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Aelle3

Heraldry and history question.

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Hey all, 
 
I'm trying to do a little background research on house Vypren and have a few general questions.  Apologies if this is in the wrong place. 
 
Firstly, I noticed that a few of the wiki entries for this houses heraldry are referenced as 'semi-canon sources' and cites The citadel: Heraldry, houses of the riverlands. Having looked at the site I can't seem to figure out why this is semi canonical (if that's the right word).  Am I just being daft? Is the black frog on white Lilly pad just speculation? 
 
Secondly, Do we know when heraldry was introduced to Westeros? Some heraldry is based on local topographic features, keeps or castles but I wonder if the animal based ones have older origins. 
 
Thanks for any help
aelle
 
 

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Semi-canon sources are essentially anything that isn't the books themselves; like the rpg game, SSM's and the like. If it isn't mentioned in the actual books but is mentioned in another officially recognized source then it is regarded as semi-canon, which I always took to mean 'Canon, until something in the novels disproves this'. Using your example, house Vypren's sigil is not mentioned in the books themselves as far as I'm aware. The sigil you refer to might be from the game or some other source, like the graphic novels or maybe George mentioned it at one point (not sure why he would, but who knows).

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Thanks for the swift reply. Sadly the website doesn't reference anything about were it got this sigil from. Think I'll have to reread the riverlands section of AWOIAF and see if it's in it. 

 

That that still leaves me questioning when sigils became a common practice amongst Lords and Knights. 

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I imagine some houses had old family traditions that turned into sigils - perhaps the direwolf of the Starks, the green hand of House Gardener. We know that other houses have just invented their sigils: Davos Seaworth with his onion and ship, Bronn with his flaming chain. So you probably won't find a moment in time when a king decided that everyone should come up with a sigil.

If House Vypren is your focus, you might find out more about the black and white toad sigil by going to the Search of Ice and Fire website and typing in a search for "toad." When you look at the places where the author has used toads (if he has used them at all), it might tell you whether they are a symbol of something larger.

I couldn't resist, so I just did a search on "toad" and found that most references are to Jon's Night's Watch brother, Todder, who is called Toad. Toad starts out as one of Jon's enemies (along with Grenn and Pyp) but becomes a friend. Reading the references in context makes me think that GRRM is using the word "toad" as one of his German / English puns, like Ei - the German word for egg - and the English words Eye and Ice. In German, the word "der Tod" means death. When Jon receives Long Claw from Mormont, Toad talks about a head being cut off with a Valyrian steel razor. I suspect that references to razors in the books are alluding to Azor Ahai. He has a second line about Jon's head being cut off when he and other NW brothers retrieve Jon from his attempt at desertion toward the end of AGoT. All of Jon's circle of NW brothers have significant symbolic names, so I suspect that Toad being part of his inner circle is a symbolic way of showing that death - perhaps a hero's death - is always close to Jon.

Not sure how that links back to House Vypren, although maybe they will play a big role later.

Since House Vypren seems to be a close Frey ally, you might also look at the sigils of other Frey allies. Are there a lot of animals? Are there sigils that relate to the toad in some other way? For instance, sigils that are at home in both water and on land?

In Meera's story of the knight of the laughing tree, the three squires who taunt the little crannogman have the sigils of the two towers, a pitchfork and a porcupine. Because of the two towers, I have assumed that these squires were a Frey and two Frey allies - Haigh and Blount. I don't yet have good theories on the meaning of their names or sigils (except that Haigh rhymes with Frey) but the only Blount we know in the series is the easy-to-dislike Boros Blount. Ser Boros is one of the characters who looks like a toad, if you read his physical description:

Ser Boros was the worst of the Kingsguard, an ugly man with a foul temper, all scowls and jowls.
"That one is nothing to fear, girl." The Hound laid a heavy hand on her shoulder. "Paint stripes on a toad, he does not become a tiger."
(ACoK, Sansa II)

Janos Slynt is often compared to a frog. So there may be some connection between these Stark enemies and satellite Freys with Der Tod / toad.

Toads are also associated with poison and with witches. We know that GRRM reads Shakespeare and I suspect he has incorporated a number of allusions to Shakespeare's plays in the books. (For instance, Littlefinger, with his unclear motive for bringing down the great houses, is a lot like the villain Iago.) Could the toad be an "ingredient" in a symbolic witches' brew, as it is in the opening scene of Shakespeare's Scottish Play? Witches in the series would include characters such as the legendary Danielle Lothston and Maggie the Frog. That might be another connection - toads are like frogs. So maybe the author is telling us that the Vypren family has some kind of witchy reputation that will become meaningful at some point.

