Wundervölker, Monstrosität und Hässlichkeit im Mittelalter (German Edition)

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Users may select a search radius up to 30 arcseconds; bar-, tab-, or space-delimited files; and output in plain text or HTML. More options will be added in future releases. Indeed, even woman on top sex positions were also described as "sodomy" and condemned as abnormal, because it was believed that due to gravity this was less conducive to procreation. Due to being dominated by an all-male priesthood, all social writing and circulated knowledge about sexuality was written from a male perspective as it had largely been extending back into Greco-Roman times. As a result, "sex" was strictly conceptualized as "something a man does to someone else by penetrating them with a penis".

Men and women were not thought of as performing the same act when they had sex with each other. Men "screwed", women "got screwed", but to say "a woman screwed a man" would seem a contradiction in terms to them. Sex wasn't something two people do together but something one person does to another. If a man penetrated another man anally, they were having sex. If a man performed cunnilingus on a woman, however, because no penis was directly involved they were not conceptualized as having "sex".

In turn, because sex was conceptualized of as "a man penetrating someone else with a penis", they actually had little conception of homosexual relationships between women. It was not condoned but it was not stigmatized either - celibate male priests who did all of the writing about sexual morals couldn't really understand how two women could physically have sex with each other without a penis.

Medieval people did not define their sexual "orientation" based on object choice the way modern Western society does, i. Medieval sexual "orientation" for lack of a better word , was based on the role you play in the sex act. Instead of a man thinking "I prefer having sex with women", he thought "I prefer being the penetrator in the sex act", and did not make much of a distinction between whether he was penetrating a woman or another man. Men who preferred to be the penetrator were seen as "normal", women who enjoyed being penetrated were "normal".

The practical difference is that if a man penetrated another man anally, it wasn't seen as that much more out of the ordinary than if he chose to penetrate a woman anally - what mattered was that he was the one doing the penetrating. In contrast, a man who enjoyed and preferred to play the passive role in sex, and to be anally penetrated by another man's penis, was seen as abnormal. While having an all-male priesthood like Islam or Judaism, medieval Christianity was unlike these neighboring religions in that it had a celibate clergy of male monks and female nuns even if women couldn't be members of the priesthood.

Judaism and Islam had no equivalent to nuns. The existence of a celibate female clergy encouraged families to wait for better prospective suitors for one of their daughters, because if they ended up waiting too long and she became too old to bear children, they could send their daughter to a convent to become a nun.

In contrast, the neighboring Islamic world did not have celibate clergy, and thus once a woman became too old to bear children, and was unable to marry, there were no viable social options for her. Therefore, families in the Islamic world had greater motivation to marry off their daughters as soon as they were first capable of reproducing. Men didn't tend to marry in their teenage years but when they were older and more financially established, so this model usually resulted in a wide age gap between an older husband and younger wife, resulting in a hierarchical relationship.

Because medieval Christian women could join the celibate clergy and become nuns though not priests if they waited too long to marry, women tended to marry at relatively late ages in Medieval Europe usually between 20 and 30 years of age. Moreover, because they were older they also tended to be around the same age as established men considered to be of marriageable age - it wasn't even unusual for a 25 year old woman to marry a man who was a year or two younger than she was.

This phenomenon is known as the " European Marriage Pattern ", and was found in no other contemporary cultures. The result of this pattern is that when women spend many years being unmarried, they have a stronger sense of personhood distinct from their husbands, and when they marry husbands around the same age as they are their relationships are less hierarchical and more mutualistic. Christian women in medieval Europe therefore had a much higher social status and level of independence compared to most other world cultures.

In the context of academic Gender Studies , the term " Sexuality " encompasses "Sexual Identity" but is an even broader term, referring to the entire realm of human erotic experience and behaviors. This can be further subdivided into three aspects: Sex, Gender, and Orientation: [6].

In contemporary usage, biological sex and gender are considered distinct and separate things. In contrast, people in the Middle Ages thought all three were not variable but inherently linked: a person of biologically male sex was believed to automatically express active masculine gender behavior - not just in the sex act but in all aspects of their everyday life - and to have an innate desire to be the penetrator in the sex act.

A person of biologically female sex was believed to automatically express passive female gender behavior in everyday life, and to have an innate desire to be penetrated by a man. Loras Tyrell is one of the finest knights and warriors in all of Westeros - due to their strong conceptions of gender binary, few in the realm suspect that such an exemplar of "masculine" behavior can be homosexual. As a result, they had no concept of a "cis-gendered homosexual male" , a homosexual male who behaved very masculinely.

This is not to say that they would be "offended" by such a man, but rather that they would find it conceptually difficult to understand. If a knight was highly skilled at masculine behavior such as warfare and martial prowess i. Loras Tyrell , many would dismiss the suggestion that he privately enjoyed having sex with men — following the familiar stereotype that "he is too butch to be interested in other men", etc.

Richard I was one of the greatest military leaders and warriors of his age, however, commanding forces in the Third Crusade, and in many ways was seen as a paragon of "active" masculine behavior - so few in his lifetime seem to have suspected that he would enjoy "passive" sexual behavior with other men in private. Similarly, in Westeros few people actually suspect that Loras Tyrell is homosexual because he is one of the most skilled tournament knights of his generation i.

