With Game of Thrones season 7 coming soon, the seven Great Houses gear up for the impending war, but it’s not just them who are preparing for the Long Winter. Under the major lords, lesser vassals and noble house members brace for impact (and possibly take center stage) in the epic battles to come.
House Tarly, Mormant, and Tully: we've seen epic characters from these houses and know of their importance, but the TV show creators may shed some light on other, lesser-known houses that have already played a major role in the series. Game Thrones contains an extensive list of noble houses beyond the average high fantasy, possibly even enough to fill the modern British Heraldry system.
House Glover, Umber, Oakheart-- the series' dizzying number of houses and similar names can get confusing for the average viewer. There are many minor old houses that have had huge importance in major events that led to the current plot. Worry not, in preparation of season 7, we’ve compiled a pocket list of the minor houses that played a major role shaping Westeros.
Here are the 15 Ignored Game Of Thrones Houses You NEED To Know About.
15 House Umber
On the battlefield, there’s one terrifying house that nobody dares mess with: House Umber. The sigil’s towering giant wearing an animal skin and broken silver chains strikes fear into many soldiers, who worry about facing an Umber’s blade in battle. (In the show, the house sigil is four silver chains on red.)
The Umbers are hardy people tempered by the North’s frosty climate. Since they live close to the Wall, they’re susceptible to wildling raids and often are called to defend the borders. As vassals under the Starks, they have defended invaders like the King-Beyond-the-Wall and, most notably, King Raymun Redbeard.
In recent events, the North’s minor houses joined Robb Stark’s bannermen after Ned Stark’s death, but Lord Jon Umber (the Greatjon) was at odds with Robb, who criticized Greatjon. Before he could strike Robb, Grey Wind bit two fingers off of Greatjon’s hand. Impressed, Greatjon swore fealty to Robb and became the king’s greatest champion. The Umbers grudgingly bend the knee to the Boltons after the Red Wedding.
In the TV series, the Umbers sided with the Boltons in Battle with the Bastards. Smalljon was the ones who brought Rickon Stark before Ramsay Bolton.
14 House Glover
House Glover’s sigil is recognized by the metal silver fist on scarlet. Glover is another vassal house hailed from the North, and were former lesser kings of the First Men. They swear fealty to Winterfel and were first summoned to fortify Moat Cailin in the books.
Galbart Glover, the current Lord of Glover, was part of Robb’s war council and became a close advisor to Rob, advising him to not trust the Freys or swear his allegiance to Baratheon. Their lands were taken over by the Greyjoys, and when Stannis freed the house lands, the Glovers swore allegiance to the Baratheons.
House Glover’s role was the same in the TV series, but around season 6, when Jon Snow asks for Glover to join his banner army, Robett Glover initially refuses due to Galbart’s death and the Ironborn occupation. After the Bolton’s defeat, Robett appeals for Jon Snow’s forgiveness and pledges to the Starks, but it’s mostly because Lady Mormont’s scolded him and House Manderly for refusing Jon’s call.
13 House Durrandon
House Durrandon was once a Great House founded by Durran Godsgrief during the Age of Heroes. Durran created Storm’s End; since then, his descendants were known as the Storm Kings of the East. Their lands were surrounded by the Dornish Marches, protecting the eastern lands from Dorne and the Kingdom of the Reach. For centuries, their lands were contested until the very end, when Argillic the Arrogant regained a few regions back, only to lose them again during the War of Conquest.
Orys Baratheon slew Argalic the Arrogant Durran, the last king of the Durrandon house. Orys married Argalic’s daughter to inherit the Great House's lands and sigil. Although the house is no more, Durran’s blood still runs through Baratheon veins. Their sigil, the black stage, is proof that they are descendants of the Durran Godsgrief, the defier of the Gods.
12 House Hightower
Among the ancient houses, House Hightower is one of the prominent Great Houses, and are prideful of their heritage dating back to the Age of Dawn. Their arms bear of white watchtower with a fire torch on the top. Their motto is “we light the way.”
Although they are vassals under House Tyrell, they are one of Tyrell’s most powerful subjects and are said to be as rich as the Lannisters, while easily mustering thrice as many swords. Their seat is Hightower, the highest building in the seven kingdoms located in Oldtown, home of the Citadel and the Faith of the Seven. In fact, the house is a frequent patron of the Citadel and the Faith.
Throughout history, House Hightower managed to survive through Aegon’s Conquest, the Dance of Dragons, and Robert’s Rebellion without heavy losses. They surrendered to Aegon and remained loyal to the Targaryens during Robert’s Rebellion.
Ser Gerold Hightower, was one of the Mad King’s greatest fighters and Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. Gerold was tasked to defend the Tower of Joy where Lyanna Stark resided during her last moments. After the Targaryens’ defeat, the house knelt to Robert.
