• Mattie Stu

Game of Thrones Lore - Every King in the North



King in the North was the title given to the ruler of the North during its time as an independent kingdom. As such, House Stark ruled as Kings in the North for thousands of years. Although the title was “retired” following the War of Conquest, a King in the North was once more crowned during the War of the Five Kings. Over the course of Westeros’ history, there have been a total of seven Kings in the North. So, let’s take a look at each one…

Before we look at each of the seven Kings in the North, let’s take a look at the title’s history and what power came with it. The title of King in the North was created before written history even began. By the time the Andals invaded Westeros, the Stark Kings in the North were already ruling Winterfell. They successfully repelled the invading Andals by holding the line of the Neck at the choke point of Moat Cailin. As a result, the North remained the only independent kingdom of the First Men. Due to Winterfell’s close proximity to the Wall, the Kings in the North not only sent men to join the Night’s Watch, but they policed the organisation when needed. Honouring their duty, they executed deserters, intervened in disputes between commanders, and even dealt with threats that managed to slip past the Wall.

By the time the King in the North had gathered his armies to challenge the Targaryen Invaders during the War of Conquest, Aegon the Conqueror had already won the decisive Field of Fire and conquered most of southern Westeros. Seeing that the war had already been the lost and knowing that the Northern armies had no hope of driving back Aegon and his dragons, the King in the North bent the knee, even if it earned him the derogatory nickname “the king who knelt”. However, the action allowed the Starks to continue their rule of the North, though they ultimately served the Iron Throne. Holding titles such as Lord Paramount of the North, Lord of Winterfell, and Warden of the North, the Starks retained their ancient traditions, including their duties policing the Night’s Watch. However, three hundred years later, House Stark rallied behind Robert Baratheon to overthrow the Targaryen dynasty. Although Robert wound up on the Iron Throne in place of the Mad King, Aerys II Targaryen, the Starks suffered the most from the conflict: losing Lyanna, Rickard and Brandon Stark. Although the Starks rarely attended court in King’s Landing, the House continued to faithfully serve the crown as close friends of King Robert. However, after three centuries, the title of King in the North returned during the War of the Five Kings…

So now that we know all about the title of King in the North, let’s look chronologically at every Northern ruler. Legendary hero of the First Men Bran the Builder not only led forces of the North in the War for the Dawn against the White Walkers, and constructed the Wall and Winterfell, but he created the title of King in the North, proclaiming himself as the first. King Brandon Stark followed during the Age of Heroes, and allied with King-Beyond-the-Wall Joramun to defeat the Night’s King and the Night’s Queen, freeing the Night’s Watch from their rule. Next up was King Dorren Stark, who ruled before the Targaryen Conquest. Rodrik Stark succeeded as King in the North, and granted House Mormont lordship over Bear Island after he won it in a wrestling match. King Torrhen Stark was “the king who knelt”, making him the last of the Independent Kings in the North and the first Warden of the North. Around three hundred years later, during the opening stages of the War of the Five Kings, Robb Stark was proclaimed as King in the North by his bannermen. This followed the execution of his father, Eddard Stark, by King Robert’s successor, Joffrey Baratheon. The youngster brashly intended to shock the North into submission by the act. However, instead, the Northern Lords declared that they would never submit to Joffrey, no matter the odds against them. Although Robb never lost a battle, his reign was short-lived. After breaking his oath to marry a daughter of House Frey, he was betrayed at the “Red Wedding” and stabbed by Lord Roose Bolton. Afterwards, the title of King in the North was once more abolished, the North again fell under the rule of the Iron Throne, and House Bolton succeeded the Stark’s power. (Season 6 spoilers coming up!!!) However, former member of the Night’s Watch Jon Snow avenged his “brother’s” death. He led a mixed Northern army in liberating Winterfell and ending House Bolton’s reign over the North. Afterwards, the “White Wolf” was proclaimed as the King in the North, becoming the final man to hold the title (as far as we know)…

Now it’s time for this week’s question: who do you think the greatest King in the North was (or could be if you want to include Jon Snow)? Let me know in the comments below.

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