House of the Dragon: What Rickard Stark means for the Game of Thrones spin-off
Interestingly, although this character is definitely called “Rickard” in Dragon House, in Martin’s History of Westerosi, his closest analogue is called “Rickon”. It’s likely the show’s writers chose to change his name to Rickard to avoid confusion with Ned’s youngest child in The iron Throne called Rickon. Most viewers would know that name better than Ned’s father, Rickard.
Whatever his name is, this Rickard Stark in Dragon House fills the same role that nearly every Stark filled before Ned went south in The iron Throne: he is the Lord of Winterfell, and Guardian of the North. The lords of Winterfell very rarely come out of the far reaches of the North. The region they rule is geographically massive and quite different culturally from the rest of the kingdom to the south. If a Stark Lord needs to visit King’s Landing, they’ll need a very compelling reason to do so.
And yet, in this trailer, we see Lord Rickard in the Iron Throne Room alongside other great lords like Corlys Velaryon of Driftmark and Boremund Baratheon of Storm’s End. So what brought Rickard to the viper political abyss that is the Red Keep? In other words: inheritance. This Dragon House The trailer and Lord Rickard Stark’s involvement in it sets up a hugely important political event that will eventually lead to one of the most destructive wars in Westeros history.
Have you ever wondered why most dynasties of The iron Throne world operate according to a model of succession by primogeniture in which male descendants always take precedence over females? Maybe not, because even in our own western world, primogeniture has long been the de facto law of the land in many parts. But does anyone in the The iron Throne has the universe already come together to settle things and establish male heirs as the declared preference of the kingdom? Well, it turns out they did!
Long before the events of The iron Throne and even before the events of Dragon House, King Jaehaerys I assembled a grand council of Westerosi lords to determine who should succeed him on the Iron Throne. Jaehaerys was a great and much-loved monarch, but his family tree was a bit of a mess after the untimely deaths of several of his chosen successors. In the end, the Grand Council decided that the most important element for them in a successor was maintaining primogeniture. Therefore, Jaehaerys I’s grandson Viserys was chosen as heir and effectively ascended the throne after Jaehaerys’ death.
How did the current King Viserys I respect his supporters’ desire to maintain primogeniture? By naming his daughter Rhaenyra as his heir, of course. And that’s the moment we see in this Dragon House trailer. Rickard Stark, Corlys Velaryon and Boremund Baratheon all promise to be loyal to King Viserys AND to his heiress named Princess Rhaenyra.