Natural Children

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Natural Children

Postby Mrjamespj » Mon Jul 23, 2012 12:20 pm

So, a bastard is given a surname based on where they are from, and when I was checking up the names so we would know what one of my players would be called, something occured to me:

Most examples of bastards are from nobles, so I was wondering, do commoners who have children also give them bastard names? A player in my game wants to be the bastard son of a lord, but if only "noble bastards" receive those surnames, his secret will obviously be very...obvious. So if Ted the commoner and Genna the commoner (both Northerners) were not married and had a son, would the child be called Snow?

Thanks in advance guys!
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Re: Natural Children

Postby DaimosofRedstone » Mon Jul 23, 2012 12:31 pm

If it is known, yes.
If he is just born to the wrong father but within a marriage it is unlikely that anyone cares enough to brand him with that name.
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Re: Natural Children

Postby LordValorna » Mon Jul 23, 2012 12:32 pm

The commoners don't have a name, so only a Noble Bastard could be called Snow or Rivers.
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Re: Natural Children

Postby vonpenguin » Mon Jul 23, 2012 12:51 pm

That would depend on social class. Joe the farmer might not have a last name but Bob Robertson the wealthy merchant might.
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Re: Natural Children

Postby DaimosofRedstone » Mon Jul 23, 2012 1:29 pm

LordValorna wrote:The commoners don't have a name, so only a Noble Bastard could be called Snow or Rivers.

This is not about a last name.
This is about stigmatizing a bastard.
This child born of lust and betrayal will live in lust and betrayal and people need to be warned.
Thats what the naming convention is for, to make these dangerous, sick individuals knowable to everyone.
Can it be enforced?
No.
Every bastard can drop that name as soon as he leaves the area he's from and start a new life as a non-bastard.
But that is not the point.
The point is a social stigma.
And that way you get a name even if your (not-)daddy had none.

Edit:
On a sidenote, commoners do have 'last names' as in 'not your first name'.
Or at least, they can have.
What they have at the very least are by-names to differentiate between them.
It starts as patrinomes ('son of'-stuff, the scottish Mac, the Irish O', the nordic/germanic -sons, etc.), jobtitles (smith, miller, fletcher, etc.) and the nicknames (which are the biggest category going from simple 'elder', 'little', etc. to description of residence (had a drum teacher named 'Lütkebolle' which refers to a small jetty) or appearance, etc.).
Granted not everybody might have one, and depending on point in time in our history they might change generational or when moving and are not fixed as such (with patrinomes it is actually a feature and not a bug that they change every generation) but they exist.
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Re: Natural Children

Postby Tao Jones » Mon Jul 23, 2012 3:25 pm

Eh... I'm inclined to agree with the stance of common bastards not taking the surname if they don't come from a family with a surname. Prime example being Gendry; a bastard of undoubtedly noble birth, but he lives a commoner, so he's just Gendry. He's a nobody, meaning the nobles don't care about him or his parentage until the succession comes into question. It is about a last name, because in this society your last name told people a lot about who you were and are. If you were nobility, it would be very important to distinguish bastards from the rest of the family.

I totally agree with all the sentiments of labeling them as products and agents of lust and betrayal... I just don't think the smallfolk care nearly as much about that as the nobility do, since they don't really have much to inherit. I think that's probably the real root of the stigma when you get down to it, a way of ensuring the inheritance, and thus the power, stays "in the family".
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Re: Natural Children

Postby Paedrig » Mon Jul 23, 2012 11:12 pm

Most of the smallfolk might not have to inherit much land and money. BUT what many of them can inherit is much FOR THEM. If you do not have so much, the small strip of land, the few cattle animals get realy important...

And i do not think that the smallfolk is alltogether so much less bigott and hypocritical than the 'better classes'. After all a village society is not very big and don't living after the rules means punishment.
As far as the reality goes often real harsh punishment even for (in modern terms) unimportant things.

O. K. it might be not necessary to call the bastard a 'River' etc. because EVERYONE in the village know it.
Therefore i think it is still important if someone is a bastard or not.
In Kings Landing as a real big city with a broad 'shadowy' part of society the situation is certainly a little bit different (but also certainly differ a lot between the several classes and social parts)
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Re: Natural Children

Postby DaimosofRedstone » Tue Jul 24, 2012 2:42 am

Tao Jones wrote:Eh... I'm inclined to agree with the stance of common bastards not taking the surname if they don't come from a family with a surname. Prime example being Gendry; a bastard of undoubtedly noble birth, but he lives a commoner, so he's just Gendry. He's a nobody, meaning the nobles don't care about him or his parentage until the succession comes into question. It is about a last name, because in this society your last name told people a lot about who you were and are. If you were nobility, it would be very important to distinguish bastards from the rest of the family.

