Jump to content
Alexander Leonard

Why were so many bastards brought to the world of ice and fire? Why did so many women die of childbirth?

Recommended Posts

If moon tea is available for birth control in Westeros, why are there so many bastard sons (like Jon Snow, Ramsay Snow) and daughters (like the Sand Snakes)? Why did so many women die of childbirth (like Lyanna Stark, Queen Rhaella) when they could avoid getting pregnant when they were too young or not in good health?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I imagine there could be many causes. 

  1. Stress. (Lyanna and Rhaella where certainly in stressful situations.)
  2. No money to buy moon tea, or lack of moon tea in general.
  3. They have the child to gain some sort of favor with the Lord who sired them. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Moon tea could be:

1.  Difficult to obtain.

2.  Difficult to make

3.  Expensive.

4.  Hazardous to use (It contains many dangerous ingredients)

5.  Prohibited or have religious or moral objections to its use.

6.  Not always effective.

 

As for women who were too young , not in good health, etc., women who were married were generally expected to have children.  In a society like Westeros, that is one of the main purposes of marriage in the first place.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In Medieval ages a lot of women, even noble, died during childbirth. The delivery is very hard, extreme and painful and can be very dangerous even nowdays. I think in the case of Lyanna she just wanted the baby and she never protected herself because she wanted to conceive and give birth. And moontea maybe helps but I think it is an old and unsure way to prenvent conception. I doubt it is 100% sure, I doubt even it is 50% sure. If just drinking some tea is enough nowdays no women should pay for operations.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dying in childbirth without our modern healthcare is very common, consequence of our narrower hips which we need to walk upright.

I'd say moontea is not very readily apparent to poor people and most Highborns want as much children (preferably sons) as possible most of the time so they are not inclined to use moontea.

Edited by Brightstar_

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good discussion of moon tea and the hazards of pregnancy! Let's consider the other side: the men.

In Westeros, most men seemed to regard any woman or girl as their right. Lords formalized this, before it was outlawed, by "deflowering" every new bride among their smallfolk; prostitution was a standard, socially accepted means of employment; wars were common, from which we get the phrase "rape and pillage." Apparently, men only considered "paternity" important if they were a lord and counting their heirs. Otherwise, it was f** 'em and forget 'em. And women, having little alternative, had to accept this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
41 minutes ago, zandru said:

Good discussion of moon tea and the hazards of pregnancy! Let's consider the other side: the men.

In Westeros, most men seemed to regard any woman or girl as their right. Lords formalized this, before it was outlawed, by "deflowering" every new bride among their smallfolk; prostitution was a standard, socially accepted means of employment; wars were common, from which we get the phrase "rape and pillage." Apparently, men only considered "paternity" important if they were a lord and counting their heirs. Otherwise, it was f** 'em and forget 'em. And women, having little alternative, had to accept this.

It is also useful to remember tht parentage would be primarily important among the nobility and owners of substantial property.  Otherwise, who cares.?  For the peasantry or city-dwellers, children were a useful source of labor, either in the house, farm, or for pay, so would be welcome regardless of who the father was.  And nobody kept decent records in any case  Nobility excepted, of course.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Human behavior + lack of 21st century real world medicine/hygiene/nutrition/etc. + biology = this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/7/2019 at 5:10 PM, Alexander Leonard said:

If moon tea is available for birth control in Westeros, why are there so many bastard sons (like Jon Snow, Ramsay Snow) and daughters (like the Sand Snakes)? Why did so many women die of childbirth (like Lyanna Stark, Queen Rhaella) when they could avoid getting pregnant when they were too young or not in good health?

Reasons 

Horny lords having the power to take what they wish from women.

Horny people of both sexes in general who can't wait keep to their vows of marriage.

Contraception is cheap and easy today.  Still many unprepared girls and women get pregnant.

Early withdrawal is not an effective birth control technique.

Too many arranged marriages between people who don't like each other.

I am sure there are many bastards walking around today who don't know they are bastards.

Edited by Aline de Gavrillac

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, Aline de Gavrillac said:

I am sure there are many bastards walking around today who don't know they are bastards.

Heck yeah! George RR just recently learned that his father had been a bastard. Back in the day, people kept quiet about these things.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The life expectancy of women in Ancient Greece was something like 33.