Sansa Stark doesn't suspect it. The TV series slightly changed this so that several characters who lived in King's Landing with Renly are aware of his relationship with Loras: the explanation that Jaime gave in Season 3 was simply that it was "the worst kept secret at court", and anyone who spent long enough time with Renly and Loras would begin to notice it. Not every real-life society has a conceptual model of only two genders: some have more than two, and particularly in the developed world in the early 21st century, many now espouse that gender behavior is a fluid spectrum, not rigid categories.

Some societies recognize a third gender of biological males whose gender behavior is commonly associated with females. Some societies have not only a third but also a fourth gender, recognizing biological females whose behavior is commonly associated with males not every society that recognizes a third gender also recognizes a fourth gender.

These societies "recognize" more than two genders, in that they consider them to be co-legitimate with the more common "masculine biological male" and "feminine biological female" though what constitutes "masculine" or "feminine" behavior is culture-specific. Contemporary examples would be the Hijra third gender in the Indian sub-continent, or the " Two-Spirit " individuals in Native North American culture. In contrast, Medieval Europe did not recognize more than two genders: a biological male who behaved femininely was not seen as a legitimate, separate category of gender - he was simply seen as a defective kind of "male".

Similarly, a female who behaved in traditionally "masculine" ways i. Brienne of Tarth such as participating in warfare even if she was not sexually interested in other women and exclusively had sex with men was not seen as a distinct fourth gender - rather she would be seen as a defective kind of "female", a bizarre aberration from the traditional passive gender behavior expected of women.

The strong belief in the Middle Ages about a direct link between physical sexual characteristics and gender behavior is exemplified by attitudes about eunuchs. According to widespread belief, if a male had his penis removed and was turned into a eunuch or even if just his testicles were removed , he would therefore automatically exhibit effeminate gender behavior as a result.

It was impossible to be "masculine", in their view, without a functional penis. Thus there was a widespread stereotype across Medieval Europe of effeminate eunuchs which also extended to the neighboring Islamic world. Similar stereotypes seem to exist in the world of Westeros and Essos: there is a widespread assumption that eunuchs behave effeminately. Varys self-consciously plays into this stereotype to lull others into thinking he is non-threatening: an effeminate, foppish eunuch used to the soft pleasures of court life. Yet this is all just an act Varys puts on to play on other people's stereotypes.

In the narrative and the TV adaptation to a somewhat more frequent extent , several characters frequently mock eunuchs for their lack of male genitals - but like the Middle Ages, the society Martin chose to depict is itself very phallo-centric, so these remarks are not unusual. When Loras performs fellatio on Renly, who can be said to be the "active" partner and who the "passive" partner? People from Westeros, with these biases about eunuchs and a phallo-centric definition of gender behavior, would have difficulty comprehending how the Unsullied such as Grey Worm can be elite warriors.

Another curious aspect of medieval sexuality is that while there are hundreds of religious or court records describing "sodomy", there are hardly any at all which mention fellatio, perhaps only a dozen or so none mention cunnilingus.

Oral sex was rarely if at all mentioned in medieval texts, even to be condemned. In the Middle Ages, however, in some circles at least, there seems to have been some debate in the other direction: in this view, the person performing the fellatio with their mouth is the "active" partner because "they're doing all the work", while the man's penis passively receives the fellatio.

This was not, however, a stable definition: the few records that discuss fellatio in the Middle Ages seem deeply confused about who was the active partner and who was the passive one - which was normally central to their conception of the act, as something one person does to another - perhaps explaining why they rarely wrote about it at all.

For example, in Season 1 of the Game of Thrones TV series, when Loras performs fellatio on Renly, who can be said to be the "active" partner, and which of them the "passive" partner? Loras because his mouth is being penetrated by Renly, or Loras because this is something he is actively performing and that Renly is passively allowing? There is a widespread misconception that homosexuals were harshly persecuted in the Middle Ages, but major academic research from the s onwards by figures such as John Boswell has found that this was far from the truth.

Gender studies about the actual status of homosexuality in Medieval Europe have significantly advanced since Martin first planned out the world of Westeros when he was writing the first novel in the early s. Three main points that have emerged about homosexuality in the Middle Ages in the past twenty years of academic discourse:. First, "homosexuals" were not conceived of as a distinct kind of person in the Middle Ages: rather, homosexual behavior was seen as a kind of act that people could commit, like adultery.

Therefore, clerical writings that denounce sins of the flesh actually assume that all men might be tempted to engage in homosexual sex, just as much as they might be tempted to engage in adultery with a woman outside of marriage. While medieval people did conceptualize of sex by the role played instead of object choice, they really did not conceptualize that there was a specific subset of males that preferred having sex with other men, either to penetrate them or to be penetrated by them.

There were men who at times enjoyed having sex with other men, but they did not conceptualize of "homosexuals" as a distinct category of persons. Homosexuality was not an identity, but a sex act. On the other hand, unlike in the Greco-Roman era, while medieval people did not really conceive of "homosexuals" as a distinct category of person that enjoyed having same-sex relationships exclusively Major church writings and other official documents never treated "sodomites" as a specific kind of person, just as an action that people could commit - yet in medical writings and even the "popular culture" of courtly love poetry, some people at times speculate that certain people exclusively preferred same-sex activity.

