The Citadel

The Archive of 'A Song of Ice and Fire' Lore


House Stark of Winterfell

A running grey direwolf, on an ice-white field (© RMB)

General Information

An ancient house with the blood of the First Men flowing in its veins, the Starks have existed at Winterfell for some 8,000 years. Winterfell was said to have had its foundation laid by the legendary Brandon the Builder. For at least a part of those many millenia they were the Kings of Winter and were the last house of the First Men to rule a realm before Aegon and his sisters came on their conquest. Their motto is, “Winter Is Coming.”

The Starks have served as Wardens of the North under the Iron Throne. Lord Eddard Stark is best friend to King Robert, having been fostered with him at the Eyrie and constant companion in the war against the Mad King, Aerys. Lord Eddard is wed to Catelyn Tully, who was intended to marry his elder brother Brandon before his death. They have had five children, of whom his eldest is Robb Stark. Lord Eddard also has a bastard, conceived by an unknown woman during the civil war, Jon Snow.


After Lord Arryn’s death, King Robert came to Winterfell to make Eddard his new Hand. Discovering the secret that Jon Arryn died for, that Robert’s children by Cersei were in fact born of the incestuous affair between herself and her brother, Ser Jaime of the Kingsguard, he sought to reveal the truth only for Robert to be killed and himself imprisoned. Forced to make a false confession of treason, he was executed at Joffrey’s command.

Robb Stark, having raised a host at his father’s command, was proclaimed King of the North and the Riverlands after capturing the Kingslayer and lifting the Lannister siege of Riverrun. He and the Tullys have won several notable victories since that time, although he has been betrayed by Theon Greyjoy when the Greyjoys attacked the North, captured Winterfell, and apparently murdered the young princes Bran and Rickon who in truth had escaped Winterfell. During this time, Arya Stark had escaped King’s Landing with the help of Yoren of the Night’s Watch, who was killed. She was forced into servitude in Harrenhal until she was able to escape with companions. Sansa Stark remained a hostage in the Red Keep.

After returning from the westerlands with a new queen, Jeyne Westerling, Robb Stark’s reign began to fall apart. In the end he was killed during a bloodbath at the Twins, soon known as the Red Wedding, instigated by Lord Walder Frey and Roose Bolton with the connivance of Lord Tywin Lannister. His mother died with him. In the mean time, Sansa Stark was married to Tyrion Lannister and fled from King’s Landing with the help of Littlefinger who has now installed her as his supposed bastard daughter in the Eyrie, Bran Stark went beyond the Wall with the aid of Meera and Jojen Reed and found the enigmatic man called Coldhands, Arya Stark met an outlaw brotherhood and fell into the control of the Hound until managing to take ship to Braavos, and Rickon Stark and his whereabouts remain a mystery until Lord Manderly reveals that Wex—Theon Greyjoy’s squire—followed him and Osha and discovered they went to Skagos.

Arya is taken to the House of Black and White, where she proceeds to serve and learn how to hide her feelings, how to tell lies, how to deserve, and how to make full use of her senses. She eventually learns that they are the Faceless Men, and she carries out her first killing in their name to prove herself. Sansa, taking on the identity of Alayne Stone, acts as Littlefinger’s confidant and aid in his machinations. Bran Stark, with the Reeds and Hodor, are taken by Coldhands to the last refuge of the children of the forest, where he meets Brynden Rivers, the last greenseer, and proceeds to learn what he has to teach of magic. Jon Snow, as Lord Commander on the Wall, strives to keep the Wall indepedent from Stannis Baratheon and intact by making peace with the wildlings and enlisting them in the defense of the realms of men. However, after he determines to ride to war against a threatening Ramsay Bolton, officers and men of the Watch refuse to countenance it and proceed to murder him.