Catelyn Stark

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Catelyn Stark
House Stark.svg
Catelyn Stark by Natascha Röösli © Fantasy Flight Games.

Alias Cat
Lady Stoneheart
The Silent Sister
Mother Merciless
The Hangwoman
Title Lady of Winterfell
Allegiance House Tully
House Stark
Brotherhood without banners
Culture Rivermen
Born In 264 AC or 265 AC[1], at Riverrun[2]
Died In 299 AC[1], at the Twins
Spouse Lord Eddard Stark
Book(s) A Game of Thrones (POV)
A Clash of Kings (POV)
A Storm of Swords (POV)
A Feast for Crows (appears)
A Dance with Dragons (mentioned)

Played by Michelle Fairley
TV series Season 1 | Season 2 | Season 3

Lady Catelyn Stark,[3][4][5] née Catelyn Tully,[6] is the wife of Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North. Together they have five children: Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran, and Rickon.

Catelyn was born into House Tully of Riverrun, the liege lords of the riverlands. She is the eldest daughter of Lord Hoster Tully and Lady Minisa Whent, and has two younger siblings: Lysa and Edmure. She is a major POV character in the books and is portrayed by Michelle Fairley in the television adaptation Game of Thrones.

Appearance and Character

See also: Images of Catelyn Stark
Catelyn Stark by Amok ©

Catelyn is beautiful,[7] with fair skin, long auburn hair and blue eyes.[8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15] She has long fingers[16] and high cheekbones.[17] Catelyn resembles her own mother, Minisa Whent.[18] Her own sons Robb, Bran and Rickon, and daughter Sansa take after Catelyn in their colouring.[8][10][17]

Catelyn is proud, strong, kind, and generous. She is seen as honorable and upright by acquaintances, holding duty over desire as a governing principle of behavior. Catelyn also has a strong grasp of politics and possesses considerable insight into what makes Westeros run. Nevertheless, Catelyn is also a fiercely protective woman and more often than not follows her heart rather than her head, especially when it comes to her family, whom she loves deeply. She strongly follows the words of House Tully, "Family, Duty, Honor."[3] However, she regards the bastard Jon Snow as an outsider to her family, and has never forgiven Eddard Stark for bringing him into the Stark household.[2][19] She holds to the Faith of the Seven.


Early Life

Catelyn is the eldest daughter of Lord Hoster Tully, the Lord of Riverrun, head of House Tully and Lord Paramount of the Trident, and his wife, Lady Minisa Whent. She was annointed with the seven oils and named in the sept of Riverrun.[20] Catelyn had two older brothers, who both died in infancy, causing her father to regard her as his heir until the birth of Catelyn's younger brother, Edmure.[21] Catelyn also has a sister, Lysa, who is two years younger than her.[22]

Catelyn was raised at Riverrun. She was close with her sister Lysa,[23] and would play with her two younger siblings, as well as with her father's young ward, Petyr Baelish.[19][24] Just as her younger siblings and Petyr were wont to do, Catelyn would go to her uncle, Ser Brynden Tully, with her tears and tales, whenever Lord Hoster was too busy, and Lady Minisa was too ill.[22] When Catelyn's mother died in childbirth, along with her son, Lord Hoster told his daugther that she had to be the Lady of Riverrun in her mother's stead.[21] Catelyn does not have many memories of her mother,[18] though she still remembers her warm smile and soft hands.[4] Her relationship with her father was a close one, and according to Catelyn, Lord Hoster cherished her best of all his children.[21] Whenever Hoster would ride off to court or a battle, he would tell Catelyn to watch for him from the battlements of Riverrun, which she did.[12] And when his eyes tired, Hoster would have Catelyn read to him in his solar.[15]

Catelyn and Lysa played together as girls, and even had a secret language.[19] Once, they made mud pies and served them to Petyr, who ate them and as a consequence was sick for a week.[25] Catelyn and Lysa also practised kissing with Petyr in the godswood of Riverrun, where Petyr attempted to stick his tongue in their mouths - an attempt which Catelyn halted, but Lysa both allowed and enjoyed.[26] Catelyn often accompanied her father on his travels, and had visited the inn at the crossroads on multiple occasions.[25][27] Once, Catelyn, Lysa and Petyr accompanied Hoster to Seagard. During the journey to the seat of House Mallister, they stopped at Oldstones, where Catelyn had played at being Jenny of Oldstones, while Petyr had pretended to be her Prince of Dragonflies.[27] On their way back from Seagard to Riverrun, Catelyn and Lysa got lost in the mist, and were eventually found by Petyr Baelish.[7]

