Why Game Of Thrones Reads Like A History Book And Not A Fantasy Epic

hello and welcome history buffs my name is Nick Hodges and I am so excited to present to you a very special episode celebrating one of the greatest television series of all time Game of Thrones now whether you know it or not this is a fantasy epic that lives and breathes history where many of its most iconic creations can find its roots embedded in our own past even the locations they shoot in are brimming with history sometimes I’m not even sure if the creators of the series are aware of how much of it seeps into Game of Thrones for example what’s up with that painting all those cannons are those ships firing cannons but in any case I’m here to talk today about my favorite historical inspirations that may have helped conceive the law behind the show whether they’re true or not is up for debate but they’re certainly fun to think about this is Game of Thrones now I think we can all agree that the world of Game of Thrones is without a doubt based on medieval Europe but its biggest inspiration behind the main setting of the story Westeros lies with the British Isles but instead of them being a group of small islands they have been reshaped as a single great continent so let’s start with this most identifiable landmark the wall made entirely of ice its Colossus size is measured as 700 feet high and stretches for 300 miles currently defended by the Nights Watch it was originally built by the first men 8,000 years ago and was in feud with magic by the children of the forest along with help from some very friendly Giants of course its original purpose was to defend the Seven Kingdoms against the return of the White Walkers now it only really serves as a sort of reformed penal colony and a weak border defense against the wildlings this wall can be attributed to the real-life Hadrian’s Wall built by the Romans in the north of England in the second century it stood as the farthest northern frontier of the Roman Empire it sprawled across the country for 74 miles and reached 15 feet high although much smaller than the Westerosi wall it’s still pretty impressive and its purpose for being built was also defend its southern lands against the barbaric tribes north of the wall called the pits so if we head south of the wall we have the famous Seven Kingdoms of Westeros we have the kingdom of the north the kingdom of the mountain and the Vale the kingdom of the island the rivers the kingdom of the rock the kingdom of the storm lands the kingdom of the reach and the principality of dawn the conception of these seven kingdoms can be traced back to the Seven anglo-saxon kingdoms of mainland Britain in the early Middle Ages so there we have the kingdoms of Northumbria Murcia East Anglia Essex Wessex Sussex and Kent in fact you can go a step further and see comparisons between the anglo-saxons and the Westerosi counterpart the Andals their conquest of the Celts in the first men is almost unparalleled as they both became the dominant force in the region before being conquered themselves by the Normans of the targaryen now you could say that there is further evidence of Westeros being based on the British Isles due to its similar regional accents like with the Starks having northern accents and the Lannisters speaking with southern accents but to be perfectly honest this show is rather inconsistent when it comes to specific accents for specific characters like don’t you think it’s weird that sudah vas in Gendry both come from flea bottom and yet sir Davos has an Irish accent and Gendry has a southern English accent it was wonderfully bottom just like you sure you were and the less said about Littlefinger’s accent the better strictly speaking such a thing would not be in accordance with the Kings laws strictly speaking you heart my lady good good I’m sure you’ve had quite a fright rest easy the worst is past so leaving Westeros we have the vast continent of Essos which is a completely different story rather than being based on any one society it seems to be more the melting pot of different cultures for example in the West there are elements of southern Europe with nine three cities of Braavos laureth lys mere norvos pentose Kohath Irish and volantis they are clearly based in the Italian city-states between the ninth and the 15th century these include Venice Milan Florence Genoa Pisa Siena Lucca Cremona and etc they were all independently governed metropolis with vast amounts of wealth and power due to their networks of trade and commerce now here’s a fun fact did you know that the Titan of Braavos is based on the real-life Colossus of Rhodes built in the likeness of the Sun God Helios in ancient Greece this enormous statue is said to have stood directly over the harbour entrance at a hundred feet high so heading even further east you get the Dothraki sea home of the extremely violence nomadic warriors the Dothraki who live fight and die on the horse obviously the Dothraki sea is heavily influenced on the Asian steppe home to an even more dangerous horse warrior culture the Mongols who once conquered the single largest continuous land Empire the world has ever seen and when he finally get down to marine Yun Chi hasta porn Qarth it’s a little harder to