For many Game of Thrones fans, season 6 was their first real introduction to House Mormont. While show fans were well familiar with Lord Commander Jeor Mormont and his wayward son Jorah, the two men rarely mentioned their house, their family, or their home on Bear Island. Not only did season 6 introduce a new Mormont, but we also got to see the impressive seat of House Mormont on Bear Island, ruled by an intimidating ten-year-old girl.
Book fans are a little more familiar with House Mormont. Led by the “she-bear” Maege Mormont, House Mormont joins Robb Stark as soon as he calls his bannermen, and they proudly support him as the King in the North. They are present throughout the series, from Robb’s call to arms up until his death at the Red Wedding. Book fans have long been disappointed that the Mormonts haven’t made much of an appearance in the show, but they may be willing to forgive the showrunners after the introduction of the ten-year-old badass Lyanna Mormont. Hopefully, this won’t be the last we see of Lyanna. Symbolically using a Mormont shield to defend himself in his final face-off with Ramsay Bolton, Jon Snow is likely going to rely pretty heavily on Lyanna and her fierce Bear Island warriors in the wars to come.
Since we’ve got a long time to wait until season 7 (and hopefully more Lyanna Mormont), let’s take a look at some of the things you probably didn’t know about House Mormont. Book spoilers are abundant, but if you’ve seen the show it shouldn’t be a problem.
15. House Mormont Is Ruled By Women
Unfortunately, George R.R. Martin hasn’t divulged as much about the history of House Mormont as he has about the other houses. We don’t know if they have a history of women rulers or if Maege Mormont is the first of her kind; either way, no one seems to object very strongly.
Jeor Mormont was once the lord of House Mormont, but at some point he decided to renounce his seat and take up the vows of the Night’s Watch. After Jeor left, House Mormont was headed by his son, Jorah. This did not last long; Jorah married Lynesse Hightower, who was accustomed to a more luxurious lifestyle and didn’t like life in the North. Jorah became more and more desperate to keep his wife happy, eventually selling poachers to a Tyroshi slaver for money. Because slavery is outlawed in Westeros, Jorah was driven from the North and fled to the Free Cities, where he eventually joined the Dothraki and met Daenerys Targaryen. After Jorah fled, Maege Mormont became the ruler of Bear Island. She held that seat for many years and has several daughters to succeed her, which we’ll get into in a little bit.
14. There Are A Lot Of Mormonts
Even though only three Mormonts appear in the show we know of at least ten. Aside from Jeor and Jorah, the books introduce us to Maege, her five daughters, and her two grandchildren. Maege’s daughters include Dacey, Alysane “The Young She-Bear”, Lyra and Jorelle, and of course, ten-year-old Lyanna. Dacey and Alysane actually appear in the books in various capacities, but we only hear of Lyra and Jorelle, and the most we hear from Lyanna is the message she sends Stannis Baratheon: “House Mormont knows no king but the king in the North, and his name is STARK.” Alysane has two children, a boy and a girl, but we have not yet learned their names.
Additionally, Jorah has had two wives who became Mormonts upon marrying him; his first wife, an unnamed member of House Glover, died from a miscarriage ten years after marrying Jorah. His second wife, Lynesse Hightower, never adjusted to the harsh climate and rough living conditions on Bear Island. Though she and Jorah never formally divorced, it is highly unlikely they will ever cross paths again.
13. We Never Find Out Why Jeor Joined The Night’s Watch
Very few noblemen join the Night’s Watch, something that is pointed out to Jon Snow early on in his time at the Wall. The Wall is populated largely by bastards, lowborn men with no other choice, and criminals looking for an alternative to prison or execution. Though it once had a noble reputation, the Night’s Watch has now become an alternative, something few men ever choose to do. Even Jon, who greatly romanticizes the Watch before joining, is motivated to go because of his bastard birth. His friend, Samwell Tarly, should be the heir of Horn Hill, but his father forces him to choose between the Watch and death. Why Jeor Mormont chooses to go is unfathomable. Jeor has a comfortable life as a lord; certainly much more comfortable than life at the Wall. So what motivated him to give up his life as Lord Mormont and live in a cold and unforgiving place populated by bastards and criminals? We don’t know, and we may never find out, but there seems to be more here than GRRM has let on.
12. Jorah’s First Wife Is Now A Concubine
We’ve already talked a little bit about Lynesse Hightower; a noblewoman from a prominent family in the Reach, Jorah won her heart at the Tourney of Lannisport where he crowned her the Queen of Love and Beauty. Romantic as Jorah had been in Lannisport, Lynesse soon discovered that there was nothing romantic about life on Bear Island. When she and Jorah went to visit Winterfell, she confided to Catelyn that the North wasn’t for a Hightower of Oldtown. Jorah worked hard to keep his wife happy, but her fine tastes were too expensive for the likes of him, and in a fit of desperation he sold poachers on his land to a Tyroshi slaver. When Ned Stark discovered the crime, Jorah and Lynesse fled to Lys, but Lynesse had at this point become tired of her husband and left him. At some point she became the concubine of Prince Tregar Ormollen and is now his chief concubine.
