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{{Dialogue a-b-a-b|Jon Snow|What's my name?|Samwell Tarly|Jon Snow.|And why is my surname 'Snow'?|...Because you're a bastard from the North.|[[Jon Snow]] and [[Samwell Tarly]]|Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things}}
 
{{Dialogue a-b-a-b|Jon Snow|What's my name?|Samwell Tarly|Jon Snow.|And why is my surname 'Snow'?|...Because you're a bastard from the North.|[[Jon Snow]] and [[Samwell Tarly]]|Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things}}
   
The term '''bastard''' refers to anyone born out of wedlock. In the [[Seven Kingdoms]] there is considerable social stigma attached to being a bastard. The [[Faith of the Seven]] and that of the [[Old Gods of the Forest]] have rules against bastardy.
+
The term '''bastard''' refers to anyone born out of wedlock. In the [[Seven Kingdoms]], there is considerable social stigma attached to being a bastard. The [[Faith of the Seven]] and that of the [[Old Gods of the Forest]] have rules against bastardy.
   
==Legal status==
+
==Legal and social status==
  +
===Lack of inheritance and discrimination===
  +
{{Dialogue a-b|Ramsay Snow|The [[Flaying|flayed]] man is on our [[Heraldry|banners]]!|Roose Bolton|<nowiki></nowiki>''My'' banners, not yours. You're not a Bolton, you're a Snow.|Roose Bolton and his bastard son, Ramsay Snow.|Season 4}}
  +
  +
[[Image:Ramsay-bloody.jpg|thumb|[[Ramsay Snow]], a bastard of [[House Bolton]].]]
 
Bastards are not allowed to inherit their father's lands or titles, and have no claims to the privileges of their father's [[noble house|House]]. It is up to their father on how to raise or treat them: at worst they are unacknowledged and ignored, though they may fare better and be discreetly sent funds to ensure their well-being. At best, a lord will acknowledge his bastard children (allowing them to take on one of the special bastard surnames), but send them away to one of his distant castles to be raised away from his lawful family. For bastard children to be raised by their father in his own castle alongside his trueborn children is considered extremely unusual.
 
Bastards are not allowed to inherit their father's lands or titles, and have no claims to the privileges of their father's [[noble house|House]]. It is up to their father on how to raise or treat them: at worst they are unacknowledged and ignored, though they may fare better and be discreetly sent funds to ensure their well-being. At best, a lord will acknowledge his bastard children (allowing them to take on one of the special bastard surnames), but send them away to one of his distant castles to be raised away from his lawful family. For bastard children to be raised by their father in his own castle alongside his trueborn children is considered extremely unusual.
   
There is no outright law punishing noble men or women for having bastard children, instead it is considered a social and religious disgrace.
+
Faced with no prospects for inheritance, many noble-born bastards, even acknowledged ones, ultimately join the [[Night's Watch]] to seek fame and glory. The Night's Watch is much more egalitarian than the other institutions of Westeros, and at [[the Wall]] a man is given what he earns. Bastards who join the Night's Watch can rise to become high-ranking officers and commanders. Similarly, bastards may also take up the life of [[knighthood]] in the hope of being granted a place at a lord's household and even lands and titles for services to their liege lords. In this way a bastard may become the founder of a [[noble house]].
   
