In A Game of Thrones, chapter 4 (the first Eddard chapter), we hear Eddard and King Robert talking about sending Lysa Arryn's son, Robert Arryn to be a ward of Tywin Lannister. Eddard is relieved that Lysa had declined:

Ned would sooner entrust the child to a pit viper than Lord Tywin, but he left his doubts unspoken. Some old wounds never truly heal, and bleed again at the slightest word.
- AGOT Chapter 4

What "old wounds" is Ned thinking about here? In the next Eddard chapter we learn that Ned distrusts Tywin for ordering the murder of Rhaegar Targaryen's children. But the way Ned thinks of Tywin in the quote above makes me think the wounds are deeper and more personal than that.

There is obviously enmity between the Starks and Lannisters after the events of A Game of Thrones but what happened to cause enmity before AGOT?

  • If the (fan) theory than Jon Snow is the son of Rhaegar Targaryen (and Ned's sister, Lyanna Stark) is correct, that would sure give Ned enough reason to 'take it personally' that the Lannisters murdered them down to the last known children. Jul 23, 2015 at 6:13
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    I'll bet it is a piling of events and not a single event that lead to Ned being distrustful to the Lannisters. Aside from Tywin offer of killing kids, Ned opened the throne room to find Jaime Lannister on the throne with the body of the mad king the one he swore to protect. I believe this is a question of the Lannisters having a nasty reputation. Jul 23, 2015 at 7:09
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    According to this wiki page on the sack of King's Landing, Ned and Robert fell out over whether Tywin's killing of the Targ kids and other brutality was justified, and this was what led to Ned riding out and doing the final mopping up alone. Not sure what that's based on, and there might be more to it than that, but that's enough to explain the line. Jul 23, 2015 at 8:29
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    Add on to all of the the fact that Tywin waited till the war was pretty much over to pick a side. Eddard is a very honorable man that fights for what he believes in. Tywin didn't fight at all, waltzed in the front door of the Red Keep and killed a bunch of kids.
    – Telestia
    Jul 23, 2015 at 14:05

4 Answers 4


TL;DR: The two families are opposites in several ways, but the true animosity didn't begin until the Sacking of King's Landing at the end of Robert's Rebellion.

In many ways, the Lannisters and Starks have always been complete opposites. Both families were among the oldest in Westeros, tracing their lineage all the way back to the First Men. The Starks, however, were long known for their rigid honor and conduct. Their very name - Stark - describes not only their environment in the North but also their outlook. In contrast, the Lannisters were known for flexibility & deception. The family name itself is derived from Lann the Clever - a man most widely known as the trickster who conned his way into ownership of Casterly Rock.

However, much of the animosity we see during The War of the Five Kings is fairly recent. It largely began during Robert's Rebellion. Although it's possible that Ned Stark had some minor disdain for houses which refused to take a side during the rebellion, that is only conjecture at this point. He DID, however, resent the fact that the Lannisters only joined the Rebellion at the end, once it became obvious who was winning. This resentment was still evident years later.

"The lion of Lannister flew over the ramparts, not the crowned stag. And they had taken the city by treachery." "There was no honor in that conquest." - Eddard Stark (GoT, Ch. 12)

The Sack of King's Landing

During the sack of King's Landing at the end of the rebellion, it was Ned who first breached the throne-room. Expecting a vicious battle against the Kingsguard, Ned instead found Jaime Lannister - the king's personal bodyguard - standing over the dead king, having just killed him. From Ned's viewpoint, Jaime had broken his sacred oath to the Kingsguard, killing the very man he was sworn to protect. From Jaime's viewpoint, he had a very valid (heroic, even) reason for killing the king, yet saw only judgement & scorn on Ned's face.

In addition, it seemed obvious to Ned that the horrendous actions of Gregor Clegane were done at the orders of Tywin Lannister, although he could never prove such a claim. He and Robert had a heated argument about this very matter, and it caused a rift between the two that only their shared grief of Lyanna could heal.

So, immediately following the end of Robert's Rebellion, you now have Ned Stark disliking both Tywin AND Jaime Lannister, albeit for different reasons. You also have Jaime Lannister resenting Ned Stark for his judgmental attitude.

Fifteen Years Later

The series picks up 15 years after the rebellion. When the Hand of the King - Ned's friend Jon Arryn - dies, Catelyn Stark hears from her sister (Jon's widow) that the Lannisters were behind the assassination. There is also the matter of Bran falling into a coma while the King (as well as Queen Cersei and her brother Jaime) are both present - an event that Ned views with some suspicion.

After Ned becomes the new Hand, he picks up Jon's investigation and learns of

the incestuous affair between Queen Cersei and Jaimie. Cersei also confirms that they were involved in Bran's accident.

