Customs

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This article is about the known customs in the Known World. Most information will reflect the customs as they are in the Seven Kingdoms, though customs as they are elsewhere will be stated whenever possible.

Monarchy and Nobility

See also: Law and justice

In the Seven Kingdoms, all authority derives from the king.[1] The King’s right hand is his Hand of the King. When the King is sick, or unable to attend court sessions, the Hand of the King can take his place and sit on the Iron Throne to dispense justice.[2] Additionally, nobles are charged with keeping the king’s peace.[3] In the king’s name, they can punish criminals.[4]

It is possible for the king to redistribute lands and grant titles of nobility as he sees fit; He may also sign bills of attainder to strip lords of their lands and incomes.[5] A lord can conceivably hold more than one title; However, it is unusual for noble holdings to be divided or combined.[6] Younger siblings of a lord can become bannerman to their sibling, and hold a keep in his name.[4] Territorial disputes between landowners are adjudicated, either by the liege lord[7] or the king or his Hand.[8]

On extremely rare occasions, the lords of the kingdom may be gathered together to decide some great matter. The first of these Great Councils was convened in 101 AC, when King Jaehaerys I Targaryen found himself unable to decide on who to name his heir. The last Great Council was convened was in 233 AC, when King Maekar I Targaryen died without having named a new heir.[9]

Social Ranks

Main article: Feudalism

The Seven Kingdoms is a feudal society. Below the King and the royal family rank the Great Houses (House Arryn, House Baratheon of Storm's End, House Greyjoy, House Martell, House Stark, House Targaryen, House Tully, and House Tyrell), followed by other noble houses, both greater and small, knights (landed knights, household knights, and hedge knights), and commoners. Nobles are addressed as "my lord" by other highborns, or "m’lord" by the smallfolk.[10] Commoners might be addressed as goodwoman or goodman.[11]

Every noble house has a house motto, while a coat of arms can be used by both nobility and knights, as a sign of status and identification (e.g. on the battlefield). Both nobles and knights can be ransomed, so in battle it might be preferred to capture them instead of killing them. Three hundred golden dragons is considered to be a fair ransom for a knight,[12] whereas a nobleman’s son might be ransomed for three thousand golden dragons.[13] A noble prisoner can be treated with honor and be kept in isolation in rooms as his status requires. However, making offense can result in the loss of the right for such honorable treatment.

At feasts, great honor can be given to a guest by seating him or her on the dais,[14][15] with the place of highest honor being on the right side of the host.[16][17][18][19][20] Being seated at the far end of the hall, far from the dais, however, is regarded as a place of little honor and regard.[21][22] When a lord presides over a feast, he receives first choice of all dishes. He might send some of the especially fine dishes down to specific guests, showing friendship and respect.[23]

Inheritance

Inheritance laws in the Seven Kingdoms are not clear cut. According to George R. R. Martin,

The short answer is that the laws of inheritance in the Seven Kingdoms are modelled on those in real medieval history... which is to say, they were vague, uncodified, subject to varying interpretations, and often contradictory.[24]

Male-preference primogeniture is customary, but not binding, for most nobles.[25] A man's eldest son is his heir, followed by his second son, then his third son, and so on. In theory, the youngest son is followed in the line of succession by the eldest daughter, after whom come her sisters in birth order.[26][27] A man’s daughter inherits before her father’s brother.[28] However, a lord also has the option of naming one of his younger sons heir, passing over his elder children,[29] or to name the child of another as his heir.[30] When there is no clear heir, claims can be presented to the King.[31][32] The only exception is Dorne.There, no distinction is made between sons and daughters. Instead, children inherit in order of birth regardless of gender, as per Rhoynish custom.[33] In the case of an inheriting female, her last name will be passed on to her children, instead of the name of her husband.[34][35] When a ruling lord dies and leaves no clear heir, his widow might lay claim upon his lands and rule until her own death (e.g., Lady Donella Hornwood and Lady Barbrey Dustin), and in such a case, might name an heir by herself.[36]

