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Roose Bolton
House-Bolton-heraldry-no-background
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Season(s)
2, 3, 4
First seen
Last seen
Appeared in
12 episodes (see below)
Mentioned in
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Also known as
Status
Age
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Date of birth
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Death
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Origin
Allegiance
Culture
Religion
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Family
{Domeric Bolton} - trueborn son
Ramsay Snow - bastard son
Walda Bolton - wife
Portrayed by

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"The Lannisters send their regards."
―Roose Bolton to Robb Stark as he killed him.[src]

Lord Roose Bolton is a recurring character in the second, third and fourth seasons. He is played by Michael McElhatton and debuts in "Garden of Bones." Roose Bolton is the Lord of the Dreadfort and the head of House Bolton. He declared for Robb Stark in the War of the Five Kings, but ultimately betrayed Robb and murdered him during the massacre at Edmure Tully's wedding at The Twins. Roose was then appointed Warden of the North as a reward.

Biography

Background

Roose Bolton is the head of House Bolton, a vassal family to House Stark of Winterfell. He is the Lord of the Dreadfort. Roose takes pride in his house sigil; the flayed man. Although torture is outlawed in the North, his family is famous for flaying the skin from their enemies as a means of torture and execution. Roose fought for Lord Eddard Stark in the civil war known as Robert's Rebellion and proved his worth as a soldier in the Battle of the Trident.[1]

Roose-Bolton-bannerman

Roose Bolton: A seemingly loyal Stark bannerman.

Roose Bolton had a trueborn son, Domeric, who perished, forcing Roose to rely on his bastard son, Ramsay Snow.[2]

Season 1

House Bolton banners are present among Robb Stark's forces as they assemble at Winterfell and march south to fight House Lannister following the imprisonment and execution of Lord Eddard Stark.[3][4] Robb is proclaimed King in the North by his bannermen following the death of Eddard, although Roose is not seen.[4]

Season 2

Roose fights for King Robb Stark in his decisive victory at the Battle of Oxcross. The following morning Roose reports that they killed five Lannister men for every casualty they suffered. He expresses concern over the volume of prisoners they have taken, saying that they are struggling to feed their own men. Robb insists that the prisoners be treated well and rejects Roose’s suggestion that they torture the officers, reminding him that the Bolton’s traditional practice of flaying their enemies is outlawed in the North. Roose warns Robb that the high road is pretty but difficult. Robb counters that he is treating his prisoners as he hopes the Lannisters will treat his sisters.[5]

Roosethemessanger

Lord Bolton delivers news of Winterfell's capture in "The Old Gods and the New".

They come across a nurse, Talisa Maegyr, and a silent sister treating a wounded Lannister soldier. The healer is preparing to amputate his leg to prevent a wound infection spreading. The soldier is begging her not to proceed but she insists on the necessity of amputation. Roose criticizes her spending time on the Lannister soldiers and she retorts that the Northmen are not her men. Robb helps to restrain the wounded man as she saws off his lower leg.[5]

He later brings Robb and Catelyn Stark news of Winterfell's fall at the hands of the turncloak Theon Greyjoy. He reports that there is no news of Robb's brothers, but that Ser Rodrik Cassel has been killed. An enraged Robb declares that he must return north to retake his castle and save his brothers, but Roose counters that they have the Lannisters on the retreat, and must continue their offensive. He tells the King that he can have his bastard son, Ramsay Snow, muster several hundred men to retake Winterfell. Robb relents, but orders that the safety of his brothers is paramount. Robb insists that Theon must be brought to him alive so he can inquire as to why he betrayed the North - and so that Robb can execute him personally.[6]

Robb Stark and Roose Bolton

Robb Stark and Roose Bolton discuss plans to recapture Winterfell in "The Prince of Winterfell".

After the Battle of the Yellow Fork Robb's bannermen gather to hear Queen Regent Cersei Lannister's rejection of their peace terms. They complain that the prison cells are overflowing. Robb leaves the camp with a small force to negotiate the surrender of the Crag.[7] Catelyn releases Jaime Lannister, enraging Robb and his bannermen and resulting in her being placed under guard. Roose meets with Robb to discuss the situation of Winterfell. Robb details a plan to offer mercy to Theon's men so that they will abandon him allowing them to retake the castle with minimal bloodshed. Roose is confident that it will work. Their discussion is interrupted by Talisa and Roose leaves them alone.[8]

Season 3

Roose-and-Robb-3x01

Robb Stark and Roose Bolton discuss their attack on Harrenhal in "Valar Dohaeris."