Second, homosexual behavior was not punished particularly severely - there weren't outright "laws" against it, as in secular laws - but at the same time, it was not something casually accepted either. It was a venal sin of the flesh, loosely on par with adultery, fathering bastard children, etc. Just like adultery, being caught performing a homosexual sex act was not punishable by death, prison sentence, or even fines.

It was seen as socially disgraceful, like adultery, and people did still try to hide it a loose comparison would to how in the modern era a major actor might avoid being outed as homosexual: no "laws" would be broken but he might fear that it would disgrace and effectively end his career.

Still, there were not mass persecutions of homosexuals - just like witch-burnings, such persecutions only really began in the era of religious hysteria following the outbreak of the Black Death in the Late Middle Ages starting in , and only became wide-scale during the greater religious hysteria surrounding the Protestant Reformation in the s. A third point is also that homosexual relationship patterns tend to mirror the patterns of heterosexual relationships in their society. In the southern areas of Medieval Europe, older and economically established men tended to marry young women, leading to uneven, hierarchical relationships.

In the northern areas of Medieval Europe, the "European Marriage Pattern" predominated of women marrying in their mid's to men of roughly the same age, resulting in less hierarchical and more mutualistic relationships it would be more accurately called a "Northwest European marriage pattern". Most of the regions and overall population in Westeros follow the Faith of the Seven, including all five of the major cities - such as King's Landing , current location of the Faith's headquarters.

Similarly, court records about homosexuals in the Middle Ages reveal that in southern Europe, homosexual relationships mirrored what they saw around them in heterosexual relationships: older and economically established men had relationships with young men. As with the real-life Middle Ages, social constructs of gender and sexuality vary extensively across Westeros , Essos , and the rest of the known world in the A Song of Ice and Fire novels written by George R. They may have also changed over the centuries within the narrative. It is extremely difficult to examine such values beyond Westeros itself, because so much of the narrative is focused on Westeros.

So what follows is an examination of the evidence in the novels about gender and sexuality in Westeros , and a few notes about what has been briefly described in the rest of the world. The Faith of the Seven is the dominant religion in most of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros , having been introduced to the continent 6, years ago during the Andal Invasion. Only the North managed to halt the advance of the Andals, and thus continued to worship the Old Gods of the Forest.

A few Andals also invaded the Iron Islands , but the Faith found little purchase there, and instead the invaders converted to the local Drowned God religion. The Rhoynar migrated to Westeros about 1, years ago and settled in Dorne. They did convert to the Faith of the Seven - but ignored many of its prohibitions on sexual behaviors, making the culture of the modern Dornishmen quite distinct. The core regions of Westeros, the populous and wealthy kingdoms south of the Neck , follow the Faith of the Seven and broadly fall into the same cultural sphere. The Iron Islands and Dorne are actually stated to have the smallest populations of any of the Seven Kingdoms, while the North is not one of the more populous ones, and due to its vast size, it has a very low population density.

Thus by far the majority of Westeros's population and land area falls into the cultural sphere of the Faith of the Seven. Of the five settlements large enough to be called "cities" in Westeros, four of them are located in this central region King's Landing , Oldtown , Lannisport , and Gulltown. The fifth and smallest city is White Harbor , located on the southeastern coast of the North - but it is ruled by House Manderly , a family from the Reach that fled to the North and continues to follow the Faith of the Seven, actually making it a small enclave of southern culture in the North indeed, it was the Manderlys who built up White Harbor into a southern-style city; it wasn't a pre-established large Northern city that happened to accept the Manderlys.

Statues of the Seven in the Great Sept of Baelor. The Faith of the Seven is the dominant religion in Westeros. The key factors that shaped conceptualizations of sexuality in real-life Medieval Europe are that it had celibate clergy of both genders monks and nuns , but an all-male priesthood. This led to a dichotomy not between homosexual and heterosexual, but between celibate and non-celibate, and in turn, a dichotomy between procreative and non-procreative sex. Officially, non-clergy were only supposed to have sex for the explicit purpose of producing children.

Meanwhile, because there were no female priests writing about sexual morality, sex was strictly defined as penetrating someone else with a penis. While there were instances of female clergy writing about sexuality - such as the famed abbess and polymath Hildegard von Bingen - this was much more of an exception than a rule. In contrast, the Faith of the Seven does have a gender-blind priesthood, accepting both men and women without distinction.

Men become septons and women become septas , but these ranks are apparently the same it's just a gendered word, like how a man is an "alumnus" from a university but a woman is an "alumna". Women can also join the all-female monastic order of the Silent Sisters. Women are even explicitly described as becoming members of the Most Devout - the ruling council of the Faith of the Seven , which is basically analogous to the College of Cardinals in Catholic Christianity.

While Martin has never explicitly mentioned it, there may well have been a "High Septa" in the past, a female High Septon their analogue of the papacy. Jon performs cunnilingus on Ygritte: due to having female priests, cunnilingus probably is considered "sex" in Westeros. Loras and Renly's relationship is presented as quite mutualistic, not hierarchical.

