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Aebram

A closer look at Roslin Frey

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Good morrow to all!  I've been musing about Roslin Frey.  I think something is "up" with her, a mystery that has yet to be solved.  A search of the Forum turned up only one post with her name in the Topic line.  She deserves more attention than that.  I have a few ideas ...

Let's review a few facts.  TL;DR people, just bear with me through #2.


 1.  She's pretty.

I think it's safe to say that the Freys are a notoriously unattractive House.  They often have weak chins and/or beady eyes that give them a weasel-esque appearence.  Several also have bad skin, mental defects, or other chronic problems.  (Although I suppose that could be just the law of averages; there are so many Freys.)  And personality-wise, they seem to be a somewhat selfish and quarrelsome bunch.  Yet Roslin seems beautiful, healthy, and well-mannered.

A few searches of the Forum, and of the wider Web, show that many readers have wondered about this. The consensus seems to be that Walder Frey chose a comely daughter for this marriage in order to make sure that Edmure wouldn't back out at the last minute.  But I find that explanation  wanting.  For one thing, it doesn't account for the fact that ...


2.  No one told Edmure she was pretty.

When Lame Lothar told Edmure that he must marry Roslin (ASOS 35, Catelyn IV), he didn't mention that she was comely.  Why in seven Hells not?  Isn't that a totally obvious thing to mention when you're trying to convince a man to marry a woman he's never met?  But Lothar just said that "she has a gentle nature and a gift for music."  

This, I think, is the strangest fact in this whole sub-plot.  The only explanation I can think of is that, at the time, Lothar didn't actually know what "Roslin" looked like, because when he left the Twins, his relatives were still trying to find a suitable impostor.

Yes, I'm suggesting that Edmure didn't marry Roslin; he married "fRoslin."   She's an impostor, chosen to fulfil some evil purpose for house Frey.  What evil purpose?  I thought of a few possibilities; I'll list them below, after we finish with the Facts.


3.  Too much smoke for there not to be a fire.

After Lothar tells Edmure and his family about Roslin, questions are asked about her by several characters.  On the way to the Twins, we have this (ASOS 45, Catelyn V):

"With so many different mothers, a few of the maids are bound to turn up comely," said Ser Marq Piper, "but why should the old wretch give you a pretty one?"
"No reason at all, " said Edmure in a glum tone.

After they arrive and meet the lovely Roslin (ASOS 49, Catelyn VI), Edmure wonders:  "Why would the old weasel refuse to let me choose unless he meant to foist off someone hideous? ... Is it possible the girl is barren?"  Catelyn then visits the Frey's maester and discusses this at some length.  

I don't think GRRM would expend that many paragraphs on a false alarm.  There must be something going on here, a puzzle for us to solve.


4.   Roslin's behavior.  

Roslin's demeanor is strange at some key moments.  Tears upon meeting Edmure; a forced smile at the wedding; white with fear at the bedding.  A couple of characters remark on this.

Edmure, ASOS 49 (Catelyn VI):  "I believe she liked me. Why was she crying?"  Catelyn:  "She's a maid on the eve of her wedding. A few tears are to be expected."

So we have a sort of double clue here:  one character behaving oddly, and other characters noticing and talking about it.

Later, I noticed some slight similarity between Roslin's behavior and that of Jeyne Poole ("fArya") at her own false wedding.

Roslin, ASOS 51 (Catelyn VII):  "Roslin's smile had a fixed quality to it, as if someone had sewn it onto her face.'

Jeyne, ADWD 37 (The Prince of Winterfell):  "Her face was pale, bloodless.  A face carved of ice ..."


5.  Other aspects of Roslin's appearance.

The text mentions that Roslin has a gap between her front teeth.  There are no other Freys that have this.  A search of all five ebooks for the word "gap" reveals that the only other characters with a tooth gap are Tormund Thunderfist and a stableboy at Pyke.  (Also Bronn, but that doesn't count; he got it when he cracked a tooth while fighting Ser Vardis at the Eyrie.)

