Will We Finally Get To Meet the Starks of Winterfell on ‘House of the Dragon’?
Winter is coming, babes!
The final episode of House of the Dragon just premiered, and, among the many shocking or noteworthy events — looking at you Vhagar — that we’ve seen happen, in the aftermath of Viserys’s death, there was the mentioning of one name that made a lot of fans’ ears perk up.
After all, the Starks of Winterfell was the first Great House of Westeros we were introduced to in Game of Thrones. So, let’s have a look at where they stand during the events of the Dance of the Dragons. In particular, let’s get to know their lord, with whom Rhaenyra wants to treat to ensure the North’s support of her cause, as she said during her first council as Queen in Episode 10.
Who Are the Starks?
The Starks have ruled over the North for thousands of years and have been loyal to the Targaryens ever since the days of the Conquest. It was then that the last King in the North, Torrhen Stark, bent the knee to Aegon the Conqueror to spare the North from being burned into oblivion.
Torrhen Stark — whom Daenerys even mentions to Jon during their first meeting in Season 7 — was forevermore known as the King Who Knelt, and Aegon made the Starks his Wardens of the North. The entire region transitioned smoothly into the forming new realm, becoming the largest of all the lands under the rule of the Iron Throne. It did remain, however, always a bit removed and disinterested in the royal politics happening in King’s Landing. Northerners are in general a bit different from the other peoples of the Seven Kingdoms, something that we see remarked times and times again in Game of Thrones.
What Are the Starks Doing During ‘House of the Dragon’?
At the time of the Dance of the Dragons, House Stark is under the command of young Cregan Stark— son of Rickon Stark and Lady Gilliane Glover, who had taken up the responsibilities of Lord of Winterfell at the very young age of thirteen. His rule over the North started with the regency of his uncle, whom Cregan actually had imprisoned when he refused to give up the seat of Lord of Winterfell once the young lord had reached the age of majority and could therefore command on his own.
By the time Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen reminds House Stark of their oath to her and calls for Winterfell’s support in her cause, Lord Cregan is twenty-one. He has a one-year-old son, named Rickon after Cregan’s father. His first wife, Lady Arra Norrey, died in childbirth, like pretty much every single other noble lady in Westeros.
He becomes friends with the envoy Rhaenyra sends him, Prince Jacaerys Velaryon. The two are close in age and end up swearing the Pact of Ice and Fire, promising Lord Cregan’s support to the blacks in exchange for Jacaerys’s future firstborn daughter marrying Cregan’s son and becoming Lady of Winterfell.
One of the three sources of the chronicle of Fire & Blood, the court jester Mushroom, tells that Cregan Stark also had a bastard half-sister, Sara Snow. According to Mushroom, she and Prince Jacaerys fell in love and married in secret— but the other sources, Septon Eustace and Maester Munkun, doubt that Sara even existed or that Jacaerys would betray his long engagement to Lady Baela Targaryen, ascribing the whole thing to Mushroom’s love for scandalous tales, whether they be real or imagined.
A first Northern host descended through the Neck and clashed with the Greens in the Riverlands, which pretty much always end up a bloody battlefield whenever there’s a war in the Seven Kingdoms.
Cregan, known to history as the Wolf of the North, will remain loyal to his word to the end, making true on what Rhaenyra said in Episode 10, that “there has never lived a Stark who forgot an oath”. He’s definitely a key player of the Dance of the Dragons and there are very good chances we’ll see him and his castle appear on screen next season.
***From now on, the article will contain spoilers from Fire & Blood about the future seasons of House of the Dragon. Be warned. ***
What Is the Hour Of the Wolf In ‘Fire & Blood’?
Once Rhaenyra had fled from King’s Landing — well into the Dance, and actually towards its bloody and gruesome end — Lord Cregan Stark sent word to her that he would gather up a host and march south as soon as the last harvest of the season was done. Before he could start his long journey down the Kingsroad, however, Rhaenyra was captured and killed on Dragonstone by her half-brother Aegon— who fed her to his dragon, Sunfyre.
That didn’t stop Cregan. He passed through the Riverlands with the intent of marching on powerful Green seats in the South, from Storm’s End to Oldtown— but he stopped and held court in the Red Keep of King’s Landing, dispensing justice for a period of six days which would become known to history as the Hour of the Wolf.
He imprisoned many of those who were responsible for the poisoning of King Aegon II, since he was opposed to the idea of a king being killed by such shameful means rather than in battle. Like a true Stark, Cregan also punished many lords who hadn’t been true to their vows.
Eventually, he was persuaded to put a true end to the fighting— in no small part thanks to Alysanne Blackwood, known as Black Aly, daughter of the noble House Blackwood of the Riverlands, whom Cregan ended up marrying. The two returned North after the young King Aegon III was installed on the Iron Throne.
Cregan Stark would go on to have a long life, ruling over the North for at least thirty more years— so much so that his monicker changed into “the Old Man of the North”. He had the chance to cross swords with Prince Aemon the Dragonknight, the son of King Viserys II and brother of King Aegon IV, who said that there had never been a finer swordsman.
Like all the other members of House Stark, his body rests in the crypts underneath Winterfell— he’s mentioned in one of Bran’s chapters in A Game of Thrones when he’s visiting the crypts with Osha.
(source: AWOIAF; image: HBO)
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