The Dornish are tolerant of women having sex with other women such as Ellaria Sand , who has sex with both men and women , and while the rest of Westeros is not, they do define it as actual "sex" - unlike the real Middle Ages. On the other hand, the Faith of the Seven still has a celibate clergy overall, so they would still have a basic dichotomy between celibate and non-celibate, and thus procreative and non-procreative sex at one point in the novels a member of the Most Devout tells Cersei that the gods made men and women's private parts purely for the begetting of children.

Like the real Middle Ages, the Faith of the Seven does have a celibate clergy of both males and females - such as the all-female monastic order of the Silent Sisters. This is the pattern that would be expected of having both a gender-blind priesthood of both men and women and a celibate clergy overall. The question is if the novels match it:. The A Song of Ice and Fire novels do have characters in them who have same-sex intimate encounters - but realistically, they have never gone into a lengthy speech clearly defining their mental framework about sexual behavior.

The novels never say that men who have sex with men are thought of as a distinct category of person: this might be a simple omission and Martin assumed that they actually think of it as a category, however, same-sex relationships have been mentioned in such vague terms that they could easily match the expected model, that they don't think of it as a distinct category. On a more general level, it does appear that same-sex relationships in the novels are not seen as any sort of heavily vilified taboo, but as expected, a venal sin roughly on par with adultery.

No actual "laws" against homosexuality have ever been mentioned in the novels. It is simply seen as socially disgraceful. Loras in bed with the prostitute Olyvar. Therefore, in general, views on sexuality and gender in the A Song of Ice and Fire novels in the core regions of Westeros that follow the Faith of the Seven are somewhat closer to modern patterns than to the medieval model - but, the presence of female priests in Westeros is a drastic change from how real medieval society operated.

The differences observed compared to the real-life Middle Ages - sex is not hierarchical but mutualistic, not strictly defined as something a man does to someone else using a penis, greater insight into female sexuality, etc. Whether Martin consciously intended these differences is unknown, i. Westeros contains more than one major religion, and for the most part they all co-exist relatively well. In Medieval Europe, the major religions of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism did not co-exist to such a great extent as the religions in Westeros. On the other hand, all three were Abrahamic religions with similar roots, and generally speaking, their views on sexuality were not radically different from each other.

In contrast, the Old Gods of the Forest and the Drowned God are completely unrelated to the Faith of the Seven and have or can have very different value sets. The three major religions in Westeros generally co-exist: the Starks are even a mixed marriage, with Eddard following the Old Gods and Catelyn following the Seven. The fact that three major religions co-exist more or less peacefully in Westeros is a marked difference from Medieval Europe, in which the sense of community, of "us" versus "the Other", was often defined as "Christendom" versus those of other religions.

Even with this mindset, in European border regions - such as Spain, Sicily, and the Levant - there was actually quite a high degree of co-existence on an everyday level; Muslims officially tolerated Christians and Jews specifically because they followed similar Abrahamic religions. Yet all three had less tolerance for "pagan" beliefs which were unrelated to Abrahamic religions. In both Christianity and Islam, slavery was actually allowed - the only stipulation was that it was immoral to enslave persons belonging to the same religion as you. Thus Christians had no problem with enslaving pagans in northern Europe and Muslims in southern Europe - and slave women were often concubines to their masters.

This is simply a narrative conceit which makes Westeros different from the real-life Middle Ages. In-universe, this level of tacit toleration for other religions, religions that aren't even related to each other the way the Abrahamic religions are, might be due to the fact that their historical record is over twice as long: the Faith of the Seven was introduced to Westeros six thousand years ago , and there actually was quite a lot of religious strife in the early centuries when it pushed the other religions out to the fringes of the continent. After so many millennia, however, the fighting has long since stalemated, so that all three religions settled into a grudging co-existence.

The views of the worshipers of the Old Gods of the Forest towards sexuality are not very clear. In-universe, it is said that the religion of the Old Gods is less formal than the Faith of the Seven, and doesn't have as many "rules" as such. It doesn't even have a priesthood of any kind, male or female, but is based on quiet contemplation before Weirwood heart trees in Godswoods. The Old Gods do seem to have several basic social rules, including the sacred bond of Guest right , prohibitions against Incest , Bastardy , Kinslaying , etc. Otherwise, there has never been any mention that the religion of the Old Gods has a specific view against homosexual behaviors - though their exact views are simply unclear.

The only prominent clue has been that Greatjon Umber 's uncle Hother "Whoresbane" Umber is apparently a homosexual: he is called "Whoresbane" because in his youth he was sent to Oldtown to train as a maester, but a whore he was with tried to rob him, so he disemboweled the whore then left Oldtown in disgrace. It is described that the story is only told in whispers, because no one wants to publicly say that it was actually a male whore that Hother was with.

Therefore, it would seem that homosexuality is also seen as a social embarrassment in the North. The Northmen descend from First Men who remained independent, but over time absorbed many cultural aspects of their Andal neighbors. The Northmen who live north of the Neck but south of the Wall were never conquered by the Andals but in many ways acculturated to the behaviors of their neighbors, such as switching to speak the Common Tongue of the Andals instead of the Old Tongue of the First Men, and adopting a societal model more based on a system of Lordship than clans, etc.

