House Baratheon has been front and center on Game of Thrones since the very beginning. But while their name is nearly as popular as Stark or Lannister, very little has actually been revealed about them on the show. This can mostly be attributed to the fact that any time one of them has come to forefront, they've been harshly cut down. Nevertheless, there is still a surprising depth of history to the recently ousted royal family of Westeros.
It's easy to write Robert off as the drunken king who got killed by a boar, or think of Stannis as the dull, determined fanatic who had his child burned alive, but they come from a long line of interesting figures. There are even a few little things in his past that make Stannis' brooding slightly more interesting than watching paint dry.
So from King Robert Baratheon, First of His Name, to its founder Orys Baratheon, here are 15 Things You Didn't Know About House Baratheon.
15 They Are Related to the Targaryens
Robert Baratheon won the Iron Throne because he was excellent at swinging his hammer and using it to crush the crown prince’s skull. Robert’s Rebellion was successful because of its namesake's determination to kill every Targaryen he saw, but in fact, Robert has some dragon blood in him. It's because of his Targaryen lineage that it was decided that Robert would sit on the throne over others who led the rebellion like Ned Stark, Jon Arryn, or the late-to-the-party Tywin Lannister.
The Targaryen blood connections date all the way back to the formation of House Baratheon. It was heavily rumored that the founder of House Baratheon, Orys Baratheon, was not only Aenys Targaryen’s best friend, but his bastard half-brother. When the Targaryens conquered the Storm Kings (more on them in a bit), Orys was “gifted” their stronghold and their eldest daughter as a reward.
It is because of Orys and his possible parentage that the Targaryens eventually would intermarry with the Baratheons. Even the slightest hint of dragon blood is enough for their incestuous purposes. Targaryens are littered throughout the Baratheon family tree, and Robert’s grandmother was actually one herself.
14 They Have Kings in Their Blood, Before Robert
With the Targaryen connection, House Baratheon does have small traces of royal blood in their family tree. Yet House Baratheon is also formed from one of the biggest houses in the pre-Targaryen era of Westeros, who were royals in their own right. House Baratheon grew out of House Durrandon, better known as the Storm Kings.
The Storm Kings get their (awesome) name from the weather of their homeland, but also in their mythological origin story. The first Storm King, Durran, was said to have married Eleni, the daughter of the sea god and goddess of the wind. It sounds like made up mumbo-jumbo, but given the lore of the rest of Game of Thrones, which involves undead ice zombies and everlasting, forrest-dwelling children, it's probably true. Orys Baratheon would later co-opt all that history when he married the last Storm King’s daughter, Argella Durrandon.
In other words, there is a long history of the Baratheons just stealing stuff from royal houses before Robert snatched the Iron Throne.
13 It is the Youngest of the Great Houses
The Great Houses of Westeros are also probably the only houses that the average Game of Thrones fan knows. Most of these Houses, whether they are Stark or Lannister, can trace their family tree back to the start of recorded history in Westeros. House Baratheon can’t do the same. There are three Great Houses that were formed during the conquest of Aegon Targaryen: the Greyjoys, the Tyrells, and the Baratheons.
While this trio was formed roughly around the same time, House Baratheon was the last among them to get officially underway. Therefore, it is (technically) the youngest of the Great Houses. Yet somehow, probably due the Targaryen connection, the Baratheons rose in esteem very quickly. While House Greyjoy was sulking on their depressing islands, and House Tyrell wasn’t being taken seriously until the events of Game of Thrones, House Baratheon was a mover and shaker from the start of House Targaryen's rule.
There is a reason that Robert had so many allies for his rebellion, and it certainly wasn’t his superior diplomatic talent. In just a fraction of the time, the Baratheons grew to be just as influential and powerful as the Starks or Lannisters. House Baratheon was able to beat House Targaryen because of the power it had amassed throughout the years.
12 Their Words and Sigil are Stolen from Another House
House Baratheon is deeply associated with a stag. Just as House Stark has their wolf side and the Lannisters are all about lions, Baratheons love to slap stags on to everything they own. Even when Stannis broke away from his brothers and created his own sigil, he kept the antlered deer. But not many people know that House Baratheon actually stole their house mascot (and slogan) from another family.
