Secrets of Westeros: Who are Jon Snow’s Parents?

By Monique Jacobs on Jul 2, 2012 to Game of Thrones

Do you find yourself asking questions like, ‘Is my mother alive?’ and, ‘Does she know about me, where I am, where I’m going? Does she care?’ as you prepare to ride for a massive, frozen man-made structure up North?  No, because your name isn’t Jon Snow and you don’t live in the world of Westeros where whorehouses welcome you (your money) with open arms, where the invitation is accepted with such regularity, it’s equivalent to having a membership and where infidelity is the national pastime.

Bastards are spawned ad nauseum and there’s very little concern about whether or not mommy or daddy will be around to change the diapers.

With regards to everyone’s favourite bastard, however, people want answers.
Jon-Snow-jon-snow-25851985-500-282-300x169Who is Jon Snow’s mother?   This is one of the most frequently debated topics amongst book readers as well as non-book readers.

Is she a whore that Ned met while fighting alongside Robert Baratheon?   Is it The Lady Ashara Dayne, the sister of Ser Arthur Dayne who was killed by Ned during combat?

It’s Robert Baratheon’s remark, ‘’ She must have been a rare wench to make Lord Stark forget his honor” that I’m using to spark this debate.   Rare wench, indeed.  You could even use the word ‘fictional’ if you like.  Catelyn Stark notes that ‘Whoever Jon’s mother had been, Ned must have loved her fiercely, because nothing she said ‘would persuade him to send the boy away.’  Yes, Ned did, in fact, love Jon’s mother fiercely.  Contradiction at its best?  Not quite.  Please take a moment to appreciate the dramatic irony.

I all but fell out of my chair when I received the go-ahead to present the theory that has everyone’s knickers in an excited twist.    Before proceeding, I’d like to draw your attention to the fact that all the events referred to in this article took place before the series starts.  Also, remember that George R.R. Martin has yet to divulge who Jon’s parents are.   He, alone, knows the answer to the delectable enigma that he’s created.  This is, at best, speculation.

Albeit cleverly supported speculation.

‘Lord Eddard Stark is my father.’   Jon says to Tyrion Lannister in episode one.  When pulling at the thread of this particular claim, the secret begins to unravel.  No, my dove, I’m afraid he isn’t.

But, even at the tender age of fourteen, Jon is described as bearing the most striking resemblance to the Starks than any of his half-siblings.  Catelyn observes that he ‘looked more like Ned than any of the trueborn sons she bore him.’ Curious.  Unless you entertain the widely popular belief that Ned is, in fact, Jon’s uncle and that his sister, Lyanna Stark, and Rhaegar Targaryen were Jon’s biological parents.   Just when you think Jon can’t possibly get any sexier/more interesting, gods old and new, the half-dragon card gets played.

Let’s try to uncover one of the realm’s best kept secrets, shall we?

Lord Eddard Stark is a man of indisputable honour and loyalty.  But, as the story is said to go, the noble Lord marries Catelyn Tully and she falls pregnant with his son, Robb.  The newly wed then has to embark upon Robert’s Rebellion and, during this time period, he casts aside his husbandly duty  – such a Ned thing to do – and beds another woman while the mother of his unborn child waits for him at Riverrun.  A year after his departure, he returns to Winterfell with an illegitimate bundle of joy.

Can we put this version of the event to eternal rest?   Immediately?   Those who have come to understand Ned know that he is governed by nothing short of sainthood.

Lord Stark’s unwaveringly noble disposition aside, what other evidence is there to support this theory?   I’m thrilled you asked because it took an hour to find the relevant book passages and episode scenes.

The first seed of suspicion should begin to grow in light of just how little information is provided about said affair in relation to how prominently the subject of who Jon’s mother’s is, features in the story.  The hearsay accounts are ambivalent and disparities exist when the identity of the woman comes into play.  The question arises far too often for it not to have a significant answer.   And amidst all the speculation, what’s Ned doing?  Why, he’s busy evading and deflecting questions while wearing a most aggrieved expression on his face of course.
robert-and-ned-high-dressNow, Robert Baratheon seems certain of Jon’s mother’s identity.  While lunching along the King’s Road and engaging in a bout of ‘Who bedded whom?’ nostalgia, he poses the question to Ned, “Yours was, Elena.  You told me once, your bastard’s mother.  Meryl?”  To which Ned reluctantly responds, “Wylla.”  Robert goes on to say, ‘’You never told me what she looked like.”  Ned’s answer signals the end of the discussion. “Nor will I.”  Well, there you have it, case closed.  It is known.  Is it?  If her identity is this uncomplicated, why won’t Ned share the information or even so much as her name with Jon?

Or clarify the matter with his wife who suspects that The Lady Ashara Dayne is Jon’s mother?  Oh dear.  Upon her return to Winterfell, she finds baby Jon and his wet nurse setting up home.   It’s understandable that a wife would have a few questions about the new addition to the family.  But Ned, who isn’t prone to displays of insensitivity, hurts Catelyn deeply by remaining tight-lipped.   After the whispers from the rumour mill reach her ears of the beautiful Lady Ashara, she musters the courage to ask Ned about her.  His response marks the first time that Catelyn is ever truly frightened of her husband.   ‘“Never ask me about Jon,” he said, cold as ice. “He is my blood, and that is all you need to know.”’

‘He is my blood’.  The phrasing is crucial.  Again, in episode two, Jon rides for the Night’s Watch and, before they part ways on the King’s road, Ned says, “The Starks have manned the Wall for thousands of years.   You may not have my name but you have my blood.‘  The folks of Westeros may refer to Jon as Ned’s bastard son, but does Ned ever use the word ‘son’?   The subtlety of the wording would be completely lost on anyone who isn’t asking the right questions.  Ned certainly can’t be accused of lying.  If Lyanna is Jon’s mother, Stark blood does indeed flow through his veins.  Ned’s is an act of omission.  It’s my feeling that he loathes fueling any lies but he’s not prepared to reveal the truth either.  His words and responses are selected with careful deliberation.

But why the need for secrecy?  The answer to this question hinges on the magnitude of Robert’s hatred towards the Targaryens and the promise that Ned made to Lyanna as a result of that hatred.

Ned’s transgression was said to have occurred during Robert’s Rebellion against the Targaryens, but we’re working from the basis that there was no affair.  Let’s proceed.

