Eddard Stark

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Eddard Stark
House Stark.PNG
Eddard Amoka.jpg
Eddard Stark by Amoka ©

Alias(es) Ned
The Quiet Wolf
Title(s) Lord of Winterfell
Warden of the North
Hand of the King
Allegiance House Stark
Culture(s) Northmen
Born In 263 ACWinterfell
Died In 298 ACKing's Landing
Spouse(s) Catelyn Tully
Book(s) A Game of Thrones (POV)
A Clash of Kings (Mentioned)
A Storm of Swords (Mentioned)
A Feast for Crows (Mentioned)
A Dance with Dragons (Mentioned)

Played by Sean Bean
TV series Season 1

Eddard Stark, also affectionately called "Ned", is the head of House Stark, Lord of Winterfell, and Warden of the North. He is a close friend to King Robert Baratheon, whom he was raised with and helped to win the Iron Throne, and is eventually named his Hand. He is one of the major POV Characters in the books. In the TV series, he is played by Sean Bean.[1]

Appearance & Character

See also this collection of images.

Eddard is in his mid-thirties. He has a long face, dark hair and grey eyes. His closely-trimmed beard is beginning to grey, making him look older than his years.[2] His dark grey eyes reflect his moods, turning soft as fog or hard as stone.[3] Among his enemies, Eddard has the reputation of having cold eyes. They are thought to reflect his frozen heart.[4] Eddard is neither as large nor as handsome as his brother Brandon was, according to Catelyn Stark; however, she states that this was no matter to her once she "found that good sweet heart beneath his solemn face".[5] He is fiercely protective of his wife and children, whom he loves deeply.

Eddard is known for his unwavering sense of honor and justice and his family finds him kind, although some consider his reserved personality a sign of coldness and disdain.



Eddard was fostered by Lord Jon Arryn at the Eyrie from the age of eight, alongside Robert Baratheon.[6] Ned befriended Robert and came to consider Lord Arryn a second father. Following the alleged abduction of Lyanna Stark by Prince Rhaegar, Ned's father Rickard and his brother Brandon were executed at the command of King Aerys II, who further demanded that Jon Arryn send him the heads of his wards. Jon Arryn refused and instead launched a rebellion.

Robert's Rebellion

With his father and brother dead, Ned was now Lord of Winterfell. He wanted to raise his banners to join the rebellion, but getting from the Vale to the North was complicated by the fact that Gulltown, the Vale's chief port, had stayed loyal to the Iron Throne. Ned had to cross the mountains to the Fingers and hire a fisherman to bring him to White Harbor with a boat. They were caught by a storm on the Bite and the fisherman drowned. However, his daughter managed to bring Ned to the Three Sisters. When Ned arrived at Sisterton, Lord Borrell's maester urged him to deliver Ned's head to King Aerys, but Lord Borrell, knowing that Jon Arryn and Robert Baratheon had taken Gulltown in the meantime, was unsure who would prevail in the conflict. Thus he let Ned leave for White Harbor, telling him to remain silent about his stay in Sisterton in case the rebellion failed.[7] After calling his banners, Ned marched to join Robert's warring in the south, arriving in time to turn the tide at the Battle of the Bells. Afterward, he went to Riverrun to marry Catelyn Tully, who had been betrothed to his brother Brandon before his death. Jon Arryn married Catelyn's sister Lysa in the same ceremony. The double wedding bound House Tully to the rebels' cause.[8]

The rebels won their decisive victory in the Battle of the Trident, in which Robert killed Prince Rhaegar Targaryen in single combat. Because Robert had been wounded by Rhaegar, it fell on Eddard to pursue the remnants of Aerys' armies to King's Landing. When he arrived there, Lord Tywin Lannister's force had already sacked the city. Eddard had developed contempt for House Lannister during the rebellion, as Lord Tywin had remained neutral for the longest time in an apparent attempt to join the winning side in the end. Eddard's contempt increased when he learned that Lord Tywin had conquered the city by treachery and that his men had killed Prince Rhaegar's wife and children in the most brutal manner. In addition, Lannister flags were flying over the Red Keep when Eddard arrived there and, as he rode into the throne room to claim the crown for Robert, he found King Aerys' body at the steps leading to the Iron Throne, on which the king's killer, Ser Jaime Lannister, was sitting. All of that increased Eddard's suspicions about the ambitions of the Lannisters. He felt that the way in which the conquest of King's Landing had been conducted dishonored Robert's cause. He was disappointed that Robert, when he arrived in the city, didn't share his moral outrage and in particular defended the murder of Rhaegar's children. He also ignored Eddard's counsel that Ser Jaime should be made to join the Night's Watch for breaking his oath as a knight of the Kingsguard to protect the King. Their disagreements about these issues created a temporary rift between Eddard and Robert that not even Jon Arryn was able to breach.[8][9][10]

