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House Bolton

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House Bolton
A red flayed man, hanging upside-down on a white X-shaped cross, on a black background.
"Our Blades Are Sharp"
Military strength
Cadet branches
Date of founding
Ancestral weapon
"In my family we say: A naked man has few secrets; a flayed man, none."
―Roose Bolton[src]

House Bolton of the Dreadfort is the ruling house of the North, having usurped their position from their former liege lords: House Stark. Their original lands are in the northeast of the formerly-owned Stark territories. Their stronghold is a castle called the Dreadfort and the head of the house is the Lord of the Dreadfort.[1]

House Bolton is infamous for its centuries-old practice of flaying their enemies alive, to the point that they use a flayed man as their House sigil. The Boltons supposedly gave up this practice after bending the knee to House Stark,[2] and centuries later Lord Eddard Stark outlawed flaying in the North altogether, but the Boltons continue the practice.[3]

House Bolton's heraldry consists of a red flayed man upside-down on an x-shaped white cross over a field of black. Their official motto is "Our Blades Are Sharp", though a common saying of members of the House is "A naked man has few secrets; a flayed man, none".




House Bolton is infamous for its centuries-old practice of flaying their enemies alive, to the point that they use a flayed man as their House sigil.

The origins of House Bolton date back to at least the Age of Heroes, a savage age in which the houses of First Men waged war one upon the other. For centuries, House Bolton resisted the efforts of the Stark Kings of Winter to unify the North under their rule, killing several Starks in the process, and, according to rumors, keeping their skins as trophies and even wearing them as cloaks.[4][5]


King Rogar Bolton bends the knee to the Starks of Winterfell.

Eventually, the Boltons were defeated and bent the knee to House Stark, giving up their practice of flaying their prisoners as sign of their submission. Nevertheless, they remained the second most powerful house of the North.[5] The practice of flaying, however, was officially outlawed in the North just during the lordship of Eddard Stark.

Season 1Edit

House Bolton answers the summon of Robb Stark, acting Lord of Winterfell, when he calls the bannermen of House Stark to march south to demand the liberation of Ned Stark and answer the aggression of House Lannister against the Riverlands. The sigil of House Bolton in present during the feast Robb holds for his lords bannermen.[6]

House Bolton swears its allegiance to Robb Stark when Jon Umber proposes Northern independence under Robb as King in the North.[7]

Season 2Edit

The forces of House Bolton remain with the main Northern host as it invades the Westerlands while a relief force led by the Greatjon liberates the seats of the Riverlords occupied by Lannister forces.[8] Bolton forces participate in the Battle of Oxcross.[9]

After news of the fall of Winterfell to Theon Greyjoy reach King Robb's host, Lord Bolton sends word to his bastard son, Ramsay Snow, to raise a force to retake Winterfell.[10]

When the Bolton force is a few days from Winterfell, Robb orders that any ironborn in Winterfell that surrenders will be allowed to return safely to the Iron Isles, with the exception of Theon Greyjoy.[11]

The Bolton force lays siege to Winterfell, with Ramsay constantly sounding a warhorn to demoralize Theon's crew. As Robb expected, the ironborn turn on Theon and deliver him to Ramsay in exchange for safe passage off the North.[12] However, Ramsay and his men turn on the ironborn raiders and flay them alive. They also put Winterfell to the torch and all the members of the Stark household to the sword.[13]

Season 3Edit


Bolton men take Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth prisoner.

The Bolton forces march along with the rest of the Northern army all the way to the castle of Harrenhal in the Riverlands, only to find it empty, except for the bodies of Northern and Riverlands prisoners put to the sword. In the meantime Lord Bolton has also dispatched his "best hunters", led by Locke, to hunt down the fugitive Jaime Lannister, who had been liberated by Catelyn Stark in exchange for the freedom of her daughters, Arya and Sansa.[14]


Bolton men garrisoned at Harrenhal.

The Bolton host is left to hold Harrenhal after news of the death of Hoster Tully reach the ruined castle. Another letter also informs of the Sack of Winterfell and the disappearance of Bran and Rickon Stark, but puts the blame on Theon and his ironmen, claiming the Bolton host had reached Winterfell too late. A few Bolton men accompany Robb's host to Riverrun.[15]

In the Dreadfort, Theon is tortured by men wearing clothing similar to that of the raiders of House Greyjoy, who take one of his fingernails and use a foot press on him and demand to know why he took Winterfell. Despite his answers, they keep torturing him. When the torturers leave, a man who claims to have been sent by Theon's sister Yara promises to release him when the castle sleeps.[15]

Locke and his men capture the Kingslayer and Brienne after Jaime is identified by a peasant in exchange for a reward.[15]

House Bolton are revealed as turncoats when they assist House Frey in the massacre known as the Red Wedding. The Boltons and the Freys kill Robb Stark, Catelyn Stark and all of the northern lords assembled at the Twins for Edmure Tully's wedding while their forces kill off their bannermen. As a reward for their betrayal, Tywin Lannister appoints Roose Bolton as the new Warden of the North.[16]

Season 4Edit

The Boltons must fight to reclaim the North from the invading ironborn but their army is stuck south of Moat Cailin, a fortress taken by the Greyjoys in the first days of their invasion. Roose Bolton decides to send Ramsay to retake the fortress in order to prove himself worthy of the Bolton name.[17]


The Boltons take Winterfell for their own.

