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House Martell

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House Martell
A red sun pierced by a gold spear, on an orange field
"Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken"
Prince of Dorne
Lord of Sunspear
Military strength
Cadet branches
Date of founding
Ancestral weapon
"There's bad blood between the Martells of Dorne and the Lannisters of Casterly Rock."
Tyrion Lannister to Bronn[src]

House Martell is one of the Great Houses of Westeros. It rules the peninsula of Dorne in the far south of the continent from their castle Sunspear. Though loyal to the Iron Throne, it has pursued a more isolated role in wider political events since Robert's Rebellion.

House Martell's sigil is a red sun pierced by a golden spear, on an orange field. The motto for the house is "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken"​.


Season 1Edit

Bran Stark recites the motto of House Martell during a lesson with Maester Luwin.[1]

Season 2Edit

Tyrion Lannister announces his plan to marry Myrcella Baratheon to Prince Trystane Martell of Dorne. The alliance is intended to take advantage of the historical enmity between Dorne and the Reach, to keep the Dornish from siding with their enemies in the War of the Five Kings, and to ensure the survival of a Baratheon/Lannister heir should King's Landing fall. Cersei is shocked, and tells her brother that the Martells loathe them. Tyrion concurs, but says that this is exactly why they need to seduce the Martells back into allegiance, by offering them a royal marriage alliance.[2]

Some weeks later, Tyrion, Cersei, and Joffrey see Myrcella off from the docks at King's Landing for the first stage of her journey to Dorne.[3]

Season 4Edit

Prince Oberyn Martell, along with a retinue of Dornish lords and knights, arrives in King's Landing to attend the royal wedding in the place of his brother, Prince Doran Martell. Oberyn is joined by his paramour, Ellaria Sand. Oberyn explains the bad blood between the Lannisters and Martells. His sister, Elia Martell, was the wife of Rhaegar Targaryen and she and her children were raped and murdered by Tywin Lannister's troops when they sacked King's Landing. Oberyn holds Tywin personally responsible and is in the capital intent on taking revenge on the Lannisters.[4]

Oberyn and Ellaria represent House Martell at the royal wedding between King Joffrey and Margaery Tyrell, and witness Joffrey's poisoning.[5] Joffrey's uncle Tyrion Lannister is falsely accused of poisoning Joffrey. Lord Tywin subsequently meets with Oberyn in private, and tells him that he wants to ensure that the Martells remain close to the throne, which is still facing numerous threats: the Iron Islands are still in open rebellion to the west, a wildling horde is massing against the Wall to the north, and worst of all, to the east in Slaver's Bay, Daenerys Targaryen possesses three live Dragons and is amassing a large army of her own. As a sign of good faith, Tywin makes Oberyn one of the three judges at Tyrion's trial.[6]Tyrion is subjected to a humiliating show trial at court, which he ends by demanding a Trial by combat. The crown's champion is the fearsome Gregor Clegane, but ultimately Oberyn volunteers to be Tyrion's champion.[7]

Oberyn faces off against the massive Gregor in the following trial by combat in front of the gathered royal court. Oberyn uses speed and agility to outmaneuver and subdue Gregor, but is knocked off his feet during an unguarded moment, after which Gregor crushes Oberyn's skull between his bare hands.[8] Oberyn, however, had coated his spear with manticore venom, one of the deadliest poisons in the Known World, incapacitating and seemingly dooming Ser Gregor.[9]



Sworn to House MartellEdit

Family TreeEdit

Doran Martell family tree
Doran Martell
Mellario of Norvos
Elia Martell
Rhaegar Targaryen Targaryen-small
Oberyn Martell
Ellaria Sand
Trystane Martell
Myrcella Baratheon Family Tree
Myrcella Baratheon Joff icon
Rhaenys tree
Rhaenys Targaryen Targaryen-small
Aegon Targaryen Targaryen-small
Martell bastard
Sand Snakes
8 bastard daughters

Image galleryEdit

In the booksEdit

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, House Martell does not play a major role in events until the third and fourth books in the series, only being referenced in the first two.

House Martell was originally a tiny, obscure noble house of Dorne back when the peninsula was home to numerous small, warring states, approximately one thousand years ago. The Rhoynar, refugees from a war against Valyria on the eastern continent, fled to Westeros led by their warrior-queen Nymeria, where they made landfall in Dorne and allied with Lord Mors Martell. After a brief war, Mors named himself the ruler of the unified Kingdom of Dorne, adopting the title "Prince" rather than "King" in Rhoynish fashion. Mors married Nymeria, uniting the bloodlines of the Rhoynar with the native First Men and Andals. As a result, the full name of the family is actually "House Nymeros Martell", with "Nymeros" signifying "of Nymeria". For example, Oberyn's full name is given as "Oberyn Nymeros Martell". However, even the Martells themselves do not usually use the full name, with the inclusion of "Nymeros", except on very formal occasions.

When Aegon I Targaryen invaded Westeros, he conquered six of the seven kingdoms extant at that time, but the Dornish refused to give open battle where Aegon could destroy them with his dragons, instead resorting to hit-and-run attacks which severely damaged his army through attrition. Aegon agreed to leave Dorne to its own devices. A century and a half later, Dorne was briefly occupied by the armies of King Daeron I, but overthrew them in a bloody rebellion. Eventually, roughly a century before the events of the series, Dorne joined the Seven Kingdoms through a peaceful marriage alliance. House Martell's motto, "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken", directly references the fact that they were never conquered by outsiders. Because they came under the authority of the Iron Throne through marriage instead of the sword, House Martell and the other Dornish houses continue to practice absolute primogeniture, in which the eldest child is the designated heir, regardless of whether they are male or female. Another major difference is that the rulers of Dorne are styled ruling Princes (or ruling Princesses) instead of Lords Paramount. At the time of the beginning of the narrative the current head of House Martell is the aging Prince Doran. His daughter and eldest child is Arianne Martell: despite being female, she has been actively groomed to succeed her father, as are eldest daughters all over Dorne. In his old age and infirmity (though he retains his wits) Doran has semi-retired, delegating most of the day-to-day governance of Dorne to Arianne. 

