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Eddard Stark: "Look at me. You're a Stark of Winterfell, you know our words."
Arya Stark: "'Winter is coming'."
Eddard Stark: "You were born in the long summer, you've never known anything else. But now winter is truly coming. In the winter, we must protect ourselves, look after one another."
— Lord Eddard Stark and his daughter Arya.
House Stark banner

The banner of House Stark of Winterfell, the rulers of the North.

House Stark of Winterfell is a Great House of Westeros, ruling over the vast region known as the North from their seat in Winterfell. It is one of the oldest lines of Westerosi nobility by far, claiming a line of descent stretching back over eight thousand years. Before the Targaryen conquest, as well as during the War of the Five Kings and Daenerys Targaryen's invasion of Westeros, the leaders of House Stark ruled over the region as the Kings in the North.

Their rule in the North seemingly ended after the events of the Red Wedding when House Frey and House Bolton betrayed House Stark after forming a secret alliance with House Lannister, during which Roose Bolton murdered King Robb Stark. Both the North and Winterfell were taken over by House Bolton. However, the Bolton's hold was jeopardized when Sansa Stark escaped their clutches after learning her brothers Bran and Rickon Stark were still alive and reunited with her half-brother Jon Snow at Castle Black. Sansa and Jon marched on the Boltons to save their younger brother Rickon, who was later murdered by Ramsay Bolton, and retake their family home Winterfell. House Stark was restored to their former stature after the Battle of the Bastards. The Stark victory led to House Stark's return to royal status in the North with their bannermen declaring Ned Stark's illegitimate son Jon Snow as the King in the North. He later abdicated his title as king in order to gain the full support of Daenerys Targaryen in the Great War, becoming the Warden of the North.

House Stark's sigil is a grey direwolf on a white background, over a green escutcheon. They are one of the few noble Houses whose family motto is not a boast or threat. Instead, the House Stark family motto is a warning, one that, no matter the circumstances, will always be relevant: "Winter Is Coming."

History

Background

Before the Targaryen conquest, the leaders of House Stark ruled over the region as the Kings in the North.[1] King Torrhen Stark was on the throne at the time of the Targaryen conquest and marched his army south to face them. He surrendered when he saw the Targaryens' vast host and dragons, believing that fighting was futile. He was made Lord Paramount of the North and served the Targaryens as Warden of the North. Thereafter, Torrhen was known as "the king who knelt".[2]

Season 1

Lord Eddard "Ned" Stark became Hand of the King to King Robert Baratheon after the death of Jon Arryn. Ned took his daughters Sansa and Arya Stark to King's Landing. It was there that he discovered the true lineage of Robert's assumed children. Upon Robert's death, Ned publicly declared that Joffrey Baratheon was the product of incest between Queen Cersei Lannister and her twin brother, Jaime Lannister, and therefore was not the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. He was subsequently executed for treason. His firstborn son and heir Robb Stark was declared the King in the North by his bannermen (the first in 300 years) and fought to secede from the Seven Kingdoms in what would become the War of the Five Kings.[3] Sansa Stark becomes a political captive of House Lannister, while Arya escapes King's Landing with Yoren of the Night's Watch.

Season 2

Robb Stark continues his campaign against the Lannisters, winning a trio of victories in the Riverlands and a further three victories in the Westerlands at Oxcross, The Yellow Fork and The Crag. Bran Stark and Rickon Stark leave Winterfell after a traitorous Theon Greyjoy takes control of Winterfell. Theon pursues them, but is unable to find them, and instead burns two farmer's sons and declares that the bodies are those of Bran and Rickon Stark, leading the majority of Westeros believing that all the male Stark heirs are dead (as Jon Snow is a bastard son of Ned Stark and sworn to the Night's Watch).

Season 3

Although Robb continues to win every battle that he fights, House Baratheon of King's Landing secures an alliance with House Tyrell that effectively leads to victory over Stannis Baratheon at the Battle of the Blackwater. As Robb continues to march further in the Westerlands, many of his bannermen, such as Rickard Karstark who lost two of his sons, begin to lose faith in King Robb and are aware that he broke his vow to marry one of the daughters of Lord Walder Frey when he married Talisa Maegyr. Robb and his host arrive at Harrenhal to discover that Ser Gregor Clegane has put 200 northern prisoners to the sword and left Harrenhal without a fight. King Robb received news at Harrenhal that his grandfather Hoster Tully has died, and Robb goes to Riverrun to attend the funeral, leaving Roose Bolton and his men in charge of Harrenhal.

