The master of coin is a member of the small council in King’s Landing. Being one of the key ministers in the governance of the seven kingdoms, he is responsible for advising the king on financial matters and bringing in money for the kingdom through business ventures and borrowing money from financial institutions like the Iron Bank of Braavos. During King Robert Baratheon’s reign, the treasury of King’s Landing bled dry to the point the crown owed about six million gold dragons.
Responsibilities of the Master of Coin
The master of coin controls everything related to the treasury and monetary spending. He is in charge of the royal treasury and is responsible for ensuring all accounts of expenditure by the government are kept intact. He also works with many royal officials to bring money from many avenues, including taxes and customs duties collection.
When the treasury does not have money to sustain the budgets of the kingdom, he is responsible for seeking solutions like borrowing money from financial institutions. Also, he governs the royal mints, where money gets produced and circulated to the citizens of the seven kingdoms.
Besides being the one in charge of the treasury, the master of coin oversees three vital institutions of the seven kingdoms. He controls the keepers of keys, an organization of four individuals who hold the keys to the doors and chests owned by the royal household.
The four keepers own the keys to the king’s jewels, purse funds, the armory of the Red Keep, and the king’s holding outside the city. The second institution governed by him is the King’s Counter. They are responsible for taxation and hiring officials to enforce tax rules throughout Westeros. The third body is the King’s Scales, an organization responsible for maintaining the same unit measurement system throughout Westeros.
The office of the master of coin got created during Aegon’s Conquest. During the war, Crispian Celtigar, the Lord of Claw Isle and head of House Celtigar, became the master of coin for Aegon I Targaryen, marking the beginning of the position. Many people would go on to assume the title, including Lord Ronnel Penrose, whose wife served in his stead.
Relevance in A Song of Ice and Fire
A Game of Thrones
When Lord Jon Arryn, the Lord of the Eyrie, dies suddenly, King Robert Baratheon travels to Winterfell to meet Lord Eddard Stark. Meanwhile, Catelyn Stark, Eddard’s wife, gets a message from her sister Lysa Arryn stating the Lannisters are responsible for her husband’s death.
Against the advice from his wife, Eddard agrees to become the Hand of the King, but before he leaves with his son and daughters, Bran Stark gets thrown from a tower window at Winterfell.
After Eddard leaves and an assassin tries to kill Bran, Catelyn heads to King’s Landing, where she meets littlefinger, Petyr Baelish, an old friend. He then tells her the dagger used by the assassin belonged to him, but he lost it after losing a bet to Tyrion Lannister. Later, Catelyn arrests Tyrion, and his father, Tywin Lannister, raises arms and begins raiding the Riverlands.
After getting into an argument with Robert Baratheon, Eddard tries to quit his position and gets attacked by Jaime Lannister. Later he discovers Queen Cersei Lannister’s children are illegitimate and confronts her about it. However, she orchestrates her husband’s death, and Eddard gets betrayed by littlefinger. He gets arrested and killed; this leads to a civil war.
A Clash of Kings
After Civil War begins, Tyrion gets charged with the attempted murder of Bran Stark but gets freed. He returns to his father and meets him in his camp. When Tywin learns that King Joffrey ordered Eddard’s death, he sends Tyrion to become the acting Hand of the King.
Upon reaching the city, Tyrion asks Lord Baelish, the master of coin, to recruit House Tyrell to support the Lannisters. After Renly Baratheon dies, Tywin learns that Stannis Baratheon is sailing to Blackwater and meets up with Mace Tyrell, Lord of Highgarden, to march against him. They get to the battle of Blackwater in time and defeat Stannis.
A Storm of Swords
After the battle of the Blackwater, Petyr Baelish heads to Eyrie to marry Lysa Arryn. Tyrion gets removed from the Hand of the King as his father takes his position back. Later, Tywin forces Tyrion to marry Sansa Stark. During Joffrey and Margaery Tyrell’s wedding, Joffrey dies, and Tyrion gets blamed for it. During his trial, he gets betrayed by Shae, the woman he loves. After his champion loses in a trial by combat, Tyrion gets freed by his brother Jaime. He then kills his father.
A Feast for Crows
After Tywin’s death, Cersei renames the master of coin’s position to office lord treasurer. When she learns Garth Tyrell will become the treasurer, she appoints Lord Gyles Rosby. However, Lord Gyles dies, and Ser Harys Swyft takes over. By handing the treasurer, master of ships, and other positions as rewards, Cersei almost ruins everything. However, she gets arrested by the High Sparrow.
Relevance in Adaptation
In HBO’s Game of Thrones, the master of coin played a crucial role in the politics of King’s Landing. As Petyr Baelish, portrayed by Aidan Gillen, betrayed Eddard Stark, his actions indirectly contributed to the chaos that followed in King’s Landing. After Mace Tyrell’s death, Ser Bronn, the Lord Paramount of the Reach, became the master of coin for King Bran Stark.
The Master of Coin: A Crucial Title
Though the master of coin seems like a minor position in the governance of King’s Landing, it is one of the most crucial offices. Because the economy keeps relative peace, his decisions affect the small folk far more than almost other offices.
Why did Petyr Baelis betray Eddard Stark?
Petyr Baelish betrayed Eddard for two reasons. First, he loved Catelyn and wanted her for himself. Second, Petyr wanted to pit the Starks against the Lannisters and cause chaos in Westeros for his gain.
Did Illyrio Mopatis become the master of coin?
Though Illyrio supported Prince Viserys because he wanted to become the master of coin, he never got the position as Viserys got killed by Khal Drogo.
Why is the master of coin necessary?
The master of coin is necessary for Westeros because he is directly responsible for the economy of the Seven Kingdoms. As the one in charge of taxation and the treasury, the master of coin’s decision could destroy the economic stability of Westeros, sending the continent into poverty.
Did Cersei almost ruin Westeros?
After becoming Queen Regent, Cersei began making terrible financial choices against the advice of many. She refused to pay the money owed to the Iron Bank of Braavos; this destabilized the economy.