Wiki of Westeros

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Wiki of Westeros
Wiki of Westeros
Theon Greyjoy bow

Theon Greyjoy, ward of Lord Eddard Stark.

Theon Greyjoy: "I've been Lord Stark's ward since I was eight years old."
Ros: "Ward? That's a nice word for it."
Ros mocking Theon Greyjoy[src]

A ward[1] is a member of a noble house who has been taken in by another noble family to be raised for a time. The practice varies, with it sometimes being undertaken voluntarily, for example, to help prospective heirs learn the customs of other regions of Westeros as part of their education. It can also happen involuntarily, with the "ward" actually being a hostage to force his or her family into good behavior or until a ransom is paid. Sometimes, as part of marriage alliances, one of the betrothed is taken as a ward so he or she can get to know his or her future spouse.

In cases of wards who are political hostages, because they are of noble blood and valuable in the peace agreement, they are not treated as mere prisoners to be thrown in a castle's dungeons. Such wards are treated with full courtly etiquette as noble guests, and quite often are treated as essentially foster children of their "captor". Such hostage-wards are given free run of the castle they are staying in, eat at the lord's table, and are essentially raised alongside the lord's own children. The only limit is that they are forbidden to leave the bounds of their host's lands and return to their original homes.

While wards fall under the Lord's protection as a member of his household, their relationship is not technically seen as enjoying benefits of guest right, particularly for wards who are political hostages. Thus Theon Greyjoy was not accused of violating guest right when he betrayed the Starks, which would have been a far worse crime.


House of the Dragon: Season 1[]

Prince Daeron Targaryen is the ward of his maternal relatives, House Hightower, in Oldtown.[2]

Following the death of her mother Laena Velaryon, and the presumed death of her uncle Laenor Velaryon, Baela Targaryen is raised as the ward of her grandmother, Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, on Driftmark.[3]

Game of Thrones: Season 1[]

Littlefinger reminisces with Eddard Stark about how the latter's brother injured him in a duel fought for the honor of Catelyn Tully while he was a ward of Catelyn's father.[4]

Theon Greyjoy was given up by his father and surrendered to the custody of Eddard Stark following Balon's failed rebellion, which ended with the deaths of his two elder sons, Rodrik and Maron. Although Theon was raised and educated by the Starks and treated well, he was nevertheless a hostage as well as a ward, something that rankles with him when Tyrion taunts him over the matter.[5]

Following the arrest and execution of her father, Sansa becomes a ward and hostage of Queen Cersei Lannister.[6]

Game of Thrones: Season 2[]

As part of a marriage alliance arranged by Tyrion, Myrcella is taken to Sunspear as a ward of House Martell so she will get to know her betrothed, Prince Trystane Martell.[7]

Game of Thrones: Season 5[]

Robin Arryn, the Defender of the Vale, is left by Littlefinger to be fostered at Runestone by Lord Yohn Royce.[8][9]

As a ward is theoretically a member of his host family, he can give away a bride from his host family if her father or brothers cannot. As such, Theon gives away Sansa to be married to Ramsay Bolton.[10]


Theon Greyjoy: "Sansa of the House Stark comes here to be wed. A woman grown, trueborn and noble. She comes to beg the blessings of the Gods. Who comes to claim her?"
Ramsay Bolton: "Ramsay of House Bolton, heir to the Dreadfort and Winterfell. Who gives her?"
Theon Greyjoy: "Theon of House Greyjoy, who was...who was her father's ward."
Theon Greyjoy[src]

In the books[]

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, wardship or fostering is seen as an honorable and common tradition. The ward is an honorary member of the House for the duration of his or her stay, including having a raised social status if he or she is from a lesser House. Fostering frequently results in close ties and sometimes alliances being formed between Houses from different sides of the continent. Most notably, Eddard Stark first met Robert Baratheon when they were both wards of Lord Jon Arryn of the Eyrie, leading to their lifelong friendship and an alliance between their Houses.

Jon Arryn intended to have his son Robert fostered by Stannis Baratheon (other characters claim that Robert was to be fostered by Tywin Lannister). Although this plan was totally in keeping with expectations for noble boys in Westeros, the mentally unstable Lysa could not bear the idea of being separated from her son, and this (along with Littlefinger's motivation) led her to kill her husband.


In real life, it has been common practice throughout history for defeated lords to hand over one of their children as a hostage to be raised as the ward of a victorious lord. The hostages were treated well according to their social rank, but kept as a guarantee that should the defeated party break the truce, their children could be easily killed. The practice dates back to ancient history and there are numerous examples from the time of the Roman Empire, e.g. Aetius, the last great Roman general who lived during the fifth century and defeated Attila the Hun, knew Hun battle tactics because he had been raised as a political hostage at the Hun court. The practice of handing over hostages to be raised as wards was also commonly used in the Middle Ages, and even into the Early Modern era.


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