Cregan Stark, as depicted by Douglas Wheatley in Fire & Blood.
|Born||In 108 AC|
|Died||In 157–209 AC|
|Father||Lord Rickon Stark|
|Mother||Lady Gilliane Glover|
|Played by||Tom Taylor|
|TV series||House of the Dragon: Season 2|
Cregan Stark, known as the Wolf of the North and later in life the Old Man of the North, was the Lord of Winterfell and head of House Stark during the reigns of kings Viserys I, Aegon II, Aegon III and Daeron I Targaryen. He briefly served as Hand of the King for Aegon III after the Dance of the Dragons.
Appearance and Character
According to Archmaester Gyldayn, Cregan was a stern and formidable lord. Like many other Starks, Cregan was a good friend to the Night's Watch. Lord Cerwyn was said to be his closest friend. Prince Aemon Targaryen, the Dragonknight, claimed he never faced a finer swordsman than Lord Cregan.
Cregan was born in 108 AC as the eldest son of Rickon Stark, Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North, and Lady Gilliane Glover. He had a younger brother, who died in 119 AC, and, according to The Testimony of Mushroom, a bastard half-sister, Sara Snow.
When Lord Rickon passed away in 121 AC, he was succeeded by the thirteen-year-old Cregan. Rickon's brother, Bennard Stark, ruled the north as regent during Cregan's minority. Bennard was slow to relinquish power when Cregan turned sixteen and came of age in 124 AC, however, and relations were tense between uncle and nephew.
In 126 AC, Cregan took up rule of the north by having Bennard and his three sons imprisoned. The young lord then married Lady Arra Norrey, a friend from childhood, but she died in 128 AC while giving birth to a son. Cregan named his infant heir Rickon after his late father.
The Dance of the Dragons
For over a century after the Targaryen Conquest, House Stark remained largely disinterested in royal politics and aloof from affairs at court. Upon the death of King Viserys I Targaryen in 129 AC, the blacks of Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen opposed the greens of King Aegon II Targaryen during the Dance of the Dragons. Jacaerys Velaryon, Prince of Dragonstone, was sent to gain additional support for his mother Rhaenyra's claim to the Iron Throne.
After flying on his dragon, Vermax to the Eyrie, Sisterton, and White Harbor, Jacaerys arrived at Winterfell to negotiate with Lord Cregan. According to Grand Maester Munkun, Cregan and the prince got along well, as Jacaerys reminded Cregan of his late younger brother. After spending time drinking, hunting, and training, Cregan and Jacaerys swore an oath of brotherhood. In contrast to Munkun's writings, Septon Eustace claimed that Jacaerys spent his time trying to convert Lord Stark from the old gods to the Faith of the Seven. Mushroom claimed that Cregan had a half-sister, Sara Snow, who slept with Jacaerys, and that an angry Cregan only relented after being told that Jacaerys and Sara had secretly wed in the godswood of Winterfell. Archmaester Gyldayn is skeptical of Mushroom's ribald stories, however. Regardless, Lord Cregan and Prince Jacaerys reached an agreement, known by Munkun as the Pact of Ice and Fire, which stated that the future firstborn daughter of Jacaerys would one day marry Cregan's son, Rickon. Cregan pledged his support to the blacks.
Roderick Dustin, Lord of Barrowton, commanded the first host of northmen who marched south, known as the Winter Wolves, older men who feared a long winter. Roddy the Ruin's host helped the blacks achieve victories over the greens in the riverlands, but the Winter Wolves were eventually lost in the First Battle of Tumbleton. Desmond Manderly, Lord of White Harbor, also sent soldiers by sea to support Rhaenyra. The White Harbor men were led by Desmond's two sons Ser Medrick and Ser Torrhen Manderly.
Prince Jacaerys was killed in the Battle of the Gullet, and Queen Rhaenyra fled King's Landing after the Storming of the Dragonpit. While Rhaenyra was at Duskendale in 130 AC, Cregan sent word from Winterfell that he would gather for her a host of ten thousand northmen, although their march south would need to wait until the last harvest before winter was brought in. Rhaenyra was slain when she returned to Dragonstone.
Although King Aegon II returned to King's Landing to rule, Lord Stark honored his word to the blacks and marched south with the second northern host in 131 AC; Eustace claimed Cregan had twenty thousand men, while Munkun believed the number to be eight thousand northmen. While the northmen were still on the march, the rivermen defeated Borros Baratheon, Lord of Storm's End, in the Battle of the Kingsroad, and Aegon II was soon poisoned in the capital.
