No man is an island, and the family Houses are the major players in Game of Thrones. Like the individual characters, their power shifts, their allegiances change, and they occasionally die out with stunning results. Here are some facts you might not have known about the noble houses—and their players—of Game of Thrones.
1. By the Numbers
The seven kingdoms in Westeros are home to over 300 noble houses, but there are only nine “Great Houses,” which are also referred to as great families. At the beginning of Game of Thrones, these houses are: Baratheon, Targaryen, Stark, Arryn, Tully, Greyjoy, Tyrell, Lannister, and Martell.
2. Inverted Colors
Illegitimate children of the noble houses wear house colors reversed. For example, Jon Snow wears a white wolf on a grey background, while the rest of the Starks wear a grey wolf on a white background.
Although she’s rarely had a chance to use her abilities, like all the Stark children, Sansa is Warg.
4. Owning Winter
Both Jon Snow and Robb Stark have been called “King in the North” by loyal Northern families. This title actually goes way back to when the original Bran Stark was called “King of Winter.” Yes, he was an actual King. They held that title for thousands of years before Aegon the Conqueror came, then they simply became the Wardens of the North.
5. Direwolves Really Exist
When we first saw those cute little Direwolf pups way back in season one, who didn’t secretly want one as pet? Well, there’s good and bad news. They do exist in real life—at least, they did. The dire wolf was a related to species to the modern grey wolf that went extinct around 10,000 years ago, and people today are actually trying to bring them back.
In the 80s, the Dire Wolf Project was started in order to create a new breed of dog roughly the same size as the gigantic ones we later read about and saw on screen. The result of this project is a mixed breed known as the American Alsatian. So, while you may not exactly be able to run out and search for your own Direwolf pup, these are the closest things to their real-life counterparts.
6. Lady Stoneheart
In the books, the dead Catelyn Stark is brought back as vengeful zombie named Lady Stoneheart, a fearsome being who kills anyone associated with the Red Wedding. Because Catelyn’s throat was slit during the Red Wedding, Lady Stoneheart is unable to speak.
7. One Big Sword
Ned Stark’s legendary sword “Ice” seems appropriately named, given where he’s from and which house he belongs to. It’s an ancestral greatsword passed down from Stark generation to Stark generation and was crafted from pure Valyrian steel, which is actually good for killing White Walkers. Unfortunately, Tywin Lannister had it melted down into two swords, one for Joffrey and one for Jamie.
8. Red Kings
House Bolton were once known as the Red Kings of the Dreadfort. For many years, they were the bitter rivals of House Stark, and wore cloaks made from the flayed skin of Ned’s ancestors.
9. Night King a Stark?
Yes, Westeros is full of terrifying and cruel characters, but obviously, no one holds a candle to the Night King. The Night King was made from a man, and that man may have been (gasp) actually a Stark. In the book A Storm of Swords, Old Nan says that the Night King was, according to legend, the brother of the original Bran Stark.
To add a touch more irony, he was also the 13th Commander of the Night’s Watch.
It’s said the Lannisters inherited their iconic gold hair from their ancestor, Lann the Clever, who stole gold from the Sun itself to put in his locks. Now that’s a highlight!
11. Hair or Nothing
In the books, Twyin Lannister has kept his head shaved ever since his scalp decided to go bad. Because if Tywin Lannister has to go bald, it’s going to be because of Tywin Lannister.
12. A Bad Start
When Tywin inherited Casterly Rock from his father, he discovered his dad’s mistress trying on his late mother’s gowns and jewels. Furious that his father let a common woman rule the family roost for so long, Tywin ordered the unnamed woman to be stripped naked, marched through the streets, and forced to admit to every man she passed that she was a “harlot” and a “thief.”
Note the parallels between this and his daughter Cersei’s own future “Walk of Shame.”
13. Was This Lion Whipped?
Tywin was married to his first cousin, Joanna Lannister (wow, it’s almost like this family looks within itself for romantic partners). Joanna was his most trusted advisor and, of course, she was the mother of Cersei, Jaime, and Tyrion. It was said that while Tywin ruled Westeros as the King’s Hand, Tywin “was ruled at home by his lady wife.”
