In the pilot episode of Game of Thrones, Ned Stark takes his sons Robb, Jon, and Bran to watch the execution of a Night's Watch deserter in order to teach them that:

The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword.

If either one of Ned's sons were to become Lord of Winterfell or take a leadership position, he would have to execute the criminal that they pass the death sentence to.

But if either Sansa or Arya became the Lady of Winterfell and had to deal with deserters or other criminals whose crimes deserve capital punishment, would she have to swing the sword herself? Why or why not?

  • 9
    Sansa would have never had such duties. Her husband would had. They raise them in a different way because they were expecting different things from them.
    – Kreann
    Dec 13, 2014 at 2:23
  • 6
    Think of it as apprenticeship - the girls weren't apprenticed to Ned, they were apprenticed to Lady Stark. And Lady Stark didn't go around cutting people's heads off. Well, not until later anyway.
    – Omegacron
    Dec 15, 2014 at 19:27
  • 1
    Because blood makes girls swoon.
    – chewie
    Jul 25, 2016 at 14:06

2 Answers 2


He clearly had fairly prescribed beliefs on the place of women in the world. We learn this several times by how he deals with Arya's desires for her future - how he promises to find her a nice husband and so on. Nonetheless he is not a bad dude - he pays for her 'dancing lessons' after all so accepts to some degree her wish to follow a more masculine path through life. There is also some degree of 'coming of age' to it - overseeing the execution could absolutely be seen as necessary to prepare Bran for the life in front of him, whereas Ned almost definitely wants this to be NO PART of is daughters experience.

  • With this reasoning in mind, is it possible that if Arya became Lord of Winterfell, she would swing the sword herself, especially since she has her "dancing lessons"? Dec 13, 2014 at 2:30
  • 4
    I am sure she would!!! I have only seen the TV show and not read the books - but it would not be surprised if we don't see that exact scene, assuming she doesn't die in some unnecessarily fan-crushing moment delivered to Martin's glee!!!
    – user38114
    Dec 13, 2014 at 2:43
  • 1
    I never thought about it before, but Martin and Joss Whedon both seem to love killing off fan favorites.
    – Joe L.
    Dec 13, 2014 at 3:21
  • DAMN straight @joe!!!
    – user38114
    Dec 13, 2014 at 3:26
  • 2
    I wouldn't say so much that Ned had prescribed beliefs as the WORLD AT LARGE had those beliefs. It's based on medieval Europe, after all. Women are the head of the household & and the servants, but wouldn't be expected to rule as warrior-generals or execute criminals.
    – Omegacron
    Dec 15, 2014 at 19:26

Because the cultural standards of Westeros and the North wouldn't allow it. In fact, as a member of this culture, I'm sure he completely agrees with that worldview.

When he gives up on training Arya to be a proper lady and arranges her sword training, he does so reluctantly and insists she keep it secret. That's the only acceptable way to do this.

Keep in mind that Ned is one of six High Lords. He has power, but is also more constricted by social standards due to his visibility. Not to mention that his wife would never allow the daughters to be at a common execution.

  • Not even a commoner, a vile deserter. That is the lowest of the low. Black brothers "regain" some honour upon taking on the black, a deserter however...
    – Cherubel
    Jan 27, 2015 at 13:09
  • The fact the Mormont ladies are known to be badasses and are actually rulers of their island, I'd be surprised if that was unaccepted in the north. They seem much more likely to permit it than southerners
    – LamaDelRay
    Feb 5, 2020 at 15:44

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.