False, fleeting, perjured Theon


Theon Greyjoy and the historical figure who may have inspired him, George Plantagenet (Duke of Clarence). Image of Theon © HBO.

George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence, (1449 –1478) was the middle brother of two Wars of the Roses kings: Richard III and Edward IV. Although almost forgotten today, George played a pivotal role during the struggles between York and Lancaster. George is immortalized in Shakespeare’s plays Henry VI, part 3 and Richard III as well as in the classic line “…false, fleeting, perjured Clarence.”

In real life, George had to choose between his father-in-law or elder brother. George succumbed to his own ambition, sided with his father-in-law, and betrayed his brother because he himself hoped to have his throne. Years later, Edward has George executed, likely in a butt of malmsey wine.

As the man who betrays his spiritual brother for his father, Game of Thrones’ Theon Greyjoy bears more than a passing resemblance to George Plantagenet.

Given the recent release of historian John Ashdown-Hill’s new book about George Plantagenet, The Third Plantagenet, it seems like a good time to examine the similarities between Theon and George Plantagenet as well as speak to John Ashdown-Hill about his remarkable book. Stay tuned for the upcoming series of articles.

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."

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