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Characters Who Married Up


The Bard of Banefort
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2 hours ago, Corvo the Crow said:

Mance. A wildling bastard of a NW member, he married Dalla, a wisewoman from all we know.

Mance was already a powerful warlord and the king-beyond-the-Wall when he married Dalla. Honor and status beyond the Wall are much more meritocratic than in the Seven Kingdoms, meaning that Mance's parents and origins don't matter all that much. Perhaps not at all.

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2 minutes ago, Corvo the Crow said:

I remembered it as if he became king after he returned from Winterfell, if not, yes, it's not going up... but in that case Dalla would be going up.

No, Mance is already king when he is first mentioned in AGoT. Dalla might very well be also part of what one could call the natural aristocracy/elite of the wildlings. She is very beautiful, after all, just as her sister Val is, making her special. And if they were coming from a family of sorcerers/wisewomen/whatnot that would also add to their prestige.

I don't think it is an accident that Mance married Dalla and not some other woman.

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3 hours ago, Corvo the Crow said:

She's never been mentioned as beautiful but I agree with Mance marrying her specifically.

As for them coming from a family of whatever, here a theory of mine

The kind of chance meeting that seems to have led to Mance's marriage makes it not that likely that she was important politically. Mance didn't have to marry her as part of a deal to ensure the allegiance of a powerful warlord, for instance.

But she would still be a special woman, simply because Mance is such a special man that he would never marry somebody who isn't special herself. And what little we know about Dalla indicates that she has some understanding of magic, setting her apart from the average wildling woman.

But we shouldn't make too much of that - Val's standing among the wildlings (i.e. her brokering the deal with Tormund) might just go back to her connection to Mance's inner circle via Dalla and Jarl rather than her own position among the wildlings. So far there is no indication that either Dalla or Val came commanded any men in their own right or have family ties to powerful wildling clans. And this should have been mentioned by now - not to mention that they kin would have been right there in Jon's chapters before Mance's host was crushed by Stannis.

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3 hours ago, Corvo the Crow said:

But they do. It’s just not hereditary except for the Thenns. If your father was a notorious raider, you can see people joining him. They may even stay under your command after his death if you prove able but this isn’t because they have to and certainly not guaranteed.

Varamyr had established himself as a lord of sorts, “tax”ing several villages. If he had a powerful warg as a child he may have passed it on and perhaps even extended his land. Keep it up another generation or two and you have the beginnings of a hereditary rule, you may not even need wargs anymore.

The healer that for all we know came from Asshai also had a rank and though she wasn’t a warrior, she’d have followers of her own had she survived to see Mance’s migration.

true. however, higher rank is not achieved through marriages among them . Mance did not improve his status through his connection to Dalla. he did so via his acts , charisma and abilities.   

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Status among the wildlings is still partially hereditary - Gerrick Kingsblood is of the family of Raymun Redbeard and while nobody views him as 'royalty' he is still not yet 'nobody' and his ties to his famous ancestor (or his younger brother) give him some prestige.

We also see that Harma's brother Halleck or Val do not lose all their status just because their relations are dead or imprisoned. Also, being part of Mance's inner circles also increase the prestige and authority of the those people, regardless whether they were great raiders and leaders before they teamed up with Mance. You see this from the way Thistle talks about Varamyr and his colleagues in the wake of the wildling defeat. Mance's natural heirs after his defeat are those men and women. They do have to establish themselves, of course, but they do get a pretty big head start.

We can also assume that many a lord of sorts inherited a hall and some property from a father or other close relations. Property rights and economical power among the wildlings are certainly hereditary. We should not necessarily assume that Tormund was born in a pauper's hut and was able to raid enough to eventually build his Ruddy Hall. Rather it stands to reason that his family was in the possession of that place and he either inherited it or took possession of it once he had enough prestige to do so.

The problem with that is that political power goes to the strongest, meaning whatever is left to you by your parents or other relations can be taken from you.

It also seems clear that within a clan or a tribe or a village community political power often remains within a single family ... but the next chieftain might not be the son or brother of the former but a cousin other relative, somebody with greater prestige and charisma. And you might also lose everything for good if a raiding party takes all your possessions from you or burns your place.

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  • 1 month later...

I just found out about another one: Ned's aunt, Branda Stark, married a Stormlander from a minor house, Harrold Rogers. It's very curious that this highborn northern lady, whose younger sister married the Lord of Winterfell, not only married someone from the Stormlands but someone from such an insignificant house. According to Ran, there is a backstory here, but he won't tell us what it is :fencing:

My guess is that either this was a marriage arranged by Egg and Betha, or it's an example of a highborn woman marrying someone beneath her station to escape the marriage pawn game, ala Rhaena and Alys Karstark.

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5 hours ago, The Bard of Banefort said:

I just found out about another one: Ned's aunt, Branda Stark, married a Stormlander from a minor house, Harrold Rogers. It's very curious that this highborn northern lady, whose younger sister married the Lord of Winterfell, not only married someone from the Stormlands but someone from such an insignificant house. According to Ran, there is a backstory here, but he won't tell us what it is :fencing:

My guess is that either this was a marriage arranged by Egg and Betha, or it's an example of a highborn woman marrying someone beneath her station to escape the marriage pawn game, ala Rhaena and Alys Karstark.

I think if it was arranged by Egg and Betha , it wouldn't have been a match with someone from a minor house . a match as such could offend cousin Stark of Winterfell. so , I think it's safe to assume it was a Rhaena situation . maybe even Branda was the cousin who was suppose to marry heir to Winterfell instead of her younger sister.

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