Graydon Hicks

laws of the realm

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i know we see ned reference the Kings Justice, the Kings Peace, but are there any actually recorded laws in westeros? or is it just a matter of what the king decides is legal or illegal day to day?

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Posted (edited)

57 minutes ago, Graydon Hicks said:

i know we see ned reference the Kings Justice, the Kings Peace, but are there any actually recorded laws in westeros? or is it just a matter of what the king decides is legal or illegal day to day?

I've been wondering on the same matter.

It seems to me that the King decides who will answer for his crimes and who doesn't, while the laws stay more or less the same. 

I didn't notice nothing even close to a "fair trial", even though this phrase is used oftenly by many. Haven't seen a professional prosecutor, defender or a judge, while maesters, the city watch, kingsguard, etc., resemble scientists, police and bodyguards in modern time. While this is a fantasy, we can say that lawyers and trials existed in many societies we are aware of.

But if someone who read all the books is familiar with something different, I'd be happy to stand corrected.

Edited by The Sunland Lord

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well, i was wondering if there was anything like codified laws, rather than legal proceedings, the nature of trial, or lack thereof, is not surprising. in monarchies and feudal societies of that level of development, the ruling lord or king deciding the guilt or innocence of a "criminal" is fairly routine. i was more thinking about the kind of realm accepted laws, like kinslaying, murder, embezzlement, legitimization. are there codified laws, is merely tradition and custom passed down so long its ingrained and accepted as law, are the laws changed with every king's whim? that kind of stuff.

like, people on here say that the king is the only one who can legitimize a bastard, but is there an actual law that says that, or is it more a custom that has passed on for centuries before the conquests, and now rests with the iron throne due to centralized authority? what about laws on marriages or inheritance? are they codified, or simply understood from age old customs as law?

and if there are a codified set of laws, who keeps them? the maesters? is there a big ass book in the citadel, and copy at kings landing for the grand maester and the master of laws?

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11 minutes ago, Graydon Hicks said:

well, i was wondering if there was anything like codified laws, rather than legal proceedings, the nature of trial, or lack thereof, is not surprising. in monarchies and feudal societies of that level of development, the ruling lord or king deciding the guilt or innocence of a "criminal" is fairly routine. i was more thinking about the kind of realm accepted laws, like kinslaying, murder, embezzlement, legitimization. are there codified laws, is merely tradition and custom passed down so long its ingrained and accepted as law, are the laws changed with every king's whim? that kind of stuff.

like, people on here say that the king is the only one who can legitimize a bastard, but is there an actual law that says that, or is it more a custom that has passed on for centuries before the conquests, and now rests with the iron throne due to centralized authority? what about laws on marriages or inheritance? are they codified, or simply understood from age old customs as law?

and if there are a codified set of laws, who keeps them? the maesters? is there a big ass book in the citadel, and copy at kings landing for the grand maester and the master of laws?

Don't know. If there is some codified law, the Master of Laws should have access to it, so that he can enforce it in practice. 

We can agree however, many highborn didn't answer for their crimes under any law, and oftenly it went as normal stuff, "hey of course they can do it, they are these people with two names". 

Law, existed or not, doesn't apply for them, unless it's in interest of other highborn in a higher position to do so.

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its just a curiosity. if i wanted to really look at it, i would like to know about the validity of the king being the only one who can legitimize a bastard. is it an actual law, or just tradition? or due the laws change from king to king? the fact that there is a master of laws, the nature of the clerk like positions of maesters, and the fact that realm does have recognised criminals guilty of rape, murder, poaching, ect, says that should be some sort of codified laws to me, but where is it? i would have to guess that a master copy of the laws, like the original book of laws laid down by the aegon 1, is at the citadel, in the archives. i think its part of their jobs to keep the copies of all legal documents of the lords and monarchy, if only for the sake reference for future generations.

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I think it's a tradition. Kings can change it if they want to. 

However, some of the next Kings in power can think of a better law unification, it'd be a big deal and a great challenge. 

