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Bolton-Stark Conflict


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#21 Bad Hound!

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 07:25 PM

Well, I'm not very far in the books (just finished aSoS part I (Steel & Snow), but I am fascinated by the Boltons and I have my own theory (which may be absolute bo**ocks but hey - that's the fun of the GRRM world: get you to think and extrapolate)

My theory is that there is a lot more to the Boltons that appears at first. Initially, yes, they are just another northern house, like the Greatjons, Smalljons, Umbers, Karstarks.. then there are the rumours of flaying, the monstrosity that is Ramsay Snow/Bolton, and then the more and more prominent role played by Roose Bolton himself. I got intrigued.

And then we start getting some clues, planted here and there by GRRM: Roose Bolton is always described as incredibly calm and cool, with eyes of grey ice. I think it's the eyes that got me intrigued. Why insisting on those eyes? They seemed like Others eyes to me. And then the leeches, like some sort of reverse vampire, trying to keep his blood cool, or thinned, or something. Then the ambivalent relationship with his bastard Ramsay. Then there is the episode of
Spoiler


What's in this book? Books aren't burned willy-nilly in those days. Must have been a pretty serious thing in there, some secret that he wants no one to find out?

So I read other threads and discovered other people are wondering about the Boltons as well. My theory is that there is a link to the Others. Left-field, yes sure, maybe. But the eyes man, the eyes!! And the smooth skin, the extremely soft voice (surely unusual for a man of his stature and position, for leading men surely you need a strong voice?). This leads me to believe that Roose Bolton is a much more threatening creature than appears at first, and that his conflict with the Starks goes back way before the Game of Thrones begins, and maybe dates back to the time when Brandon the Builder (a Stark) built the Wall to keep the Others at bay.

Maybe there has always been conflict between Boltons and Starks, and maybe this conflict dates back to when the Others were pushed back by the First Men (to which Starks say they are descended from). Maybe the Starks are skinchangers (wargs) and maybe the Boltons have been flaying Starks to wear their skins and get in the skinchanging game as well, or something.

I just can see Roose Bolton getting more and more power as the books progress until we can't avoid him anymore: he is gonna be a major force and even the Lannister and their allies will seem small beer compared to him.

#22 Lady Wylla Manderly

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 11:03 PM

Maybe the Starks are skinchangers (wargs) and maybe the Boltons have been flaying Starks to wear their skins and get in the skinchanging game as well, or something.


Why does this make so much sense to me? I always wondered where that tradition come from.

Furthermore, there could be "bone-like qualities" in the skin as well. Remember Melisandre in ADWD and how she explained "the bones remember?"

There is definitely something fishy about the Bolton-Stark conflict though. As many have pointed out, they rebelled against the Stark's thrice, and the old Kings of Winter don't seem like people who would forget that. They were stern men who practised blood sacrifice.

I hope GRRM explains some Bolton history in TWoW.

#23 Arland

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 06:59 AM

I think one of the reasons Starks couldn't wipe Boltons, because Boltons were married into other houses or because doing so would have meant fighting to a bitter end with great losses. Tywin did it, but it seems to be exemption rather then a rule

Edited by Arland, 04 October 2012 - 06:59 AM.


#24 Gurkhal

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 09:00 AM

I think one of the reasons Starks couldn't wipe Boltons, because Boltons were married into other houses or because doing so would have meant fighting to a bitter end with great losses. Tywin did it, but it seems to be exemption rather then a rule


Well the Starks did it with the Greystarks at the same time as they let the Boltons get away, but I agree that its an exception rather than a rule.

#25 History of Westeros

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 01:10 AM

A rebellion from the Greystarks could be extremely angering to a Stark Lord and perhaps to others. It could be seen as some form of attempt at kinslaying.

