Monthly Archives: October 2014

Who speaks and for whom?

guest post by Nicholas Baker Read Nicholas’s article from the November issue That George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire book series, as well as HBO’s television adaptation, Game of Thrones, is rooted in and inspired by the medieval and early modern history of Europe is widely acknowledged – by the author not least of all. His fictive seven kingdoms of Westeros present a parallel-universe, late-medieval Europe. Now I enjoy the thrill of the series as much as anyone, and I also understand that it is entirely fiction. But as a historian of early modernity, I have always found the depiction of politics in the series remarkably simplistic, given that so much of the energy of the story derives from a realistic and well-imagined struggle for power.   The storyline revolves around an understanding of late medieval politics as purely feudal. What is missing is any sense of the rich mosaic of corporate and civic political life of pre-modern Europe. This is more than idle speculation by a historian who thinks too much about everything. Such a depiction of pre-modern politics reflects not only popular-culture attitudes but also some enduring, deep-rooted understandings. There is a remarkable affinity, in fact, […]