A lord may lay out specific terms for inheritance or pass over their offspring in his will, which may invite legal wrangling after their death, and potentially violence during it. For instance, Lord Tywin Lannister preferred his elder son, Ser Jaime Lannister, to be the heir to Casterly Rock, and as such refused to acknowledge the claim of his younger son, Tyrion, despite custom disqualifying Jaime as a member of the Kingsguard.[37] Another example is Lord Wyman Webber, who declared in his will that his daughter and only heir, Rohanne, had to be wed by a specifically determined time in order to keep her inheritance. If she were to remain unwed passed the determined date, her inheritance was set to pass on to another relative.[7]

The role of legitimised bastards throughout the Seven Kingdoms is also unclear i.e., whether they follow trueborn children, or join the line of succession in order of birth as if they had been trueborn all along.[24] Legitimisation, once made, is irreversible.[38] And while unlegitimised bastards have no legal claim,[38] the claims of legitimized bastards can present dangerous consequences for trueborn relatives, a famous example being the claim of the legitimized bastard son of King Aegon IV Targaryen, Daemon I Blackfyre, whose descendants sought to claim the Iron Throne from Aegon’s trueborn descendants for five generations.[38]

Heirs born into a different house drop their birth surname when they come into their inheritance, adopting the name of the inherited house as their own. For example, Joffrey Lydden adopted the name Lannister upon marrying the heiress of that house,[39] while the possibility of Beren Tallhart adopting the Hornwood name upon inheriting the Hornwood lands is considered.[32]

Loss of succession right

The right of succession may be renounced. A famous example is Prince Duncan Targaryen, the eldest son of King Aegon V Targaryen, who broke his betrothal to marry Jenny of Oldstones. When made to choose between his right to the throne and his wife, Duncan renounced his claim, making his younger brother, Jaehaerys, the new heir.[40][41]

A king or lord can also name another as his heir (e.g. King Aerys II Targaryen naming his younger son Viserys Targaryen as his heir over his grandson Aegon Targaryen following the death of his eldest son, Rhaegar, Aegon’s father,[42] or Lord Walder Frey’s threats to name his youngest son as his heir, passing over all other sons and (great)grandsons.[29]). However, even in such cases, claims might still be made later on.

Right of succession is also lost when someone becomes a septon, a maester, a member of the Night's Watch, or joins the Kingsguard. Traitors may be attainted, in which case even his descendants would lose their right to succeed.

Inheritance of the Iron Throne

Inheritance customs for the Iron Throne differ from the inheritance customs in the rest of Westeros. The inheritance rights of females with regard to the Iron Throne have changed over the years, as a result of several power struggles.

Females have, over the years, been declared heir to the throne, both directly and indirectly. When King Aegon I Targaryen's eldest grandchild, Princess Rhaena Targaryen, was born in 23 AC, she was regarded as second in line to the throne (her father, Prince Aenys Targaryen, being King Aegon's immediate heir), placed before her father’s half-brother Maegor in the line of succession.[43] Upon the birth of Aenys's second child, Prince Aegon Targaryen, Aegon became the first in line after Aenys.[44] When King Maegor I Targaryen was still childless in 47 AC, he named his niece, Princess Aerea Targaryen, as his heir.[45] And in 105 AC, following the death of his newborn son, King Viserys I Targaryen named his daughter Rhaenyra, his only surviving child at the time, as his heir, had the lords of the realm swear fealty to her, and refused to alter the line of succession even after the birth of three sons in a second marriage.[46]

However, despite these examples, towards the end of the first century of the Targaryen Dynasty, the first hesitations towards female inheritance of the throne arose. King Jaehaerys I Targaryen's eldest son, Prince Aemon Targaryen, had been the king's heir until his death in 92 AC. Aemon had only had one child, a daughter named Rhaenys. When naming his new heir, King Jaehaerys I chose his next eldest son, Prince Baelon, over Aemon's daughter Rhaenys. When Baelon died in 101 AC, a Great Council was called, in which the Westerosi lords voted on the succession. The lords voted for Baelon's son Viserys over Rhaenys's son Laenor Velaryon, by a vote of twenty to one. The lords felt that a male line was preferred over a female line, and believed that a precedent was set stating that the Iron Throne could not pass to a woman, or to the male descendants of a woman.[47] Ironically, it was Prince Viserys, by then crowned king, who later disregarded these precedents by naming his daughter Rhaenyra Targaryen as his heir despite having three healthy sons by a second marriage.[46][48] Viserys's decision would eventually lead to the civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons.

