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Angel Eyes

Incest Deficiencies, or lack thereof

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So how come children born of incest have relatively minor physical defects, such as Jaehaerys six-toes? How come Craster's daughters (such as Gilly), who don't appear to have anything magical like dragons, haven't started looking like Sloth from The Goonies?

Edited by Angel Eyes

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George is writing a series of fantasy fiction, not a hard-science story. Things like genetics, and the effects of inbreeding, are written about and handled with the story in mind, and not with real-world realities as the primary driver for them. The Targaryens are supposed to be some sort of otherworldly, beautiful, superior, perhaps-not-quite-human group of people. Them being all hunch-backed freaks would interfere with what GRRM is trying to convey to us. Instead of physical defects, the "price" of their incest is the whole "the Gods flip a coin when a Targaryen is born" thing, and their propensity for madness. 

As far as Craster and his family, there likely haven't been enough generations for them to end up looking too horrific. The Habsburg Jaw, for example, came about after many, many generations of inter-marriage and breeding. 

Edited by Unacosamedarisa

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Continuous incest actually works the way George describes it in the series. It causes child/infant mortality to rise but also makes half of the children produced having the traits desired the breeder (incest is a much used method of human breeders producing the animal races they want to create - they just kill off the failures or at least don't allow them to procreate).

That is reflected by Jaehaerys II quote that the gods always throw a coin when a Targaryen is born.

The working Targaryens are beautiful, strong, smart, and capable specimen. The failures not so much. But most of them don't seem to survive, anyway. They have a high rate of child mortality, many of them can't properly procreate, they have fertility issues, etc.

George has used the whole theme in a similar fashion in his story 'The Skin Trade' where continuous inbreeding among a clan of werewolves causes them to both produce really great and powerfully built specimen but also utter failures. Those werewolves interbreeding with 'lesser men', half-bloods, and the like don't have the failure problem but they don't bring forth particularly great and powerfully built werewolves, either.

How likely it is that a bloodline as inbreed as the Targaryens must be, stretching back throughout all the Valyrian history, I don't really know. But then - they really are not 'normal people'. They have the blood of the dragon, whatever that means.

And it must be kept in mind that even in real life incest as such doesn't cause a problem - it just highly increases the risk that hereditary diseases, gene defects, and the like have a much higher likelihood to have a stronger effect on the offspring than they would have under other circumstances. But incest as such doesn't cause gene defects or hereditary diseases. That is a common misconception.

There were cultures where sibling incest wasn't uncommon at all - Egypt under Ptolemies, for instance, and even later in the early Roman times (not only the elite married their sisters but many common people, too), the Persian kings, and marriage among half-siblings also was a very common practice in Egypt prior to the Ptolemies.

But we actually do have a number of Targaryens with strange features - Maegor's monstrosities, Laena and Rhaenyra's last children, Jaehaerys and Jaehaera both, Shiera Seastar, Daeron's daughter Vaella, Jaehaerys II, and Dany's son Rhaego (although it is not clear what the spell did to him and to what degree the child in the womb was also already rather strange). And then, of course, Tyrion, if we consider him the bastard son of Aerys II.

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1 hour ago, Unacosamedarisa said:

George is writing a series of fantasy fiction, not a hard-science story. Things like genetics, and the effects of inbreeding, are written about and handled with the story in mind, and not with real-world realities as the primary driver for them. The Targaryens are supposed to be some sort of otherworldly, beautiful, superior, perhaps-not-quite-human group of people. Them being all hunch-backed freaks would interfere with what GRRM is trying to convey to us. Instead of physical defects, the "price" of their incest is the whole "the Gods flip a coin when a Targaryen is born" thing, and their propensity for madness. 

As far as Craster and his family, there likely haven't been enough generations for them to end up looking too horrific. The Habsburg Jaw, for example, came about after many, many generations of inter-marriage and breeding. 

I’m surprised at him, being a man who based this series on how things would work in reality.

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12 minutes ago, Angel Eyes said:

I’m surprised at him, being a man who based this series on how things would work in reality.

If Martin were to stick to rw genetics and science in general he wouldn't be able to write the story we are reading. 

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First, no matter what proof anyone brings to show that GRRM is against incest, both in and out of his writing, there is a certain set of readers that will ignore this evidence, and even bring in nonsense ideas like real world Egyptians, and real world dog and horse breeding just to try and make incest seem not so bad because the fact that GRRM never endorses it as a positive does not please them and their wishes for the story plot  

This all too common idea among readers of the A Song of Ice and Fire fandom that have this idea that an author like George RR Martin is pro-incest and is, perhaps, even promoting it. If anything, GRRM writes far more favorably about polygamy and open relationships more than incest. This includes marriages with a variety of men and women... and who goes with whom. George has his own rules for his own story; scientific reality be damned!

George uses his own genetic rules, or else Daenerys and most Targaryens would look like this instead of being beautiful. Heck, Jon might even have a droopy eye from Rhaegar.

I can say that in all of his writings that I have read (and it is a lot) that include incest, or the idea of interbreeding, it never wins. Ever. If incest is not outright rejected from the beginning (some societies chose to die off rather than practice incest), then it leads to a genetic depression of sorts and is the practice is then rejected. Often GRRM has this society attend something he calls "gatherings", which are basically big orgies where the point is to spread your DNA to non-related people.

FOREWARNING- I am going to give a few small story details to some older GRRM stories (but just for a minute)... starting.... now...

