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History is a Wheel: In-Universe Historical Parallels


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Posted (edited)

In the years since ADWD was released, GRRM has released tons of supplementary material about the centuries before the start of ASOIAF. There are a lot of parallels between the history of Westeros and the main series, and I thought it would be fun to compile them in a thread. There's plenty of room for interpretation and for predictions of what's to come, but I'll start with some of the parallels I've noticed.

  • Stannis and Maekar: stern, dutiful royals often overshadowed by their revered older brothers. Both claim that they didn't desire the crown and had it thrust it upon them. Both killed one of their brothers.
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And my father . . . [Maekar] never thought the throne would pass to him, and yet it did. He used to say that was his punishment for the blow that slew his brother. I pray he found the peace in death that he never knew in life. 

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It is not a question of wanting. The throne is mine, as Robert's heir. That is law. After me, it must pass to my daughter, unless Selyse should finally give me a son. I am king. Wants do not enter into it. I have a duty to my daughter. To the realm. 

  • Renly and Daemon II: young, charismatic gay men with a taste for the finer things in life, who try and fail to crown themselves king. Each have two older brothers. With his hair dyed black, Daemon's eyes even look blue like Renly's. 
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You would be surprised to know how many lords prefer their kings brave and stupid. Daemon is young and dashing, and looks good on a horse.

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[Renly] knew how to dress and he knew how to smile and he knew how to bathe, and somehow he got the notion that this made him fit to be king.

  • Rhaenyra:
    • Cersei: the mother of three children (that she'll likely outlive) whose paternity is questioned based on their appearances. Devolves into paranoia.
    • (Possible) Daenerys
      Spoiler

      Show-only: Both lose their dragons, are betrayed by their allies, grow paranoid, and are killed by a male relative. Yikes.

  • Alicent:
    • Cersei: the young and pretty daughter of the Hand who is married to the new king. More conniving than she seems. Seeks to usurp the throne with her own children in place of the rightful heir. May be taken captive in the Red Keep by a Targaryen.
    • Margaery: another young and pretty noblewoman whose ascension threatens the station of the woman who currently holds the most power (and whose father eventually becomes Hand)
  • Tywin and Otto Hightower: competent and imperious Hands who rule in place of weak kings and plot to put their grandsons on the Iron Throne by marrying their daughter to the king. Meet an inglorious death.
  • Arianne:
    • Daenaambitious, stubborn princess who seeks to emulate her father and chafes against the constraints placed upon her. Both are locked in a tower.
    • Aliandra: saw herself as the "next Nymeria," much like how Arianne hoped to find glory by crowning Myrcella
  • Ashara and Sansa: younger sister of a famous older brother (Sword of the Morning/The Young Wolf) from a distant land who are irresistible to nearly every man they encounter. Both described as having bewitching eyes ("haunting purple" in Ashara's case, "eyes you can drown in" for Sansa)
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The crannogman saw a maid with laughing purple eyes dance with a white sword, a red snake, and the lord of griffins, and lastly with the quiet wolf . . . but only after the wild wolf spoke to her on behalf of a brother too shy to leave his bench.

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He was her first partner of the evening, but far from the last. Just as Petyr had promised, the young knights flocked around her, vying for her favor. After Ben came Andrew Tollett, handsome Ser Byron, red-nosed Ser Morgarth, and Ser Shadrich the Mad Mouse. Then Ser Albar Royce, Myranda's stout dull brother and Lord Nestor's heir. She danced with all three Sunderlands, none of whom had webs between their fingers, though she could not vouch for their toes. Uther Shett appeared to pay her slimy compliments as he trod upon her feet, but Ser Targon the Halfwild proved to be the soul of courtesy. After that Ser Roland Waynwood swept her up and made her laugh with mocking comments about half the other knights in the hall. His uncle Wallace took a turn as well and tried to do the same, but the words would not come. Alayne finally took pity on him and began to chatter happily, to spare him the embarrassment. 

