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Jon snows parentage (SPOILER)

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/7/2015 Category: TV
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 635 times Debate No: 78489
Debate Rounds (3)
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The First round is acceptance.
I will argue that john snow is the son of lyanna stark and raegar targaryen (who supposedly kidnapped her and killed her) and that Ned stark was actually johns uncle.
MAJOR SPOILER ALERT for anyone who has not watched up to season 5 of the game of thrones series or/and (as the books and TV series are different) read all of the books.


I will be arguing that R+L=J is unlikely, and instead put forth the alternate theory that A+B=J (Ashara + Brandon = John) and R+L=D (Rhaegar + Lyanna = Danaerys).
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for debating with me! I love Game of Thrones and I've been very interested in the different theories surrounding John Snows parentage.
the Ashara + Brandon theory does make a lot of sense, as it was rumored that both Brandon and Ned liked her, and she was the sister of one of the kings guard for Aerys. It is also possible that Wylla ad Ned are his parents. But what is even more possible is that Lyanna stark and Rhaegar are Johns parents and here is why I think so.
I believe that John Snow is the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark for the following reasons.
1. Ned Stark and honor
Ned stark was a man of honor. He was willing to die instead of lie about who the rightful heir to the iron throe was once he found out the truth about Jofferies parentage. In the book, A Game of Thrones it is mentioned several times that Ned was an honorable man and wouldn't ever break his vows to Catelyn. Ned doesn't seem like the kind of guy who would cheat on his wife, even during war. This reason alone doesn't prove the theory that R+L=J but along with the other reasons it seems to give weight to that theory.
2. Neds care for Daenerys and his disgust for Roberts hate for them.
In season one when Robert barathon announces his plan to kill Daenerys Targaryen Ned is very upset. He is an honorable man and Daenerys was a young women, expecting a baby witch could alone cause the feelings he had for the plan. But what if one of the reasons he was upset was because Daenerys was Johns aunt, and when Robert talked about how much he hated the Targaryens (as he did even before he spoke of his plan to kill Daenerys) Ned knew that he was unknowingly talking about his nephew John.
3. Rhanegar Targayrns personality
Rhaegar Targaryen was not the kind of man to kidnap, rape and kill a woman. when Daenerys asks about him to Ser Barriston Selmy in season 5 sir Baroston tells Daenerys that Rhargar was the kind man who would sing and give the money he made to orphanages. Even Ned stark had nothing bad to say about him, even though he supposedly killed his sister.
4. The tournament
Rhaegar was also not the kid of guy to publicly show his love for the women he was about to kidnap. During a tournament that Rhaeger won he was given a crown of blue roses to give to the women he thought was most beautiful. Everyone thought he would give them to his wife Elia Martel but instead he rode right passed her and have them to Lyanna Stark. Rhaegar wouldn't do that if he was planning o kidnap her as it would make him an obvious suspect. It is very possible that Lyanna and Rhaegar ran away together.
5. Lyannas death and eds promise to her
Lyannas death Ned remembers Lynanna lying in a pool of blood right before her death saying "promise me Ned". No one knows exactly what was promised to him. People who believe the R+L=J theory suspect that she made him promise to protect his nephew John and pretend that he was his son. Lyana was lying in a pool of blood dying when she said this. It is thought that rhaegar had injured her , causing hr death but I think the pool of blood was from child birth, and that the birth of John caused her death (as it was common in the time period that got is based on)
6. Lady Melisandres role.
In season 5 the red lady mellisandre tries to seduce John snow. However lady Melisanrde only seduces men with kings blood like Gendry and Stannis Beratheoin. If johns snows parents Lyanna and Rhagar were married before they had him he would be the rightful heir to the iron throne. Now that I think about it Melisandre had her heart set on Stannis winning the throne until she met John could it be that she realized that he was the rightful heir and she purposely got him to sacrifice Shireen so that his troops would leave him and he would loose?. Even if Rhaegar and Lyannas parents weren't married Johns would at least have kings blood.
7. The song of ice and fire.
If this theory is true than John snow would be the song of ice and fire. His father was a Targaryen who had dragon blood and whose family was associated with dragons and fire, and his mother was a Stark, whose family was from the snowy north and associated with such. If this is so than it appears that john snow is the most important character in the book.