I totally agree with all the sentiments of labeling them as products and agents of lust and betrayal... I just don't think the smallfolk care nearly as much about that as the nobility do, since they don't really have much to inherit. I think that's probably the real root of the stigma when you get down to it, a way of ensuring the inheritance, and thus the power, stays "in the family".

Gendry is a city kid. Mia Stone however does carry her bastard name, as does Edric Storm.
There might be case to be made that cities, in the seven kingdoms as well as historical, did not care as much, hence the saying 'city air makes free'.
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Re: Natural Children

Postby coldwind » Tue Jul 24, 2012 3:22 am

DaimosofRedstone wrote:Gendry is a city kid. Mia Stone however does carry her bastard name, as does Edric Storm.
There might be case to be made that cities, in the seven kingdoms as well as historical, did not care as much, hence the saying 'city air makes free'.


Mia Stone and Edric Storm are both openly known to be bastards of nobility (in fact, Edric had to be publically awknowledged since his mother was also a noble. Gendry is not. I would say that's a bigger reason than the city/rural divide.
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Re: Natural Children

Postby DaimosofRedstone » Tue Jul 24, 2012 4:03 am

Do we know of any bastard except Gendry not wearing their bastard name?
And do we know about any non-noble bastards?
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Re: Natural Children

Postby Paedrig » Tue Jul 24, 2012 5:31 am

Hm...one Bastard with the typical "Rivers" who is not known for his noble heritage is the pre generated char Nicholas Rivers (Core Rule Book/ Peril at Kings Landing). In fact he IS also of noble heritage, but no one beside himself did know this...

In Peril at Kings Landing there is also a young boy of unknown heritage with the name Neil Rivers. O. K. during the adventure he is (falsely) told that he IS of noble heritage, but he did have his bastard name even before he accepted the lie of his noble heritage...
There is also a sellsword who is called Ham Flowers in Peril at Kings Landing. But it is unkown if he is of noble heritage...

On the other hand in the campaign guide there is mentioned that for the smallfolk bastards are mostly a private matter. I do not know what this mean in ´the end, however in such rather 'close' and social consensus and tradition orientated societies i would think some sort of stigmatisation is more common than uncommon...
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Re: Natural Children

Postby devilsgrin » Tue Jul 24, 2012 8:19 pm

its actually quite interesting that gendry isn't a Rivers... since like Mia Stone he's one of Robert's bastards with a commoner. i suppoese he isn't officially recognised as are mia and edric.
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Re: Natural Children

Postby DaimosofRedstone » Wed Jul 25, 2012 1:12 am

Mia sin't offically recognized.
It is 'known', but not acknowledged.
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Re: Natural Children

Postby Zorbeltuss » Wed Jul 25, 2012 3:51 am

It's mentioned in one of the Ned chapters that Robert visited his bastard girl often enough at the Eyrie, presumably Mya.

But it's a step up from that and to acknowledging that a bastard is yours, Edric Storm being the exception because the mother was of high birth. I'd guess it has something to do with the fact that if you acknowledge the child, you're honor bound to provide for it. Get him set up as a knight if a boy, for example. At least that's expected if parents are highborn.
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Re: Natural Children

Postby Mrjamespj » Wed Jul 25, 2012 9:13 am

Thanks for all the answers guys, given me lots to work with :)
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Re: Natural Children

Postby schmalan » Fri Jul 27, 2012 4:55 am

It's been said already but I'll back it up nonetheless. Bastard surnames are only used for those of noble birth. A bastard from 2 commoners will not use a surname, ala Gendry. In fact commoners pretty much don't use surnames full stop.
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Re: Natural Children

Postby Paedrig » Fri Jul 27, 2012 7:59 am

I would not say this so strict.
At least the handling of bastard names in "Peril at Kings Landing" intend that they are also (at least sometimes) used for bastards without (known) half noble heritage...
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Re: Natural Children

Postby BeardedDork » Fri Jul 27, 2012 8:53 am

Paedrig wrote:I would not say this so strict.
At least the handling of bastard names in "Peril at Kings Landing" intend that they are also (at least sometimes) used for bastards without (known) half noble heritage...


This is also not in the least indicated in the G. R. R. Martin books there is exactly one bastard I can think of without a bastards name. (I concede I may be forgetting one or more of the hundreds of minor characters that exist) People keep trying to apply the "rules" of feudal Europe (as they understand them often through a romanticized Victorian lens) to Westeros, Westeros is not Europe, Martin either intentionally disregarded many of these "rules" in his writing or was simply unaware of them.
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Re: Natural Children

Postby DaimosofRedstone » Fri Jul 27, 2012 10:40 am

What do we know about A*** (forget the name, starts with a) Rivers, the guy who became Cersei's Admiral?
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Re: Natural Children

Postby uncleho » Fri Jul 27, 2012 11:59 am

DaimosofRedstone wrote:What do we know about A*** (forget the name, starts with a) Rivers, the guy who became Cersei's Admiral?


