Fosterage is the practice of a noble raising the child of another noble.
The custom of fosterage is common among the nobility of Westeros. It is seen as a way of establishing friendships and alliances. For example, Lord Jon Arryn became a second father to his two foster children, Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon, during the years they were fostered by Arryn at the Eyrie. Additionally, fosterage is seen as a means of education. For example, boys can be fostered out as squires, training for knighthood. Most commonly the fostered child is male, although it is not unheard of for females to be fostered. The fostered child can be both trueborn and bastard born.
According to George R. R. Martin, a child who is fostered by a lord or lady can make visits to home during the years of his fosterage, although these visits would be minimal while the child is still young. After reaching the age of majority, the fostered child is free to come to go as he or she likes.
Although the custom of fostering is common in Westeros, that cannot be said for all places in the known world. For example, in the Free City of Norvos children are usually not fostered out. When the Dornish Prince Doran Martell decided to foster out his son Quentyn, this caused a severe strain on his relationship with his Norvoshi wife, Lady Mellario. Doran later ploted to send his daughter, Arianne, to serve as the cupbearer of the Archon of Tyrosh so she could meet her betrothed in secret, but eventually decided not to do so after his wife threatened to harm herself if their daughter was sent away.
In 129 ᴀᴄ, Prince Jacaerys Velaryon agreed with the Prince of Pentos to have two youngest brothers, Prince Aegon and Prince Viserys Targaryen, fostered by the prince at Pentos. Their ship, the Gay Abandon, was attacked by the Triarchy on route. Aegon escaped back to Dragonstone with his dragon, Stormcloud, Viserys was taken captive.
Doran Martell, the Prince of Dorne, fostered out his eldest son Quentyn with the Yronwoods to create a peace between House Yronwood and House Martell, as enmity between the two houses had arisen after the death of Lord Edgar Yronwood following a duel against Doran's younger brother, Oberyn. Doran later planned to send his daughter, Arianne, to Tyrosh to serve as the cupbearer of the city's Archon as part of a secret plan, but eventually decided not to do so after his wife threatened to harm herself if their daughter was sent away like their son had.
Lord Randyll Tarly wished to have his eldest son and heir, Samwell, be fostered by Lord Paxter Redwyne at the Arbor. Randyll brought Samwell with him on a trip to the Arbor, but after Paxter's twins Horas and Hobber, bullied him, Lord Randyll brought him back home. Samwell's mother later revealed to him Samwell had supposed to remain at the Arbor to serve as Paxter's page and squire and, if he had pleased Paxter, would have been betrothed to his daughter, Desmera.
Shortly before his death in early 298 ᴀᴄ, Lord Jon Arryn planned to have his young son Robert foster with Lord Stannis Baratheon at Dragonstone. Following Jon's death, King Robert I Baratheon planned to foster Robert with Lord Tywin Lannister at Casterly Rock. Robert's mother Lysa Arryn took her son back to the Eyrie, preventing both plans from coming to fruition.
|Fostered character||Fostered by||Notes|
|Petyr Baelish||Lord Hoster Tully at Riverrun|
|Princess Myrcella Baratheon||Prince Doran Martell at Sunspear||Myrcella left for Dorne as part of a betrothal to Doran's youngest son Trystane Martell.|
|Robert Baratheon||Lord Jon Arryn at the Eyrie||Fostered alongside Eddard Stark|
|Tristifer Botley||Lady Alannys Harlaw at Pyke||Send away after being discovered with Asha Greyjoy, the daughter of Lady Alannys and Lord Balon Greyjoy.|
|Lord Baelor Blacktyde|
|Bradamar Frey||Oro Tendyris at Braavos|
|Cynthea Frey||Lady Anya Waynwood|
|Merrett Frey||Lord Sumner Crakehall at Crakehall||Fostered at Crakehall during overlapping years with Jaime Lannister|
|Sandor Frey||Lady Anya Waynwood|
|"Big" Walder Frey||Lady Catelyn Stark at Winterfell||Send to Winterfell alongside his cousin Walder as part of the alliance pact between Lord Walder Frey and Robb Stark.|
|"Little" Walder Frey||Lady Catelyn Stark at Winterfell||Send to Winterfell alongside his cousin Walder as part of the alliance pact between Lord Walder Frey and Robb Stark.|
|Gyles Grafton||Lord Petyr Baelish at the Eyrie|
|Theon Greyjoy||Lord Eddard Stark at Winterfell||Theon was brought to Winterfell following the conclusion of Greyjoy's Rebellion in 289 ᴀᴄ as a hostage, to ensure his father's loyalty to the Iron Throne. Theon returned home to Pyke after an absence of ten years.|
|Harrold Hardyng||Lady Anya Waynwood|
|King Harmund II Hoare||House Lannister at Casterly Rock|
|Jaime Lannister||Lord Sumner Crakehall at Crakehall|
|Terrance Lynderly||Lord Petyr Baelish at the Eyrie|
|Prince Doran Martell||Lord Gargalen at Salt Shore|
|Prince Oberyn Martell||Lord Qorgyle at Sandstone|
|Prince Quentyn Martell||Lord Anders Yronwood at Yronwood||Quentyn served Lord Anders as a page and squire, until receiving knighthood by his hand at the age of eighteen.|
|Larence Snow||Galbart Glover at Deepwood Motte||After the death of Larence's father, Lord Halys Hornwood, and his only trueborn brother, Daryn, Larence is suggested as a possible heir to the Hornwood lands, which Ser Rodrik Cassel suspects will please House Glover.|
|Brandon Stark||Lord Dustin at Barrowton|
|Eddard Stark||Lord Jon Arryn at the Eyrie||Eddard was fostered by Jon Arryn at the same time as Robert Baratheon.|
|Edric Storm||Lord Renly Baratheon at Storm's End||While Renly is at King's Landing serving in the king's small council, the fosterage is seen over by Ser Cortnay Penrose|
|Lord Stannis Baratheon at Dragonstone||After the fall of Storm's End, Stannis takes custody of Edric and brings him to Dragonstone|
- So Spake Martin: Numerous Questions (February 28, 2002)
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 2, Catelyn I.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 8, Tyrion II.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 6, Catelyn II.
- So Spake Martin: Some Questions (March 16, 2000)
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 21, The Queenmaker.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 40, Princess In The Tower.
- The Princess and the Queen.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 13, The Soiled Knight.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 38, Tyrion V.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 15, Samwell II.
- A Clash of Kings, Prologue.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 40, Catelyn VII.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 4, Eddard I.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 18, Catelyn IV.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 17, Tyrion IV.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 11, The Kraken's Daughter.
- A Clash of Kings, Appendix.
- A Storm of Swords, Appendix.
- A Storm of Swords, Epilogue.
- A Feast for Crows, Bad reference param2.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 59, Catelyn IX.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 4, Bran I.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 23, Alayne I.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 11, Theon I.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 41, Alayne II.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Iron Islands: The Black Blood.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 67, Jaime VIII.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 2, The Captain Of Guards.
- George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Quentyn Martell.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 16, Bran II.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 41, The Turncloak.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 30, Eddard VII.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 10, Davos II.