When Alysanne Targaryen hosted her women's courts, she became aware of the plight of widows throughout the realm. In times of peace, it was not uncommon for a man to outlive the wife of his youth, as women die in the birthing bed, and in times of war, the men may perish in the fight, leaving behind widows. Due to this, men would often take a new wife, whose presence was resented by the children of the first wife, who would often feel no bonds of affection for her. Upon the man's death, his heir could and would often expel the newly widowed wife, reducing her to penury; in the case of lords, the heirs might strip away the widow's prerogatives, incomes and servants, reducing her to no more than an impoverished boarder.
To rectify these ills, in 52 AC King Jaehaerys implemented the Widow's Law, reaffirming the right of the eldest son (or daughter, where there was no son) to inherit, but requiring said heirs to maintain surviving widows in the same conditions they enjoyed before their husband's death. A lord's widow, be she a second, third or fourth wife, could no longer be driven from his castle, nor deprived of her servants, clothing, and income. The same law also forbade a man to disinherit the children by a first wife in order to bestow their lands, seat or property on a later wife or her children.
- Fire & Blood, Birth, Death, and Betrayal Under King Jaehaerys I.