A Tune of White and Crimson: The Actual Historical past Behind A GAME OF THRONES

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When you’re like me, you’re nonetheless in denial that Recreation of Thrones is over. The epic HBO sequence primarily based on George R.R. Martin’s A Tune of Ice and Hearth books introduced us so many good instances: Tyrion slapping Joffrey, Arya baking a Frey pie, Cersei scooching previous the Hound and the Mountain… What’s a bereft GOT fan to do? Study the actual historical past behind Recreation of Thrones!

Martin has at all times stated that the Wars of the Roses, a sequence of battles fought amongst English nobles between 1455 and 1485, served as inspiration for his plot. There’s even a TED-Ed discuss exploring the connections. I’ve investigated among the actual historical past behind Recreation of Thrones and prompt books about the actual folks that may assist remedy your GOT withdrawal.

The true historical past behind Recreation of Thrones is predicated on two warring households, the Yorks and Lancasters (aka Starks and Lannisters).

First, just a few disclaimers: I’m not a historian, simply an enthusiastic nerd. This submit focuses solely on the Wars of the Roses a part of the actual historical past behind Recreation of Thrones. To get into all of the historic influences on GOT would take many 1000’s of phrases.

It’s additionally necessary to notice that a lot of Martin’s historic influences are white. Folks of shade lived in medieval Europe however are sometimes neglected of historic fiction and/or the historic report. And far historic fiction about this time interval additionally tends to be written by white authors. In recognition of that, the place potential, I’ve included some read-alikes by authors of shade.

Lastly, clearly, SPOILERS AHEAD.

Cousins at Conflict

Actual Historic Figures: Richard II, Henry IV, and his son and grandson, Henry V and Henry VI

Recreation of Thrones Equivalents: Aerys II Targaryen, Robert Baratheon

cover of Katherine by Anya SetonThe Wars of the Roses didn’t start till 1455, however the seeds have been sown a few years earlier with a succession disaster. King Edward III had 5 sons who survived to maturity, and the oldest of these, Edward, generally known as the Black Prince, had his personal son, Richard. Appears easy sufficient, proper? Father dies and son takes the throne, repeat. However the Black Prince died in 1376, a 12 months earlier than his father. When Edward III died, that left the throne to his 10-year-old grandson, Richard II. Richard’s uncles weren’t thrilled, and there have been loads of questions on who would succeed him. (To learn extra about Edward III and his many sons, try Anya Seton’s basic novel Katherine.)

Sadly for Richard, he wasn’t a profitable king. His reign was marred by unpopular taxes and a peasants’ revolt. In 1399, he was deposed by his cousin Henry, one other grandson of Edward III, who used that heritage to assist his declare.     

The closest GoT equal for Richard II is Aerys II Targaryen. In A Recreation of Thrones we be taught that years earlier, Robert Baratheon claimed the throne of Westeros after main a revolt in opposition to Aerys (the Mad King). Robert cited his royal ancestry (a Targaryen grandmother) with a view to legitimize his personal declare.

Was Richard II really unfit to rule? Historians have debated for years about Richard’s psychological state, with some claiming he could have had narcissistic character dysfunction or one other psychological sickness. We’ll by no means know for certain, however he was thought of one thing of a tyrant. In 1400, he died in captivity amid suspicious circumstances (not killed by his personal guard like Aerys, although). His story is chronicled in Shakespeare’s play Richard II.  

Henry IV was king till he died in 1413, at which level his son, Henry V, took over. Henry V was a profitable navy chief, however he died younger, leaving his child son in cost (supervised by a council of nobles, after all). And it was due to Henry VI’s weak character and tenuous grasp on energy that the Wars of the Roses formally started.

Mark Addy as Robert Baratheon in Game of Thrones

Mark Addy as Robert Baratheon on Recreation of Thrones. Picture from IMDb.

In my thoughts, GoT character Robert Baratheon is a hybrid of those three Henrys. Like Henry IV, he led a revolt and received the throne—and like Henry V, he was recognized to be a robust navy campaigner. However as we’re about to search out out, he and Henry VI had their very own tragic similarities: a character unfit to rule and a gaggle of highly effective, manipulative nobles with agendas.  

That is the purpose at which Conn Iggulden’s epic historic fiction trilogy begins, beginning with Wars of the Roses: Stormbird. Jean Plaidy, a prolific creator, additionally has a number of novels about this era of historical past. Star of Lancaster is all about Richard II, whereas Epitaph for Three Girls chronicles what occurred after Henry V died.