11. Their Words And Sigil
The Mormont words are “Here We Stand”; words as strong as the people who say them. They’re also very fitting considering that House Mormont refuses to bend the knee for Stannis Baratheon or Ramsay Bolton; they know only the King in the North, and his name is Stark.
House Mormont’s sigil is, of course, a bear – black, on a field of green. While green normally symbolizes fertility of land, Bear Island has very few resources, likely due to its cold, icy climate; perhaps the green represents the fertility of the Mormont women.
This isn’t the only imagery associated with House Mormont. On the gate of their hall is a carved image of a woman in a bearskin suckling her child in one arm and holding a battleaxe in the other. An image like this indicates that Maege may not be the first Lady Mormont to rule Bear Island.
10. Bear Island Women Are Strong As Hell
Bear Island women are badass B’s and you do not want to mess with them. Maege Mormont rules Bear Island and serves on Robb Stark’s council; she fights in major battles and has trained her daughters to follow in her footsteps. Dacey and Alysane are both renowned warriors, and their younger sisters have probably also been trained in combat. This isn’t even to mention that Maege’s youngest daughter, ten-year-old Lyanna, is left as regent in her mother’s absence and staunchly refuses to bend the knee to Stannis Baratheon.
Maege and her daughters aren’t exceptions to the rule by any means. Because of Bear Island’s location so far north and so close to the Iron Islands, it has undergone multiple attacks from wildlings and ironborn alike. The women of the land learned to defend themselves against raiders and rapers, unwilling to wait around for the menfolk to do it for them. With a history like this, it’s no wonder Lyanna isn’t worried about offending prim and proper Stannis Baratheon.
9. Dacey Mormont Was At The Red Wedding
Maege and her eldest daughter, Dacey, joined Robb Stark when he called his bannermen to save Ned Stark. The two women fought in Robb’s campaign as King in the North. In A Storm of Swords, Robb sends Maege to contact the crannogmen and muster enough force to retake Moat Cailin from the ironborn. Dacey, however, stays with Robb and a number of Bear Island warriors, and accompanies him to the Red Wedding. Dacey, like every other northman present, is killed by the Freys. Maege and her daughters, Lyra and Jorelle, go into hiding after this, and even though Alysane is the new heir to House Mormont, her youngest sister, Lyanna, is left to head the household.
Dacey’s death would have been difficult to portray in the show, especially given everything else that was already happening onscreen, but it is a huge part of the story. Maege and her surviving daughters are not going to forget this insult to their house. The North Remembers, and so does House Mormont.
8. Bear Island Used To Be Ruled By The Ironborn
Originally, Bear Island was owned by House Woodfoot, but when the ironborn raided Bear Island, they slaughtered House Woodfoot and claimed the island for themselves. House Hoare, an ironborn family, laid claim to Bear Island and added a green tree to their sigil to represent their ownership over the island. Ravos Hoare, son of Iron King Harrag Hoare, used Bear Island as his base of operations, but King Theon Stark of the North killed Ravos and claimed Bear Island for himself. Many years later, King Gerold Lannister raided Bear Island, and a century after that ironborn King Loron Greyjoy reclaimed the island. As the story goes, a later king lost Bear Island to northern King Rodrik Stark in an arm-wrestling match. Rodrik Stark then gave Bear Island to House Mormont, and the Mormonts maintained the island ever since. The ironborn have tried raiding the island since then, as have the wildlings, but the people of Bear Island fought them off every time.
7. Lyanna Is Not The Heir
Even though everyone in the show calls Lyanna Mormont “Lady Lyanna” and treats her as if she is the rightful head of House Mormont, she is not the rightful heir. Even if she was, she would not be the head of the house; that distinction falls to Maege Mormont, who is still alive in the books and may make an appearance in both the books and the show. Furthermore, Lyanna is Maege’s youngest daughter, and unless her four older sisters and her niece and nephew were killed, Lyanna would not be the ruler of Bear Island. Her sister Dacey was Maege’s heir until she was slain at the Red Wedding; now the heir is Alysane, often called “The Young She-Bear.” If we follow the logic of other Westerosi houses, Alysane’s heir is her nine-year-old daughter–however, House Mormont doesn’t exactly abide by Westerosi logic, so take this with a grain of salt. Whatever the case, Lyanna is the only daughter to remain at Bear Island. Alysane is with Stannis Baratheon, Lyra and Jorelle are in hiding with Maege, and that leaves Lyanna to man–er, woman–the fort. But as far as we’re concerned, we don’t care who’s the heir–we just want more Lyanna!
