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Sansa Stark is crowned Queen in the North.

"Jon Snow avenged the Red Wedding! He is the White Wolf! The King in the North!"
―Lord Wyman Manderly proclaims Jon Snow his new king.[src]

King in the North (feminine equivalent being Queen in the North) is the title given to the ruler of the North during its time as an independent kingdom, before and after the coming of the Targaryens. A colloquial title also used for the rulers of the North was the "Kings of Winter". House Stark rules the North as its monarchs as they have been for thousands of years before Aegon's Conquest.

History of the title

The Ancient Kings of Winter

The ancient crown of the King in the North

House Stark ruled as Kings in the North stretching back into the mists of time, before written history began six thousand years ago, when the Andals invaded all of southern Westeros. When the Andals arrived, the Stark Kings in the North were already ruling at Winterfell. According to legend, the first King in the North was Brandon Stark, better known as Bran the Builder, who lived eight thousand years ago. According to the legends, he led the forces of the North in the War for the Dawn against the White Walkers and built the Wall to guard against their return, and also began construction of Winterfell. The Kings in the North were successfully able to fend off the Andals from invading, 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, with little to no ethnic imprint by the Andals. This also meant that the Faith of the Seven practiced by the Andals gained little foothold in the North, where the Kings of Winter continued their worship of the Old Gods of the Forest.

Although all the kings of Westeros sent men to join the Night's Watch, the Kings in the North, due to their proximity to the Wall, had the duty of policing the Watch when needed. In this capacity, they executed deserters, intervened in disputes amongst commanders, and even on some occasions dealt with threats that somehow slipped past the Wall.

The Targaryen Conquest

King Torrhen submits to King Aegon I.

During the War of Conquest, by the time King Torrhen Stark gathered his armies to challenge the invaders, Aegon the Conqueror had already won the decisive Field of Fire and conquered most of southern Westeros. Seeing that the war was already lost and that the Northern armies had no hope of driving back Aegon's armies and his dragons, Torrhen wisely chose to spare his people by bending the knee, although it earned him the derisive nickname "the king who knelt". In return for Torrhen's submission, Aegon allowed House Stark to continue ruling the North as they had for thousands of years, but as vassals of the Iron Throne. They held the titles of Lord Paramount of the North, Lord of Winterfell, and Warden of the North. The Starks thus retained their ancient positions and traditions, including their duties policing the Night's Watch.[1][2][3][4]

Three centuries later, House Stark was amongst the rebel houses during Robert's Rebellion, in which the Targaryen dynasty was deposed and Robert crowned as the new king. The Starks were actually the primary wounded party of the events leading up to the rebellion: Lyanna Stark was allegedly kidnapped by Rhaegar Targaryen, while her father Rickard and brother Brandon were brutally murdered on trumped-up charges of treason by King Aerys.

After the war, House Stark continued to faithfully serve the crown, as King Robert of House Baratheon was one of their closest friends, although they rarely attended court in King's Landing.

The New Kings in the North

"There sits the only king I mean to bend my knee to: the King in the North!"
―Lord Greatjon Umber, indicating King Robb Stark[src]

During the opening stages of the War of the Five Kings, Lord Robb Stark was proclaimed as the new King in the North by his bannermen, the first in 300 years. Outraged by the imprisonment and then wanton execution of Robb's father Eddard by Robert's successor Joffrey Baratheon, the noble lords of the North openly rebelled against the Iron Throne. Joffrey had brashly intended to shock the North into submission by executing Ned Stark, but instead, this drove the Northern lords to their decision that they would never submit to Joffrey, no matter the odds against them. At a council of Robb's bannermen, some were undecided about whether they should support the rival claims to the throne by Robert's younger brothers, Stannis Baratheon or even Renly Baratheon.

Robb Stark is proclaimed "King in the North" by the lords of the North and Riverlands.

Greatjon Umber, who was tired of being ruled by southern lords thousands of miles away, pointed out that it was the Dragon-Kings of House Targaryen that the North had submitted to, but now they were dead. Robert Baratheon had been their ally, but now he was dead too, and his younger brothers meant nothing to him. Meanwhile, the truth of Joffrey's origins are being circulated, as Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen are not Robert's children nor of Baratheon blood, but the illegitimate offspring of Cersei and Jaime Lannister with no claim to the Baratheon line. At the council, Lord Umber declared that there is only one king he would ever serve, the King in the North. Rickard Karstark, Maege Mormont, Galbart Glover, and Jonos Bracken, a local riverlord, were among those who swore fealty to Robb, as did Theon Greyjoy. The call was then taken up by all of Robb's bannermen, chanting "the King in the North!"[5] Soon after being declared King in the North by acclamation of his bannermen, King Robb sent a formal declaration of independence to the Queen Regent, Cersei Lannister, proclaiming that "from this time until the end of time we are a free and independent kingdom."[6]

Robb was declared king by not just the northern lords, but also several of the lords of the Riverlands, as the Starks had come to relieve the Riverlands from an invasion by the Lannisters. Also, Robb's mother is Catelyn Tully, daughter of Hoster Tully, the lord of Riverrun, and thus Robb is by rights a blood relation of House Tully, the liege lords of the Riverlands. Therefore, King Robb's claimed kingdom includes both the North and the Riverlands. However, in practice, during the course of the War of the Five Kings, Robb's forces only maintain firm control of the Riverlands north of the River Trident, particularly around the regional capital of Riverrun. All of the Riverlands south of here, between the Red Fork of the Trident and the Gods Eye, are a warzone between Lannister and Stark forces.