This war began when Viserys I's eldest surviving son, Aegon II Targaryen, claimed the throne after Viserys's death, dividing the loyalties of the kingdoms between Aegon II and Rhaenyra.[49] Aegon II's sons, Jaehaerys and Maelor, both died during the war, as did Rhaenyra's eldest three sons (Jacaerys, Lucerys, and Joffrey Velaryon), while her youngest son, Prince Viserys, was presumed dead.[49][50] In an attempt to end the war, Lord Corlys Velaryon ensured that Aegon II's only remaining heir, his daughter Jaehaera, was betrothed to Rhaenyra's son, Aegon the Younger, and that both were named Aegon II's heirs.[51] While the King agreed to do so, he also arranged a betrothal of his own.[52] Even though Aegon II died before fathering any more children, and the marriage between Aegon the Younger and Princess Jaehaera did occur, the marriage ended childless, and Aegon the Younger reigned as monarch as King Aegon III Targaryen after Jaehaera's death.[53]

The agnatic principle laid down in the Great Council of 101 AC was slightly modified after the Dance of the Dragons. Thereafter, according to a semi-canon source, women came after all men in the Targaryen succession,[54] i.e., women could only succeed if the entire male line of House Targaryen became extinct. Nonetheless, several females claims have since been considered. In 171 AC, following the deaths of Aegon III's two sons Daeron I and Baelor I, both childless, the claims of Aegon III’s three daughters were considered. However, with the Dance of the Dragons still fresh in their minds, the claims of the three women were passed over and Aegon III’s brother Viserys II ascended the throne.[55] Another few decades later, King Maekar I Targaryen died without a clearly established heir. His simple-minded granddaughter Vaella Targaryen, the only child of Maekar's eldest son, was seen as a possible claimant. However, her claim was quickly dismissed.[56][57]

In 283 AC, the Sack of King's Landing during Robert's Rebellion led to the death of King Aerys II Targaryen. His sister-wife, Queen Rhaella Targaryen, pregnant with Princess Daenerys, was at Dragonstone with Aerys's surviving son, Prince Viserys, who was declared king on the island fortress.[58] Robert I Baratheon, however, acceded the Iron Throne by right of conquest,[59] chosen as claimant by the rebels due to his Targaryen descent,[60] as he was the grandson of Princess Rhaelle Targaryen, the youngest daughter of King Aegon V Targaryen, [61] which gave him the better claim. Nonetheless, the exiled Viserys declared his sister Daenerys his heir, naming her Princess of Dragonstone,[62] and following Viserys's death, Daenerys has declared her own claim for the Iron Throne.[63]

It is possible that some of the kingdoms of old practiced different customs regarding the inheritance of the throne. The heir of King Argilac Durrandon, the last Storm King, was his maiden daughter, Princess Argella,[30] while on the Three Sisters, Marla Sunderland was installed as Queen shortly after Aegon's Conquest.[64]

Age of majority

For both boys and girls, sixteen is the age of legal majority.[65][66] From that point, there are referred to as a "man grown" and "woman grown".[67][68]

However, for girls, there are exceptions. A girl who has had her first flowering (i.e. first menstruation) is considered to be fit for both marriage and consumation of the marriage.[69] Most highborn girls have their first flowering at the age of twelve or thirteen,[70] bringing them in a somewhat ambigious position. They are considered to be "part child, part woman", and can be referred to as a "maid"[65] or "maiden"[71], and, even if she has not yet reached the age of sixteen, a "woman grown".[28]

Young boys can be sent away for fosterage to other noble families. While there are exceptions (e.g., Quentyn Martell), it appears that boys who have reached the age of majority are free to go where they like, thereby ending their fosterage.[72]

Marriage

Marriage customs vary considerably between the lands and major faiths, i.e. followers of the old gods, the Faith of the Seven, R'hllor, and the Drowned God. All appear to be religious ceremonies between one man and one woman (who should not be more closely related than first cousins), involving the exchange of vows in the presence of particular sacred witnesses e.g. a septon (for the Faith of the Seven), a heart tree (for the old gods),[73] or a priest or priestess (in case of the Drowned God or R'hllor). The wedding is followed by a feast, where the bride and groom eat and drink with everyone. Afterwards, the bedding takes place, where the marriage is consummated.

