Macgregor of the North

Some thoughts and a question on Wylla, and a specific choice of wording by Edric.

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Some Thoughts on Wylla. Not a big deal but something that's niggled at me for a time.

It just can’t sit well with me that Wylla was the wet nurse Ned settled at Winterfell to nurse baby Jon Snow. I’ve seen it stated quite a few times around the net and I wonder if there is anybody out there on this forum who feels as I do on the matter, or otherwise. 

I believe wholeheartedly that she was a wet nurse in service to the Daynes who’s services were secured to nurse Jon after his birth at the Tower of Joy.

And I believe that she was, in a plan involving the Daynes and Ned, positioned to play the part and be named as Jons mother should the situation arise and anybody ever asks the question.

Ned even tells Robert once in the past that she is the mother of Jon, he forgets the name and we see Ned remind him after a few wrong attempts by Robert in AGOT so Ned is still playing the part he decided on back in 283AC.  Which is basically to stay icy cold and silent on the matter unless he absolutely must name somebody. And that somebody is Wylla.

"Yours was … Aleena? No. You told me once. Was it Merryl? You know the one I mean, your bastard's mother?"
"Her name was Wylla," Ned replied with cool courtesy, "and I would sooner not speak of her." 
"Wylla. Yes." The king grinned. "She must have been a rare wench if she could make Lord Eddard Stark forget his honor, even for an hour. You never told me what she looked like …"


So with this in mind, Ned has the plan in place for Wylla to be named as the mother of Jon. She is his wet nurse at birth anyway, I believe, and it makes sense to Ned and the Daynes so this is what is agreed on. 

What I cant understand is why people think that Ned would take her to Winterfell and place the woman who he is claiming to be Jons mother (should anybody ask), in the comforts of Winterfell, nursing his bastard for all to see. Especially when his wife is due to return and resume a married life with Ned with their own son and hopefully live a happy long life together.

That’s a kick in the teeth for Catelyn I don’t think Neds capable of.

Isn’t the most reasonable explanation then that, yes, Wylla was Jons wet nurse for a time at the Tower of Joy and the travels to Starfall, and at a push, maybe part of the duration of Neds travels North. But Ned, being one of the most powerful Lords in Westeros at the time could easily have taken a wet nurse into his service from most villages really, so he leaves Wylla with his eternal thanks and her promise that she will uphold her end of the bargain to continue to play her part in the ruse that she is his bastards mother(should anybody ask) for as long as she lives, back at Starfall with the Daynes, who are also in on the ruse.

We know she returned to Starfall and resumed her services as a wet nurse as she became Edric Daynes wet nurse upon his birth in 287AC. But this four year gap doesn't necessarily mean that she was in Winterfell for a few years. She is actually a Wet Nurse for the Daynes, it's her job to be at Starfall, even though she was hired to help Nurse baby Jon for that short time.

Also, going by Edric's choice of words, she still seems to be a servant of the Daynes at Starfall even now.

ASOS ARYA VIII:
"Jon Snow's mother. He never told you? She's served us for years and years. Since before I was born."

When he says "she's served us", it implies, to me anyway, that Edric thought (as of 299AC) that Wylla was still at Starfall in service to his House. 

So basically, I think it's a stretch to think she lived at Winterfell as Jon's wet nurse alongside Catelyn, that job likely went to a nobody who means nothing to the story.

And also, it seems Wylla is still at Starfall holding Ned Starks secret close to her well used chest.

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This explaination sounds very likely to me. Frankely, this is the most plausible scenario. No way Rhaegar and however was involved in Lyanna's elope would leave a pregnant young woman alone in the tower in the middle of nowhere with just three guards. There should be someone who could assist in childbirth, provide a basic medical help and breastfeed a child in case if Lyanna can't do it.

Arthur Dayne is from Dorne, so he could ask his family to provide a wet nurse, a loayl and trustworthy person. After her duty was done, and Ned left Dorne Wylla would have stayed behind, far away from KL and from anyone who would be interested in the events of ToJ. A wet nurse shouldn't necessarily be aware of who Laynna was.

