SPILLING INK: Game of Thrones – War of the Roses


Decades-long war between prominent houses for control of the kingdom.


War of the Roses Summary:


The royal House of Plantagenet: the House of Lancaster (red rose) and the House of York, (white rose). Eventually, the wars eliminated the male lines of both families. The family held the English throne from 1154 – 1485

The House of Lancaster descended from John of Gaunt, third surviving son of Edward III of England. Their name derives from John of Gaunt’s primary title of Duke of Lancaster

Edward III (Plantagenet) has plenty of kids. His oldest son dies before Edward III but had kids, so the line of succession gives Eldest grandson over Edward III’s other kids. (Too many leftover claims to the throne are the main cause of the wars.)

Richard II (First Grandson of Edward III) becomes king, short reign, childless, gets deposed by Henry IV (Lancaster descent) before death.

Throne passes from Henry IV to Henry V and continues to Henry VI (Mad King) where the War of the Roses truly begins.

The House of York descended from Edmund of Langley, the fourth son of Edward III, younger brother of John of Gaunt. Their family name comes from Edmund’s title Duke of York.

Richard of York, 3rd Duke of York governed as Lord Protector during the madness of King Henry VI. Conflicts with Henry’s wife, Margaret of Anjou, and other members of Henry’s court, as well as his competing claim on the throne, created political upheaval. York was killed in the Battle of Wakefield. His son Edward became Duke of York and led several victorious battles to defeat the Lancastrian army and supporters. Edward IV proclaimed himself king in March 1461.

Henry VI’s wife, Queen Margaret fled abroad with the young Prince Edward and many of their leading supporters.

Most of England’s leading families had remained loyal to Henry VI or remained uncommitted in the conflict. The new regime was cemented by the powerful noble, Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick (Kingmaker).

Edward IV married Elizabeth Woodville, snubbing Warwick who had previously arranged a marriage with a daughter of King Louis XI of France.

Warwick made a deal with Louis XI and Queen Margaret to restore Henry VI in return for French support for a military invasion of England. This alliance was sealed by the marriage of Warwick’s youngest daughter Anne Neville to Prince Edward (Margaret’s son). Henry VI was briefly restored to the throne in 1470. Edward IV returned to England with a relatively small force he took Henry VI, prisoner. Edward IV and his brothers then defeated Warwick at the Battle of Barnet. Edward IV did not face any further rebellions after his restoration, as the Lancastrian line had virtually been extinguished.

His twelve-year-old son Edward V of England was to be crowned king upon Edward IV’s death but Richard (Edward IV’s younger brother) claimed it and illegitimized all of Edward IV’s kids.

Richard III of England last king of the House of York and the last of the Plantagenet dynasty. Short and unpopular reign. He was defeated at the battle of Bosworth by Henry VII (Tudor. Great-grandson of Duke of Lancaster raised in exile.) Ending the War of the roses.

Henry VII married Elizabeth of York (Richard IV’s daughter).

Combination of Lancaster and York created the Tudor rose.


WOR – Important houses:

Lancaster – Descended from third son of King Edward III

Tudor – Illegitimate descendant of the third son of King Edward III

York – Descended from fourth son of King Edward III





Game of Thrones by Comparison:


Robert Baratheon (Henry VI) is installed as king after the death of the mad king (Targaryen). Tywin Lannister (Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick) arranges the marriage of his daughter Cersei (Margaret Anju) to the new king.

Ned Stark (Richard of York) attempts to sort out problems with the country after being installed as Hand of the King. Constant conflicts with Cersei spill over when King Robert Baratheon dies and Ned Stark is subsequently killed by Cersei.

Joffrey briefly ascends to the throne.

Stannis Baratheon (Richard III) attempts to take the crown following Robert Baratheon’s death claiming children born of Robert and Cersei are illegitimate.

Rob Stark (Edward IV) wages war to avenge his father’s death, breaks the marriage contract to marry for love, pisses off nobles.

Across the narrow sea Daenerys Targaryen (Henry VII) begins to mature and through her family name and claim to the throne begins to raise an army.


GOT – Important houses:











Characters vs History


Robert Baratheon / Henry VI

Not mentally fit to rule but sits on the throne anyway.

Spent excessive amounts of money on frivolous endeavors, bankrupting their kingdoms.


Cersei Lannister / Margaret d’Anjou

Both were forced into an unhappy marriage for alliances and added family power.

Both used political influences to build support and allegiance to their side.

Both ruled through husband / King when he was incapacitated.


Joffrey Baratheon / Edward of Westminster

Both were the (possibly) illegitimate son of King.

Both favorite pastimes include cutting off enemies’ heads


Tywin Lannister / ‘The Kingmaker’ Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick

Both were the most powerful noblemen in their respective kingdoms.

Both served as advisors to the throne.

Both helped install kings and weave alliances through marriages and wars.


Robb Stark / Edward IV of York

Both men inherited their position at a young age after their fathers were beheaded.

Both ignored pressure to marry to form a political alliance. Married for love. Alienated allies.


Ned Stark / Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York

Both were career soldiers/protectors of the realm.

Both went south in an attempt to stop a meddling Queen corrupting the royal bureaucracy.

Both were loved by the common folk and generally disliked by the aristocracy.


Daenerys / Henry VII

Both lived a majority of their lives outside of the country they had a claim to the throne.

Both grew an army on their own with little money.

Both use their family name to inspire support.


While this is not the complete Game of Thrones plot, you can clearly see where the inspiration comes from and how the characters line up between the two stories. What will be interesting to see is if the end of Game of Thrones truly ends in the same fashion: combining of the warring households and the creation of a completely new house name.

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