Jamie Adair

Jamie Adair is the editor of History Behind Game of Thrones, a website about the history behind George RR Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels and the hit TV show, "Game of Thrones."

Hansel and Gretel: Cannibalism Part II

After a great famine had descended on the land, a starving woodcutter talks over the hardest decision of his life with his wife, the children’s “evil” stepmother. She persuades him to abandon the children; it is either that or starve. The woodcutter takes his two emaciated children, Hansel and Gretel, deep into the forest where he expects they will probably never find their way out. [This article is continued from here.] Hansel and Gretel come upon a gingerbread house where…

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The Hunger Games and Joan of Arc

In The Hunger Games series, Suzanne Collins uses history from Ancient Rome and the Hundred Years’ War. Like George RR Martin, Suzanne “meditates” on the effect of war throughout The Hunger Games series. Similar to Martin, Suzanne uses counterfactual (what-if) versions of history and, as far as I can tell, she did not create an historical “allegory.” We’re thinking of maybe doing a series of articles on The Hunger Games this summer. So, we are wondering, do you like The Hunger Games?…

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The Romans are Coming, “Tyrion” Purple

The Romans are coming to History Behind Game of Thrones, but they’ve been marching very slowly. (We have a couple of articles prepared but we’re waiting on something very special before we publish them.) Many people have written in noting the parallels between the Western and Eastern Roman Empires (aka the Byzantine Empire) and Game of Thrones. This is very helpful – thank you! (I definitely will be noting you explicitly as the series continues.) Superficially, people often compare Game of Thrones with the Wars…

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Who is the REAL First of His Name? Episode 5, Season 4 Recap

Although the Joffrey’s death still lingers as unfinished business, this episode marks quite a few new beginnings. Several new marriages and new alliances are soon to be forged. The depths of Petyr Baelish’s depravity and Lysa Arryn’s insanity are revealed. As the gears turn and these new alliances click into place, for others like Tyrion, Tywin, and Sansa the wheel turns tighter. As Tywin notes, you don’t need formal alliances – or marriage pacts – with people you trust. King’s…

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The Princes in the Tower & the Murder of the Lannister Nephews

When the vengeful Lord Rickard Karstark murders Robb Stark’s hostages (Tywin’s nephews Willem and Martyn Lannister) in their beds, once again we see the motif of the murdered Princes in the Tower – even though the hostages are the sons of lords and not kings.  Although the Lannister nephews aren’t particularly memorable, their murders are important.  They unleash a chain of events that ultimately leads to the Red Wedding. Although nobody knows if the Princes in the Tower were murdered, traditionally…

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Hey Good Looking, What’s Cooking? Cannibalism in the Middle Ages

In a stomach turning scene, Game of Thrones depicted the Thenn – a hybrid of the A Song of Ice and Fire Skagosi and Thenn – roasting an “arm of Crow”. In Game of Thrones, the Thenn, a free folk who came from the most northern regions beyond the Wall, are cannibalistic. They like to feast on their enemies. Did cannibals exist in the Middle Ages? Yes, they did: both in folklore and in fact. Sawney Bean No doubt the…

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Interview with Cultural Historian Susan Bordo about Anne Boleyn

  As part of our Anne Boleyn series, History Behind Game of Thrones is extremely proud to present this interview with cultural historian and philosopher, Dr. Susan Bordo. Susan is Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and holds the Otis A. Singletary Chair in the Humanities at the University of Kentucky. She is the author of five books and editor of two. Her most recent book, The Creation of Anne Boleyn, is a fascinating and entertaining examination of not only…

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George RR Martin: In His Own Words About History, War, and Mortality

History Behind Game of Thrones devotes considerable ink to attempting to draw parallels between Game of Thrones and real-life history — generally we are interpreting the stories and trying find similarities to history. When George RR Martin reveals what he used as a historical basis for a character or a scene, we jump on it. The problem is that he rarely discusses his use of history. You can find comments he has made in ancient interviews on Westeros.org. You can also find the odd…

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Episode 4 Recap: Oath Keepers and Breakers: Killers Revealed and Rapists Redeemed?

Last night’s episode of Game of Thrones (Episode 4, Season 4) reveals not just oath keepers but also oath breakers. We catch up with Jaime, who fulfills his promise to Brienne to help return Sansa to her mother (and failing that at least keep her safe), Brienne who pursues Tyrion’s fleeing wife, and Daenerys who fulfills her promise to “meet justice with justice.” We also meet up with the oath breakers — namely the “mutineering” men of the Night’s Watch who remain…

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Poll: Who Killed the Princes in the Tower?

Given the series we’ve been running about the Princes in the Tower, and the murder’s repetition as a motif throughout Game of Thrones, it might be fun to see who you think killed the Princes in the Tower. (If you are unfamiliar with the mystery, please see the synopsis in this article. If you are unfamiliar with the suspects or want to learn more about them, please see this Wikipedia page for a brief overview.)        

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