Advertisement

“All I Ever Wanted Was to Fight for a Lord I Believed in. But the Good Lords Are Dead and the Rest Are Monsters”: Brienne of Tarth, Jaime Lannister, and the Chivalric “Other”

  • Iain A. MacInnes
Chapter
Part of the Queenship and Power book series (QAP)

Abstract

Although George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series and the accompanying HBO television show Game of Thrones are set in the fantasy land of Westeros, there can be little doubt of their correlation with the medieval world. The importance of medieval chivalry as an underpinning for the narrative of these texts is therefore clear. But rather than privileging the chivalric ideal, Game of Thrones instead deliberately deconstructs and ultimately undermines the construct of the medieval chivalric hero. A chivalric hero should be honourable, loyal, and brave, and while some knightly characters in Game of Thrones appear to possess these qualities, it is repeatedly revealed that their adherence to the chivalric ideal is largely superficial. Jaime Lannister is one such example. Over the course of the narrative Lannister does, however, go through something of a transformative process. The catalyst for some of this change is arguably the shared experience and companionship of Brienne of Tarth as she escorts Lannister from Stark captivity to King’s Landing. It is the purpose of this chapter to examine the depiction of these two knightly figures, and in particular their shared relationship. Considering the place of chivalry as the belief system that links the two together, this chapter analyses the extent to which either character represents the medieval chivalric warrior, or something other.

Bibliography

Primary Sources

  1. Game of Thrones, 3.2, “Dark Wings, Dark Words” (dir. Daniel Minahan, 2013).Google Scholar
  2. Game of Thrones, 4.4, “Oathkeeper” (dir. Michelle MacLaren, 2014).Google Scholar
  3. Game of Thrones, 4.10, “The Children” (dir. Alex Graves, 2014).Google Scholar
  4. Game of Thrones, 5.10, “Mother’s Mercy” (dir. David Nutter, 2015).Google Scholar
  5. Game of Thrones, 7.6, “Beyond the Wall” (dir. Alan Taylor, 2017).Google Scholar
  6. Game of Thrones, 8.2, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” (dir. David Nutter, 2019).Google Scholar
  7. Game of Thrones, 8.3, “The Long Night” (dir. Miguel Sapochnik, 2019).Google Scholar
  8. Game of Thrones, 8.4, “The Last of the Starks” (dir. David Nutter, 2019).Google Scholar
  9. Game of Thrones, 8.6, “The Iron Throne” (dir. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, 2019).Google Scholar
  10. Gray, Thomas. Scalacronica, 1272–1362, edited by Andy King. Woodbridge: Surtees Society, 2005.Google Scholar
  11. Martin, George R.R. A Clash of Kings. London: Harper Voyager, 2011.Google Scholar
  12. Martin, George R.R. A Feast for Crows. London: Harper Voyager, 2011.Google Scholar
  13. Martin, George R.R. A Game of Thrones. London: Harper Voyager, 2011.Google Scholar
  14. Martin, George R.R. “The Hedge Knight.” In Legends, edited by Robert Silverberg. London: Voyager, 1998.Google Scholar
  15. Martin, George R.R. A Storm of Swords, 1: Steel and Snow. London: Harper Voyager, 2011.Google Scholar
  16. Martin, George R.R. A Storm of Swords, 2: Blood and Gold. London: Harper Voyager, 2011.Google Scholar