This is similar to the North's real-life analogue, Scotland, which in the Middle Ages quickly built itself up into a strong kingdom generally capable of resisting invasion from England to the south by adopting many English cultural and social models. In contrast, it is said that the wildlings or " Free Folk " as they call themselves have very few "rules" beyond what they can keep with their own strength though they also value guest right, and have prohibitions against incest and kinslaying.

Unlike the Northmen and the rest of Westeros, the wildlings also don't recognize a class of hereditary nobility in their society. Given that a core value of the wildlings is that they don't like other people telling them how to live, it is quite possible that they actually place no social stigma on homosexuality. During the mission beyond the wall to capture a wight, Tormund Giantsbane quipped to Gendry that if no women were available, a wildling man would "make do" with what was at hand. Ygritte , a wildling spearwife woman warrior.

Similarly, the wildlings apparently don't have a strict gender binary of social roles, in that they have Warrior women in their culture, that they call Spearwives though a spearwife can marry and have children while still being a warrior. For most of the Northmen, meanwhile, it is seen as unusual for a female to want to adopt the traditionally masculine role of a warrior such as Arya Stark. At the same time, in some of the fringes of the North, there are some female warriors: Bear Island is under constant threat by sea from both ironborn raiders to the south and wildling raiders passing around the Wall by ship from the north.

Because the men are out all day in their fishing boats they can't respond to quick raids against their homes, so the women of Bear Island - particularly their rulers, House Mormont - have had to develop a strong tradition of having warrior women as a practical necessity.

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Ironborn culture focuses on raiding and is relatively misogynistic - it is very unusual that Asha Greyjoy managed to rise to a position of leadership among them. Therefore, what apparently seems to have happened, is that the original First Men might not have had many social gender restrictions on warrior women or on homosexuality, but over the centuries the Northmen gradually adopted many of the social customs and mores of the neighboring powerful Andal kingdoms to the south.

The wildlings that live beyond the Wall, however, apparently have far fewer of such social restrictions. Little more can be postulated due to lack of evidence. In the Iron Islands , the distinctive ironborn culture values raiding, and follows the local Drowned God religion. It is praise-worthy for men to take as many concubines, called " salt wives ", as he can, though the children of salt wives are not considered bastards.

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They do also have rules against bastardy and incest, etc. For that matter, the Drowned God religion does have an all-male priesthood, the Drowned Men. The ironborn religion of the Drowned God has an all-male priesthood, the Drowned Men. Not much is known about the views of the Drowned God religion on gender and sexuality.

In general, ironborn culture seems to be very misogynistic. It is considered very controversial that Balon Greyjoy raised his daughter Asha renamed " Yara Greyjoy " in the TV show as a surrogate son, and many reject her leadership out of hand just for being a woman.

Then again, there is mention in the fifth novel that some of Victarion's men raped a maester they took prisoner from the Shield Islands. So it is quite possible that the Drowned God religion is actually closest to what happened in Medieval Europe: not a dichotomy between male and female so much as between penetrator and penetrated active and passive.

So long as you were the one penetrating someone else specifically with a penis, it wasn't considered a great concern in Medieval Europe, and men didn't really conceive of women as "enjoying" sex or performing the same action that they did they didn't care. This is due to the effect that having an all-male priesthood had on Medieval Europe's views on sexuality, and the Drowned God is the only religion in Westeros with an exclusively male priesthood. The Drowned Men are apparently celibate, though this is unclear. For that matter, unlike Medieval Europe, the ironborn don't have a celibate clergy of nuns that women can join - in which case they would probably marry off their daughters as soon as they were old enough to have children; as a result, ironborn girls probably would not have as much of a sense of personhood and social independence, which does seem to match how little power ironborn women seem to wield compared to the rest of Westeros.

Asha is sexually active and no one blames her for it, however this is possibly due to her overall tomboyish attitudes - she is very abnormal under the ironborn social model of expected female gender behavior, and not remotely representative of what is considered "standard" female behavior in their society. Oberyn Martell and Ellaria Sand , of the Dornishmen. The TV series depicted Yara Greyjoy as sexually interested in women in Season 6, and then in Season 7 she clarified that she has sex with both men and women what in modern terms might be called "pansexual", which is the term her actress uses to describe her.

The ironborn are actually fairly close to the social model of the real life medieval Vikings they are inspired by, with an all-male priesthood, socially male-dominated in general, and no clerical celibacy. Thus it is actually quite fitting for Yara to not be strictly interested in only women, but to make no category distinction as a woman for having sex with men or women.

The Rhoynar ancestors of the modern Dornishmen came from city-states along the Rhoyne River, in the center of the modern Free Cities. They migrated to Dorne about a thousand years ago led by their warrior-queen Nymeria , fleeing conquest by the Valyrian Freehold. Doran Martell 's heir in the novels is his daughter Arianne, not her younger brothers. There they intermarried with the local population - a mix of First Men and Andals like the rest of Westeros - to form their own unique hybrid culture.

