People tend to forget that the word ´history´ contains the word ´story´-
History is contained with stories of our own past. As declared earlier in the first part of this blog, it seriously makes me super excited to read and know about these stories and know the particular period and its people (other than the dates and correct chronological parts of it). But lets admit, in most of the times history taught in our classrooms only made us fall asleep fast (yawn!) in class and we hated it while receiving a huge burden of homework .
Fortunately the authors have blessed us with historical fiction and fantasy books. Books like ¨A song of ice and fire¨ which later adopted in the hugely popular series named Game of Thrones¨ kept us hooked to history. It only increased my curiosity. While I was gripped into the suspense of the fictional world, simultaneously I dived into the times of history, to discover the past with its people and places.
So, lets check out some unforgettable related stories of past which ran parallelly with our very own ¨Game of Thrones¨.
1. War of the roses:
- Two rival branches of the royal house of Plantagenet dynasty, claiming the English throne and control the empire, fought over a series of battles.
- The name of the families participating in this power struggle are ‘house of Lancaster‘, and ‘house of york‘. Both located in northern England (recent Pennsylvania). Since both of them respectively had the official symbol of red and white rose, the war is known as War of the Roses.
- After Edward the 3rd’s reign, his eldest son Edward the black prince was supposed to be crowned. However, due to illness he died suddenly and throne went to King Edward the 3rds, grandchildren and black prince’s only surviving son Richard the 2nd, who was only 10 year old by then.
- King Edward the 3rd had other four legitimate sons, who were dukes of different counties , among them there were John (Duke of Lancaster) and Edmund (Duke of York).
- However they weren’t considered for throne according to the law of succession. As per the law of succession the throne belongs to Kingś eldest son only.
- When Richard the 2nd, died in an early age and without any legitimate heir, the war began with the question of who is the rightful successor and ultimately take the throne?
- So among the cloud of confusion of the rightful owner of the throne, nobel families took sides, made allies and fought in a series of battles throughout a century.
- In the end of the war, the power was snatched from Richard the 3rd of house of York and Henry Tudor, house of Lancaster won the throne.
While trying to compare, first the names are stuck with similarities pretty clearly. House of Lancaster= Lannister, House of York= Stark. They both took part in the fight for the throne. Here in Game of Thrones Robb was declared the King in the north and started the war against King Jofferey, who was also very young in age when announced as a King (just like Richard the 2nd).
Jofferey’s uncles Stannis and Renly Baratheon was also in line of succession and in is time they claimed the throne as rightful successors by announcing themselves as King. (Just like Richard the 2nds, uncles and their branches of family had started the war of roses). The main theme of Game of Thrones is also the same story, where people are fighting for their claim over the iron throne and everyone is somehow connected back to the previous King and noble families.
The Stark family had suffered from an ill fate and was defeated ( just like House of Yorks) and the iron throne reached to the Lannisters.
2. Red wedding:
The red wedding was more than a shocker for Game of thrones fans. Fans, who were rooting for Robb Stark, King of North (like mee!!) , It was too crazy to be true. The iconic episode showed a massacre at the wedding feast, where Robb Stark, his pregnant wife, and his mother Catelyn Stark all were brutally killed. Nearly three thousands of their soldiers slaughtered. Robb was supposed to marry the daughter of Walder Frey, however he broke the vow and married a commoner out of love. Later the marriage of Frey’s daughter was fixed with Robb’s uncle and when invited as guest Robb joined the wedding feast with his mother, wife and all his soldiers. According to guest rights, they were supposed to be unharmed and enjoy the marriage ceremony. The horrible event was organised by the host of the wedding, Walder Frey out of revenge for breaKing the pact of marriage.
Now, do you know the inspiration of the Red wedding came from two events of Scottish history, the “Black dinner” and “the massacre of Glencoe”.
The Douglases were an ancient clan of noble family in Scotland. They became so powerful in early fifteen century, that they were seen as threats to the King. In November of 1440, the 16 year old William Douglas (6th Earl of Douglas) and his younger brother David , were invited to dine with the 10 year old King James 2 of Scotland.
