Game of Thrones, the epic HBO series based on George R. R. Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire, is known to draw heavily from medieval European history and mythology. On the eve of the most-anticipated episode of the season yet, we bring to you some uncanny similarities between the Battle of the Bastards - the ultimate faceoff between Jon Snow and Ramsay Bolton- and instances from Hindu mythology as well as European history:
1. Battle of Bosworth Field (1485)
Battle of Bosworth Field (1485) was an important event in the War of The Roses (an actual rivalry between the royal houses York and Lancaster, on which the Stark-Lannister rivalry is based). It was led by Richard of York, who assumed the crown without legitimate claim and was hated by the general populace (like Ramsay). The other side had Henry Tudor, who had an army very small and ill-equipped to take on his opponent (like Jon).
Henry Tudor was helped in the nick of time by William Stanley (a powerful nobleman, much like Littlefinger). Not to give away any spoilers here, but the battle concluded with the killing of Richard and the ascension of Henry to the throne. Who’s excited now?
2. Battle of Shrewsbury (1403)
Immortalised by Shakespeare in Henry IV Part One, the battle of Shrewsbury, much like the one we’ll see in Winterfell on Sunday, was between two wronged but ambitious sons striving for honour. While neither Henry, Prince of Wales nor Harry ‘Hotspur’ Percy was a bastard, the battle, which resulted with Henry’s victory, was more of a struggle for both leaders to prove their mettle. Interestingly, the Percys were in support of Henry’s house before dissent set in, like the Boltons were bannermen to the Starks before their betrayal.
3. The pirate who is second-in-command
Ser Davos Seaworth has many things in common with Sir Henry Morgan (1635-1688), who was the naval officer under Oliver Cromwell. Morgan had quite a reputation as a pirate, like our Onion Knight. Even Oliver Cromwell, who established the Puritan regime in England, was ambitious, deeply religious, stark and humourless in appearance, and suffered from bouts of depression. Sounds like a description of Stannis Baratheon, doesn’t it?
4. Genghis Khan
Founder of the Mongol Empire in the 12th century, Genghis (or Chengiz) Khan has many parallels with both Jon and Ramsay. Like Jon, he ascended to power after his father was killed by treachery. He brought together several warring tribes to form a consolidated empire, like Jon rallied the wildlings. But that is where the similarity ends. Khan was a ruthless and genocidal warrior whose martial style was simply torturing and slaughtering everyone who came in his way, not unlike Ramsay Bolton!
Now for some astounding similarities with Hindu mythology.
The battle at Kurukshetra from the epic Mahabharata was fought between the cousins Pandavas and Kauravas. As exemplary as many of these characters are, the 'bastard' motif is a recurring one, although with lesser stigma around it. Pandu (father of Pandavas), Dhritarashtra (father of Kauravas) and Vidur were all fathered by the sage Vyasa out of wedlock. And that's not all:
5. The Pandavas
One cannot help but see the clear resemblance between the Battle of the Bastards and Kurukshetra. While the Pandavas and other characters from the epic are venerable, it is common knowledge that the sons of Pandu were in fact the offspring of his queens Kunti and Madri, by various deities. Part-divine and part-royal, the Pandavas received much more respect than our unfortunate Snows.
Even on the other side in the Kurukshetra war, the Kauravas had a character whose lineage, like the bastards of the North, was always questioned: Karna. Karna was, however of a much loftier character, unlike Ramsay. (Comment below if you simply want to watch Sansa feed Ramsay to his own hounds!)
Bheem from the Mahabharata had a son, Ghatotkacha who was part-Asura. He had the ability to increase and decrease his size, and could hence grow to a gigantic frame, much like the 14-foot-tall giant Wun Wun in the series. Like Wun Wun, Ghatotkacha also fought on the side we all root for, the Pandavas. Myth says that as he was struck down by Karna, he assumed an enormous size so that as he fell, he crushed an entire akshauhini (21,870 elephants, 21,870 chariots, 65,610 Horses, and 109,350 foot soldiers)!
Fascinating, isn’t it? Can you spot more similarities between real history and events in the Seven Kingdoms? Share with us in the comments below!
Title image: newsweek