Why are bastards named "Snow" in Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) series?

  • I have read up to the third book, so the answer may be far ahead in the series, but I have always wondered if there is a reason or a story on the vast lore that explains why giving the last name Snow to illegitimate sons, like Jon Snow or Ramsay Snow...

    Is the naming tradition for bastard children not mentioned in either *A Game of Thrones*, *A Clash of Kings* OR *A Storm of Swords*? I have a very, very hard time believing that.

  • Correct answer

    7 years ago

    Some are.

    Bastards from the North are named "Snow", but those from other areas have different surnames, summarized here: http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Bastardy#Surnames

    Region          Surname     Example Character
    Reach           Flowers     Ser Robert Flowers
    Westerlands     Hill        Joy Hill
    Iron Islands    Pyke        Wex Pyke
    Riverlands      Rivers      Walder Rivers
    Dorne           Sand        Nymeria Sand
    North           Snow        Jon Snow
    Vale            Stone       Mya Stone
    Stormlands      Storm       Ser Rolland Storm
    Crownlands      Waters      Aurane Waters

    That's interesting (and off topic, I know) but doesn't "Ser" imply knighthood, which I thought wasn't possible for bastards, unless they were legitamized (like Ramsay Snow/Bolton). I'm only familiar with ASOFAI through the show and I've read half the first book so far, so my knowledge is limited.

    Being a knight isn't limited to nobles, it's just much easier for them (they're trained from a young age specifically to be a knight).

    @Monty129 - Plenty of bastard knights running around. A lot of them are motivated to do a good job in the hopes of becoming *landed knights* (i.e. they own and rule a small strip of land) and thus start their own family name.

    @Monty129 Being noble and being a knight are two different things. You can be a lord, or even a king without being a knight. And you can be the lowest of the low and still become a knight, such as is described in the *Dunk and Egg* novellas, where Dunk, the orphan from Flea bottom becomes knight. (Well, not really)

    Ah, well that clears it up for me, thanks!

    One interesting thing is that most regions use geographical features to name bastards. The Ironborn bastard name is the name of an Island. This suggests that the Ironborn don't have a culture of bastard names, but were forced to adopt a system of bastard names, perhaps after Aegon's conquest...

    @DDFirstNameDd isn't a Pyke a type of fish as well though?

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Content dated before 6/26/2020 9:53 AM