It is possible for the king to legitimize a lord's bastard children, though this special dispensation is difficult to acquire and infrequently happens. It will usually only be granted if a lord has no other legitimate children (or no male children) to carry on the name of his house. However, the social stigma is not automatically removed after the bastard is formally legitimized.
+
There is no outright law punishing noble men or women for having bastard children, instead it is considered a social and [[Religion|religious]] disgrace.
  +
  +
It is possible for the [[king]] to legitimize a lord's bastard children, though this special dispensation is difficult to acquire and infrequently happens. It will usually only be granted if a lord has no other legitimate children (or no male children) to carry on the name of his house. However, the social stigma is not automatically removed after the bastard is formally legitimized.
  +
  +
===Bastards in Dorne===
  +
[[File:EllariaBastardsVid.jpg|thumb|300px|right|Ellaria Sand, a bastard of [[House Uller]].]]
  +
{{Dialogue a-b|Oberyn Martell|Bastards are born of passion, aren't they? We don't despise them in Dorne.|Cersei Lannister|No? How ''tolerant'' of you.|Queen [[Cersei Lannister|Cersei]] scorns Dorne's relaxed attitudes towards bastards.|The Lion and the Rose}}
  +
Due to its unique history and culture, bastards are not looked down upon in [[Dorne]] the way they are in the rest of the Seven Kingdoms. The present-day [[Dornishmen]] descend from the [[Rhoynar]] people who migrated to Westeros a thousand years ago, whose possessed an urban culture based around city-states along the [[Rhoyne]] River in [[Essos]]. The culture they passed down to the present-day Dornishmen has relatively relaxed attitudes towards sexual matters. While the Rhoynar who came to Dorne did convert to the [[Faith of the Seven]], they basically just ignored the rules they didn't like, and follow the religion much less strictly than other parts of Westeros. Many Dornish lords have formalized mistresses known as [[Paramour|paramours]], and they do not possess the same stigma against homosexual behavior that the rest of Westeros does.
  +
  +
These relaxed sexual mores in Dorne extend to bastard children. The Dornish feel that bastards are born of passion and love, and thus would not disdain a child for such a parentage. While it is rare and scandalous for a lord from outside of Dorne to raise his bastard child in his home castle alongside his trueborn children (i.e. as [[Eddard Stark]] did with Jon Snow), it is actually commonplace in Dorne to see bastards living at the court of their noble parents. The Dornish are also much more likely to acknowledge any bastard children in the first place: they would consider it cruel for a lord to abandon his own flesh and blood, as King [[Robert Baratheon]] ignored the many bastard children he fathered over the years (such as [[Gendry]]). Because Dornish culture holds little if any stigma against bastards, it is not unusual to see bastards work their way up to important social or court positions there, holding castles or leading armies for their families.
  +
  +
Bastards in Dorne still face a few restrictions, but they are relatively minor compared to the social contempt that bastards in the rest of the Seven Kingdoms often face. Bastards in Dorne must still use the special bastard surname "Sand", and they are less likely to inherit from their parents. While Jon Snow was roughly the same age as his father's eldest trueborn son, [[Robb Stark]], he was still shooed outside during the great feast at [[Winterfell]], rather than potentially offend King Robert by seating a bastard at the main table. The Dornish, in contrast, feel that an older bastard does have a place within the family and is not shameful, but a bastard child is treated somewhat like a younger child in order of inheritance. For example, if the Starks lived in Dorne, Jon Snow would be treated as a younger brother behind even [[Rickon Stark|Rickon]] in the line of succession (or possibly behind even [[Arya Stark|Arya]]), but otherwise, he would be treated as a full member of the family.
  +
  +
Another minor stigma against bastards in Dorne is that it is still seen as marrying beneath one's station for a powerful lord to marry a noble-born bastard. This is often simply due to the practical reason that a bastard cannot inherit, and thus the marriage would not bring with it any new wealth or lands. This stigma is somewhat like if a nobleman married a daughter from another House who was trueborn, but who was also the fifth youngest of five daughters, and thus a very poor match. [[Ellaria Sand]] is an acknowledged bastard of [[House Uller]], one of the more powerful noble families in Dorne. Even in the relaxed social mores of Dorne, however, it would still have been marrying beneath his station for Prince [[Oberyn Martell]] (younger brother of the ruler of Dorne) to wed Ellaria. While Oberyn could not marry Ellaria, he simply made her his formal paramour, his wife in all but name.
   
 
==Terminology==
 
==Terminology==
  +
[[File:Bastard names by region.PNG|thumb|Bastard names by region.]]
 
