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Risto

House Stark of Harrenhal (long, but with TLDR summary)

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In the past several weeks, I have been doing excessive amount of research regarding Starks and Harrenhal. The theory is very simple – at the end Harrenhal will be governed by cadet branch of House Stark, House Stark of Harrenhal with ruling Lady Sansa Stark.

When I started research for this thread, I wasn’t aware of the amount of work already done on the subject. So it happened that almost all of my work overlapped with some other posters’ work and theories. Therefore I contacted some of them, and one of them, Bran Vras kindly allowed me to use some of his splendid work from Winterfell Huis Clos, of which some part was posted also in Pawn to player thread. I have to thanks Bran Vras for friendly gesture and all the help that he and his work provided for this thread. Please, have in mind, that this theory wouldn’t be the same without him. Another person I have both pleasure and obligation to thanks is butterbumps who steered me in right direction regarding some points. Since this theory is pretty lengthy and I understand reluctance of some members to read analysis and theory 4500 word long, at the end you will find TLDR summary.

History of Harrenhal

“Harrenhal.” Every child of the Trident knew the tales told of Harrenhal, the vast fortress that King Harren the Black had raised beside the waters of Gods Eye three hundred years past, when the Seven Kingdoms had been seven kingdoms, and the riverlands were ruled by the ironmen from the islands. In his pride, Harren had desired the highest hall and tallest towers in all Westeros. Forty years it had taken, rising like a great shadow on the shore of the lake while Harren’s armies plundered his neighbors for stone, lumber, gold, and workers. Thousands of captives died in his quarries, chained to his sledges, or laboring on his five colossal towers. Men froze by winter and sweltered in summer. Weirwoods that had stood three thousand years were cut down for beams and rafters. Harren had beggared the riverlands and the Iron Islands alike to ornament his dream. And when at last Harrenhal stood complete, on the very day King Harren took up residence, Aegon the Conqueror had come ashore at King’s Landing.

(Catelyn I, ACoK)

The history of Harenhal is widely known. Monstrous castle was built for 40 years by Harren the Black, and the completion of the castle coincided with arrival of Aegon the Conqueror. Since the castle couldn’t have been destroyed by any force on land, Aegon unleashed the dragons, destroying the castle and burning Harren and his sons in its towers. Stories about haunted halls, shadows and restless souls that were burnt there had given Harrenhal somewhat infamous status. These stories were told by Old Nan, and they were considered by Stark kids as stories meant to intimidate them. But, as Bran has found out, each of those stories contained a bit of truth, or sometimes were completely true. Here’s what Arya remembers of being told about Harrenhal by Old Nan:

Arya was remembering the stories Old Nan used to tell of Harrenhal. Evil King Harren had walled himself up inside, so Aegon unleashed his dragons and turned the castle into a pyre. Nan said that fiery spirits still haunted the blackened towers. Sometimes men went to sleep safe in their beds and were found dead in the morning, all burnt up. Arya didn’t really believe that, and anyhow it had all happened a long time ago. Hot Pie was being silly; it wouldn’t be ghosts at Harrenhal, it would be knights.

(Arya IV, ACoK)

It would be better once they got to Harrenhal, the captives told each other, but Arya was not so certain. She remembered Old Nan’s stories of the castle built on fear. Harren the Black had mixed human blood in the mortar, Nan used to say, dropping her voice so the children would need to lean close to hear, but Aegon’s dragons had roasted Harren and all his sons within their great walls of stone.

(Arya VI, ACoK)

So, Harrenhal was built on human blood. As we know, blood magic is extremely powerful tool in the world of ASOIAF. We have seen Mirri Maz Duur, Maggy’s prophecy, the famous line “There must always be Stark in Winterfell”, with notion that blood of First Men runs in the veins of the Stark family, then there is Targaryen motto “fire and blood” and the hatching of the dragons. All of this suggests powerful magical component in certain bloodlines, and its importance for Harrenhal, especially given the infamous curse of Harrenhal.

Since Aegon burned Harren and his sons in the towers of Harrenhal, no house remained lordship of the vast castle for long.

“Has someone made a song about Gregor Clegane dying of a poisoned spear thrust? Or about the sellsword before him, whose limbs Ser Gregor removed a joint at a time? That one took the castle from Ser Amory Lorch, who received it from Lord Tywin. A bear killed one, your dwarf the other. Lady Whent’s died as well, I hear. Lothstons, Strongs, Harroways, Strongs... Harrenhal has withered every hand to touch it.”