The Dornishmen converted to the Faith of the Seven when they migrated to Westeros, but in many ways they just ignored the rules they didn't like, which clashed with their previous culture living in urbane mercantile city-states. As a result they have very different attitudes about sexuality compared to the rest of Westeros - despite the fact that they nominally follow the same religion of the Seven.

A major distinction about Dorne in the novels is that unlike the rest of the Seven Kingdoms, which practice male-preference primogeniture, Dorne practices gender-blind primogeniture. The reason for this is that Dorne managed to resist conquest by the Targaryens and their dragons through resorting to guerrilla warfare, and remained independent from the Iron Throne for the next two centuries. Dorne and House Martell only united with the rest of the Seven Kingdoms about one century before the novels begin, not through conquest but through peaceful marriage-alliance with the Targaryens.

As a result they were allowed to keep many of their distinct local laws and customs, such as the head of House Martell being styled a "Prince" or "Princess" instead of a "Lord Paramount", and continuing to practice gender-blind inheritance law. Nymeria , warrior-queen of the Rhoynar, who led their refugee fleet to Westeros a thousand years ago, then conquered and unified Dorne.

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While daughters do sometimes inherit land and title in the rest of Westeros, it is less frequent, because they only inherit if they have no living brothers. For example, Sansa Stark ranks behind her brothers Bran and Rickon in the line of succession. In Dorne in the novels, in contrast, Doran Martell 's heir-designate is his eldest child, who happens to be a daughter, Arianne Martell who has apparently been omitted from the TV series. The previous ruler of Dorne before Prince Doran was his mother , who inherited rule from her parents in her own right.

Dornishmen consider women to be the equals of men, they are treated equally under the law and in inheritance, and they wield political power just as often as men do. The Dornish thus have very different attitudes about the status and role of women than in the rest of Westeros. In the rest of the Seven Kingdoms, the Dornishmen have a reputation for being hot-blooded and sexually licentious. Indeed, Dornishmen have more "relaxed" views towards sexuality and love than the rest of Westeros.

They are quite tolerant about sex outside of marriage, and even have a system of formal mistresses or concubines called " Paramours " - a holdover from the ancient courts of the Rhoynar city-states. Paramours can be held in quite high esteem in Dorne, publicly and openly acknowledged, and in some cases is treated as a lord's wife in all but name. For that matter, it is not considered unusual for noblewomen to openly have their own paramours.

While the Sand Snakes are bastard daughters of Oberyn Martell, their bastard status is not considered particularly shameful in Dorne. Similarly, bastards do not carry the stigma of shame in Dorne that they do in the rest of the Seven Kingdoms for being born out of wedlock. One slight disadvantage that bastards have in Dorne is that they are still considered poor matches for marriage, since they are much less likely to receive inheritance from their parents.

Dornishmen do not shun their paramours in public events of the nobility - such as Oberyn with his paramour Ellaria. Oberyn Martell and his paramour Ellaria Sand whom he treated as a wife in all but name and mother of several of his children are sexually adventurous, sharing other sexual partners, and not really making a distinction whether they are male or female. The Dornish don't really have a conceptual divide between "heterosexual" and "homosexual" behavior, and in modern terms many might be called functionally "pansexual" though this is not a term in the storyverse - "bisexual" would probably be an inaccurate term as well because the Dornish don't even recognize a categorical divide between the two.

In the novels, it is mentioned in passing that Nymeria Sand was "abed with the Fowler twins" when she received word that her father was dead, and later it is casually revealed that the Fowler twins are girls - though it isn't clear if "abed" means she is in a sexual relationship with them, as it is a common practice throughout Westeros for noblewomen to have bedwarmers, literally sharing their beds to keep warm on cold nights. Thus a Dornish noblewoman can inherit rule in her own right ahead of her young brothers, and while technically married to a man to produce children, also openly keep a female paramour in a deep, loving partner-relationship.

The Dornish, however, do not see this as a matter of the object choice dichotomy: they just have a very fluid and non-binary attitude towards sex. The Dornishmen inherited their relaxed attitudes about sexuality from their Rhoynar ancestors, but little information has been provided about the cultural factors that made the ancient Rhoynar like this. What is known is that the Rhoynar lived an urbanized lifestyle in mercantile city-states along the Rhoyne River, in contrast with the agrarian culture of the First Men and Andals which was much more focused on direct inheritance of land.

It is possible that this more "cosmopolitan" city-culture led the Rhoynar to be more tolerant of sexuality and treat the genders equally. The Rhoynar religion was based on worship of "Mother Rhoyne", the personified goddess of the life-giving Rhoyne River. Mother Rhoyne's had many children who were lesser gods in their pantheon, such as Crab King and the giant turtle known as the Old Man of the River.

The fact that their main deity was a mother figure may have also given the Rhoynar a more positive attitude about the social status of women. Even the ancient Rhoynar treated women as the equals of men, and they had many female warriors. Nymeria herself came to rule Ny Sar in her own right, one of the six main Rhoynar city-states. The attitudes of the Dornishmen towards gender and sexuality don't seem to be based on any direct counterpart from the real-life Middle Ages. Dorne itself is loosely inspired by Medieval Spain, which was ethnically and culturally different from the rest of Medieval Europe due to the Muslim conquests.

