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brashcandy

From Pawn to Player: Rethinking Sansa XVI

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Goodness me! I've just had a truly heretical thought! I've always been rather suspicious of Jon's having a red-headed lover. Never dawned on me that Sansa's fantasy lover aka the Hound has black hair and grey eyes like Jon!

I think we've touched on Sandor's looks before and I believe Ragnorak made a really good post on how Sandor seems to get associated with "northern" attributes qutie often: both in looks and how he rejects traditional southron values like knighthood, chivarly and the Seven while still adhering to a code of honour (of sorts), hence making him appear more northern. So yes, Sandor seems to share some of the traits of Jon Snow, and of other northmen, too.

Some random times where Sandor gets associated with the north and Starks are when Sansa mistakes him for Ned when he puts his hands on her shoulders early on in AGOT. During Arya's chapter where Ned is executed, Sandor is dressed in Stark colours and a cloak "white as snow". It seems more a way of associating characters to northern/Stark attributes. We see them with Jon, Arya, Ned and Lyanna especially, but Sandor as a southerner and Lannister henchman seems to get more of these northern associations that you'd expect.

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Sandor is dressed in.... a cloak "white as snow"

And if we add that Jon thought the spirit of the redhead "touched by fire" reminded him of his beloved Stark: Arya.....

In reverse the would apply for Sansa, redhead, and Sandor with his black hair, eyes grays, tall and strong with the body and clothing of a northerner. Besides, both: Sansa y Sandor, are "touched by fire".

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A friendly reminder to edit posts instead of spamming the thread, and to have such posts contain some valuable content that can add to the discussion in a meaningful way.

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Sansa also seems tied symbolically to the weirwood tree with her white skin and red hair. This may be an inheritance from her Tully mother but it seems like of all the Stark children who inherited that coloring, hers is repeatedly emphasized. Bran is in process of (perhaps) becoming a tree, and Sansa has weirwood coloring.

While I do not ship Jon/Sansa, it does occur to me that it could be one of the few marriages Sansa could make - with men who we know are alive at this time - which wouldn't cause hard feelings among her bannermen. Among one of several reasons that Elizabeth I could not marry the love of her life, Robert Dudley (and she was the love of his life, too) was that even the idea of her marrying him made her noblemen angry to the point where there were threats on Robert's life. If Sansa were to marry someone like Sandor Clegane, would that cause hard feelings among the bannermen whom she would desperately want to conciliate? I want to see Sansa with a husband and kids, but she might well have to sacrifice that for her kingdom if it comes down to that. :(

And I hope it does not come down to that, because agency is one of the arcs of Sansa's story. If it did, it would fit right in with the whole alleged "bittersweet" ending. It wouldn't deprive Sansa of agency as much if she could say, "I choose this. I don't especially want it, but for the good of the realm, I consciously choose it. I will marry for love or not at all, and if I can't have love, I choose 'not at all' rather than "for my claim." Ultimately, I ship Sansa/Happiness and/or Sansa/Ability to Use Her Free Will (whew!).

(And, fwiw, Queen Bess called Robert Dudley her "Sweet Robin." She kept him closely at her side until he died, much to the jealousy of some of her other councillors, and when he finally did marry she threw a hissy fit and banished his wife from the court. I don't know if Sansa would go that far...)

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Hi everyone,

A few months ago, after my first post on courtly love, I was contacted by Milady of York who asked me if I’d like to join a project related to medieval culture. Her idea was to explore the notions of troubadours, songs, courtliness and courtly love. The aim of the project was to show that these notions were key components of the medieval culture and were held in high regard during the medieval period. The idea behind all this was to demonstrate that Sansa is more than a silly girl as the medieval ruling class had similar ideals.

To prove this, we decided to write various essays on songs, knights, courtliness and courtly love. As the thread has slowed down because of the holidays, Brashcandy has asked us to post one of the essays. So here is the first one; it's about courtliness and courtly love. For those who remember, this essay is mainly an extension of my very first post on courtly love. It’s divided into two parts because the essay is rather long. I hope you’ll enjoy it :).

Courtliness, courtly love and Sansa

Courtesies, songs, stories, chivalry, handsome princes, honorable knights and romance are words traditionally associated with Sansa’s character in ASOIAF. However, these terms are not specific to Sansa as they are also strongly related to socio-historical and literary movements such as courtliness and courtly love. The aim of this essay is to explore these two notions and demonstrate that Sansa’s beliefs are more than a little girl’s naïve fantasy. There will be an important part about Sansa’s and Sandor’s relationship because some elements of their interactions are key components of courtly love.