Ramsay sends Theon Greyjoy to convince the ironborn in Moat Cailin to yield in exchange for safe passage. The plan is a success, but Ramsay has all the ironborn flayed anyway. For his accomplishment, Roose presents Ramsay with a document of legitimization as his reward. They then make their way towards Winterfell.[18]



Ramsay Bolton accompanied by several Dreadfort men.


  • "Reek", formerly Prince Theon Greyjoy, Ramsay Bolton's hostage.
  • {Locke}, Lord Bolton's master-at-arms, sent beyond the Wall in pursuit of Bran Stark and killed while attempting to abduct him.
  • Steelshanks, a man-at-arms sworn to Lord Bolton. At King's Landing.
  • Myranda and Violet, Ramsay's bedwarmers.
    • {Tansy}, another of Ramsay's bedwarmers. Killed by Ramsay's hounds

Image galleryEdit

Family treeEdit

Unknown tree
miller's wife
Roose Bolton
Walda Bolton
née Frey Frey-small
Ramsay Bolton

In the booksEdit


House Bolton are said to have worn the skins of their enemies as cloaks after flaying them.

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, House Bolton is noted as one of the most powerful families of the North. They are noted for flaying their enemies alive and even wearing their skins as cloaks. They have even captured and flayed Starks in the distant past. House Bolton were unruly vassals of the Starks until approximately a thousand years ago, when they finally bent the knee. Three hundred years later they rebelled but were defeated. The armies of House Stark besieged the Dreadfort for two years before finally forcing the Boltons to surrender and submit.

The Boltons are considered a sinister and ill-omened house, but Lord Roose Bolton is noted as a capable battle commander. Roose Bolton fought alongside Eddard Stark during Robert's Rebellion. After the Battle of the Trident, Roose suggested executing the defeated Barristan Selmy, but Eddard and Robert Baratheon refused.

Besides Lord Roose, the members of the family in the books are:

  • Bethany Ryswell, Roose Bolton's late wife.
    • {Domeric Bolton}, their only son and heir.
    • Ramsay Snow, his bastard son.

Domeric Bolton died shortly before the beginning of the series, having sought out his bastard half-brother Ramsay (Domeric having always wanted a brother of his own). With no other trueborn heirs, Roose brought Ramsay to the Dreadfort and began to treat him as his heir.

The sigil of House Bolton in the books is a red flayed man on a field of pink with red blood drops. The TV series design has specified that the flayed man is displayed hanging upside down on an X-shaped cross. The color scheme in the TV series is slightly different: it is a red flayed man, but hanging upside-down on a white X-shaped cross with a black background.

See alsoEdit


  1. HBO viewers guide, season 2 guide to houses, House Stark, Roose Bolton entry
  2. House Bolton (Histories & Lore)
  3. "Garden of Bones"
  4. HBO viewers guide, the Dreadfort entry
  5. 5.0 5.1 House Bolton (Histories & Lore)
  6. "The Pointy End"
  7. "Fire and Blood"
  8. Season 2 bluray: War of the Five Kings feature
  9. "Garden of Bones"
  10. "The Old Gods and the New"
  11. "The Old Gods and the New"
  12. "Valar Morghulis"
  13. "Mhysa"
  14. "Valar Dohaeris"
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 "Dark Wings, Dark Words"
  16. "Mhysa"
  17. "The Lion and the Rose"
  18. "The Mountain and the Viper"
  19. "Bastards of Westeros" promotional video

v  d  e
House Bolton
Lord: Lord Roose Bolton Heir: Ramsay Bolton
Bolton mini flag
Seat: Winterfell
The Dreadfort
Lands: The North
Title(s): Red King (former) · Lord of the Dreadfort · Warden of the North · Lord Paramount of the North · Lord of Winterfell
Ancestors:Rogar Bolton
Current members:Walda Bolton
Deceased members:Domeric Bolton
Household:{Locke} · Reek · Steelshanks · Myranda· {Tansy} · Violet · {Master Torturer}
Overlord:House Baratheon of King's Landing

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