6. Alysane Is Hanging Out With Asha Greyjoy
Well, sort of. Alysane was part of the original effort by Robb Stark to retake Deepwood Motte from the ironborn. After taking Asha’s forces by surprise, Alysane burns their ships and takes the survivors as prisoners, including Asha. That’s right, Asha (so far) hasn’t made it to Meereen to woo Daenerys Targaryen. Instead, Asha becomes the prisoner of Stannis Baratheon, who brings Asha and Alysane with him when he marches on Winterfell. Despite Lyanna Mormont’s defiant words, Alysane bends the knee to Stannis, indicating that there’s not much communication between the two sisters. Alysane has presumably left her children at Bear Island in the care of their Aunt Lyanna, who is only a year older than her niece. In an excerpt from The Winds of Winter, Alysane is sent with Justin Massey to bring back “Arya Stark” (really Jeyne Poole) to Castle Black. Alysane is supposed to be her female companion.
5. Maege Might Make A Comeback
Even though Lyanna talks about her mother in the past tense (“My mother was no great beauty”), Lyanna never specifically says that her mother is dead. Maege is definitely alive in the books; after the Red Wedding she went into hiding with two of her daughters. It seems unlikely that her story would end there- it would have been just as simple to kill off Maege during the Red Wedding if her story was over, but George R.R. Martin specifically kept her alive. Why do that unless she’s going to show up again? It seems likely that she’s going to make a reappearance, though based on the nature of the series, it may not be the victorious comeback we’d like (remember Rickongate?). A reappearance in the books and the lack of an onscreen death may mean that Maege will appear in the show, too. What this means for House Mormont and the rest of the North, we can’t say, but it would be exciting to see our favorite She-Bear (well, second favorite–Lyanna is pretty great). Maybe she’ll reunite with her wayward nephew, or maybe she’ll team up with Lyanna and the Starks. Maybe something much more upsetting will happen, but we’d prefer not to think about that.
4. Lyanna Mormont Is Bella Ramsey’s Film Debut
The ironically-named Bella Ramsey is easily one of the best actors on the show, and that isn’t an exaggeration. She could even give some of the adults some pointers! Lyanna is already a fan favorite and considered one of the highlights of the season. The Hollywood Reporter has even called her the season’s “breakout star.” One would never believe that this is, in fact, Bella Ramsey’s first time ever being on film. Even though the twelve-year-old plays a fierce child-ruler with a no-nonsense attitude who can put grown men in their place, Bella Ramsey is a novice in her field. The young actor says that she’s surprised by the way her character took off and that she never imagined it would become this big of a deal. Bella Ramsey is set to appear in the 2017 film adaptation of The Worst Witch as the title character, Mildred Hubble, and while there’s no word yet on whether or not she’s been cast in season 7, HBO would be idiots not to bring her back.
3. The Mormont Girls Are All Illegitimate
Westerosi society frowns on illegitimate children, something that is clearly demonstrated by the plight of Jon Snow. Bastards are dirty little secrets that are not-so-secret; given specific names based on the area in which they live (Snow for the North, Waters for the Crownlands, Flowers for the Reach, etc.), a bastard’s illegitimate birth stays with them for their whole lives. They are looked down upon and rarely advance in their work or society.
The Mormont women don’t seem to have this issue. Though Maege and Alysane have no husbands, they each have children and no one objects to the way the children are treated. Dacey and Alysane are both illegitimate but are considered Maege’s heirs. Lyanna is illegitimate but she is given the regency of Bear Island. This certainly would not have happened if Maege was a man–some sort of recognition of their legitimacy would be required.
2. People Think The Mormont Women Sleep With Bears
Maege has five daughters and no one knows who their father is–indeed, if it’s even the same man. Similarly, Alysane has two children several years apart and yet no one knows who might be their father. A popular rumor says that all Mormont women are skinchangers who change into bears and lie with them. Because, you know, Bear Island, bears. The Westerosi are real original. It also speaks to just how intimidating men find the Mormont women; clearly the only way they’d ever get laid is if they become were-bears and have sex with real bears. Right? It’s not unheard of in Westeros, though; the popular song “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” is a bawdy little ditty about a bear who has sex with a fair maiden. Maybe there’s a precedent for it?
While we wouldn’t put much past George R.R. Martin (including a world where women have sex with bears), it seems more likely that the Mormont women just do what they want and no one is brave enough to stop them, and while we may never know the identity of Maege’s lover(s), some fans think they know of at least one…
1. There’s A Fan Theory About Maege And Tormund
All right, so this is about to get crazy, but this is a franchise with dragons and ice zombies, so keep that in mind.
Tormund Giantsbane loves to tell the story about the time he had sex with a bear. In both the books and the show, he tells this story often. Though he calls the bear Shella, fans have another idea. The sigil of House Mormont is a bear, and people have spread the rumor that all Mormont women are bear skinchangers. What if Tormund actually had sex with Maege? Think about it. He says he slept with a bear, and Maege is called the She-Bear. Bear Island has been subject to numerous attacks by the wildlings. At the very least, it’s not impossible that Tormund and Maege crossed paths once upon a time. Tormund also says that he has two daughters, but we never meet them–what if those daughters are two of Maege’s girls? It may sound like a ridiculous theory, but no more ridiculous than anything else that comes out of this series. We’ll probably never find out one way or the other, but it’s a fun idea all the same.