Jon Snow, born Aegon Targaryen, is the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, the late Prince of Dragonstone. From infancy, Jon is presented as the bastard son of Lord Eddard Stark, Lyanna’s brother, and raised by Eddard alongside his lawful children at Winterfell but his true parentage is kept secret from everyone, including Jon himself. In order to escape his bastard status, Jon joins the Night’s Watch and is eventually chosen as Lord Commander. However, he is later murdered in a mutiny and resurrected by the Red Priestess Melisandre. Freed from his Night’s Watch vows, Jon joins his cousin, Sansa Stark, in building an army and together they retake Winterfell from House Bolton, restoring House Stark’s dominion over the North with Jon being declared the new King in the North. However, after successfully capturing a wight and presenting it to the Lannisters as proof that the Army of the Dead is real, Jon pledges himself and his army to Daenerys Targaryen, Rhaegar’s sister, and steps down as King in the North.
His name is […] If Robert finds out, he’ll kill him. You know he will. You have to protect him. Promise me, Ned. Promise me.
LYANNA STARK TO HER BROTHER NED, SPEAKING OF HER SON JON SNOW.
Eighteen years before the War of the Five Kings, Rhaegar Targaryen allegedly abducted Lyanna Stark of Winterfell in a scandal that would lead to the outbreak of Robert’s Rebellion. Rhaegar would eventually return to fight in the war, but not before leaving Lyanna behind at the Tower of Joy, guarded by Lord Commander Gerold Hightower and Ser Arthur Dayne of the Kingsguard. Lord Eddard Stark, Lyanna’s brother, rode to war along with her betrothed, Robert Baratheon, to rescue his sister and avenge the deaths of their father and brother on the orders of Rhaegar’s father, Aerys II, the Mad King.
Robert would ultimately kill Rhaegar at the Battle of the Trident, effectively ensuring their victory in the war. After the Sack of King’s Landing, Ned continued south in search of his sister and ultimately found her at the Tower of Joy in the Red Mountains at the border of Dorne. Ned and his companions engaged in a final fierce melee with the remaining Targaryen Kingsguard, which resulted in the deaths of all combatants save Ned himself and Howland Reed.
After defeating the last of the Kingsguard, Ned rushed into the tower to save his sister – only to find Lyanna dying from childbirth, having just given birth to Rhaegar’s own son. Desperate to protect the life of her newborn child, a fading Lyanna pleaded with Ned to promise her that he would keep her son safe, and his true heritage hidden from Robert as he had been Rhaegar’s most bitter enemy. Furthermore, the boy’s existence was a potential threat to Robert’s claim to the Iron Throne after the deaths of Rhaegar’s other children, Rhaenys and Aegon, by his wife Elia Martell, who also perished, during the Sack of King’s Landing. In accordance with her last wish, Ned resolved to pass Lyanna’s son off as his own bastard son and raise him in his home castle – a great blow to his honor as he knew that his decision would shame both himself and his lady wife, Catelyn Tully.
Ned decided not to use his nephew’s birth name, which Lyanna revealed to him in her final moments – apparently because it was a Targaryen-style name which would have given away his real parentage. Instead, he chose to give the baby the name “Jon” after his great friend and mentor Jon Arryn, Lord of the Vale, whom he loved like a second father. The boy also grew up using the surname “Snow”, as is customary for acknowledged bastards in the North. In truth, however, “Jon” may not be a bastard at all. Rhaegar apparently had his marriage to Elia annulled and married another, presumably Lyanna.
Jon Snow spent the next seventeen years being raised in Winterfell as Lord Eddard’s illegitimate son, alongside his trueborn children with his wife. Understandably, Eddard never told any