23

Ned Stark has five legitimate children (in order of age) Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran, and Rickon. Up through the events of A Dance With Dragons we end up with the following:

  • Robb - dead

  • Sansa - Alive, at the Eyrie, under the protection of Littlefinger who is plotting something.

  • Arya - Alive, off in Bravos, but even if she does return would still be behind all the others.

  • Bran - Alive, may or may not return, but given his situation it highly unlikely he would be laying a claim.

  • Rickon - Alive, MIA (Davos has been sent to see if he is hiding on Skagos)

Sansa and Rickon would have the best claims based on the above information. This would also mean that the Boltons will have to be stripped of their titles over the North as well. I do not see this as a major problem as the other Lords of the North believe only a Stark can rule Winterfell.

Sansa seems to be in a position to claim sooner, but Rickon is liable to just pop out of nowhere (much like Aegon VI). Littlefinger will not have wanted all his hard work to go to waste, so I would imagine he will do anything to install Sansa. The other Lords of the North may back Rickon as he is male... given the general rules of succession in Westeros, male heirs are given priority over females. However, with the state of turmoil most of these rules are subject to all kinds of interpretations and ignorance.


However, there is final option... Jon Snow. If Jon was able to secure a royal decree making him a true Stark his claim would be better than both Sansa (Jon is male) and Rickon (Jon is older). Is there any evidence that this has happened?


I am looking for evidence from the books only. The show is outpacing and has gone in different directions in many instances.

23

It's Jon. Robb legitimised him before his death, which he was legally able to do as King in the North, and so Jon is Ned Stark's legitimate heir and the rightful Lord of Winterfell and King in the North. Even his Night's Watch vows are no longer an obstacle, since they only bound him until death, and he has now died (presumably to be resurrected in some way).

In A Storm of Swords, Robb and Catelyn have the following conversation:

“Mother.” There was a sharpness in Robb’s tone. “You forget. My father had four sons.”

She had not forgotten; she had not wanted to look at it, yet there it was. “A Snow is not a Stark.”

“Jon’s more a Stark than some lordlings from the Vale who have never so much as set eyes on Winterfell.”

“Jon is a brother of the Night’s Watch, sworn to take no wife and hold no lands. Those who take the black serve for life.”

“So do the knights of the Kingsguard. That did not stop the Lannisters from stripping the white cloaks from Ser Barristan Selmy and Ser Boros Blount when they had no more use for them. If I send the Watch a hundred men in Jon’s place, I’ll wager they find some way to release him from his vows.”

He is set on this. Catelyn knew how stubborn her son could be. “A bastard cannot inherit.”

“Not unless he’s legitimized by a royal decree,” said Robb. “There is more precedent for that than for releasing a Sworn Brother from his oath.”

Robb then has a council with his lords as follows:

He picked up a sheet of parchment. “One more matter. Lord Balon has left chaos in his wake, we hope. I would not do the same. Yet I have no son as yet, my brothers Bran and Rickon are dead, and my sister is wed to a Lannister. I’ve thought long and hard about who might follow me. I command you now as my true and loyal lords to fix your seals to this document as witnesses to my decision.”

It's not clear what has happened to that sheet of parchment. Robb then sent Galbart Glover and Maege Mormont to Howland Reed at Greywater Watch, but the written messages they carried were false, in case they were captured.

It is claimed in an answer on Quora that the World of Ice and Fire companion volume, which was written with the approval of George R R Martin, confirms that Jon was legitimized by Robb. But I can't find any such reference in the book.

  • 4
    "fix your seals to this document as witnesses to my decision.” Do we know that was a decree of legitimisation for Jon, or could it be a bit of GRRM misdirection? What immediately follows that quote? – Rand al'Thor Feb 22 '16 at 19:46
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    @AndresF. Well, that would complicate things, and it seems quite likely since two of the witnesses to the document Robb signed were last seen travelling to meet Howland Reed, who is the only surviving witness of whatever happened at the Tower of Joy. I think we'd be back to Renly's comments on the kingship, “Oh, there was talk of the blood ties between Baratheon and Targaryen, of weddings a hundred years past, of second sons and elder daughters. No one but the maesters care about any of it. Robert won the throne with his warhammer.” – Mike Scott Feb 22 '16 at 20:58
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    How many things we're to assume, but not actually told, turn out to be true? – GEdgar Feb 24 '16 at 0:35
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    @Skooba I've been waiting for Howland Reed to appear since Book one. – Möoz Feb 24 '16 at 4:12
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    @user568458 Yes, there's already been a question here about it: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/37862/… – Mike Scott Feb 24 '16 at 15:06
6

Things have changed a bit since the question was first posted.... since we now know that Bran is not supposed to sit around and let the roots of the trees grow into him, he'd be the next heir via the "bros before hos" rule of succession.

Jon Snow was legitimized in the books, but not, as far as we can tell, on the show. They showed him refusing the offer from Stannis, and didn't show him being legitimized by Robb, so we shouldn't assume anything along those lines.

This will be further complicated when it's revealed through Bran's time-travel-dreams that Jon is not a half-brother in the direct line of succession, but a cousin (child of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen), which puts him, ironically, into claim queue for the Iron Throne.

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    Referring to the spoiler, that would put him 1st in the queue, wouldn't it? As the only male heir? – DCShannon Jun 23 '16 at 21:29
  • One small point, I agree with R+L=J just like most other book readers, however it has not yet been confirmed in the show or books. That spoiler presents a theory as fact. Otherwise I agree that Bran is the heir in show canon. – kuhl Jun 24 '16 at 12:26
  • It speculates that this will be coming. It's a pretty obvious spoiler on so many levels. DC - would grandson move ahead of daughter in succession if the son (father of the grandson) never took the throne, himself? I'll have to take a look at Brandyman's link to the rules. – PoloHoleSet Jun 24 '16 at 14:09
  • This question isn't tagged GoT though. – Amarth Nov 21 '18 at 18:28
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    The Targaryens use Salic rules: only males may inherit the throne, thus Dany is out of luck because the closest make relative to the Mad King would have priority. Of course, there's also the matter of Dragon Law that may be invoked: she has the dragons, she makes the laws. – Keith Morrison Nov 21 '18 at 23:34
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Jon would be legitamized as a Targaryean not a Stark. If Robb did so, he was under the mistaken assumption Jon was his half-brother not his cousin.

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