14. Do As I Say, Not As I Do
Tywin almost definitely married his wife for love. As his cousin, Joanna Lannister brought no extra family alliances or military support the Lord of Casterly Rock didn’t already have. Still, his own happy marriage did not stop Tywin from forcing his kids into loveless political matches—he clearly considered himself the exception to the rule.
15. McMansion of the West
Did the show impart how huge Casterly Rock is supposed to be? According to canon sources, the Lannister family seat is three times taller than the Wall and two leagues long.
16. For Want of a Sword
House Lannister was known as one of the few Great Westerosi houses to not own a Valyrian steel weapon, but they did once have one long ago. Hundreds of years before the series started, a Lannister King of the Rock, Tommen II, brought his Valyrian sword named Brightroar out to sea with the intention of plundering the ruins of Valyria.
Neither the fleet, nor King Tommen, nor Brightroar were ever seen again.
17. Brother, Where Art Thou?
As a young man, Tywin’s youngest brother Gerion embarked on an adventure to find the family Valyrian sword Brightroar. Just like the sword, Gerion left for the high seas on a magnificent ship…but disappeared without a trace.
18. Guess Who
As children, Jaime and Cersei looked so much alike, they would often switch clothes and take each other’s place. Cersei would sometimes dress as Jaime to take sword lessons, with no one being the wiser.
19. Not That’s Prime Real Estate
Casterly Rock literally sits on top of a gold mine. From that high and mighty position, the Lannisters are easily the most cash-wealthy family in Westeros.
20. Kitten Love
When Cersei was a child, Tywin had lofty plans to marry her to the Targaryen heir, Rhaegar. Cersei was smitten by the Prince, whose memory outshines even Jaime. She once remembers how “[n]ext to Rhaegar, even her beautiful Jaime had seemed no more than a callow boy.”
21. Application Denied
Aerys “the Mad King” Targaryen turned down Tywin’s proposal that his son Prince Rhaegar should wed Cersei. As Aerys was wont to do, he turned Tywin down without grace, saying that Tywin was only a servant, and no servant’s daughter should aspire to marry a Prince. Not a wise way to reject the richest man in the country, Aerys.
22. Golden Army
The Lannisters own the second largest military in Westeros—second only to their rivals in The Reach.
23. Author’s Pet
George R. R. Martin has consistently stated that Tyrion Lannister is his favorite character to write. We’ll see how that helps his survival odds.
24. Lessons Not Learnt
Originally Martin planned it so that Sansa doesn’t go on a journey to empathize with her own family, instead opting to willingly marry Joffrey and have his Lannister babies. It’s cold comfort, but she does regret her decision.
25. Unwanted Attention
The “Mad King” Aerys wasn’t good at ruling, but he was good at offending Lannisters. This skill was on particular display regarding Aerys’s “involvement” with Tywin and his wife Joanna’s marriage. During the bedding ceremony, the King took “unwonted liberties” with Joanna. We aren’t privy to exactly what happened, but it can’t have been good, since Joanna was dismissed from court soon after.
26. Love It or List It
In 2012, Forbes ranked Tywin Lannister as #12 on their Forbes Fictional 15 List of wealthiest fictional characters. At just one slot above Mr. Burns from The Simpsons, Forbes estimated his net worth to be $2.1 billion dollars, and called him “richest man north of Dorne.” Of course, that’s just one opinion…
27. Smell Ya Later
Tywin Lannister left a stinky corpse. You might attribute this to his “killed while on the toilet” cause of death, but his body continued to reek at his funeral. This led to a popular, and well-founded, fan-theory that Oberyn Martell had managed to poison Tywin before their trial by combat just to be safe—Tyrion’s murder of his father simply put Oberyn’s game plan ahead of schedule.
28. Two Is Gross, Three Is Grosser
In Martin’s 1993 pitch letter for the A Song of Ice and Fire, Tyrion’s love life was somehow even more messed up. Tyrion would have found himself falling “helplessly in love with Arya Stark” (emphasis ours). Not only that, Tyrion’s infatuation with Arya would pit him in a deadly love triangle against Jon Snow, who, in this twisted universe, also realizes he is in love with his half-sister, Arya.
Have you ever been more grateful for second-drafts?
29. Democratic Election
House Greyjoy is the only house that elects its ruler. Any Ironborn can go before the Kingsmoot (where the King is chosen) and ask to be made King of the Iron Islands.