  • The Skin Trade - incest has caused an inbreeding depression among the "elite" in the werewolf society. Despite the inbreeding, the elite are dying off. The hero of the story is a watered down werewolf, a mutt named Willie Flambeaux :leer:- the mutt is the hero, that should tell the reader something about our author. There is even a mention of how practicing incest lead to the mental derangement that caused a brother to kill his sister.
    • Rogoff was watching her from beneath his tangle of black hair. “He still doesn’t get it,” she said. She turned back to Joe. “Steven is sicker than you think. Something is missing. Too inbred, maybe. Think about it. Anders and Rochmonts, Flambeauxes and Harmons, the four great founding families, all werewolves, marrying each other generation after generation to keep the lines pure, for how many centuries? They kept the lines pure all right. They bred themselves Steven. He didn’t kill those children. Roy Helander saw a wolf carry off his sister, and Steven can’t change into a wolf. He got the bloodlust, he got inhuman strength, he burns at the touch of silver, but that’s all. The last of the purebloods can’t work the change!”
  • Despite the four "elite" houses inbreeding, they are declining:
    • “Damned if I know,” Willie said. “What do you think, we get together for a lodge meeting every time the moon is full? The purebloods, hell, not many, the pack’s been getting pretty thin these last few generations. But there’s lots of mongrels like me, half-breeds, quarter-breeds, what have you, the old families had their share of bastards. Some can work the change, some can’t. I’ve heard of a few who change one day and never do manage to change back. And that’s just from the old bloodlines, never mind the ones like Joanie.”
  • And the Skin Trade "elite" think of themselves as the Targaryens do, above gods and men... but in the end they are not because they are dying away just as easily. All GRRM did in ASOIAF was to replace the wolves with dragons. Otherwise, this Skin Trade story is very much a protoype to the Stark-Bolton historic struggles, right down to Roose, Ramsay and his "Reek", and Jon at the wall, and Val.
    • “I’ll kill you,” Randi said. “I think not.” He leaned over the bed. “Perhaps I’ll come for you myself some night. You ought to see me, Miss Wade. My fur is white now, pale as snow, but the stature, the majesty, the power, those have not left me. Michael was a half-breed, and your Willie, he was hardly more than a dog. The pureblood is rather more. We are the dire wolves, the nightmares who haunt your racial memories, the dark shapes circling endlessly beyond the light of your fires.” He smiled down at her, then
  • Bitterblooms - the story opens much like Dunk & Egg with a young girl, Shawn, having to bury her father. The father was the lover of the 16 year old girl, however, no children resulted. So, the story opens with the death of incest, and at the end of the story, the society that had been dying off as a result of incest depression soon has "gatherings" where Shawn has (non-marital) sex resulting children with other, non-related, people; she has nine children in total. Shawn is honored for it, offered a high clan position, and the clan starts to rebound. Bastards are a non-issue and fully accepted, it seems. Creg is the clan leader, Voice Creg to be specific. He is a very controlling man much like Craster and Arnolf/Cregan Karstark. It is only after Creg dies that the clan starts to rebound in population.
    • Devin honored her [Shawn] for bringing so much fresh blood into Carinhall, and later another Voice would name her for exceptional prowess as a trader. She traveled widely, met many families, saw waterfalls and volcanoes as well as seas and mountains, sailed halfway around the world on a Crien schooner. She had many lovers and much esteem. Jannis followed Devin as Voice, but she had a bitter unhappy time of it, and when she passed, the mothers and fathers of family Carin offered the position to Shawn. She turned it down. It would not have made her happy. Despite everything she had done, she was not a happy person. She remembered too much, and sometimes she could not sleep very well at night.
      During the fourth deepwinter of her life, the family numbered two hundred and thirty-seven, fully a hundred of them children.
  • Dying of the Light - Gwen is a historian (to simplify it) and she uncovers the truth that incest played a part in the decline of an extinguished civilization. This is a smaller mention, as no incest happens in the current timeline. Polygamy is a theme here.
  • Dark, Dark Were the Tunnels - The idea of incest is rejected right from the start, is never practiced, and the society chose to die off rather than have relations with related family. In the current timeline the humans who fled and colonized the moon have returned to Earth because fresh genetic stock is running low. They are looking for the other humans that perhaps fled underground.
    • "Luna could be made self-sufficient, but only with a very small population. That's what happened. The population adjusted itself. But we recycled our air and our water, grew foods in hydroponic tanks. We struggled, but we survived. And began to rebuild.

"But we lost a lot. Too many people died. Our genetic pool was terribly small, and not too diverse. The colony had never had a lot of racial diversity to begin with.

"That hasn't helped. Population actually declined for a long time after we had the physical resources to support more people. The idea of in-breeding didn't go over. Now population's going up again, but slowly. We're stagnant, Von der Stadt. It's taken us nearly five centuries to get space travel going again, for example. And we still haven't duplicated many of the things they had back on Earth before the disaster."

Von der Stadt frowned. "Stagnant's a strong word," he said. "I think we've done pretty good."

Ciffonetto dismissed the comment with a wave of his flashlight. "Pretty good," he said. "Not good enough. We're not going anywhere. There's so damn few changes, so little in the way of new ideas. We need fresh viewpoints, fresh genetic stock. We need the stimulation of contact with a foreign culture.

"Survivors would give us that. After all Earth's been through, they'd have to have changed in some ways. And they'd be proof that human life can still flourish on Earth. That's crucial if we're going to establish a colony here."

  • Nightflyers - The main protagonist, Royd Eris, is a cross-sex clone of his mother. She has since died and is second-lifing herself within the ruby crystal of the Nightflyer ship (made of three eggs ;) ) Royd was created by his mother in a test tube to later have a sexual relationship when he grew older. Royd rejected this idea right from the start, and instead he falls in love with a new woman. The mother gets fiery angry over this relationship and tries to kill the girl (and everyone else).

 

OLD STORIES POINTS OVER...

This is the same idea that he gave to the free folk in ASOIAF with the idea of "stealing" (truly just a type of courting), and the idea that you do not have sex with anyone from your own clan. And the irony in this is how in-story, the free folk are referred to in the derogatory term as "wildlings", when in fact, they are the more civilized when it comes to this practice.

  • A Storm of Swords - Jon III
"It wasn't Longspear, then?" Jon was relieved. He liked Longspear, with his homely face and friendly ways.
She punched him. "That's vile. Would you bed your sister?"
"Longspear's not your brother."
"He's of my village. You know nothing, Jon Snow. A true man steals a woman from afar, t' strengthen the clan. Women who bed brothers or fathers or clan kin offend the gods, and are cursed with weak and sickly children. Even monsters."
 
And I have a sneaky feeling that George has mentioned these same orgy gathering in ASOIAF, and the purpose of these gatherings to to spread the skinchanger (old gods) genetic material that is native to Westeros... but this is just speculation.
  • A Dance with Dragons - Prologue
Not all skinchangers felt the same, however. Once, when Lump was ten, Haggon had taken him to a gathering of such. The wargs were the most numerous in that company, the wolf-brothers, but the boy had found the others stranger and more fascinating. Borroq looked so much like his boar that all he lacked was tusks, Orell had his eagle, Briar her shadowcat (the moment he saw them, Lump wanted a shadowcat of his own), the goat woman Grisella …

 

And then there is the often shouted, "But the Starks practice incest!", which is not true within the Stark line or any other Northern line. Actually, not in any other line except for the Targaryens. Not the Dothraki, the Andals, Ibbenese, any civilzation in the far eastern hemisphere. No one.

But the 93' outline!!!!, some may shout. To that I say, nope. GRRM seems to have traded the possible romance mentioned there (remember, we never saw the conclusion to that idea in the outline itself), and invented Cersei just for this purpose. So very much of that outline has been changed, and GRRM even said that when writing it in order to pitch the book idea, that he was, "making shit up." The outline is not the refined version of ASOIAF we have now. Thank the old gods and the new!

The better way to investigate this Stark idea is that you should be looking at everything else that is also going on around this same time. Long and short, never do we hear of any Stark practicing incest other than this twisted case/s. We have the Stark lineage in the World book and the wiki online to be able to check.

