Game of Thrones mainly focuses on the struggle between the major houses of Westeros that rule each region. These houses are the heads of the nine major regions (the Seven Kingdoms, the Riverlands, and the Crownlands) and they are all served by smaller houses in each area.
The A Song of Ice and Fire novels go to great lengths to detail the minor houses and their histories. Game of Thrones doesn’t have the time to do this, so the show only focuses on the houses that have a role in the story, such as the Boltons and the Cleganes.
House Frey is one of the most powerful minor houses in Westeros. They are also looked down upon by the other noble houses, due to the fact that they acquired power through wealth, rather than winning battles.
The Frey’s have earned a reputation for their loose loyalty and conniving nature. They also have the money and the force of arms to back up any threat that they make.
We are here today to look into the history of one of the most hated houses in Westeros.
From the TV show spoiling their words to Walder Frey’s accidental involvement in a conspiracy to overthrow the Targaryens, here are 15 Things You Didn’t Know About House Frey.
15. The TV Show Spoiled The Words Of House Frey
All of the noble houses of Westeros have their own sigil and words that identify them. These are usually boastful and intended to inspire fear in their foes, such as the skinned man on the banner of the Boltons.
Not all houses have fearsome insignia, as some lords chose the things that earned them their rank in the first place, such as the onion of House Seaworth and the peas of House Peasebury.
The words of House Frey have remained a mystery in the books. This is odd, as we have learned the details of so many minor houses that this lack of basic knowledge on House Frey seems suspicious.
George R. R. Martin must be keeping the words a secret for a reason… or at least he was until the show told us what the Frey words are.
In the final episode of Season 6 of Game of Thrones, it is revealed that the Frey words are “We Stand Together”. This makes sense, as it refers to the two castles of the Twins. It will likely also have a double meaning if Walder dies and the Freys descend into a civil war over ownership of the Twins.
14. The Freys Technically Serve Littlefinger
It is hard to pinpoint exactly when the planning for the Red Wedding began. The Ironborn invasion of the North, followed by the (faked) deaths of Bran and Rickon and the destruction of Winterfell was the first major blow to Robb Stark’s campaign.
The other major event was the joining of House Lannister and Tyrell, which meant that the Stark and Tully army was now vastly outnumbered.
It was around this point that Tywin offered the Boltons and Freys his support, should they succeed in killing the high-ranking members of Robb Stark’s cause, therefore ending the war.
In return for crushing the Stark and Tully forces, the Freys were rewarded the castle of Riverrun and all of its lands and incomes.
This turned out to be an empty gift, however, as Littlefinger had been granted lordship over the Riverlands as a whole, with Harrenhal acting as his seat. The Freys simply traded one ruler for another. Littlefinger is also too smart to be led into a trap, especially now that the Frey’s duplicitous nature has been revealed.
13. The Frey Pies Were Cooked By Someone Else In The Books
The Red Wedding inspired a wave of outrage on the Internet. YouTube was quickly inundated with videos of people watching in shock as the Starks were murdered at a wedding.
“The Rains of Castemere” was lauded as one of the saddest and most emotional episodes of television ever created. The only time Game of Thrones has even come close to matching the shock of the episode was when Prince Oberyn was killed.
The Starks finally got their revenge in the form of Arya. She killed two of the main architects of the Red Wedding, baked them into pies, and fed them to Walder Frey. Arya later poisoned all of the other male members of the house.
Arya’s descent into Jeffrey Dhamer territory was actually performed by someone else in the book. It was Wyman Manderly, Lord of White Harbor, who killed the three of the Freys that had been sent to treat with him.
12. Walder Frey Is The Only Character To Appear In Both The Prequels & The Current Novels
The books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series are not the only works written by George R. R. Martin that are set in Westeros. He is also working on a series of prequel novellas, called the Tales of Dunk and Egg.
These books are a lot shorter and much more light-hearted than the other stories set in Westeros. Dunk and Egg are Ser Duncan the Tall and Aegon Targaryen, who go on adventures throughout the Seven Kingdoms. There are currently three books in the series, with more on the way.
The Tales of Dunk and Egg are set around ninety years before A Game of Thrones. Walder Frey is the only character who physically appears in both series, as he is a bratty four-year-old boy in The Mystery Knight. Aemon Targaryen is also mentioned, though he hasn’t appeared in the story so far.
11. The Brotherhood Without Banners Are Currently Trying To Wipe Out The House
House Frey has been annihilated in the show. Arya has killed every Frey of importance, which means that another noble family will likely take over the Twins before long.