The stag sigil and the House Baratheon words, “Ours is the Fury” are directly lifted from the Storm Kings. Orys Baratheon had no affinity for stags, and he wasn’t particularly furious. Both of these Baratheon motifs came up from Orys' wife, the last daughter of House Durrandon. Yet that tenuous connection didn’t stop Orys' descendants from slapping antlers onto everything around them like some even more macho-aggressive versions of Gaston from Beauty and the Beast.
It certainly didn’t prevent them from having some severe anger management issues either, truly embracing "Ours is the Fury." Honestly, most of the Baratheon brothers' problems could have been solved if they just went to therapy.
11 They Had a Long History of Aligning with Targaryens
Before Robert tore it all apart, one of House Baratheon’s greatest allies were the Targaryens. Keeping up the tradition that started with Orys and Aenys, Targaryen and Baratheon worked together for generations. Orys’ son protected the Targaryen king from an assassination attempt, and House Baratheon even sheltered a Targaryen king for almost a year after after he was injured in Dorne.
The most significant alliance between the Baratheons and Targaryens happened during the civil war that broke up between the royal family, the Dance of the Dragons. During the Dance of the Dragons -- which would make an excellent Game of Thrones spin-off, by the way -- House Baratheon sided with the eventual winners, which was no easy decision for them, as they had friends on both factions. House Baratheon even ended up invading King’s Landing and claiming the throne for their Targaryen friends.
Robert had his reasons for declaring war on Aerys Targaryen. Most of those reasons are attributed to Robert's poor impulse control, but there was still justification. Yet by trying to wipe out House Targaryen, Robert was going against a long history of peace between the families.
10 Lyanna Stark Did Not Love Robert
The exact circumstances on how Jon Snow was born between the union of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen remains a mystery. Though it is a well-known fact that Rhaegar took Lyanna away, it is not clear if it was a “consensual kidnapping” or something far more sinister. The one thing that is made obvious in the books and the show is that Lyanna was not nearly as head over heels for her betrothed, Robert Baratheon, as he was to her.
In Ned’s recollections of Lyanna from the first book, it's obvious that Ned’s sister was not exactly happy with her engagement to Ned’s best friend. Lyanna was well-aware of Robert’s inability to keep it in his trousers, and she had no interest in being his witless wife. Lyanna also got to the heart of Robert’s feelings for her. Lyanna felt that Robert wasn’t truly in love with her, but rather just deeply infatuated. They were feelings that would eventually pass and leave both of them miserable.
Whether Lyanna loved Rhaegar or not, she wasn’t keen on the man she was supposed to marry. Sadly, Robert never got that raven, so he started a war to “rescue” her, and the rest is very bloody history.
9 Robert's Father Almost Found Another Bride for Rhaegar
Lyanna’s feelings for Rhaegar might be a guarded Game of Thrones secret, but so are Rhaegar’s feelings for Lyanna. While obviously attracted to Ned's little sister, it is never made obvious (in the series or the text) if Rhaegar really loved or just lusted after the Stark daughter. It is heavily hinted at in the books, however, that the Targaryen prince didn’t have much affection for his wife, Elia Martell. Translation: the entirety of Game of Thrones occurred because Rhaegar was bored with his bride.
If you want to take the assumptions even further, it's arguable that Steffon Baratheon, Robert’s father, could have prevented the entire war. Steffon and his wife Cassana were sent by King Aerys, before he went completely crazy, to find a bride for Rhaegar. Steffon was unsuccessful in this mission and sailed home with his metaphorical tail between his legs, leaving Rhaegar to eventually marry Elia.
It is unknown if Steffon would have tried again to find Rhaegar a baby mama after his first failed attempt, but he never got the chance, as he and his wife died returning from their mission. While sailing towards their homestead, Storm's End, a violent storm struck Steffon and Cassana’s ship on the sea. The storm caused the ship to crash and sink, while young Stannis and Robert looked on helplessly.
