I'm interested to know whether there is actually any evidence that Joffrey, Tommen or Myrcella are actually bastards? Of course, it's known that Jaime and Cersei had sex, but I can't remember anything in the books or show that proves that Robert was not the father, other than the hair colour of Cersei's children compared to his baseborn children.

Given that paternity tests, presumably, aren't a thing in the world of GoT, if Cersei is found guilty by the faith that she has laid with her brother, I'm still really not sure how it would remove Tommen from the throne. Sure, you can't guarantee he's the legitimate heir but you can't disprove it either.


7 Answers 7


tl;dr:That depends on who's the one looking for evidence. There's no doubt for us, the reader, that the three children are Jaime's. For the people within the universe of the show, things are murkier. For the High Sparrow's part, the best he can do is heresay and circumstantial evidence, though it would likely be enough to find her guilty anyway.

The Outside Perspective

We, the readers/viewers, know for sure that the children are Jaime's, because Cersei admitted to Ned Stark that she made sure of it. She only ever permitted Robert to impregnate her one time, and that child died. Thereafter, she took measures to ensure that it never happened again, mostly involving never sleeping with him if she could help it.

Cersei would certainly know whether or not the children could have been conceived by Robert just based on her having slept with him soon before she got pregnant. So, we can safely take her word for it when she says this.

Beyond that, we've seen more than enough points of view from Cersei and/or Jaime to know that they both genuinely believe the children to be theirs, and again, if anyone would know, it would be them.

Those In-The-Know

Similarly, there's a select group of people within the novels that know the truth for certain, again because Cersei or Jaime told them. I go into details in the answer to this question but the list is pretty short; the only ones left alive, to my knowledge, are Cersei, Jaime, and Tyrion. Both Ned and Catelyn Stark also knew the truth before their deaths, and in the TV Show, Tywin and Myrcella also finds out.

There are also people who have very strong suspicions, like Tywin (in the novels) and Kevan Lannister, and I'm also put money on people like Varys and Littlefinger having good sources. Many of these people have made off-hand remarks about Jaime being the father, to Cersei's face, and not been corrected, so their suspicions were effectively confirmed.

Everyone Else

As far as the general public goes, the only real evidence they have is the same evidence that led Jon Arryn and Ned Stark to discover the truth in the first place: basic genetics. Specifically, the "look" of the Baratheon line is apparently made up of several very dominant traits, primarily the dark hair color.

There is a book detailing the lineage of all of the Great Houses back many generations; prompted by an off-hand remark by Sansa, Ned digs around in this book and learns that every single Baratheon child in recorded history has had dark hair; this includes all of Robert's bastard children, but not his children by Cersei. Instead, those children have the golden hair common to the Lannister children, like Cersei and Jaime.

These days, we know enough about genetics to know that this could still be possible: the children could have inherited a recessive gene from Robert that he doesn't outwardly display. But even then it would be pretty persuasive: generation after generation of dark-haired children, and suddenly your fair-haired wife with the fair-haired brother gives birth the three straight fair-haired kids?

In the world of ASoIaF, this kind of evidence would be almost irrefutable.

  • Liked this answer before I got to the bottom, once I got there I saw it was @mike and I was like "ohhh, why can't I plus two?" Great answer.
    – Möoz
    Jun 26, 2015 at 23:02
  • Robert had a Targaryen grandmother, that's not very many generations.
    – Random832
    Jun 7, 2016 at 17:58
  • 1
    @Random832 I don't undertand your point... the Baratheon line goes back a hell of a lot further than Robert's grandfather. Even the Targaryen blood wasn't enough to give Steffon Baratheon silver hair/eyes/etc.
    – KutuluMike
    Jun 7, 2016 at 18:38
  • @KutuluMike Sure but that's based on fantasy genetics. In real life blond hair is a recessive trait and could easily be hidden for a mere two generations after the blond-haired ancestor who introduced the gene, hardly worthy of saying "generation after generation [...] and suddenly"
    – Random832
    Jun 7, 2016 at 19:32
  • Yes, and in real life, the odds of having 3 consecutive children born with a recessive trait, with no evidence of that recessive trait anywhere up the genetic line, is rather small.
    – KutuluMike
    Jun 7, 2016 at 20:24

I don't know what sort of evidence is enough to "categorically confirm Cersei's children are bastards"...

The only evidence I can think of are Robert's bastard sons.

Edric Storm: sturdily attractive youth, with jet-black hair and deep blue eyes. He is said to be "the very image" of his father, although he also has the large ears common to House Florent.

Gendry: when Brienne of Tarth encounters Gendry working as a smith at the inn at the crossroads, she is shocked by his striking resemblance to Renly Baratheon. And Renly Baratheon is thought to look eerily similar to a young Robert Baratheon, though several inches shorter, and far less muscular.

So every male descendant of Robert shares a lot of resemblance to their father, while Tommen and Joffrey have only Lannister traits.

  • for the time frame the show/novels are set in, given their limited understanding of genetics, this is almost certainly good enough evidence of heredity.
    – KutuluMike
    Jun 26, 2015 at 20:44

There is no actual foolproof evidence.

However there are several things we can take in consideration:

First: the investigation of Jon Arryn, and later of Ned Stark, showed that all Robert's ancestors and bastards had dark hair, while 'his' three children are blondes.

