Petyr Baelish

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Petyr Baelish
House Baelish (Harrenhal).svg
Sardag littlefinger.jpg
Petyr Baelish by Sardag

Alias Littlefinger
Title Master of coin (formerly)
Lord Paramount of the Trident
Lord of Harrenhal
Lord Protector of the Eyrie and the Vale of Arryn
Allegiance House Baelish of the Fingers
House Baelish of Harrenhal
Culture Valemen
Born In 268 AC[1], at the Fingers
Spouse Lady Lysa Arryn
Book(s) A Game of Thrones (appears)
A Clash of Kings (appears)
A Storm of Swords (appears)
A Feast for Crows (appears)
A Dance with Dragons (mentioned)

Played by Aidan Gillen
TV series Season 1 | Season 2 | Season 3 | Season 4 | Season 5 | Season 6

Petyr Baelish, also called Littlefinger, is the head of House Baelish of the Fingers.[2] He serves as master of coin on King Robert I Baratheon's small council.[3] Petyr wears a mockingbird as his personal crest instead of House Baelish's sigil, a titan's head.[2][4][5] In the television adaptation Game of Thrones he is played by Aidan Gillen.

Appearance and Character

See also: Images of Petyr Baelish

Petyr had been slight and short for his age as a boy, and nearing his thirties, he is still a short man of slender build. Petyr has sharp features, a small pointed beard on his chin, and dark hair with threads of grey running through it.[2][4] He has laughing gray-green eyes;[2][6] however, Sansa Stark notes that when Petyr laughs, his eyes do not.[4] His breath is always fresh,[5] smelling like mint,[4] which he had enjoyed chewing as a boy.[7]

Petyr had always been cunning and clever. As a child, he was bold, always getting into trouble,[7] but was also capable of looking contrite after his mischiefs.[2] While Petyr was born to the small and insignificant House Baelish, he is a subtle and ambitious man,[8][9] whose intelligence helped him advance in terms of power and status.[10] He possesses considerable skill in commerce and coin, as well as manipulation, and has a gift for political improvisation. He is often underestimated by many high lords due to his low birth.[9] According to George R. R. Martin, "Everybody trusts him because he seems powerless, and he's very friendly, and he's very helpful."[11] Despite this, Tyrion Lannister considers Petyr to be a dangerous man.[6]

History

Early Life

Petyr's great-grandfather was a Braavosi sellsword in the service of Lord Corbray; when his son became a hedge knight, he took the stone head of the Titan of Braavos as his sigil. Petyr's father, in turn, was the smallest of small lords of a few rocky acres on the smallest of the Fingers,[9] who befriended Hoster Tully during his service in the War of the Ninepenny Kings. This friendship led to Petyr being sent to be fostered at Riverrun.[10][12]

At Riverrun, Petyr was fostered as a ward and raised alongside Lord Hoster Tully's children, Catelyn, Lysa and Edmure. Because of his family holdings, and because of his short stature, Edmure gave him the nickname "Littlefinger", by which he is still called during the present times.[2] Petyr grew close to the Tully children,[9] and used to play with Edmure[13] as well as Catelyn and Lysa; Catelyn recalls how she and Lysa once made mud pies, which Petyr ate, resulting in him being sick for a week.[14] When he had a problem, Petyr went to Lord Hoster's brother, Ser Brynden Tully, just as Lord Hoster's children were wont to do.[15] Petyr accompanied Lord Hoster on at least one journey that he made, to Seagard.[16][17] As the children grew older, Petyr fell in love with Catelyn,[4] who was several years his elder. She did not reciprocate those feelings, loving him as a brother instead.[2][16] Catelyn's younger sister, Lysa, on the other hand, fell in love with Petyr.[18] Petyr would play at kissing with both Catelyn and Lysa in the godswood of Riverrun, attempting to stick his tongue into their mouths - which Catelyn halted, but Lysa both allowed and enjoyed.[7]

When Catelyn's betrothal to Brandon Stark, the heir to Winterfell, was announced,[10] Lord Bracken and Blackwood were at Riverrun, to settle a fued with Lord Hoster Tully's help. Catelyn and Petyr danced six dances that night, but when he tried to kiss her, she pushed him away and laughed at him. Wounded by the rejection, Petyr got drunk, passed out at the table, and was brought to his bed by Ser Brynden Tully. Lysa snuck in after him, and gave Petyr her virginity that night. Still drunk, Petyr believed he was having sex with Catelyn, and even called out "Cat".[10][18]