The four year gap could just mean that no children were born in Dayne family during this time, so no need for a wet nurse. Probably she lived somewhere in the nearby village or did some other work in Starfall.

Edited by Ashes Of Westeros

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37 minutes ago, Ashes Of Westeros said:

A wet nurse shouldn't necessarily be aware of who Laynna was.

Thing is, i have always had the impression that Wylla knew exactly what was going on and always has, but has kept up her end of the bargain to never spill the beans all these years. I think she knows exactly who Lyanna was, exactly who Jon is and exactly who his bioligical father is. I just wonder if it will have any bearing on the story. 

 

40 minutes ago, Ashes Of Westeros said:

Probably she lived somewhere in the nearby village or did some other work in Starfall.

She is definitely a servant/wet nurse of Starfall, and i have been led to believe she is still there by Edrics choice of words.

The other interesting thing in Edric and Aryas exchange in ASOS is this;

"Arya was lost. "Who's Wylla?"
"Jon Snow's mother. He never told you? She's served us for years and years. Since before I was born."
"Jon never knew his mother. Not even her name." Arya gave Ned a wary look. "You know her? Truly?" Is he making mock of me? "If you lie I'll punch your face."
"Wylla was my wetnurse," he repeated solemnly. "I swear it on the honor of my House".

I have always been inclined to believe that Edric actually believes Wylla is Jons mother as he's been fed the ruse as he grows up by members of his House who are playing along with the ruse, but this exchange has made me question that and wonder if he knows but is actually stringing Arya along with the ruse.

Its the way he only swears to Wylla being his wet nurse on the honor of his house, but swears to nothing else in regards to Wylla being Jons mother. 

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I'm also pretty sure Wylla was not the wet nurse who had already settled in Winterfell with Ned and Jon when Cat came north. We also don't know how old Allyria Dayne is (since she's only betrothed to Beric Dondarrion, it seems she's not an adult, thought there could be other reasons they're not married yet), so maybe she was nursed by Wylla in the time between Jon and Edric, or maybe Wylla would have to stay back to nurse Allyria when Jon went north.

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2 minutes ago, Ser Scott Malkinson said:

I'm also pretty sure Wylla was not the wet nurse who had already settled in Winterfell with Ned and Jon when Cat came north. We also don't know how old Allyria Dayne is (since she's only betrothed to Beric Dondarrion, it seems she's not an adult, thought there could be other reasons they're not married yet), so maybe she was nursed by Wylla in the time between Jon and Edric, or maybe Wylla would have to stay back to nurse Allyria when Jon went north.

Yup Allyria's age is an intriguing thing. Wylla had to have either kept nursing a baby or babies between 283-287AC to keep lactating, whether that was Allyria? like you say, other babies at Starfall?, or maybe she had another child of her own and begun producing milk again.

 

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Is there any proof that Ned took Jon's pretend mother anywhere near Winterfell? Catelyn never met her, and I don't remember anyone at Winterfell mentioning her.

I think Ned would've wanted his lie to have as little connection to Winterfell as possible. Because even if Wylla was willingly posing as Jon's mother, she might've slipped up. And she would certainly have drawn attention. After all, what sort of woman would be able to lead honorable Ned astray? Ned, who was in love with Ashara Dayne and married Catelyn Tully.

Better Wylla remain a phantom for the people at Winterfell - as Jon would be a phantom at Starfall.

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There is also Ned's statement to Robert in the Winterfell crypts that he would rather trust a child to a pit viper than a Lannister.  This is in the context of what to do with Robin Arryn and making him a ward to Tywin Lannister.

The choice of 'pit viper' is curious because of the association with House Wyl.  It's famous warrior daughter called Wylla of Wyl; no doubt the inspiration for girl's names among the small folk.  As well as the stories connected with House Wyl and it's use of pit vipers:

Buried in the wiki is this interesting tidbit:

After the death of King Daeron I Targaryen in Dorne under a peace banner, Prince Aemon the Dragonknight was imprisoned by Lord Wyl in a cage. King Baelor I Targaryen tried to obtain Aemon's release during his journey to Sunspear, but Lord Wyl refused. After negotiating peace with the Prince of Dorne, Baelor found that Aemon's cage was now suspended over vipers. Lord Wyl obeyed the king's command to release the Dragonknight from captivity, but gave the key to Baelor instead of having his men open the cage. The Wyls are said to have wagered upon the Targaryens' chances during their successful escape from the pit of venomous snakes.