Second: We know, although in the story for the common folk it's no more than gossip, than Cersei and Jaime are lovers. And that both consider Jaime as the true father of the children.

Third: We know that Cersei despised Robert and loved her brother. Although they don't live in an age with modern born control technology, women had known how to avoid or interrupt pregnancy (with a certain degree of success) since the beginning of time. Cersei could perfectly well have used different "natural" remedies to avoid getting pregnant by Robert. This is mere speculation, but I remember it's been shadily implied at least once in the books when she talked about how much she hated her husband.

So, we cannot be sure without any doubt that they aren't Robert's children. However all clues point to that.

  • I do remember her stating once in the books that she made sure she never bore Robert's children. Can't remember where, but it may have been in one of her POV chapters, or Jaime's.
    – JSM
    Jun 26, 2015 at 15:20
  • Ahem ... "despised Robert and loved HIS brother"? :-)
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jun 26, 2015 at 21:44
  • 3
    @randal'thor: In episode 2x09 Cersei says "I should have been born a man." If Cersei wants to identify as a man, by all means... let him! :-)
    – user46271
    Jun 26, 2015 at 22:10
  • @Ned Call him Cameron.
    – Möoz
    Jun 26, 2015 at 23:05
  • @Mooz: Cameron Lannister? Doesn't sound very Westerosi to me. Maybe he came from Essos.
    – user46271
    Jun 27, 2015 at 8:45

Even if it's a coin flip whether each child is Robert's or Jaime's, you have to consider that the king should unite his people, not divide them.

If there's no evidence pointing either way, it's 50/50 odds (assuming no other potential fathers). That'd mean that on average, half of the people would believe Tommen to be Jaime's child, and revolt against the throne. Even if not half the people (due to propaganda and the like), there'd still be a lot of them believing it, even if only because the Lannisters' enemies would spread false confirmations in order to destabilize the Lannisters as the holders of the throne (under the guise of Tommen Baratheon).

It doesn't take the entire country to destabilize the throne. Given enough people protesting it, the throne's power could be compromised. The Lannisters already have plenty of enemies.

It's very similar to how a politician's extramarital affair can lead to his resignation even if it doesn't actually compromise his ability to perform his duties. People lose faith in them, and they lose their power as a consequence.


Here is a genealogical question. What were the hair colors of the non Baratheon ancestors of Robert Baratheon? His mother and her ancestors, his paternal grandmother and her ancestors, his paternal great grandmother and her ancestors and so on.

A man inherits his dominant and recessive genes from his two parents, his four grandparents, his eight great grandparents, his sixteen great great grandparents, etc.

you would expect that members of Arab dynasties would always look like Arabs, right? But Arab rulers had harems with numbers of slave women from various ethnic groups. Thus a sultan or caliph whose mother and grandmother were both black slaves would be three quarters black and would probably look it, while an emir or caliph whose mother and grandmother were both light haired and light skinned Circassian or Slavic slaves might look northern European.

Thus Caliph Abdr ar-Rhaman III of Cordoba, a member of the Ommyiad dynasty from Mecca, was descended from several marriages with Spanish dynasties and looked so fair-haired and fair-skinned that he was said to dye his his hair and beard and his skin darker to look more like an Arab.

However, pre modern biological theories often assumed that a man contributed all the gene equivalents to his child and the woman contributed nothing, despite the common family resemblances between people related by female descent.

Thus Meroveus, ancestor of the Merovingians, was said to be half Human not because he was believed to get half his genes from his Human mother and half from the river giant who raped her, but because he was believed to get half his genes from his nominal Human father and half from the river giant.

So if those false theories are believed in Game of Thrones nobody will care if Robert Baratheon's ancestors all married blonde-haired women because they won't believe that Robert's children could inherit their looks from any female ancestors.

Thus I could imagine a political and legal proceeding concerning their paternity involving an esoteric discussion of biological theories by learned scholars

  • So, the human genome has 20-25k genes. This means that you only have to go 15 generations before at least one of the ancestor's genes can be completely discounted for. Of course, that means checking the hair color of thousands of people by hand, which would have been an arduous task to complete that would have made the entire story far less interesting.
    – user46271
    Jun 27, 2015 at 8:43

I hope that nobody ever proves that Cersei's children are bastards. As far as I know, King Joffrey baratheon is dead and his younger brother Tommen is king as far as the books and movies have progressed.

I believe that a lot of A Song of Ice and Fire is based on events in England's "War of the Roses" era. So what might happen if people start claiming that the boy on the throne is illegitimate and thus not the rightful king?

If events in English history are the model for events in A Song of Ice and Fire the child king will probably be deposed in favor of someone claiming legitimate birth, be locked up in some fortress which has been "with many a foul and midnight murder fed", and eventually murdered.

So as far as I am concerned anyone who dares to suggest that Tommen is illegitimate and should be deposed is an evil person who cares more for something trivial like the basic laws of a kingdom than for something important like the life of one child.


Jaime tells Myrcella that he's her father.

  • Hmmm, this doesn't happen in the books, and how would Jaime now if his squeeze was having sex with two people around the same times?
    – ediblecode
    Jun 26, 2015 at 12:05
  • 1
    @jumpingcode... yeah actually, I suppose your right. Better get Jeremy Kyle involved!
    – Daft
    Jun 26, 2015 at 12:08
  • Hahahaha, he would have a field day
    – ediblecode
    Jun 26, 2015 at 12:08

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