What real-world historical events inspired the world of Westeros?

Obviously this isn't clear cut, but some events and locations of the series have highly similar real-world counter parts.

Hadrian's wall dividing England and Scotland is very similar to the Great Wall, in both location, scale and the reason it was engineered.

Llewlyn the Last' plight against the (guess who) English also bears some remarkible similarities with Robb Stark's desperate march in Season 2: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Llywelyn_the_Last

The politics of medieval Germany also strongly remind me of Westeros. It was a country splintered into many different houses just like in the series.

These sigils are amongst the most uncannily familiar:

House Habsburg: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Habsburg

House Zähringer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zahringer

House Kyburg: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counts_of_Kyburg

Anyway, all fiction has its roots in reality, but these are just some of the surprisingly strong similarities I've uncovered.

Does anyone else know of any other sources that George R. R. Martin may have tapped into?

  • 4
    Um, general medieval history and heraldry? The lion, wolf and dragon are recurring motifs in heraldry :)
    – Andres F.
    May 15, 2013 at 22:41
  • “Hadrian's wall dividing England and Scotland is very similar to the Great Wall, in both location, scale and the reason it was engineered.” I’m not saying the Scots are all 100% cuddly, but they’re hardly White Walkers. Jul 3, 2014 at 22:40

1 Answer 1


George Martin claims to have been inspired by several sources, both fantastical and historical. In an interview with The Huffington Post (which I found by, you know, googling :D) he claims:

[...] I have always regarded historical fiction and fantasy as sisters under the skin, two genres separated at birth.

My own series draws on both traditions . . . and while I undoubtedly drew much of my inspiration from Tolkien, Vance, Howard, and the other fantasists who came before me, A Game of Thrones and its sequels were also influenced by the works of great historical novelists like Thomas B. Costain, Mika Waltari, Howard Pyle . . . and Maurice Druon, the amazing French writer who gave us the The Accursed Kings, seven splendid novels that chronicle the downfall of the Capetian kings and the beginnings of the Hundred Years War.

So there you have it. Tolkien, Vance, the Hundred Years War. It has it all!

The similarities with the sigils and banners you found are hardly surprising. The lion, dragon and wolf are very common motifs in medieval heraldry.

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