Betrothal to Brandon Stark

Catelyn Tully as portrayed by Michelle Fairley on HBO's Game of Thrones

When Catelyn, at the age of twelve, was betrothed to Brandon Stark, the heir to Winterfell, she thanked her father for making such a splendid match for her.[21] Lord Hoster's ward Petyr was less pleased with the match, however. While Catelyn had come to regard Petyr as a brother,[3][7] Petyr's had fallen in love with Catelyn.[11] When Catelyn's betrothal to Brandon was announced,[28] Lords Bracken and Blackwood were at Riverrun, to settle a fued with Lord Hoster's help. Catelyn and Petyr danced six dances that night, but when he tried to kiss her, she pushed him away and laughed at him. Petyr, wounded by the rejection, got drunk, and had to be brought to bed by Ser Brynden Tully. Catelyn's younger sister, Lysa, who had fallen in love with Petyr, snuck into Petyr's chambers and had sex with him that night. However, Petyr was still drunk, and believed he was having sex with Catelyn, and even called Lysa "Cat" before falling asleep again.[28][29]

When the date of Catelyn's wedding was announced[28] in 282 AC,[30] Petyr challenged Brandon Stark to a duel for her hand.[3] Catelyn refused to give Petyr her favor when he asked, giving it to Brandon Stark instead.[21][29] She begged Brandon not to kill Petyr, and he agreed. Petyr was severily injured during the duel, and the final cut Brandon gave him was so brutal that Catelyn was convinced the younger boy would die from it.[31] Petyr did not die, however, but was given a fortnight to recover at Riverrun before being sent away.[21][31] Catelyn did not go see him during this time, nor did she say her farewells to him when he left Riverrun.[21] After the duel, Brandon Stark left Riverrun as well, promising her to return soon for their wedding.[12]

However, on his way back to Riverrun, Brandon Stark learned about the disappearance of his sister Lyanna and the involvement of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen. Furious, he rode to King's Landing, where he was arrested by King Aerys II Targaryen. When Brandon's father, Lord Rickard Stark, went to King's Landing to champion Brandon in his trial by battle, both men were executed.[7][32] Shortly thereafter, Robert's Rebellion began. After Brandon had died, Petyr sent Catelyn a letter, which she burned without reading it. By then, her father had promised her hand to Brandon's younger brother, Eddard, now the Lord of Winterfell.[3]

Marriage to Eddard Stark

Catelyn and her daughters, Arya (left) and Sansa (right)

Catelyn married Eddard Stark after the rebels won the Battle of the Bells, without ever having seen him before their wedding day. She married Eddard in the same ceremony as her sister Lysa married the elder Lord Jon Arryn. Both Eddard Stark and Jon Arryn played key roles in the rebellion, and a fortnight after the wedding both men rode off to war again. Catelyn remained at Riverrun, and would spent the first year of her marriage to Eddard separated from her husband.[19][33] However, Catelyn had conceived a child during her wedding night, and gave birth to Robb in 283 AC at Riverrun, nine months after her wedding,[12][27] with the assistance of maester Luwin.[19] After the war had ended, Catelyn and her young son travelled to Winterfell, where she was displeased to discover that her husband's bastard son, Jon Snow, had already been set up in the castle.[19] While Catelyn had always been aware that men fathered bastards, and had not been surprised to learn of Jon's existence, Jon arriving at Winterfell before Catelyn and Robb had hurt her feelings. Eddard's insistence on raising the boy at Winterfell and his refusal to identify the boy's mother caused frictions between them, and left Catelyn feeling jealous and angry.[2] Catelyn concluded that Eddard must have loved Jon's mother deeply, and heard rumors at Winterfell about Ashara Dayne from Dorne. However, when she finally had gathered enough courage to ask her husband about the Dornishwoman, Eddard demanded to learn where the rumor had come from. Ashara's name was never mentioned in Winterfell again, and Catelyn remembers the night as "the only time in all their years that Ned had ever frightened her".[19] During all their time living together at Winterfell, Catelyn never came to trust Jon,[15] and Catelyn saw to it that Jon would always feel like somewhat of an outsider.[34]

