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House Martell
House-Martell-heraldry
Sigil
A red sun pierced by a gold spear, on an orange field
Words
"Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken"
Titles
Prince of Dorne
Lord of Sunspear
Seat
Region
Lord
Heir
Religion
{{{Religion}}}
Military strength
{{{Military}}}
Cadet branches
{{{Cadets}}}
Date of founding
{{{Founding}}}
Age
Founder
Ancestral weapon
{{{Weapon}}}
[[:Category:{{{Images}}}|Images]]
" 'Unbowed, unbent, unbroken'. The words of House Martell. A promise to our enemies, and a challenge to our lovers."
Oberyn Martell[src]

House Martell of Sunspear 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, a combination of the original Martell sigil - a yellow spear - and the emblem of Princess Nymeria - a red sun - to symbolize the marriage of the warrior-queen to Mors Martell. The motto of the House is "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken"​.

HistoryEdit

BackgroundEdit

Nymeria Ten Thousand Ships

Nymeria led the Rhoynar refugee fleet in a massive migration to Dorne, fleeing the Valyrians.

House Martell started out as local kings in Dorne, which was long divided between many petty kings of the First Men and Andals. About a thousand years ago, Rhoynar refugees fleeing conquest by the Valyrian Freehold in Essos migrated across the Narrow Sea to Dorne, led by their warrior-queen Nymeria. Mors Martell was smitten with Nymeria and chose to join forces with her through marriage-alliance. With their combined strength, they conquered and unified the rest of Dorne. To symbolize their union, the original golden spear sigil of Mors Martell was combined with the red sun sigil of Nymeria, creating the red sun pierced by a golden spear sigil that House Martell has used ever since. Like their Rhoynar ancestors, House Martell styled its rulers as "princes" instead of "kings".

Dorne resists the Targaryen Conquest

The Martells resisted the Targaryen conquest by resorting to guerrilla warfare: if a dragon came the Dornish hid in the desert until it left, then ambushed the Targaryens' supply lines, until they eventually withdrew.

The Martell words are "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken" - referring to their history, in which they have never been successfully conquered by outsiders. This makes them unique among all of the Great Houses. During the Targaryen Conquest (three centuries before the War of the Five Kings), Dorne was the only region of the Seven Kingdoms to successfully resist the Targaryens and their dragons. Realizing that large armies could not stand against dragons (as seen at the Field of Fire), nor large castles (as seen at the Burning of Harrenhal), the Dornish instead resorted to guerrilla warfare, ambushing Targaryen soldiers and harassing their supply lines as soon as their dragons moved on to the next castle, then disappearing back into the harsh deserts when the dragons returned. The heat of Dorne's deserts also worked to the Martells' advantage, as Dorne's arid climate cannot easily support large invading armies. Losing many men due to attrition, ultimately even Aegon the Conqueror decided to withdraw from Dorne, to focus on reining in the other six newly conquered kingdoms.

Daeron's death

King Daeron I Targaryen's invasion of Dorne lasted only 4 years, ending with the death of Daeron I, along with 60,000 of his men, and the Martells still defiantly independent.

House Martell and Dorne have never been successfully conquered. Over a century and a half after the Targaryen Conquest of the rest of Westeros, they were invaded again by King Daeron I Targaryen, the Young Dragon. A military genius, his Conquest of Dorne actually succeeded - on the battlefield. But the initial conquest was followed by a four year long Dornish insurgency, in which occupying troops were again bled through ambush and guerrilla tactics. Lyonel Tyrell, the steward that Daeron I put in charge of Dorne, was then assassinated, and all of Dorne rose up in open rebellion. Daeron I himself was killed attempting to put down the insurrection, and after only four short years House Martell once again ruled an independent Dorne.

Targaryen Martell two marriages

The double marriage-alliance that united the Martells with the Iron Throne: King Daeron II Targaryen married Prince Maron Martell's sister (left), and Prince Maron married Daeron II's sister Daenerys (right).

A few decades later (a little over a century before the War of the Five Kings), King Daeron II the Good managed to finally unite Dorne with the Iron Throne - not through conquest, but by voluntary marriage-alliance on equal terms. Daeron II married the sister of the Prince of Dorne, and the Prince of Dorne married Daeron II's sister. This special, semi-autonomous status allowed Dorne to retain several special privileges, such as the Martells continuing to style themselves as "Prince" or "Princess" instead of "Lord Paramount" and continuing their practice of gender-blind primogeniture. This union did cause several political tensions at the royal court between Daeron II's pro-Martell faction and anti-Martell lords (from the Reach, the Stormlands, and the Dornish Marches), eventually leading to the Blackfyre Rebellion.