It was believed that Rhaegar Targaryen kidnapped  Lyanna  – Robert’s betrothed –  and that he raped her numerous times.   Now, I’m using the words ‘kidnapped’ and ‘raped’ very loosely because it’s a belief that, I suspect, originated with Robert.

And Robert was biased.  His feelings towards Rhaegar soured the moment Rhaegar made his interest in Lyanna uncomfortably known at the Tourney at Harrenhal.  Rhaegar was declared the champion and ‘Ned remembered the moment when all the smiles died, when Prince Rhaegar Targaryen urged his horse past his own wife, the Dornish Princess Elia Martell, to lay the Queen of Beauty’s laurel in Lyanna’s lap. He could see it still: a crown of winter roses, blue as frost.’

Roughly a year later (to commemorate the event?) Rhaegar ‘kidnapped’ her (I would’ve suggested sending a card instead.)  This roused Robert’s fury.

Perhaps I’m mistaken, but Rhaegar Targaryen doesn’t fit the profile of ‘wicked rapist.’  Adored by the smallfolk, he was described as an intelligent, honourable, valiant man who often succumbed to melancholy.  He excelled at knighthood but he preferred to read books and play the harp.  He could sing ‘songs of such beauty they could reduce women to tears’ – a most dreadful fellow indeed.  Married to Elia Martell, he fathered two children with her.  His only crime may have been that he loved another woman.

Lyanna Stark was no delicate flower either.  She was blessed with unrivaled beauty, but she was described as a very headstrong, stubborn young girl (much like her niece, Arya).  Her feelings towards Robert were ambivalent.  She may have cared for him, but I couldn’t find any definitive evidence to suggest that she loved him as she should have.  If Lyanna was taken to King’s Landing, it’s because she went willingly.  If she had intimate relations with Rhaegar, they were consensual.  Rhaegar loved her and I believe she loved him in return.  These are possibilities that didn’t enter Robert’s mind.  In his eyes, Lyanna could do no wrong.  “You never knew Lyanna as I did, Robert.” Ned once remarked.

But Rhaegar’s life, the nature of his relationship with Lyanna, the prophecy and the metaphorical three-headed dragon are a 2900 word story for another time.

Ned’s father, Rickard and his brother, Brandon, rode to King’s Landing to reclaim Lyanna, but it was an unsuccessful mission.  You see, the Mad King, Aerys Targaryen, had other plans – he decided to murder them instead.  Don’t worry, your Grace, Jaime Lannister’s got your back.

The murder of Ned’s father and brother is what triggered Robert’s Rebellion and, with the Mad King slayed, Robert eventually won the Iron Throne as well as the title of ‘Usurper’.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1C9KxfJjwoc

We’re (purposefully) provided with very few details, but it was also sometime during the campaign that Lyanna died.  Her death unleashed Robert’s full devastation, fury and hatred.  Ned had loved his sister ‘with all his heart.  Robert had loved her even more.’

Ned notes that ‘Robert’s hatred of the Targaryens was a madness in him.’  And it was a madness that drove a rift between the two of them for a period of time.  When Tywin Lannister presented the bodies of Rhaegar’s family to Robert , ‘Ned had named that murder; Robert called it war.’  Ned couldn’t advocate the murder of children but Robert’s reply was, “I see no babes.  Only dragonspawn.”

Robert sought his vengeance and he found it.  He killed Rhaegar at the Battle of the Trident but the victory was a hollow one.  He felt that even a thousand deaths would not have been good enough for the Targaryen Prince.  And, to him, Rhaegar was the victorious one because, in death, he still had Lyanna.  Robert’s unquenchable bitterness and hatred stretched out its hand to all of Rhaegar’s kin.  Viserys and Daenerys Targareyn – Rhaegar’s younger siblings – were smuggled out of Westeros and across the Narrow Sea in the nick of time.   His hatred was to be his companion for the rest of his life.  Only later, on his deathbed, did he have a change of heart and instruct Ned to revoke the order to have Daenerys killed.

Here’s where a very interesting point arises.  Whenever Robert reflects and rages, Ned offers a few pacifying words and waits for the tirade to end.   It begs the question, ‘Why is Eddard Stark so damn chilled?’ He doesn’t need to show his grief by killing babies, but if Rhaegar really did kidnap and rape Lyanna , the sister that he loved so much, shouldn’t his anger match at least a fraction of Robert’s?  Why does Ned seem to remember the young Prince in a way that suggests admiration, even sadness?

Ned, is there something you’re not telling Bobbie?

“Promise me, Ned.”   These are Lyanna’s final words.  He often recalls them and, coupled with the memory that they conjure, they torment him for the rest of his life. ‘He could hear her still at times. “Promise me,” she had cried, in a room that smelled of blood and roses.  “Promise me, Ned.’’’ While the circumstances of her death may be vague, we know one thing for certain.  Ned was with her when she died.

There’s the admission that he can scarcely recall the moment when they found him, still clutching Lyanna’s body.  The book structures Ned’s memory in a manner that feels fragmented and incomplete.  It’s also written in such a way as to lead one to believe that what she’s asking of him is to be buried in the crypt at Winterfell, ‘to rest beside Brandon and Father.’  However the weight of the burden that’s placed on his shoulders isn’t in keeping with such a small request.  He describes honouring the promise as his curse. ‘Robert would swear undying love and forget them before evenfall, but Ned Stark kept his vows. He thought of the promises he’d made Lyanna as she lay dying, and the price he’d paid to keep them.’

Price?

‘I promise, Lya.  I promise.’  And he kept his promise.  He didn’t reveal that that Lyanna had fallen pregnant, that Jon was her son and that Rhaegar, not him, was his father.  This is a hefty claim, I know.

Let’s examine it.  Various passages describe it simply as a fever that took her life, but the ‘bed of blood’ reference could suggest that Lyanna died while giving birth to Jon.  Ned doesn’t mention a baby, but as I said, it feels as though we’re privy to a partial memory only.

