'Game of Thrones' Family Tree Sheds Light On The Story Development
The world created by author George R.R. Martin is so vast that HBO has enough material to make a bunch of new series, which they may be working on right now. However, sometimes, it’s hard to keep track of the many characters involved in the story of ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’, especially the various people that lived generations ago but are still important to the current narrative. Let’s break it down below.
The Kingdoms of Westeros
Before we get into the people in the most important families of this story, it’s vital to know about the land they inhabit. The continent of Westeros is not the only one in this world, but it’s the focus of most of the narrative. It consists of Seven Kingdoms. Years ago, each Kingdom had their monarch, who ruled over his land.
By the start of ‘Game of Thrones’, however, it’s different. There is only one King who rules over those seven places, but for each land, there’s a distinguished family, which we call a “House”, and they take care of that area on behalf of the King of the Seven Kingdoms. In the North, there is House Stark, and then, The Riverlands which are overseen by House Tully.
House Arryn watches over The Vale, The Stormlands are governed by House Baratheon, Westerland is ruled by House Lannister, The Reach is overseen by House Tyrell, and Dorne is handled by House Martell. They united these areas around 300 years before the story of ‘Game of Thrones’ began, and it was done by Aegon from House Targaryen.
You might notice that we did not mention that Targaryens as keepers of any of the lands of Westeros. To understand more about this family, we have to look back another 300 years and into the continent of Essos, which is much larger than Westeros. The Targaryens come from the city of Valyria, where they raised Dragons.
Back then, a prophecy came up that the city of Valyria was going to be destroyed, which came true, but before that, the family moved to Westeros, specifically to the island of Dragonstone. They lived there normally for hundreds of years until Aegon, and then they moved around Westeros, conquering the lands to eventually unite them into one Kingdom.
Aegon was also the creator of the Iron Throne, build from the swords of his fallen enemies, and also made the city of King’s Landing, the capital of the Seven of Kingdoms, which still remains by the time the show starts. Now that we know all this data, we can look more thoroughly into the most important players in this game.
We will be focusing on the main seven Houses of Westeros and House Targaryen. Eights generations after Aegon I, the Targaryens are still in charge of the Seven Kingdoms with King Maekar I, the father of Maester Aemon and Aegon V, who became King after him. Aegon V is the father of Jaehaerys II and Rhaelle.
Jaehaerys II had Aerys II, otherwise known as the Mad King and is vitally important to the narrative although he has been dead for some time before this story starts. Robert Baratheon is King at the beginning, and we slowly get more information with every new episode. However, on season seven, we got a crucial flashback that confirmed a fan theory that had been going on for ages.
It took place around 17 years before the start of the show, when King Aerys II was still King and his son Rhaegar was the heir. Rhaegar was married to Elia Martell, from the House that oversees Dorne, but he was in love with Lyanna Stark, the House that watches over Winterfell and the sister of Eddard Stark, who was important back in season one.
However, Lyanna was engaged to Robert Baratheon, a good friend of Eddard, before he was King or married to Cersei Lannister. The events that happened next are the whole cause of ‘Game of Thrones’. According to the first rendition of the tale, Rhaegar kidnaped Lyanna, although we learned later that they escaped together because of love, and they got married.
Lyanna’s father, Rickard, and her older brother, Brandon, got mad, and they went to King Aerys II, who killed them for treason. Eddard, also known as Ned, became Lord of House Stark and along with his friend, Robert Baratheon, who was angry because his bride-to-be had been stolen from him, decided to revolt against the Mad King.
This uprising is known as “Robert’s rebellion”, and other Houses joined them, but House Lannister was originally on the side of House Targaryen. However, they changed their minds at the last minute, and Jaime Lannister, who was in the King’s guard at the time, killed King Aerys II. That’s how he earned the name “Kingslayer”.
Robert killed Rhaegar Targaryen, and King Aerys II's other two kids, Viserys and Daenerys, were sent to Essos. Robert Baratheon was named King and had to marry Cersei Lannister because Lyanna died mysteriously. He was King for 17 years, and things were relatively calm from then on. That’s where our story begins. One key aspect to remember is that Robert was a Targaryen, which gave him claim to the Iron Throne.
The Mad King’s Aunt, Rhaelle, who was Robert’s grandmother, was a Targaryen. Robert’s children with Cersei are Joffrey, Myrcella and Tommen, but we later learned that Cersei was having an affair with her own brother Jaime, and the three of them are his children. Meanwhile, Eddard Stark married Catelyn Tully, from the House that overlooks over The Riverlands, and they had five kids, Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran, and Rickon.
However, he allegedly has a sixth son that was born from an encounter with an unknown woman, Jon Snow. In this story, bastard children are not given real House last names, but rather something depending on the region they were born in like Snow, Sand, and others. Catelyn’s sister, Lysa, was married to Jon Arryn, the Head of House Arryn which oversees The Vale, and Hand of the King at the show’s start.
