Forum to explore historical links in 'Game of Thrones'

Forum to explore historical links in 'Game of Thrones'

Game of Thrones is promoted at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas.
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'Game of Thrones' is promoted at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas.

Both violent and beautiful, the world depicted in HBO’s “Game of Thrones” can be linked to historical people and events from the Middle Ages.

Three University of Nebraska-Lincoln history students will illuminate these historical themes within the context of the popular cable drama, and the books that inspired it, during a free, public panel discussion at 5 p.m. April 13 in Bailey-Dudley Library, 228 Andrews Hall.

When author George R.R. Martin began his “Fire and Ice” book series -- the source material for "Game of Thrones" -- he drew on England’s War of the Roses for inspiration, adding characters that resembled historical figures. They included Queen Elizabeth I, Kind Edward IV and Henry Tudor.

Some events from the show also are drawn from history, such as the infamous Red Wedding, which is based on the Black Dinner of 1440 in Scotland in which Sir William Chrichton killed members of the Clan Douglas.

Several characters and elements of "Game of Thrones" find their origins in real-world history. (Click to expand)

Graduate students Angela Bolen and Danielle Alesi and undergraduate C.J. Kracl will host the discussion. Each student will present on a theme, followed by a question-and-answer discussion.

The forum will focus on the portrayal of women in the series and how female leaders of the Middle Ages have influenced the franchise. Bolen said "Game of Thrones," which returns to HBO in July, depicts many multi-faceted female characters and the complicated relationships among them.

“One of the most unique things about the show is its honest portrayal of women,” Bolen said. “It’s definitely more realistic than a lot of previous portrayals of women from these times.”

The panelists will explore Anne Boleyn, Catharine of Aragon, public penitence and more, but said they expect the open discussion to cover a wide range of topics about the show and its historical muses. Alesi said the event will enlighten the audience about different parts of history but also delve into pop culture in ways "Thrones" fans have not yet considered.

“It definitely won’t be dry and stuffy,” Alesi said. “The show fosters an ability to have some important and interesting discussions about history and why it’s important to understand it.”