Assuming neither of them ended up becoming the eldest living son (that is, had Robb Stark survived to adulthood), what was expected of the younger Stark sons, Bran and Rickon?

As I understand it, Robb, as first born male, would inherit the titles of Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North, and all the land of Winterfell to go with it. The girls, Sansa and Arya, would most likely be married to secure alliances with other powerful houses. Jon, as a bastard, wouldn't have had many useful prospects, which is a large part of why he decides to join the Night Watch.

But what about the other two boys?

I checked on the Game of Thrones wiki for a while but I saw no information about what the younger Starks were supposed to do when they got older. Would they inherit "smaller" portions of Winterfell or the north? Would they need to marry themselves to another house in order to "earn" their own "domains"?


2 Answers 2


There are a number of institutions in Westeros offering "careers" for younger sons of noblemen:

  • Night's Watch: They could have followed in Jon Snow's footsteps.

  • Maester: Similarly to Aemon of the Night's Watch, they could have trained as Maesters of the Citadel.

  • Septon: If they chose to follow their mother Catelyn in worshipping the Seven gods of the south, Bran or Rickon could have become septons.

  • Kingsguard: If they were sufficiently skilled at arms, they would have been welcome in the Kingsguard.

There are also less formal options:

  • Family lieutenant: Kevan Lannister helps his older brother Tywin in war and administration. Similarly, Brynden "Blackfish" Tully spent time in the service of his niece Lysa, and later fighting on behalf of Robb Stark. They won't inherit any of the family lands, but they gain significant renown and (in Kevan's case) wealth in their own rights.

  • Independent adventurer: The most spectacular example is Euron Greyjoy, who sailed off to parts unknown while his brother Balon Greyjoy ruled the Iron Islands.

  • Combination: Oberyn Martell had many colourful adventures on his own, in addition to serving as an emissary for his brother Doran Martell.

  • 9
    "Second Sons" seems like a natural here too (tho not actually in Westeros)
    – AllInOne
    Jan 22, 2016 at 19:37
  • 2
    Benjen Stark, Ned's younger brother, joined the Night's Watch. That's an even more direct example than Jon. Jan 18, 2018 at 16:54

It is a custom in Westeros to have younger offsprings pursue their own interests, whether become knights, scholars (or maesters like Aemon Targaryen)...

For the case of Bran and Rickon, I believe they're just too young to show potential of filling a particular position. However Bran always wanted to become a knight of the kingsguard. That dream was shattered after the accident he was a victim of.

Arya Stark: "He wants to be a knight of the Kingsguard. He can't be one now, can he?"

Eddard Stark: "No. But someday he could be lord of a holdfast or sit on the King's council. Or he might raise castles, like Brandon the Builder." - Episode 4-season 1

I don't have the books about me to confirm this dialogue from the books though.

As for the use of Bran for marriages, that seems not probable as the fall damaged his lower part of the body, I used the answer provided by System Down in this question for this quote :

"No," Ned said. He saw no use in lying to her. "Yet someday he may be the lord of a great holdfast and sit in the king's council. He might raise castles like Brandon the Builder, or sail a ship across the Sunset Sea, or enter your mother's Faith and become the High Septon." But he will never run beside his wolf again, he thought with a sadness too deep for words, or lie with a woman, or hold his own son in his arms. Chapter 25 Ned, A Game Of Thrones

As for Rickon, that one is really tougher to determine as he's only 4 years old now.

  • Beat me to it with half a minute, give or take. Nice work! :D Jan 22, 2016 at 15:22
  • I started with a comment, but then realized it might as well be answer :P Thanks :D Jan 22, 2016 at 15:23
  • Could they not also be used in marriages, for instance, into Stark vassals houses to cement their relationships and maximize a strong future Stark bloodline, should the eldest fall and not bear any offspring for any reason?
    – John Bell
    Jan 22, 2016 at 15:27
  • Actually this question was raised here as if Bran could still reproduce and the answer is probably not. I'll edit the answer to add details. Jan 22, 2016 at 15:28
  • 1
    “…accident…” — hmm!
    – PLL
    Jan 23, 2016 at 14:16

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