Roose, along with the rest of the Northern host, arrives at Harrenhal, finding the ruined castle abandoned and the captives slain, save for a man in maester robes named Qyburn. While Robb and Talisa attend to the man's injuries, Roose discusses Jaime Lannister's escape with Rickard Karstark, and assures him that the dead will be avenged in time.[9]

Messenger-ravens come to Harrenhal bearing news of Hoster Tully's death, and of Winterfell's destruction. Roose delivers the messages to Robb, who charges Bolton with holding Harrenhal with a portion of the Northern army, while he and the bulk of his forces ride for Riverrun.[10]

Roose's minion, Locke, successfully recaptures Jaime Lannister, and delivers him to his Lord at Harrenhal. Roose is visibly angered at Jaime's mutilated state.[11]

Lannister-enimity-means-little-to-Bolton

Roose negotiates with Jaime and Brienne in "The Climb".

Roose negotiates with Jaime and Brienne over dinner. Bolton weighs up his options; bluntly informing his captives that the safest course of action would simply be to murder both of them, and discreetly dispose of their bodies. Although Jaime attempts to sway Roose by reminding him of the consequences of crossing his father, Roose is unperturbed at the prospect of having Lord Tywin as an enemy, as the war is keeping him fully occupied. Ultimately Roose relents, agreeing to release Jaime, and return him safely to King's Landing on the condition that he inform his father that Bolton had no part in the loss of Jaime's hand. He also retains Brienne as a hostage, stating his intention to charge her with treason.[12]

Before Jaime departs for King's Landing, Roose asks Jaime to give his regards to Jaime's father Tywin. Jaime then asks Roose to tell Robb Stark that the Lannisters send their regards.[13]

Red wedding roose robb

Roose murders Robb in "The Rains of Castamere."

Afterwards, Roose arrives at The Twins to attend the wedding of Edmure Tully and Roslin Frey. However, he has been secretly plotting with House Frey to ultimately bring about the downfall of the Starks. During the wedding, Roose stays seated beside Lady Catelyn. She discovers his armor underneath his clothes, and strikes him, telling Robb to run. The Freys turn on the Starks, Bolton moves away from the massacre only to later approach Robb and whisper in his ear "the Lannisters send their regards", as he stabs him in the heart.[14]

After killing Robb, Roose climbs to the top of The Twins and watches the massacre of the Stark forces. The next day, he and Walder Frey gloat over the deaths of the Starks and the capture of Edmure Tully, though Roose is wary about the escape of Brynden Tully. Walder comments that it must have been difficult following Robb Stark, and Roose notes that Robb never once listened to his advice. Walder jokingly raises a toast to the Young Wolf, and Roose says that he will now be forever young. Roose then explains to Walder what really happened at the Sack of Winterfell: it was actually Roose's bastard son Ramsay Snow, leading a force of Bolton soldiers, who burned Winterfell to the ground. Roose falsely reported to Robb that Theon and the ironborn were responsible to deflect suspicion from the Boltons - while Ramsay captured Theon and has been sadistically torturing him in the Dreadfort's dungeon. Roose decided to betray Robb long ago, after the Lannisters won the Battle of the Blackwater, and was simply feigning loyalty this entire time, even as he was plotting the Starks' destruction.

Season 4

Roose-Ramsay-Reek

Roose scolds Ramsay over his treatment of Theon.

Roose is forced to smuggle himself back into his own lands, due to the Ironborn holding Moat Cailin. Arriving at the Dreadfort with his new bride, Roose introduces Lady Walda to his bastard son, Ramsay, before demanding to see the Bolton's prized hostage. He is angry with Ramsay for sending terms to Balon Greyjoy behind his back and for mutilating Theon, as it gives them less leverage over the Greyjoys. He notes that Tywin Lannister might have named him Warden of the North, but he has given him no assistance towards controlling it; the Northerners are still furious over the Boltons' betrayal at the Red Wedding. Bolton is shocked and worried to learn that Theon never actually killed Bran and Rickon Stark, which means that if the Northerners discover they are alive they will rally behind them​, not the Boltons. He and Ramsay muse that Jon Snow, who is half-Stark, may be sheltering them. Roose orders Locke to hunt down the remaining Starks and kill them before the Northerners discover that they're alive. He then instructs Ramsay to head south with Theon and reclaim Moat Cailin which will allow their army to return north and help them conquer their lands.[15]

