We haven’t yet discovered any historical or literary precedent for ice-zombie-dragons…but the rest of the major themes and plot lines in Game of Thrones echo throughout the Newberry’s collection of medieval and Renaissance material.
Now that we’re midway through the final season of the show, we thought we’d list a few of the collection items that the past three episodes have reminded us of.
Season 8, Episode 1: Winterfell
GoT development: Jon Snow learning he’s the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, thus giving him a legitimate claim to the Iron Throne.
Newberry collection item: Patent of nobility for Alvar Goncalez el Moxo, Granada, 1567.
After learning the truth of his parentage from Sam, Jon should consider having someone who’s not his best friend authenticate his noble lineage and claim to the Iron Throne as Aegon Targaryen.
Daenerys’s reaction to the news (at the end of the next episode) only reinforces the need for such a document. Dany gets understandably prickly upon hearing that the person she thought was her lover and ally is in fact her nephew and, potentially, rival to the throne. Scoffing at the revelation that Jon is the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, she asks him, “A secret no one else in the world knew except your brother and your best friend? Doesn’t that seem strange to you?”
A patent of nobility (like the one above) might not ensure a smooth ascent to the Iron Throne for Jon. But it couldn’t hurt.
Season 8, Episode 2: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms
GoT development: Jaime Lannister knighting Brienne of Tarth.
Newberry collection item: Illustration of Joan of Arc from Le champion des dames, 1488.
The highlight of the episode (and the scene that gives it its title) is Jaime Lannister knighting Brienne of Tarth. When Brienne rises as Ser Brienne of Tarth, brimming with gratitude and confidence in her full suit of armor, she calls to mind an image of Joan of Arc from a 15th-century manuscript titled Le champion des dames. The manuscript is a proto-feminist ode to powerful women in history, literature, and the Bible.
Given her loyal service to Arya and Sansa Stark throughout Game of Thrones, Brienne could easily appropriate the title “Champion des Dames” for herself, in addition to claiming the title “Ser.”
Season 8, Episode 3: The Long Night
GoT development: The battle between the living and the dead.
Newberry collection item: “The Massacre at Wassy, the First Day of March, 1562,” in The First Volume Containing Forty Tableaus or Diverse Memorable Histories Concerning the Wars, Massacres, and Troubles that have Occurred in France in these Last Years.
The brutal human v. zombie combat inside the walls of Winterfell evokes the chaotic, densely packed scenes of violence depicted in a series of 16th-century prints illustrating religious warfare between Catholic and Huguenot forces in France. Thousands of copies of these prints circulated at the time. Complete sets were often bound together, like an album of 39 prints that can be found in the Newberry’s collection.