30. Gosh, They’re Seriously a Bunch of Jerks…
Contrary to popular belief, the words of House Greyjoy are not “What is dead my never die.” This phrase is associated with all ironborn and their culture rather than just one house. House Greyjoy’s words, mentioned once or twice in the second season of the show, are “We do not sow,” referring to the fact that the Greyjoys don’t farm land for themselves.
Rather, they take what they want from others, thus “paying the iron price.” In other words, why be productive when you can steal from the productive people?
31. Finders Keepers
The Greyjoys’ castle is named Pyke, just like the island on which it stands. The castle, in fact, is so old that nobody knows who built it, or who ruled it before the Greyjoys came along.
32. Time to Stand out
Unlike the rest of his family, Euron Greyjoy doesn’t actually use the traditional kraken as his sigil. Instead, he has a grey banner upon which is painted a red eye (in reference to his bad one) beneath a black crown supported by two crows.
33. Maybe I Knew Too Much
Alfie Allen, who plays Theon Greyjoy in the TV show, originally auditioned to play Jon Snow. To be fair, we’re sure he’d have done a great job as Jon, but his complex portrayal of Theon’s gripping character arc throughout the show has consistently been considered a high point of the show, so we’re sure Allen doesn’t mind missing out on playing Ned Stark’s “son.”
34. Vote for Me!
In the days when the ironborn would choose their own kings through the “kingsmoot,” House Greyjoy produced more kings than all the other houses of the Iron Islands except for two.
35. That’s Just Metal
The most famous member of House Greyjoy would have to be Dalton Greyjoy. Starting young, even for an ironborn, Dalton was sailing and raiding with his uncle at just 10 years old. When he was 15, he plunged into a battle to avenge his uncle’s death. After he emerged triumphant, he was covered in both the blood of his enemies and blood from his own injuries.
This led to his nickname; the Red Kraken.
36. The Family Black Sheep
You might be wondering why Euron Greyjoy was banished from the Iron Islands in the first place. It turns out that he either seduced or assaulted woman who was salt wife to his younger brother, Victarion. Victarion would have killed Euron for that, but there is no man more accursed than one who kills his own family, so instead, he killed his salt wife to defend his own honor.
Balon, their eldest brother, told Euron to leave the Iron Islands and never return while Balon was alive. Euron ultimately kept his word, and only returned after Balon died under mysterious circumstances.
37. King Ragnar Greyjoy?
It’s easy to see how George R.R. Martin was inspired to create the Greyjoys and the rest of the ironborn. The culture of the Iron Islands shares a lot in common with the Vikings of Scandinavia. Like the ironborn, the Vikings were known to raid the rest of Europe, take slaves, and have women amongst their fighters.
Of course, the ironborn don’t seem to share the Vikings’ fascination for exploration and discovery, or their artistic culture and oral traditions, but maybe Martin thought they’d be in danger of being likeable if that happened!
Euron Greyjoy’s ship is famously called the Silence. In keeping with this name, she is crewed by men whose tongues have been cut out on Euron’s orders. Safe to say it’s hard to complain about your job without a tongue to do it.
The Targaryens are not the only noble family to have the ability to tame and ride dragons. Many Valyrian noble families once held the title “Dragonlord,” but the Targaryens were the only ones to survive the Doom of Valyria.
40. You Have a Certain Look
As with other families in the world of Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire, family members of House Targaryen tend to pass down familiar physical traits. In this family’s case, they tend to have silver or white-blond hair, with eyes that are either deep blue, violet, or completely purple. Talk about a piercing gaze.
41. And It Burns, Burns, Burns!
Contrary to what the show Game of Thrones shows, Targaryens are not immune to fire. They display some resistance to it, but many Targaryens have died from being burned alive. In the book, Daenerys does survive the inferno which spawns her three dragons, but it’s treated as a miracle. Also, her hair burns away completely in the process, while in the show, it’s miraculously intact.
We just assume that nobody wanted Emilia Clarke to shave her head.
One reason for the recurring Targaryen physical appearance, as well as perhaps the frequent madness in their minds? The Targaryens have almost always practiced incest. Brothers and sisters have been wedded to produce pure “blood of the dragon,” since they see themselves as an elite family above the others.
Some have disliked this tradition and tried to marry outside of their family.
