Brunhild: The Original Queen Cersei

Cersei- robert

Cersei  shortly before she arranged for Lancel to give Robert too much wine — an act that led the king to be killed by the boar. Copyright HBO.


We are delighted and honored to have this article by historian and novelist John Henry Clay. Dr. Clay is a lecturer in medieval history at Durham University and the author of The Lion and the Lamb, an epic novel of Roman Britain.


If Cersei is ever brought to trial, chances are that her list of crimes will be topped by the murder of her husband, King Robert Baratheon. No doubt she’ll plead her innocence. After all, she didn’t exactly murder Robert. She simply engineered his intoxication during a dangerous hunt. It was the boar that killed him.

But now imagine that Cersei was accused of killing not just one king, but ten. She’d need a pretty good lawyer to defend against that charge.

Merovingian-Carolingian-territory

Merovingian and Carolingian territory was in modern-day Germany and the Benelux countries. The three main kingdoms under the Merovingians were Neustria, Austrasia, and Burgundy. Image: Wikimedia Commons.

This is exactly where the infamous Merovingian Queen Brunhild found herself in 613 CE (AD).

Just like Cersei, Brunhild did what she had to do to protect her children, and to preserve her own influence. Bishops, royal ministers, relatives — no-one who crossed her was safe. Regicide, though, is a big deal. As an unusually heinous crime, the murder of a king demands unusually heinous punishment. So what about the murder of ten kings?

Now, we all know that Game of Thrones doesn’t disappoint when it comes to grisly deaths. Beheadings, impalings, stabbings, poisonings, thoat-slittings, burnings, head-crushings… the show has it all. Yet to a historian of the Dark Ages, it still seems rather tame. Certainly George R. R. Martin has yet to dream up anything like the fate that awaited Brunhild.

The Merovingian chronicler Fredegar describes her end. He sets the scene by telling us how she was captured and brought before her nephew, King Clothar II.

Brunhild was brought into Clothar’s presence. He harbored the deepest hatred toward her and accused her of being responsible for the death of ten kings of the Franks – that is Sigibert I; Merovech and his father Chilperic I; Theudebert II and his son Clothar; Merovech, the son of Clothar II; and Theuderic II and his three sons, who had just been eliminated.

And what price did Brunhild pay for her reign of terror?

Clothar had Brunhild tortured in various ways for three days. First of all, he had her led through the whole army mounted on a camel. After this, he had her tied to the tail of a vicious horse by her hair, one foot, and one arm. She was then torn to pieces by the hooves and the pace of the galloping horse.

Brunhild-execution

A nineteenth-century depiction of Brunhild’s execution. Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Bearing in mind that Brunhild was about seventy years old, this kind of gratuitous brutality may be a shade too much even for HBO’s viewers.

It wasn’t that Dark Age folk were bloodthirsty sadists. The whole prolonged execution was meant to be as humiliating and horrific as possible, even by the standards of the day. Brunhild’s suffering was a public declaration that the long civil wars between the rival branches of the Merovingian dynasty were finally over. After decades of savage feuding and scheming, the main culprit had been punished and justice had been done.

But had it really? Was this aged queen truly responsible for the deaths of ten kings, or was she a mere scapegoat? And if she was guilty, how on earth had she managed to wield such power in a world dominated by men?

A perfect princess

brooch-Merovingian-noblewomen

Brooch of the style worn by Merovingian noblewomen. Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Brunhild gets nothing but good press when she first appears in the historical records. A Spanish princess by birth, she was brought to the chilly lands of northern France and married to the Merovingian King Sigibert as part of a political alliance. One of the guests at the royal wedding, the courtier Venantius Fortunatus, composed a poem for the occasion that is fulsome in its praise.

O maiden, a marvel to me, a delight to be for her husband, more brightly resplendent than the radiant heavens, Brunhild, you have vanquished the splendour of jewels with the splendour of your beauty; a second Venus born, endowed with the power of beauty, no such Nereid swims the Spanish main below the waters of Oceanus, no wood nymph is more beautiful, the very rivers submit their nymphs to your sway…

… and so forth. Another contemporary, Bishop Gregory of Tours, expressed a similar opinion.