Interesting inquiry. Thanks for posting it. Now if we could just figure out why King Robert tells Ned that he should take a hedgehog for his sigil . . .

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4 hours ago, Aelle3 said:

Thanks for the swift reply. Sadly the website doesn't reference anything about were it got this sigil from. Think I'll have to reread the riverlands section of AWOIAF and see if it's in it. 

GRRM provided unpublished info to Ran and Linda years ago. For instance, Ran put this correspondence from 2000 in the SSM archive. 

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22 hours ago, Seams said:

I imagine some houses had old family traditions that turned into sigils - perhaps the direwolf of the Starks, the green hand of House Gardener. We know that other houses have just invented their sigils: Davos Seaworth with his onion and ship, Bronn with his flaming chain. So you probably won't find a moment in time when a king decided that everyone should come up with a sigil.

If House Vypren is your focus, you might find out more about the black and white toad sigil by going to the Search of Ice and Fire website and typing in a search for "toad." When you look at the places where the author has used toads (if he has used them at all), it might tell you whether they are a symbol of something larger.

I couldn't resist, so I just did a search on "toad" and found that most references are to Jon's Night's Watch brother, Todder, who is called Toad. Toad starts out as one of Jon's enemies (along with Grenn and Pyp) but becomes a friend. Reading the references in context makes me think that GRRM is using the word "toad" as one of his German / English puns, like Ei - the German word for egg - and the English words Eye and Ice. In German, the word "der Tod" means death. When Jon receives Long Claw from Mormont, Toad talks about a head being cut off with a Valyrian steel razor. I suspect that references to razors in the books are alluding to Azor Ahai. He has a second line about Jon's head being cut off when he and other NW brothers retrieve Jon from his attempt at desertion toward the end of AGoT. All of Jon's circle of NW brothers have significant symbolic names, so I suspect that Toad being part of his inner circle is a symbolic way of showing that death - perhaps a hero's death - is always close to Jon.

Not sure how that links back to House Vypren, although maybe they will play a big role later.

Since House Vypren seems to be a close Frey ally, you might also look at the sigils of other Frey allies. Are there a lot of animals? Are there sigils that relate to the toad in some other way? For instance, sigils that are at home in both water and on land?

In Meera's story of the knight of the laughing tree, the three squires who taunt the little crannogman have the sigils of the two towers, a pitchfork and a porcupine. Because of the two towers, I have assumed that these squires were a Frey and two Frey allies - Haigh and Blount. I don't yet have good theories on the meaning of their names or sigils (except that Haigh rhymes with Frey) but the only Blount we know in the series is the easy-to-dislike Boros Blount. Ser Boros is one of the characters who looks like a toad, if you read his physical description:

Ser Boros was the worst of the Kingsguard, an ugly man with a foul temper, all scowls and jowls.
"That one is nothing to fear, girl." The Hound laid a heavy hand on her shoulder. "Paint stripes on a toad, he does not become a tiger."
(ACoK, Sansa II)

Janos Slynt is often compared to a frog. So there may be some connection between these Stark enemies and satellite Freys with Der Tod / toad.

Toads are also associated with poison and with witches. We know that GRRM reads Shakespeare and I suspect he has incorporated a number of allusions to Shakespeare's plays in the books. (For instance, Littlefinger, with his unclear motive for bringing down the great houses, is a lot like the villain Iago.) Could the toad be an "ingredient" in a symbolic witches' brew, as it is in the opening scene of Shakespeare's Scottish Play? Witches in the series would include characters such as the legendary Danielle Lothston and Maggie the Frog. That might be another connection - toads are like frogs. So maybe the author is telling us that the Vypren family has some kind of witchy reputation that will become meaningful at some point.

Interesting inquiry. Thanks for posting it. Now if we could just figure out why King Robert tells Ned that he should take a hedgehog for his sigil . . .

Thank you so much for taking the time to research and reply! That's all very interesting. Historically you have King Clovis of the franks as well. As the story goes his pre-Christian heraldry was three black frogs.

I'm interested in houses that make bad decisions and alliances. Backing the iron men seems like a particularly bad decision. I also like houses that don't claim first men origins. 

I suspect that the toad sigil is in reference to the Vypren lands. Potentially swampy. I wonder if a bastard took over the house at some point and the colours have been inverted. Once a green toad now black. 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Apologies. Double post 

Edited by Aelle3

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Posted (edited)

Aaaahhh awesome. Thanks Nittanian for clearing that up.

Edited by Aelle3

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