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Angel Eyes

Ned’s Reputation for Honor

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So this was brought up by @Julia H. in the thread about whether or not Jon Arryn suspected Ned was not Jon Snow’s father, but how did Ned gain his reputation as an honorable man? As @Julia H. points out: 

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It's an interesting aspect of the question, but was Ned at the time known as the famously honourable Ned Stark of Winterfell in places like King's Landing? He was about 20 years old, and, not long before, he had been merely a second son of the lord of a distant region. Now, he was a high lord, one of the leaders of the rebels and a friend of the new king, but had he had enough time to establish a widespread reputation as this extremely honourable person? Of course, it's possible he became famous for unusually honourable behaviour during the war... (So, now I want a singer to come forward and tell me all about it.)

Essentially, what does Ned do that cements his reputation as an honorable man? 

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2 hours ago, Angel Eyes said:

So this was brought up by @Julia H. in the thread about whether or not Jon Arryn suspected Ned was not Jon Snow’s father, but how did Ned gain his reputation as an honorable man? As @Julia H. points out: 

Essentially, what does Ned do that cements his reputation as an honorable man? 

Presumably the fact that he'll swing the sword himself, punish Jorah Mormont for trading slaves when other men might pretend to ignore it? I'm sure Tywin's turned a blind eye to many bad things done by his bannermen. We can assume Ned also kept the Northmen in good order and conduct during the wars they fought, much like how Stannis has a reputation for gelding rapists (something that's considered strange and unique in Westeros).

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Since it's widely agreed upon and the one stain on his honour is supposedly his bastard son, the reputation is not only before Jon, but in all actions since.  We can't forget that Lady Catelyn was probably the most wounded by Jon's existence, so if she sees Ned as honourable and such a great man, then it has to be from after the rebellion.

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These might have contributed to his reputation by the end of RR:

- His outrage at the deaths of Elia and her children and demand for justice on their behalf (he seems to be alone in this among the non-Dornish Lords) 

- His desire that Jaime should join the Nights Watch as punishment for breaking his Kingsguard vows

- Returning Dawn to Starfall (in an age where its very much 'finders keepers') 

He probably also acted honourably during the war, punishing his men for war crimes etc. 

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thanks for the posting AE
yes to @Julia H. i believe Eddard likely grew into his honourability.   

he must have had the "wolf blood" in him else why would he have been so buddy-buddy with the wild & crazy guy Robert Baratheon?  when Eddard was the 2nd son of Stark he probably was the sort of side-kick/wing-man that would be the great friend of the man he is the exact opposite of in his later years.  

as to the exact start of his honour though - could be when he fell in love & broke his heart for the first time.  he had to leave her because it was just a "thing"; plus Robert wanted to go. 

it is my opinion that Eddard knows who the 'Knight of the Laughing Tree' is & this is how he grew to be such a great friend of Howland Reed - his great serious friend, the guy who was the opposite of Robert.

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30 minutes ago, Lady_Qohor said:

These might have contributed to his reputation by the end of RR:

- His outrage at the deaths of Elia and her children and demand for justice on their behalf (he seems to be alone in this among the non-Dornish Lords) 

- His desire that Jaime should join the Nights Watch as punishment for breaking his Kingsguard vows

- Returning Dawn to Starfall (in an age where its very much 'finders keepers') 

He probably also acted honorably during the war, punishing his men for war crimes etc. 

This.

Other things. Fulfilling his family commitments and marrying to Catelyn. Maybe the incident with Ashara played a role in his reputation (and why I don't believe that Ned "dishonored" her) and bringing his "bastard" back to Winterfell is something that only an honorable man would do.

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George RR Martin wanted it that way. And so it was/is. 

Spoiler

The few actions surely aren't enough to give all that hype. Lazy George's alter ego 

 

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Posted (edited)
On 7/5/2021 at 4:34 PM, The_Lone_Wolf said:

The few actions surely aren't enough to give all that hype. Lazy George's alter ego 

Nonsense.

It has already been explained in this thread how Ned's actions were notable and out of the ordinary. Being outraged for the murder of children when everyone else just saw it as politically convenient, giving one of the most precious and unique items in the continent back to the family of a fallen foe without even asking for a ransom, returning home after winning at the rebellion without asking for any title or compensation... All those actions are high-profile actions that would be far from the norm among Westerosi nobility. It's completely logical that Ned would gain a reputation of honorability.

And although I only know George from his public persona, I'm fairly confident that in terms of personality and behaviour he is quite apart from the strict, cold and stern Northern lord. He is on the record several times saying that the character he likes to think he's closer to is Tyrion, although he admits that probably it's Sam.

Edited by The hairy bear

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Because we see inside Ned's thoughts, we see he not only believes in it himself, but being honourable is vitally important to him. And his sons who have been very much taught the same thing even if they do not appreciate just how hard it is to live that way. And because he believes it, it will be evident to those around him in hundreds of little ways every day. Every time he makes a decision or a ruling. Even his enemies acknowledge his honour.