A definition of courtly love

The expression “courtly love” comes from the French amour courtois. It is a critical term coined in 1883 by Gaston Paris in an article on Chrétien de Troyes’s Lancelot ou le chevalier de la charrette (Lancelot, the knight of the cart). In his article, Gaston Paris emphasized the illegitimate character of Lancelot’s and Guinevere’s love relationship, the inferior social position of the male lover and how the latter was ennobled by his love for his lady. In addition, Gaston Paris noted that in this particular narrative, love was an art with its own specific code.

However, one has to be careful with the notion of “courtly love,” because its meaning differs from one period to the other and from one region to the other. For instance, the fin ‘Amor (the Occitan form of courtly love) of the troubadours (poets of southern France who composed in Occitan) slightly differs from the one practiced by the trouvères (poets of northern France who composed in the Oïl dialect or Old French). Thus, later on, I will only discuss the features common to both cultures or mention if they are specific to a region in particular.

Historical context

In the 12th century, a new way of life started to blossom in southern France. Little by little, the old warlike ideals of brute force were abandoned in favor of a new and more refined type of social behavior. It was first and foremost an aristocratic movement centered on court life, thus the name courtliness. Courtliness was about polite manners, but also about moral elegance. Therefore, politeness, loyalty, discretion, gentleness, humility toward the ladies and refusal of lies or cowardice were highly regarded qualities by people of that time. The courtly values were codified by Andreas Capellanus in his treaty De Arte Honeste Amandi (a.k.a. De Amore). Here are some of the rules a man must follow to be a perfect courtly knight, according to Capellanus:

• He must be generous.

• He must display his respect to his lord.

• When fighting, he must be brave. When dealing with his enemies, he must be careful and clever.

• He must not tell lies.

• He must not make foolish promises that he will not keep.

• He must attend mass regularly.

• … etc.

Courtly love was an important part of the courtly culture. What follows are historical elements that could have led to the apparition of courtly love in literature. In the 12th century, the laws of primogeniture came into play and led to the constitution of a class of educated young men with neither estate nor wealth. These young men looked for advantageous marriages, but had to be satisfied with admiring and desiring the wives of their lords. In addition, at the time, people did not marry for love but for lands, money or politics. Thus, marriage was a transaction and adultery was severely punished because it endangered this transaction. Around that time, the Catholic Church was also trying to reinforce its hold on the medieval society by promoting the Catholic marriage between one man and one woman. It was not always the case earlier as people such as Charlemagne had several wives. All these factors could have led to a reaction in the literature of that period which sang of adultery and sexual pleasure as if constraints of morality and lineage did not exist.

Troubadours sang of courtly love in the canso (Occitan for song). Before I start to list the key features of courtly love, it must be said that the reality of the love relationship celebrated in the canso does not matter. It is some kind of literary convention and sometimes it is only a pretext for the creation of the song. In addition, it is not exactly known to what extent courtly love was practiced in real life. But considering that adultery was severely punished (sometimes by death or lifelong imprisonment in convent); most scholars believe that it was primarily a literary phenomenon. However, courtly love could have found its expression in courtesy books (books dealing with etiquette) and in the crowning of the Queen of Love and Beauty at tournaments.

Courtliness in ASOIAF

Sansa is often mocked on this board for her love of songs and courtesy. However, these phenomena were not held in such disregard in Medieval Europe as it was shown earlier. Westeros does not seem so different from Medieval Europe because young girls of the aristocracy are taught the so-called womanly arts and social graces. These social graces consist of polite manners and moral elegance such as valor, gentleness and devotion to the lover, which are the essence of courtliness. In Westeros, courtliness also seems to be an aristocratic phenomenon centered on courts such as Winterfell, the Red Keep, Casterly Rock or the Eyrie as the smallfolk does not display this type of behavior.

Courtliness is taught to Sansa by Septa Mordane, who takes the concept as far as saying that if men fight with weapons, women defend themselves with courtesy (refined manners), as it is “a lady’s armor”. Also, according to her mother, Sansa seems to have natural tastes and aptitudes for the subject: “Sansa was a lady at three, always so polite and so eager to please. She loved nothing so well as tales of knightly valor.” These tales of knightly valor are found in songs such as Florian and Jonquil. It is an interesting parallel with the Medieval era, as courtly love first took place in songs that depicted how the lady’s love aroused the lover’s courage. Sansa is the embodiment of courtliness because she is beautiful, gentle, displays polite manners and believes in knightly ideals. In short, it can be said that Sansa’s personality is strongly associated with the historical movement of courtliness.

