The Real History Behind “Game of Thrones”

Get your Game of Thrones fix while waiting for the next season to start by reading these books on true events that may have inspired the  A Song of Ice and Fire series. From the Wars of the Roses, to Hadrian’s Wall, to the legend of Sawney Bean, these books will fill the void until the next season begins.


Henry VI, Margaret of Anjou and the Wars of the Roses
9781781554692This book is two-for-one in the history behind Game of Thrones. The Wars of the Roses are often compared to the battles of succession in Westeros. The Wars of the Roses were fought between the House of York from the North and the House of Lancaster from the South (Starks & Lannisters, perhaps?), and the similarities continue. Read the book and see what other parallels you can pick out. Additionally, Margaret of Anjou is very similar to Cersei Lannister, from her uncommonly strong influence upon the throne for a woman of the time, to her fight for her sons’ right to rule.

About the Book
Henry VI (1422-61) was the third, and least successful, Lancastrian king of England; his wife Margaret of Anjou became a formidable political force in her own right; and the Wars of the Roses, so dramatically portrayed by William Shakespeare as bloody dynastic struggles fought for the possession of the crown, brought the usurpation of Edward IV (1461-83), the humiliation and exile of Margaret of Anjou, and the murder of her husband in the Tower of London. Combining a framework of interpretation and a rich selection of passages from contemporary and near-contemporary sources, this compilation enables readers to appreciate just why the rule of Henry VI resulted in the outbreak of the Wars of the Roses, what these internecine conflicts were like, and how they culminated in the end of the House of Lancaster.
Purchase your copy here.

The Princes in the Tower
9781445642284The disappearance of Bran and Rickon can be likened to the story of the princes in the tower, which occurred just before Richard III’s rule began.

About the Book
In the summer of 1483 two boys were taken into the Tower of London and were never seen again. They were no ordinary boys. One was the new King of England; the other was his brother, the Duke of York, and heir presumptive to the throne. Shortly afterwards, their uncle, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, took the throne as Richard III. Soon after, rumors began to spread that the princes had been murdered, and that their murderer was none other than King Richard himself.
Since 1483 the dispute over Richard’s guilt or innocence has never abated. The accusations, which began during his own lifetime, continued through the Tudor period and beyond, remaining a source of heated debate to the present day.
Yet the evidence that the princes were murdered at all is far from conclusive; could it be that one, or both, princes survived? This study returns to the original sources, subjecting them to critical examination and presenting a groundbreaking new theory about what really happened and why.
Purchase your copy here.

Elizabeth I
elizabeth 1.inddThe first Queen Elizabeth has been compared with Daenerys Targaryen. Both women are independent spirits, who did not need the guidance of a male (King or Khal) to rule in their own right.

About the Book
Elizabeth I stands in the English imagination for one of the formative phases of English history. Her reign saw England transformed, at her command, from a Catholic to a Protestant country, with incalculable consequences for the history of Europe and of the world – starting with the attempted invasion by the Spanish Armada, beaten off by the Queen’s legendary naval captains.
Richard Rex highlights the vivid and contrary personality of a Queen who could both baffle and bedazzle her subjects, her courtiers, and her rivals: at one moment flirting outrageously with a favorite or courting some foreign prince, and at another vowing perpetual virginity; at one time agonizing over the execution of her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, then ordering the slaughter of hundreds of poor men after a half-cock rebellion. Too many biographies of Elizabeth merely perpetuate the flattery she enjoyed from her courtiers, this biography also reflects more critical voices, such as those of the Irish, the Catholics and those who lived on the wrong side of the emerging North/South divide. To them she showed a different face.
Purchase your copy here.

Henry VII
9781445646053Perhaps an even better comparison to Daenerys Targaryen is Henry Tudor, who eventually became Henry VII. He took the throne from Richard III after living in exile across the English Channel for many years. An exiled royal across the sea should sound pretty familiar.

About the Book
Henry Tudor has been called the most unlikely king of England. Yet his rise from obscurity was foretold by the bards, and the familial bloodbath of the Wars of the Roses by 1485 left Henry as the sole adult Lancastrian claimant to the Crown. The hunchback usurper Richard III desperately wanted him dead, and in his exile Henry was left with no choice. He either invaded England or faced being traded to Richard to meet certain death. Henry’s father, Edmund, Earl of Richmond, was the son of a queen of England, sister to the king of France, and of an obscure Welsh court servant, who had been born in secrecy away from court. Edmund’s death at the beginning of the Wars of the Roses left Henry to grow up in almost constant danger, imprisonment and exile. In 1485, his ‘ragtag’ invading army at Bosworth faced overwhelming odds, but succeeded. Henry went on to become England’s wisest and greatest king, but it would be his son – Henry VIII – and granddaughter – Elizabeth I – who would take all the credit.
Pre-order your copy here.

Sawney Bean
9781781553671The cannibalistic faction of the Wildlings have definite similarities to the legend of Sawney Bean. While it has never been proven, the story goes that Sawney and his family of cannibals murdered over 1,000 people during their reign of terror in Scotland. Read this book, the first major investigation into the legend, to see how they compare to the Wildlings.

About the Book
Sawney Bean: Dissecting the Legend of Scotland’s Infamous Cannibal Killer Family is the first major non-fiction historical investigation to explore one of the most heinous crimes in 16th-century Scotland, the legend of Sawney Bean and his cannibal family. For centuries, the story of Bean and his clan are part of Scotland’s folklore. According to the legend, the family lived in a cave and preyed on travellers. When a survivor allegedly escaped to tell the tale, James I sent an expedition to capture the cannibals. They were supposedly found in their cave with the pickled remains of their victims. But was the story of the Galloway cannibal killers true? Using a wide range of research material, this infamous legend of horror will be taken apart and how the myth became accepted as reality will be explored in detail. True crime author and historian Blaine Pardoe tackles this legend, peeling the truth out of the fable and detailing the influence of this myth on popular culture such as the infamous splatter movie The Hills Have Eyes.
Purchase your copy here.

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