Ashara Dayne of Starfall, the sister of Ser Arthur Dayne, was a famous beauty, beloved by Barristan Selmy and Brandon Stark. Brandon Stark was the older brother of Ned Stark, who was betrothed to Catelyn Tully before being strangled by the Mad King. A notorious womanizer, Brandon was captivated by Ashara during the Tourney of Harrenhal, with Barristan Selmy lamenting the fact that she 'looked to Stark' instead of him. After the events at the Tower of Joy, Ned Stark went to Starfall to return her deceased brother's sword, Dawn. Rumor has it that the beautiful Lady Dayne commited suicide for unknown reasons which Selmy speculates on:

"Even after all these years, Ser Barristan could still recall Ashara’s smile, the sound of her laughter. He had only to close his eyes to see her, with her long dark hair tumbling about her shoulders and those haunting purple eyes. Daenerys has the same eyes. Sometimes when the queen looked at him, he felt as if he were looking at Ashara’s daughter ...

But Ashara’s daughter had been stillborn, and his fair lady had thrown herself from a tower soon after, mad with grief for the child she had lost, and perhaps for the man who had dishonored her at Harrenhal as well. She died never knowing that Ser Barristan had loved her. How could she? He was a knight of the Kingsguard, sworn to celibacy. No good could have come from telling her his feelings. No good came from silence either. If I had unhorsed Rhaegar and crowned Ashara queen of love and beauty, might she have looked to me instead of Stark?

He would never know. But of all his failures, none haunted Barristan Selmy so much as that."

From this, we know that Ashara 'looked to Stark', that she had a stillborn child (which Barrisatan believes to have been female), and that she commited suicide for ambiguous reasons.

Now, many assume that the 'Stark' referenced here is Ned, but that is unlikely. First of all, the 'loss' of Brandon was much more permanent and shattering than the 'loss' of Ned would have been, one man being dead, the other being married. Second of all, Edric Dayne claimes that he and John shared a Wetnurse, and also seems to hold no animosity towards Ned, even seeming a bit starstruck by him. This is odd, if the widely rumored story is true: That Ned killed Arthur, and drove Ashara to suicide. What could he have done? Well, this exchange offers some pretty telling clues:

"They whispered of Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning, deadliest of the seven knights of Aerys’s Kingsguard, and of how their young lord had slain him in single combat. And they told how afterward Ned had carried Ser Arthur’s sword back to the beautiful young sister who awaited him in a castle called Starfall on the shores of the Summer Sea. The Lady Ashara Dayne, tall and fair, with haunting violet eyes. It had taken her a fortnight to marshal her courage, but finally, in bed one night, Catelyn had asked her husband the truth of it, asked him to his face.

That was the only time in all their years that Ned had ever frightened her. “Never ask me about Jon,” he said, cold as ice. “He is my blood, and that is all you need to know. And now I will learn where you heard that name, my lady.” She had pledged to obey; she told him; and from that day on, the whispering had stopped, and Ashara Dayne’s name was never heard in Winterfell again."

What is important to notice here is that Catelyn never asks Ned about Jon directly; she asks him about Ashara Dayne, and Ned himself, in an icy rage, confirms that Ashara Dayne and Jon Snow are related. And as the earlier presented evidence suggests that it wasn't Ned that 'dishonored' Ashara, it is most likely that his brother did, leading to her eventual suicide. But was the child stillborn? And what did Ned do which made House Dayne forgive whatever problems he had had with it? One compelling possibility which brings all of these threads together: that the child lived, and, having a stronger claim to Winterfell than any of Ned's children, and a strong claim to Starfall, as the female line can inherit in Dorne (especially if the, at the time, unwed Brandon Stark had secretly eloped with Lady Dayne; something which would always be a possibility since they were both dead before being wed), was brought back to Winterfell by Ned and raised in secret as his own, thoroughly illegitimate bastard son. This gets rid of a thorny succession issue in both Starfall and Winterfell, and basically ensures that Edric will inherit without contest. But I think that something more happened. I believe that Jon was swapped with Lyanna and Rhaegar's actual child: Daenerys Targaryen.


