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."

Season 5 & The Sand Snakes Video

~~~Very Mild TV Spoilers~~~ This season we are going to meet the Sand Snakes — Oberyn Martell’s bastard daughters who are looking to avenge their father’s gruesome death. In the novels, Oberyn has eight daughters, all with the last name “Sand,” since that is the name for natural born children in sunny Dorne. The daughters who are shown in the second video below are as follows: Obara — the eldest who is the daughter of an Oldtowne whore. Nymeria —…

Read More

More on Aerys and the Mad Kings

Aerys II Targaryen, the mad king who commanded his pyromancer to set King’s Landing ablaze (before Game of Thrones began), may be inspired by a couple of kings: Charles VI of France and his grandson, Henry VI of England. This article explores some nuances to their madness, possible hereditary sources, and how Charles VI’s madness worked its way into the CW drama Reign, which is about Mary Queen of Scots. Like King Aerys, Charles VI of France’s reign began benevolently…

Read More
Gingerbread_men-human-sacrifice-history

Nothing like a little human sacrifice for the holidays…

It’s widely known that Christmas has its roots in the blood-soaked pagan traditions for the winter solstice. What may be less well known is the origin of the delightful gingerbread people. At a symbolic level, these sugary snacks may be no more than a proxy for human sacrifice. The tradition of backing cookies in human form dates back to the grandfather of modern-day Christmas, the Roman winter celebration of Saturnalia. At this time, Romans honored the god Saturn. His name stems from…

Read More
medieval-childbirth-lying-in-chamber

Was Being a Medieval Queen Hazardous to Your Health?

Was being a medieval queen was hazardous to your health? Given the push for queens to have many babies, did most medieval queens die in childbirth? To find out, I put 139 years of late medieval and Tudor English queens — from 1400-1503 – in a table to compare their causes of death. Depending on how you slice and dice it, the answer is: Yes. (But, the usual disclaimers apply.) Baby machines It is no secret that medieval queens and…

Read More

Harald Bluetooth & Black Friday’s Bastard

On Black Friday, the day after US Thanksgiving, American retail shops unleash legions of deals upon consumers. As retailers attempt to milk more profits from consumers, a new tradition has arisen to induce people to shop online the Monday after Black Friday: Cyber Monday (or Cyber Week). This year, online retailers like Amazon, “celebrated” Cyber Week from December 1st to December 7th – and the sales totals are now in ($2.68 billion). So, in honor of Cyber Week – or simply…

Read More

Richard III, a Royal Bastard? An Illegal Queen? The King’s DNA & Signs of Adultery

Recently, University of Leicester announced that with nearly 100% certainty the skeleton in the car park is Richard III — and they discovered evidence of adultery somewhere in Richard III’s family tree. Now newspapers are leading with headlines questioning Queen Elizabeth’s right to the throne. Regardless of whether there is illegitimacy in Elizabeth’s line, it doesn’t matter. She’s been anointed. Monarchs can legitimately claim the right to the throne in several different ways, including by right of conquest. As soon as a monarch is…

Read More

The Origins of Chivalry, Knights Beating Maidens

I only just discovered that, for the next four days, the Getty museum in Los Angeles, California has an exhibit about chivalry. It ends on November 30th, 2014. The museum created two videos for the exhibit, which made me reflect on the origins of chivalry. If you love knights and all things martial, definitely check out the combat demonstrations in the first video. It brings to life the fighting styles in the Italian manuscript The Flower of Battle (Il Fior di Battaglia) c. 1410. Both videos are embedded…

Read More
Cersei-Jaime

Isabeau & Cersei Sleep With Their Brothers, Part 2

This article is continued from here. Like Cersei, Isabeau was extremely close to her brother Louis of Bavaria (c. 1368-1447). Isabeau continuously promoted his career and arranged excellent marriages for him. Isabeau was also accused of sleeping with her brother-in-law, Louis of Orleans — a proximity the Church considered incestuous. Maybe the rumored relationship between Isabeau and Louis and the blatantly false accusation that Anne Boleyn slept with her brother George inspired George RR Martin to create Jaime and Cersei’s incestuous relationship. Like Jaime, Louis…

Read More

The Queens Who Love Their Brothers: Cersei and Isabeau of Bavaria

An unfaithful power-hungry silver-tongued queen, who sleeps with her brother, bears an illegitimate heir to the throne, and acts as regent – who could this be other than Cersei Lannister? Surprisingly, it could also be Queen Isabeau of France (that is, the traditional interpretation of her). Born Elizabeth of Bavaria-Ingolstadt (c.1370), Isabeau (as the French called her) was the queen of France during the Armagnac-Burgundian phase of Hundred Years War. Isabeau is also famous for being the mother of two English…

Read More