The stigma of illegitimacy is so great, that all bastards born to noble Houses in Westeros have to identify themselves through a specific surname marking them as a bastard, which varies by region:
 
The stigma of illegitimacy is so great, that all bastards born to noble Houses in Westeros have to identify themselves through a specific surname marking them as a bastard, which varies by region:
 
 
* '''Flowers''': [[The Reach]]
 
* '''Flowers''': [[The Reach]]
 
* '''Hill''': [[The Westerlands]]
 
* '''Hill''': [[The Westerlands]]
Line 48: Line 48:
 
'''The Crownlands'''
 
'''The Crownlands'''
 
* {[[Daemon Blackfyre]]}, legitimized bastard son of King [[Aegon IV Targaryen]], who lived over a hundred years before Robert's Rebellion.
 
* {[[Daemon Blackfyre]]}, legitimized bastard son of King [[Aegon IV Targaryen]], who lived over a hundred years before Robert's Rebellion.
'''The Reach'''
 
   
  +
'''The Reach'''
 
* {[[Jafer Flowers]]}, a ranger of the [[Night's Watch]] who accompanied [[Benjen Stark]] on a mission, was killed and returned as a [[wight]] before being destroyed.
 
* {[[Jafer Flowers]]}, a ranger of the [[Night's Watch]] who accompanied [[Benjen Stark]] on a mission, was killed and returned as a [[wight]] before being destroyed.
  +
  +
'''Dorne'''
  +
* [[Ellaria Sand]], a bastard of [[House Uller]] and Prince [[Oberyn Martell]]'s [[paramour]].
   
 
'''Unacknowledged bastards'''
 
'''Unacknowledged bastards'''
 
* [[Gendry]], a blacksmith's apprentice in [[King's Landing]], one of several bastard sons of [[Robert Baratheon|King Robert Baratheon]]. Because Robert never acknowledged Gendry, he does not use the bastard surname "Waters."
 
* [[Gendry]], a blacksmith's apprentice in [[King's Landing]], one of several bastard sons of [[Robert Baratheon|King Robert Baratheon]]. Because Robert never acknowledged Gendry, he does not use the bastard surname "Waters."
* {[[Barra]]}, another of King Robert's bastards. Killed by [[Janos Slynt]] during the purge of Robert's bastards.
+
* {[[Barra]]}, another of King Robert's bastards. Killed by [[Janos Slynt]] during the [[Massacre in King's Landing|purge]] of Robert's bastards.
* King [[Joffrey Baratheon]]: Although generally believed to be the son of [[Robert Baratheon]] and [[Cersei Lannister]], he is actually the son of [[Jaime Lannister]] and Cersei, making him not only a bastard, but a bastard born of incest.
+
* King [[Joffrey Baratheon]], generally believed to be the son of [[Robert Baratheon]] and [[Cersei Lannister]], he is actually the son of [[Jaime Lannister]] and Cersei, making him not only a bastard, but a bastard born of [[incest]].
* Princess [[Myrcella Baratheon]]: Jaime and Cersei's second child.
+
* Princess [[Myrcella Baratheon]], Jaime and Cersei's second child.
* Prince [[Tommen Baratheon]]: Jaime and Cersei's third child.
+
* Prince [[Tommen Baratheon]], Jaime and Cersei's third child.
   
 
==In the books==
 
==In the books==
In the ''[[A Song of Ice and Fire]]'' novels, the status of being a bastard is a considerable social disgrace amongst the nobility, though less so amongst the [[smallfolk]]. However, whilst bastards are disadvantaged, they still have means to climb the social ladder. They may win honor and glory in battle and be [[knight]]ed. If they do great deeds in service to the king or a noble lord, they can even receive a bill of legitimacy, allowing them to take their father's surname and formally join his House, or to take a new surname and found a new House (some bastards take new names altogether, like "Blackfyre", while others add a prefix to their bastard name, such as "Longwaters"). For example, [[House Baratheon]] was founded by the legitimized bastard half-brother of King [[Aegon the Conqueror]].
+
In the ''[[A Song of Ice and Fire]]'' novels, the status of being a bastard is a considerable social disgrace amongst the nobility, though less so amongst the [[smallfolk]]. However, whilst bastards are disadvantaged, they still have means to climb the social ladder. They may win honor and glory in battle and be [[knight]]ed. If they do great deeds in service to the king or a noble lord, they can even receive a bill of legitimacy, allowing them to take their father's surname and formally join his House, or to take a new surname and found a new House (some bastards take new names altogether, like "Blackfyre", while others add a prefix to their bastard name, such as "Longwaters"). For example, [[House Baratheon]] was founded by the legitimized bastard half-brother of [[Aegon I Targaryen|Aegon the Conqueror]].
  +
  +
However, while bastards stand outside the lines of succession and inheritance, there are still exceptions which have caused immense problems. King [[Aegon IV Targaryen]] legitmized three of his bastard sons and one of his bastard daughters on his deathbed. His eldest bastard son, [[Daemon Blackfyre]], later claimed the [[Iron Throne]] and led a bloody civil war known as the [[First Blackfyre Rebellion]] . His sons and descendants launched four more attempts to take the Iron Throne before their final claimant, Maelys the Monstrous, was slain by [[Barristan Selmy|Ser Barristan Selmy]] during the [[War of the Ninepenny Kings]] . This is sometimes used as an example of what happens if a bastard is treated too well and given too much power and legitimacy.
   