Secondary Sources

  1. Attali, Maureen. “Religious Violence in Game of Thrones: An Historical Background from Antiquity to the European Wars of Religion.” In Game of Thrones Versus History: Written in Blood, edited by Brian A. Pavlac, 185–194. Hoboken: Wiley Blackwell, 2017.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barber, Richard. The Knight and Chivalry. Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 1995.Google Scholar
  3. Battis, Jes, and Johnston, Susan, eds. Mastering the Game of Thrones: Essays on George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. Jefferson: McFarland and Company, 2015.Google Scholar
  4. Beem, Charles. “The Royal Minorities of Game of Thrones.” In Queenship and the Women of Westeros: Female Agency and Advice inGame of Thrones andA Song of Ice and Fire, edited by Zita Eva Rohr and Lisa Benz, 189–204. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.Google Scholar
  5. Bleisteiner, Martin. “Perils of Generation: Incest, Romance, and the Proliferation of Narrative in Game of Thrones.” In The Medieval Motion Picture: The New Middle Ages, edited by Andrew James Johnston, Margitta Rouse and Philipp Hinz, 155–169. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Blythe, James M. “Women in the military: scholastic arguments and medieval images of female warriors.” History of Political Thought, 22, no. 2 (2001): 242–269.Google Scholar
  7. Borowska-Szerszun, Sylwia. “Westerosi Queens: Medievalist Portrayal of Female Power and Authority in A Song of Ice and Fire.” In Queenship and the Women of Westeros: Female Agency and Advice inGame of Thrones andA Song of Ice and Fire, edited by Zita Eva Rohr and Lisa Benz, 53–75. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.Google Scholar
  8. Clasby, Daniel J. “Coexistence and Conflict in the Religions of Game of Thrones.” In Game of Thrones Versus History: Written in Blood, edited by Brian A. Pavlac, 195–208. Hoboken: Wiley Blackwell, 2017.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. DeCoste, D. Marcel. “Beyond the Pale? Craster and the Pathological Reproduction of Houses in Westeros.” In Mastering the Game of Thrones: Essays on George R. R. Martin’sA Song of Ice and Fire, edited by Jes Battis and Susan Johnston, 225–242. Jefferson: McFarland and Company, 2015.Google Scholar
  10. DeVries, Kelly. Joan of Arc: A Military Leader. Stroud: Sutton, 2003.Google Scholar
  11. Dressler, Rachel Ann. Of Armor and Men in Medieval England: The Chivalric Rhetoric of Three English Knights’ Effigies. London: Routledge, 2004.Google Scholar
  12. Ferreday, Debra. “Game of Thrones, Rape Culture and Feminist Fandom.” Australian Feminist Studies, 30, no. 83 (2015): 21–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Finn, Kavita Mudan. “Queen of Sad Mischance: Medievalism, ‘Realism,’ and the case of Cersei Lannister.” In Queenship and the Women of Westeros: Female Agency and Advice inGame of Thrones andA Song of Ice and Fire, edited by Zita Eva Rohr and Lisa Benz, 29–52. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.Google Scholar
  14. Frankel, Valerie Estelle. Women inGame of Thrones: Power, Conformity and Resistance. Jefferson: McFarland and Company, 2014.Google Scholar
  15. Gilmor, Carroll. “Practical Chivalry: The Training of Horses for Tournaments and Warfare.” Medieval and Renaissance History, 13 (1992): 7–29.Google Scholar
  16. Gjelsvik, Anne, and Schubart, Rikke, eds. Women of Ice and Fire: Gender,Game of Thrones, and Multiple Media Engagements. New York: Bloomsbury, 2016.Google Scholar
  17. Goguen, Stacey. ““There are no true knights”: The Injustice of Chivalry.” In Game of Thrones and Philosophy: Logic Cuts Deeper than Swords, edited by Henry Jacoby, 205–219. Hoboken: John Wiley and Sons, 2012.Google Scholar
  18. Hackney, Charles H. ““Silk ribbons tied around a sword”: Knighthood and the Chivalric Virtues in Westeros.” In Mastering the Game of Thrones: Essays on George R.R. Martin’sA Song of Ice and Fire, edited by Jes Battis and Susan Johnston, 132–150. Jefferson: McFarland and Company, 2015.Google Scholar
  19. Hahn, David. “The Death of Lord Eddard Stark: The Perils of Idealism.” In Game of Thrones and Philosophy: Logic Cuts Deeper than Swords, edited by Henry Jacoby, 75–86. Hoboken: John Wiley and Sons, 2012.Google Scholar
  20. Hovey, Jaime. “Tyrion’s gallantry.” Critical Quarterly, 57, no. 1 (2015): 86–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hunter, Mikayla. “‘All Men Must Die, But We Are Not Men’: Eastern Faith and Feminine Power in A Song of Ice and Fire and HBO’s Game of Thrones.” In Queenship and the Women of Westeros: Female Agency and Advice inGame of Thrones andA Song of Ice and Fire, edited by Zita Eva Rohr and Lisa Benz, 145–168. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.Google Scholar
  22. Hyams, Paul R. Rancor and Reconciliation in Medieval England. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2003.Google Scholar
  23. Jacoby, Henry, ed. Game of Thrones and Philosophy: Logic Cuts Deeper than Swords. Hoboken: John Wiley and Sons, 2012.Google Scholar
  24. Johnston, Susan. “Grief poignant as joy: Dyscatastrophe and eucatastrophe in A Song of Ice and Fire.” Mythlore: A Journal of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and Mythopoeic Literature, 31, no. 1 (2012): 133–54.Google Scholar
  25. Kaeuper, Richard W. Medieval Chivalry. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Keen, Maurice. Chivalry. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984.Google Scholar
