Northmen

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Northmen look for favorable ground, by Andrew Johanson © Fantasy Flight Games

Northmen are natives of the north, the northernmost region of the Seven Kingdoms.[1]

Ethnicity

Bear Island loyalist, by Sara Winters © Fantasy Flight Games

Most northmen are descended from the First Men who settled the north in antiquity,[2] and the coming of the Andals to the north was halted at Moat Cailin.[3] There have been centuries of intermarriage with the Andals who conquered southern Westeros, however.[4] There were once numerous petty kingdoms in the region, but over centuries they submitted to or were extinguished by House Stark of Winterfell, who ruled as Kings of Winter and Kings in the North until Aegon's Conquest.[5] [6] The Old Tongue spoken by the First Men of antiquity has been replaced in the north by the Common Tongue, with the earlier language now only spoken beyond the Wall.[7] Northern accents can be considered "frosted".[8]

Many northmen, including Karstarks and Umbers, are large in stature and have thick beards, long hair, and heavy cloaks of wool or fur.[9][10] During the Dance of the Dragons, for instance, Mushroom compared the host of Lord Cregan Stark to armored bears.[10]

The people of the northern mountains are divided into twoscore clans.[6] Due to its exposure to southron influences, White Harbor, the major port and only city in the north, has a mixed population.[11]

Crannogmen live in the swamps and marshes of the Neck. Some claim the smaller size of crannogmen is because of intermarriage with the children of the forest, while others attribute their size to poor nutrition.[12]

Skagosi live on the isolated island of Skagos in the Bay of Seals. Because of their size and smell, some maesters believe the hairy Skagosi have a strong admixture of Ibbenese blood, whereas others suggest they may be partially descended from giants.[13]

Some maesters believe the blood of Cape Kraken's people is closer to that of ironborn than northmen.[14]

Northmen have negative opinions of the free folk who live north of the Wall, considering them to be savage wildlings.[15][16][17] In turn, the free folk consider northmen of the Seven Kingdoms to be "kneelers".[18][19]

Culture

Religion

A northman praying before a weirwood, by Kim Pope

Most northmen still follow the old gods, and they have little inclination for newer religions. The worship of the old gods is not accompanied by priests, holy texts, songs of worship, and barely any rites.[20][21] Prayers are done in silence.[21] Worshipers of the old gods visit godswoods, groves contained within castles throughout the Seven Kingdoms, where a heart tree, usually a weirwood, can be found. These trees, which have faces carved into them, are considered to be sacred. Worshipers believe the old gods watch through the trees.[22][23]

There are only a few houses who follow the Faith of the Seven,[24] with House Manderly the most prominent.[25] Due to its religious aspect, most northmen refuse to take holy orders and thus cannot become knights, although some northern cavalry are knights who still follow the old gods instead of the Seven.[26] Most knights of the north live in the region's southern lands, such as White Harbor[27] and the barrowlands.[23] Heraldry in the north is simpler than that in southern Westeros, showing the lesser influence that chivalry has had there.[28]

Since most northmen pray before heart trees instead of following the Seven in septs, some southrons consider them to be godless[10] or tree worshipers.[6]

Customs

The Long Winter, by German Nobile © Fantasy Flight Games

Guest right is treasured among northmen.[7] The people of the north have long memories, and a lord who does not seek his rightful vengeance threatens to have his own men turn on him.[9] A northern custom is that when someone is condemned to death, he who passes that sentence should swing the sword.[10][15]

During harsh winters, many farmers and younger northmen seek refuge in the winter town nearby Winterfell or in the castles of lords.[29][17] To preserve resources for the younger generations, many older northmen leave their home to ostensibly "hunt" during winter, with most not surviving until spring.[17] Men who are old, childless, homeless, or younger sons also traditionally joined winter armies which marched for adventure and plunder with no expectation of survival.[10]

The first night was allowed in the north until Queen Alysanne Targaryen convinced King Jaehaerys I Targaryen to abolish it.[25] Some northern lords, such as the Umbers still discretely practice it, however.[30]

Northmen hold the Night's Watch in high regard,[10] and many lords send annual gifts to support the black brothers.[31]

References

  1. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 2, Catelyn I.
  2. The World of Ice & Fire, Ancient History: The Coming of the First Men.
  3. The World of Ice & Fire, Ancient History: The Arrival of the Andals.
  4. So Spake Martin: Event Horizon Chat, March 18, 1999
  5. The World of Ice & Fire, The North: The Kings of Winter.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 17, Jon IV.
  7. 7.0 7.1 The World of Ice & Fire, The North.
  8. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 42, Brienne VIII.
  9. 9.0 9.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 20, Catelyn III.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 Fire & Blood, Aftermath - The Hour of the Wolf.
  11. So Spake Martin: The Drowned God and More, July 14, 1999
  12. The World of Ice & Fire, The North: The Crannogmen of the Neck.
  13. The World of Ice & Fire, The North: The Stoneborn of Skagos.
  14. The World of Ice & Fire, The North: The Mountain Clans.
  15. 15.0 15.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 1, Bran I.
  16. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 39, Jon VIII.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 49, Jon X.
  18. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 15, Jon II.
  19. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 41, Jon V.
  20. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 70, Jon IX.
  21. 21.0 21.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 53, Tyrion VI.
  22. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 48, Jon VI.
  23. 23.0 23.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 53, Bran VI.
  24. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 15, Davos II.
  25. 25.0 25.1 Fire & Blood, Jaehaerys and Alysanne - Their Triumphs and Tragedies.
  26. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 29, Davos IV.
  27. So Spake Martin: The Drowned God and More, July 14, 1999
  28. So Spake Martin: Shields of the North, June 03, 2000
  29. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 37, Bran V.
  30. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 32, Reek III.
  31. The World of Ice & Fire, The Wall and Beyond: The Night's Watch.