By Sara Schabe
Since 2011, Game of Thrones has been a hit on HBO. The show has a medieval feel to it as it shows the story of two noble families duking it out to sit upon the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms. History lovers and average fans alike have wondered if any of the characters or themes were derived from anywhere. On Wednesday, April 7, history professor and Game of Thrones fanatic, Dave Hannigan put together a slideshow that gave students and faculty an insight to the real history behind Game of Thrones.
The presentation starts off with Hannigan explaining that there are in fact historical people and events that George R R Martin, writer of Game of Thrones, based his novels on. A lot of the things used as inspiration are events that Hannigan teaches in his Western Civilization courses.
One of the more obvious things mirrored in the shows from actual history was The Wall. In the show, this was a massive wall that stretched 300 miles across the northern end of the Seven Kingdoms made entirely of ice. Circa 122 A.D., a wall eerily similar was constructed by Roman emperor Hadrian. In ancient times, an actual wall was constructed in northern England to block out the barbarians of the north, better known as the Scottish lowlanders. The actual wall was contrastingly less impressive for it expanded across only 80 miles and was said to only be between 10 and 20 feet high which is easily squashed by Martin’s wall, for it stood at almost 100 feet.
“Donald Trump would be envious of Martin’s Wall,” said Hannigan, bringing the comparison to modern American time.
A map of the United Kingdom and a map of the Seven Kingdoms were placed side by side to show the similarities. It was concluded that the Seven Kingdoms was just a slightly distorted depiction of the UK.
Hannigan goes on to explain that the similarities run deeper than just geography; even some of the characters were based upon historical figures. One that he found most interesting is the correlation between Tywin Lannister (Game of Thrones) and Edmund Ironside (actual history). Tywin Lannister was one of the wealthiest men in the show. His son Tyrion kills him in seek of revenge for cruelty that has been cast upon Tyrion by Tywin at a rather peculiar moment. He was killed while sitting on a toilet doing what one does when in the bathroom. Similarly, it is reported t
hat Edmund Ironside, King of England in 1016 was murdered while also responding to a call of nature. What a way to die.
Other events in the show that gained their structure from history are the Siege of Mereen, The Wildfire and The Red Wedding.
In creating his books and eventually the show, George R. R. Martin did something new with history. He made it seem appealing. “I love Game of Thrones and I’ve been trying to work Game of Thrones references into my classes and realized I could stitch the whole thing into a lengthy presentation,” Hannigan explained. Hannigan also stated that using the references and giving this presentation “makes history more attractive.”