This young woman was elegant in all that she did, lovely to look at, chaste and decorous in her behaviour, wise in her generation and of good address.

True, one doesn’t look to a court poet or sycophantic bishop for a balanced opinion, but Brunhild does seem to have been an impressive young woman.

However, when the Merovingian civil wars started and her husband was assassinated – stabbed to death with poisoned blades – Brunhild’s world was turned upside down. She fled to Paris with her infant son Childebert, seeking protection by her husband’s nobles. They promptly snatched her child and left her to her fate. At this point she might have vanished into the fog of history along with so many medieval queens, to be remembered only as a tragic, wilting figure. But Brunhild was made of sterner stuff.

Trying time

The newly widowed queen was soon captured in Paris by her husband’s murderers: his own younger brother, King Chilperic, and Chilperic’s wife Fredegund. They sent Brunhild in chains to the city of Rouen, and more or less forgot about her. They were more concerned that her son Childebert, the heir of King Sigibert, was still alive.

This was major miscalculation. Despite being imprisoned and bereft of her only child, Brunhild was not about to give up. Others also realised her value. It was not long before she had an unexpected visitor: her nephew Merovech, son of King Chilperic. Merovech was an ambitious and headstrong youth who hated his stepmother, the common-born Fredegund, and wanted to rebel against his father. Brunhild befriended the bishop of Rouen and persuaded him to marry her to Merovech – even though marriage between such close relations was of somewhat dubious legality.

Brunhild-ivory-triumph-object

The famous Barberini Ivory shows a triumphant Byzantine emperor, and is believed to have been once owned by Brunhild. Image: Wikimedia Commons.

In any case, the audacious scheme failed. As soon as Chilperic learned what his errant son had done, he raced to Rouen, besieged the two newly-weds in a church, and forced them to surrender. If there was one lesson Chilperic should have learned from this episode, it was that Brunhild was not the sort to bow out gracefully from the world of politics – not while her son was still out there.

Eventually Chilperic released Brunhild, and she headed to the eastern part of the realm, Austrasia, where the nobles were ruling in the name of her son. Somehow – the records don’t survive to tell us – she managed to take control of the situation. For the next few years, until Childebert came of age, she ruled Austrasia as regent, building new churches (the best way to make friends of powerful bishops), organising a marriage alliance for her daughter, beefing up the kingdom’s defences, and crushing over-mighty lords who threatened her position.

Childebert duly came of age, but he was not able to rule in his own name for long; he died while still in his twenties. Luckily he had already sired two sons of his own, Theudebert and Theuderic, who now each received a share of the kingdom. Brunhild was quick to step in and take up the regency once more, this time in the name of her grandsons. When she fell out with the simple, childish Theudebert, she claimed that he was a bastard — the son of a humble gardener — and took refuge with his brother.

Growing old disgracefully

This fearsome grandmother only became more active as she grew older. In her fifties, Brunhild took as a lover the royal minister Protadius, a man of great intelligence and even greater cruelty and greed. He and Brunhild conspired to start a war between her two grandsons, but it ended badly for Protadius. He was betrayed by his own troops — who didn’t want the war — and stabbed to death in his tent. When Brunhild learned of this, she arrested her lover’s two chief betrayers. One she killed outright. The other was luckier: he merely had his foot cut off and his property confiscated.

Quite a few others fell afoul of this queen. She’s credited with assassinating various nobles who crossed her, and was complicit in the expulsion of her enemy Bishop Desiderius of Vienne, who was later stoned to death (and made a saint for his pains). No, Brunhild never killed ten kings, but she definitely had a knack for making enemies. Even so, one can hardly blame her for mistrusting the nobility, since they had stolen her child and abandoned her in Paris all those years earlier. That trauma must have had a defining impression on her.

cersei-margaery-st rangle

Cersei and Margaery right before Cersei tells Margaery that if she ever calls Cersei “sister again, I will have you strangled in your sleep.” Copyright HBO.

