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Game of Thrones: A History of Ice and Fire
The fictional world of Game of Thrones, with all of its spectacular locations, battles, and family feuds is wonderfully vivid and beautifully designed. But what were the real-life events, places and people that inspired them? Warning: Spoilers below.
It is widely thought that the historical context and background of the fictional world has been inspired by real-life events. Some main assumptions are:
First Men – Celts
Targaryens – Normans
Andals – Saxons
Ironborn – Vikings
The Seven Kingdoms – Heptarchy
The named applied to the 7 kingdoms that existed in England from the 7th-9th century.
The War of the Five Kings
Two main dueling clans are the northern Starks and wealthy Lannisters.
House Lannister’s sigil is a golden lion on a field of red crimson.
House Stark of Winterfell’s sigil is a grey direwolf in a field of white.
Wars of the Roses
Two main dueling clans were the northern Yorks and wealthy Lancasters.
House of Lancaster’s badge was a red rose.
House of York’s badge was a white rose.
The Red Wedding
The gruesome Red Wedding saw Robb, Catelyn and Talisa Stark slaughtered at a wedding feast with supposed allies.
The Black Dinner
In 1440, though the King of Scotland was fighting the Black Douglas clan, he offered the 6th Earl of Douglas and his brother a feast and safe passage through his city.
After the meal, a head of a black bull was dropped on the table (a symbol of death). The two Douglas brothers faced a mock trial, were found guilty of treason, and thus beheaded.
A long wall of solid ice that runs along the northern border of the Seven Kingdoms. It defends the realm from the wildlings who live beyond.
Members of the Night’s Watch swear an oath that prohibit them from marriage.
A long stone wall that served as the most northerly frontier between southern Britain and the unconquered north. Low-ranking soldiers of the wall were forbidden to marry.
The Free Cities
Powerful, independent city-states who each have a distinct and individual culture. Braavos, arguably the most powerful of the Free Cities, spans hundreds of tiny islands connected by small stone bridges.
City-states who were at the time the most economically and culturally advanced in Europe. Venice is spread over 118 small islands and was one of the greatest capitals in the medieval world.
A great trading city located on the straights linking the Summer Sea and the Jade Sea. Surrounded by three thick walls. According to Lomas Longstrider, the triple walls of Qarth is one of the nine wonders made by man.
A prime hub in a trading network, commanding the trade routes between the Aegean Sea and the Black Sea. Walls of Constantinople were the most famous of the medieval world, both for their scale and design.
Winterfell – filmed at
The seat of House Stark. It is located in the centre of the North.
Doune Castle, Scotland
Portrayed Winterfell in the pilot episode.
Castle Ward, Northern Ireland
Portrayed Winterfell in the subsequent episodes.
Casterly Rock – inspired by
The seat of House Lannister. It is fortress carved out of a stone hill.
Rock of Gibraltar, Gibraltar
GRRM has stated the Rock as his model for Casterly Rock. Like its fictional counterpart, the Rock of Gibraltar also has a labyrinth of tunnels running through it.
The Twins – filmed at
The seat of House Frey. It consists of two twin castles joined by a bridge over the River Trident.
Inch Abbey, Northern Ireland
Located on the bank of the Quoile River. The buildings are from the 12th and 13th centuries.
Robert Baratheon + Henry VIII
Both were noted for their obsession with jousting and combat.
Both their wives allegedly had incestuous affairs (however this is true for Robert Baratheon).
Overthrows the established dynasty, the Targaryens.
Edward IV (old)
Grows over-indulgent with middle age.
Overthrows the established dynasty, the Lancasters.
Robb’s father, Ned Stark, was executed. This saw Robb becoming King in the North.
Married lowly born Talisa Maegyr, breaking an existing marriage promise.
Edward IV (young)
Edward’s father, Richard of York, was executed. This saw the succession of Edward becoming King Edward.
Married lowly-born Lady Elizabeth Woodville, despite existing unconfirmed marriage plans.
A prime driver of the War of the Five Kings. Fights for her son Joffery’s right to the throne against Ned Stark.
Margaret of Anjou
A prime driver of the Wars of the Roses. Fought against the House of York for her son, Edward of Westminster, against the Yorkists.
Richest man in Westoros.
Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick
Richest man in England.
Both were heads of a powerful political dynasty and able politicians.
Is a dwarf.
Portrayed as a hunchback in Shakespeare’s play Richard III.
Both were accused of murdering their nephew(s) for political gain.
Is the last confirmed member of the Targaryen dynasty. The house follow the Valyrian practice of incestuous marriages.
Married Khal Drogo, gave birth to dragons and commands an army of free men.
Cleopatra VII Philopator
One of the last surviving members of the Ptolemaic dynasty. Incestuous marriages were common in the Ptolemaic house.
Cleopatra was forced to flee Eygpt for Syria, where she raised an army of mercenaries, gained Julius Caesar’s support, and bore him a son.
So as we can see, there are many historical and geographical inspirations behind this ever-popular drama, and these are just a few of them.
Who ever said history was boring?
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