Fosterage is the practice of a noble raising the child of another noble. The fostered child is called a ward.
The custom of fosterage is common among the nobility of Westeros. It is seen as a way of establishing friendships and alliances. For example, Lord Jon Arryn became a second father to his two wards, Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon, during the years they were fostered by Arryn at the Eyrie. Additionally, fosterage is seen as a means of education. For example, boys can be fostered out as squires, training for knighthood. Most commonly the fostered child is male, although it is not unheard of for females to be fostered. The fostered child can be trueborn or bastard born. Children taken as hostages may be called wards; for example, Theon Greyjoy. In the Free City of Norvos, children are usually not fostered out.
According to George R. R. Martin, a child who is fostered by a lord or lady can make visits home during the years of his fosterage, although these visits would be minimal while the child is still young. After reaching the age of majority, the fostered child is free to come and go as he or she likes.
During the War of Conquest, the lords of the Three Sisters declared their independence from the Eyrie, and installed Marla Sunderland as their queen. After the conquest, King Aegon I Targaryen sent an army under the command of Ser Warrick Manderly and Queen Visenya Targaryen to put the rebellion down, and the frightened lords deposed Queen Marla in favor of her brother Steffon Sunderland. Lord Steffon renewed his fealty to House Arryn, and gave his sons as hostages, one to be fostered with the Manderlys, the other with the Arryns.
After King Aenys I Targaryen died in 42 AC and his brother Maegor seized the Iron Throne, Aenys's children Prince Jaehaerys and Prince Alysanne were made wards of Maegor's mother, Dowager Queen Visenya Targaryen, their great-aunt. Hostages in all but name, they spent their uncle's reign being transferred between Driftmark, Dragonstone, and King's Landing, until Visenya's death in 44 AC gave their mother Queen Alyssa Velaryon the chance to escape from Dragonstone with them.
In 44 AC, after Princess Rhaena Targaryen's husband Prince Aegon Targaryen died fighting his uncle Maegor in the Battle Beneath the Gods Eye, she took her twin infant daughters Aerea and Rhaella, dyed their hair, changed their names, and sent them away to allies who would see them fostered in good homes by people who would be unaware of their true identities, where not even Rhaena would know where they had gone. However, Maegor's wife and spymaster, Tyanna of the Tower, was able to discover the girls' locations.
In 47 AC, King Maegor Targaryen married his Black Brides, while holding their children as hostages to force the women to comply with his demands. Afterwards, he sent many of those children away to be fostered. Rhaena Targaryen's daughter Rhaella was sent to Oldtown to be raised as a septa. Jeyne Westerling's son, the infant Lord Tarbeck, was sent to Casterly Rock to be raised as a ward of Lyman Lannister. Elinor Costayne's two elder boys were sent away, one to the Eyrie to be a ward of Lord Arryn, and the other to Highgarden as a ward of Lord Tyrell.
A wildling girl, captured by Night's Watch rangers beyond the Wall and given to one of Lord Theomore Manderly's household knights to foster, dueled with Jonquil Darke at a tourney in Queen Alysanne Targaryen's honor in 58 AC.
In 61 AC, Rogar Baratheon brought his daughter Jocelyn to King's Landing, along with the two orphaned daughters of his late brother Ronnal. Jocelyn's mother Alyssa Velaryon had died in childbirth, and the aunts who helped raise her had recently died of the Shivers. Rogar requested that Jocelyn and her cousins be made wards of the court of King Jaehaerys I and Queen Alysanne Targaryen, Jocelyn's half-siblings, and Alysanne was pleased to agree.
In 73 AC, Ser Lucamore Strong of the Kingsguard was discovered to have broken his vows and married three wives. Lucamore was gelded, and King Jaehaerys sent him to the Wall. Queen Alysanne judged each of the families: the first wife and her children were sent to be wards of Lord Bywin Strong of Harrenhal; the second and her children were sent to be wards of Lord Daemon Velaryon of Driftmark, and the third wife and children were sent to be wards of Ser Garon and Lord Boremund Baratheon of Storm's End.
When Prince Daeron Targaryen was twelve in 126 AC, he was sent to Oldtown to serve as a cupbearer and squire to Lord Ormund Hightower, the cousin of his mother Queen Alicent Hightower. He remained Ormund's ward throughout the Dance of the Dragons, until Ormund's death in 130 AC.
