A Song of Ice and Fire: Iron Bank of Braavos


Centuries before the Targaryen Conquest of
Westeros, when the valryian freehold ruled much of Western Essos, the city of Braavos
was founded in a northern lagoon by runaway slaves, fleeing their Valyrian Masters. Fearing reprisal from the dragonlords, the
former slaves kept the existence of their city hidden for over a century, giving them
time to properly establish their settlement. A group of these settlers, specifically 16
men and 7 women, discovered an iron mine, using it to conceal their riches from pirates
and thieves. Over time, the amount of treasure they collected
became sufficient enough for some of them to start lending the money out to other Braavosi. From there the Iron Bank of Braavos took root,
led in part by 23 keyholders, who were the descendants of the original founders of the
bank, and who continue to hold the keys to the subterranean vaults which hold their wealth. Keyholders are held in high regard within
Braavosi society, known to wear their keys on chain around their necks during ceremonies
and celebrations. However they are not alone in the management
of the Iron bank, with many other nobles and rich merchants owning shares in the organization
allowing them to attend secret meetings and have a voice in choosing the leadership. Although Braavos itself is led by the Sealord
of Braavos, Bank officials have a great deal of influence. After a century hidden from the world, Sealord
Uthero Zalyne prepared to end the secrecy. In order to pre-emtively make peace with the
Valyrian Freehold, he sent envoys from the Iron Bank to make contact. Learning that the Valyrians cared little for
a faraway city founded by fugitive slaves a century earlier, and they were further placated
when the Iron Bank paid a generous sum to the descendants of the slave owners who’s
ships had been seized and stolen. The representatives of Braavos did not however,
offer any compensation for the slaves themselves. With the issue settled the Sealord of Braavos
sent ships to every corner of the world, revealing the existence of Braavos in what came to be
known as the Unmasking of Uthero. Over the centuries, the Iron Bank grew into
the richest and largest bank of the Free cities, lending money to many triarchs, princes, noble
lords and even kings, becoming a source of financing for the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. Yet part of the reason for their success came
from the reputation they earned in dealing with those who refused to pay their debts. The Bank became infamous for toppling delinquent
Lords and Princes, by financing their rivals, who in turn agreed to pay back the full debt
of the previous ruler, In addition to what they borrowed to overthrow their predecessor. In cases where this strategy failed, assassins
were sent to eliminate the guilty parties. The Bank’s longstanding relationship with
Westeros served them well for many years, like during the during the Dance of the Dragons
civil war, when Ser Tyland Lannister of the Greens faction following Aegon II, sent one
quarter of the crown’s gold from the royal treasury to the Iron Bank for safekeeping. A few years later, Iron Bank declined in power
with the Rogare Bank of Lys rising to prominence, seeing the head of the Banks daughter Larra
Rogare marrying Prince Viserys of Westeros, who went on to become King Viserys II. However after the death of Larra’s father
Lysandro the Magnificent the bank started to decline and the Iron Bank once again returned
to prominance. In 267 AC, the Mad King Aerys II was at odds
with the bank over debts accrued by his father Jaehaerys II, and so he foolishly claimed
he would build a mighty flight to bring the titan of braavos to its knees. Yet this was just another of the King’s
many declarations that led to nothing. After the fall of House Targaryen, King Robert
Baratheon ruled for many years, accruing debt through his reckless spending with Lord Petyr
Baelish, Master of Coin, responsible for securing the funds. With Robert’s untimely death, the Kingdom’s
debts fell to the heir King Joffrey Baratheon and King Tommen Baratheon after that. However, with the War of the Five Kings raging
across the continent, Queen Regent Cersei Lannister, who ruled in the name of her young
son, felt she needed to prioritize military spending over debt, and declared they would
differ payments to the Faith of the Seven and the Iron bank of Braavos until the war
was over. With the funds they will save, she ordered
the construction of a naval fleet, to be led by the Bastard of Driftmark Aurane Waters. Grand Maester Pycelle proved the only member
of the small council to object to the plan, reminding the Queen of the famous saying,
“The Iron Bank will have its due.” And explaining that this will have drastic
repercussions, but his pleas are ignored. And so when Noho Dimittis was sent by the
Iron Bank to King’s Landing, Cersei informed him of the decision and sent him away. In response, the Bank started calling in all
outstanding debts from the Lords of Westeros and stopped giving out any new loans, leading
to economic chaos throughout the continent. In addition, they sent Tycho Nestoris north
to the wall in search of King Stannis Baratheon. At the wall he met with jon Snow, and agreed
to lend the Night’s Watch coin to help them survive the winter. Tycho was then escorted south to Deepwood
Motte where he paid the ransom for a number of Ironborn captives, so they might escort
him safely to find Stannis near Winterfell. Instead they found Stannis in a small village. Tycho Nestoris then negotiated a contract
to financially support Stannis Baratheon for the Iron Throne, in exchange for the repayment
of all previous debts once in power. Stannis agreed and demonstrated his commitment,
by signing the agreement in his own blood. Back in King’s Landing, Cersei’s schemes
at last became her undoing, when she was arrested by the faith militants and stripped of her
power. Ser Kevan Lannister was then named Regent,
and did his best to reverse some of the damage already done. He attempted to secure new loans from the
banks of Pentos and Myr, but was unable to secure financing. He then suggested that Ser Harys Swyft, Master
of Coin go to Braavos so he might speak with them directly and re-establish their relationship.

