The final season of Game Of Thrones is coming. And with it comes the end of an era. The end of what is, in my opinion, the greatest show on television. And so, in order to be less bereft, I did a little research. While doing this research I found that the universe that I so loved has a lot in common with world history. So much real history has been used as a base for this epic. George R.R Martin has himself confirmed several of the more obvious speculations. The Wall is inspired by Hadrian’s Wall in Scotland (side note: does this mean that George R.R. Martin think that the Scottish are some kind of lawless barbarians. (Second side note: I know that the wildlings are not barbarians, except maybe the Thenns, calm down nerds)). And Robert is Henry VIII, and the War of the Five Kings is inspired by the War of the Roses, and the Tyrell Rose looks a lot like the Tudor rose. The setting is like medieval Europe. You flip Ireland onto its head and stick it to the bottom of England and it looks like the map of Westeros. Everyone knows that.
But there are other things too, things that are less obvious. For starters, take Cersei. If Robert is Henry VIII, Cersei is Anne Boleyn, grasping for power, regardless of what it costs her. More to the point, Cersei’s relationship with Jamie is reminiscent of some of the more unsavoury rumours surrounding the Boleyn family, for Anne’s brother, George, was executed for, among other things, incest. Speaking of wives of Henry VIII, Margaery Tyrell seems to bear strong resemblance to Katherine of Aragon. The jumping from one brother to the next, all the while insisting that she is still a virgin, is pretty much exactly what Katherine did. She just took longer than Margaery did.
Another character who reminds me of not one but two historical figures is Jon Snow. To be stabbed repeatedly by his brothers-in-arms who think he is misusing his powers. Am I talking about Jon or Julius Caesar. Jon even had an “et tu Brute” moment with Olly. But that’s not all. Who else tried to save thousands, was betrayed, killed, and then came back to life a couple of days later. I believe his name was Jesus Christ. Basically Jon is Jesus, who was stabbed repeatedly like Julius.
And while we’re on the subject of Jesus Christ, I couldn’t help but notice the similarity between Christianity and the followers of the Red god, Rhllor. Single god as opposed to the multiple gods of other religions, check; Son of said god walking among humans, Azor Ahai, check; Great personal sacrifice made by this son of god in order to deliver the world from evil, check; Fanatical followers who condemn every other faith and want everything belonging to other faiths to be destroyed and attempt to convert everyone and even manage to take control of the state, or in this case, Stannis Baratheon, check, check, and check. They even have their own legend of the rebirth of Azor Ahai, much like the Second Coming of Christ. (Before I accidently ruffle any feathers, I mean Christianity as it existed in the middle ages, I don’t mean now). Westeros also has its own version of baptism, with the Greyjoys and the rest of the ironborn being dunked into the sea to pay homage to the Drowned God.
Even the progression of belief is a lot like the real world. The first men in ancient times worshipped nature, in this case the weirwood trees. Then came the Andals with their polytheistic faith and their seven gods. And now there is a monotheistic cult that is wreaking havoc.
And besides, why are there so many faiths and religions in this universe. The old gods, the new gods, Rhllor, the many-faced god, and so many that they haven’t even begun to explain. It’s almost impossible to keep track of. Then again it’s impossible to keep track of anything, unless you pay close attention.
Game Of Thrones Map
Enough with Westeros for now, let’s go across the Narrow Sea (English Channel anyone?) to Pentos. Now Pentos puts me in the mind of Florence during the Renaissance. The rich Magisters, or as Tywin Lannister likes to call them, cheesemongers, rule the city. If you think about it, that is not unlike the Medicis, bankers who came to rule the city. They lived in great palaces quite like the manses of Pentos. They were traders who took control. Medici or Magister? Who am I talking about.
And then there are the Dothraki. This is another one of the more obvious comparisons. The Dothraki are essentially the same as the Huns. They ride on horseback, move in great hoards and leave a trail of destruction in their wake. They raid the lands around them and don’t exactly have a fixed address. The Huns and the Dothraki have pretty much everything in common, except that the Huns were accustomed to far colder climes.
Speaking of raiding we may have to go back to Westeros for a bit. Remember the ironborn. Is it just me or are they completely and totally one hundred percent like the Vikings. They live in a completely desolate land where almost nothing grows. They rely on their naval skills for everything and they spend all their time plundering small villages along the coastline. Every single one is expected to be a brilliant sailor and they basically live on their boats.
Since we are back in Westeros, let’s stay a little while longer. And head to the Vale. The Vale is mostly mountain land, and the Arryns stayed out of the war of the five kings and remained famously neutral. Can’t help but draw a parallel here. There is another place that is mostly mountain and has been famous for its neutrality. A place commonly called Switzerland. The Arryns were definitely taking hints from Swiss foreign policies in the World Wars.
And now to the bit that I find most intriguing of all. Slavers Bay. Everything about Slavers Bay reminds me of Ancient Rome. The whole sense of extreme debauchery. The way in which each slave has his or her own very specific task and has been trained to do just that and nothing else. The way in which the slavers depend on their slaves for every single thing under the sun as they sit on top of their pyramids. The weird food of Meereen is a lot like the strange things that the Romans ate. Every part of Slavers Bay reminds me of the Roman Empire. Even their clothes are a bit like the Togas the Romans used to wear.
GRRM really has borrowed a lot from history. And not just any one era or place. He’s used all of human history to create his own rich universe.