Game of Thrones/History
The events of Game of Thrones is set in a world with a long history, going back thousands of years.
- 12,000 years prior to the series: Arrival of the First Men, and the start of the Dawn Age.
- 10,000 years prior to the series: Establishment of the Pact between the First Men and the Children of the Forrest. Beginning of the Age of Heroes
- 8,000 years prior to the series: Invasion, and eventually defeat, of the White Walkers.
- 6,000 years prior to the series: Beginning of the Andal Invasion, leading into the end of the Age of Heroes.
- 4,000 years prior to the series: Andal conquest of Westeros completed. Seven independent kingdoms are eventually established.
- 300 years prior to the series: The Targaryen conquest unifies most of the continent, establishing the name The Seven Kingdoms.
- 100 years prior to the series: The last indepentent kingdom, Dorne, is incorporated into the Seven Kingdoms.
- 17 years prior to the series: Robert's rebellion marks the end of the Targaryen royal dynasty, and the beginning of the Baratheon royal dynasty.
Only including the western part of the continent, as the history of the lands beyond the Red Waste remains unknown.
- Unknown point in the distant past: The Ghiscari Empire becomes the main culture, while minor civilizations, such as the Andal, the Dothraki, the Lhazareen, the Rhoynar, and the Valyrian, are also established.
- 6,000 years prior to the series: Following visions from the Seven-Faced God, the Andals leave Essos, migrating to Westeros.
- 5,000 years prior to the series: Following the discovery of dragons, the Valyrians conquer the continent and lay waste to the empire capital of Ghis, establishing the Valyrian Freehold.
- 1,000 years prior to the series: Facing extinction due to war with the Valyrian Freehold, the Rhoynar flees to Westeros, setteling in Dorne.
- 400 years prior to the series: The Doom of Valyria causes the end of the Valyrian Freehold, leaving the Targaryans as the only remaining Valyrian noble house.
History of Westeros
Arrival of the First Men and the Dawn Age (12,000 to 10,000 years ago)
The first human inhabitants of the western continent, the First Men, migrated from Essos to Westeros some 12,000 years prior to the series. Altough the First Men was the original humans of the continent, it was not uninhabited when they arrived - it's oldest known humanoid population, the Children of the Forrest, mythical creatures with magic skills, were already there, and the clash of the two races caused a century-lasting war.
The Pact and the Age of Heroes (10,000 to 6,000 years ago)
After two millennia of war, the First Men and the Children of the Forrest finally sealed a peace treaty, the Pact - and thus began the Age of Heroes, a 4,000 long era inspiring tales, legends, and songs. During these centuries, societies began to rise and legendary heroes such as Bran the Builder, Lann the Clever, and Durran Godsgrief, founded dynasties like the Houses Stark and Lannister, established the Night's Watch, and supposedly fought monsters and gods alike. The First Men adopted the religious beliefs of the Children: the faith of the Old Gods of the Forest, while their languages was the runebased Old Tongue.
2,000 years after the sealing of the Pact, a new time of war begun - The Long Night, lasting a generation - during which the White Walkers arrived from the polar regions of the far north. The First Men and the Children of the Forrest joined forces, and eventually managed to drive the Walkers back north, raising the Wall for protection. The Children population eventually began dwindling, and about 6,000 years prior to the series, when a new wave of invaders, the Andals, reached the continent, they were no longer around.
The Andal Invasion and the establishing kingdoms (6,000 to 300 years ago)
Like the First Men, the Andals were humans, albeit better organized, and during the following two millennia, the so called Andal Invasion spread throughout Westeros, eventually bringing the culture of the First Men to the verge of extinction, only prevailing in the North. About 4,000 years before the beginning of the series, the Andals' presence were accepted on the Iron Islands, the final parts of the continent to do so, thus completing the invasion.
The Andals brought more modern ways to build civilization, incuding knighthood, a new, herarchical, religion: The Faith of the Seven, and the language known as the Common Tongue. The continent began to change, from harboring hundreds of selfproclaimed petty kings, to being devided into eight larger kingdoms with established royal houses: The Kingdom of Mountain and Vale, The Storm Kingdom, The Kingdom of the Rock, The Kingdom in the North, The Kingdom of the Reach, The Kingdom of the Iron Islands, The Kingdom of Rivers and Hills, and The Kingdom of Dorne.
The Kingdom of Rivers and Hills, being in the middle of the continent, was often under occupation of one or another of its neigbors. About 650 years prior to the series, it was conquered by The Storm Kingdom, which 300 years later lost it to The Iron Islands. The expanded country ruled by the Iron Islands kings soon became named The Kingdom of Isles and Rivers.
The Targaryen Conquest and The Seven Kingdoms (300 to 17 years ago)
Thus - 300 years prior to the beginning of the series, as a third invasion occurred, Westeros included seven kingdoms. With the help of dragons, Aegon Targaryen, originating from a fallen Essosi empire, easily conquered the continent, proclaiming himself the sole king of the previous independent kingdoms. Aegon's realm became divided into eight regions: seven former kingdoms: The Vale, The Stormlands, The Westerlands, The North, The Reach, and (once again separated) The Iron Islands and The Riverlands, alongside a previously disputed area now named The Crownlands, governed from the capital city founded by Aegon on the very place where he first arrived on mainland Westeros: King's Landing.
The final of the continent's former kingdoms, Dorne, remained independent for another 200 years, until it was brought under Iron Throne rule through the means of a marriage pact between the House Targaryen and House Martell, a mere century before the beginning of the series. By this time, the name of the realm had already been established as The Seven Kingdoms, although it now came to include nine regions - eight former kingdoms, and the capital region of the Crownlands.
