Credit: HBO

In the last few episodes of Game of Thrones, we’ve heard a few people mention the Iron Bank of Braavos. With the name of Braavos coming up a lot lately, it sure seems like the city, and its Iron Bank, have an important role to play. But what is the Iron Bank of Braavos?

The Iron Bank is in all likelihood the wealthiest institution in the world of Game of Thrones. It is located in the Free City of Braavos, on the continent of Essos, across the Narrow Sea from Westeros. Since it’s in Braavos, the bank is well out of the jurisdiction of both the Seven Kingdoms and Dany’s Slaver’s Bay (which is on a very different part of Essos), but it has dealings throughout the world. The Iron Bank has lent the Crown of Westeros a lot of money over the years, as we heard Tywin Lannister bemoaning, and they’re going to want to get that money back eventually.

From what Tywin said in Episode 5, you can gather that the Iron Bank is willing to do more than send the occasional collector to seattle up their debts. There is a saying that "the Iron Bank will have its due," and as Tywin puts it: "You can't run from them, you can't cheat them, you can't sway them with excuses. If you owe them money, and you don't want to crumble yourself, you pay them back."

Another faction who is looking to deal with the Iron Bank is Stannis. Judging from the previews, Stannis is going to pay the bank a visit in Season 4, Episode 6, and ask for a loan. Stannis needs the money to fund his war effort, and we’re thinking that if he can convince the Iron Bank that he’ll be better at paying off loans than the Lannisters have been, then they might just be inclined to give him what he wants. Seriously, whatever happened to Lannisters always paying their debts?