“Davos flattened down the little square of crinkled parchment and squinted at the tiny crabbed letters. Reading was hard on the eyes, that much he had learned early. Sometimes he wondered if the Citadel offered a champion’s purse to the maester who wrote the smallest hand.”—Davos Seaworth
Today’s topic is literacy. Davos is a lowborn man raised up by Stannis Baratheon. His previous station in life explains his illiteracy. Otherwise, his inability to read would be unusual in Westeros, a world where the highborn—both lords and ladies—are all seemingly functionally literate. Who beyond the highborn are literate in Westeros? Were literacy rates similar in medieval Europe and was literacy similarly distributed amongst the social classes?
“How do we get up there? I’ve no experience at riding goats.”
“Mules,” Brynden said, smiling.
Today’s topic is travel. In a series that takes us from Dorne to beyond the Wall, we see a great deal of travel in Westeros. From foot to hoof, the characters travel wide and far, encountering danger with great regularity. What drove travel in the Middle Ages was a combination of commerce, religion, and politics, and the variety in modes of travel and the dangers faced were much the same as what we find in Westeros.
“When they told Jaime he wasn’t allowed in the birthing room, he smiled and asked which one of them proposed to keep him out.”—Cersei Lannister
Today’s topic is childbirth. Men besides maesters and husbands are not supposed to be present in birthing rooms in Westeros and Jaime’s insistence that he be present is a testament to his dedication to Cersei if not his children. But was this also the case in medieval Europe? How did women experience childbirth?
“What you see is a dwarf. If I had been born a peasant, they might have left me out in the woods to die. Alas, I was born a Lannister of Casterly Rock.”—Tyrion Lannister
Today’s topic is the treatment of disabled people. Tyrion’s comment leads us to believe that children born with disabilities or disorders were likely to be the victims of infanticide in Westeros. It’s only the accident of his birth that spared him that fate. Was this also the case in the Middle Ages? Were the disabled universally despised and disposable?
“In the name of the Warrior I charge you to be brave. In the name of the Father I charge you to be just. In the name of the Mother I charge you to defend the young and innocent. In the name of the Maid I charge you to protect all women…”
There are several religions in Westeros and even more beyond its shores. Therefore, religion will be revisited in Meta Monday, but today we will focus on the Faith of the Seven, its hierarchy, and orders in comparison with the medieval Church.
Headcanon: I know a lot of people think Sandor has owned Stranger for ages, but I like to think he bought the horse with his winnings from the Hand’s Tourney.
Well, I say headcanon, but almost all my headcanons are backed up by (a least a tiny bit of) textual evidence. Notably that:
- in AGOT, the Hound’s horse is described as a destrier, whereas Stranger is a courser;
- Sandor is very concerned about his horse after the Riot of King’s Landing, which is a sign of its value (although yes, he does care about animals);
- Sandor went from a 40000 gold prize to 9000 gold pieces by the time he was captured by the Brotherhood.
And while I suppose Sandor possibly didn’t take it all with him (that amount is really heavy!), 30000+ is a lot to have spent in a year or so, even on wine and whores and gambling. (Although note that Anguy the Archer spent 10K in a few months, mostly on the girls and fancy food at Chataya’s place.) A high quality warhorse would account for a good chunk of that money.
Mind you, less than a hundred years earlier, Dunk only got about 4 dragons for selling his palfrey (and thought it would be three times as much to buy it back), so either there was a huge amount of inflation over the last century (possible, what with various plagues and droughts and the Rebellion and Robert’s management of the country and then the war and all), or Martin can’t math (also extremely possible).
Note the nobility drop gold dragons around like crazy — Littlefinger bets 100 gold on the Jaime-Hound match, which is the equivalent of like 10 THK horses. And Jaime thought his ransom value was 10000 dragons, which makes the prizes of the Hand’s Tourney look positively obscene. (Ned thought they were, for sure.) But, again, makes you wonder where the hell Sandor’s money went.
