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Lady Dacey

How common is incest?

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18 minutes ago, Jekse said:

 

You are rather good at quote-mining...

27 minutes ago, Curled Finger said:

Now that's flat brilliant.  Never even once occurred to me that new blood would somehow poison the pure blood.   It's easy to lose sight of the magical genes in the Westerosi bloodlines and I often do.  Really nice stuff and good to know.  

Well, that's not that difficult to do. The Romanovs got their issues with hemophilia rather late in their reign. You have to have problematic traits in your bloodline to heighten them via inbreeding. If there are no problematic recessive traits there they do not come forth, no matter how often you marry your sister. If the dragonlords of Old Valyria had had severe recessive traits in their gene pool they would have long ago died out ... or they were able to breed out most of the problematic traits by allowing only the desirables to procreate my means of selective breeding.

Even the maesters seem to believed that the Valyrians deliberately bred their looks - as the Lyseni do to this day with their slaves. Back in the day they would have married the most beautiful, the healthiest, the strongest dragonlord (siblings) to each other, discarding the misfits and freaks in the process of it. And thus the Targaryen bloodline is still pretty viable and not particularly unfertile compared to other noble bloodlines. We even see how a woman like Catelyn assesses the bride of her son Robb like the brood mare that she is - broad hips are important to ensure that Jeyne Westerling produces many strong Starklings.

And with the Targaryens it is quite clear that every individual incestuous or cousin marriage does not heighten the Valyrian traits of their male and female Targaryen ancestors, but also whatever traits that came into the bloodline via the many outsiders they married. In that sense, Jaehaerys II marrying his sister Shaera reinforced both the traits they inherited from their father Aegon V as well as those inherited from their mother Betha Blackwood. And so on and so forth. Somebody along the family tree introduced heterochromia into the Targaryen bloodline - it could go back to Valyria, it could have crept in on Dragonstone, or only with Alyssa Velaryon. The first Targaryen with heterochromia we know is Alyssa Targaryen, followed by Shiera Seastar if there is no one in-between, and continued, perhaps, by Tyrion Lannister, if he is the son of Aerys II. That's a rare trait even in the Targaryen gene pool, but it comes up occasionally, like certain other eye-colors, hair colors, or character traits.

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Hey everybody, thanks for taking an interest in this topic and participating in some healthy (and not so healthy) discussion. I hadn't anticipated it, but I had to be completely off line for over a week so I couldn't respond earlier. Well I'm here now and I feel like saying a few things. 

On 12/17/2019 at 12:12 PM, kissdbyfire said:

ETA: I do think the discussion is potentially interesting, but also that we have to keep in mind that Martinworld genetics and RW genetics may not walk hand in hand. 

This is something to keep in mind at all times, most definitely! Inheritance of physiological traits and characteristics in the world of asoiaf does not follow the rules  we know in the real world - which are determined by genetics. That's a plain fact, right? I hope we all agree on that at least. I'm going off a tangent here, but I have seen discussions about "skinchanging genes" and "dragon-riding genes", but I must admit can't stomach such reasoning. Magic is magic and, even if it can be inherited or passed down through generations, it clearly isn't genetic, it isn't in the makeup of the body's biochemical apparatus. I recognize the line is blurry, but this is fantasy and not sci-fi. Supernatural abilities are a thing for real. 

 

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On 12/17/2019 at 10:08 PM, Curled Finger said:

Somehow in trying to understand the world Martin built I ended up watching all sorts of surprisingly fascinating stuff regarding the royal families of Europe. 

Ever so sensible, you are. Astute. I know I can count on to get to the point of an argument. Even if new discoveries in the field of human genomics don’t carry any plot relevance (and I don’t really think they do) the historical consequences of inbreeding certainly do. We know Martin has studied European history with a passion and borrows heavily from it to write his fantasy.   

On 12/17/2019 at 10:08 PM, Curled Finger said:

I get why incest was so prevalent, perhaps even crucial to the survival of so many families and power structures

Power structures. The ones that exist in Westeros circa 300 AC, where did they come from, how to they perpetrate, who do they benefit? The last question is the most explosive one isn't it? What is the point of keeping among equals?

