George RR Martin may draw inspiration for Cersei Lannister, Game of Thrones’ ruthless, cruel, vengeful, and manipulative queen, from two different queens in Wars of the Roses: Elizabeth Woodville and Margaret of Anjou. In Cersei Lannister: The Evil Queen We Love to Hate, I discussed the similarities between Cersei and Elizabeth Woodville. However, I’ve stubbornly resisted acknowledging any similarities between Cersei Lannister and Margaret of Anjou.
However, I received quite a few great comments and emails on this topic—thank you very much!—and now the similarities between Margaret of Anjou are striking to me. As a result, in tomorrow’s post, I’m going to explore the similarities between Margaret of Anjou and Cersei Lannister. (By the way, the great thing about working on this blog is that it’s really fun to hear other people’s ideas and interpretations that hadn’t occurred to me. I love getting comments and email like that.)
|From left to right: Margaret of Anjou, Cersei Lannister, Elizabeth Woodville.|
|Image of Cersei via Wikia, © HBO.|
In retrospect, I think I didn’t see Margaret of Anjou in Cersei because the superficial similarities between Elizabeth Woodville and Cersei blinded me. Both women are described as having long blonde hair and being extremely beautiful. (While Margaret of Anjou is blonde in the illustration above, contemporaries described her as dark, and some historians point out the illustrators may have never seen her.)
Unlike Margaret of Anjou, Cersei is not a foreign queen. Furthermore, I believe Robert Baratheon bears a strong resemblance to an aging, fat, drunken, and promiscuous Edward IV. Traditionally, historians have characterized Elizabeth Woodville and Margaret of Anjou as both being manipulative, imperious, haughty, arrogant, and power-hungry.* Consequently, either woman could inspire some of Cersei’s more negative qualities.
With all of this said, I still maintain that George RR Martin based aspects of Cersei on Elizabeth Woodville. In particular, her storyline as the widow of an overly indulgent conqueror who makes last-minute changes to his will that result in a struggle for the throne, seems, to me at least, strongly connected to Elizabeth. In my opinion, George RR Martin used traits from Margaret of Anjou and Elizabeth Woodville.
* There are some revisionist histories out, but these were released after Martin wrote the first book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series.