Upon meeting her (ASOS 49, Catelyn VI) Catelyn notes that she and Benfrey, her (alleged) brother, do look like siblings.  Of course, that doesn't rule out the possibility that she could be a cousin, or a bastard, or just someone who was chosen for her resemblance.  House Frey is populous; the Riverlands are probably full of bastards with a Freyish look.


 6.  Motives, or a lack thereof.

Some readers think that Lord Frey wouldn't sabotage this marriage, because he wants a grandson who will someday be lord of Riverrun.  But remember, this was part of the Red Wedding conspiracy, which had already been underway for some time.  Tywin's comment about winning wars with quills and ravens occurred in ASOS 4 (Tyrion I).  Lord Walder knew in advance that Riverrun would be given to one of his sons.  So he had no need to get Edmure married to a trueborn Frey.   

In fact, it's actually in House Frey's best interest to ensure that Edmure will not produce a trueborn heir.  Later in the story, after the Red Wedding,  Genna Lannister (who is married to Emmon Frey) tells her cousin Jaime, "That muttonhead Ser Ryman puts a noose around Edmure's neck, but will not hang him.  And Roslin Frey has a trout growing in her belly.  My grandsons will never be secure in Riverrun so long as any Tully heir remains alive."  (AFFC 33, Jaime V)


 7.  Missing relatives.

    Except for Benfrey, Roslin's other living siblings (Perwyn, Willamen, and Olyvar) are absent from the wedding.  To keep them from giving away the scam?  Robb asks about Olyvar, and Ryman Frey says that he is away from the castle on "duty," but doesn't give any details.  That must have been a pretty urgent duty, to keep a lordling away from his own sister's wedding.

.....  .....  .....

So we have some evidence that Walder Frey married Edmure to fRoslin, presumably in order to ensure that there would not be aTully heir to challenge House Frey's hold on Riverrun.  But I'm not sure exactly how that would work.  Here are a few possibilities, although I must admit that I'm not crazy about any of them.

An infertile wife would have been effective; but it turned out that "Roslin" did get pregnant.  Of course, medical science is quite primitive in this world.  Perhaps fRoslin is a young whore who had been with a number of men but never got pregnant.  After a while, people would assume she was infertile.  But it might have just been random chance; or perhaps she has some medical condition that makes fertilization difficult but not impossible.  If that's the case, her pregnancy might be an unexpected setback to Walder's plot.  There may be another murder or two in the works.

Catelyn questioned the Frey's maester about the possibilty of "Roslin" being infertile, but no one seems to have asked about her virginity.  Is it possible that she's already pregnant?  Perhaps the father was a blond-haired Lannister, or a dark-skinned Summer Islander, and the Freys expect that the child's bastard heritage will be obvious at a glance once it's born.  That would cause a scandal, but it wouldn't rule out the possibility of her bearing Edmure a child of his own afterwards..

Another possibility, though admittedly remote, is that fRoslin had been infected with some disease, and she was expected to pass it to Edmure. That would explain why she needed to be comely, so that Edmure wouldn't hesitate to have close contact with her.

If nothing else, I'm sure Walder got a chuckle from the idea of marrying Edmure to a bastard, or perhaps to a serving girl or whore with no highborn blood at all.  The false bride might be just one more way for Walder to insult House Tully, like the unappetizing food at the wedding feast.  I'm not sure how that affects the inheritance issue.  If a lord marries a bastard, are their children legitimate?  Can they inherit?  I think the answer is, "yes, but it complicates things."  Trueborn relatives might dispute the succession.

What do you think???

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3 hours ago, Aebram said:

An infertile wife would have been effective; but it turned out that "Roslin" did get pregnant.  Of course, medical science is quite primitive in this world.  Perhaps fRoslin is a young whore who had been with a number of men but never got pregnant.  After a while, people would assume she was infertile.  But it might have just been random chance; or perhaps she has some medical condition that makes fertilization difficult but not impossible.  If that's the case, her pregnancy might be an unexpected setback to Walder's plot.  There may be another murder or two in the works.