However, while bastards stand outside the lines of succession and inheritance, there are still exceptions which have caused immense problems. King [[Aegon IV Targaryen]] legitmized three of his bastard sons and one of his bastard daughters on his deathbed. His eldest bastard son, [[Daemon Blackfyre]], later claimed the [[Iron Throne]] and led a bloody civil war known as the First Blackfyre Rebellion. His sons and descendants launched four more attempts to take the Iron Throne before their final claimant, Maelys the Monstrous, was slain by [[Barristan Selmy|Ser Barristan Selmy]] during the War of the Ninepenny Kings. This is sometimes used as an example of what happens if a bastard is treated too well and given too much power and legitimacy.
+
There is no official distinction between bastards who have one noble-born parent, and those whose parents are both noble-born. In practice, however, a nobleman would be much more likely to acknowledge a bastard child born to a noble lady, than he would a child born to a commoner. For example, while Robert Baratheon is rumored to have fathered over a dozen bastard children, the only one who he acknowledged in the books was Edric Storm, because his mother was a noblewoman, Delena of [[House Florent]] - the younger first cousin of [[Selyse Baratheon|Selyse Florent]], the wife of Robert's younger brother [[Stannis Baratheon|Stannis]].
   
Fans sometimes derisively assume that "[[Joffrey Baratheon]]" should really be called "Joffrey Lannister", because of his status as the bastard offspring of the incestuous relationship between [[Cersei Lannister]] and [[Jaime Lannister]], and not the son of King Robert Baratheon at all. This is actually in error, as according to the customs of bastardy, Joffrey doesn't even have the right to use the surname "Lannister". As Jaime's bastard son, given birth to by a woman from the Westerlands (Cersei), Joffrey would have to use the bastard surname for the Westerlands: "Joffrey Hill". There's also the possibility that he might be called "Joffrey Waters" given that both Jaime and Cersei had been living in the Crownlands for many years, and Joffrey lived his whole life there. All of this, of course, would only happen if Jaime were to openly acknowledge Joffrey as his son, which is an impossibility given the disastrous political fallout this would create. Further, as the product of not merely bastardy, but incest, the [[Faith of the Seven]] would want to outright kill Joffrey as an abomination before the gods if his actual parentage were ever revealed. Therefore from a strict legal standpoint, given that Jaime will never acknowledge his children with Cersei, Joffrey has no right to ''any'' surname, and should properly just be called "Joffrey" as if he were a lowborn commoner.
+
Fans sometimes derisively assume that "[[Joffrey Baratheon]]" should really be called "Joffrey Lannister", because of his status as the bastard offspring of the incestuous relationship between [[Cersei Lannister]] and [[Jaime Lannister]], and not the son of King Robert Baratheon at all. This is actually in error, as according to the customs of bastardy, Joffrey doesn't even have the right to use the surname "Lannister". As Jaime's bastard son, given birth to by a woman from the Westerlands (Cersei), Joffrey would have to use the bastard surname for the Westerlands: "Joffrey Hill". There's also the possibility that he might be called "Joffrey Waters" given that both Jaime and Cersei had been living in the Crownlands for many years, and Joffrey lived his whole life there. All of this, of course, would only happen if Jaime were to openly acknowledge Joffrey as his son, which is an impossibility given the disastrous political fallout this would create. Further, as the product of not merely bastardy, but [[incest]], the [[Faith of the Seven]] would want to outright kill Joffrey as an abomination before the gods if his actual parentage were ever revealed. Therefore from a strict legal standpoint, given that Jaime will never acknowledge his children with Cersei, Joffrey has no right to ''any'' surname, and should properly just be called "Joffrey" as if he were a lowborn commoner.
   