pinpoint the historical origins when personally I see elements of Constantinople Egypt and India with their incredible architecture enormous wealth and their systems of slavery but there’s such a mishmash of different cultures that they’re pretty unrecognizable from whatever societies there might have been based on originally as we all know the world of Game of Thrones has a pretty funky pattern of seasonal and climate changes where summers and winters can last for a few years sometimes even a decade the Raven arrived from the Citadel this morning he embraces the Conclave has met considered reports from maesters all over the Seven Kingdoms and declared this great summer done at last the longest summer looking memory with the peasants a long summer means an even longer winter a winter that we’re still waiting for winter is coming winter is coming and winter is coming winter is coming winter is coming winter is coming winter is coming winter is coming winter is coming when so you might think that the extreme length of these seasons is work of brilliant fiction and they are but these two are loosely based on our own history in regard to the long summer from 900 to 1300 ad there is a theory that much of our northern hemisphere experienced the rise in global temperatures known as the Medieval Warm Period through studying off historical records of harvests and evidence provided by tree rings and ice cores there is proof that Europe was considerably warmer back then summers were extremely pleasant and winters were mild meaning that harvest yields were abundant and the fact that they were able to grow grapes in medieval England and could successfully produce their own wine does strengthen this theory a little bit I mean you have to admit England isn’t exactly world famous for its amazing wine selection now is it mr. baza what’s your wine selection red or white and lager please yeah Roy so that takes care of the long summer but what about the long winter well right after 400 years of the Medieval Warm Period temperatures dropped drastically in what would later be known as the Little Ice Age and this lasted from around 1300 to around 1850 now even though it’s called the Little Ice Age that doesn’t mean that the whole world was covered in snow but it was still pretty morbid in Europe during the late Middle Ages previous Pleasant conditions were replaced by terribly cold winters – wet summers that led to bad harvests – of course famine and the scarcity these natural resources were quickly followed by war now whether these are all actually related to historical climate changes is up a debate as is unfortunately any discussion on climate change at all however I think it’s a good chance that george RR martin picked up on all of this and incorporated it into Game of Thrones now what’s there not to love about Valyrian steel it’s lighter more durable than regular steel it can be reforged and shaped into new weapons it’s the sharpest sword in the known world and it never loses its edge Oh careful your grace er but nothing cuts like Valyrian steel so they say the process of making it however has been lost to time no one’s made a Valyrian steel swords as a doom of Valyria which means it’s very rare and very valuable and everyone wants one Valyrian steel I would wanted some Valyrian steel this all sounds really similar to another lost sword of our time Damascus steel it’s remarkable qualities became legendary throughout Western Europe when was first encountered during the First Crusade this sword was vastly superior to anything the Europeans had it was also durable and retained its edge through many battles and the sharpness of its blade with reputed to be able to slice a feather in midair during the Middle Ages it was the perfect sword like in the show it was also very rare in Western Europe and they had no idea how to make it eventually it also became a lost technology disappearing sometime around the 18th century like the name suggests Damascus steel was crafted in Syria but we now know that his raw material was made out of wood steel from India for one reason or another the breakdown in trade between India and the Middle East seized the necessary supplies needed to make Damascus steel and so did the knowledge required in making it now let’s talk about the greatest weapon in Westeros wildfire epic take care my lord I remember reading an old sailors proverb piss on wildfire and your [ __ ] burns off oh yeah I am NOT conducted this experiment it it could well be true the substance burns so hot it melts wood stone even steel and of course flesh the substance burns so hot it melts flesh like taro in the show wildfires are highly unstable and combustible material crafted by the Targaryen dynasty as a powerful weapon to replace the loss of their dragons in season two we get to see how effective this weapon is during the battle Blackwater Bay this epic fantasy creation from george RR martin is clearly based on Greek fire the Byzantine empires greatest weapon the method of how it was made was his closest guarded secret and as a result has been lost after the Empire fell we do know though that was extensively used in land and naval battles and at times was projected at their enemies with a primitive version of a flamethrower