  27. King, Andy. “Englishmen, Scots and Marchers: National and Local Identities in Thomas Gray’s Scalacronica.” Northern History, 36 (2000): 217–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. King, Andy. “A Helm with a Crest of Gold: the Order of Chivalry in Thomas Gray’s Scalacronica.” Fourteenth Century England, 1 (2000): 21–35.Google Scholar
  29. King, Andy. “War and Peace: a Knight’s Tale. The ethics of war in Sir Thomas Gray’s Scalacronica.” In War, Government and Aristocracy in the British Isles, c.1150–1500: Essays in Honour of Michael Prestwich, edited by Chris Given-Wilson, Ann Kettle and Len Scales, 148–162. Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2008.Google Scholar
  30. Kozinsky, Beth. ““A thousand bloodstained hands”: The Malleability of Flesh and Identity.” In Mastering the Game of Thrones: Essays on George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, edited by Jes Battis and Susan Johnston, 170–188. Jefferson: McFarland and Company, 2015.Google Scholar
  31. Lambert, Charles. “A tender spot in my heart: disability in A Song of Ice and Fire.” Critical Quarterly, 57, no. 1 (2015): 20–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Larrington, Carolyne. Winter is Coming: The Medieval World ofGame of Thrones. London: I.B. Tauris, 2016.Google Scholar
  33. Leet, Elizabeth S. “Brienne of Tarth is a Heroine for our Age,” The Public Medievalist, 9 May 2019 (https://www.publicmedievalist.com/brienne-of-tarth-is-a-heroine-for-our-age/).
  34. MacInnes, Iain A. Scotland’s Second War of Independence, 1332–1357. Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2016.Google Scholar
  35. Mares, Nicole M. “Writing the Rules of Their Own Game: Medieval Female Agency and Game of Thrones.” In Game of Thrones Versus History: Written in Blood, edited by Brian A. Pavlac, 147–160. Hoboken: Wiley Blackwell, 2017.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. McLaughlin, Megan. “The woman warrior: gender, warfare and society in medieval Europe.” Women’s Studies, 17, no. 3/4 (1990): 193–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Oswald, Anjelica. “Here’s everything Brienne wrote inside the Kingsguard book during the Game of Thrones finale,” Business Insider, 19 May 2019 (https://www.businessinsider.com/game-of-thrones-brienne-wrote-in-kingsguard-book-2019-5?r=US&IR=T).
  38. Pavlac, Brian A., ed. Game of Thrones Versus History: Written in Blood. Hoboken: Wiley Blackwell, 2017.Google Scholar
  39. Polack, Gillian. “Setting up Westeros: The Medievalesque World of Game of Thrones.” In Game of Thrones Versus History: Written in Blood, edited by Brian A. Pavlac, 251–60. Hoboken: Wiley Blackwell, 2017.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Riggs, Don. “Continuity and Transformation in the Religions of Westeros and Western Europe.” In Game of Thrones Versus History: Written in Blood, edited by Brian A. Pavlac, 173–184. Hoboken: Wiley Blackwell, 2017.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Roche, Thomas. “The Way Vengeance Comes: Rancorous Deeds and Words in the World of Orderic Vitalis.” In Vengeance in the Middle Ages: Emotion, Religion and Feud, edited by Susanna A. Throop and Paul R. Hyams, 115–36. London: Routledge, 2010.Google Scholar
  42. Rothman, Lily and Rollo-Koster, Joëlle. “The Real History of Medieval Knights Makes Brienne’s Big Game of Thrones Moment Even More Meaningful,” Time, 25 April 2019 (http://time.com/5575825/game-of-thrones-brienne-knighting-history/).
  43. Shaham, Inbar. “Brienne of Tarth and Jaime Lannister: A romantic comedy within HBO’s Game of Thrones.” Mythlore: A Journal of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and Mythopoeic Literature, 33, no. 2 (2015): 51–73.Google Scholar
  44. Solterer, Helen. “Figures of Female Militancy in Medieval France.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 16, no. 3 (1991): 522–549.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Strickland, Matthew. War and Chivalry: The conduct and perception of war in England and Normandy, 1066–1217. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.Google Scholar
  46. Swank, Kris. “The Peaceweavers of Winterfell.” In Queenship and the Women of Westeros: Female Agency and Advice in Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire, edited by Zita Eva Rohr and Lisa Benz, 105–127. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.Google Scholar
  47. Tasker, Yvonne, and Steenberg, Lindsay. “Women Warriors from Chivalry to Vengeance.” In Women of Ice and Fire: Gender,Game of Thrones, and Multiple Media Engagements, edited by Anne Gjelsvik and Rikke Schubart, 171–192. New York: Bloomsbury, 2016.Google Scholar
  48. Tullman, Katherine. “Dany’s Encounter with the Wild: Cultural Relativism in A Game of Thrones.” In Game of Thrones and Philosophy: Logic Cuts Deeper than Swords, edited by Henry Jacoby, 194–204. Hoboken: John Wiley and Sons, 2012.Google Scholar
  49. Walker, Jessica. ““Just songs in the end”: Historical Discourses in Shakespeare and Martin.” In Mastering the Game of Thrones: Essays on George R.R. Martin’sA Song of Ice and Fire, edited by Jes Battis and Susan Johnston, 71–91. Jefferson: McFarland and Company, 2015.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Iain A. MacInnes
    • 1
  1. 1.UHI Centre for HistoryUniversity of the Highlands and IslandsDornochUK

Personalised recommendations