Game of Thrones historical inspiration: Who is the inspiration for Robb Stark?

Robb Stark is King of the North in the world of Game of Thrones. Who is his real history counterpart?
Los Angeles Red Carpet And Fan Screening For Prime Video's "Citadel" - Arrivals
Los Angeles Red Carpet And Fan Screening For Prime Video's "Citadel" - Arrivals / Jon Kopaloff/GettyImages

When you think of Robb Stark in Game of Thrones, you’ll think of him as King of the North. He is based on a real figure in history, although that figure didn’t end up with such a horrible death.

Robb Stark was the eldest son of Ned and Catelyn Stark. After Ned’s execution, Robb headed south. He wanted to save his sisters, but he also wanted to overthrow Joffrey Baratheon. It wasn’t that he wanted to be king, but he did want revenge.

He had the backing of the north. Thousands of North Men followed him, calling him King of the North. However, a bad decision in name of love led to a bloody end.

Game of Thrones took inspiration from King Edward IV of England

Robb Stark is inspired by King Edward IV of England. It’s worth noting that Robert Baratheon is also based on the same man. There is a lot of story for Edward to see this being possible.

Edward was the son of a duke, Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York. After his father’s death, Edward needed to gain some sort of justice and revenge. He decided to take back the throne that should have been in his family’s hands. This is something that goes back through generations before him. Edward starts the Wars of the Roses in a similar way to Robb Stark starting the War of Five Kings in Game of Thrones.

Edward was a keen fighter. He wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty, and while he listened to advisors, he also had his own battle strategies that tended to work well. In fact, he did end up becoming King Edward IV of England.

There is another element of inspiration. Edward met Elizabeth Woodville on the road. Elizabeth’s family was originally on the side of the Lancastrians, but she was simply out looking for support and help after the wars had left her family struggling. Edward fell in love with her, and they secretly married. This was despite Edward being betrothed to someone else.

Like with Talisa, Elizabeth wasn’t liked by everyone. Elizabeth was a commoner and not fit to marry a king. Edward didn’t care. It led to Richard Neville, known as The Kingmaker, and the reason Edward did actually win the throne, to turn away from Edward and support another claim to the throne. We see that happen in Game of Thrones as the Boltons and Freys decide to turn against the Starks after Robb chooses to marry Talisa instead of Walder Frey’s daughter, who he is betrothed to.

Where the similarities between the characters end

Of course, not everything that happened in real history is used in Game of Thrones. Edward IV of England gained the throne, lost the throne, and then regained it. He held it until his death by natural causes.

However, Edward did have to make some difficult decisions. One of those was having his brother George executed for treason. The end of his reign was tumultuous as well. While he had a son, who would be known as Edward V of England, Edward’s marriage to Elizabeth was annulled due to the previous betrothal. Edward V was declared illegitimate and Edward IV’s brother Richard (who had orchestrated all of this) was named Richard III of England.

Robb didn’t get a chance to win the Iron Throne—and that’s if he wanted it. He didn’t get to save his sisters or kill Joffrey. He was killed at his uncle’s wedding along with his wife, his mother, and all him men (and his direwolf), which remains one of the most shocking moments in Game of Thrones history.

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