The peace of mind that his word offers her is staggering.  ‘The fever had taken her strength and her voice had been faint as a whisper, but when he gave her his word, the fear had gone out of his sister’s eyes.  Ned remembered the way she had smiled then, how tightly her fingers had clutched his as she gave up her hold on life, the rose petals spilling from her palm, dead and black’

Sidenote:  Rose petals you say?  ‘Lyanna loved the scent of winter roses.’  Wasn’t it thoughtful of Rhaegar to present her with a crown of the flowers that she loved?  Very sweet.  I wish I had the time/space/patience to explore the importance of the symbology.

What was Lyanna so fearful of?  Simply put, she didn’t want her son to move to the top of Robert Baratheon’s hit list.

‘She belonged with me.  In my dreams, I kill him every night.’ Robert says.  ‘It’s done your grace. The Targaryens are gone’ is Ned’s response.

‘Not all of them.‘

But Robert is, of course, referring to Viserys and Daenerys Targaryen.  Perhaps Jon will be safe, even if his true identity is known.

‘I’ll kill every Targaryen I get my hands on.’ Perhaps not.

Allow me to be frank.  It’s possible that Robert and Lyanna consummated their betrothal, but it seems unlikely to me and, once again, there’s no real evidence to support the claim that they did.  Robert loved Lyanna, I think she’s the one thing he would’ve wanted to keep sacred.  I feel he would’ve waited to consummate the union after they were married.  This could further explain the intensity of his rage.  In his eyes, it could never have been anything other than ‘rape’.  Rhaegar had been the one to take Lyanna’s innocence.  Robert saw it as a vile, unforgivable act, the defiling of one that was so pure and beautiful to him.

If you want to argue that they did have an intimate relationship and that the child could have been Robert’s, why was Lyanna so afraid?  Robert fathered many bastards and let’s be honest, no one would list ‘observant’ as one of his strengths (Enter Cersei and her three golden haired offspring.)  She must have known, beyond a doubt, that Robert was not the father and that he would have drawn the same conclusion.  If Lyanna fell pregnant, whether by rape or consent, she must’ve believed that Robert would have known the child was Rhaegar’s.   And I don’t have the strength to spell out how Jon’s story would have ended.
Jon-and-Daenerys-jon-snow-29370480-500-500-300x300Ned lied to his best friend. He allowed his wife to believe that his honour had been compromised and that he had had an affair.  He withheld the identity of Jon’s biological parents from everyone, including Jon.  This was his burden, this was his sacrifice.  He did it in order to keep his word to Lyanna.  He did it to protect the son of the sister that he loved so much from Robert Baratheon’s vengeance.   What an honourable man.

George has to be commended for his writing prowess.  He chooses his words with care and deliberation.   One won’t find conclusive evidence to rule Ned out as Jon’s father.    Instead, Martin dances around subtleties, omissions and carefully worded phrases that leave room for debate and that will allow him to creatively steer the story in the direction that he sees fit.   He uses the characters to reflect on Ned’s alleged lapse of honour, and this foregrounds the idea.  But, when it’s juxtaposed with his actions and the constant sacrifices that he makes for the sake of honour, it forces us to ask the question, ‘Come again?’  The true brilliance is fully appreciated when focusing less on what is made explicit and paying attention, instead, to what is being said implicity.

If the Lyanna/Rhaegar theory is correct, it holds very big, exciting implications for the future of the realm.  In addition, writers often like to create symmetry.   In literary terms, if Jon is a Targaryen, this will form one of several potential literary harmonies that George has set up beautifully.

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146 Comments on "Secrets of Westeros: Who are Jon Snow’s Parents?"

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Jacob Taylor
Guest

Looks like Grayce had it right sorry Seth and Denhunter you are both wrong, Jon is a Stark and Targaryen. It makes complete sense and ties everything together, who else to better lead man against an army of the undead but the King of the North and the rightful heir to the Iron Throne, which just so happens to be Jon Snow. It’s perfect :)

Denhunter
Guest
Silly readers. Ned and his sister begat Jon Snow. He is one-hundred percent Stark. Pure northerner. No foolish conjecture about any love except the one they both had for each other, and that everyone knew about. Incest going on since Aegon the Conquerer. Remember that the Mad King wanted the Stark men dead. All of them. He lured two to Kings Landing where they were strangled and burned. He kidnapped Lyanna to lure Ned south. They figured Ser Gerold and Arthur Dayne would be enough to kill ten Ned Starks. But they didn’t account for ‘sister-love’. And incest lives on.… Read more »
Cheeky Kent
Guest

The Starks’ hair are red and brown. Not black.

Archer Sterling
Guest

Robert is black of hair and all his offspring.

Seth
Guest
Very impressive and well written. However, there would be no significance in Jon being a Targaryen. He would not be the rightful heir to the Iron Throne, because he would be a bastard, nonetheless. Despite the many things that seem to “fit” in this theory, one must ask the question: “What difference would it make?” There is nothing significant or to be gained by Jon being a Targaryen. He is (1) pledged to the Night’s Watch, having forsaken all lands, titles, inheritances, etc.; (2) the Lord Commander of the same; (3) still a bastard—only that of two noble houses rather… Read more »
Grayce
Guest

Yeah, “A Song of Ice and Fire”, Stark and Targaryen…. no significance whatsoever…….

Seth
Guest

Perhaps you need to think about it a little more, or read it again. Jon Snow being a Targeryn bastard would mean absolutely nothing. Period.

Watcher on the Wall
Guest

Right, because no bastards have risen to power nor have Lord Commanders foresaken their vows. How about undead? A Song of Ice and Fire is significant.

Nicole
Guest
I just started reading the books and find it very interesting that in the beginning of the first book, how Tyrion Lannister is comparing himself to Jon and advising him prior to his decision to enter the Nights Watch. From what I know of the fever and blood and roses relating to Lyanna’s death and the common assumption that it was a result of childbirth and comparing it to Tyrion’s constant remindings that he murdered his mother when he was born, made this particular relationship stick out.. I believe Tyrion is probably the wisest of all characters. As I pay… Read more »
Pigeon
Guest

Wylla is the damn wet nurse, someone that looks after babies. Yes Jon doesn’t have silver hair, but if you look through the world of Westeros there’s plenty of bastards that don’t follow the exact hair colour; even some that aren’t which still don’t have the exact hair colour. It’s caused by the inter-mixing of various houses. It’s very plausible that Jon could be a Targ. I’ve read all the books and watched every episode at least half a dozen times each. This entire theory seems to fit better than anything other.

