Game of Thrones ended in 2019, but the world of Westeros is far from gone. In August 2022, House of the Dragon, a brand-new HBO series that takes place hundreds of years before the original series, is set to premiere. Hopefully, this series is able to reignite interest in the fantasy world created by George R. R. Martin.
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This series is set to focus on the Targaryens, which is a departure from Game of Thrones. The original show, and book series that inspired it, focused mainly on the Stark family from Winterfell. However, there are many aspects of this family unexplored the live-action adaptations, such as these ten facts.
10 House Stark Was Formed By The First Men
In the expansive history of the A Song of Ice & Fire franchise, the Starks are one of the most ancient houses. They are descendants of the First Men, the first humans who settled in Westeros. Their founder was known as Brandon the Builder, who went on to inspire the namesake of Bran Stark, a main character in Game of Thrones.
Brandon the Builder was legendary during Westeros' Age of Heroes, becoming notable for building the Stark's northern stronghold, Winterfell. He also constructed the Wall at the far north of the region to keep out monsters. Alongside House Karstark, the Starks are one of the few families in Westeros with ancient origins.
9 The Ancestor Of The Starks United The North
For centuries, the Starks ruled in Winterfell as the Kings of the North. Many Houses tried to overthrow the family, but to no avail over the course of several centuries. Despite this, the Starks had created a massive force in Northern Westeros, from the Wall to Bear Island, proving undefeatable.
Blood was shed all across Westeros to keep the Starks' power in the North intact. In the East, the Red Kings of House Bolton were forced to abandon their ritual of flaying their enemies. Elsewhere, the Marsh King in the Neck was killed by Rickard Stark, bringing House Reed under the leadership of the powerful Starks.
8 The Night's King May Have Been A Stark
Little is known about the Night King, the ruler of the White Walkers who appears in the show. However, as of the most recent entry in the book series, the Night King has yet to even appear. His closest counterpart in the books is the Night's King, a legendary figure from the Age of Heroes not dissimilar to Brandon the Builder.
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According to Westeros legend, the Night's King was the 13th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. After falling in love with a white-skinned woman, the Night's King declared himself the ruler of a castle at the Wall known as Nightfort. According to rumors, this horrific ruler was once a Stark, though his identity remains lost to history.
7 Many Starks Follow The Old Gods
Traditionally, House Stark is loyal to the old gods, who predated the more popular Faith of the Seven. As a result, the Starks keep a weirwood tree near Winterfell. This spot is even where Ned Stark prays during the first episode of Game of Thrones, when his wife Catelyn informs him about Jon Arryn's sudden death.
The Starks' faith in the old gods also informs their burial rituals. It is tradition that Starks are to be buried underneath Winterfell, in the crypts. This location becomes significant in the series for being a place where the surviving Starks go to remember those they've lost, such as Ned, Lyanna, and Rickon.
6 The Starks Have Lackluster Naval Forces
During this reign as Kings in the North, the Starks weren't just impressive on the battlefield. They also succeeded during many naval conquests, such as the Battle of the Weeping Water during the Andal invasion. However, their power at sea was unfortunately disrupted by tragedy that struck the Stark household.
Thousands of years before the Targaryen conquest of Westeros, Brandon the Shipwright was King in the North. Brandon made it his goal to sail across the Sunset Sea west of Westeros, though his ship never returned. In a fit of grief, his son burned the northern shipyards, earning him the name Brandon the Burner.
5 House Stark Surrended To The Targaryens
After years of maintaining their power in the North, the Starks became the targets of Aegon Targaryen. The King in the North at the time, Torrhen Stark, marched south with thirty thousand soldiers to face the Targaryen king. Upon arriving, the King was faced with Aegon's army of already-yielded houses, as well as dragons.
While some Starks felt they could potentially assassinate the dragons while they slept, Torrhen had other ideas in mind. Knowing the destruction wrought by Aegon's dragons at places like Harrenhal, he opted instead to kneel without a fight. This choice tarnished Torrhen's reputation, earning him the title "The King Who Knelt".
4 The Starks Stayed Out Of Politics
Following Aegon's successful union of the Seven Kingdoms, the Starks remained in Winterfell as Wardens of the North. However, Torrhen's offspring continued to despise the Targaryen rulers. As a result, the Stark household kept themselves removed from many of the goings-on in Westeros' political sphere.
Despite the obvious ire from Torrhen's sons against the Targaryens, no Stark rebellion took place in the years following Aegon's Conquest. They also remained neutral during several skirmishes that ensued, such as the Faith Militant uprising. The relationship between the crown and Starks remained tense for years to come.
