Jon Arryn

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Jon Arryn
House Arryn.PNG
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Copyrighted work by Fantasy Flight Games©

Title Lord of the Eyrie
Defender of the Vale
Warden of the East
Hand of the King
Allegiance House Arryn
Born In or between 217 AC and 220 AC (roughly)[1], at Eyrie[2]
Died In 298 AC[1], at King's Landing
Spouse 1st: Lady Jeyne Royce
2nd: Lady Rowena Arryn
3rd: Lady Lysa Tully
Book(s) A Game of Thrones (Mentioned)
A Clash of Kings (Mentioned)
A Storm of Swords (Mentioned)
A Feast for Crows (Mentioned)
A Dance with Dragons (Mentioned)

Played by John Standing
TV series Season 1
Jon Arryn as Hand of the King, for King Robert Baratheon

Lord Jon Arryn was the head of House Arryn, whose titles included Lord of the Eyrie, Defender of the Vale, and Warden of the East. He served as Hand of the King to Robert Baratheon from 283 AC until his unexpected death in 298 AC.[3]


See also: Images of Jon Arryn

Jon had broad shoulders.[3] Half of his teeth had fallen out by the time he married Lady Lysa Tully.[4]



Jon was born as the eldest son of Lord Jasper Arryn. Not much is known about his youth or his parents. He had a younger brother, Ronnel, and a sister, Alys, who married Elys Waynwood. Jon was Keeper of the Gates of the Moon while his father lived, and after his father's death he named his brother Ronnel and later his cousin Denys to that position.[5]

Jon was married three times. His first marriage was to Jeyne Royce, she died in childbed, their daughter stillborn. His second marriage was to Rowena Arryn, a cousin, who died of a winter chill, it was a childless marriage. Because he had no children, he had appointed a number of heirs who died one after another. The first was his nephew Elbert Arryn, the son of his younger brother Ronnel. After Elbert was executed by King Aerys II Targaryen, Denys Arryn became heir. He was of a lower branch of House Arryn, and had married Jon's niece. He was killed in the Battle of the Bells.

During Robert's Rebellion, Jon married a third time, this time to Lysa Tully, the daughter of Lord Hoster Tully to gain his support and to secure an heir for the failing Arryn line. Their marriage was loveless. Lysa found Jon to be too old and hated his bad breath. After several miscarriages Lysa gave Jon a sickly son and heir, Robert Arryn.

Robert's Rebellion

Jon fostered Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon as his wards in the Vale of Arryn. As they grew, the two boys became close companions and regarded Jon as a second father. After King Aerys II Targaryen demanded that Jon turn them over for a likely execution, Jon refused and raised his banners in revolt. After the Battle of Gulltown, where he confronted several lords who resisted the rebellion, Jon fought in the Battle of the Bells and the Battle of the Trident. During the war, in the same ceremony in which Eddard Stark and Catelyn Tully were wed, Jon married Lysa.

During the Sack of King's Landing, not only King Aerys but also the wife and children of Prince Rhaegar were killed. Eddard was appalled by the brutality of the acts but Robert's hatred for the Targaryens made him consider the murders necessary, creating a temporary rift between the two that even Jon Arryn was unable to breach.[6] When Robert Baratheon ascended to the Iron Throne, he appointed Jon as his Hand.[7]

Hand of the King

The first task Jon undertook was making peace with Dorne. Dorne was incensed by the deaths of Prince Lewyn and Elia Martell during the war, and Oberyn Martell tried to raise the kingdom to support Viserys Targaryen, the surviving son of King Aerys II. In response, Jon travelled to Sunspear the year after Robert took the throne (284 AC) to return the bones of Prince Lewyn and was able to broker a peace with Doran Martell.[8] However, the knights Gregor Clegane and Amory Lorch, who had killed Elia and her children, went unpunished, creating a persistent bone of contention between the Iron Throne and Dorne.[9]

Jon Arryn by TheMico

To strengthen King Robert's hold on the throne, Jon negotiated Robert's marriage with Cersei Lannister and advised that he retain her brother, Ser Jaime Lannister, on the Kingsguard, thereby opposing Lord Eddard Stark, who proposed sending Jaime to the Wall for his killing of King Aerys. Robert also considered the assassination of Viserys and Daenerys Targaryen, believed to be the last two Targaryens and thus a possible threat, but Lord Jon dissuaded him from the idea.[6]

Robert left Jon with much of the responsibility of running the Seven Kingdoms, but Jon could not stop Robert from spending huge amounts of money on tournaments and excess, putting the nation in serious debt.[10] While he was at court, Nestor Royce ruled as High Steward of the Vale. Lysa organized for her friend Petyr Baelish to get his first position and later convinced her husband to bring him to the court in King's Landing. Petyr was made Master of Coin under Jon as Hand.[11]


Jon was considered very robust for his age, but became surprisingily ill the night after he had borrowed Malleon's book, and quickly wasted away. Jon's own maester, Colemon, tried treating an assumed stomach illness by purging the body. The moribund Jon kept mentioning the name Robert, and his final words to his wife Lysa Tully and King Robert Baratheon were "The seed is strong."[3][12] Lysa believes this to be a reference to their own son,[12] Robert Arryn, but it is more likely that Jon Arryn was referring to what he had learned about the Baratheon lineage while studying Maester Malleon's book.[13] Afterwards his speech became too slurred to comprehend and he died the following morning.[3]

