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Master of Laws is such an empty title


James Steller
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I should have realised this way sooner. At least the Master of Ships has a fleet to look after. At least the Master of Whispers has a spy network. At least the Master of Coin directly manages the Crown's budget.

In the wiki, the Master of Laws is given the definition "an expert in the laws of the realm". But who does that describe? In all the years of Targaryen and Baratheon rule, when was there ever an expert on law sitting on the Small Council? I don't recall Renly ever doing anything that seemed to have any affiliation with his job. But for that matter, when did any of the other Masters of Law administer the law? None of them had the qualification to mete out justice the way that the King's Hand does. So what are they even doing on the Small Council? 

It just feels like something GRRM created in theory but forgot to apply in practice. Or maybe his point is that it is purely ceremonial for some nobleman to feel important.

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Yes, I think that the only thing we know about the Master of Laws is that the position exists. We haven't read of any cases where one of them actually created or repealed a law, judged a trial, etc.

There may be a few historical snippets in AWOIAF or FAB, but I don't recall any offhand.  A quick search of the e-books shows the names of a number of men who held the title, but not that they ever did anything significant while holding it. Perhaps a more thorough search will turn up something.

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5 hours ago, Nathan Stark said:

I guess Master of Laws could be seen as an advisory position for the King. That's about all I got. It seems to be the King or the Hand of the King who creates most laws or passes judgements.

Renly was a terrible Master of Laws, then. Though Robert was also a terrible king.

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I don't know if GRRM has fully worked out in his own head what exactly the Master of Laws does.  But I think the general idea is this:  Laws are important; the King should be ably advised and assisted on such topics by a competent person; and the fact that Renly holds the post instead is a symptom of the general corruption in King's Landing.

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In the early small councils, the role would’ve carried more importance IMO due to the varying legal codes across Westeros, and Aegon making judgments in each region according to existing law

You would expect that Jahaerys would’ve created his legal code with the assistance of his various masters of law, but after that the role seems to decline in importance to a more advisory role as has been said 

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On 12/25/2022 at 1:44 AM, Silsden said:

In the early small councils, the role would’ve carried more importance IMO due to the varying legal codes across Westeros, and Aegon making judgments in each region according to existing law

You would expect that Jahaerys would’ve created his legal code with the assistance of his various masters of law, but after that the role seems to decline in importance to a more advisory role as has been said 

That idea is actually effectively confirmed by the influence the Masters of Law wielded during the reign of Jaehaerys I, namely Albin Massey, Rodrik Arryn, and Aemon Targaryen. Albin is said to have been part of Jaehaerys' smallest council, playing a role in the project of unifying the laws ... and since that was an enormous task we can expect that Rodrik and, especially, Aemon worked on that as well.

In general, one imagines that the guy is also in charge of some other things - the judicial system in the city, for instance (when that's not done by the Lord Confessor or a Master of Whisperers), law enforcement through the City Watch, etc.

His advisory capacity would come into play whenever the king makes new laws or does legal reforms. This doesn't happen all that often, of course, but it would have happened pretty regularly in the early days.

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I don't think George cares much about this station and just defined the main laines because it has to be in a small council. There are certainly other posts, such as master of whisperers that GRRM did pay a lot of attention. You look at the known masters of whisperers and each and every one of them is a full character on their own.

Edited by Jon Fossoway
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The wolf as master 

Waster of the slam 

The seat has a history of the title holders fleeing the Red Keep or fleeing Kings Landing. I need to read if The Justiciar was a new title or an old unused one. 

 

Edited by Fool Stands On Giant’s Toe
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Even medieval times had a justice system ....while the lords of each land are the highest authority in their respective territories theyd have people handing out justice and their men at arms.enforcing the peace etc.

We can assume the master of laws works like a uk house of lords or us supreme court  maybe  ensuring no area becomes a lawless dump (local lords maybe  taking backhanders to allow crime to run rampant), checking local rulings and possibly overruling unfair/corrupt  ones, crafting new  laws to deal with the changing economy/society  for king to approve or disaprove , streamlining or removing old ones etc

A goverment counterbalance to local level corruption etc

 

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1 hour ago, astarkchoice said:

ensuring no area becomes a lawless dump

Well that's not worked.

1 hour ago, astarkchoice said:

We can assume the master of laws works like a uk house of lords or us supreme court

For it to work like this though you'd need a way for people to appeal the ruling of the lower 'court' which doesn't seem to exist at all (also side note but I believe the UK Supreme Court has taken over the judicial function of the House of Lords).

1 hour ago, astarkchoice said:

A goverment counterbalance to local level corruption etc

Issue is the corruption goes all the way to the top.

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37 minutes ago, Craving Peaches said:

Well that's not worked.

For it to work like this though you'd need a way for people to appeal the ruling of the lower 'court' which doesn't seem to exist at all (also side note but I believe the UK Supreme Court has taken over the judicial function of the House of Lords).

Issue is the corruption goes all the way to the top.

Could be worse though..could always be worse

People  who feel their localords (or the people below that) have ruled wrongly could appeal directly to the master of laws at court/by letter..obviusly theans the very poor cant afforf to travel thus are fecked.

There is corruption at the top yes but we can assume the master of laws stops it getting out of control and/or ensures lords do their duty and keep low level crime in check + enforce variously laws correctly

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2 minutes ago, Craving Peaches said:

How? Letters are sent by raven. The maester controls access to the ravens. The maester has to serve Lord X. Lord X doesn't want their decision questioned so would never allow random peasant Y to send a letter...

We do know that you can appeal to the Crown if local lords cannot settle an issue or abuse their powers. We see this, for instance, in TSS. But it is the king who would usually render such a final decision, not the Master of Laws (or anyone else on the council).

But it is certainly possible that the Master of Laws would be charged with doing that whilst the king and the Hand have other things to do.

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