Game of Thrones inspiration: Who was Jon Snow based on?

George R.R. Martin used real history as inspiration for a lot of Game of Thrones. Where does Jon Snow fit into this?
Game of Thrones - Jon and Daenerys
Game of Thrones - Jon and Daenerys /

There are many who view Jon Snow to be inspired by Julius Caesar from real history. However, the Game of Thrones character may have very loosely been based on someone who helped to bring an end to the Wars of the Roses.

Jon’s story is harder to pinpoint when it comes to historical inspiration. There are times that he seems like he could be Edward IV of England. Then there are times when he comes across as Henry Tudor, who would later become Henry VII of England.

I’m actually looking at a bit of a gender swap here. As Daenerys is more like Henry Tudor, there are signs that Jon may have been very loosely based on Elizabeth of York.

The similarities between Jon Snow and Elizabeth of York

For the whole of Game of Thrones, we’re led to believe that Jon is an illegitimate child of Ned Stark. Ned didn’t even tell his wife Catelyn the truth about Jon’s parentage. It turned out, though, that Jon was the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. Rhaegar’s marriage to his first wife was annulled and he married Lyanna, making Jon the rightful Targaryen king.

Elizabeth of York was the daughter of Edward IV of England. During Edward’s reign, she was legitimate. It was after that as Richard III usurped Elizabeth’s brother, Edward V, that Elizabeth and her siblings were made illegitimate.

Elizabeth was raised believing herself to be the daughter of a king, and that was taken from her. Jon was raised believing himself to be the illegitimate son of a lord, but that changed as he learned the truth. Neither of the revelations really changed who the people were, though.

We then have Jon’s relationship with Daenerys. Jon didn’t want to become King of Westeros, despite that being his birthright over Daenerys. He did want to be beside her, though. That was until she took things way too far and he was left having to kill her to save the people who were left. When Henry Tudor won at the Battle of Bosworth, he ended up marrying Elizabeth of York. She could have rallied people for her to take the throne from her husband, but she didn’t. She didn’t even support a man claiming to be her younger brother, Richard, who would have had a direct claim to the throne.

Elizabeth and Jon wanted to bring an end to all the fighting. They could do that by allowing others to rule, and they would be by those people’s sides.

How Game of Thrones changed Jon’s character

Of course, there is a lot in Jon Snow’s character that doesn’t match Elizabeth of York. Elizabeth may have been used to inspire another character in the series: Sansa Stark. I’ll get to that in another post.

Jon also seems somewhat inspired by Henry VII at times. We just have to look at the Battle of the Bastards and how that was similar to the Battle of Bosworth at times. There are also certainly elements of Jon’s story that connects to Julius Caesar when it comes to Jon’s connection to the Wildlings.

Elizabeth definitely didn’t get involved in any fighting. Some of Jon’s story seems connected to John Stark’s story in 1752 when he and his men were captured by Abenaki warriors and Stark was taken prisoner. He ended up being adopted into the tribe, and by the time he was rescued, he had built up a bond with the Abenaki people that he refused to take part in a raid against them. Sound like Jon and the Wildlings?

Let’s be honest, though; Elizabeth was a woman of her time. She was smart, but she was also a princess and later a queen. She knew the way she needed to act, but she was also smart enough to be able to help bring peace to her country. Sadly, Elizabeth died of childbed fever shortly after her last child, a baby who was stillborn and buried with her. Her memory would live forever with Henry VII.

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Game of Thrones is available to stream on Max.