43. A Mighty Dynasty
Starting from Aegon the Conqueror and ending with Aerys the Mad King, 17 members of House Targaryen have been Kings of Westeros, while one woman ruled briefly as Queen of Westeros.
44. Bond Between Man and Beast
Because of the long lives of dragons compared to their human riders, several generations of Targaryens have been known to ride the same dragon as they died. However, dragons almost never take more than one rider at a time, or sometimes they refuse to take another rider after one of their masters dies.
45. Ashes to Ashes
According to the traditions of House Targaryen, especially their bonds with dragons and their house motto, members of the family who die are cremated rather than buried.
46. We Need Better Bodyguards
It was a Targaryen who created the Kingsguard. During the first Dornish War, Aegon the Conqueror was nearly killed by an assassin. In response, he established the Kingsguard, which comprised of seven of the best knights in Westeros who agreed to serve the royal family and protect them with their lives.
47. Deadly Throne
The Iron Throne has actually been responsible for the death of a Targaryen king. By the end of his short reign, Maegor the Cruel had made so many enemies that it seemed most of the Seven Kingdoms rallied behind Prince Jaehaerys to put him on the Iron Throne instead. After Maegor summoned his few supporters, he spent the night brooding on the Iron Throne.
He was found the next morning with his wrists cut on the throne’s blades. It remains unknown whether Maegor deliberately killed himself or whether some magic in the Iron Throne caused it to deliberately kill him.
48. A Glutton in Every Sense
Aegon IV (known as Aegon the Unworthy) was one of the worst Targaryen kings in the history of their dynasty. He was ruled completely by his own lusts and desires, pursuing them with single-mindedness and cruel carelessness for anyone else’s concerns. He filled his royal court with men who lived to flatter him, and he arranged for beautiful women to be on hand whenever he was in the mood.
Regardless of their social standing, race, or age, Aegon IV was only concerned about satisfying himself. By the end of his life, Aegon IV claimed to have slept with over 900 women. He’s like GoT’s own Gene Simmons.
49. One Crown Fits All?
One thing that the Targaryen kings occasionally did during the Targaryen Dynasty was change up the crowns they wore. Kings would either design a new crown for themselves, or they would take up the crown of a former king for whatever reason. For example, Aegon the Conqueror’s Valyrian steel crown with large rubies was also worn by Maegor, Aegon II, and Daeron I.
Aegon III’s thin band of gold was worn by Viserys II and Aegon V. The real outlier, however, was Baelor the Blessed, who wore a crown made of vines and leaves—you can guess why his crown wasn’t worn by anyone else.
50. Let’s Dance
One of the worst moments in the history of House Targaryen was the Dance of the Dragons. With the death of King Viserys I Targaryen, there was a rift between his oldest child, a daughter named Rhaenyra, and his younger son, Aegon. Each insisted that they were the rightful successor to Viserys, leading to a serious divide within the extended Targaryen family known as the Dance of the Dragons.
Rhaenyra and Aegon both sat on the Iron Throne at different times during the conflict, making Rhaenyra the only woman to rule as Queen of the Iron Throne.
571 The Death of the Dragons
Viserys I had ruled over the height of House Targaryen’s power, with more dragons being alive than at any other point in their history. But then the Dance of the Dragons wiped out the dragons, along with nearly the entire family of House Targaryen.
52. The Egg or the Dragon?
Although the dragons eventually died out, their eggs were still around. However, none of them hatched, despite several attempts by the Targaryens and others to bring dragons back. That changed when Daenerys Targaryen came along and used a ritual and miracle to birth three dragons.
53. The Throne of Damocles
At first glance, you might be surprised that the Targaryens, who designed and built such marvelous structures on Dragonstone, were content to sit on an Iron Throne that was so uncomfortable to sit on. However, Aegon the Conqueror intentionally went with this design, insisting that a king should never sit comfortably on his throne.
54. Red Feast for the Red Keep
The Iron Throne rests in the Red Keep. This massive building began construction during the reign of Aegon I, but it wasn’t completed until the reign of his second son, Maegor the Cruel. In fact, the conclusion of the building’s construction was a chance for Maegor to turn a good thing into something horrible.
While the Red Keep was still being built, Maegor arranged for secret passages to be built underneath the dungeons of the Red Keep. To keep those passages a secret, Maegor massacred all of the builders who worked on the structure—at the very feast which was being held in their honor. Looks like Walder Frey got his inspiration from the Targaryen kings!
