Volantis

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Volantis
City state, one of the Free Cities
Free Cities.png
Location Essos, Free Cities, mouth of Rhoyne
Government Triarchy , Freehold.
Religion Mixed religions
Founded ~ before 1536 BC[1]
Notable places Black Wall, Long Bridge, Temple of the Lord of Light, Merchant's House
Organizations Tiger and elephant parties, tiger cloaks

Volantis, also known as the First Daughter,[2] sometimes called Old Volantis[3] is a city in southwestern Essos, located at the mouth of the Rhoyne on the Summer Sea. It is the oldest and the proudest of the Nine Free Cities.[4]

The City

See also: Images of Volantis

Volantis is the southeastern-most of the Free Cities, located east of the Disputed Lands. Volantis sprawles across one of the four mouths of the Rhoyne, where the river flows into the Summer Sea.[2] To the north is the river Volaena.[5] The cities Volon Therys, Valysar and Selhorys are located directly northeast of the city,[5] and ruled by Volantis.[2] Volantis also controls the Rhoyne as far as the tributary river Selhoru, and holds sway over the Orange Shore, west of the city.[2] The ruins of Sar Mell lie northeast as well.[5] Volantis is the closest Free City to Slaver's Bay, lying approximately five hundred and fifty leagues from Meereen.[4] Between Volantis and Slaver’s Bay lies the Demon Road.[6] The climate of Volantis is hot and humid, and the city does not cool off at night.[7]

Volantis is the oldest of the Free Cities, and known as the First Daughter of Valyria. Founded by some of the wealthiest men of the Freehold, so as to gather up the wealth that came down the Rhoyne,[8] Volantis was little more than a military outpost for the first century of its existence. It had been established to protect the borders of the Valyrian empire, and had no inhabitants, except the soldiers of its garrison. Over time, however, taverns and brothels and stables began to sprout up outside the Black Walls, and merchant ships began to call as well. Presently, it is one of the greatest, richest, and most powerful of the Nine Free Cities,[2] and was once the most populous.[9]

The city can be separated into two halves: the older districts of the city lie upon the eastern banks, the newer districts are located on the west. Even the newest districts are many centuries old. These two halves are connected by the Long Bridge.[2]

In the heart of Old Volantis, the city-within-the-city can be found; an immense labyrinth of ancient palaces, courtyards, towers, temples, cloisters, bridges, and cellars, all contained within the great oval of the Black Walls. Many of those inside the Black Walls still keep the old gods of Valyria. Outside of the Black Walls, R'hllor is greatly favoured, both amongst the slaves in the city, as well as the freedmen.[2] It is said that the Temple of the Lord of Light in Volantis is the greatest of all, and it is believed that this temple is trice the size of the Great Sept of Baelor in King's Landing.[2][9]

Volantis contains a large harbour. The Volantenes like to boast that the hundred isles of Braavos could be dropped into their deep harbor and drowned.[7] There are five slaves for each freedman in the city.[2][7]

Volantis is ruled by a triarchs, who are elected annually. These elections last ten days, and are both festive and tumultuous, and by outsiders are usually seen as chaotic (to the point of madness). While usually these elections pass peacefully, there have been notable exceptions. All freeborn who own land, even women, are allowed to vote.[2][7][9]