 
==See also==
 
==See also==
* [http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Bastardy Bastardy at A Wiki of Ice and Fire]
+
* {{AWOIAF}}
  +
* {{WP}}
   
 
==References==
 
==References==
Line 74: Line 77:
 
[[de:Bastard]]
 
[[de:Bastard]]
 
[[Category:Bastards| ]]
 
[[Category:Bastards| ]]
[[Category:Culture]]
 
 
[[Category:Social groups]]
 
[[Category:Social groups]]
  +
[[Category:Culture & Society]]

Latest revision as of 19:30, April 16, 2014

Jon-Snow-Kit-Harington 510
Jon Snow, a bastard of House Stark.
Opark 77Added by Opark 77
Jon Snow: "What's my name?"
Samwell Tarly: "Jon Snow."
Jon Snow: "And why is my surname 'Snow'?"
Samwell Tarly: "...Because you're a bastard from the North."
Jon Snow and Samwell Tarly[src]

The term bastard refers to anyone born out of wedlock. In the Seven Kingdoms, there is considerable social stigma attached to being a bastard. The Faith of the Seven and that of the Old Gods of the Forest have rules against bastardy.

Legal and social statusEdit

Lack of inheritance and discriminationEdit

Ramsay Snow: "The flayed man is on our banners!"
Roose Bolton: "My banners, not yours. You're not a Bolton, you're a Snow."
— Roose Bolton and his bastard son, Ramsay Snow.[src]
Ramsay-bloody
Ramsay Snow, a bastard of House Bolton.

Bastards are not allowed to inherit their father's lands or titles, and have no claims to the privileges of their father's House. It is up to their father on how to raise or treat them: at worst they are unacknowledged and ignored, though they may fare better and be discreetly sent funds to ensure their well-being. At best, a lord will acknowledge his bastard children (allowing them to take on one of the special bastard surnames), but send them away to one of his distant castles to be raised away from his lawful family. For bastard children to be raised by their father in his own castle alongside his trueborn children is considered extremely unusual.

Faced with no prospects for inheritance, many noble-born bastards, even acknowledged ones, ultimately join the Night's Watch to seek fame and glory. The Night's Watch is much more egalitarian than the other institutions of Westeros, and at the Wall a man is given what he earns. Bastards who join the Night's Watch can rise to become high-ranking officers and commanders. Similarly, bastards may also take up the life of knighthood in the hope of being granted a place at a lord's household and even lands and titles for services to their liege lords. In this way a bastard may become the founder of a noble house.

There is no outright law punishing noble men or women for having bastard children, instead it is considered a social and religious disgrace.

It is possible for the king to legitimize a lord's bastard children, though this special dispensation is difficult to acquire and infrequently happens. It will usually only be granted if a lord has no other legitimate children (or no male children) to carry on the name of his house. However, the social stigma is not automatically removed after the bastard is formally legitimized.

Bastards in DorneEdit

EllariaBastardsVid
Ellaria Sand, a bastard of House Uller.
Gonzalo84Added by Gonzalo84
Oberyn Martell: "Bastards are born of passion, aren't they? We don't despise them in Dorne."
Cersei Lannister: "No? How tolerant of you."
— Queen Cersei scorns Dorne's relaxed attitudes towards bastards.[src]

Due to its unique history and culture, bastards are not looked down upon in Dorne the way they are in the rest of the Seven Kingdoms. The present-day Dornishmen descend from the Rhoynar people who migrated to Westeros a thousand years ago, whose possessed an urban culture based around city-states along the Rhoyne River in Essos. The culture they passed down to the present-day Dornishmen has relatively relaxed attitudes towards sexual matters. While the Rhoynar who came to Dorne did convert to the Faith of the Seven, they basically just ignored the rules they didn't like, and follow the religion much less strictly than other parts of Westeros. Many Dornish lords have formalized mistresses known as paramours, and they do not possess the same stigma against homosexual behavior that the rest of Westeros does.