58 thoughts on “A Song of Ice and Fire: Iron Bank of Braavos

  1. Am I the only one who thought it was BS that the Iron Bank in the show is apparently involved in the Slave Trade? :/

  2. This is like a slap to the face on how DnD makes Bravoos getting profits on the slave trade ehich was on the contrary of its roots. Great video! 🙂

  3. Why the Iron Bank chose to support Cersei in the show, is absolute BS.

    1.) Cersei and Tywin both had failed to pay the Iron Bank on previous loans dating as far back as Robert Baratheon.
    2.) Cersei herself refused to pay them back on any of their interest payments, even sending a fool like Mace Tyrell to negotiate with them, which we assume he failed.

    so basically, Cersei is already defaulting on the loan, and they still choose to support her?

    Proving again HBO doesn't know shit about their own show.

    The Iron Bank isn't stupid, they would put their bets on Daenerys Targaryen, as Tyco pointed out with dragons and a huge army already. Cersei, has proven she can't be trusted with money, and yet they still support her?

    BULLSHIT!

  4. The Braavosi are basically Venetian merchants + Florentine bankers. The main difference is they still haven't attemped building their own empire, which is also unlikely due to their history.

  5. I still don't think many non book readers understand the prophesy's of azor ahai , the last hero, and the three heads of the dragon. Your next video should be on them alone and how they are all different or all the same, and talk about who fits the roles the best and if the show will go with them or not.

  6. Whoa, so basically the Iron Bank is a publicly traded corporation with shareholders and board members and board meetings and stuff…. crazy.

  7. Kevan Lannister was killed by Varys meaning that renegotiation deal is doom in the water. So the Bank 0f Braavos will definitely fully back King Stannis now, cause their isn't any other choice. #OneTrueKingStannis

  8. I just realized that the serie is bullshit, why you may ask?
    Braavos is against slavery, westeros too as well
    But when Cersei speaks with the iron bank she said that Daenerys is screwing the slavery trade therefore the iron bank has loses but she can help in that
    Cersei and the iron bank are going against the believes of their cultures

  9. 3 questions;
    1. Is there more scorpions, and how many, and will a head shot or shot be a kill?
    2. Is Rickon and Randyll Tarly alive? They should be since they weren't shown killed
    3. What proportion of the expeditionary for were killed, can the rest make it back to kings Landing, avoiding capture?
    4. What are the army numbers of the 3 principal forces, and would also like to know what numbers each kingdom can yield?
    5. Why don't we see Tarly or Reach fores fighting for Randyll and Dickon? And where are the Hightowers, most likes the most important, largest house, and biggest army of the biggest town in the Reach and Westeros?
    6. Why don;t we see recruitment of the Stormlands and Riverlands by the Lannisters? And there should still be a Frey army to take the field
    7. Why don't the Crown lands produce like a 50 thousand man army? I mean there are half a million people in Kingslanding alone.
    8. Where is the native population of Dragonstone? Stannis couldn't evacuate every man women and child and bring em to East Watch, and why would he.
    9.What's up with with the Isles of the narrow sea? Like Drift Mark, Claw Isle, & even Tarth, and Skagos? How many people and army do they have, who are they loyal to? What,when, why where, with, how?
    10. How could the North have left than 10,000 to defend it while they have every individual aged 10-60 armed?
    These are the tings one needs to know.

  10. One thing that pisses me off about this is the amount of coverage and speculation it has received so far… None but Civilisation Ex are going this far in-depth on the matter. Not even Preston Jacobs is giving them much thought, and even then he is forced to, in reference to Stannis in the Crofter's Village, outside Winterfell.
    "I guess they could be seen as a big, evil organisation, but they really don't come off as that menacing yet…"
    Seriously, dude, keep up the good work! I loved your work on Tolkien's Arda and all in Middle-Earth. A perfect rundown for the narrative that actually helped my re-reading of the epic franchise from the Silmarillion to LOTR: The Return Of The King… Thanks for all of it! I keep coming back, again and again 🙂

  11. You made a mistake in this video. There are NOT 23 keyholders.

    The descendants of the original 23 members are known as keyholders. These descendants number at around one thousand. They all hold ceremonial keys.

    This is literally from The World of Ice and Fire book..

  12. It's been a while since I've read the books so it is always shocking to be reminded of how incredibly incompetent of a regent cersei was

  13. All the wars are linked to the Banks. Perhaps Arya's training in Bravos was to uncover the secrets of Bravos. The sealord was dead and another was to be apointed

  14. The Iron bank will send an assassin, most likely a face less men from house of black and white, to kill a guilty party for failing paying their debts. So if Cercei Lanister failed to pay her debts, and iron bank commisioned a face less men asssasin, and then from house black and white let Arya Stark to represent and do the killings, that would be the best day for Arya.

  15. Should the 7 kingdoms survive the future second Long Night. the country would be definitely crippled. I have a feeling that Braavos would be become the new dominant world power in the known world.

  16. +CivilizationEx Apologies if you already stated the answer, and I just didn't hear it. I was wondering; I got how the Iron Bank fights against delinquent debts, but does Braavos have a Military, beyond a Navy? Having a fleet crewed by Sailor's trained to fight as ad-hoc infantry is a great thing, wooden walls protect the Nation. But what do they do if a professional Army should come a calling from the land-side ( like the IJA at Singapore ) complete with siege weapons? Are they similar to Carthage, by having a small but very well armed and professional Guards unit, with the bulk of the Army would be Mercenaries? Keep up with the great videos, and apologies for my butchery and defilement of grammar.

  17. well according to D&D,,teh 10 millon golden dragon debt simply dissapear with brom as master of coin….

  18. Ironic that the city of Braavos a nation once founded by escaped slaves is eponymous to the Iron Bank an organization that in its mission to cement its own personal freedom would enslave the rest of the world.

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