Many of the statues in Volantis lack heads - by Marc Fishman ©
  • The Harbor: The city sits on a very deep harbor. Volantenes claim that the hundred isles of Braavos could be dropped into the harbor and disappear. Volantis spreads across the mouth of the Rhoyne and across the hills and marshes on both sides of the river.[7]
  • The Black Wall: A great oval of fused black dragonstone, harder than steel or diamond, built two hundred feet high by the Valyrians when Volantis was no more than an outpost of their empire. It protects the oldest part of the city on the eastern shore, often called Old Volantis. It is wide enough for six four-horse chariots to race around its top abreast, as is done each year to celebrate the founding of the city. No outlander, freeman, or foreigner is allowed inside the Black Wall save at the invitation of those who dwell within. Only scions of the Old Blood who can trace their ancestry back to Valyria itself may live within the Black Wall.[2][7]
  • The Temple of the Lord of Light: An enormity of pillars, steps, buttresses, bridges, domes, and towers flowing into one another as if they had all been chiseled from one colossal rock. A hundred hues of red, yellow, gold, and orange meet and meld in the temple walls, dissolving one into the other like clouds at sunset. Its slender towers twist ever upward, frozen flames dancing as they reach for the sky. According to Archmaester Gramyon, it is about three times the size of the Great Sept of Baelor in King's Landing. It is located in the eastern half of Volantis.[2]
  • Fishermonger's Square: A bustling square congested with traffic where fishmongers sell their catches.[7]
  • The Merchant's House: The finest inn in Volantis. It is a four story monstrosity that dominates the docks, wharves, and storehouses surrounding it. It is located on Fishmonger's Square in western Volantis. Its common room, larger than the great halls of half the castles in Westeros, is a dim labyrinth of alcoves and grottoes built around a central courtyard with a trellia of flowering vines and a flagstone floor. Its rooms have very strong locks.[7][9]
  • Long Bridge: This bridge joins the two halves of Volantis across the mouth of the Rhoyne. It is a great span with a road supported by massive piers that the Valyrians built at the height of their glory. Its gateway is an arch of black stone carved with sphinxes, manticores, dragons and other strange beasts. The road is just wide enough for two carts to pass abreast. Buildings rise on either side of the roadway. One can buy almost anything in the shops on the Long Bridge. In the center of the bridge the hands of thieves and the heads of executed criminals are displayed.[2][9]

People

In Volantis, those of the Old Blood of Valyria live beyond the Black Walls.[2][7] Doran Martell considers the Volantenese to be “strange and subtle”.[10] The Volantenes feel that people of quality should not travel afoot, but instead by palanquin or in a hathay. Travelling afoot can taint a person in the eyes of both the native-born Volantenes and the foreign captains in the city.[7] Volantis was once the most populous of the Free Cities.[9]

According to semi-canon sources the freeborn citizens tattoo themselves to show prowess in battle and as a record of their exploits.[11][12]

Slaves of Volantis

There are five slaves for each freedman in Volantis.[2][7] It is custom in Volantis to have the faces of slaves tattooed, to mark their status.[2][7][13]

A list of all known slave tattoos of Volantis:

  • Squares of motley, from neck to scalp: fools and jesters.[2][13]
  • A wheel tattooed upon one cheek: driver of an hathay.[2][7]
  • A mask of blue feathers.[2]
  • A lightning bolt that ran from jaw to brow.[2]
  • A coin upon the cheek.[2]
  • A leopard’s spots.[2]
  • A skull.[2]
  • A jug.[2]
  • Flies on the cheeks: slaves collecting elephant and horse dung. [2][9]
  • Flames across the cheeks, chin and forehead: priests of R’hllor.[9][14][15][16]
  • Flames across the cheeks: members of the Fiery Hand.[17]
  • A horsehead on the cheek: workers in stables.[9]
  • Tiger stripes, green as jade, across the cheeks: slave soldiers.[2][9][18]
  • A single tear beneath the right eye: prostitutes.[2][9][18]
  • A cog’s figurehead upon one cheek: slaves bound to a ship.[14]


Triarchs of Volantis

Elephant transport in Volantis - by Marc Fishman ©

Volantis is ruled by three triarchs, chosen by every freeborn landowner.[2][7] They are chosen from amongst the noble families who can prove unbroken descent from old Valyria, and will serve until the first day of the new year. The triarchs of Volantis are considered so elevated that they are not allowed to have their feet touch the ground during their year of service.[7] The elections last ten days, with much campaigning and bribery.[2][9]

The triarchs belong to one of two political parties: the tigers and the elephants. The elephants are the party of the merchants and moneylenders, while the tigers are old aristocracy and warriors. The elephants advocate trade and the tigers advocate conquest.[6] At no time has more than one tiger has been named triarch.[19] Some of the first elephants were women, one of whom, Trianna, was returned four times. Volantis hasn't had a female triarch for three hundred years.[9]