55. Targaryen Insanity
One of the main traits of House Targaryen is their propensity for either greatness or madness. According to the traditions, these two are seen as opposite sides of the same coin, and whenever a Targaryen is born, the gods flip the coin to see which side will turn up.
56. Aemon Targaryen
Maester Aemon lived with the Night’s Watch, but he holds a secret: he is actually the oldest living Targaryen, and should be sitting on the Iron Throne. Aemon gave up his rights to the throne when he joined the Night’s Watch, and the crown went to his brother Aegon.
57. Men First, Mostly
In most noble houses, firstborn sons are the heirs to the clan. In Dorne however, where House Martell and the Sandsnakes live, men and women are given equal status when it comes to inheriting.
House Martell is the only house that remained unconquered during Aegon’s conquest of Westeros. They also beat the Targaryens twice.
59. Beginning Banner
The most well-known symbol of House Martell is the golden spear piercing a red sun against an orange backdrop. However, this banner is fairly recent, at least when compared to most of the other Great Houses. The original banner of House Martell was the golden spear, with the red sun being added just 700 years before Aegon’s invasion.
60. First Impressions
While the Martells are name-dropped several times in the books and show, the first appearance of a Martell in both versions of the story is Prince Oberyn Martell, the younger brother of Prince Doran.
61. Living Humbly
Interestingly, despite conquering a piece of Dorne for themselves during the Andal invasion, the Martells spent thousands of years being a fairly mediocre house.
According to Keisha Castle-Hughes, she found out that she won the role of Obara Sand while she was watching the death of Obara’s father, Prince Oberyn. She confirmed that getting such a call made her emotional reaction to Oberyn’s horrifying death even worse.
63. Art and Life
When creating the homeland and castle of the Martells, George R.R. Martin was inspired by Spain when it was occupied by the Moors. Interestingly, when the show became as successful as it did, HBO was convinced to actually take the production to Spain for the scenes in Dorne!
64. Worth Their Salt
Because of the different mixtures of First Men, Andal, and Rhoynish background within the Dornish population, there are three distinct ethnic groups amongst the Dornish. The “Stony Dornishmen” are the ones who live mostly in the mountains and are mostly descended from First Men and Andals, which means they look the most like the rest of the Westerosi.
The “Sandy Dornishmen” live in the deserts of Dorne and are the darkest-skinned of the population. The “Salty Dornishmen”, meanwhile, live on the Dornish coasts and retain a Rhoynish appearance of olive skin, black hair, and dark eyes. The Martells belong to the “Salty Dornishmen” category.
65. International Cast
When it comes to casting the Martells, HBO has selected a diverse group of actors. As of 2018, the Dornish have been played by a Chilean-American actor, a British-Sudanese actor, an English actress of Singaporean-Chinese descent, an actress of Maori background, and an Italian-American actress.
66. They Love Watching Purple Rain
In keeping with the customs of the Rhoynar, the Martells became Princes of Dorne rather than Kings. This tradition of being called Prince of Dorne was preserved even when the Martells agreed to Dorne becoming part of the Seven Kingdoms.
67. Daddy’s Little Girls
As it’s shown in the show, Oberyn Martell has eight illegitimate daughters who are called the Sand Snakes. Though they were born from five different mothers, and are thus all differ in appearance from each other, they are said to all share their father’s eye shape.
68. From Princesses to Princesses
In the history of the Targaryen rule of Westeros, two Martell women have married heirs to the Iron Throne. One was Mariah Martell, and the other was Elia Martell.
69. They Didn’t Pay Me Enough
In the fifth season of the show, three of Oberyn Martell’s daughters are introduced wherein they bury a man in the sand and cover his head with scorpions. Interestingly—or horrifyingly—those scorpions weren’t fake or CGI. An actor really did have his head covered in live scorpions!
70. You Dog
One member of House Martell, Prince Lewyn, served as a member of the illustrious Kingsguard. In true Dornish fashion, Prince Lewyn was said to ignore the rule that the men of the Kingsguard had to live celibate lives. He was said to keep a paramour under everyone’s noses.