  • Varys and Larys Strong: wily schemers who play different sides against each other and are marked by some kind of physical deformity. Plus, come on, look at the names.
  • Jace:
    • Robb: thrust into war at age fourteen and quickly rose to the occasion before suffering a tragic death. Jace is rumored to have rashly married a lowborn girl he barely knew despite his reputation for sensibility.
    • Rhaegar: both may have fallen in love with a Stark, leading to a impulsive marriage despite prior commitments 
  • Bloodraven and Tyrion (and Jaime): kinslayers; Hands who fought to preserve their family's power and were reviled all the while; suffered a facial injury on the battlefield; sought love from a woman who never truly returned it. Like Jaime, BR is loathed for actions that he believed saved the realm.
  • Brienne and Jonquil Darke: exceptional female warriors who are mistaken for men. Jonquil protected Alysanne as Brienne once protected Catelyn and will likely protect Sansa.
  • Sandor and Sandoq the Shadow: massive fighters of incredible skill with terrible scarring. Both protect highborn women. Also, the names.
  • Tyland and Tyrion: disfigured Lannister Hand who is not remembered fondly despite doing all he could to get King's Landing back on track. Good with money. And then there's the names.
  • (Possible) Bran and Aegon V: brave and clever princes who love stories and history, and spend most of their story so far on the road. 
    Spoiler

    Show-only: Chosen as king via Great Council.

  • Taena and Tyanna of the Tower: dark, seductive beauties from Essos rumored to be the lovers of queens whom they ultimately betray
  • House Clegane and House Strong: houses known for brawny warriors, unconventional kingsguard, and perilous encounters with fire. The Strongs return to Westeros in the form of Robert Strong, aka Gregor Clegane.
  • The High Sparrow and the Shepherd: common-born religious leaders who found popularity among the smallfolk during times of war and use their influence to wreak havoc on the nobility
  • Olenna and Meria Martell: shrewd older women; more of an archetype than a direct parallel
  • Jaime and Aemon the Dragonknight: exceptional swordsmen and Lord Commanders who are each rumored to have fathered children with their sisters, the queen

 

I'm sure I'm forgetting plenty. What are some parallels you've thought of?

Edited by The Bard of Banefort
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13 minutes ago, The Bard of Banefort said:

 

  • Stannis and Maekar: stern, dutiful royals often overshadowed by their revered older brothers. Both claim that they didn't desire the crown and had it thrust it upon them. Both killed one of their brothers.

I think these two have very different drives. Stannis only cares about the law and what is just.

 

That isn’t Maekar. Stannis would not have demanded a trial of seven to vindicate Aerion/diffuse the dishonor of Daeron. 
 

I also do not see Stannis as feeling badly if he killed his brother during a trial of seven. If his brother died during such a contest, it was part of the law. 

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6 minutes ago, Thedog said:

I think these two have very different drives. Stannis only cares about the law and what is just.

 

That isn’t Maekar. Stannis would not have demanded a trial of seven to vindicate Aerion/diffuse the dishonor of Daeron. 
 

I also do not see Stannis as feeling badly if he killed his brother during a trial of seven. If his brother died during such a contest, it was part of the law. 

Maekar didn't demand the trial of seven, Aerion did. Maekar thought the idea was frivolous.

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Posted (edited)
16 minutes ago, The Bard of Banefort said:

Maekar didn't demand the trial of seven, Aerion did. Maekar thought the idea was frivolous.

stannis would never have let it get to that point. 

Edited by Thedog
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Posted (edited)

Here’s two more:

Stannis and Aegon III

Younger sons who are emotionally traumatized from watching their mothers die in front of them. They both also blame themselves for their younger brothers’ deaths (justifiably or not). Stannis and Aegon also have zero interest in martial prowess or art or playing the courtly games. They’re both brooding loners with only a few close confidants (Davos, Gaemon, Viserys). Neither of them is much interested in sex (though Aegon got the better end of that deal). They talk of bringing justice to the realm, oozing contempt for the nobles who stand in their way every time.

