Lysa Arryn

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Lysa Arryn
House Baelish (Harrenhal).svg

House Arryn.svg
Lysa Arryn.jpg
Illustration by Amok©

Alias Lysa Tully
Title Lady of the Vale
Allegiance House Tully
House Arryn
House Baelish
Born In 266 AC, 267 AC, or 268 AC[1], at Riverrun
Died In 300 AC, at the Eyrie
Spouse 1st: Jon Arryn
2nd: Petyr Baelish
Book(s) A Game of Thrones (appears)
A Clash of Kings (mentioned)
A Storm of Swords (appears)
A Feast for Crows (mentioned)
A Dance with Dragons (mentioned)

Played by Kate Dickie
TV series Season 1 | Season 4

Lady Lysa Arryn,[2][3][4] also known as Lysa Tully,[5] is a member of House Tully. She is the youngest daughter of Lord Hoster Tully of Riverrun and his wife, Lady Minisa Whent, and wife of Lord Jon Arryn, the Lord of the Eyrie and Hand of the King to King Robert I Baratheon. Since her husband's death, she is the Lady Regent of the Vale of Arryn. In the television adaptation Game of Thrones, she is played by Kate Dickie.

Appearance and Character

See also: Images of Lysa Tully

While she was a pretty, slender, high-breasted girl, dimpled and delicate,[6][7] in her youth, Lysa has grown thick of body by her early thirties, as a result of her many pregnancies, miscarriages and stillbirths.[3][5][6] Despite being two years younger than her sister Catelyn, Lysa looks ten years older; her face has become pale and puffy, and she now paints and powders it.[3][6] While Lysa uses scents to smell more sweet, she cannot completely hide the sour milky smell.[3] She has the blue eyes of the Tullys, a small, petulant mouth and long, thick, auburn hair, which falls down to her waist.[6][7]

According to a semi-canon source, Lysa wanted nothing more than to marry the man of her dreams as a young girl at Riverrun. She idolized her older sister Catelyn for her betrothal to the heir of Winterfell, Brandon Stark, and hoped to one day marry a man as noble and handsome as him.[8] Her marriage to Jon Arryn, however, was purely political, and while he was dutiful and kind to her, the marriage lacked the warmth Lysa required.[9]

While Lysa had been a soft, shy,[10] delicate and timid girl in her youth, prone to tongue-tied silences and fits of giggles,[7] her years at King's Landing were difficult for her, and changed her significantly,[6] turning her into a woman who is by turns proud, fearful, cruel, dreamy, reckless, impulsive, timid, stubborn, vain, and inconstant.[10][11] She had never been brave in her youth, which did not change during adulthood.[12] Grand Maester Pycelle considers Lysa to have never been "the strongest and most disciplined of minds", claiming that Lysa has seen enemies in every shadow since her last stillbirth.[13] Lysa is fiercely protective of her young son, Robert, and goes through great lengths to keep him by her side,[14][15] e.g. fleeing from court when the King offered for Robert to be fostered by his father-in-law,[16] and threatening her own sister with execution upon the suggestion that Robert could be fostered at Winterfell amongst his cousins.[14]


Hoster Tully gives his daughter Lysa moon tea.
Art by Juliana Pinho

Early life

Lysa was born as the second daughter of Lord Hoster Tully, head of House Tully and Lord of Riverrun, and his wife, Lady Minisa Whent. She has one older sister, Catelyn, and one younger brother, Edmure. Her mother, who had given birth to two boys previously (who had both died in infancy),[17] died giving birth to her sixth child, who died with her.[18]

Lysa was raised at Riverrun, alongside her two siblings and her father's young ward, Petyr Baelish.[19] As a young girl, Lysa would run and hide whenever she had done something wrong, so her father could not find her.[12] Just as her siblings and her father's ward, Petyr, were wont to do, Lysa always went to her uncle, Ser Brynden Tully, with her tears and tales, whenever Lord Hoster was too busy, and Lady Minisa too ill.[6] Lysa and Catelyn played together, as girls, and even had a secret language.[11] Once they made mud pies and served them to Petyr, who ate them and as a result was sick for a week.[20] On one occasion, Lysa accompanied her father to Seagard with her sister, but on their way back to Riverrun, she and Catelyn got lost due to the mist. Petyr Baelish, who had accompanied Lord Hoster as well, eventually found them.[21]