Catelyn questioned the Frey's maester about the possibilty of "Roslin" being infertile, but no one seems to have asked about her virginity.  Is it possible that she's already pregnant?  Perhaps the father was a blond-haired Lannister, or a dark-skinned Summer Islander, and the Freys expect that the child's bastard heritage will be obvious at a glance once it's born.  That would cause a scandal, but it wouldn't rule out the possibility of her bearing Edmure a child of his own afterwards..

Another possibility, though admittedly remote, is that fRoslin had been infected with some disease, and she was expected to pass it to Edmure. That would explain why she needed to be comely, so that Edmure wouldn't hesitate to have close contact with her.

We know that she’s a maiden:

Quote

Fool's blood, king's blood, blood on the maiden's thigh, but chains for the guests and chains for the bridegroom, aye aye aye.

A Clash of Kings

I’ve always thought that Roslin was crying because she knew what was going to happen but couldn’t do anything at all to prevent it, she was probably under death threat. Old Lord Walder insulted the Starks by showing them that he would have given Robb a beautiful wife.

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I find this all to be... highly unlikely.

3 hours ago, Aebram said:

When Lame Lothar told Edmure that he must marry Roslin (ASOS 35, Catelyn IV), he didn't mention that she was comely.  Why in seven Hells not?

Because it's funny. Lord Walder knows Edmure well enough to know it would be the only thing he'd think about his entire trip to the Twins, and it was. Classic petty revenge, that the Lord of the Crossing is known for. Not only that, but it's a dig at Lord Robb. He married the Westerling girl, when he could have had this. Just look at the seating arrangements, it's obvious what Lothar was playing at:

Robb was seated between Alyx Frey and Fair Walda, two of the more nubile Frey maidens.

Also, I'm sure it worked as a decent disarming device. Everyone was expecting Lord Walder to pull some trick, and now here it is. Edmure's suspicions were raised, sure, but about the wrong thing.

3 hours ago, Aebram said:

Isn't that a totally obvious thing to mention when you're trying to convince a man to marry a woman he's never met?

Edmure doesn't really have a choice. He doesn't need to be convinced. If he doesn't accept the marriage, no matter the bride, there's no peace between Stark and Frey. Why not have some fun with it?

3 hours ago, Aebram said:

Roslin's demeanor is strange at some key moments.  Tears upon meeting Edmure

I'd say it's rather in-keeping with Roslin's purported gentle nature. She's upset that she has to trick Edmure, knowing what's to come. That explains why Lord Walder is so short with them, to keep her from spilling the secret:

"For joy," Roslin said. "I weep for joy, my lord."

"Enough," Lord Walder broke in. "You may weep and whisper after you're wed, heh."

3 hours ago, Aebram said:

Roslin, ASOS 51 (Catelyn VII):  "Roslin's smile had a fixed quality to it, as if someone had sewn it onto her face.'

Jeyne, ADWD 37 (The Prince of Winterfell):  "Her face was pale, bloodless.  A face carved of ice ..."

This works as evidence against, honestly. Jeyne is upset because she's an unwilling participant. Roslin for similar reasons. If she were a fake, she'd have to be willing (else they'd get another, surely). So why is she upset? Either she knew beforehand what is to happen, and agreed, in which case there's no cause for sadness, or she doesn't know and to her it's just a fake wedding, and thus there's no cause for sadness.

3 hours ago, Aebram said:

The text mentions that Roslin has a gap between her front teeth.  There are no other Freys that have this.

3 hours ago, Aebram said:

Upon meeting her (ASOS 49, Catelyn VI) Catelyn notes that she and Benfrey, her (alleged) brother, do look like siblings.

Could it not be the gap-tooth that makes them look so similar? Regardless, just because it isn't explicitly stated, that doesn't mean it isn't so. There are plenty of Freys about which we know very little. Many of them could be gap-toothed.