#26 The Dragon King

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Posted 15 October 2012 - 09:33 PM

Anyway the Boltons and Starks probably aren't the best of friends but one of the characters was talking about how their father always told them once your oppenent was beaten and on their knees the best thing is to help them back up...its probably Jon thinking of Ned but anyway thats my point. The Starks probably beat the Boltons back into the Dreadfort a number of times but to destroy wasn't the best move in terms of overall strength for the North. My reasoning for the Starks destroying their rebellious cadet branches like the Greystarks is probably because they have legitimate ties to Winterfell and the seat of the North so they probably just thought it was safer to destroy them, also it would be a serious betrayal to rebel against (in the eyes of the Starks) 1) your liegelord but more importantly 2) Your 'family' and your parent house. To the Starks that would probably seem like more of a betrayal and probably acted in a harsher fashion towards them. That my take in any case


"Men must be either pampered or crushed" - Machiavelli

If you're not going to completely exterminate an enemy you do want to help them up but ideally they'll be dependent on the hand you give them.

Edited by The Dragon King, 15 October 2012 - 09:33 PM.


#27 tom_saxon

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 02:07 AM

Interesting stuff, but as an aside this thead (to me) hilights GRRM's lack of a good grasp of geopolitics. The same family maintaining dominance for thousands of years? That is more implausible to me than all of the "fantasy" (dragons, magic etc) element combined. Regimes grow from the ashes of former regimes over the course of centuries (at best), are themselves eventually brought down and new regimes grow again. Think of all the turmoil and changing of regimes in europe alone in the past 500 years, let alone two thousand, four thousand, ten thousand. Correct me if I am wrong, it just seems totally off.

#28 Free Northman

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 08:20 AM

Interesting stuff, but as an aside this thead (to me) hilights GRRM's lack of a good grasp of geopolitics. The same family maintaining dominance for thousands of years? That is more implausible to me than all of the "fantasy" (dragons, magic etc) element combined. Regimes grow from the ashes of former regimes over the course of centuries (at best), are themselves eventually brought down and new regimes grow again. Think of all the turmoil and changing of regimes in europe alone in the past 500 years, let alone two thousand, four thousand, ten thousand. Correct me if I am wrong, it just seems totally off.


I have no problem with it whatsoever. It's fantasy. That's what it's about.

Histories going back tens of thousands of years. Walls that are 700 feet tall, lizards that are the size of Boeing 747's, and which can breathe fire, Man-Apes 14 feet tall, a medieval kingdom the size of the entire Europe, "Rocky mountains" in the Lands beyond the Wall that according to Martin are the height of the Himalayas.

Who wants bland and ordinary when you can have ancient family histories going back 8,000 years?

Edited by Free Northman, 23 October 2012 - 08:21 AM.


#29 Lady Wylla Manderly

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 05:12 PM

Who wants bland and ordinary when you can have ancient family histories going back 8,000 years?


Well spoken, friend xD Older families (whether you like them or not) provide way more interesting parallels than new families. Particularly the Andals. I won't like them until I see some historical or magical badarsery action xD

#30 timenyart

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 06:44 PM

Well, I'm not very far in the books (just finished aSoS part I (Steel & Snow), but I am fascinated by the Boltons and I have my own theory (which may be absolute bo**ocks but hey - that's the fun of the GRRM world: get you to think and extrapolate)

My theory is that there is a lot more to the Boltons that appears at first. Initially, yes, they are just another northern house, like the Greatjons, Smalljons, Umbers, Karstarks.. then there are the rumours of flaying, the monstrosity that is Ramsay Snow/Bolton, and then the more and more prominent role played by Roose Bolton himself. I got intrigued.

And then we start getting some clues, planted here and there by GRRM: Roose Bolton is always described as incredibly calm and cool, with eyes of grey ice. I think it's the eyes that got me intrigued. Why insisting on those eyes? They seemed like Others eyes to me. And then the leeches, like some sort of reverse vampire, trying to keep his blood cool, or thinned, or something. Then the ambivalent relationship with his bastard Ramsay. Then there is the episode of

Spoiler


What's in this book? Books aren't burned willy-nilly in those days. Must have been a pretty serious thing in there, some secret that he wants no one to find out?

