A GAME OF HISTORY: THE CHARACTER ORIGINS
This is the moment you have been waiting for. Probably the greatest look into how Game of Thrones relates to human history is the characters and their historical origins. Today, we will talk about the Wars of the Roses, the Mongol Hordes, and other conflicts in which figures created legend, and legend became people like Joffrey Lannister and Ned Stark in the great game.
The Wars of the Roses of England is an unpopular historical conflict in the United States, but in Europe it is widely known as a bloody feud that rivaled the horrors of the Hundred Years’ War in France, which ties in later. This conflict started with the death of controversial monarchs, creating lawlessness between two great houses in England. This war started in 1455 when the Queen of England, Margaret of Anjou, had directly opposed Richard, Duke of York.
To understand the reasoning for disputes, we should look at King Edward III. When the King died in 1377, the crown was left to his 10 year old son, Richard II, because Edward who was the firstborn had died in 1376. Edward ‘The Black Prince’ had three sons when Edward III died, and so when Richard II became king, the sons kept great claims on the English Crown. The children of two of these three sons would become the Lancaster’s. The children of the third son became the York’s. Lancaster for Lannister and York for Stark.
The ensuing wars would be known for roses due to the sigils used by either houses. The York’s used a white rose, while the Lancaster’s used a red rose. The Lancaster’s took the English Crown after deposing Richard II in 1399. King Henry V was created, and had his house in power until 1422, when he died during a military campaign. The King had given an infant Henry VI the Crown, who grew up greatly manipulated by his advisors, and married Margaret of Anjou. This marriage gave Henry VI power of France, but also gave a new Queen Margaret the power she hungered for, but she was not satisfied. Her ambition and beauty makes her a perfect mirror to Queen Cersei Lannister, who also married a King corrupted by advisors, King Robert Baratheon. Cersei and Margaret were both power hungry, and would have any opposition executed.
Queen Margaret had greatly despised Richard, Duke of York, more than any other opposition in court, and this hate directly shows in Game of Thrones, as Queen Cersei Lannister hates Eddard ‘Ned’ of House Stark. Richard had been the King’s trusted advisor, and was a loyal general to Henry VI, but often got totally pushed to the side by Queen Margaret’s power.
After Margaret appointed generals, Dukes of Suffix and Somerset, out of favor instead of true strategic superiority over Richard during the War on France, Richard openly criticized Henry VI and Margaret in their own court. Richard was subsequently exiled to Ireland for his small protests and humiliation of the English Crown. After Richard was exiled, Queen Margaret’s generals had started to mount defeats. Richard eventually came back to England with an army due to support of his claims of Margaret’s corruption. Due to his raised armies and widespread support, like from his close ally Duke of Warwick from his sister, Richard’s wife, and Richard was appointed Regent and Protector (Hand of King in GoT) of the English Crown when King Henry VI went mad. A year later when King Henry VI suddenly recovered, Queen Margaret told him too reverse Richard’s reforms and take him out of regent power.
Richard of York fled, and once again raised an army large enough to get him reinstated as Regent and Protector. York’s sons were even named heirs to Henry VI. However, Queen Margaret eventually had Richard of York’s head on a pike when he was killed in battle against loyalists. His son, Edward, had then become King Edward IV. Edward was a great leader and soon led many great victories over the Lancaster’s, leading to the capture of Henry VI. Queen Margaret reportedly fled with her so-called cruel son, Edward of Westminster.
King Edward IV, although victorious on a battlefield, made a grave political error by marrying a noble’s widow instead of a Princess from France. This mistake caused Edward to lose support from his best ally, the Duke of Warwick. That Duke may represent the lords of the Riverlands, and Lord Walder Frey of the Crossing, who gave up his daughter who Robb Stark (Edward IV) declined to marry. This mistake and political slight made Warwick change his support to the Lancaster’s, and support Edward’s greedy brother as the better king.
The Duke of Warwick was wise to change sides, and eventually restored King Henry VI to the throne. However, King Edward IV eventually took back power and killed Edward of Westminster with his armies in battle, killing off Margaret’s cruel son. King Edward IV then reigned peacefully until his death in 1483. His son, Edward V was heir, but Richard III arose once again from the shadows, claiming that the heir was illegitimate after being declared Lord Protector of the Realm, therefore making him the rightful heir and king. Sounds like Stannis Baratheon from Game of Thrones, who claimed he was the rightful heir after his brother’s sons were declared illegitimate. Richard III and Stannis Baratheon both led their nation to war.
King Richard III threw Edward IV’s sons into prison, and the sons were never heard of again. But across the narrow (Narrow Sea) English Channel, Henry Tudor was an heir raised in exile, son to a Duke of Lancaster. His ambition is similar to that of Daenerys Targaryen, who in Game of Thrones rises to power across the Narrow Sea to retake her throne.
King Richard III’s rise to power split the York’s support. In 1485, Henry Tudor would sail to England to retake his throne after gaining support within the English court. Richard III’s ways of rising to power soon became his vulnerability. When Henry reached England, he quickly defeated Richard III and married Elizabeth of York, allowing him to unite the two feuding houses and take full power, creating the Tudor dynasty. Elizabeth was actually a disappeared princess, daughter of Edward IV, sister to the disappeared sons. Hence, King Henry VII of the Tudors was given the English Crown.
One could make the argument that the princess Elizabeth of York represents Jon Snow/Stark/Targaryen, but that is part of a larger theory that will be touched on in the next blog post.
Here are pictures to go along with the figures and characters.
1 King Robert Baratheon, Lord of the Stormlands.
2 Queen Cersei Lannister.
3 Lord Eddard of House Stark, Warden of the North, and Protector of the Realm.
4 Robb of House Stark, King in the North, Warden of the North, Rebel Leader against King Joffrey.
5 Lord Walder Frey of the Crossing, the Twins, and Lord of the Riverlands.
6 King Stannis Baratheon, Lord of Dragonstone, Warrior of Light, King in the Narrow Sea, and Rightful Heir.
7 Resembles Queen Daenerys Targaryen, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, Queen of Astapor, Yunkai, and Mereen, Khaleesi of the Great Dothraki Horde.
8 Possibly Jon Snow of House Targaryen/Stark, Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, presumed Warrior of Light, heir to the Lordship of Winterfell, ‘son’ of Eddard Stark.
To tie back to my Mongol Horde, Reconquista Kingdoms, and Rhodes relations to Game of Thrones, let’s first recognize an important key to understanding these two nations. When looking at the Mongol Horde, their Khan leaders, and their religious beliefs, it is easy to point to the Dothraki Horde and assume that they represent the Mongols. The Reconquista in Iberia ties in with the Kingdom of Dorne, which inhabits men from Essos who took over the lands, and have been fought due to claims that they should go back to Essos. In the future wars of Westeros, we may see Dorne be ‘reconquered’ by the Reachmen or Stormlanders to push out a culture almost unfamiliar to the. However, the Dornish did something that the Moors in Iberia would never do, which is accept the systems of Westerosi society like lordship. Rhodes is represented by the great merchant city of Essos, which is Braavos, strikingly by their two large statues guarding the city. Rhodes had its Colossus, while Braavos has its Titan. The city of Rhodes had become a large trading center after centuries of island expansion, making its name by distribution of coins and scholars, just as Braavos started on many islands, eventually expanding enough to become increasingly rich and even creating the Iron Bank which distributed coins.
All in all, Game of Thrones takes its grave story from the truth throughout history. Next time on A GAME OF HISTORY, we will look at the theories of a Game of Thrones, and how they tie in with real history. Soon, I will also make YouTube videos as companions to all the blog post for better explanation. See you next time!