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On 12/18/2019 at 2:11 PM, Ygrain said:

In other words, Lannister genes are pretty good and it is natural that first-generation incest does not produce deformed children.

Deformed? no... It’s true, deformities like lazy eyes and extra fingers don't arise because incest (though I loved the idea of a lazy eyed Myrcella).

If Martin indeed means to have a point in flashing so much incest in our faces, and I think he does, it could be something he brings from his own values and agenda. It doesn’t seem to me to be a case of personal, private values, but ideological ones. What I mean is the author is not concerned with the morality of fucking a sibling, but with the ethical problems that arise from keeping power concentrated – incest serving to epitomize the pinnacle of such corrupt power structures. It is no coincidence that the children of Tywin Lannisters are the ones who develop an incestuous relationship outside of the Targearyan family tree. And while there are no deformities to be seen, I think a very strong case could be made for some inbreeding depression fantasy-style in Lannister lineage because of this union.    

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On 12/17/2019 at 2:03 PM, Springwatch said:

From what I understand of the first paper, that's not what they're saying. They are talking about the children of closely related parents.

You understood it correctly. Lord Varys really didn't. 

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On 12/18/2019 at 2:11 PM, Ygrain said:

As for the Habsburgs: breeding for dynastic purposes included people who normally wouldn't have found a spouse, and the fact that you find names like Joanna the Mad in their family tree is rather self-explanatory.

Not really sure here, but if I remember correctely, most careful historical accounts now agree Juana I de Castilla was probably never mad at all, but locked away under such pretense by her father and later by her son so that they could wield the power that was nominally hers. 

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On 12/18/2019 at 2:31 PM, Curled Finger said:

Now that's flat brilliant. Never even once occurred to me that new blood would somehow poison the pure blood. 

Are you beeing sarcastic? I'm asking for real because it's difficult to pick up sarcasm in written speech, specially for non natives such as myself. 

Edited by Lady Dacey

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On 12/18/2019 at 3:12 PM, Lord Varys said:

You have to have problematic traits in your bloodline to heighten them via inbreeding. If there are no problematic recessive traits there they do not come forth, no matter how often you marry your sister.

That is just plain wrong (and the whole point of the second article I brought up you obviously haven't read). 

You are making a lot of completely unfounded affirmations about how inheritance of phenotypes works in humans (they are really disturbing too, but also so far removed from reason it's easier not to be so appalled).

It's never really clear in your comments when you are expressing your views on inheritance in the asoiaf universe or in the real world (read: genetics). I find that disconcerting because of the eugenic content in the statements you make, which, because I feel like I should be generous on the grounds that this is an online forum, I will call out as borderline racist. 

Edited by Lady Dacey

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12 hours ago, Lady Dacey said:

 borderline racist

You are mistaken, in fact. No-one who uses the word 'inbred' is in favour of so-called racial purity - the word as commonly used is always a strong negative. (Scientific usage may be different.) I hope that reassures you.

It is a genuinely difficult topic to discuss, balancing the just sensitivities of modern times with the ignorance and abuses of the past, and even more so with the twisted nature of Planetos. And yet all that incest is there in the text. Eugenics too -

Quote

[Dany] had always assumed that she would wed Viserys when she came of age. For centuries the Targaryens had married brother to sister, since Aegon the Conqueror had taken his sisters to bride. The line must be kept pure, Viserys had told her a thousand times; theirs was the kingsblood, the golden blood of old Valyria, the blood of the dragon. Dragons did not mate with the beasts of the field, and Targaryens did not mingle their blood with that of lesser men.... [AGOT - DAENERYS I]

Edited by Springwatch
spelling

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1 hour ago, Springwatch said:

It is a genuinely difficult topic to discuss, balancing the just sensitivities of modern times with the ignorance and abuses of the past,

Very true. 