(Alayne I, AFfC)

Harrenhal seems to have changed more owners in the past 300 years than any other castle in Westeros in thousand. But, what is the reason? Possible and the most obvious answer is the curse. Another, far more grounded is the fact that each House that owned Harrenhal couldn’t have maintained the castle, and that the expenses brought each House to ruin. Certainly, the truth may be somewhere between. Money is certainly a factor here, and we know it, given the fact Lady Whent didn’t have means to maintain the castle, she was living only in the lower two thirds of the castle. As for the curse, things get more interesting. We are all aware that curse couldn’t have been created out of thin air, meaning that someone had to conjure some magic. Since we know there is some blood magic on work here, we can just assume that Harren most likely had something with it. But in what way could have Harren cursed the castle? We don’t know the answer, but there are some pieces of evidence that point us in the right direction.

“What sort of counsel are they giving Joffrey when he lurches from one folly to the next? Whose notion was it to make this Janos Slynt a lord? The man’s father was a butcher, and they grant him Harrenhal. Harrenhal, that was the seat of kings! Not that he will ever set foot inside it, if I have a say.”

(Tyrion IX, AGoT)

Harrenhal was built by a King, destroyed by a King, and no Lord ever since was able to hold it for long time. Now, we have Tywin Lannister explicitly saying that Harrehal was the seat of the King, and is unfit for Janos Slynt to have it. It was after all, King’s blood that built and doomed Harrenhal. Given the recent history of the castle, which changed several owners during War of the 5 Kings of whom all but two (Baelish and Bolton) are dead (with significant foreshadowing suggesting their deaths), we can almost say that no lord will ever rule Harrenhal. Is it possible that Harrenhal was never meant to be ruled by a common Lord, but by a King, or King’s blood? And is it something that will break the curse of Harrenhall?

Animal symbolism of the bat of Harrenhall

Animal symbolism takes special place in ASOIAF. Animal metaphors are strong and Martin uses the symbolism, biology and historical use of certain animals to portray not just characters and their traits but entire Houses. Strange mix of feudal heraldry and totemic meaning of the bat gives us wonderful perspective to look at Harrenhall and its history.

The story of the bat of Harrenhall begins with House Lothston. This extinct House of Riverlands held Harenhal 3-4 generations before the events of ASOIAF. Their sigil was black bat on half-gold, half-silver field. The entire house has somewhat bad reputation:

Ser Illifer crooked a bony finger at her shield. Though its paint was cracked and peeling, the device it bore showed plain: a black bat on a field divided bendwise, silver and gold. “You bear a liar’s shield, to which you have no right. My grandfather’s grandfather helped kill the last o’ Lothston. None since has dared to show that bat, black as the deeds of them that bore it.”

(Brienne I, AFfC)

The captain’s eyes lingered on her shield. “The black bat of Lothston. Those are arms of ill repute.”

(Brienne II, AFfC)

It is unclear how exactly House Lothston extinct, but one can assume they were being punished for some crimes. We know they have betrayed Daemon Blackfyre. Jeyne Lothston has been one of the mistresses of the Aegon the Unworthy. Also, there is story about Danelle Lothston:

“My old ma used to say that giant bats flew out from Harrenhal on moonless nights, to carry bad children to Mad Danelle for her cookpots. Sometimes I’d hear them scrabbling at the shutters.”

(Brienne II, AFfC)

Whatever happened is for now unimportant. House Lothston extinct and the lordship of Harrenhal passed to Whents. But, things get a bit more interesting with Whents and their adoption of the black bat as their sigil, with the change that Whent’s sigil has nine baths on gold, instead of one. The question that imposes here is why anyone would adopt a sigil of the House with such bad reputation. Bran Vras’ theory is that House Lothston didn’t fully extinct, but only in male line, and that Lord Whent married daughter of late lord Lothston, thus claiming Harrenhall and its lands. The same situation we have in ASOIAF, with Lancel Lannister and Amerei Darry, where cadet branch of House Lannister, Lannisters of Darry, combined Lannister and Darry sigil. So, it is possible that House Lothston is extinct only in male line, and that female line continued with House Whent. Therefore we could argue that Minisa Whent, Catelyn’s mother is connected with Lothstons. But, why the possible relationship between Catelyn and Lothstons is important? Well, historically it isn’t, but symbolism behind it is very powerful, and we have proof of it in Polliver’s version of Purple wedding events:

I forgot, you’ve been hiding under a rock. The northern girl. Winterfell’s daughter. We heard she killed the king with a spell, and afterward changed into a wolf with big leather wings like a bat, and flew out a tower window. But she left the dwarf behind and Cersei means to have his head.”

That’s stupid, Arya thought. Sansa only knows songs, not spells, and she’d never marry the Imp.

