So let's assume that the relatively ambiguous Tower of Joy scene in season 6 confirms that Jon is indeed

Lyanna Stark's child, sired by Rhaegar Targaryan.

In that case, considering the current situation in Westeros as of season 7 (or as of book 5 + released chapters of book 6), how does this get proven in the eyes of the lords, ladies, and commoners of Westeros?

It feels like an impossible claim to prove given that Eddard Stark is dead, Howland Reed seems to have vanished off the face of Planetos, and anyone else who was alive at the time with that knowledge appears to be dead and gone. EVEN IF Howland Reed manages to crawl out of the woodwork to corroborate Bran/3-eyed Raven's claim (assuming he even makes that claim) about Jon's true heritage, we're still just talking about the word of two relatively unknown (outside of the North) Westerosi noblemen.

The only way I can see of "proving" anything is if Jon ends up riding a dragon. But even then, would that, in addition to the theoretical claims of Howland Reed and Bran Stark be enough to prove that Jon Snow is actually Jon Targaryan (assuming R and L actually got married, and assuming that marriage is even recognized in the eyes of Westeros since polygamy is very much looked down upon...) ?

I am looking for theories or speculation based on the books, the TV show or historical events that end up with the people of Westeros generally accepting that Jon Snow is either:

  1. Still a bastard of different heritage, or

  2. A legitimate Targaryan, and trueborn heir of Rhaegar Targaryan.

Edit to explain first dupe:

I am not asking who knows, I am asking: how do you prove it in the eyes of everyone in the 7 kingdoms?

Edit based on S7E05:

In the scene where Sam decides he's had it with the silly Citadel, Gilly reads an old record of Rhaegar Targaryan receiving an annulment of his marriage to Elia Martell, and of his remarriage to... Lyanna Stark?

Assuming this is true, and assuming Jon Snow is indeed their offspring, then he is indeed a true-born Targaryan. Now as to how to prove it, obviously this record would come in handy when attempting to do so...

Edit to explain second dupe:

This is very similar to Is there any tangible proof of Jon Snow's lineage?. However, I am asking how it would be proved, either with tangible evidence or by proclamation or by some other strategy I hadn't thought of, in the eyes of Westeros. In other words, with proof, or no proof, how are the people (nobles+commoners) of Westeros to be convinced of this truth? I accept that this question is related, and should certainly be linked, but I don't think it is a duplicate.

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    @Gallifreyan That not really true. Howland Reed is still alive.
    – Skooba
    Aug 11, 2017 at 17:27
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    The same way they proved it in the middle ages: by saying it was true and hoping people believed them. Aug 11, 2017 at 18:31
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    "the relatively ambiguous Tower of Joy scene" There's nothing ambiguous about it.
    – BCdotWEB
    Aug 11, 2017 at 20:40
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    You seem to have answered your own question? You should really provide the answer in the answer section.
    – Edlothiad
    Aug 14, 2017 at 16:55

4 Answers 4


As of Season 7, Episode 5, Eastwatch the ways of being proven are adding up (as you have duly noted yourself).

  1. Howland Reed, being present at the Tower of Joy has first account of what transpired. The proof is that he is well respected noble lord and has no reason to lie about such things as he was on the opposing side of the Targaryen's during the rebellion.
  2. Brandon Stark has "green-seer" vision in which he has ascertained this information. The proof is a bit harder here as magic is going to be looked on with a certain degree of skepticism. However, if Bran can prove he knows other things (e.g. "Chaos is a ladder) that he would no other way of knowing, people may tend to believe him.
  3. High Septon Maynard issued an annulment of Prince Rhaegar's marriage. While we do not 100% know, yet, that this means he married Lyanna Stark, all arrows point in the right direction. This is crucial as it wasn't just any old Septon, but The High Septon! This lends the religious authority to have Jon be a legitimate Targaryen. Even though the Sept of Baelor was destroyed, the Faith of the Seven is still the dominate religion in Westeros. Cersei may not want to hear it, but many lords and common folk will take the record seriously.
  4. Jon being "dragon sensitive". I think we saw some this in S7E5 as well, when Daenerys returns to Dragonstone and Jon reaches out to Drogon. This is more speculative than the rest at this point, but seems like it will pan out. It is generally accepted that you need the blood of Old Valyria (i.e. Targaryen) to have this affinity with dragons. Update for S8E1.... Jon boi being flying now.

All of this combined would likely convince enough of the lords of Westeros to ultimately believe in Jon's claim... and if not Jon's side has dragons...

