29 • 04 • 2022

The Incredible Real Life Happenings That Inspired Game Of Thrones

Medieval England was a hard time for most people especially if you didn’t have a royal heritage. We imagine it solely on movies about King Arthur and a bunch of others, but it isn’t like that.

Take for example the almost seventy year power struggle that killed hundreds, imprisoned children and inspired some of the most acknowledged works of our generation.

The Story

In the year 1377 in medieval England, King Edward the third died. His eldest son had tragically died before his father did, and his eldest son’s ten year old boy succeeded him ahead of Edward’s three surviving sons. Of course it didn’t sit very well with them. And two families in particular chose to form different groups in a struggle for the throne. The family of Edward’s third son took the red rose of Lancaster and became the Lancasters, while the family of Edward’s fourth son took the white rose of York. Initiating nearly a century long war over the throne known as the War of the Roses. The Lancasters first took control when Richard the second dethroned his nephew Henry the fourth and surprisingly managed to keep the Lancasters in control until 1422, after Henry the fifth was killed in a military campaign, and left Henry the sixth king. Henry was not a very good leader and he was dominated by advisors, and they eventually convinced him to marry Margaret of Anjou to gain French support.

Margaret was absolutely ruthless to anyone who questioned her authority, and she distrusted Richard of York most of all, who was the son of the original York prince, and Henry the sixth’s advisor. His constant criticism about how they were handling their wars was the last straw for Margaret, and she convinced Henry to exile him in Ireland, while she and her advisors would continue their corrupt rule. He did soon return with an army to reform the court, and while he was initially unsuccessful, he got his chance when he was made Protector of the Realms, after Henry suffered a mental breakdown. However less than a year later Henry suddenly recovered and Margaret convinced him to reverse all Richards’ reforms. He fled again to build an army, and managed to be reinstated as Protector, and the right for his descendants to succeed Henry. But Margaret was having none of it and Richard was killed in a battle wit her loyalist, and his young son was crowned Edward the fourth. Edward had great military success. He managed to capture Henry, and Margaret and her son Edward of Westminster fled into exile. But the prince made a tragic political mistake by backing out of an arranged marriage to a French princess, to marry a widow of a minor noble.

This act angered his most powerful ally the Earl of Warwick. Warwick sided with the Lancasters, turned Edward’s jealous brother against him, and even briefly restored Henry to the throne. But it didn’t last. Edward reclaimed the throne, Henry’s son was killed in battle, and Henry himself died in captivity not long after. The rest of Edward’s reign was peaceful, until he died and his twelve year old son was to succeed him. However, Edward’s younger brother Richard the third declared his nephew illegitimate due to his father’s secret marriage. So Richard claimed the throne and tossed the boys in prison, and no one knows what happened to them. However two years later, when Richard’s power seemed secure Henry Tudor, a direct descendant of the first Lancaster prince who was raised in exile after his father’s death, came from across the English channel. Due to Richard’s power grab splitting the York faction, Tudor’s support grew. He raised an army in France and crossed the channel in 1485, easily defeating Richard. He then married Elizabeth of York, and joined the roses officially ending nearly a century of war. We often think of historical wars as decisive conflict, with clearly defined winners and losers. But the war of the roses, like the fiction they inspired, show us that victories can be uncertain, alliances unstable, and the power of kings as fleeting as the seasons.

Chaldea Studios Design