House Martell is one of the great houses of Westeros, ruling over Dorne from the seat of Sunspear. Prior to Aegon’s Conquest, House Martell ruled as kings of the Kingdom of Dorne; after the Conquest, they maintained dominion over Dorne as overlords of the region. Their sigil is a red spear piercing a golden sun upon a field of orange. Their words are “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken.” House Martell and the people of Dorne are culturally and ethnically different from the rest of Westeros, due to the influence of the Rhoynish people of Easteros who intermarried with House Martell approximately 1,000 years ago.
For thousands of years, House Martell was one of the strongest houses within the region of Dorne. However, unlike most other parts of Westeros that had united into kingdoms with one ruling House, Dorne remained a region divided. 1,000 years ago, after Rhoyne was defeated by the Valyrians during the expansion of the Valyrian Freehold, Warrior princess Nymeria evacuated 10,000 Rhoynish and crossed the Narrow Sea to arrive at Dorne. She forged an alliance with Mors Martell and the combination of House Martell with Nymeria’s army, they were able to successfully conquer the regions of Dorne. House Martell and the people of Dorne adapted many of the customs and traditions of Nymeria and her Rhoynish people. For the next 850 years, House Martell ruled as princes and princesses of the Kingdom of Dorne, until Baelor the Blessed arranged a marriage of a Martell princess to Targaryen king, uniting the Martells and Targaryens. This marriage brought Dorne under the rule of the Iron Throne, something Aegon was unable to do 170 years prior.
House Martell and the people of Dorne are different from the rest of Westeros, both culturally and ethnically. Culturally, they adapted many of the traditions and practices of the Rhoynish people of Westeros. For example, House Martell style themselves as princes and princess, rather than kings and queens. They also pass power to the next eldest in line, regardless of sex, whereas the rest of Westeros passes power to the next eldest male in line. As such, there have been many princess rulers over Dorne. Ethnically, due to interbreeding between the Martells and Rhoynish people, the Martells today carry the blood of their Rhoynish ancestors. They traditionally have dark hair, dark eyes and darker skin, similar to the people of Easteros.
More recently, during Robert’s Rebellion, Elia Martell and her children were murdered on Lannister orders by Gregor Clegane. In a continued line of arranged marriages between House Martell and Targaryen, Princess Elia was married to Rhaegar Targaryen, son of the Mad King. After Rhaegar was slain in battle, the Mad King was overthrown, and King’s Landing was sacked, Tywin Lannister ordered Gregor Clegane to round up the remains of the royal family, including Elia and her children. Instead, Gregor raped Elia and then murdered her and her children. To this day, there is still much anger amongst House Martell and they seek revenge against Gregor Clegane and House Lannister.
SIGNIFICANT MARTELL CHARACTERS
King Mors Martell lived nearly 1,000 years ago and was leader of House Martell at the time warrior Princess Nymeria arrived from Rhoyne with nearly 10,000 Rhoynish people. Mors married Nymeria and together their forces conquered the rest of Dorne. He adapted many of the customs and traditions of the Rhoynish people, explaining why House Martell and the Dornish people today share more similarities with the people of Easteros than the people of Westeros.
Princess Nymeria evacuated 10,000 Rhoynish after their city on Easteros was conquered by the Valyrians. She arrived at Dorne and married Mors Martell, uniting their families and conquering the rest of Dorne.
Prince Doran Martell is currently the head of House Martell and leader of Dorne. Doran is a patient and pensive man; a deep thinker. He has a bad case of gout, which causes him to stay within the confines of Sunspear, as he does not want to be seen as weak. Though patient and wise, Doran has showed desire to avenge the murder of his sister, Elia Martell.
Princess Arianne Martell is the eldest child of Prince Doran and heir to Dorne.
Princess Elia Martell, sister of Prince Doran, was murdered by Ser Gregor Clegane during Robert’s Rebellion. She was married to Rhaegar Targaryen.
Prince Oberyn Martell is the hot-headed younger brother of Prince Doran. He seeks revenge for the death of their sister, Elia. His impulsive and fearless actions have earned him the nickname of the Red Viper. He fights in battle with a long double-sided spear and is killed by the Mountain in trial by combat.