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Back when I asked the question How many Valyrian steel swords are there at the beginning of GoT, and who owns them? I didn’t know it would be so important to the current context.

According to the answer there were 13 Valyrian Swords at the beginning of Game of Thrones. The tally now stands at 14 (because Ice was broken into Widow's Wail & Oathkeeper).

A curious thing to note is that the list of which Houses own them doesn’t feature the Martells of Dorne, the Tyrells of Highgarden, the Arryns of the Vale, the Tullys of Riverunn, and most of all the Baratheons of Storms End. These five houses are more powerful & prominent than most of the houses that possess a Valyrian weapon (Tarly, Mormont, Corbray, Harlaw, Celtigar, Hightower, Roxton).

Why don't any of these five powerful houses possess a Valyrian Steel sword?

  • 14
    Fake Fact: "Little known fact, Doran Martell's wheelchair is actually Valyrian steel and heaven help you if he gets a good downhill start when he is coming for you." I'm sorry for going offtopic, but this seemed just too hilarious :D – Stefan Urziceanu Jun 3 '15 at 6:16
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    Why would those houses want to waste so much money to buy a sword? Their Other-killing property was not confirmed until now. Also, VS blades are a rarity! – Möoz Jun 3 '15 at 6:20
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    I don't know if there is any canon answer than simply that they did not manage to obtain one. Any lesser house that has a VS weapon would not part with it (Tywin tried many times to buy a VS sword from a lesser house offering exorbitant prices, but they would prefer offering a daughter in exchange rather than give up their ancestral weapon). So I think your answer isn't anything more than "They woke up too late when they were on sale" – Stefan Urziceanu Jun 3 '15 at 6:28
  • Also, I believe up until the recent rising of the White Walkers, they had faded to myths & legends. Nobody thought of them as a threat. – Stark07 Jun 3 '15 at 6:33
  • Valyrian steel is much more stronger & compact than normal steel & can cut through it. That's why. – KharoBangdo Jun 3 '15 at 7:00
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There could be lots of reasons for this

The exact reason why some house don't have Valyrian steel is not explicitly explained. But based on:

Valyrian steel was manufactured in the Valyrian Freehold with dragonfire before the freehold fell.

Valyrian steel was always costly, but it became considerably more so when there was no more Valyria, the secret of its making lost with the Doom.

Only the greatest weaponsmiths can reforge swords from existing Valyrian steel, making those remaining weapons highly treasured and extremely rare.

http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Valyrian_steel

We can make following deductions from the above statment:

  1. Valyrian steel was costly.
  2. New Valyrian steel could not be created.
  3. Only the best weapon smiths can reforge swords from existing Valyrian steel.

At long last, Father? Valyrian steel blades were scarce and costly, yet thousands remained in the world, perhaps two hundred in the Seven Kingdoms alone. It had always irked his father that none belonged to House Lannister. The old Kings of the Rock had owned such a weapon, but the greatsword Brightroar had been lost when the second King Tommen carried it back to Valyria on his fool’s quest. He had never returned; nor had Uncle Gery, the youngest and most reckless of his father’s brothers, who had gone seeking after the lost sword some eight years past.

Thrice at least Lord Tywin had offered to buy Valyrian longswords from impoverished lesser houses, but his advances had always been firmly rebuffed. The little lordlings would gladly part with their daughters should a Lannister come asking, but they cherished their old family swords.

A Storm of Swords

  1. And house who have Valyrian steel, do not sell them.

So unless a house was lucky enough to have had a Valyrian steel as heirloom it is very difficult to get one. So lots of houses did not have them.

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    +1. Most Valyrian steel swords have been handed down for centuries. A House which was wealthy or fortunate enough to acquire one in the distant past may not be especially powerful in the present. Also, an obvious way to get a sword is by defeating its owner in battle. A skilled fighter from a less powerful House might be able to take a Valyrian sword as spoils of war, and pass it down to his descendants. – Royal Canadian Bandit Jun 18 '15 at 10:22
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    @RoyalCanadianBandit Red Rain would be the chief example of such Valyrian steel swords. – Aegon Jun 28 '16 at 5:47
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Vishvesh has added a very good answer but he has skipped handling the cases of the individual houses you mentioned (Except House Lannister). To complement his answer, here goes.

