House Martell

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House Nymeros Martell of Sunspear
House Martell.svg
Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken
Coat of arms A red sun pierced by a golden spear on orange
(Tenné, a sun-in-splendour gules transfixed by a spear or)
Formerly: a golden spear on orange House Martell (pre-Nymeria).svg
(Tenné, a spear or)
Seat Old Palace in Sunspear
Head Prince Doran Martell
Region Dorne
Heir Princess Arianne Martell
Overlord House Baratheon of King's Landing
Founded Andal Invasion (House Martell)
700 BC (House Nymeros Martell)

House Nymeros Martell of Sunspear, usually simply called House Martell, is one of the Great Houses of the Seven Kingdoms and the ruling house of Dorne. "Nymeros" indicates "of the line of Nymeria,"[1] referring to the union of the Martells with the Rhoynish warrior queen Nymeria around 700 BC. The Prince of Dorne rules from Sunspear in southeastern Dorne.

The Martells of old used a spear as their emblem, while Nymeria and her Rhoynar used the sun as theirs. When Nymeria wed Lord Mors Martell, the symbols were combined into a gold spear piercing a red sun on an orange field. Their words are Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken.[2] In appearance they are what Daeron I Targaryen considered salty Dornishmen, with dark eyes, dark hair in ringlets, and olive skin.



The heraldry of House Martell prior to Nymeria

House Martell was founded by Morgan Martell, an Andal adventurer who settled between the mouth of the Greenblood and the Broken Arm during the coming of the Andals to Dorne. Morgan led the defeat of the local First Men, including Houses Wade and Shell, establishing his rule over a strip of land fifty leagues long and ten leagues wide. They did not rule as kings, but were cautious vassals of kings from Houses Jordayne, Allyrion, and Yronwood, as well as petty kings of the Greenblood.[3]

Nymeria's War

At the time of the Rhoynish Wars, the Martells were one of the lesser ruling families of Dorne. At the time of the arrival of the Rhoynish warrior queen Nymeria, around 700 BC, the lands of the Martells were dwarfed by those of House Yronwood.[4] Mors Martell, the Lord of the Sandship, saw an opportunity in the arrival of the Rhoynar, and took Nymeria to wife. Combining their strength, the two managed to unite all of Dorne under their rule in Nymeria's War.[5][6]

The union of their peoples saw the Martells abandon many of their older Andal customs in favor of those of the Rhoynar. Nymeria named Mors Prince of Dorne instead of king, and their lands and title passed down to their eldest child, their daughter, regardless of Nymeria marrying again after Mors's death and giving birth to a male child. The Spear Tower and the Tower of the Sun, the towers of Sunspear's Old Palace, were built in the Rhoynish fashion.[7]

Targaryen Era

During Aegon's Conquest, Queen Rhaenys Targaryen confronted the aged Princess of Dorne, Meria Martell, at Sunspear. When Meria refused to submit to the Targaryens, Rhaenys departed Dorne.[8] The Targaryens returned in 4 AC, starting the First Dornish War. When their forces arrived at Sunspear, Meria had vanished. King Aegon I and Queen Rhaenys Targaryen declared themselves victorious and left Lord Jon Rosby as Castellan of Sunspear as they returned to King's Landing. However, the Dornishmen quickly came out of hiding, retaking Sunspear. Lord Rosby was captured, and thrown from a window atop the Spear Tower by Princess Meria herself.[9] In later phases of the war, the Targaryens burned every Dornish stronghold at least once, with the exception of Sunspear and its shadow city. According to the Dornishmen, the Targaryens were did not dare to attack Sunspear as they feared that Princess Meria might have purchased a device from Lys to slay their dragons. In his Conjectures Archmaester Timotty suggests that Aegon hoped to turn the Dornish against the Martells by leaving them the only ones unharmed, and letters have been discovered in which marcher lords claimed to the Dornish that the Martells had bought their safety. However, the tactics did not work.[9]