So I read other threads and discovered other people are wondering about the Boltons as well. My theory is that there is a link to the Others. Left-field, yes sure, maybe. But the eyes man, the eyes!! And the smooth skin, the extremely soft voice (surely unusual for a man of his stature and position, for leading men surely you need a strong voice?). This leads me to believe that Roose Bolton is a much more threatening creature than appears at first, and that his conflict with the Starks goes back way before the Game of Thrones begins, and maybe dates back to the time when Brandon the Builder (a Stark) built the Wall to keep the Others at bay.

Maybe there has always been conflict between Boltons and Starks, and maybe this conflict dates back to when the Others were pushed back by the First Men (to which Starks say they are descended from). Maybe the Starks are skinchangers (wargs) and maybe the Boltons have been flaying Starks to wear their skins and get in the skinchanging game as well, or something.

I just can see Roose Bolton getting more and more power as the books progress until we can't avoid him anymore: he is gonna be a major force and even the Lannister and their allies will seem small beer compared to him.

You probably shouldn't be on this thread if you haven't read A Dance with Dragons, a lot of the North's history and the Boltons are revealed in that book, most of what you just said is already well known, though I dont know if the Boltons have a connection with the others or not

#31 timenyart

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 07:04 PM

Alright some of you have given good points and some of the topics discussed here is also discussed on the Feral North page, now I believe beyond a shadow of doubt that the Boltons were Kings of a significant amount of territory in the North, th Umbers, Who ever lived in the Karhold area, and the people just south of Brandon's gift were probably ruled by Bolton Kings, the Hornwoods were also probably vassals, and may have been Kings in their own right at the beginning,
House Dustin's arms of two battle axes with a Crown overtop suggest they were kings themselves, probably one of the last holdouts considereing Barrowton is one of the four main population centers, the Starks probably spent most of their early strength attacking and conquering the lands around them, and now doubt the Boltons did to until the Starks and Boltons were the last two kings in the North, the North itself was probably more populous especially the area around Winterfell, the Gift proves this, the Mountain clans are known to have contested the Kings of Winters authorities and they probably did the same to Lords Umber,
Also whose to say the Starks truly defeated the Boltons, four year long siege seems pretty harrowing for both sides, and quite frankly the Boltons are know for being cunning, its likely that they would have fought the Starks long enough until the Starks would have preferred an end to the War in exchange for fealty instead of the Starks just wiping them out, it might be the Starks let them live knowing they would almost destroy themselves in their attempts to end House Bolton, its also likely that the few times the Boltons rebelled against house Stark the Lord of WInterfell was in some way considered inadiquate, one rebellion took place against Bael the Bard's son and he ended up a flayed skin cloak, that particular lord would have been both a bastard and part Wildling, in fact the Westeros Total War Submod, the Kings of Rivers alnd Hills recreates that scenario with the Greystarks supporting the Boltons and giving them some sort of legitamacy, ever since I have played that game I have thought that maybe the "wolfsblood" and the kind of vicious behaviour which would have been typical of a wildling, and a good explanation why nobody followed that lord; may have entered into description about the Starks at this point of time,
And I am completely buying the whole Boltons trying to be skinchangers by flaying their enemies and wearing their skins, it makes perfect sense Apple Martini mentioned it on another thread and if I ever have the fortune of meeting GRRM than it will be one of the first things I ask

#32 timenyart

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 07:06 PM

Something which I really hope gets cleared up is the historical conflict between the Boltons and the Starks. I would for example would really want to know if the Boltons were kings themselves, maybe Kings of Fear to counter the Kings of Winter in the North, and how the conflict between the two Houses went down through history.