The name Wylla comes up again at White Harbor.  Wylla of house Manderley who defends Davos when he appeals for aid:

I know about the promise ... Maester Theomore, tell them! A thousand years before the Conquest, a promise was made, and oaths were sworn in the Wolf's Den before the old gods and the new. When we were sore beset and friendless, hounded from our homes and in peril of our lives, the wolves took us in and nourished us and protected us against our enemies. The city is built upon the land they gave us. In return we swore that we should always be their men. Stark men![4]

- Wylla to the Merman's Court

If you go into hiding, you change your identity and you don't live or travel as a noble lady.  We know Jon was at Starfall from Eddric's story and I think it's possible that Lyanna was actually Wylla.  This would mean that the Daynes' were involved with hiding Lyanna there.  The story of Wylla the common woman a necessary fiction; a lie that Ned tells Robert as well as a lie by omission.

This goes against the prevailing theories but I think it's curious that the other well known daughters are fiesty, warrior women; one with an association with the Starks and the other with the Daynes.  The story of the wolf den to which Wylla Manderly refers featuring a Jon Stark.

I think there is more to the story of Wylla the nursemail than meets the eye.

Edited by LynnS

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All you say is my impression as well. Actually, I've thought that it is sort of a general consensus if you believe R+L=J. The Daynes being informed about the situation is in my opinion the only logical explanation of how Ned (+ Howland) managed to 1.) arrange everything necessary regarding the 9 dead bodies at the ToJ, 2.) tear down the tower which I still have doubts about, 3.) keep Jon's parentage secret and come up with a plausible backstory for the baby, 4.) actually keep the motherless baby alive. 

As for the details, like how much Wylla knew about Lyanna and when she was told and by whom, it is possible that even George did not have an exact timeline straight in his head when writing the first book. We may not be told even in future.

By the way, just a thought regarding Wylla's lactating capacity - if we believe she was Jon's wet nurse right after Lyanna died, she'd have to either be brought to the ToJ only shortly before Lyanna's death or be there previously with another baby because otherwise she wouldn't have milk. Not an expert on breastfeeding, but this is how it works, right?

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43 minutes ago, Tini said:

Is there any proof that Ned took Jon's pretend mother anywhere near Winterfell? Catelyn never met her, and I don't remember anyone at Winterfell mentioning her.

No, which is why i find it strange people come to the conclusion that Wylla was the wet nurse at WF.

44 minutes ago, Tini said:

Because even if Wylla was willingly posing as Jon's mother

We know that a Dayne wet nurse/servant of Starfall by the name Wylla is indeed posing as Jons mother willingly. Ned has told this story to Robert in the past so its part of Neds plan at least to have 'a' Wylla pose as the mother, and Edric tells Arya that Wylla of Starfall is infact Jons mother so the same ruse is being played out at Starfall and i think the two are one and the same, of course.

Thing is, do you think that Edric knows the truth and is stringing Arya along with a plan hes known since he was old enough to know, or do you think he actually believes Wylla is Jons mother, as in, he is being strung along himself. 

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48 minutes ago, LynnS said:

It's famous warrior daughter called Wylla of Wyl; no doubt the inspiration for girl's names among the small folk. 

Its this Dornish instance of the use of the name Wylla that i associate with Jons wet nurse/pretend mother.

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Ned's fever dream in the black cells:

He found himself thinking of Robert more and more. He saw the king as he had been in the flower of his youth, tall and handsome, his great antlered helm on his head, his warhammer in hand, sitting his horse like a horned god. He heard his laughter in the dark, saw his eyes, blue and clear as mountain lakes. "Look at us, Ned," Robert said. "Gods, how did we come to this? You here, and me killed by a pig. We won a throne together …"

I failed you, Robert, Ned thought. He could not say the words. I lied to you, hid the truth. I let them kill you.