Eddard left Robert in King's Landing and went to Storm's End, where he lifted the siege of the castle; Mace Tyrell and his armies yielded to Eddard without a fight. Afterwards, he travelled to Dorne to liberate his sister Lyanna, who apparently was held captive at the Tower of Joy. When Eddard arrived there along with six companions, he found the tower guarded by three members of the Kingsguard, including Ser Arthur Dayne. The resulting skirmish saw the deaths of all but Ned and his companion Howland Reed. Unfortunately, when Eddard found Lyanna, she was already dying. Before her death, she made Eddard promise her something that he apparently never shared with anyone afterwards. The experience has haunted Ned ever since. However, the shared grief over Lynna led to his reconciliation with his friend, now King Robert I.[9]

Lord of Winterfell

Artwork by John Picacio ©

Eddard returned home to Winterfell, bringing with him a bastard son, Jon Snow. This strained the relationship with his wife Catelyn, who had given birth to their son Robb in the meantime. Eddard refused to speak to her about the origins of Jon. However, when Lady Catelyn heard rumors that the boy's mother was the Dornish noblewoman Ashara Dayne, she confronted her husband about it, but he told her in a brusque manner that the boy was his blood and that was all she needed to know. He subsequently silenced the rumors about Ashara.[6] Lord Edric Dayne believes that, rather than his aunt Ashara, Jon Snow's mother was a woman called Wylla, who worked for House Dayne and at one point served as Edric's wet-nurse.[11] When asked about the mother of his bastard son by King Robert, Eddard also mentions the name Wylla.[9] However, Godric Borrell claims that the daughter of the fisherman who sneaked Ned away from the Fingers gave birth to Jon Snow.[7]

Ned spent the next fifteen years as Lord of Winterfell, a task he had never expected and did not always feel equal to. He rarely left his lands and did not involve himself in the complex intrigues of the southern courts. Although his bannermen were loyal, Ned dealt with the problems that did arise swiftly, such as when he drove out Lord Jorah Mormont for the crime of dealing with slavers. The one time he did leave the North was to fight alongside Robert once more, helping him end the Greyjoy Rebellion. After the decisive Siege of Pyke and Balon Greyjoy's surrender, Ned took Lord Balon's only surviving son Theon as a ward and hostage.

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

Ned appointed Hand of the King, by Daaria©

Lord Eddard executes a deserter of the Night's Watch who claims to have been attacked by Others. On the return to Winterfell, the party discovers a direwolf dead on the roadside, her throat pierced by a stag she had slain. Swayed by the bastard Jon Snow, Ned decides not to slay her newborn pups, with one going to each of the Stark children. Soon, a raven arrives bearing word of the death of Jon Arryn, who fostered Ned as well as Robert Baratheon, and who had long served Robert as the King's Hand.[12] Soon Robert arrives with half the court, and Ned grudgingly accepts his offer to replace Lord Arryn as Hand, as well as a betrothal of Prince Joffrey to his daughter Sansa.[6] Another message arrives, this one from Lysa Arryn, Jon's widow and Ned's wife Catelyn's sister. Lysa warns the Starks that the Lannisters were involved in her husband's death. Upon arriving at King's Landing Eddard is shocked to learn that the crown is heavily indebted due to Robert's extravagance, and Arryn and the Small Council had been unable to restrain him. Robert decrees a great tournament is to be held in honor of Eddard's appointment as Hand of the King, despite Ned's protests of the cost.[13] The tournament, featuring a joust, melee, and archery contest, attracts knights and freeriders from all over the Seven Kingdoms.