After nine years, the First Dornish War came to an end in 13 AC. When the elderly Princess Meria died, her son Nymor assumed rule over Dorne. Desiring peace, he sent his daughter Deria to King's Landing with an escort as an peace envoy. She brought with her the skull of Rhaenys's dragon Meraxes and a letter from Prince Nymor. Although at first determined to refuse the peace offer, Aegon agreed to it after reading Nymor's letter.[9] During the remainder of King Aegon I's reign, the Martells and Targaryens remained on good terms. In 23 AC, King Aegon I and his son Aenys visited Sunspear for a "feast of friendship" celebrating the tenth anniversary of the peace accord with Princess Deria, now the Princess of Dorne.[10] In 37 AC, as the Vulture King troubled the lands surrounding the border between Dorne and the Iron Throne, Princess Deria insisted to King Aenys I Targaryen that she was doing what she could to end the rebellion, many suspected that she was secretly giving the rebel her support.[11][10]

In 110 AC Prince Qoren Martell gave his support to the Triarchy in the war against Prince Daemon Targaryen and Lord Corlys Velaryon in the Stepstones.[12][13] Daemon's brother, King Viserys I Targaryen, spoke of wedding his daughter Rhaenyra to the Prince of Dorne as a way of finally uniting the Seven Kingdoms, though ultimately this did not occur.[13] During the Dance of the Dragons, Prince Qoren was contacted by Hand of the King Otto Hightower, but refused the alliance, claiming he'd "sooner sleep with scorpions".[14] In 132 AC, the small council of King Aegon III Targaryen considered a younger brother of Princess Aliandra as a potential husband to Lady Baela Targaryen, but ultimately decided on another match.[15]

King Daeron I Targaryen conquered Dorne in 158 AC when the Prince of Dorne bent the knee at the Submission of Sunspear. Rebellion continued until Daeron's death in 161 AC,[16] after which his brother, King Baelor I, travelled to Sunspear and agreed to a peace with House Martell. This included a betrothal between Myriah Martell and Prince Daeron Targaryen.[17] Myriah's brother Maron was Daeron's most important supporter,[18] and upon Daeron's ascension, agreed to join Dorne under Targaryen rule. This became official in 187 AC, when Maron married Daeron's sister Daenerys.[19][20]

During Daeron II's reign, Dornish influence at court increased, while Daeron's other lords began to grow dissatisfied with the concessions Maron had won during the negotiations. These complaints, among others, were reasons causing several lords to oppose Daeron II's rule during the First Blackfyre Rebellion.[21]

In 273 AC, the Princess of Dorne took her younger children Oberyn and Elia to meet potential suitors. Their final destination was Casterly Rock, and despite learning of Lady Joanna Lannister's death while at Oldtown, they continued their journey. Oberyn Martell believes that his mother had planned with Joanna to marry either Elia or Oberyn to one of Joanna's twins, Jaime and Cersei, since there was an empty cabin on their ship meant for someone of high birth. Lord Tywin Lannister ignored them for weeks. When the Princess of Dorne eventually broached the subject of marriage to him, both matches were brusquely refused. He claimed Cersei was meant to marry Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, and suggested the new-born dwarf Tyrion for Elia instead, which was taken as an insult.[22][23][24] Shortly thereafter, at the age of sixteen, Oberyn was caught abed with Lord Edgar Yronwood's paramour. To settle the situation, the two fought a duel in which both took wounds. Edgar's wounds festered and killed him, causing rumors Oberyn's blade in the duel had been poisoned.[23] To make peace between the two houses, Oberyn was temporarily exiled.[25]

