"And I'm no lord... merely a humble merchant."
―The Spice King[src]

A merchant is a person who trades in products and commodities to amass wealth. Regardless of their origins, merchants can amass enough wealth allowing to attain power and influence.

Cities such as Pentos, Qarth, and Astapor are ruled by elites of wealthy merchants. Some of these merchants, particularly those of Slaver's Bay, engage in the international slave trade.

Prominent merchants

In the books

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, merchants are a prominent class in Essos, holding great power in cities like Pentos, while in Westeros they have little political power as are they are still looked down by the aristocracy, whose power derives from land and military power while their prestige stems from the antiquity of their bloodlines.

In Westeros, noble houses that descend from merchants are held in low regard because it is considered that their titles are bought instead of inherited. Likewise, it is frowned upon for impoverished noble families, particularly ancient ones, to marry with one of these new houses. One such case was House Westerling, an ancient family with blood of the First Men that married House Spicer, a young house currently in its third generation and founded by a spice merchant and maegi of the east. This marriage prevented the children of Lord Gawen Westerling from being accepted as suitable matches by Ser Kevan Lannister for his own children, despite Westerlings being Lords of the Crag and Kevan's offspring nothing more than children of a second son.

Meanwhile, a cadet branch of House Arryn that established itself at Gulltown has been shunned by the rest of the family for marrying merchants, despite the marriage making them richer than most of their cousins.

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