Eddard "Ned" Stark is the Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North. He helped his childhood friend, Robert Baratheon, overthrow the Targaryens and claim the Iron Throne.
The most recent in a long line of Starks to rule the North, Eddard Stark became Lord of Winterfell after his father and brother were killed by the Mad King Aerys in the lead up to the war that would become known as Robert's Rebellion. Stark's sister Lyanna, whose kidnapping prompted his family's initial dispute with the king, was also a casualty of the war. Married to Catelyn Tully, he is a dedicated father and a principled ruler. Despite that, his bastard Jon Snow provides a constant reminder that even his past is not completely clean. Eddard has five children with Catelyn - Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran and Rickon.
Stark was one of the leaders of the war known as "Robert's Rebellion" or which led to Robert Baratheon usurping the Targaryan throne.Nine years before Game of Thrones begins Ned went to war together with Robert once again. This time to stop a rebellion on the Iron Islands, which would later be known as the "Greyjoy Rebellion", where where the Ironmen, lead by Lord Balon Greyjoy, tried to regain their independence from the Seven Kingdoms. The rebellion was crushed, and Ned took Balon's last surviving son Theon as a ward, to insure Balon's future cooperation.
When Robert's Hand, Jon Arryn, dies suddenly, Eddard Stark is called to take his place, and above the objections of his wife Catelyn, heads south with the King - if only to find out if there's any truth to the rumors that Arryn did not die of natural causes.