(Arya XII, ASoS)

“Wolf with big leather wings like bat” seems powerful image. But more importantly it connects Sansa with her heritage, Winterfell and Harrenhall. The bat symbolizes death and rebirth. Furthermore, Native Americans observed bat and in their lore, the bat became symbol of intuition, dreaming and vision. Since, this powerful image is purposely created, and since this Arya’s chapter has strong correlation with Sansa’s storyline, we have to guess the point and foreshadowing element of Polliver’s description of Sansa. What Native Americans have taught us about symbolism of the bat wonderfully fits in Sansa’s storyline. Sansa’s dreams have always been important part of her story, and it always connected her with her home. Throughout the books, Sansa dreams of home so many times, while vision symbolism can be referred to her warging ability. The union of the she-wolf and the bat motif and its progression since her father’s death, points us in development of Sansa’s instincts. Sansa’s affiliation of the bat symbolism in ASoS leads us to her discovery of her ancestry, but also important, with her progression as the player in the Game of thrones.

Heritage: Importance of maternal lines and Baelish/Bael the bard parallels

If there is one force in the world of ASOIAF that can’t be denied, it certainly is mother’s love. The trope in which mother’s role is to be loving, gentle woman whose sole purpose is to take care of their children has been subverted many times in ASOIAF. From AGoT, mothers showed that they are capable of protecting their children and much more. Catelyn fought with assassin sent for Bran, and later, arrested Tyrion for supposed attempt of murder. Cersei defended her children like a lioness she metaphorically is, plotting around Ned and organizing his downfall. Daenerys’ role of mother has taken the meaning of liberator, and Sansa’s connection with the motif was to touch Sandor’s wounded heart. Catelyn, besides being a mother, proved to be capable politician while Cersei ruled in her son’s name, Asha’s claim to her father’s realm mostly was dependent on her mother’s family. We have seen Lysa’s deranged care for her son, Gilly’s sacrifice and Melisandre giving birth to shadowbabies. Mother played important role in Davos’ chapters. And should we start about mystery surrounding the identity of Jon’s mother? All of this suggests that mothers and their influence on children are extremely important in ASOIAF.

The connection between Catelyn and Sansa is certainly in their Southorn looks. But, below the delicate beauty of both ladies is powerful heart capable of enduring the worst. Catelyn’s petrified heart is embodied in the character of Lady Stoneheart, and Sansa’s endurance and harshness are rooted in her Northern heritage. Mistake many made in analyzing Sansa is in connecting her strictly to her Southorn mother. Intricate web of Southorn and Northern influences in Sansa is what makes her such interesting character. And in Polliver’s story “wolf with big leather wings like bat” as description of Sansa, we find the union of those two sides.

Connections between Starks and Harrenhal are more than obvious. Entire Robert’s rebellion started with the Tourney at Harrenhal. Arya spent significant time of her exile there, and the last Stark generation is connected with it through their Whent grandmother. But, on symbolic level, Bran Vras had given us something to think about:

The ancient crown of the Kings of Winter had been lost three centuries ago, yielded up to Aegon the Conqueror when Torrhen Stark knelt in submission. What Aegon had done with it no man could say. Lord Hoster’s smith had done his work well, and Robb’s crown looked much as the other was said to have looked in the tales told of the Stark kings of old; an open circlet of hammered bronze incised with the runes of the First Men, surmounted by nine black iron spikes wrought in the shape of longswords. Of gold and silver and gemstones, it had none; bronze and iron were the metals of winter, dark and strong to fight against the cold.

(Catelyn I, ACoK)

House Whent blazon their arms depict nine black bats displayed over a yellow field

(ASOIAF wiki)

Nine black iron swords on the crown of the King in the North and nine black bats on the House Whent’s sigil. The numeric parallel, just like any other, is significant as the last tie between lordship of Harrenhall and Stark bloodline. The crown currently is in Lady Stoneheart’s possession:

A trestle table had been set up across the cave, in a cleft in the rock. Behind it sat a woman all in grey, cloaked and hooded. In her hands was a crown, a bronze circlet ringed by iron swords. She was studying it, her fingers stroking the blades as if to test their sharpness. Her eyes glimmered under her hood.

(Brienne VIII, AFfC)

So, what are the possibilities here? Lady Stoneheart either holds it as a memory, or she plans to crown someone. We have heard reports of the search for Arya, but since she is in Braavos, it is unlikely she will meet with her. And given the hatred she obviously feels for Jon, Bran Vras came up with interesting theory that her plans might be to crown Sansa as Robb’s heir, going against his will. Certainly, this might happen, but given that Davos is heading towards Rickon, and that we can expect that Rickon being alive becomes public knowledge, the theory of Sansa being the Queen in the North crowned by Lady Stoneheart isn’t that plausible, since we are well aware of Sansa’s opinion of her claim.

The relationship between Starks and Harrenhal is certainly through maternal line, but when it comes to Sansa, there is also possibility of “paternal” inheritance. By adopting the persona of Alayne Stone, Sansa became the bastard daughter of the current Lord of Harrenhal, and Lord Paramount of Riverlands. And given that lady Whent has been deprived of Harrenhal, Sansa could only inherit it from the new Lord – her supposing father.

