Unless you’ve been living under the same rock as Snoop Dogg, you probably know that George R.R. Martin’s epic A Song of Ice and Fire series — on which HBO’s Game of Thrones is based — drew heavily from medieval history, in particular the War of the Roses. In this epic battle for English rule, the more honor-driven northerners were pitted against the much more conniving rich landholders farther south, inciting a war that lasted from 1455 — 1487. So we thought, “Hey! Why not break it all down for everyone in one handy-dandy post, eh?” Which is exactly what we’re doing right now.
We’re not afraid to be servicey, folks!
For those that are currently unaware, the War of the Roses was actually a series of dynastic wars for control of the English monarchy. Mainly this involved three houses in particular: those of Lancaster and York, plus two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet (you know, to mix things up a bit; add some spice). The whole mess stemmed from the financial hardships of a previous war–the Hundred Years War–and people’s general distrust in the rule of Henry VI. Because you know what tastes best after several generations of war? More war!
All of which is to say: you can see why GRRM took the complicated, convoluted, seeming royal clusterfuck as an inspiration point for the War of the Five Kings (and beyond).
But it wasn’t just a general premise that tickled Martin’s fancy: while the author has in the past stated that there are no direct character correlations, several folks around the Internet have found cause to claim otherwise.
First thing’s first: the houses of York and Lancaster — sound eerily similar to Stark and Lannister, anyone? Yeah well, the aforementioned characterizations of the North and South at the time sound oddly like the two houses of Westeros. And there is certainly a case to be made for Robert Baratheon and the Mad King Aerys Targaryen taking some inspiration from Henry VI, given his frequent bouts with madness (Targaryen, anyone?), and how much his ambitious queen, Margaret of Anjou, ruled the roost (Cersei Lannister much?).
And then there are the other eerily similar character traits seen in the various players. Over in House Lancaster there was the son of Henry VI and Margaret — Edward — rumored to be of illegitimate birth with an affinity for war and chopping people’s heads off. Sounds a lil’ Joffrey-esque, eh? And some intrepid genius over at Mental Floss has even pointed out a parallel between Theon Greyjoy and George Plantagenet (but no, before you ask: George was not a tortured eunuch).
So next time someone gives you crap for falling too deep down the Thrones rabbit hole, just tell ’em it’s all in the name of historical research (sorta)!
Have any other interesting historical connections/similarities between the Known Realm and our own? Let’s hear ’em in the comments!
Image Credit: National Portrait Gallery ; Sylvester Harding