Obviously, this happens AFTER the passage you quote, but it only further cements Ned's dislike of the Lannisters, and now gives Cersei a practical reason to dislike Ned.

It should be noted that Tywin did not necessarily share this animosity for the Starks. In fact, it could be argued that he respected Ned somewhat, although he does seem to believe that Ned's inflexibility & rigid adherence to honor was in fact his greatest flaw. In fact, the only person we really see Tywin expressing any animosity towards is his own son, Tyrion.

Note: Regarding Cersei, it's entirely possible that she already resented Ned not only because of the way Jaime felt, but also because she saw in Ned a loyalty & love that Robert never showed her as his wife. This is only speculation on my part, however.

  • Very good answer, but I would like some quotes to justify some claims. For example He and Robert had a heated argument about this very matter, and it caused a rift between the two that never fully healed over the years. How do you know it never really healed ? +1 anyway, very solid.
    – Kalissar
    Jul 23, 2015 at 16:25
  • @Kalissar: I could have sworn that Ned at one point thought that was when he realized Robert was too easily blinded by hatred, but maybe I was wrong. Until I have a quote, I'll change it.
    – Omegacron
    Jul 23, 2015 at 17:38
  • Is it necessary to spoiler something that happens within the first 100 pages of the book? And in the first episode of the show?
    – Jay
    Jan 11, 2016 at 8:34
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    @Jayraj - I always err on the side of caution when it comes to spoilers.
    – Omegacron
    Jan 11, 2016 at 15:06
  • Tywin joined Robert's rebellion very late, when it was clear that Robert was going to win. He was clearly intent on choosing the winning side.
  • Tywin sacked King's Landing.
  • Tywin's son Jaime killed Mad King Aerys, whom he was sworn to protect.
  • Tywin ordered the murder of Rhaegar Targaryen's wife and children.

Ned Stark is honorable to a fault, and these actions are revolting to him. I would also venture to guess that Ned feels partly responsible, because he and Tywin were on the same side in the rebellion.


Ned's hatred of the Lannisters is not really justified by any specific actions detailed in the books (well until Jaime launched Bran from the Tower). Ned has an extremely black-and-white worldview and places honour and duty higher than anyone else in Westeros (with the possible exception of Ser Barristan). Once Robert had achieved victory then Aerys and all his (known!) descendants were going to be killed. Ned may want to close his eyes to that, but it's a fact - and the driving impetus behind their deaths would have been Robert - not Tywin.

Tywin only decided to support Robert late in the day so he had Rhaegar's children killed and presented to Robert as proof that he had irrevocably broken with the Targaryens. Ned hates him for this pragmatic child murder and is able to ignore the fact that Robert would have ordered them killed anyway. Likewise, Aerys was a dead man walking so what does it matter who stabbed him? And yet Ned regards Jaime's treachery as despicable, even though he himself would have killed Aerys if he'd found him first.

So basically Ned is someone who rather self-indulgently hates the Lannisters due to his perception of them as lacking in honour while ignoring political realities and the fact that his friend Robert would have done the same.

  • -1 from me. This answer seems very opinion-based. There ARE events in the books which could arguably justify the mistrust, and using the terms "perceived lack of honour" and "political realities" makes it seem like a very biased answer.
    – Omegacron
    Jul 23, 2015 at 15:30
  • Well provide these events. Even Robert laughed off Jaime sitting on the Iron Throne as of no consequence. Jul 23, 2015 at 15:38
  • @Omegacron I used the term "perceived lack of honour" because I was thinking of Jaime's perfectly justified reason for killing Aerys (as revealed to Brienne). If Ned had known the full story he might not have been so critical. Jul 23, 2015 at 15:45
  • Ah, gotcha. In that case you may want to say JAIME's perceived lack of honour. Cersei or Joffrey, in particular, do not appear to care anything about honour, which is why I found the "perceived" part misleading. I'll take the downvote off, but you still may want to clean up the formatting a bit.
    – Omegacron
    Jul 23, 2015 at 15:48
  • Barristan the Bold is surely the most honorable man in the Seven Kingdoms
    – Gaius
    Jul 23, 2015 at 16:32

I think the pride of Cersei is important! Cersei was humiliated by the king who preferred another for his son Rhaegar Targaryen, then Rhaegar kidnapped Lyanna Stark and to finish Robert called her Lyanna during their wedding night. For a woman, especially like Cersei, resentment is tough and the Lannister are proud! Maybe it's another cause of enmity between Stark and Lannister.

  • For a woman, ... resentment is tough Y U NO RESPECT WOMEN?
    – Ingu Shama
    Sep 9, 2015 at 13:42

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