At Riverrun, Robb chides his uncle, the new Lord Edmure Tully, for attacking Ser Gregor Clegane at the Stone Mill, forcing Gregor's host to retreat to Casterly Rock and losing more than 200 men in the battle. Later Lord Rickard Karstark murders the two Lannister captives, Willem and Martyn Lannister, which causes Robb to execute Lord Rickard, making the Karstarks abandon King Robb. With his host diminished due to the Karstarks' abandonment, Robb opts to have the support of House Frey but finds it difficult because of his broken vow. However, the Freys agree to support Robb if his uncle Edmure marries Roslin Frey. Robb and Edmure agree to the terms of the Freys and prepare to head to the Twins for the wedding.

Robb and all of his bannermen arrive at the Twins where Lord Walder Frey begins preparations for the wedding. All the northern lords of Robb's host attend the wedding while the northern army camps outside during the feast. After Edmure and Roslin are taken away for the bedding, the Freys and Boltons betray King Robb and massacre them in an event known as the Red Wedding, secretly orchestrated by Tywin Lannister. King Robb, Queen Talisa, Robb's mother Catelyn, Robb's direwolf Greywind, the present Northern lords and most of the Northern army, are murdered during this event.[4] In the aftermath of the Red Wedding, the Freys sew Grey Wind's head to King Robb's body as a final insult to the King in the North. House Stark is stripped of its lordship in the North and is given to House Bolton, making Roose Bolton Warden of the North for his contribution to Robb's death.[5]

Bran and Rickon, who have been travelling north along with Osha, Hodor, Jojen Reed and Meera Reed, as well as their two direwolves, Summer and Shaggydog, part ways, with Bran, Jojen, Hodor, Meera and Summer headed beyond the wall and Rickon, Shaggydog and Osha headed to the Last Hearth to seek shelter from House Umber.

Season 4

Bolton has his whole army trapped south of the Neck, since the ironborn captured Moat Cailin, and cannot properly rule the North.[6] His son Ramsay takes back the Moat and the Boltons ride to Winterfell in order to rule the North from there, as it is the ancient stronghold of House Stark and the capital of the North.[7]

Tywin Lannister's eventual plan was to return the North to the Starks under Lannister control via the possible son of Tyrion Lannister and Sansa Stark, but Tyrion and Sansa each escape King's Landing and separate as the result of King Joffrey's assassination. Tywin himself was killed before his plan could come to fruition.[8][9]

Bran makes his way further north, eventually reaching the weirwood tree occupied by The Children of the Forest and the Three-Eyed Raven.

Season 5

Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish secretly returns Sansa to Winterfell in the hopes of wedding her to Ramsay Bolton. The Boltons are eager to cement their control over the North, particularly since they are now living in a Westeros without solid Lannister support as Tywin Lannister is now deceased. Littlefinger tells Sansa that she is perfectly situated; Stannis Baratheon is likely to liberate Winterfell soon, and will likely declare her Wardeness of the North. Even if he doesn't, Sansa will be perfectly placed to retake Winterfell from within House Bolton. Although Sansa doesn't quite realize it, there are many in the North who are already taking heart from the fact that there is again a Stark in Winterfell.[10][11]

Although Sansa's attempt to contact her supporters (and unknown to her, Brienne of Tarth) ends in failure and the brutal death of a Winterfell servant, Sansa herself begins to have hope for her House after she forces a distressed Reek to admit that he killed two farm boys and not Bran and Rickon.[12] She later flees Winterfell with Theon Greyjoy during the Battle of Winterfell.

Jon Snow, Lord Commander of the Night's Watch at the time, is betrayed by his men and stabbed to death by Alliser Thorne, Olly, and several other Black Brothers.

Season 6

Sansa flees from Winterfell with Theon at her side; they ford a wide river at great risk and take shelter in an attempt to conceal themselves from Ramsay Bolton's hounds. They are caught despite Theon's attempt to ward them off by revealing himself. However, they are saved by Brienne and a now-trained Pod, who eliminate Ramsay's hunters. With the threat neutralized, Brienne again offers herself to serve Sansa in order to keep the oath she made to her mother. [13] Unlike before, Sansa accepts, and the two recite the oath of service, with assistance from Pod. Sansa is heading to her resurrected half-brother Jon at Castle Black as he will protect her and keep her safe. However, Theon opts to leave Sansa's side - with her blessing - to return home to Pyke, knowing that he could never make amends for his grave misdeeds against his former adoptive family.[14]

Smalljon Umber trades Rickon Stark and Osha over to Ramsay Bolton, the new Warden of the North, in order to secure an alliance with House Bolton against the Free Folk.

Meanwhile, Bran Stark experiences a vision of his family while training with the Three-Eyed Raven. He witnesses several of his family members including his father Ned, uncle Benjen, and his aunt Lyanna Stark.

