Grizzled Facts About House Mormont

Kyle Climans

One of the principal bannermen of House Stark in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice & Fire series is House Mormont. Several of the main supporting characters in the story are members of House Mormont, and their personal journeys go far beyond the North and the Starks. Primary among those is Jorah Mormont, the most loyal of Daenerys Targaryen’s supporters throughout the series. On TV, Game of Thrones also depicts House Mormont as the important house that it is, expanding certain characters and diminishing others. If you’re curious about this Westerosi house, and don’t mind a few spoilers from the show, keep reading to find out more!

1. How to Recognize a Mormont

House Mormont’s personal sigil is a black bear standing before a green forest. Their family motto is the simple phrase “Here we stand.”

2. The Bear’s Blade

House Mormont is one of the few houses in Westeros to have an ancestral sword made of Valyrian steel. This blade is a bastard sword named Longclaw. It was eventually bequeathed by Jeor Mormont to Jon Snow in gratitude for saving his life from a wight. In Game of Thrones, Jon attempts to give it back to Jorah Mormont, but he refuses to accept it.

It remains unclear, however, just how Longclaw came to be owned by House Mormont in the first place.

3. Women in War

Rare among the other houses of Westeros, House Mormont actively encourages their women to learn how to fight. Traditionally, Bear Island was frequently under attack by the Ironborn or pirates. It became a matter of survival for women to be just as proficient in weaponry as the men. As a result, Mormont women have gone to war on behalf of House Stark several times.

4. Time to Retire

While most heads of noble houses in Westeros maintain their statuses until death, Jeor Mormont is a rare example of the contrary. At some point before Robert’s Rebellion, Jeor voluntarily gave up his position on Bear Island to join the Night’s Watch. He would go on to become its Lord Commander by the time the series begins.

5. Honored Warrior

Because most people of the North worship the old gods rather than the Andal gods, they were rarely knighted, since knighthood is a tradition associated with the Faith of the Seven. Jorah Mormont is one of the few exceptions. He earned this honor due to his valor during the Greyjoy Rebellion, when he was the second man to enter the breach in the castle of Pyke.

Jorah was knighted by King Robert Baratheon himself.

6. The Start of the Status Quo

At the start of the novel A Game of Thrones (and thus, the first season of the show), the head of House Mormont is Lady Maege. A fierce and stubborn fighter, Maege took over leadership of the house after her nephew, Jorah, fled Westeros (more on that later). Maege has five daughters named Dacey, Alysane, Lyra, Jorelle, and Lyanna, as well as two unnamed grandchildren.

Despite being a grandmother, Maege joins the war effort under Robb Stark’s command, becoming one of his most trusted generals. Maege appears briefly in the show, portrayed by actress Elizabeth Barrett.

7. This Taste of Irony

As the head of House Mormont, Jorah fought alongside his liege lord, Eddard Stark, during Robert’s Rebellion. He fought valiantly during the Battle of the Trident, which resulted in the death of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen at the hands of Robert Baratheon. Not only that, Jorah witnessed the aftermath of Tywin Lannister’s sack of King’s Landing, which resulted in the deaths of Rhaegar’s father, wife, and children.

8. Tragic Namesake

As it was brought up on the show, Lyanna Mormont was named after Lyanna Stark, the younger sister of Eddard Stark and aunt to his children. Sadly, as the eighth season proved, both Lyannas died tragically young.

9. Lyanna Cameo

In the fifth season of Game of Thrones, Stannis Baratheon tries to demand the loyalty of the Northern lords as the rightful king of the Iron Throne. In a scene lifted directly from the books, Stannis gets an answer from Lyanna Mormont in the form of a letter which declares that Bear Island recognizes only one king, and the king’s name is Stark. While we later get several episodes featuring Lyanna Mormont, this scene is the most significant mention of Lyanna in the books.

10. Starting Strong

Not surprisingly, the role of Lyanna Mormont was the first ever credit for actress Bella Ramsay. It’s safe to say that it will be far from the last!