On Eddard's part, the knowledge that Catelyn had actually been his brother Brandon's bride created a rift in their marriage. Despite these issues, however, Catelyn and Eddard grew to deeply love each other over the years. They had four more children: Sansa (b. 286 AC), Arya (b. 289 AC), Bran (b. 290 AC), and Rickon (b. 295 AC).[35] As the Lady of Winterfell, Catelyn became familiar with the Lords of the North, and once comforted Lady Lynesse Hightower by telling her how she had once felt out of place in the North, but had come to love it all the same. Because Catelyn holds to the Faith of the Seven, Eddard had a sept build for her, so she could pray to her own gods.[20]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

Catelyn and Eddard at the Godswood - by Denmark ©

After the arrival of the royal party at Winterfell, Catelyn receives a letter from her sister Lysa, stating that the Lannisters had killed her husband Jon Arryn, the late Hand of the King. This puts the Starks on guard, as Eddard has just been offered the position of Hand by his friend, King Robert I Baratheon. Catelyn pushes Ned to accept the offer along with a betrothal that would make Sansa queen one day. Despite misgivings about going to King's Landing, Ned accepts.[19]

When Bran is left in a coma having apparently fallen while climbing one of Winterfell's keeps, Catelyn stays by his side for eight days, ignoring her own affairs and those of Winterfell. On the eighth night, she is attacked by an assassin who had come for Bran. During the ensuing struggle she grabs the blade of his knife, causing deep lacerations to her palms, before Bran's direwolf attacks and kills him.[10] After recovering, Catelyn travels to King's Landing along with Ser Rodrik Cassel to inform Eddard, sailing on the Storm Dancer. Despite having travelled in secret they are met by guards upon their arrival, and are taken to a brothel owned by Petyr Baelish, Catelyn's childhood friend, who tells her that the Valyrian steel dagger used in the attack belonged to Tyrion Lannister.[3]

On their way back to Winterfell, still travelling in secret, they encounter Tyrion at the inn at the crossroads. He recognises her, exposing her identity to those present, which includes men-at-arms in service to bannermen of House Tully. Catelyn successfully appeals to them to detain Tyrion for conspiring to murder her son, and assist her in returning him to Winterfell to await justice.[25] Despite Catelyn announcing her intention to take him to Winterfell, their party instead makes its way to the Eyrie for trial. During the journey they come under attack by clansmen on the high road in the Mountains of the Moon. Tyrion successfully persuades Catelyn to allow her captives to take up arms, and goes on to save her during the skirmish.[22] At the Eyrie, Tyrion is thrown into a sky cell, but escapes execution by convincing a sellsword to fight in a trial by combat.[31] Meanwhile, the arrest had become a catalyst for the war that followed, as Tywin Lannister orders Ser Gregor Clegane and other raiders to attack the riverlands in retribution.[36]

Her son Robb having marched south with his father's bannermen in response to Eddard's arrest in King's Landing, Catelyn joins House Manderly's levies at White Harbor and meets the northern host in the field at Moat Cailin.[37] She is accompanied by her uncle, Ser Brynden Tully, who had left his service to House Arryn, disgusted by Lysa's refusal to help against the Lannisters.[31] When Robb is about to place Greatjon Umber in command of the infantry force sent to engage Tywin Lannister, Catelyn is able to convince him to appoint Roose Bolton, a man of cold calculation.[37] Robb wants Catelyn to return to the north, but she stays with the army in order to see her dying father.[37]

When the army finds it necessary to cross the Green Fork, the delicate task of negotiating with Lord Walder Frey falls to Catelyn, who negotiates passage by promising, among other things, Robb's hand in marriage to one of the many women of House Frey.[6] She is present for his victory at the battle in the Whispering Wood, where her guard is commanded by Hallis Mollen.[12] After the news of Eddard's execution by order of King Joffrey I Baratheon, Catelyn is filled with grief but maintains composure for the sake of her son. During the war council at Riverrun, Catelyn argues for peace with the south so that Sansa and Arya might be more easily brought to safety, but Robb and the assembled lords make clear their desire to continue the war, with the Greatjon declaring Robb the first King in the North in three centuries.[26]

A Clash of Kings

Catelyn claws her face and screams after the death of Robb Stark at the Red Wedding - by nejna ©

Catelyn advises against Robb's plan to send Eddard's ward, Theon Greyjoy, on a diplomatic mission to offer terms of an alliance with his father, Lord Balon Greyjoy, as she does not trust either.[18]

