Bastardy

From A Wiki of Ice and Fire

(Redirected from Bastard)
Jump to: navigation, search
Bittersteel, a Great Bastard, fathered by Aegon IV Targaryen - by Marc Simonetti ©
A bastard daughter of Prince Oberyn Martell - by Magali Villeneuve. © Fantasy Flight Games
Jon Snow, the acknowledged bastard son of Eddard Stark - by Natascha Roeoesli. © Fantasy Flight Games

A bastard is a person whose parents, at the time of their birth, were not married to each other. There is a certain stigma that comes from being born as a bastard, as their nature is often seen as lustful and deceitful. As a polite way of referring to someone who is bastard-born, someone may be referred to as a "natural son" or "natural daughter". A less polite term, indicative of the social stigma against bastards, is "baseborn", although this term does not apply if both parents are noble. A euphemism for being bastard-born is "being born on the wrong side of the sheets".

Contents

Family Life and Status

In A Song of Ice and Fire, it is not unexpected for noblemen to have bastard children. While it is not typical for a noble to bring his bastards home and raise them with his own children, it is usually expected that he will see to the child's well-being to some degree.[1] A noble-born wife has the right to take insult at her husband's bastards being introduced into her household and being commensurate in rank with her legally-born children.

Bastards whose parents are both of the nobility may be considered non-baseborn, although even a royal decree has considerable difficulty in removing the stigma of a bastard[2] and trueborn children of a bastard might change their surnames to show their legitimate nature. For example, a legitimate son of a Waters might change his surname to Longwaters.[3][4]

At any point, the biological father of a bastard may acknowledge him and bring him formally into his house. King Robert Baratheon acknowledged Edric Storm, although the boy was raised at Storm's End.[5] After the death of Domeric Bolton, Lord Roose Bolton brought Ramsay Snow to the Dreadfort, although Roose did not recognize Ramsay as his heir at that time.[6][7]

A more drastic measure is legitimization, a power traditionally reserved to monarchs alone. Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen legitimized the brothers Addam and Alyn of Hull as heirs of Lord Corlys Velaryon.[8] Aegon IV Targaryen legitimized many of his bastards of noble birth on his deathbed (the so-called Great Bastards), and, almost a century later, Ramsay Snow's official bastard status was removed by a royal decree (as a reward for the Boltons betraying the Starks and bowing to the Lannisters) and he became the heir of House Bolton. The social stigma of his bastardy was not lifted, however. Robb Stark, as King in the North, planned to legitimize his bastard half-brother Jon Snow and proclaim him as his heir; however, this would only be considered valid by those who supported Robb's claim to be King in the North. Following Robb's death, Stannis Baratheon, having proclaimed himself King of the Seven Kingdoms, also proposed to legitimize Snow and make him Lord of Winterfell, but Jon declined Stannis's offer, electing to become Lord Commander of the Night's Watch instead.

Joffrey Baratheon was believed by Robert Baratheon to be his trueborn son, and therefore heir to House Baratheon and the Iron Throne. The revelation of Joffrey's bastardy, as the product of adultery on the part of Queen Cersei, caused his claim to the Iron Throne to be disputed after Robert's death by Robert's brother, Stannis.

Far more often a bastard is acknowledged but not legitimized. For example, Eddard Stark acknowledged Jon Snow as his son and a member of House Stark, but did not legitimize him. Snow retained the bastard name of the North and the social status it conferred, and did not enter the line of succession of House Stark. Many bastards are never acknowledged and do not know who their fathers are. One example is Gendry.

