Before becoming a part of the Seven Kingdoms, The Vale got ruled by the Kings of the Mountain and Vale, Andal rulers who governed the region for many centuries. The arrival of Aegon I Targaryen led to the dethronement of the Kings governing the Vale and a demotion of its rulers to the status of lords. After Aegon’s Conquest, House Arryn became Lords of the Vale and ruled the region from the Eyrie. When the War of the Five Kings starts, Lysa Arryn, castellan of the Vale, abstains from conflict by refusing to side with either House Stark or House Lannister.
The Vale Details
- Name: The Vale of Arryn.
- Year Founded: The Age of Heroes.
- Predominant Culture: Valemen.
- Religion: Faith of the Seven.
- Rulers: House Arryn.
The Vale is a fertile region located on the eastern shore of Westeros. It borders the Bite to the North and the Bay of Crabs to the South. The Narrow Sea is to the East, and the Riverlands are to the West. As a large region, it comprised several constituents, including the Eyrie, The Bloody Gate, Coldwater, the Snakewood, the Mountains of the Moon, the Three Sisters, the Paps, Ironoaks, and the Pebble. Due to its fortification behind a mountainous terrain, it is an isolated region.
Traveling to the region is a daunting and dangerous journey. Besides the rocky roads, which are impassible in winter, the Mountain Clans, a rebellious group of people, rob and kill travelers from time to time; this led to the creation of the Bloody Gate, a checkpoint that protected the High Road, a primary link between the Vale and the Riverlands.
The Vale is one of the most fertile regions in Westeros. The fertile lands in the region include Redfort, Old Ancho, Runestone, and many others. Because of its rich soil, it could remain isolated from the rest of Westeros for a long time without trading food and precious metals.
The valemen are proud and hardworking people who take pride in their heritage and religion. As one of the first regions settled in by the Andals, they have one of the purest Andal bloodlines. The Faith of the Seven is the predominant religion, and many septs got scattered across the region, and the Knights of the Vale consider themselves the finest and best in all of Westeros. Those from the Three Sisters are called the Sistermen.
Though the predominant culture in the Vale is Andal, some are of First Men descent. The people of the Mountain Clans, like the Burned Men and Black Ears, are descendants of the First Men, the first inhabiters of the region. They reside at the foothills of the Mountains of the Moon. After the Andal invasion, they retreated to the mountains of the Vale and began rebelling against the Eyrie. However, their lack of organization made them a less formidable foe.
The Vale’s economy relies on its rich fertile soil and mineral resources. The region is the best for crops like wheat, corn, barley, and pumpkins. It is also known for its white stones, suitable for building castle walls.
According to some sources, the Vale can raise as many as forty-five thousand men. Its military strength is equal to the Kingdom of the North and Dorne. The primary houses with the most men are House Royce, Waynwood, Hunter, Templeton, Belmore, and Redfort, which can raise a combined twenty thousand men.
The Vale was initially a settlement meant for the First Men. As the clans in the region were less technologically advanced, they were scattered, and each got ruled by its King.
When the Valyrian Freehold began its expansion, the Andals fled Essos and traveled to Westeros. They first landed in the Vale. Thinking they had good intentions, the first Men tried relating with the Andals but met hostility; this led to conflicts, but because the Andals were better advanced, they easily defeated the First Men, pushing them to the foothills of the Mountains.
After the Battle of the Seven Stars, House Arryn emerged as the top of the noble families in the Vale; this made them become the Kings of the Mountain and Vale, and for six thousand years, they governed the region.
The region went to battle when the North invaded and occupied the Three Sisters. After an intense and bloody conflict incurring losses on every side, the Three Sisters swore loyalty to the Arryns. After the construction of the Bloody Gates, Halleck Hoare, King of the Isles and Rivers, tried to conquer the Vale but failed.
When Aegon I Targaryen began conquering all of Westeros, he reached the Vale, and the Arryns surrendered to the might of his dragons. They were then demoted to Lords and became a region of the Seven Kingdoms.
During the Targaryen Civil War, known as the Dance of the Dragons, the Arryns sided with the Blacks and fought for Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen. After the conflict’s end, they still served the Targaryens and even fought for the Iron Throne during the First Black Fyre Rebellion.
When King Aerys II Targaryen killed Lord Rickard Stark and his son Brandon, he ordered Lord Jon Arryn to bring the heads of Lord Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon. Lord Arryn refused and joined a war effort against the King; this led to the dethronement of the Targaryens and the rise of Robert to become King.
Relevance in A Song of Ice and Fire
A Game of Thrones
When Lord Jon Arryn, the Hand of the King, dies suddenly, his wife, Lysa, runs to the Vale with her only son, Lord Robert Arryn. She sends a letter to her sister, Catelyn Stark, warning her of Queen Cersei Lannister. After a failed attempt on Bran Stark’s life, Catelyn arrests Tyrion Lannister and takes him to the Eyrie, where he gets judged in a trial by combat. With Tyrion’s capture, his father, Tywin Lannister, begins raiding the Riverlands. After winning, Tyrion recruits some of the members of the Mountain Clans.
A Clash of Kings
After the War of the Five Kings starts, Lysa Arryn refuses to give any of the valemen military force to either side, claiming that the attacks from the Mountain Clans have become frequent.
A Storm of Swords
After Joffrey Baratheon gets poisoned and dies, Petyr Baelish smuggles Sansa Stark from King’s Landing and takes her to the Eyrie under the guise of Alayne Stone. Petyr gets married to Lysa Arryn. When Sandor Clegane captures Arya Stark, he tries taking her to the Vale to ransom her. However, he turns back after learning of the increased danger from the mountain clans.
When Lysa catches Sansa kissing Petyr, she threatens her and reveals how she and Petyr had arranged her husband’s death and the conflict between the Starks and Lannisters. Petyr eventually kills her. He then becomes the Lord Protector of the Vale. Lord Yohn Royce surrounds the Gate of the Moon when he learns of Lysa’s death. However, Petyr successfully averts a crisis.
Relevance in Adaptations
During the Battle of the Bastards, Lord Petyr Baelish convinces young Lord Robin Arryn to help Jon Snow; this leads to the successful retaking of Winterfell and the North from House Bolton. After the battle, Jon gets hailed by the Lord of the Vale and the North. Later, he pledged himself to Daenerys Targaryen.
The Vale: A Land of Riches
As one of the most fertile lands in the Seven Kingdoms, the Vale was crucial to the Iron Throne and the North. Though it never entered the War of the Five Kings, if it had, its supporter would have likely gotten a better shot at winning.
Why did Lysa hide in the Vale?
After killing her husband and setting the Starks against the Lannisters, Lysa hid in the Vale as it was isolated from the Seven Kingdoms. She waited to marry Petyr Baelish, the man she loved.
Why is it called the Vale of Arryn?
The Vale got called the Vale of Arryn because House Arryns were the first Kings of the region. Before Aegon Targaryen’s arrival, the Arryns were in charge and governed it as an independent state.
Is the Vale and the Eyrie the same?
No. The Eyrie is a castle located in the Vale. It is the seat of power for House Arryn, Lord of the Vale.
Who is the current Lord of the Vale?
After Petyr throws Lysa through the Moon Door, he becomes Lord Regent for her son, Robert Arryn. Though Robert is the Lord of the Vale, he is too young to rule, and Petyr governs in his stead.