These relaxed sexual mores in Dorne extend to bastard children. The Dornish feel that bastards are born of passion and love, and thus would not disdain a child for such a parentage. While it is rare and scandalous for a lord from outside of Dorne to raise his bastard child in his home castle alongside his trueborn children (i.e. as Eddard Stark did with Jon Snow), it is actually commonplace in Dorne to see bastards living at the court of their noble parents. The Dornish are also much more likely to acknowledge any bastard children in the first place: they would consider it cruel for a lord to abandon his own flesh and blood, as King Robert Baratheon ignored the many bastard children he fathered over the years (such as Gendry). Because Dornish culture holds little if any stigma against bastards, it is not unusual to see bastards work their way up to important social or court positions there, holding castles or leading armies for their families.

Bastards in Dorne still face a few restrictions, but they are relatively minor compared to the social contempt that bastards in the rest of the Seven Kingdoms often face. Bastards in Dorne must still use the special bastard surname "Sand", and they are less likely to inherit from their parents. While Jon Snow was roughly the same age as his father's eldest trueborn son, Robb Stark, he was still shooed outside during the great feast at Winterfell, rather than potentially offend King Robert by seating a bastard at the main table. The Dornish, in contrast, feel that an older bastard does have a place within the family and is not shameful, but a bastard child is treated somewhat like a younger child in order of inheritance. For example, if the Starks lived in Dorne, Jon Snow would be treated as a younger brother behind even Rickon in the line of succession (or possibly behind even Arya), but otherwise, he would be treated as a full member of the family.

Another minor stigma against bastards in Dorne is that it is still seen as marrying beneath one's station for a powerful lord to marry a noble-born bastard. This is often simply due to the practical reason that a bastard cannot inherit, and thus the marriage would not bring with it any new wealth or lands. This stigma is somewhat like if a nobleman married a daughter from another House who was trueborn, but who was also the fifth youngest of five daughters, and thus a very poor match. Ellaria Sand is an acknowledged bastard of House Uller, one of the more powerful noble families in Dorne. Even in the relaxed social mores of Dorne, however, it would still have been marrying beneath his station for Prince Oberyn Martell (younger brother of the ruler of Dorne) to wed Ellaria. While Oberyn could not marry Ellaria, he simply made her his formal paramour, his wife in all but name.

TerminologyEdit

Bastard names by region
Bastard names by region.

The stigma of illegitimacy is so great, that all bastards born to noble Houses in Westeros have to identify themselves through a specific surname marking them as a bastard, which varies by region:

However, this system does not apply to the bastards of smallfolk: at least one parent (usually, but not always, the father) has to be a member of a noble House. If both the father and mother are commoners, the child cannot use the special surname.

The low-born commoners of Westeros do not actually use surnames at all. Therefore, possessing a bastard surname is simultaneously a mark of distinction and badge of shame. Anyone who encounters someone with a bastard surname will immediately know that they are not simply a bastard, but the bastard child of a noble.

Gendry Infobox
Gendry, as an unacknowledged bastard of Robert Baratheon, cannot use the surname "Waters".
QueenBuffyAdded by QueenBuffy
Bastards only use the special surnames if they have been openly acknowledged by their noble-born parent. In such cases, their noble parent will usually try to make sure that they are well cared for, or send money for their support, but it is extremely unusual for a noble to raise their bastard child in their own household.

There is no official distinction between bastards who have one noble-born parent, and those whose parents are both noble-born. In practice, however, a nobleman would be much more likely to acknowledge a bastard child born to a noble lady, than he would a child born to a commoner.