11 House Bracken*
House Bracken, Blackwood’s age-old enemy, follows under the Tullys' banners in the Riverlands. Its symbol-- a red stallion upon a gold and brown backdrop-- would trigger any Blackwood to fight them. Bracken’s long, bitter feud with Blackwood goes way back to the Age of Heroes, when they thought the Blackwoods took the Bracken crown. There were times when they tried to reconcile, only to get riled up if the other side harmed the opposing faction.
During the Andal invasion, Bracken and Blackwood teamed up to fight the invaders but were defeated in the Battle of the Bitter River. This defeat and Bracken’s acknowledgment of the Faith of Seven caused Blackwood to fight the Brackens again. Small feuds like these continue their legacy of petty fights and animosity, despite the peaceful "political marriages" between the two houses, which makes them related.
10 House Blackwood
House Blackwood lives in the Blackwood Vale and answers to the Tullys, whilst bearing animosity toward their fellow neighbors, the Brackens. The ongoing feud between two factions gives their overlords and Jaime Lannister a headache.
On the flip side of history, House Blackwood believed the Brackens were former horse breeders that usurped the Blackwood throne. In addition to condemning Brackens for taking the crown, they also claim that Brackens poisoned their weirwood at Raventree Hall. House Blackwood never saw eye-to-eye with House Bracken, famously recalling the time when Otho Bracken slew Lord Quentyn Blackwood, an unfortunate tourney accident that happened nearly a century ago. Their sigil is a flock of ravens surrounding an ancient weirwood tree.
Aside from Bracken’s long feud, House Bracken and House Blackwood initially pledged to Robb Stark, but after the Red Wedding, the Brackens sided with the Iron Throne. Likewise, Blackwood, who still sided with the North, fought for the Tullys. Their home, Raventree, was besieged by Jonos Bracken.
9 House Dayne
House Dayne resides in the Red Mountains of Dorne– their castle, High Hermitage, is northeast of Starfall. The Dayne nobles look nothing like their fellow Dornishmen; their skin is “stony” by Dornish standards. Their eyes can either be dark blue or purple-gold, and their hair is often dark or pale, with streaks of black.
House Dayne’s lineage dates back to the Age of Dawn, with their ancestral sword, Dawn, as proof of their history. Daynes’ ancestors were the Kings of Torrentine and fought Dornishmen and Oakhearts for thousands of years. Their last King was sent to the Wall under Nymeria’s request. The Daynes serve House Dorne, and their sigil is a shooting star crossed with a sword.
The house is famous for their sword, Dawn, the oldest blade forged from a fallen star ten thousand years ago. Dawn is past down to knights worthy of its blade, and whoever carries Dawn bears the name “Sword of the Morning.”
Dawn’s last wielder was Ser Arthur Dayne, who was part of the Kingsguard during Robert's Rebellion. After his defeat at Tower of Joy, Ned Stark returned the blade back to House Dayne.
8 House Karstark
House Karstark is a cadet branch of the Stark family-- their founder, Karlon Stark, was granted lands and titles after he defeated a rebel lord. Karlon renamed his household Karstark, and their lands lay at the far northeast corner of Winterfell, close to the Shivering Sea. Karstark men are strong burly soldiers who bear the sunburst on black sigil on their shields. Their motto is “the sun of winter.”
They answered to Robb Stark’s call with an army, and were the first houses that swore allegiance to Robb. However, their loyalty to the Starks didn’t last too long and they were eventually cast as major traitors during the War of the Five Kings.
While the Boltons and the Freys orchestrated the Red Wedding, Karstark men were the footmen that killed Robb's loyalists. Lord Rickard Karstark was the first to defy Robb’s orders when he killed Willem Lannister because had Catelyn freed Jaime Lannister, which denied Rickard his revenge on the Lannisters. Robb beheaded Rickard, and the Karstarks saw that as the end of their alliance.
7 House Oakheart
House Oakheart’s sigil has three oak leaves on gold surrounded by the words “our roots go deep.” While they may be a minor house under the Tyrells, they are known as bitter rivals of the Reach (the southwest ancestral domain of the Tyrells) and the Dornishmen.
House Oakheart have fought extensive wars against Dornishmen, who, in return, share the same rivalry, especially against House Dayne. The Dayne soldiers have killed plenty of Oakhearts in the past, which didn't go unnoticed.
Ser Arys Oakheart of the Kingsguard is sent to guard Princess Myrcella Baratheon at Dorne. Areo Hotah killed him when he was discovered, which posed a problem for the Martells, who were required to explain a Kingsguard's death. The royal court, in the end, shifted the blame on Ser Gerold Dayne.
6 House Gardener
Similar to House Durrandon, House Gardener was a former Great House that ruled during the Age of Heroes. Their banners bear a green hand on a white field. Garth the Gardener, the eldest son of the mythical Garth the Greenhand founded House Gardener.
Kings wore a crown of vines and flowers in times of peace and a crown of thorns in times of conflict. House Gardener’s long line of kings had periods of peace in the Kingdom of the Reach. King Garth VII, one of Gardener's great kings, ruled for eighty-one years, and rarely rode onto the battlefield.