Slaughter

At the end of Robert's Rebellion, Lannister bannerman Gregor Clegane killed Elia Martell's children, then raped and killed Elia.

Generations later, King Aerys II Targaryen (later known as "the Mad King") had no daughters, so he sought a suitable bride for his son Crown Prince Rhaegar Targaryen from outside of the family. Aerys II chose to snub the offer of Tywin Lannister, his own trusted Hand of the King and dutiful servant, that Rhaegar marry his own young daughter Cersei. Instead, a match was arranged with the then-current Princess of Dorne to wed her daughter Elia Martell to Rhaegar. Elia bore Rhaegar two children but all three were later killed during Robert's Rebellion, during the Sack of King's Landing by Tywin Lannister's army. Elia's brothers Doran and Oberyn were outraged and, while peace was restored, the Martells withdrew from interacting with the royal court. During King Robert Baratheon's subsequent reign, the Martells and Dorne were rarely if ever even mentioned at court, except for their Dornish wine.

PracticesEdit

"After the tradition of her people, House Martell then ruled Dorne as 'princes', not 'kings' - unless the eldest child was a daughter, for unlike the rest of Westeros, our loyalty isn't commanded by a cock. We follow a Prince or a Princess Martell just the same. "
Oberyn Martell [src]
Nymeria and Mors Martell

Mors Martell and Nymeria united to conquer and unify Dorne. Afterwards they ruled equally, and were succeeded by their eldest daughter over their younger son - following the gender-blind inheritance customs of the Rhoynar.

Like their Rhoynar ancestors who migrated to Dorne a thousand years ago, Dornish noble Houses follow gender-blind equal primogeniture, in which the eldest child is the heir regardless of whether that child is male or female. This is different from the male-preference inheritance laws in all of the rest of the Seven Kingdoms, the laws of the First Men and Andals, in which a younger son succeeds ahead of an older daughter. In House Stark, for example, Bran and Rickon are officially ahead of their older sister Sansa in the line of succession, and in House Lannister, Tyrion was officially ahead of Cersei despite being younger than her.

In contrast, a ruler of House Martell is always succeeded by their eldest child, even if it is a daughter. The current ruler of Dorne (when House Martell is fully introduced in Season 5) is Prince Doran Martell, who has been the head of House Martell for many years. The immediately preceding head of House Martell, however, was Doran's mother, who was also the mother of Elia and Oberyn. Doran's mother actually had a younger brother, Lewyn Martell. Under the inheritance laws of the rest of Westeros, Lewyn would have succeeded ahead of Doran's mother, but because Dornish inheritance laws are gender-blind he did not (and therefore he was free to join the elite Kingsguard).

In the style of their Rhoynar ancestors who lived in city-states in Essos (near the location of the later Free Cities), House Martell styles its rulers as "Prince of Dorne" (or "Princess") instead of "King" or "Queen". All members of House Martell are called a Prince/Princess, though the current head of the household is the ruling Prince/Princess. There is little functional difference between the "Prince of Dorne" and a "Lord Paramount of the North", though the title "Prince" is considered to be more prestigious.

Due to uniting with the Iron Throne through marriage-alliance on equal terms instead of through conquest, the Martells were allowed to retain several special privileges, among which were continuing to style their ruler as a "Prince", and continuing to practice gender-blind equal primogeniture.  While many of the Martells are hot-tempered, especially Prince Oberyn, they are a close-knit and loving family, undivided by internal rivalries such as those in House Lannister and House Baratheon.