In 129 AC, at the start of the Dance of the Dragons, Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen's heir Prince Jacaerys Velaryon made the Pact of Ice and Fire with Lord Cregan Stark. They agreed that Jacaerys's firstborn daughter would be sent north at age seven to be fostered at Winterfell, until she was old enough to marry Cregan's heir. (However, Jacaerys died before he ever had children.)
Late in 129 AC, Prince Jacaerys made arrangements for the safety of his step-sisters and half-brothers. Rhaena Targaryen was sent to be the ward of Lady Jeyne Arryn at the Eyrie, taking with her three dragon eggs. Jacaerys also arranged for the Prince of Pentos to foster his half-brothers, Prince Aegon and Prince Viserys Targaryen, until Rhaenyra had secured the Iron Throne. However, their ship, the Gay Abandon, was attacked by the Triarchy on route to Pentos. Aegon escaped back to Dragonstone with his dragon Stormcloud, but Viserys was taken captive and assumed dead.
In 130 AC, during the Riot of King's Landing, the whores at the House of Kisses raised up the young Gaemon Palehair as king, claiming he was the bastard son of Aegon II Targaryen and the prostitute Essie. After the return of Aegon to the city, Essie was executed, but Gaemon was spared on account of his youth and made a ward of the Crown. Gaemon later became young King Aegon III Targaryen's companion, whipping boy, and food taster, until his death in 135 AC.
During the Dance of the Dragons, Garmund Hightower fostered at Highgarden, as a companion of young Lord Lyonel Tyrell and a cupbearer to his mother. In 131 AC, Garmund's brother Lord Lyonel Hightower accepted the peace terms for the end of the war, despite initially resisting them. According to Grand Maester Munkun's True Telling, this is because the Tyrells forbade him to raise a host or go to war without their leave, with the implicit threat that Garmund would pay for Lyonel's disobedience with his life.
Daenaera Velaryon became a ward of Lord Alyn Velaryon and his wife Lady Baela Targaryen, after she was orphaned when her mother died of the Winter Fever and her father died in the Daughters' War. In 133 AC, her guardians presented her at the Maiden's Day Ball, and she was selected by King Aegon III Targaryen to be his new queen.
Doran Martell, the Prince of Dorne, fostered out his eldest son Quentyn with the Yronwoods to create a peace between House Yronwood and House Martell, as enmity between the two houses had arisen after the death of Lord Edgar Yronwood following a duel against Doran's younger brother, Oberyn. When Doran decided to foster out his son Quentyn, this caused a severe strain on his relationship with his Norvoshi wife, Lady Mellario. Doran later plotted to send his daughter, Arianne, to serve as cupbearer of the Archon of Tyrosh so she could meet her betrothed Viserys Targaryen as part of the secret marriage pact, but decided not to do so after his wife threatened to harm herself if their daughter was sent away.
After Lord Balon Greyjoy's rebellion was put down in 289 AC, his only surviving son, Theon Greyjoy, was brought to Winterfell as a hostage and ward of Lord Eddard Stark, to ensure Balon's loyalty to the Iron Throne. Afterwards, Balon's wife, Lady Alannys Harlaw, brought five ironborn boys to Pyke to foster, including Tristifer Botley.
In 293 AC, Lord Randyll Tarly wished to have his eldest son and heir, Samwell, be fostered by Lord Paxter Redwyne at the Arbor. Randyll brought Samwell with him on a trip to the Arbor, but after Paxter's twins Horas and Hobber, bullied him, Lord Randyll brought him back home. Samwell's mother later revealed to him Samwell had supposed to remain at the Arbor to serve as Paxter's page and squire and, if he had pleased Paxter, would have been betrothed to his daughter, Desmera.
Shortly before his death in early 298 AC, Lord Jon Arryn planned to have his young son Robert foster with Lord Stannis Baratheon at Dragonstone. Following Jon's death, King Robert I Baratheon planned to foster Robert with Lord Tywin Lannister at Casterly Rock. Robert's mother, Lady Lysa Arryn, took her son back to the Eyrie, preventing both plans from coming to fruition.
A Game of Thrones
A Clash of Kings
Edric Storm, bastard son of the late King Robert Baratheon, is a ward of Renly Baratheon at Storm's End. After the death of Renly, Stannis Baratheon besieges Storm's End, but offers to let the garrison go free if Edric is surrendered. However, Renly's castellan, Ser Cortnay Penrose, resists in fear of what Stannis would do to Edric. After Cortnay falls to his death, Stannis takes the castle and ships Edric to Dragonstone.