Laura173
Guest

The Targaryen seed is weak, which is why they are so incestual. With Lyanna being the mother, her colourings would have passed to John, making him look like a Stark even if he is half dragon.

joseph negranza
Guest

WHO IS WYLLA?
“YOURS WAS..er..ALEENA? NO. YOU TOLD ME ONCE. er…MERYL? YOUR BASTARDS’ MOTHER?” -ROBERT BARATHEON
and then Ned Stark replies, WYLLA. He even had that face that suggests that he did and regret such acts with such a woman

mick
Guest

targaryens can be hurt by fire many have even died from it

Jamie
Guest

I fully subscribe to the theory that Jon is the son of Lyanna and Rhaegar. However, I was watching the first series again not long ago and remember when Jon kills the White Walker he burns his hand on the lamp (which is drawn upon very overtly). With this in mind and what we see with Danny that fire can’t hurt a Targaryen. Just food for thought.

Monique Jacobs
Guest

What Overlord said.

Overlord
Guest

Viserys was a Targaryen.

Donya
Guest

i have always wondered..why would Ned bring home his bastard son..why not leave it to the mother..which would be more convenient..for everyone.. including the child!

Denhunter
Guest

He brought home his bastard because sister/lover was dead.

Donya
Guest

i have always wondered..why would Ned bring home his bastard son..why not leave it to the mother..which would be more convenient..for everyone.. including the child!

Dimitra
Guest

but how is it going to be revealed if the only people who knew about it were Ned and Lyanna

Anna Pomaville
Guest

The Reed kids that are with Bran, their dad was with Ned when Lyanna died. And Jojen has the sight, Bran will as well. Plus, Lyanna was in a tower in Dorne when she died, so maybe the Oberyn Martell suspects… we was at the Turney when Lyanna/Rhaegar met.

joseph negranza
Guest

but WHO IS WYLLA? Season 1 Episode 2 “Kingsroad” remember? Even Robert knew that wench and her “connection” to Ned. Please explain. I have started reading so right now most of my knowledge came from the TV series

Matthias Börner
Guest

Robert hated every single Targ that walked the earth. Would he have known that Jon was half Targaryen, he would have killed him – regardless of his relation to Ned

AMP
Guest

I haven’t ready the books. I thought Ned miht have made up the name Wylla, but I don’t know. You can look it up on this wiki: http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Wylla

Denhunter
Guest

Edric Dayne claims he nursed Willa with Jon Snow, when they both were in Starfall.

Prince Adam
Guest

yeah, but Oberyn doesn’t found ou before he died.

Dimitra
Guest

thanks for explaining!i haven’t read the books, so there is a lot i don’t know!

Anna Pomaville
Guest

I haven’t read the books either actually, just speculating. The online wikis have the info on Lyanna/Rhaegar.

Sally
Guest

Also, his last name is snow, and accordingly in Westeros illegitimate children take the bastard name of where their mother is from. Since he is a Snow, this indicates his mothers from the north… Just some food for thought.

NED
Guest

what if ned have sex with her sister,,and jon snow is their child…likw jamie lanister and her sister? back this times this hapens for the reason that royal families contimue the ” pure bloodline of the family name”

Wtf
Guest

Ned was kinda busy fighting a war and he’s not Jaime Lannister either

Denhunter
Guest

No, he wasn’t. The war didn’t go on over a year. I also believe Snow is the Ned/Lyanna incest baby.

EVERYONE in the book, including Ned, states that he is Jon’s father. And he is the spitting image of Ned. And Ned ALWAYS calls him ‘son’.

Jon Snow is the King of the North. I think that Robb knew when he made him his heir.

silverwolf
Guest

I agree with your theory on Jon’s parentage. I believe Jon is the true heir to the Seven Kingdoms. When Daenerys was in the House of the Undying, she saw SNOW falling in the throne room…this could be symbolic for “Jon Snow”. On a side note I’m curious why didn’t they dye Sean Bean’s hair Black for his role as Eddard..his lighter colored hair does not fit the profile for the Starks?!?!

joseph negranza
Guest

black hairs are baratheons
tullys are gingers
starks are brown
lannisters&tah(I’m not sure of the spelling:P) are gold/yellow
targaryens are silver, i think

H
Guest

You can’t just simply go by hair colour alone to determine a person’s lineage…

joseph negranza
Guest

They actually have a book of those in the series. Remember in season 1 where Ned stark was determining the last actions of the former Hand of the king that eventually led to his death.

heichgled
Guest

the snow in the throne room scene happened only in the tv show. in the books the house of the undying scene was very different from what happened the tv show. plus jon is a bastard, he is heir to nothing no matter who his parents are.

Skuilan
Guest
Unless, of course, he’s not. The Targs were known for sister wives (literally in most cases). The only reason Reaghar married was because he didn’t have a sister to wed (Remember Dany was born around the same time he died). He could have, easily, married Lyanna with, or without, the consent of his current wife which, again, is something the Targs were known for. If he did marry Lyanna (which makes sense because the Kingsguard is only suppose to serve those of Royal blood with claim to the throne. There were three guarding Lyanna) than Jon is Jon Targaryan, and… Read more »
Paocy
Guest

The real heir to the throne is the first son of Reaghar , Aegon VI his first born son … Even if snow is his son his the heir to nothing …. Cause the firs born is still alive.

Pudgy McFudge
Guest

Pretty sure Godrick Borrell straight up told Davos Seaworth that Jon Snow’s mother was a fisherman’s daughter who smuggled Edard into Sisterton. I mean if that’s not true it’s not true but it’s actually there in black and white.

Sherman Chiles
Guest

I would like to throw a wrench in the mix here, Jon does not have the silver hair that all Targaryens have. So I think it unlikely that his parents are Rheagar and lyanna.

Sofia Alarcon
Guest
You do know that genes are also passed down through the mother’s side, right? Men are not the only ones with “strong seeds”. Besides, it’s established in-universe that whenever the Targs married outside the family, the children would often inherit the looks of the non-Targaryen parent. For example, in the Dunk and Egg stories it’s revealed that Baelor Breakspear, the son of Daeron the Good, had dark hair and eyes like his Dornish mother. GRRM had also stated that Princes Rhaenys, Rhaegar and Elia’s daughter, had dark hair and generally looked more Dornish like her mother. In short, the “seed”… Read more »
skuilan
Guest

There have been other Targaryens with dark hair. The main reason they always had silver hair and purple eyes is from inbreeding.

