I’ve been looking forward to the new series of Game of Thrones as much as anyone. It just so happens that it’s started as I’m half way through reading Dan Jones’ The Plantagenets and, in comparison, the world of the Seven Kingdoms seems rather a tame place to live.
So there were no dragons flying about 13th century Europe at the time, but everything else is there: court intrigues, battles for succession, warring houses, pitched battles and sieges, and more rape and pillage than HBO would ever dare to show. We all crossed our legs when Theon Greyjoy was gelded in one particular scene in GoT, but this was nothing to the treatment of Simon de Montfort at the battle of Evesham in 1265. After being stabbed through the neck with a lance, the real fun began. According to the chronicle of Arnald FitzThedmar:
“The head of the Earl of Leicester, it is said, was severed from his body, and his testicles cut off and hung on either side of his nose; and in such guise the head was sent to the wife of Sir Roger de Mortimer, at Wiggemor Castle. His hands and feet were also cut off, and sent to divers places to enemies of his, as a great mark of dishonour to the deceased; the trunk of his body however, and that only, was given for burial in the church of Evesham.”
Add into the mix other real-life perils such as periodic eruptions of the plague, bouts of dysentery and various fevers, and terrifying rates of infant mortality and Westeros looks like Disneyland.