A Feast for Crows
The Lords Declarant demand that young Lord Robert Arryn be removed from the Eyrie and the care of Lord Protector Petyr Baelish, and to be made a ward of Lord Yohn Royce. As part of the negotiations, Petyr offers to foster Harrold Hardyng, Robert's heir, but Harrold's foster-mother, Lady Anya Waynwood, rejects the offer. Petyr convinces his rivals to grant him a year before any decision is made, and later fosters Gyles Grafton and Terrance Lynderly as companions for Robert.
|Fostered character||Fostered by||Notes|
|Roland I Arryn||Unnamed Andal king from the riverlands|
|Petyr Baelish||Lord Hoster Tully at Riverrun||Petyr's father befriended Hoster Tully during the War of the Ninepenny Kings, which led to Petyr being fostered at Riverrun.|
|Jocelyn Baratheon||King Jaehaerys I and Queen Alysanne Targaryen at the Red Keep||Jocelyn's mother Alyssa Velaryon died in childbirth, and her aunts died from the Shivers. Her father Rogar Baratheon requested that Jocelyn's half-siblings foster her, along with her two orphaned cousins.|
|Princess Myrcella Baratheon||Prince Doran Martell at Sunspear||Myrcella left for Dorne as part of a betrothal to Doran's youngest son Trystane Martell.|
|Robert Baratheon||Lord Jon Arryn at the Eyrie||Fostered alongside Eddard Stark.|
|Tristifer Botley||Lady Alannys Harlaw at Pyke||One of five boys brought to Pyke after the Greyjoy's Rebellion, to comfort Lady Alannys as her elder sons had died and her youngest son, Theon, was taken away as a hostage. Sent away to Blacktyde after being discovered sexually experimenting with Asha Greyjoy, the daughter of Lady Alannys and Lord Balon Greyjoy.|
|Lord Baelor Blacktyde at Blacktyde|
|Four ironborn boys||Lady Alannys Harlaw at Pyke||Fostered alongside Tristifer Botley.|
|Bradamar Frey||Oro Tendyris at Braavos||Bradamar's mother is Betharios of Braavos.|
|Cynthea Frey||Lady Anya Waynwood at Ironoaks||Cynthea's mother is Carolei Waynwood.|
|Merrett Frey||Lord Sumner Crakehall at Crakehall||Merrett's mother was Amarei Crakehall. He was fostered at Crakehall at the same time as Jaime Lannister.|
|Sandor Frey||Lady Anya Waynwood at Ironoaks||Sandor's mother is Carolei Waynwood. He serves as squire to Anya's son, Ser Donnel Waynwood.|
| "Big" Walder Frey
"Little" Walder Frey
|Lady Catelyn Stark at Winterfell||"Big" Walder and "Little" Walder are sent to Winterfell as part of the alliance pact between Lord Walder Frey and Robb Stark.|
|Ramsay Bolton at the Dreadfort and Winterfell||Ramsay burns Winterfell, but spares Big and Little Walder and makes them his squires.|
|Gyles Grafton||Lord Petyr Baelish at the Eyrie||Gyles is a companion to young Lord Robert Arryn.|
|Theon Greyjoy||Lord Eddard Stark at Winterfell||Theon was brought to Winterfell following the conclusion of Greyjoy's Rebellion in 289 AC as a hostage, to ensure his father's loyalty to the Iron Throne. Theon returned home to Pyke after an absence of ten years.|
|Harrold Hardyng||Lady Anya Waynwood at Ironoaks||Harrold's mother was a Waynwood, and his father was a landed knight sworn to House Waynwood.|
|Garmund Hightower||House Tyrell at Highgarden|
|King Harmund II Hoare||House Lannister at Casterly Rock|
|Jaime Lannister||Lord Sumner Crakehall at Crakehall|
|Terrance Lynderly||Lord Petyr Baelish at the Eyrie||Terrance is a companion to young Lord Robert Arryn.|
|Prince Doran Martell||Lord Gargalen at Salt Shore|
|Prince Oberyn Martell||Lord Qorgyle at Sandstone|
|Prince Quentyn Martell||Lord Anders Yronwood at Yronwood||Quentyn served Lord Anders as a page and squire, until receiving knighthood by his hand at the age of eighteen.|
|Larence Snow||Galbart Glover at Deepwood Motte||After the death of Larence's father, Lord Halys Hornwood, and his only trueborn brother, Daryn, Larence is suggested as a possible heir to the Hornwood lands, which Ser Rodrik Cassel suspects will please House Glover.|
|Brandon Stark||Lord Dustin at Barrowton|
|Eddard Stark||Lord Jon Arryn at the Eyrie||Eddard was fostered by Jon Arryn at the same time as Robert Baratheon.|
|Edric Storm||Lord Renly Baratheon at Storm's End||While Renly is at King's Landing serving in the king's small council, Ser Cortnay Penrose takes care of Edric.|
|Lord Stannis Baratheon at Dragonstone||After the fall of Storm's End, Stannis takes custody of Edric and brings him to Dragonstone.|
| Princess Alysanne Targaryen
Prince Jaehaerys Targaryen
|Dowager Queen Visenya Targaryen at Driftmark, Dragonstone, and King's Landing||Made wards of their great-aunt in 42 AC. They were truly hostages of their uncle, King Maegor I Targaryen, in all but name, until Visenya's death in 44 AC gave their mother Alyssa Velaryon the chance to escape with them.|