“It is the wish of the King’s Grace that his loyal councilor Petyr Baelish be rewarded for faithful service to crown and realm. Be it known that Lord Baelish is granted the castle of Harrenhal with all its attendant lands and incomes, there to make his seat and rule henceforth as Lord Paramount of the Trident. Petyr Baelish and his sons and grandsons shall hold and enjoy these honors until the end of time, and all the lords of the Trident shall do him homage as their rightful liege. The King’s Hand and the small council consent.”

On his knees, Littlefinger raised his eyes to King Joffrey. “I thank you humbly, Your Grace. I suppose this means I’ll need to see about getting some sons and grandsons.”

(Sansa VIII, ACoK)

Well, one thing is certain. Littlefinger has acquired progeny, in form of his adoptive son Robert Arryn and his bastard daughter Alayne and more disturbingly is what he plans next. The revelation of his future plans with his “daughter” we can find in the past, in the story about Bael the Bard and Stark maiden daughter Ygritte told Jon. Bael was the King beyond the Wall, who was offended when Lord Brandon Stark named him a craven. He then climbed the Wall and headed towards Winterfell, under the alias Sygerrik of Skagos. Since the singers were highly valued, Lord Stark asked what reward he should give to him. Bael asked for the most beautiful flower in Winterfell, and Stark ordered one blue winter rose to be plunked from the gardens. Following morning, Bael and Stark maiden daughter was gone, and on her bed they found blue winter rose. Since she was the only child of Lord Stark, Stark line was near extinction when one day she was found with the infant in her own room. According to the legend, she never left Winterfell and stayed in the crypts. Her son became the Lord of Winterfell and later killed his own father. After receiving the news, his mother killed herself jumping off the tower.

The parallels between Baelish and Bael the bard surpass the name. After being offended by Brandon Stark in the duel for Catelyn’s hand, LF avenged his pride by winning his brother Ned in the Game, and causing War of 5 Kings that ended with the ruin of House Stark. Sansa, maiden daughter of Ned Stark, was taken from King’s landing by Littlefinger. Especially disturbing are Baelish’ hidden agendas and sexual connotation of his father/daughter relationship with Sansa. But, that is where parallels with Bael end. Sansa in no way is in love with Baelish, and the idea of her committing suicide over her love for Baelish is, in my opinion, ridiculous.

Sansa Stark has maternal connection with Harrenhal, while Alayne Stone has paternal one. So, which one of them is closer to inheriting Harrenhal?

A bastard, a plan, legitimacy and Maiden: Alayne Stone and Sansa Stark

Petyr arched an eyebrow. “When Robert dies. Our poor brave Sweetrobin is such a sickly boy, it is only a matter of time. When Robert dies, Harry the Heir becomes Lord Harrold, Defender of the Vale and Lord of the Eyrie. Jon Arryn’s bannermen will never love me, nor our silly, shaking Robert, but they will love their Young Falcon... and when they come together for his wedding, and you come out with your long auburn hair, clad in a maiden’s cloak of white and grey with a direwolf emblazoned on the back... why, every knight in the Vale will pledge his sword to win you back your birthright. So those are your gifts from me, my sweet Sansa... Harry, the Eyrie, and Winterfell. That’s worth another kiss now, don’t you think?”

(Alayne II, AFfC)

Littlefinger’s plan for Sansa marrying Harry is relatively simple. He already made some moves and provided Sansa an engagement that, according to him, will restore Sansa to her rightful place. But, as amazing this plan may sound, it has one great flaw. Littlefinger has forgotten about other Vale lords. The plan would be successful if all the Vale lords participate in it, but from outside perspective, Littlefinger is marrying his bastard daughter to the heir of Vale of Arryn. As much as we believe in Baelish and his ingenuity, we should never forget all the pieces on the board. And given sickly Robert, many Lords will reasonably doubt in his intentions, and naturally will try to stop him.

Of course, we have to give Littlefinger benefit of a doubt. He must have certainly anticipated the problems that would arise when engagements become public matter. And can you imagine the scandal that heir to the Vale lord is marrying a bastard? Baelish clearly has narrow space of maneuvering in this situation. One, and the very best solution, is that he repeats scenario of his and Lysa’s wedding.

“To be sure. It would not have been fitting for a daughter of Riverrun to marry one so far below her.” Littlefinger spread his hands. “Now, though... a match between the Lady of the Eyrie and the Lord of Harrenhal is not so unthinkable, is it?”