There are following reasons in my opinion:

  1. House Martell of Dorne: House Nymeros-Martell (or as it is commonly known, Martell) is descended from the Rhoynar Queen Nymeria. Nymeria and her people were forced to fled from their home region of Rhoyne when Dragonlords of Valyria sought to conquer them. Rhoynar then sought refuge in Dorne and adopted the Dornish identity while native Dornishmen adopted most of Rhoynar customs. But they never forgot the mother Rhoyne and what forced them flee from their mother. Valyrian Steel is a relic of Valyria and Valyrians were certainly not going to provide some to their enemies like the Rhoynar (And Rhoynar may not have even wanted to arm themselves with their bitter enemies' technology). Time may have of course healed those rifts but Then of course, Valyrian Doom happened and the art of creating new swords was lost. And as stated already, people who already had such swords jealously refused to sell them even to the highest bidder.

  2. House Tyrell of the Reach: House Tyrell was nothing more than stewards to Kings of the Reach until the Targaryen invasion. A steward would of course never be able to get such a weapon. When Targaryens came, Royal Dynasty of Reach went extinct in Field of Fire and Aegon raised the stewards to seat of the Kings. Of course that happened centuries after the Doom so Tyrells couldn't procure such a sword for themselves afterwards.

  3. House Arryn of Vale: Their case is indeed very complicated. They had ruled the Vale as Kings since the Andal Invasion of Vale. Vale is also famously fertile so it must have been a rich Kingdom. Yet they did not buy themselves a Valyrian steel sword from Valyria when they could, before the Doom. There is no mention of any conflict or enmity between the two nations which may have hindered such a purchase. Reckon Arryns just never wanted one. It may have been that very long wars with the North may have left the treasury of the Falcon Kings empty.

  4. House Tully of Riverrun: Just like House Tyrell, Tullys were never a great House before the Targaryen invasion. When Aegon attacked the realm of Iron King Harren the black, his Riverlander vassals under command of Lord Edmyn Tully turned their cloaks and went over to side of the Targaryen invaders. As a reward, House Tully was granted paramount Lordship of Riverlands. This happened after the Doom, so you know what happened. However, Tullys have been powerful Lords in their own right so it is unclear why they did not try to buy one when Valyria existed.

  5. House Baratheon of Storm's End: House Baratheon was founded after successful Targaryen invasion of Stormlands which of course happened centuries after the Doom. So there was no way for Orys Baratheon to get a new one. As stated already, minor Houses who had such weapons did not sell them so getting one later was also out of the question. It is however curious that their predecessors and Maternal ancestors of Orys' kids, House Durrandon did not posses one either when they should have had.


Among the minor houses that you have mentioned, following are the reasons why they have such swords:

  1. House Celtigar: They are Valyrian themselves and came from Valyria with Aenar Targaryen. It should not be a surprise that they got a Valyrian Axe.
  2. House Tarly: The sword is in the family for 500 years so they most plausibly bought one. Reach is famously rich and Tarlys are powerful vassals to Highgarden so finance was probably not an issue for them.
  3. House Mormont: Mormonts have also carried their sword for 500 years. But How did they get it is something which is unclear. Mormont lands are poor and Mormonts aren't rich either. So it is unclear. Perhaps GRRM just wanted Jon to have a Valyrian steel sword, which is why House Mormont got one in the story.
  4. House Corbray: House Corbray was not always minor. They were Kings once and had that weapon since then. Eventually they were conquered by House Royce. House Royce also claimed the sword for a brief while until Arryns came along and subdued the Royces. Corbrays managed to kill the Royce King during that battle and reclaimed the blade for their house once again.
  5. House Hightower: House Hightower isn't minor at all. They used to be Kings once as well until they peacefully accepted suzerainty of House Gardener. Then they moved on to make Oldtown the greatest city in Westeros and became one of the Richest families in Westeros as well. It shouldn't have been very hard for them to buy a sword from Valyria before the doom.
  6. House Roxton: Not much is known about Roxtons except that they were matrilineally descended from Kings of the Reach which suggests that they must have been important. So plausibly they also bought their sword.
  7. House Harlaw: House Harlaw also used to be Kings once. They still hold the richest lands in Iron Islands. Still, their sword was not theirs initially. Dalton Greyjoy took it from a dead pirate. It is unclear how the Sword passed from House Greyjoy to House Harlaw.

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