The 10 Biggest Historical Mysteries and Creepy Lore in the ‘Game of Thrones’ Universe
Game of Thrones is back—but this time with a ton of more dragons and the Targaryens at their strongest—with the release of House of the Dragon. And since this prequel is set 172 years before the events of Thrones, we can probably expect hints at some well-referenced history, flashbacks, or maybe even them playing out. Both the books and the show (especially the early seasons) have extensively introduced us to these stories either in passing (or through long expositions) and I thought of compiling some of the best ones that come to mind.
Aegon I’s Mysterious Letter
The first Targaryen king technically didn’t conquer all of the Seven Kingdoms, with Dorne remaining independent and defiant of the dragons for years after Aegon’s invasion. Naturally, this was not met kindly and several attempts at further conquest were had before eventually, a peace was brokered but in the most mysterious way: through a letter. Dorne’s new leader, Prince Nymor Martell, had sent his daughter Princess Deria to King’s Landing to begin negotiations of peace. The prince had also sent with her the skull of Meraxes, the dragon of Aegon’s beloved sister-wife Rhaenys. It is said that when the princess handed the Conqueror the letter, he read it, bundled in his fist until it bled, before throwing it in a fire. Aegon then abruptly left for Dragonstone aboard Balerion before returning the next day to sign the peace treaty. He even went to Sunspear himself on the tenth anniversary of the peace between the Iron Throne and Dorne. No one ever found out what was in the letter. Speculations, however, range from it probably contained an assurance that Rhaenys was alive and well-taken care of or was being tortured and would only be let go if he signed the treaty.
Azor Ahai or the Prince That Was Promised was the wielder of Lightbringer, a burning sword. According to legend, during the first Long Night, Azor Ahai forged Lightbringer for countless days and nights but could not find a way to properly temper it, before realizing what he had to do. He labored for over a hundred days and nights and then called upon his wife and asked her to bare her breast, from which Azor Ahai drove the sword and finally brought forth Lightbringer’s power. In his fight against the darkness, he was joined by brave and virtuous men in battle and won. According to prophecy, he is believed to come again and will be reborn as a champion sent by R’hollor, the Lord of Light.
Bael the Bard
Although not recorded in the libraries of Winterfell nor told by Old Nan or Maester Luwin, the story of Bael the Bard is a popular legend among the free folk. According to them, he is supposed to be one of their greatest raiders, and in the story, he took revenge upon one Lord Brandon Stark (again, the real question we should be asking here is which one because there are a ton) after the said lord had insulted him. And so Bael scaled the Wall, took the Kingsroad, and went to Winterfell where he sang all night for Lord Stark. Doesn’t sound much like a revenge plot, but it doesn’t end there. When Lord Stark asked Bael what reward he may like, the Bard answered that he wanted the most beautiful flower from Winterfell’s gardens and was thus presented with a blue rose. The next day, Lord Stark’s only daughter disappeared from her bed, with only a blue winter rose on her pillow. Angered, the Lord sent out men searching for Bael or his daughter but they were never found. At the time, the Starks’ lineage was on the verge of extinction until one day, the daughter came back. She was found once again in her room but with a baby in her arms. As it turned out, they stayed hidden in the crypts of Winterfell all along. Creepy.
Anyway, it doesn’t end there. The baby eventually became the next Lord Stark who had to fight a wildling army (then led by Bael who was now King-Beyond-the-Wall). Legend says he let his son kill him, and the boy brought home his head, not knowing it was his father’s. When his mother saw, her heart was broken and she killed herself.
Jenny of Oldstones
Thrones only makes mention of Jenny in that song from Season Eight, and in Season Seven, when one of the Archmaesters uses her name to compare her to another person they were claiming to be a fraud. However, the mysterious Jenny of Oldstones is actually quite interesting. A simple girl who lived out in the riverlands, Jenny is said to have been descended from the First Men and is friends with the ghost of High Heart, a woods witch descended from the Children of the Forest. Some time in 239 AC, Jenny met Prince Duncan Targaryen, the Prince of Dragonstone and heir to the Iron Throne. The two fell in love, much to King Aegon V’s disapproval, and got married despite the prince already being betrothed to a Baratheon. The King attempted to have the marriage annulled but instead, Duncan gave up his birthright to the Iron Throne. Later on, the two would come to court together with the ghost of High Heart, who prophesied that the union between the then prince and princess Aerys and Rhaella would bring forth the Prince That Was Promised and so the two were (forcibly) married. It is unclear whether Jenny perished in the fire of Summerhall with Duncan, although we can only assume as much.