(Tyrion III, ASoS)

Paralleling his own marriage, Littlefinger will make Alayne his heiress to circumvent possible and even likely problems that would arise if the words get out that Harry is engaged to a bastard. The only way Baelish can make Alayne legitimate is if the King grants his plea. Naturally, Baelish knows Cersei very well, and with the impending battles with Aegon, he will play the card of necessity. I imagine he will point out that Vale has significant force that can aid in war to come. Ceresi, blinded by ambition would grant LF’s desire and proclaim Alayne as legitimate. Therefore, Alayne Baelish, heiress of Harrenhal, would be a perfect bride for the Young Falcon. And Sansa would, through Alayne Baelish persona, become heiress. Naturally, heiress and ruling lady is not the same, but there is a perfect bit of foreshadowing:

“It’s not so great.” The boy knelt before the gatehouse. “Look, here comes a giant to knock it down.” He stood his doll in the snow and moved it jerkily. “Tromp tromp I’m a giant, I’m a giant,” he chanted. “Ho ho ho, open yourgates or I’ll mash them and smash them.” Swinging the doll by the legs, he knocked the top off one gatehouse tower and then the other.

It was more than Sansa could stand. “Robert, stop that.” Instead he swung the doll again, and a foot of wall exploded. She grabbed for his hand but she caught the doll instead. There was a loud ripping sound as the thin cloth tore. Suddenly she had the doll’s head, Robert had the legs and body, and the rag-and-sawdust stuffing was spilling in the snow.

(Sansa VII, ASoS)

This particularly interesting scene has been regarded by many as piece of foreshadowing that suggests Littlefinger’s downfall by the hand of Sansa/Alayne. With possible alliances Sansa may get by revealing her identity to Vale lords, possibility of Blackfish showing up in the Vale, ambition of many Vale lords, and Sansa’s warging abilities, Littlefinger may not be long with us. But, since the downfall isn’t the point of this thread, let we assume that it will happen. After Baelish’s downfall, or more likely death, Sansa, again through Alayne, will become Lady of the greatest castle in Westeros. With her identity revealed to Vale lords, Sansa might unite the remaining of Riverlands’ army, Vale and Northern army with one of her brothers at head of it.

There is another interesting fact about Harrenhal, that might suggest who will have it at the end. I am speaking about current castellan of Harrenhal – Ser Bonifer Hasty. The story of Ser Bonifer has been told by Barristan to Daenerys on her wedding day:

“He put away his lance the day your lady mother wed your father. Afterward he became most pious, and was heard to say that only the Maiden could replace Queen Rhaella in his heart. His passion was impossible, of course. A landed knight is no fit consort for a princess of royal blood.”

(Daenerys VII, ADwD)

Ser Bonifer has been named a castellan of Harrenhal by Jaime Lannister. His piety is well known, and we have found out from Barristan where it originates from. He is now keeping the castle in Littlefinger’s name, but can we use his piety and love for Maiden as foreshadowing whom are Ser Bonifer keeping the castle for. Can the Maiden that was meant to replace Rhaella be actually Sansa, given that Martin clearly insists on keeping Sansa a virgin? Maybe not, but it’s just something to think about.

Conclusion: Harrenhal as seat of the Kings

And the river lords were rising too, Blackwood and Bracken and Mallister, houses who had never been ruled from Winterfell, yet Catelyn watched them rise and draw their blades, bending their knees and shouting the old words that had not been heard in the realm for more than three hundred years, since Aegon the Dragon had come to make the Seven Kingdoms one... yet now were heard again, ringing from the timbers of her father’s hall:

“The King in the North!”

“The King in the North!”

“THE KING IN THE NORTH!”

(Catelyn XI, AGoT)

You Starks were kings once, the Arryns and the Lannisters as well

(Sansa I, ASoS)

As we know from history, Harrenhal was built by a King and destroyed by another King. And no lord since then was capable of holding it for too long. Tywin told explicitly that Harrenhall is “seat of the Kings”, so is it the answer? That at the end King’s blood must reign over Harrenhal thus breaking the curse. Starks have been Kings for thousands of years, and the beginning of ASOIAF is rich with comparison with old Kings in the North. Sansa, as blood of those Kings, Princess in the North, has the claim over Harrenhal as both Sansa and Alayne. We have heard the talk about the power of King’s blood, and we have seen few steps. Now, the time has come to see the full walk.

As promised at the beginning, TLDR summary:

1. Harrenhal’s history speaks that no Lord could have ever kept it for long

2. Harrenhal has been strongly associated with bats, and Sansa has been reffered in a story as “wolf with big leather wings like bat”

3. Starks are connected with Harrenhal through Catelyn’s mother – Minisa Whent

4. Theory suggests that in order to Harry/Alayne marriage to happen, LF would have to legitimize Alayne, which will be done unknowingly by Cersei.

5. After inevitable LF’s downfall, Alayne becomes Lady of Harrenhal

6. Bonifer Hasty’s appointment as castellan of Harrenhal suggests that he might be serving Maiden. Sansa, as a virgin could be earthly embodiment of Maiden

7. Having King’s blood in her veins, Sansa might break the curse of Harenhall

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Apologies for anything important I've missed, since I opted for the short summary at the end. But wouldn't what you are suggesting make Harrenhal the home of House Hardyng, rather than a cadet branch of Starks? (Yes, Sansa is a Stark, but if she marries Harry, she would become part of his House.)