In the Valyrian Freehold it had been custom among the dragonlords to marry brother to sister, or, if that was not possible, an uncle to a niece, or an aunt to a nephew. Also accepted were polygamous marriages, though this practice was less common. The Valyrians had their own religious ceremonies, though a priest does not seem to be a necessity here, as Queen Visenya Targaryen was capable of officiating a wedding performed per this Valyrian ceremony.[44] Following Aegon's Conquest, House Targaryen continued their incestuous marriage customs, even though the Faith of the Seven, the main faith in the southern kingdoms of Westeros, saw incest as a vile sin.[44] This resulted in an uprising by the Faith Militant, which began during the reign of King Aenys I Targaryen,[44] and continued during the reign of King Maegor I Targaryen.[45]

Betrothals

The head of house is expected to arrange matches for his or her children and any unwed younger siblings.[72] Although a lord cannot force the marriage if their dependent refuses to say the vows, this would carry serious consequences.[72] An example is Ser Brynden Tully, whose refusal of a girl his brother and liege, Lord Hoster Tully, had chosen for him, caused a severe strain on their relationship.[74] While lords do not necessarily arrange marriages for their vassals or household knights, they would be wise to consult him and respect his feelings when arranging their own matches.[72] Betrothals can be made at a large variety of ages. Children might be as young as two years old (e.g. ladies Baela and Rhaena Targaryen[46], though generally betrothals are made when the people involved are somewhat older. Eleven is considered a more normal age for a betrothal,[2] though when severe political matters are involved, children might be younger (e.g., Myrcella Baratheon, who at nine years old, was betrothed to eleven-year old Trystane Martell to form an alliance between the Iron Throne and Dorne during the War of the Five Kings[75]).

Betrothals can be broken.[76] However, this can have serious consequences. When Prince Duncan Targaryen broke his betrothal to a daughter of Lord Lyonel Baratheon to marry another, Lord Lyonel rose in rebellion.[40][77] When Robb Stark, betrothed to a girl from House Frey, broke his betrothal to marry Jeyne Westerling,[78] the Frey’s at first refused to lend him any further aid in the war. Robb’s act of breaking his betrothal would eventually have severe consequences, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of people.

If a nobleman who has been betrothed dies before the marriage can occur, custom decrees that a sibling or heir should take his place (e.g., in the case of Brandon Stark, who died before he could be wed to Catelyn Tully, after which his younger brother and the new Lord of Winterfell, Eddard Stark, married her in Brandon's place).[79]

Though dowries in the Seven Kingdoms are payed by the family of the bride to the groom’s family,[80][81][82][83][30] in the Free Cities this might not be the common practice, as King Daeron II Targaryen payed a dowry to the Archon of Tyrosh as had been promised by his father, when his half-brother Daemon Blackfyre married Rohanne of Tyrosh.[84]

Age at marriage

Just as men and women can be betrothed at a large variety of ages, they can also be wed at a large variety of ages, which might depend on the necessity of an heir, or the political environment. While marriages to girls who have not yet reached their majority or even their first flowering have happened, they are rare. Moreover, bedding these girls before they are at the least flowered is seen as perverse. Generally, weddings are postponed until the girl has passed into maidenhood with her flowering (i.e., has had her first menstruation).[65] Most highborn girls have their first menstruation at the age of twelve or thirteen.[70] It is not uncommon for a girl to be married after she has had her first menstruation,[28] or within the first year following her first flowering,[85] though usually weddings are postponed until the bride is even older, closer to her majority (i.e., the age of sixteen)[65] or even beyond (e.g., Catelyn Tully). Nonetheless, marriage have also occurred to infants (e.g., the marriage of the infant Lady Ermesande Hayford, no more than a year old, to Tyrek Lannister, so claim could be placed on her family’s lands)[86][87] though this happens rarely.[88].