There was more death because of repeated childbirth, a confining, physically and mentally restricted lifestyle, diseases, religious solutions to ailments, attitude that women were not a priority when it came to food and medicine, because, after all, chattel can be replaced.

Even today there is much more risk of death in childbirth for older women and infant death and disability for women older than 35.

The Quiverfull family began to have such problems after their many children.

Rick Santorums wife began to have risky pregnancies and children with disabilities. His wife had to have a late term abortion or die. 

Gosh if only we had moontea...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do think deaths in childbirth are somewhat too repeated in ASOIAF — both in the main series and Targaryen trees. In some cases the story doesn’t have to change that much either e.g. if Rhaella is the one with a wasting disease, Dany may vaguely remember her mother and it’s all the more bittersweet. 

But WRT pregnancies and moon tea, in some cases it might be more advantageous to be a mistress. A lowly lord has influence through a mistress daughter to a high lord or king; mistresses might be better provided for too than if they married within their station. So pregnancies out of wedlock might be wanted to further secure a place as mistress. 

Also, on the opposite end, the Faith may discourage moon tea in planned pregnancies.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, Vaith said:

Also, on the opposite end, the Faith may discourage moon tea in planned pregnancies.

Have we seen any textual evidence of this? At all?

Remember, the Catholic Church turned against contraception only fairly recently, and apparently for reasons more political than "moral." The contraception issue in the United States is purely political, having nothing to do with ethics or Christianity.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, zandru said:

Have we seen any textual evidence of this? At all?

Remember, the Catholic Church turned against contraception only fairly recently, and apparently for reasons more political than "moral." The contraception issue in the United States is purely political, having nothing to do with ethics or Christianity.

Seem to have been thinking of a non-canon reference... :) 

But I also don’t think a maester would be willing to dish out moon tea to a married noblewoman without informing her husband, unless she was particularly influential — and doubly so for unmarried women.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Vaith said:

a married noblewoman without informing her husband

A good point! The maesters would likely feel more loyalty to a lord (and male).

On the other hand, if nobles weren't involved, recall that after the Dance of the Dragons, Archmaester Orwyle escaped into King's Landing and was later found, working in a brothel and providing moontea, tansy and pennyroyal to the, er "sex workers" at need.

(He was only discovered when people noticed that someone was teaching the 'hos to read.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 minutes ago, zandru said:

A good point! The maesters would likely feel more loyalty to a lord (and male).

On the other hand, if nobles weren't involved, recall that after the Dance of the Dragons, Archmaester Orwyle escaped into King's Landing and was later found, working in a brothel and providing moontea, tansy and pennyroyal to the, er "sex workers" at need.

(He was only discovered when people noticed that someone was teaching the 'hos to read.)

In this instance, we can assume that a commoner would be in a good position as the mother of a nobleman's child -- so she might be actively trying to get pregnant. We don't really have a good idea on the number of bastards born to two noble parents in Westeros -- Tom o' Sevenstreams' children, I think, and definitely a few others.

But not everyone will have access to a healer who can make moon tea, nor do we know if it's 100% effective. Even if Asha and Arianne think it's as effective as something like the modern contraceptive pill, it won't have a 100% rate of succeeding :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Vaith said:

a commoner would be in a good position as the mother of a nobleman's child -- so she might be actively trying to get pregnant.

Indeed. In fact, back on Dragonstone when the Targaryens ruled, "dragonseeds" were looked upon with some favor.

2 hours ago, Vaith said:

nor do we know if it's 100% effective

I agree. And we don't know what kind of side effects it can have, either during its use, or long afterwards after a lifetime of heavy use. (If any, of course.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/9/2019 at 3:45 PM, zandru said:

Heck yeah! George RR just recently learned that his father had been a bastard. Back in the day, people kept quiet about these things.

It may be different in the US.  It's easy to have that label because all that need to happen is to be born outside of marriage.  Two teenagers doing it could result in a bastard.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/7/2019 at 11:10 PM, Alexander Leonard said:

If moon tea is available for birth control in Westeros, why are there so many bastard sons (like Jon Snow, Ramsay Snow) and daughters (like the Sand Snakes)? Why did so many women die of childbirth (like Lyanna Stark, Queen Rhaella) when they could avoid getting pregnant when they were too young or not in good health?

You should read this post

http://joannalannister.tumblr.com/post/162408885186/the-dead-ladies-club

It's a narrative blind spot

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×