Importance of Heraldry in Game of Thrones

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The culture was the knowledge that many didn’t have, coats of arms were a form of transmission of culture. The jugglers and rhapsodists are an example of oral transmission of culture; they went from castle to castle singing stories of noble knights and stories of the “three matters”. Another classic example is that the knights only needed to see the representation of the shields of the knights of King Arthur to remember their deeds. The nobles, on the other hand, liked more to decorate the weapons rooms of the palaces, they did it through a coat of arms extracted from Arthurian stories, knights “without reproach”. The herald dominated not only the above but also the historical and literary culture of the time. They were defined by being notaries of honor.

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Heraldry in Tolkien Novels:

Tolkien was the writer of the famous novel 'The Lord of the Rings', as well as many other works of great notoriety. In his works, he used heraldry in the representation of different shields, signs, or imaginary emblems to distinguish in the battles the different kingdoms. They were simple shields, most of them were smooth, such as:

  • The Gondor Seneschals: white without any figure or detail
  • Elfhelm de Rohan: white
  • Erkenbrand de Rohan: red
  • The House of Elrond: “Elladan and Elrohir rode with a silver banner' (Gonzalez, 2018)
  • The Haradrim: 'red banners'

His techniques for creating imaginary heraldry respected, in general, real heraldic norms, although with some exceptions. This can be seen in the Banners of Rohan (in a field of sinople a galloping silver horse), of the Royal House of Gondor (in the field of saber a tree of fruity silver and nominated by seven stars) or that of Saruman (in the field of a silver saber) since they pay attention to the norm of not mixing color with color or metal with metal. It can be said that Tolkien tended to represent natural figures in his shields. The vast majority of shields are either plain or include a single natural figure. They can be seen for example in the Tree (white tree, holly), the Stars, the Animals (swans, horses, snakes), and in the presence of many parts of the human body, something unusual in the heraldry of the real world (Eye, Hand, wing). Even so, he sometimes used artificial figures. Besides, he also opted for certain colors. I used to use white or silver colors frequently for elven or numerous peoples. He did not use shields of gold or sinople colors.

The book of the game of thrones as we know is based on mythological and magical elements Also the timing in which they based the books is rumored to be the equivalent to the “War of the Roses”. The conflict that took place in England, between 1455 and 1487, and has the struggle for the English throne as a trigger for the confrontation. Therefore, making a mix of mythological and real-time events, it would be more than logical to add the use of heraldry as a result. Also, the remarkable wars that appear in the book make it even a better excuse for the several blazons that appear in the books and are a determinant key in the book and series, as they have to give the reader something to identify the different groups that are fighting against each other, making easier to read at the same time. This gives a better understanding of the morals and personalities that each group involved in the book have, to the readers. It gives personality to each group and gives you an instant feeling just by a simple image, the subconscious idea that your mind creates when you see something for the first time. This Heraldry also acts as logos, identifying their homes, providing them with values, as it was mentioned before, creating engagement, and making the fan community feel represented by them and position themselves for and against each other.

An example for those who might not have seen or read "Game of thrones", could be looking to Harry Potter and the use of names and colors for each of the houses, which lets you easily identify each of the characters within each of the groups. Even a real person could be grouped into one of the houses because of the description of their personality. This is what game of thrones is trying to do when using heraldry in their book, give that major feeling sense of personality to their character. On the other hand, For Game of Thrones, we could that the Stark house could represent honor and humility, the Lannister pride and power, the Targaryen house the desire for conquest and purity, Bolton's house for strength and greed. The series is a lesson on how to get power through strategy.

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