Inspirations for Ned Stark

Episodes: Season 1, Episode 9 “Baelor,” Season 2, Episode 6 “The Old Gods and the New,” Season 2, Episode 7 A Man Without Honor

The beloved Game of Thrones character Ned Stark, who was so cruelly taken from us in Episode 9 of Season 1, is a mixed cocktail of historical references. While George RR Martin appears to base Ned Stark on several different historic people, he doesn’t strictly use any one person’s life events as the basis for Ned’s storyline.

For Ned’s character, George RR Martin appears to draw from Richard III, Francis Lovell, William Hastings, and Richard of York. For the plot, Martin tweaks events from the lives of Richard of York and Richard III, such the ongoing conflicts with the Lancasters (the opposing side during the Wars of the Roses) and the succession crisis after Edward IV died (when Richard III became king).

If we draw a diagram of Ned’s historical inspiration and storylines, it might look something like this:

Diagram of the historical basis for Ned Stark

This diagram shows the historical people on whom George RR Martin may have based Ned Stark. It also shows historical events upon which some story lines may be based.

The next posts will discuss the people who may have inspired George RR Martin to create Ned Stark in more depth.

Jamie Adair is the editor of History Behind Game of Thrones, a website about the history behind George RR Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels and the hit TV show, "Game of Thrones."


  • […] In fact, the resentment between the branches caused many conflicts. The disinherited branch hated Warwick, who was from the Beaufort branch, so much that they fought on the opposite side of him. Eventually, the disinherited branch laid a fatal trap for Warwick’s ally, Richard of York, at the Battle of Wakefield where York and his son lost their lives. […]

  • […] my posts about Ned Stark, Robb Stark, and Robert Baratheon, I discuss how Martin may base a character on a person from one […]

  • […] Ned Stark, including Richard of York, Francis Lovell, and William Hastings (as I’ve discussed here). However, given Ned’s role as the leader of House Stark, his name may derive from the […]

  • Reply August 8, 2014

    Brandon Butler

    Unfortunately, I’m not sure Ned Stark has a parallel in this part of history. Richard had a sense of duty, but it was rather narrow — more to say he and his father had a wider sense of justice as applied to the common man. But when it came to fellow nobility, they were much more ruthless than the Starks, and incredibly more ambitious.

    I think the preponderance of likely evidence give us a picture of the House of York that doesn’t match so well with House Stark (plus the Starks themselves, IMO, seem to be more culturally Scottish than English).

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