As soon as Ned Stark was captured by Joffrey, Robb Stark gathered all the leaders of the most powerful houses of the North and started marching towards King's Landing, apparently motivated by the captivity and then death of his father. What were his true motivations anyway?

Is this rebellion meant to turn the North into an independent realm which can be referred by Robb been called "King in the North" by his allies, or simply to take the Iron Throne?

We know that he sent his mother, Catelyn Stark to propose an alliance with Stannis and Renly who were also involved in the race to the throne. So maybe at that time, he had no reason to have any claim regarding the Iron Throne, but it seems that things get more serious as the story goes on and that he eventually, before his death, wanted to become the "one true king" like Stannis did. So in this case, what changed his mind?

  • 1
    related and likely containing the answer: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/70499/…
    – BCdotWEB
    Commented Jun 15, 2017 at 14:42
  • 5
    I'm not sure why the captivity and death of his father aren't enough motivation? I think it turned into him believing that he was going to be the next to sit on the Iron Throne, but at first it was all about his father. Commented Jun 15, 2017 at 15:23
  • I agree that he migth been pushed by the event of his father death but I don't think that the proper way to avenging him was to send the north army into war the way he did. He could at least try to calm down his anger and to get diplomatic and negociate or spread an utlimatum to the southern king, which would have in my opinion be a smarter move
    – KazerKrin
    Commented Jun 15, 2017 at 15:28
  • negotiate ... what? "give me a new father"?
    – N. Presley
    Commented Dec 9, 2017 at 8:37

3 Answers 3



I haven't read the books, so I might be wrong on this but here is what is known from the show.

Rob started marching south with his army after Eddard was captured and imprisoned. Their first objective was to free Eddard. However after Joffrey gave the order to kill Eddard he wanted revenge against the Lannisters for the death of his father. And also keep in mind as far as Robb knew, the Lannisters are guilty for crippling his brother Bran and also tried to kill him afterwards.

Robb sent his mother to negotiate an alliance with Renly not Stannis, since at the time Renly had the largest army (of the rebeling kings). He invited her to go along with him when he met with Stannis. And at that meeting Stannis proposed an alliance to her due to Eddards loyalty to him (since Eddard insisted that Stannis is the rightfull heir after Robert).

Robb never wanted the Iron Throne or rule over the seven kingdoms, only Joffrey's head. Which he also mentiones to Talisa when he meets her for the first time (4:21). Due to the course of the series it is never indicated that his motives changed.

  • + adding youtube linking mentioning his intentions by himself
    – Panther
    Commented Jun 16, 2017 at 7:23
  • If he really wanted Joffrey's death, why didn't he send an assassin or proceed with a more subtile approach rather than sending a whole army ? I think that Eddard's death was the last straw for the north folks who choose to rebel. Maybe Robb only wanted revenge, but that was not the case of a lot of his banners who just wanted the north independence by proclaiming him as King in the north.
    – KazerKrin
    Commented Jun 16, 2017 at 7:46
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    @KazerKrin sending the assasin might be a more subtle approach. However it is not something Robb would do, Eddard raised him (and all his sons) to be honorable men. Sending an assasin is not considered honorable. Also remember the lesson Eddard teaches Bran in the first episode "the man who passes the judgement, should be the man who swings the sword". Being raised by this (and probably more similar rules) Robb wanted to kill Joffrey himself. The second problem with the assasin would be - how to save Sansa and Arya (since due to Robb's knowledge were both held hostage).
    – Bojan B
    Commented Jun 16, 2017 at 12:40
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    @KazerKrin and as for Robb's bannerman or the houses that joined him - the keyword here is loyalty. Loyalty to house Stark. There might be some amongst them, who wanted independence for the north, but this is never discussed in the show (don't know about the books) so we might never know. In general they followed Robb to due to the loyalty and some wanted revenge for Eddard too, since he was the presiding lord, who allways was just and also house Stark allways supported the houses of the north when they needed - them now supporting Robb is their way of returning the favor.
    – Bojan B
    Commented Jun 16, 2017 at 12:46

Yes, revenge was the catalyst, but there was also another factor: Northern nationalism.

Robb's march south was unquestionably driven by the desire to avenge his father and overthrow the monarch who executed him; however, revenge alone is not what drove his separatist rebellion. After all, his father also rebelled against the king, but with the goal of installing a new monarch, not rejecting the rule of King's Landing and leaving the Seven Kingdoms altogether.

After Rob's initial victories, his banner men found their nationalist fervor roused and they cheered Rob as "The King in the North," harkening back to the days before the Targaryen dynasty when the North was its own Kingdom and not under the rule of a Southern king. Being more rash and less wise than his father--who remained loyal to his friend Robert during and after his rebellion--Rob got caught up in this rush of Northern nationalism and donned the mantle of King in the North with a separate, free North becoming one of his goals.

  • You know (Gasai) one person's nationalism is another person's patriotism? idk
    – BCLC
    Commented May 24, 2022 at 1:48
  • Yes, there's overlap between the words, and connotations for both. I felt the word "nationalism" was more appropriate here since what we see from Rob and his banner men is an explicit desire for national independence.
    – ruffdove
    Commented May 24, 2022 at 1:54

Robb Stark's "true" motivation is exactly what he is saying in the movie. Starks are very simple, temper driven, quite exactly as Littlefinger said:

"Ah, the Starks! Quick tempers, slow minds"

It is perfectly pictured in his conversation with Talisa in S03E04, when he reveals that his only goal is to avenge his father's death:

-You're going to kill Joffrey? -If the gods give me strength. -And then what? -l don't know. We'll go back to Winterfell.

  • The answer is that he can't not do it. If he sits back and does nothing, or even bides his time and waits for another day, he will lose the confidence of the lords who serve under him. Even if he knew it was a doomed venture, or just not the right time, he had no real choice in the matter, he was swept along by events.
    – Gaius
    Commented Feb 23, 2021 at 8:05

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