Game of thrones bastards

Watching Game des Thrones, and devouring the novels, make me a far better medievalist. As fan of die show and novels know well, george R. R. Martin’s imaginary world offers a vibrant account of life and death, of royal power and magic, of political infighting, i ordered it marriages, sex, love, and despair. It zu sein not in accurate depiction des medieval Europe, however why should it be? Instead, it zu sein great fun, und is so a früh example des what scholars schutz started call “medievalism,” accounts of a medieval past the are often as much about united state as about them, what we love (and liebe to hate) around Medieval Europe, echt or imagined.

Du schaust: Game of thrones bastards

But there zu sein more zu it than just good fun. Game des Thrones also helped me think with one des my taste interests as a scholar, illegitimacy bei Medieval Europe.

According to ns Game von Thrones wikia page, a bastard zu sein “anyone born out of wedlock.” until recently, scholars of medieval Europe oase generally adhered to die same definition. I oase argued that us need zu revisit our definieren of bastard, weist least weil das medieval Europe through die late twelfth century, und I would indicate that die same rule holds for Game of Thrones. Middle ages Europe did notfall divide its world into two gesund categories: youngsters born of marriage und children born external marriage. Instead, kids were ranged ~ above a spectrum von illegitimacy.

The same zu sein true von Westeros and its neighbors. What mattered most weil das the prospects des a child was often die status of both parents, not the question von if lock legally married each other or not. Of course there were plenty of regional variations in medieval Europe (and in Game of Thrones). There were changes over time bei Europe as well. It zu sein harder to assess change over time with Game des Thrones, however certainly there are characters in the series who refer intriguingly kommen sie a past bei which some sexual and marital practices taken into consideration illegal von contemporaries were rather legal, and could schutz resulted in legitimate issue with rights kommen sie a throne.


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Much as in Medieval Europe, there room several different kinds des bastards bei Game von Thrones, falling into sometimes overlapping categories. Ns first and most obvious type von bastard is one born kommen sie a known “highborn” father that recognizes die child together his however whose mother zu sein either unknown or known kommen sie be short status. Here the most memorable example ist Jon Snow, eye being die surname zum Northern bastards des this kind (though of kurse — spoiler alert — Jon’s parentage transforms out kommen sie be an ext complicated, und extremely throneworthy regardless von any niceties of marriage law), or Sand, Sand being ns surname zum bastards from the south. It zu sein quite plainly better zu be a Sand 보다 a Snow, with the warm sunny climate of the south both an ext openly licentious than die restrained north, und more tolerant of children born zu extramarital sex.

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This difference in the social zustand possibilities zum the same kind of illegitimate child an two various regions winter nicely, and probably fairly intentionally, ns relative permissiveness in the direction of bastards found bei Iberia as opposed zu England. Die sons des lower status mothers had actually little gelegenheit of ending up being king in England — William des Normandy, ns conquering bastard an 1066, ns obvious exception to this. William’s grandson Robert des Gloucester, son of king Henry and an unknown woman, was notfall considered a worthy candidate des his father’s throne. Bei Game von Thrones Ramsey Snow, a bastard son von Lord Bolton und a miller’s wife, raped von Lord Bolton — and a bastard an every sense des the word — can be legitimized as Ramsey Bolton und therefore end up being a legitimate heir, yet this does notfall appear to schutz been a real possibility zum Robert von Gloucester. Majesties of england needed royal blood, ideally indigenous both parents, und Robert had actually a great deal less von it 보다 his half-sister Matilda, who via herstellung mother had ns best possible ancestors for an English queen.

Looking instead zu Iberia we find, as in Dorne, bei southern Westeros, better room zum bastards kommen sie inherit and so more women in positions von power. I oase a tough time imagining the royal daughters of the ruling houses of christian Spain having the same armed forces prowess as found with the Dornish princesses, however it zu sein certainly clear that kings in Iberia might quite publicly store concubines, und that the children von these frau could execute quite well. Even the son des a Muslim concubine, Sancho Alfónsez, appears to schutz been thought about a worthy candidate weil das the mighty kingdom von Castile-León. We know a great deal much less than we would like around his mother: king Alfonso through had deshalb many wives and concubines that it ist extremely difficult zu sort them out und sort the end who specifically Sancho’s mommy was, yet it appears that she was a Muslim concubine, though there are some geschichten that Alfonso married produziert in in effort zu “legitimize” his only son. When Sancho’s mommy may oase converted and her son was likely elevated as a Christian, it is a surprised to lakers their kid as the taste contender to ns throne until his untimely death bei battle an 1107. Alfonso’s eldest daughter, Urraca, born zu one of his highborn christen wives, inherited his throne instead, however his daughter Teresa, born kommen sie a noble concubine, derived the kreis of Portugal, i beg your pardon soon became a kingdom.

In succeeding generations, we an ext often find ns children des illegal marriages made bolzen the assorted interrelated ruling family members inheriting thrones than the children of lower status concubines, however that does continue zu happen, and in ways worthy of a Game of Thrones rendering. Weil das instance, in the fourteenth century, Henry “the Fratricidal,” one von many illegitimate boy of king Alfonso XI des Castile und his noble mistress Eleanor (a woman des actually quite high Iberian royal ancestry), eliminated his legitimate half-brother pedro “the Cruel” and became ruler von Castile.

There is deswegen much more zu say around Game von Thrones and what we can learn from the about the Middle Ages, but kommen sie close turn off this piece I’ll say just that the Middle Ages zu sein filled through such stories, und that fiction choose Game von Thrones kann help us much better understand how zu tell them.

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Featured bild credit: city walls of the old Town, Dubrovnik. Photo by JSB. CC-BY-SA-3.0 über Wikimedia Commons.