71. Watch Your Step
The Dorne subplot of the show’s fifth season received a large amount of criticism from fans of the show, particularly a fight scene between Jaime Lannister, Bronn, and three of the Sand Snakes. However, the poor execution of the fight scene wasn’t necessarily their fault. Filming took place in the Alcazar of Seville, an ancient palace protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.
Filming conditions were very strict and they had just a week to film the sequence.
72. Music to My Ears
Fans of the show will remember that one aspect of what made Oberyn Martell especially alluring was the accent put on by Pedro Pascal during his performance. According to Pascal himself, he based this voice on his own father’s thick Chilean accent.
73. Just Don’t Know Your Own Strength
In the episode “The Dance of Dragons,” two of the Sand Snakes are playing a hand-slapping game together while they sit in a cell. This game was included by the writers as an in-joke which involved one of the showrunners drunkenly challenging a member of the cast to the hand-slapping game. Unfortunately for the showrunner, that cast member was Jason Momoa (Khal Drogo).
He ended up breaking the showrunner’s hand by mistake!
It turns out that Pedro Pascal (Oberyn Martell) is good friends with Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister) despite their characters being unfriendly with each other at best. Headey is also unafraid of trolling fans of the show and books. While the fourth season of Game of Thrones was airing, Headey tweeted a picture of her pretending to dig her thumbs into Pascal’s eyes.
While this meant nothing to non-book readers, they certainly figured it out when the eighth episode of Season 4 came out, and everyone was traumatized by a gruesome death while Cersei smiled as she watched.
75. Them’s Fighting Words
One of the most famous rulers of Dorne was Princess Meria Martell. By the time the Targaryens began conquering Westeros, Meria was 80 years old, blind, and almost bald. None of those things got in the way of her resolve, however. When Aegon’s sister, Rhaenys Targaryen, flew to Sunspear, she found the castle deserted except for Princess Meria.
When Rhaenys tried to threaten her with fire and blood (the Targaryen words), Meria responded “You may burn us, my lady, but you will not bend us, break us, or make us bow. This is Dorne. You are not wanted here. Return at your peril.”
76. Don’t Tread on Me
As beloved as Oberyn Martell became when he appeared in the fourth season of Game of Thrones, a lot of his amazing backstory was sadly left out of the show. When he was just 16 years old, he was a guest under the roof of Lord Edgar Yronwood when he was discovered sleeping with Lord Yronwood’s mistress. Yronwood challenged Oberyn to a duel, though because of his youth and status, the duel was just to first blood.
Both men took cuts during the duel, but Lord Yronwood’s wounds festered, leading to his death soon after. This led to Oberyn being known as the Red Viper of Dorne.
77. Equal Opportunity
It’s actually incorrect to refer to House Martell as just “House Martell.” Their full name is House Nymeros Martell, in honor of Queen Nymeria and Mors Martell’s equal marriage. This plays into the fact that the Dornish mostly adopt the progressive, feminist laws of the Rhoynar, such as allowing girls to inherit titles.
78. Opposite Day?
As fans of the show will know, Ellaria Sand took the death of her partner, Oberyn Martell, very hard, and she was willing to murder Cersei’s daughter, Oberyn’s brother, and Oberyn’s nephew to get the revenge she wanted. However, the character of Ellaria is completely the opposite kind of character in the books.
Traumatized by the death of Oberyn, she is terrified of losing more of her family to their enemies and urgently wants peace between Dorne and the Iron Throne. Most of the animosity and scheming she does was influenced by the attitude and actions of Prince Doran’s daughter, Arianne.
79. The Risks of Knighthood
The Martells, along with the rest of the Dornish, are famously disliked by those houses in the Stormlands and the Reach. During the timeline of the books, however, the Martells are particularly despised by most of House Tyrell, who rule the Reach. This is because several years before the events of A Game of Thrones (the book), Oberyn Martell faced off against the Tyrell heir, Willas, in a tourney joust.
Due to Willas’ inexperience, however, Oberyn unhorsed Willas, but in the confusion, Willas’ leg was crushed beneath his horse’s body. Willas was crippled for life, much to his family’s fury.
80. Against All Odds
Despite the ill will of his family members, Willas Tyrell didn’t hold a grudge against Oberyn for what happened. In fact, Willas and Oberyn kept up a regular contact over the years, due to their shared interest in horse riding and horse breeding.
