Histories and Lore – The North

Histories and Lore – The North


JON: As a boy looking out
from my father’s castle, I thought the sun
could never set on the North. So vast did it seem. A part of me still does. The North is by far
the largest of the Seven Kingdoms and can fit the other six inside it. Not that the others care. Cold and damp,
that’s how the Southerners see the North. But without the cold,
a man can’t appreciate the fire in his hearth. Without the rain,
a man can’t appreciate the roof over his head. Let the South have its sun,
flowers and affectations. We Northerners have home. Mine was once Winterfell, the ancient seat of
my father’s family, House Stark, who have ruled the North since the First Men
and were once the Kings of Winter. Growing up, Lady Catelyn
made sure I knew I wasn’t a Stark, no matter how much blood I shared
with her trueborn children. But where their name rules over the North,
mine is the North. Snow. Our land stretches
from the Wall down to the Neck, a narrow land that divides us
from the rest of Westeros. Legend has it that the Children of the Forest
flooded it in their war against the First Men. If that’s true, every Northman
owes them a debt of gratitude. The swamps of the Neck
are as good as the Wall for keeping out unwelcome armies. And if the swamps don’t deter you,
the crannogmen men should. Small, shy people
who rarely leave those swamps and who follow House Reed, the gatekeepers of the North and among the most important
and loyal bannermen of House Stark. Also a bit strange. I heard their oath of fealty once as a child. It’s like no other lords’. Ancient and dark,
they swear by earth and water, by bronze and iron, and by ice and fire. Where House Reed
holds the gate to the North, House Manderly holds the port, White Harbor, the closest thing to a Southern city we have governed by the closest thing
to a Southern family we have. Generations ago, the Manderlys
were driven from the Reach, but the Starks gave them their land
in return for featly. Now White Harbor
is the richest city of the North and the Manderlys the richest family. Not in gold and silver
like their Southern counterparts, but in fish, grain and trade. As for the other great Northern Houses, the Starks brought them into the fold
during the Age of Heroes. A Stark wrestled an ironborn for Bear Island
and gave it to the Mormonts. A Stark granted a keep and land
to a younger son, Karlon, in return for putting down a rebellion. His family then grew up into the Karstarks. Starks fought the wildlings and their kings
beyond the Wall beside the Umbers of Last Hearth, thus earning their fealty. Boltons, back then
they were the bane of the North. A few were even rumored to wear
their enemies’ flayed skins as cloaks. But after centuries of war, they too bent the knee. And so House Stark
became the Kings in the North but never forgot that they weren’t the North. When Aegon and his dragons
landed on Westeros, the kings of the Rock and the Reach sent all their men to die
to defend their grounds. Torrhen Stark knelt
to spare his people the same fate. He placed duty above pride. Just as my brothers in the Night’s Watch
had done for thousands of years at the Wall. Many think of it as the end of the world,
but it’s not. I’ve seen other land stretch as much farther
than any man knows into the Land of Always Winter where the White Walkers
came from during the Long Night. After the First Men
and the Children of the Forest beat them back, Brandon the Builder raised the Wall and set up the Night’s Watch
to guard the realms of men. He gave us our oath, our castles and the Gift, the lands behind the Wall
whose farms and crops sustain us. Southerners may now mock my black brothers as thieves, rapers and worse. And not without cause. But the North remembers why we’re there. And if we fall, the South will get a very harsh, and very cold reminder.

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