11. Excuse Me, Khaleesi, I Just Have Some Narrating to Do

Aside from his role as Jorah Mormont on the show, Iain Glen also narrates a number of the special video shorts recorded for the show’s Blu-ray releases. These videos cover the histories and lore of the story, with characters from the show narrating over various styles of animation. As Jorah, Glenn has narrated videos across five different seasons of the show thus far.

12. Part-Time Storyteller

Iain Glen has also been involved as a narrator of several audiobooks relating to the work of George R.R. Martin. Dying of the Light, The Princess & the Queen, and The Rogue Prince have all been narrated by Glen.

13. Modest Mormont

Despite their owning a Valyrian steel sword for five centuries, House Mormont remains a poor house, even by the standards of Northern houses. This was partly due to their lack of resources, living on an island, and also due to their being a historical target of Ironborn raiders and pirates.

14. But What was Her Name?

When Jorah Mormont was still very young, he was married to a woman from House Glover. The couple struggled to have children, and Jorah’s wife suffered multiple miscarriages, the third of which led to her death. They had been married for ten years.

15. Quite the Young Actress!

Surprisingly, actress Bella Ramsay’s natural accent isn’t actually the one that she uses on the show. Because the writers have made the Northern English accent the staple accent of characters from the North, Ramsay mastered it specifically for the show. Not bad for someone who was only 12 when she started working on Game of Thrones!

16. Where in the Neck is Maege?

While non-book readers might assume that Maege Mormont was killed at the Red Wedding, this was not the case at all. Maege wasn’t even present at the Twins at the time, since both she and Galbart Glover were assigned a specific mission to prepare for Robb’s military plan. Before his death, Robb was determined to retake Moat Cailin from the Ironborn, and he sent Maege and Galbart into the swamps of the Neck to find Howland Reed for his assistance in taking the fortification.

It isn’t known where Maege went from there, or whether she found Howland.

17. We’re Not Dead Yet

Although House Mormont is extinct with the deaths of Lyanna and Jorah Mormont in the eighth season of Game of Thrones, that isn’t the case in the books thus far. As of the end of A Dance with Dragons, Lady Maege Mormont and four of her daughters are alive and well, though their locations aren’t clear.

Lyanna, as of last note, was at Bear Island, while Alysane Mormont is still with Stannis Baratheon. Lyra and Jorelle are allegedly with their mother, whose whereabouts are unknown.

18. One for Each of the Andal Gods?

According to Bella Ramsay (Lyanna Mormont), she was on-set for seven nights during the filming of the battle at Winterfell between the living and the dead.

19. That Wasn’t Me!

Contrary to the show’s portrayal, Jorah Mormont never saves Tyrion from stone men and contracts greyscale. Instead, that greyscale plot belonged to a character named Jon Connington, who was cut from the show.

20. Unbearable Passion

It remains unknown who is the father of either Maege or Alysane’s children. According to Alysane Mormont in A Dance with Dragons, Mormont women are all able to turn into bears, and thus mate with male bears while in that form to become pregnant. That is the only explanation that we’ve gotten from George R.R. Martin, and we’re honestly not sure how seriously we should take it.

21. Daddy?

Speaking of the Mormont women’s skinchanging legend, one of the most popular fan theories about House Mormont is that the father of Maege Mormont’s daughters (specifically Lyanna Mormont) is none other than Tormund Giantsbane! Tormund is known for his claim to have mated with a she-bear, which nobody takes seriously. One idea put forward is that Tormund lay with Maege Mormont (whether in human form or bear form depends on the individual claimant).

It’s certainly as plausible as the skinchanging idea!

22. Home Sweet Home

House Mormont’s keep on Bear Island was given a rather picturesque makeover for the show, but its appearance in the books is incredibly rustic. Made of logs and defended by a palisade made of earth, the Mormont keep has a very symbolic image carved on the gate. The image is a woman in a bearskin. She holds a battle-ax in one hand, and the other holds an infant to her breast.