They have a son named Robin, but the important part is that Jon Arryn died under mysterious circumstances right at the beginning. Lysa always blamed the Lannisters, and she alluded that Jon might have been killed after discovering Cersei and Jaime’s relationship, which would shame the Lannister family but also mean that their children cannot take the throne.
The War of the Five Kings
The main aspect of season one is that Robert dies in a hunting accident, starting the War of the Five Kings. Joffrey Baratheon was named King after Robert, but Stannis and Renly Baratheon believed that they were Kings as well. Ned Stark is killed because he discovered that Joffrey and the rest of Cersei’s kids are not Robert’s children, so they have no claim to the Iron Throne.
Therefore, Robb Stark was proclaimed King of the North, and Balon Greyjoy from the Iron Islands, a set of islands that do not really belong in Westeros, decided to declare independence after Robert’s death. To recap, Joffrey, Stannis, Renly, Robb, and Balon are the Five Kings in this new war. Renly married Margaery Martell, but he is a homosexual and in love with Loras Martell, his wife’s brother.
Renly is killed by the priestess that serves of the Lord of Light and has sided with Stannis. Then, Margaery got engaged to Joffrey. Meanwhile, Robb had trouble with the allies in the North, so he promised Walder Frey that he would marry one of his daughters, but fell in love with Talisa, marrying her instead. Robb had his uncle Edmure Tully marry one of the Frey’s girls.
Thus, the Red Wedding happened because Walder Frey made a deal with the Lannisters, killing Robb, Talisa, his mother and those that sided with them. We’re down to three Kings. Regarding the rest of the Stark kids, Sansa was to marry Joffrey before the death of her father, but they had her marry Tyrion Lannister later on.
After the death of Robb, House Bolton, who also helped the Freys during the Red Wedding, took over the North. Sansa’s marriage to Tyrion was not consummated and when she escaped King’s Landing, Littlefinger had her marry Ramsay Bolton, one of the evilest characters in the show. Arya Stark disappeared after the death of Ned and later trained as a killer to fulfill her list of names.
Brandon goes beyond the Wall to become the Three-Eyed Raven, and Rickon was killed by Ramsay Bolton during the Battle of the Bastards. Theon Greyjoy, the original son of Balon, was a ward of the Starks, but he turned against them and was later captured and tortured by Ramsay. Meanwhile, Jon Snow had joined the Night’s Watch in season one.
They guard The Wall, a structure made thousands of years ago to protect Westeros from the White Walkers, creatures that by the time the show begins are thought of as fables. Jon was named Commander of the Night’s Watch at one point and killed for letting the Wildings through the Wall. However, he was brought back to the life by the Stannis’ priestess who had fled after he failed to defeat the Boltons despite sacrificing his daughter to the Lord of Light.
Joffrey was killed during his wedding to Margaery, the Purple Wedding, and Tommen became the new King. He married Margaery also. Balon Greyjoy was killed by his own brother, Euron, meaning that all the original Five Kings are now dead. A religious group took over King’s Landing, and Cersei was even shamed into walking the streets naked.
She decided to blow their church up with Wildfire, which killed Margaery and Loras. Tommen killed himself, and Cersei became Queen because her daughter, Myrcella, had been killed in Dorne. Now, let’s get into one of the most important characters that we have yet to mention in detail, Daenerys Targaryen. While all that fighting and backstabbing happened in Westeros, she was rising to power in Essos.
Her brother died in season one, and she married Khal Drogo, but he died from an infected wound caused by a witch. She became the only living heir of King Aerys II after Khal Drogo killed her abusive brother, or so we thought. She traveled through Essos with her dragons, conquered cities, freed the Unsullied and other slaves, gaining one of the greatest armies in this world.
By the end of season six, she and her followers were crossing the Narrow Sea to Westeros. They arrived in Dragonstone. At this point, we all believed that she was the only person with a real claim to the throne because of her Targaryen blood. However, on season seven, through the flashback we mentioned above, the show finally revealed that Jon Snow is the son of Lyanna and Rhaegar Targaryen.
Before her death, Lyanna gave her son to her brother, Ned, and told him that his name was Aegon. Since his father was King Aerys II’s heir, Jon actually has more claim to the Iron Throne than Daenerys, who is also his aunt. However, neither of them knows this, and they joined forces to defeat the White Walkers, becoming lovers in the process.
Therefore, the Five Kings are gone, and instead, we have Two Queens, Cersei and Daenerys, but they cannot fight against each other until the threat from the North, the Night’s King and his White Walkers, is defeated. The army of the dead broke through the Wall, and they are heading South for the rest of Westeros. That’s how season seven ended, and season eight, which is also the final season, will premiere on April 2019.
What did you think of the complicated story of ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’? We did not get into all the details but rather focused on those pertaining to the heir of the Iron Throne. Do you think Daenerys will rule the land or Jon? If you liked this article, share it with your friends who love discussing season eight theories. See you next time!
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