OK, so this started as a ramble about Stranger, but got into the value of Westeros currency instead. Which on the whole doesn’t make a lot of sense, but probably wasn’t that fully world-built. BTW, per some D&D source I looked at, 9000 gold pieces would weigh 180 pounds (and in reality, 9000 American quarters weigh 112 pounds), so… yeah.
#i don’t see sandor spending his money on chataya’s expensive girls nor the fancy food that anguy spent his on #so seriously where did all his gold go #those are some damn heavy saddlebags #and here i thought *armor* was a lot for a horse to carry #btw 40000 gold coins = 800 pounds = 362 kg #money is heavy!
I also want to indicate
that its generally upper class women and upper class white women (if you’re speaking in the context of a predominantly white society) who have the means and privilege of performing femininity with the aim of weaponizing it or being feminine at all via action and materialism.
because working class women are often forced into roles that men normally inhabit, and that’s because these women need to clothe and feed themselves and/or their families.
moreover, women of color have always had a complex relationship with femininity because we are desexualized, hypersexualized, compared to men, and most often robbed of any potential femininity we can enjoy or benefit from. we aren’t seen as human, much less women. discussion I see of this on tumblr in lit and fandom? zero.
and ultimately, that’s not surprising, because tumblr focuses primarily on royal and aristocratic (white) women. the entire landscape of graphics, meta, and feministing is thusly homogeneous. and that’s dangerous, because women are diverse, and if you’re ignoring women belonging to marginalized groups, then your feminism has a decidedly racist and classist tone to it that i can’t exactly abide.
You said that Braavos is influenced by Venice; as an Italian, I can affirm that Braavos is actually Venice (also the idea of the Narrow Sea is reminding of the Adriatic Sea).
The wedding of the Father of Waters itself is nothing but the “Wedding of the Sea” (Sposalizio del Mare, in Italian) where the Doge literally married the sea (once in a year) to renew the intimate relationship between the city of Venice and the water.
You can find a detailed description at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bucentaur#Marriage_of_the_Sea_ceremony
I only want to add that the ritual is still practiced, although merely in a symbolic way, with the Mayor acting the role of the Doge.
P.S. This tumblr is wonderful and overwhelming. Thanks for your excellent work, and sorry for my English.
Thank you! This is very interesting!.
“Where is the king’s justice? Is the Eyrie not part of the Seven Kingdoms? I stand accused, you say. Very well. I demand a trial! Let me speak and let my falsehood be judged openly, in the sight of gods and men. —Tyrion Lannister
Today’s topic is justice in Westeros and medieval Europe. Justice in Westeros—or at least justice for the nobility—consists of a trial, where one is judged by lord(s). Tyrion, for example, is to be judged by little Robert Arryn. If this was a fair trial, he would have evidence presented against him and have the chance to defend himself with witnesses appearing on both sides. At any point before or during that trial, one can request trial by combat to determine one’s fate, which is exactly what Tyrion does. It’s often a fight to the death between the accused and accuser or their champions, but one side can admit guilt or withdraw the accusation upon yielding. Rarely, a Trial by Seven can be requested, in which 7 men fight on each side.
We’re familiar with trial by combat as a mode of medieval justice. It’s a hallmark of medieval inspired fantasy and popular media; it appears many times in GRRM’s series. Tyrion’s fate is determined by trial by combat twice. King Joffrey often requires disputes be settled in this way. Jaime relates that Rickard Stark demanded trial by combat. Sandor defends himself in a trial by combat. And both Margaery and Cersei consider selecting champions to defend themselves against their charges. But just how similar are medieval and Westerosi justice systems?
The girl was done fighting by the time I had her, maybe she’d decided she liked it after all, though to tell the truth, I wouldn’t have minded a little wiggling. —Chiswyck
Today’s topic is sexual violence against women, which in both the HBO series and books seems to be the accepted norm. From the arguable marital rape of Cersei and Daenerys to the gang rapes of Tysha, Lollys, and the inn keeper’s daughter in Chiswyck’s ‘humorous’ story, rape seems to be not only prevalent but something to be laughed off without consequences for all but the victim. GRRM has been criticized by some for his portrayal of rape, but is this merely a historically inspired presentation of the realities of rape culture in the Middle Ages?