8 Stannis Had an Impressive Wartime Career
In the TV adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire, Stannis was a rather underwhelming military commander. Stannis had only a couple major victories on the battlefield during his lifetime on Game of Thrones. The first victory was one that Stannis achieved through a demonic shadow baby killing his brother. The second success was by surprise attacking a group of undisciplined wildlings. It's not exactly an impressive tally, especially in the face of his massive defeats at Blackwater and Winterfell.
Yet before he got all tangled up with the Lord of Light, Stannis was widely considered one of the best commanders in Westeros. Stannis held out in Storm’s End for nearly the entire duration of Robert’s Rebellion. At the tail end of the war, Stannis even took Dragonstone, his eventual home. Later, when the Greyjoys rebelled themselves, Stannis laid waste to their entire naval fleet.
It is a shame that the Lord of Light (and the TV show) neutered Stannis so much. Melisandre really made him nothing more than just a pawn in a larger game. Yet before he hooked up with the Red Woman, Stannis really was "the Mannis"… at least when it came to eviscerating his opponents in war.
7 They Are Not Entirely Wiped Out
Game of Thrones has not been kind to many of Great Houses of Westeros. House Stark has been drastically cut down in numbers. House Lannister disowned its smartest living member and has a crazy alcoholic leading it. House Tyrell seemingly has no leader (or noteworthy member) under the age of 70. Yet House Baratheon has probably been hit the hardest. Robert, Renly, and Stannis are all dead. Robert’s “children” with Cersei have either been killed or have killed themselves. Stannis sacrificed his only daughter, and Renly never even tried to procreate for...personal reasons.
Despite all this, House Baratheon is not completely dead. Joffrey did order the death of nearly every one of Robert’s many bastards in King’s Landing, but Robert was prolific with his seed. While the TV show amalgamated a lot of Robert’s bastards into Gendry, there are several significant children in the books.
In addition to Genry, Robert fathered also a son with another noblewoman (named Edric Storm), and one of Robert’s oldest children Mya Stone works at the Erie -- and those are just the named bastards. The future of House Baratheon might lie in illegitimate children, but there is still a future. All it takes is for someone to find Gendry still rowing his boat in the Narrow Sea to bring back House Baratheon.
6 Robert Fathered a Bastard on Stannis' Wedding Night
Speaking of Edric Storm, he is one of the more interesting characters from the books that didn’t make it into the TV show. While Edric wasn’t ever confirmed to not exist in the TV show, most of his storyline was given to Gendry, with the exception of his origin. Edric was conceived on Stannis and Selyse’s wedding night with one of Selyse’s cousins. Robert slept with Selyse’s cousin in Stannis and Selyse’s wedding bed, which falls somewhere between brazen and amazing.
Given the pretty high-profile way that Edric was brought into the world, he's the only one of Robert’s bastards who was publicly acknowledged by him. Edric lived at Storm’s End, and Robert even sent him presents on his birthday and visited him. Edric essentially lives the life of Jon Snow, but without all the sense of purpose and sulking.
In the books, Edric exists in the same state of limbo as Gendry on the TV series. It is Edric who Davos sneaks out of Dragonstone to save him from Melisandre, and while it is implied that Edric survived, he hasn’t been seen since the Onion Knight's rescue mission.
5 Their Stronghold is Almost Impenetrable
Game of Thrones has seen most of the famous strongholds get ravaged at least once. Dragonstone has changed hands several times throughout the course of the series. Winterfell has been invaded three times, and King’s Landing seems to be under attack every other season. Yet one major castle has remained almost virtually untouched...because it is virtually untouchable. It’s House Baratheon’s home of Storm’s End.
Though the show has never really visited Storm’s End -- though they got very close when Catelyn went to talk to Renly back in season 2 -- the castle is one of the most defensible in the fictional world. It's located on a cliffside, so it's incredibly difficult to invade from land or sea. The water around it is particularly treacherous, as Steffon and Cassana learned, and the walls are high and formidable. Stannis survived at Storm’s End due to his ingenuity and determination, but also because the castle is incredibly durable. In the books, Stannis is only able to gain control of Storm’s End due to Melisandre’s demon smoke baby magic.
King’s Landing might be the seat of power in the seven kingdoms, but it is far from the most powerful place in Westeros.
