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Game of Thrones historical inspirations: Robb Stark

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Robb Stark was the eldest of the Stark children in Game of Thrones. Who inspired this character in real English history?

It’s time for another look into the historical inspirations for Game of Thrones. Robb Stark threw me at first. I was thinking of Henry VII, but that was Daenerys. I was thinking too close to the end of the Wars of the Roses, instead of looking to the beginning.

The historical inspiration for Robb Stark is from right at the start of the Wars of the Roses. He is 18-year-old Edward Plantagenet, son of Richard, Duke of York and Cecily Neville.

Most people will know this man as Edward IV of England, which is quite fitting considering Robb Stark was known as King of the North.

A word of caution, this covers storylines in both the show and the books, so please be aware there are spoilers if you’ve not watched/read all.

Who was Edward IV?

Now Edward IV and Robb Stark only really link together in Edward’s earlier years. After all, Robb died at the end of Season 3 at the Red Wedding.

With that in mind, I’m only going to cover up to the point of Edward marrying Elizabeth Woodville—as that relationship screams Robb Stark too.

Edward was the son of Richard, Duke of York, and his wife Cecily Neville. If you’ve been reading my historical inspirations posts, you’ll already know that I believe Cecily Neville is the inspiration for Catelyn Stark, Robb’s mother. It seems quite fitting that the character’s son has also been inspired by the real-life son.

Edward’s father claimed that his line had the strongest claim to the throne. However, he never wanted the throne for himself; he wanted it for his 18-year-old son. He fought hard to put his son on the throne, and his family and close allies joined in with him. It led to his demise, along with his second son Edmund, at the Battle of Wakefield.

Edward went on to defeat Henry VI’s army with the help of his cousin, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick. Henry VI and his army and followers were forced into exile, and Edward became Edward IV of England by force.

About four years after that, Edward married Elizabeth Woodville, a commoner. Cecily never believed that Elizabeth was good enough for her son as she was a commoner. However, Edward married her for love and remained with her for the rest of his life. However, he wasn’t exactly faithful after taking on numerous mistresses.

How Edward IV and Robb Stark in Game of Thrones are similar

Both Edward and Robb lost their fathers during their respective battles, and in fairly embarrassing ways. Richard, Duke of York was killed fleeing the Battle of Wakefield. Robb’s dad, Ned Stark, was executed publicly after agreeing to admit treason to try and save his life—and the lives of his daughters.

They were both young while fighting the way. Edward was 18 when he became king, and Robb was around 14 in the book and 18 in HBO’s Game of Thrones. They had a lot of growing up to do, and quickly.

I’ve not read much into the thoughts and feelings of Edward, but he comes across as someone who wanted to do right by his people. The country was at war—arguably because of his father—but he wanted to bring an end to that as quickly as possible. He brought some peace, especially after his second defeat of Henry VI in 1471. Robb Stark started his war after trying to save his sisters from King’s Landing and ended up becoming the King of the North. He then went on to do the best he could for his people and believed in honor and righteousness. Robb executes a man for betrayal, knowing that it would lead to a number of bannermen leaving.

The marriages to Elizabeth Woodville and Talisa/Jeyne

Both men end up marrying people they shouldn’t. In real life, Edward IV married Elizabeth Woodville, a commoner. This was the first time a king had married a commoner and it was not favored by anyone. Marriages were supposed to be for power and politics, and he opted for love. And he did love her.

They married in secret, but he did announce their marriage and she was crowned the Queen Consort of England. He ignored all those who spoke against the Woodvilles gaining so much power. Some claim that he was bewitched by her, and the Woodvilles are often portrayed as witches in works of historical fiction. There is no evidence of truth in those claims.

As for Robb Stark, he also married for love. The people he married differ in the show and the books. In the books, he married Jeyne, while in the show he married Talisa. Like Edward’s marriage, both of these were frowned upon.

In the show, he marries for love after meeting Talisa on the battlefield. His mother had already promised that he would marry one of Walder Frey’s daughters, but he chose to dishonor that promise.

In the books, he marries due to a one-night stand with Jeyne. He didn’t want her to suffer because she had given her virtue to him. They do end up falling for each other and try to have a baby. It turns out that Jeyne’s mother is using magic to prevent them from conceiving, bringing in the magical side of the Woodvilles.

There are certainly more similarities between Edward IV and Robb Stark compared to Henry VII and Robb Stark. The ones above are where I view the historical inspirations for Game of Thrones and the rest of the books.

MORE: Do you need to watch Game of Thrones to understand House of the Dragon?

Who would you like me to look into next when it comes to Game of Thrones characters? Share in the comments below.

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