Currently known Triarchs:

Belicho Staegone, Parquello Vaelaros, and Alios Qhaedar are candidates for triarch in 300 AC.[9][20] While the elections of 300 AC have already ended, it is currently unknown who has been elected triarch.[15]

Past Triarchs:

Economy

A coin, or honor, of Volantis (front and back), as depicted by Nutchapol Thitinunthakorn in The World of Ice and Fire

Volantis is key to the slave market, trading heavily with the cities of Slaver's Bay to the east. It is said there are five slaves to every free man in the city.[4]

Volantis use coins, called "honors", with a crown on one face and death's head on the other as part of their currency.[22] The honors are no bigger than a penny.[23]

Volantenes are fond of sweet beets, which they grown is profusion and serve in most major culinary dishes in the city. They make a cold soup of the beets which is as thick and rich as purple honey.[7] The Volantenese are known for their red wine,[24] which are sweet as well.[7]

Few ships from Westeros come as far as Volantis, and those who do fill their holds with silk and spice from the Jade Sea, then bend their oars for home.[7]

The board game cyvasse originates from Volantis,[17][25][26] and its pieces are sold in the city.[7]

History

Volantis is the oldest of the Free Cities. It was the first colony of the Valyrian Freehold, her “first daughter”.[9]

For the first hundred years since the city’s founding, Volantis was little more than a military outpost, established to protect the borders of the Valyrian empire. The city had no inhabitants, with the exception of the soldiers garrisoned there. From time to time, dragonlords would descend. Over time, however, the city grew, rapidly. Both on the east and west side of the river, the city expanded. Because the river was difficult to cross, due to the tides and shifting currents, triarch Vhalaso, the Munificent, commanded the Long Bridge to be build. It took more than forty years, and Vhalaso died before it was finished.[2] Volantis was involved with trade between Valyria and the Rhonyar, and grew more powerful and prosperous, whilst the Rhoynish city Sarhoy suffered a decline. In the end, this involved the two cities into a conflict, leading to a long series of wars: the Rhoynish Wars.[2]

Volantis fought in the Second Spice War, the last of the Rhoynish Wars, when the city, aided by three dragonlords from Valyria, overwhelmed, sacked, and destroyed Sarhoy. Sarhoy was put to the torch, and the Volantenes sowed the ruins with salt, so the city could never rise again.[27] Prince Garin of Chroyane declared war, assembeled the biggest army Essos had ever seen, and marched. He won victories at Selhorys, Valysar and Volon Therys. It is said that, after his victory at Volon Therys, where he faced a hundred thousand enemies, a hundred elephants, and three dragonlords, the Volantenese retreated back behind the Black Walls and asked the Freehold for help. Volantis and the Freehold faced Garin, and his host was defeated. They put Garin’s warriors to death, and it is said that they were so many, that their blood turned the great harbour of Volantis red with their blood, as far as one could see.[27]

After the Doom of Valyria, during the Century of Blood, the Volantenese considered themselves the heirs to the Freehold and rightful rulers of the world. They sent a fleet to Valyria, as to claim the peninsula, but that required sailing the Smoking Sea, and the fleet vanished.[6]

During the Century of Blood, King Tommen II Lannister stayed at Volantis on his way to Old Valyria. According to The Glory of Volantis, King Tommen had promised half of what he’d find to the triarchs of Volantis in return for their generosity – and a promise of their fleet, would he have need of it. The next year, Triarch Marqelo Tagaros sent ships after Tommen, but no sign of the King was found.[21]

The execution of Triarch Horonno, by Jordi Gonzalez Escamilla, as depicted in The World of Ice and Fire

