"The North is by far the largest of the Seven Kingdoms; it can fit the other six inside it. Not that the others care... cold and damp, that's how the southerners see the North. But without the cold, a man can't appreciate the fire in his hearth. Without the rain, a man can't appreciate the roof over his head. Let the south have its sun, flowers and affectations. We northerners have home."
The North is one of the constituent regions of the Seven Kingdoms. It was formerly a sovereign realm known as the Kingdom of the North before the Targaryen conquest and later during the War of the Five Kings and Daenerys Targaryen's invasion of Westeros. Along with the Vale of Arynn, it currently recognizes Daenerys as its' sovereign, although it continues to be ruled from Winterfell by House Stark.
Travelers in the North, with the castle of Winterfell in the distance.
Map of the continent of Westeros, marking the location of the North in red.
The North is ruled from the castle of Winterfell by House Stark. It is the largest of the nine major regions of the continent, almost equal in size to the other eight combined. Its total population, however, is under one million, meaning it has fewer residents than city of King's Landing.
According to legend, the Kingdom of the North was established eight thousand years ago by Bran the Builder, the founder of House Stark, who constructed the Wall as a shield against the possible return of the White Walkers. The North is the only region where the First Men were able to successfully resist the Andal Invasion, six thousand years before the War of the Five Kings. As a result the North is the only region of Westeros in which the ethnic makeup is predominantly First Men, and the only region where the culture, customs, and traditions of the First Men still predominate. Among these is the belief that the man who passes the sentence of death must swing the sword himself. In particular, the religion of the First Men, the worship of the Old Gods of the Forest, is still the dominant faith in the North. The Faith of the Seven introduced into southern Westeros by the Andals has found little foothold in the North. As a result, warriors from the North are not "knights", because "knighthood" is a code of values associated with the Faith of the Seven. However, mounted warriors are still an honored and esteemed military asset in the North, so that while northmen like Ned Stark may not carry the title "Ser", Northern cavalry are functionally equivalent to mounted knights.
Bastard children of noble blood born in the North are given the surname Snow. People of the North are known as Northmen (or Northerners), and, derogatorily as wolves, in reference to the sigil of House Stark.
The borders of the North are held to be the Sunset Sea to the west and the Shivering Sea to the east, the Wall to the north and the hills and bogs of the Neck to the south. Greywater Watch and its ruling house, House Reed, are the southern-most noble family owing fealty to Winterfell. Likewise, Last Hearth and its ruling house, House Umber are the northern-most noble family sworn to Winterfell. Beyond Last Hearth, comes the lands of the Gift under the control of the politically neutral Night's Watch and eventually the Wall itself.
In the north-western coast of the North is the large Bay of Ice in the Sunset Sea. Bear Island, the seat of House Mormont is in the central portion of the Bay. The southern coast of the Bay of Ice is just north of the large forested Wolfswood. The peninsula Sea Dragon Point is surrounded by the Bay. In the north-eastern coast of the North lies the Bay of Seals in the Shivering Sea. The large and remote Skagos and the smaller Skane are both in the Bay as part of an island group all considered parts of the North.
The climate of the North, though harsh overall, varies from cool (maritime) temperate around the Neck, to cold temperate around Winterfell, and to subarctic at the Wall. The lands south of Winterfell leading to the Neck are almost as fertile as the Riverlands to the south, and are the most agriculturally productive region of the North. The Neck itself is filled with swamps. Snowfall generally increases as one moves north along the Kingsroad.
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the North is an area vast in size but relatively light in population. The North, due to its location, is particularly badly affected during the long winters, with thousands of people killed and famine not an uncommon occurrence due to the inability to raise crops for years on end, outside of special greenhouses and castles built on or near hot springs, like Winterfell, or volcanic vents, like the Dreadfort of House Bolton.
The people of the North, popularly called "northmen" or "notherners", are known as a hardy, tough breed who hold the comforts of the warm, "soft" south in disdain. They worship the old gods of the forest, and the "new gods" of the Andals have made little headway in the North. With a few exceptions, the warriors of the North refuse to take holy orders and thus cannot become knights.
Some of the northmen live in remote, distant areas where they act little more as clans and tribes of savage warriors. Even these remote folk are vassals of the Starks, however, and are allowed to maintain their own ways and traditions as long as they remain loyal to Winterfell - which most of them usually do, as the Starks have a history of being just and honorable rulers. The Starks treated the mountain clans with respect by referring to them as if they were small-scale noble Houses, i.e. calling them "House Wull" and "House Norrey", instead of dismissively thinking of them as lowly "clans".
Characters in the novels frequently remark that the North is almost as large as the rest of the Seven Kingdoms put together (a remark repeated in the TV series). In the World of Ice and Fire sourcebook (2014), the in-universe author Maester Yandel explains that while this is a very common saying, maesters have conducted fairly accurate land surveys over the centuries, which have revealed that the North is actually closer to about one third of the total land area of the Seven Kingdoms, not one half.
History and zones of Game of Thrones Lore
Read about all the known history of Game of Thrones Lore. Learn about the zones and places on Westeros!
On our website you can find all the stories about Game of Thrones, World of Warcraft and Halo. You can learn about the places and all the characters.
Name The House Game of Thrones