Being raised alongside Petyr, Lysa fell in love with him, but her feelings were not reciprocated. Instead, Petyr fell in love with Lysa's older sister Catelyn.[15][22] When they were stilll young Lysa and Catelyn had first learnt to kiss by taking turns kissing Petyr,[23] making Petyr the first man Lysa ever kissed.[3] Catelyn recalls it as having been very innocent, though Petyr attempted to kiss them with tongue, which Lysa allowed.[23] On the night Catelyn's betrothal to Brandon Stark was announced,[24] Petyr, after having danced with Catelyn, tried to kiss her, and she rejected him, laughing. Petyr got drunk because of this, and after the boy had been brought to bed, Lysa followed and climbed into his bed to "give him comfort". Petyr took her virginity that night, telling her he loved her whilst he drunkenly believed that she was Catelyn, going as far as calling her "Cat" before he fell asleep. Despite this, Lysa stayed with him until sunrise, and would later come to remember the night fondly.[15] When Catelyn's wedding date to Brandon Stark was eventually announced in 282 AC, Petyr challenged Brandon for Catelyn's hand.[24] Brandon wounded Petyr severely and Lysa helped nurse him. In the following fortnight, they slept together again. Lysa became pregnant with Petyr's child as a result of this.[15] After Hoster had send Petyr back to the Fingers, Lysa revealed her pregnancy to him, hoping that Hoster would relent and let her wed Petyr, but Hoster, who had always felt Petyr was too lowborn,[3] instead forced her to abort the child with moon tea, provided by Maester Kym.[15][24] Lysa nearly dies from this.[25]


Lord Hoster Tully and Lord Tywin Lannister had been discussing a betrothal between Lysa and Jaime Lannister, the heir to Casterly Rock. This potential betrothal was off the table when King Aerys II Targaryen named Jaime to his Kingsguard in 281 AC.[26][27][28] Lord Tywin offered his younger son, Tyrion, instead but was rebuffed by Lord Hoster, who stated that he wanted "a whole man" for Lysa.[28] During Robert's Rebellion, Lysa was married to Lord Jon Arryn, Lord of the Eyrie and Defender of the Vale.[29] Lord Arryn was already an old man and their marriage forged a useful wartime alliance with House Tully. In addition, Jon needed a wife known to be fertile, as his last heir had died during the Battle of the Bells.[9] She married Jon at Riverrun, in the same ceremony as her sister married Lord Eddard Stark,[29] But unlike Catelyn's marriage, Lysa's had been hastily arranged.[9] While she had wept much at the morning of their wedding, Lysa had been dry-eyed and radiant during the ceremony itself.[30] Both Jon Arryn and Eddard Stark played key roles in the successful rebellion, and after the dubble wedding soon left to continue fighting. Lysa and Catelyn both remained at Riverrun, and when their moon blood did not come at the accustomed time, both girls believed they were pregnant, with Lysa convinced they were both pregnant with a son. While for Catelyn this was indeed the case, Lysa's moon blood came not much later, and "all the joy" went out of her. After Catelyn gave birth to Robb, she gave him to Lysa to hold, but, dissolving into tears, Lysa immediately gave the boy back to her sister.[9]

After the war ended, King Robert I Baratheon named Jon Arryn as his Hand on his coronation,[31][32] a position that took him away to King's Landing for long periods of time. Additionally, Lysa's uncle, Ser Brynden Tully, who had been fighting with his older brother Hoster for years, took Lysa's marriage as an oppertunity to join the service of House Arryn, chosing to serve Lysa and her new husband instead, and informed his brother of this fact during Lysa's wedding feast.[6]

Jon was already a fairly old man when Lysa married him, and he was proud. Due to Jon's position as Hand of the King, the pair lived in King's Landing. Because of Lysa's soiled state and the age difference between them, theirs was a loveless marriage.[9] In addition, Lysa had many troubles with childbirth. Including two boys and three girls,[3] Lysa suffered two miscarriages in the Eyrie and three in King's Landing, and gave birth to two stillborn children.[6][9] After suffering her last stillbirth, Lysa became paranoid, seeing enemies everywhere.[33] She eventually gave birth to a son, Robert, in 292 AC.[34] However, Robert is a sickly child, suffering from the 'shaking sickness'. Being her only living child, Lysa became overprotective, and would still be breastfeeding him when he was six years old.[6]

Lysa and her sister Catelyn last saw each other in 293 AC.[6] Lysa also met Catelyn's eldest daughter, Sansa,[3] though it is unknown whether these two events occured at the same time.