Walder Frey’s legacy is gone and his family has been subjected to the same slaughter that they inflicted upon the Starks and Tullys.
Things aren’t quite as bleak for House Frey in the books. Walder and most of his family are still alive. The Freys still have the support of the royal family in King’s Landing and the Boltons in the North.
They have slowly been restoring order to the Riverlands, with the aid of Randyll Tarly and his men.
The main opposition to the Freys in their homeland comes from the Brotherhood Without Banners. They have sworn vengeance on the Freys for their breaking of guest right and the deaths of the Starks and Tullys.
10. The War With House Reed
The Freys have had a long standing animosity with House Reed of the North. This is because they rule the lands north of the Twins and have been instrumental in preventing any Frey expansions above their lands.
The Freys are unable to directly engage the Reeds in warfare, due to the fact that their lands are in swamps. The crannogmen fight with guerilla tactics, which involves the use of poison darts and arrows. Anyone who tries to invade their lands will quickly sink to their doom or be eaten by alligators.
The crannogmen have a negative reputation concerning their character. This reputation was mostly spread by members of House Frey. They cannot engage the Reeds directly in the war, so they need to use duplicitous tactics to try and oust their enemies.
The Freys accuse Reeds of being sneaky and dishonorable, due to the fact that they use poisoned weapons in battle, which is generally frowned upon in the conduct of honorable warfare. It’s fine to bash the enemy in the head with a mace, so long as you don’t use poison.
9. The Frey/Lannister Connection
House Frey is closely connected to House Lannister. This was partly due to the foolish decision making of Tytos Lannister, who was the father of Tywin. Most of the noble families in Westeros do not want to marry into the Freys, which is why Walder started offering a large dowry for the hands of his daughters.
Tytos wasn’t the most astute of nobles and he made some bad decisions which almost destroyed the family. He arranged for Tywin’s sister Genna to marry Emmon Frey, which resulted in the birth of four Frey/Lannister offspring.
When the War of the Five Kings began, it meant that Freys were fighting on both sides of the conflict.
The TV show decided to omit the Frey branch of the Lannister family, so as not to confuse the audience on the issue of which side the Frey family was fighting for. The significant members of this branch of the Frey family were all changed to Lannisters in the show.
8. The Real Life Inspiration For Walder Frey
Many of the characters and events that appear in A Song of Ice and Fire are inspired by real life. Indeed, there have been rulers that were far crueler than Joffrey was and wars that were even more pointless than the current struggle for the Iron Throne.
Walder Frey was likely inspired by two figures from our history. The first of these is Ralph Neville, who was an English lord that existed during the War of the Roses (which also formed the basis of the Stark/Lannister conflict).
Ralph Neville was infamous for his many children and for the fact that he broke the rules of parlay, where two enemies agree to meet under secure circumstances. Ralph Neville used a parlay to capture an archbishop and a Lord so that he could hand them over to the king.
The other likely inspiration for Walder Frey was Thomas Stanley, who was notorious for withholding support until victory was certain. Walder Frey was mocked by the other Riverlords for arriving at the Battle of the Trident after it had ended.
7. Not All Freys Were Involved In The Red Wedding
The Red Wedding required a massive amount of planning in order to be able to be pulled off correctly. The Freys and the Boltons were planning on killing Robb Stark and capturing many of the high-ranking Northern lords.
They also wanted to wipe out as many Stark troops as possible. The Freys wiped out the majority of the army by using specially made tents that were rigged to collapse. These tents had been oiled beforehand, so most of the army was burned or suffocated to death.
Not all of the Freys were involved in the planning and execution of the Red Wedding. Robb Stark was forced to take on Olyvar Frey as a squire as part of his pact with the family.
Olyvar grew fond of Robb, to the point where the other Freys grew concerned that he would alert the Northern lords about the planned massacre. He was sent away from the Twins and had no part in the Red Wedding.
6. The Werewolf Defense
After the destruction of the Stark and Tully army at the Red Wedding, the Freys became the dominant force in the Riverlands. They have the largest army, which means that no one can mount a proper opposition to them.
Despite this, the Freys felt the need to concoct a story about how the Red Wedding went down and why they are actually the innocent party in all of this. Columbo wouldn’t need an hour-long episode to find the holes in their story, but it doesn’t matter because they have the army to back it up.
According to the Freys who visited White Harbor and treated with the Manderlys: the Stark forces turned into werewolves at the wedding, which forced the Freys to defend themselves in a conflict where they were the victor.