House Gardener met its match on the Field of Fire, the battle where Aegon the Conqueror burned the Gardeners and the Lannisters' army with dragons. House Gardener was no more and the Tyrells were named the Lords of Highgarden. Because the Gardeners had multiple descendants outside the main branch, lesser houses boast of their legitimacy and right to rule Highgarden.
5 House Redwyne
Their sigil is a grape cluster on blue, symbolizing their famous Arbor wine. House Redwyne's vineyards are located in Arbor, a remote island with plenty of sunlight for their burgundy grapes. As descendants of Gilbert of the Vines, they pride themselves on their winemaking skills and ability to create a variety of flavors, including the rarest batch nicknamed “Lord of the Arbor.”
House Redwyne provides the largest fleet in the Reach and has five times as many merchant vessels as other houses in the area, which makes the noble house one of Westeros’ biggest exporters.
Notable nobles from Redwyne are Lord Paxter Redwyne and the Queen of Thorns, Lady Olenna Tyrell. Thanks to Olenna's position at Highgarden, House Redwyne became a major voice in House Tyrell; their fleet is used by them a number of times. From the Battle of Blackwater Bay to the defending the Reach, the Redwyne fleet played a large part of the Naval battles.
4 House Hoare
Although House Hoare never made an appearance in the TV series, their influence on Westeros is spoken widely by many characters in the show. Their sigil are images of their conquered regions: black ship for the Iron Islands, the green spruce of Bear Island, burgundy grapes of the Arbor, and the black raven from the Riverlands-- all separated by iron chains.
The Hoare noblemen were part of the Iron Islands and followed the ironborn way, raving and reaping the lands for their taking. Before the Andal Invasion, House Hoare’s influence extended to the Arbor Islands and Bear Islands. It is said that they use a finger dance (axe-catching with bare hands) to determine the next king for the ironborn throne.
House Hoare were key players before Aegon’s landing, conquering the Riverlands and building Harrenhal, which symbolized their power in the conquered region. It took House Hoare forty years to build the wooden castle, but only took a few days, with the help of Balerion’s fire, to burn the castle to a crisp, thus ending House Hoare’s line. Although House Hoare is no more, their legacy is remembered in Westeros as the ironborn who invaded the main lands.
3 House Royce
House Royce is an ancient house of Vale that dates back to the First Men, and possibly existed during the Dawn Age. Their household arms bear ancient runes, which mean “we remember.” Royce ancestors were the Bronze Kings of Runestone who fought extensively against the Kings of the First Men. They defied against the Andals, uniting the First Men during the Andals invasion. Ser Artys Arryn unseated King Robar II Royce and became the new lord of the Vale.
Since then, House Royce served under the Arryns, their children married into the Arryns, and Rhea Royce was betrothed to Daemon Targaryen, a major player in the Dance of Dragons. In the books, Robar Royce was the one who let Catelyn Stark and Brienne of Tarth free after Renly’s assassination.
Loras killed Robar out of rage. In the TV series, Robar’s fate was altered; Brienne of Tarth killed Robar when they were escaping. Lord Yohn Royce, the current lord of Royce, agreed to foster Robin Arryn and train him as the future Lord of the Vale. He rides with the Vale to aid Jon Snow in the Battle of the Bastards.
2 House Peasebury
House Peasebury has the most "intimidating" coat of arms out of the Seven Kingdoms: peas in the pod in a white field with three rows of peas lined at the edge. House Peasebury are notable for being the house of the only Storm lords that remained loyal to House Baratheon during the War of the Five Kings.
They were the first house who sided with Renly Baratheon, and, when Renly was killed, they still remained loyal to the Baratheons, pledging to Stannis and disregarding that he was obsessed with the Lord of Light.
However, many Peaseburys were burned alive as "offerings" to the Lord of Light. During the march to the North, four Peasebury knights were caught eating human flesh, most likely due to the harsh weather, and the Queensmen ordered the knights to be burned.
1 House Velaryon
The silver seahorse on sea green arms is the symbol of House Velaryon. Their motto is “the old, the true, the brave.” Westeros would remember the Velaryons as master of the seas when their relatives, the Targaryens, ruled the skies.
They had supported the Targaryens before and after Aegon’s conquest in Westeros. Once the Targaryen household was seated on the Iron Throne, Velaryons became high influencers of the king’s court; their descendants either betrothed to Targaryen royal born or held high official positions in the court.
Because of their high ranks, Velaryons were major players in the Dance of Dragons, supporting Rhaenyra Targaryen who desired the Iron Throne. Velaryons suffered heavy losses and would never recover their glory.
However, their adept seafaring is still the finest in Westeros. In the books and TV series, they supported Stannis Baratheon. A majority of their ships were used at the Battle of Blackwater Bay. House Velaryon still supported Stannis, despite losing the battle.
Can you think of any other important minor Game of Thrones houses? Let us know in the comment section!