Justified or not, this paranoia was her undoing. Like Cersei, her great fear was that she might be replaced by a younger queen. To avoid this, she prevented either of her grandsons from having respectable marriages. Theudebert she had married to one of her own slaves, a girl named Bilichild, surely on the assumption that she would be able to control the young woman. This plan backfired. As the chronicler Fredegar writes:

Bilichild was accomplished and esteemed highly by all the Austrasians. She bore Theudebert’s simpleness with dignity. She certainly did not regard herself as inferior to Brunhild, and indeed her envoys often conveyed her contempt for Brunhild. At the same time, Brunhild was always going on about Bilichild having been her slave.

Wise, popular, and independent-minded? This was not the sort of wife Brunhild wanted for her grandsons. Determined not to make to make the same mistake with Theuderic, she forbade him from marrying at all and instead — like a typical doting grandmother — supplied him with a series of concubines. When the nobles did try to arrange a respectable marriage for Theuderic with a Spanish princess, Brunhild sabotaged it —almost starting a major European war in the process.

Eventually she did manage to get a full-scale conflict going between her grandsons, which at first went well: her estranged grandson Theudebert was captured, and his infant son, Brunhild’s great-grandson, had his brains dashed out against a rock. This left her grandson Theuderic king of almost the whole realm. The only remaining part, known as Neustria, was ruled by his first cousin once removed, King Clothar II.

King-Clothar-coin

Gold coin of King Clothar II (British Museum). Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Goaded on by his grandmother, Theuderic now turned against his cousin. This is where things went awry. Medieval army camps were not very hygienic places. Before the kings even had a chance to join battle, Theuderic died of dysentry.

His sudden death left Brunhild with a serious problem. Both of her grandsons were now dead, directly or indirectly, because of her. Her great-grandchildren, the four illegitimate sons of Theuderic, were still too young to be of much use, so she had to rely on the royal ministers. But over her career she had alienated many of her own nobles, not to mention a good number of influential bishops.

The final showdown

All the years of plots, assassinations, and political maneuvering now caught up with Brunhild. In a final paranoid fit, she secretly ordered a lord named Alboin to murder the chief minister Warnachar, whom she feared was planning to betray her. Alboin refused to kill his friend, and when Warnachar found out both lords turned against the queen. Thus Brunhild found herself finally deserted by pretty much everyone, and betrayed by the army. She had no choice but to throw herself on the mercy of King Clothar II.

Unsurprisingly, considering that Brunhild had been trying to get rid of him for years, Clothar was not in a merciful mood. He had three of Brunhild’s great-grandsons executed; the fourth got away with exile because Clothar happened to be his godfather, so killing him would have been a bit too scandalous. Clothar saved most of his wrath, however, for his aunt. This is where the camel and the horse came in.

Lessons for Cersei

Cersei

Copyright HBO.

There’s more than a touch of Cersei about Brunhild. It’s all too easy to cast Brunhild as a manipulative, vindictive she-wolf, which is what posterity has tended to do. Admittedly Brunhild committed some heinous acts, including multiple murders, but she was certainly no worse than most male rulers of the time. She wasn’t the one tying people to wild horses, after all.

But as modern historians like Nira Gradowicz-Pancer and Janet Nelson argue, options were severely limited for medieval women, even — or especially — if they were royal. They were expected to produce male heirs, and to behave themselves. Any woman who stepped beyond these bounds was likely to be condemned as a scheming, unnatural Jezebel. For someone like Brunhild, who was ambitious, emotionally complex, and fiercely protective of her children, these constraints must have been suffocating. We must also remember that she was a foreigner, without any family of her own to call on.

What’s most impressive about Brunhild, though, is that she was able to dominate the political scene for so long. Because sixth-century queens had no official constitutional status, it wasn’t possible for a queen to rule in her own right — it took almost a thousand years for this to change, as English queens like Mary I (1553-1558) and Elizabeth I (1558-1603) show. But in the Merovingian period the only option for women was to rule through men. All of Brunhild’s schemes were determined by this fact. She ruled first through her son, and then her grandsons. Only when she tried to push it one more generation did things fall apart.

So, is there a lesson here for Cersei? I think there is: do what you have to do to keep control over your children. But try not to make too many enemies in the process.

