By now, with the upcoming Season 7 of Game of Thrones, the story has diverged quite a lot from G.R.R. Martin’s book series. But regardless, neither the books nor the show makes any real mention of what the Iron Bank of Braavos is up to. This is quite interesting, especially when keeping in mind just how much power it really has over the world.
Looking back at the bank’s history, we know it came into existence long before the Doom of Valyria; a catastrophic event that took place nearly four hundred years before the War of the Five Kings. It was founded by wealthy traders and merchants from the then secret city of Braavos, and which in time became, without a doubt, the most powerful financial institution in the Known World. Its name derives from an old iron mine in which the bank’s founders initially kept all their funds.
Just like the Lannisters have a famous saying where: “A Lannister always pays his debts”, making reference to the Westerosi family being extremely wealthy and always keeping its word when it comes to repaying a debt; the Iron Bank has a somewhat similar saying of its own. “The Iron Bank will have its due”; which stands to show that whatever conflicts for power or personal interests take place throughout the world, the bank will always have a final say in the matter. In fact, the Iron Bank and the Faith are the only two institutions which do not have to answer to royalty or any noble houses. This is especially evident when even Tywin Lannister, the wealthiest man in Westeros, is fearful of the Iron Bank and what it can do to achieve its goals.
With so much wealth at its disposal, the bank offers loans to anyone interested in both Westeros and Essos alike; big loans. In Season 1 when Ned Stark becomes the Hand of the King, he discovers that the Crown owes the bank millions of gold dragons. This debt was collected throughout King Robert’s inefficient reign of the Iron Trone. After the King’s death and the ensuing civil war in Westeros, the Iron Bank funded Stannis Baratheon for his claim to the throne, being the most likely candidate in the “game” to be able to repay the huge debt owed by the Crown. With Stannis now defeated and killed at the Battle of Winterfell, and with Cersei becoming Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, the Bank will most likely look for another suitor who will have a better chance of paying.
This tactic of funding one rebel faction after another until one of them will repay the debt is an almost guarantee for the Iron Bank. Especially given the vast resources at its disposal. Its symbol too shows this to a certain degree, since it depicts an hourglass made out of two intersecting triangles, and two hands extending from left and right with their palms held upwards. A sort of foreshadowing for “It’s only a matter of time…”.
Who will the bank fund next is still a matter of debate among hardcore fans, but the most likely candidate is Daenerys Targaryen. From the bank’s perspective at least, she has everything going for her. Not only does she have the means and enough wealth of her own to sustain a war for Westeros, she has the soldiers, the ships, the dragons, the method of ruling and the loyalists to actually achieve victory and even hold on to the throne long enough to pay up.
However, even if this will turn out to be the case, and G.R.R. Martin decides to write the story this way, this too may not be enough to stop what’s coming from north of the Wall.
For more information about this GOT theory and others, take a look at this video below.