A few things to keep in mind are...

First, Jonnel and Edric Stark were only half-uncles to Serena and Sansa (Manderly) Stark. I am not sure if or where that counts on the "abomination scale". If Eddard's parents being cousins once removed is enough of a genetic spread (two more bloodlines introduced), then maybe this is too, but I dunno for sure. Maybe that extra, new, blood is enough? But chances are it was as listed in number 2, next.

Second, the two nieces were of a Manderly mother, Jeyne Manderly. So the Manderly's at the time, who were trying to continue their move into the north, and still followed the seven, continue their campaign into the northern bloodlines. Remember, girls do not get to chose their husbands on the norm. This was a strategic double marriage back into House Stark, with one of the girls already being a widow (so second cattle marriage for her). This could be history repeating as we see current day Wyman Manderly trying to get a hold of Rickon Stark, and there is certainly speculation as to the "real" reasons why.

Third, and maybe most important, none of the half-uncle+niece marriages went back into the main branch of House Stark. It was not prevalent in House Stark at all by the records we have. If it was important, or if it was common, we would have seen it. Instead we are repeatedly told the opposite by more than one source. The Sansa-Jonnel Stark marriage had zero children; so bloodline ended. And the Serena-Edric marriage went on to create/continue House Umber and House Cerwyn. From that point on I cannot find any Umber or Cerwyn being bred back in to the Starks. Beron Stark and Lorra Royce continued House Stark proper.

And fourth, this one fits what George was talking about for why Tywin married his own first cousin- to gain and maintain power. Tywin has struck fear into the hearts of men because of how he handled the Reynes of Castamere situation. Tywin is no longer questioned.

When Rickon Stark (husband to Jeyne Manderly and heir to Cregan Stark) died in Dorne, that left a power and inheritance gap. Rickon only had two daughters, and we know from George that Winterfell has never had a female in charge for whatever reason. So, it could have been a power grab from the half-uncles, or it could have been an exception to keep a Stark always in Winterfell. Anyway, it gets worse because that plan backfires because the inheritance again gets screwed up because the "right" males die at the wrong time anyway (old gods judgement?). So, the incest lines end completely, either by death in the line, or it never being practiced again. The Stark inheritance went to Jonnel and Edric's younger brother Brandon.

ADDING THIS AGAIN BECAUSE THE QUOTER KEEPS EATING IT:

Creg from Bitterblooms is a controlling person who condones incest, which is never mentioned as "normal" in that society as a whole. Creg is a very controlling old man and belittles his people much like Craster does, and much like Arnolf/Cregan Karstark do.

Cregan Stark from history also went against the norm in the north and #1, tried to work in the south and northern men "melt" in the south (not normal), and it was Cregan's two sons that were the only ones in noted history to commit incest when they married their half-nieces in an attempted power grab (that failed with Cregard Stark).

Cregan Karstark is also going against the northern norm and trying to force an incest marriage on his clan kin, Alys, as a means for a power grab. History repeats, people, history repeats. Arnolf is Cregan's father, and he is the one behind the power grab plan for Alys and the plan to kill the rightful heir, Harrion. Arnolf and Cregan are once again betraying the north.

Ultimately it comes down to what sounds right. And I struggle with that, finding the right name for a character. If I can't find the right name I don't know who the character is and I can't proceed." – George R.R. Martin

***

And we are told very clearly many times in the entire universe of Ice and Fire literature that incest is a Targaryen privilege. Elio/Ran even confirmed this in the Sons of the Dragon thread.

  • No other houses copied Targaryen polygamy in the post-Aegon era for the same reason that no one copied Targaryen incest: it was a unique privilege permitted to them and no one else. Simple as that. Source

Any time we see it happen, or even suggested, in the story, it is meant as a bad omen. You have to include it to show how "bad" it is. The Targaryens practiced it as a means of control of their woman and their dragons. It is a type of slavery. (and this also makes you question whether there really is something to the female Targaryens being the required hatching element to dragons). The Targaryens thought themselves above gods and men, and therefore could do as they pleased (or so they thought).

In ALL of GRRM's work that do feature an idea or act of incest, it is ALWAYS bad. To be clear, not all of his work features incest, but those that do, it is always a negative and is shunned or responsible for downfalls and lust, pride, purity, etc. It literally brings down dynasty's and entire cultures. In several of his stories, the civilizations out right rejected incest even though it mean their clan will die. The only time some of these clans can have a rebound is when they realize that "new blood" is needed and incest is ended. Every time.

And, an author writes what he knows, and GRRM is in no way shape or form promoting or uplifting incest. As a matter of fact, he speaks against it many times, in many different ways. Just two examples below.

Here at the 47 minute mark where he talks about the idea of purity needs to go away because, as he says, we should all be "mutts" and "mongrels" (just like the hero in The Skin Trade). http://dndjourneyofthefifthedition.podbean.com/e/tuscon-43-an-hour-with-george-r-r-martin/

George does not condone incest, as he says in the 1:45 mark.

And this is how incest is described in the books (below), and we never hear of another culture anywhere practicing it. It caused a riff between not just the Faith of the Seven and the Targaryens, but also between the smallfolk and the Targaryens when they arrived, and that riff lasted:

  • The World of Ice and Fire
The tradition amongst the Targaryens had always been to marry kin to kin. Wedding brother to sister was thought to be ideal. Failing that, a girl might wed an uncle, a cousin, or a nephew; a boy, a cousin, aunt, or niece. This practice went back to Old Valyria, where it was common amongst many of the ancient families, particularly those who bred and rode dragons. "The blood of the dragon must remain pure," the wisdom went. Some of the sorcerer princes also took more than one wife when it pleased them, though this was less common than incestuous marriage. In Valryia before the Doom, wise men wrote, a thousand gods were honored, but none were feared, so few dared to speak against these customs.
This was not true in Westeros, where the power of the Faith went unquestioned. Incest was denounced as vile sin, whether between father and daughter, mother and son, or brother and sister, and the fruits of such unions were considered abominations in the sight of gods and men. With hindsight, it can be seen that conflict between the Faith and House Targaryen was inevitable.
 