Considering themselves the rightful rulers of all the Valyrian Freehold had left behind, those in Volantis were divided on how to achieve conquest. Those of the Old Blood favored war, whilst the moneylenders and merchants favored trade. These two factions became known as the tigers and the elephants, respectively. In the end, it were the tigers who held sway for almost a century, and Volantis called for war upon the other cities, with the tigers leading the city into a great conflict with the other daughters. They were successful at first, taking control of Lys and Myr. When they tried to take Tyrosh, however, Pentos joined the Tyroshi, and Lys and Myr rebelled. The Sealord of Braavos provided ships to aid Lys, and Argilac Durrandon, the Westerosi Storm King, joined the conflict and led a host into the Disputed Lands. It was Durrandon’s host who defeated a Volantene host which had been attempting to retake Myr.[6][19]

Lord Aegon Targaryen accepted an alliance with Pentos and Tyrosh against Volantis, flew to Lys, and set ablaze a Volantene fleet preparing to invade the city. Volantis was further defeated at Dagger Lake, where galleys from Qohor and Norvos destroyed much of the Volantene fleet which had been on the Rhoyne. Even Dothraki entered the conflict, falling upon the weakened Volantis. In the end, the Volantene faction favoring peace, the elephants, took power from the tigers, and the fighting was at an end.[6][28] For the last three centuries, at least two of the three triarchs in power have been elephants.[29][19]

Triarch Horonno, who had been returned as triarch for forty years, declared himself as triarch for life. In response, he was seized by rioters soon after, tied between two elephants and torn apart.[2][18]

Volantis fought against the combined power of Myr, Lys, and Tyrosh, in the Battle of the Borderland. The victory the three cities won over Volantis led to the start of the Triarchy, in 96 AC.[30]

Princess Saera Targaryen, a younger daughter of King Jaehaerys I Targaryen and Queen Alysanne, ended her days in Volantis as the proprietor of a famous pleasure house.[31] During the reign of Westerosi King Aerys II Targaryen, Volantis was involved in a trade war against Myr and Tyrosh. Gold and arms were provided to them by the Targaryen Kings.[32]

Harwyn Hoare has visited Volantis.[33] Prince Doran Martell visited Volantis in his youth, while on his way to Norvos.[10] His younger brother, Prince Oberyn Martell, fathered a bastard daughter on a Volantenese noblewoman of the old blood.[34] King Aerys II Targaryen sent his first cousin, Lord Steffon Baratheon, on an ultimately fruitless mission to seek a bride across the narrow sea for his son, Prince Rhaegar Targaryen. One of the places Steffon is known to have visited is Volantis, where he found the jester Patchface, whose freedom he bought so he could bring him to Storm's End.[35][36] When Daenerys Targaryen was a girl she and her brother, Viserys, spent some time in Volantis when they were wandering from place to place.[37] After leaving his wife behind and fleeing Lys, Ser Jorah Mormont ended up in Volantis for the best part of a year, owning nothing but his sword and the clothes upon his back.[9] Hizdahr zo Loraq has visited Volantis.[3]

Recent Events

© Fantasy Flight Games
Volantis has launched its fleet against Daenerys Targaryen - by Tomasz Jedruszek. © Fantasy Flight Games

A Dance with Dragons

The Golden Company cancels its contract with Myr and makes its way towards Volantis. Quentyn Martell and his two companions, Gerris Drinkwater and Archibald Yronwood, search for a ship in Volantis to take them to Meereen, but have no luck. They sign on with the Windblown, who are recruiting in the city, in order to get to Slaver's Bay.[7]

In Selhorys, Qavo Nogarys tells Tyrion Lannister that the Red Priest Benerro preaches that Volantis will surely burn if the triarchs take up arms against Daenerys Targaryen. He states the city thirsts for war.[18]

Ser Jorah Mormont later captures Tyrion in Selhorys, makes him his prisoner and takes him to Volantis. On the way to the Merchant's House, they pass the Red Temple. They stop to watch Benerro, who preaches that Daenerys Targaryen is an ancient hero reborn of the R'hllor faith and encourages many to support her.[9]

The next day Jorah takes Tyrion to meet the widow of the waterfront in the Merchant's House common room to arrange passage to Meereen. While there, Penny attacks Tyrion.[9] On the widow's advice Jorah books passage for himself, Tyrion and Penny on the Selaesori Qhoran, which the red priest Moqorro is taking to get to Meereen. The Selaesori Qhoran sets sail.[14]