Sandor, on the other hand, seems to be the polar opposite of courtliness. He is not a knight; he is violent, coarse and mocks Sansa for her courtly ideals. He loathes the hypocrisy of knighthood and tries to open Sansa’s eyes on this particular subject. Though he is coarse and violent, Sandor has some sort of personal code of honor. He does follow some of the rules of courtliness such as loyalty (“A hound will die for you”), courage, no lies and no foolish oaths. So, yes, Sandor is crude, and yes, he is a killer, but it seems that the rules of courtliness are not exactly unknown to him. In addition, as Joffrey’s sworn shield, he is a member of the royal court and must have experienced courtly behavior. In AGOT, the reader learns that Sandor is not married: “I have no lands nor wife to forsake”. As far as the reader knows, marriage in Westeros is mainly a matter of politics and interests. Ugly men like Tyrion are sought in marriage (Tanda Stokeworth for her daughter Lollys), and it is possible to assume that Sandor’s scars are not the cause of his celibacy. There could be a more mercantile explanation to his situation. In Westeros, the first son inherits the lands and titles. As a second son, Sandor has neither estate nor wealth, and is thus an uninteresting marriage prospect. Consequently, he is in the same position that the 12th century youths who are believed to be at the origin of courtly love. This is a reality confirmed by the Elder Brother in Brienne’s chapter: “There was a girl I wished to marry, the younger daughter of a petty lord, but I was my father’s thirdborn son and had neither land nor wealth to offer her… only a sword, a horse, a shield”.

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The features of courtly love

In the canso, the troubadour sings about his love, the wife of his lord. It is a love from afar, because the lady is married and thus inaccessible. Desire is a key notion of the fin ‘Amor (courtly love of the troubadour), and very often the troubadour takes pleasure in the sufferings of love. However, the lady can reciprocate the feeling. Therefore, the fin ‘Amor is always adulterous in thoughts if not in actions. For the troubadour, love is an ennobling feeling and his aim is the sexual union with his lady in order to attain moral excellence. But before that, he must faithfully serve his lady and go through various trials to prove his worth. In fin ‘Amor, the lady is almighty and thus the troubadour calls her midons (literally my lord) as he owes her obedience like he does her husband. The troubadour also gives her a senhal (code name) in order to keep her identity secret. As marks of her affection and also as a reward for his actions in her service, the lady grants step by step the followings:

• First, a look

• Then, a kiss

• Then embraces

• And finally… what medieval people modestly called “the rest.”

Once the relationship is consummated, the lovers have to be careful in order not to be discovered by the lauzengiers (scandalmongers), who could report them to the husband. Secrecy is a very important feature of courtly love/fin’ Amor. However, the lover can reveal his secret to a confidant who thus becomes the secret’s keeper (secretarius).The confidant acts as a natural intermediary between the lovers. But it is not his unique function as he is the lover’s defender and representative when the latter is away. In addition, recurrent themes in courtly love are: love from afar, sexual pleasure, sexual dreams and spiritual exaltation before the lady. Also, courtly love/fin’ Amor belongs in court life, and the two major sceneries for the lovers are the garden and the bedroom. These are the two places for the lovers’ secret meetings. Talking of court life brings another point. Courtly love/fin’ Amor is an aristocratic phenomenon, because common people simply do not have the time or the education to practice that kind of love games. The fin’ Amor of the troubadours may seem a very modern way to consider the woman in the 12th century. However, it must be said that in most poems, the lady is effaced and transformed into a projection of masculine desire.

The poetry of the troubadours had a huge impact on European literature, as it was imitated in Portugal, Spain, Italy, Germany, and of course in northern France. In northern France, the trouvères were also influenced by the 12th century Renaissance. Thus, people such as Chrétien de Troyes transposed the songs of the troubadours into narratives in verse. Chrétien de Troyes was also influenced by the Latin author Ovid from whom he kept the concepts of love as sickness, love at first sight and idealization of the woman. He combined the fin’ Amor of the troubadours with those elements of Ovid and elements of Celtic literature such as the figures of Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot and Gawain; and thus gave birth to the Arthurian romance. Chrétien’s Lancelot ou le chevalier de la charrette is the perfect transcription into narrative of the ideals of the fin’ Amor. But Chrétien de Troyes also wrote about courtly love within marriage in Erec et Enide and in Yvain ou le chevalier au lion (Yvain, the knight of the lion). After Chrétien de Troyes, Medieval authors wrote variations of Arthurian romances and emphasized the valor aroused by love, the service of the lady (in form of tournaments and adventures), and the obedience to the lady. De Arte Honeste Amandi by Andreas Capellanus is a treaty about courtly love and here are his thirteen precepts of love addressed to a young man to close this chapter on the features of courtly love:

1. Flee avarice like the plague. On the contrary, practice liberality.

2. Always avoid lying.

3. Do not be slanderous.

4. Do not reveal the lovers’ secrets.

5. Do not disclose your love to various confidents.

6. Preserve yourselves for your lover.

7. Do not try to obtain the affection of another’s beloved.

8. Do not seek for the affection of a woman you would be ashamed to marry.

9. Always heed your lady’s commands.

10. Always try to be worthy of Love’s chivalry.

11. Always be polite and courteous.

12. When devoting yourself to love’s pleasures, do not let your desire to exceed that of your lover.

13. Whether giving or receiving the pleasures of love, always retain a certain modesty.

Sansa, Sandor and courtly love

Thanks to the WoIaF app, we know that Sandor becomes “infatuated” with Sansa very early in the narrative. One of the main themes of courtly love is love from afar, which is fitting in this situation. Because of his lower rank, lack of wealth and maybe age difference, Sandor is not a marriage prospect for Sansa. He is thus condemned to admire and love her from afar. Later on, she is first betrothed to Joffrey and then married to Tyrion. These events further estrange Sandor and Sansa. They also add the notion of adultery to their relationship, another major component of courtly love, as Sansa is legally bound to other men. After the Battle of the Blackwater, they are separated, but Sansa still thinks a lot about Sandor. She believes he kissed her during their last encounter and has sexual dreams and thoughts involving him. It actually looks like longing, another key element of courtly love. Sandor starts the novel as a ruthless killer, and as it goes on, he repeatedly rescues Sansa and unlike his knightly “brothers” of the Kingsguard, he treats her gently and does not beat her. In a sense, he is ennobled by his love for her. Again, this is a feature of courtly love. In addition, a courtly lover must faithfully serve and obey his lady in all her wishes. “A hound will die for you, but never lie to you” sums that notion well and shows the extent of his service and obedience. Interestingly enough, the Hound will die for Sansa, and not for his supposed master(s). Another parallel is the use of nicknames; the troubadours used it to keep the lady’s identity secret, but Sandor’s little bird is some sort of private nickname rarely used in public. There is also a nice similarity with courtly love in the settings of their encounters. In courtly poetry, the garden and the bedroom are the favorite spots for the lovers’ secret meetings. In AGOT and ACOK, many of their encounters take place on the way to the Godswood (a garden of some sort) or in Sansa’s bedroom.

As it was mentioned earlier, the lady can reciprocate the feeling and reveal it through various marks of affection. The look is an essential component of their dynamic, because Sandor is constantly asking her to look at him. This culminates on the night of the Blackwater when he interprets her closed eyes as a rejection. In short, it seems that looking means acceptance for Sandor. Later on, Sansa imagines that he kissed her that night. It never happened, but after this episode, Sandor gains a sexual dimension in her mind (via the UnKiss and the dream) that he never had before. It is hard to comment on the next marks of affection as they have not been in these situations so far. However, sexual union is the ultimate mark of affection and the aim of courtly love. And interestingly enough, Sansa dreams of Sandor in her marriage bed.

Another key element of courtly love is the secrecy. It has already been noted in these threads that nobody in King’s Landing seems aware of their curious relationship. But there are two characters who could understand the real nature of Sandor’s feelings; they are Arya and the Elder Brother (admitting that Sandor is the Gravedigger). They both could be associated with the confidant figure, and serve as intermediaries between the lovers. As Sansa’s sister, Arya would be a natural intermediary. However, she is a confidant only in theory as she does not seem to realize the real nature of Sandor’s feelings for Sansa. This is not the case of the Elder Brother who knows “a little of” Sandor according to Brienne’s chapter. At least, he knows enough to be aware that Sansa is “a highborn maid of three-and-ten, with a fair face and auburn hair” and that it was Arya who was travelling with Sandor. Surely, he would not be as knowledgeable of Sandor’s life and situation if the latter had not done some confessing at some point. In addition, the Elder Brother and Arya could act as Sandor’s defenders because they know he is innocent of what happened in Saltpans.

