As far as I know, there are several theories about Jon Snow's parentage. But the likeliest to me is

Lyanna and Rhaegar.

If this were true, then how did Eddard Stark manage to keep this under wraps?

Someone must have made the connection between

Lyanna getting kidnapped and dying 9 months later...

...and the sudden appearance of Jon Snow. Why does no one suspect the obvious?

  • 7
    "Why don't people suspect X is the truth?", is generally not a particularly interesting question. Here is another question: why didn't some fans suspect the truth about Jon Snow's parents until they read it on the internet? Did you figure it out on your own?
    – Andres F.
    Nov 30, 2014 at 18:00
  • 2
    I did.
    – TLP
    Nov 30, 2014 at 18:50
  • 2
    I would say it never occurred to King Robert because the lie supported his worldview so well: that no man is so honorable that he is not ruled by his passions. Nov 30, 2014 at 19:53
  • 1
    Because Eddard says he's the father and everyone can see how much Jon has the classic Stark look. Dec 3, 2014 at 16:27

3 Answers 3


"Suspect" is a strong word. We do not know what anyone, except the POV characters, suspect. We can only suspect, or assume that they suspect, unless they voice their suspicions. People might very well suspect things about Ned's bastard son. But the story of his breach of honour in bringing a bastard child home from the war was no doubt an appealing story for people: Why would he say such a thing unless it was true?

We know that he sacrificed his own honour to protect Lyannna's son. Much like Robb chose to sacrifice his own honour to protect the honour of the woman he married, Jeyne Westerling. But to the common man, it would be a plausible story that an honourable man brings home his bastard and raises him with his trueborn children.

However, GRRM's official "cover story", as I have always understood it, is what Littlefinger says to Sansa: It is rude to pry into people's bastards. It is described in this conversation between him and Sansa, when they decide on the best cover story for Sansa when she comes to the Eyrie.

(Sansa) "Couldn't I be the trueborn daughter of some knight in your service? Perhaps he died gallantly in the battle, and..."

(Littlefinger) "I have no gallant knights in my service, Alayne. Such a tale would draw unwanted questions as a corpse draws crows. It is rude to pry into the origins of a man's natural children, however."

As for why no one would 1) wonder how Lyanna died, 2) connect it with Ned bringing home an infant son, which seems a pretty obvious connection to make, from our perspective, one has to take into account that this was war. Momentous events took place, the Targaryen dynasty fell, many great lords died or were exiled, many knights were killed, many "war babies" were no doubt born. Not all people are as inquisitive as someone like, for example, Littlefinger or Lord Varys.

And also, of course, it fits the story much better this way. :)

  • Yeah, although it's a little weird that Varys doesn't know about Jon snow or even Maester Aemon figure it out somehow. Varys knows about Griff.
    – aksd
    Dec 1, 2014 at 1:30
  • We don't know if Varys knows or not. Remember when Ned was in the dungeon, he wrote a letter that Varys said he might deliver.
    – TLP
    Dec 1, 2014 at 1:36
  • @Aegon We don't know what Ned wrote in the letter. I doubt he was dumb enough write R+L=J to J, but he could have written HR with "I'm going to die so please tell Jon about his mother for me" & then the only information Varys would have is that HR knows who J's mom is. As for Maester Aemon I'd say there's a reason he was blind. Also I'd like to add that Jon hasn't actually been close to people who can see and knew the Targs well. KL was the one place Ned really didn't want J to go. Dec 2, 2014 at 1:47
  • Who is "HR"? I'm blanking...
    – miltonaut
    Dec 12, 2014 at 10:02
  • @miltonaut Howland Reed. The only other person who would have been at the Tower of Joy and is still alive.
    – TLP
    Dec 12, 2014 at 15:01

One reason could be that Ned explained Jon was his son. And people preferred to admit he faulted once than he's been lying for years...

I suspected this theory early while reading the books, but we readers have more clues about it than most characters in the book: for instance, we know that when Lyanna died, "there was blood".


It was more than a year between Lyanna disappearing and dying. So the timeline is not quite a clear-cut as all that.

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