In "The Dragon and the Wolf" (Game of Thrones, S07E07), Littlefinger was in a trial, accused by Sansa and Bran of many crimes that he has committed against the Stark family, and eventually sentenced to death. But they didn't show any evidence or proof of Sansa's accusations. He could have easily denied every accusation and, at least, it would put doubts in the other Lords' minds.

How could the Starks convince the other Lords that Littlefinger was guilty?

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    I think Littlefinger's response was evidence enough. Also they are the ruling family, they could sentence an innocent and most of the other lords would probably go along with it. Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 16:23
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    No one really likes LF to begin with...
    – Skooba
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 16:24
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    Also if you noticed, The Lord they used to represent the rest of the Lords in the room was one of the people little finger was going around whispering to. I am sure most of them saw him going around conspiring and due to rushing the plot/adding drama they skipped them meeting together and making connections.
    – ggiaquin16
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 16:27
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    He admitted to killing Lysa ("to protect you [Sansa]"), and it went downhill from there for him - it is a bit dodgy and unorthodox to execute a man for crimes he denies (even Joffrey had Ned falsely confess to crimes before executing him), and it's weird to me that Royce didn't pick up on Sansa being a lying schemer, too, during that stunt at the Eyrie where she lied about Lysa's death to save Littlefinger ... I think OP is right to question what happened. Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 16:53
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    The question you ask is different from the one you seem to be building up to. The latter being: why was he, of all people, caught off guard? Sure, it's one thing to think Arya's the one being tried and finding out to the contrary. But this is the guy who has spent almost all of his screen time this season saying "I assume the worst and prepare for everything; especially the impossible ones." And it's a reasonable claim given what we've seen. So how is it that this guy never once practiced what to say when someone suddenly accuses him of crimes? That he didn't have backups upon backups? Commented Aug 31, 2017 at 8:47

7 Answers 7


This is not a democratic court; it is a royal judgment.

As Jon's nominated proxy, Sansa carries all the powers of a "King [queen] in the North". It is her sentence, and she does not need to seek the approval of the lords to carry it out.

Littlefinger's behaviour does little to redeem him for his actions, and in some cases he outright admits the crimes levelled against him (such as the murder of Lysa Arryn, although he professes a benevolent motive).

In the example above, as with all his accused crimes, the person he has to convince in order to be pardoned is Sansa Stark; and as she is accusing him of his crimes, this isn't going to happen. Sansa has her own direct experiences of Littlefinger, along with the counsel of her sister and the three-eyed Raven... and Baelish co-ordinated events that led to the rape of the proxy Queen in the north.

All Sansa needed/wanted was a recent crime to provide the context for a fresh trial. Littlefinger's conspiracies were easily tantamount to this. The lords would have accepted her judgement even if Baelish hadn't confessed to his crimes, tried to flee justice etc.

Edit: for the question of why the Knights of the Vale belayed the order of protection; Little-finger just admitted to murdering Lisa Arryn, their Lady Regent. He also professed his reason to be "to protect you [Sansa]", a claim which Sansa refutes and counters that he was acting in self interest. Regardless of motive, he just admitted Regicide. They were never his own soldiers, they were house Arryn's; and he just confessed to a Capital crime against that house.

To be clear: No one in that room is going to come to Little-fingers defense unless they are compelled (through honor, duty or obligation) to react. Baelish was a necessary evil these people were being forced to endure. Little-finger believed himself to be hated, but indispensable. His power of statecraft was, however, always based on manipulation/subterfuge.

The Starks simply asked him to explain himself openly to a room full of accusers; denying him his usual method of individual manipulation. It for this reason he asks to speak to Sansa 'privately', and it is for this reason he is plainly rebuffed. Without being able to spin lies and turn actors against each other, he is powerless to defend himself against his crimes; and even admits some of them.

