House Stark

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House Stark of Winterfell
House Stark.PNG
Coat of arms A running grey direwolf, on an ice-white field
Words Winter is Coming
Seat Scattered (formerly Winterfell)
Current Lord unknown
Region The North
Title King in the North
Lord of Winterfell
Warden of the North
King of the Trident
Overlord None (formerly House Baratheon of King's Landing)
Cadet Branch House Greystark
House Karstark
Ancestral Weapon Ice (destroyed)
Founder Bran the Builder
Founded Age of Heroes

House Stark of Winterfell is one of the Great Houses of Westeros and the principal noble house of the North; many lesser houses are sworn to them. In days of old they ruled as Kings of Winter; since the Targaryen Conquest they have been Wardens of the North. Their seat, Winterfell, is an ancient castle renowned for its strength.

Their sigil is a grey direwolf racing across a field of white, and their words are "Winter is Coming", one of only a few house mottoes to be a warning rather than a boast.[1] Members of the family tend to be lean of build and long of face, with dark brown hair and grey eyes. Several of the main point of view characters of the series are members of this house. Aside from the Karstarks of Karhold, the Starks of Winterfell may have distant relatives elsewhere in the North, possibly in White Harbor and Barrowton.[2]



The Starks are an ancient house descended from Bran the Builder, a legendary figure from the Age of Heroes said to have raised their ancestral home at Winterfell thousands of years in the past, as well as the Wall. They are descendants of the First Men[1] and still follow some of their ancient traditions and the old gods of the forest. The Starks were Kings of Winter in the North for thousands of years from the Age of Heroes, possibly beginning with Bran the Builder. Ever since Bran constructed the Wall, the Starks have been friends of the Night's Watch, and have manned the Wall for thousands of years. The Night's King, the attainted 13th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, is said to have been a Stark, among his many possible origins. The Starks also helped repel several major wildling invasions, such as when they and their Umber bannermen defeated the Kings-Beyond-the-Wall like the brothers Gendel and Gorne, as well as Bael the Bard, who both sired and fought a Stark.

The ancient Starks gradually defeated rival kings, such as the Barrow Kings to their south and the Red Kings to their east.[3] For several millennia, the Starks were not the uncontested Kings in the North, but their primary antagonists, the Boltons of the Dreadfort, swore fealty some 1,000 years ago, ending their flesh-flaying ways. Meanwhile, King Jon Stark drove pirates from the White Knife, and the Wolf's Den was built at its mouth. This stronghold was often granted to sons and grandsons of the King in the North; one such branch, the Greystarks, was extinguished after allying with the Boltons against the Starks.[4] The Wolf's Den was eventually granted to the Manderlys, a house exiled from the Reach and taken in by the Starks. The Manderlys developed the city of White Harbor around the castle.[5][6] King Jon's son, Rickard, defeated the Marsh King and married his daughter, bringing the Neck into Winterfell's realm under the lordship of House Reed. The Karstarks were founded when Karlon Stark, brother to the reigning king, helped crush a rebel lord and was granted a keep for his service. Finally, the Mormonts were granted Bear Island when King Rodrik Stark won it from the ironborn in a wrestling match. The Starks fought the Arryns of the Vale after the Rape of the Three Sisters, eventually ceding control of the islands.[7]

The last Stark King in the North was Torrhen, who submitted to Aegon the Conqueror at the end of the War of Conquest. Since that time the Starks have held the North for the kings of the Seven Kingdoms as Wardens of the North.[8]

In 129 AC, as the Dance of the Dragons began, Prince Jacaerys Velaryon recruited Lord Cregan Stark's aid for the blacks, known as the Pact of Ice and Fire, although the war was hoped to be short and the North judged to be too remote to be of import. After the war, Cregan briefly served as Hand of the King for King Aegon III Targaryen, a time known as the Hour of the Wolf.[3]