While stopping in Volantis, Victarion Greyjoy observed galleys heading to Slaver's Bay taking on provisions. The whole city seemed drunk. Sailors and soldiers and tinkers had been observed dancing in the streets with nobles and fat merchants, and in every inn and winesink cups were being raised to the new triarchs. All the talk had been of the gold and gems and slaves that would flood into Volantis once the dragon queen was dead.[15]

Victarion thinks to himself that the storms the Iron Fleet encountered will have scattered the Volantenes as they had his own ships. He thinks that, if they are fortunate, many of the warships of Volantis might have sunk or run aground. He also thinks to himself that, the green galleys that survived could well have already sailed around Valyria at this point. These great dromonds of war willbe teeming with slave soldiers, and would be sweeping north toward Meereen and Yunkai. Victarion reckons if the Storm God has spared them, by now they could be in the Gulf of Grief with three hundred ships, perhaps as many as five hundred.[15]

In Meereen the Shavepate gives Ser Barristan Selmy the dread news that Volantis has launched its fleet against Daenerys Targaryen, and that Hizdahr zo Loraq means to open Meereen's gates for them.[38]

Quotes

I hate this city.[7]
Gerris Drinkwater


The city thirsts for war.[18]
Qavo Nogarys, to Tyrion Lannister


Oh, these are dire days in Old Volantis, even for wrinkled old widows. But not half so dire as in Meereen.[9]
– The widow of the waterfront

Chapters that take place at Volantis

References and Notes

  1. Lorath was uninhabited for a century before it was founded in 1436 BC. Lorath’s original inhabitants were at war with Norvos, already in existence. As Volantis was the first daughter of Valyria, she already existed before
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 2.24 2.25 2.26 2.27 2.28 2.29 2.30 2.31 2.32 2.33 The World of Ice and Fire, The Free Cities: Volantis.
  3. 3.0 3.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 2, Daenerys I.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 5, Tyrion II.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 The Lands of Ice and Fire, The Free Cities.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 The World of Ice and Fire, Ancient History: The Doom of Valyria.
  7. 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 7.11 7.12 7.13 7.14 7.15 7.16 7.17 7.18 7.19 7.20 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 6, The Merchant's Man.
  8. The World of Ice and Fire, Ancient History: The Arrival of the Andals.
  9. 9.00 9.01 9.02 9.03 9.04 9.05 9.06 9.07 9.08 9.09 9.10 9.11 9.12 9.13 9.14 9.15 9.16 9.17 9.18 9.19 9.20 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 27, Tyrion VII.
  10. 10.0 10.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 40, Princess In The Tower.
  11. A Game of Thrones: d20-based Open Gaming RPG.
  12. A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying.
  13. 13.0 13.1 A Clash of Kings, Prologue.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 33, Tyrion VIII.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 56, The Iron Suitor.
  16. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 63, Victarion I.
  17. 17.0 17.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 47, Tyrion X.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 18.5 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 22, Tyrion VI.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 19.5 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 14, Tyrion IV.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 A Dance with Dragons, Appendix.
  21. 21.0 21.1 The World of Ice and Fire, The Westerlands.
  22. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 1, Tyrion I.
  23. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 45, The Blind Girl.
  24. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 54, Daenerys VI.
  25. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 36, Cersei VIII.
  26. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 13, The Soiled Knight.
  27. 27.0 27.1 The World of Ice and Fire, Ancient History: Ten Thousand Ships.
  28. The World of Ice and Fire, The Free Cities: Qohor.
  29. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 8, Tyrion III.
  30. The World of Ice and Fire, The Free Cities: The Quarrelsome Daughters: Myr, Lys, and Tyrosh.
  31. The World of Ice and Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Jaehaerys I.
  32. The World of Ice and Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aerys II.
  33. The World of Ice and Fire, The Iron Islands: The Black Blood.
  34. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 2, The Captain Of Guards.
  35. A Clash of Kings, Prologue.
  36. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 5, Arya II.
  37. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 3, Daenerys I.
  38. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 55, The Queensguard.

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