What Happened To Lyanna Stark?

For years, Game of Thrones fans have been theorizing about Jon Snow's parents. While some believed that he truly was Ned Stark's bastard, others subscribed to the R + L = J theory, or the idea that Jon was the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen. In the final episode of season 6 this theory is confirmed to be true. And season 7 revealed even more information about Lyanna's motives, Jon Snow's identity, and the events that led to Robert's Rebellion. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

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What Caused Robert's Rebellion?

Robert's Rebellion, also known as the War of the Usurper, was the conflict that ended the Targaryen reign over Westeros. The war took place about seventeen years before the beginning of Game of Thrones. It began because everyone believed that Rhaegar Targaryen had kidnapped Lyanna Stark. This angered Lyanna's fiancee, Robert Baratheon, as well as her brother, Ned Stark. So the Starks and Baratheons rebelled against The Mad King, and convinced many other houses to join them. In the end, the rebels won and put Robert on the throne.

Important Characters

  1. Aerys II Targaryen: "The Mad King." Father of Rhaegar.
  2. Rhaegar Targaryen: Married Lyanna Stark. Father of Jon Snow.
  3. Lyanna Stark: Betrothed to Robert Baratheon. Mother of Jon Snow.
  4. Robert Baratheon: Attempted to "rescue" Lyanna. Later became king.
  5. Ned Stark: Lyanna's. Pretended to be Jon's father to protect him.
  6. Jon Snow: Believed to be Ned's bastard. Son of Lyanna & Rhaegar.

Was Robert's Rebellion Built on a Lie?

At the end of season 7, Bran Stark has a vision in which he sees Lyanna and Rhaegar getting married. The couple is happy, and Lyanna certainly doesn't seem to be there against her will. This vision shows us that the rebellion was started not by a kidnapping, but by a love affair. And since Rhaegar and Lyanna were married, it also means that Jon Snow isn't a bastard after all.

Who was Rhaegar Targaryen?

What Does This Mean for the Future?

Since the first season, Daenerys Targaryen has been claiming that, as Rhaegar's sister, she is the true Queen of Westeros. But the fact that her brother has a living, legitimate son changes everything. If you stick to the Targaryen line of succession, Jon Snow has the strongest claim to the throne. So far, the only people who know the truth about Jon's heritage are Bran Stark and Samwell Tarly. If they decide to spread this knowledge, it could have a huge affect on alliances, personal relationships, and who will ultimately sit on the Iron Throne.

In Depth

If you're a fan of Game of Thrones, then you've probably heard of the "R + L = J" theory. For a long time now, fans of both the show and the books have theorized that Jon Snow is actually the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen. This was finally confirmed to be true, at least in the show. But what exactly happened to Lyanna Stark?

In season six, Bran Stark had visions of the events that transpired at the Tower of Joy. During the vision, he saw a young Ned Stark confront the last remaining Kingsguard loyal to the Targaryens. After a brief fight, which Ned's group won, they heard the sound of a woman screaming in the tower.

Later in the series, Bran gets another vision of Ned inside the Tower of Joy. This time, he sees his aunt Lyanna Stark handing over an unnamed baby to her brother. She uttered the words "Promise me, Ned" before she died, presumably due to childbirth. In the final episode of season seven, it was confirmed that this child is Jon Snow, whose actual name is Aegon Targaryen.

Later in the series, Bran gets another vision of Ned inside the Tower of Joy.

But how did this happen? Why was the true nature of Lyanna Stark's death kept a secret to everyone? To answer these questions, we need to take a step back and look into the events that helped start Robert's Rebellion, one of the last great wars of Westeros.

During the Targaryen's rule, Rhaegar Targaryen, who was the heir to the Iron Throne, was married to Elia Martell. Despite this, he allegedly abducted and raped Lyanna Stark, which later resulted in her death. This abduction prompted several lords to start a rebellion against the Mad King. Most notable of these is Lord Robert Baratheon, who was betrothed to Lyanna Stark.

In the show, it was revealed through Bran's visions that the rebellion was built on a lie. In reality, Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen were in love with each other. Rhaegar had his marriage to Elia Martell annulled and he then secretly married Lyanna. The two would then have a child, Aegon Targaryen.

In the show, it was revealed through Bran's visions that the rebellion was built on a lie.

On a mission to rescue Lyanna, Ned Stark rode to the Tower of Joy, where he found his sister on her deathbed. Before dying, she asked her brother to protect Aegon Targaryen. This is what led Ned to take the child as his own, telling everyone that the infant is his bastard son, Jon Snow.

The reason that Ned kept this as a secret to everyone, even until his death, is because of the promise he made to his sister. If people found out about Jon Snow's true parents, he would have been killed due to him being a Targaryen and legitimate heir to the throne.

In the show, there were already a few scenes that hinted towards Rhaegar and Lyanna's affair. One such hint was during Oberyn Martell's visit to King's Landing in the fourth season. While talking to Tyrion Lannister, he mentioned how his sister Elia Martell loved the crown prince and bore his children. He goes on to say that the "beautiful, noble Rhaegar Targaryen" left her for another woman, which we already know is Lyanna Stark.

In the show, there were already a few scenes that hinted towards Rhaegar and Lyanna's affair.

Another hint was dropped during a conversation between Sansa Stark and Petyr Baelish in the crypts of Winterfell. Petyr talked about a tournament that was held in Harrenhal, which Rhaegar Targaryen competed in. When the crown prince won, he rode past his wife and lay a crown of roses on Lyanna's lap.

One could even argue that the mere presence of the Kingsguard at the Tower of Joy is also a hint. The Kingsguard are sworn protectors of the king and the royal family. With Lyanna Stark being the only person of note inside the tower, then it seems strange that royal bodyguards were stationed there instead of helping with the fight against the rebels.

The affair between Lyanna and Rhaegar plays a major role in Game of Thrones. Not only was it one of the main instigators of Robert's Rebellion, it also has huge implications for the future of the story. Since Jon Snow is a legitimate Targaryen and eldest son of Rhaegar, then he is the rightful heir to the throne. His claim is arguably stronger than Daenerys Targaryen's.

Not only was it one of the main instigators of Robert's Rebellion, it also has huge implications for the future of the story.

Aside from having a legitimate claim to the throne, his true parentage may also be another hint that he may be the prophesized "Prince That Was Promised". Seeing as he is now confirmed to be an actual prince, the red priestess Melisandre's theory that Jon Snow is the prophesized hero might be accurate.

Most, if not all, of the events that transpired in the show could be attributed to Lyanna Stark's decision to run away with Rhaegar Targaryen. If not for their doomed love affair, the rebellion against the Mad King might never have happened, and the Targaryens would probably still be ruling over Westeros.