3 The Starks Eventually Became Allies Of Targaryens
The Dance of the Dragons was a pivotal conflict during the Targaryen reign. A civil war between Aegon II and his half-sister Rhaenyra over the throne, this eventually led to the extinction of the dragons. However, the Starks had a big role to play in the inevitable conflict, though they would unfortunately be late to the party.
Queen Rhaenyra requested the aid of Cregan Stark, the Warden of the North at that time. Though the North was seen as too remote to have any influence, Cregan sent troops to aid Rhaenyra's forces. Cregan himself led an army to demand justice for the murder of Aegon II, eventually being promoted to Hand of the King by Aegon III.
2 Two Starks Were Executed By The Mad King
Robert's Rebellion predates the events of Game of Thrones, though the series mostly focuses on the aftermath of the conflict. After the supposed abduction of Lyanna Stark by Rhaegar Targaryen, Brandon Stark confronted the king, Aerys II. He was swiftly arrested, and his father Rickard was summoned to answer for his crimes.
At the hands of the Mad King, Rickard and Brandon were brutally executed. Rickard was burned alive, while Brandon strangled himself trying to reach his father. Once news of this horrific, public execution reached Winterfell, the Warden in the North Ned Stark joined his friend Robert Baratheon to finally overthrow the Targaryens.
1 The Starks Are Close With The Night's Watch
Since Brandon the Builder's construction of the Wall, the Starks have been closely tied to the Night's Watch. As a result, many Starks have left their seat at Winterfell in place of protecting the Wall from Wildlings and White Walkers. One Stark, Osric, even served as Lord Commander of the Night's Watch in 400 BC.
The Starks remain close to the Night's Watch during the events of Game of Thrones. Jon Snow even joins them to fight alongside his uncle, Benjen. Jon Snow, who is actually the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, goes on to become Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, and the show ends with him returning to his post.
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I am an avid enthusiast and expert on the intricate world of Westeros, having delved deep into the lore created by George R. R. Martin. My extensive knowledge spans not only the events portrayed in the "Game of Thrones" series but also the rich history documented in the "A Song of Ice & Fire" franchise. Allow me to shed light on the concepts mentioned in the article about House Stark and the upcoming HBO series, "House of the Dragon."
1. Brandon the Builder and Winterfell: The origins of House Stark are deeply rooted in Westeros' history, particularly with Brandon the Builder. He played a pivotal role during the Age of Heroes, constructing Winterfell and the Wall. Winterfell, the ancestral seat of House Stark, is a symbol of their enduring legacy.
2. Stark Rule in the North: House Stark's dominance in the North was established over centuries, resisting various challenges from rival houses. The Starks successfully united the North, from the Wall to Bear Island, creating a formidable force that remained undefeated for generations.
3. Night's King and House Stark: The mysterious Night's King, a figure from the Age of Heroes, may have been a Stark according to Westerosi legends. This enigmatic character, akin to Brandon the Builder, adds an intriguing layer to House Stark's history, linking them to the supernatural elements of the world.
4. Stark Loyalty to the Old Gods: House Stark's traditional adherence to the old gods distinguishes them from followers of the Faith of the Seven. The presence of a weirwood tree near Winterfell signifies their deep-rooted faith, influencing both their religious practices and burial rituals in the crypts beneath Winterfell.
5. Stark Naval Forces: Despite their prowess on land, House Stark faced setbacks at sea, notably during the reign of Brandon the Shipwright. The failed naval expedition led to tragic consequences, with Brandon the Burner earning his name after burning the northern shipyards in grief.
6. Stark Surrender to the Targaryens: Torrhen Stark, known as "The King Who Knelt," made the controversial decision to kneel before Aegon Targaryen rather than face the destructive power of dragons in battle. This choice had lasting consequences for House Stark's reputation.
7. Stark Neutrality and Alliances: After Aegon's Conquest, House Stark remained in Winterfell, distancing themselves from political conflicts. Despite tensions, they eventually formed alliances, notably supporting Rhaenyra Targaryen during the Dance of the Dragons.
8. Stark Tragedy in Robert's Rebellion: House Stark suffered greatly during Robert's Rebellion when Rickard and Brandon Stark were executed by the Mad King Aerys II. This brutal act fueled Ned Stark's resolve to join forces with Robert Baratheon in overthrowing the Targaryens.
9. Stark Connection to the Night's Watch: Since the construction of the Wall by Brandon the Builder, House Stark maintained a close association with the Night's Watch. Several Starks, including Osric and Jon Snow, played significant roles within the Night's Watch, emphasizing the enduring bond between the two.
As we eagerly await the premiere of "House of the Dragon," exploring the Targaryen history, it's evident that the intricate tapestry of Westerosi lore continues to captivate audiences worldwide.