Greek fire can be described in the form similar to napalm it was a substance that tended to stick to what if it was burning extremely high temperatures unless he knew exactly what you were doing it was almost impossible to put out if you were on the receiving end so you betrayed me you promised me great liar and this is all I gave Oliver I should have had you harm or all and what with your permission milord more water fire my god you are a magician not a Magister I want this for every cannon how many men will you need 20 give this man 20 millimeter as you wish my lord it’s pretty clear why the Byzantines kept it such a secret this was literally a weapon of mass destruction during the Middle Ages the only way could be put out was with sand vinegar and if you could stomach it urine kind of put things in perspective when Tyrion says this on wildfire and your [ __ ] burns off I think that we can all agree that the red wedding episode has to be the most jaw-dropping episode in television history the hilarious reaction montages you can find on YouTube really does paint a picture of how this genuinely shocked people yet once again does the genius of george RR martin take a page from history that inspired this horrific massacre this was actually loosely based on the equally shocking and infamous Glencoe massacre that took place in the highlands of Scotland in the late 17th century Britain was heavily divided by religious turmoil King James the seventh of Scotland and the second of England made attempts to re-establish Catholicism as Britain’s official faith however this did not go down well as Britain was mostly a Protestant country and they turned towards Holland to place William of Orange a Protestant monarch on the throne instead after many battles King James was forced to flee in exile to France it was then that King William offered assurances to the heavily Catholic Highlanders who had fought against him that they would be exempt from reprisals if they sworn allegiance to him his Proclamation stated that they had one year to do so otherwise they would be met with the full extremity of the law now the Highlanders were hoping beyond hope that before the deadline passed King James would return at the head of a French Armada to invade Britain so that they could continue the fight and so they delayed for as long as possible but when he started looking like King James wouldn’t return in time more and more of the clan started swearing their allegiance to King William now I am positive that every single one of these oaths would only hold out if James never returned but it did help keep the peace between the clans the Macdonald clan delayed the longest and Alistair MacLean the chief of Glencoe waited until the last possible moment before setting out as journey to swear his clans oath in front of a magistrate in Inverrary he arrived two days late but was eventually allowed to sign his oath in the end thinking that he and his clan was in the clear MacLean relaxed went back to Glencoe unfortunately he couldn’t have been more wrong Sir John Dalrymple the Secretary of State over Scotland wanted to make an example out of these rebellious and troublesome Highlanders and this marked the fate of the McDonald’s of Glencoe it was then that over a hundred soldiers were dispatched from Fort William to Glencoe and when confronted by the McDonald’s they stated that they were only looking for brief shelter before moving on to the neighboring clan for not paying their taxes the McDonald’s they let their guard down and became gracious hosts to their new guests this is because ancient Highland laws of hospitality protected both the host and the guests from any harm once that relationship was sealed with food drinking a warm bed the soldiers stayed at the Glencoe settlement for two weeks and then on the 13th of February 1692 they received their finest secret orders how can I murder these people in their beds linty they are unarmed and we have been their guests for almost two orders stay quite clearly what has to be done sir you are not Highland Lindsay you do not understand our ways I understand that these people are rebels and we are soldiers of the king we came as friends they trust us and now we are ordered to kill them it betrays every Highland law of hospitality and it is dishonorable but I must obey the instructions of making this massacre marked a dark chapter in Scottish history it didn’t do so much to deter the other clans as intended but instead became a propaganda piece for the Jacobite cause against King William today this atrocity lives on in pop culture through the red wedding and surprisingly through a really upbeat Celtic punk song by the real McKenzie’s well that about wraps it up my name is Nick Hodges and thanks for watching history buffs and remember if you like the show help the channel grow and let me know in the comment section what was your favorite historical inspiration for Game of Thrones and of course what historical movie should I review next in the meantime check out the history buffs Twitter and Facebook pages for new updates until then I’ll see you next time you
Video source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=knGeCNaAdAU

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