Translations

  • Venantius Fortunatus: Personal and Political Poems, trans. by Judith George (Liverpool, 1995), Poem 6.1
  • The Sixth Chronicle of Fredegar, in Alexander Callander Murray (ed. and trans.), From Roman to Merovingian Gaul: A Reader 2nd edn (Toronto, 2008), Chapter 42
  • Gregory of Tours, The History of the Franks, trans. by Lewis Thorpe (Harmondsworth, 1974), Book IV, Chapter 27

john-henry-clay-hadrians-wall-crop

© Craig McKibbin

John Henry Clay was born in Birmingham, England and honed a lifelong interest in the early medieval by studying archaeology at the University of York. After living in exotic locales around the world like Mexico, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, and Austria, he completed a PhD at the Centre for Medieval Studies in York. Dr. Clay is a lecturer of medieval history at Durham University. He is also the author of the critically acclaimed novel, The Lion and the Lamb. John is currently busy working on his second novel, performing research, and introducing new generations of students to the real-life drama and excitement of the early Middle Ages.

Find out more at www.johnhenryclay.co.uk

Follow John on Twitter @JohnHenryClay and John Henry Clay on Facebook


lion-and-the-lamb-john-henry-clayThe Lion and the Lamb by John Henry Clay

Condemned to a hovel, beaten by a merciless commander, crushed by the weather and forced to survive on starvation rations: no one looking at Paul would ever guess that he is heir to one of Roman Britain’s wealthiest families. But Paul had his reasons for joining the army and fleeing the family he loves.

But when rumors of a barbarian uprising from beyond the Wall begin to circulate, Paul realizes that his family is in grave danger.

With only the former slave-girl Eachna for company, Paul deserts the army, for which the penalty is death, and undertakes a hazardous journey across Britain where danger lurks round every corner.

Epic in scope, rich with historical detail, The Lion and the Lamb is a novel of Roman Britain on the cusp of the Dark Ages, when all that stands between her citizens and oblivion is one family.

The Lion and the Lamb (Amazon US)

The Lion and the Lamb (Amazon UK)


 

John Henry Clay

Historian, novelist, and sometime archaeologist is a lecturer in early medieval history at Durham University. His debut novel, The Lion and the Lamb, is located in the Late Roman Empire. The Lion and the Lamb is a family saga set against the exciting backdrop of military adventure.

25 Comments

  • Reply September 16, 2014

    Jun

    I was completely ignorant of this Brunhild until I read this article. It has all the ingredients of a historical saga, yet Queen Brunhild’s fame or notoriety could not earn her a place in most history textbook. I wonder if it has to do with her being (only) a woman.

    Of course I am reminded of the other Brunhild, the giant queen with supernatural strength in Nibelungenlied and subsequently in Wagner’s The Ring Cycle. It’s been noted by others (and I agree) that the Norse-mythology Brunhild probably in part inspired Brienne of Tarth. I don’t know whether the mythical Brunhild is in any way related to the Merovingian Queen though as they don’t share a lot of elements.

    The history of Merovingian Queen Brunhild also reminds me of the empress Livia Drusila from the TV series “I, Claudius,” based on Robert Graves’ novel.

    Off topic: George RR Martin has clearly borrowed a lot of elements from Norse mythology as well as the Wagner opera (not the least the brother-sister incest).

    • Reply September 16, 2014

      Jamie Adair

      I definitely agree about GRRM borrowing elements from Norse mythology – his use of crows seems likely. I don’t know very much about Wagner’s The Ring Cycle. But, it has come up before with Attila the Hun’s assassination and now you’ve made me very curious.

      I was amazed when I read this article because Brunhild is so dramatic that it seems amazing to me that she hasn’t been immortalized in fiction or print in some way. I don’t know if it is because she is a woman or because early medieval history is not well known.

      I’d be curious to know why John thinks she isn’t more famous.

    • John Henry Clay
      Reply September 17, 2014

      John Henry Clay

      I agree, Brunhild deserves a historical saga of her own! I didn’t even get to talk much about her arch-rival Fredegund, a common servant girl who became a queen and was no less ambitious and ruthless than Brunhild. The two sisters-in-law spent years plotting against each other, leaving behind a disturbingly high body count in the process. Game of Thrones and the Borgias combined would have nothing on the Merovingians.

