Dorne is one of the nine major regions of Westeros and was previously one of the Seven Kingdoms prior to Aegon’s Conquest. Dorne is a peninsula, surrounded by water on three sides, and also the most southern region of Westeros. As such, it is largely isolated from the rest of the continent. House Martell maintains dominion over Dorne from their seat of Sunspear.
Located in the deep south of Westeros, Dorne is the hottest region on the continent. It’s land is mostly arid and infertile with a large portion of the region composed of desert. Dorne shares a border with the Reach and the Stormlands and has warred with these regions for hundreds of years. Because its land is so dry, water that flows inland is more valuable than gold.
The people of Dorne are different from the rest of Westeros both culturally and ethnically. This is due to a mass immigration from Rhoyne, a once great civilization of Easteros, which occurred approximately 1,000 years ago. Upon their immigration to Dorne, the Dornish adapted many of their customs. For instance, the Dornish adapted the Rhoynish custom of referring to their leaders as prince and princesses, rather than kings and queens. In Dorne, like Rhoyne, power is passed to the next eldest, regardless of sex. As such, Dorne has been ruled by princesses and princes alike.
Like the rest of Westeros, Dorne was originally settled by the First Men and later overtaken by the Andals during the Andal Invasion. Unlike the rest of Westeros which saw its regions consolidate into greater kingdoms, Dorne remained a land of petty and divided regions. Approximately 1,000 years ago, Rhoyne, a great civilization of Easteros, was defeated by the Valyrians during their aggressive expansion of the Valyrian Freehold. After Rhoyne’s defeat, Princess Nymeria led 10,000 Rhoynish out of their defeated land and migrated across the sea to Dorne. Nymeria forged an alliance with Mors Martell, and together they conquered the rest of Dorne, finally creating the united Kingdom of Dorne. House Martell and the rest of Dorne adapted many of the Rhoynish customs and traditions brought over from Easteros. For the next 700 years, House Martell would rule as Kings of Dorne from the seat of Sunspear.
During Aegon’s Conquest, Dorne was the only one of the Seven Kingdoms that Aegon was not able to successfully conquer. After conquering six of the Seven Kingdoms, Aegon flew his dragons south to Dorne, but the arid climate and expanse desert made it difficult to overtake the land. The Dornishmen used guerilla warfare tactics and after several unsuccessful efforts to overtake Dorne, Aegon gave up. While the rest of Westeros was united under the Iron Throne, Dorne continued to live as a sovereign nation, isolated from the rest of the continent. It was not until 170 years later that Dorne joined the realm, when Baelor the Blessed arranged the marriage of a Martell princess to a Targaryen king. This would be the start of a strong alliance between the Targaryens and Martells.
More recently, Rhaegar Targaryen, son of the Mad King, married Elia Martell and had two children. During Robert’s Rebellion, after the Mad King was overthrown and his son Rhaegar was slain in battle, Elia and her two children were killed by Gregor Clegane on order from House Lannister. To this day, House Martell still seeks revenge against House Lannister for these murderous acts.
Sunspear in an ancient castle, seat of House Martell and capital of Dorne. Unlike most other great castles of Westeros, Sunspear is constructed from mud-bricks, as well as stone. It is surrounded by miles of walls, hidden tunnels, and narrow alleys, making entrance from invaders nearly impossible. Outside of the fortress itself, little exists other than a very small town.