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Game of Thrones versus History: Written in Blood

Brian A. Pavlac (Editor)
ISBN: 978-1-119-24944-3
312 pages
March 2017, Wiley-Blackwell
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Description

Since it first aired in 2011, Game of Thrones galloped up the ratings to become the most watched show in HBO’s history. It is no secret that creator George R.R. Martin was inspired by late 15th century Europe when writing A Song of Ice and Fire, the sprawling saga on which the show is based. Aside from the fantastical elements, Game of Thrones really does mirror historic events and bloody battles of medieval times—but how closely?

Game of Thrones versus History: Written in Blood
is a collection of thought-provoking essays by medieval historians who explore how the enormously popular HBO series and fantasy literature of George R. R. Martin are both informed by and differ significantly from real historical figures, events, beliefs, and practices of the medieval world. From a variety of perspectives, the authors delve into Martin’s plots, characterizations, and settings, offering insights into whether his creations are historical possibilities or pure flights of fantasy. 

Topics include the Wars of the Roses, barbarian colonizers, sieges and the nature of medieval warfare, women and agency, slavery, celibate societies in Westeros, myths and legends of medieval Europe, and many more. While life was certainly not a game during the Middle Ages, Game of Thrones versus History: Written in Blood reveals how a surprising number of otherworldly elements of George R. R. Martin’s fantasy are rooted deeply in the all-too-real world of medieval Europe. 

Find suggested readings, recommended links, and more from editor Brian Pavlac at gameofthronesversushistory.com. 

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Table of Contents

Notes on Contributors ix

Foreword by William Irwin xiii

Acknowledgments xv

Introduction: The Winter of Our Discontent 1
Brian A. Pavlac

Part I Kings, Queens, Knights, and Strategy 17

1 High and Mighty Queens of Westeros 19
Kavita Mudan Finn

2 A Machiavellian Discourse on Game of Thrones 33
Jacopo della Quercia

3 Chivalry in Westeros 47
Steven Muhlberger

4 Of Kings, Their Battles, and Castles 57
Brian A. Pavlac

Part II Slaves, Barbarians, and Other Others 71

5 Barbarian Colonizers and Postcolonialism in Westeros and Britain 73
Shiloh Carroll

6 A Defense against the “Other”: Constructing Sites on the Edge of Civilization and Savagery 85
Brian de Ruiter

7 The Eastern Question 97
Mat Hardy

8 Slaves with Swords: Slave‐Soldiers in Essos and in the Islamic World 111
Robert J. Haug

Part III Women and Children 123

9 Rocking Cradles and Hatching Dragons: Parents in Game of Thrones 125
Janice Liedl

10 “Oh, my sweet summer child”: Children and Childhood in Game of Thrones 137
Helle Strandgaard Jensen and Magnus Qvistgaard

11 Writing the Rules of Their Own Game: Medieval Female Agency and Game of Thrones 147
Nicole M. Mares

12 The Power of Sansa Stark: A Representation of Female Agency in Late Medieval England 161
Danielle Alesi

Part IV Religion 171

13 Continuity and Transformation in the Religions of Westeros and Western Europe 173
Don Riggs

14 Religious Violence in Game of Thrones: An Historical Background from Antiquity to the European Wars of Religion 185
Maureen Attali

15 Coexistence and Conflict in the Religions of Game of Thrones 195
Daniel J. Clasby

16 “I shall take no wife”: Celibate Societies in Westeros and in Western Civilization 209
Kris Swank

Part V The Background 225

17 By Whisper and Raven: Information and Communication in Game of Thrones 227
Giacomo Giudici

18 What’s in a Name? History and Fantasy in Game of Thrones 241
Sara L. Uckelman, Sonia Murphy, and Joseph Percer

19 Setting up Westeros: The Medievalesque World of Game of Thrones 251
Gillian Polack

Appendix: List of Books and Episodes 261

Index 000

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Author Information

Brian A. Pavlac is Professor of History at King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, USA. His books include A Concise Survey of Western Civilization: Supremacies and Diversities throughout History, 2nd Edition (2nd Edition, 2015), Witch Hunts in the Western World: Persecution and Punishment from the Inquisition to the Salem Trials (2010), and Warrior Bishop of the Twelfth Century (2008).

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