3 hours ago, Aebram said:

In fact, it's actually in House Frey's best interest to ensure that Edmure will not produce a trueborn heir.  Later in the story, after the Red Wedding,  Genna Lannister (who is married to Emmon Frey) tells her cousin Jaime, "That muttonhead Ser Ryman puts a noose around Edmure's neck, but will not hang him.  And Roslin Frey has a trout growing in her belly.  My grandsons will never be secure in Riverrun so long as any Tully heir remains alive."

I can't help but think the Genna/Emmon rule of Riverrun was a later development. Catelyn was supposed to be taken alive; she'd be a good hostage to keep Edmure docile, while he and Roslin rule Riverrun, which would eventually go to their child. Catelyn's death put an end to that, however, and they kept Edmure as a hostage.

Edmure being "free" to would pacify the Riverlands a lot faster, which is why I think it was the original plan. The current regime had obvious problems.

3 hours ago, Aebram said:

Except for Benfrey, Roslin's other living siblings (Perwyn, Willamen, and Olyvar) are absent from the wedding.  To keep them from giving away the scam?  Robb asks about Olyvar, and Ryman Frey says that he is away from the castle on "duty," but doesn't give any details.  That must have been a pretty urgent duty, to keep a lordling away from his own sister's wedding.

Perwyn spent a great deal of time with Lady Catelyn, and Olyvar squired for Lord Robb (and wanted to stay with him after Robb's marriage). Willamen is a maester, and has his own duties to attend to (and also, technically, no longer a Frey). It's strongly implied that a favourable disposition to the Starks is why Olyvar and Ser Perwyn were kept away:

Catelyn slapped him so hard she broke his lip. Olyvar, she thought, and Perwyn, Alesander, all absent. And Roslin wept . . .

Stark supporters were kept away, so as to not give the game away.

 

The most glaring evidence is Catelyn's thoughts on her at first sight:

Ser Benfrey led her into the hall. They looked enough alike to be full siblings. Judging from their age, both were children of the sixth Lady Frey; a Rosby, Catelyn seemed to recall.

She's right about all that, just at a glance. They are full siblings, from the sixth Lady Frey, who was a Rosby. She even has the Rosby look:

Pretty enough, Catelyn thought, but so small, and she comes of Rosby stock. The Rosbys had never been robust. She much preferred the frames of some of the older girls in the hall; daughters or granddaughters, she could not be sure. They had a Crakehall look about them, and Lord Walder's third wife had been of that House.

It's a pretty good match, is what I'm saying. A little too good, to not be the genuine article.

I just really, really don't see it.

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The Freys would vary greatly in appearance because Walder had so many wives.  Each wife would bring new blood to the family.  The Starks are generally unattractive but there is the injection of outsider blood that can sometimes bring in an easy on the eyes appearance.  The elongated faces do not always show up in every Stark.  The weak chin will not always show up in every Frey. 

What girl would want her wedding day to end in blood?  Her reaction was normal.  It doesn't mean she liked the Starks.  It's not a sign that she didn't feel insulted by the Stark's betrayal.  Wedding day should be a special time of happiness and the start of a wonderful relationship.  Roslin knew this was not to be.  Naturally she would be sad.  Her grief was not necessarily because she had a fondness for the wolves who betrayed her family. 

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1 hour ago, cyberdirectorfreedom said:

Because it's funny. Lord Walder knows Edmure well enough to know it would be the only thing he'd think about his entire trip to the Twins, and it was. Classic petty revenge, that the Lord of the Crossing is known for. Not only that, but it's a dig at Lord Robb. He married the Westerling girl, when he could have had this. Just look at the seating arrangements, it's obvious what Lothar was playing at:

Robb was seated between Alyx Frey and Fair Walda, two of the more nubile Frey maidens.

Also, I'm sure it worked as a decent disarming device. Everyone was expecting Lord Walder to pull some trick, and now here it is. Edmure's suspicions were raised, sure, but about the wrong thing.

Yes, I think this nails Walder's game. With Roslin, Alyx and Fair Walda he was serving Robb with a great big heaped serving of 'Look at what you could have won'.