Wedding ceremony

In Westeros, the wedding ceremony is a religious ceremony. The bride's father, or the person standing in her place (usually kin or whoever else is closest to living king), will escort the bride to her future husband and those presiding over the marriage.[89][36] Thus far, all the wedding gowns that have thus far been described have been a shade of white – Sansa Stark wore a gown of ivory samite,[89] Margaery Tyrell wore ivory silk,[15] and Jeyne Poole wore white lambs-wool[36].

In case of the Faith of the Seven, a septon presides over the ceremony, which involves prayers, vows, and singing,[89] and takes place in a sept.[90] The bride wears a cloak in the colors of her house, called the “maiden's cloak”.[89][15] The bride's father, or the person standing in his place, is to remove the cloak from her shoulders, so that her husband can place a cloak of his own house colors about her shoulders. This signifies the bride passing from her father's protection into her husband's protection. The bride and groom speak the words “With this kiss I pledge my love”,[89][15] potentially followed with an additional “… and take you for my lord and husband” and “ …and take you for my lady and wife” by the bride and groom respectively,[89] after which the septon will declare them to be man and wife, stating they are “one flesh, one heart, one soul, now and forever”.[89][15]

For those who follow the old gods, ceremonies are significantly shorter, and contain no priests. The bride is escorted to her groom, who awaits her in front of the weirwood tree in the godswood, and a ceremonial conversation follows, where the identity of the bride, of the groom, and of the person giving the bride away are established. The bride is asked to accept her husband, and upon her agreement (“I take this man”) bride and groom join hands, kneel before the heart tree, and bow their heads in token of submission. When they rise following a moment of silent prayer, the groom removes the maiden’s cloak, and places the bride’s cloak around her shoulders, after which he will carry her to the feast in his arms.[36]

Wedding customs in Essos differ somewhat from Westerosi ceremonies. Weddings done under the Lord of Light do involve priests. A priest (or priestess) recites ceremonial prayers, which are answered by the wedding guests. The priest and groom await the bride by a ditchfire. The bride is escorted to the priest, who first asks the bride to identify herself, and next asks who comes to claim the bride. Both bride and groom are asked whether they will share their fire with their spouse-to-be, to warm him/her “when the night is dark and full of terrors”. Bride and groom are to leap over the ditchfire together, to emerge as one. Following this, the groom removes the maiden’s cloak and places the bride’s cloak around the bride’s shoulders.[91]

As is traditional in Ghiscari wedding customs as practised in Meereen, the female relatives of the groom examine the bride's womb and female parts, to ensure her fertility. Three Graces witness this ancient ritual, and recite prayers. The bride is to be stripped completely naked for this purpose. After the examinations are done, the women eat a cake baked specially for betrothals, which men are forbidden to taste.[92] Usually, the bride is to wash the groom's feet, signifying that she will be her husband's handmaid.[92] Under special circumstances, it might be the groom who washes the feet of the bride.[93] When Daenerys Targaryen marries Hizdahr zo Loraq, she sits in an ivory chair whilst he washes her feet with water from a golden bowl, while fifty eunuchs sing to them.[93] The bride traditionally wears a tokar of white silk, with dark red veils. The tokar is fringed with baby pearls, which symbolize fertility.[92] Weddings of the highest nobility in Meereen takes place at the Temple of the Graces. The ceremony might last up to four hours, and when husband and wife emerge from the temple, they are bound together wrist and ankle with chains of yellow gold.[93]

Both the different Westerosi wedding ceremonies as well as the Ghiscari ceremony is followed by a feast, which in turn is followed by the bedding.[89][15][36][91] For weddings done by the Faith of the Seven, a wedding pie will be presented during the feast, which the bride and groom cut open. The pie is filled with living birds (e.g., doves, songbirds, bluejays, skylarks, pigeons, doves, mockingbirds, nightingales, sparrows, parrots), which fly away once the pie is cut open.[94][95]

It is considered to be ill luck to refuse a knight hospitality on your wedding day.[94] Tourney's might be held to celebrate a wedding,[94][84] though it is not customary to have melees at a wedding.[94]

