Petyr Baelish

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Petyr Baelish
Brittmartin Littlefinger.jpg

Alias Littlefinger
Title Master of coin (formerly)
Lord Paramount of the Trident
Lord of Harrenhal
Lord Protector of the Vale
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, sometimes called Littlefinger, is the head of House Baelish of the Fingers. He serves as master of coin on King Robert I Baratheon's small council.[2] Petyr wears a mockingbird as his personal crest instead of House Baelish's sigil, a titan's head. In the television adaptation Game of Thrones he is played by Aidan Gillen.

Appearance and Character

See also: Images of Petyr Baelish

A short man of slender build, with sharp features, Petyr has gray-green eyes, a small pointed beard on his chin, and threads of grey running throughout his dark hair.[3]

Petyr was born to the small and insignificant House Baelish, spending most of his adult life trying to rise above his lowly birthright and become something greater, craving for power and status. He possesses considerable skill in commerce and coin, and is a master of court intrigue, his brilliance matched only by his ambition and his gift for political improvisation. He is often underestimated by many high lords due to his low birth. According to George R. R. Martin, "Everybody trusts him because he seems powerless, and he's very friendly, and he's very helpful."[4]


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 was the smallest of small lords of a few rocky acres on the smallest of the Fingers,[5] who befriended Hoster Tully during his service in the War of the Ninepenny Kings, which led to Petyr being sent to be fostered at Riverrun with Lord Tully's children.[6]

At Riverrun Petyr was fostered as a ward and raised alongside his social betters, the Tully children, Catelyn, Lysa and Edmure, who first gave him the nickname "Littlefinger" as a reference to his family holdings.[3] As they grew older, Petyr fell in love with Catelyn, who in turn loved him as a brother, but no more. When the betrothal between Catelyn and Brandon Stark was announced, Petyr challenged the much older Brandon to a duel for her hand. Brandon won handily, leaving Baelish with a significant scar, but spared his life in compliance with Catelyn's request. Catelyn did not speak to him afterwards and burned the single letter Petyr sent after Brandon's death.[3]

Lysa, on the other hand, was in love with Petyr. Overlooking his obsession with her sister, one night, while he was drunk and miserable over Catelyn's rejection, she slipped into his bedchamber and bedded him. The delirious Petyr may have mistaken Lysa for Catelyn, and indeed called her "Catelyn" that night. After getting injured severely during of his duel against Brandon Stark, Lysa helped nurse him for a fortnight, during which they slept together again.[7] He has since claimed (at court and in private) to have taken the maidenhood of both Tully sisters. Lysa became pregnant with Petyr's child as a result of their second encounter. After Petyr was send away from Riverrum, Lysa revealed her pregnancy to her father, Hoster Tully, in the hopes he would relent and allow Lysa and Petyr to marry. Instead, Hoster forced Lysa to drink moon tea to abort the pregnancy.[8]

Petyr maintained a relationship with Lysa even after her marriage to Lord Jon Arryn. Lysa convinced her husband to give Petyr control of customs at Gulltown, where he increased incomes tenfold. His skill with finances resulted in a series of appointments leading to his being named master of coin in King's Landing under King Robert I Baratheon.[9] There his influence furnished him with many allies and contacts, including the City Watch. He also bought numerous brothels in the city.

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

Varys and Littlefinger - by Eeba-ism ©

When Catelyn Stark arrives in King's Landing to tell her husband, Lord Eddard Stark, about the attempt on their son Bran's life, 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.[3] This lie - Petyr in truth lost the dagger to King Robert I Baratheon - leads to Catelyn's eventual arrest of Tyrion at the crossroads for the attack.

Sansa Stark and Petyr Baelish at the Hand's tourney (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,[10] and during Ned's tenure as Hand of the King Petyr 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.[11]

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. 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.[12]

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.[13] Baelish agrees, but betrays Ned, bribing the City Watch to support the queen. This leads to Stark's arrest and eventual execution for treason.[14]

After the majority of Eddard's followers in King's Landing are killed, Petyr takes Jeyne Poole into his custody.[15]

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 decides to investigates Petyr before confronting him about his dagger lie to Catelyn Stark. Tyrion's research reveals:

Ten years ago, Jon Arryn had given him minor sinecure in customs, where Lord Petyr had soon distinguished himself by bringing in three times as much as any of the king's other collectors. King Robert had been a prodigious spender. A man like Petyr Baelish, who had a gift for rubbing two golden dragons together to breed a third, was invaluable to his Hand. Littlefinger's rise had been arrow-swift. Within three years of his coming to court he was master of coin and a member of the small council, and today the crown's revenues were ten times what they had under his predecessor... through the crown's debt had grown vast as well. A master juggler was Petyr Baelish.

Oh, he was clever. He did not simply collect the gold and lock it in a treasure vault, no. He paid the king's debts in promises, and put the king's gold to work. He bought wagons, shops, ships, houses. He bought grain when it was plentiful and sold bread when it was scarce. He bought wool from the north and linen from the south and lace from Lys, stored it, moved it, dyed it, sold it. The golden dragons bred and multiplied, and Littlefinger lent them out and brought them home with hatchlings.

And in the process, he moved his own men into place. The Keepers of the Keys were his, all four. The King's Counter and the King's Scales were men he named. The officers in charge of all three mints. Harbormasters, tax farmers, customs sergeants, wool factors, toll collectors, pursers, wine factors; nine of every ten belonged to Littlefinger. They were men of middling birth, by and large, merchants' sons, lesser lordlings, sometimes even foreigners, but judging from the results, far more able than their highborn predecessors.