Lancaster vs. York

Actual Historic Figures: Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou; Richard of York and Cecily Neville

Recreation of Thrones Equivalents: Robert Baratheon and Cersei Lannister; Ned Stark and Catelyn Tully

It’s 1453. Henry VI is on the throne, however there have been years of unrest. Disgruntled nobles are feuding, and everybody thinks Henry’s advisors have an excessive amount of affect over him. Despite the fact that he has a new child son, Henry himself has had a psychological collapse. A regency authorities must be set as much as rule the nation, and it’s headed up by a strong duke from the north of England: Richard of York. And imagine it or not, Richard is additionally descended from good previous Edward III and has his personal strong declare to the throne.

Sean Bean as Ned Stark, aka Richard of York. Image from IMDb.

Sean Bean as Ned Stark, aka Richard of York. Picture from IMDb.

Sound acquainted? Recreation of Thrones opens on an identical scenario. Robert Baratheon’s prime advisor has died, and Robert is looking for assist from his previous northern good friend, Ned Stark. As for Robert’s psychological state, properly, he drinks quite a bit, has some bizarre conspiracy theories a few younger Targaryen woman residing on one other continent, and mainly lets Cersei Lannister and her father deal with the small print of governing.

cover of The Queen of Last Hopes by Susan HigginbothamAs their names recommend, the feuding Starks and Lannisters are twisted variations of the Yorks (represented by a white rose) and Lancasters (a purple rose). Like Richard of York, Ned Stark married a lady from one other influential noble home, Catelyn Tully, whereas Henry VI and Robert Baratheon each made strategic alliances of their very own. Henry’s spouse Margaret of Anjou was disparaged as aggressive and scheming, the true energy behind the throne. And, properly, everyone knows what Cersei is like. She’s probably the most fascinating characters within the sequence, probably impressed by a complete host of well-known queens. Margaret of Anjou was equally attention-grabbing—Susan Higginbotham explores why in The Queen of Final Hopes.

Over the following few years, the connection between Richard of York, Henry VI, and Margaret of Anjou deteriorated—partially as a result of Henry saved having psychological breakdowns, thought at this time to have been schizophrenia—and eventually, fearing that Margaret was brazenly plotting in opposition to him, Richard raised a military to depose the king. After a number of years of back-and-forth, together with a interval the place Henry was taken prisoner by Richard, the nation was in open conflict. Richard meant to say his personal declare to the throne.

Sadly, he by no means obtained the prospect, as he was killed in battle in 1460. His head was displayed on a pike for all to see, similar to Ned’s.

The Subsequent Era

Actual Historic Figures: Edward IV and his spouse, Elizabeth Woodville; his brothers, Richard III and George, Duke of Clarence

Recreation of Thrones Equivalents: Robert Baratheon and Cersei Lannister; Robb Stark and Talisa (Jeyne Westerling within the books); Stannis and Renly Baratheon

The Lancasters could have thought they have been secure, however Richard of York’s son, Edward, took up his father’s trigger—and his declare to the throne. After a sequence of battles, Edward and his forces entered London, the place he was informally declared King Edward IV. Regardless of urging from his advisors to marry a French princess, he met and secretly wed a commoner, Elizabeth Woodville.

So, right here’s the place checking out the actual historical past behind Recreation of Thrones will get sophisticated. Younger Edward IV sounds quite a bit like Robb Stark. After Ned’s loss of life, he goes to conflict with the Lannisters and is said King within the North. He even marries a lady he loves as a substitute of the Frey to whom he’s betrothed. However bear in mind how I stated that every one these Henrys have been probably the inspiration for Robert Baratheon? The tip of Edward IV’s life additionally shares some parts of Robert’s. That is the place Martin excels: mixing collectively recognizable arcs from historical past to provide us one thing uniquely twisted.

Richard Madden and Oona Chaplin as Robb and Talisa Stark on Game of Thrones

Richard Madden and Oona Chaplin as Robb and Talisa Stark, aka Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. Picture from IMDb.

Edward was recognized to be a person of voracious appetites (for meals…and intercourse outdoors his marriage), as was Robert. Edward additionally had two troublesome brothers, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, and George, Duke of Clarence. Just like Stannis and Renly Baratheon, every one wished the throne for himself. In the meantime, Edward IV nonetheless needed to deal with Henry VI, Margaret, and their son, residing in exile in France (similar to these pesky Targaryens). And if all that weren’t sufficient, his nobles resented his spouse, Elizabeth Woodville, and her brother Anthony, who had been given fairly a little bit of energy and land (Cersei and Jaime strike once more). All of that is fictionalized in Philippa Gregory’s books The White Queen and The Girl of the Rivers

It’s not fairly the Conflict of the 5 Kings—extra just like the Conflict of a Bunch of Cousins Who All Have a Fairly Good Declare to the Throne. In any case, Edward IV had a a lot better ending than Robb Stark. He saved his throne and put down his brother George’s revolt. He additionally had Henry VI murdered. However in 1483, he died unexpectedly younger… throwing the realm into turmoil but once more.