The Hour of the Wolf
Although they were allies, the northmen outnumbered the rivermen when they reached King's Landing, and the Lads were intimidated by the formidable Cregan. Many of his northmen were childless, homeless, unwed, or younger sons marching to war to spare their families from supporting them in winter. Lord Stark intended to continue the war by marching on Storm's End, Oldtown, and Casterly Rock, powerful seats of the greens. Cregan had many members of court imprisoned for the murder of King Aegon II Targaryen; although he had been Aegon's foe during the Dance, Lord Stark objected to a monarch being killed by poison instead of in battle.
Cregan held court in the Red Keep for six days, a time known as the Hour of the Wolf, with the eleven-year-old Prince Aegon the Younger, the son of the late Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen, confined to Maegor's Holdfast. The remaining green lords sent word of their disinterest in continuing the war, and women at court encouraged peace as well. Lord Stark reluctantly agreed to not march on the castles of the greens, although he insisted that the murderers of Aegon the Elder be held accountable. In order to administer justice, Lord Stark was named Hand of the King by Prince Aegon the Younger.
Ruling from the foot of the Iron Throne, Cregan allowed Septon Eustace to be released but condemned Grand Maester Orwyle and Ser Gyles Belgrave of the Kingsguard. Twenty-two lesser individuals were also marked for death by Cregan. Lord Stark condemned the soldiers from House Strong who had freed Lady Baela Targaryen from imprisonment, but he agreed to spare them when Baela brandished a sword in their defense.
Cregan also condemned Corlys Velaryon, Lord of the Tides, who said he had acted for the good of the Seven Kingdoms, and Larys Strong, Lord of Harrenhal, who refused to offer a defense. Baela and her sister Rhaena convinced Prince Aegon to spare Corlys, however, to which Cregan acquiesced. According to Mushroom, Cregan agreed to the sparing of the Sea Snake through the actions of Alysanne Blackwood, whom Cregan had become impressed with during their time at the Red Keep. In return for Corlys's life, Black Aly agreed to marry Cregan, a widower.
Cregan decided to personally behead the condemned with Ice, the ancestral Valyrian steel greatsword of House Stark. When Lord Stark allowed Ser Perkin the Flea to join the Night's Watch, however, most of the other condemned had their lives spared by asking to take the black as well. Gyles and Larys were the only two to be executed by Cregan, who resigned as Hand the following day.
Within a fortnight of Aegon the Younger's coronation as King Aegon III Targaryen, Cregan began his journey back to the north, having declined an offer to serve in the regency of Aegon III. Many of the northmen who had marched to King's Landing with him remained in the south, however, choosing to wed women of the riverlands at Widow Fairs or taking up service as guards and men-at-arms.
The Regency era
Later that same year, however, the North was one of the first regions in Westeros struck by the Winter Fever, which continued through 133 AC. The plague eventually spread to most of Westeros as far south as the Blackwater, but it was noted to be much more aggressive in cold climates. When it spread to King's Landing it killed one fifth of the city, thus the death rate was apparently much greater in the North, where White Harbor and Barrowton were hard hit (White Harbor is the North's only city, while Barrowton and the Winter town outside Winterfell are the only two settlements large enough to be called proper "towns").
With the North so badly weakened from winter famine and then the devastating sickness, the wildlings from beyond the Wall seized on the opportunity to launch major raids into the south. In 133 AC a wildling chieftain called Sylas the Grim led a large force of 3,000 to force their way south of the Wall at Queensgate (overwhelming the Night's Watch garrison). Afterwards they proceeded to plunder the lands of the Gift. Lord Cregan rode forth from Winterfell and rallied what able-bodied men were left to his banner: Glovers of Deepwood Motte, Flints and Norreys from the hill clans, and a hundred rangers of the Night's Watch. Cregan's combined force then hunted down and destroyed Sylas's raiding bands.
After the death of Queen Jaehaera Targaryen later in 133 AC, Cregan objected to the suggestion of Unwin Peake, Lord of Starpike and Hand of the King, that King Aegon III Targaryen wed his daughter, Myrielle Peake.
Cregan's second wife Alysanne Blackwood bore him four daughters, though Rickon - his son and only child by his first wife - was his heir. At some unspecified point in later decades Alysanne died, however, and Cregan married for a third time, to Lynara Stark. Lynara was a distant minor Stark cousin, descending from a younger son of Lord Brandon "the Boisterous" Stark (who himself succeeded Torrhen Stark, the last Stark king). Lynara went on to bear Cregan four sons and one daughter: due to male-preference inheritance law, all four sons stood in line of succession ahead of their four older half-sisters through Aly Blackwood.