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 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]

Season 5Edit

Oberyn's death in King's Landing has caused outrage among the Dornish population, as the prince was popular in Dorne. Among those calling for revenge was Oberyn's lover, Ellaria Sand, and his bastard daughters, the Sand Snakes. They sought to wage war against the Lannisters for killing Oberyn and Elia by using Myrcella Baratheon, Queen Cersei Lannister's daughter who was betrothed to Trystane Martell. However, Prince Doran refused to wage war, believing that it was a war they could not win. He also refused to let Myrcella be harmed and kept her close to him in the Water Gardens, for her safety.[10]
Doran, Ellaria, Areo & Sand Snakes

MembersEdit

The immediately previous generation of House Martell:

  • The Ruling Princess of Dorne, mother of Doran, Elia, and Oberyn. Inherited rule of Dorne in her own right from one of her parents. Succeeded upon her death by her eldest child, Doran. Name currently unknown.[13]
  • Prince {Lewyn Martell}. Younger brother of the Ruling Princess, and thus the uncle of Doran, Elia, and Oberyn. A member of Aerys II Targaryen's Kingsguard. Slain at the Battle of the Trident.[14][15]

HouseholdEdit

Sworn to House MartellEdit

Family TreeEdit

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
House-Martell-heraldry
Ruling Princess Martell of Dorne
Deceased
 
House-Martell-heraldry
Consort of the Princess of Dorne
Deceased
 
Lewyn Martell familytree
Lewyn MartellKingsguard mini shield
Deceased
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Doran Martell family tree
Doran Martell
 
House-Martell-heraldry
Mellario of Norvos
 
Elia-family-tree
Elia Martell
Deceased
 
Rhaegar-family-tree
Rhaegar Targaryen Targaryen-small
Deceased
 
 
 
 
 
Unknown tree
Various women
 
Oberyn-Martell-family-tree
Oberyn Martell
Deceased
 
EllariaTree
Ellaria Sand Sand mini shield
of House Uller
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Trystane Martell family tree
Trystane Martell
 
Mycella Season 5 family tree pic

Myrcella Baratheon Joff icon

Deceased
 
Rhaenys tree
Rhaenys Targaryen Targaryen-small
Deceased
 
House-Targaryen-heraldry
Aegon Targaryen Targaryen-small
Deceased
 
Obara Sand familytree
Obara Sand Sand mini shield
1st Sand Snake
Fathered on a Dornish peasant
 
Nymeria Sand familytree
Nymeria Sand Sand mini shield
2nd Sand Snake
Fathered on an Eastern noblewoman
 
Martell bastard
Sarella Sand Martell bastard
4th Sand Snake
Fathered on a Summer Islander ship captain
 
Tyene Sand familytree
Tyene Sand Sand mini shield
3rd Sand Snake
Eldest of Ellaria's daughters
 
Martell bastard
Four youngest Sand Snakes
(Elia, Obella, Dorea, Loreza)
 

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 after trying to conquer it again during the First Dornish War of 4 AC to 13 AC. However, the Dornish once again prevailed and the Martells managed to kill Aegon's wife, Rhaenys, before forcing the Conqueror to agree to peace on their terms. Aegon never tried conquering Dorne again. 

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.

In the second novel, Varys reports Tyrion that prince Doran Martell has called his banners, and there are rumors that he intends to join Renly (Renly tells Catelyn the same thing). Knowing that an alliance between Renly and Dorne will be disastrous to the Lannisters, Tyrion take steps to prevent it by offering prince Doran to marry Myrcella to Trystane, his sister’s killer, a seat at the Small Council, and some castles on the Marches. Despite Cersei's protests, Tyrion sends Myrcella to Dorne as a token of good faith. The Martells stay neutral throughout the war, although it is unclear whether the reason is Tyrion's offer, or the Martells bide their time. 

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.

Members

  • 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:

Trivia Edit

  • The name of the house, may be a reference to Charles Martel, grandfather of Charlemagne and duke and prince of The Franks and the frankish general during the battle poitiers wich marked the end of the muslim invasion of Europe, just like The Martells being the only ones who did not surrender to the Targaryen Conquest.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  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. The House of Black and White
  11. "Two Swords"
  12. 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.
  13. House Martell (Histories & Lore). Oberyn: "For years I fended off lesser men from her, but when Rhaegar came, even I failed. He was beautiful, and the Crown Prince of the Seven Kingdoms, and our mother had worked so hard to secure the match. How could Elia not accept him?"
  14. The Kingsguard (Histories & Lore)
  15. House Martell (Histories & Lore)
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:Princess Nymeria · Prince Mors Martell · 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:Prince Lewyn Martell · Princess Elia Martell · Prince Oberyn Martell
Household:Areo Hotah
Overlord:House Baratheon of King's Landing

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