MIKEY
Guest

He couldn’t say it was his nephew because he thought his best friend Robert would kill him for being the bastard son or the son of rape by rhaegar or the mad king either way

Denhunter
Guest

Or he thought Robert would kill them BOTH because he has a baby with Robert’s beloved Lyanna.

MIKEY
Guest

Jon aegon and Danny are the three heads of the dragon jon takes the white and red eyed one, aegon the green and Danny the biggest jon is ice Danny is fire, aegon and jon are half brothers and Robb and Brandon and the rest were cousins Danny is his aunt

Fox Cat
Guest

Fabulous! Kneesus I agree with you. I asked my partner, who is ahead of me in the books, what he thought of Jon Snow’s parentage and he was surprised I even brought it up.

kneesus
Guest

And I really hate it when people say this is too obvious. Its really not until somebody points it out.

kneesus
Guest

Robert might have loved Lyanna but I think it was more like lust. True love takes two and Ned makes it clear thatLyanna’s feelings for Robert weren’t quite what he remembers. Robert’s anger is rooted in an unfulfilled conquest and he wrapped it in a one way love to fuel his rage. He drowned that rage with battles then drink and wh**es.

Sam Hallworth
Guest

Melisandre always talks about power in a kings blood, this theory makes Jon have this blood. Resurrection lord of light style, followed later by a massive sacrifice (maybe with stannis and Mance) to summon something big?

kneesus
Guest

Leanna was kidnapped in 281, Ned found her in a bed of blood (birthing) in 283.

kneesus
Guest

It’s obvious Ned is not the father. Even on the show he states, “he is of my blood.”

joseph negranza
Guest

season 1 episode 2, just before they split up on the kingsroad, ned said “you may not have my name, but you have MY BLOOD”. not “of my blood”. then again, i’ve only started reading most of my knowledge is from the series. but still, just saying

spyglass
Guest

How about Aerys being the father of Jon (by rape after the “kidnapping”). Along with him being the father of Tyrion (again by rape) and Dany, the 3 siblings are the 3 heads of the dragon. The mothers of all 3 died in childbirth as well.

ana arias
Guest
what i never understood about the r+l=j theory was why would Lyanna put Ned’s marriage in that position. Robert wasn’t there. He had no idea how she died. All she did was make Jon Snow a second class citizen in the house of stark because Catelyn hates him now. I’m sure Catelyn would have been more than happy to raise Lyanna’s son. she has plenty of help around the house and at the time the only other child was Robb. if she really did want Jon to be raised with the same privileges and honors of a stark telling Ned’s… Read more »
laurie66bay
Guest
Ned allowing people to think Jon is his bastard, effectively rules out any other “real” theories about Jon’s parentage. After all, people would figure, it has to be true. If Ned was going to lie, he wouldnt have lied in this way (putting his own honor at risk). Why would he claim to have sired a bastard, unless he actually did. People would assume his honor compelled him to take responsibility. And Catelyns real antagonism towards Jon just firms up the story. Why would Ned lie, and anger the wife he loves more than anything else…it has to be true… Read more »
TJ Neel
Guest

I believe one thing is being missed here. It was Ned Stark’s decision to tell Catelyn what he did. His promise to his sister was only to keep the secret of Jon’s heritage a secret and to keep him safe overall. I doubt they were thinking of how to do this or the consequences while she lay dying.

kneesus
Guest

She wanted to protect jon because he’s technically a targaryan

ana arias
Guest

so. do you think catelyn is such a blabber mouth that she couldnt be trusted with such a huge secret. she would put both ned and jon at risk. he would be harboring a targaryen which to robert is betrayal.

jimmy
Guest

Catelyn has proven time and again that she isn’t to be trusted – her “thinking on her own” essentially cost her husband and sons everything. Take Tyrion prisoner? Ned dies, war starts. Free Jaime Lannister? Robb loses face, gets killed. Catelyn is just awful. I wouldn’t have told her a damn thing, either.

ana arias
Guest
Yes but thats in times of war and her daughters were kidnapped and her youngest sons were dead. She had already lost her husband and her young songs. all she could do now was try to save her daughters who were still alive. dont blame catelyn for robb losing the war. he lost that war all by himself when he married talisa/jeyne and beheaded karstark. He beheaded karstark and lost half his army and then the only way to get the same amount of men back was to do one stupid fucking thing but noooo he couldnt keep it in… Read more »
kneesus
Guest

It has less to do with Cat and more with Ned’s honor.

ana arias
Guest
im not sure i understand what you mean by this. elaborate. what has to do with neds honor? i personally like that jon is his bastard and not the son of some mary sue dead prince. not only does it give ned a flaw in an otherwise perfect character but gives catelyn more dimension. i really hope he’s not rhaegars son. it would spoil too many good charcters for me. ned, catelyn and lyanna being that she basically forced her son to live a life as a second class citizen. im mean even fucking theon gets more respect than jon… Read more »
kneesus
Guest

Ned was a man of honor and he made a promise to his dying sister as she laid in a “bed of blood”, which means childbirth in Westeros speak. Hurting Cat was probably hard for Ned, but the impossible thing was to break a promise and defy his precious honor. Look how he handled the Cersei situation, got himself killed.

laurie66bay
Guest

Cat’s anger seals the lie. No one questions it. If Catelyn accepted Jon and showed affection for him, someone somewhere might start questioning why and it could draw attention. Jon had to be beyond suspicion.

ana arias
Guest
no one would question it anyway. in the books catelyn herself states that a lord like ned having a bastard is no biggie. this is standard stuff for their society. even if she brushed jon snow off no one would think to much of it since most ladies do the same. this is from the book “She might have overlooked a dozen bastards for ned’s sake so long as they were out of sight. Jon was never out of sight” in other words she does like looking at him because he looks more like ned than Robb. “Many men fathered… Read more »
ana arias
Guest
yeah but im not talking about ned honoring lyanna’s wish. what im talking about is why lyanna would ask him to do this in the first place. i get why he would honor that of course. she’s freakin dying. but it just seems a little crazy that lyanna would ask him to do such a thing when there are so many other ways around that. ways that would have benefited her infant son rather than be condemned as a bastard in his wifes eyes. again its not about ned promising to keep his true parentage a secret but why Keep… Read more »
gotfan
Guest

ana arias i was reading this convo.. and i cant help realize that your stupid..