Robert's Rebellion

In 279 AC, Elia was betrothed to Rhaegar, whom she married the next year.[26] When Rhaegar won the tourney at Harrenhal in 281 AC, he passed over Elia to name Lyanna Stark the Queen of Love and Beauty. A year later, he apparently abducted Lyanna, sparking Robert's Rebellion.[27] Prince Doran Martell, furious at Elia's mistreatment, was slow to lend aid to the Targaryens during the war, but eventually sent ten thousand men to fight for the throne at the Battle of the Trident.[28] One of the casualties at the battle was Prince Lewyn Martell of the Kingsguard. A fortnight later, Princess Elia and her two young children were murdered by two Lannister knights, Ser Gregor Clegane and Ser Amory Lorch, during the Sack of King's Landing.[29][22][30]

Baratheon Dynasty

The year following war's end, Oberyn attempted to raise Dorne for the exiled Prince Viserys Targaryen, but the diplomacy between Prince Doran Martell and Jon Arryn prevented further conflict.[23] In secret, however, Doran and Oberyn worked on bringing an end to the reign of King Robert I Baratheon and destroying House Lannister.[31] A secret marriage pact was signed, exchanging support to Viserys for a marriage between him and Doran's heir.[32] However, Doran decides to keep his plots a secret from his daughter Arianne,[31] which causes a severe deterioration of their once so strong relationship. It also causes Arianne to mistrust her younger brother Quentyn, who lives at Yronwood, serving Lord Ormond Yronwood as a page and squire.[33]

The fued between the Martells and Tyrells was revitalized when Oberyn accidentally crippled Willas Tyrell in a tourney.[23]

Doran eventually became afflicted with gout, and in 298 AC moved from Sunspear to the Water Gardens. Two years later, Doran's gout has become far worse, and he is no longer able to walk, but instead is usually confined to a wheelchair.[34]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

Doran Martell, the Prince of Dorne, and his sons are named by King Joffrey Baratheon among the nobles who must swear fealty to him or be adjudged traitors.[35] At the war council at Riverrun when Robb Stark is named King in the North, Ser Marq Piper suggests the Martells will likely declare for King Renly Baratheon.[36]

A Clash of Kings

At the outset of the War of the Five Kings, House Martell stays neutral in the conflict, though it is commonly thought that they will support Renly Baratheon's claim.[37] Renly himself assumes this as well.[38]

Tyrion Lannister serves as acting Hand of the King for his father, Lord Tywin Lannister. In return for Doran's loyalty to the Iron Throne and the support of Dorne in the war, Tyrion offers a betrothal between Princess Myrcella Baratheon and Doran's youngest son, Prince Trystane, justice for Doran's murdered sister Elia and her children, and a seat on the small council of King Joffrey I Baratheon, as well as some castles on the Dornish Marches.[39] Doran accepts the terms,[40] and by the time Myrcella leaves King's Landing to begin the journey to Sunspear, the Prince of Dorne has called his banners.[41].

Once Myrcella arrives in Braavos, Doran sends his armies to the high passes of the Red Mountains.[42] However, he will not send out his armies to give battle unless Dorne is endangered.[41]

A Storm of Swords

Because his health does not permit him to travel, Doran sends his younger brother, Prince Oberyn Martell, to King's Landing to claim the small council seat he had been promised, obtain justice for his sister Elia's murderer, and to attend King Joffrey's wedding to Margaery Tyrell.[23] However, Tywin Lannister, having assumed his position as Hand of the King, plans on lying to Oberyn by claiming that the now-deceased Ser Amory Lorch was not only responsible for the death of Elia's daughter Rhaenys, but also for the deaths of Elia and her infant son Aegon, claiming the Martells only have rumors to blame Ser Gregor Clegane for the latter crimes.[29]

Oberyn attends Joffrey's wedding feast, during which the king chokes to death. After Tyrion Lannister is accused of murdering Joffrey, Oberyn acts as one of the judges in Tyrion's trial. When it becomes clear that Tyrion's only chance of surviving is a trial by combat, Oberyn offers to be Tyrion's champion, knowing that Gregor will be the throne's champion, on the condition that Tyrion admits who is truly guilty of the murder of Elia. Tyrion takes Oberyn up on his offer. Though he denies any involvement of his father Tywin, Tyrion tells Oberyn that Amory killed Rhaenys and that Gregor killed Elia and Aegon.[43]