Who’s Richard III?

Actual Historic Determine: Richard III

Recreation of Thrones Equivalents: Theon Greyjoy, Stannis Baratheon, Tyrion Lannister

Edward IV’s 12-year-old son, Edward V, assumed the throne after his loss of life. And as we discovered from Richard II, a baby not often makes an efficient king. Younger Edward’s uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester, was named Lord Protector. He used that energy to execute a bunch of individuals, declare Edward IV and Elizabeth’s marriage was illegitimate, and seize the younger king, sending him to the Tower of London along with his youthful brother. The 2 grew to become generally known as “the princes within the tower.” Not lengthy after Richard declared himself King Richard III, the 2 princes disappeared.

cover of The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay PenmanWhat occurred to them has been a matter of contentious historic debate for a whole lot of years. Richard is normally blamed for his or her deaths, due to Shakespeare’s characterization of him as a power-hungry usurper in Richard III. Sharon Kay Penman presents a extra nuanced tackle the scenario in The Sunne in Splendor, as does Anne Easter Smith in A Rose for the Crown.

At this level, historical past and Recreation of Thrones don’t overlap fairly so neatly. If younger Edward IV is the Robb Stark equal, who does that make Richard III? One potential contender is Theon Greyjoy. Raised as Robb’s brother, he betrays his adoptive household by kidnapping their two remaining authentic sons, Bran and Rickon, and claiming they’ve been executed.

Or, if we consider Edward IV as Robert, Richard turns into Stannis Baratheon, who thinks he’s the rightful inheritor as a result of his nephews, Joffrey and Tommen, are illegitimate.

And at last, we have now Tyrion Lannister. Tyrion shares lots of the traits we’re conversant in from movie and TV portrayals of Richard III: he has a bodily incapacity; he’s intelligent and scheming; he’s accused of murdering his nephew. However Tyrion doesn’t search the throne for himself, in contrast to Richard.  

The Final Targaryen and the First Tudor

Actual Historic Figures: Henry VII and his mom, Margaret Beaufort; his spouse, Elizabeth of York

Recreation of Thrones Equivalents: Daenerys Targaryen, Jon Snow

cover of The Red Queen by Philippa GregoryRichard III held the throne for under two years. Whereas all of those many battles had been happening, but one other man with a declare to the throne was watching and ready from France. (Blame Edward III for having so many kids.) Henry Tudor traced his lineage by his mom, Margaret Beaufort, again to Edward III. As a result of this was by the maternal line, it wasn’t the strongest case, however he was the one male Lancaster left. And by all accounts, Margaret was fiercely decided to see her son on the throne. Henry had been raised in France listening to the story of his future because the rightful king. Learn Philippa Gregory’s The Crimson Queen and Livi Michael’s Succession for extra particulars.

And who does all this sound like? Daenerys Stormborn of the Home Targaryen, First of Her Title, the Unburnt, Queen of the Andals and the First Males…you understand the remainder. The TV model of Dany is a hybrid of Margaret and Henry. She has Margaret’s single-minded willpower plus Henry’s magnetism and skill to evoke folks to his trigger, as seen in Philippa Gregory’s The White Princess and Joanna Hickson’s The Tudor Crown.

As a result of Henry’s declare was so tenuous, he needed to take the additional step of agreeing to marry Elizabeth of York, the daughter of Edward IV, ought to he win the throne. Elizabeth was a former princess, the oldest baby of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, and the niece of Richard III. She had her personal fairly good declare to the throne. As did Jon Snow. If solely Dany and Jon had managed to work out their variations and get married, they may have had a secure joint reign, the best way Henry and Elizabeth did as soon as Henry defeated Richard III on the Battle of Bosworth Subject. And with that, the Wars of the Roses have been over.

Photo from IMDb.

Package Harington as Jon Snow and Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen, aka Elizabeth of York and Henry VII. Picture from IMDb.

It’s Not Over But

Actual Historic Figures: Henry VIII and his kids, Edward VI, Mary I, Elizabeth I

Recreation of Thrones Equivalents: Daenerys Targaryen; Bran, Sansa, and Arya Stark

cover of The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Elizabeth GeorgeAs we all know, Recreation of Thrones doesn’t finish with a wedding between a Stark and a Lannister, however with the crowning of a random child who claims he’s a raven. Let’s let historical past clarify this one. Think about Dany is a hybrid of Henry VII and his son, Henry VIII. She has Henry VII’s fundamental life story paired with Henry VIII’s charisma and, later, his paranoid ideas and burning want to do regardless of the heck he desires with no enter from the Pope (or in Dany’s case, her advisors). Henry VIII even had an older brother who was presupposed to be king however died, like Dany’s brothers Rhaegar and Viserys. Margaret George’s fastidiously researched novel The Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by His Idiot, Will Somers is an effective look into what he was like.   

