BaratheonCoat of Arms:
A black stag, crowned, upon a field of goldSeat:
Storm's EndWords: Ours is the FuryNotable Members:
- Robert Baratheon I, King of Westeros, Lord of the Andals, the Rhoynar and First Men
- Stannis Baratheon (brother of Robert), Lord of Dragonstone and Master of Ships
- Renly Baratheon (brother of Robert), Lord of Storm's End and Master of LawsCharacteristics:
Members of House Baratheon tend to be tall and powerfully built, with black hair and blue eyes, as well as strong, square jawlines. They are deeply passionate lovers and fighters, and are well known for their mercurial tempers.History:
The youngest of the Great Houses, born during the Wars of Conquest. Its founder, Orys Baratheon, was rumored to be Aegon the Dragon's bastard brother. Orys rose through the ranks to become one of Aegon's fiercest commanders. When he defeated and slew Argilac the Arrogant, the last Storm King, Aegon rewarded him with Argilac's castle, lands, and daughter. Orys took the girl to bride, and adopted the banner, honors, and words of her line.
Robert's Rebellion (or the War of the Usurper) began when the Crown Prince Rhaegar Targaryen kidnapped Lyanna Stark, whom Robert had fallen in love with. News of the kidnapping led Lyanna's brother and father to go to King's Landing, demanding justice. However, both were executed by the Mad King, Aerys II Targaryen, who demanded the heads of both Robert Baratheon and Eddard Stark. Houses Arryn, Baratheon, and Stark rose up in rebellion, rallying the lords of the North and the Stormlands.
In the Battle of the Trident, Robert personally slew Prince Rhaegar, and declared victory. But before Robert's allies could reach King's Landing, Tywin Lannister sacked King's Landing and his son, Jaime, a member of the Kingsguard, slew the Targaryen king himself. Tywin sent his men Ser Amory Lorch and Gregor Clegane after the Mad King's wife and children, and they were killed in particularly barbaric fashion.
Robert's claim to the throne is based on right of descent from Aegon V. In an effort to bring stability to the kingdom, Robert agreed to marry Cersei Lannister, the daughter of Tywin, thus cementing the Lannister and Baratheon Houses by marriage. He possesses less fondness for his wife, however, than he does for Eddard Stark, his lifelong friend and chief ally.
Any claims that a number of Robert's bastards exist and are growing up in King's Landing are lies and falsehoods.
StarkCoat of Arms:
A grey direwolf upon an ice-white fieldSeat:
WinterfellWords: Winter is ComingNotable Members:
- Eddard "Ned" Stark, Warden of the North and Lord of Winterfell
- Lady Catelyn, formerly Tully, of the house Tully (wife of Eddard)Characteristics:
Members of House Stark tend to be lean of build and long of face, with dark brown hair and grey eyes. They uphold a rigid and unyielding sense of honor, although are perhaps a bit fatalistic (as is evident in their words).History:
The Starks trace their descent from Brandon the Builder and the ancient Kings of Winter. For thousands of years, they ruled from Winterfell as Kings in the North, until Torrhen Stark, the King Who Knelt, chose to swear fealty to Aegon the Dragon rather than give battle.
Eddard Stark was fostered by Lord Jon Arryn at the Eyrie from the age of eight, alongside Robert Baratheon. Ned befriended Robert and came to consider Lord Arryn a second father. Following the alleged abduction of his sister Lyanna Stark by the Targaryen prince Rhaegar, Ned's father Rickard and his brother Brandon were executed at the command of King Aerys II, who further demanded that Jon Arryn send him the heads of his wards. Jon Arryn refused and instead launched a rebellion.
After calling his banners, Ned marched to join Robert's warring in the south, arriving in time to turn the tide at the Battle of the Bells. Afterward, he went to Riverrun to marry Catelyn Tully, who had been betrothed to his brother Brandon before his death.
The rebels won their decisive victory in the Battle of the Trident, in which Robert killed Prince Rhaegar Targaryen in single combat. Because Robert had been wounded by Rhaegar, it fell on Eddard to pursue the remnants of Aerys' armies to King's Landing. When he arrived there, Lord Tywin Lannister's force had already sacked the city. Eddard had developed contempt for House Lannister during the rebellion, as Lord Tywin had remained neutral for the longest time in an apparent attempt to join the winning side in the end. Eddard's contempt increased when he learned that Lord Tywin had conquered the city by treachery and that his men had killed Prince Rhaegar's wife and children in the most brutal manner. In addition, Lannister flags were flying over the Red Keep when Eddard arrived there and, as he rode into the throne room to claim the crown for Robert, he found King Aerys' body at the steps leading to the Iron Throne, on which the king's killer, Ser Jaime Lannister, was sitting. All of that increased Eddard's suspicions about the ambitions of the Lannisters. He felt that the way in which the conquest of King's Landing had been conducted dishonored Robert's cause. He was disappointed that Robert, when he arrived in the city, didn't share his moral outrage and in particular defended the murder of Rhaegar's children. He also ignored Eddard's counsel that Ser Jaime should be made to join the Night's Watch for breaking his oath as a knight of the Kingsguard to protect the King. Their disagreements about these issues created a temporary rift between Eddard and Robert that not even Jon Arryn was able to breach.