As legend described, the children were getting along brilliantly, enjoying food and entertainment and were having conversations with each other until the end of the dinner. While at the end of the dinner, a single drum started to roll and head of a black bull was dropped on the dinner table, symbolizing the death of black Douglases. Both of the young Douglas brothers were dragged outside, beheaded in the charge of high treason. It’s said that the Earl of Douglas, the elder brother even pleaded for his brother to be killed first, so that the younger brother would not have to witness his older brother’s beheading.
In 1692, captain Robert Campbell arrived at the MacDonald’s with 120 soldiers in Glencoe. They claimed they need shelter, since their fort is already full. MacDonald offered their hospitality and let them stay into their homes.
Robert Campbell and his soldiers stayed as guests for 12 days and attacked and killed the clan of MacDonald , when they least expected it. Legends say, after playing cards with their victims and wishing them goodnight, these soldiers waited till midnight until MacDonalds were asleep, then strike suddenly and murder as many as they could manage- 38 in all, most of them at their bed. The incidence had violated Scottish traditional culture of hospitality.
Even to these days ,at the door of Clachaig Inn in Glencoe have a sign denying entry of Campbells. These massacres were considered awful and horrific, because they were ” Slaughter under Trust” planned and executed to uproot all the branches of a powerful family.
Recalling these inspirational incidents of Game of Thrones, George R R Martin himself said, “No matter how much I make up, there is stuff in history that’s just as bad, or worse.” Don’t you feel he is absolutely right , knowing the real incidents??
3. Walk of Shame:
To all “Game of Thrones” fans the walk of Shame was one of the unforgettable episode of the series. In season 5 finale , Queen Cersi stripped from her royal title and duties, received the brutal punishment. The fallen queen was made to walk naked in bare foot through the streets of Kings landing, in a charge of adultery.
This incident is also inspired from a real life event, occurred during late 1400. The story of Jane Shore, who was punished similarly, after the King she loved died.
Story of Jane Shore:
Jane Shore was one of the mistress of King Edward the 4th. However, stories suggest Jane was more than a mistress and King shared rather a romantic relationship with her and was sworn by her great beauty.
After King’s early death, (at the age of 40) King Edward’s brother Richard 3rd ascended the throne and accused Jane for treason, conspiracy and witchcraft. Without any trial , Jane found guilty of the charges and was forced to walk through the crowded city streets of London. Crowds watching, yelling and shaming her. She wasn’t totally naked but was permitted to wear nothing but a kirtle (medieval petticoat, underwear made of thin linen). She was ridiculed by the crowd and shamed publicly, in medieval standards it was worse than a death.
Jane Shore was a renowned beauty of the town of London. Unlike Cersi, though she wasn’t completely naked, but according to the standards of medieval life of Nobel women, it was unimaginable amount of disgrace and humiliation. It was a punishment directed to women, to break their reputation and pride, which they were earlier defined by.
4. Wall of Ice:
The ice wall is undoubtedly a creative creation of author George R. R. Martin. But there was an inspiration behind it too. Martin said ” I was in England visiting a friend, as we approached the border of England and Scotland, we stopped to see Hardin’s wall. I stood up there and I tried to imagine what it was like to be a Roman legionary, standing on this wall, looKing at these distant hills.”
” It was a very profound feeling. For the Romans at that time, this was the end of civilization, it was the end of the world. We know that there were Scots beyond the hills, but they didn’t know that”. It was then, the thought of building a barrier against dark forces and monsters, planted in his head.
In the novel ” Game of Thrones” The ice wall is stretched for 300 miles along the northern border of the seven Kingdoms, separating it from the wildlings and ice walkers who live beyond this territory. It is made of solid ice and ancient magics to protect the realm from any invasion.
It was constructed by Roman Emperor Hadrian to safeguard Roman province Britannia ( now Britain) from the raids of barbarians and protect the boundary. From the British point of view, this side was end of civilization and on the other side there are mad wild barbarian dwelling out in the dark and distant hills. If we check it in current times, they were only Scottish people. But in medieval times that was what British people used to think about Scotland and Scottish people.
These are few stories, explored from the past. Undoubtedly there are many more stories and characters, having unavoidable similarities. Let me know if it was an interesting read to you and if you want to know more about this topic. I would be more than happy to share further details. Also, please share this with your near and dear ones, who you think would love to read it.