A bastard in the law of England and Wales was a person whose parents, at the time of their birth, were not married to each other. A person conceived to a couple not married to each other but who subsequently marry before the birth would not be treated as a bastard.
Unlike many other systems of law, there was no possibility of post hoc legitimisation of a bastard. If the parents married after the birth, the child would remain a bastard.
As 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 is 'baseborn.' A euphamism for being bastard-born is 'being born on the wrong side of the sheets.'
Family Life and Status
In the series, it is not unexpected for noblemen to have bastard children, however, it is not typical for a noble to bring his bastards home and raise them with his own children. It's more usually expected that he will see to the child's well-being to some degree. A noblly born wife has right to take insult at her hsuband's bastards being introduced into her household and being commensurate rank with her legally born children.
Rights of Inheritance
The baseborn have few rights under the law and custom, when it comes to claims. 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. However, a legitamised bastard falls in the order of succession at the end, after all true-born offspring, including daughters.
However, Any man can be knighted, even a bastard.
It is rude to pry into the origins of a man's natural children. Men say that bastards are born from lust and lies, and so their nature is wanton and treacherous.
Each of the Seven Kingdoms have bastard surnames decreed by custom.
- Flowers is the bastard name in the Reach
- Hill is the bastard name for the westerlands
- Rivers is the bastard name in the riverlands
- Pyke is the bastard name on the Iron Islands
- Sand is the bastard name of Dorne
- Snow is the surname for bastards north of the Neck, generally referred to as the North
- Stone is the bastard name in [The Vale|the Vale]]
- Storm is the bastard name in the stormlands (II: 119)
- Waters is the bastard name of Dragonstone (III: 929)
Additionally, Blackfyre was a name carried by a bastard of Aegon IV and his sons, but does not seem to have been a bastard name commonly used for Targaryen for Targaryen bastards
Bastards whose parents are both of the nobility are not considered baseborn