1 hour ago, Springwatch said:

and even more so with the twisted nature of Planetos. And yet all that incest is there in the text. Eugenics too -

It definitely is in the text, but that doesn’t mean we’re supposed to applaud it or agree w/ it. I suppose we’re all free to think whatever we want, and even cheer it on, but my take on it is that Martin’s views on incest and eugenics align w/ what Ygritte tells Jon. Just my 2p worth, of course.

@Lady Dacey, I will come back to reply to your replies later. :)

 

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15 hours ago, Lady Dacey said:

Ever so sensible, you are. Astute. I know I can count on to get to the point of an argument. Even if new discoveries in the field of human genomics don’t carry any plot relevance (and I don’t really think they do) the historical consequences of inbreeding certainly do. We know Martin has studied European history with a passion and borrows heavily from it to write his fantasy.   

Power structures. The ones that exist in Westeros circa 300 AC, where did they come from, how to they perpetrate, who do they benefit? The last question is the most explosive one isn't it? What is the point of keeping among equals?

Ah very good, Lady.  I think none of the families in Westeros are equals.  There is an obvious supreme sort of power in the Targaryens that may have seeped into some families, altering the base power.  We need look any farther than the Baratheon or Martell families to see Targaryen influence.  There is an almost foreboding secret power in the Starks that may be more supreme than the power the Targs hold.  Of course, I sorta think that the introduction of Targaryen power somehow activated the dormant Stark power.  We've got the Hightowers we hear nothing from.  Those crazy Greyjoys with their strange power.  Little Finger's power machinations that seem to pay off time and time again.   Varys' constant manipulation of his ideals on a large scale.  What of the Velaryons?  Westerosi power certainly ebbs and flows to certain families depending on whom sits the throne.  Robert was given a sort of claim to the throne via his direct connection to the Targs as opposed to conquest, though conquest was how he got the job.  As I understand Rickard's Southron Ambitions, the idea was to create a literal block to Targ power.  The superpowerful nobles would be strengthened against the crown in each other.   I find that very interesting and forward thinking.   So was the introduction of Tully blood the key to reactivating the Stark powers?  Was it the introduction on non Valyrian blood into the Targ line what caused madness?   Lots of ways to go with this.  

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14 hours ago, Lady Dacey said:

Are you beeing sarcastic? I'm asking for real because it's difficult to pick up sarcasm in written speech, specially for non natives such as myself. 

Not at all.   I tend to look at writing in the black and white.  @Lord Varys comments opened me up to the idea that the powerful Targ line was somehow weakened by the introduction of non Valyrian blood and ideas.   I'm not seeing eugenics necessarily.  History gives us no real explanation of the Valyrians other than they intermarried.   I take this as a thing they felt they had to do to stay strong...maybe survive for all I know.   I understand your hesitation at embracing this idea.  Then again, you obviously have a much deeper understanding of the philosophy behind these genetic events.   I'm just looking at basic information as it relates to what I know or think I know of the story.   

Edited by Curled Finger
Caught up

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19 hours ago, Lady Dacey said:

This is something to keep in mind at all times, most definitely! Inheritance of physiological traits and characteristics in the world of asoiaf does not follow the rules  we know in the real world - which are determined by genetics. That's a plain fact, right? I hope we all agree on that at least. I'm going off a tangent here, but I have seen discussions about "skinchanging genes" and "dragon-riding genes", but I must admit can't stomach such reasoning. Magic is magic and, even if it can be inherited or passed down through generations, it clearly isn't genetic, it isn't in the makeup of the body's biochemical apparatus. I recognize the line is blurry, but this is fantasy and not sci-fi. Supernatural abilities are a thing for real. 

Maybe. Maybe not. My point is, we have so little actual information on both skinchanging and dragon bonding that I don’t really feel I can state w/ any certainty either way. I mean, I understand what you’re saying, but in truth I have no idea which way Martin will go. Some of these traits may not be magic, not exactly. And the thing is, we may never learn... 

18 hours ago, Lady Dacey said:

Deformed? no... It’s true, deformities like lazy eyes and extra fingers don't arise because incest (though I loved the idea of a lazy eyed Myrcella).