Finally, let us look at the thirteen precepts of Andreas Capellanus. Sandor follows some of these precepts such as: do not lie, keep your love secret (Arya and the Elder Brother as confidant figures), serve your lady. However, unlike Sansa, he does not give a damn about the eleventh precept: be polite and courteous. Unfortunately, it is impossible to interpret all of Sandor’s actions in light of the other precepts, as they apply to situations we have not seen him in yet. So I won’t comment on the last two principles.

In conclusion, I have tried in this essay to show two things: the first was the many similarities between courtly love and the Sandor-Sansa relationship. The second was that Sansa is more than a vain airhead whose head is full of empty songs. True, her beliefs and ideals are ill-adapted to the situation in King’s Landing. However, let us not forget that in our own past courtliness, songs and knights were important components of the European culture. The fact that it is so present in these chapters adds an additional Medieval touch to Sansa’s storyline.

Fin :)

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I think we've touched on Sandor's looks before and I believe Ragnorak made a really good post on how Sandor seems to get associated with "northern" attributes qutie often: both in looks and how he rejects traditional southron values like knighthood, chivarly and the Seven while still adhering to a code of honour (of sorts), hence making him appear more northern. So yes, Sandor seems to share some of the traits of Jon Snow, and of other northmen, too.

Some random times where Sandor gets associated with the north and Starks are when Sansa mistakes him for Ned when he puts his hands on her shoulders early on in AGOT. During Arya's chapter where Ned is executed, Sandor is dressed in Stark colours and a cloak "white as snow". It seems more a way of associating characters to northern/Stark attributes. We see them with Jon, Arya, Ned and Lyanna especially, but Sandor as a southerner and Lannister henchman seems to get more of these northern associations that you'd expect.

I know. But for some reason the speculation regarding Jon and Sansa focused my thoughts on Sandor looking specifically like Jon rather than generally Starks. Now I feel weird.

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Reposting Apple Martini's OP from this thread:

First: All props to FittleLinger for pointing this out in the Small Questions thread. I am just doing as I am wont to do: picking up a bone and gnawing at it.

The inquiry in question was, "How did Sansa and Arya get their names?" It was directed in an in-story direction. Jon and Robb were likely named after Jon Arryn and Robert Baratheon, while Brandon is a family name and Rickon's root sound is also used in the Stark family. But what about the girls?

Fittle's reply suggested that while you can look in-story to find the boys' naming origins, you might have to look from the outside — that is, thematically — to find the girls' names' origins.

You have Arya, which sounds like aria, a solo vocal performance. And you have Sansa, which is a musical instrument also called a "thumb piano."

I think it's significant that an aria is not merely a song: It is a SOLO song. Seems to connect well with Arya, who ends up more or less completely on her own to the point of having to give up her very identity.

Where Sansa is concerned: What do you do with an instrument? You play it. You manipulate it. While Arya is for the time being the more "active" of the two — named for a musical quality that is the result of action, singing — Sansa is named for an instrument that requires a musician's manipulations to give off sound. Sansa spends most of the series thus far as a political pawn in other people's plots. An instrument of intrigue.

Of course, as Fittle also pointed out, it's interesting that both Stark sisters have musically rooted names in a series called "A Song of Ice and Fire." It made me think of Tze's theory that Arya and Sansa might end up fulfilling the roles of Visenya and Rhaenys to Jon's Aegon (not in a marriage sense, but politically and militarily). If Jon himself is "ice and fire," it would be thematically fitting for him to rely on his two musically named cousins. In a way they complement each other: the instrumental music and the sung melody. That the male Stark kids all have names that can be explained in-story, while the girls have names that take on a deeper level of analytical context, makes me wonder if the roles they eventually inhabit will be more thematically significant. The joke is, we can try to attribute importance to the in-story-significant boys' names, when in fact the actual plot-device foreshadowing comes from the seemingly random and out-of-nowhere girls' names.

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Mahaut, thank you for two wonderful and very informative posts. Lots to think about! And Brash, thank you for posting Apple Martini's and FittleLinger's link. I had no idea that Sansa was a thumb piano (I had no idea what that was and I had to look it up).

Sansa could also derive from "sans" meaning without - as in she is without her wolf, and now without her own identity. It could also derive from another musical term, "Stanza." Or maybe GRRM just thought it sounded pretty and we're all crackpotting. :) But even if we are crackpotting, I don't believe there are any coincidences really, and I think names tend to take on significant meanings even if they are just meant to sound pretty. Certainly a text reflects back what its readers expect to get from it.