laurie66bay
Guest
Lyanna didn’t ask Ned to lie to Cat. All she asked was for him to hide Jon and never let anyone find out who he was. She may have even asked Ned to pretend it was his son, but I doubt they got to the point of developing the whole elaborate plan. The plan is what Ned completed on his own when he had to figure out how to ensure no one would ever care enough to look into Jon’s origins. And that he did. No one had a reason to look because Ned was his father, and no one… Read more »
kneesus
Guest

Robert Baratheon has a deep burning hatred for Targaryans. She probably feared for the child’s life. Robert has always made more of their relationship than really was there. She wasn’t kidnapped, she ran off with Rhaegar. Her fears are founded in how Robert deals with a pregnant Daenarys no less. He sends someone to kill a pregnant woman. Sure he would have been conflicted about somebody associated with Leanna, but she wasn’t willing to make that gamble.

Azgri
Guest

Robert would not have been at all conflicted. He’s persuaded himself Lyanna was raped.

That (assuming the rest of the theory) makes Jon Snow 1 son of Robert’s most hated enemy 2 Targaryen 3 the legitimate heir to the throne 4 the direct cause of Lyanna’s death.

Those are not good prospects for a long life span under Robert Baratheon.

kneesus
Guest

Cersei/Tywin definitely would have found a way to off Jon if they knew.

Michael Fuchs
Guest

The problem is that cat would treat too good. Someone maybe become suspicious when cat don´t hate Jon, so Ned haven´t told her.

ana arias
Guest
yeah but she at least she wouldnt treat him as poorly behind closed doors. that would just be for show. and besides in the books it says that she understood that a lot of lords have bastards so it wasnt a huge deal. no body would be expecting her to treat jon in any way. she couldve been indifferent to him. but she wasnt indifferent. she actively HATES him. she didnt have to smother him with kisses especially not in front of everyone but at least she wouldn’t be praying on his death and saying “i should have been you”… Read more »
laurie66bay
Guest

The fact that she hated him, raised Jon beyond suspicion. That was what Ned wanted. It was the only way…someone would think something was up if catelyn didn’t despise Jon. There are lots of people in the keep and everyone knew catelyn had no love for Jon.

ana arias
Guest
why would she HAVE to hate jon when she clearly stated in the books that bastards are anything but uncommon in westeros. and if cat knows this than ned should be smart enough to know this too. it’s their culture. Cat said this herself in the books. she said that bastards were just one of the facts of life in westeros. lords have bastards. so what. it was just something that happens… like birthdays. kinda like “big deal you have a birthday. everyone has a birthday.” sorta thing. her reason for hating him had nothing to do with ned but… Read more »
gotfan
Guest

u still dont fukking get it? grow a brain pls.

laurie66bay
Guest
Its in her nature to resent Jon because it is evidence of the betrayal of her husband. Others might shrug it off, but she didn’t. Its the way she is. She doesn’t want him at Winterfell for various reasons. The point isn’t that Ned wanted her to hate Jon but that he had to create the perfect shroud around him. A secret ceases being a secret when you tell someone else. Not that he would expect Cat to tell anyone, but she might let it slip or create suspicion in some other way, and he couldn’t take that chance. She… Read more »
ana arias
Guest
yeah but she didn’t care about Ned when “wylla” had him. she wasn’t in love with him. the only real reason she resents him is because he poses a threat to her children’s inheritance. she doesn’t really feel like Ned betrayed her but rather like he’s giving jon what belongs to her children only. she doesn’t want to share Ned’s property and lordship with him. if she knew that he’s not his son it would put her at ease. the truth is he doesn’t have to even tell her it’s Lyanna’s baby. anyone else’s baby would have been just fine.… Read more »
V
Guest

She hates Jon because she felt that Ned loved the other woman; that is what really bothers her, that he is willing to go above and beyond to keep his mother a secret instead of telling his own wife. Since she loves Ned and can’t truly hate him, her hatred was transfered to an easier target that she has no bond with: Jon. Hopefully this finally helps you understand :)

ana arias
Guest

maybe in the show but not in the book. she explicitly states that she doesnt care that ned he cheated that she understands that shit happens in war and that he was gone for a year and that men have needs or whatever.

gotfan
Guest

haha ur funny

toddschul
Guest

My guess was that Jon was Ned’s sister’s kid. But, having only watched the show and not read the books was not sure who the father was.

I do have a question though. You wrote that the murder of Ned’s Father and Brother is what triggered the rebellion. Why did Ned not lead the rebellion if that was the cause? Do the books explain why that was?

JennNJ
Guest

Yes, the Baratheon line is descended in part from the Targaryens, so the drop of dragon blood led a bit of legitimacy for Robert’s claim to the throne. In the end, it was swords that won the throne, but the Baratheon-Targaryen connection made the whole thing “look” a little better.

Patsy Montana
Guest

I think you have a significant typo in your otherwise beautiful dissertation on the origin of Jon Snow. After stating that the Mad King had murdered Ned’s father and brother, your very next statement is:

“The murder of Robert’s father and brother is what triggered Robert’s Rebellion and, with the Mad King slayed, Robert eventually won the Iron Throne as well as the title of ‘Usurper’.”

I believe you meant Ned’s, not Robert’s, father and brother?

Otherwise, you’ve written a very well researched and thoughtful piece. Thanks for the good work.

Jacob Klein
Guest

Fixed, thanks!

rich24h
Guest

remember both Robert and Ned were in the Vale when Lyanna was “kidnapped”
how could Robert had taken advantage of her

delafey
Guest

Shouldn’t Snow’s hair be blonde, if his father is Rhaegar? The hands of the king figured out the truth of the Lannister/Baratheon kids by reading the Lineages of the Great Houses and following hair color……or at least that’s the way I remember it.

Sofia
Guest

Genes are also passed down through the mother, you know. And it’s established in-universe that whenever the Targs married outside the family, the offspring would often take after the non-Targ parent in appearance. GRRM has also stated outside the books that Rhaegar’s daughter with Elia Martell took more after her Dornish side in appearance. So the seed was strong with Rhaegar.

t
Guest

No as the black hair gene is stronger than a blonde gene meaning that if his mother had dark hair, it would cancel the blonde of his fathers hair.

