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eidius

ASOIAF and real medieval history

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I am making this post to figure out exactly where does the world of ASOIAF stand compared to our world history?

I am looking at this from a purely military view and governing system.

from what i read and understood is that some knights and nobles have armor and weapons that could be compared to late 15th or 16th century however also from the readings i get the feeling that most of the armies have armor and weapons that are from 11th to 13th century.

GRRM never really describes what do the armies look like...can you use illustrations/picture to help me visualize how the nobles and knights would look like compared the levies and armed peasants?

i never got the feeling that the westerosi houses could afford to heavily armor their troops like how we did during the 16th century.

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My guess would be late 14th or 15th century, but that's largely based on weapons and armor.

And no, no one has 11th century armor, unless you interpret what is said in the books a lot differently from me. It seems that most feudal levies/militia wear typical 14th/15th century equipment (polearms, mail+cuir bouilli+partial plate), and retainer troops wear typical 15th/early 16th century armor (full plate, close helms, great lances, etc..). There are quite a few anachronisms not unlike the kite shields, but I suppose that could be explained away as:

1. GRRM messing something up (e.g., he might've confused kite shields with heater shields).

2. GRRM not caring or knowing something.

3. Vikings. Vikings with plate armor.

As far as society goes, it really could be anywhere. Although with the free cities, tech levels and some offices (like king's hands, maesters) I am more inclined to believe it's later middle ages.

As for the second request, to help you picture the troops, I suggest this system - view northmen as Scots/Irish, the rest of the continental Westerosi kingdoms as English/French/Germans, except for Dorne - which could be Spain, view the Ironborn as vikings (well, duh) and the free cities as a bastardized version of Italy. Pictures:

1. Professional infantry men-at-arms from the private retinues of nobles, as well as dismounted knights and nobles themselves:

http://2.bp.blogspot...f+Wakefield.jpg

http://www.s-model.l...llfoto/f030.jpg

1.5 Mercenary companies/retainer specialist troops:

http://www.smallsold...niart8cover.jpg

http://www.hotelprag...ky/infantry.jpg

2. Nobles, their retainers and knights:

http://www.miniature...knights-box.jpg

http://jeriwesterson...ry_knight_1.jpg

3. Yeomanry (free landholders outside the basic feudal structure) and townsmen militias (the most common types of troops in an army along with larger retinues and free companies)

http://www.importhob...111_640_480.jpg

http://www.zvezda.or...s/sets/8053.gif

^note that the above two images seem to misrepresent brigandines and a few other things.

4. Peasant conscripts (used in desperation and for stuff like supplying the army, guarding said supplies and acting as arrow-fodder during sieges):

http://www.zvezda.or...s/sets/8059.gif

ETA: Pictures won't show so I made them links instead.

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Well, the military is based on late the 14th century, minus the early fire weapons.

Now, 14th century Europe had more cities than Westeros, and a kind of urban middle class, the burghers. In Westeros you have lords (both great and minor), landed knights, some merchants and craftsmen (smiths, carpenters, tanners etc) and a huge mass of peasants. The peasants have the same set of rights of 14th century Europe's, apparently.

So, Westerosi society (apparently) mix both late middle ages and central middle ages elements. The don't have chambers of representatives (common in mid and late middle ages Europe) and they don't have a lot of written laws (they must have a lot of bylaws, however, customary laws, legitimized by tradition).

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Well, the military is based on late the 14th century

I am going to disagree on this. I am pretty sure 15th century is more prominent in GRRM's vision. Either way, didn't he say somewhere that he was inspired by the war of the roses?

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I am going to disagree on this. I am pretty sure 15th century is more prominent in GRRM's vision. Either way, didn't he say somewhere that he was inspired by the war of the roses?

Yes, GRRM said that, but if you consider the prominent use of archers (even by the French - three archers for every footsoldier) during the 1450-1480s, and the fact the during the War of the Roses most nobles made a point of start fighting on foot, its not that similar.

Also, war of the Roses soldiers made extensive use of sallet helms (I don't think GRRM ever mentioned the use of sallet helms), and pole arms like halberds, pollaxes or glaives. GRRM's foot soldiers use lances, and I don't know if there is mention of bills (but I think they use bills, at least).

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Yes, GRRM said that, but if you consider the prominent use of archers (even by the French - three archers for every footsoldier) during the 1450-1480s, and the fact the during the War of the Roses most nobles made a point of start fighting on foot, its not that similar. Also, war of the Roses soldiers made extensive use of sallet helms (I don't think GRRM ever mentioned the use of sallet helms), and pole arms like halberds, pollaxes or glaives. GRRM's foot soldiers use lances, and I don't know if there is mention of bills (but I think they use bills, at least).