Despite her marriage, Lysa did not forget Petyr Baelish. She convinced her new husband to give Petyr the customs for Gulltown around 289 AC, where Petyr performed so well that Arryn eventually brought him to court, eventually rising to the position of master of coin.[3][19] During this time, Lysa and Petyr begin a secret affair.[25]

Near the start of A Game of Thrones Lysa's husband, Jon, had grown concerned about how weak his son was and arranged for the boy to be fostered with Lord Stannis Baratheon on Dragonstone.[35][36] Lysa was furious upon learning about this arrangement,[36] and as per Petyr's instructions, poisons Jon with the Tears of Lys,[15] making his death appear natural.[13] After Jon's abrupt death, King Robert attempted to arrange for Lysa's son Robert to become a ward of Lord Tywin Lannister at Casterly Rock, as he feared that being raised by his mother would make his namesake weak. However, Lysa refused the suggestion brusquely and, against the wishes of the king, fled with her son from King's Landing back to the Vale of Arryn, without bidding farewell.[16]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

Lysa and her son Robert Arryn as portrayed on HBO's Game of Thrones

After her husband dies, Lysa flees King's Landing and returns to the Eyrie with her young son and her household.[16] The death of Jon Arryn sets into motion a number of events which lead to complete war in the Seven Kingdoms. One trigger is a secret letter Lysa sends to Catelyn, in which she accuses the Lannisters and Queen Cersei in particular of having murdered her husband.[11]

Catelyn takes Tyrion Lannister prisoner when she accidentally meets him during her journey back from King's Landing to Winterfell.[20] To shake off possible pursuers, Catelyn publicly states her intent to take Tyrion to Winterfell, but in truth travels to the Vale of Arryn instead, where her younger sister Lysa rules as regent for her six-year old son.[37] Catelyn has not seen her sister Lysa in years and is shocked by the changes in Lysa. She has grown fat, emotionally unstable and sees enemies everywhere.[6]

Lysa has Tyrion thrown in the sky cells and tries to make him confess to the murder of her husband. Tyrion outsmarts her by demanding a trial by combat.[2] His champion, Bronn, is able to win against Ser Vardis Egen, captain of the guard at the Eyrie, whom Lysa has urged into the duel.[2][10] Catelyn tries to persuade her sister to mobilize an army and join with their father Hoster Tully and the north against the Lannisters, but Lysa refuses. Their uncle, Ser Brynden the Blackfish, disgusted by Lysa's behavior, resigns as Knight of the Gate and leaves with Catelyn to fight for Riverrun.[10] Before Catelyn leaves, she offers to foster Robert at Winterfell. Lysa responds by threatening to throw Catelyn out the Moon Door.[14]

A Clash of Kings

Despite her kin fighting the Lannisters, Lysa keeps the Vale of Arryn neutral in the War of the Five Kings.

During his attempt to discover who on the small council is informing on him to Cersei Lannister, Tyrion Lannister tells Petyr Baelish that he wishes for Baelish to convince Lysa to agree to the betrothal between Princess Myrcella Baratheon and Lysa's son Robert.[19] In truth, however, the suggestion is a ruse, and Baelish never leaves King's Landing to propose the match to Lysa.[38]

A Storm of Swords

By the time of the defeat of the Starks at the Red Wedding, Petyr Baelish has risen high in the counsel of the Lannisters and has been rewarded with the title Lord Paramount of the Trident and the seat of Harrenhal. With this rank, he is now able to marry Lysa and get the position of regent for his stepson Robert.[28] Petyr brings Sansa Stark with him to the Vale, disguised as his natural daughter "Alayne Stone", but he informs Lysa who she really is. Lysa and Petyr marry at the Baelish ancestral seat.[3]