It is Catelyn's idea to attempt to ally with Renly Baratheon, who has a massive host, but she wishes to remain with Robb.[18] When he threatens to send the boisterous Greatjon as his envoy, Catelyn relents and goes herself, accepting the fact that her son was becoming a man. She travels south to Bitterbridge to meet King Renly's host, where she finds him hosting a great melee.[38] When news arrives that Renly's brother Stannis is laying siege to Storm's End, the seat of House Baratheon, Catelyn rides with Renly and part of his host to Storm's End.[39] Catelyn is present for the inconclusive parley between the two brothers, and witnesses Renly's murder later that night by a mysterious creature of shadow. Brienne of Tarth, one of Renly's Rainbow Guard, is the only other person present, so the pair flee in the knowledge that they would be blamed for the murder. They journey to Riverrun, and on the way Catelyn takes Brienne into her service.[4]

Upon hearing of her two youngest sons' supposed murder at the hand of Theon Greyjoy following his capture of Winterfell, Catelyn frees Robb's hostage, Jaime Lannister, in a covert attempt to exchange him for her daughters, captives at King's Landing.[7][40]

A Storm of Swords

Catelyn's brother Edmure places her under house arrest at Riverrun, but Robb pardons her after he tells her of his wedding to Jeyne Westerling. Her father Hoster finally dies at Riverrun.[41] While traveling to the Twins for Edmure's marriage with Roslin Frey, Catelyn objects to Robb's intention to name Jon Snow his heir.[27]

Catelyn attends Edmure's wedding at the Twins, only for the Freys and Boltons to betray the Starks, murdering Catelyn, Robb, and many of Robb's men in an act of treachery that becomes known as the Red Wedding. In a desperate attempt to save her son's life, Catelyn seizes the lackwit, Aegon Frey, and tries to trade his life for Robb's. When Robb is killed nonetheless, she slits Aegon's throat, just before Raymund Frey slits hers.[16] The Freys dump her body naked into the Green Fork, a mockery of House Tully's funeral customs,[42] after Catelyn has been dead for a day and a night.[43]

Three days after her death,[44] Catelyn's corpse is retrieved from the Green Fork by Arya Stark's direwolf, Nymeria, who runs away when humans approach.[45] Catelyn is resurrected by Lord Beric Dondarrion, who gives his life for hers through the last kiss. Catelyn's wounds only partially heal, however, leaving her mutilated and without the ability to speak. She becomes consumed with the desire for vengeance over her family's betrayal and murder. She becomes known as Lady Stoneheart and assumes command of Beric's outlaw band, the brotherhood without banners. She leads the brotherhood in mercilessly pursuing and executing everyone she considers a Lannister collaborator, among them Petyr and Merrett Frey at Oldstones.[43]

A Feast for Crows

Lady Stoneheart, with Robb's crown - by zippo514 ©

A cloaked and hooded woman is spoken of in the vicinity of Fairmarket[44] and Hag's Mire.[46]

While leading the brotherhood, Stoneheart's outlaws come upon a small party led by Brienne of Tarth, who informs her that she is searching for Sansa at the behest of Jaime Lannister. Stoneheart says that Brienne has turned traitor, as she carries Oathkeeper, a Lannister sword forged from the Stark Valyrian steel blade, Ice. Brienne swears she is still faithful but Stoneheart insists she must prove it by killing Jaime. Brienne refuses, stating that Jaime has changed. Stoneheart says she must choose, either kill Jaime or be hanged. Brienne refuses to choose. Just before she, Hyle Hunt and Podrick Payne are to be executed however, she shouts out a word.[44]

Lady Stoneheart

See also: Images of Lady Stoneheart

Death has changed Catelyn. She is less gracious and forgiving than in life and is consumed with a desire for vengeance on anyone she thinks betrayed her and her son, Robb. She hangs any men associated with the Freys, Boltons, or Lannisters, even if they had nothing to do with the "Red Wedding" or if they are boys, as is the case of Podrick Payne. Her appearance has been altered as well, with her flesh becoming soft and the color of curdled milk due to her corpse being submerged in river water for days. Half of her hair is gone and the rest is white and brittle. In addition, her wounds have not healed with her face covered in scratch marks and her throat still slit open. To speak she must cover the wound on her throat; even then she is difficult to understand.[43][44]

Quotes by Catelyn

My son lies here broken and dying, Luwin, and you wish to discuss a new master of horse? Do you think I care what happens in the stables? Do you think it matters to me one whit? I would gladly butcher every horse in Winterfell with my own hands if it would open Bran's eyes, do you understand that? Do you?[10]