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I think there are laws as Jaehaerys I is credited with creating a common law for the realm. But the importance would be that there's no Roman legacy to fall back on in regards to legal traditons and so law is more of customs and guidelines than what we consider "laws". With an absolute king who can cause havoc without restraints at the top.

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The first unified code of law for Westeros was written down about 250 years before the events of the story. It does not appear to be a very ingrained tradition, and it seems to invest a lot of authority in lords to administer law in their own territories.

The prior authorities, and the authorities that in practice are more respected, are the traditions of the individual kingdoms - and sometimes broken down smaller than that - which straddle the various lines between taboos, church laws, and secular laws.

How are they enforced when they are so vaguely and inconsistently formulated? Why don't people just change the laws all the time?

Now we're asking the interesting questions.

5 hours ago, Graydon Hicks said:

its just a curiosity. if i wanted to really look at it, i would like to know about the validity of the king being the only one who can legitimize a bastard. is it an actual law, or just tradition?

There's no "just" about it. Tradition is serious business.

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Interestingly the Crown doesn't delegate judicial authority to appointed judges, bailiffs or law enforcement folks under their payroll. They just let the local knights and lords make rulings on their own lands without approval or oversight from the Iron Throne. The Iron Throne itself appears to be just a final court of appeals, sort of like a supreme court. The Small Council does have a Master of Law but that person seems mostly concerned with handling matters of law and order in King's Landing, rather than the entire kingdom.

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2 hours ago, Kaibaman said:

The Small Council does have a Master of Law but that person seems mostly concerned with handling matters of law and order in King's Landing, rather than the entire kingdom.

http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Master_of_laws

You're right, though it seems like their whole job could be knocked out in an afternoon. Make a few appointments, assume the black cells will remain black, and kick back. I'd bet that was exactly what Renly did. And with the lack of law-related professions, it almost seems like it wouldn't really matter who was the Master of Law. Kevan Lannister served for a time and got next to nothing done. The Wiki suggests the MoL is in charge of the City Watch, but that doesn't seem to line up with textual evidence.

I think Aegon letting the fallen kingdoms retain their own laws and customs set a precedent that the Crown doesn't really care about the details as long as the peace is kept. 

There must at the very least be sheriffs (in the medieval sense) right? Grenn got sent to the Wall for poaching pheasants....someone with some authority had to catch him, right? To have the lord's woods, someone has to enforce it. 

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7 hours ago, Lord Vance II said:

http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Master_of_laws

You're right, though it seems like their whole job could be knocked out in an afternoon. Make a few appointments, assume the black cells will remain black, and kick back. I'd bet that was exactly what Renly did. And with the lack of law-related professions, it almost seems like it wouldn't really matter who was the Master of Law. Kevan Lannister served for a time and got next to nothing done. The Wiki suggests the MoL is in charge of the City Watch, but that doesn't seem to line up with textual evidence.

I think Aegon letting the fallen kingdoms retain their own laws and customs set a precedent that the Crown doesn't really care about the details as long as the peace is kept. 

There must at the very least be sheriffs (in the medieval sense) right? Grenn got sent to the Wall for poaching pheasants....someone with some authority had to catch him, right? To have the lord's woods, someone has to enforce it. 

This is just me guessing here but in the Telltale game (which is based off the show), the playable house known as the Forresters have a position known as the Sentinel. From the looks of it a Sentinel seems to function similar to a King's Hand with their own badge of office although to me it doesn't really make sense why a house like the Forresters who are pretty much landed knights in the North would have such a lucrative position (the Starks don't even have a Sentinel). Now I maybe giving the people at Telltale a little too much credit but I think a Sentinel is meant to be there for small communities that don't need a large police force, sort of like the sheriffs in frontier towns in the Old West. When it comes to lords of a higher rank than landed knights who control vast populations and entire towns or cities, they rely on their city watch with an appointed captain of the guard and sergeants for law enforcement and judicial processing, whereas landed knights and minor lords may appoint sentinels and a few deputies to maintain and enforce the laws in their smaller fiefs. They are like medieval sheriffs only they are appointed and answer only to their leigh lords rather than to their king.

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