If you've seen Game of Thrones, you're probably more than familiar with House Baratheon. Introduced at the very beginning of the first season, the Baratheon family is also the royal family of Westeros--or so they would have you think. Though Robert Baratheon won the Iron Throne by might and became the king, his son and heir, Joffrey, is actually not a Baratheon at all, but the product of incest between Queen Cersei and her brother, Jaime. In fact, all three of her children are Jaime's, and while Robert has dozens of bastard children running around the seven kingdoms, none of them are legitimate heirs to the throne. Even though Joffrey and Tommen have served as kings, the real heir to the throne was Stannis, whose only heir in turn was a sickly girl named Shireen. When Stannis put forth his claim to the throne, however, he was opposed by both the Lannisters and his younger brother, Renly, who believed that he would be a better king. Now, of course, there are no Baratheons left, real or pretend, and Cersei is sitting on the throne because, well, there's no one else left.
Despite all of this, neither the show nor the books talk that much about the history of House Baratheon, or anything pre-Game of Thrones. We know that Robert Baratheon won the iron throne by might rather than right, and we know that his legal heir was Stannis, not Joffrey. If the show is right (and in this case, it probably is), we know that there are no legitimate Baratheons left. We also know that the Baratheons are historically "black of hair." But that's really all that the show tells us. The books, unfortunately, aren't much more descriptive, but there are little bits and pieces throughout the series and in the supplementary material that give us a better glimpse into the history of House Baratheon. We've combed through the books and related materials and found some pretty surprising things!
Fair warning that there are major book and show spoilers, so use caution when reading and sharing!
15 The Sons Of York
It's no secret that A Song of Ice and Fire is heavily based on the historical Wars of the Roses, a civil war for the succession of the English throne by the houses of York and Lancaster. Following the death of his father and brother, Edward Plantagenet led Yorkist forces to victory against the weak-minded Henry VI as a young man--not unlike a young Robert Baratheon leading anti-Targaryen forces against King Aerys and his son Rhaegar. After his victory, Edward was crowned King Edward IV with his two younger brothers, George, Duke of Clarence, and Richard, Duke of Gloucester, at his side. George would later rise in rebellion against his brother no less than three times, seeking to declare his brother and his children illegitimate and make himself king. After his death and the death of Edward, Richard crowned himself King Richard III, but not before booting Edward's children out of the line of succession.
It isn't hard to see the parallels to the Baratheons here. George and Richard both took/attempted to take the throne; Stannis and Renly attempted to do the same. Of course, we as readers know that Stannis was the actual heir, and unless the rumors George was spreading were right and his brother Edward was illegitimate, George was not the heir to the throne. That isn't the only difference in the parallels; Renly is nothing like Richard III. That similarity falls on Tyrion Lannister, but that's a comparison for another day.
14 The Stormlands
The Baratheon family also serves as the Lords Paramount of the Stormlands, one of the seven kingdoms that make up Westeros. The Stormlands are so named because of the harsh gales that come from the sea, making the Stormlands windy and rainy through much of the year. The Stormlands are strategically located south of King's Landing and the Crownlands, east of the Reach, north of Dorne, and west of the Narrow Sea, so if and when Daenerys and her fleet land in Westeros, there's a good chance they might land in the Stormlands. In the books, Jon Connington and "Aegon Targaryen" make their landing at Connington's ancestral home of Griffin's Roost, a small but strong castle in Cape Wrath. The Stormlands are also the location of Summerhall, a lavish residence of the Targaryens that was burned down by one of Aerys's pyromancers. Rhaegar Targaryen was born during the fire, which many believe is the cause of his sad, strange behavior.
13 Storm's End
The seat of the Stormlands and the home of the Baratheon family is the castle known as Storm's End. Built by Durran Godsgrief in the Age of Heroes, the castle has one of the most interesting histories in Westeros. As the story goes, Durran attempted to build a stronghold that would withstand the harsh storms and even harsher enemies. Six times he tried, and six times he failed. The seventh castle, however, stood strong. Some believe the Children of the Forest helped build the final castle; others say it was Bran the Builder. Whatever the case, it was called Durran's Defiance because neither gods nor storms could tear it down. Durran's descendants, House Durrandon, ruled the Stormlands as the storm kings until Aegon the Conqueror sent Orys Baratheon to claim the Stormlands for the Targaryens. As for Orys...
