Westeros and its culture belong to George RR Martin.

This story was originally intended to be a direct pastiche of Version A: Life of Norbert, Archbishop of Magdeburg from pages126-174 of Norbert and Early Norbertine Spirituality. However when I began translating the dates in my idiosyncratic manner1. I noted that Septon Narbert would have experienced his conversion either during the reign of Maegor I (if the account presented in Herman of Tournai's Miracles of St. Mary of Laon is followed) or the early part of the reign of Jaehaerys (if the account presented Life of Norbert Versions A and B is followed). Since the former is more interesting, I have made it the focus of this chapter, although I have still made use of the latter. Indeed the more I learnt about the context of Saint Norbert's life, such as the conflict between Pope Pascal II and the Holy Roman Emperor Henry V, the more I noted it's vague similarities to the conflict between Maegor I and the Faith Militant. There is, however, a caveat, that whilst the papal cause was ultimately successful in Europe (atleast until after the Reformation when the Papacy was gradually forced to give up secular power, culminating in Victor Emmanuel's 1870 seizure of Rome); the High Septon, at least until AFFC, was a puppet of the Iron Throne, in ways far worse than the Avignon papacy's subservience to the Kings of France. This is another example of Martinworld being a far worse place than Europe and the Middle East were during the Middle Ages. For this reason, my Life of Septon Narbert, differs with the real facts of Saint Norbert's life.

Cover: Saint Augustine, on the left, handing the Augustine Rule to Norbert, on the right. Illumination from the Vita Sancti Norberti made after 1140 in Schäftlarn Bavaria. I have photo-shopped it to make the white robes green and added religious iconography appropriate to Westeros.

Note: Eventually the Life of Narbert, Chief Septon of Golden Tooth will have an introduction similar to the ones at the beginning of Penguin and Oxford classics.

Life of Narbert, Chief Septon of Golden Tooth

Chapter 1

In the forty-second year2 since Aegon's Landing, when the High Septon was from Old Town3, Sofrie Tully was Lord of Riverrun, and Tyrek Lannister was Lord of Casterly Rock. Maegor the Cruel came to sit the Iron Throne4, against all laws of succession. Narbert, of Andal stock, was a Green Septon in his twenty-eighth year5. His father was Lord Cadiesin of Grell near the Whispering Wood. His mother was Oareun of House Graceford of Holyhall in the Reach. His parents had decided that he would be a Green Septon since, because of a revelation received in a dream; they expected great things of him. He enjoyed the gifts of nature: He was handsome and well-proportioned and was further gifted in the shape and suppleness of his body. Yet his education made him preeminent in eloquence through his knowledge of letters. Therefore adorned with the ornament of his manners; he showed himself gracious, refined, and pleasant to all who knew him6. He had been first appointed to the Sept at Nunn's Deep where his charm and amiability made him well loved and known by all. Then Chief Septon Pedrick of Feastfires summoned Narbert to serve at the Sept in Feastfires, where he was held in great esteem. It is due to Narbert's excellent qualities that Chief Septon Pedrick deemed him worthy enough to become the almoner of Maegor the Cruel. Thus did Septon Narbert enjoy the affluence and convenience of temporal life to his heart's desire, living without fear of the Father's Justice7.

Now, although Septon Narbert had possessed all these things in abundance for a long time, he had served King Maegor for but sixteen months, when on the 12th of Second Month in the Forty-Fifth Year since Aegon's Landing, the King, riding upon his terrible dragon, captured the High Septon, and after publicly humiliating his person, imprisoned him in the Black Cells. After twenty-eight days of cruel imprisonment the High Septon had not yet acceded to the reign of Maegor the Cruel, so he was taken to the fourth and lowest level, yet still he would not recognize Maegor Targaryen as King, thus after thirty three days in the torture chambers of Maegor the Cruel, the High Septon died. His imprisonment had lasted sixty-one days in total8.

Now Maegor, like all godless men, liked to make his great intellect known. Since he possessed the wisdom that is common to all godless men, the great intellect of Maegor took forms that were both perverse and vain. Thus, when Maegor heard that the High Septon had died, he bid a maid to bring Septon Narbert from the inn of the Drowned Cypress, where he was drinking to the joys of secular life, and take him to view the corpse of the High Septon as a test of loyalty. Obedient to the orders of King Maegor, the maid led Septon Narbert through the dark and secret passages of the Red Keep, promising that the King sought to reward Narbert for his leal service, and that his reward awaited him in a room that could only be reached by a secret passage. Being drunk upon Arbor Gold, Narbert did not wonder why such a treasure would be kept within earshot, and amidst the stench of a dungeon. After some time, there was light at the end of the tunnel, and that light illuminated the great triumph of Maegor the Cruel. For at the center of the chamber the martyred High Septon lay naked under a windlass, his belly cut open and his guts and bowels wound out of his blessed body (de Worde 1527).9

Overcome by this vision of earthly rewards, Septon Narbert stumbled forward, tripping over the guts of the High Septon and fell prostrated upon the body's feet (Daylesford Abbey; Neel, Carol; 2007, 63). When he looked up, he saw to his horror that King Maegor was seated next to the table which the High Septon's body was still chained upon. However, even drunk, Narbert kept his wits and said unto his King "Your Grace. In my drunkenness I vomited upon thy wondrous reward. How can it be possible for me to receive thy absolution?"