Let's get the biggest stumbling block out of the way. WAIT! Daenerys was born to Queen Rhaella on Dragonstone! Well, how do we know this? Who is the ultimate source of this story? Viserys. And Viserys is an unreliable narrator. We know this by contrasting Danny's early childhood memories with what she has been told. Viserys had told her that they grey up in Braavos. These are things that Danny remembers from her childhood:

1. A big house with:
a. A red door
b. Carved wooden beams
c. A lemontree outside

2. Smells of:
a. Hot sickness
b. Perfume

There are some big problems with this. The most famous one of these is the lemon tree. Recall this exchange between guards in Braavos:

“Seven hells, this place is damp,” she heard her guard complain. “I’m chilled to the bones. Where are the bloody orange trees? I always heard there were orange trees in the Free Cities. Lemons and limes. Pomegranates. Hot peppers, warm nights, girls with bare bellies. Where are the bare-bellied girls, I ask you?”
“Down in Lys, and Myr, and Old Volantis,” the other guard replied. He was an older man, big-bellied and grizzled. “I went to Lys with Lord Tywin once, when he was Hand to Aerys. Braavos isnorthof King’s Landing, fool. Can’t youread a bloody map?”

Lemon trees require a subtropical climate; Braavos is consistently described as cold, damp, and windy with freezing rain being somewhat common. Lemon trees would never be able to survive in this environment.

Another is the wooden beams:

"There's no more wood." Dareon had paid the innkeep double for a room with a hearth, but none of them had realized that wood would be so costly here. Trees did not grow on Braavos, save in the courts and gardens of the mighty. Nor would the Braavosi cut the pines that covered the outlying islands around their great lagoon and acted as windbreaks to shield them from storms. Instead, firewood was brought in by barge, up the rivers and across the lagoon. Even dung was dear here; the Braavosi used boats in place of horses."

Wood is an extremely precious comodity in Braavos; the city is composed almost entirely of stone. A house with intricate wooden beams is highly unlikely.

And a third is the smell of Braavos:

The city is consitently described as smelling of salt spray, fish and brine, yet Dany remembers none of those smells.

All of these facts indicate that Dany has been lied to by Viserys. Couple this with the fact that an oft-repeated mantra from Quaithe to Dany is 'Remember who you are'. Dany does not know something about her past, something which has been hidden from her by Viserys. If this is what Quaithe's command is referencing, then it is something important. If she is Rhaegar's daughter instead of Rhaella's, that would certainly qualify. So let's go over the evidence.

What does Viserys have to gain from lying?

Everything. If Dany is his younger daughter, he can marry her off for political gain, which he does. She has no claim whatsoever over him. However, if she is the daughter of his older brother, she is much farther outside his power. Just imagine Cersei's Uncle Kevan commanding her to understand the disparity in power between the daughter of the heir and a younger sister. Or imagine Sansa's Uncle Benjen trying to marry her off. If Daenerys is not Rhaella's daughter, it cuts down severely on Viserys's leverage, and he needs all the leverage that he can get.

The Promise

Ned makes an nondescript promise to his sister before she dies, and is consistently haunted by that promise. Why would he be so thoroughly haunted by thoughts of failure if the promise was about Jon? Jon had joined the Night's Watch, as planned. He was months away from King's Landing. And Ned isn't tormented by thoughts of broken vows when he deals with or thinks about Jon. He is haunted by them while dealing with the attempts to assasinate Daenerys. He reacts EXTREMELY negatively to the prospect in the first place. He goes to huge lengths to protect her. All of this points to the fact that SHE was the one whom he had promised to protect.

The House of the Undying

Dany has a glimpse into the past, during which she sees Elia, Rhaegar, and a newborn Aegon. At the end of the exchange, the apparition seems to stare straight at her, and declares that 'the dragon has three heads' and that 'there must be one more'. Elia, after giving birth to a daughter and a son, is unable to birth a third child. The prophecy regarding a dragon with three heads seems to be a well-known one amongst Targaryen students of prophecy, becuase Maester Aemon recites it on his deathbead, lamenting his inability to guide Daenerys. Many people hold that, Elia being frail, Rhaegar seduced Lyanna for the purpose of producing this 'third head'. The common assumption is that it is John Snow, but both Aemon and Rhaegar himself, in the apparition, imply that it applies to Daenerys. Dany also more closely follows the historical model: Two women and a man (Aegon, Visenya, and Rhaenys). By that model, the third 'head' would be another female, not a male.

