jon snow lyanna ned
Ned and Lyanna Stark in the Tower of Joy in Game of Thrones
Helen Sloan/HBO
July 11, 2016 2:21 PM EDT

In the season six finale of Game of Thrones, viewers finally received confirmation of the fan-favorite R+L=J theory — i.e., that Jon Snow is not Ned Stark’s bastard but rather the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen. This information was conveyed to the audience by way of a flashback scene in which a time-traveling Bran Stark witnessed what happened inside the Tower of Joy on the day Lyanna gave birth, making Bran the only living person — with the possible exception of Howland Reed — who knows about Jon’s true parentage.

However, while many believed that Lyanna, Rhaegar, Ned and potentially Reed were the only ones with knowledge about Lyanna’s pregnancy, there may have been another character who was aware of the secret. During a scene in the ninth episode of season one, Maester Aemon of the Night’s Watch — who was revealed to be a Targaryen and the great-uncle of Rhaegar — counsels Jon on what he should do when he learns of Ned being imprisoned by the Lannisters. “Love is the death of duty,” Aemon says. “If the day should ever come when your lord father was forced to choose between honor on the one hand and those he loves on the other, what would he do?…What is honor compared to a woman’s love? And what is duty against the feel of a newborn son in your arms? Or a brother’s smile?”

Reddit user sakhnini recently juxtaposed this scene with the Tower of Joy flashback, positing that the conversation indicated that Aemon was conscious of Jon’s real identity and of the choice that Ned had been forced to make.

See the evidence below.


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