Oberyn battles Gregor, wounding him with a poisoned spear. Rather than killing Gregor, Oberyn insists that Gregor confess to Elia's murder. Gregor trips Oberyn and smashes his armored fist into Oberyn's face, dashing out the prince's brains after first destroying his teeth and knocking out his eyes. Before killing Oberyn, however, Gregor roars his guilt in killing Elia and Aegon for all to hear.[22]

A Feast for Crows

Prince Doran Martell refuses every suggestion of going to war to avenge Oberyn, stating that his brother's death was no murder by law. He goes as far as to arrest seven of Oberyn's eight bastard daughters to prevent them from plotting against him, or being used in the plots of others.[34] Meanwhile, Oberyn Martell achieves posthumous vengeance when Ser Gregor Clegane dies a slow, painful death in King's Landing.[44]

Doran's daughter Arianne, convinced that her father favors her younger brother Quentyn and plans to pass her over in the succession, puts into motion a scheme; She wants to crown Myrcella Baratheon as Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, based on Dornish law, in which an older sister inherit ahead of a younger brother.[45][33] She has Myrcella smuggled out of Sunspear, and plans to bring her to Hellholt to crown the young girl.[33] Doran has his guard foil the plan; According to Areo Hotah, Doran's captain of guard, someone betrayed Arianne's plans.[33][31] In the chaos during the arrest, one of Arianne's co-conspirators disfigures Myrcella.[33][31]

Doran arrests his daughter, confining her to several weeks of solitude. When he confronts her about her betrayel, he reveals that he had been working to restore House Targaryen and rob Lord Tywin Lannister of all he held dear before killing him ever since he learned about Elia's death. With Viserys Targaryen dead, Doran now wants to ally House Martell with Queen Daenerys Targaryen, and has Quentyn to Essos to escort her to Westeros.[45][33][31]

A Dance with Dragons

Doran Martell welcomes Kingsguard knight Balon Swann into Sunspear. He now works together with his daughter Arianne, who had convinced Myrcella to lie about the origins of her injuries and the manner of Arys Oakheart's death. During a feast, Balon presents the Martells with the skull of Gregor Clegane and invites Doran to fill the vacant Dornish seat on the small council on Queen Regent Cersei Lannister's behest. Additionally, Doran's youngest son Trystane is invited to accompany Myrcella to King's Landing when she visits her brother.[46]

Following the feast, Doran reveals in private to Obara, Nymeria, and Tyene Sand that the royal invitation is an ambush, in which Trystane would be killed. To stop this scheme from coming to fruition, Doran plans to take Balon to Myrcella at the Water Gardens, where she will ask him to hunt down Gerold Dayne to avenge her injuries and the death of Balon's sworn brother.[46] Obara is to accompany Balon on his hunt,[46] while Nymeria and Tyene are to travel to King's Landing; But while Nymeria is to accompany Myrcella and claim Doran's small council seat, Tyene is to travel to the capital in secret and befriend the New High Septon at the Great Sept of Baelor.[46]

Quentyn arrives in Meereen[47] following a long and dangerous journey.[48][49] He presents Queen Daenerys Targaryen with the secret marriage pact, offering himself in marriage. However, Daenerys refuses him, having already promised to wed a Meereenese noble.[32] Quentyn remains in Meereen, during which time he is shown two of Daenerys's three dragons by the queen.[50] After Daenerys leaves Meereen upon the back of the dragon Drogon, Quentyn, refusing to return home empty-handed, plans to prove his worth by taming at least one of the two remaining dragons, trusting in his Targaryen ancestry. He hires the Windblown, a sellsword company, for this purpose.[51] They secretly enter the pit where the dragons are kept, where Quentyn makes his attempt. When the dragon Rhaegal attacks him from behind, he is bathed in dragonfire.[52] He dies three days later.[53]