Around 213 AC, House Stark faced a difficult succession. Several Lords of Winterfell had perished fighting wars in the North against rebellious Skagosi, the wildling King Raymun Redbeard and other threats, leaving Beron Stark as the lord of the house. As he too lay slowly succumbing to wounds he received fighting Dagon Greyjoy and his ironborn, his wife and four other recent Stark widows struggled over who would succeed him. There were a number of potential heirs, with some ten Stark children about.[9] [10]

Recent Background

Lord Rickard Stark and his maester, Walys Flowers, sought to further southron alliances by betrothing Rickard's heir, Brandon, to Catelyn Tully of Riverrun. Petyr Baelish, a ward of Catelyn's father nicknamed Littlefinger, loved Catelyn and challenged Brandon to a duel for her hand. Brandon won their duel, but did not kill Petyr in concession to Catelyn's pleas. Meanwhile, Lyanna Stark was betrothed to Lord Robert Baratheon, who was infatuated with her from a distance. Lyanna, however, was not as ardent in her love for Robert, and was fully aware of his philandering ways. Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, after winning the tourney at Harrenhal, crowned her Queen of love and beauty, passing over his wife, the Dornish Princess Elia Martell, in her favor. The exact nature of her relationship with Rhaegar is not presently clear, but roughly a year thereafter she disappeared in Rhaegar's company and Robert Baratheon and her brother Brandon Stark believed that Lyanna had been taken against her will. Brandon was on his way to Riverrun to wed Catelyn Tully when he heard the news of Lyanna's disappearance. He and four companions rode to King's Landing to seek her return, and Brandon shouted for Prince Rhaegar to "come out and die" when he reached the gates of the Red Keep. Prince Rhaegar was not present, but King Aerys II Targaryen did order the arrest of Brandon and summoned Rickard Stark in response. Rickard and Brandon were both executed on the order of the Mad King, Aerys II. It is currently unknown whether and when Lyanna learned about this, and how she responded. King Aerys II, after the two executions, demanded the heads of Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon from their former foster father, Lord Jon Arryn. Jon Arryn refused, however, and raised his banners in revolt. This was the beginning of Robert's Rebellion.

During its course, Lord Eddard "Ned" Stark honored his late brother Brandon's betrothal to Catelyn Tully as part of an alliance to bring House Tully into the rebel fold. He was one of the principal commanders in the war, but had a falling out with Robert after he accepted the treacherous aid of House Lannister and condoned the brutal murders of Rhaegar's wife, daughter and son out of his hatred for the Targaryen crown prince. After the Sack of King's Landing, Eddard Stark rode south to relieve the siege of Storm's End.[11][12] Afterwards, Eddard and six companions went to retrieve Lyanna at the fortress Rhaegar had named the Tower of Joy.[11] They fought three Kingsguard knights stationed there, who killed all but Eddard and Howland Reed. Eddard found Lyanna dying in a bed of blood, clutching rose petals, dead and black, in her palm.[13] She forced him to make a promise to her, the contents of which are unknown, but which haunted Eddard for the rest of his life. She was sixteen years old at the time of her death and was buried in the Stark family crypt in Winterfell beside her father, Rickard, and brother, Brandon.[13]

Ned and Robert were reconciled in their shared grief, but Ned still disdained the court since Robert, the new king, married Cersei Lannister and allowed her brother, Jaime, to remain in the Kingsguard even after slaying his liege, Aerys II. Ned returned from the war to be presented with his trueborn son, Robb, but he carried the infant Jon Snow, whom he presented as his bastard son. Six years later, Ned helped his foster brother, King Robert, crush Balon Greyjoy's rebellion, taking Theon Greyjoy as a ward of Winterfell. Lord Rickard's youngest child, Benjen, joined the Night's Watch, eventually becoming First Ranger. Eddard ruled the North in Robert's name, keeping a distance from the intrigue-ridden, Lannister-infested politics of King's Landing.

