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Update S07E05: Thank you Gilly! Haha


Westeros has annulments right? It's a pretty theocratic place so I guess there's no distinction of legal vs sept.

I mean what's the law with the old gods? The seven? The red god? The Many faced god?

Of course most got marriages are de jure invalid because they're done politically but they're de facto valid. But what about something that's not political? I would think it's also invalid de facto.

Let's take for example someone who could've really benefited from an annulment: Robb Stark. In the books it seems like Robb Stark could get an annulment since he married a girl after having sex with her out of grief.

Could he have his marriage annulled?

If so, why didn't he?

If not, why?

In the show, could Robb Stark have made up some dumb excuse* to annul his marriage for the sake of re-forming an alliance with the Freys?

If so, is it that if he could he didn't want to?

If not, why?


*Actually I think even in modern society there are grounds for annulment.

  • While Robb certainly realised that he was making a political mistake, I don't remember any indication that he wanted to get out of his marriage. – Blackwood Jul 5 '16 at 2:03
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    Also, the many-faced god is not widely served or even known in Westeros. – Theyna Jul 5 '16 at 2:08
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    some of the answers to scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/35721/… are definitely related – Theyna Jul 5 '16 at 2:10
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    Robb's marriage could have ended in any number of ways, but the insult to Walder Frey (the breaking of the betrothal to his daughter) would still stand. – chepner Jul 27 '16 at 13:44
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    @BCLC I'm not sure I follow. Are you asking why Robb's betrothal to Walder Frey's daughter is broken by his marriage to Jeyne? Isn't that obvious? A betrothal is a promise to marry, and Robb broke that promise (which he made in exchange for passage across Walder's bridge) by marrying another. – chepner Jul 28 '16 at 13:09
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NOTE: This is valid for books only. In the Show, as of Season 7, annulments can be granted regardless to consummation.


Annulments in other faiths

We do not know anything about how annulments work with adherents of Red God, Drowned God, Many Faced God and Old Gods. There is not a single mention of an annulment in followers of those faiths. So the answer, with a heavy heart, would be we do not know yet.

Are Political marriages "De jure" invalid?

Also your assumption that most weddings in Westeros are de-jure invalid because of political nature is wrong. There have been plenty of political marriages in real world as well and none of them are considered "de-jure invalid".

It does not matter whether a marriage is political or not, if both parties said their vows, their marriage is de-jure and de-facto valid and binding.

As evident from your comments, you seem to be viewing Westerosi weddings in light of modern day real world. Marriage of convenience is an idea of modern world and the laws against it are targetted mostly to avoid immigration frauds. In Westeros, most High-born marriages are performed to gain some sort of advantage and there is absolutely no concept of a "Marriage of convenience" in Planetos or any law which declares them invalid. That's your personal idea which has and should not have any impact on the world set in A song of ice and fire.

To clarify, De jure does not mean "Legal according to laws of USA or Italy". De Jure means "Legal according to laws of the land/World concerned". Since there is no law against political marriages in Westeros, They are most definitely valid. I am surprised this actually requires logical proof but think of this logically.

How can something be invalid by law if there is no law making it invalid?

Faith of the Seven

We know of only one faith whose method of annulment is described in canon sources. That's faith of the Seven.

Weddings can be annulled by High Septon or a council of faith if:

  1. Wedding has not been consummated
  2. At least one party petitions the High Septon or council to annul their marriage. Example would be King Baelor's annulment of his marriage to Daena the Defiant.

As GRRM said:

Tigers14: btw, can a marriage be annulled without both parties present? and without sansa revealing who she really is?

GRRM: no one needs to be present to annul a marriage

Tigers14: how?

GRRM: but Sansa would need to request it

Tigers14: as sansa?

GRRM: Well, why would a High Septon consider a request from anyone but the parties involved?

Weddings can also be annulled if:

  1. Wife joins Silent Sisters. Example would be how Ser Quentyn Ball sent his wife to Silent Sisters so that Ball could be eligible for celibate criteria of King's Guard.
  2. One or both parties were coerced into marriage at sword point as vows sworn on sword-point are considered invalid.