If Martin indeed means to have a point in flashing so much incest in our faces, and I think he does, it could be something he brings from his own values and agenda. It doesn’t seem to me to be a case of personal, private values, but ideological ones. What I mean is the author is not concerned with the morality of fucking a sibling, but with the ethical problems that arise from keeping power concentrated – incest serving to epitomize the pinnacle of such corrupt power structures. It is no coincidence that the children of Tywin Lannisters are the ones who develop an incestuous relationship outside of the Targearyan family tree. And while there are no deformities to be seen, I think a very strong case could be made for some inbreeding depression fantasy-style in Lannister lineage because of this union.    

Or perhaps it’s hanging directly from the Targaryen family tree? I will admit that I favour Cersei and Jaime being Aerys’s over Tyrion. If for no other reason, than just to relish in the fact that the biggest, nastiest arsehole ever only ever had the one kid, the one he despised and felt ashamed of, Tyrion. :lol:

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Inbreeding, provided participants are healthy and without active or passive genetic illnesses is harmless and may continue indefinitely provided such illnesses don’t occur spontaneously. However... each human today carries about 300 latent mutations on average that with certain combination would activate and cause disease or exhibition of new genetic traits, that may range from simple birthmark to full on inability to carry child to term. Chance to activate of course increases with someone who has the same mutations as you. Ergo getting it on with your sister or mom may carry repercussions. 
 

If you based incest on Targaryens or Valyrians I would posit to say that they had extremely pure genes that didn’t carry mutations that could be inherited. Valyrian freehold didn’t seem to suffer from madness or freakishness that post doom Valyrians did and I would posit that is because at that time they were still pure and unmutated. Contrary to popular opinions I’d posit that mixing outside of family is what caused Targaryen madness once they reengaged in incest, since they introduced imperfect genes trough regular nobility and then activated them trough incest after that

 

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5 hours ago, Hrulj said:

Inbreeding, provided participants are healthy and without active or passive genetic illnesses is harmless and may continue indefinitely provided such illnesses don’t occur spontaneously. However... each human today carries about 300 latent mutations on average that with certain combination would activate and cause disease or exhibition of new genetic traits, that may range from simple birthmark to full on inability to carry child to term. Chance to activate of course increases with someone who has the same mutations as you. Ergo getting it on with your sister or mom may carry repercussions. 
 

If you based incest on Targaryens or Valyrians I would posit to say that they had extremely pure genes that didn’t carry mutations that could be inherited. Valyrian freehold didn’t seem to suffer from madness or freakishness that post doom Valyrians did and I would posit that is because at that time they were still pure and unmutated. Contrary to popular opinions I’d posit that mixing outside of family is what caused Targaryen madness once they reengaged in incest, since they introduced imperfect genes trough regular nobility and then activated them trough incest after that

 

The dragon bond is a clue.  A dragon would not want to bond with a madman.  Imagine how chaotic the Freehold would have been if they had dragon riders who were erratic.  Either the gene that increases the likelihood of madness did not exist or the dragon bond prevented mental illness.  Better yet, the lack of the dragon bond is a possible cause for the illness.  

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7 hours ago, The Lord of the Crossing said:

The dragon bond is a clue.  A dragon would not want to bond with a madman.  Imagine how chaotic the Freehold would have been if they had dragon riders who were erratic.  Either the gene that increases the likelihood of madness did not exist or the dragon bond prevented mental illness.  Better yet, the lack of the dragon bond is a possible cause for the illness.  

I’d posit they magically perfected their genes and kept them that way. They lost that ability with the doom of Valyria and ruined it by mixing with non Valyrians doing irreparable damage. 

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On 12/28/2019 at 9:12 AM, Hrulj said:

I’d posit they magically perfected their genes and kept them that way. They lost that ability with the doom of Valyria and ruined it by mixing with non Valyrians doing irreparable damage. 

Perhaps that is why the Prince Who Was Promised must come from Targaryen parents, who themselves came from Targaryen parents. The dragon bond also helps. It took purity to bring back the perfection. The ritual of being born again in the flames burned away the "blood" of the lesser humans that worked its way into the family.  It's like the tempering of steel in order to make it stronger. 

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