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Thread: Game of Thrones: The Starks’ History with House Targaryen Explained

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    Game of Thrones: The Starks’ History with House Targaryen Explained

    Last Sunday’s episode of Game of Thrones may well have contained the most important meeting of characters to date. If you’re one for symbolism, this one was a meeting of ice and fire as the King in the North traveled south to meet with the Mother of Dragons.

    Jon Snow walking into the throne room of Daenerys Targaryen is a moment Game of Thrones has been building towards for seven seasons, but the relationship between their two families is hundreds of years old. And as both Jon and Daenerys made abundantly clear, that centuries old history between the Starks and the Targaryens holds great influence even today and old betrayals are not so easily forgotten.

    So just why would a Stark be leery of bending the knee to the Mad King’s daughter? And why does Daenerys consider it an act of open rebellion not to? Let’s delve into the history between the Starks and the Targaryens to discuss when allegiances were sworn and when they were broken.

    We already briefly touched on the Targaryen invasion of Westeros when we looked at the significance of Dragonstone, but as a quick refresher: Aegon and his sister-brides, Visenya and Rhaenys, conquered the six kingdoms of Westeros (the Kingdoms of Mountain and Vale, the Isles and Rivers, the Rock, the Reach, the North, and the Storm Kingdom) forming the nation that would later become known as the Seven Kingdoms once Dorne, remaining unconquered, joined later.

    Aegon’s Conquest spanned roughly two years during which those who refused to accept Aegon as the ruler of all of Westeros were killed (with Meria Martell, Princess of Dorne, being the exception). This includes Harren the Black, the last King of the Isles and Rivers, who was roasted alive in his castle, Harrenhall, by Aegon’s dragon, Balerion, and Mern IX Gardener, the last King of the Reach who was burned alive on the Field of Fire, ending his family’s line. With the fate of those two Kings in mind, when Torrhen Stark, King in the North, met with Aegon and his forces at the Trident, he wisely chose to bend the knee and was forever known as the King Who Knelt. (There’s even an inn, the Inn of the Kneeling Man, built on the very spot where Torrhen knelt.)

    As a reward for swearing his allegiance to Aegon, Torrhen and his family were instated as Wardens of the North and remained (until Roose Bolton’s brief tenure) the ruling lords of the northern region of the Seven Kingdoms. It was an uneasy fealty, with many of the northern lords opposing the Targaryens’ rule, including Torrhen’s own sons. Still, House Stark remained loyal to the Targaryens, taking Queen Rhaenyra’s side during the Targaryen civil war, the Dance of the Dragons, in which they signed the Pact of Ice and Fire, and later taking part in the conquest of Dorne. (Which was, again, unsuccessful.)

    This alliance lasted for centuries and through many monarchs, so it isn’t at all surprising that Daenerys would recall Torrhen’s vows when regarding this latest King in the North. As she states to Jon, Torrhen swore those vows in “perpetuity“, even if his descendants later broke them. It would be wise of Jon to uphold those vows and again bend the knee, lest he too meet the fate of past Kings who chose not to accept Targaryen rule.

    WHEN STARKS TRAVEL SOUTH

    The uneasy though resilient allegiance of House Stark to House Targaryen came to end with Robert’s Rebellion, putting into motion events that would lead to the end of the Targaryens’ reign in Westeros. It’s with these more recent events in mind that Jon balked at the suggestion he would willingly submit to the Mad King’s daughter, recalling the injustice done to his grandfather and uncle.

    As the show has repeatedly covered, Robert’s Rebellion begins with Rhaegar Targaryen’s abduction of Lyanna Stark, who at the time was betrothed to Robert Baratheon while Rhaegar was still married to Elia Martell. There is much debate over Rhaegar’s intentions towards Lyanna and whether or not she went with him willingly, and the whole truth will likely never be known. What we do know, however, is that when news of Lyanna’s abduction reached her brother, Brandon Stark (who was in route to Riverrun to marry Catelyn Tully), he immediately went to King’s Landing demanding that Rhaegar (who was not present) face him in single combat, only to find himself arrested for conspiring to kill the crown prince by King Aerys II (more commonly known as the Mad King).

    Lord Rickard Stark, himself traveling to Riverrun for his son’s wedding, was then summoned to King’s Landing to answer for Brandon’s crime. But when he arrived, he and all those who accompanied him (some 200 men) were also arrested for conspiring to kill the prince. Every one of them was executed, but none so cruelly as Brandon and Rickard. The Lord of Winterfell demanded a trial by combat and Aerys agreed, but unbeknownst to Rickard, Aerys chose fire as House Targaryen’s champion. When Rickard arrived in full armor, he was strung from the ceiling of the throne room as a fire raged beneath him. Brandon was then placed in a strangling device with a longsword set just out of reach. As he struggled to reach the sword and free his father, the rope tightened around his neck and Brandon strangled himself to death while Rickard was roasted inside his armor.

    The Mad King then called for the heads of both Ned Stark, now Lord of Winterfell, and Robert Baratheon, who were in the Eyrie at the time, but Jon Arryn refused to turn them over and revolted instead. This rebellion, which lasted for close to a year, ended when Robert slew Rhaegar at the Trident and Jaime Lannister, betraying his Kingsguard vow, stabbed the Mad King in the back.



    House Stark’s allegiance to House Targaryen lasted for almost three hundred years, but when it ended, it did so in a way that cannot soon be forgotten or forgiven. It’s clearly an issue for Jon, and his insistence to neither forgive or forget what happened to Rickard and Brandon is presented as a point of family pride. But of course, were he to know the truth about his family – that he’s as much a Targaryen as he is a Stark – then he may just look upon on all this family history a bit differently. Daenerys, too, might not be so dismissive of this Jon Snow were she to know he’s actually her nephew – still bastard-born, but living proof of a union between these two great houses, continuing that centuries old relationship even now.

    Source: Screenrant.com
    jimmy7, Laxus, vau3 and 4 others like this.

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    let it be.
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    Those are the two names I consistently forget: Rhaegar Targaryen & Lyanna Stark.

    And **SPOILERS, DO NOT READ ON UNLESS YOU'VE SEEN THE SHOW** their love connection resulted in the birth of Jon Snow. So how are Daenerys and Jon related exactly? Aunt/nephew? Or what?


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