Case of Robb

In Robb's Wedding, Robb followed the old gods while his wife Jeyne Westerling followed the faith of Seven.

As GRRM confirmed that Sansa can petition to High Septon for annulment of her marriage to Tyrion despite following the Old Gods herself, it appears that if one party adheres to faith of Seven (Tyrion did), both parties reserve the right to petition the High Septon to annul the Wedding provided it has not been consummated.

So in theory, Robb could appeal to High Septon for annulment if he had not consummated the marriage.

Then you wonder, why didn't he? Because:

  1. He did not want to. He was apparently head over heels in love with Jeyne Westerling and had absolutely no desire of leaving her.
  2. He was also too honorable to leave a woman with a bastard/shame of sex outside wedlock.
  3. He had consummated his marriage numerous times and thus was not eligible to apply.

He sought to rebuild his Frey alliance by offering them hand of his uncle rather than petitioning for an annulment. In any case, Robb's broken betrothal was not the sole cause of Red Wedding. By then, He had lost the North, his heirs and Karstarks. His fate was sealed and Lord Frey did not want to be on the losing side.

  • Are you serious? Afaik all political marriages are invalid because they are marriages of convenience. Am I wrong? – BCLC Jul 28 '16 at 12:52
  • They are de facto valid which is what's important. Robb's marriage in books I highly doubt would be de facto valid. Btw are you answering for the books? The series? I though Robb married Jeyne wanting to preserve her honour after having sex out of grief but Talisa out of love (if you want to call it that. Or infatuation. Whatever) – BCLC Jul 28 '16 at 12:54
  • @BCLC Since you have added the tag for Books and I haven't mentioned Talissa Maegyr, so I suppose It'd be books only answer – Aegon Jul 28 '16 at 13:01
  • @BCLC What kind of marriage do you consider "De Jure" valid? Do you wish to have a look at both Real world history and Westerosi history to reconsider your position? – Aegon Jul 28 '16 at 13:02
  • @BCLC I am not sure why you would downvote but sure that's your right and you don't have to explain it. The fact however stands. Marriage is marriage if the parties said the vows without being threatened for their life. GRRM doesn't write his story to fit to your views and when answering about his works, I tend to stick to his views – Aegon Jul 28 '16 at 13:06
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This doesn't entirely answer the question, but addresses the background: that if Robb could get an annulment, that would appease Walder Frey.

Wrong.

Robb's betrothal to Walder Frey's daughter isn't like a modern decision by two people to marry for the sake of being married. (In fact, it was never even decided who, exactly, Robb would marry, just that it would be a daughter chosen at a later date.) It's a political union: Walder allows Robb to cross the river with his army, and Robb joins their two houses. Having crossed the river, Robb is honor-bound to keep his end of the bargain.

When Robb marries Jeyne Westerling, that is a huge affront to Walder Frey. It's basically a public announcement that Robb lied to Walder just to get what he wanted. It isn' Robb's continuing marriage to Jeyne that insults Walder, it's the fact that he married her in the first place.

Let's say that, for any reason whatsover, his marriage ended: annullment, divorce, death, whatever. Perhaps now Robb goes to the Twins not for his uncle Edmure's wedding, but for his own to Walder's daughter, now that he is available again.

The same thing probably happens: Walder kills Robb for the slight to his honor, although it's possible he does so before Robb is actually his son-in-law. Murdering your guests is one thing; murdering your kin might be a line even Walder Frey avoids crossing if possible. But either way, Walder has his revenge against Robb and House Stark.

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    Walder Frey's sons did say to Robb "Our sister wouldn't mind marrying a widower" which means that was a possibility. However, insult was just a pretext and marriage wouldn't have appeased Walder as you suggest correctly. Walder Frey had seen Robb was done and he wanted to be on winning side. – Aegon Jul 28 '16 at 13:33
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    Walder Frey also extended guest right to all guests of the Red Wedding; I wouldn't take anything they say as fact. I'm not sure Walder abandoned a sinking ship so much as he saw that he could sink the ship. Revenge for the insult, then, isn't a pretext; it's Walder having his cake and eating it, too. – chepner Jul 28 '16 at 13:35

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