Recent Events

Eddard Stark ‎- © 2012 John Picacio

A Game of Thrones

King Robert Baratheon visits Winterfell to offer Lord Eddard "Ned" Stark the position of Hand of the King, recently empty due to the death of their foster father, Lord Jon Arryn. A letter arrives from Lysa Arryn, Jon's widow and Ned's wife Catelyn's sister, who claims the Lannisters were behind Lord Arryn's sudden death. At Catelyn's urging, Ned grudgingly accepts the Handship and a betrothal of their daughter Sansa to Prince Joffrey Baratheon. During the royal party's stay, Ned's second son, Bran, spies Queen Cersei Lannister having sex with her twin brother, Ser Jaime; he is thrown from a tower in hopes the fall would kill him, but survives, crippled and comatose. Ned rides to King's Landing along with his daughters, Sansa and Arya, while Catelyn remains at Winterfell with their sons. Meanwhile, Ned's bastard son, Jon Snow, rides north with his uncle, Benjen, to join the Night's Watch. Catelyn is inconsolable in her worry for Bran, ignoring her duties as steward, but is jolted back to reality by an attempt on his life thwarted only by his direwolf. As Bran lies comatose, he begins to have visions of a three-eyed crow.

Near the ruby ford and the crossroads, Arya defends her friend Mycah from the aggressions of Prince Joffrey Baratheon, upsetting Sansa. This is exacerbated when Sansa's direwolf, Lady, is ordered dead in place of Arya's, Nymeria, which has escaped. In King's Landing, Eddard is outraged to find that the crown is heavily in debt (largely to Lord Tywin Lannister) and that Robert intends to throw a lavish tourney in his honor. After taking up his duties as Hand, Eddard assigns twenty of Winterfell's household guard to assist the gold cloaks in keeping order in King's Landing.

Ned investigates the death of Jon Arryn, determining that he was looking into the king's bastard brood. When Robert holds a small council meeting to arrange the death of the exiled Daenerys Targaryen, who has wed a mighty Dothraki khal, Ned refuses to condone the assassination and resigns as Hand. In the streets of the capital, he is waylaid by Lannister men in retaliation for Catelyn's abduction of Tyrion Lannister, whom her foster-brother, Petyr Baelish, had told her was responsible for the attempt on Bran's life. Ned's leg is broken and his best men slain, but Ned survives and Robert re-confirms his appointment as Hand before going on a hunt and leaving Ned to sit the Iron Throne. In this capacity he sends men, including twenty Stark guards, to stop Ser Gregor Clegane from raiding the Riverlands. Gregor's attacks were ordered by Lord Lannister; since Lord Stark was wounded he was not lured into the field and thus could not be captured and traded for Tyrion. The men sent after Gregor are ambushed and many are slain.

On the Wall, Jon Snow deals with the cruel tutelage of Ser Alliser Thorne while making friends such as Samwell Tarly and learning lessons from his elders. He also encounters a hint of the evil that supposedly lies beyond the Wall when the corpses of two of his uncle's men rise from the dead and go on the rampage at Castle Black; Jon saves the Watch's commander, Jeor Mormont, from being killed by one of the wights.

Eventually, Ned arrives at the same conclusion at which Jon Arryn did: that Queen Cersei's children are not Robert's, but bastards born of incest between the Lannister twins, and determines that it is this secret for which Jon was murdered. He approaches Cersei with this truth, warning her to flee the city. Enlisting Lord Baelish to recruit the Gold Cloaks, Ned confronts Cersei after Robert's death from a hunting accident, insisting that Stannis Baratheon is now king by rights. Baelish betrays Ned - his men are slaughtered by Janos Slynt's Gold Cloaks and he is thrown into a black cell. Sansa is held hostage in the Red Keep, but Arya manages to escape thanks to Syrio Forel, the fencing master Ned had hired to train her in swordplay.