The "Kingdom of the North" came to a temporary end after the Red Wedding when Roose Bolton, who conspired with House Frey and House Lannister, initiated a massacre of the northern army and personally stabbed Robb Stark through the heart.[7] After that, he became the new Warden of the North as a reward by Tywin Lannister.[8]

Jon Snow is declared King in the North.

However, the "Kingdom of the North" was reestablished after a short few years under Bolton rule, when the Starks led by Jon Snow and Sansa Stark later gathered an army of Northern Houses still loyal to House Stark, the Free Folk, and the Knights of the Vale and retook Winterfell from the Boltons.[9] With the Boltons defeated, Jon Snow was proclaimed the new King in the North, reasserting the North's independence from the Iron Throne, this time allied with the Vale of Arryn - whose Lord Paramount, Robin Arryn, is also a grandson of Hoster Tully - instead of the Riverlands, which had recently been completely dominated by the Lannisters and Freys due to their victory at the Second Siege of Riverrun. However, Walder Frey and all of his sons were secretly massacred shortly afterward by Arya Stark in retaliation for their roles in the Red Wedding, severely weakening the Freys' hold on the Riverlands.[10]

In order to gain her full support in the Great War, Jon bent the knee to Queen Daenerys Targaryen, renouncing his title as king and reintegrating the North and the Vale into the Seven Kingdoms once they defeat the White Walkers, and House Targaryen reascends to the Iron Throne. However, Bran Stark and Samwell Tarly, with the help of Gilly, have discovered that "Jon" is in fact the legitimate son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, with his real name being Aegon Targaryen. Being the son of Rhaegar puts him ahead of Daenerys in the line of succession to the Iron Throne.[11]

After the death of Daenerys Targaryen, Sansa Stark declared independence from the Iron Throne and thus the "Kingdom in the North" was reestablished once again. While her brother Bran Stark ruled the Six Kingdoms, Sansa became the new Queen in the North.[12]

List of Kings and Queens in the North

Ancient Kings in the North

New Kings in the North (298 AC–Present)

  • 298–300 AC: Robb Stark, also known as "The Young Wolf" and "The King Who Lost the North"
  • 303–304 AC: Jon Snow, also known as "The White Wolf"
  • 305 AC–Present: Sansa Stark

In the books

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the monarchs of the Stark proto-kingdom centered around Winterfell itself called themselves the "Kings of Winter", back when the North was divided into over a dozen petty kingdoms. Gradually, the Kings of Winter extended their hegemony over these other petty kingdoms, eliminating them or absorbing them through marriage, and uniting them from time to time in alliance to throw back wildling invasions, etc. Their greatest rivals were the Red Kings of House Bolton, whose kingdom was centered around the Dreadfort on the eastern shore. The Starks finally subdued the Boltons and unified the North just around the time that the Coming of the Andals began, about 6,000 years ago. As a sign of their new control over the entire region, they gradually shifted from calling themselves "Kings of Winter" to calling themselves "Kings in the North" around this time (the phrasing is always "King in the North", never "King of the North"). They were still sometimes also colloquially called the "Kings of Winter" up until the Targaryen Conquest.

According to myth, the first King of Winter was Bran the Builder, the great lord who built Winterfell, the Wall, and founded the Night's Watch following the defeat of the White Walkers at the Battle for the Dawn. The King in the North held all the lands of the North south to the Neck, where the ancient fortress of Moat Cailin threw back every invasion attempt by the southern kingdoms and, later, the Andals.

Before Robb Stark, the last King in the North was Torrhen Stark. During the invasion of Aegon the Conqueror, Torrhen led a great host to the banks of the Red Fork of the Trident, meaning to give battle, but after hearing tales of the Field of Fire and upon seeing the size of Aegon's host and the presence of his dragons, Torrhen realized his cause was hopeless. Instead, he knelt and swore fealty to Aegon. Aegon acknowledged him and House Stark as the rulers of the North in the name of the Iron Throne.

Many kings are mentioned in the final chapter of "A Clash of Kings", among them: Edwyn the Spring King, Brandon the Burner, Brandon the Shipwright, Benjen the Bitter, Benjen the Sweet, and Theon Stark.

They had a crown that was lost to Aegon the Conqueror. In "A Clash of Kings", Robb Stark has a new one made, matching the old one to a very precise description: an open circlet of bronze with no gemstones, topped by a row of nine black iron spikes shaped like longswords. The crown was made of only simple iron and bronze because they are the metals of war.

As of the latest published book, "A Dance With Dragons", Jon Snow's chapters end in the mutiny against him at Castle Black and as such, it is currently unknown if he will become the King in the North in future books. While it is revealed that Jon is Robb's chosen successor (prior to his death, Robb signed a royal decree that made Jon his heir), Jon remains unaware of this position and his fate after the mutiny is uncertain.

See also