In 282 AC, when the date of Catelyn's wedding was announced,[10] Petyr, scarcely fifteen years old, challenged the twenty-year old Brandon Stark to a duel for her hand.[2] He arrived with only a helm, breastplate and mail, leading to Brandon taking off most of his own armor. Petyr asked Catelyn for her favor to wear, but she refused, giving it to Brandon instead.[18][19] Catelyn begged Brandon not to kill Petyr, to which he agreed. While Brandon offered Petyr multiple chances to yield, Petyr refused to give up. In the end, Petyr was staggering and bleeding from a dozen wounds, when Brandon ended the battle with a backhand cut so brutal Catelyn Tully was convinced it was mortal.[19]

Petyr was given a fortnight to recover at Riverrun, during which time Lysa helped care for him. Catelyn did not go to see him, and Petyr refused to see Edmure, who had served as Brandon's squire during the duel.[19][20] During this fortnight, Petyr slept with Lysa again.[10] He would later claim to have taken the maidenhood of both Tully sisters, due to his believe that his first encounter with Lysa had actually been with Catelyn.[9][16][21]

When the fortnight had passed and Petyr was strong enough, Lord Hoster sent Petyr away from Riverrun. Catelyn did not say goodbye to him.[19] However, Lysa had become pregnant with Petyr's child as a result of their second sexual encounter. After Petyr had been send away, Lysa revealed her pregnancy to her father, hoping he would relent and allow Lysa and Petyr to marry. Instead, Hoster, who had believed Petyr to be too lowborn,[5] forced Lysa to drink moon tea to abort the pregnancy.[22]

Appointment to the small council

Back at the Fingers, Petyr sent Catelyn a single letter after the death of her betrothed, Brandon. However, she burned the letter without reading it, and they would not see each other for many years to come.[2] Catelyn married Eddard Stark during Robert's Rebellion,[23][22] and went north to Winterfell after the conclusion of Robert's Rebellion.[24] Petyr used to dream about Wintefell, always imagining it as a dark and cold place.[18]

Petyr did maintain a relationship with Lysa, even after her marriage to Lord Jon Arryn during Robert's Rebellion. Lysa convinced her husband to give Petyr control of customs at Gulltown around 289 AC, where he increased incomes tenfold, displaying his skill with finances.[5] Jon Arryn, Hand of the King for King Robert I Baratheon, eventually brought Petyr to court in King's Landing, and within three years, he was named master of coin and appointed to the small council.[5][9] There, he increased his influence by moving his own people in place, such as the four Keepers of the Keys, the King's Counter and the King's Scales, as well as harbor masters, toll collectors, and wine factors.[9] Meanwhile, he also developed a complex web of loans, transactions, and investments, as to supply the King and the King's Hand with enough gold,[9] and bought several establishments (including several brothels).[6][25]

During his time at court, Petyr continued his relationship with Lysa, who, as the wife to the Hand of the King, had been living in King's Landing as well.[5][10] When Lysa learns that her husband plans to send their son, Robert Arryn, away to be fostered at Dragonstone by Lord Stannis Baratheon, it is Petyr who provides her with the poison she uses to kill Lord Jon. He also convinces her to send a message to her sister Catelyn at Winterfell, in which she accuses Queen Cersei Lannister and her family of the murder of her husband.[18][24]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

Conleth Hill as Varys and Aidan Gillen as Petyr Baelish, as portrayed in HBO's Game of Thrones

When Catelyn Stark arrives in King's Landing to inform her husband, Lord Eddard Stark, about the attempt on the life of their son Bran, Petyr, who learned of her arrival despite her efforts to remain unnoticed, intercepts her and stashes her away in one of his brothels. Catelyn, justifying her trust in Baelish from their time together in Riverrun, shows him the Valyrian steel dagger used in the attempt by a catspaw. Petyr says that he recognizes the dagger, claiming that it was once his but that he lost it in a wager to Tyrion Lannister.[2] This lie - Petyr in truth lost the dagger to King Robert I Baratheon[16] - leads to Catelyn's eventual arrest of Tyrion at the crossroads.[14]

Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark and Petyr Baelish at the Hand's tourney, as portrayed in HBO's Game of Thrones

Petyr fetches Eddard to meet with his wife and is able to convince him, against his inclination, to make no move against the Lannisters until they have proof. He vows to assist Ned in finding Jon Arryn's killer,[25] and during Ned's tenure as Hand of the King feigns friendship to him on behalf of his fondness for Catelyn. He superficially attempts to tutor Ned in the intrigues of the court and warns Ned not to trust anyone, including himself.[26]