Bastard surnames are dependent on the region a child was born in, i.e. where the mother is from, not where the father is from. For example, a noble lord from the Stormlands could father one bastard child in the Vale, and another in the Riverlands, but neither would use the surname "Storm": the first bastard would use the surname "Stone", and the second would use the surname "Rivers." It is extremely unusual for a bastard to know who his nobleman father is, but not his mother. Therefore Jon Snow's situation is additionally unusual, not just because he actually lives with his nobleman father, but because he probably wasn't even born in the North. Eddard Stark brought him back to Winterfell as an infant after fighting in the south during Robert's Rebellion, but refused to say who his mother was or where she came from. As a result of the mystery surrounding his mother's identity, Jon ended up using the surname "Snow" by default.

Bastard children of a noble lord may be referred to politely as "natural children", though the less polite term "baseborn" is more commonly used, and they are often bluntly and rudely referred to as simply "bastard." In contrast, a noble lord's children with his lawfully married wife are termed "trueborn." Thus when Lord Eddard Stark discovers that none of Cersei Lannister's children were fathered by her husband King Robert Baratheon, he says that King Robert "has no trueborn sons," even though he knows that Robert has several "baseborn," bastard children.[1]

Known bastardsEdit

The North

The Iron Islands

The Riverlands

The Crownlands

The Reach

Dorne

Unacknowledged bastards

In the booksEdit

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the status of being a bastard is a considerable social disgrace amongst the nobility, though less so amongst the smallfolk. However, whilst bastards are disadvantaged, they still have means to climb the social ladder. They may win honor and glory in battle and be knighted. If they do great deeds in service to the king or a noble lord, they can even receive a bill of legitimacy, allowing them to take their father's surname and formally join his House, or to take a new surname and found a new House (some bastards take new names altogether, like "Blackfyre", while others add a prefix to their bastard name, such as "Longwaters"). For example, House Baratheon was founded by the legitimized bastard half-brother of Aegon the Conqueror.

However, while bastards stand outside the lines of succession and inheritance, there are still exceptions which have caused immense problems. King Aegon IV Targaryen legitmized three of his bastard sons and one of his bastard daughters on his deathbed. His eldest bastard son, Daemon Blackfyre, later claimed the Iron Throne and led a bloody civil war known as the First Blackfyre Rebellion . His sons and descendants launched four more attempts to take the Iron Throne before their final claimant, Maelys the Monstrous, was slain by Ser Barristan Selmy during the War of the Ninepenny Kings . This is sometimes used as an example of what happens if a bastard is treated too well and given too much power and legitimacy.

There is no official distinction between bastards who have one noble-born parent, and those whose parents are both noble-born. In practice, however, a nobleman would be much more likely to acknowledge a bastard child born to a noble lady, than he would a child born to a commoner. For example, while Robert Baratheon is rumored to have fathered over a dozen bastard children, the only one who he acknowledged in the books was Edric Storm, because his mother was a noblewoman, Delena of House Florent - the younger first cousin of Selyse Florent, the wife of Robert's younger brother Stannis.

Fans sometimes derisively assume that "Joffrey Baratheon" should really be called "Joffrey Lannister", because of his status as the bastard offspring of the incestuous relationship between Cersei Lannister and Jaime Lannister, and not the son of King Robert Baratheon at all. This is actually in error, as according to the customs of bastardy, Joffrey doesn't even have the right to use the surname "Lannister". As Jaime's bastard son, given birth to by a woman from the Westerlands (Cersei), Joffrey would have to use the bastard surname for the Westerlands: "Joffrey Hill". There's also the possibility that he might be called "Joffrey Waters" given that both Jaime and Cersei had been living in the Crownlands for many years, and Joffrey lived his whole life there. All of this, of course, would only happen if Jaime were to openly acknowledge Joffrey as his son, which is an impossibility given the disastrous political fallout this would create. Further, as the product of not merely bastardy, but incest, the Faith of the Seven would want to outright kill Joffrey as an abomination before the gods if his actual parentage were ever revealed. Therefore from a strict legal standpoint, given that Jaime will never acknowledge his children with Cersei, Joffrey has no right to any surname, and should properly just be called "Joffrey" as if he were a lowborn commoner.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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