While the Rhoynar did migrate to Dorne from across the Narrow Sea, they converted to the local religion of the Faith of the Seven centuries ago, peacefully, which is different from the drawn-out Reconquista period in Spain though in some respects it might still be similar to Spain a few centuries later, after the entire peninsula was reconquered by Christian kingdoms, but the Muslim presence still left behind many unique cultural aspects.

A stereotype that Christian Western Europe had about the Muslim world was that they were more licentious, due to not practicing clerical celibacy and thus not possessing such a religiously-based negative view of sexuality, and stereotypes about Dornishmen in the narrative loosely echo this to an extent though real-life Muslim writers also accused Christians of being licentious; it was just a standard insult. On the other hand, unlike Dorne, real-life Muslim Spain didn't treat women as equal under the law to men, and did not practice gender-blind inheritance law so women didn't really wield political power very often.

Women in Dorne can inherit land and political power, and rather openly engage in sex outside of marriage with other men - not only did nothing like this happen in real-life Muslim Spain, medieval Christians didn't even have a stereotype about them that resembled this.


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As evidenced from medieval literature and popular epics, medieval Christians never seem to have believed that Muslims practiced equal inheritance law or that Muslim women had a drastically higher degree of sexual freedom. Daenerys and Viserys Targaryen are the product of generations of compound inbreeding. This preserved their distinctly Valyrian features such as a pale complexion and white platinum blonde hair.

The popular troubadour poetry contains stories of brave Christian knights seducing the daughters of Muslim princes - not seducing Muslim princesses who ruled in their own right. In that respect, these aspects of the Dornishmen seem to be a pure fantasy construct without basis in reality - though George R. Martin has openly said that Dorne is not meant to have a one to one correspondence to any real-life culture: it is loosely like Medieval Spain, with some aspects of Medieval Wales a semi-independent territory on the fringe of the kingdom , but other aspects of Dorne were simply drawn from Martin's imagination and creative license.

Arguably , the one region of Medieval Europe that had the attitudes about gender and sexuality that the Dornishmen have in the fictional narrative was actually Ireland prior to the English invasions beginning in the late twelfth century - where the Game of Thrones TV series itself is based and primarily films. Even after converting to Christianity, reliable records such as the Brehon laws evidence that women were treated as the equals or near-equals of men in Celtic Ireland - which the Romans and their successors in Continental Europe found to be quite unusual.

Moreover, although less well evidenced, some ancient historians described that the Celts in Ireland openly had same-sex relationships though the true extent of this is unclear and still debated academically. As English domination in Ireland grew, however, English cultural patterns and inheritance laws subsumed the earlier local Irish laws and customs.

The Valyrians practiced heavy incest between brother and sister, to "keep the bloodlines pure". House Targaryen was a Valyrian noble family that survived the Doom of Valyria four centuries ago, and settled on the islands off the east coast of Westeros. As the last survivors of the Valyrian Freehold that possessed live dragons , a century later the Targaryens conquered and united the Seven Kingdoms. As a political expedient they converted to the Faith of the Seven, but they continued to practice incestuous marriages. This led to conflict with the Faith of the Seven which was only decided through civil war.

The Targaryen dynasty's brother-sister marriages may have affected how incest was defined in Westeros. In the real-life Middle Ages, the Catholic Church defined incest as any marriage between relatives who were third cousins or closer, i. In Westeros, however, it is apparently not uncommon for members of major noble Houses to marry their own first cousins.

Tywin Lannister himself married his own first cousin, Joanna Lannister - her surname was already "Lannister" before they were married, as she was the daughter of a younger brother of Tywin's own father, Tytos Lannister. Nor is this a peculiarity of House Lannister, as members of House Tyrell have also married their first cousins: Mace Tyrell 's younger sister Mina married her own first cousin Paxter Redwyne.

Cersei and Jaime Lannister were involved in an incestuous relationship since childhood. Mace and Mina's mother Olenna Tyrell , born Olenna Redwyne, is the sister of Paxter's father and thus his paternal aunt. Even House Stark has been known to practice first cousin marriage, in the not too distant past: the parents of Eddard Stark himself were first cousins once removed, Rickard Stark and Lyarra Stark. Lyarra's surname was "Stark" even before she was married.

When Eddard Stark confronts Cersei Lannister about her incestuous relationship with her own twin brother Jaime, in both the book and TV versions she counters that the Targaryen dynasty wed brother to sister for three hundred years, so she and Jaime didn't see what they were doing as comparatively that unusual. The incestuous brother-to-sister marriages of the Targaryens were still seen as very unusual by Westerosi society in general, however, and they primarily got away with it due to their royal status and power, which they felt set them above the rules of normal men.

Even after three centuries, brother-sister relationships were still condemned and not considered "normal" in any of the other noble Houses in Westeros. The ancient Valyrians practiced incestous and even polygamous marriages - such as Aegon I Targaryen and his two sister-wives. Polygamous marriages were practiced in the old Valyrian Freehold - it was not universal and frequent, but it was not uncommon either. Aegon the Conqueror was married to both of his sisters, Visenya and Rhaenys. Visenya was the eldest of the siblings and Aegon may have married her for political reasons, while marrying his younger sister Rhaenys for love.