Robb Stark, upon hearing this news, calls the banners of Winterfell and marches south. Catelyn arranges a marriage alliance with House Frey to negotiate a crossing of the Trident, and Robb breaks Lannister hegemony in the Riverlands and captures the Kingslayer. Ned initially refuses to name Joffrey as the true king, but in the end agrees in order to ensure the safety of Sansa. When he publicly announces this support, however, the capricious boy king orders Ned's execution rather than allow him to join the Night's Watch. The lords at Robb's war council in Riverrun proclaim him King in the North and of the Trident, seceding from the realm of the Iron Throne. Meanwhile, Benjen has gone missing beyond the Wall, and Jon Snow, after briefly contemplating deserting the Watch to join his half-brother's army, rides as part of the great ranging meant to determine his fate and the threats of the Others and wildlings.

A Clash of Kings

King Robb launched a wildly successful invasion of the Westerlands – by Tomasz Jedruszek. © Fantasy Flight Games

Leaving Lord Roose Bolton in command of the northmen around the Trident, King Robb launches a wildly successful invasion of the Westerlands, winning a string of victories against Lannister bannermen. In an effort to gain allies, he sends his father's ward, Theon Greyjoy, and his mother, Catelyn, as envoys to Balon Greyjoy and Renly Baratheon, respectively. However, Theon joins his family, House Greyjoy, in attacking the North, while Catelyn's diplomatic progress is shattered when Renly is killed by Melisandre's shadow assassin. Renly's sworn shield, Brienne of Tarth, takes up service with Catelyn.

Arya journeys north with Yoren and his new recruits for the Night's Watch, including King Robert's bastard Gendry, but their band is attacked by westermen at a Gods Eye town and she is taken into captivity. At Harrenhal, she is witness to myriad atrocities, but remains strong, orchestrating several deaths of her tormentors via the assassin Jaqen H'ghar and freeing a band of northmen prisoners. When the castle is taken by Roose Bolton, the incognito Arya is named his cupbearer, but she does not trust her father's bannerman and flees the castle when Roose intends to give it to Vargo Hoat. Meanwhile, Sansa remains in custody at the Red Keep, betrothed to King Joffrey. She suffers abuse at his hands, but makes tenuous relationships with Sandor Clegane and Dontos Hollard.

At Winterfell, Bran enjoys titular reign while Maester Luwin and Ser Rodrik Cassel deal with such issues as the harvest feast, the Hornwood inheritance, and the atrocities of Ramsay Snow, the Bastard of Bolton. With the guidance of the Reed children, Jojen and Meera, Bran hones his gift for greensight and skinchanging. When Ser Rodrik Cassel leads six hundred Winterfell men, among others, to battle the ironborn under Dagmer Cleftjaw, Theon Greyjoy seizes Winterfell. On his return to Winterfell, Rodrik and his men mean to liberate the castle from Theon, but are betrayed and routed by Ramsay. Luwin and Rodrik are mortally wounded by Ramsay's men, and Theon is captured during the sack of Winterfell. Bran and Rickon, thought to have been killed by Theon, leave the crypts of Winterfell after the Boltons depart. The Starks boys split up and flee towards remote northern havens. Ramsay blames the slaughter at Winterfell on Theon and his ironborn.

Benjen remains lost beyond the Wall. Jon Snow joins Qhorin Halfhand on a scouting mission in the Skirling Pass, during which he refuses an order to execute a spearwife named Ygritte. On their return to Lord Commander Jeor Mormont, the pair encounter a wildling band led by Rattleshirt. Jon, on orders from Qhorin, joins the wildlings as a double agent, and is forced to kill the Halfhand to prove his earnestness. Ygritte, now with Rattleshirt, vouches for Jon.

A Storm of Swords

The Freys murdered Robb Stark and sewed his wolf's head on his body (by Zippo514 ©)

With Stannis Baratheon's power broken by the Battle of the Blackwater and the Tyrells and Martells allied with the Lannisters, the Stark-Tully forces stand alone against their foes in the south, and the Greyjoys threaten the North.

