TV & Movies

Who Is Torrhen Stark From House Of The Dragon Season 2?

Time for a history lesson.

'HOTD' Season 2: Who Is Torrhen Stark?
Ollie Upton/HBO

The titular family behind House of the Dragon may be the super blonde and equally messy Targaryens, but in Season 2, another brood gets a moment in the spotlight.

Instead of immediately following up on Rhaenyra in the aftermath of her son’s death, the June 16 premiere shifts focus to someone who has no idea what’s happened: Lucerys’ brother, Jacaerys, who’s on a mission to Winterfell to enlist the North’s support in the mounting Dance of the Dragons.

There he convenes with Lord Cregan Stark (yep, as in those Starks), who discusses an old ancestor who played a major role in Game of Thrones history.

“Through its long tradition, the Night’s Watch cultivated its strength from doomed men who had their life as their only possession,” he explains. “But my ancestor, Torrhen Stark, began a tradition by making an offering at the onset of winter. One in 10 men from our household must be chosen to fortify the watch. This is not a sentence, but an honor. A duty embraced by all who serve the North.”

But who is Torrhen Stark, again? Here’s everything to know about the reference, and how it ties into the greater franchise lore.

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Torrhen Stark’s Historic Decision

This Stark family ancestor was nicknamed the King Who Knelt. He earned the moniker for deciding to surrender to Aegon the Conqueror’s campaign to control Westeros. (A spin-off series about that conquest is reportedly in the works, though HBO hasn’t announced anything just yet.)

Torrhen opted not to fight back because he saw just how much damage Aegon’s army — and dragons — could inflict on the North. While being known as the King Who Knelt might not seem particularly dignified, The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones notes that “no Northman left his burned bones beside the Trident, and the swords Aegon collected from Lord Stark and his vassals were not twisted or melted or bent.”

In other words, Torrhen did right by his people.

A Lasting Loyalty

Of course, this decision had lasting ramifications on the relationship between the Starks and Targaryens. Game of Thrones fans may remember that Daenerys referenced the leader during her first meeting with Jon Snow.

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“I could have sworn I read the last King in the North was Torrhen Stark, who bent the knee to my ancestor, Aegon Targaryen,” she said. “In exchange for his life, and the lives of the Northmen, Torrhen Stark swore fealty to House Targaryen in perpetuity.”

As Jacaerys tells Cregan while trying to recruit the North’s support in House of the Dragon, “Surely the great Torrhen Stark would’ve sooner died than bend the knee — unless he believed the Conqueror could bring unity to the Seven Kingdoms.”

By invoking Cregan’s ancestry, Jacaerys is declaring that the current war is just as dire a situation.