Lord Eddard Stark, also known as Ned Stark, was the Lord of Winterfell, head of House Stark and Warden of the North. He was the second son of Rickard Stark and Lyarra Stark. He had an older brother, Brandon Stark, and a younger brother, Benjen Stark, as well as a younger sister, Lyanna Stark. He was married to Catelyn Tully and has five trueborn children with her: Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran and Rickon Stark. Eddard also had an illegitimate son Jon Snow who he raised alongside his trueborn children at Winterfell. Eddard was executed for treason on the orders of King Joffrey I Baratheon.
Eddard was the second son of Lord Rickard Stark of Winterfell, the elder being Brandon. He was sent to the Eyrie as a boy to be raised by Lord Jon Arryn, where he met and struck up a firm friendship with young Robert Baratheon. The two became inseparable and as close as brothers, even though Ned remained incredibly close with Brandon, Lyanna and Benjen, especially Lyanna.
When he was eighteen, Eddard came down from the Eyrie to attend the Great Tourney of Harrenhal, alongside his friend Robert and Lord Jon, and each of his siblings. There, he met his father's bannerman Howland Reed, with whom he created a lifelong friendship. He also met Ashara Dayne, a lady-in-waiting to Princess Elia Martell of Dorne. His older brother Brandon persuaded Ashara to dance with him at the feast, since Ned was too shy around her to ask personally. At the height of the Tourney, Eddard watched as Prince Rhaegar Targaryen crowned Lyanna as the queen of love and beauty. He remembers this for years afterwards as the 'moment when all smiles died'. A year later, Lyanna was abducted by Prince Rhaegar, who then disappeared.
Brandon stormed over to King's Landing to demand justice and his sister's return, but he and his father were executed savagely by King Aerys II Targaryen. The Mad King later demanded that both Eddard and Robert be sent to him to answer for the 'crimes' of Ned's kin. Jon's immediate response was to call the banners of the North, the Vale and the Stormlands, and declare war on House Targaryen.
Eddard fought in many battles during the war, including the Battle of the Bells and the Battle of the Trident. He was joined in the fighting by Lord Howland Reed. He arrived too late to stop the Sack of King's Landing, and instead rode south to lift the Siege of Storm's End. After lifting the Siege of Storm's End, Eddard rode with six men to Dorne in search of his sister Lyanna. The search led them to the tower of joy in the red mountains. There, the seven encountered Ser Gerold Hightower, Ser Arthur Dayne and Ser Oswell Whent, who declared eternal loyalty to Rhaegar in spite of his death. A ferocious battle broke out between the northmen and the Kingsguard, and despite superior numbers Ned and Howland Reed were the only survivors. Eddard was rumoured to have killed Ser Arthur Dayne, but only ever survived against the man because Howland Reed intervened.
Despite defeating the three knights, Eddard was too late to save Lyanna, who died in his arms, but not before begging him to make a mysterious promise. The death of Lyanna, and the grief that fell over both men, was the main reason that Ned and Robert reconciled after the war, with Robert now King of the Seven Kingdoms. Ned returned home to Winterfell after the Rebellion was finished, bringing with him a bastard son named Jon Snow. This caused a rift between him and his bride Catelyn Tully, since she had married him and given birth to a boy Robb. Ned never talked about Jon's mother, and on the one occasion Catelyn asked him point-blank he coldly stated that the only relevant factor was that Jon was his blood. Afterwards, Eddard silenced all rumours, including the one that he had sired Jon with Ashara Dayne, the sister to the Kingsguard he presumably killed; it is noted that Ashara killed herself after he returned Dawn to her.
Ned became Lord of Winterfell, with his brother Benjen taking the black and joining the Night's Watch as a ranger. Ned never felt comfortable nor worthy of the lordship of the North, thinking that Brandon was more suited to him. He cared precious little for anything taking place south of the Neck, including rulership of the other six kingdoms.
When Balon Greyjoy assailed the Seven Kingdoms, Ned answered his old friend's call and fought in the Greyjoy's Rebellion in 289 AC. When the ironborn were shattered in battle, culminating in the Siege of Pyke, Ned took Lord Greyjoy's only surviving son, a ten-year-old boy named Theon, to Winterfell as a ward and an (unspoken) hostage in case Balon had any other ideas of invasion. Ned tried to treat Theon as a son throughout his wardship at Winterfell, but Theon grew up very afraid of the man, and that he would execute Theon if Balon ever misbehaved.
Eddard voyaged to Bear Island after Lord Jorah Mormont tried selling poachers to slavery four years after the Rebellion, intent on executing him for his crime. However, Jorah eluded him, disappearing into exile across the Narrow Sea. Ned woud have a lingering disdain for Ser Jorah afterwards, seeing him as a dishonourable disgrace to his proud and ancient house.
Ned had five children with Catelyn - Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran and Rickon. He raised them firmly and generously, and even taught command to his eldest sons Robb and Jon Snow.
A Game of ThronesEdit
In A Game of Thrones, Catelyn approaches Ned at the Winterfell Godswood and informs him of the death of Jon Arryn. King Robert Baratheon rides to Winterfell at the death of his previous Hand, Jon Arryn , to ask him to take up the position. It is an honour Ned does not want, but is obliged to accept. He also takes the position so he might investigate Jon Arryn's death when it is said he has been murdered.
Ned is woken one morning on the journey south and is told he must rid with the king. Robert talks to Ned about assassinating Daenerys Targaryen, and Ned pushes for Robert Arryn or Stannis Baratheon to be named Warden of the East.