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    This doesn't explain why the knights of the Vale were so adamant about not protecting him. While Sansa may be the King in the North's appointed proxy, she's a Stark. Baelish explicitly orders his knights to escort him away from Winterfell, which is stonily refused with "I think not.". While the other northern lords may be unconcerned, it seems as if his own soldiers refusing to protect him needs explanation.
    – Knetic
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 19:57
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    @Knetic they were sworn to the realm. The realm was the ruling House (the Arryns), into which Baelish married into, and betrayed. Up to before the trial, the Knights were serving the Arryn family, not directly Baelish. I think this might be enough explanation on why the Vale-folk would just ditch him. Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 20:59
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    Should "council of her sister" say "counsel of her sister"? Without actually knowing the details, the latter seems more likely, but given the context and without a knowledge of the details I can't be certain that it isn't the former. Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 22:15
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    @Knetic The Knights of the Vale are bound to Robin Arryn. Baelish made a power play of having control of Robin Arryn to Lord Royce in a previous season, but in the face of his being accused of killing Lady Arryn, it would easily be an opportune moment for them to refuse to let him escape trial. They get justice for a murder committed against their lawful ruler, and Lord Royce gets out of the web of Littlefinger, and frees Robin Arryn from Littefinger's manipulation.
    – DariM
    Commented Aug 30, 2017 at 5:10
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    @Kinetic: Watch the previous season again. Littlefinger had made an enemy of the exact guy he asked for help before, in front of the actual lord of the Vale (Robin). As I read the scene, his refusal was basically payback.
    – Tom
    Commented Aug 30, 2017 at 8:09

They can sentence anyone without proof, although that would lower their reputation of honest Stark family. As for some accusations, even Littlefinger was caught off guard to deny everything.

As for witness, Sansa is the witness to Lysa's murder. You can see Lord Royce immediately focusing behind. It is understandable that at the time she was young and afraid. But now willing to face the truth that it was he who killed her. Story about Lysa killing herself and leaving her son barely stood up precisely because of Sansa.

He only denied betraying Ned, but when Bran quotes his words he doesn't deny anymore. Similar with accusations of everything else, most importantly poisoning Lord Arryn.

Eventually I think Lord Royce was fast enough to believe Sansa against Littlefinger. As for others, it was clear that Starks are not accusing him without any ground and Littlefinger didn't try to defend with denial but explanations... so I guess he didn't explained it good enough :)

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    And the desperation in his attempt to order Royce to escort him to safety looked almost like an admission of guilt. My reading of that scene was, he was unprepared for Bran doing the impossible, isn't used to things happening he hasn't anticipated or being put personally in the limelight, panicked, floundered and essentially gave himself away Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 16:42
  • @user568458 Yes, my reading is the same. And I think it's highly relevant that they ambushed him like that. He thought he was seeing Arya brought down and then he was hit too rapidly to respond with an accurate list of his misdeeds in front of the people watching.
    – Tim B
    Commented Aug 31, 2017 at 16:20

Littlefinger was caught off guard, which doesn't happen often, and his own reaction damned him as much as anything Sansa said. Look at his reactions to her accusations and they seem very much to be the answers of a guilty man. He also straight out admits to many of them.

Do not confuse a court like this one with a modern court system. There is no book of law or standard of evidence, it is basically a matter of who can be more convincing, and Littlefinger for once did not put on a good nor convincing show of innocence. If you've ever confronted a guilty person point blank like Sansa did, you know this squirming and evasion - that is what guilty people do while their mind frantically searches for a way out. It takes a lot of practice to stand your ground, deny everything and not give out any information that could in the next second be turned against you. You need time to think, to make up an alibi that will stand scrutiny, or a plausible story.

Littlefinger showed the face of a guilty, desperate man, and that convinced the men watching him that he is guilty, probably of all the crimes but definitely the majority of them.

Also, he didn't have one ally in that room, he is isolated in the north, the lone wolf. Even one lord speaking up in his support could have saved him, by interrupting and delaying proceedings, giving him time to figure out another scheme.

To save himself, Littlefinger would have needed not a neutral person, but at least one ally or someone who believes in his innocence strongly enough to speak up against the lady of Winterfell.

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    about Bran: I don't think his comments was necessary to convince anyone. Its main effect was on Littlefinger, not on the men watching on. It made Littlefinger realize that any alibi he invents, and lie he comes up with, will be undone the same moment.
    – Tom
    Commented Aug 30, 2017 at 8:30
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    Although - why should it? This wasn't something that happened in total private like "Chaos is a ladder". This was a scene that took place in front of many gold cloaks, the Hound, the Lannisters, etc. Any one of them could have by chance slipped a mention/laugh/rumour heard by Sansa at KL, Arya at KL etc.
    – DariM
    Commented Aug 30, 2017 at 21:38
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    @DariM - it was spoken softly in Ned Starks ear, while his men were noisily being dispatched. The holding of the dagger, sure. What he said? Between him and Ned. Commented Aug 30, 2017 at 22:09

Littlefinger was not much loved, or even liked to begin with.

