“In King’s Landing, there are two sorts of people. The players and the pieces.” – Littlefinger
House Baelish was so insignificant when Petyr was born that no one knew the name. It was about the smallest a house could be and still be considered a ‘house’. They ruled their few acres from a small tower which had no name and they watched over a dozen families on the smallest of the small Fingers.
Petyr would have probably lived and died a little Lord of the Fingers if not for a lucky streak of his fathers. Petyr’s father had fought in The War of the Ninepenny Kings and had befriended a man named Hoster Tully. Because of this, when Petyr was born, he was sent to be fostered at Riverrun. Therefore it’s impossible to talk about his history without also talking about Catelyn, Lysa, and Edmure Tully’s history.
Petyr was born with the two dangerous C traits. He was cunning and clever. And believe it or not, early in life, he was also a troublemaker. He was a small boy and grew to be a small man and he got the nickname Littlefinger from Edmure during his stay at Riverrun. All his fingers are of normal length, his nickname was a mixture of his small stature and his home place of the Fingers.
Littlefinger grew close with the Tully children and they provided him with family and security, but Littlefinger was always hungry for more. Not even money or power, but just… more. Notably more in the form of Catelyn who he fell head over heels for. It was uncharacteristically foolish of him to do so. Catelyn was way out of his league, but not just that, she never felt that way about him. And a harsh triangle formed as Lysa fell for Petyr. Catelyn had no interest in Petyr and Petyr had no interest in Lysa.
It all went to shit when Catelyn’s betrothal to Brandon Stark was announced. Lysa, Catelyn, and Petyr’s relationship was a little confused and complicated to say the least. Petyr danced with Cat six times that night and when he leaned in for a kiss, she pushed him away and laughed him off. Petyr drank himself into a stupor, and later that night, when a young girl snuck into his bedchamber, he mistakenly thought it was Catelyn. Lysa was the one to lose her virginity that night.
Littlefinger challenged Brandon to a duel for Catelyn’s hand in marriage. No one doubted for even a split of a second who would come out victorious. Cat pleaded with Brandon to not kill Petyr and he agreed. It proved more of a challenge than it sounds though as Petyr took wound after wound, refusing to give up. Eventually though, Brandon managed to put him down.
Hoster Tully gave him two weeks to recover. Two more weeks at Riverrun before he would be sent away. Bridges with the Tullys had been burned and there was no rebuilding them. All bridges save for Lysa of course. He slept with her once again and she became pregnant with his child. Hoster forced her to drink moon tea despite her pleas to let her marry Petyr. The pregnancy was terminated and Littlefinger was sent away.
Lysa and Littlefinger kept in touch despite their separation. He also tried to reach out to Catelyn once after Brandon died in King’s Landing, but the letter was burnt without a word of it having been read. Littlefinger had an incredible proficiency when it came to all things gold.
“Littlefinger’s gold is made from thin air, with a snap from his fingers.” – Tyrion
Petyr could turn a single golden dragon into ten, but if gold was all he desired he would have never even needed to leave the Fingers. Lysa married Jon Arryn and she convinced him to give Littlefinger some fiscal responsibility which, naturally, he excelled at.
Jon Arryn became Hand of the King and within three years after Robert’s Rebellion, Littlefinger was master of coin for no other reason than he was the best for the job. For someone from a small house such as Baelish, getting on the small council was a very big deal. Often positions like that are handed out for political gain to more powerful families and rarely would someone like Littlefinger ever get close to it. Littlefinger began building his power and influence, gaining allies, figuring out his enemies, and planning.
“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 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.” – Tyrion
To sum it up, Petyr built a small revolving empire off of piles of gold. He did this in many ways, but the end result was that people listen when you rub two golden dragons in each of their ears. Petyr knew this and he built everything off of it.
“Everyone wants something, [Sansa]. And when you know what a man wants you know who he is, and how to move him.” – Littlefinger
(cough foreshadowing cough)
It was probably a certain reality that no one in King’s Landing knew the extent of Littlefinger’s influence at this time. And it’s also not an exaggeration in any way to say that Littlefinger caused the events that occurred in A Game of Thrones. The butterfly effect is a hell of a thing, and the book/season opens when Jon Arryn dies.
A Game of Cyvasse
“Littlefinger is the second most devious man in the Seven Kingdoms.” – Varys
I like to think Littlefinger is only the second most devious because Varys is a eunuch. It’s no kidding that Littlefinger’s only *weakness* comes in the form of Cat and, eventually, her daughter, Sansa. Weakness may be a strong word, but that seems to be the chink in his armor. He opens himself up to Sansa in ways he wouldn’t dare otherwise.
It’s no secret now that it was Littlefinger who convinced Lysa to poison and murder her husband, Jon Arryn. This sets off the events in Winterfell which cause Bran to fall from a tower and an assassin to be sent to finish him off with a Valyrian steel blade. Catelyn goes to King’s Landing to find Ned, but despite her efforts to remain hidden, almost immediately gets intercepted by Littlefinger. She shows him the blade because she trusts him. He was like a brother to her back in the day. He tells her it was his, but he lost in a bet with Tyrion Lannister. An insanely clever lie as he actually lost the knife to Robert Baratheon. Of course this lie perpetuates itself in further conflict between the Starks and Lannisters culminating with Catelyn’s arrest of Tyrion.
“I did warn you not to trust me, you know.” – Littlefinger
Many major events in the series have Littlefinger’s hands all over them. Jon Arryn’s death, Ned’s death, The War of the Five Kings, Joffrey’s death, etc, etc. It would take about a book length or five to go into any real depth about every move Littlefinger makes, but the man is a strategic mastermind and manages to maneuver himself into a place of true power with nothing but his brain.
If the Game of Thrones was being played like a game of chess the two players would probably be Varys and Littlefinger. I know Varys is a favorite for many, but I honestly think Littlefinger plays the game better, but he does have that chink in his armor that Varys just doesn’t have. Many believe it will turn into the ultimate game between these two players, but I don’t believe so.
“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, [Sansa].” – Littlefinger
(cough foreshadowing cough)
Littlefinger consistently uses chaos as a ladder to power, thriving in the fallout of an unexpected or planned event to masterfully position himself and use others as pawns. Lysa was one of the casualties of Littlefinger’s game, him going so far as to tell her he only ever loved one woman in his whole life before throwing her from the moon door.
“Only Cat.” – Littlefinger
In the books, Littlefinger frames an innocent singer for her death, always making sure to keep risk away from himself. He keeps Sansa close, marrying a girl named Jeyne to Ramsay instead of his beloved Alayne (Sansa).
Petyr plays the small, powerless, gentle man throughout his time as master of coin and beyond, somehow convincing everyone around him that he’s not a threat. But, as we all know, nothing could be farther from the truth. Only time will tell at this point what exactly is in store for Petyr Baelish, but he’s already made a mark so large on the series that I doubt it will disappoint.
As always, thanks for reading!
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