The king heard him. "You stiff-necked fool," he muttered, "too proud to listen. Can you eat pride, Stark? Will honor shield your children?" Cracks ran down his face, fissures opening in the flesh, and he reached up and ripped the mask away. It was not Robert at all; it was Littlefinger, grinning, mocking him. When he opened his mouth to speak, his lies turned to pale grey moths and took wing.

This is the lie or the cover-up:

"You were never the boy you were," Robert grumbled. "More's the pity. And yet there was that one time … what was her name, that common girl of yours? Becca? No, she was one of mine, gods love her, black hair and these sweet big eyes, you could drown in them. Yours was … Aleena? No. You told me once. Was it Merryl? You know the one I mean, your bastard's mother?"

"Her name was Wylla," Ned replied with cool courtesy, "and I would sooner not speak of her."

"Wylla. Yes." The king grinned. "She must have been a rare wench if she could make Lord Eddard Stark forget his honor, even for an hour. You never told me what she looked like …"

It's Lyanna that Ned would rather not speak of.

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38 minutes ago, Jenny of Dorne said:

By the way, just a thought regarding Wylla's lactating capacity - if we believe she was Jon's wet nurse right after Lyanna died, she'd have to either be brought to the ToJ only shortly before Lyanna's death or be there previously with another baby because otherwise she wouldn't have milk. Not an expert on breastfeeding, but this is how it works, right?

Im not sure how long she could have been there waiting for Jon to be born and her milk supply not dry up, there must be some sort of timeframe before milk supply begins to dry up but im unsure of how long that is.

I agree though, she was likely brought in very close to Jons actual birth and had been breastfeeding very recently at Starfall, or there was another baby there, which im not sold on.

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I am an expert on Breastfeeding, and yes Wylla has to be currently lactating, as a professional wet nurse she would likely have a few babies in her village whom she nurses when their own mother is unavailable, and has had at least one child of her own. 

Most wet nurses fed other women's babies when they had to work.  But would of course be employed by the upper classes in the case of a culture where wealthy women did not nurse their own kids. (this was in order to become fertile again rapidly and produce more children) In Westeros it seems as though nursing ones own child is the done thing for the high borns, and that women only employ a wet nurse when they have found breastfeeding themselves a struggle (though GRRM clearly is under the (commonly held) impression women can dry up mysteriously, in fact it is caused by bad breastfeeding management, which is caused by our modern day perceptions of how frequently a child should nurse or by a baby who struggles to effectively transfer milk due to a physical issue ie: tongue tie, or a cleft etc. And we hear of Rhaella using a wet nurse, when she "dried up" so we know some High born women did use them. Tyrion too was wet nursed obviously. And Old Nan was a Wetnurse for the Starks in her youth. My guess is Wylla was Allyria's wet nurse at Star fall as Allyria is in fact IMO Ashara's & Brandons daughter. Passed of as her sister by House Dayne. Obviously Ashara can not feed the child herself as people would guess that her baby was not still born as the house have told the realm, but the mother Lady dayne was never pregnant and so isn't lactating, hence the need to bring in a wet nurse. 

Anyway Wylla can maintain lactation in the absence of a nursling for moderate periods of time by hand expressing, so she could travel from Starfall to the ToJ without a child and still feed Jon, and likewise she may never have been at the ToJ and Ned can have taken Jon to Starfall where she begins feeding him, a baby can last a surprising length of time without being fed, and Ned can easily ask small folk women in villages they pass to feed his motherless "son". request goats milk and a rag to keep him hydrated till the next village etc. 

 

 

I am also inclined to think Wylla never went to Winterfell, or that at least she travelled with them north, to feed Jon, but was simply dismissed upon arrival and a local nurse employed. Keeping her apart from the staff at WF would be important as the servants would be absolutely gagging to grill her on Jon. 

ETA: I've added a bit in about my musings on who Wylla was previously nursing at Starfall when she was contracted for Jon.   