Personality

Roose Bolton is cautious, intelligent and ruthless. As a Lord of the North, he is very politically astute and understands the deeper workings of society, something he tried to explain to Robb Stark during his service under him. Roose's cold realism clashed with with Robb's idealism which he had inherited from his father Ned Stark. He opposed Robb's marriage to Talisa Maegyr, believing that it weakened his position; nevertheless, he remained courteous to her, unlike other lords such as Rickard Karstark and Walder Frey. Whether or not Roose ever actually supported the Starks' attempts to create a new Kingdom of the North is unknown but, when all seemed lost, he did not attempt to fight a losing cause and instead decided to safeguard his family's future by turing on his liege lord. Roose also advocated a hard line in the war, believing in the use of torture on Lannister prisoners and executions to prevent them from becoming a burden; but this course was never adopted by Robb Stark. 

​Roose was also a cunning strategist, both on and off the battlefield. He can be considered by some as the true architect of the Red Wedding as he was in an ideal position to use Walder Frey's hatred of Robb Stark and Tywin Lannister's desire to end the war when he was at Harrenhal, where he could easily communicate with both. Roose's betrayal was sudden and unexpected, and it resulted in the utter decimation of the rebellious Northern lords and their armies while his remained basically intact. This would send a strong message to the families still in the North and strengthen his position when he returned to rule them. Unlike Robb Stark, he believed that he wasn't a lord to indulge his own petty whims and that strengthening his House was his first priority: in that context, he married Walda Frey when her grandfather offered to give him his new bride's weight as a dowry, making in very rich and guaranteeing his alliance with House Frey. 

​Roose never showed any of his feelings and the only time that he let slip any of them was when he expressed pride to Robb Stark about his family's tradition of flaying after the Battle of Oxcross, and when he revealed the real reasons that he married Walda to Catelyn and Brynden Tully.

Appearances

Season Two appearances
The North Remembers The Night Lands What is Dead May Never Die Garden of Bones The Ghost of Harrenhal
The Old Gods and the New A Man Without Honor The Prince of Winterfell Blackwater Valar Morghulis
Season Three appearances
Valar Dohaeris Dark Wings, Dark Words Walk of Punishment And Now His Watch is Ended Kissed by Fire
The Climb The Bear and the Maiden Fair Second Sons The Rains of Castamere Mhysa
Season Four appearances
Two Swords The Lion and the Rose Breaker of Chains Oathkeeper First of His Name
The Laws of Gods and Men Mockingbird The Mountain and the Viper The Watchers on the Wall The Children

Family tree

 
 
 
 
Unknown tree
Unnamed
miller's wife
 
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Roose Bolton
 
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Walda Bolton
née Frey Frey-small
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Ramsay-Snow-family-tree-2
Ramsay Bolton
 

Image Gallery

Behind the scenes

In the Season 3 Blu-ray, Roose narrates Histories & Lore video "House Bolton".

Quotes

"The high road is very pretty, but you'll have a hard time marching your army down it."
―Roose Bolton to Robb Stark[src]
"In my family we say: A naked man has few secrets; a flayed man, none."
―Roose Bolton[src]
"A touch of mercy is a virtue, Your Grace; too much..."
―Roose Bolton to Robb Stark[src]
"You're in no place to insist on anything. I would have hoped you'd learned your lesson about overplaying your... position."
―Roose Bolton to Jaime Lannister[src]
Roose Bolton: "Lord Walder let me choose any of his granddaughters and promised me the girl's weight in silver as a dowry, so I have a fat young bride."
Catelyn Stark: "I hope she makes you very happy."
Roose Bolton: "Well she's made me very rich."
— Roose Bolton discusses his new wife at the Red Wedding.[src]

In the books

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Roose Bolton is noted for his practice of having regular leechings, which he believes improves his health and has earned him the nickname of "the Leech Lord". He is extremely pale skinned, some say due to his leechings. As in the TV series, he is also a teetotaler, refusing wine and ale and drinking only hippocras. Roose intentionally speaks very softly, thus forcing those who listen to do so intently. He's described as being mild mannered, but also cold, calculating, and capable of great cruelty. Several characters describe him as not possessing real human emotions, and he never raises his voice in anger even when frustrated or threatened - instead, he will silently stare intently at whoever offended him, mentally calculating how to destroy them. According to Jaime, Roose's silence is a hundred times more threatening than Vargo Hoat's slobbering malevolence. Theon Greyjoy used to mock Roose's silence during Robb's war councils, but after being held a prisoner in the Dreadfort and after Roose's participation in the betrayal at the Red Wedding, he sees Lord Bolton for what he really is, and notes that one only has to look at Roose to realize that he has more cruelty in his pinky toe than all of the Freys combined.

