Vale mountain clans

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Tribes of the Vale - by Tomasz Jedruszek. © Fantasy Flight Games.

The mountain clans are a culture, divided into clans of varying size and strength, who live in the foothills of the Mountains of the Moon, in the Vale of Arryn. Descendents of the First Men,[1] they are considered primitive by the Andals of the Vale. The Vale's clans are sometimes called wildlings,[2][3] like the free folk who live beyond the Wall. They should not be confused with the northern mountain clans, who are more respected and sometimes considered petty lords.[4]

Culture

Rise of the mountain clans of the Vale - by Skysoul Visual Art Studios. © Fantasy Flight Games.

The Mountains of the Moon are home to a population of people who have rejected the authority of the Eyrie and are independent from the rest of the Seven Kingdoms and its feudal society. They believe that every person's voice, regardless of gender, should be heard during councils.[5] Some clans share close bonds. Conflicts between the clans are often resolved by payment of blood money and clansmen are quick to settle personal grievances through violence.

They are a poor people with poor quality of weapons and armor. They subsist by raiding local villages, small groups of travelers and will attack even the Lord of the Eyrie if he is not properly protected. They take all weapons, grain, and armor they can find, as well as all women, whether they are wedded or not. Some women participate in raids. However, it has been hundreds of years since the clansmen have threatened the Vale with anything more serious than raids.[5]

The clansmen ride small horses that are suited to the narrow mountain paths.[6]

Known Clans

Archmaester Arnel listed the most notorious mountain clans in his work Mountain and Vale. These include:[7]

There are also smaller clans, but they are often assimilated into larger clans or destroyed by knights of the Vale.[7]

History

During the Andal invasion of Westeros, Andals from Essos conquered the Vale of Arryn from the First Men. Some First Men submitted to and intermarried with Andals in the aftermath of the Battle of Seven Stars, but others refused to kneel. The First Men who fled from the fertile Vale proper into the Mountains of the Moon are the ancestors of the modern clansmen.[7]

There is fierce enmity between the mountain clans and the knights of the Vale,[8] and the clans do not trust the lowland lords.[5]

By the beginning of A Game of Thrones, there are at least three thousand warriors among the clans, but they have not been considered a significant threat for centuries.[6]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

Bronn, Tyrion Lannister, and Tyrion's clansmen - by Sir Heartsalot©

The clans have become more active since the death of Lord of the Eyrie, Jon Arryn.[6]

While returning from King's Landing, Catelyn Stark considers visiting her sister Lysa at the Eyrie, but decides the passes through the Mountains of the Moon are too dangerous.[9] After seizing Tyrion Lannister in the inn at the crossroads, Catelyn decides to bring him east to the Eyrie rather than north to Winterfell. Their party is attacked by clansmen along the high road[10] before they reach the Bloody Gate.[6]

After Tyrion wins his trial by combat at the Eyrie through his proxy, Bronn, Lysa has them leave the Vale through the dangerous high road. Tyrion and Bronn encounter clansmen during their journey, however. In return for promising them the Vale, Tyrion enlists them to fight for House Lannister.[8] The clansmen fight alongside Tyrion in the Lannister vanguard during the battle on the Green Fork.[2]

A Clash of Kings

Serving as the acting Hand of the King, Tyrion brings the clansmen to King's Landing, where they reside in barracks below the Tower of the Hand.[11] Without the benefit of Lannister men, Tyrion uses the clansmen as his guards and soldiers. Prior to the Battle of the Blackwater, he sends them into the kingswood to disrupt the army of Stannis Baratheon.[12]

A Storm of Swords

After the Blackwater, red cloaks and Kingslanders prevents the clansmen from returning to the capital. Others are paid off by Tywin Lannister. Some return to the the mountains, while others remain in the kingswood.[13]

Arya Stark and Sandor Clegane learn that the mountain clans in the Vale are bolder as of late and are carrying steel.[14]

Quotes

The mountain clans were lawless brigands, descending from the heights to rob and kill and melting away like snow whenever the knights rode out from the Vale in search of them.[9]
- thoughts of Catelyn Stark


Why should we trust your word?… Lowland lords have lied to the clans before.”
Chella, Daughter of Cheyk


He had more faith in their iron loyalties and sense of honor than in the greed of sellswords.[3]
- thoughts of Tyrion Lannister

References and Notes

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