At Castle Black, the Red Priestess Melisandre resurrects Jon Snow from the dead.[14] Jon decides to leave the Night's Watch on the grounds that his watch has ended through his death.[15] Sansa, accompanied by Brienne and Podrick, reunites with her brother Jon. Sansa urges Jon to help her re-take Winterfell from the Boltons. Later, Jon finally agrees after receiving a letter from Ramsay stating he has their younger brother Rickon and demanding the return of Sansa. Jon resolves to march on the Boltons, leading an army of able-bodied Free Folk under Tormund and gathering forces he and Sansa plan to rally among the remaining loyal houses in order to save Rickon and reclaim Winterfell from the Boltons.[16]

Jon and Sansa are rebuffed by House Glover and receive no response from Houses Cerwyn and Manderly. They recruit a few hundred soldiers from Houses MormontHornwood, and Mazin. Sansa argues they need more men but Jon resolves to march on Winterfell with the forces they have, arguing there is no more time left. Sansa sends a further raven to an unknown party, likely Littlefinger.[17]

During the Battle of the Bastards, Jon Snow attacks Winterfell with 2,405 men. Rickon Stark is killed by Ramsay Bolton as the battle begins. As Jon is on the verge of losing, the Knights of the Vale arrive to join the battle with Petyr Baelish. Jon and Sansa reclaim Winterfell after Jon beats Ramsay in a one-to-one combat, leaving Ramsay's fate for Sansa to decide. Jon orders his brother Rickon to be buried in the crypt next to his father. Sansa visits the dog kennels and kills a bloodied Ramsay with his own dogs.[18]

After the battle, the Northern lords, along with the Lords of the Vale meet in the hall at Winterfell to treat with House Stark and discuss provisions for the Winter. Lord Cerwyn floats the idea of hiding behind castle walls, but Jon Snow rejects this, reminding the Northern houses of their true enemy and that this enemy "doesn't wait out the storms, he brings the storm." Lady Lyanna Mormont berates the Manderlys, the Cerwyns and the Glovers for not supporting House Stark in the Battle of the Bastards and declares Jon Snow the King in the North, despite his bastardy, as he has the blood of Eddard Stark, the last rightful Warden of The North, and Robb Stark, the last King in the North. Lyanna Mormont is then followed by Lord Wyman Manderly, Robett Glover, and the rest of the gathered lords, who all declare Jon their king.[19]

Current Status

The status of the surviving Starks and what political positions they held was not fully clear after Jon Snow was hailed as the new King in the North by not only the lords of the North but the Vale as well. The return of Bran and Arya Stark to Winterfell clarified the ambiguity of all of their political positions in the North.

While Jon ruled as the King in the North, his half-sister Sansa Stark attended court alongside him as the Lady of Winterfell. In his absence, Jon gave Sansa regency over the Kingdom of the North as both his sister and the only Stark (the highest ranking and ruling family in the North) in Winterfell used as precedent.

Upon Bran Stark, the rightful Lord of Winterfell, return to Winterfell he abdicated his lordship for his new role as the Three-Eyed Raven. Once Arya returned to Winterfell, Sansa and Petyr note Arya is next in the line of succession for the lordship of Winterfell. Jon Snow is believed to be Eddard Stark's bastard son, which means would not be included in the line of succession, unless he were to be legitimized as a Stark

However, Jon pledged himself to Daenerys Targaryen, in order to gain her full support in the Great War, stepping down as king and is now currently Warden of the North. Presently, the North and Vale are reintegrated into the Seven Kingdoms.[20] As of the end of Season 7, the current positions of the surviving members of House Stark are as follows: Jon is Warden of the North, Sansa is Lady of Winterfell, Arya is Sansa's heir, and Bran abdicated his claim to any formal political position.

Jon Snow is actually the son of Eddard's younger sister, Lyanna Stark, and according to the normal line of succession, would rank behind both Sansa and Arya. At the same time, as the trueborn son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, Jon is currently the heir to the Iron Throne. Samwell Tarly, with the help of Gilly, confirmed through High Septon Maynard's personal diary that Rhaegar had his marriage to Elia Martell annulled and then was remarried to Lyanna.[21][22]

Relationships

Members

Household and retainers

Ancestors

Sworn to House Stark

House Stark tapestry

The sigil of House Stark on a tapestry in Winterfell.

Vassal houses

Prominent allies

The Lords of the North

The Riverlords

The Vale of Arryn

Military strength

Robb-stark-richard-madden-helen-sloan

Robb Stark in Northern cavalry armor.