81. Three Times a Queen
Margaery Tyrell once told Littlefinger that she wanted to be the queen, not just a queen. And she was. Three times in fact. The socially mobile royal became the queen of Kings Renly Baratheon, Joffrey Baratheon, and Tommen Baratheon.
82. Queen of Thorns
Olenna Tyrell can’t tell her twin guardsmen named apart, so she calls them simply “Left” and “Right.” She herself is known as the Queen of Thorns because of her sharp tongue.
83. The First Ancestor
House Baratheon is originally descended from Orys Baratheon, who is said to have been the illegitimate half-brother of Aegon Targaryen, also known as Aegon the Conqueror. He served as one of Aegon’s most trusted military commanders during the Conquest of Westeros.
84. It Runs in the Family
Family members of House Baratheon tend to be very tall and very powerfully built. They also tend to have black hair and blue eyes, even when they marry into other houses. This is a plot point in both the books and TV series when Eddard Stark figures out that Robert Baratheon’s children aren’t actually Baratheons when he examines family records and notices the pattern of genes passed on.
85. Gone Too Soon
While it is never really discussed in the TV series, Cersei’s first child was with her former husband, Robert Baratheon. He had black hair, like his father, but died soon after his birth. If he had survived, he would have been the rightful heir to the Iron Throne instead of Joffrey. After that point, Cersei’s children were exclusively fathered by Jaime.
86. First Child
Robert Baratheon was known for his illegitimate children, the first of whom was Mya Stone. Mya was born to a common woman while a 17-year-old Robert was being fostered by Jon Arryn in the Vale. Interestingly, Robert was also engaged to Lyanna Stark at the time, and when Lyanna found out about Robert’s love child, she became skeptical of what kind of a husband he would make, despite her brother’s protests that Robert was a good guy.
87. Uncanny Resemblance
According to George RR Martin, the character of Stannis Baratheon is partly inspired by Tiberius, the second Emperor of Rome. However, Martin has been careful to point out that he was less inspired by the historical figure than the way that Tiberius is portrayed and performed in the British television series I, Claudius.
88. Fighting Freshmen
It’s hard to remember sometimes, but according to the timeline presented in the books, Robert and Stannis Baratheon fought Robert’s Rebellion when they were 19 and 18, respectively! An 18-year-old Stannis held Storm’s End for over a year with only his iron will preventing everyone from panicking or surrendering the fortress under threat of complete starvation, while a 19-year-old Robert was winning victory after victory across Westeros.
The rest of us would be too busy looking for a decent college program after graduating high school!
89. Deaths in the Family
In the second season of Game of Thrones, and the book A Clash of Kings, most of Robert’s illegitimate children in the city of King’s Landing are cruelly slaughtered. The difference, however, is that in the books, it is Cersei who orders the deaths out of spite and fear that they might be a threat to her own children. In the TV series, it’s Joffrey who gives those orders.
Perhaps the producers were worried that he wasn’t hateful enough?
90. Trusted Advisors
During the Targaryen dynasty, three members of House Baratheon—Orys, Robar, and Ormund—served as Hand of the King, the second-highest position in Westeros after the royal family. No other House in Westeros (apart from the Targaryens themselves) have supplied more Hands of the King than House Baratheon.
91. The Yin to His Yang
In contrast to his rampantly hedonistic brother Robert, Stannis Baratheon is deeply uncomfortable with the subject of intimacy, and even women in general. Rare among military commanders, Stannis will castrate any of his men who are guilty of committing assault. However, he also wished to outlaw brothels, which we can only imagine made King Robert laugh long and hard when Stannis suggested it.
92. Stormy Night
Storm’s End, the castle of House Baratheon, is one of the most powerful fortresses in all of Westeros. It has never been taken by force and is said to have been built during the Dawn Age in defiance of the gods.
93. Heir Apparent?
As of 2018, House Baratheon is officially extinct in the TV series, as everyone who has the last name “Baratheon” is dead.
94. Don’t Mess With Her
Despite usually being a deadbeat dad, Robert Baratheon was actually fond of his illegitimate daughter Mya Stone, and even wanted to bring her to King’s Landing when he was King of the Iron Throne. However, his wife, Cersei, threatened her husband to keep his illegitimate daughter away by ominously declaring “the city is not a healthy place for a growing girl.”
