House Arryn

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House Arryn of the Eyrie is one of the Great Houses of Westeros. It has ruled over the Vale of Arryn for millennia, originally as the Kings of Mountain and Vale and more recently as Defenders of the Vale and Wardens of the East under the Targaryen, Baratheon, and Lannister dynasties. The nominal head of House Arryn is Robin Arryn, the Lord of the Eyrie, with Yohn Royce holding actual power over the house.

Their lands are in the central-eastern region of the continent. Their seat is the Eyrie, ancestral seat of the Mountain Kings. House Arryn’s sigil is a white crescent moon and falcon on a blue field. Their house words are “As High as Honour.”

At the start of the series, Lord Jon Arryn was killed under suspicious circumstances. His widow Lysa blamed House Lannister and sought refuge in the Eyrie. Despite her enmity towards the Lannisters, she remained neutral in the War of the Five Kings and aimed to use the forces of the Vale to defend Robin and the Eyrie if necessary. After killing Lysa and making it appear like an accident, Lord Petyr Baelish becomes Lord Protector of the Vale until young Robin comes of age. Under his rule, supervised by Baelish, the Vale assists House Stark in toppling House Bolton in the North during the Battle of the Bastards. After the battle, the Vale declares for House Stark and becomes part of the Kingdom of the North in defiance of the Iron Throne, though they later return to the jurisdiction of their historic rulers, House Targaryen, after Jon Snow bends the knee to Daenerys Targaryen.

History

Background

According to legend, the house was founded by Ser Artys Arryn, the Winged Knight. He is said to have flown atop a giant falcon, landing on the topmost mountain of the Vale, and defeated the Griffin King, the last of the First MenMountain Kings. Afterward, he took the Eyrie and became the first King of Mountain and Vale. His descendants continued to rule the Vale ever since. The Eyrie has never fallen to invaders. During the War of Conquest, House Arryn repulsed a Targaryen invasion at Gull town with Braavos aid, but ultimately bent the knee peacefully as they realised they could not fend off the Targaryens forever. By submitting peacefully instead of being conquered, they were allowed to continue to rule as Lords Paramount of the Vale and Wardens of the East in the name of the Iron Throne. The Eyrie is considered impregnable and defends House Arryn from the violent Hill tribes of the Mountains of the Moon.

Jon Arryn is the most recent head of House Arryn, Lord of the Eyrie, Warden of the East and Defender of the Vale. He was a respected nobleman and both Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon fostered with him. The Mad King condoned the kidnap of Eddard’s sister and Robert’s betrothed, Lyanna Stark. The Mad King had Eddard’s father and brother killed for protesting against the kidnapping. When he then demanded that Eddard be turned over to the King’s justice, Lord Arryn rebelled, calling his banners to war. House Stark and House Baratheon followed suit. The rebels forged an alliance with House Tully through marriage, with Eddard married to Catelyn Tully and the then-elderly Jon to the young Lady Lysa Tully.

After the rebel victory in the war, Robert became King and appointed Jon as his Hand. Jon served the realm well for many years as Hand of the King. He died immediately prior to the events of the series, sparking King Robert’s search for a replacement. Jon is survived by his wife Lysa and their six-year-old son, Robin. Jon was investigating the legitimacy of the children of Queen Cersei Lannister when he died. He found that they were not Robert’s offspring by comparing their appearance to Robert’s bastards based on the genetic preponderance for dark hair in House Baratheon.

Season 1

Tyrion, Cat and Vardis at the Eyrie

Catelyn Stark brings Tyrion Lannister to the Eyrie for trial.

Lysa Arryn writes to her sister Catelyn Stark claiming that House Lannister were behind Jon’s death. Lysa flees King’s Landing with her son seeking the refuge of the Eyrie. When Catelyn receives the letter, Robert Baratheon is visiting Winterfell, the seat of House Stark, and asks Eddard to replace Jon as Hand of the King. Eddard accepts and begins an investigation into Jon’s death. He learns that Jon may have been poisoned. Eddard uncovers Jon’s findings about Queen Cersei Lannister’s infidelity and Robert’s lack of a true born heir. Robert still mistakenly believes that Joffrey Baratheon is his son.

Catelyn’s son Brandon Stark survives two assassination attempts. Catelyn blames Tyrion Lannister and has him arrested. She brings him to the Eyrie to Lysa’s chagrin. Lysa is attempting to isolate Robin from the rest of the Kingdom and use her role as regent to have the Vale lords protect him. She is still breastfeeding him despite his age, and her doting has spoiled him. Tyrion tricks Lysa into granting him a public hearing by claiming that he plans to confess. He instead demands and wins a trial by combat and is set free.

