After seeing the phenomenal ending of this week’s Game of Thrones episode (“And Now His Watch is Ended” Season 3, Episode 4), I find myself wondering once again if Daenerys Targaryen is an incarnation of Henry VII?
Henry VII, founder of the Tudor dynasty and father of Henry VIII, was the unlikeliest conqueror when his soldiers slew Richard III and Henry overthrew the Yorkist dynasty. Through his Lancastrian mother, Henry Tudor had a watery claim to the throne. After somebody, possibly Richard III, smashed in Henry VI’s skull in the Tower of London, the fourteen year old Henry Tudor became the Lancastrian claimant. However, he was living in exile, often in fear for his life, in France.
Like Daenerys, Henry had lived most of his life across our Narrow Sea, also known as the English Channel. Just as Robert Baratheon would have loved to have killed Daenerys and snuffed out any possible pretenders, so too would Edward IV liked to have eliminated Henry Tudor and ensured a peaceful Yorkist succession. However, Henry Tudor was not a major concern for Edward, who dismissively referred to Henry as “the imp.” With no access to funds and no army, it seemed unlikely he could take on that great warrior king, Edward IV, who was never defeated in battle.
However, once Edward IV died and Richard III overthrew Edward’s heirs, the noble families became uneasy about Richard’s rule. Some families may have questioned the legitimacy of Richard’s rule or been outraged by the fate of Edward’s sons. Others may have turned against the House of York after years of silent repressed fury as Edward and Richard tampered with their inheritance, which would destroy their legacies – the only thing worth dying for in that age. (As Cersei put it to her father in tonight’s episode, Tywin loved his legacy “so much more than your actual children.”)
Ultimately, the rumors that Richard III poisoned his wife to marry his niece, Elizabeth of York, may ultimately have poisoned his well of northern loyalty. However, despite his followers’ betrayal, Richard might have kept his throne if he hadn’t rashly charged into battle, unaccompanied and unprotected, to attack Henry Tudor.
Signs that Daenerys is a reborn Henry VII? Both Henry VII and Daenerys were, arguably, the rightful heir to the throne. Both Henry VII and Daenerys used the dragon as their emblem. However, in Daenerys’ case she had the blood of the dragon whereas Henry VII claimed descent from King Arthur whose battle standard was a red dragon.
Just as Daenerys had disaffected followers (Jorah, Selmy) join her from Westeros, Henry had men discontent with Richard’s rule join him in Paris. Like Daenerys’ followers would flatter her by saying the Westerosi cry for their rightful queen, so did Henry’s followers say he could count on the English people’s support. Likewise, both Daenerys and Henry’s supporters included men who provided the military leadership they both lacked. Just as Daenerys had Barristan Selmy, the former Kingsguard commander, Henry had the Earl of Oxford, a Lancastrian military leader who escaped Richard III’s clutches and fled to serve Henry in Paris.
Like Daenerys, Henry Tudor had limited funds. While Daenerys obtains her money by appropriating the fake golden treasures of the treacherous Xaro Xhoan Daxos, Henry’s mother, Margaret Beaufort, was extremely wealthy. However, she had no way to send Henry funds when he was in exile.
In tonight’s episode, Daenerys raised troops by “purchasing” and then freeing mercenary slave soldiers. Henry VII had 2000 French mercenaries in his army of roughly 5000 men. If Charles VIII of France hadn’t wanted to cause trouble for the Yorkists, who slaughtered his godfather the Lancastrian Prince of Wales, Henry Tudor may never have raised those troops.
As we watch the gathering storm across the Narrow Sea, I can’t help but wonder if Daenerys will triumph like Henry Tudor once did.
Read More, Learn More
The Winter King: Henry VII and the Dawn of Tudor England by Thomas Penn
By Jamie Adair