Due to the North's vast size, gathering the full military strength of the Starks and their vassals is a difficult process, requiring months of travel time and the ability to supply and feed the host even before it sets out. The total force of the north is 45,000.

For this reason, the 18,000 men Robb Stark takes south to confront the army of the Westerlands is not the full strength of the North, only what could be assembled at relatively short notice.

By the time of the Battle of the Yellow Fork, however, the Stark force is allied with House Tully and their vassals, including House Frey, so it is estimated that their force is even or greater than the Lannister force, which would place it at around 30,000-35,000 soldiers at least in the Westerlands/Riverlands, with at least 1,000 further soldiers left to guard The North.

Stark guard (The Pointy End)

A Stark guardsman.

The average Stark soldier wears a brown or dark blue coat with green or grey sleeves, with chainmail worn under it and a suit of studded leather armor worn over it, also wears a pair of grey or brown leather boots. The soldiers are often equipped with helmets and rounded shields of steel or iron, both grey in color and the shields emblazoned with the Stark Direwolf. Warriors in the Northern heavy cavalry or heavy infantry wear relatively cheap brigandine armor, with many choosing to wear mail underneath as well, as compared with the expensive plate armor of the well-equipped Lannister troops.

During the Red Wedding, almost the entire army sworn to House Stark present at the Twins is annihilated, with anyone who managed to escape the massacre being hunted by House Frey. While Houses Bolton and Karstark remain mostly unscathed and possess the largest armies in the North, the only possibility of military support to the scattered heirs of House Stark comes from the remaining garrison and levies of other northern houses, provided they do not bend the knee to the new Warden of the North, Roose Bolton.

During the Conflict Beyond the Wall Jon Snow establishes an alliance between the Night's Watch and at least 2000 Free Folk. With his temporary death freeing him from his vows, and the Wildlings still loyal to him, the Wildlings are now unofficial Stark soldiers. Jon and Sansa are able to convince some of the smaller houses to unite around them, giving them 2,405 men. During the Battle of the Bastards, the Starks and their limited allied forces came close to total destruction; they were saved by the intervention of a sizable force from The Vale. It is unknown how many Stark loyalists survived the battle, but they likely number no more than 800.

Shortly after The Battle of the Bastards, Jon and Sansa treat with all the Northern Lords and the Lords of the Vale of Arryn. Lyanna Mormont declares Jon the King in the North and is soon followed by Wyman Manderly, Robett Glover, Clay Cerwyn and the rest of the Northern Lords. With all of the Northern Houses and wildings combined, they have around 16,000 men, backed by further 20,000 men from The Vale, which declares for the Starks.

When Jon travels as an envoy to Dragonstone, he laments to Davos that the entire combined strength of arms in the North at this point (including old men and green boys) is probably fewer than 10,000 men at this point (apparently not including the Vale's armies in that count, or perhaps counting just the Vale armies positioned in the North). While it is not specified, it is possible that the north possesses several ships, as Jon Snow uses one for his voyage from White Harbor to Dragonstone.[23]

Image gallery

Family Tree

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
70266f1c4153bb352f40bf85a5c68aa3
Rickard Stark
Deceased
 
House-Stark-heraldry
Lyarra Stark
Deceased
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Famtree-BrandonStark
Brandon Stark

Deceased
 
Famtree-CatelynStark
Catelyn Stark
née Tully House-Tully-Main-Shield
Deceased
 
Famtree-EddardStark
Eddard Stark

Deceased
 
Lyanna tree
Lyanna Stark

Deceased
 
Famtree-RhaegarTargaryen
Rhaegar Targaryen House-Targaryen-Main-Shield
Deceased
 
Famtree-BenjenStark
Benjen Stark Night's-Watch-Main-Shield

Deceased
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Robb fam tree
Robb Stark
Deceased
 
Family tree Talisa
Talisa Stark
née Maegyr
Deceased
 
Tyrion-Lannister-Familytree-Pic
Tyrion Lannister House-Lannister-Main-Shield
 
Famtree-SansaStark
Sansa Stark
 
Famtree-RamsayBolton
Ramsay Bolton House-Bolton-Main-Shield
Deceased
 
Famtree-AryaStark
Arya Stark
 
Famtree-BranStark
Bran Stark
 
Rickon fam tree
Rickon Stark
Deceased
 
Jon Snow family tree image
"Jon Snow"
(Aegon Targaryen)
 
 
 


In the books

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, House Stark was founded by Brandon the Builder, a semi-mythical figure who is credited with building the Wall and Winterfell, founding the Night's Watch and ensuring the survival of the people of Westeros after the mythical Long Night and the War for the Dawn against the enigmatic Others (called "White Walkers" in the TV series). The family has survived for over 8,000 years and was the independent royal house of the vast territories of the North until King Aegon the Conqueror overran the southern half of the continent. By the time the King in the North, Torrhen Stark, had gathered together his widely scattered bannermen, Aegon had already conquered most of the South. Particularly, Aegon had already used his dragons to inflict a crushing defeat on both the Westerlands and the Reach at the Field of Fire. Torrhen Stark finally advanced south to the Riverlands with the amassed armies of the North to a confrontation with Aegon. However, upon seeing Aegon's vast numerical superiority and his dragons, Torrhen Stark realized he had no hope of victory, and chose to bend the knee in submission.

