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Lord Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish has been the catalyst of many events in Westeros, and by creating chaos and seeing what sticks, he's elevated his position in the realm a lot from his humble beginnings.

We don't know the extents of Littlefinger's plans in Game of Thrones, but we know his endgame:

To sit upon the Iron Throne, with Catelyn Lysa Sansa as his Queen.

At least that's what he strives for and motivates him, and he might settle for (slightly) less, although he is an ambitious man.

But how exactly could he have hoped to achieve this? He's achieved a whole lot already, of course:

He became the powerful Master of Coin, helped the Lannisters usurp/keep the crown by suppressing knowledge of the crown prince's parentage, starting the War of the Five Kings in the process (with some other planning beforehand, including killing Jon Arryn which later also let him become Lord Protector of the Vale), a war that made him Lord of Harrenhal and in which he killed King Joffrey.

When we last see him, he's trying his hardest to

take power in the North as well, probably by making Sansa the Lady of Winterfell and Queen in the North somehow, and then marrying her.

Littlefinger did mention a plan to gain more indirect control over the Iron Throne as early as in season 1, when he suggested to Ned Stark that they let Joffrey Baratheon rule but act together as the powers behind the throne in his Small Council, and if he did not mature into the king they want, expose his dirty secret and install Lord Renly Baratheon instead.

That's the closest plan to gaining more control over the Iron Throne that I can remember from the show, but even that would not put him on it.

As impressive as his feats are, I don't really see a clear path to his final goal. I do know that we don't know his plans and endgame, and I'm aware of these great questions and answers:

And even if Littlefinger did manage to grab more and more lands, including the North, and feasibly become an actual contender for the crown from sheer power (which we all know resides where men believe it to reside), I believe he knows of Varys's plans and the Targaryens approaching (Daenerys in the show, and both her and Aegon in the books?).

I'm trying my hardest here not to delve into speculation territory, but did Littlefinger actually see a possible path to his goal, or did he just create chaos to see what stuck? What was his road map of viable ways for him to achieve it?

Note: I've only watched the show, not read the books, but answers based on both are welcome. I just don't know what events have happened in the books. I know what recent events haven't happened in the books though... But it'd be interesting to know if he is closer to his goal in the books than in the show, if it can't be answered definitely.

  • 3
    An equally good question is how did he do so well for so long and then make an (obvious to the audience at least) amazingly bad miscalculation right at the end? – Todd Wilcox Aug 28 '17 at 23:25
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    “I don't really see a clear path to his final goal” — neither does he. Chaos is a ladder, etc. – Paul D. Waite Aug 29 '17 at 8:57
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This is a good question and I will attempt to answer it with best of my abilities. The question also lies on the boundary of speculation, but still deserves a clear answer. I also believe a book based answer offers more insight into his character.

Lord Baelish's end game was to capture and sit on the Iron Throne with the might of combined the North, the Riverlands and the Vale.

Lord Baelish, after his marriage attempt to Catelyn Tully has failed, he did his best not to play the game of the highborns. Being badly beaten by Brandon Stark, his pride was wounded, especially after Catelyn pleads for his life using words: "He is just a boy." As a result, he played a different game, something that involved more scheming and deceit, however, to the best of our knowledge, his intentions were set around this time.

After the initiation of the war, Lord Baelish had three motives:

  • Gain power in the Vale

  • Gain power in the North

  • Gain power in the Riverlands

Among these, his first ambition was the easiest to satisfy. In order to consolidate power in the North, we see different approaches in the books and series.

  • In the books, Lord Baelish tries to marry Sansa to Harrold Hardyng, supposedly the most powerful claimant to throne of Vale if/when the sickly Robin Arryn dies. His intention was to rule both of these great houses as Hand or advisor. Baelish clearly states that "These two houses together toppled the one of the greatest dynasties Westeros has ever seen." Alternatively, he could scheme the death of Harrold Hardyng and marry Sansa such that he can have more direct control, however, this is pure speculation.

  • In the series, Lord Baelish marries Sansa to Boltons with the hopes that they will mistreat her and he will come to rescue. Rescuing the niece of the last Lady of Vale helped Baelish in two ways. He both consolidated his power over the Lords in Vale, primarily over Lord Royce, and became the saviour of the North.

Lord Baelish already was the Lord of Harrenhal in both the books and the series. The great difference between the books and the series is that in the books, this title also carries "Lord Paramount of Riverlands", former title of House Tully, which makes him one of the greatest lords in Westeros. Hence, in the books, he already has de jure control over the Riverlands. Albeit he supposedly obtained this title only to marry Lysa Arryn without the objection of Lords of the Vale, he could pursue full control over Riverlands. This part is yet unknown.

As a conclusion, with the might of the North, the Vale and Harrenhal in the series, and with the might of the North, the Vale and the whole Riverlands, Lord Baelish would be controlling large portions of the Seven Kingdoms, allowing him to challenge the already divided South.

Why did he try to turn Sansa against Arya?

Baelish had a well studied plan to cause chaos. He plants seeds of distrust. First we saw it when he set House Stark against House Lannister. Later, he used the same tactic with Sansa and Lysa. He then aimed to do the same thing with Jon and Sansa as well. In this way, by creating a problem that one of the parties can solve with his assistance, he makes himself invaluable.

Using the evidence in the series, we have no reason to believe that Lord Baelish had any concrete reason to want Arya dead. She was supposed to help him stay close to Sansa.