– Catelyn, to Luwin

Robb, if that sword could bring him back, I should never let you sheathe it until Ned stood at my side once more... but he is gone, and a hundred Whispering Woods will not change that.[26]

– Catelyn, to Robb Stark

If I must trade our four Lannisters for their two Starks, I will call that a bargain and thank the gods. I want you safe, Robb, ruling at Winterfell from your father's seat. I want you to live your life, to kiss a girl and wed a woman and father a son. I want to write an end to this. I want to go home, my lords, and weep for my husband. [26]

– Catelyn, to Robb Stark and his council

I want to weep, she thought. I want to be comforted. I'm so tired of being strong. I want to be foolish and frightened for once. Just for a small while, that's all … a day … an hour.[38]

– Catelyn's thoughts

On my honor as a Tully, on my honor as a Stark, I will trade your boy's life for Robb's. A son for a son.[16]

– Catelyn, to Walder Frey

Quotes about Catelyn

All his life Tyrion had prided himself on his cunning, the only gift the gods had seen fit to give him, yet this seven-times-damned she-wolf Catelyn Stark had outwitted him at every turn. The knowledge was more galling than the bare fact of his abduction.[47]

Tyrion Lannister's thoughts

You have courage. Not battle courage perhaps but ... I don't know ... a kind of woman's courage.[4]

Brienne of Tarth to Catelyn

Quotes about Lady Stoneheart

She don't speak. You bloody bastards cut her throat too deep for that. But she remembers.[43]

Lem, to Merrett Frey

Her cloak and collar hid the gash his brother’s blade had made, but her face was even worse than he remembered. The flesh had gone pudding soft in the water and turned the color of curdled milk. Half her hair was gone and the rest had turned as white and brittle as a crone’s. Beneath her ravaged scalp, her face was shredded skin and black blood where she had raked herself with her nails. But her eyes were the most terrible thing. Her eyes saw him, and they hated.[43]

Merrett Frey's thoughts

The Freys slashed her throat from ear to ear. When we found her by the river she was three days dead. Harwin begged me to give her the kiss of life, but it had been too long. I would not do it, so Lord Beric put his lips to hers instead, and the flame of life passed from him to her. And... she rose. May the Lord of Light protect us. She rose.[44]

Thoros to Brienne of Tarth


Lord Tully
2 sons[21]
House Stark
House Arryn

References and Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 See the Catelyn Tully calculation.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Catelyn Tully.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 18, Catelyn IV.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 33, Catelyn IV.
  5. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 33, Jaime V.
  6. 6.0 6.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 59, Catelyn IX.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 55, Catelyn VII.
  8. 8.0 8.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 1, Bran I.
  9. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 10, Jon II.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 14, Catelyn III.
  11. 11.0 11.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 29, Sansa II.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 63, Catelyn X.
  13. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 14, Catelyn II.
  14. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 79, Jon XII.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 44, Jaime VII.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 51, Catelyn VII.
  17. 17.0 17.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 7, Arya I.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 7, Catelyn I.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 19.5 19.6 19.7 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 6, Catelyn II.
  20. 20.0 20.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 2, Catelyn I.
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 21.4 21.5 21.6 21.7 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 45, Catelyn VI.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 34, Catelyn VI.
  23. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 4, Eddard I.
  24. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 19, Arya V.
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 28, Catelyn V.
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 71, Catelyn XI.
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 45, Catelyn V.
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Petyr Baelish.
  29. 29.0 29.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 80, Sansa VII.
  30. See the Petyr Baelish's duel against Brandon Stark
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 31.3 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 40, Catelyn VII.
  32. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 53, Bran VI.
  33. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 2, Catelyn I.
  34. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 26, Jon IV.
  35. See the calculations for Sansa Stark, Arya Stark, Bran Stark, and Rickon Stark
  36. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 43, Eddard XI.
  37. 37.0 37.1 37.2 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 55, Catelyn VIII.
  38. 38.0 38.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 22, Catelyn II.
  39. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 31, Catelyn III.
  40. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 1, Jaime I.
  41. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 35, Catelyn IV.
  42. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 58, Tyrion VII.
  43. 43.0 43.1 43.2 43.3 43.4 A Storm of Swords, Epilogue.
  44. 44.0 44.1 44.2 44.3 44.4 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 42, Brienne VIII.
  45. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 65, Arya XII.
  46. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 30, Jaime IV.
  47. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 31, Tyrion IV.

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