King Robert dies following a hunting injury. Eddard is arrested for treason when he challenges Joffrey’s claim to the throne. Lysa withholds this news from Catelyn initially. Catelyn implores Lysa to lend her armies to march on King’s Landing along with the forces of House Stark. Lysa refuses to participate and Catelyn leaves the Eyrie.

Season 2

House Arryn remains neutral in the War of the Five Kings, with Lady Lysa continuing to withhold her armies from leaving the Vale to aid House Stark and House Tully.

Season 3

Lysa and Robin do not attend the funeral of Hoster Tully and continue to remain at the Eyrie. Tywin Lannister sends Petyr Baelish to marry Lysa so that the Iron Throne can acquire the support of the Vale. In Baelish’s absence, Tywin appoints his son Tyrion to become the new Master of Coin.

Season 4

Sansa Stark and Lysa Arryn 4x07

Lysa Arryn attempts to murder her own niece Sansa Stark out of jealousy for Petyr Baelish.

Following the Purple Wedding, Little finger smuggles Sansa Stark out of King’s Landing and takes her to the Eyrie, where they meet with Lysa and Robin. After privately admitting her role in the death of her husband, Lady Lysa hastily marries her childhood friend Petyr Baelish. Later, she witnesses him kissing her niece Sansa and becomes mad with jealousy. She summons Sansa to the High Hall of the Arryns, threatening to push her out the Moon Door before Petyr interrupts her. Petyr briefly manages to calm Lysa down, saying he only ever loved one woman. To Lysa’s horror, he utters, “Your sister”, and shoves Lysa out the Moon Door to her death. When the lords of the Vale come to investigate Lysa’s death, Petyr, with Sansa’s help, convinces the lords that Lysa committed suicide by jumping through the Moon Door and becomes Lord Protector of the Vale until Robin comes of age.

Season 5

Baelish leaves Robin to be fostered at Runestone under the tutelage of Lord Yohn Royce, who assures Baelish of the boy’s safety but makes no promises that he will become a better swordsman.

In King’s Landing, Baelish gains House Lannister’s blessings for a plan to use the knights of the Vale to invade The North and reclaim it for the Iron Throne.

Season 6

Petyr Baelish convinces Robin Arryn to use the knights of the Vale to help save his cousin, Sansa Stark, who is being hunted by House Bolton after escaping the clutches of Ramsay Bolton. Baelish also blackmails Yohn Royce into absolute loyalty in a display of influence that Baelish holds over the young and easily manipulated Defender of the Vale. The Arryn troops camp at Moat Cailin while Baelish travels north to offer his assistance to Sansa. Though she initially denies his help, she later sends a raven to Baelish requesting for the support of the Arryn soldiers.

Battle of the Bastards 44

The knights of the Vale ride in at the command of Petyr Baelish.

When the Stark loyalist army seems to be on the verge of absolute annihilation at the Battle of the Bastards, the knights of the Vale arrive at the command of Petyr Baelish and Sansa Stark. They proceed to wipe out the Bolton troops surrounding the Stark forces, helping the Starks take back Winterfell from House Bolton in defiance of the Iron Throne. Baelish subsequently declares House Arryn’s support for House Stark, and the Vale lords join the Northern lords in declaring Jon Snow the King in the North. This officially brings to an end the policy of neutrality that House Arryn has held during the War of the Five Kings.

Season 7

Lord Yohn Royce and Petyr Baelish remain in Winterfell as representatives of House Arryn to House Stark. When Jon receives an invitation from Tyrion Lannister about meeting Daenerys Targaryen and Samwell Tarly’s letter about large amount of dragon glass located at Dragon stone, Yohn Royce is against Jon’s decision to meet her, claiming that a Targaryen cannot be trusted. Despite this Jon leaves for Dragon stone, leaving Sansa as the acting regent of the North in addition to Lady of Winterfell.

When Arya Stark returns to Winterfell, Little finger manipulates the Stark sisters to fight against each other, with Arya suspecting that Sansa intends to become ruler of the North. Yohn Royce also claims that Sansa should do it, since Jon has left, but Sansa defends his choice. When Sansa receives the word that Jon has bent the knee to Daenerys Targaryen, Little finger suggests that Jon should be removed as King in the North. Finally, Sansa learns about Little finger’s crimes against House Stark and House Arryn, putting him on a surprise trial in which he is charged of murdering both Jon Arryn and Lysa Arryn and betraying Ned Stark. Yohn Royce refuses to escort Little finger back to the Eyrie because of his crimes against House Arryn and he is subsequently executed by Arya on Sansa’s orders. With Little finger dead, and Jon pledging the North to Daenerys Targaryen, House Arryn has also become a vassal for House Targaryen.

Season 8

Brienne & Jaime S8 Ep3

The Arryn knights of the Vale fight in the Battle of Winterfell.

