With all the marriages, affairs and secret children in Game of Thrones, it's hard to keep track of who's related to whom. Sansa Stark has been married to both a Lannister and a Bolton, Cersei Lannister has officially had three children with Robert Baratheon (but they're actually the offspring of her brother Jaime) and Margaery Tyrell goes through husbands like the Dornish go through wine. Plus – most importantly – who on earth are Jon Snow's real parents?
House Stark are the traditional rulers of the North and have a long and illustrious history. When the show began, the patriarch was Eddard “Ned” Stark. He was married to Catelyn “Cat” Tully, who came from the Riverlands. Between them, they had five children (Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran and Rickon) and seemed like a wholesome, happy family.
There was one black sheep, though, Jon Snow. He was the bastard son that Ned brought home after he’d been away fighting in the rebellion against King Aerys... or so that is what he told everyone – including his wife Cat.
It has now been revealed that Jon is actually the legitimate son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, who was Aerys’s heir and Daenerys’s eldest brother.
Most of House Stark are now dead, wiped out by the scheming of the Lannisters and Boltons. Currently Sansa, Arya, Bran and Jon are the last Starks standing. Sansa was briefly married to Tyrion Lannister, but the marriage was never consummated, and the odious Ramsay Bolton, who was seen off in the Battle of the Bastards.
The Targaryens had ruled over Westeros for centuries, ever since Aegon the Conqueror and his two sisters (who were also his wives) flew over on their dragons. For years, the Targaryens wed brother and sister, steadily narrowing the gene pool in the hope of keeping their dragon blood “pure”. Family traits include silver hair and violet eyes, as well as an occasional flash of temper.
Following in the family tradition, King Aerys II married his sister Rhaella (just as their parents had done before them). The couple struggled to have healthy children, and suffered a string of miscarriages over the years. They did have three children who survived to adulthood: Rhaegar, Viserys and Daenerys. But the huge age difference of 17 years between Rhaegar and Daenerys meant that the tradition of marrying brother and sister just wasn’t possible.
This led to the marriage of Rhaegar Targaryen and the Dornish princess Elia Martell. They had two children, Rhaenys and Aegon. However, Rhaegar’s fell in love with Lyanna Stark, the sister of Ned Stark. At some point, he secretly annulled his marriage to Elia and eloped with Lyanna. To everyone else in Westeros, though, it looked as though Lyanna (who had been engaged to Robert Baratheon) had been abducted. A civil war broke out and Robert sought to depose the Mad King and win Lyanna back.
Rhaegar died fighting at the Trident, and around the same time, Lyanna died giving birth to their son... whom we all know as Jon Snow.
The Lannister clan are famed for their gold, which comes from the mines at the family seat of Casterley Rock. Lord Tywin Lannister was the Hand of King Aerys II, until the pair had a falling out. He is father to twins Cersei and Jaime, as well as everyone’s favourite intellectual dwarf, Tyrion. The family reached the pinnacle of their influence when Cersei was married to King Robert Baratheon, and supposedly bore him three children.
However, these children were actually the result of a sordid extramarital relationship with brother Jaime, who took a vow of chastity when he became a member of the Kingsguard.
Not all of the Lannister clan are quite as close as Jaime and Cersei, though. Tywin Lannister always showed a certain level of contempt for his youngest son, embarrassed by his deformities and penchant for debauchery. Relations between the two finally reached breaking point when Tyrion shot his father on the privy.
Cersei has always despised her youngest brother, blaming him for the death of their mother in childbirth. She has also lived in fear of a prophecy she heard as child from the sorceress Maggy the Frog. Cersei asked the crone if she would have any children, and the reply was that she would have three, but they would all die: “And when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.”
The valonqar means “little brother” in Valyrian. Of course, Tyrion is the littlest of the Lannister brothers both in age and physical stature, so Cersei has always assumed he will be her murderer. However, some fans have pointed out that Jaime is also technically her younger brother, so could finally turn on his twins.
Cersei’s three children have already died through a series of murderous ploys and tragedies, and she now rules the Seven Kingdoms in her own right. If the prophecy is to be believed, however, her time on the Iron throne will soon be up.
Tyrion was briefly married to Sansa Stark in a bid to create an alliance between the two houses, but the marriage was never consummated.
The Greyjoys are a hardy bunch of seafarers who live on the Iron Islands. King Balon had four children, but his two eldest sons died when the family rebelled against King Robert Baratheon. As punishment and to ensure Balon’s good behaviour, youngest son Theon was sent to be fostered by Ned Stark. This left Balon with only daughter Yara for company.
