Viewers feeling vaguely guilty for spending their weekends, or even entire weeks, immersed in George R.R. Martin’s Game Of Thrones can take comfort in the knowledge that the show is, on some level, educational. The series is no mere delivery system for nudity, beheadings, and Peter Dinklage. Take away the saga’s supernatural elements, such as dragons and ice zombies, and what remains is a really ripping tutorial on 14th and 15th century English history, specifically the blood-soaked Wars Of The Roses, as writer Alex Gendler ably imparts in a handy TED lesson called “The Wars That Inspired Game Of Thrones.” Even better, Gendler’s words have served as the basis for a nifty, six-minute animated presentation by Brett Underhill of Porkchop Bob Illustrated.
In the 1300s and 1400s, Gendler explains, England “was shaken by a power struggle between two noble families, spanning generations, and involving a massive cast of characters with complex motives and shifting loyalties.” In real life, the two clans who went to war for the English throne were the Lancasters and the Yorks. If that sounds a lot like the Lannisters and the Starks, it should. What really happened is that King Edward III died in 1377 and was succeeded by his grandson, King Richard II, skipping Edward’s three surviving sons. Well, those three sons got their noses all out of joint about this, which later led to years of brutal conflicts, strategic marriages, betrayals, and heads being placed on pikes. In other words, it was just like the popular HBO series, except that it played out in super slow motion over a course of decades. The video even identifies certain historical figures as real-life counterparts of Game Of Thrones characters. Beautiful, ambitious Margaret Of Anjou, for example, is an analog to Cersei Lannister. Richard Of York is Ned Stark. Edward Of Westminster is (ugh) Joffrey. And so on. Binge-watch with pride, Game Of Thrones fans.