      Your instincts are right about the Niebelungenlied Brunhild. It’s generally thought that she’s based at least partly on the historical Brunhild (albeit placed in a completely anachronistic setting… like taking Abraham Lincoln and putting him in a saga about the American Revolution!).

    • Reply September 17, 2014

      Grant

      There have been famous women recorded from other points in history. It’s possible that the reasons for her relative anonymity (at least in Anglophone nations) are the distance of the modern world from her times and her lack of any connection to Anglo-American history, though I won’t rule out the possibility of it being related to her being a powerful woman altogether.

      • John Henry Clay
        Reply September 18, 2014

        John Henry Clay

        That’s a good point – not many people have heard of any Merovingian kings either!

  • Reply September 17, 2014

    Watcher on the Couch

    I have to plead guilty to also being unaware of this Brunhild’s eventful life and brutal death. I know very little about the Merovingian kings in general. I read a historical fiction book about Queen Radegunda very many years ago. I can’t remember the name of the lady who wrote it – it was called “Women in the Wall” (there was an anchorite in the story). The lady did say it was a combination of her historical research and a story she had woven to include both real and made-up characters, so she wasn’t going down the “I’m a historian and I’ve found out things nobody else has known about previously” route. When we “did” European History at school, of course what we learned was the history of a few centuries (well, roughly from the time of the restoration of the monarchy in England and Wales after Oliver Cromwell’s commonwealth until the first (parliamentary) reform act, circa 1832). The list of historic personages and periods I need to “read up” on grows ever longer.

  • Reply September 17, 2014

    Watcher on the Couch

    Slight edit to my previous post, I suppose I should have said that I was ignorant of the Merovingian royal line rather than the “kings” as the tendency is to be inclusive these days (e.g. to talk about “humankind” rather than “mankind”). And Brunhild was definitely female.

  • Reply September 18, 2014

    Cal

    “Deadlier than the male”. Tell me, do you think there just might be a parallel to Fredegund vs Brunhild coming in GoT? After all Margaery and Cersei are sisters-in-law. They are widows of brothers (Renly and Robert) I am sure it is a whopping good story. I would love for you to post that story here.

    • John Henry Clay
      Reply September 18, 2014

      John Henry Clay

      I can see a real Brunhild vs Fredegund situation developing between Margaery and Cersei – two ambitious people trying to fill the same power space, fuelled by personal dislike. The question is, will young Margaery learn to be as ruthless as Cersei already is? She has a lot of catching up to do!

  • Reply September 18, 2014

    Watcher on the Couch

    This is off topic but I recall hearing somebody talking about Charlemagne the “King of the Franks” on (I think) the Beeb radio [translation for non-Britons, the BBC]. I can’t remember the source or the speaker unfortunately but he mentioned that Charlemagne wouldn’t allow his daughters to marry though he did not mind them taking lovers and having children. That made me wonder if Charlemagne could have in part inspired Craster, though of course there is no suggestion that Charlemagne was ever as “pervy” as Craster and he did not marry his daughters.

    It’s true (for me personally, I can’t speak for others), the feisty females I have heard of tend to come from Britain or Ireland (I’ll have the Irish after me if I call Grace O’Malley [anglicised version of the name] British). Aetheflaede, Lady of Mercia I know about because there was (relatively recently) a documentary series on the BBC where Michael Hicks {hope I’ve got the right Michael} spoke about the Anglo-Saxons, including her, and she also founded my hometown. Going back to antiquity, Alexander the Great’s mother, Olympias is said to have had presence and of course Cleopatra (as in the one of Julius Caesar and Marcus Antonius fame – you probably know there were quite a few Cleopatras over the year in the Ptolemy family – there was a quite dreadful, but hilarious TV series about them in the UK in the 1980s) had a personality. There’s Joan of Arc of course but we discussed her on the Hunger Games thread.

    Getting back to Brunhild, she may have been a so-and-so, but with her being a relatively old lady (for those days anyway) at the time of her death, I would have thought she could have been confined, rather than killed in the way she was.