Also some history the historical Boltons would be nice. Was Ice-Eyes' mother a Bolton? So far we've seen three Boltons alive and they've been spread all along the line:

Domeric - nice guy,

Roose - pretty cool but alot of people don't like him

Ramsay - total scum

If more info about the Boltons comes I would suppose it will come as part of a general history of the North or House Stark.

Ice Eyes wasn't necessarily part Bolton, after all Jaime once compared Roose Bolton and Ned Starks eyes and said they appeared very similar, Ned Stark had a sort of fearsome reputation among his enemies who thought his eyes revealed his frozen heart

#33 tom_saxon

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 11:58 PM

I have no problem with it whatsoever. It's fantasy. That's what it's about.

Histories going back tens of thousands of years. Walls that are 700 feet tall, lizards that are the size of Boeing 747's, and which can breathe fire, Man-Apes 14 feet tall, a medieval kingdom the size of the entire Europe, "Rocky mountains" in the Lands beyond the Wall that according to Martin are the height of the Himalayas.

Who wants bland and ordinary when you can have ancient family histories going back 8,000 years?


/smile.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':)' /> I guess such a big part of the series for me is GRRM's normally masterfull ability to suspension disbelief- the "realism" of the overall tale as it were. I am into history, reading of histories and geneologies of important families and dynasties (eg. "The Twelve Ceasars" by Tranquillus) and ATOIAF is such sweet sweet goodness to the pallet that appreciates otherwise fairly dry non-fictional material. Its just the legnth of the life of these regimes is a bit much. Doesn't even come close to making me less of a voracious ATOIAF reader. I guess nothing can be perfect.

#34 Gurkhal

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 03:09 AM

Ice Eyes wasn't necessarily part Bolton, after all Jaime once compared Roose Bolton and Ned Starks eyes and said they appeared very similar, Ned Stark had a sort of fearsome reputation among his enemies who thought his eyes revealed his frozen heart


Never thought about it but its absolutely a possibility.

#35 The Dragon has three heads

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 06:20 AM

I'm of the mind that the histories of westeros and their timelines are broken. On purpose.

#36 Ser Desmond Wine's Bane

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 02:48 PM

On the Bolton collecting the skins of Starks - I had an inkling of this line of thought when I read through, but forgot it until I read it here. I completely buy in to the claim.

Rather than the justification being that the Boltons were collecting the skins to 'punish' the Starks for being wargs, could it be that the warg trait actually meant a very close relationship to the Old Gods and the Boltons were tapping in to that angle.

(Also, I can't remember precisely, but wasn't the events at God's Eye the peace between the First Men and the Children of the Forest, in which case the First Men - Starks - became the line that sired later generations of the Old Gods.)

----

Really interested to hear more discussion about this!

#37 Ingelheim

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 04:35 PM

The Boltos were fighting the Starks for centuries, so they must be so powerful, yes. I consider them a Great House, as same level as Starks. The Boltos have been collecting the skins of Starks and other Houses since 1000 years ago...

#38 Federico

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 10:18 PM

Should the Starks ultimately prevail come 'spring', they will have a number of wilding allies they ought to reward with lands and such. So, the Boltons, Freys, and other houses...

#39 timenyart

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 11:08 PM

yeah Mance Rayder, Tormund Giantsbane, Soren Shieldbreaker, Sigorn of Thenn assuming House Karstark survives

#40 blackwing

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 07:13 AM

Interesting stuff, but as an aside this thead (to me) hilights GRRM's lack of a good grasp of geopolitics. The same family maintaining dominance for thousands of years? That is more implausible to me than all of the "fantasy" (dragons, magic etc) element combined. Regimes grow from the ashes of former regimes over the course of centuries (at best), are themselves eventually brought down and new regimes grow again. Think of all the turmoil and changing of regimes in europe alone in the past 500 years, let alone two thousand, four thousand, ten thousand. Correct me if I am wrong, it just seems totally off.


I don't think all these numbers are to be taken literally. I don't think historiography in ASOIAF can be compared to ours.