Game of Thrones, one of the most popular television shows in history (based on the book series, A Song of Ice and Fire), is coming back! To celebrate, we’ll take a closer look at the economy and coins that keep the Seven Kingdoms running! Check out our Country Profile for history and culture and our Travel Guide for a rundown of the famous sights across the land. We also have a guide that will take you across the narrow sea to Essos.
Spoiler Alert: While written just before the sixth season, this guide will detail the economy in the Seven Kingdoms in its state prior to the beginning of the first season (and first book) of Game of Thrones. It will not reveal any major plot points, however some minor spoilers may be hinted at. When it comes to differences between the show and the books, we follow the show.
Gold, silver, copper…whichever it is, coin is the lifeblood that keeps the country moving along. We’ll cover these coins, as well as provide some economic insights on the fascinating Seven Kingdoms.
- Most Common Coins
- Gold Dragons
- Silver Stags
- Copper Stars and Pennies
- Mint: Master of Coin
Coins and Currency
Not much is known of the coins used prior to Aegon’s Conquest, however it would be fair to assume there were as many varieties as there were kingdoms. Indeed, gold coins bearing the sigil of House Gardener (the former overlords of the Reach) can still be found.
Today, the coins minted by the Master of Coin come in three general varieties. There are gold dragons, the most rare and valuable. Only those of noble birth or rich merchants generally use these. Gold dragons feature the face and name of the king whose reign they were minted during – so currently, King Robert Baratheon. The coins previously featured the three-headed dragon of House Targaryen, but this has been discontinued following their exile.
Silver stags are the second most valuable of the main types. While one might assume they came into use after the rise of the Baratheons (whose sigil is a stag), they were used at least decades prior to this. Unlike gold dragons, silver stags are often found in the possession of smallfolk.
As far as copper coins go, there are a couple varieties. The most common are the star and penny. These coins often feature the Seven-Pointed Star of the Faith of the Seven, and are more common than the others amongst the peasantry.
In many parts of the Seven Kingdoms, especially rural areas, bartering is common. This is true amongst smallfolk anywhere you look as well as close to the Wall. The Ironborn like to pay the so-called ‘iron price’, which involves taking what they can forcibly.
Trade and Resources
Trade is the lifeblood of the Seven Kingdoms, as each region of the country offers something unique. Dorne is home to many exotic products – among them olives, rare fruits, spicy peppers, Dornish wine, reliable horses, strong bows, and more. The Reach is the most fertile region in the country, offering tons of food and some of the finest wines around. The Westerlands are known for their natural resources, namely gold and silver. The fertile Riverlands are home to many farms, fisheries, and granaries – using the rivers of the region to ship their goods elsewhere. The Stormlands are home to a degree of fertile land, though not as much as some of the others. The Vale is known for wheat, corn, and barley, as well as other goods such as pumpkins and scented candles. The North lacks much in the way of cultivation, however its forests and wildlife supply the kingdoms with timber, hides, and wool. While the Iron Islands are home to some natural resources (such as iron, unsurprisingly), the general scarcity has contributed the residents’ penchant for raiding elsewhere. Finally, the Crownlands have some farms and fishing, but it is the city of King’s Landing that serves as the epicenter for all trade and crafting in the Seven Kingdoms – with nearly any artisan you can think of available.
The Master of Coin serves as the foremost financial advisor to the King. With a seat on the small council, this makes whoever holds the position amongst the most powerful people in the Seven Kingdoms. Responsibilities include minting the coins, collecting taxes, managing customs and harbormasters, negotiating loans, and otherwise finding coin to run the country. The position is currently held by Petyr Baelish – a lesser lord from the Vale.
Thanks to the gold and silver mines of the Westerlands, House Lannister has grown into the wealthiest (and one of, if not the most powerful) House in the Seven Kingdoms. Led by Tywin Lannister, they have loaned tons of gold to the crown in recent years – further compounding the reliance of the Iron Throne upon the house. Their unofficial motto, “A Lannister always pays his debts”, can be taken as both a promise and a threat.
The second richest house comes from the second richest region (the Reach), House Tyrell. While not as involved with the crown following their support of the Targaryens during Robert’s Rebellion, they still hold much wealth and can field both a large army and navy.
While not part of the Seven Kingdoms, the Iron Bank of Braavos deserves mentioning. Based in the Free City of Braavos (the wealthiest of the bunch) across the sea, it was founded years ago in deep, subterranean vaults. Today the bank is extremely powerful and lends money across the world – including to the Iron Throne. It is commonly said “The Iron Bank will have its due” as one way or another they always get their coin back.
The importance of wealth cannot be overstated when it comes to the Seven Kingdoms. Great armies might win a battle, but gold wins wars.
For a broader understanding of the history and culture of the Seven Kingdoms check out our Country Profile. For information about traveling to the Seven Kingdoms then be sure to follow our Travel Guide. We also have a Travel Guide just for Essos!
Sources: ‘The World of Ice & Fire’ by George R. R. Martin, Elio M. García Jr. and Linda Antonsson as well as ‘A Wiki of Ice and Fire’. In addition, knowledge of ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’.
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