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Apologies for anything important I've missed, since I opted for the short summary at the end. But wouldn't what you are suggesting make Harrenhal the home of House Hardyng, rather than a cadet branch of Starks? (Yes, Sansa is a Stark, but if she marries Harry, she would become part of his House.)

I don't think that marriage will ever happen. Sansa will rule Harrenhall in her own name.

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OK, sorry--I misconstrued point #4 from your summary.

The point is that once when engagements become public matter, LF will have to legitimize Alayne, otherwise Vale lords will go against him and the idea of the marriage. So, to quell their anger, he will have Alayne legitimized promising Cersei Vale support in coming war. The marriage itself will never happen.

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Oh yea, Baelish the Bard. I like this. Maybe not Sansa ending up in Harrenhall, but I like that through some careful legal moves, Sansa could claim rightful claimant to large chunks of the 7 Kingdoms. Through Tyrion she could claim Casterly Rock and the West, she could move for the Vale of Arryn, and it seems Harrenhall and the east could be within her grasp as well.

Sansa Stark, first of her name?

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Oh yea, Baelish the Bard. I like this. Maybe not Sansa ending up in Harrenhall, but I like that through some careful legal moves, Sansa could claim rightful claimant to large chunks of the 7 Kingdoms. Through Tyrion she could claim Casterly Rock and the West, she could move for the Vale of Arryn, and it seems Harrenhall and the east could be within her grasp as well.

Sansa Stark, first of her name?

She can claim Winterfell, but unlikely to go against brothers, Riverrun, could happen given poor Edmure and Harrenhall through Minisa Whent's line. In no way she can claim Casterly Rock.

By king's blood you mean Robb? They both have Stark blood, but she technically doesn't have his blood in her veins, right?

Sansa has the blood of Kings in the North in her veins. The same blood Robb had.

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First, thanks for answering my clarifying question so quickly, and for the time and effort that went into pulling all this together.

Having now read beyond the 7-point summary you provide, I'm not sure all of the conjecture is either necessary or convincing. If we think about who the "rightful" heir to Harrenhal would be, assuming some connection to House Whent would be required, Sansa or one of her siblings is a reasonable candidate anyway, since their maternal grandmother is a Whent. The only living Whent we know of, if Lady Shella is dead, is Wynafrei Whent, who's married to one of Walder Frey's sons. It's not clear (at least, not to me) how either Wynafrei or Sansa's grandmother, Minisa Whent, are related to Lady Shella, but again, there's a clear blood connection to the last house to have "legitimately" (for lack of a better word) held Harrenhal.

I also think some of the connections are a bit tenuous, particularly the point about Ser Bonifer. I think his statement about Queen Rhaella, as related by Ser Barristan should be interpreted in the same light as Loras' statement that "when the sun has set, no candle can replace it." If we take Loras' words for a moment, treating them literally doesn't make sense, because "replacing" the sun is exactly what candles do; they provide light during the night, when the sun has set. I feel similarly about Ser Bonifer's words; he's saying that if he can't have Rhaella, then he doesn't want anyone else, not that he's waiting for an earthly incarnation of the Maiden to devote himself to.

*Edited for typo.

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Good theory. I don't have too much to add, but would like to advance my own somewhat crack pot theory about this...

It would be better once they got to Harrenhal, the captives told each other, but Arya was not so certain. She remembered Old Nan’s stories of the castle built on fear. Harren the Black had mixed human blood in the mortar, Nan used to say, dropping her voice so the children would need to lean close to hear, but Aegon’s dragons had roasted Harren and all his sons within their great walls of stone.

(Arya VI, ACoK)

I have a theory about the blood in the walls of Harrenhal.

Harren went to the Isle of Faces and made a weirwood tree blood sacrifice for a protection spell. He used some of the blood spilled, perhaps from multiple victims to mix in the mortar, the intent being to secure the castle and keep out threats.

What Harren didn't count on was that the Green Men and/or CotF were not happy with him because he cut down so many weirwood trees and was a worshipper of the Drowned God, not the Old Gods. They inverted the protection spell so that the magic blood actually made Harrenhal a threat from within.

Now I'll tie it into the OP. Sansa is a Stark and of the north, therefore she has the seal of approval from the Old Gods. When Sansa moves in, the Green Men, CotF or maybe even Bran will do something, perhaps another sacrifice to reverse the curse and give Harrenhal the originally intended magic protection similar to that found at the Wall.

Edited for spelling and grammar

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First, thanks for answering my clarifying question so quickly, and for the time and effort that went into pulling all this together.

