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"The first lords of the Vale didn’t have much, but they had these mountains, and they knew how to use them. And the fortress they built here has never been overcome, not once, in a thousand years."
Petyr Baelish[src]

Knights flying the banner of House Arryn galloping through the Vale.

Map showing the location of the Vale of Arryn on the continent of Westeros.

The Vale of Arryn, often referred to simply as the Vale, is one of the constituent regions of the Six Kingdoms. Prior to the War of Conquest, it was a sovereign nation known as the Kingdom of the Mountain and the Vale. It is ruled by House Arryn from their stronghold, the Eyrie. Protected and surrounded by the Mountains of the Moon, the Vale is isolated from the rest of Westeros and is accessible only during warmer seasons.[1]

Bastards born in the Vale are given the surname Stone.

The Vale is where the Andals first landed and assailed from during their invasion of Westeros six thousand years ago, though as settlement patterns became established, the Reach became the main population center and cultural heartland of the Andals. Still, because of its isolated, mountainous terrain, noble families from the Vale are said to have among the purest Andal bloodlines within Westeros. While some other noble families on the continent can claim the same, the Vale is unique to this as a region.

There are many small tribes who inhabit the foothills of the Mountains of the Moon. These tribes are commonly known as the hill tribes, and they reject the rule of House Arryn. Although they are dangerous to passing travelers, their lack of organization and less advanced weaponry means they pose little threat to the rest of Westeros.

During the War of the Five Kings, under the regency of Lady Lysa Arryn after the death of Jon Arryn, the Vale followed a strict policy of neutrality until the very last stages of the conflict and was thus able to keep its resources and army, the formidable knights of the Vale, nearly intact. The young Lord Robin Arryn, under the wing of the manipulative Lord Protector Petyr Baelish, consented to join the war when they came to the aid of their old allies of House Stark in their campaign to retake Winterfell and the North from House Bolton at the Battle of the Bastards. In the aftermath of the battle, the lords of the Vale and the North hailed Jon Snow, bastard of House Stark, as the King in the North, thus seceding from the sovereignty of the Iron Throne and joining the Kingdom of the North until Jon pledged himself to Daenerys Targaryen during her invasion. Robin chose to recognize Bran Stark as the new king after her assassination.

Geography

Unlike the Westerlands, the mountains of the Vale are much less hospitable and more difficult to traverse. While the mountains of the Westerlands are filled with precious metals such as gold and silver, the mountains of the Vale are not particularly rich in resources. The valleys scattered between the harsh mountains, however, are as fertile as any in the Riverlands. The Vale's mountains are well-known for their strategic defensibility.

Towns and cities

Regions

Coastal areas

  • The Bite, a bay separating the Vale from the North.

Military

The knights of the Vale charging into the Battle of the Bastards.

House Arryn commanded a formidable military prior to the outbreak of the War of the Five Kings, capable of fielding thousands of men. As one of the wealthiest Great Houses, the Vale's forces are numerous in the Seven Kingdoms, though still lack behind numerically compared to the Lannisters. Like the Reach and Dorne, the strength of the Vale has remained mostly unscathed during the War of the Five Kings. Nevertheless, it is clear that the Vale has an advantageous leverage compared to the largely-depleted Lannisters in terms of manpower.

The wealth of House Arryn is due to the fertile areas of the Vale and trade from ports such as Gulltown. This is particularly evidenced by the high-quality swords and armor purchased thus granting superior equipment to the Vale army compared to the Riverlands or the North.

The Vale soldiers are outfitted with silver plated armor with possible chainmail beneath, adding further protection to the wearer. Furthermore, they are equipped circular or kite-shaped shields emblazoned with House Arryn's moon-and-falcon sigil. The armor is often accessorized with blue or white cloaks resembling a falcon's wings. This design, while not aesthetically impressive, is symbolic since the Vale soldiers are often referred to as the "knights of the Vale". The design also provides practicality in warfare with the combination of wool and steel plates allowing considerable protection and mobility for the wearer. This makes them nimbler than other soldiers who might be wearing heavy plates of armor, while retaining the defensive properties of armor. Vale infantry helmets are comparable to Northern helm's in terms of appearance with the lack of cheek guards and intricacy in design.

Due to Lysa Arryn's decision to maintain the Vale's neutrality, the Vale forces were not affected by the War of the Five Kings and remained at full strength. Thus, the Vale gained significant leverage both politically and militarily compared to the weakened regions caused by the war. The knights of the Vale appear to be well-trained, experienced, and well-organized especially in times of conflict, like during Robert's Rebellion, fighting and prevailing in several battles, like the Battle of the Bastards, where the Vale cavalry was able to easily defeat the Bolton phalanx, apparently without significant losses to their own side.

Unlike the Lannister or Tyrell armies, the knights of the Vale have significant experience battling in ice and snow, due to their homeland's mountainous landscape and cold winter temperatures. This makes them natural allies for the Northerns, who regularly face the harshest winters in Westeros.

Sansa mentions that there are 20,000 men in the North;[2] based on Jon's comment that there are fewer than 10,000 men in the North,[3] it can be concluded that about 10,000 men of Vale's forces were sent to Winterfell. After the Battle of Winterfell, half of the forces of the Vale are obliterated.[4]

The Vale forces later partake in the Battle of King's Landing alongside the Stark and Targaryen troops, apparently not taking significant losses.

In the books

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the term "Vale" refers to the entire region ruled by the Arryns, as well as the Vale itself, which runs from the foot of the Giant's Lance almost to the sea. The Arryns rule the Vale from their castle known as the Eyrie. Before the Andal Invasion, the region was originally known as the Kingdom of Mountain and Vale. During the time the Arryn dynasty ruled the Vale, the region was also alternatively known as the Kingdom of Vale and Sky.

The people of the Vale, popularly called "valemen", are known as honorable, reliable warriors steeped in honor and the worship of the Faith of the Seven.

Some of the valemen living in the foothills of the Mountains of the Moon have rejected the authority of the Eyrie and exist as little more than clans and tribes of savage warriors, such as the Black Ears and Burned Men. While dangerous to passing travelers, they lack the number and equipment to properly invade or trouble the Vale.

The borders of the Vale are held to be the Bite to the north, the Bay of Crabs to the south, the Mountains of the Moon to the west and the Narrow Sea to the east.

Castles

  • The Gates of the Moon, a fortress which guards the foot of the Giant's Lance, held by a cadet branch of House Royce.

See also

References

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