Alysanne Blackwood, by Naomimakesart©
|Alias||Black Aly Blackwood|
|Title||Lady of Winterfell|
|Born||In 113 AC|
|Died||In 136–179 AC|
|Spouse||Lord Cregan Stark|
|Lover||Sabitha Frey (rumored)|
Lady Alysanne Blackwood, also known as Black Aly, was a member of House Blackwood. She was the aunt of Lord Benjicot Blackwood of Raventree Hall,[N 1] and the second wife of Lord Cregan Stark of Winterfell.
Appearance and Character
Alysanne was tall and thin, with thick black curly hair, long enough to reach below her waist when loose. She had small breasts, but also long legs and strong arms. Although not noted for her beauty or softness, Alysanne was regarded as a fierce, fearless woman, with a bawdy tongue. She was said to smell of woodsmoke, a feature some found attractive.
Alysanne was sixteen years old in 129 AC, when House Blackwood declared for the blacks, the faction loyal to Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen during the civil war called the Dance of the Dragons. However, the Blackwoods' hereditary enemies, House Bracken, supported King Aegon II Targaryen and the greens. During the Battle of the Burning Mill, Ser Amos Bracken slew Lord Samwell Blackwood in single combat, but died immediately afterwards when a weirwood arrow was fired into the eye slit of his helm. According to the Blackwoods, that arrow was shot by Alysanne, avenging her brother's death.
Aly shared her tent with Lady Sabitha Frey while on campaign. Alysanne commanded three hundred archers of the riverlands during the Battle of the Kingsroad in 131 AC. After her nephew, Lord Benjicot Blackwood, broke the flank of Lord Borros Baratheon's royalist greens, Alysanne's archers slew the royalist knights and unhorsed Borros, who was then slain by Lord Kermit Tully. The Lads and their armies then advanced on King's Landing, expecting to besiege the city, but arrived to discover King Aegon II Targaryen was dead, and their presence was welcomed.
However, within a fortnight, Lord Cregan Stark of Winterfell and his northmen arrived at King's Landing. Though Cregan supported the new king, Rhaenyra's eleven-year-old son Aegon III Targaryen, he was incensed by the dishonorable poisoning of King Aegon II Targaryen, and had those he suspected of being involved in the plot arrested. This period, when Cregan briefly served as Hand of the King, dispensed justice, and performed executions of the guilty, became known as the Hour of the Wolf. One of those arrested was Lord Corlys Velaryon, but he was pardoned by Aegon III, the half-brother of his granddaughters. Since Aegon was still under the age of majority and not yet anointed king, Cregan was within rights to ignore the pardon and execute Corlys, yet he did not do so. Scholars have wondered why and proposed theories, but according to Archmaester Gyldayn, Mushroom's Testimony has the best explanation: a bargain struck between Alysanne and Cregan. While accompanying her nephew Benjicot at court, Alysanne had met Cregan, and liked him despite his sternness. Cregan responded in kind, attracted to her atypical character and behavior, and soon began seeking her company. Therefore, when Alysanne came to him and asked him to let Aegon III's pardon of Corlys Velaryon stand, Cregan listened. She argued on behalf of the realm, honor, and peace; but in the end, requested it as a personal boon, in exchange for whatever he wished. In return, Cregan asked for her hand in marriage, and Alysanne gladly agreed. According to Mushroom, Alysanne's actions helped to bring peace after the civil war.
Alysanne was present in King's Landing for the royal wedding of King Aegon III Targaryen and Queen Jaehaera Targaryen. Afterwards, she and Cregan faced a problem — his army was comprised of many childless and homeless men, unwed men, old men, and younger sons, people who might become burdens in the upcoming winter if they returned north. Alysanne suggested that the northmen remain in the south to help rebuild the riverlands, as many women had lost their husbands during the war. Strength and a willingness to help would be welcome in many homes. In the end, more than a thousand northmen accompanied Alysanne and Lord Benjicot Blackwood when they left for Raventree seventeen days after the wedding. Hundreds of marriages were made at the "Widow Fairs" held at Raventree, Riverrun, Stoney Sept, the Twins, and Fairmarket, and Alysanne's matchmaking was generally successful. The northmen who preferred to remain unmarried instead became sworn swords to lords, to be their guards and men-at-arms. The resettled northmen strengthened the riverlords who welcomed them, especially House Tully and House Blackwood, and helped revive and spread the worship of the Old Gods in the south.
Alysanne married Cregan Stark in the godswood of Winterfell in 132 AC. Despite howling snowstorms, Benjicot led a retinue up the kingsroad to Winterfell to stand witness at his aunt's splendid wedding. Cregan's young son Rickon Stark sang a song for his new stepmother during the wedding feast. Later, Alysanne gave Cregan four daughters: Sarra, Alys, Raya, and Mariah Stark.
Quotes by Alysanne
Grant me this boon, and I shall never ask another. Do this, and I shall know that you are as wise as you are strong, as kind as you are fierce. Give me this, and I shall give you whatever you may choose to ask of me.
Cregan: What if I ask you for your maidenhead, my lady?
Alysanne: I cannot give you what I do not have, my lord. I lost my maidenhead in the saddle when I was three-and-ten.Alysanne: Some are fools, and she was a good horse, better than most husbands I have seen.
Cregan: Some would say that you squandered on a horse a gift that by rights should have belonged to your future husband.
—Cregan Stark and Alysanne
Cregan: Aye, I’ll grant your boon.
Alysanne: And in return?Alysanne: A hand for a head. Done.
Cregan: All I ask is all of you, forever. I claim your hand in marriage.
—Cregan Stark and Alysanne
Quotes about Alysanne
A lean tall creature was this wench, thin as a whip and flat-chested as a boy, but long of leg and strong of arm, with a mane of thick black curls that tumbled down past her waist when loosed.—writings of Mushroom
She smells of woodsmoke, not flowers.
- Earlier prints of The World of Ice & Fire state that Alysanne is the sister of Lord Benjicot Blackwood (The World of Ice & Fire, The Stormlands: House Baratheon). However, Elio García has confirmed that the statement is in error (A Forum of Ice and Fire: Looking in the MUSH for some World Book content (November 11, 2014)), stating "Aly is Ben's aunt, BTW. Sister is an error in the book, we'll get it corrected.". This error has been subsequently fixed in later editions (Reddit, (Spoilers Main) An Errata of Ice and Fire: list of fixed/confirmed/probable errors (November 8, 2017)).
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon III.
- Fire & Blood, Under the Regents - The Hooded Hand.
- See the Alysanne Blackwood calculation.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Appendix: Stark Lineage.
- Fire & Blood, Aftermath - The Hour of the Wolf.
- Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - The Red Dragon and the Gold.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Stormlands: House Baratheon.
- Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - The Short, Sad Reign of Aegon II.