10) War of the Roses/War of the 5 Kings
This is one of common knowledge by this point, and rightfully so since pretty much the whole War of the Five Kings ripped straight from the ancient throne of England. It was a series of wars between House York, the white roses, and House Lancaster, the red roses, over the throne of England, the War of the Roses. Complications began after the death of Edward IV (King Robert). It was between Edward’s brothers, Richard III (Stannis), and Edmund, Earl of Rutland (Renly), and George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence, although he was more of an influence on Theon Greyjoy since he was a supporter of House York before his defection to House Lancaster. All battling for the Throne of England that was to be appointed to Edward V (Joffrey), slander regarding incest, affairs, murder, and disappearances were not uncommon to materialize during the conflicts. Similarly to Joffrey, Stannis, Robb, Balon, and Renly (for some reason) all thought that they were the rightful heir to the throne and would do damn near anything to secure it.
9) Wootz Steel (Damascus)/ Valyrian Steel
There are swords and daggers that are so sharp that merely dropping a silk scarf upon it would slice in two. Custom to the Southern Indian black market dated back to Alexander the Great’s expeditions in India, wootz steel, or damascus, was a strong and flexible piece of iron with engraved patterns on it, eventually becoming a hot commodity in the sixth century. Today, like any other natural resource, the steel is almost impossible to find and only the rarest of devoted collectors have it. Its utter importance and nonpareil is a clear sign of influence in George R.R. Martin’s fictional valyrian steel. Ned Stark, Jon Snow, Brienne of Tarth, Randyl Tarly are just some of the few who own valyrian steel made swords. Which may become a problem to present itself sooner than later since the show has highly suggested that it is one of the few items in the world to defeat the White Walkers.
8) Knights Templar/ Night’s Watch
Similarly to those who commit their very lives to the Night’s Watch, the Knights Templar devotees were ex-criminals who remained faithful to the cause. The Pope would forgive them all for their sins and in return they donned their white tunic apparels and became the “Poor Fellows Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon.” Their main endeavors would require transporting and protecting pilgrims and their riches to and from the Holy Land.
7) Leprosy/ Greyscale
I could seriously watch a show just about greyscale and how it effects the world of Westeros, but no, the disease is not real, I’ve looked it up. However, there are many real life counterparts that influenced the greyscale subplots in George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series. Leprosy, for one, is a disease that was more common during Medieval times, think Robert the Bruce’s father in Braveheart or Baldwin IV in Kingdom of Heaven. It still is a disease that exists in this world with more than a thousand cases occurring, mostly in Middle Eastern countries. Unlike greyscale, the disease is easily curable, just like greyscale, it causes damages within the nerves along the skin with losses of feeling and deformity.
6) Gilles de Rais/ House Bolton
Totally unconfirmed by R.R., you can’t hide many of the parallels between the characters and history. Gilles de Rais was a French soldier who fought alongside Joan of Arc and became a renowned military advisor and wealthy prospector because of it. However, he did have some dark secrets, it is hard to know for sure now since so many reliable and unreliable witnesses took turns on the stand to discuss de Rais’ exploits. A child serial killer and paedophile, some of his bizarre interests included dangling boys and girls, mostly boys, upside down and…(*clear throat) mutilations. Depending where you’re reading this his victims can range from 80 to 100 to 150 to 200, but we won’t ever really know for sure since de Rais was hanged on October 26, 1440. Hopefully our boy Ramsay Bolton won’t meet such an uneventful and merciless execution.
5) Gregory VII vs. Henry IV/ High Sparrow vs. the Royal Houses
A clear influence to take notice of while the ever growing conflict between the Faith militant and the Royal Houses continue is the real life counterpart between Pope Gregory VII and King Henry IV. Such a historical dissension into the voyage of power; does anybody else wonder why there haven’t been more movies or shows based on it? It was a battle of who had more control. King Henry IV argued that he should be able to appoint church officials, Pope Gregory VII was offended by his confident privileges and ex-communicated him. With the people supporting the Pope, King Henry IV had to travel all the way to the Pope and ask for forgiveness. This is known as the Investiture Controversy, like King Tommen Baratheon, King Henry IV was a young and naive king with much to learn, however, can you imagine Cersei or any of the other members of the Royal families going to the High Sparrow to beg for forgiveness. Pope Gregory, like the High Sparrow, believes that religion is above all and there can be too much power given to a king.