I wonder if it was also meant to be a name from Catelyn's family, because Sansa ends in -sa like Catelyn's mother Minisa and her sister Lysa.

Back later to comment more on Mahaut's great posts. That topic of courtly love is fascinating!

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And you have Sansa, which is a musical instrument also called a "thumb piano."

Whilst it’s possible that GRRM knows about the musical instrument called sanza, zanza, sandza or sansa, (the spelling varies) Sanza and Sansa also refer to things unrelated to music, apart from being real names, and I am not speaking of the usual stuff other posters have mentioned in the board, such as the Sanskrit name Sansa or the Spanish name Sancha.

Let’s see:

Sanza is a masculine name in Japanese, short for Sanzaburo, that appears in some popular legends such as the tale of the renegade samurai Sanza Nagoya (or Nagoya Sanza, because in Japanese the surname goes first and then the name). Also, there’s a traditional folk dance in Japan called Sansa, of which the meaning isn’t known because it's very old.

And continuing with the Asian examples, there’s also a bush native of China called Sansa, which we know as Chinese hawthorn, used to spice rice wine in old times.

As for the name Sansa for females, other possible origins are the ancient Germanic name Sanza––or Santha––and the Provenzal name Sança, but both seem to come from the same Latin root for saint.

I also have this personal theory: it’s possible that Martin was cognisant of the existence of the name Sansa in a book published in the 1950s, long before he wrote the first word of his saga. Considering that he likes, writes and reads science-fiction, he could’ve known about a work called The Book of Urantia, which some consider a religious and philosophical treatise, and others a work of science-fiction, there’s a character called Sansa who’s the daughter of Adam, the same first man whose story is told in the Bible, differently. In Paper 76 of this book (chapters are called papers), it’s told that after Adam was kicked out of the First Garden (the biblical Garden of Eden), he had to travel to Mesopotamia, and his wife Laotta, who was pregnant with Sansa, gave birth on the road and died, so that newborn Sansa was breastfed and raised by Eve, his other wife. Later, Sansa, first daughter of Adam, would grow to be a powerful and able woman and marry the chief of the northern blue races, Sargan (notice the alliterative names). She herself was of the violet race, the ninth race to appear on Earth, which in the story is called Urantia. Considering that this book seems to be a subversive retelling of biblical lore, it’s possible that Sansa comes from the old Hebrew-Aramaic sansana, meaning palm-tree leaf.

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In conclusion, I have tried in this essay to show two things: the first was the many similarities between courtly love and the Sandor-Sansa relationship. The second was that Sansa is more than a vain airhead whose head is full of empty songs. True, her beliefs and ideals are ill-adapted to the situation in King’s Landing. However, let us not forget that in our own past courtliness, songs and knights were important components of the European culture. The fact that it is so present in these chapters adds an additional Medieval touch to Sansa’s storyline.

Fin :)

Mahaut, I truly enjoyed reading this, thank you. The ideals of courtly love apply very nicely to the relationship between Sansa and Sandor, and you've done an admirable job of highlighting the relevant examples. Understanding this historical context does indeed provide us with additional appreciation for Sansa's portrayal in the novels. And she's not the only one we see with these interests, as her interaction with the Tyrell cousins highlights their own romanticized desires. Sansa may have been naive about the role of knights and the danger around her, but the actual setting of KL (and if Highgarden had become a reality) could have provided her with the kinds of entertainment and stimulation that she was looking for. Before the shit hits the fan at the Red Keep, we see her attending the Hand's tourney, and going to a recital of the Dance of Dragons (IIRC).

One final thing: When I was reading your points about the intermediaries, I couldn't help but think of Lothor Brune and whether he could be considered in addition to Arya and the EB. Although he doesn't actually know of their relationship or hear any declarations of love, he seems to have been used by Martin to fill the role of the absent Sandor. It's interesting how Sansa too is fulfilling the role of a potential intermediary between Lothor and Mya, although the latter doesn't classify as a courtly romance.

(I'll be adding your essay to resources 6)

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Just before Christmas, I put together a quick post teasing a project idea for the New Year. Since the holidays are now over and life is getting back to normal for many of us, I figured it was a good time to get started.

Since brash and Rapsie launched the p2p thread a year ago, the exploration of Sansa has led to some great discussion. As it has turned out, Sansa’s character has led to the discovery of many themes within the world of ASOIAF that I believe are relevant to this thread, allowing us to continue exploring Sansa as well as all the female characters within the series.