And we even have a "King Abomination" in history, all because he chose to reinstate incest within the line.
  • The World of Ice and Fire
Queen Visenya proposed that Maegor be wed to Aenys's first child, Rhaena, but the High Septon mounted a vigorous protest, and Maegor was wed instead to the High Septon's own niece, Lady Ceryse of House Hightower. But that proved a barren marriage, while Aenys's bore more fruit, as Rhaena was followed by his son and heir, Aegon, and later Viserys, Jaehaerys, and Alysanne. Perhaps envious, after two years as Hand—and the birth to his brother of yet another daughter, Vaella, who died as an infant—Maegor shocked the realm in 39 AC by announcing that he had taken a second wife—Alys of House Harroway—in secret. He had wed her in a Valyrian ceremony officiated by Queen Visenya for want of a septon willing to wed them. The public outcry was such that Aenys was finally forced to exile his brother.
Aenys seemed content to let the matter lie with Maegor's exile, but the High Septon was still not satisfied. Not even the appointment of the reputed miracle-worker, Septon Murmison, as Aenys's new Hand could wholly repair the breach with the Faith. And in 41 AC, Aenys made matters worse when he chose to wed his eldest daughter, Rhaena, to his son and heir, Aegon, whom he named Prince of Dragonstone in Maegor's place. From the Starry Sept came a denunciation such as no king had ever received before, addressed to "KingAbomination"—and suddenly pious lords and even the smallfolk who had once loved Aenys turned against him.
Septon Murmison was expelled from the Faith for performing the ceremony, and zealous Poor Fellows took up arms, hacking Murmison to pieces a fortnight later as he was carried by litter across the city. The Warrior's Sons began to fortify the Hill of Rhaenys, making the Sept of Remembrance into a citadel that could stand against the king. In addition, some Poor Fellows attempted to murder the king and his family in the castle itself, scaling its walls and slipping into the royal apartments. It was only thanks to a knight of the Kingsguard that the royal family survived.
Edited by The Fattest Leech
forgot to add link

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20 minutes ago, Angel Eyes said:

I’m surprised at him, being a man who based this series on how things would work in reality.

George also creates half-human hybrids which (despite me really wanting to have genetically spliced in wings to fly), that doesn't happen in the real world. It's all fantasy, baby! ^_^

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2 hours ago, Angel Eyes said:

So how come children born of incest have relatively minor physical defects, such as Jaehaerys six-toes? How come Craster's daughters (such as Gilly), who don't appear to have anything magical like dragons, haven't started looking like Sloth from The Goonies?

It's a fantasy novel with dragons,, ice demons, not-elves, fire and blood magic and networked magic trees. why is real world genetics important to everyone here?  

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1 hour ago, Angel Eyes said:

So how come children born of incest have relatively minor physical defects, such as Jaehaerys six-toes? How come Craster's daughters (such as Gilly), who don't appear to have anything magical like dragons, haven't started looking like Sloth from The Goonies?

I would guess part of the answer is that GRRM has created a fantasy world, and therefore he can manipulate the breeding however he wishes. But we are told that there have been some fetus of Targaryen blood that have not survived or children that have had some birth defects. But the majority of Targaryen's are almost other worldly beautiful, with their trademark silver and gold hair and shades of purple eyes. 

Incest itself doesn't produce birth defects on it's own, incest just increases the chances that certain genes have a greater possibilities of being passed on. Such as the recessive bleeding disorder's seen in  Queen Victoria of England, and the effects were seen in several generations of her royal descendants, perhaps most notably in the Romanov royal family of Russia. If you look at photo's of the Romanov family, you don't see hideous physical disabilities, and they were noted to be intelligent and it is a pretty good looking family. But the inbreeding in their line did increase the chances of haemophilia, which sadly affected the health of the Tsaravich Alexei among others, and which still was noted in several European royal houses into the 1900's. I am not trying to claim incest caused this problem, but if these royal houses had continued to flourish and breed amongst themselves, we might have seen more expression of the haemophilia, as well as possible physical manifestations.

The Hapsburg royal family, noted for their Hapsburg jaw, among several other physical signs, had been inbreeding for generation upon generation, which increased the chance of recessive traits being expressed.  If a family carried no recessive traits, then it would not increase the chances of expressing them. 

The same could be said for small groups that produce recessive traits, such as Tay-Sach's disease, which is a recessive trait carried by many people of Ashkenazi Jewish decent. You don't need to marry your siblings or cousin's to have problems with recessive genetic disorders.

1 hour ago, Unacosamedarisa said:

As far as Craster and his family, there likely haven't been enough generations for them to end up looking too horrific. The Habsburg Jaw, for example, came about after many, many generations of inter-marriage and breeding. 

It is possible that after several more generations of breeding with his daughters, Craster's children might start to express some unfortunate physical traits, but so far in the story, no one comments of any of Craster's daughter's being malformed or ugly. Sam notes that Craster's wives and daughters all seem to look very similar, but when it comes down to the mutiny of Night's Watch members, none of the mutineer's who chose to rape those women seem to be turned off by their inbreeding. In the Prologue of Storm, Chett is wondering how he can claim Craster's life and wives for himself, and the text inplies to me that he would continue with Craster's actions, including marrying his own daughters when the time was right.

However, I speculate that the offspring of Craster carries something genetically that the Other's are interested it. That is why Craster is safe from them, and perhaps that is why Craster seems to be safe from other wildlings and even the Night's Watch. Inbreeding with his own daughters, would make the chance that this special genetic trait is expressed more strongly. Hard to say, but I would also speculate that Craster's first wives might have been his own sister's, and some people have speculated that his first wife might have been his own mother. It would not surprise me if that is revealed to us. There is a reason Craster was doing what he was doing, I doubt it was just because he is a creep!

1 hour ago, Lord Varys said:

Continuous incest actually works the way George describes it in the series. It causes child/infant mortality to rise but also makes half of the children produced having the traits desired the breeder (incest is a much used method of human breeders producing the animal races they want to create - they just kill off the failures or at least don't allow them to procreate).

This is a good example, as seen my breeders of horses and dogs and cat's. Animals are breed to highlight certain traits, and we as human's will push the edges of the boundary, until we start to see problems or consequences. Of the top of my head, the thoroughbred race horse Ruffian comes to mind. Ruffian was a promising thoroughbred filly who had to be euthanized after suffering from a breakdown on the race track. Eventually both her dam and sire were also euthanized related to breakdowns. It is thought that the breeding in these thoroughbreds caused a greater susceptibility to stress fractures based on recessive traits, which eventually caused the horrible fractures that lead to the deaths of all of these horses. 

1 hour ago, Lord Varys said:

There were cultures where sibling incest wasn't uncommon at all - Egypt under Ptolemies, for instance, and even later in the early Roman times (not only the elite married their sisters but many common people, too), the Persian kings, and marriage among half-siblings also was a very common practice in Egypt prior to the Ptolemies.

I would say that inbreeding to keep power in royal families is much more prevalent than these examples you have given, we just don't have the historical records to back it up, going back many thousands of years, or to those societies were lacking written records. There are several historical examples to be cited, as you have above. I would also think that the large number of incest stories that come to us in world mythologies are based on actual human practices. Almost all world mythologies have some incest in their creation stories, including the bible.