Robert and Aegon IV

Both of them are promising young men who turn into fat wastrels that tear the kingdom apart upon their deaths because of the legitimacy (or illegitimacy) of their heirs. They welp bastards on a variety of women, including their own cousins. 

Edited by Canon Claude
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8 minutes ago, Moiraine Sedai said:

Btw, in my opinion, Stannis wants the throne. 

More than he wants to be just or follow the law as we are shown time after time. It’s others who are held to a rigid standard, Stannis gives himself a pass again and again. Stannis would have hanged Stannis long ago if he were anyone else. 

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12 hours ago, Thedog said:

stannis would never have let it get to that point. 

Maekar wasn’t in charge though. Baelor was, as the Hand and the Prince of Dragonstone. Plus we don’t know what Stannis would be like as the father to a headstrong teenage boy. We barely see him interact with his daughter, a meek young girl.

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Posted (edited)
19 hours ago, Thedog said:

I think these two have very different drives. Stannis only cares about the law and what is just.

That isn’t Maekar. Stannis would not have demanded a trial of seven to vindicate Aerion/diffuse the dishonor of Daeron. 

I also do not see Stannis as feeling badly if he killed his brother during a trial of seven. If his brother died during such a contest, it was part of the law. 

I disagree, I think this is a great parallel. Not only did Maekar not call for a trial by seven, but Stannis does show remorse over Renly... think of the peaches!

7 hours ago, Moiraine Sedai said:

The most prominent is the parallel that exists between the Night’s King and Jon Snow.  Both Lord Commanders who came from House Stark. Both betrayed the Watch for girls they loved.  I say it’s beyond parallel. Jon is the reincarnation of the Night’s King.  

I think there is a stronger parallel to Bloodraven.

Night's King was the thirteenth lord commander, and the long night lasted a generation (13 years?), while Bloodraven was Lord Commander for thirteen years before he abandoned his post. Bloodraven, who has broken just about every law of gods and men, from oathbreaking to kinslaying to violating guestright.

More importantly the Night's King's defining fault was that he "knew no fear". It's hard to overstate the importance of this imo. The first Chapter of the entire series (after the prologue run in with the Others), has Bran getting the lesson from his father that the only time a man can be brave is when he is afraid. It is ok to be afraid. Nan tells us when fear is appropriate too:

Old Nan said quietly, "what do you know of fear? Fear is for the winter, my little lord, when the snows fall a hundred feet deep and the ice wind comes howling out of the north. Fear is for the long night, when the sun hides its face for years at a time, and little children are born and live and die all in darkness while the direwolves grow gaunt and hungry, and the white walkers move through the woods."

Then when Bran gets to Bloodraven he is told:

"Never fear the darkness, Bran." The lord's words were accompanied by a faint rustling of wood and leaf, a slight twisting of his head. "The strongest trees are rooted in the dark places of the earth. Darkness will be your cloak, your shield, your mother's milk. Darkness will make you strong."

Which is the opposite of the lesson he received from Nan and Ned.

I would be astonished if Bloodraven is not responsible for the return of the Others.

Edited by Mourning Star
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Here’s one I just noticed: in FnB, Septon Moon is stabbed to death by a young woman he was about to have sex with, who slips away into the night and is never found. The crime is considered “too sloppy” to be that of a faceless man.

Dalton Greyjoy is killed by his bed warmer, Tess, who slits his throat then jumps out a window, never to be seen again.

And sure enough, Arya seduces and kills Raff the Sweetling with a knife in the Mercy chapter, in a way that would also probably be considered “too sloppy” for an FM. She probably won’t be Mercy again.

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29 minutes ago, The Bard of Banefort said:

Here’s one I just noticed: in FnB, Septon Moon is stabbed to death by a young woman he was about to have sex with, who slips away into the night and is never found. The crime is considered “too sloppy” to be that of a faceless man.

