"Rickard Karstark, Lord of Karhold, here in sight of gods and men I sentence you to die."
Karhold, formerly known as Karlon's Hold, is the seat of House Karstark, a vassal house holding fealty to House Stark of Winterfell. It is located in the far east of the North, south of the Bay of Seals and inland from the coast of the Shivering Sea.
The castle was founded by Karlon Stark, a younger son of the then-King in the North after he was rewarded with lands by his father for putting down a rebellion by House Bolton of the Dreadfort. The castle was then called "Karl's Hold". Over the centuries Karl's Hold became Karhold, and the Karl's Hold Starks became House Karstark.
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Karhold's location and history are the same.
A Game of Thrones
Lord Rickard Karstark and his sons Harrion, Eddard, and Torrhen lead three hundred horsemen and near two thousand foot from Karhold to Winterfell when Robb Stark calls the northern banners. Eddard and Torrhen are slain by Ser Jaime Lannister during the battle in the Whispering Wood.
A Feast for Crows
Stannis Baratheon has ravens sent from Castle Black with messages seeking allegiance from the northern lords. Karhold is the only seat to pledge support.
A Storm of Swords
After Jaime escapes from captivity at Riverrun, the vengeful Lord Rickard promises his daughter Alys's hand to whomever would bring him the Kingslayer.
Vargo Hoat maims and captures Jaime with the hopes of gaining Alys in marriage, which would give him the chance to become Lord of Karhold. Because Lord Rickard murders two prisoners, Willem Lannister and Tion Frey, at Riverrun, he is executed by Robb, now King in the North.
Maester Aemon sends a raven to Karhold in a plea for help to defend Castle Black from wildlings.
A Dance with Dragons
Karhold's harvest is less than expected because so many men went south with Lord Rickard, leaving women, children, the elderly, and the crippled to work the fields. Crops wither or are ruined by storms and snow.
Arnolf Karstark, the castellan of Karhold and uncle of late Lord Rickard Karstark, declares for Stannis. Jon Snow, the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, thinks Arnolf's support is only because House Karstark has damaged its relations too badly with House Stark and House Lannister. However, Arnolf plots to make his son, Cregan, the new Lord of Karhold by forcing Alys to marry Cregan. Arnolf also declares for Stannis to goad the Iron Throne to execute the rightful heir of Karhold, captive Harrion.
To avoid the planned marriage, Alys flees from Karhold and seeks protection from Jon at Castle Black. The Lord Commander arranges for Melisandre to marry Alys to Sigorn, Magnar of Thenn, thus creating a new noble house that would claim Karhold should Harrion perish. Cregan is imprisoned by Jon at Castle Black. Alys thinks that Karhold will open its gates to her and Sigorn's Thenns. Jon advises her to send to the Night's Watch spare boys or any older men who would otherwise leave to hunt in winter.
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