12 Orys Baratheon
Orys Baratheon is the first person of the Baratheon name that we have any record of. He was a bastard, and the fact that he had a non-bastard surname (Waters, Flowers, Snow, etc.) suggests that it was not uncommon for bastards to have a surname when Aegon conquered the seven kingdoms. Many believe he was the bastard son of Aerion Targaryen, making him Aegon's half brother. Whether or not he was Aegon's brother, he was certainly considered Aegon's closest (and perhaps only) friend. Orys led Targaryen forces to many victories, the most significant being the Last Storm. This was the battle when the Targaryens faced off with Argilac "the Arrogant" Durrandon, the last storm king. Orys slew Argilac and meant to take Storm's End; however, Argilac's daughter, Argella, crowned herself the Storm Queen and refused to surrender to the Targaryens. Her men were less sturdy; they bound and gagged her and presented her, naked, to Orys Baratheon in exchange for their lives. Orys removed her bonds and gag, wrapped her in his own cloak, gave her wine, and respectfully told her of her father's valiant death. Aegon gave Storm's End to Orys in thanks for his service. Orys, now the Lord Paramount of the Stormlands, married Argella and took the Durrandon words and sigil as his own, and ever after the Baratheons have been represented by a stag and the words "Ours is the Fury."
11 House Durrandon
Long before Orys Baratheon came along, the Stormlands were ruled by House Durrandon. Founded by Durran Godsgrief and his wife Elenei, the Durrandons ruled much of the Stormlands from their seat at Storm's End. Durran Godsgrief became king in an era when there were many "petty" kings; at one point, it is estimated there were over 100 kings in Westeros. Over the course of their reign, the Durrandons expanded their territory into what became known as the Stormlands. Other houses did this in the other kingdoms, until 100 kingdoms were reduced to only seven. By the time Aegon and his sisters conquered these seven kingdoms, Argilac Durrandon was at odds with King Harren "the Black" Hoare over property in the Riverlands. Argilac offered his daughter Argella to Aegon and much of the Riverlands as her dowry in an effort to unseat Harren. But as the Riverlands were not Aegon's to give and as Aegon already had two wives, his offer was refused. Offended, Argilac took up arms against the Targaryens. House Durrandon was continued in the female line through Argilac's daughter Argella, but now that the Baratheons are gone, it seems the Durrandons are, too.
10 Orys One-Hand
Orys Baratheon wasn't only known for conquering the Stormlands. When helping Aegon conquer Dorne, Orys and his men were captured by Dornish forces on the Boneway, a pass through the Red Mountains that connects Dorne to the Stormlands. The Wyl of Wyl demanded a ransom for Orys and his men, which Aegon did not pay for several years. After receiving each man's weight in gold, the Wyl cut off each of their sword hands so that they could never wield a sword in Dorne again. Orys was then called Orys One-Hand, a title that left him bitter and aching for revenge.
And he got it. During the reign of Aegon's son, Aenys, Orys led forces against a Dornish outlaw known as the Vulture King. After defeating the Vulture King's forces, Orys's men delivered the Wyl's son, Walter Wyl, to him. Orys reportedly said, "Your father took my hand. I claim yours as repayment." Not only did he take Walter's sword hand, however; he took his other hand and both of his feet as "usury".
Orys died on the march home, but his son Davos said that he died smiling at the rotting hands and feet hanging in his tent like a string of onions.