The themes or issues I am hoping to explore in more detail are: marriage, rape and other sexualized forms of punishment, female autonomy and agency in a patriarchal world, love in its different forms, sexuality and eroticism, and sisterhood. I’m hoping to broaden our discussion to all female characters, great and small, whether that is Sansa, Pretty Maris, Brienne, Pia, Amerei Frey, Ygritte, Cersei, and all the other amazing female characters within the books. Equally important, who are the men that might help with this ideal or bring an uncommon approach to traditional Westeros? Jon Snow has been recognized as one of the characters with a strong sense of equality. Are there others hidden within the pages we need to explore?

My goal with this effort is to allow further exploration of feminist messages with ASOIAF and this mini-project as the tool to make that happen. As we travel through each theme, we will have a chance to explore and understand how the different female characters are presented and how we, as modern readers, react to their situation and their challenges and, perhaps most importantly, to look at why we react the way that we do. Perhaps not surprisingly, I expect that this exercise will reveal even more about Sansa the character.

To facilitate discussion, I’ll put for a short mini-essay on each theme to provide some context and examples to help launch discussion. If there any themes that you want to explore during our discussion, please do so. My list is not meant to be a limiting or comprehensive one, rather a way for our talk to begin.

***First post on marriage to follow shortly****

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Love and Marriage Go Together Like a Horse and Carriage…right?

Arranged marriages

Marriage within the noble classes is largely an arranged affair. The reasoning behind the marriage can vary but it is generally used to cement alliances and strengthen ties between families. Typically, the engaged couple is given a chance to meet and spend time together before their marriage, such as Myrcella and Trystan in Dorne. However, one of the first couples we encounter in the series is that of Ned and Catelyn, who married as practically strangers in order to solidly a political alliance. Catelyn’s thoughts tell us that their wedding night and early marriage had a very dutiful feel to it, reflecting a sentiment that would be common within many arranged marriages. Another female character who has been married to solidify a political advantage for her family would be that of Marg, three times married and yet still a maid. According to LF, this is not necessarily her choice yet duty to family has dictated her path. In Clash, we have Lady Hornwood, recently widowed and currently managing the Hornwood estates. In her case, there is no question that she will marry again; the only unknown is who will be the bridge groom.

There are some exceptions when it comes to the fate of arranged marriage. Perhaps the most obvious is Brienne, who has chosen the path of knighthood over that of a wife. In the North, we have the Mormont women, one of whom claims that their chosen mates are bears rather than men. No mention of a Mormont husband, either alive or dead, has been made.

Love Matches

As Sansa tells us, she wants to be loved for herself. Yet, in Westeros, this is rarely the focus of marriage. Perhaps the most infamous love match in the entire series is that of Rhaegar and Lyanna. Although we do not see their time together on the page, the clues do point to them being in love and likely married. However, their decision to be together sets of a chain of events ultimately leading to the death of Rickard and Brandon and a rebellion that pushes the Targs out of power.

Although less infamous yet destructive in its own way is the marriage of Jorah and Lynesse Hightower. Almost everything we know of the match comes from Jorah directly. It would appear these two individuals had led very different lives and were ultimately unsuited for each other. In the end, she left him for someone else. At one point, Catelyn thinks of Lynesse and her struggle to adapt to life in the North and remembers trying to make her feel welcome. From Cat’s thoughts, it’s quite likely that Lynesse was unhappy in her marriage even from early on.

Another confirmed love match seems to have met with an unhappy end, that of Doran and his wife. They also married for love yet she ultimately decided to leave him based upon disagreements over their children. It appears the QoT may also have married for love as she tells Sansa that she was originally engaged to a Targ prince but was ultimately able to choose her husband. During the PW, Tyrion sees a young couple who are obviously in love. The wife is pregnant and the two seem unable to resist touching the other. It’s a brief moment and we know little about them. But, it’s possible that these two were also lucky to marry for love.

Stealing a Wife

The wildings beyond the wall have their own methods when it comes to marriage. There is no formal agreement and political alliances seem to have no part of the equation. Ygritte is our introduction to stealing a wife, explaining to Jon that he stole her. A man can choose his wife yet she can fight back or refuse to be stolen, demanding that he prove himself worthy. However, there does appear to be an underside to stealing a wife. We also learn that wildlings have often gone south of the wall to steal a wife. Of course, the kidnapped woman would not be familiar or subscribe to the cultural habit of wife stealing. Indeed, the Umbers in particular have a strong dislike for wildlings as members of their family have been stolen in the past.