Among the Dothraki, weddings occur beneath the open sky. The ceremony might last the entire day, during which the guests feast, drink, dance, and fight. A wedding without at least three deaths is seen as a dull afair.[96] Towards the end of the ceremony, the bride is presented with her bride gifts. A khaleesi will be presented with a gift from each of her husbands bloodriders, which she is to decline and give to her husband instead. Following the receiving of the gifts, the khal and khaleesi will consumate their marriage.[96] Following the wedding, the khal is to present his new bride to the dosh khaleen at Vaes Dothrak.[96]

Consummation

Main articles: Bedding, and First night

Following the feast, the bedding takes place. The bride is escorted to her bedroom, usually by the mean from the feast, who will undress the bride along the way, making rude jokes.[94][81][89] The women at the feast will do the groom the same honors.[89][94] Usually, once the bride and groom are in the bedchamber they are left alone, though wedding guests might stand on the other side of the door, shouting suggestions.[89] Nonetheless, in some cases, witnesses might be present for the bedding,[97] though it is unknown how far this witness duty goes.

Women, more so for noble women, are generally expected to be virgins on their first wedding night. After some weddings, the bedsheets are displayed to show the blood, thereby proving the breaking of the bride’s maidenhead and thus his virginity at her wedding night. However, since it is known that horse riding can break a girl’s maidenhead, few families are insistent on physical proof.[98]

Even though it is rare for a marriage to occur before the bride has had her first flowering, they do sometimes occur. However, it is considered to be perverse to bed a bride who is so young.[65] Nonetheless, it is considered to be bad luck for the marriage if the man to sleep apart from his bride on their wedding night.[85]

Lords in Westeros once had the right to the first night, the custom of bedding newly-wed women before their husbands. Queen Alysanne convinced King Jaehaerys I to abolish it,[7][93] but it is still practiced illegally in some parts of the north.[10]

Legality, Divorce and Annulment

Vows said at swordpoint are not held to be valid,[97] and in theory, a person cannot be declared to be married if they refuse to say the vows.[99] However, there are still issues of consent. Marriages may be conducted between children or babies,[100] and even if the marriage occurred under force, a lord might claim the marriage to be legal if e.g. lands are at stake.[97]

In the cult of the Drowned God, it is possible for someone to be married by proxy without their consent and without saying the vows for oneself.[101] However, as such a marriage has thus not been consummated, it can easily be set aside again.[102]

Divorce in Westeros is not common.[103] Nonetheless, a king is able to put his queen aside – even if she has given birth to his children – and marry another.[104][105]

Marriages in the Seven Kingdoms can be ended in several ways. In the Faith of the Seven, a marriage that has not been consummated can be set aside by the High Septon or a Council of Faith.[106][107][102] Neither bride nor groom needs to be present for an annulment; However, it must be requested by at least one of the wedded pair.[108] The role and procedure of a Council of Faith has not yet been stated. Another way of ending a marriage is by having the bride join the silent sisters.[94]

Polygamy

Main article: Polygamy

While most marriages are between only one man and one woman, polygamous marriages do occur in the Known World.

In the times before the Andals came to Westeros, King Garland II "The Bridegroom" Greenhand, King of the Reach, had multiple wives. In order to marry the daughter of Lord Lymond Hightower, he put aside his other wives aside.[109][110] And according to the songs, Storm King Ronard Storm had twenty-three wives.[111]

Though not a common practice, the dragonlords and sorcerer princes in Valyria sometimes took multiple wives.[44] King Aegon I Targaryen, who invaded Westeros and united six of the Seven Kingdoms under the rule of one monarch, had wed both of his sisters.[30] While the Faith of the Seven does not allow polygamy and considers it to be a sin,[112][44] Aegon I’s rule was accepted. In fact, during his Conquest, Aegon received a proposal from the Storm King, Argilac Durrandon, who offered his daughter Argella as a wife to Aegon, while Queen Regent Sharra Arryn of the Kingdom of Mountain and Vale offered herself in marriage to Aegon as well.[30] Aegon’s younger son, Maegor I Targaryen, is the last Targaryen known to have taken multiple wives. In doing so, he upset the Faith of the Seven, resulting in his own exile.[43] However, according to maester Yandel, Daemon I Blackfyre believed he would be able to take two wives,[84] and according to Jorah Mormont, Daenerys Targaryen is able to take two husbands.[113]