I don't see any mileage for Walder in a fRoslin. And we know Walder well enough to know there always has to be something in it for him....

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I'll say this, there are so many Freys that this is actually believable to me. None of the Northern Lords would know either way, and many of the River Lords may have met or heard of a Roslin Frey in years past, but how recently? Could any one outside of House Frey conceivably spot a fake? I actually doubt it very much.

I don't know though, I've always thought she is who we were told she is, but I haven't thought about it much until now.

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Walder has enough daughters to have one real pretty. Emmon Frey is a fool, his hold on Riverrun will be contested. A true heir by Edmur is a better chance for Walder to keep a grandson in Riverrun. Pissing his sons is part of Walder everyday fun anyway.

Walder could have given one real ugly to humiliate Edmure. But Lothar was all in the suggestion, telling nothing, not giving the choice. Instead Walder showed Robb he had real pretty daughters, worthy to be queens. Roslin's tears are understandable. She is forced in the most shameful, reviled, betrayal. To her husband, to the house she enters by marriage. And tears for her son too. For his life will be a reminder of the RW.

Edited by BalerionTheCat

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I too found it odd that Walder gave his prettiest maiden to Edmure and that he allowed the marriage to be consummated.

If Roslin is his daughter, then why not hold on to her to try and get her a Lannister husband or a husband in another great house?  I don't think Walder was planning to let Edmure free so the idea that he and Roslin would still rule Riverrun is not realistic.

And if Roslin is his daughter and Walder just wanted to flaunt the fact that he did have a pretty daughter that Robb could have married, then why let them consummate the marriage.  All it would take is a little delay in the bedding ceremony to have a couple of guards bust in and capture Edmure while the massacre took place downstairs.  This way Roslin is still a maiden and unmarried and thus free to marry a more suitable person.

It did seem "fortunate" that Roslin became pregnant that night. 

Maybe she was pregnant and this was Walder's way to avoid the shame.

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2 minutes ago, Chris Mormont said:

I too found it odd that Walder gave his prettiest maiden to Edmure and that he allowed the marriage to be consummated.

If Roslin is his daughter, then why not hold on to her to try and get her a Lannister husband or a husband in another great house?  I don't think Walder was planning to let Edmure free so the idea that he and Roslin would still rule Riverrun is not realistic.

And if Roslin is his daughter and Walder just wanted to flaunt the fact that he did have a pretty daughter that Robb could have married, then why let them consummate the marriage.  All it would take is a little delay in the bedding ceremony to have a couple of guards bust in and capture Edmure while the massacre took place downstairs.  This way Roslin is still a maiden and unmarried and thus free to marry a more suitable person.

It did seem "fortunate" that Roslin became pregnant that night. 

Maybe she was pregnant and this was Walder's way to avoid the shame.

I think a possible heir is the key here. If he has a child from Edmure, he doesn't need him anymore. If she didn't get pregnant right away there still could have been ways to force them to try again. :ack:

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9 hours ago, Chris Mormont said:

I too found it odd that Walder gave his prettiest maiden to Edmure and that he allowed the marriage to be consummated.

If Roslin is his daughter, then why not hold on to her to try and get her a Lannister husband or a husband in another great house?  I don't think Walder was planning to let Edmure free so the idea that he and Roslin would still rule Riverrun is not realistic.

And if Roslin is his daughter and Walder just wanted to flaunt the fact that he did have a pretty daughter that Robb could have married, then why let them consummate the marriage.  All it would take is a little delay in the bedding ceremony to have a couple of guards bust in and capture Edmure while the massacre took place downstairs.  This way Roslin is still a maiden and unmarried and thus free to marry a more suitable person.

It did seem "fortunate" that Roslin became pregnant that night. 

Maybe she was pregnant and this was Walder's way to avoid the shame.