This caused King Maegor to laugh, a thing he rarely did, and he asked Septon Narbert what he thought of his reward. Septon Narbert, to preserve his life, said that his gracious majesty had shown great wisdom and intellect in his reward, for nothing could please him more than to see the corpse of such an impertinent traitor to the Iron Throne. This reply caused King Maegor to smile, and they walked out of the dungeons together. Septon Narbert knew that King Maegor only smiled when his suspicions had been confirmed. Therefore when Septon Narbert had returned to his own chambers, he resolved to flee from King's Landing that very night.

So it was that under cover of darkness Septon Narbert accompanied by a single servant, secretly fled from Kings Landing. He hoped to avail himself of a place called Ilocryd, the native village of his manservant. In his haste he wore only the silken garments that had been upon him when he had seen the High Septon's martyred body. While they were fleeing, a dark cloud over took them, lightning flashed, thunder roared, and-what was more inconvenient-there was no house for shelter nearby. Both he and his companion were already unnerved, when suddenly the terrifying sound and sight of a thunderbolt struck the ground, opening it to the depth of a man's height. From here steamed forth a putrid stench, fouling Narbert and his garments. Struck from his horse, he thought he heard a voice denouncing him. Returning to his senses and now repentant, he reflected on the words in the Book of Holy Prayer: Turn from evil and do good. (Prayer 33:15; 36; 27).

As the fall had injured Septon Narbert, his companion took him to the Septry on the Quiet Isle that Narbert might be healed. There, caught up in the spirit of salvation through fear of the Seven, he put on a hair shirt beneath his outer garments intending to do good deeds and penance for his past life. In that place he enjoyed the holy company of Father Conan10, under whose teaching and good guidance he advanced in fear and love of the Seven.


Burton, Janet, and Julie Kerr. The Cistercians In The Middle Ages. Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2011.

Daylesford Abbey; Neel, Carol;. Norbert and Early Norbertine Spirituality. Edited by Theodore J. Antry, Carol Neel and Andrew D. Ciferni. Mahwah, New Jersey: Paulist Press, 2007.

de Worde, Wynken. The Golden Legend: The Life of Saint Erasmus. 1527. (accessed July 20, 2012).

Jaeger, C. Stephen. The Envy of Angels: Cathedral Schools and Social Ideas in Medieval Europe. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994.

Rapley, Elizabeth. The Lord As Their Portion. Michigan: Wm.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2011.

1 namely that because Saint Norbert was born about 14 years after the Norman Conquest of England therefore Septon Narbert would be born 14 years after Aegon's Landing

2 This biography of Septon Narbert was written in 98 AL at the latest.

3 Possibly Septon Pask

4 Maegor the Cruel reigned 42AL - 48AL

5 This places his birth at 14 AL.

6 In this passage at least, letters and manners have the result of creating an amiable man, thus achieving an important goal of the cult of virtue. Although one might expect a man setting out to do battle against vice to be equipped with more powerful weapons; charm and winning grace are qualities vital to survival in court life and administrative service. (Jaeger 1994, 102-103)

7 Green Septons are dedicated to the Father.

8 Voodooquen's note: The historical Pope Pascal II lived to fight another day. Worth noting that Henry V has not come down in history as "The Cruel" and that he did not possess dragons.

9 The Martyrdom of the High Septon was a popular subject in late medieval art, a well-known example was painted by Tudor Bolts in 364 for Hugor's Sept in Riverrun.

10 Although it is today known as a major Cyrsian Septry, the Quiet Isle was originally a Beneadine Septry and was incorporated into the Cyrsian order in 53AL (Burton and Kerr 2011, 26-28,32). Therefore in 45 AL, when Narbert was staying there, the Quiet Isle was presided over by a "Father" rather than an "Elder Brother", as it is today.

Voodooqueen's factual note: Although subject to visitation by the abbot whose monastery has founded theirs; Cistercian abbeys are actually presided over by abbots who are elected by their own community. When decisions need to be made for the whole order, they are not made by the chief abbot alone but by an annual general chapter of abbots. This contrasts with the quasi-feudalistic manner in which Cluny governed dependent monasteries (Rapley 2011, 15,26). However as the Elder Brother in AFFC was addressed as "Elder Brother" rather than "Father", I have concluded that the term must be analogous to prior (meaning first or earlier), as seen in Cluniac monasteries. Although the Quiet Isle is similar to the Cistercians in practice and given the efficiency with which the Elder Brother governs the Quiet Isle, I am forced to conclude that he was elected, rather than appointed by some remote Abbot of a Septry in the Reach. I suspect that GRRM's reasons for using Elder "Brother" rather than "Father" are reasonable in that "Father" is a real word term for an ordained priest, which AFFC's Elder Brother" is certainly not (although the analogous term seems to be Septon in Westeros, which is ridiculous given that Septon Meribald is illiterate). The history of the Faith of the Seven renders the use of Aramaic, Hebrew and even Greek and Latin derived words impossible, therefore eliminating many of the words we use to describe church hierarchy. This forced me to make up the very clumsy "Chief Septon" for "Archbishop", and would explain inelegant terms like "Elder Brother" for "prior"…

Finally, critical reviews, suggestions, comments etc, would be much appreciated