When King Robert I learns that the exiled Daenerys Targaryen is pregnant, Baelish agrees with Robert in advocating her assassination. Ned Stark resigns as Hand in protest of Robert's command, but before he can arrange to travel back to Winterfell, Petyr approaches him with the promise of assistance in his investigation into Jon Arryn's death.[27] He leads Ned to a brothel where a young whore is raising one of Robert's bastard children. He is present when Ned is accosted by men led by Ser Jaime Lannister while returning from the city shortly thereafter.[28]

After King Robert's mortal wounding and his subsequent naming of Eddard as Regent and Lord Protector, Baelish advises Ned that despite their knowledge that Queen Cersei Lannister's children are illegitimate and that Stannis Baratheon is the legal heir, the wisest course of action is to ensure Joffrey's succession, a maneuver calculated to avoid all-out war and maximize their own power. Eddard refuses the suggestion and enlists Petyr's help in securing the allegiance of the city watch to ensure its loyalty when he moves against Cersei.[29] Baelish agrees, but betrays Ned, bribing the City Watch to support the queen. This leads to Stark's arrest[30] and eventual execution for treason.[31]

After the majority of Eddard's followers in King's Landing are killed following Eddard's arrest,[32] Petyr takes Jeyne Poole into his custody.[33]

A Clash of Kings

Upon arriving at King's Landing to serve as Hand of the King while Tywin Lannister is in the field, Tyrion Lannister realizes Petyr is more dangerous than he had previously known.[6] Tyrion learns about Petyr's past, learning how Petyr came to be on the small council, naming Petyr a "master juggler" when referring to his skill at finances, and noting on the fact that Petyr, due to his low birth and the way he presents himself, is not seen as a threat by anyone.[9] Realizing Petyr has many of his own men placed into multiple positions, Tyrion decides not to make a move against Petyr concerning the lie he told about Tyrion's involvement in the attack on Bran Stark's life, untill he can find a way to replace those men with his own.[9]

During a meeting of the small council, following the proclamation of Stannis Baratheon that Cersei Lannister's children were born out of incest, Petyr proposes they "fight" Stannis's claims by spreading rumors of their own, suggesting they spread the news that Stannis's daughter Shireen was fathered by Patchface, Stannis's fool on Dragonstone.[34]

After the assassination of King Renly Baratheon, Petyr and Tyrion plot to form an alliance with House Tyrell to win over any lords of the Reach or the stormlands that did not immediately declare for King Stannis Baratheon. Petyr volunteers to travel to Bitterbridge to broker the deal,[35] and is successful in forging a Lannister-Tyrell alliance through the engagement of King Joffrey I Baratheon and Margaery Tyrell.[36][37]

Littlefinger – by Algesiras ©

Petyr returns to King's Landing with Tyrell forces alongside those of Tywin Lannister. The allied Lannister and Tyrell armies are able to take Stannis's forces in the rear in the last hours of the Battle of the Blackwater, with Petyr providing the idea to dress Ser Garlan Tyrell in King Renly's armor during the battle so as to frighten Stannis's men-at-arms.[38] After the battle, Petyr is rewarded with the title Lord Paramount of the Trident and is named Lord of Harrenhal, despite the fact that it is still under control of Robb Stark, King in the North, and held by Lord Roose Bolton. Though Petyr never sets foot in the castle, the title gives the new House Baelish of Harrenhal nominal control over the war-torn riverlands and makes him a high lord.[39]

Petyr maintains contact with Sansa Stark via Ser Dontos Hollard, who vaguely informs Sansa of a secret plan to return her home. Petyr also acquires key informants in the crown's inner circle in Osney, Osfryd, and Osmund Kettleblack, who are hired to guard Queen Cersei Lannister after Tyrion send her guards away. Tyrion believes that the Kettleblack brothers are in his pay, when in truth their allegiance is to Petyr.[5]

A Storm of Swords

During a session of the small council, Baelish informs Lord Tywin Lannister of the Tyrell plot to spirit Sansa Stark to Highgarden and marry her to Willas Tyrell, giving Tywin the necessary time to wed her in haste to his son Tyrion instead.[8]

Petyr's newfound status as a high lord gives him the necessary standing to be considered by Tywin for a marriage to the widowed Lysa Arryn with the intent of delivering the Vale of Arryn, which has remained neutral, to the Crown without violence. Petyr agrees with the plan and is sent to the Eyrie to woo Lysa, believing that to be an easy task given their history. Tyrion Lannister is appointed as master of coin upon Petyr's departure.[8]

