Littlefinger explains how, despite humble beginnings, House Baelish has rapidly risen to power, thanks mostly to his own wit and ambition.
Petyr Baelish: From the east coast of the Vale, the Fingers reach out into the Narrow Sea, four rocky peninsulas plagued by wind and rain, and barren to all but the hardiest of weeds, the "ancestral" home of House Baelish.
Our house began with my great-grandfather, a Braavosi sellsword, who came to the Vale at the invitation of House Corbray. My grandfather raised himself to the status of hedge-knight and even managed to acquire a bit of land and a keep on the smallest of the Fingers, though I do believe he missed sleeping under his titular hedges. The only thing worse than owning a dreary and desolate land, is owning only a small portion of it. Luckily, I didn't spend much time there - as a child. During the War of the Ninepenny Kings, a cheap name for a cheap cause, while other men fought for the king my father fought to befriend Hoster Tully, Lord Paramount of the Trident and head of one of the oldest and greatest houses in Westeros. Thanks to my father's heroic efforts, Lord Hoster agreed to foster me at Riverrun with his own children.
Until then, my whole world had been an small tower on the gull-stained rocks of the Fingers. But when I first saw the stone walls of Riverrun rising from the Trident, towering over me - back then I was a little more easily impressed - the boy in me thought the gods themselves must live in such a place. I soon learned otherwise. Lord Tully's son, Edmure, was quick to ensure I would never forget myself in their House. He nicknamed me 'Littlefinger', after my size and homeland, and the name was just cruel enough to stick. His sisters, Lysa and Catelyn, made me a pawn in their kissing-game, traded back and forth between them for practice. Needless to say, I enjoyed spending time with them more than Edmure. As we grew older, the game began to change, as all games do. Lysa grew more bold, and Cat more demure.
When Lord Tully announced Cat's betrothal to a brute from the North, whom she'd never met, I realized her duty would outweigh any feelings she had for me. Fool that I was, I challenged this Brandon Stark to a duel for her hand. He was a warrior, I was a boy. If Cat had not intervened, he would have killed me and laughed over my corpse. For my insolence, Lord Tully banished me from Riverrun.
No matter, I had learned everything by then. I would fight my battles not with swords, but with wits, as few men could match me. Even then, House Baelish might have died out on the rocks of the Fingers. I was again a poor lord, with no allies and no prospects except, if he were lucky, a daughter of a middling merchant.
Then, opportunity arose. The Mad King executed that Brandon Stark and incited a rebellion. My old "friend" Lysa Tully was married off to Jon Arryn, Lord of the Vale, to cement the alliance against the Iron Throne; bringing her within my circle again. I quickly capitalized on our former "affection" and persuaded her to have me appointed as controller of customs at Gulltown, the Vale's greatest port. Wars burn gold like wildfire. When I increased the port's income tenfold, her husband took notice of this lowly lord from the Fingers and when the new and profligate King Robert needed a Master of Coin, who could find gold where no one else could, why, Lord Arryn knew just the man.
Once House Baelish had no lands, no name and no gold, now we have quite a lot of each. What new rung will the new generation climb? Let us not be hasty, I'm not finished yet.
- Baelish says that the Fingers consist of four peninsulas, but the World of Ice and Fire sourcebook (2014) confirms that there are actually five fingers (the title "Lord of the Five Fingers" was used by the rulers of an Andal proto-kingdom). "Littlefinger" Baelish is from the smallest of these, the northernmost, nearest to the Three Sisters islands. The mistake is easy to make: the peninsula is so "little" that it isn't clear just by looking at a map if it is actually considered a "peninsula" or just a variation of the shape of the coastline. It also was never stated before the World book exactly how many peninsulas make up "the Fingers".
- Baelish (founder)
- Baelish (hedge knight) (mentioned)
- Baelish (father of Petyr)
- Lord Hoster Tully
- Petyr Baelish
- Edmure Tully
- Catelyn Tully
- Lysa Tully
- Brandon Stark
- King Aerys II Targaryen (mentioned)
- Lord Jon Arryn
- King Robert Baratheon (mentioned)