Edited by The Weirwoods Eyes

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1 hour ago, Macgregor of the North said:

Thing is, i have always had the impression that Wylla knew exactly what was going on and always has, but has kept up her end of the bargain to never spill the beans all these years. I think she knows exactly who Lyanna was, exactly who Jon is and exactly who his bioligical father is. I just wonder if it will have any bearing on the story. 

 

She is definitely a servant/wet nurse of Starfall, and i have been led to believe she is still there by Edrics choice of words.

The other interesting thing in Edric and Aryas exchange in ASOS is this;

"Arya was lost. "Who's Wylla?"
"Jon Snow's mother. He never told you? She's served us for years and years. Since before I was born."
"Jon never knew his mother. Not even her name." Arya gave Ned a wary look. "You know her? Truly?" Is he making mock of me? "If you lie I'll punch your face."
"Wylla was my wetnurse," he repeated solemnly. "I swear it on the honor of my House".

I have always been inclined to believe that Edric actually believes Wylla is Jons mother as he's been fed the ruse as he grows up by members of his House who are playing along with the ruse, but this exchange has made me question that and wonder if he knows but is actually stringing Arya along with the ruse.

Its the way he only swears to Wylla being his wet nurse on the honor of his house, but swears to nothing else in regards to Wylla being Jons mother. 

Edric is younger than Jon. That is why he doesn't swear that Wylla is Jon's mother - he wasn't there.

Did Wylla really know what was going on? Was she at the Tower of Joy? Did she know what happened there? Or did she stay at Starfall, and has been fed a story just like everyone else?

There is another possible candidate for wetnurse at the Tower of Joy. Ashara Dayne.

We are told Ashara Dayne committed suicide after Ned brought news from the Tower of Joy. She is connected to the events at the Tower of Joy through her brother, Ser Arthur Dayne, and through her infatuation with the quiet wolf, Ned Stark. According to Barristan Selmy, she was delivered of a still-born daughter earlier. She may have filled in as wetnurse at her brother's request. (Which, incidentally, means, that it might've been Ashara who told Ned about the Tower of Joy.)

Wylla may think she is covering for Ashara rather than Lyanna when claiming she is Jon's mother.

Edited by Tini

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6 minutes ago, LynnS said:



This is the lie or the cover-up:

"You were never the boy you were," Robert grumbled. "More's the pity. And yet there was that one time … what was her name, that common girl of yours? Becca? No, she was one of mine, gods love her, black hair and these sweet big eyes, you could drown in them. Yours was … Aleena? No. You told me once. Was it Merryl? You know the one I mean, your bastard's mother?"

"Her name was Wylla," Ned replied with cool courtesy, "and I would sooner not speak of her."

"Wylla. Yes." The king grinned. "She must have been a rare wench if she could make Lord Eddard Stark forget his honor, even for an hour. You never told me what she looked like …"

It's Lyanna that Ned would rather not speak of.

But this exchange also confirms that Ned had a plan since 283AC to name Jons mother as Wylla should he ever need to name her.

He had already told Robert that in the past so its certainly a plan Ned had made for such an occasion, a plan the Daynes of Starfall are also following still.

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22 minutes ago, Macgregor of the North said:

No, which is why i find it strange people come to the conclusion that Wylla was the wet nurse at WF.

We know that a Dayne wet nurse/servant of Starfall by the name Wylla is indeed posing as Jons mother willingly. Ned has told this story to Robert in the past so its part of Neds plan at least to have 'a' Wylla pose as the mother, and Edric tells Arya that Wylla of Starfall is infact Jons mother so the same ruse is being played out at Starfall and i think the two are one and the same, of course.

Thing is, do you think that Edric knows the truth and is stringing Arya along with a plan hes known since he was old enough to know, or do you think he actually believes Wylla is Jons mother, as in, he is being strung along himself. 

Edric is being strung along himself. He doesn't know any different.

Edited by Tini

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14 minutes ago, The Weirwoods Eyes said:

I am an expert on Breastfeeding, and yes Wylla has to be currently lactating, as a professional wet nurse she would likely have a few babies in her village whom she nurses when their own mother is unavailable, and has had at least one child of her own. 