The civil war known as Robert's Rebellion began when Lyanna Stark was kidnapped by Prince Rhaegar Targaryen. Lord Rickard Stark and his son and heir Brandon both demanded her return from King Aerys II Targaryen and were executed by the Mad King for their presumption. Eddard Stark, now the head of the family, called the banners of the North to war, supported by House Baratheon, House Tully and House Arryn. It was decided that Robert Baratheon would claim the throne due to his strong claim as the grand-nephew of a previous Targaryen king. During the civil war Stark troops were instrumental in several engagements, including the Battle of the Bells and the Battle of the Trident, and it was Eddard Stark's forces which reached King's Landing just after the Lannisters had sacked it, ensuring the city was turned over to Robert's army when it arrived. The Starks also proved instrumental in the later Greyjoy Rebellion, lending troops used by Robert to storm the castle of Pyke and crush the uprising.

In the novels, four of Lord Eddard Stark's six children inherit the Tully look from their mother Catelyn, possessing the auburn hair and blue eyes distinctive of House Tully. However, Arya inherits the Stark look of dark hair, grey eyes, and a long face alongside her half-brother Jon who, as Eddard's illegitimate son with an unidentified woman, does not possess Tully blood. While this has resulted in Arya being mockingly called "Horseface", Ned assures her that she bears a striking resemblance to his beautiful deceased sister Lyanna when Lyanna was a girl. Jon's own inheritance of the traditional Stark look and resemblance to Ned is a plot point illustrating he is of Stark blood and used by characters in-universe to identify Jon as a son of Eddard Stark. As a little girl, Arya once feared that she might be a bastard child because she and Jon are the only two among the Stark children to inherit the Stark look, but Jon assured her that she is a trueborn daughter.

In the novels, the Stark banner is a whole direwolf. In the TV series, the Stark banner most often used is just a direwolf's head, though the alternate version showing the whole direwolf is also seen (i.e. on banners during the Tourney of the Hand, tapestries at Winterfell, and Ned Stark's wax seal on the letter he sends to Stannis Baratheon). Further, the sigil in the books is just a grey direwolf on a white field. This is used in the TV series, but it also frequently uses a subtle variant which has the grey direwolf on a white field, surmounting a small green escutcheon at the bottom.

Many houses sworn to House Stark in the books have yet to appear in the series:

Lesser Houses

  • House Condon
  • House Fenn
  • House Flint of Flint's Finger
  • House Ironsmith
  • House Lake
  • House Lightfoot
  • House Locke
  • House Moss
  • House Overton
  • House Slate
  • House Stout
  • House Waterman
  • House Wells
  • House Woolfield

Mountain Clans

  • Burley
  • Flint of the Mountains
  • Harclay
  • Nott
  • Liddle
  • Norrey
  • Wull

Skagos Clans

  • Crowl
  • Magnar
  • Stane

See also

References

v  d  e
House Stark
Lord: King Jon Snow Heir:
House-Stark-Main-Shield
Seat: Winterfell Lands: The North
Title(s): King in the North · Lord of Winterfell

Pre-secession: Lord Paramount of the North · Warden of the North

Ancestors:Brandon the Builder · Brandon the Breaker · Dorren Stark · Rickard Stark · Rodrik Stark · Karlon Stark · Theon Stark · Osric Stark · Torrhen Stark · Cregan Stark
Current members:Sansa Stark · Arya Stark · Bran Stark
Deceased members:Rickard Stark · Brandon Stark · Lyanna Stark · Eddard Stark · Robb Stark · Talisa Stark · Catelyn Stark · Rickon Stark · Benjen Stark
Household:{Maester Luwin} · {Ser Rodrik Cassel} · {Jory Cassel} · {Vayon Poole} · Jeyne Poole · {Septa Mordane} · {Old Nan} · {Hodor} · {Farlen} · {Mikken} · {Osha} · Meera Reed · {Jojen Reed} · Brienne of Tarth · Podrick Payne · Davos Seaworth · Wolkan

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