‘Game of Thrones’: Meet the ‘Real Life’ Lannisters and Starks

Despite the fact that Game of Thrones occurs in a world that includes dragons and magic, author George R. R. Martin has gone on record pointing out that historical events, not necessarily fantasy, provided the backbone of his book series. The War of the Roses in particular, has been pointed to as the major influence for the War of the Five Kings in Game of Thrones. Fought between 1455 and 1487, the War of the Roses revolved around the houses of Lancaster and York — north and south — and their battle over claim to the English throne.

Here are some of the real life inspirations for members of the Lannister and Stark families.

1. Richard II and Edward of Lancaster (King Joffrey)

King Joffrey

King Joffrey in Game of Thrones | HBO

Like most of the Game of Thrones characters on this list, King Joffrey can’t be directly linked to any one historical figure, but the two that he most closely resembles are Richard II and Edward of Lancaster.

Richard II’s similarities to Joffrey are more rooted in the superficial elements of his reign. Richard II became King of England in 1377 at the age of 10, but unlike Joffrey, he ruled for over 20 years before he was overthrown and killed in 1399 after a period sometimes referred to as the “tyranny” of Richard II. It was a time that saw numerous arrests and executions. Additionally, there are also some historians who believe mental health played a role in the downfall of Richard II.

But when it comes to Edward of Lancaster, the connections to Joffrey are clear. Not only was Edward, the only son of Henry VI — at the heart of a struggle over claim to the English throne — but there were also rumors that Edward was not a legitimate heir. Edward also had a cruel streak that echoes many of the qualities of his Game of Thrones counterpart. And in 1467, a French ambassador wrote, “already talks of nothing but cutting off heads or making war, as if he had everything in his hands or was the god of battle or the peaceful occupant of that throne.”

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