among eastern cities in that it is very close to the Dothraki Sea yet completely untouchable without magical intervention.

Qarth’s natural and human defenses make it the ultimate anti-Dothraki fortress. The city is protected from approaching armies by the harsh, barren and arid Red Wastes. Attackers willing to risk the Wastes would next have to overcome the city’s three great walls, which together constitute one of the Seven Wonders Made by Man. And in the event the Qartheen felt it desirable or necessary to take the fight to the enemy, the Civic Guard maintains a large host of camelry as an anti-cavalry weapon (“the horses could not abide the close presence of camels” – CoK Dany II). Assault is impossible and the city cannot be besieged via land, making Qarth absolutely impenetrable to the Dothraki. On their own, the horse lords cannot hope to threaten the Queen of Cities and hence cannot extract any tribute.

This distance sets Qarth apart from every other mainland city in Essos. The Free Cities, the Ghiscari cities, and presumably many of the cities of the Jade Sea regularly have to deal with wandering khalasars. The Free Cities buy the khals off and make alliances with them, the Ghiscari trade with them, and the Jade Sea cities suffer from their raids (which have penetrated as far as Asshai). The khalasars are an even bigger presence in the lives of various rural peoples such as the Lhazareen, who are unable to make deals on their own and, if unprotected by the cities, are effectively treated as a human herd to be terrorized, culled and harvested at the horse lords’ whims. But the Qartheen, secure behind their walls and their desert, are completely insulated from having to deal with the Dothraki. Consequently, where other cities do their best to appease the horse lords, the Qartheen treat them with utter contempt:

She was garbed after the Qartheen fashion. Xaro had warned her that the Enthroned would never listen to a Dothraki, so she had taken care to go before them in flowing green samite with one breast bared, silvered sandals on her feet, with a belt of black-and-white pearls about her waist. (CoK Dany III)

A passing remark by Xaro Xhoan Daxos makes it clear that the Qartheen greatly desire to keep the horse lords out of sight and out of mind, lest such rude savagery upset the Qartheen’s delicate constitutions and idyllic repose:

“Go to the Dothraki if you must have slaves.”

“Dothraki make slaves, Ghiscari train them. And to reach Qarth, the horselords must needs drive their captives across the red waste. Hundreds would die, if not thousands … and many horses too, which is why no khal will risk it. And there is this: Qarth wants no khalasars seething round our walls. The stench of all those horses … meaning no offense, Khaleesi.”(DwD, Dany III)

One could go so far as to argue that this absence of a meaningful Dothraki presence is one of the features that define Qarth.

In turn, the Dothraki desire to bring destruction to Qarth. This long-standing cultural desire is voiced in the Vaes Dothrak prophecy of the Stallion Who Mounts the World:

Finally the crone opened her eye and lifted her arms. “I have seen his face, and heard the thunder of his hooves… As swift as the wind he rides, and behind him his khalasar covers the earth, men without number, with arakhs shining in their hands like blades of razor grass. Fierce as a storm this prince will be. His enemies will tremble before him, and their wives will weep tears of blood and rend their flesh in grief. The bells in his hair will sing his coming, and the milk men in the stone tents will fear his name. The prince is riding, and he shall be the stallion who mounts the world.” (GoT, Dany V)

Now one might argue that the slur “milk men” is here used in a rather versatile way. The crone might be generally referring to the pale faced Valyrian, Andal and Qartheen elites who dominate the great cities of Essos. She might also be describing the average inhabitant of said great cities, who, even if they are brown skinned, would be less affected by the sun then country folk, and hence far lighter than the nomadic steppe-dwelling Dothraki. When Qotho crosses blades with Ser Jorah, the bloodrider screams that the knight is “a craven, a milk man, a eunuch in an iron suit,” indicating that the slur also labels one as unmanly and a coward (GoT, Dany VIII).

But after A Game of Thrones, the “milk men” slur is only ever used to describe the Qartheen. In A Clash of Kings, Dany’s internal monologue refers to the Qartheen as milk men a total of three times. At first she merely notes that “milk men” is the name the Dothraki use, but over the course of her stay the slur appears twice more in her thoughts, its negative connotations quite clear (decadence, deception, disregard, disinterest). Dany’s Bloodrider Jhogo also calls the Qartheen “milk men” twice while escorting her palanquin through the streets. The term does not appear in subsequent books, but in A Dance with Dragons, Daario remarks that “Qartheen have milk in their veins” (DwD, Dany IV). From all this it seems clear that the Qartheen are meant to be the very pinnacle of what it means to be a milk man. So although the Stallion prophecy applies to all the “milk men” rulers and city dwellers of Essos (and presumably the Andal/First Man castle dwellers of Westeros), it especially applies to the inhabitants of Qarth. After all, the Qartheen rule the world’s greatest city, are exceptionally pale, and have an over-refined, hyper-aestheticized and thoroughly un-martial civilization, which is in many ways the antithesis of brutal, direct and warlike Dothraki culture.

So Qarth’s impenetrable defenses and the Dothraki’s material and ideological desire to sack the city combine to establish a subtle narrative link between the two peoples. Qarth does everything within its power to keep the hostile Dothraki away and defend itself against them. The Dothraki in turn greatly desire the sack of Qarth, but such a feat is beyond their power. The Qartheen are intrinsically incapable of attacking the Dothraki (for even if they were physically capable of such an undertaking they have no cultural will or desire to do so) while the Dothraki are physically incapable of attacking the Qartheen. The result is a perpetually suspended conflict, a stalemate between the world’s greatest city and the world’s greatest city destroyers. There is no contest, no truce, no toleration, no mutually-beneficial agreements, just an absence of actual war brought about by its self-evident futility. The attackers cannot successfully attack and so are deterred, with the result that the defenders never actually have to defend. The non-defenders are victorious as they stand unscathed, but the non-attackers are undefeated and cannot be made to surrender and set aside their hostility.

Now crucially, it is Daenerys who possesses the ability to bring an end to this stalemate. Xaro Xhoan Daxos is right that no khal would ever risk the Red Wastes, but as it happens a certain khaleesi recently did just that. The Qartheen allowed this khaleesi, her tiny dragons and her harmless little khalasar through their gates, allowed her to see their city, allowed her to take their measure, and then allowed her to leave, again dressed as a Dothraki and filled with bitter resentment. This khaleesi, her favorite dragon, and her khalasar will all be far more formidable when she visits them for a second time. When the Dragon Queen and her thousands of screamers suddenly emerge out of the Red Wastes, the stunned Qartheen will discover they have no real way of fighting back. Their mighty walls and triple gates will avail them not, “for dragons fly” (CoK Catelyn I). And so, once impenetrable Qarth and everything it represents shall fall to the khalasars via dragon fire, the first and greatest victim of the Stallion Who Mounts the World.