Having now read beyond the 7-point summary you provide, I'm not sure all of the conjecture is either necessary or convincing. If we think about who the "rightful" heir to Harrenhal would be, assuming some connection to House Whent would be required, Sansa or one of her siblings is a reasonable candidate anyway, since their maternal grandmother is a Whent. The only living Whent we know of, if Lady Shella is dead, is Wynafrei Whent, who's married to one of Walder Frey's sons. It's not clear (at least, not to me) how either Wynafrei or Sansa's grandmother, Minisa Whent, are related to Lady Shella, but again, there's a clear blood connection to the last house to have "legitimately" (for lack of a better word) held Harrenhal.

I also think some of the connections are a bit tenuous, particularly the point about Ser Bonifer. I think his statement about Queen Rhaella, as related by Ser Barristan should be interpreted in the same light as Loras' statement that "when the sun has set, no candle can replace it." If we take Loras' words for a moment, treating them literally doesn't make sense, because "replacing" the sun is exactly what candles do; they provide light during the night, when the sun has set. I feel similarly about Ser Bonifer's words; he's saying that if he can't have Rhaella, then he doesn't want anyone else, not that he's waiting for an early incarnation of the Maiden to devote himself to.

Well, we don't know about how close Wynafrei is, but we know she is uncapable of producing any heirs. Plus, Whents were rich family. I doubt that Minisa was far from the main tree, given whom she married - Lord Paramount of Riverlands. So, Stark's claim to Harrenhal is, in my book, much stronger than Wynafrei's.

As for Ser Bonifer, it was just connection, and even I didn't say it was the obvious one. But I do find Maiden symbolism surrounding Sansa strong, and given his position as castellan of Harrenhal, one must wonder why the connection.

Good theory. I don't have too much to add, but would like to advance my own somewhat crack pot theory about this...

I have a theory about the blood in the walls of Harrenhal.

Harren went to the Isle of Faces and made a weirwood tree blood sacrifice for a protection spell. He used some of the blood spilled, perhaps from multiple victims to mix in the mortar, the intent being to secure the castle and keep out threats.

What Harren didn't count on was that the Green Men and/or CotF were not happy with him because he cut down so many weirwood trees and was a worshipper of the Drowned God, not the Old Gods. They inverted the protection spell so that the magic blood actually made Harrenhal a threat from within.

Now I'll tie it into the OP. Sansa is a Stark and of the north, therefore she has the seal of approval from the Old Gods. When Sansa moves in, the Green Men, CotF or maybe even Bran will do something, perhaps another sacrifice to reverse the curse and give Harrenhal the originally intended magic protection similar to that found at the Wall.

Edited for spelling and grammar

Interesting, but there is so many ways the breaking of the curse could happen. And since all is just speculative, I didn't want to include those theories... I even have 2,3 theories of how HH curse might be broken, but I am not certain in their validity.

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Littlefinger’s plan for Sansa marrying Harry is relatively simple. He already made some moves and provided Sansa an engagement that, according to him, will restore Sansa to her rightful place. But, as amazing this plan may sound, it has one great flaw. Littlefinger has forgotten about other Vale lords. The plan would be successful if all the Vale lords participate in it, but from outside perspective, Littlefinger is marrying his bastard daughter to the heir of Vale of Arryn. As much as we believe in Baelish and his ingenuity, we should never forget all the pieces on the board. And given sickly Robert, many Lords will reasonably doubt in his intentions, and naturally will try to stop him.

Of course, we have to give Littlefinger benefit of a doubt. He must have certainly anticipated the problems that would arise when engagements become public matter. And can you imagine the scandal that heir to the Vale lord is marrying a bastard? Baelish clearly has narrow space of maneuvering in this situation. One, and the very best solution, is that he repeats scenario of his and Lysa’s wedding.

How well known are Robert Arryn's frailties? He lived with his parents in King's Landing for most of his life, and I get the impression that for most of the time he's spent in The Eyrie, his contact with people from outside his immediate household has been limited. For example, when The Lords Delcarant arrive, he presents himself well and treats them with courtesy. Harold Hardyng is Robert's heir, but do the Vale lords have any reason to expect he won't live long enough to father children? (Lady Waynwood does reference Robert's "frailties" in the context of pointing out the more experienced maester at Runestone could attend to them, but it's not clear to me whether their nature/severity is known.)

Additionally, Lady Waynwood has already agreed to a betrothal between Harold and "Alayne" (pending Harry's approval), even knowing that Alayne is a bastard--according to Littlefinger, Alayne's bastardy is overlooked because she's a lord's bastard, and Littlefinger offered an enormous dowry. If Lady Waynwood can come around to the idea, why wouldn't the other Vale lords? Wouldn't/couldn't putting up a fight be construed as interfering in Lady Waynwood's rights to negotiate a marriage for her ward as she sees fit?

Just playing devil's advocate.

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Thanks for the tl;dr. I'm going to address point 4 and 5. You say if LF dies, Alayne gets Harrenhal. I thought the point of revealing Sansa's identity was to show that she's a Stark and therefore not Littlefinger's daughter. How would she then inherit his lands? Do you think he'll name her his heir? Or is it through the Whent connection, in which case Edmure and child should come first, no?

