Season 1 of the House of the Dragon has come to an end, and the Dance of the Dragons has begun. The entirety of Westeros will be pulled into the conflict, and this will prompt the return of some of the most powerful houses in the realm. Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen has sent her son Jacaerys to treat with the lords of Westeros. Among those he will visit is the current Lord of Winterfell, Cregan Stark. Lord Cregan has a reputation for being far more fierce and brutal than his descendant Ned Stark, and Season 2 of House of the Dragon is likely to cover a large part of his story. This article will cover everything we need to know about Lord Cregan Stark.
Who is Cregan Stark?
Cregan Stark was the Lord of Winterfell and head of House Stark during the reigns of Kings Viserys I, Aegon II, Aegon III, and Daeron I Targaryen. He was well-known as one of the realm’s best swordsmen. He had a formidable and authoritative presence, which contributed to making him a strong leader. Towards the end of the war, Cregan was a crucial participant in putting Rhaenyra’s son Aegon III on the throne.
He temporarily served as the Hand of the King for Aegon III after the Dance of the Dragons during a time known as The Hour of the Wolf. Lord Cregan was one of the most skilled warriors in Westeros, having matched swords with Ser Aemon Targaryen, the Dragonknight. Ser Aemon claimed Cregan was the finest swordsman he had ever seen. Lord Cregan had grey eyes that reminded people of a winter storm. Though no one has been cast in the role, fans have suggested Henry Cavill, recently seen playing Geralt of Rivia in Netflix’s The Witcher series.
Cregan was the eldest son of Rickon Stark and Lady Gilliane Glover. Fans will remember Lord Rickon from the pilot episode, where he pledged fealty to Rhaenyra Targaryen as the heir to the Iron Throne of Westeros. Lord Rickon Stark eventually passed away, though George R.R. Martin has never confirmed the cause of his death. He was succeeded by the thirteen-year-old Cregan, who was meant to take charge of the North.
But due to his minority, Cregan’s uncle Bennard Stark became the Lord Regent until Cregan came of age. Cregan turned 16 in 124 AC, and there was much friction between him and his uncle. Bennard was reluctant to give up his power, making relations tense between the two. Cregan finally seized power after imprisoning Bennard and his three sons. Shortly after, Lord Cregan married his childhood friend Arra Norrey and had a son, Rickon, named after his father.
The Pact of Ice and Fire
Though governing the North is an arduous task due to its vastness, Lord Cregan accomplished it nicely. He was a good friend to the Night’s Watch, most likely aware of the dangers that lurked beyond the Wall. The North was at peace during his reign under King Viserys I Targaryen. King Viserys’ death began a chain of events that led to the start of the Targaryen Civil War. Until this point, House Stark had mainly remained disinterested in the politics of the royal court.
This changed when Prince Jacaerys Velaryon flew his dragon Vermax to Winterfell to secure the support of House Stark for Rhaenyra and the Blacks. The Starks of Winterfell carried the reputation of being grim and hardy folk like most Northerners. Lord Cregan was no exception and embodied these traits to a much larger extent than most Northerners. Despite this, he had a fondness for drinking and hunting, as well as training in combat.
Because of this, Prince Jacaerys got along well with Lord Cregan. Jacaerys reminded Cregan of his younger brother, who had died young. Jacaerys had also recently lost his younger brother Lucerys. The two drank, hunted, and trained together, forming a close bond. This eventually led them to swear an oath of brotherhood. They formed the Pact of Ice and Fire, according to which Cregan agreed to support the Blacks.
In exchange, Jacaerys’ firstborn daughter would marry Rickon, Cregan’s son, and heir. In Fire and Blood, there are multiple accounts of how events transpired during this time. One source claimed that Jacaerys was trying to convert Lord Stark from the old gods to the Faith of the Seven. Another claimed that Cregan had a half-sister named Sara Snow who slept with Jacaerys. It claimed that though Cregan was angry, he relented after hearing that Jacaerys and Sara had secretly wed in the godswood of Winterfell. Season 2 of House of the Dragon will shed light on the matter and may explore some of these claims.
The Dance of the Dragons
Cregan Stark placed Lord Roderick Dustin in command of the first Northern force to march south, known as the Winter Wolves. This army was made up of old grizzled Northmen who feared a long winter. They were instrumental in helping the Targaryens win several key battles against Aegon II and the Hightowers.
After winning numerous victories, they eventually fell in The Battle of Tumbleton. During the Battle of the Gullet, Prince Jacaerys Velaryon died in combat while riding his dragon Arrax. This meant that the Pact of Ice and Fire would never be fulfilled as Jacaerys would never have a daughter. Despite this, Lord Cregan did not withdraw support and assured Rhaenyra that he would amass an army of northerners.
However, Rhaenyra was executed on Dragonstone by King Aegon II. True to his word, Lord Cregan set forth with a second army of Northmen. This consisted of men who were childless, homeless, or unwed and younger sons who wished to spare their families an extra mouth to feed. But King Aegon II Targaryen was poisoned before Cregan’s army could enter the fray. Lord Cregan’s plan to punish the leaders of the Greens was thwarted when Lord Corlys Velaryon sent envoys seeking peace.
The Hour of the Wolf
Rhaenyra’s son Aegon the Younger was a ward of the court, and everyone involved agreed to crown him the next monarch of Westeros. At this time, Lord Cregan arrived in King’s Landing, and young Prince Aegon named him Hand of the King. Cregan held court for six days and arrested twenty-two men for the murder of Aegon II, a period that the historians dubbed “The Hour of the Wolf”.
Although he was Aegon’s foe during the Dance of the Dragons, Lord Stark objected to the monarch being killed by poison instead of in battle. Amongst the accused were Lord Larys Strong and Corlys Velaryon. Lord Corlys claimed he had acted for the good of the realm, while Lord Larys offered no defense at all. Baela and Rhaena Targaryen managed to convince Prince Aegon to spare their grandfather Corlys. Lord Cregan consented, although sources dispute his reasons for doing so.
According to one source, Cregan Stark only agreed to spare the life of Corlys Velaryon due to the influence of a woman named Alysanne Blackwood. Alysanne had impressed Cregan during his stay at the Red Keep, and in exchange for Corlys’s life, she agreed to marry Cregan, whose wife had passed away. While most of the remaining accused opted to join the Night’s Watch, Lord Larys instead chose death.
Cregan personally beheaded Larys Strong, adhering to the Stark words, “The man who passes sentence should swing the sword”. Similar to Ned Stark in Game of Thrones, Cregan used Ice, the ancestral Valyrian steel greatsword of House Stark, for the execution. Within a fortnight of Aegon III’s coronation, Cregan began his journey back to the North, having declined an offer to serve in the regency of Aegon III.
The Old Man in the North
Lord Cregan went on to rule the north for a significant period of decades, earning him the nickname “The Old Man in the North”. After the death of his second wife, Alysanne, he married his distant cousin, Lynara Stark. His eldest son, Rickon, perished under the walls of Sunspear during the attempted Conquest of Dorne.
Due to this, Lord Cregan’s eldest daughter, Serena, became Cregan’s heir. Despite this, Cregan would be succeeded by his second son, Jonnel Stark, upon his death. Though the exact date of Lord Cregan’s passing has not been recorded, he was entombed in the crypts of Winterfell. In a song of Ice and fire, Bran Stark pointed out his statue to Osha, telling her of the battle between Lord Cregan and the Dragonknight.
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