RFTIT Tumblr Weeklyish Roundup

Hey folks! Now that I’ve summited Davos IV, the next step on our march to 50% through ASOS is Jaime V. I’ve got it outlined already, so the next steps are to put in the quotes and start writing…which I’ll be doing around the start of the new semester.

In the mean-time, we’ve got lots of stuff on the Tumblrs that piled up, so let’s get into it!



Patron Asks:

  • “Why does Qyburn use women in his experiments and for what?”
    • GRRM is deliberately ambiguous about this; all we know from AFFC is that Qyburn describes these women as “puppeteers” who get “quite used up,” which is a chillingly banal phrasing. The use of the term “puppeteer” suggests that they’re somehow used in controlling Frankengregor; using the principle that the darkest guess is probably close to the truth, my guess is that they’re used as “rewards” in a horrific form of operant conditioning.
  • “Was “lordly” speech…just an accent or would it be severe enough to prevent understanding?”
    • There were historical periods and places where the aristocracy spoke a different language from the peasantry – the early years after the Norman Conquest, Walloon/Flemish conflicts in the Lowlands, or some of the linguistic complexities of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth – but usually it came down to the upper class having accents that were coded as high-status, and if they were well-educated as well perhaps a more sophisticated vocabulary and grammar than was customary.
    • Generally, when it came down to nobles disguising themselves as peasants, the idea was to change your outward visual appearance so as to avoid identification from a distance, and then keeping that distance until you were in safe territory.
  • “In an economy transforming from feudalism to markets, I have to imagine that the landholding nobility would have a very hard time obtaining cash…you’d said it was entirely common for monarchs of that period to run into bankruptcy — what about the nobility as a class? Did they have problems raising cash?”
    • Nobles could indeed run into problems raising cash, especially if they were in periods where prices were rising faster than rents or if there were crop failures and the like, and often borrowed quite heavily from bankers (which was a major reason why noble attitudes to bankers tended to be hostile).
    • On the other hand, nobles could also have very large incomes indeed which they could turn into strongboxes and treasure-houses bursting with coins that they could use to finance their own affairs or as surety for loans on better terms.
    • Generally, what tended to make the difference between an inexorable slide into genteel poverty and becoming major investors in the commercial and industrial revolutions was how much land they held and how good they were at estate management (i.e, extracting cash from that land). If you had a good deal of land and were good at making it pay, you could use your income to make your estates more productive and/or invest in growing areas of the economy; if you had a small and economically marginal estate, it was much harder to react to economic transformations.

If you’d like to get your own questions answered on a monthly basis, you can do so by becoming a Patron at the $10 level!

10 thoughts on “RFTIT Tumblr Weeklyish Roundup

  1. fjallstrom says:

    Regarding the faux history, one way of making the maesters more credible as historians and still entertaining, would be to give them entertaining – and different – ideas about what forces create history. Is it great men, the rise and fall of dynasties, tribes yearning to dominate (and be free through ruling others), states following path-dependent routes from virtue to decline, gods playing out dramas or punishing the chosen for insufficient purity? You could even throw in a proto-Marx arguing about productive forces and dominant classes (probably as someone who is argued against).

    What makes it history rather than just a collection of things that happened is the theories of what caused what. And there is no reason it can’t be fun.

  2. Brett says:

    Noble debt had some interesting interactions with “entailed” estates that could not be sold or borrowed against. IIRC they’d gradually sell off or lose parts of the estate until they got down to the entailed part (often the manor house), at which point it would fall into dereliction.

    • Steven Xue says:

      Yep just look at what has become of the Westerlings. The fact that much of their castle has gone into disrepair and the family is living no better than well off smallfolk must be due to them being in debt. There’s really no other reason for Gawen to marry into a family of upjumped spice merchants unless he wanted to land a large dowry and pay off some of his debts.

      • Crystal says:

        Mercantile/noble intermarriages existed in the actual Middle Ages and Renaissance more than they do in ASOIAF – Anne Boleyn’s great-grandfather was a merchant who married a noblewoman who was heiress to a title but (presumably) impoverished.

        If Harry were just heir to House Hardying – landed knights IIRC – he could do worse than marry his paramour Saffron, and such a marriage would probably be tolerated, though not applauded.

        The noble x merchant pairings really got going in the 17th century, though – Antonia Fraser mentions that as one factor that made it so difficult for many noblewomen to make good marriages in that era (the shortage of men due to the Civil War being another). And of course there were impoverished British aristocrats marrying American heiresses in the 19th…He Gets Money And She Gets A Title goes back a long way.

        • Steven Xue says:

          Yeah but Westeros doesn’t seem to be at the point where the merchant class has grown to become a powerful financial and political force to threaten the feudal order like it did in the late 16th and 17th centuries. In Westeros its the landed aristocracy who still hold all the power both militarily and economically, therefore marriages between them and even wealthy merchants would not be very common.

          And considering how the Westerlings are an ancient house that were once kings in their own right, marrying into a family of upjump spice merchants must be a serious blow to their prestige and met with derision by their peers.

          In my opinion this type of union is more akin to the Guccio x Marie subplot of Maurice Druon’s The Accursed Kings. Here we had a rich and intelligent Lombard banker in Guccio Baglioni falling in love with a French noblewoman Marie de Cressay, who’s family are but poor landed knights who can barely prevent their shabby little keep from getting foreclosed. They have to rely on Guccio’s patronage to keep themselves afloat yet no matter how dire their financial situation was, giving him Marie’s hand in marriage was out of the question. Because although Guccio could easily provide for them all, letting someone of his station marry into their family would seriously hurt their standing with fellow nobles.

  3. Murc says:

    GRRM is deliberately ambiguous about this; all we know from AFFC is that Qyburn describes these women as “puppeteers” who get “quite used up,” which is a chillingly banal phrasing.


    Steven, Qyburn and Cersei are talking about actual, literal puppeteers here. Cersei was informed by Qyburn about people putting on a pro-Daenerys puppet show, and she gave him permission to disappear them.

    There’s no euphemism or mysterious Frankengregor connection here; these are for-real puppeteers.

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