After Jon Arryn's death, King Robert suggested to Lysa that her son Robert should become a ward of Lord Tywin Lannister and be sent to Casterly Rock, as he feared that being raised by his mother would make his namesake weak. Lysa refused the suggestion brusquely and, against the wishes of the king, one night fled from King's Landing with her son and returned to the Vale of Arryn.[14]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

King Robert Baratheon decides that Lord Eddard Stark should succeed Jon as Hand of the King, which angers both Queen Cersei Lannister, who had hoped her brother Jaime would assume the position and fears that Eddard would move to curb Lannister influence,[15] and Stannis Baratheon, who thinks he is owed the position through his fifteen years of service on the small council.[16] Shortly after Robert and his entourage leave for Winterfell to ask Eddard to become his Hand, Stannis goes to Dragonstone,[10]

Lysa writes a coded letter to her sister Catelyn, in which she claims that Jon Arryn was murdered by Queen Cersei. This convinces Catelyn and eventually Eddard, who had been inclined to refuse King Robert's offer, that he must assume the position of Hand, so that he can find out the truth about Jon Arryn's death and expose those responsible.[17][11]

However, when Eddard arrives at the Red Keep, he realizes that Lysa's return to the Eyrie with most of the Arryn household and Stannis's departure to Dragonstone prevent him from questioning crucial witnesses about the circumstances and background of Jon Arryn's death. Left without other options, he begins to rely on information provided by Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish and Varys. Littlefinger feeds Eddard largely useless information, while Varys suggests Jon might have been poisoned by his squire, Hugh of the Vale, who is killed in the Tourney of the Hand.[3][18][19]

Eddard learns that Stannis began to suspect Queen Cersei's children had been fathered not by King Robert but by her brother Jaime, the Kingslayer—which would make them illegitimate and Stannis therefore Robert's rightful heir. Concerned that such a suggestion coming from him would be seen as motivated by his own ambitions, Stannis did not confide in the king but rather raised the issue with Jon Arryn, whom Robert would be more inclined to believe.[20]

Jon and Stannis began to investigate the matter secretly by seeking out bastards Robert had begotten. Together they visited the armory of Tobho Mott where Gendry was employed, one of Robert's offspring who bore a striking resemblance to his father. They also visited the brothel of Chataya, where Robert had fathered a girl, Barra, who also clearly had the king's features.[18][19] The increased contact with Stannis apparently also contributed to Jon Arryn's planning to send his own son to be fostered by Stannis at Dragonstone.[21]

Jon was seeking further proof that Cersei's children could not be Robert's in Grand Maester Malleon's book The Lineages and Histories of the Great Houses of the Seven Kingdoms, a ponderous tome lent to him by Grand Maester Pycelle. The book would have informed him, as it later informs Lord Eddard Stark, that whenever members of houses Lannister and Baratheon wed, their offspring always bore clear Baratheon features[3][13] (unlike Cersei's children Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen, who more closely resemble the Lannisters). Jon's investigation became known to a number of people at the court, including Pycelle, Varys, Cersei, and Littlefinger. Varys saw Jon's life in danger and begged him to employ a taster, but Jon dismissed the suggestion that anyone would try to poison him.[19]

By the time Eddard finds out what Jon Arryn had been investigating and what had provided the likely cause for his death, it is too late to inform King Robert, as he has already gone on the hunting trip on which he is fatally wounded, and, following Catelyn taking Tyrion Lannister captive for his assumed role in plotting her son Bran's death, fighting has already broken out in the Riverlands.[22][23][13] Stannis has remained at Dragonstone, which keeps him from sharing his suspicions about Cersei's children with Lord Eddard and from directly challenging the legitimacy of Joffrey when he assumes the throne after King Robert dies.

A Clash of Kings

Tyrion Lannister forces Grand Maester Pycelle, a staunch Lannister ally, to confess he believed that Queen Cersei Lannister wanted Jon dead. Cersei considered Jon a threat to her plan of putting her son Joffrey on the Iron Throne after her husband, King Robert Baratheon, had been disposed of.[24] Pycelle believed that Jon was about to act on his knowledge by making preparations to send his wife, Lysa Tully, to the Eyrie and his son, Robert Arryn, to Dragonstone.[12] Although Cersei had not given him explicit orders in this regard and was not even in King's Landing at the time, Pycelle assumed responsibility for the treatment and thereby assured that Jon Arryn died, despite the efforts by Maester Colemon to save him.[12]

A Storm of Swords

Sansa Stark learns that unbeknownst to Jon, Lysa Tully and Petyr Baelish had maintained a relationship since their youth. She had convinced Jon to bring Petyr to court in King's Landing so that they could be close together.[11] Littlefinger had persuaded Lysa Arryn to poison Jon's wine with Tears of Lys, suggesting to her that this would both remove the obstacle to their marriage and prevent Jon from sending Robert Arryn to Stannis Baratheon at Dragonstone. Lysa did as she was bidden.[11] Petyr also encouraged the widowed Lysa to write the letter to her sister Catelyn Tully claiming the Lannisters were behind Jon's death, which contributed to the outbreak of the War of the Five Kings. Littlefinger's motivations are not clear, but he evidently saw the chance of exploiting the death of Jon Arryn to increase the animosity between the Lannisters and the Starks for his own ends.[11] It is also possible that he saw Queen Cersei and her tendency to act hastily and irrationally as crucial to his own strategy in the "game of thrones" and wanted to prevent her untimely removal from the game.[25]

Family Tree

2 stillborn
6 daughters

References and Notes