Horn of Winter
Also known as the Horn of Joramun, the Horn of Winter is a legendary artifact that woke giants from the earth. It also has (allegedly) the power to bring down the Wall. We have yet to receive more details as to what else it actually does so let’s hope some of the other Thrones’ spinoffs shed some light on it.
Magic of Storm’s End
The origins of the fortress of Storm’s End has a surprisingly interesting and even heartwarming backstory. According to legend, the first Storm King, Durran Godsgrief, fell in love with a daughter of a sea god and a wind goddess named Elenei. The divinities did not approve of their match, but the lovers refused to relent and so the gods killed all of Durran’s family and guests during their wedding, with Durran only surviving thanks to Elenei’s protection. Determined to exact his revenge, Durran declared his own war against the gods, and began fortifying his fortress—though it was continually destroyed by the storms the gods sent their way. Eventually, Storm’s End was built and managed to withstand every wind and maelstrom sent to destroy it. There are varying accounts as to how he was able to achieve this. Some say the Children of the Forest helped in its construction, while others claim that a young boy who would become Bran the Builder gave Durran counsel. Whatever the case, there is old magic in its very walls that prevent spells from passing through it.
Even in the books, it is unclear who the Night’s King was, although Old Nan often told the Stark children that his name was Brandon Stark (but this was most likely only to scare their Bran). According to the story, Night’s King was the thirteenth Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch and had served during a time not long after the Wall itself had been completed. The story goes that the former Lord Commander fell in love with a woman who was a white walker and the two…consummated their union before declaring themselves king and queen. The two ruled from the Nightfort and several atrocities were had before King of Winter Brandon the Break joined forces with the King-Beyond-the-Wall Joramun (legendary wielder of the Horn of Winter) to bring down the king and his corpse bride. After their downfall, all records of him were destroyed.
In Westeros, it’s a common thing for you to hear someone swear by “both the old gods and the new” with the new referring to the Faith of the Seven, but what about the old gods? Who are they, exactly? The old gods were the first deities worshipped by Westeros’ first inhabitants: the Children of the Forest. When the First Men waged war with the Children, they cut down their weirwoods, out of belief that the old gods can see from this trees. When they finally reached peace, the First Men also became believers of the old gods and so did their descendants, the northerners. Even those who live beyond the Wall believe in the old gods and are of the belief that they are everywhere—like in the water, air, and animals they encounter. Others, like Jojen Reed, believe that the weirwood trees are the old gods themselves. Almost all believers, though, agree that sometimes the old gods answer through the rustle of leaves when praying in a godswood.
Seventy Nine Sentinels
The story of the 79 sentinels always sends chills down my spine. In the story, there were 79 deserters from the Night’s Watch (why they deserted is never mentioned), one of whom was the son of a certain Lord Ryswell. That being the case, the group of deserters sought refuge under his roof but Lord Ryswell was honorable and sent them all back to the Wall, instead, where the Lord Commander ordered holes to be cut on top of the Wall and to have all 79 men slotted in, facing northward.
“They left their posts in life, so in death, their watch goes on forever. Years later, when Lord Ryswell was old and dying, he had himself carried to the Nightfort so he could take the black and stand beside his son. He’d sent him back to the Wall for honor’s sake, but he loved him still, so he came to share his watch,” Bran Stark once recalled for Jojen Reed.
Tragedy at Summerhall
There are still a lot of questions that remain unanswered regarding what exactly transpired at Summerhall. And they’re partly why it’s a good story. All we know, so far, is that during the last years of King Aegon’s reign, his interest for the return of dragons was at its peak. He commissioned journeys to far-away lands and called for a search for all remaining dragon lore. At some point during these events, it was decided that the family and those closest to them would celebrate the upcoming birth of Rhaegar Targaryen, his first great-grandchild (and who would be the older brother of Viserys and Daenerys). This is where the details become fuzzy because no one knows exactly how the fire broke out because the letter Summerhall’s maester sent for the capital was mostly ruined. Some say that it may have been an assassination attempt (if it was, the assassins were successful because Aegon V really did perish in that fire), according to others, it was an attempt at hatching the dragon eggs the king kept with him.
What are your favorite historical tidbits and mysteries from A Song of Ice and Fire?
(featured image: HBO)
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