Eddard Stark, also known as Ned, is the second born son of the late Lord Rickard Stark, and as a Game of Thrones begins, Lord of Winterfell. Having been married to Lady Catelyn Tully since 283AC, Ned has five children with her: Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran and Rickon. Ned also has a bastard son, Jon Snow, born during the Rebellion.
Eddard had been fostered in his youth at the Eyrie by Jon Arryn, whom he regarded ever since as a second father, together with Robert Baratheon, who Eddard saw as a brother. When Eddards sister Lyanna was supposedly kidnapped by Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, Eddards brother Brandon went to King's Landing for justice, but was executed together with their father, Rickard Stark, on the orders of Mad King Aerys. When Aerys next demanded the heads of both Ned and Robert Baratheon, Jon Arryn refused him and raised his banners in revolt. The war ended with Robert on the throne, though Ned arrived too late to safe his sister. She died in his arms.
Ever since Robert's coronation, Ned Stark has served as the Warden of the North, keeping the king's peace. In 298AC, however, Jon Arryn dies and Ned is asked by Robert to replace their former foster father as Hand of the King. Suspicious about Jon Arryn's sudden death, Ned accepts, moves to King's Landing, and starts to investigate.
Eddard is known for his unwavering sense of honor and justice. His family finds him kind and loving, although some consider his reserved personality a sign of coldness and disdain.