Northern lords always considered him a southern bullshit artist. The lords of the Vale had their eye on him for the death of Lysa Arryn. At the time, it took Sansa vouching for him for them to not execute him on general principle.

These accusations were in line with what they already believed about him.


Another aspect to answer this question relies on Northern Culture itself.

Bran Stark: "Our way is the Old Way?"

Eddard Stark: "The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword."

"...The Northmen tend to call people from the other parts of the Seven Kingdoms "Southerners", generally meaning those areas dominated by the Andals. In general usage Dorne is often lumped together as one of the "southerner" kingdoms, because while the Dornishmen are descended from the Rhoynar they still have some Andal blood and also converted to the Faith of the Seven, thus they also have a culture of noble courts and knights, albeit with significant variations...

The Northmen do not regularly become knights because of that institution's ties to the Faith of the Seven, which has few followers in the North - but also because the Northmen are always so hard-pressed for basic survival against external threats that they do not need a separate subclass of professional warriors - every Northman has to have skill at arms to survive....

A number of the traditions of the First Men still hold strong among the Northmen: the strict observance of guest right and laws of hospitality, and the belief that justice should be dealt and enforced by the very lords that pass sentence. While guest right is held sacred by all religions and peoples in Westeros, the Northmen are noted for taking it particularly seriously: given their very harsh winters, the act of giving a guest shelter and food during a cold winter when they otherwise might starve in the wilderness is a gesture of trust that is never to be taken lightly.


So there is a fair argument that even outside of Little Finger's admission of guilt from being caught off guard, which Bran helped to facilitate, that the other aspect is that Northern Culture would not need to question Sansa by Winterfell and the Stark name (wardens of the North) comes with something the Northerners would generally respect...

However the TV series has shown us from the divide between Boltons and Jon Snow and how they have reacted to joining forces with a Targaryen and, in this case, a believed foreigner, that Sansa's sentence still could come back to haunt her when other truths are revealed not just about Jon's alliance, but his actual heritage--although Sansa could perhaps retian order, if she abandons Jon's plight--but seems unlikely, because "winter's coming". The only other aspect left is Robyn and the Knight's of Vale and how he may react to the death of Petyer Baelish vs if Sansa can keep him without Petyr Baelish.


"Deus ex Bran"

Bran has the ability to see things in the past that he would have no other way of knowing. So, when he asserts that "X person did Z action" people will question him. However, Bran can then tell you what you did that no one could possibly know about...

So when Bran asserts "Littlefinger did this" the other lords know Bran has a way to obtain that information.

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    I still don't see how this convinces the other lords of my guilt though. Is this answer finished yet?
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 16:31
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    @NapoleonWilson I didn't realize that you were Littlefinger. :P
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 16:33
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    @NapoleonWilson It convinces the other lords because Bran also Knows What you Did Last Summer
    – Skooba
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 16:39
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    @NapoleonWilson You're right - the answer needs to be fleshed out... I think the implication is that everyone knows what Bran can do, so if Bran says "this is what happened" - provided they trust Bran, they don't need any additional proof.
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 16:40
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    I think it's less the other lords thinking or saying "Yes, Bran knows all" - because I don't see that any of them really understand that. Sansa and Arya are just getting it, and the maester, as well. I think it's more when he's able to accurately cite things that no one alive other than LittleFinger should possibly be able to know, it blows LittleFinger away to where he can't roll prepared lies off his tongue in usual fashion. LF is always prepared for all possibilities, that's his strength, so getting blindsided by possibilities he couldn't anticipate threw him off his usual game. Commented Aug 30, 2017 at 17:40

I agree that the lords know that Bran can indeed see the past. We've viewed him telling Sansa he saw her at a crucial moment, and although we haven't viewed it,it is reasonable to guess that he has made other insightful comments to those at Winterfell. To me, this is the obvious answer. When Little finger was attempting to defend himself, poorly ("Sansa, if we could just talk alone"), the deciding factor was Bran saying aloud what Little finger had told Ned: "I warned you not to trust me." Little finger stopped denying at that point.

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