About the sallets, it could simply be that GRRM doesn't understand the helmet variations very well. When he says "halfhelm", I automatically picture an open sallet or a bascinet, because of the prominence of plate.

As for infantry weapons, they never get much description, but the westerlander troops at the Green Fork are said to have been largely pikemen and archers, IIRC. And polearms are almost guaranteed to be there whether GRRM mentions them or not - they were an integral part of medieval warfare. Glaives and bills were used from the the 12th century until the 16th, so I would say that if he specifically said there were none that would express utter ignorance in medieval warfare. But he never says there are none, so I am pretty sure that's what the average footsoldier's using.

The Northerners forming a shield wall to stop the attack of the Lannister left at the battle could simply be a haphazard bunching up on the spot, as evidenced by the fact that the light cavalry and mounted archers were able to press into their ranks, only pushed back once the melee began.

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Im so much a noob. Im hoping I am not about to highlight something that has already been discussed. This thread inspired a return to early english history. I was just watching the Monarchy series, with David Starkey.*thank you Netflix* part 3, Conquest. William The Conquer died 1087 and was buried in Normandy. What I heard next gave me reason to brave my noobie self & thank you. Basically, his body had been forced into the too small sarcophagus. "the swollen bowels burst, and an intolerable stench assailed the nostrils of the by-standers and the whole crowd." (Historia Ecclesiastica of Orderic Vitals) He certainly gave cause for an Englishman to have been impressed with how GRRM killed off Tywin.

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I realized I had left out the another big reason I had jumped on board. Silly me. My main question is is it possible The World of Ice and Fire will include specific real life historical data,moments, artifacts, in which story lines could or will be sparked by? example: the gem I discovered when reading of King Williams burial. it would make for a section. thanks again

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The main story is based on War of The Roses which does take place in the 15th , but that's the extent of it. Gunpowder and explosives are 15th century technology that does not exist in ASOIAF. Although I agree that their technology surpasses 12th century technology, I'd still say ASOIAF is based off of the 12th century.

The Targaryen seems more Plantagenet then Lancaster to me, and her Dothraki husband also fits a 12th century Mongol. Renly is like Henry I and Dorne seems to be Spain controlled by the Moors. All of these things happend in between 1100 and 1200

.... Although 1066 is when William took out England, and Aegon was over 600 years ago, not 35

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interesting question.

Its been documented that aSoIaF draws inspiration from the War of the Roses which was waged in the late 15th century. Dynastic fueding, claims of 'bastard blood', kinslaying, mad kings, shifting allegiances, betrayals - sound familiar? Militarily though, Westeros is several centuries behind 15th century Europe. Forget Gunpowder, there's barely mention of longbowmen - which were key in the battle that ended the War of Roses - The Battle of Bosworth Field.

George draws from historical fact, but from various eras. His visit to Hadrian's Wall near present day Newcastle - a Wall erected in around 125 AD by the Romans to keep the wild Northerners (Scots) out of Roman Britain - triggered GRRM's creation of the Wall.

The Targaryen conquest is reminiscent of William the Conqueror's conquest of England in the 11th Century.

Essos is even more puzzling - militarily they seem further behind than even Westeros. The Doom of Valyria is reminiscent of the Minoan explosion of Thera and the destruction of Akrotiri - which happened around 1500 BC. An advanced culture that was destroyed by a cataclysmic volcanic eruption - in some theories inspired Plato's writings on the lost city of Atlantis.

Qarth seems a direct reference to Carthage (Qarth = City in Phoenician) which was completely destroyed by the Romans in around 150 AD. Naath reminds me of the Buddhisht India of the 9th Century AD.... and on and on.

Maybe its just me - History never gets old for me :) But part of what I love about aSoIaF are the historical parallels across so many ages - not just the Medieval.

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interesting question.

Its been documented that aSoIaF draws inspiration from the War of the Roses which was waged in the late 15th century. Dynastic fueding, claims of 'bastard blood', kinslaying, mad kings, shifting allegiances, betrayals - sound familiar? Militarily though, Westeros is several centuries behind 15th century Europe. Forget Gunpowder, there's barely mention of longbowmen - which were key in the battle that ended the War of Roses - The Battle of Bosworth Field.

George draws from historical fact, but from various eras. His visit to Hadrian's Wall near present day Newcastle - a Wall erected in around 125 AD by the Romans to keep the wild Northerners (Scots) out of Roman Britain - triggered GRRM's creation of the Wall.

The Targaryen conquest is reminiscent of William the Conqueror's conquest of England in the 11th Century.

Essos is even more puzzling - militarily they seem further behind than even Westeros. The Doom of Valyria is reminiscent of the Minoan explosion of Thera and the destruction of Akrotiri - which happened around 1500 BC. An advanced culture that was destroyed by a cataclysmic volcanic eruption - in some theories inspired Plato's writings on the lost city of Atlantis.