9 Part Targaryen
One of the really interesting things about Game of Thrones is how much Robert hates the Targaryens considering how much of his family's history intertwines with Targaryen history. The first Baratheon we know of, Orys, was a Targaryen bastard. Orys's grandson, Robar, married Aenys's widow Alyssa, who was also his cousin and of Targaryen descent. Their daughter, Jocelyn, married her half-nephew, Prince Aemon. Perhaps the most interesting Targaryen connection of all, however, is the marriage between Ormund Baratheon and Rhaelle Targaryen, the aunt of the Mad King Aerys and great-aunt of Rhaegar, Viserys, and Daenerys. Ormund and Rhaelle had a son named Steffon--the father of Robert, Stannis, and Renly. That means Robert was one-fourth Targaryen and Rhaegar's cousin--interesting, considering that Robert waged war on him and killed him on the Trident. Sometimes, it seems, water is thicker than blood.
8 Lyonel's Rebellion
Despite the Baratheons' close ties to the Targaryens, Robert's was not the first rebellion against the royal family. Ormund Baratheon's father, Lyonel, led a small rebellion against King Aegon V. Lyonel's daughter (who unfortunately is never named) was betrothed to Aegon's eldest son and heir, Duncan (not to be confused with Ser Duncan the Tall, who was a member of Aegon V's kingsguard). Prince Duncan, however, fell in love with a mysterious woman called Jenny of Oldstones. Despite her common birth, Duncan married Jenny without his father's permission. Lyonel was incensed that Duncan had reneged on their arrangement and insulted House Baratheon, so he led a rebellion against the iron throne. He eventually surrendered to Ser Duncan the Tall and made peace with Aegon, who offered his youngest daughter, Rhaelle, to Lyonel's son Ormund. As a sign of goodwill, Rhaelle was sent to Storm's End as Lyonel's cupbearer until she was old enough to wed. Their grandson, Robert, would lead another rebellion, but Robert's rebellion did not end as peacefully as Lyonel's.
7 Steffon and Cassana
Ormund and Rhaelle's son, Steffon, became the Lord Paramount of the Stormlands following his father's death during one of the Blackfyre Rebellions. Half Targaryen, Steffon spent much of his youth at court as a page, where he became close to his cousin Aerys and another youth named Tywin Lannister. The three boys grew up together, and when Aerys ascended to the throne as King Aerys II, he named Tywin Lannister his Hand and summoned Steffon to his Small Council. Unfortunately, the closeness the three men had known in their youth was fraying at the same time Aerys's grasp of reality was. Aerys sent Steffon to Volantis to find a bride of noble blood and Valyrian descent suitable to marry Prince Rhaegar. There was a rumor that Aerys planned to name Steffon his Hand upon his return. Steffon brought his wife, Cassana, on the voyage, but they were unable to find a proper bride. They did, however, find a fool named Patchface, who they hoped would teach Stannis how to laugh.
Unfortunately, Steffon and Cassana never made it all the way home. Their ship sank in Shipbreaker Bay, clearly visible from Storm's End--it's possible their sons watched their parents' ship sink.
6 Aerys Wanted To Kill Robert
Robert already had a pretty good reason for rebelling against the crown--Rhaegar had kidnapped his betrothed and insulted her honor, and by so doing, insulted House Baratheon. But that isn't the only reason Robert rose up against the crown--Aerys Targaryen wanted Robert dead.
When Lyanna was kidnapped by Rhaegar, her older brother, Brandon, rode to King's Landing to save her. He was imprisoned and their father, Rickard, was summoned. Aerys executed both Brandon and Rickard, and then wrote to Jon Arryn demanding that he give up his wards, Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon. Aerys likely knew that Ned and Robert would want to avenge Lyanna, Brandon, and Rickard, and wanted to nip any rebellion in the bud. Unfortunately for him, Jon Arryn refused to give up his wards, choosing instead to support Robert's rebellion against the Targaryens.
Patchface the fool was with Steffon and Cassana when their ship sank in Shipbreaker's Bay. He would be the only survivor. He was found three days later, his memories lost along with half his wits. Once a clever boy, Patchface does not seem to form any coherent thoughts. He twitches and trembles and has a sideways walk. Patchface also likes to sing about the land under the sea--a world he has presumably seen. While most of his singing sounds like nonsensical drivel, he does occasionally prophesy. He predicts the Battle of Blackwater Bay, the Red Wedding, and the White Walkers and their army of wights coming for the living. Melisandre believes that Patchface is evil; she claims she has seen him in the flames, surrounded by skulls with blood on his lips. What this means, we can't say- after all, Melisandre's visions are not always accurate. But it's a chilling image nonetheless.
