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"You stand accused of murder. You stand accused of treason. How do you answer these charges... Lord Baelish?"
Sansa Stark[src]

The Trial of Petyr Baelish was the event that marked the closing of the War of the Five Kings. It is held in the great hall of Winterfell by Lady of Winterfell Sansa Stark, with Arya Stark and Bran Stark, against Petyr Baelish, the nominal Lord of Harrenhal and the Lord Protector of the Vale. It is witnessed by the Maester WolkanLord Yohn Royce and multiple Stark and Arryn men.

Events

Prelude

Sansa and Baelish talk about Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen forming an alliance, with Baelish suggesting that Jon should be unnamed as King in the North.

Sansa knows that Arya would not tolerate it and that she is now a killer, having trained with the Faceless Men, whom Baelish only knows by reputation. Baelish explains that when he wants to understand a person's motive, he plays 'a little game' and plants the seed that Arya wants Sansa dead for apparently betraying their family and to replace her as Lady of Winterfell.

Trial

Sansa has Arya brought to the great hall in front of the lords of the North and the Vale. Addressing Arya, Sansa states her desire to protect the North and House Stark. She then proceeds to state the accusations of murder and treason, asking how these charges are answered. Because she continues to look at Arya, it appears she is directing her question to her sister, but Sansa then adds, "Lord Baelish", revealing it is he who stands truly accused.

Taken by surprise, Baelish tells Sansa he's confused. Sansa starts with the simplest charge: that Baelish murdered their aunt Lysa Arryn by pushing her through the Moon Door[1] and asks if he denies it. Because Sansa herself was a witness to Lysa's murder, Baelish admits to it but claims he did it to protect Sansa. She refutes his claim by making her own: he did it to gain control of the Vale.

The next charge laid against Petyr is that he orchestrated the murder of Jon Arryn by giving Lysa Tears of Lys, which she used to poison him.[2] Asked whether he denies this charge as well, Baelish avoids a direct response by explaining that Lysa's state of mind made her see enemies everywhere, implying that Lysa acted alone.

Sansa accuses Baelish of having her aunt send a letter to Lord Eddard and Lady Catelyn Stark, claiming the Lannisters murdered Jon Arryn.[3] The result of the letter set events into motion that started a feud between House Stark and House Lannister, eventually culminating in the War of the Five Kings. This accusation, if true, would make Baelish the true instigator of the war. This time, Petyr directly denies knowledge of the letter.

The final charge is that Baelish conspired with Cersei Lannister and Joffrey Baratheon to betray their father, Ned Stark, which led to his imprisonment[4] and, ultimately, his execution[5] on false charges of treason. Now clearly angry, Sansa asks Petyr if he denies it. Baelish directly states, "I deny it", stating that none of them saw what happened, and thus there is no case against him. However, Bran, having seen Baelish's crimes through his powers in Greensight, says that Baelish held a knife to Ned's throat and repeats what he told Ned when he betrayed him, "I did warn you not to trust me", leaving Baelish speechless and shocked.

Arya says that Baelish told Catelyn that the Valyrian steel dagger that an assassin used to try and kill Bran belonged to Tyrion Lannister,[6] which was another of his many lies: the dagger, in fact, belonged to Baelish.[7]

With the court against him, Baelish pleads that he has known Sansa since she was a child and that he's always protected her, to which Sansa retorts that he sold her to the Boltons.[8] When Baelish asks if they can speak alone (presumably where he believed he could manipulate Sansa into freeing or even exonerating him), Sansa repeats his words of 'playing a little game' to assume the worst of someone, thus assuming the worst reason Baelish has for turning Sansa and Arya against each other, deducing he did the same to Catelyn and Lysa. Baelish protests, demanding a chance to defend himself, but is ignored. 

As Baelish realizes he won't be able to talk his way out of this, he commands Yohn Royce to escort him back to the Eyrie as the Lord Protector of the Vale. Given the specific crimes Littlefinger committed against House Arryn, however, Yohn Royce no longer recognizes Baelish's authority, and thus refuses, knowing that Baelish is a bad influence on Robin Arryn. Out of options and now terrified, Baelish pleads with Sansa for his life, confessing his love publicly for her and for Catelyn, though Sansa points out that despite this, he still betrayed both of them. Sansa sentences him to death and thanks Baelish for all his lessons, which she vows to never forget. As Baelish tries to speak one final time, Arya slits his throat with his own dagger. Sansa, Arya, Bran, and the Stark and Arryn men watch as the former Master of Coin and the true mastermind behind all the chaos in the realm bleeds out and slumps to the floor, finally dead.[9]

Aftermath

With Petyr Baelish's death, House Baelish is rendered extinct, and all who died as a result of his ambition and deceit, including Jon and Lysa Arryn, Eddard Stark, and the tens of thousands of casualties from the War of the Five Kings, are avenged.

