|Successor||Tyrion Lannister (master of coin)|
|Born||In 268 AC, the Fingers|
|Spouse||Lady Lysa Arryn|
Mockingbirds on a field of green|
(Vert semé of mockingbirds proper)
|Played by||Aidan Gillen|
|TV series||Season 1 | Season 2 | Season 3 | Season 4 | Season 5 | Season 6 | Season 7|
Petyr Baelish, also called Littlefinger, is the Lord and head of House Baelish of the Fingers. He serves as master of coin on the small council of King Robert I Baratheon. 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
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. He has laughing gray-green eyes like a cat, but Sansa Stark notes that when Petyr laughs, his eyes do not. His breath is always fresh, smelling like mint, which he had enjoyed chewing as a boy.
Petyr has always been cunning and clever. As a child, he was bold, always getting into trouble, but was also capable of looking contrite after his mischiefs. While Petyr was born to the small and insignificant House Baelish, he is a subtle and ambitious man whose intelligence helped him advance in terms of power and status. 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. According to George R. R. Martin, "Everybody trusts him because he seems powerless, and he's very friendly, and he's very helpful." Despite this, Tyrion Lannister considers Petyr to be a dangerous man.
Petyr owns a slashed velvet doublet in cream-and-silver, a plum-colored doublet with a mockingbird embroidered on the breast in black thread, a blue velvet tunic with puffed sleeves, and a black velvet doublet with grey sleeves. He is partial to shades of rose and plum. His cloaks, which are clasped with a silver mockingbird, include grey silk trimmed with black fox, stripes of black and white, and a pattern of mockingbirds. Petyr also owns a yellow satin cape and a silver cape patterned with mockingbirds.
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, who befriended Hoster Tully during his service in the War of the Ninepenny Kings. This friendship led to Petyr being sent to be fostered as a ward at Riverrun.
Petyr was raised alongside Hoster Tully's children, Catelyn, Lysa and Edmure. Because of Petyr's family holdings and his short stature, Edmure gave him the nickname "Littlefinger," by which he is still called. Petyr grew close to the Tully children, and used to play with Edmure 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. 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. Petyr accompanied Hoster on at least one journey that he made, to Seagard. As the children grew older, Petyr fell in love with Catelyn, who was several years his elder. She did not reciprocate those feelings, loving him as a brother instead. Catelyn's younger sister, Lysa, on the other hand, fell in love with Petyr. 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.
When Catelyn's betrothal to Brandon Stark, the heir to Winterfell, was announced, Lords Bracken and Blackwood were at Riverrun to settle a feud with Lord 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 Brynden Tully. Lysa snuck in after him, and gave Petyr her maidenhead that night. Still drunk, Petyr believed he was having sex with Catelyn, and even called out "Cat."
In 282 AC, when the date of Catelyn's wedding was announced, Petyr, scarcely fifteen years old, challenged the twenty-year-old Brandon Stark to a duel for her hand. 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. 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 was convinced it was mortal.
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. During this fortnight, Petyr slept with Lysa again. He would later claim to have taken the maidenhood of both Tully sisters, due to his belief that his first encounter with Lysa had actually been with Catelyn.
When the fortnight had passed and Petyr was strong enough, Lord Hoster sent Petyr away from Riverrun. Catelyn did not say goodbye to him. However, Lysa had become pregnant with Petyr's child as a result of their second sexual encounter. After Petyr had been sent 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, forced Lysa to drink moon tea to abort the pregnancy.
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. Catelyn married Lord Eddard Stark during Robert's Rebellion, and went north to Winterfell after the conclusion of the war. Petyr used to dream about Winterfell, always imagining it as a dark and cold place.
Petyr maintained 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. Jon Arryn, Hand of the King for the newly crowned 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. 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. 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, and bought a number of establishments (including several brothels).
During his time at court, Petyr continued his relationship with Lysa, who, as the wife to the Hand, had been living in King's Landing as well. 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 and House Lannister of the murder of her husband.
A Game of Thrones
When Lady 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. This lie—Petyr in truth lost the dagger to King Robert I Baratheon—leads to Catelyn's eventual arrest of Tyrion at the inn at the crossroads.
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, 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.
When King Robert learns that the exiled Princess 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.
After King Robert's mortal wounding and his subsequent naming of Eddard as Lord Regent and Protector of the Realm, Baelish advises Ned that despite their knowledge that Queen Cersei Lannister's children are illegitimate and that Lord 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. Baelish agrees, but betrays Ned, bribing the gold cloaks to support the queen. This leads to Stark's arrest and eventual execution for treason.
A Clash of Kings
Upon arriving at King's Landing to serve as Hand of the King while Lord Tywin Lannister is in the field, Tyrion Lannister realizes Petyr is more dangerous than he had previously known. 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. 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, until he can find a way to replace those men with his own.
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 at Dragonstone.
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 meet the angry Ser Loras Tyrell. At Highgarden Petyr negotiates successfully with Lord Mace Tyrell and his mother, Olenna Tyrell, forging a Lannister-Tyrell alliance through the engagement of King Joffrey I Baratheon and Margaery Tyrell.
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. 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.
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.
A Storm of Swords
During a session of the small council, Petyr 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. 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. He warns Cersei and Kevan that Petyr's scheming and wealth makes him dangerous even to their family, despite the Lannisters' gold.