Opi
Guest

According to Ned Stark his daughter Arya resembles Lyana very much, Also there are many references that Jon looks the most like Arya, just one of my observations.

Stuart Herrington
Guest
I think this is a good theory, but you point more toward Rob Baratheon as the father then you deny that as well. With all the evidence you put forward, I think a more logical theory as opposed to your more obvious one is, Lyanna went to see Rhaegar but they didn’t have sex, but Robert turns up presuming the worst, like you said she was ‘kidnapped’ in his eyes, when he killed Rhaegar and confronted Lyanna maybe he got drunk and raped her. At Lyanna’s death, she tells Ned what happened, his best friend and pretty much the new… Read more »
JEM
Guest

Then why would Robert ask Ned who Jon’s mother was if he knew he was Jon’s father and Lyanna was Jon’s mother?

R Akathiotis
Guest

I guess that’s the point, he didn’t know. Ned led everyone to believe he was his son, so no one would suspect he was Lyanna’s.

Martin
Guest

You are a sick cook sucker!!! Lyanna is Jon Snow mother!!! That is to obvious!!

Fire&Blood
Guest
This theory is so perfect hehe, I hope this is THE ONE. I’m just a bit freaked that if people keep putting this theory up, GRRM would change his mind or something. I mean the whole awesome point of writing is giving everyone the element of surprise and the fact that everything is unpredictable. I’m just a bit ??? that if this theory is actually IT and everyone is so hooked on it GRRM wouldn’t put it on paper because there will be no surprise and it’s predictable :/ . BUT :) I love love love this, and yes Jon… Read more »
JennNJ
Guest

GRRM has stated numerous times that he is not going to change the story just because some people may have figured out some of the mysteries, so no worries there.

R Akathiotis
Guest

It occurred to me that GRRM may change his mind if the same theory kept cropping up. He does love the unexpected story line.

Kim
Guest
This theory seems pretty legit (except about Jon’s hair– genetically, it’s definitely possible that he’d be dark haired, but I just don’t feel like that’s right). However, I just don’t want to see Jon ever becoming King. I love Jon’s character right now but like Ned and Robb, I think that he’s a great man but he’d be a terrible kind. Even through all the development through the books, he just isn’t royalty material yet in my eyes. Also, I think that would seriously mess up the balance of the houses. I know the Starks aren’t the end and beginning… Read more »
Rio Palma
Guest

In Dance with Dragons, Davos Seaworth- hand of stannis was shipwrecked in Sisters islands. The Lord of that place told a story of Eddard Stark being shipwrecked with a pregnant woman at the start of the war. Ned gave the pregnant woman a bag silver. Would that woman be Ashara Dayne? Mother of Jon? That makes since!

Ewad Hull
Guest

Great article. This is something I’ve discussed myself, here…

http://edwardwilliam.hubpages.com/hub/Who-is-jon-Snows-Mother

Personally, I think the Lyanna/Rhaegar theory has to be right- it needs to be something huge like that to do it justice and not be a disappointment. I’ve been starting to wonder the fact that so many people are speculating in this direction will make GRRM change his mind?

Hiro
Guest

Assuming Ned was honorable before all this. Lyanna could have asked ned to live honourably as her promise

WMihop
Guest

I do think it would be great for Jon Snow to be a Targaryen, I just cannot see how it makes sense. Jon was burnt killing a wight, I don’t see why make him a Targaryen but don’t give him the blood of the dragon. Also there were six dire wolf pups for all six of Ned’s kids. If he was a Targayen he wouldn’t have a dire wolf. He may be Brandon Stark’s bastard.

JennNJ
Guest

Targaryens are NOT immune to fire as a rule. What happened with Daenerys was a one-time magical occurrence. Secondly, even if Jon is a Targ, he is still a Stark as well, so why not have a direwolf?

kneesus
Guest

Why Would rhaegar leave 3 of the baddest Knights In the realm to guard a bastard and a mistress? They were secretly wed and Jon is/was a legitimate heir. He did take the black.

Whisper Leissac
Guest

Viserys was a true Targaryen and wasn’t immune to fire, only Dany seems to be immune to fire and in my opinion ot’s because she is the one in the prophecy. Also, he’d be also Lyanna’s child so it makes sense he has a direwolf, for he’d be half dragon and half direwolf.

DeWayne Clark
Guest

this is quite a tunning theroy and a huge revalation if true. SPOILER

—- tho jon will never know as to the events at the end of 5th book. Unless lady Melisandre brings him back to life like the fat red preist did to beric dondarrion many times.

Monique Jacobs
Guest

Ah, but that’s if he’s dead to begin with ;) No one knows if he dies as a result of his wounds. It’s just my feeling that Jon’s journey is far from over and that George has big plans for him…the king kind.

Bruno
Guest

I believe that he does die…thus releasing him from his oath to the brotherhood….with lady melisandre bringing him back to life, he has a chance at revenge etc as he is no longer under the oath to the nights watch

Jimill
Guest
Throughout the entire series they talk about great people’s stories being turned into songs. This is what their story has wrought. Everything that has happened to the realm following their love affair is due to their love affair. Hence the name of the series, A Song of Ice and Fire. i have a strong feeling there may be another Direwolf and Dragon romance that GRRM is heading towards, that some may be overlooking. Sansa, the dreamy eyed, innocent and fairest lady, trapped in an impenetrable fortress. Held there against her will by a brutal and scheming tyrant, like the maidens… Read more »
Monique Jacobs
Guest

Beautiful! Sansa deserves that tale of heroism, considering that she harboured those romantic idealist notions for most of her young life before reality shattered them .

