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Starspear

Cultural influences / Anthropological parallels

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Caveat: GRRM is a sci-fi/fantasy writer - full stop - The entire peoples are fictional - full stop - GRRM may have wittingly and unwittingly drawn influence from actual peoples - full stop - what follows is conjecture, amusement, with a modicum of intellectual stimulation - full stop.



I looked for threads of the above - of which I'm sure some exist - but I've yet to find one via the search box. Ergo, here we go.



Westeros = a mix of the British Isles and Western Europe, and then some.


Essos = a mix of Mediterranean Europe, the Near East, and "Asia" in general.



Westeros (influences):



First Men peoples = Picts/Early Celts (Indo-European first wave #10-11)/Basques/Neanderthals/Bronze Age cultures


Children of Men = Pixies/Brownies/Leprechauns and magical creatures found in Norse and Celtic myths


Andals = Indo-European/Normans/Franks/Iron Age cultures/Ango-Saxons/Romans


Rhoynar = Mediterranean/Moorish



Houses:



Starks = Scots/Picts/Early Celts


Lannisters = English/Lancaster


Tyrells = French/York/early Plantagenet


Baratheons = Welsh/early Plantagenet/Britons


Martells = Spanish/Marseilles/Welsh/Persia/Palestinians (in GRRM words: thinking ancient Palestinians; Hebrews/Phoenicians/etc.)


Daynes = Avalon


Targaryens/Valyrians = Ancient Empire (i.e. Rome)/Atlantis/Hyperborea


Greyjoys = Norse/Orkney/Shetland


Arryn = Swiss/Andals (with elements of above)/Wales (#4)



Essos:



Braavos: Venice/Italy (N. & S.)/Calabria/Malta


Other Free Cities: Mix of Mediterranean city states (Greek/Italian)/some French


Ghis: Ancient Egypt


Meereen/Astapor/Yunkai: Ancient Egypt/Babylon/Sumer/Mesopotamian cultures/Hittites/Assyrians


Volantis: Constantinople (from post #2)/India/post-Rome


Asshai: China/India (Assaye)


Qarth: Constantinople/India/Persia


Dothraki: Scythians/Mongolians/Turks/Huns/Steppe Peoples


Summer Islands: Mali/Ethiopia/Islands


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I'm pretty sure Volantis is Constantinople because of the part where they're talking about how they started as an outpost of Valyria and now at least some of them want to restore the old empire which they still feel part of.



Most of your others seem spot on I think :)

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I'm pretty sure Volantis is Constantinople because of the part where they're talking about how they started as an outpost of Valyria and now at least some of them want to restore the old empire which they still feel part of.

Most of your others seem spot on I think :)

You're right! Constantinople is also an influence for sure: East Rome! But the tiger and elephant reference in an ancient, cluttered city also can't be ignored. :)

Thanks! Modified to include in first place.

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Baratheons = Welsh/early Plantagenet/Britons

Martells = Spanish/Marseilles/Welsh/Persia/Palestinians (in GRRM words: thinking ancient Palestinians; Hebrews/Phoenicians/etc.)

As a welsh person myself I'm intrigued as to where you get these ideas from. As a reader I've always identified The Vale with Wales. Arryn sounds welsh and the description of the Vale is very similar to Wales. Think GRRM has hinted at it as well.

For me the geography and cultures suggest:

Wildlings - Scottish/Pictish

Starks - Northern England

Greyjoys - Scandinavia

Lannister/Tully/Baratheon - England

KL - London

Tyrell - France

Martell - Spain

Braavos - Venice/Italian City State

Volantis - Constantinople

Slavers Bay - Near East/Babylon/Assyria

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As a welsh person myself I'm intrigued as to where you get these ideas from. As a reader I've always identified The Vale with Wales. Arryn sounds welsh and the description of the Vale is very similar to Wales. Think GRRM has hinted at it as well.

For me the geography and cultures suggest:

Wildlings - Scottish/Pictish

Starks - Northern England

Greyjoys - Scandinavia

Lannister/Tully/Baratheon - England

KL - London

Tyrell - France

Martell - Spain

Braavos - Venice/Italian City State

Volantis - Constantinople

Slavers Bay - Near East/Babylon/Assyria

Why I included Wales in Dorne is solely because GRRM said: "Dorne is definitely influenced a bit by Spain, a bit by Wales."

