The Game of Thrones is an ongoing battle for most of Westeros, noble houses often wage war against each-other to claim power, lands or justice. Over the many centuries in Westerosi history, many houses have come and gone. Some, like the Gardeners, were once powerful houses that are unfortunately now extinct. It takes more than historical respect to stay in the great game, a house needs to be firm and ruthless.
There are hundreds of houses with great history, plenty of which had kingdoms of their own. I’ll be looking at houses that are still surviving to this day, although one or two might make the cut for the impact they had in Westeros.
10. House Greyjoy
Hailing from the lands of the Iron Islands, House Greyjoy epitomise the meaning of Ironborn. The Greyjoys can trace their ancestry back to the Grey King, a legendary Ironborn King surrounded by tales and legend. While the Greyjoys are in a fair amount of disarray as of the current series, their might stretches back thousands of years as they’ve ruled the Iron Islands from Pyke.
9. House Bolton
Believe or not, House Bolton was once the most feared house in the North, way before the events of the series. Although this house is now extinct, their history warrants a place on the list. For many years, House Bolton ruled as Red Kings in the North and battled fiercely with the Kings of Winter (Starks of Winterfell). This rivalry stretched for many generations, the Boltons were very much a powerful house until recent events.
8. House Tarly
Achieving prominence after the reign of Lord Sam Tarly, known as Savage Sam, House Tarly has been a great house of the Reach. This all fell apart when Randyll Tarly and his son Dickon were burnt alive by Daenerys Targaryen and Drogon but the Tarly name continues through Samwell Tarly. Lord Randyll was a legendary warrior, respected and feared by high lords across Westeros. He was a proud man and served his house well.
7. House Tully
House Tully has never had a member be named King of something but they still deserve a place on the list. Their heritage dates way back to the Age of Heroes, making them one of the oldest houses in Westeros. Their castle is Riverrun, an almost invulnerable fortress that can repel any land invasion. Due to their location in the Riverlands, House Tully are a valuable ally to any who wish to gain notoriety in the area. As of Game of Thrones Season 7, the last remaining Tully of importance is the dim-witted Edmure, gods help them..
6. House Arryn
Despite House Arryn being one of the “newer” houses of Westeros, they still have a rich history and powerful reputation across Westeros. Originally of a pure Andal line, they’ve inter-married with the blood-lines of the First Men but are still considered to be the closest related House to the Andals. The land in which they reside is a natural fortification, it’s genuinely impossible for an army to take the Vale of Arryn.
It took many generations to erect the great structure of the Eyrie, deemed impregnable by any who know its name. In recent years, House Arryn has taken a massive downturn as only the pitiful Robyn Arryn remains to continue the family name. Knights of the Vale are still among the best soldiers in the entirety of Westeros though, I’m sure House Arryn will still be going strong in 100 years.
5. House Baratheon
The youngest House on the list breaks into the top 5 best in Westeros history, mostly due the impact the Baratheons had on the continent. The founder of this great house was Orys Baratheon, a bastard half-brother to Aegon the Conqueror. Yep, this means the Baratheon’s we see in the show are of Targaeryen descent. Orys took the great castle of Storm’s End from the Storm King and pretty much took over everything else, including their motto and sigil.
The Baratheons would serve as a loyal and powerful house to the Crown, until Robert’s Rebellion of course. Robert Baratheon crushed the Targaryen dynasty and took the Iron Throne for himself. We all know what happened after that..
4. House Martell
I believe House Martell is still going strong in the books but in the TV show, it’s a pity what happened to them. Some sand snakes are still alive of course but I don’t think anyone expects them to reach the heights of previous Martell generations, even if one of them is legitimised. The founder of this House was an Andal called Morgan Martell, who took land in Dorne from their natives.
The biggest event was arguably the introduction of Nymeria, the warrior queen. She arrived in Dorne with 10,000 ships, there she took Mors Martell as her husband and their combined might allowed them to conquer the rest of Dorne. House Martell would rule ever since!
There’s a lot of interesting history surrounding House Martell and Dorne, I suggest visiting the wikia for more info!
3. House Lannister
The Lannisters are one of the most recognisable “factions” in TV history, they owe a debt of gratitude to Lann the Clever, who helped form this House. Before the Andals invaded, the head of House Lannister served as King of the Rock and was one of the richest nobles in Westeros.
For many centuries, House Lannister would pull the strings of Westeros by controlling the gold supply. Their lands are rich with wealth, allowing them to build up great riches, land and respect. Then Aegon the Conqueror would appear, forcing the Lannisters to submit to Targaryen rule, there they became Lord Paramounts of the Westerlands.
Their greatest height since that day came after Robert’s Rebellion, as King Robert Baratheon owed vast amounts of gold to Tywin Lannister. This led to Tywin being the true power of Westeros for many years.
Now though, House Lannister is still a powerhouse as they rule from the Iron Throne and Queen Cersei is pregnant, providing an heir to continue the family name.
2. House Stark
The most northern house on the list is also one of the oldest and greatest. Founded by Bran the Builder during the Age of Heroes, House Stark would go on to be a massive influence in Westeros. They would rule as Kings of Winter from their mighty castle Winterfell, there they managed to maintain control of the North for thousands of years, however difficult it was. No southern invader has ever got even a sniff of rule over the North, save for Aegon the Conqueror.
King Torrhen Stark bent the knee to Aegon, to spare his people the fate of dragonfire. Since that day, the Starks of Winterfell have ruled as Wardens of the North. After King Robert Baratheon’s death, circumstances drastically changed for House Stark as they were subject to tragedy after tragedy. Some members managed to pull through, with three Starks currently residing at Winterfell.
1. House Targaryen
Originating from the great Kingdom of Valyria, House Targaryen is by far the best House to ever grace Westeros. The Targaryen dynasty is unparalleled in terms of magnitude, no other House will ever rule as largely for as long. Their first castle was Dragonstone, erected after Aenar Targaryen was told by his daughter to flee Essos. There they resided with their dragons until the Doom of Valyria, the city of Volantis attempted to take control of Essos but they were swiftly ended by the young Aegon Targaryen.
Shortly after Volantis was kept in checked, Aegon turned his sights to Westeros. He and his two sister-wives conquered Westeros with the use of dragons, kicking off the start of the Targaryen Dynasty. Countless wars, tales & stories would be born during the rule of Targaryens. In general though, the dynasty was actually quite peaceful and prosperous compared to the centuries beforehand.
Then the Mad King had to go and spoil everything, bringing about Robert’s Rebellion and ending the great Targaryen dynasty. Daenerys and Viserys Targaryen made it out alive, with only one of them surviving to this day. The Iron Throne will surely be back in the hands of a Targaryen at some point in the near future!