The Riverlands are one of the constituent regions of Westeros. It was formerly a sovereign kingdom before it was conquered by the Stormlands, who in turn were displaced by the ironborn, who forged the Kingdom of the Isles and Rivers. The ironborn were in turn defeated by King Aegon the Conqueror when he invaded Westeros.
The Riverlands were ruled from the castle at Riverrun by House Tully for three centuries until they were defeated by an act of treachery during the War of the Five Kings. The titular ruler of the Riverlands has passed to House Baelish of Harrenhal and its ruling lord, Petyr Baelish. However, Baelish has instead settled in the Vale of Arryn. The rule of the Riverlands in his absence is being directed by House Lannister, acting in the name of King Tommen I Baratheon.
Rivermen are held to generally be a reasonable people, strong in battle and courageous. However, their lands have been a constant battleground between other, stronger forces throughout the history of Westeros, leaving them a slightly more scarred people than others.
Bastards born in the Riverlands take the surname 'Rivers'.
Located roughly at the centre of Westeros, the Riverlands have been a battleground between the neighbouring kingdoms and regions for millennia.
The original Kingdom of the Rivers and Hills arose after the invasion of Westeros by the First Men. After the Pact was signed between the First Men and the Children of the Forest, the First Men were giving the open lands between the forests. During the Andal Invasion, the Riverlands were overrun and conquered. The ruling house, House Mudd, was defeated and King Tristifer IV Mudd slain. His son, Tristifer V, continued the fight for a time but ultimately admitted defeat.
Both House Blackwood and House Bracken ruled as kings during the long centuries before the Andals came. When the invasion took place, House Bracken abandoned the worship of the Old Gods of the Forest in favor of the Faith of the Seven, to the fury of the Blackwoods, who managed to maintain both their seat and their religion. The two houses, already rivals, became fierce enemies.
Over the succeeding millennia, several Andal families held the throne, including the Houses Teague, Fisher and Justman. However, the Riverlands were hard-pressed by the expansion of the Storm King to the south-east and significant raids and invasions from the ironborn to the west. The Storm King invaded and conquered the Riverlands circa 360 BC, slaying the last native ruler, but his descendants were unable to hold the territory. King Harwyn Hoare of the Iron Islands, known as Hardhand, seized the Riverlands some decades later, establishing the Kingdom of the Isles and Rivers. Harwyn's grandson, Harren the Black, raised a new capital at Harrenhal, the largest castle in Westeros, with the castle being completed on the very day that Aegon the Conqueror landed on the shores of Westeros.
Aegon's forces invaded the Riverlands, with Aegon encouraing a local popular uprising led by Lord Edmyn Tully of Riverrun. Aegon's army, though small in size, approached Harrenhal and Aegon demanded a parley with Harren. He ordered Harren to surrender the castle and leave the Riverlands. In return he would be allowed to remain the ruling lord of the Iron Islands. Harren refused, scorning both Aegon's small army and his dragons. At nightfall, Aegon had his dragon Balerion take high to the skies over the castle and then burn the five great towers of the castle one after the other. Harren was roasted alive in Kingspyre Tower. The castle surrendered and Aegon granted Edmyn Tully the title of Lord of the Riverlands.
House Tully ruled the Riverlands loyally for the next 280 years, until the great tourney at Harrenhal in the Year of False Spring. Events at this tourney sparked the kidnap of Lyanna Stark by Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and the murder of Lord Rickard Stark and his son Brandon at the hands of the Mad King, Aerys II. With the Houses Stark, Baratheon and Arryn raising their banners in rebellion against the king, Lord Hoster Tully was forced to decide on his own allegiances. His eldest daughter Catelyn had been betrothed to Brandon Stark, and his brother Eddard offered to marry her in his stead. In addition, Lord Jon Arryn offered to marry Hoster's younger (and allegedly already-deflowered) daughter Lysa. Hoster accepted and joined the rebellion, though not with unanimous support from his liege lords.
After the rebels' victory and the crowning of Robert as King, the Riverlands remained a loyal part of the realm. During the Greyjoy Rebellion its coast was harried by the ironborn, with a major engagement taking place at Seagard (which the Riverlands forces won).
The bulk of the War of the Five Kings took place in the Riverlands, particularly the Battle of the Mummer's Ford, the Battle of the Green Fork, the Battle of the Whispering Wood, the Battle of the Camps and the Battle of Stone Mill. After initial successes, the Lannister invaders were repeatedly defeated by the arriving armies of House Stark, which then pushed the war back into the Westerlands. Despite winning every battle, King Robb Stark's successes were overturned by Lannister success elsewhere, namely the defeat of Stannis Baratheon at the Battle of the Blackwater and their subsequent alliance with House Tyrell. The Riverland-Stark forces were finally defeated at the Red Wedding, when House Frey treacherously turned upon the Starks and Tullys and killed Robb, his mother and numerous important knights, lords and generals. Many others were taken prisoner and used as hostages to force the remainder of the Riverlands to swear loyalty to King Joffrey I Baratheon (and, after Joffrey's death a short while later, his brother Tommen). Lord Petyr Baelish was declared Lord Paramount of the Riverlands, but has not as yet taken up his role.
The Riverlands located roughly in the centre of Westeros, bordered by the North, the Vale of Arryn (to the north-east), the Westerlands (to the west), the Reach (to the south) and the Crownlands (to the south-east). The Iron Islands lie off the west coast of the region. They are so-named for their numerous rivers, including the Trident and its many tributaries, such as the Tumblestone. The source of the Blackwater Rush is also in the Riverlands.
The area is fertile, with numerous small woodlands (such as the Whispering Wood just north of Riverrun) dotting the landscape. There are hills in the south-west, along the border with the Westerlands, and in the north-east along the border with the Vale. Otherwise the region does not have any tall hills or mountains within its borders. The largest body of water is the substantial lake known as Gods Eye.
The Riverlands do not contain a settlement large enough to be called a city, though they have many fair-to-middling-sized towns such as Stoney Sept, Fairmarket, Maidenpool and Saltpans. Maidenpool, Saltpans and the castle of Seagard on the west coast also serve as the region's ports.
The Riverlands commands a total military potential of approximately 45,000 troops, with about one in three being mounted. However, the Riverlands is the most fractious of the regions of Westeros. During the Dance of Dragons, Blackfyre Rebellion and Robert's Rebellion, the region was divided with houses joining both sides in each case, leading to a lack of unity. During the War of the Five Kings, the Lannisters attacked with enough force to prevent the Tullys from mustering their forces, allowing them to scatter the Riverland armies and prevent them bringing force to bear against any one area. The one time the Riverland armies did unify for a single operation, at the Battle of Stone Mill and the accompanying engagements all along the Red Fork, they were able to defeat the Lannisters.
The Riverlands maintain only a small fleet of a few longboats and galleys at Seagard, enough to defend their shores but not take the fight to a seaborne power like the Iron Islands.
Most of the Riverlands converted to the worship of the Faith of the Seven upon the Andal invasion. However, House Blackwood and some of its vassals maintain the worship of the Old Gods of the Forest. In addition, the order of Green Men continues to exist, tending the weirwoods of the Isle of Faces on Gods Eye.
A major religious site is a septry located on the Quiet Isle at the mouth of the Trident. The septons there have taken a vow of silence and try to stay apart from the troubles of the world.