During Robert's Rebellion, Bolton followed his liege lord Ned Stark and participated in the Battle of the Trident. After the battle he suggested to Robert Baratheon that he execute the captured Ser Barristan Selmy, who had fought for the royalist army and had been severely injured. Robert, however, was impressed by Selmy's courage and sent his personal maester to treat him.

Prior to marrying Fat Walda, Roose had two wives. Nothing is known about his first wife (other than that he apparently had no children by her). His second wife was Bethany Ryswell, sister of Lady Dustin, and mother of Domeric Bolton, who died from a sickness of the bowels (Roose suspects that Ramsay killed him). Bethany died of fever two years after her son. Roose does mention in passing once that Domeric actually had at least two brothers, but they all died in the cradle.

During the War of the Five Kings, Roose is the commander of the northern forces at the Battle of the Green Fork, which differs from the TV series' portrayal of the conflict. Roose Bolton meets Tywin's host of 20,000 with a diversionary force of 16,000, retreating in good order after their surprise attack had failed and they had bought enough time for Robb Stark's success at the Battle of the Whispering Wood. Northern casualties were relatively light, though several of their lords are either killed or captured.

Roose's army, based at the Twins, continues to operate independently of Robb Stark's. When Tywin Lannister leaves Harrenhal on his way to King's Landing, Roose quickly marches his army in to occupy the castle after cutting a deal with the Brave Companions. Arya ends up serving Roose as his cupbearer, but is unnerved by his use of regular leechings. She decides to leave the castle incognito instead of revealing her true identity, despite Roose's position as a vassal to her brother.

After the Fall of Winterfell and the Battle of the Blackwater, Roose decides to betray King Robb. To weaken the Northern Houses and set up his own push to take over the North, he intentionally sends the forces under his command on suicide missions, to kill off as many Stark loyalists as possible. He puts about a third of his forces, three thousand men, under the command of Robett Glover and Ser Helman Tallhart, and sends them on a risky attack against Duskendale (possibly having outright forwarned the Lannisters via messenger-raven). At Duskendale they are surrounded by a combined Lannister-Tyrell army and annihilated, destroying most of the remaining Northern infantry in the process (though Robett Glover himself was taken prisoner). Bolton then retreated his remaining six thousand men from Harrenhal back towards the Twins, but he intentionally marched his force too slowly, so that when they had to cross the Trident River at the Ruby Ford, his rearguard was caught out of position on the southern side of the river when the Lannister army led by Ser Gregor Clegane arrived. Clegane's men slaughtered the rearguard, which made up about one third of the remaining Northerners after Duskendale (roughly two thousand men). This move left Roose commanding a force of five hundred mounted and three thousand infantry, most of them his personal feudal levies from House Bolton's lands. By sending out the soldiers of other Northern Houses to die ahead of his own, the military strength of the rest of the North was crippled while Roose's own Bolton army was virtually unscathed. The surviving force also contained some elements sworn to House Karstark, at a time when the Karstarks had lost their lord to King Robb's justice and thus their loyalty was left in doubt.

During the Red Wedding, Roose leaves the feast prior to the massacre and returns in full armor leading similarly armed Bolton soldiers - for a split second the surviving Northern bannermen in the hall think he has arrived to help them, but Roose and his men then join the Freys in attacking the other Northerners. After Catelyn's final confrontation with Walder Frey, Roose personally kills Robb Stark by driving his sword through his heart (not simply a dagger as in the TV series). Roose's final words to Robb in the books are "Jaime Lannister sends his regards" instead of "The Lannisters send their regards" as in the TV series - this slight change was apparently made so viewers would not mistakenly think Jaime had anything to do with the Red Wedding, which he did not.

Another of Roose's customs is to burn not only letters but also entire books as soon as he's finished with them. Author George R.R. Martin has said that this is meant to be a microcosm of the entire character: Roose is so selfish, calculating, and ruthless that he would destroy a valuable book to preserve the advantage in knowledge it gave him over other people. Roose will destroy any advantage, even potential advantage, rather than let it continue to exist and run the danger that it might one day aid his enemies.

See also

References

v  d  e
Lord: Lord Roose Bolton Heir: Ramsay Bolton
House-Bolton-heraldry-no-background
Seat: Winterfell
The Dreadfort (former)
Lands: The North
Title(s): Lord of the Dreadfort · Warden of the North · Lord Paramount of the North · Lord of Winterfell
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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