Erin Gäddnäs
Guest
I am so glad I wasn’t the only one with this theory in my head! My suspicion started out with Rhaegar, though. He is always described as a beloved and calm, even melancholic character and that he would have forced Lyanna to anything didn’t seem logical. And the next step in my mind progression was Lyanna, who was described as headstrong and stern, much like Arya. It all summed up with me thinking: “Poor, stupid Robert… Rhaegar and Lyanna were in love with each other!” So in the end I did thought of the possibility of death by childbirth when… Read more »
Monique Jacobs
Guest

Right?! That moment when it just *clicks*, when all the pieces fall effortlessly into place, and you know your life is irrevocably changed for the better! ;)

Evan Luke Hinrichsen
Guest

Great article! Can’t wait for the next book. I think its plausible that Jon is son to Lyanna and Rhaegar. Especially when Eddard mentions to Jon, “you may not bear my name but you have my blood”, followed by his promise to tell him all about his mother when they next meet. I mention the later because he is finally able to lift the burden of his secret to Jon as he will have no more claim to the Iron throne when he swears an oath to brothers of the wall.

Monique Jacobs
Guest

:) Thanks!

“…he is finally able to lift the burden of his secret to Jon as he will have no more claim to the Iron throne when he swears an oath to brothers of the wall” That’s an awesome point. Think you’re absolutely spot on!

I’m falling-to-the-ground-in-agony excited about the last two books.

Christian
Guest
I think the theory’s brilliant but there’s something even more interesting that falls into it as a harmonic piece. I apologize if you’ve already noted it out and of course i apologize to all the non-book readers because it’s a SPOILER , do not read if you haven’t read Dance. What I was talking about is the prophecy of the three-headed dragon. As of the end of A Dance with Dragons if we believe the word of Tyrion and Jon Connington, and Varys of course, we have the rightful heir to the Throne, Rheagar’s son from Elia, Aegon, on the… Read more »
SandraKolb
Guest

Don’t forget Bran…he will “fly” as well.

Alejandro
Guest

actually Jojen And Meera are sons of Howland Reed (the only other person that knows the truth about Ned’s promise to Lyanna which leads me to believe that they were looking for a warg in the Stark family (Jon) but they got Brann instead. he said that he had a dream of a wolf flying (Jon flying on the white dragon with red eyes, hmmm coincidence?)

Monique Jacobs
Guest

‘..we’ll have one rider for each of the three dragons, don’t you think?’ ;)<<< The art of agreeing without verbally agreeing

ap
Guest

the only thing that bothers me is that Jon burns his hand when he kills the wight. Shouldn’t a real dragon not burn?

i wish there was an explanation for that, but otherwise a good well thought out article….

Thanks

Amy
Guest

Real dragons can get burned. George Martin has said that dany walking into the burning funeral pyre was pretty much a one time, supernatural thing.

Monique Jacobs
Guest

I don’t have ALL the answers hahaha. Very good point. Maybe it’s because he’s HALF-dragon?

Shoe Latif
Guest

well, not ALL targarayens are dragons. viserys was one but he died from molten gold. they said that the dragon skips around in the blood line. they can still all be kings especially since the dragons had died out long ago, it was the bloodline that made them kings, not that they were actual “dragons”

JennNJ
Guest

Targaryens are NOT immune to fire. Period. Dany’s dragon birth episode was a one-time magical occurrence. GRRM has stated this himself. Dany is mistaken when she claims that fire cannot kill a dragon. In fact, her ancestors died in the fire at Summerhall.

cageybee
Guest

who knows that Jon was “burned”? the Maester….who was a tagaryen………and then he wears a glove……to protect the burn? or to protect that he’s not?

DLR
Guest

Great article. However you neglected to mention my personal favorite clue; at one point in GOT Catelyn muses how, out of all the Stark kids, only Arya resembles Ned, the rest take after the Tullys. Then she gets mad realizing that Jon too resembles Ned and thereby Arya. (Sound of Catelyn grinding teeth). At a different point Ned thinks about how much Arya resembles Lyanna, not just spiritually but physically. Jon resembles Arya who resembles Lyanna… hmm!

DLR
Guest

whoops, repeated myself. sorry!

DLR
Guest

great article. You neglected my personal favorite clue however – at one point Catelyn (I’m pretty sure) muses how only Arya takes after Ned physically, all the other kids resemble Tullys. Then she gets mad realizing that Jon also resembles Ned and Arya. (Sound of Catelyn grinding teeth). At a different point Ned muses on how much Arya resembles Lyanna, spiritually but also physically. Jon resembles Arya who resembles Lyanna… hmm.

John H
Guest
I’ve held this theory as well, with the only cold water sprinkled on it being the assertion by Edric Dayne, the Lord of Starfall that he and Jon were milk brothers and Jon’s mother was Wylla. If Ned brought the baby to her (for whatever reason) after promising Lysanna to raise the boy, it seems fortunate that the girl had milk enough for two babies without the need of actually being pregnant herself (that we know of). There is certainly enough material there for a couple of prequel novels, but the speculation is fun and sets Jon up for some… Read more »
Nick Larter
Guest

Lovely article – as good a summation of all the fan speculation on L+R=J as I have read. Perhaps you could next do a piece explaining how the third head of the Dragon is Tyrion Lannister.

Charlie Harwood
Member
Personally, I believe Jon is the son of Rhaegar and Lyanna. GRRM never writes anything without a meaning or purpose. So, Jon being Ned Stark’s bastard just doesn’t seem likely. George is too creative and too witty for Jon’s mother to be a simple story. It has to have a certain twist and I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with your analysis. But if this holds to be true, would Targaryen loyalists accept him? After all, he is half Stark. Targaryen’s married within the family for years to keep the bloodline pure. Would Dany be more suitable… Read more »
Jacob Klein
Admin
Awesome points here and a great piece. Honored to have it here on HBOWatch! Thoughts on Jon’s parents: It’s quite clear that the answer isn’t as Eddard explained to Jon before his death. The thing I find interesting is that there are so few people left alive that actually know for sure what happened and will Jon/anyone even believe them when they step up? I mean if Howland Reed comes out of the woodwork and declares something like R+L=J.. will Jaime Lannister, Stannis Baratheon and D. Targ even blink? The question is almost academic in nature in that I find… Read more »
DeWayne Clark
Guest

yes when jon and dany get married dragon to zombie. sounds perfect.

Eleonora
Guest

Fantastic piece of writing! Excellent points and excerpts to support the theories in the article. I am on the mindset that Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen are Jon’s parents, for the very reasons you’ve mentioned! I look forward to reading more pieces from you!

Jonathan
Guest

..this would also imply, that SPOILER REDACTED.
*Edit Hey guys, let’s try to refrain from AT LEAST the biggest book/plot spoilers if we can, eh?

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