House Arryn continues to remain faithful to House Stark and House Targaryen. Lord Yohn Royce continues to represent the interests of House Arryn and the Vale in the North, serving as a prominent adviser to Sansa Stark. He also accepts Daenerys Targaryen despite his initial misgivings over trusting a Targaryen after the Mad King. The knights of the Vale work with the Stark soldiers, Unsullied, and Dothraki in preparing the defences of Winterfell against the marching White Walkers and their army of the dead.

The knights of the Vale fight in the Battle of Winterfell and are positioned in the left flank under the command of Ser Brienne of Tarth. Like all living belligerents in the battle, they suffer losses bordering complete annihilation. However, the loss of most of the expeditionary force at Winterfell still leaves House Arryn with a formidable military in the Vale.

The remaining knights of the Vale fight alongside the Northern armies at the Battle of King’s Landing, participating in the sacking of the city after Daenerys Targaryen begins to burn it down despite Jon Snow ordering for them to hold back. As the city is collapsing, however, Jon orders for his forces to fall back completely, which they do, the knights of the Vale among them.

Military

Knights of the Vale S6E09 1

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 over 45,000 men. As one of the wealthiest Great Houses, the Arryns’ forces are numerous in the Seven Kingdoms, though still lack behind numerically compared to the Lannisters. Like the Tyrell’s and Martell’s, the strength of House Arryn has remained mostly unscathed during the War of the Five Kings. Nevertheless, it is clear that House Arryn has an advantageous leverage compared to the largely-depleted Lannisters in terms of manpower. The Eyrie alone can garrison nearly 10,000 soldiers, combined with the strategic position of the castle shows that the Arryns possess a sizeable army and well-defended stronghold that can repel most invaders.

The wealth of House Arryn is due to the fertile areas of the Vale and trade from ports such as Gull town. This is particularly evidenced by the high-quality swords and armour purchased thus granting superior equipment to the Arryn army compared to the Freys or the Starks.

The Arryn soldiers are outfitted with silver plated armour 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 armour is often accessorised with blue or white cloaks resembling a falcon’s wings. This design, while not aesthetically impressive, is symbolic since the Arryn men 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 armour, while retaining the defensive properties of armour. Arryn infantry helmets are comparable to Stark 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 Arryn forces were not affected by the War of the Five Kings and remained at full strength. Thus, House Arryn 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 organised especially in times of conflict, like during Robert’s Rebellion, fighting and prevailing in several battles, like the Battle of the Bastards, where the Arryn 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 Starks, who regularly face the harshest winters in Westeros. However, the forces of the Vale suffered heavy losses during the Battle of Winterfell in the Great War against the White Walkers and the Army of the Dead. It is unclear, however, just how much of the Vale’s forces were sent to Winterfell. Only 2,000 men are mentioned to be at Winterfell initially, meaning that the other 43,000 men still may be in the Vale, keeping House Arryn in a strong position. Arryn forces later partake in the Battle of King’s Landing, sacking the city alongside the Stark forces and the Targaryen forces of Unsullied and Dothraki, apparently not taking significant loss.

Relationships

Members

  • Lord {Jasper Arryn}, Lord of the Eyrie, former head of the family, Defender of the Vale, Warden of the East, Lord Paramount of the Vale. He is the grandfather of Robin Arryn.
    • Lord {Jon Arryn}, his first son and heir. Lord of the Eyrie, former head of the family, Defender of the Vale, Warden of the East, Lord Paramount of the Vale and Hand of the King to Robert I. Poisoned with the tears of Lys by his wife Lysa.
      • Lady {Lysa Arryn}, his widow of House Tully. Lady Regent of the Eyrie and the Vale until her son comes of age. Defenestrated from the Moon Door of the Eyrie by Petyr Baelish.
        • Robin Arryn, their son and heir. Lord of the Eyrie, current head of the family, Defender of the Vale, Warden of the East, Lord Paramount of the Vale. He is one of the many lords who agreed to select Brandon Stark the Broken as the first elected King of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men, Lord of the Six Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm.
    • {Alys Arryn}, his only daughter.
    • {Ronnel Arryn}, his youngest son.
      • Ser {Elbert Arryn}, his son. Executed by Aerys II Targaryen.

Ancestors

  • King Artys I Arryn, the founder of House Arryn, the Falcon Knight. King of Mountain and Vale and Lord of the Eyrie.
  • Lord Ronnel Arryn, the last King of Mountain and Vale and first Defender of the Vale, known as the Boy King. Lord of the Eyrie, Defender of the Vale, and Warden of the East.
  • Lady Sharra Arryn, the last Queen of the Vale. Former Queen consort, Queen Regent and Queen Mother.
  • Queen Aemma Arryn, Queen Consort to Viserys I Targaryen, mother of Queen Rhaenyra I Targaryen.

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