News of Bran's and Rickon's alleged deaths drive two fateful decisions. Catelyn is confined to Riverrun for freeing Jaime Lannister in a desperate attempt to trade him for her daughters, sending Brienne to accompany him to King's Landing. Robb returns from his Westerlands campaign having wed the daughter of a minor Lannister bannerman, Jeyne Westerling, who had comforted him in his grief. This brings House Stark's alliance with the Freys into question.

Meanwhile, Lord Rickard Karstark kills two Lannister prisoners in place of Jaime, and is in turn executed by Robb, alienating a loyal bannerhouse. Lord Walder Frey accepts Robb's offer to forgive his breach of marriage contract by having Robb's uncle, Lord Edmure Tully, stand in his place. Robb and Catelyn ride with 3,500 veteran northmen to attend the wedding at the Twins.

Bran journeys north with Hodor, Jojen and Meera Reed, and his direwolf Summer. They pass through the Wall at the Nightfort with the aid of Sam Tarly and Coldhands.

Further north, Jon Snow ingratiates himself with the free folk, beginning a romance with Ygritte and befriending Mance Rayder, the King-beyond-the-Wall, and other wildling leaders. He scales the Wall with Styr, the Magnar of Thenn, and escapes to Castle Black in time to help prepare for the assault. When it comes, command falls to Jon after the death of Donal Noye. Ygritte is killed during the fighting. Jon does well until his rivals, Alliser Thorne and Janos Slynt, arrive and imprison him for allegedly betraying his vows. They send him to assassinate Mance Rayder under a flag of parley, but Stannis Baratheon's arrival breaks the wildling host before the deed is carried out. After the battle, Jon is elected Lord Commander of the Night's Watch thanks to the maneuverings of his friend, Sam Tarly.

Sansa's engagement to King Joffrey is ended by his betrothal to Margaery Tyrell. She begins to mingle with the Tyrell women in King's Landing and is nearly betrothed to Willas Tyrell, but is wed to Tyrion Lannister instead; they never consummate their match. The pair are blamed for Joffrey's murder at his wedding feast; in truth it was orchestrated by Petyr Baelish and Olenna Tyrell. Petyr smuggles Sansa out of the capitol, murdering his pawn and her friend, Dontos Hollard. He brings Sansa to the Eyrie, where he marries her aunt, Lysa Tully. Littlefinger keeps her hidden by presenting her as his natural daughter, Alayne; when Lysa drunkenly accuses Sansa of trying to steal Petyr, and reveals that she and Baelish had in fact killed Jon Arryn, Petyr throws her from the Moon Door.

Arya traverses the Riverlands, unknowingly entering the mind of her lost direwolf, Nymeria, and killing several sellswords of the Brave Companions chasing her. She joins with the brotherhood without banners, whose founding members included the Winterfell guards Alyn and Harwin. However, Arya is abducted by the Hound, Sandor Clegane, who hopes to ransom her at Edmure's wedding. Robb designates his heir (believed to be Jon Snow, in spite of the Night's Watch vows) and resolves to march north to reclaim his homeland from the Greyjoys and attend Edmure's wedding at the Twins along the way. Lord Frey, however, has been conspiring with Tywin Lannister and the traitorous Roose Bolton - Robb, Catelyn, and many of their bannermen are murdered under guest right in the Red Wedding at the Twins.

With Bran and Rickon thought dead and Sansa and Arya missing, House Stark is all but extinguished in the eyes of the world. They are supplanted as Wardens of the North by House Bolton. The rivermen return to the king's peace, and the northern lords grudgingly accept Dreadfort authority. The Hound brings Arya toward the Eyrie in an attempt to ransom her to Lady Lysa, but they are attacked by the Mountain's men and Sandor is stabbed. Arya leaves the Hound to die and uses the iron coin given to her by Jaqen H'ghar, and books passage across the narrow sea on the galleas Titan's Daughter.