And this is from GoT wikia: There is also some slight inspiration from the example of real-life Wales, but only in the sense that just as the Norman Invasion of 1066 didn't succeed in conquering the mountainous peninsula of Wales, and it took generations to bring Wales under control, within the narrative the Targaryen Conquest didn't succeed in conquering Dorne, and it remained an independent border state which frustrated any further attempts at conquest by the Targaryens for another two centuries, before being peacefully absorbed through marriage-alliance. The similarities with Wales stop there.

Frankly, the Vale with the Swiss is only because of the mountains and its neutral stance. Arryn definitely sounds more British Isles - and Welsh as you say. And Wales is also mountainous (though not alpine I believe, as the Vale is described). So perhaps Wales should also be put in the mix. I'll add.

Nothing is one for one (why I break in parts). The books show as much. GRRM said as much.

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Am I the only one who finds the Lannisters comparable to the Borgias?

Ruthless, financial, power-players will have similar M.O.s... but Lannister is definitely more English than Borgia. The Lion, the hair, the phlegm, the wit.

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You should move Indo-Europeans to First Men... seeing as how the Celts were Indo-Europeans lol.

Yes, the Celts were clearly Indo-Europeans. But as multiple groups can be in multiple categories, I've selected when a certain category was more macro or micro.

Why I included Celts in First Men and not Indo-Europeans, is because the First Men of Westeros are tied to the land from their beginnings. Celts were a foundational people in the British Isles.

Celts/Keltoi/Cimbri/maybe Cimmerians were an Indo-European people no doubt. The Indo part however does not apply so much to the Celtic element of the First Men of Westeros. Neither does the European part. It is specifically the Celtic part.

In fact, if anything, perhaps Celt in the older sense of the group should even be removed from the First Men category... but I'll probably keep it in, as there were several waves of Indo-Europeans.

It is nonetheless an appreciated post. And to avoid any confusion, yes, Celts are a very important branch of the Indo-European family tree.

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Okay, but my point wasn't so much about the Celts as the Indo-Europeans, as they are pretty much the real life version of the First Men.

True. Here's where I would see the difference. Indo-Europeans sprout up in Asia/Eurasia... and arguably establish much of European civilization (Greek/Roman/Celtic/Gothic). That's where I see the Andals more I-E. This is within the Westeros (West Europe) paradigm.

The first inhabitants of the British Isles were Iberian/Basque-related (non-Indo-European).

It is a fictional world, so we'll never be able to make an exact 1-for-1.

But back to your point, Picts were likely I-E as well... I'll include Indo-European 1st wave under First Men.

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As a welsh person myself I'm intrigued as to where you get these ideas from. As a reader I've always identified The Vale with Wales. Arryn sounds welsh and the description of the Vale is very similar to Wales. Think GRRM has hinted at it as well.

For me the geography and cultures suggest:

Wildlings - Scottish/Pictish

Starks - Northern England

Greyjoys - Scandinavia

Lannister/Tully/Baratheon - England

KL - London

Tyrell - France

Martell - Spain

Braavos - Venice/Italian City State

Volantis - Constantinople

Slavers Bay - Near East/Babylon/Assyria

Martin himself said Dorne was based on Wales, Palestine and Spain. But, if I have to be honest, I don't see any similarities between Wales and Dorne.

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Martin himself said Dorne was based on Wales, Palestine and Spain. But, if I have to be honest, I don't see any similarities between Wales and Dorne.

Yes, see post #6 for explanation.

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Seems about right.



Though I'd say most of the Free Cities are more like the Italian city states than the ancient Greek ones, with them being remnants of the Valyrian (Roman) Empire, fighting each other with mercenary armies all the time, and their heavy focus on trade and commerce.


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Seems about right.

Though I'd say most of the Free Cities are more like the Italian city states than the ancient Greek ones, with them being remnants of the Valyrian (Roman) Empire, fighting each other with mercenary armies all the time, and their heavy focus on trade and commerce.