Purple wedding and Baelish

Purple wedding caused great stress in House Lannister, setting Cersei and Tyrion and weakening the Iron Throne. I don't think Lord Baelish dreamed the possibility of Tyrion killing Tywin Lannister, but still it created chaos that he loves to climb on.

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SPOILERS ahead for those who haven't seen through the end of season seven.

As far as Littlefinger knows, Daenerys is the last of the Targaryens. If Cersei kills her, then there is no legitimate holder of the Iron Throne. Cersei of course has no legitimacy as ruler that would allow her to leave the position to an heir of hers. And Cersei's quest for vengeance leaves her with no other supporters. When the Tyrell gold runs out, Cersei will have no army.

He can take the Iron Islands at any time. If he kills the last three Greyjoys, the Ironborn respect strength. He already has The Vale as its Lord Protector. That's two kingdoms. If he adds The North, that's three kingdoms. Sansa also has claims to The Riverlands, as a Tully. That's four kingdoms (counting the Iron Islands separately). And that's the plan that he's shared with Sansa.

The Tyrells had The Reach. With the Tarlys dead (other than Sam), it doesn't seem like it would be too hard to unite the surviving houses against the killer of their leader. Promote someone to Lord Paramount and get that person to bend the knee. That's five kingdoms. Remember that he knew of Olenna's role in the murder of Joffrey, so he could have split those two houses easily.

Dorne is unlikely to believe they'll get any mercy from the Lannisters. So it shouldn't be hard to get them to bend the knee in exchange for protection from the Lannisters and a chance for vengeance. That's six kingdoms. Presumably he knew enough details about the death of Elia Martell to enflame passions between the Lannisters and Martells.

Six kingdoms versus two does not seem like good odds for the Lannisters. He'll have to kill the Lannisters thoroughly, but there must be someone who will bend the knee to become Lord Paramount of The Westerlands. Presumably he plans to run The Crownlands directly as the Targaryens and Lannisters did.

This might be harder, but it looks like his plan is for Cersei to beat Daenerys while losing most of her troops. That might not be realistic. It looks more like Daenerys would beat Cersei while keeping most of her own troops. But Cersei winning is not a ridiculous possibility.

If Daenerys wins, he can always bend the knee with the provision that he keeps four kingdoms as the new Lord Paramount over the North, Vale, Riverlands, and Iron Islands. His heirs might still make it to the Iron Throne. Either they become the natural successors to a barren Daenerys or they marry into her family.

  • Cersei of course has no legitimacy as ruler that would allow her to leave the position to an heir of hers. Heir as in Lannister relative, I agree. But her child should be able to inherit, no? – Flater Aug 29 '17 at 12:06
  • Why would her child inherit anything other than the Lannister kingdom? It's a Lannister on both sides. Her only claim is through being married to Robert. Robert's children could inherit. But she doesn't share any children with Robert. Picking Cersei as queen simply delays the dynastic determination to her death. If her child were strong enough to hold the dynasty, it would be in decent shape. But it can't claim any sort of legitimacy. If a Lannister can be king/queen, then why not a Martell, a Stark, or a Baelish? – Brythan Aug 29 '17 at 14:22
  • (1) Because children inherit from their parents? (2) Because no Martell, Stark or Baelish is currently and rightfully sitting on the throne? Working under the condition that Robert's claim to the throne is valid, so is Cersei's claim. Joffrey rightfully claimed it from Robert, then Tommen rightfully claimed it fro mJoffrey, and in absence of any Baratheons, Cersei's claim (as a Baratheon) is valid too. She hold the throne on her (married) Baratheon name, but she holds it legally so the normal rights of succession should apply (as long as no other Baratheon family member exists) – Flater Aug 29 '17 at 14:40
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I like this question. We get to play the role of a master manipulator. If I were Peter, a guy who had money and knowledge, and my endgame was to reach the throne, how would I do it. Sansa would be a lovely prize, but I can't guarantee that, I'm smart enough to know that.

Taking his role at that moment of Arya subtly threatening Sansa:

Assuming Sansa's IQ was closer to where he thought it would be
Assuming Bran is not a lower god

I get Sansa to have Arya executed or have her killed in her sleep. I make sure the argument/letter comes to light of everyone. If Sansa executes, or I murder-either way-the north can't trust Sansa. I have Sansa get into an accident with Northmen loyal to $. Using the might of the Vale, I now control Winterfell in the minds of those around. Jon Snow can fall in battle at some point with a nice sword in the back.

To take the crown, will require more than what I have. I need forces depleted. I also know Daenerys is on her way. Bide my time as a loyal subject of the crown, but still in rebellion since I know the North will go after the crown eventually.

I use my knowledge and proof of the bastard Jeoffry and Tommen to gain allies in Dorne and Flowerland, and anywhere else that will listen. The crown can have the Lannisters and their Bannermen, I'll take their disloyal allies. Now, I have the money that they no longer have. Time to set up a buy of the Golden Company. I might even get the Iron Bank to back me since I'm so good at making money.

Now it's my armies of everyone who isn't a Lannister or Dany supporter. Either by gold, by the hatred of the current ruler, or by birth loyalty. I can fight both opponents-but would try to third party their war. I know all the troop movements because my birds reach everywhere.

*oh the Night King is coming? I'll gladly hide a little farther south and rethink my strategy. After all, Cersei doesn't hate me. Jon Snow won't kill me. So i'm safe for now...

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