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. In the ensuing chaos, Sansa is spirited out of the city by Dontos Hollard, and Oswell Kettleblack rows them to a ship on Blackwater Bay where Petyr awaits. When Ser Lothor Brune's crossbowmen kill Dontos, Petyr explains 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 Tyrell. He reveals the involvement of the hair net 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.
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 during the bedding Lysa yells out that she wants Petyr to give her a child.
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 and convinces him to shave off his beard. Many lords of the Vale resent Petyr for his marriage and title.
While helping Sansa build a snow castle of her family's ancestral home, Winterfell, Petyr kisses the girl 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. Lysa witnessed the kiss, and in a fit of jealous rage attempts to kill Sansa in the High Hall, 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, Lord 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 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.
A Feast for Crows
Following Lysa's death, Petyr remains Lord Protector of the Vale, with Lord 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 Lord Nestor Royce as an ally by granting him the Gates of the Moon, stating it had been the desire of the late Lysa.
During the parley with the Lords Declarant at the Eyrie, Ser Lyn Corbray behaves belligerently, going so far as to draw his sword Lady Forlorn, breaching 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 Lyn's action was, and Sansa correctly guesses that Lyn must be on his payroll. Petyr confirms this, and confides in Sansa how he plans to use this time as regent to eliminate, win over, or marginalize the lords who are currently against him, and to allow Lyn to use his supposed disgust for him to facilitate his joining, and covertly informing on, any conspiracy against the Lord Protector.
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 Ser Harrold Hardyng, the current heir of the young and sickly Lord Robert, and help her regain Winterfell in the north.
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. Theon Greyjoy later learns that the girl sent by the Lannisters to marry Ramsay Bolton is not Arya Stark, but a disguised Jeyne Poole, who had been whipped and trained while being kept in one of Petyr's brothels.
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.
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.—Petyr to Eddard Stark
I did warn you not to trust me, you know.—Petyr to Eddard Stark
A bag of dragons buys a man's silence for a while, but a well-placed quarrel buys it forever.
Petyr: 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.
Sansa: What... what game?Petyr: The only game. The game of thrones.
—Petyr and Sansa Stark
Everyone wants something, Alayne. And when you know what a man wants you know who he is, and how to move him.
You see the wonders that can be worked with lies and Arbor gold?
Men of honor will do things for their children that they would never consider doing for themselves.—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.—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.
He had grey-green eyes that did not smile when his mouth did.—Sansa Stark's first impression of Petyr
Littlefinger... the gods only know what game Littlefinger is playing.
Littlefinger is the second most devious man in the Seven Kingdoms.
If ever truly a man had armored himself in gold, it was Petyr Baelish, not Jaime Lannister. Jaime's famous armor was but gilded steel, but Littlefinger, ah ... Tyrion had learned a few things about sweet Petyr, to his growing disquiet.—Tyrion Lannister's thoughts
Littlefinger's gold is made from thin air, with a snap from his fingers.
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.
He was Petyr, her protector, warm and funny and gentle ... but he was also Littlefinger, the lord she'd known at King's Landing, smiling slyly and stroking his beard as he whispered in Queen Cersei's ear. And Littlefinger was no friend of hers.—Sansa Stark's thoughts
Behind the Scenes
The character Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby, one of George R. R. Martin's favorite books, is an inspiration for Petyr. Another partial inspiration is Piers Gaveston, 1st Earl of Cornwall.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 8, Bran II.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 3, Tyrion I.
- See the Petyr Baelish calculation.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 18, Catelyn IV.
- A Game of Thrones, Appendix.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 29, Sansa II.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 68, Sansa VI.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 15, Tyrion III.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 17, Tyrion IV.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 71, Catelyn XI.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 19, Tyrion III.
- George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Petyr Baelish.
- blastr.com: Which Thrones character changed most from book to TV? GRRM explains (December 02, 2013)
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 33, Eddard VIII.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 45, Eddard XII.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 47, Eddard XIII.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 10, Sansa I.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 65, Sansa VIII.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 65, Arya V.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 49, Eddard XIV.
- So Spake Martin: US Signing Tour (Half Moon Bay, CA) (November 18, 2005)
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 44, Jaime VII.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 28, Catelyn V.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 34, Catelyn VI.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 55, Catelyn VII.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 45, Catelyn V.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 80, Sansa VII.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 40, Catelyn VII.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 45, Catelyn VI.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 31, Tyrion IV.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 2, Catelyn I.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 2, Catelyn I.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 6, Catelyn II.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 20, Eddard IV.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 25, Eddard V.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 35, Eddard IX.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 50, Arya IV.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 51, Sansa IV.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 15, Sansa I.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 36, Tyrion VIII.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 41, Tyrion IX.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 54, Tyrion XII.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 67, Jaime VIII.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 60, Tyrion VIII.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 61, Sansa V.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 23, Alayne I.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 41, Alayne II.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 53, Tyrion VI.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 72, Jaime IX.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 20, Reek II.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 37, The Prince of Winterfell.
- George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Jeyne Poole.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 65, Cersei II.
- A Dance with Dragons, Epilogue.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 32, Arya III.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 58, Eddard XV.
- Entertainment Weekly: George R.R. Martin suggests 9 books to read this summer, June 28, 2018
- Not A Blog: The Great Gatsby, May 21, 2013
- A Game of Thrones: d20-based Open Gaming RPG, Deluxe Limited Edition.