While followers of the Drowned God may take only one "rock wife", with whom they have trueborn children, they are allowed to take multiple “salt wives”. Children fathered on salt wives are not considered to be bastards, and may even inherit if there are no heirs by a man’s rock wife.[112][114]

Among the Dothraki, at least the Khal is known to be allowed to practise polygamy. For example, Khal Jemmo is known to have four wives.[22] Additionally, according to the "ancient ways", a Khal might share his Khaleesi with his bloodriders, a custom still practiced in some khalasars.[115]

Funeral customs

Funeral customs can differ between followers of different religions, but also between families following the same religion. The Starks of Winterfell, followers of the old gods, bury their dead in the crypts in the castle,[2] where the Kings of Winter and Lord of Winterfell are given a statue.[116] At many other places in the north, barrows of the First Men can still be found.[117] The funeral rites of the Tully's of Riverrun place the deceased members of their house in a boat which is sent downriver and lit afire.[118] The Targaryens have the tradition of cremating their dead;[103][119] It is unknown whether this tradition was practiced in the entire Valyrian Freehold, by all the dragonlords, or by House Targaryen alone. Followers of the Faith of the Seven can be buried with a crystal on their grave.[120]

Mourning clothes are black of color.[121][122] Some might tear up their clothes as a sign of mourning.[123] Houses can show marks of mourning as well,[124] though these remain unspecified.

When Lord Corlys Velaryon, Hand of the King at the time of his death, died in 132 AC, his body was placed beneath the Iron Throne where it remained for seven days.[53] Similarly, when Lord Tywin Lannister, also Hand of the King in addition to being the grandfather of King Tommen I Baratheon, died in 300 AC, his body was placed in the Great Sept of Baelor, where it was supposed to remain for seven days.[107] Embalming the body of the deceased involved removing the bowels, internal organs, and blood, and replaced with salt and fragrant herbs.[125] During a funeral service lasting several days, prayers are held both in the morning and the evening; While the morning services are open only to nobility, the afternoon prayers are open to the smallfolk, and the evening prayers for all.[126]

A great lord who dies away from home will usually be escorted back home. A funeral procession of a lord of high nobility can include an escort of knights, vassal lords, members of the household guard, and others.[127][128] In any case, several silent sisters will accompany the body.[128][127] Especially among the novles, great importance is placed on returning the body to the family of the deceased,[129] and failing to do so might be cause for resentment.[130]

Naming customs

First names

Main article: Nameday

In the Seven Kingdoms, children receive a name at their birth, causing the day of their birth being called "nameday" or "name day". The free folk who live beyond the Wall name their children only after they reach the age of two, believing it to be bad luck if children are given a name at an earlier age, as child mortality is high north of the Wall.[131] They can, however, decide on which name to give the child while the child is still younger.[61]

Surnames

Upon marriage, while some women (e.g., Cersei Lannister) keep their maiden name, most of the women take their husband's surname.[132] However, usage can vary. For example, while she is referred to most frequently as Catelyn Stark, Catelyn is also referred to as "Catelyn Tully"[133][130] and "Catelyn Tully Stark".[134][135] If the family of the woman is significantly higher born than the family of the husband, the wife might chose to use mostly her maiden name, and her husband's name little, or not at all.[132]

In Dorne, customs vary from the rest of Westeros. As firstborn children inherit in Dorne, following Rhoynish customs, females more frequently inherit their family's lands and titles. In such cases, they do not take the name of their husband.[132]

