Fans of the HBO television series "Game of Thrones" season 7 can wait for the new season in a unique manner, by reading history. The story revolving around the Starks, the Lannisters, the Targaryens and the other dynasties of the continent of Westeros has many historic parallels and quite of few of them could have been based on late medieval and renaissance Italy. Not only can they be found in the history books, but classics were inspired by those years of bloodshed and treachery such as Dante’s “Divine Comedy” and Machiavelli’s political classic “The Prince”.
The series is one of the few that shows portrays what that great period of history must have been like.
The Lannisters and the Medici
The rich Lannister family of Casterly Rock could be replaced by the Medici family of #Florence. Known for its patronage of the arts, especially by Lorenzo the Magnificent, the family was fabulously wealthy and ruled the city for centuries. It started its rise to power and glory when the family became the Papal Bank after financially backing the rise of a Cardinal to the Papacy and endured constant jealousies from rival Florentine families. These rivalries led to an assassination attempt against Lorenzo and his brother Giulio at Florence’s famed Duomo in which Giulio died. Leonardo da Vinci made a drawing of the execution of the final conspirator after the city’s population rose up against the assassins.
Like the Lannisters, the Medici too has its own High Sparrow. Girolamo Savonarola was a Dominican monk who stirred up the poor against the rich which led to the exile of the Medicis for a time while he ruled Florence as a theocracy.
Like the High Sparrow Savonarola met a violent end when he was burnt at the stake.
The historic parallels for the Lannister twins could easily be the children of Rodrigo Borgia, Pope Alexander VI. Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia were the political pawns of their father and, like Jaime and Cercei Lannister, they were suspected of having an incestuous relationship. Lucrezia’s image would be marred for centuries as a poisoner and married three times to further her father’s political ambitions. Cesare was a cardinal who became a famed leader for the Pope’s army and his acts were the inspiration for Niccolò Machiavelli when he wrote his famed “The Prince”. Cesare died as a consequence of his ambitions, yet Lucrezia found happiness with her third husband and died a loved leader of her adopted town of Ferrara.
'Game of Thrones' has its sell swords as they call the mercenaries and Daario was the leader of the Company of the Second Sons. Renaissance #Italy had a major problem with foreign mercenaries, the best known of which was Sir John Hawkwood, leader of the famed White Company who went on to become Captain General of Florence known as Giovanni Acuto and his portrait is in Florence’s Duomo.
Unlike most mercernaries he became wealthy and lived to a good age for the time.
The peninsula’s political infighting was the basis for Dante’s “Divine Comedy” and many of those involved in the intrigue found themselves condemned to the Inferno. In fact, one of these incidents could easily have been an inspiration for the notorious “Red Wedding” in the television series. In 1285 Alberico Manfredi tried to settle political scores at the Castellina near Faenza in the Romagna and invited a number of his family members to a feast to celebrate a peace treaty. The dinner ended with the death of most of the guests, including family members and so horrified contemporary society that Dante put him into one of the deepest pits of the Inferno even before he died.
As with all great stories, George R R Martin’s “A Song of Fire and Ice” which inspired '#Game of Thrones' is firmly based on incidents of the past. Such books could be worthy inspirations for young people because they show that true History is often even more fascinating and treacherous than what human imagination could ever create.