After Henry VIII’s loss of life, the throne went to his solely son, Edward VI, a sickly, scholarly baby, similar to Bran. And Edward had two sisters stuffed with character: Mary, who like Sansa was devoted to her folks (Catholics) and Elizabeth, who had a protracted, secure reign stuffed with colonization (hello, Arya). 

So if the sequence have been to proceed, what may come subsequent for Westeros? Effectively, when Elizabeth I died, the crown handed to her cousin past the (Hadrian’s) wall: James VI of Scotland. Appears to be like like Jon Snow shouldn’t depend on a peaceable retirement. 

However Wait! What About MY Favourite Character?

The true historical past behind Recreation of Thrones is a large, sprawling epic with a whole lot of necessary characters—and so is GoT itself! Not everybody made it into this submit. However right here’s a fast rundown of some books to learn primarily based on just a few different GoT characters.

The Wall and the Wildlings

cover of The Wall by John LanchesterStrive John Lanchester’s new dystopian novel The Wall. Books set in Scotland, like Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander or Juliana Grey’s A Unusual Scottish Shore, are a great wager. There are about one million romance novels with Scottish heroes very very like Tormund Giantsbane, if that’s your jam—Suzanne Enoch’s It’s Getting Scot in Right here is a brand new, enjoyable one. And at last, try These Who Run within the Sky, Aviaq Johnston’s YA novel primarily based on conventional Inuit tales, and Why the Monster by Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley, a sci-fi epic equally primarily based on Inuit tradition. (Disclaimer: I used to work for the writer of the final two books.)

The Greyjoys

Discover Viking tales like Jane Smiley’s The Greenlanders and Margaret Elphinstone’s The Sea Highway.

Arya, Brienne, and Sansa

You need Tamora Pierce. Begin with Alanna: The First Journey, the primary ebook within the basic YA fantasy sequence. There’s additionally Nnedi Okorafor’s Akata Warrior, a few woman who joins a mysterious secret society (no phrase on whether or not they take faces from corpses). If an advanced relationship between two sisters is the form of factor you’re lacking after GoT, you could possibly try Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing or Boy, Snow, Fowl by Helen Oyeyemi.

Gray Worm, Missandei, and the Essos Characters

Black Leopard Red Wolf by Marlon JamesSabaa Tahir’s An Ember within the Ashes is an effective decide for you! Or there’s Marlon James’s Black Leopard, Crimson Wolf, which is being marketed as an “African Recreation of Thrones.“

The Evening King and Different Magical Parts

Clearly, there have been no dragons or ice zombies operating amok in medieval Britain. But when the White Walkers (RIP) and the stability between magic and medieval realism have been your favourite elements of the present, try Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Big, Dan Simmons’s The Terror, N.Ok. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season, Lauren B. Davis’s In opposition to a Darkening Sky, and Zen Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown.

Littlefinger, Varys, and Different Schemers

cover of Wolf Hall by Hilary MantelWhen you search novels that subvert your expectations at each flip, I like to recommend Megan Whalen Turner’s fantastic Queen’s Thief sequence, starting with The Thief. And if you happen to’re simply into 16th century scheming, Hilary Mantel’s implausible books Wolf Corridor and Convey Up the Our bodies are must-reads, together with Dorothy Dunnett’s The Recreation of Kings.

The Brotherhood With out Banners

Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven can be a few group of people that wander after an apocalypse, looking for one thing better than themselves.

The Starks

For one more sequence a few close-knit group of relations who should fend for themselves in harmful circumstances, you’ll be able to’t go flawed with Michelle Cooper’s Montmaray novels, beginning with A Temporary Historical past of Montmaray.

Sizzling Pie

cover of John Saturnall's Feast by Lawrence NorfolkThat is my closing advice: John Saturnall’s Feast by Lawrence Norfolk.

Thanks for sticking with me by this exhaustive tour of the actual historical past behind Recreation of Thrones. If I’ve imparted even one-tenth of my very own enthusiasm for making up theories about Recreation of Thrones to you, I can safely say that my watch has ended.  

Extra GOT content material to stave off your unhappiness: Which Recreation of Thrones Character Are You?; 31 Recreation of Thrones Tattoos; Epic Fantasy Variations We Want Publish-Recreation of Thrones.

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