4) Princes and Kings/ Rhaegar and Aerys II Targaryen
While Henry VI “the Mad” is a direct reflection of the “Mad King” himself— there are a variety of historical princes that have influenced the creation of Rhaegar Targaryen. Edward, Black Prince being a primary influence— the Black Prince was a very well liked figure in England during the 14th century. An exceptional militarily, his victories made him well known throughout Europe and just like Rhaegar, he died before his father King Edward III and never truly had the opportunity to rule. There was also Henry Frederick Stuart of Wales who was equally well liked, so much so that after his untimely death of a fever at 18 there were dozens of poems written by renowned writers devoted to the young prince and his love for music and instruments would be remembered like Prince Rhaegar. Henry Percy, “Hotspur” as he was known because of his short temper, was an English medieval who was celebrated for his battlefield tactics before he was eventually slain at the Battle of Shrewsberry like Prince Rhaegar at the Battle of the Trident.
3) Sir Jacques Le Gris vs. Sir Jean de Carrouges/ The Mountain vs. the Viper
Trial by combat went into practice throughout the Middle Ages as a means of recognizing who was right and wrong during a conflict without confessions or witnesses, although it did usually draw up a pretty good crowd. One such conflict was between Sir Jacques Le Gris, a French knight during the 14 century and famous womanizer was accused of raping the wife of his neighbor and enemy Sir Jean de Carrouges. Although Le Gris had maintained his innocence throughout the trial, a trial by combat was than issued. Carrouges and Le Gris went about their conflict and midway through the battle, after both men were knocked from their horses and hand-to-hand combat erupted, Carrouges demanded that Les Gris’ last breath be a confession of his crimes— sounds awfully similar? “You raped her, you murdered her, you killed her children” is forever engraved into the minds of GoT fans. However, unlike our dearly departed Prince Oberyn, Carrouges maintained the upper hand the whole time, although Les Gris still maintained his innocence even after a dagger was driven into his throat.
2) Zoroastrianism/ R’hllor, The Lord of Light
Probably the oldest monotheistic religion to continue to exist was created by the prophet Zoroaster in Iran, the religion depended on spiritual messages, overt and hidden, within flames. Not sure if R.R. has confirmed this, but it is more than evident that he took a few notes from this part of history. Although Melisandre is a little more intensely tenacious with her devotion to the Lord of Light with human sacrifices, blood magic, shadow assassins, leeches, potions, age-defying necklaces— the obsession of spiritual meaning within fire is a strong flare from Zoroastrianism.
1) Glencoe Massacre/ Red Wedding
This has been discussed for years now, but for me, the Red Wedding will always be a defining moment for Game of Thrones and the most emotional episode of this show and any other show really. Based on a number of historical events from the battles in Scotland to an old Japanese folktale, but another Scottish tragedy shares the most parallels— the Massacre at Glencoe during the Jacobite uprising. Something that still resonates with businesses in the area holding signs that read “No Hawkers and Campbells.” The Campbells being on the side of the king and taken into the home of the MacDonald’s under trust and hospitality. The MacDonalds, took an oath to support the king in the hopes for a pardon. For almost two weeks the loyal troops lived under the MacDonalds household until the troops received a letter to attack everyone in Glencoe. During the early morning hours the massacre took place with the town being burnt down. Like the MacDonalds, Robb Stark and his loyal army and family were brought in with the assurance of no violence for the wedding of Edmure Tully. Victims of “Murder Under Trust” an act considered worse than murder in itself in both worlds.