House Tarly

 Jesse Brauner
House Tarly

The sigil of House Tarly from Game of Thrones.


Based on George R.R. Martin’s famous series of novels (collectively known as “A Song of Ice and Fire”), the television series “Game of Thrones” first premiered in 2011 on the channel HBO. It is set in a fantasy world heavily based on the society and culture of the European Middle Ages. Two primary continents, known as Westeros and Essos, make up the bulk of the visible landmass in this world, with the former being featured in storylines much more frequently. While typical elements from fantasy stories, such as dragons and various forms of magic, are seen throughout the series, in the long run these generally take a backseat to the military conflicts, political machinations and family dynamics that are the principle focus of the story.

The continent of Westeros is made up of many different regions, each of which has its own culture and history. Most of these regions form constituent parts of a single political realm, which is presided over by a ruling monarch. While the monarch holds ultimate power over the realm, local governance of each region is handled by a “Great House”, a noble family whose members answer directly to the sovereign. Each region also possesses any number of “Vassal Houses” who owe their loyalty to the governing Great House in one capacity or another. House Tarly is one of the Vassal Houses in The Reach. Their ancestral keep is known as Horn Hill, a castle in the southern part of the region. The sigil of House Tarly is a red huntsman in striding position on a field of green, and their motto is “First in Battle”.

The symbolic meaning behind House Tarly’s sigil is explained in the history that George R.R. Martin developed for his world. The House has long been famed for its military prowess, and its been said that the Tarlys produce the best soldiers to be found anywhere in The Reach. The House’s motto is therefore a clear indication of this martial tradition. There is another side to the coin, however; House Tarly also has a tendency to disregard other facets of life in favor of military prowess. For example, when Aegon Targaryen invaded Westeros three hundred years prior to the series beginning, he completely reorganized the system of governance on the continent (for full details, see the symbol for ‘House Targaryen’), and it was later said that if he had given House Tarly control over The Reach, all of the famers who formed the backbone of the region would have been conscripted and the whole area would have starved due to lack of men to tend the fields. Also, the current head of House Tarly forced his eldest son to disinherit himself- under threat of death if he did not- because the boy showed no prowess or interest in military activity.