The Greyjoy Rebellion Explained

With the casting of Euron Greyjoy finally confirmed for Season 6 of Game Of Thrones, we decide to look at another important event pre the first book/episode of the saga. If you were still wondering why Theon was staying in Winterfell, and why his betrayal in Season/Book 2 occurred, this recapitulation of his father Balon’s Rebellion to Robert Baratheon 9 years before the beginning will explain it all…

The Greyjoy Family

credit: Mathia Arkoniel
credit: Mathia Arkoniel

House Greyjoy is one of the Noble House of Westeros, ruling in the Iron Islands. Their Sigil is a Black Kraken, and their motto is “We Do Not Sow”. The Ironborn, as the people of the Iron Islands are referred as, are notorious for their hardened behavior. They only respect strength, and it is mostly well showcased in how they choose their ruler; via an event called the Kingsmoot and not necessarily through the direct line of succession as the other Noble Houses of the Seven Kingdoms do.

The Iron Islands

via Westeros.org
via Westeros.org

Their capital is on the island of Pyke where, when the series and book 1 begin, Balon Greyjoy rules. His son Theon is a ward of the Starks, and we are only explained through dialogues between and about Theon on what happened 9 years prior when Balon rebelled against the throne

via HBO
via HBO

The Castle of Pyke as depicted in the HBO series.

Beginning Of Balon’s Rebellion

credit: Tomasz Jedruszek
credit: Tomasz Jedruszek

7-8 Years after Robert’s Rebellion, the kingdom was relatively at peace with Robert Baratheon sitting on the Iron Throne. Balon Greyjoy’s father, Quellon Greyjoy had died during the Rebellion, and Balon rejected the new terms of the new king. He proclaimed himself “King of the Iron Islands”, declared the Iron Islands as an independent kingdom, and built his Iron Fleet; his revolt against the throne had begun.

The Ironborn Strike First

credit: Matt Olson
credit: Matt Olson

Balon, along with his brothers Victarian and Euron, attacked first. They stormed on the Westernland and burned the port of Lannisport, burning many of the Lannisters Fleet, including Tywin Lannister’s flagship.
Following their attacks on the Westerlands, they continued their offensive with a series of smaller raids on the western coast of Westeros, looting and pillaging many ships and harbors along their way.

The Iron Throne Strikes Back

Stannis Baratheon - Greyjoy Rebellion
via HBO

King Robert, who hadn’t fought since he had won the throne 8 years prior, gathered his bannermen and allied houses to wage a counterattack. His brother Stannis Baratheon, led a fleet to attack the Iron Fleet at sea. As tough as the Ironborn are, they were also undisciplined and only fought for their own personal glories. Stannis, one of the best military strategist in Westeros took advantage of that, along with having larger ships, and was able to defeat the Iron Fleet at sea, heavily crippling the Iron Born.

The Iron Islands Invasion

credit: ManiakS
credit: ManiakS

With their fleet decimated by Stannis, the Iron Born had lost its strength and Robert’s victory was assured. Troops and Siege Weapons could be transported to invade the Iron Islands. Barristen Selmy of the Kingsguard led an attack on the island of Old Wyck, and Stannis led the assault on the largest of the Iron Island, Great Wyck. Robert saved the seat of House Greyjoy of Pyke to himself for what would be the decisive battle in the Rebellion.

The Siege Of Pyke

credit:
credit:lensor 2013

It is at Pyke that the most important battle occurred, with Robert and his best friend Ned Stark, leading the Battle. The Red Priest Thoros of Myr was the first to attack with his sword lit with Wildfire, followed by Jorah Mormont, who received a knighthood for his bravery in that battle (A knighthood he would later shame). The battle cemented Robert’s victory and completely crushed the Ironborn.

Aftermath Of The Rebellion

via HBO
via HBO

Following his crushing defeat, Balon bent the knee and accepted Robert’s claim to the throne. His two eldest sons Maron and Rodrick had perished during his rebellion, leaving young Theon as the only living heir to the Greyjoys. As a custom of peace, Balon kept his seat on the Iron Islands, and Theon was kept as a ward with House Stark, should Balon attempt any other rebellion in the future.

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  1. Victarion

    It’s not a black kraken.

    Reply

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