History Behind Game of Thrones
THE REAL EVENTS THAT INSPIRED THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH
History Behind Game of Thrones is a history website that attempts to draw parallels between Game of Thrones and history. This website also publishes interviews with historians and “straight” (no Game of Thrones) history articles.
A few important points:
1. Game of Thrones is not just based on the Wars of the Roses. George RR Martin drew (and continues to draw) from many different historical periods and countries when he created the novels, including Ancient Rome, the Hundred Years War, the Anarchy, Tudor England, the Dark Ages, the Spartans, possibly Ancient Egypt, and many more. This website discusses some of those influences and intends to explore more of them as time goes on.
He has said in this interview on IO9.com, “I am drawing from history, even though it’s fantasy. I’ve read a lot of history, The War of the Roses, The Hundred Years War…I’m drawing largely on medieval England, medieval Scotland, some extent medieval France.”
How much history? In this Rolling Stone interview, it came out that George RR Martin has a book tower – a term often used in enormous libraries – and he has a house across the street from his house that is likely used for to house that book tower.
It’s also worth noting that George RR Martin did a history minor in college. Ultimately, I would recommend students to use top rated writing companies such as Academized, they offer variety of "write my essay" services and are capable to deliver custom-written papers on-time. Many students are missing this point when there is still time to save your finals by deligating part of the assignments to a professional writer.
2. The historical parallels on this website are our interpretation of Game of Thrones. Except where noted, these are not facts (e.g., what George RR Martin has said); they are our best estimates.
3. With that said, whenever we can find statements George RR Martin has made about the historical influences on his work, we use those as a starting point. He often refers to his use of history, endearingly, as his “borrowings.”
4. The A Song of Ice and Fire series started out as a series of history or history-type novels, and then evolved into fantasy novels. George RR Martin discussed the novels’ genesis in this Rolling Stone interview:
“I did consider at a very early stage – going all the way back to 1991 – whether to include overt fantasy elements, and at one point thought of writing a Wars of the Roses novel. But the problem with straight historical fiction is you know what’s going to happen. If you know anything about the Wars of the Roses, you know that the princes in the tower aren’t going to escape. I wanted to make it more unexpected, bring in some more twists and turns.”
5. George RR Martin “borrows” from history extensively, but, by his own admission, he mixes and matches historical events, uses counterfactual (what-if) versions of history, and typically bases his characters on multiple historical figures (and his own imagination).
He has stated publicly on his blog (in this Feb 5th, 2012 post) that “In general, though, while I do draw inspiration from history, I try to avoid direct one-for-one transplants, whether of individuals or of entire cultures. Just as it not correct to say that Robert was Henry VIII or Edward IV, it would not be correct to say that the Dothraki are Mongols.”
By this statement, I believe Martin means that it is not correct to state that the Dothraki are simply one culture — in the same blog post he describes them as a blend of Mongols, Huns, Alans, Sioux, Cheyenne, and “various other Amerindian tribes.” In my opinion, this does not mean that Robert Baratheon is not based on both Henry VIII and Edward IV — if anything, this statement probably means Robert was.
5. In the early days of this website, I was unaware that he based characters on multiple historical figures. As a result, some articles discuss characters as though only one person inspired them. At some point, I hope to create some posts or pages that centralize these influences.
6. This website generally follows the Game of Thrones TV show. This is largely because it lets us illustrate articles with images from the show, which can provide concrete visual examples of a point in the article. Sometimes, however, we draw from the novels. In general, we try to avoid “book spoilers.” (Also, this website assumes you have seen the latest episode of Game of Thrones and does not provide spoiler alerts for anything that has aired in the Eastern time zone of North America.)
7. The purpose of this website is not just to decode George RR Martin’s borrowings — which of course is a lot of fun — but also to explore history in a unique way.
By mapping history onto a television show, and in some cases the ASOIAF novels, it’s possible to provide easy-to-understand concrete examples of history.
The other purpose of this website is to explore what I suspect may be George RR Martin’s perspective on history and war. This exploration isn’t necessarily meant as an homage to him per se. His perspective on the Middle Ages and war is relatively rare and compelling.
To a certain extent, his work constitutes a protest of the “Disney-fication” of the Middle Ages. This can provide a crucially important counterpoint in an age when too much of our perspective is filtered through the lens of popular history style biographies of the nobility. All too often these lead to a depiction of political events from the perspective of the One Percent. While I love these biographies, George RR Martin’s work has made me look at larger issues like chivalry, war, poverty, and famine.
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PRECAP: THOUGHTS BEFORE MY RECAP
I wanted to enjoy the series finale without the pressure of having to write a recap, so I didn’t even attempt to start a recap last night. And because this is last recap I will ever write about Game of Thrones, I don’t want to rush it. This is precap: a pre recap post. A few initial thoughts… Ultimately, I liked the series finale of Game of Thrones. I might even grow to love it.
RECAP: QUEEN OF THE ASHES
After the second last episode of Game of Thrones, the internet is aflame with people debating the spectacular turn of Daenerys from seeming hero to villain. Dany’s descent into fire and blood has been a long time coming. This spectacular episode showcased the dragon queen’s darker side and more importantly shows the pathos of people war touches. Lots of characters die in this episode, but it still isn’t clear who will hold the Iron Throne.
ROBERT BARATHEON WAS RIGHT ABOUT DAENERYS
Now that we gave finally seen the horrors of Daenerys’ invasion, it’s worth returning to Robert Baratheon’s decision to kill Daenerys before she can invade. Back when I wrote this article in 2014, it was pretty controversial. Now I find myself thinking “Robert was right!” Dany’s conquest of King’s Landing was way worse than I could have imagined: she’s queen of the ashes. Still there are lots of moral arguments against utilitarianism…
GHOST AND OTHER DOGS OF WAR
When Jon said goodbye to Ghost after the Battle of Winterfell, the poor pup didn’t exactly get his due. Still covered with blood from two days earlier and missing an ear, Ghost looked like a poster boy for an ASPCA ad. Did real armies ever use dogs in combat? You betcha… and this goes all the way back to antiquity.
RECAP SEASON 8, EPISODE 4: DO YOU THINK DANY IS A VILLAIN YET?
The survivors at Winterfell cremate those their dead: Jorah Mormont, Lyanna Mormont, Beric Dondarrion, Dolorous Edd, and Theon among many others. The survivors light funeral pyres and the scene is supposed to represent the massive causalities. As anyone who reads this blog regularly knows, I almost never criticize HBO. They did me a great kindness having me on the Season 5 DVD. But dare I say it?
THE BATTLE FOR WINTERFELL: SEASON 8, EPISODE 3M
The Battle for Winterfell is quite possible the face-off we’ve been waiting for the entire series. The third episode of Season 8 is fantastic and didn’t have my finishing a box of tissues like I feared. One thing I particularly liked about the battle sequence is that it has a different texture than the Battle of Blackwater Bay and the Battle of the Bastards and other battles.