I actually think Roslin’s beauty and maiden-ness are the key to making the whole plot work. If Edmure had been uninterested in the marriage, the distraction of the bedding ceremony as the start of the Red Wedding activities would have way less effective. I believe that, beyond the Greatjon, the captives from Red Wedding were those who participated in the bedding, and when it comes down to it, the captives are what are maintaining the “peace”. By offering Edmure a young, attractive maiden, who could have easily been used for another alliance (if anyone else had wanted a marriage alliance with the Freys), they ensured Edmure would “participate” in the Red Wedding in the way they needed. 

I would think Tywin, with notes from Roose and Lame Lothar, picked which of Walder’s female progeny would be offered to Edmure, rather than Walder having any say in the matter. Roose had just picked his own wife, and was plotting the Red Wedding with Lothar, so he would have had all the necessary details. 

In Merrett’s epilogue, he thinks about the women Black Walder has bedded: Petyr Pimple’s wife, Edwyn’s wife, Fair Walda, the seventh Lady Frey; then the Red Wedding; and finally he thinks about his daughters, Ami and Fat Walda. If Roslin had been with child prior to the Red Wedding, it would have crossed Merrett’s mind as he was heading to the meet. And Roslin is not the first woman in the series to become pregnant at first attempt: Cat and Lysa both, Edric Storm’s mother (and probably several other of Robert’s 16), Jon Snow’s supposed mother, etc. It happens in the real world too, and is not unheard of with teenagers.

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On 10/22/2019 at 12:34 PM, Nagini's Neville said:

We don't really know how old Edmure is though, just that he is younger that Cat and Lysa

The wiki gives the earliest date of his birth at 274 AC.

Edited by R2D

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On 10/2/2019 at 5:36 AM, R2D said:

Roslin was 16 and Edmure like 25....*shudder*

Lysa Tully got it worse... 

 

But sadly arranged marriages between people of different ages were common in the past. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Le Ménagier de Paris: it’s an household guidebook written in the 14th century, between 1392 and 1394, by an old man (we know that he was an adult man in 1358) to his 15-year-old wife...

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9 hours ago, Gingin said:

Lysa Tully got it worse... 

 

But sadly arranged marriages between people of different ages were common in the past. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Le Ménagier de Paris: it’s an household guidebook written in the 14th century, between 1392 and 1394, by an old man (we know that he was an adult man in 1358) to his 15-year-old wife...

That's actually a misconception. Child marriages weren't common, most were in their late teens or twenties.

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@R2D

It was common for highborn girls to get married when they were in their teens (Lucrezia Borgia, Caterina de’ Medici, Henrietta Maria of France,... and so many more).

 

Anyway, in AFFC we are told that Roslin is fond of Edmure and I think that this feeling is genuine.

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3 hours ago, Gingin said:

@R2D

It was common for highborn girls to get married when they were in their teens (Lucrezia Borgia, Caterina de’ Medici, Henrietta Maria of France,... and so many more).

 

Anyway, in AFFC we are told that Roslin is fond of Edmure and I think that this feeling is genuine.

That was the nobility, and most weren't consummated until later.

Still, the age difference is creepy is all I'm saying.

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The point of Roslin was a two part 

 

-Lord Walder Frey knows what is said about his family. I mean look at his first appearance and what he says to Catelyn “He calls me the late Lord Frey you know?”  I think Lord Frey essentially  wanted the realm to see that beauty did come from his House and that people who sniggered about Robb marrying a Frey could choke- look at what he was missing!  ANYONE should be honored to marry a Frey, was the clear message. 
 

-the second more subtle part was that it was obviously that Edmure was supposed to not suspect anything and be well away from the lethality. Emmon Frey May be Lord of Riverrun but neither the Lannister’s or Lord Frey is stupid. Much of the Riverlands is staunchly supportive of House Tully. And Emmon is closer to being part of House Lannister than House Frey. Not to mention neither the Frey’s of Riverrun or the Crossing were made Lords Paramount of the Riverlands. House Baelish is.....yet if in a few years they were to produce a Tully Lordling with VERY close ties to House Frey, you can definitely see how some in the Riverlands would follow him as a possible unifier and then to become Lords Paramount of the Riverlands later on with that support. 

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