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Posted (edited)

I agree that it was probably during the war that he showed honour.

For one the men must have noticed he wasn't raping nor sleeping around (a la Robert) during the Rebellion, being faithful to his young bride.

He probably wasn't needlessly killing people, torching enemy cities/villages to the ground, and acting in a ruthless manner to achieve his goals (a la Tywin).

Also the fact that he arranged for Rhaegar's body to be burned as it was how Targaryens dealt with their dead. It shows respect for the enemy. He could've just left people desecrate Rhaegar's corpse if he so wished.

And finally his well known spoken disgust and disapproval to Robert over The Sack of King's Landing and what happened to baby prince Aegon and little princess Rhaenys, the children of his enemy.

Edited by Nami

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13 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

Nonsense.

It has already been explained in this thread how Ned's actions were notable and out of the ordinary. eing outraged for the murder of children when everyone else just saw it as politically convenient, giving one of the most precious and unique items in the continent back to the family of a fallen foe without even asking for a ransom, returning home after winning at the rebellion without asking for any title or compensation... All those actions are high-profile actions that would be far from the norm among Westerosi nobility. It's completely logical that Ned would gain a reputation of honorability.

And although I only know George from his public person, I'm fairly confident that in terms of personality and behaviour he is quite apart from the strict, cold and stern Northmen lord. He is on the record several times saying that the character he likes to think he's closer to is Tyrion, although he admits that probably it's Sam.

For the medieval context, and to an extent. Honour, like laws, is a social construct that is not anachronistic. Unlike, say, morals or the lack thereof. Slavery was legal. Killing to save women 'honor' was legal. Duels were legal. From the 21rst century view, I won't call Ned all that 'honorable'. But Pretty good by his era standards 

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On 7/5/2021 at 6:42 AM, Lady_Qohor said:

These might have contributed to his reputation by the end of RR:

- His outrage at the deaths of Elia and her children and demand for justice on their behalf (he seems to be alone in this among the non-Dornish Lords) 

- His desire that Jaime should join the Nights Watch as punishment for breaking his Kingsguard vows

- Returning Dawn to Starfall (in an age where its very much 'finders keepers') 

He probably also acted honourably during the war, punishing his men for war crimes etc. 

To add this list:

- He marries Catelyn in place of Brandon. Granted it is to his advantage, but he did not have to do it.

- He acknowledges Jon as his and takes him home. Not all lords do the former, let alone the later.

- How he dealt with the lifting of the siege of Storm's End. There is no note of fighting and the Tyrell's seemingly got good terms, even though they seemingly were still at Storm's End well after they would have heard about what happened at both the Trident and KL.

Ned earned the reputation around the Robellion. Before it barely anyone would have known he was anything other than Brandon's younger brother, Robert's friend, or Arryn's ward/ex-ward.

ETA: He might have done some honourable things at the ToH, but we don't know details. Except he was the one who offered Howland Reed a place in his tent, not Brandon. (Brandon being the ranking member of the family should have been the one standing up for a notable heir of a bannerman.)

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As some had pointed out before me:

Doing things with his own hands (swinging the sword for example)

Punishing those who deserve punishment, regardless of who they might be

Being strongly against what Jaime has done, requesting he's sent to the Wall

Being fair to Theon (considering who Theon was, why he was in Winterfell in the first place, and who his father is)

Just something from the top of my head.

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All the above, but also, maybe number one for me is that when Ned arrived in King’s Landing after the Battle of the Trident, with Robert injured and Aerys dead, he didn’t claim the throne himself.

"You should have taken the realm for yourself. It was there for the taking. Jaime told me how you found him on the Iron Throne the day King's Landing fell, and made him yield it up. That was your moment. All you needed to do was climb those steps, and sit. Such a sad mistake."

"I have made more mistakes than you can possibly imagine," Ned said, "but that was not one of them."

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As others have said, Ned probably earned his reputation for honour by his treatment of Jaime Lannister and his disgust with the Lannisters at the murder of Elia and the babes following the sack of King's Landing, his ending the seige of Storm's End without bloodshed, his refusal to take the Iron Throne for himself, his stepping up to marry Catelyn in Brandon's place, his treatment of Balon's son after Balon's rebellion, his active role as a magistrate in the North, his active support of the Night's Watch against the Wildlings.

He might possibly have done something to enhance that reputation before the rebellion, by not being so keen to get his sword bloody, the way Brandon was, (and Robert Baratheon, for that matter). Certainly, Robert Baratheon, Catelyn, Petyr Baelish, Jorah Mormont, Jaime Lannister, Varys ... there are a lot of dodgy characters that will vouch for his honesty, enemies as well as friends.