Salt Wives and Rock Wives

I was hesitant to include this section as I find the whole idea of a salt wife to be rather repugnant but it is a part of Ironborn culture, so I’ve kept it in here for discussion. Within the Iron Islands, a man will have a rock wife who he is legally married to. For all intents, marriage to a rock wife is the same as marriage elsewhere in Westeros. However, unique to the Iron Islands is the taking of a salt wife, a tradition likely born from their history of reaving. A man can take a salt wife whenever he wants, she is essentially a spoil of war that he has paid the price for. We do not have many on-screen examples of salt wives so much of what we know comes from a character’s thoughts. Victarion beat his salt wife to death after learning she had sex with his brother Euron. We do not know if the sex between them was consensual and it appears that Victarion did not know or care. The Captain’s Daughter asked Theon to take her as a salt wife. This may be an indication that some women enter in to the relationship willingly.

Ultimately, marriage is a political affair, used for family advancement and political alliances. The personal becomes the political. The wife is then responsible for producing heirs to cement the alliance and ensure her husband’s family line continues. Although not surprising, I am disappointed at the small number of marriages done for love. Even worse, it seems they have a habit of not ending well. Perhaps the most egalitarian approach to marriage is that of the wildlings where the woman does, in theory, have a strong say in her choice of husband. I am very curious on what the state of marriage will look like when the series is over. Can Sansa hope for a different outcome? Or should we expect another round of political marriages to bring stability to Westeros?

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One final thing: When I was reading your points about the intermediaries, I couldn't help but think of Lothor Brune and whether he could be considered in addition to Arya and the EB. Although he doesn't actually know of their relationship or hear any declarations of love, he seems to have been used by Martin to fill the role of the absent Sandor. It's interesting how Sansa too is fulfilling the role of a potential intermediary between Lothor and Mya, although the latter doesn't classify as a courtly romance.

Great point about Lothor and Sansa. I was thinking that Lothor is also way to illustrate Sansa’s desire for Sandor’s presence.

Talking of music, since the serie is called a Song of Ice and Fire, I was wondering if it could not be associated with the chansons de geste (is there no English word for that?). These tales are about legendary incidents (some based on historical facts), heroic deeds, martial prowess with sometimes a touch of fantasy (magic, giants, monsters…). And they were sung in front of an audience.

That topic of courtly love is fascinating!

Yes, it is. I’ve an exam on medieval literature in two weeks; I hope there’s a big part about courtly love because I’ve been working on that a lot lately :) .

And I forgot to mention something in my essay. If you’re interested in medieval music, here are some links:

: it's more or less what medieval music sounded like. My favourite part starts around 42 min.

: another favourite of mine, it sounds a bit more modern.

: this piece was written by a trobairitz (woman troubadour). It was recorded about 30 years ago. At the time we didn't know as much as today about medieval music, so the singing is a bit off. But I recommend it; it's cheerful and Monsterrat Figueras's voice is amazing

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Ultimately, marriage is a political affair, used for family advancement and political alliances. The personal becomes the political. The wife is then responsible for producing heirs to cement the alliance and ensure her husband’s family line continues. Although not surprising, I am disappointed at the small number of marriages done for love. Even worse, it seems they have a habit of not ending well. Perhaps the most egalitarian approach to marriage is that of the wildlings where the woman does, in theory, have a strong say in her choice of husband. I am very curious on what the state of marriage will look like when the series is over. Can Sansa hope for a different outcome? Or should we expect another round of political marriages to bring stability to Westeros?

Very happy that we're getting these discussions off the ground, Kittykat :) And it coincides nicely with Mahaut's essay on courtly romance. I think it's interesting that the first relationship we are introduced to in the story is that of an arranged marriage, and one that is successful, although not without its niggling problems. Ned and Cat may have started out as a political alliance, but they've managed to create a love match out of that, and to form a functional family unit. But it doesn't take long for flip side of the coin to show itself in the relationship between Robert and Cersei for instance, two people with battling personalities and serious unresolved grievances which have crippled any chance of happiness. If we're meant to contrast these two adult unions, we see that a lot of what of makes Ned and Cat successful is a willingness to compromise and be considerate to one another, to put aside old affections they may have had for someone else, and so on.

And now I have to leave home! :) Will continue later, but just wanted to get the ball rolling.

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