With Petyr Baelish dead, Cersei Lannister is the last true enemy to House Stark, except for the Night King.

Notes

  • Objectively, the trial has been a mere show, similarly to Tyrion's trials (except that Tyrion was innocent on both occasions), every aspect of it:
    • No objective witness was brought. The only potential witness that the Starks could have summoned to testify to one of the crimes Littlefinger was charged with was the Hound. Not only did he witness the Massacre in the Red Keep, he personally participated in it as he was still a bannerman to the Lannisters at the time. However, he later saved Sansa from being gang-raped during the Riot of King's Landing and protected Arya during the Red Wedding. Had the Starks summoned the Hound, he could have provided indisputable testimony in regards to Littlefinger's actions.
    • No incriminating evidence has been presented to support the accusations. The dagger itself was worthless as an evidence, because it should have been linked by an objective witness to any of the crimes Littlefinger was charged with.
    • Bran's ability to see past events was inadmissible and inconclusive testimony, since it could not be either verified or refuted, similarly to a testimony given under hypnosis.
    • While accusing Littlefinger of Lysa's death, Sansa conveniently "forgot" that she had previously given a different version of these events to the lords of the Vale, including Lord Royce, claiming that Lysa had killed herself.[10] That perjury disqualified her as a witness; moreover, the fact she was personally harmed by Littlefinger's deeds - as she herself said - disqualified her as a judge.
    • Arya's statement about the dagger, implying that Littlefinger was the one who sent the catspaw assassin to kill Bran, was totally absurd. There is no plausible explanation that can link Littlefinger to the attempt on Bran's life, or to explain how come the dagger was in the assassin's possession.
  • Another vile deed of Littlefinger's left out by Sansa that might have cost her life was using her, without her consent or knowledge, as an accomplice/scapegoat in respect of Joffrey's assassination. Had Sansa been caught by the Lannister guards, while wearing the incriminating evidence (the necklace), she would have probably been convicted of the murder alongside Tyrion.
  • A much more plausible accusation for Arya to have made against Littlefinger (even though her only "evidence" would have again been Bran's greensight) was that he conspired with Tyrion to manipulate their mother into freeing Jaime Lannister, thus weakening the Starks' position and causing a division among their ranks, by lying that Arya was being held captive along with Sansa.[11][12]
  • Normally, Littlefinger might have managed to use his quick tongue to talk his way out of the "trial", by pointing out the aforementioned flaws in the testimonies against him, especially Arya's statement; he could have also demanded a trial by combat, as Tyrion did in his unfair trials (it is unlikely someone at the room would have volunteered to fight for Littlefinger, but anyone in such position would grab at any straw, no matter how flimsy). The reason he failed to defend himself was perhaps that he was caught offguard, things happened too fast, that he could not gather his thoughts and think of anything better than begging and using his authority as Lord of the Vale. Another reason for his panic could be that he knew that Sansa would not listen to him, wanted revenge for the Bolton marriage, that he had already been deemed guilty, and that Sansa knew his tactics of misdirection. Initially, Baelish denied the accusations and demanded real evidence, he only paniced after Bran repeated his words to Ned.
  • The one person whose presence does not make this trial a complete travesty is Lord Royce. Although Sansa had lied to him earlier, he later confronted Baelish upon hearing that she was wed to Ramsay Bolton, and Baelish responded by nearly manipulating her impressionable cousin Robin Arryn into having Royce killed under false pretenses.[13] Sansa could have saved face with Royce by addressing this incident as well due to Bran's greensight, but no mention of it is made.

References

  1. "Mockingbird"
  2. "First of His Name"
  3. "Winter Is Coming"
  4. "You Win or You Die"
  5. "Baelor"
  6. "Lord Snow"
  7. Petyr never denied the dagger originally belonged to him; on the contrary, he told outright to Ned and Catelyn "There's only one dagger like this in all of the Seven Kingdoms. It's mine". He lied about the identity of the person to whom he lost the dagger in a bet, which was not Tyrion (but Robert, as revealed in the books).
  8. "Sons of the Harpy"
  9. "The Dragon and the Wolf"
  10. "The Mountain and the Viper"
  11. " What Is Dead May Never Die"
  12. "Garden of Bones"
  13. "Book of the Stranger"