Dalton Greyjoy is killed by his bed warmer, Tess, who slits his throat then jumps out a window, never to be seen again.

And sure enough, Arya seduces and kills Raff the Sweetling with a knife in the Mercy chapter, in a way that would also probably be considered “too sloppy” for an FM. She probably won’t be Mercy again.

So we can infer that they were all killed by rookie FM, who had personal vendettas against their targets. 

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1 hour ago, sifth said:

So we can infer that they were all killed by rookie FM, who had personal vendettas against their targets. 

It could just be that it’s a scenario that George likes, so he used it multiple times, but I think it does open up the possibility that Tess and the other girl were FM.

 

Some of these characters seem to be more like archetypes (ex. Taena and Tyanna are the sly, foreign seductresses, the High Sparrow and the Shepherd are populist revolutionaries, etc.) while others are clearly direct parallels. Varys and Larys is the most obvious example, and it makes me wonder if Varys will ultimately get beheaded by a Stark. We never learn what happened to Jonquil Darke, which leads me to believe that whatever happened to her will parallel what happens to Brienne. 

George seems to love writing about dutiful, tireless Hands who do all the work and get none of the credit: Jon Arryn, Bloodraven, Viserys II, Tyland, Tyrion (Tywin was also hardworking, but he got plenty of credit).

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10 hours ago, The Bard of Banefort said:

 

George seems to love writing about dutiful, tireless Hands who do all the work and get none of the credit: Jon Arryn, Bloodraven, Viserys II, Tyland, Tyrion (Tywin was also hardworking, but he got plenty of credit).

I think here he’s modelling on a lot of RL figures, John of Gaunt, John of Lancaster, William de Longchamp, to a degree Richelieu and Mazarin, etc.

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On 5/23/2022 at 9:40 PM, The Bard of Banefort said:

In the years since ADWD was released, GRRM has released tons of supplementary material about the centuries before the start of ASOIAF. There are a lot of parallels between the history of Westeros and the main series, and I thought it would be fun to compile them in a thread. There's plenty of room for interpretation and for predictions of what's to come, but I'll start with some of the parallels I've noticed.

  • Stannis and Maekar: stern, dutiful royals often overshadowed by their revered older brothers. Both claim that they didn't desire the crown and had it thrust it upon them. Both killed one of their brothers.
  • Renly and Daemon II: young, charismatic gay men with a taste for the finer things in life, who try and fail to crown themselves king. Each have two older brothers. With his hair dyed black, Daemon's eyes even look blue like Renly's. 
  • Rhaenyra:
    • Cersei: the mother of three children (that she'll likely outlive) whose paternity is questioned based on their appearances. Devolves into paranoia.
    • (Possible) Daenerys
        Reveal hidden contents

      Show-only: Both lose their dragons, are betrayed by their allies, grow paranoid, and are killed by a male relative. Yikes.

