The Real Historical Event That Inspired House Of The Dragon [Comic-Con]

San Diego Comic-Con won't stop for a second to let you catch your breath. /Film has a team in Hall H, ready to give you all the info on anything you missed in the wild news parade that is this weekend. The latest offering is the upcoming HBO prequel series "House of the Dragon." The story takes place two hundred years before the events of "Game of Thrones," when House Targaryen ruled Westeros

At the panel, George R.R. Martin, author of the "Song of Ice and Fire" series the franchise is based on, spoke about the real historical events that inspired this particular part of the story. (George, good sir, please go back to writing. I and every person who loves this fictional world implore you. The showrunners have this one covered, okay? )

Art imitates life

As you may already know, "Game of Thrones" was based on a chapter of British history called the War of the Roses — something that Martin mentioned on this panel. He joked that he takes "elements from history," and "turn[s] them up to eleven," and that approach continues in "House of the Dragon." Martin explained:

"This show was based on an earlier period in world history called The Anarchy. And you know, I pilfered freely from real history. When Henry I, the King of England, when his only legitimate son drowned while trying to cross the English Channel, he was left with only one legitimate child which was his daughter Matilda. And he named her his heir, and he made all the lords of the kingdom swear their fealty to her.

"And then some years later, he died, and most of the lords of the kingdom forgot about that oath. They said oh, it doesn't apply, because here comes her cousin Stephen who crosses the Channel quickly and steals the treasury, and gets himself crowned King, and you entered a period called The Anarchy where Maud, or Matilda as she was known, and Stephen fought [for] a decade, two decades, whatever — it got horrible and bloody." 

The Anarchy — the brutal civil war in England and Normandy — took place between 1138 and 1153. Historical spoilers here: in the real world, the long battle between Stephen and Empress Matilda (as she was styled), ended with Stephen taking the throne, but with Matilda's son Henry FitzEmpress being crowned as Henry II after Stephen's death. 

In the series, King Viserys' (Paddy Considine) heir is his brother Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith), though Viserys is looking to name his daughter Rhaenyra (Emma D'Arcy) as heir, which would make her the first Queen Regent of Westeros.

"House of the Dragon" will premiere on HBO Max on August 21, 2022.