Since the very start of HBO's Game of Thrones -- and even before that if you were a fan of George R.R. Martin's books -- people have been wondering who Jon Snow's mother really is. We know it's not Ned's Stark's wife, Catelyn, thanks to both Jon's surname ("Snow" is the surname in the Game of Thrones universe that denotes a bastard child of the northern region) and the fact Lady Stark couldn't stand the sight of Jon Snow because it reminded her of her husband's indiscretions. While Ned Stark states very early on to Robert Baratheon that Jon's mother is woman called Wylla, very few believe this woman actually exists, that the name is just a cover up for the true identity of Jon Snow's parentage.
But who could be Jon Snow's mother? Let's have a look at the possibilities.
- Random Bar Wench/prostitute. At first glance, one would see this as the most likely possibility. Ned Stark was away at war thanks to Robert's Rebellion, drunken nights happen after winning battles and often one thing leads to another and the result is Jon Snow. Of course, the fact Ned hung around long enough for the woman to declare Jon Snow as his as well as for Ned Stark to take ownership over the child leads fans to consider another possibility.
- Ned had a Mistress. For Ned to believe Jon was his own flesh and blood, it would indicate some sort of relationship between Ned and Jon's mother. A relationship that would lead to Ned believing the child was his. Robert Baratheon had plenty of bastards and he didn't claim any of them as his own, although, potentially, he made sure they were cared for. Which makes fans wonder why Ned would risk the wrath of his wife by bringing home a bastard child and having her raise Jon Snow along with her own. The fact Ned Stark never speaks ill of Jon's mother also lends this theory more weight. As it does the next one.
- Ned is the father of an important child. This theory actually makes a lot of sense if you have worked through and rejected the first two claims about Jon Snow's lineage. Perhaps Ned had an affair with someone who would bear him a child more important that any of his own children, someone he would have to protect. Considering we saw many of Robert Baratheon's bastard children slaughtered in order to protect his own children's lineage to the throne (which is incorrect in itself thanks to Cersei and Jaime's incestuous relationship), many would believe this is a very strong potential. But who would be more important that his own wife? Many would consider the Lannister's as a contender. Considering Cersei and her family are so manipulative, the potential for a child between Ned and Cersei could lead to Ned protecting the identity of the child at all costs. Except Ned and Cersei do not have much of an affinity for each other. And Cersei was the one who orchestrated the deaths of her husband's bastards. Although, the potential for Cersei keeping one wildcard bastard child up her sleeve certainly sounds like something she would do. But let's also consider another possibility.
- Ashara Dayne. Before Robert's Rebellion, Ned was involved with a woman named Ashara Dayne. Ashara killed herself but there is the suggestion that she bedded both Ned and his brother, Brandon, at the Tourney at Harrenhal according to Zap2It. This event could have led to the conception of Jon Snow. It is also suggested that both Catelyn Stark and Cersei Lannister also believe this theory. However, Ashara is not really a woman of importance per se, but, if last week's episode is anything to go by, hints were dropped about a much more important pairing that doesn't even involve Ned Start at all.
- What if Ned wasn't even Jon Snow's father? The R + L = J theory. This theory is discussed in great detail in this previous Inquisitr article, but the gist is fairly simple -- and it actually makes the most sense. Many times over Ned Stark has been portrayed as a man of honor, a man who would be unlikely to stray from his wife. So if Ned Stark was faithful to his wife, is he hiding a child who the most important character of all in Game of Thrones? The R + L = J theory stands for Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark (Ned's sister and the woman promised to Robert Baratheon) being the parents of Jon Snow. But why? The fact there is evidence showing Rhaegar and Lyanna had sexual relations (consensual or otherwise) leads to the assumption Lyanna became pregnant from this union. This union is also the event that triggered Robert's Rebellion. A Targaryen/Stark baby would also be considered the rightful air to the Iron Throne. Something of this magnitude certainly sounds like a secret Ned would keep on his sister's behalf.
The only question now we need to ask is will Jon Snow's lineage be revealed to fans in this season of Game of Thrones?
[Image credit: HBO Inc.]