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How well known are Robert Arryn's frailties? He lived with his parents in King's Landing for most of his life, and I get the impression that for most of the time he's spent in The Eyrie, his contact with people from outside his immediate household has been limited. For example, when The Lords Delcarant arrive, he presents himself well and treats them with courtesy. Harold Hardyng is Robert's heir, but do the Vale lords have any reason to expect he won't live long enough to father children? (Lady Waynwood does reference Robert's "frailties" in the context of pointing out the more experienced maester at Runestone could attend to them, but it's not clear to me whether their nature/severity is known.)

Additionally, Lady Waynwood has already agreed to a betrothal between Harold and "Alayne" (pending Harry's approval), even knowing that Alayne is a bastard--according to Littlefinger, Alayne's bastardy is overlooked because she's a lord's bastard, and Littlefinger offered an enormous dowry. If Lady Waynwood can come around to the idea, why wouldn't the other Vale lords? Wouldn't/couldn't putting up a fight be construed as interfering in Lady Waynwood's rights to negotiate a marriage for her ward as she sees fit?

Just playing devil's advocate.

He was in King's Landing before Jon died, so it's probably pretty well known.

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Oh yea, Baelish the Bard. I like this. Maybe not Sansa ending up in Harrenhall, but I like that through some careful legal moves, Sansa could claim rightful claimant to large chunks of the 7 Kingdoms. Through Tyrion she could claim Casterly Rock and the West, she could move for the Vale of Arryn, and it seems Harrenhall and the east could be within her grasp as well.

Sansa Stark, first of her name?

Sansa can't claim Casterly Rock through Tyrion, she can only claim it for Tyrion, and why should she use her forces to do his dirty work ? Unless they are allies or she is compelled by someone else I don't think she will.

Anyway amazing theory as always, Mladen. I have only two questions:

First, what does TLDR means ?

Second, Sansa's Kings' blood may break the "magic" part of the curse, but there is always the financial part: Harrenhal's holdings are not rich enough to mantain the castle, and these enormous expenses drove every House residing holding it to ruin. How would Sansa resolve that issue ? Harrenhal's lands will be expanded ? Harrenhal will become the seat of the new Lord Paramount of the Riverlands, and taxes collected from all over the new domain will pay for the castle's expenses ? Sansa's favourite Lannister will open an unlimited account in the Casterly Rock Bank for her ?

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Thanks for the tl;dr. I'm going to address point 4 and 5. You say if LF dies, Alayne gets Harrenhal. I thought the point of revealing Sansa's identity was to show that she's a Stark and therefore not Littlefinger's daughter. How would she then inherit his lands? Do you think he'll name her his heir? Or is it through the Whent connection, in which case Edmure and child should come first, no?

I believe poor Edmure and that unfortunate child of his will soon be over. I honestly believe that Tullys won't make to the end of ASOIAF. Now, both Sansa and Alayne has claim to Harrenhal. Alayne through LF, Sansa through Whents. At the end, one of those claims will bring her Harrenhal. I believe most likely it will be Stark one, when she reveals her identity, but she might get Harrenhal before it as Alayne.

How well known are Robert Arryn's frailties? He lived with his parents in King's Landing for most of his life, and I get the impression that for most of the time he's spent in The Eyrie, his contact with people from outside his immediate household has been limited. For example, when The Lords Delcarant arrive, he presents himself well and treats them with courtesy. Harold Hardyng is Robert's heir, but do the Vale lords have any reason to expect he won't live long enough to father children? (Lady Waynwood does reference Robert's "frailties" in the context of pointing out the more experienced maester at Runestone could attend to them, but it's not clear to me whether their nature/severity is known.)

Additionally, Lady Waynwood has already agreed to a betrothal between Harold and "Alayne" (pending Harry's approval), even knowing that Alayne is a bastard--according to Littlefinger, Alayne's bastardy is overlooked because she's a lord's bastard, and Littlefinger offered an enormous dowry. If Lady Waynwood can come around to the idea, why wouldn't the other Vale lords? Wouldn't/couldn't putting up a fight be construed as interfering in Lady Waynwood's rights to negotiate a marriage for her ward as she sees fit?

Just playing devil's advocate.

1. SR's sickness is well known. First, he lived in KL. Second, after Jon Arryn's death, Lysa had many suitors that stayed for some time in Eyrie and many witnessed SR's seizures. I believe all of them are perfectly aware of SR's health

2. Lady Waynwood gave her blessing out of need, but what about others? Certainly, others had some plans. We know about Tourney in which Harry won, so I believe that other lords might have some issue that Arryn heir is marrying LF's bastard. And make no mistake, they still believe he is lowborn, and what do you think they believe about his bastard daughter. That is even several step below on social ladder.

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