23. Previous Work Relationship

Before he portrayed Jeor Mormont on Game of Thrones, James Cosmo appeared in the big-budget epic Troy. The film also featured actors Sean Bean and Julian Glover, who would portray Eddard Stark and Grand Maester Pycelle on Game of Thrones. Not only that, the film’s screenwriter was none other than David Benioff, who went on to be one of the showrunners on Game of Thrones.

24. Female Robin Hood

It’s not mentioned in the show, but Maege Mormont becomes one of Robb’s most relied-upon commanders during his war with the Lannisters. When the Northmen invade the Westerlands, Maege captures thousands of heads of cattle and drives them back to the Riverlands in an effort to assist the Riverlords in alleviating the famine caused by the Lannister raids.

25. Not Suitable for Children?

Because of her youth, Bella Ramsay wasn’t allowed to see the first five seasons of Game of Thrones before she was cast in the sixth season. A carefully chosen selection of video clips was put together so she could get an idea of the show, as well as her character.

26. Bear Trumps Wolf?

House Mormont, like most of the other houses of the North, historically provided brides for the leaders of House Stark. The most prominent of these from House Mormont was the wife of Lord Alaric Stark, who lived during the reign of King Jaehaerys I Targaryen. In keeping with the tradition of Mormont women, she killed two wolves when she was just 12 years old and made a cloak out of their skins!

27. Quoth the Raven

In the books, Jeor Mormont is well known to have a pet raven who occasionally speaks words throughout the story. After Jeor’s death, the raven helps decide the election of a new Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch by voicing its support for Jon Snow, much to everyone’s surprise. It might have been weird to have an intelligent bird saying random words on the show, but as certain videos on Youtube prove, ravens can learn words in real life, so it’s not quite so far-fetched!

28. Whew!

Contrary to the show’s portrayal, Jeor Mormont’s skull is never used as a drinking cup by Karl in the books!

29. Did They Also Provide 62 Soldiers?

According to George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood, House Mormont contributed ships to Aegon the Conqueror’s conquest of the Iron Islands. Given the history of Bear Island, we can’t imagine that they needed a lot of persuasion to join that cause!

30. Down for the Count!

House Mormont allegedly owes their status to a wrestling match. Back when the Starks were still Kings of Winter, they fought with the Ironborn many times. Bear Island had repeatedly been a contested battleground until King Rodrik Stark settled the matter once and for all. According to legend, King Rodrik won a wrestling match against an Ironborn king, with the stakes being control over Bear Island.

King Rodrik then granted the island to one of his most loyal bannerman. Thusly did House Mormont gain their home.

31. Why Couldn’t She be on the Show?

Lady Maege Mormont’s second daughter, Alysane, appears in George R.R. Martin’s A Dance with Dragons. She joins Stannis Baratheon when he takes Deepwood Motte from the Ironborn and returns it to House Glover, along with a number of soldiers from House Mormont. She accompanies the Baratheon forces on their long march to Winterfell, guarding Asha Greyjoy (Yara, for any GoT fans reading this), who becomes Stannis’s prisoner.

32. Representation Issues

Criticism has been levied against the show for diminishing the many female characters who appear in the books, often in high positions of power, and replacing them with female characters who work as prostitutes. House Mormont suffers badly from this reorganization, as Lady Maege Mormont is reduced to an unnamed cameo without any lines in two episodes (she’s later killed off-screen). Four of her daughters are never event introduced or mentioned.

Though Lyanna Mormont does have a very expanded role in the show, this is clearly an exception rather than a rule.

33. Only One??

In relation to the above post, we’d like to note that Lyanna Mormont was the first (and thus far, only) female head of a noble house in Westeros who is a speaking role on the show and also appears for more than two episodes (no other character matches both those standards)! Meanwhile, in the books, around a third of the Northern houses alone become ruled by women over the course of the series.

Not exactly the best track record there, showrunners!

