Credit to J.E Fullerton/Ser Other-in-Law
In Part IV of the Politics of the Seven Kingdoms, we come to the best example of a failed state in Westeros – indeed, the only region of Westeros to ever lose the status of a Kingdom. The Riverlands are a perpetual runner-up in the game of thrones, more often a pawn or even the game board than a real player, despite its relatively large size, fertile soil, and significant population. Numbers alone tell the story: despite a population of some four million, which places the Riverlands on par with the Westerlands and substantially higher than the Stormlands or Dorne, the Riverlands can only raise an army of 20,000 men.
For this very reason, the Riverlands are probably the most important region for us to study in this series, because it allows us to understand from the failure of the various dynasties who claimed the title of King of the Rivers and Hills what the necessary conditions are for the growth of a strong polity.
As I will argue throughout this essay, the failure of the Riverlands can be traced to a lack of internal cohesion, best exemplified by the Bracken-Blackwood feud, which sapped the Riverlands and prevented from ever growing to its full potential.