Though Petyr has left King's Landing, he does not go immediately to the Vale, and instead remains near the city until after the wedding between Joffrey and Margaery, in which King Joffrey I is killed.[40] In the ensuing chaos, Sansa is spirited out of the city by Dontos Hollard and taken to a ship where Petyr awaits her. Petyr has Dontos killed, explaining to Sansa that she will be wanted in connection with Joffrey's death and that Dontos's death is the only sure way to know he will remain silent. He then goes on to explain his role in Joffrey's murder, having plotted it with Olenna Redwyne. He reveales that the involvement of the hairnet laced with black amethysts that Dontos had insisted Sansa wear to the feast. The amethysts were in reality the strangler, the poison used to kill Joffrey; Sansa had unwittingly smuggled them into the feast. Petyr also brags of his involvement in arranging a set of jousting dwarfs as entertainment, which he explains were calculated to bring Tyrion Lannister into conflict with Joffrey just prior to Joffrey's death. Confident that Tyrion will be executed, he notes to Sansa that widowhood will become her.[41]

With Sansa at his side, Petyr has her hair dyed and gives her the assumed identity of Alayne Stone, his bastard daughter. They travel on the Merling King to the Vale, stopping at his meager inherited holdings on the Fingers for a few days. Lysa meets them there and insists upon marrying Petyr immediately. He reluctantly agrees, and after the wedding they travel to the Eyrie, where Petyr spends much of his time traveling from lord to lord and asserting his authority. Lysa names Petyr the Lord Protector of the Vale.[5][18]

In the Eyrie, Petyr notes that Sansa is growing into a beautiful young woman and that she looks very much like her mother Catelyn did at that age. In a quiet moment he takes that affection so far as to kiss her. Lysa witnesses the act, and in a fit of jealous rage attempts to kill Sansa in the throne room, nearly shoving her out the Moon Door. Petyr arrives in time to intervene, at which point Lysa breaks down crying. She accuses Petyr of not loving her despite all she had done for him. She reveals in Sansa's hearing that it had been Petyr who had convinced her to poison her previous husband, Lord Jon Arryn, to prevent him from sending her young son Robert away to be fostered, and that it had been Petyr who had convinced her to write a letter to her sister Catelyn, stating that Jon Arryn had been poisoned and that the Lannisters were responsible. Petyr temporarily soothes Lysa, assuring her that he has only ever loved one woman. He then adds "Only Cat" and shoves Lysa out the Moon Door to her death. The killing is blamed on the singer Marillion.[18]

A Feast for Crows

Petyr and Sansa with the lords of the Vale - by Mike Capprotti ©

Followling Lysa's death, Petyr remains Lord Protector of the Vale, with Robert Arryn as his ward. The six most powerful lords of the Vale respond by combining their forces, planning on removing Petyr as Lord Protector. Petyr gains Nestor Royce as an ally by granting him the Gates of the Moon, stating it had been the desire of the late Lysa.[42]

During the parley with the Lords Declarant at the Eyrie, Lyn Corbray behaves belligerently, going so far as to draw his sword, breaching the guest right. Now holding leverage over the Lords Declarant, Petyr demands a trial period on his wardship over Robert. He notes to Sansa how fortuitous Corbray's action was, and Sansa correctly guesses that Corbray must be on his payroll. Petyr confirms this, and confides in Sansa how ot plans to use this time as regent to eliminate, win over, or marginalize the lords who are currently against him, and to allow Corbray to use his supposed disgust for him to facilitate his joining, and covertly informing on, any conspiracy against the Lord Protector.[43]

Petyr arranges a marriage between Lord Lyonel Corbray and a merchant's daughter, and he then attends the wedding in Gulltown. With winter approaching, the Arryn court departs the Eyrie for the Gates of the Moon. Upon returning from Gulltown, Petyr states Cersei Lannister's leadership in King's Landing is bringing the Seven Kingdoms to ruin faster than he had anticipated. He informs Sansa that he means to marry her to Harrold Hardyng, the current heir of the young and sickly Robert Arryn, and help her regain Winterfell, her family's ancestral seat in the North.[44]

A Dance with Dragons

Following the Red Wedding, the Lannisters produce a girl whom they claim to be the missing Arya Stark. They send the girl to marry Roose Bolton's son, Ramsay, helping to cement the alliance between House Bolton and the Crown.[45][46] Theon Greyjoy later learns that the girl sent by the Lannisters to marry Ramsay Bolton is not Arya Stark, but a disguised Jeyne Poole,[47] who had been whipped and trained while being kept in one of Petyr's brothels.[48][49]

While mulling over Sansa Stark, Cersei Lannister recalls that before the Lannisters married her to Tyrion Lannister, Petyr had offered to marry Sansa himself, but his offer was rejected on account of his low birth.[50]

With the Crown having huge financial problems due to the follies of Cersei, Ser Kevan Lannister wishes that Petyr was back in King's Landing as master of coin.[51]

