Things are moving a lot faster than normal in Game of Thones‘ season 7. Major players’ stories are in the early stages of their final arcs, and those who were never meant to win are dropping off like flies.
Perhaps the event that saddened fans the most was the fall of the ever sharp-witted Queen of Thorns, and the annihilation of House Tyrell.
Hugely popular, there are many fans who call the Tyrells their favorite house, instead of the Starks and Lannisters. This is due to many reasons– their no-nonsense matriarch, the beautiful and charismatic Margery, and the military and political power, which tops the hated Lannisters, to name a few.
However, there is a lot that casual fans may not know about the Wardens of the South and rulers of The Reach. Aside from their long history, their direct and indirect influence is felt in much of Westeros overall.
Wealthy, powerful, and calculatingly ambitious, the Tyrells have a massive amount of weight to throw around, as well as the political savvy to use it. If you were to look at Westeros as a world stage, they are a Superpower that would likely love to have you as an ally, but are also deadly as a foe.
Here are the 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Game Of Thrones’ House Tyrell.
15. They Handed Robert His Only Defeat In Battle
Robert Baratheon was a true monster on the battlefield. As a great fighter and commander with charisma to match, he was the epitome of someone born to fight.
He would have a perfect record at it as well… if it weren’t for the Tyrells. During his rebellion, Robert was warring in The Reach after he had successfully taken several castles in The Stormlands, converting defeated foes to his cause, and was trying to take Ashford.
This didn’t go according to plan for Robert, though, as the Tyrell vanguard led by Randyll Tarly faced off against him and managed to overrun Robert’s forces.
Lord Tarly was one of the top commanders and fighters in Westeros, and a matchup between him and Robert was a superfight. This fight didn’t last until death, however, as Robert wisely retreated, saving himself and his forces.
14. The Citadel Is Under Their Control
The Citadel is like the Library of Alexandria, Oxford University, and Harvard Medical School all rolled into one.
It stands in Oldtown, the seat of House Hightower, bannermen to the Tyrells. The Citadel is where maesters are trained and sent to serve a house. It also holds what is perhaps the largest collection of important books in the world, with scholars who are trained from low- level scribes to keep watch over them.
The Archmaesters who rule it are a collection of solitary, cantankerous men, all highly intelligent, and a select few of whom are schooled in the most remote and forbidden forms of magic.
It hold many priceless artifacts from lands far beyond Westeros, including ancient Valyria. Casterly Rock may sit on a mountain of gold, but the real treasure trove of any invader would be The Citadel.
13. They Came From Humble Beginnings
In the case of Westeros, there are seven Great Houses that each rule over one of seven large regions. One of these Great Houses is the Tyrells, who rule The Reach– a large and fertile land that is optimal for practically everything a small kingdom would want.
However, the Tyrells are unlike the other Great Houses in many ways. Aside from being the youngest Great House, they started out as mere stewards to the previous rulers of The Reach, House Gardener.
Lord Gardener made the foolish mistake of fighting Aegon the Conquerer instead of bending the knee, and he paid for it with his life and the lives of all his heirs.
As High Stewards, it was the Tyrells who held the stronghold of Highgarden during the war, and they who opened the door for Aegon and bent the knee.
12. They Were Chosen Over Older More Powerful Houses
The Tyrells spent centuries as the High Stewards of the Gardeners, and learned a thing or two from them as rulers. During the Andal Invasion– a conflict that lasted countless generations and shaped modern Westeros– the Gardeners took a different path to dealing with the threat.
Rather than put up armed resistance like the other Kings of Westeros, they offered the powerful Andal Lords land, wealth, and positions of power in their kingdom in exchange for loyalty.
This was an enormously successful method of diplomacy, and the Tyrells had a front row seat for how the complexities of rule can be bent to your advantage.
When Aegon’s Conquest came to The Reach, they advised diplomacy for their Liege Lord, but pride got in the way.
Recognizing that they were on the other side of the diplomatic strategy that the Gardeners had practiced when they ruled, the Tyrells wisely took the path of surrender, and were chosen to as new rulers over older, more prestigious houses like Florent and Oakheart.
11. They Can Field The Largest Single Army In Westeros
The Tyrells control the largest, most diverse army in all the Seven Kingdoms. Even the army of the Westerlands, ruled by the rich and powerful Lannisters, is at a disadvantage on paper.
When Renly Baratheon attempted to take the crown at the outbreak of the War of the Five Kings, he conspired with the Tyrells and succeeded in convincing them that he was best suited for rule over his brother Stannis.