A Feast for Crows

Sansa remains in the Vale, where she takes on a maternal role for her cousin, Robert Arryn. Littlefinger plots to reveal her identity, wed her to Robert's heir, Harrold Hardyng, and use the knights of the Vale to retake the North in her name.

Arya arrives in Braavos, where she takes up training at the House of Black and White to become a Faceless Man.

Soldiers bearing the colors of House Stark have washed up on the shores of the Quiet Isle. According to the Elder Brother, they are buried alongside their enemies.

A Dance with Dragons

Lord Commander Jon Snow begins an uneasy alliance with the free folk, executes the recalcitrant Janos Slynt, and tactfully deals with the imperious Stannis Baratheon. While refusing the king's offer to be legitimized as Jon Stark, Lord of Winterfell, and wed the "wildling princess", Val, Jon offers Stannis advice that helps him in his campaign against the Boltons and Greyjoys.

At Winterfell, Sansa's friend Jeyne Poole is wed to Ramsay Bolton in the guise of "Arya Stark" in an effort to legitimize Bolton overlordship. A disguised Mance Rayder, sent by Jon Snow, recruits a broken-willed Theon Greyjoy to rescue the girl and deliver her to Stannis. When Jon gives orders to retake Winterfell from Ramsay after receiving an inflammatory letter, the senior officers of the Watch turn on Jon for allying with wildlings and meddling in the affairs of the realm; it is not clear if he has survived their assassination attempt.

Bran arrives at the cave of the three-eyed crow, where he meets the last greenseer and children of the forest and begins perfecting the advanced arts of greensight. Rickon, Osha, and Shaggydog are said to be on Skagos, where Lord Wyman Manderly has requested that Davos Seaworth search for Rickon, so that Stannis can rally the northmen to fight in his name.

House Stark at the end of the third century

The known Starks during the timespan of the events described in A Song of Ice and Fire are:

Lorra Royce
Lyanne Glover
Melantha Blackwood
Lysara Karstark
Arya Flint
Marna Locke
Benedict Royce
House Royce
Harrold Rogers
Jon Snow


Historical Members

No precise lineage of House Stark is known, but the individuals listed below are supposed to be in rough chronological order.

Kings of Winter/Kings in the North

Lords of Winterfell

Descendants of Cregan

Descendents of Beron

Sworn Houses


The winters are hard, but the Starks will endure. We always have.[13]
- Eddard Stark to Robert Baratheon

Tyrion: You Starks are hard to kill.

Robb: You Lannisters had best remember that.[14]

Robb Stark to Tyrion Lannister

The Starks look for courage and loyalty and honor in the men they choose to serve them.[15]
Tyrion Lannister to Bronn

Liddle: When there was a Stark in Winterfell, a maiden girl could walk down the kingsroad in her name-day gown and still go unmolested, and travelers could find fire, bread, and salt at many an inn and holdfast. But the nights are colder now, and doors are closed ... It was different when there was a Stark in Winterfell. But the old wolf's dead and young one's gone south to play the game of thrones, and all that's left us is the ghosts.

Jojen: The wolves will come again.[16]

– a Liddle and Jojen Reed

Bear Island knows no king but the King in the North, whose name is STARK.[17]
Lyanna Mormont to Stannis Baratheon

Maester Theomore, tell them! A thousand years before the Conquest, a promise was made, and oaths were sworn in the Wolf's Den before the old gods and the new. When we were sore beset and friendless, hounded from our homes and in peril of our lives, the wolves took us in and nourished us and protected us against our enemies. The city is built upon the land they gave us. In return we swore that we should always be their men. Stark men![5]
Wylla Manderly to the Merman's Court

References and Notes

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at House Stark. The list of authors can be seen in the page history of House Stark. As with A Wiki of Ice and Fire, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.

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