    This is Jaime’s site, of course, but I wonder if JHC could write something about Fredegunda in the future (on his own site if he has one if there isn’t capacity on this website).

    As for JHC’s statement that putting Brunhild in the Niebengunenleid is somewhat akin to putting Abe Lincoln in an American Revolution story – well writers do things like that all the time. Bram Stoker called his vampire “Dracula” after Vlad the Impaler because the name had a good ring to it, but I have heard a theory that BS’s Dracula character (BS being from Ireland) was based at least in part upon the legend of Abhartach which is Irish. And in last year’s BBC “Atlantis” where they tried to emulate the formula for the “Merlin” series and (IMHO) didn’t really succeed, the writers took bits piecemeal from all sorts of Greek myths and put them back together any old how – Jason fought the Minotaur [or someone obviously based on the Minotaur] not Theseus for instance. I didn’t mean to go on as long as this…..

    • John Henry Clay
      Reply September 18, 2014

      John Henry Clay

      Yes, there’s an ancient tradition of turning historical figures into archetypes or myths in themselves. Brunhild has got off lightly compared to figures like Dracula or King Arthur.

      I suspect she was executed rather than imprisoned for the propaganda value, and because quite a lot of people wanted her to be punished. It was about vengeance more than justice. It’s still pretty shocking in its brutality though. I doubt Brunhild was expecting it, or she wouldn’t have given herself up.

      As for Fredegund, I hope to get round to writing about her at some point!

      • Reply September 18, 2014

        Grant

        Punishment, revenge and also possibly fear of letting her live after she had displayed so much ability to play politics for decades. While royal women have played political roles of their own and I don’t know what the Merovingian standard was, for her to keep it going for that long means that she was at least as good at intrigue as she was lucky.

  • Reply September 18, 2014

    Jamie Adair

    Watcher – I didn’t know Stoker’s Dracula also included some of Abhartach’s legend. That’s really neat! Also, John’s always welcome to post articles here if he wants. (I’d be delighted to have them. Meaning, you aren’t being forward by suggesting it. 🙂 ) John also has his own website: http://www.johnhenryclay.co.uk/

  • Reply September 18, 2014

    Watcher on the Couch

    The possible connection with Anhartach is mentioned in the fourth paragraph of the linked Wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abhartach referring to an alternative origin for Dracula.

  • Reply September 18, 2014

    Grant

    I wonder if Olenna is another case of Martin splitting a figure into two or more characters. She’s an aged figure who rules through her children, has kept power for decades and appears to have a reputation for skill at politics.

    • Reply September 20, 2014

      Watcher on the Couch

      I hadn’t thought of that, Grant…but now you mention it she could have something of Brunhild about her…..also in some ways Olenna made me think of Eleanor of Aquitaine, but then in some ways not. The perceived wisdom seems to be that Olenna (and Margaery) are astute and though Olenna (TV Olenna at least) seems to have a dim view of men she is sharp enough not to indulge in direct confrontation. Eleanor of Aquitaine was openly rebellious and she was confined by her husband (her second husband, Henry Plantagenet) but she did align herself with (some) of her sons against him. She lived a long life and (in her younger days at least) was reputed to be one of the beauties of the age. I know royal ladies were often said to be beautiful but there were exceptions – history has been less than kind (at least according to Henry VIII of England) about Anne of Cleves’ looks.

    • Reply September 23, 2014

      Jamie Adair

      This is quite an intriguing theory. I tend to think of Olenna as being like Eleanor of Aquitaine – kind of a grand family matriarch and power broker. I think the TV show reinforces this but dressing Diana Rigg in a wimple (as Eleanor was known to wear). I hadn’t really thought of Olenna as being inspired by anyone else, but she probably was.

  • Reply September 22, 2014

    PHB

    The thing about historical parallels is that GRRM can switch in mid stream, they don’t give much clue as to what the future plot might be.

    It does rather look like Myrcella is being set up to being Lady Jane Grey. But that could change. And as for the outcome of the Marjorie/Cersei catfight only GRRM could tell us.

    Cersei does seem to follow Brunhild but she is wielding the knife even closer having murdered her husband and having tried to kill her brother. The books do promise a sticky end for her with a prophecy that is intentionally ambiguous and vague.

