Who is Jon Snow’s Mother? (A Theory)

Watching Season 3 of ‘Game of Thrones’? Make sure you read this handy spoiler free guide to the new characters.

So we have a contributor on the site named Doctor Funk. That title isn’t just for show, or an indication of Doctor Who fandom (although it would be accurate) – she is an actual doctor. She’s smarter than me, is what I’m saying. The reason I mention this is because this is her theory, and damned if it isn’t water tight. Watchers of the show need not worry, there won’t be spoilers until the final section and they’ll be clearly marked. The rest is pure speculation.

The question of Jon Snow’s parentage has never been the direct focus of the show Game of Thrones or the book series it’s based on, but it has always been hovering in the background. Since Jon Snow has joined the Watch and subsequently traveled north of the Wall he’s become further detached from the escalating conflicts that the rest of the characters are caught up in. Snow is almost in a series all of his own for all the rest of the story impacts on him, or vice-versa. The assumption is that his role is building to something more important, and the key to that role lies with the truth behind his birth.

Jon Snow and Ghost

Let’s begin at the beginning: we know that Jon Snow is the bastard son of Eddard Stark. Is this something that should be taken at face value? If there’s one thing that defines Eddard Stark it’s his powerful sense of honour. Even though his marriage to Catelyn Tully was an arranged union, with the couple having never met before the ceremony and Stark leaving for war almost immediately (during this time Jon Snow was conceived and born) it’s still very much against Stark’s character to have been unfaithful to his new wife. Stark would consider it a slight against his honour and his wife’s honour to have betrayed her. It’s makes more sense to question not only who Snow’s mother is, but also his father and what are the circumstance of his birth that compelled Eddard Stark to burden himself with this lie.

Eddard Stark

Eddard Stark (as played by Sean Bean)

Of course Catelyn is not the only person Eddard has lied to about Jon Snow. His best friend and trusted partner in battle Robert Baratheon is also kept in the dark. During their journey down the King’s Road Robert seems to assume a peasant woman is Jon Snow’s mother, and Eddard refuses to reveal anything about her. So now we have a man of great honour, and man whose sense of honour led to him losing his head, telling his bride that he cheated on her and hiding information from his trusted friend and king. What’s the deal?

Let’s turn the fictional clock back a decade and a half. Before the events of the story we’ve been following lived Eddard’s sister Lyanna. Described by all who met her as a great beauty with striking features, her brothers Eddard often said she was ‘wolf-blooded’ – strong willed and courageous. A skilled rider with a perchant for swords her young, never met niece Arya has often been compared to her personality wise. She had many admirers in her youth, including Robert Baratheon and Prince Rhaegar Targaryen.


Lyanna, alongside Eddard, being courted by Rhaegar

Lyanna’s hand was promised to Robert Baratheon and although he was deeply in love with her she had reservations. His reputation was well known and she didn’t think he would remain faithful (although until his death Robert believed that she was the one women he could’ve been faithful towards).

Before they were wed Lyanna attended the tourney of Harrenhal. Whilst they she was involved in two scandals. Firstly she demonstrated her bold nature by grabbing a sword and attacking three men who were bullying a young squire. This caught the attention of Prince Rhaeger Targaryen who  crowned Lyanna the queen of beauty, passing over his wife and challenging Robert’s anger. In the weeks following this event Prince Rhaeger kidnapped Lyanna and vanished with her. Accounts differ, with some claiming that Lyanna returned his love and went willingly. Regardless of the truth this was the event that sent the Baratheon, Starks and Lannister into revolt against the Targaryen throne.


All of this is a matter of fact, but what follows is based partly on speculation and partly on inconsistencies in the telling of the land’s history.  Lyanna’s death is the matter which seems confused. Initially Rhaegar spent the war protecting the Tower of Joy, which housed Lyanna, but he abandoned his post to partake in the decisive Battle of the Trident, where he was killed by Robert in single combat. Robert was wounded in the melee, leaving Eddard to ride ahead.  Eddard’s account indicates that he heard Lyanna screaming inside the Tower of Joy whilst he was fighting on the grounds. After the battle he rushed inside to find her in a room that ‘smelled of blood and roses’, dying in a blood soaked bed. If she died of a fever as Eddard claimed, then hearing her screams and finding her in a bed of blood is inconsistent with his story.

Eddard rushed to her side only to find fear in Lyanna’s eyes. She made Eddard make a promise to her, after which the fear left her eyes and she passed peacefully. This promise has never been revealed but is tantamount in linking all the elements of this theory. The state that Lyanna was found in suggests that she died not of a fever, but during childbirth – explainingthe bloodied bed. The child born was none other than Jon Snow, the father being Rhaeger Targaryen. With the kingdom at war and the Iron Throne threatened it is unlikely that the prince would remain away from the combat to protect his kidnap victim. Perhaps he had an additional motivating factor, namely that she was carrying his child. Knowing that she was dying and that without Rhaegar to protect him the new born baby would be killed the moment he was discovered, Lyanna had her brother vow to raise him as his own.


Hence Eddard claimed to have betrayed his marriage vows, and never revealed Jon Snow’s mother to Catelyn or Robert, or even Jon himself. When Eddard and members of his house were summoned to King’s Landing to act as Hand to the King Eddard knew that he could not risk taking Jon with him lest his true parentage be discovered. Instead he gets sent north to the wall. Not only does this put him further from King’s Landing but under the eye of Maestor Aemon, the last remaining member of the Targaryen House in Westeros.

Eddard’s parting words to Jon is a promise to reveal his mother when they next meet, possibly because by then Jon would be safe under the protection of the Watch and free of his past.


A Song of Ice and Fire

Only proceed if you’re nerdy enough to have read these.

Following his experiences north of The Wall with the Wildlings Jon Snow returns to the Watch where he is voted Lord Commander. During this time he shows a vicious aptitude for leadership and war, demonstrating his talent for the role. As it has been revealed in the books Daenerys nephew Aegon has emerged after being reportedly killed by Gregor Cledane during the sack of King’s Landing. If the theory above holds up then Jon Snow would be the third surviving member of House Targaryen, and possibly the rider of the third dragon held by Daenerys. The final conflict of the epic could be either against, or between, the three remaining Targaryens.