Rights of Inheritance

The baseborn have few rights under law and custom when it comes to rights of inheritance. A bastard may inherit if the father has no other trueborn children nor any other likely kin to follow him. Additionally, a bastard can inherit if he is legitimized by a royal decree. It is unclear whether a legitimized bastard would be placed in the succession according to birth order, or would be placed at the end, after the trueborn children.[9]

Heraldic custom regarding bastards is fairly loose; bastards who take arms (noble born, knighted, etc.) often, but not always, take the coat of arms of their fathers with the colors reversed.[10] A bend sinister is sometimes added, as exemplified by Ser Walder Rivers's sigil.[11] A bastard that wants to emphasize his filiation and minimize his own bastardy may decide to use the same sigil as his father, as did Glendon Flowers,[12] perhaps illegally.[13][14]

However, any man can be knighted, even a bastard. A bastard may even be appointed to the Kingsguard; two such knights, Robert Flowers and Addison Hill, rose to become Lord Commander of the Kingsguard.[15] In the Night's Watch, any man may rise to command, no matter the circumstances of their birth. Such were the cases of Cotter Pyke, commander of Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, and Jon Snow and Robin Hill, who became Lord Commanders.

Social Status

It is considered rude to pry into the origins of a man's natural children. Men say that bastards are born from lust and lies, grow up more swiftly than other children, and their nature is wanton and treacherous.[16][17]

A bastard may study at the Citadel and become a maester.

Coat of Arms

Bastards do not have the right to use the arms of their families. The custom is thus a bastard using arms (when knighted for example) adds a distinction, called breaking. This can be in the form of a color inversion on their own coats of arms, with the addition of a possible bend sinister.

House Targaryen House Blackfyre Arms of House Blackfyre, founded by a bastard of the House Targaryen, has the colors reversed.[18]
House Frey  personnel arms of Walder Rivers The personal arms of Walder Rivers, bastard son of Lord Walder Frey, has the Frey colors reversed and a red bend sinister added.[19]

Surnames

Each of the nine constituent regions of the Seven Kingdoms have bastard surnames decreed by custom. Bastards with a high-born parent are given these surnames to hold them apart from their fathers' houses. The parents may give a bastard a different surname if they wish, e.g. Tyrion Tanner. Bastards with no known relation to a noble house have no surname, like other smallfolk.

Region Surname Example Character
Reach Flowers Ser Robert Flowers
Westerlands Hill Joy Hill
Iron Islands Pyke Wex Pyke
Riverlands Rivers Walder Rivers
Dorne Sand Nymeria Sand
North Snow Jon Snow
Vale Stone Mya Stone
Stormlands Storm Ser Rolland Storm
Crownlands Waters Aurane Waters


As the surname is applied depending on the region where the bastard is raised, bastards who are half-siblings may have different surnames. For example, Robert Baratheon's eldest bastard, born in the Vale, is called Mya Stone while his bastard from the Stormlands is called Edric Storm.

Notable Bastards

The North

The Iron Islands

The Riverlands

The Vale

The Westerlands

The Crownlands

The Reach

The Stormlands

Dorne

Quotes

The old High Septon told my father that king's laws are one thing, and the laws of the gods another. Trueborn children are made in a marriage bed and blessed by the Father and the Mother, but bastards are born of lust and weakness, he said. King Aegon decreed that his bastards were not bastards, but he could not change their nature. The High Septon said all bastards are born to betrayal ...[20]
- Egg to Dunk


Your mother was milking goats the first time I gave her my seed.[21]

Walder Frey, to Ryger Rivers


Go away, I wanted only Freys up here, the King in the North has no interest in base stock.[22]

Walder Frey, to little Walda Rivers


Orys Baratheon was a baseborn half brother to Lord Aegon, it was whispered, and the Storm King would not dishonor his daughter by giving her hand to a bastard. The very suggestion enraged him.[23]


Bastard children were born from lust and lies, men said; their nature was wanton and treacherous. Once Jon had meant to prove them wrong, to show his lord father he could as good a true son as Robb.[17]

Jon Snow


Well, Aerion Brightflame did not stay in Lys all his life, only a few years. He may have fathered a few bastards there, which would mean Dany has "relatives" of a sort in Lys... but they would be very distant relatives, from the wrong side of the blanket.[24]
- George R. R. Martin

References and Notes

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Bastard (Law of England and Wales). The list of authors can be seen in the page history of Bastard (Law of England and Wales). As with A Wiki of Ice and Fire, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.

Personal tools
Namespaces
Variants
Actions
Navigation

Connect with Us
Notable Releases
Toolbox
In other languages