    In the books the prophecy is used as a motive for Cersei to want to dispose of Tyrion who she suspects of coming back and strangling her. Which is possible of course but would be a remarkably straightforward realization of a prophecy by the standards of the genre and GRRM does not seem to do anything straightforwardly.

    I can see Danny sentencing Cersei to be dragged behind a horse for her crimes.

    • Reply September 22, 2014

      Jun

      The rumor is that Tyrion is not a Lannister (rumor only). If so then he will definitely not be the brother who strangle her.

      Pray tell more how Myrcella is being set up according to Jane Grey.

      • Reply September 23, 2014

        Jamie Adair

        =====TV SPOILER ALERT ====
        =====TV SPOILER ALERT ====
        =====TV SPOILER ALERT ====
        (I added a couple of extra lines so the spoiler wouldn’t appear in the feed.)
        I haven’t read about Lady Jane Grey in a long time: her tale isn’t that fresh in my mind, so PHB may see more parallels than the ones I list here.
        Lady Jane Grey was the teenaged great-granddaughter of Henry VII, the great niece of Henry VIII, and the cousin once removed (?) of Henry VIII’s son, King Edward VI. Jane became queen for ten days and then lost her head.

        Edward VI was a sickly boy king who died of (likely) tuberculosis at age 15. When he drew up his will, his chief minister – who was also Jane’s father-in-law persuaded Edward to name the protestant Jane Grey as his successor instead of Henry VIII’s eldest and very Catholic daughter Mary (aka Bloody Mary). (Like Myrcella, it is the in-laws who tried to make their daughter-in-law queen.)

        After Edward died, Jane was queen for ten days. But, as soon as her father-in-law turned his back (so to speak) the privy council changed course and named Mary as queen. As a result of all this, Jane Grey was beheaded.

      • Reply September 23, 2014

        Jamie Adair

        There might be an interesting bit of foreshadowing of the strangling when Jaime briefly tries to strangle Cersei after Joffrey dies I think it was? One thing you don’t see as much of in the TV show as in the books is the foreshadowing. The books are full of it. But, I don’t think it is present nearly as much in the show. (I’d have to go back and watch specifically for this – I don’t know off the top of my head if the show has it but I don’t recall seeing it.)

        • Reply September 24, 2014

          Jun

          Myrcella’s fate doesn’t look so great in light of the Jane Grey comparison, which is eerily similar …

          There is at least one foreshadowing in the TV series that has not become true yet: In her trip to the House of the Undying (season 2), Daenerys went back in time and saw Khal Drogo and her unborn baby and then walked into an empty Throne Room with no roof and with snow falling on the floor. It’s been widely speculated that King’s Landing will fall, and soon. The scene is not in the books but probably consistent with the direction of the plot.

  • Reply September 24, 2014

    Watcher on the Couch

    I liked/like both book and show Myrcella and Tommen. It was their big brother I hated. I’ve been hoping that the

    SPOILER FOR SEASON 5
    SPOILER FOR SEASON 5
    SPOILER FOR SEASON 5

    prophecy about a certain person’s children all being kings and queens and all having golden shrouds might refer to shrouds as in part of the rigging of a sailing (sail) boat. GRRM does mix things up and the prophecies of a certain fortune-teller who has appeared in the TV show yet don’t always come true the way the person who had his/her fortune told imagined. But then GRRM doesn’t really do happy endings. Oh Jun you’ve got me all worried now, but then it’s a story I have to keep telling myself, albeit a story that draws much inspiration from history.

    • Reply September 24, 2014

      Jamie Adair

      ==POTENTIAL TV/Book SPOILER===
      ==POTENTIAL TV SPOILER===
      ==POTENTIAL TV SPOILER===
      Well, GRRM does really tend to mix things up – I wouldn’t be surprised if Myrcella came close to LJ’s fate but did not actually end up that way. But, yes, it isn’t a happy ending and if he used parts of LJ’s story, it would really drive home his point that nobody is safe. :>S

  • Reply September 24, 2014

    Watcher on the Couch

    My post above should have said a fortune-teller who had not appeared in the TV show at least not yet.

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