While making inquiries about Jon Arryn's activities before his death, Eddard discovers that Jon spent a great deal of time with Stannis Baratheon and was visiting several of Robert's bastard children in the city.[14] He also learns from Yoren of the Night's Watch that his wife Catelyn has abducted Tyrion Lannister.

When Robert Baratheon holds a council meeting demanding that the pregnant Daenerys Targaryen be put to death, Ned and Ser Barristan are the only ones to speak out against the move. Robert, driven by his hatred of the Targaryens, insists on the assassination; Ned resigns his post in protest.[15] Before his planned departure from King's Landing to return to Winterfell, Ned visits another of Robert's bastard children, a girl named Barra. Returning from this meeting he is ambushed by Jaime Lannister, who wants revenge for Catelyn's kidnapping of his brother, Tyrion.[16] Eddard's leg is badly injured in the melee. While recovering, Robert visits his friend, pardoning him and returning him to office as Hand of the King.[17]

Eddard sits on the Iron Throne and hears petitions while Robert is out on a hunt. Three Riverland Lords bring the news that several villages near the border of the Westerlands have been ravaged by Gregor Clegane. Eddard sends Beric Dondarrion, Thoros of Myr and a number of knights, and members of his own household guard to bring Clegane to justice.[18]

While investigating Jon Arryn's interest in Robert's bastard children, Ned discovers to his horror that Robert's three legitimate children are the product of incest between Queen Cersei and her brother Jaime.[19] Eddard decides to confront Cersei with this knowledge, giving her a chance to flee with her children while she still can.[20] However, Cersei uses the warning time to orchestrate Robert's assassination and buy off the City Watch of King's Landing. As Robert lays on his deathbed, Ned rebuffs both Robert's younger brother Renly Baratheon's suggestion that they seize control of the royal children, and Petyr Baelish's urgings to rule as Regent while Cersei and Jaime's thirteen-year-old son Joffrey accede to the Iron Throne, instead planning to deliver it to the elder of Robert's brothers, Stannis.[21] Baelish promises Ned the support of the City Watch, promptly betraying him as soon as Robert dies.[22] Cersei has Ned imprisoned for treason, with the City Watch supporting her thanks to Baelish's treachery.

Ned's execution (TV series)

Varys visits Eddard Stark in the dungeons, informing him that if he confesses to treason his life will be spared and he will be given the opportunity to join the Night's Watch. Ned initially refuses but agrees to swallow his honor to save the life of his daughter Sansa, who is in Lannister custody.[23] He is taken to the steps of the Great Sept of Baelor where, unbeknownst to him, Yoren, his daughter Arya Stark, and the disguised Ser Barristan Selmy are amongst the crowd. Eddard makes a false public confession but the plan goes awry when King Joffrey declares that Eddard must be executed, to the evident shock of Cersei, Varys, and the High Septon. Ilyn Payne beheads Eddard Stark with his own greatsword, Ice.[24] Joffrey has Eddard's head placed on a spike and forces his daughter Sansa to view it.[25]

A Clash of Kings

Tyrion Lannister orders Lord Eddard's head, along with all the other heads to be removed from the spikes. The bones of Eddard Stark are sent to Riverrun by Tyrion Lannister. Catelyn Tully asks Hallis Mollen to take the bones north so Ned can be buried in Winterfell's crypts beside his father, older brother and sister. The ironborn take Moat Cailin soon after and it is unknown if Eddard's bones made it past the Moat before its fall to House Greyjoy.

It is also remarked upon that Eddard Stark's execution at the Great Sept of Baelor caused a serious deterioration in relations between the crown and the Faith of the Seven, as many of the faithful believe Stark's beheading there profaned the Sept with blood.

A Dance with Dragons

Bran Stark, while training to become a greenseer, sees a vision of his father in the past through the eyes of the Heart Tree of Winterfell. Through the tree, Bran hears his father's prayers that his wife will forgive him and that Jon and Robb will grow together as brothers.[26]

Barbrey Dustin, who once aspired to marry Brandon before he was betrothed to Catelyn, mentions to Theon Greyjoy that she blames Eddard for the death of her husband Willam Dustin. She tells Theon that if she ever discovers the location of Eddard's bones, she will never allow them to be buried in the crypts of Winterfell along with his ancestors, in revenge for Eddard's failure to return her husband's bones to her.[27]

However, many other northern houses remember Eddard Stark with love and respect due to his fair and honorable leadership, despite Eddard never feeling he was equal to his older brother Brandon.

