Like many others, I find myself hooked on the A Song of Ice and Fire books and their corresponding (sometimes) television series – Game of Thrones. While leisure and enjoyment are the main reasons why I have continued both read and watch the series, doing so has also given me an insight into the historical events that it has been inspired by.
On the back of each of the books you will find this quote:
“Martin captures all the intoxicating complexity of the Wars of the Roses of Imperial Rome” – SFX
It is not just the history of these conflicts that have contributed to the fantastic and elaborate stories, but the two mentioned above are perhaps the closest to what George R. R. Martin has created. He himself has stated that it is the Wars of the Roses that are reflected most closely in his writing.
What you can learn about this period from the series is that it was one of extreme brutality and incredibly short lives. Anyone who has read the books or watched the TV show will know that Martin does not hold back in killing off his characters! You can find out more about exactly what you can learn from Game of Thrones here.
Of course, this is not a legitimate way to learn facts about the Wars of the Roses as their history does not include dragons or the Others – all the things added to make the story more interesting for us! But this is not to say that it is completely useless.
It is often useful for a historian to be able to imagine vividly the period that they are studying, which is where this could come in handy, particularly the TV series. Not only this, but the popularity of the series paired with the fact that it has been made clear that the Wars of the Roses were used as an inspiration, can get more people interested in the period, or just in history in general – that’s great publicity for the discipline!
A mixture of conventional and non-conventional research methods can often render the best results – so don’t rule out those that many historians would consider ‘unorthodox’ such as public history or works of fiction.
So keep watching!