Sansa strongly resembles the deceased Catelyn.[3] One morning at the Eyrie, Lysa catches Petyr kissing Sansa. She blames Sansa and during a emotional row almost throws her from the Eyrie's Moon Door. Sansa is saved by the timely intervention of Petyr, who stops Lysa from sending Sansa to her death. Lysa is hysterical about the idea that Petyr might desire Sansa, and confesses how she and Petyr had maintained a relationship during their time in King's Landing, and she had convinced her husband, Jon, to appoint Petyr as manager of customs at Gulltown (which led to Petyr being brought to court and eventually to his appointment as master of coin)[19]. She also proclaims how she had poisoned her husband, as instructed by Petyr, and how she had sent her sister a letter accusing the Lannisters of the murder, again as per Petyr's instructions.[15]

Petyr calms Lysa down, but confesses to her that he has only ever loved Lysa's sister, Catelyn. He then throws Lysa from the mountain through the Moon Door, framing her personal singer Marillion for the deed.[15]

A Feast for Crows

Following Lysa's death, Petyr remains Lord Protector of the Vale. He has Marillion confess to murdering Lysa in front of the Lords Declarent, and convinces Sansa to place the blame on Marillion as well.[39]


A man will tell you poison is dishonorable, but a woman’s honor is different. The Mother shaped us to protect our children, and our only dishonor is in failure[3]

- Lysa to Sansa Stark

You can't want her. You can't. She's a stupid empty-headed little girl. She doesn't love you the way I have. I've always loved you. I've proved it, haven't I? I gave you my maiden's gift. I would have given you a son too, but they murdered him with moon tea, with tansy and mint and wormwood, a spoon of honey and a drop of pennyroyal. It wasn't me, I never knew, I only drank what Father gave me...[15]

- Lysa to Petyr Baelish

Tears, tears, tears. No need for tears... but that's not what you said in King's Landing. You told me to put the tears in Jon's wine, and I did. For Robert, and for us! And I wrote Catelyn and told her the Lannisters had killed my lord husband, just as you said. That was so clever... you were always clever, I told Father that, I said Petyr's so clever, he'll rise high, he will, he will, and he's sweet and gentle and I have his little baby in my belly... Why did you kiss her? Why? We're together now, we're together after so long, so very long, why would you want to kiss herrrrrr?[15]

- Lysa to Petyr Baelish

Quotes about Lysa

I'd tell you to slap some sense into your sister, if I thought it would do any good, but you'd only bruise your hand.[6]

Brynden Tully, to Catelyn Stark

Mead and marriage had taken years off Lady Lysa. She laughed at everything so long as she held her husband's hand, and her eyes seemed to glow whenever she looked at him.[3]

- Sansa Stark's thoughts about Lysa

Family Tree

House Stark
House Arryn

References and Notes

  1. See the Lysa Tully calculation.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 38, Tyrion V.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 68, Sansa VI.
  4. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 9, Davos I.
  5. 5.0 5.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 23, Alayne I.
  6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 34, Catelyn VI.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 33, Jaime V.
  8. A Song of Ice and Fire Campaign Guide
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 2, Catelyn I.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 40, Catelyn VII.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 6, Catelyn II.
  12. 12.0 12.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 20, Catelyn III.
  13. 13.0 13.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 25, Eddard V.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 55, Catelyn VIII.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 15.5 15.6 15.7 15.8 15.9 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 80, Sansa VII.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 4, Eddard I.
  17. 17.0 17.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 45, Catelyn VI.
  18. 18.0 18.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 33, Catelyn IV.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 17, Tyrion IV.
  20. 20.0 20.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 28, Catelyn V.
  21. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 55, Catelyn VII.
  22. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 29, Sansa II.
  23. 23.0 23.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 71, Catelyn XI.
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Petyr Baelish.
  25. 25.0 25.1 George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Lysa Tully.
  26. The World of Ice and Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aerys II.
  27. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 11, Jaime II.
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 19, Tyrion III.
  29. 29.0 29.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 2, Catelyn I.
  30. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 45, Catelyn V.
  31. George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Jon Arryn.
  32. A Clash of Kings, Prologue.
  33. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 24, Bran IV.
  34. See the Robert Arryn calculation
  35. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 13, Tyrion II.
  36. 36.0 36.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 59, Catelyn IX.
  37. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 31, Tyrion IV.
  38. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 25, Tyrion VI.
  39. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 10, Sansa I.

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