Despite Robert’s fury, he ultimately didn’t test her, and kept Mya at arm’s length.
95. Fire and Blood
Many fans love the strong-willed and powerful Mother of Dragons, but a darker, more violent side has led George R. R. Martin to hint that she may not actually be a true hero in A Song of Ice and Fire. In fact, she has a lot in common with the Mad King, Aerys Targaryen. Dany has shown a capacity to be violent and merciless, especially to those who oppose or defy her.
Examples of this include burning the witch named Durr, who had killed Khal Drogo and Dany’s unborn son; crucifying 163 Great masters of Mereen; scorching the khals, who had abused her in Vaes Dothrak; and even threatening to incinerate members of her own council. If Dany too-closely abides by the creed of “fire and blood,” her character could take a villainous turn.
This has led many fans to theorize that Jon Snow, not Daenerys Targaryen, will be the true hero of the series. We’re still rooting for Dany, but it remains to be seen which side of the coin landed when she was born.
96. Famous Last Words
Mad King Aerys’s final words of “Burn them all!” were meant as an order to his advisors to set off barrels of wildfire which he’d ordered placed all around King’s Landing. When the forces of Tywin Lannister took control of King’s Landing and started looting, Aerys prepared to destroy the city and everyone in it in a blaze of fire.
Jaime Lannister, who had urged the king to surrender, took matters in his own hands and murdered the pyromancer and Aerys before the orders could be carried out.
97. Starks and The Iron Throne
Throughout the story, several Starks have made a claim to the Iron Throne. But if you only watch the Game of Thrones series, you might not know the origin of the throne itself. The swords that make up the Iron Throne come from the enemies of Westeros’ very first King, Aegon the Conqueror. Yet there are no swords from House Stark, House Martell, or House Arryn on the throne.
Houses Arryn and Stark submitted, and Aegon was never able to conquer the Martells.
98. Before He Was Mad
Aerys the Mad King didn’t start out mad. He was initially a bright, handsome young man with huge ambitions for Westeros. Admittedly, he had trouble committing to these ambitions, but he only started losing his grip when his children kept being miscarried or else dying in infancy. He became obsessed with the fear that someone was cursing his children with dark magic.
Not only that, he became very jealous of Tywin Lannister, his Hand of the King, who was ruling the realm more effectively than Aerys could ever manage.
99. Drinking the Kool Aid
By now in the series, Arya Stark has become a killing machine thanks to the Faceless Men. Though the Faceless Men are mysterious, we do know some things about them. For one, they’re ancient, and have been around since before the Doom of Valyria. The Faceless Men consider themselves servants of the Many-Faced God.
They grew out of a group of slaves who worked in the mines and worshipped different gods of death, who they eventually consolidated into the Many-Faced God. The Faceless Men started by giving death’s “gift” to suffering slaves, but quickly moved on to give the gift of death to their cruel masters, becoming skilled assassins.
100. Real Roots
The Faceless Men also have a real-life counterpart: They are based off of the Order of Assassins, which was a Medieval Islamic secret society in the Middle East from the 11th to the 13th centuries.
101. Get It Right
George R.R. Martin says that the proper pronunciation for Arya Stark’s name is two syllables: “ARE-ya.” However, most people pronounce it with three syllables, like a musical term “Aria.”
102. Good Intentions, Bad Results
Although left out of the show, Sansa inadvertently made it easier for Cersei and company to leverage a coup against her father, Ned Stark. Let us explain: in the books, Ned has a ship waiting to take the Starks out of the city. Sansa is aware of his plans to escape King’s Landing—mind you, she’s not aware that her father has uncovered Cersei’s treason and Joffrey’s incestuous origins. Not willing to give up her engagement to Joffrey, she tells Cersei of her father’s plan.
The rest spirals into unfortunate history.
103. A Serious Spat
The sack of King’s Landing infuriated Ned, but what really pushed him over the edge was when Tywin Lannister presented Rhaegar Targaryen’s children to Robert. The children were killed by Tywin’s soldiers (quite brutally, it would turn out), and their bodies were wrapped in scarlet Lannister cloaks. Ned and Robert argued over whether that was murder or justice, with Ned leaving the capital in cold fury. Not even Jon Arryn could settle their argument, and it wasn’t until Lyanna’s death that they were reconciled.
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