The sigil of House Manwoody 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 (Dorne is the exception to this rule, for full details see the symbol for ‘House Martell’). Each region also possesses any number of “Vassal Houses” who owe their loyalty to the governing Great House in one capacity or another. House Manwoody is one of the Vassal Houses in Dorne. Their ancestral keep is known as Kingsgrave, a fortress located in the Red Mountains on Dorne’s northwestern border. Their sigil consists of a white skull on a field of black, the skull topped by a golden crown. Their motto, if they have one, has thus far not been revealed.
The symbolic meaning behind House Manwoody’s sigil is explained in the history that George R.R. Martin developed for his world. The Red Mountains have traditionally served as the boundary between Dorne and its two northern neighbors: The Reach to the northwest and The Stormlands to the northeast. The passes between these mountains are thus highly valuable as strategic outposts, and have changed ownership between these three rivals many times over the centuries. House Manwoody has traditionally been the first line of defense for one of these openings, the Prince’s Pass, and their sigil is a reference to the fact that many years ago, one of the ancient Kings of the Reach was slain in that location. The name of their stronghold Kingsgrave is also indicative of this event.
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