1 hour ago, Lord Varys said:

George has used the whole theme in a similar fashion in his story 'The Skin Trade' where continuous inbreeding among a clan of werewolves causes them to both produce really great and powerfully built specimen but also utter failures. Those werewolves interbreeding with 'lesser men', half-bloods, and the like don't have the failure problem but they don't bring forth particularly great and powerfully built werewolves, either.

I have not read this story, but GRRM has other stories in which inbreeding plays a role in survival or to even to increase powers. As an author, he is not afraid to use incest as a tool to tell his story.

2 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

How likely it is that a bloodline as inbreed as the Targaryens must be, stretching back throughout all the Valyrian history, I don't really know. But then - they really are not 'normal people'. They have the blood of the dragon, whatever that means.

Blood of the dragon is something we hear many times in this story. We also hear the term "wolf blooded" in relation to the Stark's, and I wonder if this is a clue to us that their power genetically might have come from inbreeding. The world book tells us they were smart enough to marry into several conquered houses in the north, including the crannogmen through the Marsh King, who might carry a green site gene, and the Stark males married the Warg King's daughters, which I think implies they were looking to bring those genes into their own bloodline. Once they had those genes, there is no reason to think they might not have continued to breed to keep those genes strong and expressed.

Once I came to terms with the amount of incest in the story (and it's almost everywhere), and set aside the "eeww" factor, I came to see that it might be a tool that GRRM is going to use in this story for some big things. I think he is showing us in some instances (the Targaryen breeding practices or even in Jaime and Cersei's children) while keeping other hints on the down low, but planting them, none the less. I suspect that the "long face of the Stark's" is not unlike the trait that our world know's as the Hapsburg Jaw, and we might eventually find that before Aegon's conquest, Stark inbreeding might have been used to keep their blood line strong for the purpose of skinchanging!

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3 hours ago, Angel Eyes said:

So how come children born of incest have relatively minor physical defects, such as Jaehaerys six-toes? How come Craster's daughters (such as Gilly), who don't appear to have anything magical like dragons, haven't started looking like Sloth from The Goonies?

Wow. It seems that it seems like other posters have said. That Martin made it up for fantasy. 

 

28 minutes ago, St Daga said:

I have not read this story, but GRRM has other stories in which inbreeding plays a role in survival or to even to increase powers. As an author, he is not afraid to use incest as a tool to tell his story.

Blood of the dragon is something we hear many times in this story. We also hear the term "wolf blooded" in relation to the Stark's, and I wonder if this is a clue to us that their power genetically might have come from inbreeding. The world book tells us they were smart enough to marry into several conquered houses in the north, including the crannogmen through the Marsh King, who might carry a green site gene, and the Stark males married the Warg King's daughters, which I think implies they were looking to bring those genes into their own bloodline. Once they had those genes, there is no reason to think they might not have continued to breed to keep those genes strong and expressed.

Once I came to terms with the amount of incest in the story (and it's almost everywhere), and set aside the "eeww" factor, I came to see that it might be a tool that GRRM is going to use in this story for some big things. I think he is showing us in some instances (the Targaryen breeding practices or even in Jaime and Cersei's children) while keeping other hints on the down low, but planting them, none the less. I suspect that the "long face of the Stark's" is not unlike the trait that our world know's as the Hapsburg Jaw, and we might eventually find that before Aegon's conquest, Stark inbreeding might have been used to keep their blood line strong for the purpose of skinchanging!

I just started reading some of Martin's stories other the Ice and Fire. I am reading the southern vampire story Fever Dream now. I noticed that the main good guy in that story has a long jaw too and wears grey and white. I don't think this is a inbred Stark disease, but I have not read the other stories yet. Which one has the incest that increases powers in it? I will see if I can read that next (between classes ^_^). Thank you. 

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3 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Continuous incest actually works the way George describes it in the series. It causes child/infant mortality to rise but also makes half of the children produced having the traits desired the breeder (incest is a much used method of human breeders producing the animal races they want to create - they just kill off the failures or at least don't allow them to procreate).

Thanks for the great genetics summary! That's what I recall from my Population Genetics course some years back. What do people think "purebred" means, anyway? Continued inbreeding of the best tends to bring out the recessive, undesireable traits - which a sensible breeder will either neuter or euthanize, to remove these characteristics from the gene pool. But we humans believe that EVERYBODY ought to reproduce, even when they're genetically incapable of it. Maybe we're no thoroughbreds, but we can hope for "hybrid vigor."

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28 minutes ago, zandru said:

Thanks for the great genetics summary! That's what I recall from my Population Genetics course some years back. What do people think "purebred" means, anyway? Continued inbreeding of the best tends to bring out the recessive, undesireable traits - which a sensible breeder will either neuter or euthanize, to remove these characteristics from the gene pool.

the problem is layered. I come from a state that has a lot of dog and horse breeders and there are very few good ones. And what is the point of "pure breeding" anyway? It does not make them work better and most dogs are for fun anyway, so no pure breeding necessary. 

There was an article a little while ago that shows just a little at what happens at dog shows. The dogs are bred to be basically useless to their original purpose. Even the best bred ones do not even look like what they are supposed to look like. The poor dogs bodies do not even work properly but we viewers don't get to see all of that. The same goes for horses . I guess I don't get people who cheer this animal abuse on. I grew up with dogs from the pound and they are the best. 

Quote

 

https://www.express.co.uk/news/nature/652855/Cruel-cost-pedigree-dog-breeding-Crufts-2016

It later transpired he had undergone surgery to enable him to breathe and after he won Best in Show he had to sit on an ice pack while being photographed to stop him overheating.

She adds: “The Kennel Club did introduce some changes but they are too little too late.

“What we need is a root-and-branch reform in the way dogs are bred. Additionally dog shows including Crufts need to reward health and function above looks.”

The greatest shame of all is that it’s predicted this drive for so-called purity will cause some types of dog to become so disease-ridden they will become extinct within 50 years.

 

Oh I forgot to say that this dog was considered the best in show but his inbreeding made his body not functional. Sad because the inbreeding did worse to him than natural breeding. 

Quote

But we humans believe that EVERYBODY ought to reproduce, even when they're genetically incapable of it. Maybe we're no thoroughbreds, but we can hope for "hybrid vigor."

I agree that it is a weird double standard for humans and we bring it on ourselves. 

Edited by Sea Dragon
forgot to say something

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Inbred strains resulting from 20 or more generations of incest are used in research. They are almost geneticall identical, making them clones of each other.

Incest is not necessarily a bad thing. Sure it will decrease variation and if you have defective genes or undesired traits, they may accumulate over time resulting in things like Habsburg jaw but on the other hand if you don't have any bad genes then you have nothing to worry about and may even want to have such breeds for desired traits like say, purple eyes and such.