Good observation. I do think the Greek city state still applies... but the Italian city states (Florence, Milan, etc.) are also very much akin to the Free Cities (or vice-versa). Will add.

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If Volantis is Constantinople, it means the Dornish/Rhoynar will soon conquer it ;)



Jokes aside, Volantis definitely culturally fits the requirement for Constantinople, but Qarth is better geographically -- and Constantinople would not have been Constantinople were it not for the geography. I'm surprised no one has compared the Starks to the Yorks yet :L Starks = Yorks, Lannister = Lancaster. They were the two primary houses that instigated the Wot5k (aka WotR incredibly loosely).


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If Volantis is Constantinople, it means the Dornish/Rhoynar will soon conquer it ;)

Jokes aside, Volantis definitely culturally fits the requirement for Constantinople, but Qarth is better geographically -- and Constantinople would not have been Constantinople were it not for the geography. I'm surprised no one has compared the Starks to the Yorks yet :L Starks = Yorks, Lannister = Lancaster. They were the two primary houses that instigated the Wot5k (aka WotR incredibly loosely).

I put the Yorks wtih the Tyrells. It's a loose comparison, but better than the Starks imo for the following reasons:

- sigil of York = flower.

- Yorks were equal "plotters" / Starks not so much

- Richard III was a Yorkist - the opposite of a Ned Stark

Both York and Lancaster fit the southron profile (of Westeros).

The WotR is a definite influence for TGOT - GRRM said as much.

Regarding Constantinople - I put it both under Volantis and Qarth. Volantis because there was a legitimate point that it is the first city after the fall (East Rome); and Qarth for geography, as you also point out. Volantis also has a strong Indian element, as does Qarth.

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True. Here's where I would see the difference. Indo-Europeans sprout up in Asia/Eurasia... and arguably establish much of European civilization (Greek/Roman/Celtic/Gothic). That's where I see the Andals more I-E. This is within the Westeros (West Europe) paradigm.

The first inhabitants of the British Isles were Iberian/Basque-related (non-Indo-European).

It is a fictional world, so we'll never be able to make an exact 1-for-1.

But back to your point, Picts were likely I-E as well... I'll include Indo-European 1st wave under First Men.

Yes you're right. I was looking at it from the perspective of Indo-Europeans in general, not just their presence in the British Isles. The Armenians, Germanics, Hellenics, Iranians, Italics, etc. predate the Anglo-Saxons, Franks, Normans, etc. by several millennia, so it looks awkward grouping them together.

Martin himself said Dorne was based on Wales, Palestine and Spain. But, if I have to be honest, I don't see any similarities between Wales and Dorne.

It's exclusively the idea of a tiny principality resisting expansion from a large kingdom. Granted, there are multiple examples of this in history. Can't find the So Speak where he said this, but I'll let you know if I do.

Culturally Dorne has the most in common with Spain, though there are Mediterranean influences.

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Neither cultural influence or anthropological parallells are very good terms here (though the first is marginally better). Certainly when it comes to the Iron Islands - the Norse, the relation is superficial and what you find in most "hollywood" takes on the "Vikings". It has little to do with the actual norse culture (a stereotypic take on one relatively small aspect of said culture) and less to do with actual anthropological studies of the people.



A better influence on GRRM when it comes to the Ironborn would be "how the vikings were seen through the eyes of the victims of their raids".


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Neither cultural influence or anthropological parallells are very good terms here (though the first is marginally better). Certainly when it comes to the Iron Islands - the Norse, the relation is superficial and what you find in most "hollywood" takes on the "Vikings". It has little to do with the actual norse culture (a stereotypic take on one relatively small aspect of said culture) and less to do with actual anthropological studies of the people.

I disagree with your first part completely.

A better influence on GRRM when it comes to the Ironborn would be "how the vikings were seen through the eyes of the victims of their raids".

I agree with your second part completely. I'd even say that Viking would be better usage than Norse. But Greyjoys do use longboats and they are raiders - it's pretty obvious what GRRM was using as an influence. Are the Greyjoys like the true Norse cultures? Absolutely not.

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