Historical references in A Song of Ice and Fire

A Song of Ice and Fire is an epic fantasy series in which the nobility struggle for political control of a mythical land named Westeros. It’s stunningly complex plots and entwined storylines have made it the favourite of many fans, not least myself.

Although I haven’t yet read the books, although I will soon enough, I have watched the first three series of the television series, which was generally very well done by HBO, and have just watched the last episode today. I found it rather anti-climactic, but after the hellstorm that was The Rains of Castamere, what could have topped it? I must resign myself to a while year of boredom, whilst those clever chaps develop a whole new season to take my breath away with its humanity and betrayal.

However, in the pursuit of another thing to occupy myself with, I have decided to bore you with a list of links of between Song of Ice and Fire characters and historical figures.

The first, I would argue, would be a comparison of Cersei Lannister to Margaret of Anjou. Cersei resents her father, the richest man in the kingdom, from marrying her off to the king, Robert Baratheon. The children that she gave to Robert were in fact born out of incest between her and her brother. Robert was a whoring drunkard, and not suited to ruling.

It is said that her love of her children is her ‘only redeeming quality’, and such can be said of Margaret of Anjou. She was married to the incompetent king Henry VI, whose regular bouts of insanity rendered him unable to rule his kingdom, which she had to do in his stead.

When the House of York seemed to threaten the future kingship of her son, Edward of Westminster, she reacts with violent force, as does Cersei when Eddard Stark starts to raise suspicions about the legitimacy of her children.

Eddard is similar to the Duke of York, in that he plays the part of a decent, honest and strong man coming down from his home in the north (where everything is much cleaner and simpler) to cleanse the incompetent and decadent southern beaurocrats. Other similarities include the death of York at the hands of the queen, whose son swore vengeance and marched south with an army, starting the long dynastic struggle for the throne known as the Wars of the Roses.

I’m sure there are other links, but I focused on these few characters because I’ve heard similarities drawn between the Wars of the Roses and a Song of Ice and Fire, I just wanted to emphasise that link. I hope it has been an interesting read.

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