We would love to assume that everything on HBO’s Game of Thrones comes from either writer George R.R. Martin or the fantasy series’ show runners and producers. After all, everyone involved in the series seems to get positively gleeful when it comes to terrorizing GoT fans. However, not everything is made up. Here are 7 horrific real life events that inspired Game of Thrones.
The Starks v The Lannisters
The Starks and the Lannisters were getting along all chummy (aside from Jamie pushing Bran out of the window), until Robert Baratheon asked Ned Stark to be his hand. After that, everything started crumbling. From imprisonments to betrayals and beheadings, ish really started hitting the fan. However. these dueling families didn't just appear in George R.R. Martin's head. He probably based the families on two 15th century English families, the Yorks and the Lancasters. In what is now called, The War of the Roses, the two families decided to battle it out for the English throne. In the final battle of the war, nearly every single York was obliterated. Like our beloved Ned Stark, the York's leader Richard was beheaded. His head was then stuck on the gates of York for everyone to see, and for the birds to feast on. HORRIFIC.
No one was sad to see Joffrey go when he was poisoned at is own wedding in the second episode of season four. Before we were introduced to Ramsay Snow, the blonde King born of incest and obsession, was the most horrendous character on GoT. He delighted in beating, maiming, and killing prostitutes. He also adored torturing his then-fiance and beheading people. We'd hoped that ol' JB was simply a fictional creation. Sadly, he was not. Edward of Lancaster (yes the same Lancaster from the War of the Roses) was heir to the English throne from 1453–1471. By the time he was 13, Edward delighted in torturing his friends with his sword, beheading people for sport, and starting wars. Luckily, Edward was slain in his youth; he was rumored to be illegitimate anyway. (Kanye shrug.)
We would stand beside Khal Drogo any day of the week! However, that doesn't mean that the barbaric Horse Lords on GoT aren't just a tad terrifying. After all, they do enjoy pillaging, raping, ripping out tongues and other horrendous acts. Unfortunately, The Dothraki are based on The Mongols of the 13th and 14th centuries. The Mongols terrorized Asia and Europe. After they ran through China, word is they left the grounds of the city littered with the fat and flesh of their victims. (We'll give you a moment to let that ghastly image sink in.) Let's just hope Drogo somehow comes back to life, or Daenerys escapes these new Dothraki who've captured her.
article continues below ad
The Red Wedding
We will never get over the trauma of The Red Wedding. After watching Talisa Stark get stabbed in her pregnant belly, we didn't think GoT could get anymore gruesome. (How naive we were.) Nevertheless, the ninth episode of season three remains one of the most gory from the HBO fantasy series. Unfortunately, slit throats, stabbings and being shot with cross bows isn't exactly the stuff of fantasy. Back in 1440, Scotland experienced what is now called, The Black Dinner. King James II of Scotland who was only 10-years old at the time invited 16-year-old William Douglass who was the head of a powerful Scottish clan and his little brother David to his castle for a playdate of sorts. The trio was getting along well until it was time for dinner. That evening, the King's men placed a black bull’s head on the table which meant, sh*t was about to get VERY REAL Though King James begged for mercy for his friends, William and David still lost their heads that night.
Literally no one felt bad about the demise of Craster back in season three of GoT. After all, this is a man who continually procreated with his daughters, and left his sons in the forest for the White Walkers. We know GoT enjoys its incestuous story-lines, but the stuff that went down at Craster's Keep was too much! Apparently Craster got some of his attributes from the real-life Sawney Bean Family who lived in 16th Century Scotland. The family, which consisted of 14 children and 32 grandchildren, all lived in a cave, and they enjoyed procreating with one another. If you can imagine, this story actually gets worse. Apparently, in order to keep food on their table, The Sawney Beans hid in the bushes only to jump out and hack up innocent passerbys. After they ate their fill of their fellow humans, they pocketed their victims' possessions and pickled the rest of the human flesh to feast on later. We are #unable.
The Mad King
Before Khalessi's daddy lost his shiz, he was a fairly decent ruler. However, it seems like something in the Targaryen makeup allows them to go off the rails. First, Aerys became obsessed with watching people burn. The King Slayer said, "He loved to watch people burn, the way their skin blackened and blistered and melted off their bones. He burned lords he didn't like. He burned Hands who disobeyed him. He burned anyone who was against him." Unfortunately, the madness of kings is not regulated to fiction. During the 14th century, France was dealing with "The Mad King" Charles VI. Like Aerys, Charles was initially charming and chill AF. But then, he got some horrendous illness that caused all of his teeth and hair fall out and it was all down hill from there. First, he randomly killed four of his knights while they were out on a lovely stroll in the gardens. Then, he became convinced he was made of glass.....yeah.
article continues below ad
It's one thing to stick a bunch of men on an icy wall that is 300 miles long, and 700 ft high, but it's a whole other thing to expect them to remain celibate. It's no wonder that members of The Night's Watch constantly try and exert themselves elsewhere. Sadly, The Wall has a real life counterpart, and it might even be more ghastly than the one on GoT. Back in 1124 AD, the Romans built an 80-mile long wall across England, to keep out the "barbarians" of Scotland. During The Great Conspiracy in the winter of 367, the Romans opened the gate to allow some of the Scottish tribesmen through. Unfortunately, they acted like Wildlings, quickly pillaging, burning down villages, raping and generally being terrifying AF.