|Prince Daeron Targaryen||Lord Ormund Hightower at the Hightower||Sent at age 12 to be a cupbearer and squire for the cousin of his mother Queen Alicent Hightower.|
|Rhaena Targaryen||Lady Jeyne Arryn at the Eyrie|
Every ward is also a hostage, as a wise man once said.
In his youth, Ned had fostered at the Eyrie, and the childless Lord Arryn had become a second father to him and his fellow ward, Robert Baratheon. When the Mad King Aerys II Targaryen had demanded their heads, the Lord of the Eyrie had raised his moon-and-falcon banners in revolt rather than give up those he had pledged to protect.—thoughts of Catelyn Stark
- So Spake Martin: Numerous Questions (February 28, 2002)
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 2, Catelyn I.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 8, Tyrion II.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 6, Catelyn II.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 1, Bran I.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 37, The Prince of Winterfell.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 21, The Queenmaker.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 40, Princess In The Tower.
- So Spake Martin: Some Questions (March 16, 2000)
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Iron Islands: The Black Blood.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Westerlands.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Vale: The Eyrie.
- Fire & Blood, Reign of the Dragon - The Wars of King Aegon I.
- Fire & Blood, Three Heads Had the Dragon - Governance Under King Aegon I.
- Fire & Blood, A Surfeit of Rulers.
- Fire & Blood, The Sons of the Dragon.
- Fire & Blood, Jaehaerys and Alysanne - Their Triumphs and Tragedies.
- Fire & Blood, The Long Reign - Jaehaerys and Alysanne: Policy, Progeny, and Pain.
- Fire & Blood, Heirs of the Dragon - A Question of Succession.
- Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - Rhaenyra Triumphant.
- Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - A Son for a Son.
- Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - The Red Dragon and the Gold.
- Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - Rhaenyra Overthrown.
- Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - The Short, Sad Reign of Aegon II.
- Fire & Blood, Under the Regents - War and Peace and Cattle Shows.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon III.
- Fire & Blood, Aftermath - The Hour of the Wolf.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 2, The Captain Of Guards.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 13, The Soiled Knight.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 38, Tyrion V.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 4, Eddard I.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 11, The Kraken's Daughter.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 15, Samwell II.
- A Clash of Kings, Prologue.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 40, Catelyn VII.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 59, Catelyn IX.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 4, Bran I.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 10, Davos I.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 42, Davos II.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 44, Tyrion X.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 58, Davos III.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 23, Alayne I.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 41, Alayne II.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 18, Catelyn IV.
- George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Petyr Baelish.
- So Spake Martin: US Signing Tour (Half Moon Bay, CA) (November 18, 2005)
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 17, Tyrion IV.
- A Clash of Kings, Appendix.
- A Storm of Swords, Appendix.
- A Storm of Swords, Epilogue.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 30, Jaime IV.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 66, Theon VI.
- A Feast for Crows, Appendix.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 11, Theon I.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Iron Islands: The Black Blood.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 67, Jaime VIII.
- George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Quentyn Martell.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 16, Bran II.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 41, The Turncloak.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 30, Eddard VII.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 10, Davos II.