Most wet nurses fed other women's babies when they had to work.  But would of course be employed by the upper classes in the case of a culture where wealthy women did not nurse their own kids. (this was in order to become fertile again rapidly and produce more children) In Westeros it seems as though nursing ones own child is the done thing for the high borns, and that women only employ a wet nurse when they have found breastfeeding themselves a struggle (though GRRM clearly is under the (commonly held) impression women can dry up mysteriously, in fact it is caused by bad breastfeeding management, which is caused by our modern day perceptions of how frequently a child should nurse or by a baby who struggles to effectively transfer milk due to a physical issue ie: tongue tie, or a cleft etc. And we hear of Rhaella using a wet nurse, when she "dried up" so we know some High born women did use them. Tyrion too was wet nursed obviously. And Old Nan was a Wetnurse for the Starks in her youth. My guess is Wylla was Allyria's wet nurse at Star fall as Allyria is in fact IMO Ashara's & Brandons daughter. Passed of as her sister by House Dayne. Obviously Ashara can not feed the child herself as people would guess that her baby was not still born as the house have told the realm, but the mother Lady dayne was never pregnant and so isn't lactating, hence the need to bring in a wet nurse. 

Anyway Wylla can maintain lactation in the absence of a nursling for moderate periods of time by hand expressing, so she could travel from Starfall to the ToJ without a child and still feed Jon, and likewise she may never have been at the ToJ and Ned can have taken Jon to Starfall where she begins feeding him, a baby can last a surprising length of time without being fed, and Ned can easily ask small folk women in villages they pass to feed his motherless "son". request goats milk and a rag to keep him hydrated till the next village etc. 

 

 

I am also inclined to think Wylla never went to Winterfell, or that at least she travelled with them north, to feed Jon, but was simply dismissed upon arrival and a local nurse employed. Keeping her apart from the staff at WF would be important as the servants would be absolutely gagging to grill her on Jon. 

ETA: I've added a bit in about my musings on who Wylla was previously nursing at Starfall when she was contracted for Jon.   

Cheers for weighing in with a clued up perspective, I'm certainly no expert on this. 

I personally think the chances Wylla was at the Tower of Joy are quite high. If she was an experienced professional Wet Nurse at Starfall, which I believe she was, I think Arthur sent for her to assist with Lyannas care and when the baby is born, then she can be there for Wet Nurse duties should the need arise. 

You have confirmed she could continue lactating through hand expression so that could work. There had to be help at the Tower of Joy for Lyanna in the form of someone else other than the three KG. I think Wylla, a mother herself and professional Wet Nurse with lots of experience no doubt with pregnant mothers, babies etc etc fits the bill.

I think all involved would rather have somebody in place at the Tower in the event they are needed, rather than leave it to chance if they had to move the baby and find goats nearby or a lactating female somewhere. Forward preparation and all that. 

This child is Royal blood and Rhaegars third head of the dragon, I think they would have had measures in place.

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7 minutes ago, Tini said:

Edric is being strung along himself. He doesn't know any different.

Call it lack of a new book and too much time on my hands lol, but for some reason , on re reads I'm not as sure as I was on that view as I once was. 

Arya asks if he knows Jon's mother, but he swears that Wylla was his Wet Nurse, on the honor of his house, but not that he knew Jon's mother. Like he didn't want to swear he knew Jon's mother sort of thing.

Im gonna re read again, but the exchange has triggered an alarm bell that's got me thinking.

 

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59 minutes ago, Macgregor of the North said:

I have always been inclined to believe that Edric actually believes Wylla is Jons mother as he's been fed the ruse as he grows up by members of his House who are playing along with the ruse, but this exchange has made me question that and wonder if he knows but is actually stringing Arya along with the ruse.

It could also foreshadow future alliance btween the North and Daynes.

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Just now, Ashes Of Westeros said:

It could also foreshadow future alliance btween the North and Daynes.

I think The Daynes are definitely gonna play a further part in the story and something in association with the North seems almost inevitable in my eyes. 

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