- This article is about the special feature. For the military force, see: Vale of Arryn#Military
The Knights of the Vale were originally the knights of Andalos, an eastern nation whose people invaded Westeros thousands of years ago. From the sea, the Vale seemed to the Andals an ideal new home. A wide, fertile valley isolated from the rest of Westeros and its kingdoms by a great mountain range.
The First Men who held it, moreover, were sparse and divided and waded into battle with bronze axes and armor that couldn't match Andal horses and steel.
But what the First Men lacked in weaponry they made up for in ferocity. Finally uniting behind King Robar Royce, the First Men smashed the Andals in battle after battle, reclaiming the Vale and pushing the invaders back to the sea from whence they'd come. Learning from the First Men, the remaining Andals united behind a leader of their own.
Not a king or a lord, but a knight who'd been born in the Vale and knew it as well as the First Men. Ser Artys Arryn, known as the Falcon Knight.
But the First Men had seized the high ground, digging trenches in front of their ranks and lining them with sharpened stakes smeared with offal and excrement.
Six times the Andal knights charged, and six times the First Men threw them back. But on the seventh, a fearsome Andal warrior broke through the ranks of the First Men, and the Andals rushed through the gap. If King Robar had been wiser, he would have retreated and saved his army for another day.
Then again, if he'd been wise at all, he'd never have risked his army of foot soldiers against mounted knights in the first place. When King Robar saw the falcon helm of Ser Artys across the field, he wagered that the Andals would break if they lost their leader and rode hard for the Falcon Knight.
The singers paint a pretty picture of the battle—the king in flashing bronze armor, the knight in silvered steel. But the duel lasted no longer than a verse of the songs. For King Robar had taken a Valyrian sword off a dead Andal lord, and it sheared through Ser Artys' helm much like a bird's wing through the air.
As the Falcon Knight tumbled to Earth, King Robar thought he'd won his desperate gamble. Then he heard the trumpets behind him.
When he turned, he saw 500 fresh Andal knights pouring down the Giant's Lance, and the man at its head was also the man at Robar's feet.
For Ser Artys, unique in that age, or indeed any age, esteemed cunning even more than martial strength and had clad one of his knights in his spare suit of armor, leaving him to die at Robar's hand while Ser Artys took his best horsemen up a goat track he knew from childhood.
The charge of the Andal knights broke the last great army of the First Men, who would never again threaten the new Knights of the Vale.
Some of the defeated would even join their ranks in the years to come, but many more fled to the mountains, choosing savagery over submission.
Ever since, the Knights of the Vale enjoyed an exclusive position in Westeros. They could sally forth from the Vale at will, knowing that if battle went against them, they could retreat through the Bloody Gate where no army could follow.
Until the dragons changed the game. When Aegon the Conqueror landed in Westeros, the Queen Regent of the Vale shut the Bloody Gate against the Targaryens and massed the Knights of the Vale behind it to lock it.
With the Conquest, no more could the Knights of the Vale hide behind their mountains, nor, they soon discovered, did they need to.
For thousands of years, the other kingdoms had warred and treated to balance each other's might. whilst the Vale kept to itself.
Of all the great armies in Westeros, only the Knights of the Vale have yet to suffer exhaustion or defeat. The Bloody Gate is opening again onto Westeros, and through it passes opportunity.
- The artist for this video was Javier Bahamonde. He also drew the video on The Kingsmoot.
- Vassal heraldry visible in this video includes House Royce, House Corbray, and House Waynwood.
- King Robar II Royce
- Ser Artys Arryn, the "Falcon Knight"
- Torgold Tollett (not mentioned by name)
- Qyle Corbray (not mentioned by name)
- King Aegon I Targaryen, the "Conqueror" (mentioned)
- Queen Visenya Targaryen
- Queen Regent Sharra Arryn
- King Ronnel Arryn
- Lord Jon Arryn
- Lord Eddard Stark (mentioned)
- Lord Robert Baratheon (mentioned)
- King Aerys II Targaryen, the "Mad King" (mentioned)
- Bronze King
- King of the Mountain and the Vale
- Lady Forlorn (not mentioned by name)
- Iron Throne (mentioned)