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Game of Thrones History Explained

VO: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Nick Roffey
You’ve seen every episode of the HBO and read all of George R. R. Martin’s books, but even the most hardcore fans sometimes need to have the Game of Thrones history explained. With such detailed lore and so many characters, Westeros’ historical background is epic in size. While we could teach an entire college course about this world’s history, here’s the short-and-sweet version. WatchMojo chronicles the Game of Thrones history. Are there any details about Westeros we missed? Let us know in the comments!
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Game of Thrones History Explained

Winter is coming - but not for the first time. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re giving you the lowdown on Game of Thrones History. For this video, we’re explaining the short-and-sweet version of Westeros’ epic historical background - with a bit of Essos thrown in for good measure.

In terms of backstory, HBO’s “Game of Thrones” is a fairly faithful adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s series “A Song of Ice and Fire”. But there’s a lot of rich and convoluted historical background missing from the show. We can’t get into all the rulers, rebellions, and complicated genealogies - which include SIXTEEN different people called Brandon Stark . . . but here’s the big picture!

It all starts in the Dawn Age 12,000 years ago, when giants and the children of the forest roamed Westeros. Aside from the odd battle between them, life was hunky-dory, until the First Men invaded from Essos via a land bridge called the Arm of Dorne. Legend has it that the Children’s greenseers smashed the Arm using dark magic, but it was too late. The subsequent war lasted two THOUSAND years . . . until both sides signed an agreement known as “the Pact”, which gave open land to the humans, and the forests to the Children.

The Pact ushered in the Age of Heroes - a four thousand year period that saw the founding of Westeros’ major Houses. Names that might ring a bell include legendary trickster Lann the Clever, who established House Lannister, and Brandon Stark, aka Bran the Builder - the first King in the North. It was a good old time marred by one smaaaall little problem: back in the Dawn Age, the Children had done MESSED UP, creating supernatural creatures who could raise the dead. At least, that’s the TV version. Invading from the north, these “White Walkers” brought a generation of cold and darkness known as the Long Night.

Fortunately, thanks to the mysterious “last hero”, who convinced the reclusive Children to help out, the White Walkers were beaten back. Brandon built his bigass Wall, and except for that time the 13th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch shacked up with a creepy corpse lady and declared himself the “Night’s King” . . . everything was great!

Juuust kidding of course, because it was time . . . for another invasion! Over in Essos, there was a new kid on the block: Valyria, known for its silver-haired folk, dragons, slaves, and of course Valyrian steel. As their empire, the Valyrian Freehold, spread through Essos, another people, the Andals, decided to get the hell outta dodge. Sailing across the narrow sea, they invaded Westeros, ending the Age of Heroes, slaughtering the Children, and bringing with them the Faith of the Seven. The First Men’s bronze weapons were no match for the Andals’ iron, and only the Starks in the North held fast. Because you can’t keep a good Stark down! Except . . . when you cut off his head. Or . . . stab him in the guts. Or - anyway, moving on. The Andals established six new kingdoms, which with the North made up . . . drumroll . . . the Seven Kingdoms!

And so there was peace at last. Or, not, because: DRAGON INVASION! Back in Essos, Valyria was about to blow. Maybe building your capital next to a bunch of volcanoes was . . . a bad idea? A Valyrian family known as the Targaryens saw it coming, and ducked out before the “Doom of Valyria” destroyed the city. Aaand because it just seemed like the popular thing to do at this point, the Targaryens tookover Westeros. Just can’t catch a break . . .

Aegon the Conqueror led the charge, and the Targaryens ruled for almost three centuries - until Robert’s Rebellion against the Mad King Aerys II. Robert Baratheon took the throne, his friend Ned Stark returned to the North . . . and everyone just sat back and relaxed.

. . . For like five minutes. [GOT theme song]

Stay classy Westeros.
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