Not wanting the Iron Islands to be ruled by a stooge of Winterfell, Balon groomed Yara to be his heir.
When he eventually returned the Iron Islands, Theon attempted to prove his worth to his father by attacking Winterfell, the castle that had been his home. This backfired badly for the youngest Greyjoy, however, and he ended up a prisoner of the sadistic Ramsay Bolton. When he was eventually reunited with his big sister Yara, Theon was half the man he’d been before thanks to Ramsay’s penchant for gruesome torture and lopping off different body parts.
In the show, King Balon has two brothers, the wild and sociopathic Euron Greyjoy, and the sour-faced priest Aeron Greyjoy. The former made a real impact on his return to the Iron Islands, by pushing him off a rope bridge and claiming the Salt Throne for himself. This forced Yara and Theon to flee and forge an alliance with Daenerys Targaryen.
House Baratheon were the proud and powerful principal house of the Stormlands. Eldest son Robert Baratheon found himself seated on the Iron Throne following his rebellion against King Aerys II and the ruling Targaryen house. He married Cersei Lannister, the daughter of the richest man in Westeros, in order to secure his place on the throne.
Unfortunately, it was not a happy marriage with both parties straying into other beds. Robert sired many illegitimate children during his lifetime, including Gendry. Cersei, meanwhile, sought comfort in the arms of her twin brother, Jaime. Robert didn’t suspect a thing, though, and believed that Joffrey, Myrcella and Tommen were all his children.
Over the course of the series, the Baratheons were steadily picked off, and no legitimate heirs survive.
House Tyrell were a powerful southern family led by matriarch Olenna, who was also known as the Queen of Thorns, after her sharp tongue. It was the Tyrell grandchildren who were the major players in the Game of Thrones. Loras was the lover of Robert Baratheon’s younger brother, Renly. This was slightly complicated by the fact Renly was married to Loras’ sister, Margaery.
After Renly’s death, the Tyrells allied with the Lannisters, and sealed this by remarrying Margaery to Joffrey. Poor Margaery found herself twice-widowed on her wedding day, though, after the villainous Joff was poisoned during the celebrations. Not one to hang around grieving, Margaery was then married to Joffrey’s younger brother, Tommen. Sadly, the Tyrell line ended when Cersei blew up the Sept of Baelor.
House Martell are the traditional rulers of Dorne, the last Kingdom of Westeros to be conquered by the Targaryens. For most of the show, the head of the family was Prince Doran. He had a brother, Prince Oberyn Martell, and a sister, Elia.
The amorous Oberyn sired many illegitimate children, known collectively as the Sand Snakes, and had a long-term paramour in Ellaria Sand, but he never married. Elia Martell was married to Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and had two children, but was killed by the Mountain during Robert’s Rebellion.
Many years later, Oberyn was also killed by the Mountain during single-handed combat. Enraged at the death of Oberyn and Prince Doran’s lack of action, the Sand Snakes murdered Doran and his son, Trystane Martell. This extinguished the Martell family line.
House Tully are the principal lords of the Riverlands, and are connected to several powerful families in Westeros through marriage. Catelyn Tully was married to the Lord of Winterfell Ned Stark, while sister Lysa was married to Jon Arryn, the Lord of the Vale. Both are now dead and only younger brother Edmure survives. The three Tully children were raised with Petyr Baelish, who was their father’s ward. They were also close to their paternal uncle, Brynden Tully, a fearsome warrior who was known as the Blackfish.
It was Edmure’s marriage celebrations to Roslin Frey that went down in infamy as the Red Wedding, where the Freys murdered Catelyn and her son Robb Stark. Although Edmure is technically the Lord Riverrun, he remains a prisoner of the Lannisters following the Red Wedding.
The Arryns are Lords of the Vale. Jon Arryn was known as a good and honourable man, and raised Ned Stark and Robert Baratheon as his wards. When Robert won the war against King Aerys II, he named Jon Arryn Hand of the King.
Jon was married to Lysa Tully and the couple had one son, a sickly boy known as Robin. After Jon Arryn’s murder, Lysa retreated to the Arryn fortress known as The Eyrie. She was later murdered by her lover and childhood friend Petyr Baelish, and now Robin is the only surviving member of House Arryn. He proved instrumental in helping his Stark cousins by sending troops to their aid in the Battle of the Bastards.