Robert's Rebellion and the royal House Baratheon (The 17 years leading up to the series)
For generations to come, the Targaryens remained regents of the Seven Kingdoms, with the eight other great houses serving under it, governing one region each. However - 17 years prior to the beginning of the series, the House Baratheon of the Stormlands led a rebellion (Robert's rebellion), resulting in all known Targaryens either being killed or fleeing the continent. Following the rebellion, House Baratheon has reigned over the Kingdoms, with the other houses (sans Targaryen) retaining their regional power.
Current cultures and religions (as shown in the series)
The Andal culture remains the main Westerosi culture, with The Faith of the Seven remaining as the predominating religion. The most notable exception is of course the Free Folk, north of the Wall, which remains basically untouched by the Andal ways of living.
However - even south of the Wall, the Andal invasion wasn't total. Most notably, the culture of the First Men still lives in The North, with the Old Gods of the Forest (as opposed to the Seven) remaining the main deities. Amongst the Northmen, the Crannogmen are a unique offshoot as the inhabitants of The Neck - the southernmost part of the region, notable for its swampy environment. With The Neck being the last area to be included in the former Kingdom in the North, the Crannogmen, headed by House Reed of Greywater Watch, cherish their First Men inheritance more careful than other Northmen.
South of The North, by the foot of The Mountains of the Moon, live the Hill Tribes, which are also descendants of the First Men. Still claiming their independence from the military and culturally supperior Seven Kingdoms, the tribes have remain de facto free thanks to their knowledge of the unfriendly terrain, although the area is politically considered a part of The Vale. Among the most notably hill tribes are the Stone Crows, the Burned Men, the Black Ears, the Painted Dogs, and the Moon Brothers.
Thanks to the geographical position, the citizens of Iron Islands - the Ironborn - have also keept their own identity. Most notably, they still worship their ancient native deity, the Drowned God. As a result, The Iron Islands remains one of the most unreliable regions, in regards to fidelity to the King on Iron Throne.
Finally, the most southern region of the Seven Kingdoms - separated from the rest of the continent by The Red Mountains - is the former Kingdom of Dorne. Its population, the Dornishmen, also distinguish themself from the rest of the realm. Because the Dornish kingdom was created when the Rhoynar people fled Essos, its culture and etnicity is a mixture not only of the First Men and the Andals, but to a great extent also of the Rhoynar tradition. Adding to the peculiarity of the Dornishmen, in comparision to the rest of the Seven Kingdoms, is the fact that Dorne was the last region to sworn fidelity to the Iron Throne. Still today, Dorne often chose to stay away from the politic schemes of King's Landing.
History of Essos
Ghiscari Empire and Valyrian Freehold
The oldest known Essosi civilization is the Ghiscari Empire established thousands of years ago, and centered around the Slaver's Bay and the city of (Old) Ghis. 5,000 years ago, the Ghiscari was crushed by the Valyrian Freehold, who, after having discovered and tamed dragons, quickly raised from a mild mannered sheperds to the rulers of the continent.
The Ghiscari culture did survived though, albeit marginalized - consentrated in the cities on the eastern coastline of the Slaver's Bay, and in the surviving Kingdom of Ghiscari.
The Doom of Valyria
The Valyrians remained the main culture of the continent for almost five millennia, until a catastrophic event known as the Doom layed the Valyrian peninsula in ruins, and caused the extinction of most of the Valyrian noble families. Only one survived - the Targaryans. With the last surviving dragons, the Targaryens conquered Westeros, leaving Essos behind.
The Valyrian culture did however remain in Essos - mainly in the so called Free Cities, across the western parts of the continent, but also in some surviving cities in the Valyrian peninsula.
Alongside the Ghiscaris and the Valyrians, a couple of minor cultures has survived the centuries: the nomad warriors of the Dothraki still rule much of the continent, and the Lhazareen herders still prevail.
Previous Essosi civilizations include the Andals, which, following devine visions, migrated to Westeros 6,000 years ago, and still remain the main culture of the Seven Kingdoms. Another culture - the Rhoynar - remained in Essos for another 5,000 years, until they faced extinction from the Valyrians, and was forced to flee to Westeros, where they intermingled with the Dornishmen. The Rhoynar cities in Essos now only remain as ruins.
The far east
During the centuries, the Red Waste secured the eastern parts of the continent from the influnces of the Ghiscari, Valyrian, and Dothraki cultures. The Qartheen, citizens of city-state of Qarth, located at the end of the Red Waste, is the most known to the westeners, but the continent continues far beyond. The details of these lands, their history and culture, remain unexplored throughout the west, however.
The known part of Essos holds mainly four religions : the Dothraki's religion of the Great Stallion; the Lhazareen's the Great Shepherd; the Many-Faced God, worshipped mainly in Braavos; and R'hllor (or the Lord of Light) the continent's main deity, most notably worshipped amongst the Free Cities, as well as in the far east - particularly in the city of Asshai.
By the fifth season, following the death of King Robert Baratheon in season one, Westeros' royal house is divided: Robert's brother Stannis is claiming the crown, due to the rumors that Robert did't father his legal son Tommen, who currently occupies the Iron Throne.
Elsewhere, House Greyjoy of the Iron Islands has proclaimed its region independent. House Stark of the North recently did likewise, supported by House Tully of the Riverlands, although their uprising was brutally put to rest. Both House Stark and House Tully were eventually expelled, and the positions as the great houses of the North and of the Riverlands were given to House Bolton and House Frey - the first time since the Targaryen conquest that lesser houses have been promoted.
Meanwhile, Daenerys Targaryen has taken seat in the Slaver's Bay, gathering support and means to return from Essos as queen regnant of The Seven Kingdoms; the Free Folk has been gathered under Mance Rayder, "The King-Beyond-the-Wall", who is currently a prisoner of the Night's Watch; and the White Walkers are also closing in an the Wall, for reasons still unknown.