All in all, I think that it is more likely that Lyanna and Rhaegar had a daughter, Daenerys, whom Ned spirited away, switched with Jon (his brother's son) at Starfall, and was tormented over having failed to protect her from Robert in his final months.
Debate Round No. 2


Thank you :)
Hmmmm. The A+B=J theory does make a lot of sense. It also would be a good twist. But I think that the R+L=J plot would be more..meaningful, and it would be more likely that George Martin would write the R+L=J theory instead of the A+B=J theory.
For john to have grown up a bastard living with the stigma that comes with that title, to realize that he is king ( if rhaegar and lyanna married he would be the rightful king) would be a great twist. If he married daenerys (they would be related but targaryens often intermarried) than that would just add on. If all this time the rightful heir was the "bastard" who worked as a man of the nights watch (with his great uncle aemos unknowingly) than the story would have a perfect ending. That's just my opinion. I think it's more likely that mr martin would make john the son of lyanna and rhaegar for those reasons.
I don't know much about Brandon stark, accept that he was strangled by the mad king. If he was a womanizer I don't think he would to for the sister of a kings guard for the king he hated.
You make good points about Danny being raegars and lyannas daughter. But she could have those memories from Essos since she left dragon stone as a baby and wouldn't remember it. I don't think Viserys would know either considering that he was young and probably for around for her birth.


Now to address my opponent's arguments.

1. Ned Stark and honor
My alternate scenario (R+L=D, and A+B=J) also preserves Ned's honor.

2. Neds care for Daenerys and his disgust for Roberts hate for them.
This actually supports my theory (That Lyanna is Daenerys's mother) more strongly than it does R+L=J.

3. Rhanegar Targayrns personality
My alternate scenario (R+L=D) also preserve's Rhaegar's integrity.

4. The tournament
My alternate scenario (R+L=D) also preserve's Rhaegar's integrity.

5. Lyannas death and Ned's promise to her
However, when we look at the timing of these dreams and feelings of regret, they don't jive with R+L=J. They happen and intensify when Ned is serving as the hand of the King, and dealing with the attempted assasination of Daenerys, not when he is deciding Jon's future. Also, in he King's Landing brothel, Ned has the following thought:

"For the first time in years, he found himself remembering Rhaegar Targaryen."

Why would Ned have not thought of Rhaegar in years if he had been raising Rhaegar's bastard child? That makes MUCH more sense if he had not raised the bastard, but had secretted it away, as Daenerys was secretted away from Westeros.

6. Lady Melisandres role.
King's blood is relative. Mance Rayder apparently has it, despite not being highborn. Robert seized the throne by force, yet he and his bastards, and even his brother have king's blood. It appears to be the faith of followers which gives kings blood it's potency, not just ancesrtry, and John is commander of the Knight's Watch. Also, if John is the son of Ashara and Brandon, he would be the rightful lord of both Starfall and Winterfell. He clearly has noble blood in spades, as this gives him even more lawful claims than, for example, Robert would have possessed had not taken the throne by force.

7. The song of ice and fire.
Yes, but the world which we live in is dualistic. Would it not be equally interesting if one child represented the powers of fire (Daenerys) and another represented the powers of the Old Gods? Jon Snow is tied into them, and Howland Reed was the only survivor of those who accompanied Ned to the Tower of Joy/baby swap. He was also present at the Tourney at Harrenhal, where, if A+B=J is true, the entire romance began. Not only that, but he had specifically expressed interest in Ashara Dayne while there, watching her from afar and bringing her to the attention of the Starks. While Rhaegar was attempting to fulfill the prophecies of a fire savior (Danaerys), berhaps Howland Reed was subtly manipulating events to bring abour the birth of a champion of the Old Gods? This point could go either way, as prophecy is extremely fickle in the world of ASOIAF:

"Gorghan of Old Ghis once wrote that a prophecy is like a treacherous woman. She takes your member in her mouth, and you moan with the pleasure of it and think, how sweet, how fine, how good this is... and then her teeth snap shut and your moans turn to screams. That is the nature of prophecy, said Gorghan. Prophecy will bite your prick off every time"
- Maester Marwyn -

I thank my opponent for an interesting debate.
Debate Round No. 3
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