I believe you mean Aurane Waters, who is a bastard of House Velaryon of Driftmark.
http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Aurane_Waters
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Re: Natural Children

Postby Paedrig » Sat Jul 28, 2012 3:07 am

Perhaps we also did not know of more examples of bastards of low heritage (with the bastard name) because they are simply not important enough for the books?
The only known "low" bastards are such of some importance for the story. But most other Bastards who play a role are of noble or half noble birth.

For the moment i would think that the sources (in the books of Martin and the rpg books) are a little bit too thin to be sure. In the end (like allways) it is up to the GM... >:)
We could only mention the (scare and a little bit ambigious) sources...
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Re: Natural Children

Postby BeardedDork » Sat Jul 28, 2012 7:17 am

Paedrig wrote:Perhaps we also did not know of more examples of bastards of low heritage (with the bastard name) because they are simply not important enough for the books?
The only known "low" bastards are such of some importance for the story. But most other Bastards who play a role are of noble or half noble birth.

For the moment i would think that the sources (in the books of Martin and the rpg books) are a little bit too thin to be sure. In the end (like allways) it is up to the GM... >:)
We could only mention the (scare and a little bit ambigious) sources...


The word count of A Song of Ice and Fire, is a bit more than the King James Bible, the complete works of William Shakespear and The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, with enough left over for a solid children's book.

I think the answers to just about any question about Westeros can be found or extrapolated from what is there.

There are plenty of lowborn bastards, or presumably low born bastards populating the Night's Watch, with bastard's names. Most bastards likely are going to be of presumably low or uncertain parentage, and the vast majority of bastards in the books have bastard's names. I'd go so far to say that the exception to this practice is unique.

If you assume that a child is only given a bastard's name if they have one or more highborn parent, then by naming a child with such a name you are necessarily impugning the honor of a noble, a potentially lethal prospect.
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Re: Natural Children

Postby coldwind » Sat Jul 28, 2012 7:48 am

BeardedDork wrote:If you assume that a child is only given a bastard's name if they have one or more highborn parent, then by naming a child with such a name you are necessarily impugning the honor of a noble, a potentially lethal prospect.


How's that now?

You're not saying "who" the father/mother is (and, in the event the highborn parent is the mother, it's rather hard for her to deny that she was pregnant), so who, exactly, is having their honor impugned? The only way for that to happen is for the noble to say fess up.

Now, if the parent went around saying "Lord Starl had my love child", that could get dicier depending on the noble, but just saying, "This is my son, Bran Snow" doesn't.
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Re: Natural Children

Postby Paedrig » Sat Jul 28, 2012 8:10 am

[quote="BeardedDork"]If you assume that a child is only given a bastard's name if they have one or more highborn parent, then by naming a child with such a name you are necessarily impugning the honor of a noble, a potentially lethal prospect.[/quote]
I would not assume this. We use the Bastard names for highborn AND lowborn bastards. But i am not totally certain if this is right, given the fact that the sources are rare and sometimes a littel bit ambigious...
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Re: Natural Children

Postby BeardedDork » Sat Jul 28, 2012 8:14 am

coldwind wrote:How's that now?

You're not saying "who" the father/mother is (and, in the event the highborn parent is the mother, it's rather hard for her to deny that she was pregnant), so who, exactly, is having their honor impugned? The only way for that to happen is for the noble to say fess up.

Now, if the parent went around saying "Lord Starl had my love child", that could get dicier depending on the noble, but just saying, "This is my son, Bran Snow" doesn't.


In your example you are going to be saying that a member of Lord Starl's household did this, if that is the household of the local lord. If a person is not highborn themselves they'll probably want to be careful before accusing a member of a lords household of impropriety. The lord is responsible for the actions of his underlings good and bad.

People talk, and before long the mother will have to name someone, then rumors would spread and reputations would be tarnished, in the end it's easier to just kill mother and babe. Clearly that's not generally speaking what happens, though I'm sure it does now and again.

But you did hit on the point of the bastard name, you aren't saying anything about the father, could be anybody, lord or baker.

Edit: reviewing the Bastards on A wiki of Ice and Fire we can see that if a Bastard's father can be narrowed down to belonging t a single house which is usually going to be the case if only highborn sire bastards with Bastard's names, they are often but not always styled as "The Bastard of _____"

We also see at least one example of a bastard with a Bastard's name not sired by a highborn, Walys Flowers .
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