34. One of a Rare Few

Believe it or not, Jorah Mormont is one of the few men to have defeated Jaime Lannister in a tourney. After his knighthood, Jorah participated in a tourney at Lannisport. While he was there, he caught the eye of Lynesse Hightower, a daughter of Lord Leyton Hightower. She was half his age, and gorgeous, and he begged for the honor of wearing her favor in the tourney, to which she agreed.

Jorah made it to the final tilt against Jaime, and after they broke nine lances against each other, King Robert Baratheon granted victory to Jorah.

35. I Name Thee Queen and Wife

After Jorah Mormont won the tourney at Lannisport, he crowned Lynesse Hightower the queen of love and beauty. The two of them were married after Leyton Hightower granted Jorah’s request for his daughter’s hand.

36. There There…

Unsurprisingly, Jorah Mormont’s marriage to Lynesse Hightower was a disaster. Lynesse grew up in the lap of luxury in the southern city of Oldtown, and she was horrified by the poor, rough conditions of Bear Island, whose people didn’t even worship the Andal gods. Lynesse was deeply depressed, and it became obvious to everyone, even Catelyn Stark of Winterfell, who tried to offer her sympathies to the young lady of Bear Island.

37. Gift-giver

To his credit, Jorah Mormont tried his best to assuage Lynesse Hightower’s homesickness by doing everything he could to give her a lifestyle similar to what she was used to back home. He hired a cook from Oldtown and a harper from Lannisport. Jorah also commissioned a ship which he and Lynesse used to travel south to those aforementioned cities.

38. Crossing the Line

As you can imagine, Jorah Mormont amounted a horrific amount of debt trying to keep Lynesse Hightower happy on Bear Island. Jorah tried to participate in tourneys, but he never repeated his success from the tourney at Lannisport. Out of desperation, Jorah sold poachers into slavery across the Narrow Sea. This was an ancient illegality in Westeros, and when Eddard Stark found out about Jorah’s dabbling in the slave trade, he personally traveled to Bear Island with the intention of executing the head of House Mormont.

39. From Bad to Worse

Before Eddard Stark arrived at Bear Island to execute Jorah Mormont, the latter had already fled, along with his young wife. They went into exile together to the city of Lys, where Jorah worked as a sellsword. However, Lynesse Hightower would abandon her husband for the bed of a merchant prince, who threatened Jorah with imprisonment for debt if he didn’t leave Lys—without Lynesse.

40. A Bloody History

Prior to House Mormont, Bear Island had been ruled by House Woodfoot, a house in the North that was wiped out when Ironborn raiders conquered the island. It was used as an Ironborn base for many years, with its trees useful for shipbuilding and its location ideal for raids into the mainland of the North. This ended for a time when King Theon Stark, known as the Hungry Wolf, ruthlessly massacred the Ironborn and drove them out of Bear Island.

The island was, however, reconquered by the Ironborn until Rodrik Stark settled the matter.

41. Last Requests

The death of Jeor Mormont is essentially the same in both the books and the show. He is stabbed to death by traitorous members of the Night’s Watch when they mutiny at Craster’s Keep. However, one of the most significant differences is the fact that he has a few last words in the books, delivered to Samwell Tarly. Jeor urges Sam to find his son, Jorah, and give him a message from his father. Jeor forgives Jorah for his crimes and urges him to come to the Wall and join him in the Night’s Watch.

Excuse us while we finish cutting these onions…

42. We Could Have had a Northern Version of Brienne??!

Lady Maege Mormont’s eldest daughter, Dacey Mormont, has a very noteworthy appearance in the books. Standing at six feet tall, she is an accomplished fighter who serves as one of Robb’s most trusted bodyguard in battle. Utterly devoted to Robb, she fights alongside him in every single battle that he participates in. Dacey later provides Robb with his last dance at the Red Wedding, where they’re both killed by members of House Frey and House Bolton.

Honestly, we feel like there have been at least five fanfiction stories written about these two as a power couple!

Sources1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23

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