LannisterCoat of Arms:
A golden lion upon a crimson fieldSeat:
Casterly RockWords: Hear Me Roar!Notable Members:
- Tywin Lannister, Warden of the West and Lord of Casterly Rock
- Cersei Lannister, Queen of Westeros, wife of King Robert I (daughter of Tywin)
- Ser Jaime Lannister, called the Kingslayer, member of the Kingsguard (son of Tywin)Characteristics:
Members of House Lannister tend to have blond hair and be unusually tall and handsome. Their unofficial words are A Lannister Always Pays His Debts
, which is both a guarantee and a threat.History:
The Lannisters are the blood of Andal adventurers who carved out a mighty kingdom in the western hills and valleys of Westeros. Through the female line they boast of descent from Lann the Clever, the legendary trickster of the Age of Heroes. The gold of Casterly Rock and the Golden Tooth has made them the wealthiest of the Great Houses.
During Robert's Rebellion, the Lannisters stayed neutral for the majority of the war. Only after the defeat of Prince Rhaegar at the Trident did Lord Tywin bestir himself to join Robert Baratheon against the Targaryen dynasty, perpetrating the Sack of King's Landing when the Lannister loyalist Grand Maester Pycelle suggested the gates be opened. There Ser Jaime Lannister, still a Kingsguard, slew Aerys II, the last crowned Targaryen king. Meanwhile, Tywin's knights killed the rest of the Targaryens in the capitol, including Rhaegar's wife, Elia Martell, and her two infant children, in order to prove their commitment to Robert's cause. Afterwards, Tywin's daughter Cersei was wed to King Robert. This marriage and the increasing amount of gold Robert owes Tywin have only increased Lannister power, a fact which has not gone unnoticed by the Starks.
TyrellCoat of Arms:
A golden rose on a grass-green fieldSeat:
HighgardenWords: Growing StrongNotable Members:
- Mace Tyrell, Warden of the South and Lord of Highgarden
- Ser Loras Tyrell, also called the Knight of Flowers (youngest son of Mace)
- Lady Olenna, called the Queen of Thorns (mother of Mace)Characteristics:
Members of House Tyrell tend to have curly brown hair and brown or golden eyes. The male members of the family are loyal to a fault, while the female members are particularly cunning.History:
The Tyrells rose to power as stewards to the Kings of the Reach, whose domain included the fertile plains of the southwest from the Dornish marches and Blackwater Rush to the shores of the Sunset Sea. Through the female line, they claim descent from Garth Greenhand, gardener king of the First Men, who wore a crown of vines and flowers and made the land bloom. When King Mern, last of the old line, perished on the Field of Fire, his steward Harlen Tyrell surrendered Highgarden to Aegon Targaryen, pledging fealty. Aegon granted him the castle and dominion over the Reach.
During the War of the Usurper (also known as Robert's Rebellion), House Tyrell stayed loyal to King Aerys II Targaryen, the Mad King. Lord Mace Tyrell's forces achieved victory against Robert Baratheon at the Battle of Ashford, dealing the future king his only defeat of the war at the cost of Ser Quentin Tyrell's life. Mace likes to take credit for the success, but it was the van under command of Lord Randyll Tarly that put Robert to flight. Mace went on to besiege Robert's brother Stannis at Storm's End, but bent the knee after the Targaryens were all but wiped out in the Sack of King's Landing. Robert Baratheon, king by conquest, forgave them and accepted them as sworn vassals.
A large, wealthy house, the wealth of House Tyrell is only surpassed among the Great Houses by House Lannister, and the Tyrells can field the greatest armies. Additionally, if they call the fleets of their bannermen the Redwynes, the lords of the Shield Islands, and the coastal lords, they can command a navy that equals if not surpasses the royal fleet.
MartellCoat of Arms:
A red sun pierced by a golden spearSeat:
SunspearWords: Unbowed, Unbent, UnbrokenNotable Members:
- Doran Martell, Prince of Dorne and Lord of Sunspear
- Oberyn Martell, known as the Red Viper, father of a number of bastard daughters known as the Sand Snakes. (brother of Doran)
- Elia Martell, wed to Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, slain during the Sack of King's Landing (sister of Doran and Oberyn, now deceased)Characteristics:
Members of House Martell are typical Dornishmen, with dark eyes, dark hair in ringlets, and olive skin. They have a reputation (some deserved, others less so) for hot-bloodedness and sexual licentiousness.History:
Nymeria, the warrior queen of the Rhoyne, brought her ten thousand ships to land in Dorne, the southernmost of the Seven Kingdoms, and took Lord Mors Martell to husband. With her help, he vanquished his rivals to rule all Dorne. The Rhoynar influence remains strong. Thus Dornish rulers style themselves "Prince" rather than "King." Under Dornish law, lands and titles pass to the eldest child, not the eldest male. Dorne, alone of the Seven Kingdoms, was never conquered by Aegon the Dragon. It was not permanently joined to the realm until two hundred years later, and then by marriage and treaty, not the sword. Peaceable King Daeron II succeeded where the warriors had failed by wedding the Dornish princess Myriah and giving his own sister in marriage to the reigning Prince of Dorne.