It was no accident that Renly chose them as his main backer, because when the war was ready to be fought, Renly could field an army of 100 thousand, albeit with some help from his loyal Storm Lords.
This dwarfed anything that the Lannisters could bring to the battlefield. It was only through two unplanned events– Stannis’ prideful kin slaying and Littlefinger’s cleverness– that this monstrous host did not descend in full force onto King’s Landing in what would likely have been a thorough victory for the Tyrells.
10. They Control The Strongest Navy In Westeros
Not only are the Tyrells the strongest land army in Westeros, but their naval power is also top of the heap in strength. The Redwyne fleet boasts a staggering 200 battle-ready warships, and hundreds of other ships of various purposes.
Their loyalty is unquestioned, as Olenna Tyrell herself is a Redwyne by birth, and is the aunt and mother in law of Lord Paxter Redwyne, commander of the fleet.
While the Iron Fleet of the Greyjoys is sometimes thought to be the strongest, their longships are not designed for traditional naval combat, but rather viking-esque raiding and ship-to-ship boarding.
During the Greyjoy Rebellion, it was Stannis Baratheon who commanded the naval assault, and the Redwyne Fleet was his main force.
Under his command, the Redwyne Fleet dealt an absolutely crushing defeat to the Greyjoys, destroying nearly every last longship and clearing the way for his brother Robert to finish off the rebellion by taking Pyke. Not even the feared reavers of the Iron Islands can best the Redwynes on the open sea.
9. They Have The Strongest Bannermen Of All The Great Houses
The Tyrells really lucked out when Aegon elevated them to Great Lords. They inherited the second largest region in Westeros, and basically got to piggyback on the rewards that House Gardener reaped as successful Kings.
Only the North is larger in area, but it’s largely inhospitable and sparsely populated in comparison. The Bannermen of the Ancient Kings of The Reach all go back thousands of years, and the power that they accrued for their loyalty is great.
The Houses of Redwyne, Florent,, Tarly, Oakheart, Merryweather, and Hightower are just some of the major Houses sworn to Highgarden, and all of their strength covers a wide variety of military, geographic, and political power.
The members of these houses have been top level commanders, knights, Kingsguard, advisors, maesters, magisters, and diplomats thanks to the Tyrell’s wisdom and Aegon’s mercy.
In the post-Conquest years, they solidified their positions by always remaining loyal to the crown. If having powerful friends is an asset, the Tyrells were in a stronger position than any other single Great House.
8. They Provide Much Of The Food For Westeros
If one were to have a choice of any region of Westeros to maintain a kingdom, The Reach would likely be the top choice for many.
Known for it’s rich and bountiful lands, The Reach is the most populous of the Seven Kingdoms, yet it produces more food than its inhabitants can consume. A real life equivalent would be the breadbasket of the United States, with areas consisting of fertile farmland for hundreds of kilometers in any direction.
Naturally, this means that they are the main exporters of food throughout Westeros. In times of peace, they maintain a complex but efficient network of distribution that can be as effective a weapon as any blade in times of war.
When the Tyrells married into the Royal Family through Margery being betrothed to Joffrey, the Tyrells reopened their supply lines to their former enemies and brought with them a much needed abundance of food for the starving capital.
7. They Are The Second Richest House In Westeros
The Tyrells are extremely powerful, clearly, but maintain all of their power comes at a high cost. Fortunately for them, House Tyrell also happens to be the second richest house in the land.
Though the Westerlands are seated around a mountain of gold and are the richest, The Reach is well suited to maintain a versatile and robust economy.
Situated around the Mander River– the heart of their land’s fertility– the Tyrells control the major Port of Oldtown, easily able to import foreign products of all kinds and sail them upriver to Highgarden and beyond.
Aside from their foreign goods, The Reach provides numerous domestic products of high value, such as wine and steel. Combined with their seemingly limitless supply of food, they make up for their lack of gold by utilizing their assets to peak performance.
6. They Stayed Loyal To The Targaryens Throughout Robert’s Rebellion
During Robert Baratheon’s campaign to take down the Dragon Kings, the Tyrells never once hinted at betraying their Liege Lords.
This might seem an easy choice at first, but as Robert continued to thoroughly smash army after army, pressure was slowly being put on the crown, and what started as a partial rebellion, turned into a very real danger for the Targaryens.