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4 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Continuous incest actually works the way George describes it in the series. It causes child/infant mortality to rise but also makes half of the children produced having the traits desired the breeder (incest is a much used method of human breeders producing the animal races they want to create - they just kill off the failures or at least don't allow them to procreate).

That is reflected by Jaehaerys II quote that the gods always throw a coin when a Targaryen is born.

The working Targaryens are beautiful, strong, smart, and capable specimen. The failures not so much. But most of them don't seem to survive, anyway. They have a high rate of child mortality, many of them can't properly procreate, they have fertility issues, etc.

George has used the whole theme in a similar fashion in his story 'The Skin Trade' where continuous inbreeding among a clan of werewolves causes them to both produce really great and powerfully built specimen but also utter failures. Those werewolves interbreeding with 'lesser men', half-bloods, and the like don't have the failure problem but they don't bring forth particularly great and powerfully built werewolves, either.

How likely it is that a bloodline as inbreed as the Targaryens must be, stretching back throughout all the Valyrian history, I don't really know. But then - they really are not 'normal people'. They have the blood of the dragon, whatever that means.

And it must be kept in mind that even in real life incest as such doesn't cause a problem - it just highly increases the risk that hereditary diseases, gene defects, and the like have a much higher likelihood to have a stronger effect on the offspring than they would have under other circumstances. But incest as such doesn't cause gene defects or hereditary diseases. That is a common misconception.

There were cultures where sibling incest wasn't uncommon at all - Egypt under Ptolemies, for instance, and even later in the early Roman times (not only the elite married their sisters but many common people, too), the Persian kings, and marriage among half-siblings also was a very common practice in Egypt prior to the Ptolemies.

But we actually do have a number of Targaryens with strange features - Maegor's monstrosities, Laena and Rhaenyra's last children, Jaehaerys and Jaehaera both, Shiera Seastar, Daeron's daughter Vaella, Jaehaerys II, and Dany's son Rhaego (although it is not clear what the spell did to him and to what degree the child in the womb was also already rather strange). And then, of course, Tyrion, if we consider him the bastard son of Aerys II.

Excellent points.  

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1 hour ago, Sea Dragon said:

the problem is layered. I come from a state that has a lot of dog and horse breeders and there are very few good ones. And what is the point of "pure breeding" anyway? It does not make them work better and most dogs are for fun anyway, so no pure breeding necessary. 

There was an article a little while ago that shows just a little at what happens at dog shows. The dogs are bred to be basically useless to their original purpose. Even the best bred ones do not even look like what they are supposed to look like. The poor dogs bodies do not even work properly but we viewers don't get to see all of that. The same goes for horses . I guess I don't get people who cheer this animal abuse on. I grew up with dogs from the pound and they are the best. 

Oh I forgot to say that this dog was considered the best in show but his inbreeding made his body not functional. Sad because the inbreeding did worse to him than natural breeding. 

I agree that it is a weird double standard for humans and we bring it on ourselves. 

This is true. Swedish police had to start to breed their own german shepherds because swedish breeders no longer produced healthy enough dogs - the bred dogs had an abnormal slant to their backs which made them slower, less agile and suffering hip-issues.

Thanks to the dalmation-movies all thoroughbred dalmatian puppies has to be checked for deafness and breeders can expect having to put half of every litter down.

 

@Lord Varys: we discussed incest in an earlier thread and I recall some of your arguments from there, and I agree that all grown people should be morally free to get with any other grown willing person they wish. But it isn't right making offspring when it risks a life in state that in animals would be euthanised. The offspring is innocent and inbreeding should be avoided just like drinking and smoking during pregnancy - for the exact same reasons.

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6 hours ago, St Daga said:

The same could be said for small groups that produce recessive traits, such as Tay-Sach's disease, which is a recessive trait carried by many people of Ashkenazi Jewish decent. You don't need to marry your siblings or cousin's to have problems with recessive genetic disorders.

Don't they offer gene test for some such people who have a considerable risk of producing children suffering from such or similar diseases? I recall having heard that some time ago...

Quote

It is possible that after several more generations of breeding with his daughters, Craster's children might start to express some unfortunate physical traits, but so far in the story, no one comments of any of Craster's daughter's being malformed or ugly. Sam notes that Craster's wives and daughters all seem to look very similar, but when it comes down to the mutiny of Night's Watch members, none of the mutineer's who chose to rape those women seem to be turned off by their inbreeding. In the Prologue of Storm, Chett is wondering how he can claim Craster's life and wives for himself, and the text inplies to me that he would continue with Craster's actions, including marrying his own daughters when the time was right.

Craster is, at best, likely the (great-)great-grandfather, grandfather, and father of his youngest children. That is not necessarily enough time for his children to show a lot of birth defects, especially since chances are not so bad that Craster's parents - a wildling and a brother of the Night's Watch (who could have been from anywhere in the Seven Kingdoms) - were not exactly closely related.

Quote

This is a good example, as seen my breeders of horses and dogs and cat's. Animals are breed to highlight certain traits, and we as human's will push the edges of the boundary, until we start to see problems or consequences. Of the top of my head, the thoroughbred race horse Ruffian comes to mind. Ruffian was a promising thoroughbred filly who had to be euthanized after suffering from a breakdown on the race track. Eventually both her dam and sire were also euthanized related to breakdowns. It is thought that the breeding in these thoroughbreds caused a greater susceptibility to stress fractures based on recessive traits, which eventually caused the horrible fractures that lead to the deaths of all of these horses. 

I recently heard that essentially all of modern-day horses are just descended from one stallion. The Romans bred using the stallions whereas the Greeks used the mares. But the gene pools in horses is very thin. And the same goes for most domesticated animals and plants.

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I would say that inbreeding to keep power in royal families is much more prevalent than these examples you have given, we just don't have the historical records to back it up, going back many thousands of years, or to those societies were lacking written records. There are several historical examples to be cited, as you have above. I would also think that the large number of incest stories that come to us in world mythologies are based on actual human practices. Almost all world mythologies have some incest in their creation stories, including the bible.

Sure, I think incest was also a thing in many of indigenous American cultures, but I'm not expert on those.

One would also assume that offspring among closely related cousins and other relations was very common back in the stone age and the like, when people were living in small clans and populating new territory.

Quote

I have not read this story, but GRRM has other stories in which inbreeding plays a role in survival or to even to increase powers. As an author, he is not afraid to use incest as a tool to tell his story.

It is pretty good, actually, the one thing that mars it is the fact that it was supposed to be the first of a series.