But I don't know that his reputation for honour is quite as well deserved as these champions would have people believe. His way in battle reminds me of a skulking canine that slyly nips behind the flock to ball them up and send them into the slathering fangs of his noisy brothers at the front, who do the killing.  The way he sneaks off from the Fingers while Robert storms Gulltown, for instance. The battle at the Tower of Joy needs more explanation - seven against three is good odds, but the three are ferocious fighters, and Eddard and Howland Reed strike me as being possibly the least competent swordsmen of the nine.

The logic he gives Bran for killing Gared is questionable, the justice of sending Lord Beric out to slay Gregor Clegane is questionable. His treatment of the Wildlings, and of his ward Theon Greyjoy, is questionable. His whole family has an attitude towards all Lannisters that is irrational and bigoted.

When it is just him and his conscience bearing witness, it seems to me that Eddard lets his honour slide and quietly slips into the shadows behind his prey. The most obvious example of this being when Robert Baratheon names Joffrey Lannister his heir, after explaining to Eddard that he has been named Hand primarily to be his regent and counter Cersei's influence over the young king. 

Just because it took Eddard all his sluthing powers to identify two brothels and to realise Joffrey wasn't Robert's son when Sansa told him as much, doesn't mean that Robert Baratheon was convinced the boy was biologically his. Robert had clearly decided that, for the peace of the realm, Cersei's oldest boy needed to be king. Which meant, for the sake of the realm, neither of his brothers nor any Lannister could be his Regent.

I also have issues with Eddard's fathering. For instance

Quote

“Easy to say, and harder to do. I will not have you wasting the servants’ time with this. If you want these pups, you will feed them yourselves. Is that understood?”

Bran nodded eagerly. The pup squirmed in his grasp, licked at his face with a warm tongue.

“You must train them as well,” their father said. “You must train them. The kennelmaster will have nothing to do with these monsters, I promise you that. And the gods help you if you neglect them, or brutalize them, or train them badly. These are not dogs to beg for treats and slink off at a kick. A direwolf will rip a man’s arm off his shoulder as easily as a dog will kill a rat. Are you sure you want this?”

“Yes, Father,” Bran said.

And then, just like that, without a by-your-leave or a with-your-leave, Rickon is given the most savage of the direwolf pups.

Quote

“... Rickon is not quite sure.”

“Is he afraid?” Ned asked.

“A little,” she admitted. “He is only three.”

Ned frowned. “He must learn to face his fears. He will not be three forever. And winter is coming.”

Not to mention, he kills the best behaved of the pups with his own hand, and leaves the worst-trained one behind to terrorise the Riverlands. Which makes me wonder  - if Tywin just threw babes to the wolves, instead of murdering them, that is OK by him?

Eddard never could see past his honour to the peace of the realm, when it came to accepting Lord Tywin as an ally, when it came to keeping an eye on the potential threat of King Viserys in Essos, when it came to negotiating with child-murderers.

Robert was better at that, and Varys (who Eddard also despises quite irrationally). I can see why it took Robert eighteen years to find a use for Eddard in his court. And Eddard justifies all doubts. He is played by Baelish, Renly, Vary, Cersei. He snubs the aristocratic families and doesn't understand the smallfolk. Stannis objects to him by default. And even before he learns the truth of Joffrey's paternity, Eddard is preparing his forces against those of Robert and the realm, on the absolutely fact-free basis that if one Lannister didn't throw Bran from the top of that tower he just let him climb, another must have, and therefore it is only a matter of time before the realm is riven by a Lannister/Stark war.

It seems to me that Eddard's honour doesn't do anything to make his children or any children safter, or to prevent war, or preserve peace, or even to respect the rights of others. But in particular, Eddard's honour didn't stop him from crossing his fingers and altering King Robert's Will, so he could hand the whole hot mess to Stannis and go home.

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Depending on how low the bar is set in Westeros, if Ned refused to partake in any rapes after the Sack of King's Landing, and forbid his men to do the same, that would probably make him Baelor the Blessed born again.

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2 hours ago, Frey family reunion said:

Depending on how low the bar is set in Westeros, if Ned refused to partake in any rapes after the Sack of King's Landing, and forbid his men to do the same, that would probably make him Baelor the Blessed born again.

As I said, just because the average medieval lord is uglier than contemporary 21rst century modern politicians (openly atleast) people like Ned seem utopian. Otherwise, flexible morals only can have led to Ned surviving that long. If too unbending, I'd wonder how he survived that long 

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The young Ned is not known to us.  Honor is perception.  Any dirty laundry from Ned was washed away by his family over the years.   

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4 hours ago, James West said:

The young Ned is not known to us.  Honor is perception.  Any dirty laundry from Ned was washed away by his family over the years.   

You're the official Stark washerman? 

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On 7/16/2021 at 1:25 PM, James West said:

Any dirty laundry from Ned was washed away by his family over the years.   

Or rather, seemed perfectly clean in comparison to the depredations of his older brother, the wildness of his sister, and whatever it was that made Benjen decide to take the Black. And nothing that warranted the Mad King Aerys demand for his head. 

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