4 The Baratheon Brothers Were Orphaned Very Early
It might seem reductive to simplify Renly, Robert, and Stannis’ problems to the fact that mommy and daddy didn’t love them enough, but it is really quite true. Stannis and Robert not only had to watch their parents drown, but they had to watch them drown at a very young age. When their parents died, Robert was 16, Stannis was 14, and Renly was just a newborn.
The death of his parents is why Robert was given such a large amount of responsibility at a young age, responsibility that he couldn't handle. It also drove Robert closer to Ned Stark and his adoptive father, Jon Arryn, further straining his relationships with his younger brothers, Renly and Stannis.
If Steffon and Cassana had lived, it’s not guaranteed that their sons would have treated each other better. Stannis still could have indirectly murdered Renly, but it certainly couldn’t have hurt matters for them to live. At the very least, Robert wouldn’t have the sole power to make House Baratheon declare war on House Targaryen.
3 Robert Showed Mercy to Barristan Selmy
Robert Baratheon is not a character known for his merciful or kind heart. He was a man who followed his house words to the letter, leading with a clenched fist, not an open palm. So it might be surprising for the casual Game of Thrones viewer to learn that one of Robert’s most trusted guards actually served Aerys Targaryen first.
Before he was unceremoniously killed off on the show, Barristan Selmy made an impression as one of the wisest and most fearsome warriors in Westeros. Barristan was often seen at Robert’s side as a member of his Kingsguard. Selmy was then dismissed by Joffrey, and decided to join Daenerys out in Essos. Yet for most of Robert’s Rebellion, Barristan was fiercely fighting against the king he would one day serve.
Selmy was nearly killed in the battle where Robert defeated Rhaegar Targaryen. Barristan was severely injured, and Roose Bolton advised Robert to finish Selmy off. Instead of killing the gifted knight, he nursed Barristan back to health and kept him on the Kingsguard after he took the throne. Robert Baratheon was an awful king, but he was a decent person from time to time.
2 The Rivalry Between Stannis and Robert Might be a Misunderstanding
The dysfunctional dynamic between Stannis and Robert went far beyond basic brotherly brawling. While the show and the books never had Robert and Stannis spend any time together, it's clear that there was no love lost between them. Robert couldn’t be more different than Stannis, and his baby bro kept a running tally of every offense Robert made against him.
One of Robert's biggest faux paus was giving Stannis control over the moody Dragonstone, while Renly took the much more desirable Storm’s End. Stannis took this as a huge slight, since Storm’s End should have been his birthright. Storm's End did not belong to the much younger Renly in Stannis' mind. But in an interview, George R.R. Martin explained that Robert had no intention of insulting Stannis by giving him Dragonstone.
Dragonstone typically was the seat of the heir to the throne. When Robert was crowned, Stannis became his heir. Robert was just following tradition. Robert also needed Stannis to hold Dragonstone because his rule was so uncertain at the onset. This doesn’t excuse all of Stannis and Robert’s other issues, but their biggest problem might be nothing more than a misunderstanding.
1 Robert Wasn't the First Baratheon to Rebel Against the Throne
Though there is a long history of the Baratheons supporting Targaryens, Robert wasn’t the first to break the chain. Years before Robert was born, a his great-grandfather Lyonel briefly rebelled against the Iron Throne in a circumstance not that dissimilar to Robert’s own revolution.
Lyonel’s daughter was supposed to marry the Targaryen prince Duncan. Duncan refused the betrothal, however, and fell in love with a commoner. Feeling insulted, Lyonel refused to pledge fealty to the Targaryen family and declared himself as the new Storm King. The rebellion was stopped when the King Aegon Targaryen agreed to have his youngest daughter marry Lyonel’s heir.
It was almost an entirely bloodless rebellion, and somehow even more petty than Robert’s reasoning for overthrowing the rule of Targaryen. It is interesting, though, that there was precedent for Robert's Rebellion. House Baratheon was getting furious with House Targaryen over the matters of marriage decades before Lyanna and Rhaegar sparked the flame that burned down the entire status quo.
Do you know anything else about House Baratheon from Game of Thrones or the books? Sound off in the comments section!