Bastardy

A bastard is a person whose parents, at the time of their birth, were not married to each other. As a polite way of referring to someone who is bastard-born, someone may be referred to as a 'natural son' or 'natural daughter.' A less polite term, indicative of the social stigma against bastards, is "baseborn." A euphemism for being bastard-born is "being born on the wrong side of the sheets." If both parents of a bastard are nobles then the child is not considered "baseborn."

Family Life and Status


In the series, it is not unexpected for noblemen to have bastard children, however, it is not typical for a noble to bring his bastards home and raise them with his own children. It's more usually expected that he will see to the child's well-being to some degree. A nobly born wife has the right to take insult at her husband's bastards being introduced into her household and being commensurate in rank with her legally born children.

Bastards whose parents are both of the nobility may be considered non-baseborn, although even a royal decree has considerable difficulty in removing the stigma of a bastard and trueborn children of a bastard might change their surnames to show their legitimate nature.

At any point, the biological father of a bastard may acknowledge him and bring him formally into his house. A more drastic measure is legitimization, a power traditionally reserved to kings alone. The social stigma of his bastardy was not lifted, however.

Far more often a bastard is acknowledged but not legitimized. Many bastards are never acknowledged and don't even know who their fathers are.

Rights of Inheritance


The baseborn have few rights under the law and custom when it comes to rights of inheritance. A bastard may inherit if the father has no other trueborn children nor any other likely kin to follow him. Additionally, a bastard can inherit if he is legitimized by a royal decree. It is unclear whether a legitimized bastard would be placed in the succession according to birth order, or would be placed at the end, after the trueborn children.

Heraldic custom regarding bastards is fairly loose; bastards who take arms (noble born, knighted, etc.) often, but not always, take the coat of arms of their fathers with the colors reversed. A bar sinister is sometimes added. A bastard that wants to emphasize his filiation and minimize his own bastardy may decide to use the same sigil as his father, perhaps illegally.

However, any man can be knighted, even a bastard. A bastard may even be appointed to high military station.

Social Status


It is considered rude to pry into the origins of a man's natural children. Men say that bastards are born from lust and lies, grow up more swiftly than other children, and their nature is wanton and treacherous.

Surnames


Many families and different regions have traditional surnames to give to their bastards. Also, when bastards are born away from home during war, they are often given a standard surname to signal that they are a war-child and most likely born while the father was away from his family.

Bastards with a high-born parent are given these surnames to hold them apart from their fathers' houses. The parents may give a bastard a different surname if they wishing.

During the Four Brothers Era, the different kingdoms would give their bastards names of colors. Blue for the Kingdom of Erwynn, Black for the Kingdom of Ibben, Gold for the Kingdom of Brehr, and Green for the Kingdom of Coranthe.

Current bastard surnames

Notable Bastards


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