Wyman Manderly didn’t believe the story for a second, but he was unable to openly defy them at the time. He later had the Freys kidnapped and baked into pies, which didn’t require the help of werewolves to pull off.
5. They Are Named After The Norse God Of Fertility
Norse mythology has given a great deal to the fantasy genre. We would never have seen The Lord of the Rings if Tolkien hadn’t have become deeply invested in the study of Nordic legends during his youth. A Song of Ice and Fire is no exception, as it too has been inspired by Norse mythology.
One of the most obvious examples of Norse mythology inspiring something from A Song of Ice and Fire comes from House Frey. Their very name comes from Freyr (sometimes written as Frey), who is the Norse god of virility.
The fact that the Freys are the most populous house in Westeros gives meaning to their name. It is often joked of Walder Frey that he is the only lord in Westeros who can field an army of his own relatives, most of which came from his own breeches.
4. Jamie The Confused Kinslayer
One of the ways in which the Frey/Lannister family connection was simplified in the show was by changing some of the Lannister-aligned Freys into Lannisters. One example of this involves the two Lannister children who were murdered by the Karstarks.
In the show, it is Martyn Lannister (played by Dean-Charles Chapman, who would go on to play Tommen) who is killed. In the books, it is Martyn’s cousin, Tion Frey, who is killed by the Karstarks.
The other major example of a Frey/Lannister change in the show happens with Alton Lannister. He is the Lannister who is sent to treat with the Starks and is later imprisoned with Jamie.
The two of them talk in their cell before Jamie murders his cousin as part of an escape plan (which doesn’t succeed).
In the books, it is Cleos Frey who is imprisoned with Jamie and he is not killed by him. Cleos travels with Jamie and Brienne, before being killed by archers when the three of them are pursued by Stark/Tully forces.
3. They Are The Key To Roose Bolton’s Power
Once the Red Wedding was over, Roose Bolton was left with an army that was mostly composed of his own men. After Theon had retaken Moat Cailin, Roose was free to bring his army back into the North. Roose brought a force of two thousand Frey men with him, in order to consolidate his position.
The reason Roose needed to do this was that there was still a significant amount of men left in the North. Robb Stark was forced to leave a portion of his men behind, as he wanted to make his way to King’s Landing as soon as possible to free his father.
The death of the lords of Hornwood started a succession crisis, which means that soldiers are still lingering in the North. House Ryswell and Dustin also only sent a few troops to Robb Stark’s cause, as Lady Barbrey Dustin holds a grudge against Ned Stark.
The Boltons hold the largest army in the North, but the other houses could still overthrow them in numerous different ways. Roose needs the extra might of the Frey host to keep the other lords in line. If the Freys leave then Roose may face open rebellion.
2. They Are The Biggest Noble Family In Westeros
House Frey has the most active members of any noble house in all of the Seven Kingdoms. There are over eighty named members of House Frey as of the end of A Dance with Dragons, even if you take into account the Freys who were killed by the Brotherhood Without Banners and remaining Tully men throughout the last three books.
A few more have been killed according to the sample chapters of The Winds of Winter that have been released, but they barely make a dent in the overall number.
If you take into account every named member of a noble family across the Westeros history that we know of, then the Targaryens have the Freys beat, but not by much. It is impressive that the current generation of Freys alone are almost equal in number to all of the Targaryens that we know of, dating back to Aegon’s first conquest of Westeros.
1. Walder Frey Indirectly Caused The Second Blackfyre Rebellion
The reign of the Targaryens over Westeros was host to several rebellions. These were mainly led by Blackfyres, who were a family of Targaryen bastards that had originally been legitimized.
There were several Blackfyre rebellions, all of which ended with the Targaryen’s winning the war. The second of these rebellions was indirectly started by Walder Frey.
In The Mystery Knight, it is revealed that Walder Frey had caught his sister in bed with a servant. Walder told his parents, which caused his father to quickly arrange a marriage between his daughter and Lord Ambrose Butterwell.
A lot of the Blackfyre supporters used the wedding as an excuse to meet up and plan their next move. It was only through the actions of Ser Duncan the Tall and Brynden Rivers that a second rebellion did not fully break out. The second Blackfyre rebellion was quickly snuffed out.
It seems that Walder Frey couldn’t help himself from getting into a trouble, even as a child. The trouble that he started as an old man will likely be a lot more costly.
Can you think of any other interesting facts about Game of Thrones‘ House Frey? Let us know in the comment section!
- Ad Free Browsing
- Over 10,000 Videos!
- All in 1 Access
- Join For Free!