  • Could not have said it better myself, answer accepted! Only thing I would add, is what @binary-worrier said in his answer, which is that if team Jon wins, then none of this will matter, since history is written by the victors! Aug 14, 2017 at 18:41
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    How on earth did he annul the marriage tho? Only unconsummated marriages can be annulled. And Rhaegar's marriage to Elia was two-kids-too-many-times consummated. Show Heresy is drifting further and further away from the god everyday.
    – Aegon
    Aug 15, 2017 at 11:13
  • @Aegon I think the High Septon would probably do whatever Rhaegar asked of him considering the alternative might displease the Mad King, and everyone knew that displeasing Aerys II meant death by wildfire... Also, was Elia not of weak constitution? Perhaps there were grounds for annulment on the basis that she could not have any more children? Aug 15, 2017 at 13:33
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    @LordPraxis High Septons have fought wars with King Maegor who had Balerion the black dread on issue of polygamy and incest. What does Rhaegar have? Wildfire? And weak constitution is no ground for annulment. Only unconsummated marriages can be annulled, that is their divine law.
    – Aegon
    Aug 15, 2017 at 13:56
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    @LordPraxis That's true but the reason why they have no Faith militant is because Crown swore to defend the Sept and her faith. Crown can't be expected to forswear that and force Sept to change the faith. If they do, Sept can't be expected to hold their end of the bargain either. Specifically on Marriage laws, see here
    – Aegon
    Aug 15, 2017 at 14:25

Well history is written by the winner so "the people" will accept what they're told. They have no power, and no reason to not to accept it.

As for "how to prove it", they lie. Jon says Ned told him before he left for the wall, and Jon didn't mention it to anyone after that for very good reason (it's a death sentence), and Dany lies, saying her brother told her, and Varys lies about it, saying it information he's been sitting on for years.

So they'd have three people with corroborating stories, who have been party to the same secret.

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    I hadn't thought of that. Given that they win, then they lie. If they lose, they die, and the truth gets lost to history. Would be interested to see if anyone had any other theories, quotes and references are always welcome! Aug 11, 2017 at 17:35
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    I agree with your first sentence, but the rest of this sounds very out of character for those, uh, characters. Aug 11, 2017 at 18:30
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    @KevinWorkman Agreed. Varys might tell that story, he's about helping the realm. But Jon isn't a fan of lying, whatever the reason, and Daenerys wouldn't care a lick what people believed-- she would just say "he's my nephew" and expect people to take her at her word (assuming she believed it herself). Aug 11, 2017 at 19:09
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    Plus, if Jon Snow become a legitimate targaryen, he is ahead Dany on the succession line, and I don't see dany leaving the iron throne. The only scenario where i see Dany accepting Jon Snow lineage would a wedding, where both are Targaryen King and Queen with strong claim
    – Kepotx
    Aug 12, 2017 at 0:00
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    Great points everyone! Aug 14, 2017 at 9:17

The Targaryens or their bastards are the only people in recorded Westerosi history who are capable of taming dragons. If Daenerys shows up and one or both of her dragons take an immediate liking to Jon, the people of Westeros are highly likely to see that as proof that he is an honest-to-gods Targaryen. Add Howland Reed's testimony and Bran's spooky voodoo, and that may be enough for many.

The wild card in all of this is Wylla, the woman in Starfall who claims to be Jon Snow's wetnurse and/or mother. It's highly unlikely that Ned could have ridden with a hungry baby all the way from the Tower of Joy to Starfell without feeding it, or that Lyanna gave birth all by herself. The narration of his GoT chapters only says that two from the fight rode away from the Tower of Joy.

They had been seven against three, yet only two had lived to ride away; Eddard Stark himself and the little crannogman, Howland Reed

Once we assume that was a clever way of hiding the fact that a baby was with them who WASN'T in the fight, perhaps a woman was too.

The REALLY wild card is Ashara Dayne, who's also supposedly Jon's mother. After Ned visited Starfell with Jon, she committed suicide by throwing herself into the ocean. Her body has never been recovered, and any X-Men fan can tell you what that means as to her likelihood of still being alive.

And hell, for all we know Rhaegar left some written record behind that Howland's been holding onto. Maybe he realized the fathering a child in complete secret might not be great for his future, and left behind some documentation.

A lot of this answer is speculation, but that's the nature of the question I'm afraid.

  • Not sure what ashara Dayne has to do with this question when R+L=J is 100% confirmed.
    – kuhl
    Aug 12, 2017 at 3:56

Leaving aside the realpolitik approach...

If Rhaegar married Lyanna, some Septon was present. We don't know the fate of that Septon, but he would provide strong corroboration to Reed about the marriage, possibly the birth but...

If we assume the Septon wasn't around for the birth there are still ladies, maids, wetnurse(s) and Howland Reed (again) with knowledge of the situation.

If enough of those folks corroborate and/or left some testament that is admissible in Westerosi law, then you have at least as much proof as modern inheritance claims have when the original titles are missing.

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