No one had ever thought to question the appointments, and why should they? Littlefinger was no threat to anyone. A clever, smiling, genial man, everyone's friend, always able to find whatever gold the king or his Hand required, and yet of such undistinguished birth, one step up from a hedge knight, he was not a man to fear. He had no banners to call, no army of retainers, no great stronghold, no holdings to speak of, no prospects of a great marriage.[5]

Littlefinger – by Algesiras ©

Tyrion decides not to make a move on Petyr till he can find a way to replace Baelish's men with his own.

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,[16] and is successful in forging a Lannister-Tyrell alliance through the engagement of King Joffrey I Baratheon and Margaery Tyrell.[17][18]

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.[19] 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 Littlefinger 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.[20]

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.[9]

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.

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. Baelish 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.[21]

Following the Red Wedding, the Lannisters produce a girl whom Littlefinger claimed 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.[22][23]

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 Joffrey I is killed. 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 plotting Joffrey's murder, having plotted with Olenna Redwyne details including a 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.[9]

With Sansa at his side, Baelish has her hair dyed and gives her the assumed identity of Alayne Stone, a bastard daughter of his. They travel on the Merling King to the Vale, stopping at his meager inherited holdings on the Fingers for a few days. Lysa meets him there and insists upon marrying him on the spot. 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.[9][24]

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 that Petyr had convinced her to poison her previous husband, Lord Jon Arryn, claiming it was to prevent him from sending her young son Robert away to be fostered. Lysa, who is fiercely protective of her son, did his bidding. Sansa also hears that after Jon was killed, Petyr convinced Lysa to write a letter to her sister Catelyn stating that Lord 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 says "Only Cat" and shoves Lysa out the Moon Door to her death. The killing is blamed on the singer Marillion.[24]

A Feast for Crows

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

With Lysa dead, Petyr remains Lord Protector of the Vale, with Robert Arryn as his ward. The most powerful lords of the Vale respond by joining together to demand that Petyr relinquish Robert. 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.[25]

Lyn Corbray behaves belligerently during Petyr's parley with the Lords Declarant in the Eyrie, going so far as to draw his sword. This breach of hospitality gives Petyr the leverage to demand a trial period on his wardship over Robert. Petyr 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 his plans to use this time to eliminate, win over, or marginalize the lords who stand in his path, 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.[26]

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 reveals his plans to marry Sansa to the Arryn heir, Harrold Hardyng, and help her regain Winterfell, her family's ancestral seat in the North.[27]

A Dance with Dragons

Theon Greyjoy learns that the girl sent by the Lannisters to marry Ramsay Bolton is not Arya Stark, but a disguised Jeyne Poole.[28] The girl had been whipped and trained while in one of Littlefinger's brothels.[29][30]

While mulling over Sansa Stark, Cersei Lannister recalls that before the Lannisters married her to Tyrion Lannister, Petyr Baelish offered to marry Sansa himself, but his offer was rejected on account of his low birth.[31]

With the Crown having huge financial problems due to the follies of Cersei, Ser Kevan Lannister wishes that Littlefinger was back in King's Landing as master of coin.[32]

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.[11]

– Petyr to Eddard Stark

I did warn you not to trust me, you know.[14]

– Petyr to Eddard Stark

A bag of dragons buys a man's silence for a while, but a well-placed quarrel buys it forever.[33]

– 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.[33]

– Petyr to Sansa Stark

In King's Landing, there are two sorts of people. The players and the pieces.[9]

– 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.[9]

– 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.[9]

– Petyr to Sansa Stark

Men of honor will do things for their children that they would never consider doing for themselves.[25]

– 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.[26]

– 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.[3]
Catelyn Stark to Rodrik Cassel

He had grey-green eyes that did not smile when his mouth did.[34]

Sansa Stark's first impression of Petyr

Littlefinger... the gods only know what game Littlefinger is playing.[35]

Varys to Illyrio Mopatis

Littlefinger is the second most devious man in the Seven Kingdoms.[36]

Varys to Eddard Stark

Littlefinger's gold is made from thin air, with a snap from his fingers.[21]

Tyrion Lannister to Kevan Lannister

Eddard: Are you in league with Littlefinger?

Varys: I would sooner wed the Black Goat of Qohor.[36]

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.[9]

- Lysa Arryn to Sansa Stark

References and Notes

  1. See the Petyr Baelish calculation.
  2. A Game of Thrones, Appendix.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 18, Catelyn IV.
  4. Which Thrones character changed most from book to TV? GRRM explains, December 02, 2013
  5. 5.0 5.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 17, Tyrion IV.
  6. So Spake Martin: US Signing Tour (Half Moon Bay, CA) (November 18, 2005)
  7. George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Petyr Baelish.
  8. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 2, Catelyn I.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 9.7 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 68, Sansa VI.
  10. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 20, Eddard IV.
  11. 11.0 11.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 25, Eddard V.
  12. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 33, Eddard VIII.
  13. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 47, Eddard XIII.
  14. 14.0 14.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 49, Eddard XIV.
  15. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 51, Sansa IV.
  16. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 36, Tyrion VIII.
  17. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 41, Tyrion IX.
  18. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 54, Tyrion XII.
  19. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 67, Jaime VIII.
  20. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 65, Sansa VIII.
  21. 21.0 21.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 19, Tyrion III.
  22. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 53, Tyrion VI.
  23. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 72, Jaime IX.
  24. 24.0 24.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 80, Sansa VII.
  25. 25.0 25.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 10, Sansa I.
  26. 26.0 26.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 23, Alayne I.
  27. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 41, Alayne II.
  28. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 20, Reek II.
  29. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 37, The Prince of Winterfell.
  30. George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Jeyne Poole.
  31. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 65, Cersei II.
  32. A Dance with Dragons, Epilogue.
  33. 33.0 33.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 61, Sansa V.
  34. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 29, Sansa II.
  35. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 32, Arya III.
  36. 36.0 36.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 58, Eddard XV.

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