After the trio conquered and unified the Seven Kingdoms, however, it seems that Aegon himself realized that practicing polygamy in subsequent generations would push the Faith of the Seven too far, so he discouraged his successors from continuing it. The Faith had not openly criticized the polygamous or even incestuous aspects of Aegon's marriages, and in return he tread lightly around them, making both of his sons marry one woman each from outside of their immediate family. After his death, however, his second son Maegor the Cruel , an infamously vicious tyrant, took multiple wives and forcibly married his own niece, leading to a war with the Faith Militant that lasted throughout his six year reign.

After he was deposed, his successor and nephew Jaehaerys I negotiated a peace with the Faith, and the Targaryens never had a polygamous marriage again. They did continue to practice brother-to-sister incest marriages as Jaehaerys I was married to his own sister, Alysanne , but apparently their rationale was that they already had an incestuous bloodline even if they stopped wedding brother to sister - though they could actively choose not to take multiple wives.

Exactly what the culture of Old Valyria was like in its prime has not been revealed in extensive detail. The Targaryens didn't always wed brother to sister in every generation, and over two centuries later King Aegon V younger brother of Maester Aemon became convinced that incestuous bloodlines were what caused many Targaryens to go insane , so he tried to put an and to the practice altogether, though he did not succeed. A point raised by linguist David J.

Peterson is that he is hesitant to develop certain "everyday life" vocabulary in High Valyrian because it is unknown exactly what everyday life was like in the ancient Valyrian Freehold, i. The heavily incestuous and even polygamous marriages of the Valyrian dragonlords probably led to very complicated familial relationships: Daenerys and Viserys's parents were themselves brother and sister, making Viserys simultaneously Daenerys's "brother" and "first cousin" - it is unknown if High Valyrian would have a distinct term for such a relationship, distinguishing it from a sibling whose parents were not brother and sister.

The ironborn practice a limited form of polygamy though they don't consider it full polygamy , in which they have only one "rock wife" who ranks ahead of all of their "salt wives". In comparison, in a case where a Valyrian dragonlord was in a polygamous marriage to multiple close relatives, it isn't clear if there was a distinct word for one "primary" wife, etc.

Also consider that several real-life languages have more specific terms for family members than English does, i. Japanese has distinct words for "older sister" onee-san and "younger sister" imouto. The novels don't really give many details on the ancient Valyrians' family structural dynamics, so Peterson avoided trying to describe it for lack of information.

The definition of what marriages were considered incestuous in real life actually changed over time. During the early Middle Ages it fluctuated considerably, with instances of first degree cousins marrying, but other instances in which seventh degree cousins were forbidden to marry. The Catholic Church only officially set the definition of incest as marriage within third degree cousins or closer at the Fourth Lateran Council of In the Middle Ages, women who transcended the weakness of their femininity to exhibit positive masculine traits were called "manful"- this was not meant as an insult, nor did it mean they were suddenly conceptualized as "non-women" given the contemporary conception of a strong gender binary.

Rather, it was simply understood that women were capable of rising to such modes of behavior. Basically, a woman could give orders with firm and quiet determination, but she couldn't shout out orders assertively the way a man could - in short, if a woman's behavior became "bossy", she was no longer behaving in a proper ladylike fashion. One of the more interesting examples of this phenomenon was Matilda , who fought against her cousin Stephen for control of the English throne, a period known as the Anarchy Lady Catelyn Stark is a major leader of the Stark faction in the war, with polite words and calm courtesy but also a firm determination.

Matilda was daughter of the previous monarch, King Henry I, but following the latter's death, the throne was usurped by her cousin, Stephen. Contemporary accounts say that because Matilda expected to be her father's successor for many years and indeed, Henry had taken official steps to help secure her succession , she grew arrogant, and in many ways was perceived to act like a man, because she openly yelled commands at followers and wasn't demure about it.

Noble-born boys in Westeros receive combat training from their castle's Master-at-Arms. Sansa Stark - seen here in the traditional female activity of a sewing circle - wants to live up to ideal feminine behavior in Westeros, which primarily involves being demure, polite, and courteous. A Lady's armor is her courtesy.

Education for aristocratic boys and girls in Westeros generally matches real-life patterns from the Middle Ages. Maesters serve as tutors to children of the lord they serve, boys and girls, in core topics such as literacy or arithmetic. When boys are old enough they also train with their castle's Master-at-Arms in the martial arts.

Using a sword is a developed skill, like Olympic-level fencing - you can't just pick up a sword and hack at your opponent like children with wooden sticks. This is displayed in Season 1 when Jon Snow easily overpowers all of the other Night's Watch recruits during fighting practice, and Tyrion explicitly points out that Jon has received formal training from the Stark master-at-arms Rodrik Cassel , while the poor commoners he was facing had not. In the TV series, Maester Luwin is seen in Season 1 quizzing Bran on the geographic location and identifies of the Great Houses of Westeros, including their heraldry and mottoes.

Girls, meanwhile, are taught in the "womanly arts" such as sewing, by septas who serve their family as governesses assuming that Septa Mordane 's service to the Stark-Tully family is apparently typical.