Quotes by Eddard

Bran: Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid? Eddard: That is the only time a man can be brave.[2]

- Eddard to Bran

The winters are hard, but the Starks will endure. We always have.[12]

The blood of the First Men still flows in the veins of the Starks, and we hold to the belief that the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword.[2]

If you would take a man’s life, you owe it to him to look into his eyes and hear his final words. And if you cannot bear to do that, then perhaps the man does not deserve to die.[2]

A ruler who hides behind paid executioners soon forgets what death is.[2]

If it came to that, the life of some child I did not know, against Robb and Sansa and Arya and Bran and Rickon, what would I do? Even more so, what would Catelyn do, if it were Jon’s life, against the children of her body? He did not know. He prayed he never would.[20]

- Ned's thoughts about his kids

Arthur Dayne: And now it begins. Eddard: No, Now it ends.[17]

- Eddard to Arthur Dayne

Cersei: You should have taken the realm for yourself. It was there for the taking. Jaime told me how you found him on the Iron Throne the day King’s Landing fell, and made him yield it up. That was your moment. All you needed to do was climb those steps, and sit. Such a sad mistake. Eddard: I have made more mistakes than you can possibly imagine, but that was not one of them.[20]

- Eddard to Cersei

Quotes about Eddard

Ned: We are not the boys we were.

Robert: You were never the boy you were.[9]

- Robert Baratheon

You are too hard on yourself, Ned. You always were. Damn it, no woman wants Baelor the Blessed in her bed.[9]

- Robert Baratheon

Damn you, Ned Stark. You and Jon Arryn, I loved you both. What have you done to me? You were the one should have been king, you or Jon.[28]

- Robert Baratheon

You never could lie for love nor honor, Ned Stark.[28]

- Robert Baratheon

No, my lord, when the swords come out in earnest, you will be the only true friend Robert Baratheon will have. [28]

- Varys to Ned

You wear your honor like a suit of armor, Stark. You think it keeps you safe, but all it does is weigh you down and make it hard for you to move. [21]

- Littlefinger

You are an honest and honourable man, Lord Eddard. Ofttimes I forget that. I have met so few of them in my life...When I see what honesty and honor have won you, I understand why. [23]

- Varys

A long time ago, she remembered her father saying that when the cold wind blows the lone wolf dies but the pack survives. He had it all backwards. Arya, the lone wolf, still lived, but the wolves of the pack had been taken and slain and skinned.[29]

- Arya Stark

As for your Ned, he should have kissed the hand that killed Aerys, but he preferred to scorn the arse he found sitting on Robert's throne.[30]

- Jaime Lannister

I knew Ned Stark as well. Your father was no friend of mine, but only a fool would doubt his honor or his honesty.[31]

- Stannis Baratheon to Jon Snow


Jon Snow

References and Notes

  1. Cast of Game of Thrones on IMDB
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 1, Bran I.
  3. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 39, Catelyn V.
  4. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 27, Daenerys II.
  5. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 45, Catelyn V.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 6, Catelyn II.
  7. 7.0 7.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 9, Davos I.
  8. 8.0 8.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 2, Catelyn I.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 12, Eddard II.
  10. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 36, Davos IV.
  11. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 43, Arya VIII.
  12. 12.0 12.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 4, Eddard I.
  13. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 20, Eddard IV.
  14. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 27, Eddard VI.
  15. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 33, Eddard VIII.
  16. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 35, Eddard IX.
  17. 17.0 17.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 39, Eddard X.
  18. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 43, Eddard XI.
  19. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 44, Sansa III.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 45, Eddard XII.
  21. 21.0 21.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 47, Eddard XIII.
  22. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 49, Eddard XIV.
  23. 23.0 23.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 58, Eddard XV.
  24. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 65, Arya V.
  25. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 67, Sansa VI.
  26. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 34, Bran III.
  27. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 41, The Turncloak.
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 30, Eddard VII.
  29. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 1, The Prophet.
  30. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 55, Catelyn VII.
  31. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 76, Jon XI.

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