Bastards with at least one noble parent can be given surnames by their parents. There are "usual bastard surnames", which differ per region. In the north, bastards are usually called "Snow", in the riverlands "Rivers", in the Westerlands "Hill", on the Iron Islands "Pyke", in the Vale "Stone", in the Crownlands "Waters", in the Stormlands "Storm", in the Reach "Flowers", and in Dorne "Sand". When a male bastard has legitimate children, these children receive their father's bastard name, though a later generation might adjust the name as to remove the taint of bastardy,[132] (e.g., House Longwaters). When a male and female noble-born bastard from a different region (i.e., with a different surname) marry, the child will most likely take the surname of the father.[136] Parents can also decide to give their bastard a surname different from the "usual bastard surnames",[132] e.g., Tyrion Tanner, or no surname at all.[132] Men who receive lands and knighthood might also take a (new) surname. Daemon Waters, the bastard son of King Aegon IV Targaryen, took the name "Blackfyre" as his surname after having been knighted and having received lands of his own, even though he had not been legitimized.[137] Smuggler Davos, after receiving both knighthood and lands, took the name "Seaworth" for his newly-made house.[18]

The bastards of two common born people do not receive a surname.[132]

Holy days

In Westeros, in custom to the Faith of the Seven, each of the seven gods have their own holiday.[138] However, only one is currently known by name: Maiden's Day, a day on which maidens of noble houses are required to go to the sept to light tall white candles at the Maiden's feet and hang parchment garlands about her neck. Mothers, whores and widows are barred from the sept along with men. Those maidens who enter the sept sing songs of innocence.[139]

In the Free City of Qohor, the Black Goat of Qohor is given a daily blood sacrifice. Though usually animals (calves, bullocks, and horses) are used to this end, on holy days condemned criminals are sacrificed.[140]

Hospitality

Main article: Guest right

The custom of “guest right” is both sacred rule and ancient.[21] The obligations of hospitality are taken very seriously, both Beyond the Wall,[141][21] and in the Seven Kingdoms; However, the custom of guest right looms less in the southron kingdoms, but is held most dear in the north.[142] There, breaking the guest right is rare, but when it occurs, is punished similarly to the direst of treasons.[142] At least in the Free City of Pentos, guest right is practiced as well.[143] Hospitality can be offered by a lord upon the arrival of the host. The most common way of receiving hospitality, also called “guest right” is by eating “bread and salt”.[144] Once guest right has been offered and accepted, the guests and hosts are protected from harm by one another for the length of the stay.[142] Guest gifts can be given on the day the guests depart,[145][146] possibly as a means of ending the protection of the guest right. Guest gifts are no longer given by all lords, however.[145]

Gender and Sexuality

Main article: Gender and Sexuality

The various cultures across Westeros, Essos, and Sothoryos have diverse attitudes and social patterns regarding gender and sexuality.

See Also

References

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  3. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 43, Eddard XI.
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  5. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 72, Jaime IX.
  6. So Spake Martin: Land Ownership and Marriage in Westeros (December 19, 1999)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 The Sworn Sword.
  8. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 45, Eddard XII.
  9. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 8, Tyrion II.
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  13. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 19, Davos III.
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  16. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 38, The Watcher.
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  24. 24.0 24.1 So Spake Martin: The Hornwood Inheritance and the Whents (November 02, 1999)
  25. Ran at A Forum of Ice and Fire: "Primogeniture is customary, but not binding... especially not to a king. We have other examples of people being passed over, or potentially passed over, for others."
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  119. The Hedge Knight.
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  129. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 33, Jaime V.
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  131. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 46, Samwell III.
  132. 132.0 132.1 132.2 132.3 132.4 132.5 132.6 So Spake Martin: SF, Targaryens, Valyria, Sansa, Martells, and More (June 26, 2001)
  133. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 35, Eddard IX.
  134. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 10, Jon II.
  135. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 34, Catelyn VI.
  136. So Spake Martin: Bastard's Offspring (January 20, 1999)
  137. The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon IV.
  138. Not a Blog: Books for Brains! (October 31, 2015)
  139. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 39, Cersei IX.
  140. The World of Ice & Fire, The Free Cities: Qohor.
  141. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 23, Jon III.
  142. 142.0 142.1 142.2 The World of Ice & Fire, The North.
  143. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 1, Tyrion I.
  144. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 49, Catelyn VI.
  145. 145.0 145.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 29, Davos IV.
  146. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 46, A Ghost in Winterfell.

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