House Martell at the end of the third century

With unspecified familiar relationship to the main branch there is also:

  • Ser Manfrey Martell, castellan of Sunspear. He is a cousin of Doran Martell;[45] it is not stated of which degree.
of Dorne
of Norvos


Prince Oberyn's retinue to King's Landing

Princess Arianne's retinue

Prince Quentyn's retinue

Historical members

Sworn Houses


The arms of House Martell display the sun and spear, the Dornishman's two favored weapons, but of the two, the sun is the more deadly.[33]

House Martell is ancient and noble, and has been a leal friend to House Targaryen for more than a century, Your Grace.[50]


  1. So Spake Martin: Concerning Dorne (October 28, 2001)
  2. A Clash of Kings, Appendix.
  3. The World of Ice & Fire, Dorne: The Andals Arrive.
  4. The Winds of Winter, Arianne I
  5. The World of Ice & Fire, Ancient History: Ten Thousand Ships.
  6. The World of Ice & Fire, Dorne: The Coming of the Rhoynar.
  7. The World of Ice & Fire, Dorne: Sunspear.
  8. The World of Ice & Fire, The Reign of the Dragons: The Conquest.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 The World of Ice & Fire, Dorne: Dorne Against the Dragons.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Fire & Blood, The Sons of the Dragon.
  11. The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aenys I.
  12. The World of Ice & Fire, Dorne: Dorne Against the Dragon.
  13. 13.0 13.1 The Rogue Prince.
  14. The World of Ice & Fire, Dorne: Dorne Aainst the Dragons.
  15. Fire & Blood, Under the Regents - The Hooded Hand.
  16. The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Daeron I.
  17. The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Baelor I.
  18. The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon IV.
  19. A Game of Thrones, Appendix.
  20. So Spake Martin: Targaryen History (April 20, 2008)
  21. The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Daeron II.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 70, Tyrion X.
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 23.4 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 38, Tyrion V.
  24. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 19, Tyrion III.
  25. The Winds of Winter, Arianne I
  26. The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aerys II.
  27. The World of Ice & Fire, The Fall of the Dragons: The Year of the False Spring.
  28. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 37, Jaime V.
  29. 29.0 29.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 53, Tyrion VI.
  30. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 3, Daenerys I.
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 31.3 31.4 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 40, Princess In The Tower.
  32. 32.0 32.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 43, Daenerys VII.
  33. 33.0 33.1 33.2 33.3 33.4 33.5 33.6 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 21, The Queenmaker.
  34. 34.0 34.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 2, The Captain Of Guards.
  35. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 57, Sansa V.
  36. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 71, Catelyn XI.
  37. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 17, Tyrion IV.
  38. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 22, Catelyn II.
  39. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 20, Tyrion V.
  40. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 25, Tyrion VI.
  41. 41.0 41.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 41, Tyrion IX.
  42. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 42, Davos II.
  43. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 66, Tyrion IX.
  44. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 17, Cersei IV.
  45. 45.0 45.1 45.2 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 13, The Soiled Knight.
  46. 46.0 46.1 46.2 46.3 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 38, The Watcher.
  47. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 36, Daenerys VI.
  48. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 6, The Merchant's Man.
  49. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 25, The Windblown.
  50. 50.0 50.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 50, Daenerys VIII.
  51. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 60, The Spurned Suitor.
  52. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 68, The Dragontamer.
  53. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 70, The Queen's Hand.
  54. The World of Ice & Fire, Dorne: Queer Customs of the South.
  55. 55.0 55.1 Fire & Blood, The Year of the Three Brides - 49 AC.
  56. Fire & Blood, The Long Reign - Jaehaerys and Alysanne: Policy, Progeny, and Pain.
  57. 57.0 57.1 Fire & Blood, Heirs of the Dragon - A Question of Succession.