Cregan had a long life, which earned him the nickname of "The Old Man in the North". The exact date of Cregan's death has not yet been provided, though because he came to rule young (as soon as he turned sixteen in 126 AC) and lived to be quite old, he ruled over the North for a considerable span of decades. Cregan was still alive in 157 AC, and thus he ruled the North for at least thirty years. In 157 AC Cregan would have been 49 years of age, not yet a very old man. It is possible, though unlikely, that Cregan may have lived until the time of the First Blackfyre Rebellion in 196 AC - as Cregan would have been 88 years old in that year.
Cregan outlived his eldest son and heir, Rickon, who died at Sunspear during the conquest of Dorne by King Daeron I Targaryen in 157 AC.  Rickon was survived by two daughters, Sansa and Serena, and by the known laws of succession they should have been ahead of Rickon's younger brothers in line of succession. However, northern succession laws may simply be different; there has never been a ruling Queen of Winter or ruling Lady of Winterfell, for example, and primogeniture is not necessarily binding elsewhere in the Seven Kingdoms either. Whatever the case was, Cregan's second son Jonnel Stark succeeded Cregan upon his death, marrying his own half-niece Sansa. Cregan's third son Edric stark married Rickon's other daughter Serena. Jonnel's marriage to Sansa was childless, but upon his death rule passed not to Cregan's third son Edric, but to his fourth son Barthogan Stark. While it is possible that Edric predeceased his younger brother, Edric did have two sons and two daughters with Serena, and the daughters had children of their own,  and all of these should have been ahead in the line of succession to Barthogan. The exact reasons and circumstances under which Barthogan became Lord of Winterfell are as yet unknown.
Barthogan himself later died childless, when he was slain in the Skagosi rebellion during the reign of Daeron II Targaryen, and he was succeeded by Cregan's fifth and final son, Brandon, from whom the later generations of House Stark descend. Convoluted succession challenges remained for decades, possibly through Serena and Edric's children - and between Brandon's own rival grandchildren. Brandon was succeeded by his eldest son Rodwell Stark, who died without issue, after which rule passed to his younger brother Beron Stark. The grandson of Cregan, Beron, was mortally wounded fighting off an incursion by Dagon Greyjoy's ironborn, and as he lay dying in Winterfell multiple Stark widows pushed their children's rival succession claims against the others - only for the unlikely traveling duo Dunk and Egg to become embroiled in the ensuing events.
A Game of Thrones
Quotes by Cregan
Benjicot: Half your men will die, Lord Stark.
Cregan: They died the day we marched, boy.—Benjicot Blackwood and Cregan
Cregan: Small boys become large men in time, and a babe sucks down his mother's hate with his mother's milk. Finish these foes now, or those of us not in our graves in twenty years will rue our folly when those babes strap on their father's swords and come seeking after vengeance.poisoned him, my lord?
—Cregan and Corlys Velaryon
—Cregan to Gyles Belgrave
Quotes about Cregan
Whenever the Wolf of the North stalked into a room, Bloody Ben would recall that he was but three-and-ten, whilst Lord Tully and his brother blustered and stammered and flushed as red as their hair.—writings of Gyldayn
The city was his, to do with as he wished. The northman had taken it without drawing a sword or loosing an arrow. Be they king's men or queen's men, stormlanders or seahorses, riverlords or gutter knights, highborn or low, common soldiers deferred to him as if they had been born to his service.—writings of Eustace
—Larys Strong to Cregan
- Fire & Blood, Aftermath - The Hour of the Wolf.
- Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - A Son for a Son.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 69, Bran VII.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon III.
- See the Cregan Stark calculation
- The World of Ice & Fire, Appendix: Stark Lineage.
- Deadline: Season 2 Cast and Teaser Trailer (December 2, 2023)
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 66, Bran VII.
- Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - The Blacks and the Greens.
- Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - Rhaenyra Triumphant.
- 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 - The Hooded Hand.
- Fire & Blood, Under the Regents - War and Peace and Cattle Shows.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The North: The Lords of Winterfell.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Ancient History: The Dawn Age.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Lords of Winterfell.
- So Spake Martin: The Hornwood Inheritance and the Whents (November 02, 1999)
- So Spake Martin: ruling Lady of Winterfell or Queen of Winter
- Ran at A Forum of Ice and Fire: "Primogeniture is customary, but not binding... especially not to a king. We have other examples of people being passed over, or potentially passed over, for others."
- The World of Ice & Fire, Appendix: Stark Lineage.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The North: The Stoneborn of Skagos.
- So Spake Martin: Boskone (February 17, 2006), report 1
- So Spake Martin: Boskone (February 17, 2006), report 2