Quote

Blood of the dragon is something we hear many times in this story. We also hear the term "wolf blooded" in relation to the Stark's, and I wonder if this is a clue to us that their power genetically might have come from inbreeding. The world book tells us they were smart enough to marry into several conquered houses in the north, including the crannogmen through the Marsh King, who might carry a green site gene, and the Stark males married the Warg King's daughters, which I think implies they were looking to bring those genes into their own bloodline. Once they had those genes, there is no reason to think they might not have continued to breed to keep those genes strong and expressed.

We can safely say that most of the noble houses of Westeros are very heavily interrelated - not on the Targaryen sibling incest level but definitely on the milder cousin-to-cousin marriage level of the European nobility (intermingled with the occasional avuncular marriage). Just look at the Stark family tree.

There are actually avuncular and cousin marriages through the male line in there - but how many Stark wives happened to be cousins of various degree through the female line is completely unclear. And the same goes for the Lannister - and any other - family tree. The most noble bloodlines effectively only have a couple of dozen (and perhaps even less) bloodlines they regularly intermarry with. There is always the occasional strange interloper - a love match, some younger son suddenly coming to the lordship who has married somebody of very modest pedigree, etc. - but all those houses the Lannisters and Starks married in the family trees we know must have had a literal army of Stark and Lannister ancestors among their own ancestors - and vice versa, of course.

The Conquest may have broadened the gene pool somewhat, with nobility from all over the Seven Kingdoms starting to intermarry with each other, at least occasionally - Queen Rhaenys is famous for arranging some such matches.

But I'm not sure magic like greenseeing and skinchanging has much to do with this. Bloodraven and the Children give statistics as to how many people in a given population happen to turn out to be skinchangers and greenseers. They don't tell us that certain (inbred) bloodlines increase the probability of such offspring. Varamyr hopes for skinchanger offspring but never gets any - vice versa, his parents aren't skinchangers, either. There is no indication that Bloodraven's Targaryen or Blackwood kin ever were greenseers of skinchangers, etc.

The same with the talents of the Stark children. Their parents, grandparents, etc. weren't skinchangers or greenseers, either.

The specific wolf blood of the Starks seems to be trait that runs in the family - like their looks, and the looks of the other 'magical' noble bloodlines (Lannisters, Durrandons, etc.) but I don't think that connected to any magical potential as such. Just to special looks, special character traits, etc.

Quote

Once I came to terms with the amount of incest in the story (and it's almost everywhere), and set aside the "eeww" factor, I came to see that it might be a tool that GRRM is going to use in this story for some big things. I think he is showing us in some instances (the Targaryen breeding practices or even in Jaime and Cersei's children) while keeping other hints on the down low, but planting them, none the less. I suspect that the "long face of the Stark's" is not unlike the trait that our world know's as the Hapsburg Jaw, and we might eventually find that before Aegon's conquest, Stark inbreeding might have been used to keep their blood line strong for the purpose of skinchanging!

See above, I don't think that's likely. But a pretty strong of inbreeding via avuncular and cousin marriages is pretty likely. Else there wouldn't be a specific Stark, Lannister, Durrandon-Baratheon, Arryn, or even a Tully look.

Edited by Lord Varys

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If you'll look at Targaryens' family tree, then you'll see, that they didn't intermarried as often as people assume. We should count not how many times all Targaryens intermarried between themselves, after they arrived from Valyria, but only how many times intermarried direct ancestors of Dany and Jon Snow.

 

Aenar + unknown wife (non Targaryen)

Gaemon + Daenys

Aegon + Elaena

Aerys + unknown wife (non Targaryen)

Daemion + unknown wife (non Targaryen)

Aerion Targaryen + Valaena Velaryon

Aegon I + Rhaenys

Aenys I + Alyssa Velaryon

Jaehaerys I + Alysanne

Baelon + Alyssa

Viserys I Targaryen + Aemma Arryn (she was 1/2 Targaryen and 1/2 Arryn)

Rhaenyra + her uncle Daemon (he was 1/8 Velaryon and 7/8 Targaryen)

Viserys II + Larra Rogare

Aegon IV + Naerys (this two were 1/2 Rogares, a bit less than 1/2 Targaryens, and the rest was a bit of Arryn and Velaryon genes)

Daeron II + Maryah Martell

Maekar I (1/2 Martell and 1/2 Targaryen) + Dyanna Dayne

Aegon V (1/4 Targaryen, 1/4 Martell, 2/4 Dayne) + Betha Blackwood

Jaehaerys + Shaera (this two were 1/8 Targaryens, 1/8 Martells, 2/8 Daynes, and 4/8 Blackwoods)

Aerys + Rhaella

Dany & Rhaegar

 

Prior Dany's parents and grandparents, three generations of Targaryens married with non-Targaryens (Blackwood, Dayne, Martell); two generations before that, in their genetic pool were added genes of Rogares; two generations before that, a bit of Arryn genes; three generations before that Velaryon genes; two generations before that - more Velaryon genes; and for two generations in a row prior that, they also got addition of non-Targaryen genes into their genetic pool.

Prior Dany there was 19 generation of her ancestors, that lived at Dragonstone and then KL, after the Doom of Valyria. Out of those 19 generations, incestuous or partially incestuous (between first cousins, and between niece and uncle) marriages were between 9 and a half (Aemma Arryn, half-Targaryen) generations of her ancestors, and 9 and a half generations of her ancestors were in non-incestuous marriages.

So Dany would have had equal possibilities of getting from her ancestors unfavourable genetic traits, though because of recent marriages of Targaryens with Blackwood, Dayne and Martell, those scales changed in Dany's favour.

Edited by Megorova

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@St Daga Which stories are you thinking of that rely on inbreeding or incest to increase power? I'm drawing a blank, but I have certainly not read all of Martin's works. I can think of stories, like the story I stole my handle from, where incest happens but it is highly prized to have children from outside of the clan.

I also recommend Skin Trade. Its like a gritty detective story with werewolves. The story telling is really great. 

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2 hours ago, Sigella said:

 

@Lord Varys: we discussed incest in an earlier thread and I recall some of your arguments from there, and I agree that all grown people should be morally free to get with any other grown willing person they wish. But it isn't right making offspring when it risks a life in state that in animals would be euthanised. The offspring is innocent and inbreeding should be avoided just like drinking and smoking during pregnancy - for the exact same reasons.

Oh, it would only come to that if a child is really, really suffering from a lot of problems, like it when we are talking about gene and birth defects which are caused by many a 'normal pregnancy' among (very) distantly related parents.

I never said people should only procreate with their siblings or something similarly ridiculous, I just argued for the right of people to have sex with whoever they want to have sex if they are consenting adults and know how to use modern birth control methods. Now, as long as I can fuck any woman I want without having to double-check that any offspring she and I might make has a (significantly) increased risk of suffering from a number of birth defects and health problems I really see no reason to prevent the very small percentage of incest couples who want to have biological children of their own to produce such children.