Quotes by Petyr

You are slow to learn, Lord Eddard. Distrusting me was the wisest thing you've done since you climbed down off your horse.[26]

– Petyr to Eddard Stark


I did warn you not to trust me, you know.[30]

– Petyr to Eddard Stark


A bag of dragons buys a man's silence for a while, but a well-placed quarrel buys it forever.[41]

– Petyr to Sansa Stark


Always keep your foes confused. If they are never certain who you are or what you want, they cannot know what you are like to do next. Sometimes the best way to baffle them is to make moves that have no purpose, or even seem to work against you. Remember that, Sansa, when you come to play the game.[41]

– Petyr to Sansa Stark


In King's Landing, there are two sorts of people. The players and the pieces.[5]

– Petyr to Sansa Stark


Everyone wants something, Alayne. And when you know what a man wants you know who he is, and how to move him.[5]

– Petyr to Sansa Stark


You could turn King's Landing upside down and not find a single man with a mockingbird sewn over his heart but that does not mean I am friendless.[5]

– Petyr to Sansa Stark


Men of honor will do things for their children that they would never consider doing for themselves.[42]

– Petyr to Alayne Stone


In the game of thrones, even the humblest pieces can have wills of their own. Sometimes they refuse to make the moves you've planned for them. Mark that well, Alayne. It's a lesson that Cersei Lannister still has yet to learn.[43]

– Petyr to Alayne Stone

Quotes about Petyr

He was always clever, even as a boy, but it is one thing to be clever and another to be wise.[2]
Catelyn Stark to Rodrik Cassel


He had grey-green eyes that did not smile when his mouth did.[4]

Sansa Stark's first impression of Petyr


Littlefinger... the gods only know what game Littlefinger is playing.[52]

Varys to Illyrio Mopatis


Littlefinger is the second most devious man in the Seven Kingdoms.[53]

Varys to Eddard Stark


Littlefinger's gold is made from thin air, with a snap from his fingers.[8]

Tyrion Lannister to Kevan Lannister


Eddard: Are you in league with Littlefinger?

Varys: I would sooner wed the Black Goat of Qohor.[53]

Eddard Stark and Varys


He many not look as tall or as strong as some, but he is worth more than all of them. Trust in him and do as he says.[5]

- Lysa Arryn to Sansa Stark

References

  1. See the Petyr Baelish calculation.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 18, Catelyn IV.
  3. A Game of Thrones, Appendix.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 29, Sansa II.
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 68, Sansa VI.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 15, Tyrion III.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 71, Catelyn XI.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 19, Tyrion III.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 9.7 9.8 9.9 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 17, Tyrion IV.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Petyr Baelish.
  11. blastr.com: Which Thrones character changed most from book to TV? GRRM explains (December 02, 2013)
  12. So Spake Martin: US Signing Tour (Half Moon Bay, CA) (November 18, 2005)
  13. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 44, Jaime VII.
  14. 14.0 14.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 28, Catelyn V.
  15. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 34, Catelyn VI.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 55, Catelyn VII.
  17. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 45, Catelyn V.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 18.5 18.6 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 80, Sansa VII.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 40, Catelyn VII.
  20. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 45, Catelyn VI.
  21. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 31, Tyrion IV.
  22. 22.0 22.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 2, Catelyn I.
  23. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 2, Catelyn I.
  24. 24.0 24.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 6, Catelyn II.
  25. 25.0 25.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 20, Eddard IV.
  26. 26.0 26.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 25, Eddard V.
  27. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 33, Eddard VIII.
  28. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 35, Eddard IX.
  29. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 47, Eddard XIII.
  30. 30.0 30.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 49, Eddard XIV.
  31. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 65, Arya V.
  32. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 50, Arya IV.
  33. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 51, Sansa IV.
  34. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 15, Sansa I.
  35. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 36, Tyrion VIII.
  36. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 41, Tyrion IX.
  37. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 54, Tyrion XII.
  38. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 67, Jaime VIII.
  39. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 65, Sansa VIII.
  40. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 60, Tyrion VIII.
  41. 41.0 41.1 41.2 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 61, Sansa V.
  42. 42.0 42.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 10, Sansa I.
  43. 43.0 43.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 23, Alayne I.
  44. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 41, Alayne II.
  45. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 53, Tyrion VI.
  46. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 72, Jaime IX.
  47. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 20, Reek II.
  48. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 37, The Prince of Winterfell.
  49. George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Jeyne Poole.
  50. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 65, Cersei II.
  51. A Dance with Dragons, Epilogue.
  52. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 32, Arya III.
  53. 53.0 53.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 58, Eddard XV.

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