Qarth seems a direct reference to Carthage (Qarth = City in Phoenician) which was completely destroyed by the Romans in around 150 AD. Naath reminds me of the Buddhisht India of the 9th Century AD.... and on and on.

Maybe its just me - History never gets old for me :) But part of what I love about aSoIaF are the historical parallels across so many ages - not just the Medieval.

Is Essos really behind Westeros?

I got the impression that if anything, the Free cities were ahead of Westeros - which is why Free Cities sell swords are so popular.

The Ghiscari, Qarth and the Dothraki do seem to be significantly behind the Free cities though.

I also get a strong Volantis/Byzantium correlation.

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Gunpowder not invented, you say?

I guaran-fucking-tee you wildfire Gonnes will be a Thing soon. Melisandre might even have Stannis cast the first of them. Then there will be small wildfire-fueled handgonnes...

Edit:

Also, Robert's Rebellion smacks of Simon De Montfort's Revolt, with a touch of the Hundred Years' War. The Dance Of The Dragons is more like the Hundred Years' War, though.

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I think GRRM takes influence from all over medeivel history and earlier as well. He mashes them up, embellishes them, and spews them back out into this created land of Westeros. WildFire may have its origins in Greek Fire, a powerful ancient rare weapon whose secrets were lost by medeivel times and still lost today. The Wall is based on Hadrian's wall, but Hadrian's wall is only like 15 feet high in most places whereas the Night Watch's is hundred's of feet high. The new religion is loosly based on Catholisism and the Old gods loosely based on ancient Celtic religions.

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Im with Darth Rivers on this. His description of westerosi armies is most like that of the hundred years war without gunpowder and with the addition of vikings. I would also like to add that The whole horde of peasents weilding pitchforks and kitchen knives thing is a myth. Armies were small, elite, and well equiped. We get a good look at this in tyrions pov from game of thrones when he describes his fathers army.

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The Dance Of The Dragons is more like the Hundred Years' War, though.

The Dance of the Dragons is based off The Anarchy.

It is known.

As for OP's question, I've always thought that Westeros is like 12th or 13th century Europe.

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If you look hard enough you can see echoes of many historical periods in ASoIaF just from English history. For instance you could find basis for Robert's rebellion in the Great Revolt under Henry II, the Barons' War against John, the Second Barons' War under Henry III, Mortimer's coup against Edward II, Richard of York (and son Edward's) revolt against the government of Henry VI, and perhaps most applicably, Henry IV's overthrow of Richard II. This is probably partly a testament to the variety of historical influences present; also testament to the repetitive nature of English medieval history.

Westeros seems 15th century to me in some respects (the formalised tournaments, the prevalence of plate armour) and earlier in others (battlefield tactics, structure of government, etc.) It's a fantasy world; GRRM will have grabbed whatever inspirations from whatever periods he likes.

The overall battle for Westeros in the War of the (n) Kings is like a doubly complex Wars of the Roses; as if they'd kicked off a few years earlier while England was still embroiled in the three-way power struggle in France and the dynastic quagmire in Spain.

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The main story is based on War of The Roses which does take place in the 15th , but that's the extent of it. Gunpowder and explosives are 15th century technology that does not exist in ASOIAF. Although I agree that their technology surpasses 12th century technology, I'd still say ASOIAF is based off of the 12th century.

The Targaryen seems more Plantagenet then Lancaster to me, and her Dothraki husband also fits a 12th century Mongol. Renly is like Henry I and Dorne seems to be Spain controlled by the Moors. All of these things happend in between 1100 and 1200

.... Although 1066 is when William took out England, and Aegon was over 600 years ago, not 35

Aegon landed 300 years before the story

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Wars of the Roses for me for sure. He has taken little pieces from everywhere and stuck them all together, and why not. You also have to remember the WoR was not just simply red vs white, it was more about control of the crown as opposed to the crown itself, The game of thrones. Hadrians wall for the wall certainly. In the eyes of the Romans, Celts, Picts and subsequent invaders it was probably as large a project as The Wall. Also the unknown lands to the north, They probably believed Scotland that huge.

I've mentioned this in a previous post, but its also relevant here, what about religion. The old religion, The Seven and R'hllor, all reminiscent of the arrival of Christianity and the reformation. Although at different periods yes but the theory is the same. The seven semi-replaced the old gods, of course there were 'pagan' traditions in Christianity right into the 19th century. The red priests are attempting to get people to 'see the light,' a new religion, but connected to all others (something I heard in the game, thought it was kinda cool!)

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Militarily, I'd regard it as being similar to Western Europe in 1300 or so. My impression is that most men at arms wear mail, rather than plate, and while longbows are a useful weapon, no one has yet come up with the idea of massed volley fire from longbowmen in the way that Edward III did.

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