House Martell has long kept neutral in the affairs of Westeros. While Prince Doran Martell (who suffers from terrible gout) is a patient, even-tempered man, his brother Oberyn is feisty and hot-blooded. Oberyn has nurtured a deep hatred of the Lannisters since they were young. When Oberyn and his sister Elia were 15 and 16, they travelled together from Dorne to Casterly Rock, meeting potential suitors and marriage alliances, culminating in a visit to Joanna Lannister to fulfill their mother's wishes that their children would marry. When they arrived, Joanna had just died giving birth, and Lord Tywin Lannister slighted them shamefully, ignoring them for a few weeks before offering Elia the dwarf baby Tyrion, a further slight. Instead, Princess Elia Martell was wed to Rhaegar Targaryen, Prince of Dragonstone, a slight to Tywin who had hoped to marry Cersei to Rhaegar.
Childbirth was hard on Elia, and her first two children left her very weak. When Rhaegar won the Tourney at Harrenhal, he named Lyanna Stark the queen of love and beauty, not Elia. A year later the Prince ran off with Lyanna, sparking Robert's Rebellion. The Martells were unhappy with Rhaegar's betrayal of Elia, but they supported Aerys II's bid to retain the throne since the Mad King held Elia and her children hostage in the Red Keep. House Martell provided a quarter of the royal troops at the Battle of the Trident. The Martells lost many soldiers there, including Prince Lewyn Martell of the Kingsguard. When King's Landing fell, Princess Elia and her children were brutally murdered during the Sack of King's Landing by two Lannister knights, Gregor Clegane and Amory Lorch. Though House Martell swore fealty to King Robert Baratheon after the war, they have harbored anger and resentment towards the Lannisters ever since (now even higher in power due to Cersei's queenhood) and have adopted a mostly isolationist policy ever since, not mixing with the other great houses unless totally necessary, preferring to deal with the Free Cities.
TargaryenCoat of Arms:
a three-headed dragon, red on black, the three heads representing Aegon the Conqueror and his sisters.Seat:
(formerly) Dragonstone Words: Fire and BloodNotable Members:
- King Aerys II, the Mad King (now deceased)
- Prince Rhaegar (eldest son of Aerys, now deceased)
- Viserys (youngest son of Aerys, smuggled out during the sack of King's Landing and rumored to be hiding in the Free Cities) Characteristics:
Full-blooded members of House Targaryen have silvery-white hair and violet eyes. This is commonly attributed to possessing the "blood of the dragon"; however, in reality, it is probably the result of generations of inbreeding.History:
The Targaryens are the blood of the dragon, descended from the high lords of the ancient Freehold of Valyria, their heritage proclaimed in a striking (some say inhuman beauty), with lilac or indigo or violet eyes and hair of silver-gold or platinum white.
Aegon the Dragon's ancestors escaped the Doom of Valyria and the chaos and slaughter that followed to settle on Dragonstone, a rocky island in the narrow sea. It was from there that Aegon and his sisters Visenya and Rhaenys sailed to conquer the Seven Kingdoms. To preserve the royal blood and keep it pure, House Targaryen has often followed the Valyrian custom of wedding brother to sister. Aegon himself took both his sisters to wife, and fathered sons on each.
Aided by his able Hand, Lord Tywin Lannister, King Aerys II began his reign with promise, but became paranoid and increasingly mad over time. His heir, Prince Rhaegar, resolved to be a better monarch and set forth to prove himself. Aerys chose Tywin's heir, Ser Jaime, for his Kingsguard, robbing Tywin of his heir and provoking him to resignation because the King had also rejected Tywin's proposal of a marriage between Rhaegar and Jaime's twin sister, Cersei Lannister. Also during the Tourney at Harrenhal, Prince Rhaegar offended both Robert Baratheon and the Martells of Dorne by naming Robert's betrothed, Lyanna Stark, as Queen of Love and Beauty rather than his own wife, Princess Elia Martell.
Shortly after the tourney, Prince Rhaegar ran off with Lyanna Stark, abducting her. When Lyanna's brother and father protested, Aerys had them killed, thus prompting Robert Baratheon and Eddard Stark to raise their banners in rebellion. Rhaegar took command of the royal troops, leading them to defeat in the Battle of the Trident, where he was killed by Robert Baratheon. Prince Viserys and the pregnant Queen Rhaella fled to Dragonstone. Perfidious Lannisters killed Aerys, Elia, Rhaenys, and the infant Aegon in King's Landing. On Dragonstone, Rhaella died giving birth to Princess Daenerys, who was spirited to the Free Cities along with Viserys by the loyal Ser Willem Darry. Robert Baratheon was crowned king in King's Landing, partially due to his having a Targaryen grandmother.