After all, it is not forbidden that people who carry genes who might result in offspring that suffers from (a number of) hereditary disease(s) but as long as it is perfectly legal to unknowingly and knowingly produce children suffering from diseases that will make their lives short and full of suffering I see no reason why incest couples should be forbidden from producing children if they want to do that.

If you ask my general view on procreation - I don't intend to have children of my own, and I think deciding to have children is (and should be in all human beings) a choice made with most utmost care. If I happened to be in an incestuous relationship (or some cousin relationship) I'd likely be more skeptical about having children than I am right now.

Discouraging certain individuals from having children with other individuals on the basis of the genes they carry might also be a good idea, helping humanity to breed out certain hereditary diseases altogether - especially since most people knowing that the risk is pretty high that children would be born sick would likely never want to have children in the first place, anyway.

But then, it might be that the future will allow us to resolve such issues via gene therapy or genetic manipulation, etc.

We are constantly neutralizing factors of natural selection via modern medicine and birth control. The fitting next step would be to actually design the traits we want to see in our offspring rather than breed them. But I guess we would need a pretty big cultural shift for that along with the means to properly do it.

2 hours ago, Megorova said:

Aenar + unknown wife (non Targaryen)

 

Not clear. The mother of Gaemon and/or Daenys could have been one of Aenar's sisters or another close Targaryen relative (an aunt or a cousin).

2 hours ago, Megorova said:

Aerys + unknown wife (non Targaryen)

Daemion + unknown wife (non Targaryen)

These two could have been married to their sisters or other close relations, too, you know. We don't know their wives, it could have been anyone.

2 hours ago, Megorova said:

Aerion Targaryen + Valaena Velaryon

 

Valaena was Aerion's cousin on the Targaryen since her mother had been a Targaryen (although we don't know how closely that Targaryen was related to Aerion). But if she was his aunt then Aerion may have married his first cousin in Valaena Velaryon.

2 hours ago, Megorova said:

Aegon I + Rhaenys

Not sure if Aegon the Conqueror was actually the biological father of Aenys, but if you want to believe the story...

2 hours ago, Megorova said:

Aenys I + Alyssa Velaryon

 

She was also a cousin of Aenys, both through the Velaryon side as well as the Targaryen side considering that Valaena Velaryon would have been related to Alyssa (she may have been her grandaunt, the sister of Alyssa's likely grandfather, Daemon Velaryon, Aegon's first Master of Ships who died during the Conquest) and Aenys both through their shared Velaryon ancestors as well as their shared Targaryen ancestors (through Valaena Velaryon's Targaryen mother).

The exact degree of kinship there is unknown but I guess Aenys and Alyssa were second cousins on the Velaryon side of the family (sharing the same great-grandparents in Daemon and Valaena's parents) as well as third cousins on the Targaryen side if Valaena and Daemon's mother happened to be a sister of Aenys' great-grandfather Daemion Targaryen, say.

That might not be incest but it is still a marriage among rather close relatives.

2 hours ago, Megorova said:

Viserys I Targaryen + Aemma Arryn (she was 1/2 Targaryen and 1/2 Arryn)

These two were first cousins, and thus very closely related.

2 hours ago, Megorova said:

Rhaenyra + her uncle Daemon (he was 1/8 Velaryon and 7/8 Targaryen)

An avuncular marriage, even more closely related than Viserys I and Aemma Arryn.

2 hours ago, Megorova said:

Viserys II + Larra Rogare

These two were not closely related but still closer related, most likely, than most Westerosi people marrying Targaryens. Their families both came from Valyria, originally, and thus they are likely to be very distant cousins.

2 hours ago, Megorova said:

Daeron II + Maryah Martell

 

Definitely no kinship there.

2 hours ago, Megorova said:

Maekar I (1/2 Martell and 1/2 Targaryen) + Dyanna Dayne

 

These two could have been cousins. We don't know whether any Targaryens through the female line intermarried with the Daynes.

2 hours ago, Megorova said:

Aegon V (1/4 Targaryen, 1/4 Martell, 2/4 Dayne) + Betha Blackwood

Unlikely kinship here at this point.

But in general, it makes no sense to combine family names and the word 'genes' in this context. It is not that simple.

2 hours ago, Megorova said:

So Dany would have had equal possibilities of getting from her ancestors unfavourable genetic traits, though because of recent marriages of Targaryens with Blackwood, Dayne and Martell, those scales changed in Dany's favour.

If you ask me, then Jaehaerys II and Shaera carried, for some strange accident of history (and most likely due to the strong inbreeding of their ancestors) a very 'pureblooded strain' of 'the blood of the dragon'. Neither Aerys II nor Rhaella, Rhaegar, Viserys, or Daenerys reveal any non-Valyrian traits. Neither of them looks like a Blackwood (like Prince Duncan) or a Martell (like Baelor Breakspear and Princess Rhaenys).

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7 minutes ago, Bitterblooms said:

@St Daga Which stories are you thinking of that rely on inbreeding or incest to increase power? I'm drawing a blank, but I have certainly not read all of Martin's works. I can think of stories, like the story I stole my handle from, where incest happens but it is highly prized to have children from outside of the clan.

This story actually shows how incestuous (or rather marriages among close cousins and kin, because it is not clear we are talking about actually siblings here) shows that both 'fresh blood' from the outside as well as procreation with one's own is done/necessary under the conditions those people live in.

And the romanticism of gatherings and the like aside, this is most likely how things were done back in the days humanity had yet to spread all over the globe. You sleep with the people you can sleep with, not the people you would like to sleep with if you could enforce your will on reality. Meaning that - when the next clan or family is hundreds of miles away you don't have a choice but to pick a cousin or a sibling. And it is not that clans and families who don't live together cannot also be related to each other to a significant degree - if keep tabs on each other, see each other once, twice a year at this or that spot, then you will be related to a pretty significant degree a couple of generations down the road.

And it is, of course, rather interesting and exhilarating to meet other human beings and families in a time where you basically traveling around with your own clan your entire life.

One would also keep in mind that average life expectancy in our early days were not more than 35 years, give or take. That gives the people there 20+ years to procreate, not a very long time. You can't afford to be overly picky, nor do you have any reason to do so.

And if one looks back at ASoIaF, just remember that TWoIaF revealed that there were nine marriages between the Tyrells and the Gardeners before the Field of Fire. Nine. That makes it pretty likely that eight of those Gardeners who were marrying Tyrells were marrying cousins to an ever-increasing degree during the centuries.

And this is just the Gardener-Tyrell relationship - the relationship of two families who supposedly were not very strongly related, explaining why the Tyrells' claim to Highgarden is so weak.

The Hightowers, Redwynes, Florents, etc. must be much more closely related to the Gardeners.

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