  • Alicent:
    • Cersei: the young and pretty daughter of the Hand who is married to the new king. More conniving than she seems. Seeks to usurp the throne with her own children in place of the rightful heir. May be taken captive in the Red Keep by a Targaryen.
    • Margaery: another young and pretty noblewoman whose ascension threatens the station of the woman who currently holds the most power (and whose father eventually becomes Hand)
  • Tywin and Otto Hightower: competent and imperious Hands who rule in place of weak kings and plot to put their grandsons on the Iron Throne by marrying their daughter to the king. Meet an inglorious death.
  • Arianne:
    • Daenaambitious, stubborn princess who seeks to emulate her father and chafes against the constraints placed upon her. Both are locked in a tower.
    • Aliandra: saw herself as the "next Nymeria," much like how Arianne hoped to find glory by crowning Myrcella
  • Ashara and Sansa: younger sister of a famous older brother (Sword of the Morning/The Young Wolf) from a distant land who are irresistible to nearly every man they encounter. Both described as having bewitching eyes ("haunting purple" in Ashara's case, "eyes you can drown in" for Sansa)
  • Varys and Larys Strong: wily schemers who play different sides against each other and are marked by some kind of physical deformity. Plus, come on, look at the names.
  • Jace:
    • Robb: thrust into war at age fourteen and quickly rose to the occasion before suffering a tragic death. Jace is rumored to have rashly married a lowborn girl he barely knew despite his reputation for sensibility.
    • Rhaegar: both may have fallen in love with a Stark, leading to a impulsive marriage despite prior commitments 
  • Bloodraven and Tyrion (and Jaime): kinslayers; Hands who fought to preserve their family's power and were reviled all the while; suffered a facial injury on the battlefield; sought love from a woman who never truly returned it. Like Jaime, BR is loathed for actions that he believed saved the realm.
  • Brienne and Jonquil Darke: exceptional female warriors who are mistaken for men. Jonquil protected Alysanne as Brienne once protected Catelyn and will likely protect Sansa.
  • Sandor and Sandoq the Shadow: massive fighters of incredible skill with terrible scarring. Both protect highborn women. Also, the names.
  • Tyland and Tyrion: disfigured Lannister Hand who is not remembered fondly despite doing all he could to get King's Landing back on track. Good with money. And then there's the names.
  • (Possible) Bran and Aegon V: brave and clever princes who love stories and history, and spend most of their story so far on the road. 
      Reveal hidden contents

    Show-only: Chosen as king via Great Council.

  • Taena and Tyanna of the Tower: dark, seductive beauties from Essos rumored to be the lovers of queens whom they ultimately betray
  • House Clegane and House Strong: houses known for brawny warriors, unconventional kingsguard, and perilous encounters with fire. The Strongs return to Westeros in the form of Robert Strong, aka Gregor Clegane.
  • The High Sparrow and the Shepherd: common-born religious leaders who found popularity among the smallfolk during times of war and use their influence to wreak havoc on the nobility
  • Olenna and Meria Martell: shrewd older women; more of an archetype than a direct parallel
  • Jaime and Aemon the Dragonknight: exceptional swordsmen and Lord Commanders who are each rumored to have fathered children with their sisters, the queen

 

I'm sure I'm forgetting plenty. What are some parallels you've thought of?

Daenerys Targaryen = Aegon the Conqueror

Lyanna Stark = Shiera Seastar

Asha = Nymeria

 

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I was reading the section about Saera Targaryen in FnB, and one of the things they mention about Stinger (the fckboi that Jaehaerys kills in single combat) is that he has two bastards on two different women. Although Harry Hardyng doesn’t seem quite as bad as Stinger, this reminded me a bit of him, since they’re both around the same age and already have two bastards with different mothers. It’s probably an even bigger indication that Harry ain’t long for this world.

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Some of the few I've been reading recently after my F&B reread

Aegon III/Jon Snow/Jaehaerys I: link

Cersei/Rhaenyra and Cersei/Alicent: link

Rhaena of Pentos/Sansa and Baela/Arya: link

Baela and Arya: link

Aegon V and Jon Snow: link

Aegon V and Arya Stark: link

Not a historical comparison but I recently saw this Elia Sand discussion that briefly discusses the parallels between Elia and Lyanna. Makes for an interesting read: link

Don't agree with this one completely but the Criston Cole/Jaime connection is still interesting: link

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Here’s another interesting bit from the Saera section:

Quote

Sweetberry was sent to the Vale to give birth (a girl, with bright red hair) at a motherhouse on an island in Gulltown harbor where many lords sent their natural daughters to be raised. Afterward she was married to Dunstan Pryor, the Lord of Pebble, an island off the Fingers.

Sounds a bit like Alayne Stone’s origin story, right? Bastard daughter raised in a motherhouse in Gulltown, whose (step)father is a minor lord from the Fingers. Even though Alayne is a brunette, the red hair immediately made me think of Sansa.

This is one of those cases where I don’t think it was a deliberate parallel so much as something George probably wrote unconsciously. He probably had an Alayne-like character in his head since the beginning.

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