We all know that the world George RR Martin built in A Song of Ice and Fire is quite large, as we did see this vast world in Game of Thrones. Of course, while Westeros itself is quite big and is just about as big as South America, there are also other places, nations, and kingdoms found all over the world of Game of Thrones. Some of the areas that we heard about in House of the Dragon are the Free Cities. So, what are the Free Cities in House of the Dragon?
The Free Cities are nine city-states that can be found in the western portion of the continent of Essos. These are independent cities that are important to the world because of how they are often engaged in trade with Westeros. As such, the Free Cities contribute to the economy of Westeros.
One of the things that people need to learn about running a kingdom is that it is important to establish trade relations with different nations and cities. That is what the Free Cities do for the Seven Kingdoms, as they are the most important trade partners that Westeros has ever seen. So, with that said, let’s look at what Free Cities are and how important they are.
What Are The Free Cities In The House Of The Dragon?
Throughout the history of George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, which was adapted to television as Game of Thrones, it has always been true that the storyline focuses a lot on the Seven Kingdoms over on the continent of Westeros. That’s because much of the drama happens in such a large kingdom that is ruled only by a solitary monarch. As such, a good part of the storyline focuses on the quest for power and the chance to sit on the Iron Throne.
Although we know for a fact that Game of Thrones and its spin-off prequel, House of the Dragon, focuses on Westeros, we know that the world is bigger than this continent. That’s because, over in the east, there is a much larger continent called Essos, which is home to a lot of different cities.
In line with that, we did hear about the Free Cities in House of the Dragon because of the fact that they were the ones possibly supporting the Crabfeeder’s occupation over at the Stepstones. King Viserys made the assumption that it was the Triarchy, a group formed by the cities of Myr, Lys, and Tyrosh, that supported the Crabfeeder’s army. That is why the king didn’t want to risk open war with the Free Cities. But what exactly are the Free Cities?
The Free Cities are nine city-states that can be found near the western coast of the continent of Essos, and that means that these cities are facing Westeros. These nine city-states are Braavos, Lorath, Lys, Myr, Norvos, Pentos, Qohor, Tyrosh, and Volantis. The Free Cities were established long ago during the height of the power of the Valyrian Empire, as it was the Valyrian Freehold that established some of these cities. And a lot of these cities, although established by the Valyrian Freehold, were independently ruled.
The different cities in the Free Cities had different histories and reasons for their establishments. Some of these cities were trading outposts that allowed the Valyrian Freehold to trade with the different kingdoms found in Westeros. However, there were other cities that were established as military outposts. Whatever the case may be, these cities eventually became independent after the Doom of Valyria, as they were able to govern themselves even without Valyrian leadership.
Since then, the Free Cities have been able to govern themselves and were able to establish trade with other cities all over the known world. In fact, most of the merchant ships in Westeros traded with the different city-states of the Free Cities.
We saw the Free Cities in play during the events of Game of Thrones because the different characters spent a good time in the different Free Cities all over Essos. For example, Daenerys Targaryen spent a good time in different cities in Essos. And Arya Stark herself spent a lot of time in Braavos to train as a Faceless Man before she returned to Westeros.
Where Are The Free Cities Located?
As mentioned, the Free Cities are located near the western coast of the continent of Essos. These cities are scattered throughout the west, as they were strategically established by the Valyrian Freehold to make sure that they were in the best position to trade with Westeros or provide military assistance to any city-state that may be in need.
Braavos is located on the northernmost tip of the eastern coast of Essos. Meanwhile, the cities of Lorath, Tyrosh, and Lys are actually islands that don’t form part of the Essos mainland. Qohor is the one that is closer to the central portion of Essos but is still close enough to the western coast of the continent.
Why Are The Free Cities Important?
In episode 2 of House of the Dragon, one of the things that we learned was that Corlys Velaryon was looking for the king to help him out in a war against the Crabfeeder and the Triarchy because he was raiding the Stepstones. The Crabfeeder was sinking Westerosi ships, killing Westerosi sailors, and affecting the livelihood of the Velaryons, a house that made its riches through trading.
However, King Viserys didn’t want to deal with the Crabfeeder violently and through hostile means because of the fact that he feared what could happen if he were to anger the Free Cities. That’s because it was clear that the Free Cities were the ones supplying the Triarchy its men and supplies as they continued to dominate the Stepstones, which are groups of islands that connect the southeastern portion of Westeros with Essos. But why are the Free Cities so important?
The Free Cities are so important because of the fact that the economy of the Seven Kingdoms relies heavily on its trade relations with the different city-states that form the Free Cities. A lot of the goods harvested and produced in Westeros are sold in the Free Cities, as the city-states themselves also trade goods with the Westerosi merchants.
In that regard, angering the Free Cities would mean that trade relations with the only other cities in the world would get destroyed. This is why it was also mentioned during the same Small Council meeting that the Seven Kingdoms never waged open war against the Free Cities in its history, as these cities have always been important for the economic prosperity of Westeros.
Meanwhile, Braavos is said to be the most powerful city in the world because it houses one of the greatest ports in the known world and is the home of the greatest bank in both Westeros and Essos. We saw this in play during Game of Thrones when even the monarchy of the Seven Kingdoms was indebted to the Iron Bank of Braavos.
As such, the Seven Kingdoms owes a huge part of its economic prosperity to the different city-states of the Free Cities, as these cities not only trade with Westeros but also provide financial assistance whenever needed.