The Martells were loyal vassals of the Iron Throne, with Princess Elia Martell marrying Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and bearing him two children. During Robert's Rebellion, the Martells were unhappy with Rhaegar's betrayal of Elia by taking Lyanna Stark as his paramour and sparking a war over the matter. Still, they supported King Aerys II Targaryen's bid to retain the throne, predominantly due to Aerys effectively holding Elia as a hostage to ensure their loyalty. The Martells lost many soldiers at the Battle of the Trident and Princess Elia and her children were brutally killed during the Sack of King's Landing by Lannister soldiers. Ironically, the Martells had only grudgingly stayed loyal to the Targaryens during the civil war, but the needless and brutal murder of Elia turned Dorne into a hotbed of pro-Targaryen sentiment (to the point that, after the Sack of King's Landing, Oberyn had wanted to continue the fighting on behalf of Viserys Targaryen). Though House Martell swore fealty to King Robert Baratheon after the war (though this was only due to extensive peace negotiations on the part of Jon Arryn), they have harbored anger and resentment towards the Lannisters ever since and have adopted a mostly isolationist policy ever since, not mixing with the other Great Houses unless totally necessary. As a result, the Dornish have stronger relations with the Free Cities of Essos than the rest of Westeros.

The Martells and Tyrells have been sworn enemies for many generations. Over the centuries, they have fought border wars beyond count, and raided back and forth across mountains and marches even when at peace. The enmity between the two houses waned a bit after Dorne became part of the Seven Kingdoms, but the maiming of Willas Tyrell by the Dornish prince Oberyn Martell in a jouse fanned the animosity between the families, though Willas himself does not hold any grudge against Oberyn, as both men knew what happened was simply an unfortunate accident.

George R.R. Martin has said that the production team isn't certain how many members of House Martell they can fit into the TV series. Doran has three children, while Oberyn and Ellaria have eight daughters. Even for House Tyrell, which has four children in the current generation, two have apparently been cut from the TV series (Loras and Margaery's older brothers from the books). Conversely, in Season 2 the production team thought they might have to cut Stannis Baratheon's only child, Shireen, but subsequently was able to introduce her in Season 3. While Oberyn and Ellaria do appear in Season 4, it remains to be seen how many other Martells can be introduced into the TV continuity in later seasons.


  • Prince Doran Martell, the current Lord of Sunspear and Prince of Dorne.
    • Lady Mellario of Norvos, his wife. They married for love but the two later became estranged, and she has returned to Norvos.
    • Princess Arianne Martell, his oldest daughter and heir, since Dornish law upholds equal primogeniture, regardless of gender.
    • Prince Quentyn Martell, his oldest son, fostering with Lord Yronwood.
    • Prince Trystane Martell, his youngest son.
  • Prince Oberyn Martell, Doran's younger brother, called the 'Red Viper'.
    • The 'Sand Snakes', Prince Oberyn's bastard daughters:
      • Obara Sand, born of a whore of Oldtown.
      • Nymeria Sand, called 'Lady Nym', born of a noblewoman of Volantis.
      • Tyene Sand, born of a septa.
      • Sarella Sand, born of a trader of the Summer Isles
      • Elia Sand, born of Oberyn's Paramour, Ellaria Sand
      • Obella Sand, born of Oberyn's Paramour, Ellaria Sand
      • Dorea Sand, born of Oberyn's Paramour, Ellaria Sand
      • Loreza Sand, born of Oberyn's Paramour, Ellaria Sand
  • Princess Elia Martell, Doran and Oberyn's sister, married to Prince Rhaegar Targaryen. Slain in the Sack of King's Landing along with her two children.
  • Prince {Lewyn Martell}, a knight of the Kingsguard during the rule of Aerys II Targaryen. Slain at the Battle of the Trident.

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

  • Ser Manfrey Martell, castellan of Sunspear. A cousin of Doran Martell, it is not stated of which degree.

The following sworn houses have yet to appear in the series:

See alsoEdit


  1. "The Wolf and the Lion"
  2. "What is Dead May Never Die"
  3. "The Old Gods and the New"
  4. "Two Swords"
  5. "The Lion and the Rose"
  6. "Breaker of Chains"
  7. "Mockingbird"
  8. "The Mountain and the Viper"
  9. "The Children"
  10. "Two Swords"
  11. Stated on-air by Tyrion to be Doran's "youngest son" in Season 2 episode 3 "What is Dead May Never Die". In the novels Doran has three children: Arianne, Quentyn, and Trystane.
v  d  e
House Martell
Lord: Prince Doran Martell Heir:
Martell mini flag
Seat: Sunspear Lands: Dorne
Title(s): Prince of Dorne · Lord of Sunspear
Ancestors:Prince Maron Martell · Princess Daenerys Martell · Queen Myriah Martell
Current members:Prince Trystane Martell · Ellaria Sand · Obara Sand · Nymeria Sand · Tyene Sand · Sarella Sand · Elia Sand · Obella Sand · Dorea Sand · Loreza Sand
Deceased members:Princess Elia Martell · Prince Oberyn Martell
Household:Princess Myrcella Baratheon · Septa Eglantine · Ser Arys Oakheart · Areo Hotah
Overlord:House Baratheon of King's Landing

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