ByKit Simpson Browne, writer at
Writer-at-large. Bad jokes aplenty. Can be gently prodded on Twitter at @kitsb1
Kit Simpson Browne

(Warning: The following contains potential SPOILERS for Game of Thrones season seven, as well as wide-ranging discussion of the events of the recently concluded sixth season of the show, and all of the novels. Proceed with whatever level of caution your friendly neighborhood Three-Eyed Raven suggests to you is wise...)

Now, of all the shifty, conniving, downright traitorous schemers in Westeros, there's surely only one who can hold their head up high and say "yes, I really am the most weaselly, two-faced son-of-a-titan in the land": Petyr 'Littlefinger' Baelish. After all, Littlefinger has spent a full six seasons of Game of Thrones manipulating the whole kingdom for his own selfish, still-only-partly-revealed purposes - and completely screwed over countless fan-favorites in order to do so.

He is, in other words, a complete and utter bastard (even though his parents were married). As it turns out, though, the true story of Littlefinger's upbringing might just make him a little more sympathetic. Y'see, as it turns out...

Littlefinger Has Had To Work Insanely Hard - And Survive A Lot of Heartbreak - To Get To Where He Is Today

Game of Thrones/HBO
Game of Thrones/HBO

Born the son of the 'smallest of small lords' in an area in the northeast of the Vale of Arryn known as the Fingers, Petyr found himself sent to live with Hoster Tully (the father of Catelyn Stark and Lysa Arryn's father) at a young age, thanks to Tully's war-born friendship with Baelish's father. At Riverrun, though, rather than finding an opportunity to 'rise above his station', he found himself constantly reminded of his lesser place in the greater scheme of things. Edmure Tully, Hoster's heir, even went so far as give him the nickname Littlefinger, a jab at both Petyr's small physical stature, and the relative inadequacy of his family's holdings.

Catelyn and Lysa, however, were kinder to the young Baelish, and he spent much of his youth playing with the sisters - even going so far as to eat the mud pies that they made. Soon enough, though, as he grew towards adulthood, young Petyr fell in love with Catelyn... and Lysa fell in love with him. Which, since Catelyn saw Petyr as a little brother, and Petyr was far too distracted by his obsession with Catelyn to notice Lysa, soon led to disaster.

As It Turns Out, Love Triangles Never End Well In Westeros

Game of Thrones/HBO
Game of Thrones/HBO

In the lead up to Robert's Rebellion, Catelyn was betrothed to Brandon Stark (Ned's older brother), something to which Petyr - despite having been firmly rebuffed by Catelyn - took objection to, leading to him challenging the famously formidable Stark to a duel. Which, despite Brandon going easy on the young Baelish for Catelyn's sake, ended with Petyr being severely wounded.

During his recovery, however, while Catelyn studiously avoided him, things took a darker turn. Petyr and Lysa slept together - and Lysa soon found herself pregnant. However, by the time she realized, Petyr had already been banished from Riverrun - and Hoster Tully forced her to abort the pregnancy by drinking 'moon tea'. Petyr, meanwhile, was still obsessed with Catelyn - sending her a letter in the wake of Brandon Stark's murder at the hands of the Mad King... which she burned without opening.

Petyr Baelish's Story, However, Wasn't Yet Complete

Game of Thrones/HBO
Game of Thrones/HBO

In the midst of Robert's Rebellion, y'see, Lysa found herself married off to Jon Arryn of the Vale - making her Petyr's liege lady, and putting her in a position to act as his patron. Baelish was soon placed in charge of the key port of Gulltown's customs - and managed to increase revenues by 1000%. Which, unsurprisingly, won him the favor of Jon Arryn himself, who - having been appointed Hand of the King - took Baelish with him to King's Landing. Within three years, Baelish was appointed Master of Coin, and found himself on the Small Council - and began the grand machinations that he is now famous for.

In the years following his appointment as Master of Coin, Baelish successfully helped Lysa Arryn to murder her husband Jon, betrayed Ned Stark, became lord of Harrenhal (and thus a 'High Lord') and, eventually, absconded with Sansa Stark (along with, in the show - though not the novels - wedding her to the monstrous Ramsey Bolton). What's more, in Game of Thrones' sixth season, he even went on to help win the North for Jon Snow, a man whose family he had betrayed on numerous earlier occasions.

The big question that raises, though?

Does All Of That Make Littlefinger More Sympathetic, Or Less?

Game of Thrones/HBO
Game of Thrones/HBO

Well, on the one hand, that love-lorn boy who once ate mud pies in the gardens of Riverrun somehow managed to grow up to change the face of Westeros forever - an impressive feat. On the other, he ruined countless lives in order to do it - and spent much of that childhood (and his full adult life) failing to understand that no means no.

For every occasion where he pioneered the Westerosi take on the 'American Dream', pulling himself up by his bootstraps and finding his way to wealth and fame, then, he also most likely murdered someone in cold blood, or at the very least helped to facilitate their death. In other words?

It's up to you to decide...


Do you have more sympathy for Littlefinger, considering his 'challenging' childhood?



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