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The Bastards of Westeros

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"The Bastards of Westeros" is part of the Histories & Lore, a special feature in the Blu-ray of Season 4 of Game of Thrones. It is narrated by Indira Varma as Ellaria Sand.

Synopsis

Ellaria Sand explains the shame cast upon bastards throughout much of Westeros, and how these unwanted children can tear families and kingdoms apart.

Narration

Ellaria Sand: "Sex". A simple word for a simple act. And so, of course, men complicate it. A child born to a wife is a gift from the gods. A child born to a mistress or an obedient servant girl is a "bastard", unworthy of its father's name. So instead they call the children after the land where they were born: "Flowers" in the Reach and "Hill" in the Westerlands, "Stone" in the Vale and "Storm" in the Stormlands, "Rivers" in the Riverlands and "Waters" in the Crownlands, "Pyke" in the Iron Islands, "Snow" in The North, and in Dorne "Sand".

By these names, everyone can recognise a bastard, even if his own father won't. Though sometimes a father with too much gold and daughters will ask the king to legitimize a bastard son and give him his family name. If his wife objects, the next one does not. But sometimes the gods play their jokes and later his wife will give him a trueborn son of their own. When this happens, well... children die all the time, so do fathers.

Even the beautiful Targaryens had bastards when brothers tired of their sisters. Many took the name Blackfyre after the Conqueror's own sword. When Aegon the Unworthy legitimized all his bastards on his deathbed, they rose up against his trueborn heir. Westeros bled, Dorne yawned.

For most of Westeros, the Blackfyre Rebellion only proved what they already knew: bastards are treacherous, born of lust and shame. But in Dorne lust is not shameful. They know that bastardy does not make a man more treacherous than another; man does not need the help.

Notes

  • Dorne didn't "yawn" during the First Blackfyre Rebellion, when Aegon IV's bastard son Daemon Blackfyre tried to usurp the throne. Due to marriage alliance, the Martells fought for the rightful king, Daeron II Targaryen. Many Blackfyre supporters were actually annoyed at how many Dornish lords were being appointed to officers in the royal court due to the recent marriage alliance, with Daeron II marrying the sister of the Prince of Dorne. Even Dorne itself was not spared divisions: House Yronwood, second greatest House in Dorne and longtime rivals of the Martells, joined the Blackfyre side in the war.
  • Legitimization of bastards by kings is rare enough that there is no formal legal precedent for where the bastard child ranks in line of succession. If a lord has only two sons, the older one a legitimized bastard and the younger one trueborn with his lawful wife, it is basically up to his discretion if the legitimized bastard will rank ahead or behind his younger, lawful son. As Ellaria alludes, this has been a common cause of dynastic disputes and civil wars in Westeros over the centuries.

Appearances

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