4 Edric Storm
Edric Storm is a character who appears only in the books, but it seems fair to say that the latter half of Gendry's show plot was borrowed from Edric. Edric is one of Robert Baratheon's many bastards, and as his last name indicates, he was born in the Stormlands. In fact, Edric was conceived in Stannis's wedding bed--before Stannis and Selyse got there. Robert and Selyse's cousin Delena broke in the bridal bed and conceived Edric. Because Edric was born of a noblewoman, he was acknowledged by Robert and raised at Storm's End. Every year on his birthday, Robert sent him a gift, anything from ponies to cloaks to a child-sized war-hammer like the one Robert once wielded. Upon receiving Edric's letters thanking him, Robert would reportedly laugh and ask Varys what he had sent that year.
Edric, like all of Robert's bastards, looks just like his father. When Ned Stark realized that Robert did not father any of Cersei's children, he remembered Edric Storm, who looks just like Robert and nothing like Cersei's golden-haired offspring. Stannis brought Edric to Storm's End, where he and Shireen shared lessons and became close friends, but secretly Melisandre pressured Stannis to sacrifice Edric because of his royal blood. Like Gendry in the show, leeches with Edric's blood are used as offerings. Davos, who is fond of Edric and fears for his life, ships Edric away to the Free Cities where Melisandre cannot get to him. Like Gendry in the show, he hasn't been seen since.
3 Mya Stone
Gendry and Edric aren't Robert's only notable bastards. Mya Stone is Robert's daughter and one of his oldest children; it is implied that she was conceived while he was being fostered at the Eyrie, hence the surname "Stone." Unlike Edric Storm, Mya was never acknowledged by Robert, and in fact doesn't even know that her father was the king. She does remember a big man tossing her in the air and catching her.
Ned Stark met Mya Stone many times when she was little, as he would accompany Robert on his daily visits to see her before Robert lost interest in her. Ned thought of Mya as well as her half-brother Edric Storm when he realized that Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen were not Robert's children.
Mya is an attractive woman in the Vale with many admirers. Because she lives and works in the Eyrie, she often crosses paths with Sansa Stark, who is using the alias Alayne Stone.
One of Robert's less famous bastards, Bella is nevertheless one of the most memorable. Bella is a prostitute who works at the Peach in Stoney Sept, a small village in the Riverlands. When the Brotherhood Without Banners stays at the Peach, Arya and Gendry meet Bella, who brags that when Robert hid in Stoney Sept during his rebellion, her mother was his favorite whore; hence, her mother named her after the Battle of the Bells, which took place at Stoney Sept and was one of the most important battles fought during Robert's Rebellion. Gendry still does not know that he is Robert's bastard when he meets Bella, so he has no way of knowing that she's actually his sister--this proves to be a source of comedy when Bella flirts with Gendry. Later, when Gendry is arguing with Arya, he says that maybe he'll go ring her bells. Thankfully, he doesn't, but this is A Song of Ice and Fire after all.
1 Gendry's Probably Coming Back
Gendry rowed away in season three...
...and we haven't seen him since. Ever since Davos sent him away, the jokes about where Gendry might have landed have gotten progressively more ridiculous as fans have become increasingly more desperate to find out what happened to him. Thankfully, we have reason to believe Gendry has not rowed away forever. In the books, Gendry is alive and well; he's involved with the Brotherhood Without Banners (since in the books they haven't sold him to Melisandre) and runs into Brienne. While this may not happen in the show, George R.R. Martin has basically confirmed that Gendry is going to return, and recently Joe Dempsie (the actor who plays Gendry) was spotted in Belfast (the primary filming location for Game of Thrones). And sure, maybe George R.R. Martin is lying and Joe Dempsie was in Belfast for unrelated reasons--but we're not willing to give up hope yet.