As the war went on, the main bulwark against the usurper were the Tyrells. With their enormous military prowess and seasoned commanders, they fought the rebels every way they could, and there were two instances during the war where they nearly ended it all for Robert and changed the course of history.
Mad King Aerys had arguably the strongest Kingsguard in history, and they were commanded by former Tyrell Bannerman Ser Gerold Hightower.
5. Their House Was Born Out Of Conflict
The Reach Kings still had to fight the Andals even though they successfully assimilated many of them. The Gardeners chose only the most powerful and influential Andals to join them. One such Andal was a knight named Ser Alester Tyrell.
His skill at arms was amazing by all accounts; so good in fact, that the then-King, Gwayne V Gardener, took Alester into his service as a personal bodyguard, and they fought many battles together against Alester’s own people.
He was elevated and given lands of his own, and thus began the line of House Tyrell. However, how did they become stewards when they were founded by a warrior? Well, Alester had 2 sons– one died in a tourney and the other wasn’t a fighter, but a knowledgeable who prefered to perform other duties for his Lords.
4. They Have Been Enemies Of Dorne For Centuries
No people stand apart from the rest of Westeros like the Dornish. Different in almost every way from the rest of the continent– different ancestors, traditions, and values– they are proud people who generally don’t like Andals.
Unfortunately for The Reach, its southern border is with Dorne and its inhabitants have borne the brunt of Dorish violence for centuries.
Of the Seven Kingdoms, it is only Dorne that was never conquered, and their fiercely independent resistance has killed both dragons and Kings.
In the centuries before the Conquest, The Reach had to guard the strategic Prince’s Pass against Dorne, and although the Dornish do not have the numbers or the interest for an invasion, fighting still broke out and resulted in plenty of casualties for both sides.
The Targaryens eventually gave up trying to conquer Dorne and married them into the Seven Kingdoms and Targaryen rule, but old rivalries die hard and it is not unheard of even in times of peace for skirmishes to break out or a deadly fate to befall a Reachman in Dorne.
3. They Are The Only House Controlled By A Matriarch
Westeros tradition and law says that women cannot hold the highest positions of power. All lineage is traced through the male line and a woman cannot hold land indefinitely should her lord husband die.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t strong women in Westeros who are critical members of their Houses, but only one of them stands out as the true mover and shaker among the Great Houses.
Olenna Tyrell, The Queen Of Thorns, is a shrewd and intelligent ruler on par with Tywin Lannister. Her oldest son, Mace Tyrell, is the Lord of Highgarden, but it is truly Olenna who makes the important moves.
Referring to her own son as “Lord oaf of Highgarden,” she knows that he is weak and dim, good at neither war nor politics, and lets the men play at war while she steers the ship of Tyrell interests from behind the curtain.
2. They Starved Stannis And His Army To Near Death
After the victory at Ashford, the Tyrell army laid siege to the seat of House Baratheon, the indomitable fortress called Storm’s End.
Thought to be impossible to breach and take by force, the Tyrells could have probably done it with their numbers, but rather than take the heavy losses that move would certainly incur, they elected to stay outside of the castle’s defense range and simply wait.
With the Redwyne Fleet blockading any shipments by sea and the army blocking the roads, Stannis, who held the castle at the time, was forced to wait.
For nearly a year, the Tyrell army feasted within site of the defenders, while inside the castle, Stannis and his army hopelessly watched their food supply dwindle.
Many men died, and after every last edible thing in the castle was exhausted, the end seemed imminent.
The course of history would have been forever changed had Davos Seaworth not saved Stannis, as Robert would never have left his ancestral home occupied by Tyrell forces, and his campaign would likely have been crippled had they taken it.
1. Despite Their Great Power, They Prefer Peace To War
The entire history of House Tyrell plays out like a person who received a good opportunity, served well, and quietly learned from those around them to shape themselves into a serious player in life.
Fans generally love the Tyrells for many of reasons, but the main reason is that the Tyrells stand apart from the power hungry and vicious Lannisters, as benevolent leaders who take care of their people and can match and even defeat the Lions of the West.
With two seasons (and books) of Lannister dominance, House Tyrell came into the story and immediately established themselves as having not only might, but also the political savvy that the beloved Starks always lacked.
They can play the Game of Thrones with the best of them, and have a long history of loyalty, respect for others, and an unshakable tradition of chivalry that is the stuff of dreams for many Westeros commoners. If you have to be ruled, the best ruler is by far House Tyrell.
Can you think of any other interesting facts about Game of Thrones‘s House Tyrell? Tell us in the comments!
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