Game of Thrones inspirations: Who is Catelyn Stark inspired by?

There are a few inspirations from English history in Game of Thrones, especially in terms of the characters. Who is Catelyn Stark inspired by from the Wars of the Roses?
"Game Of Thrones" Panel - Comic-Con International 2013
"Game Of Thrones" Panel - Comic-Con International 2013 / Kevin Winter/GettyImages

We know that George R.R. Martin was inspired a lot by English history throughout Game of Thrones. This includes a number of the characters. We just looked at Ned Stark, so it makes sense to look at his wife, Catelyn Stark.

Catelyn is based on a real person from history. While some of the storylines are certainly not the same, there are a few inspirations taken from Cecily Neville, Duchess of York. She was the real-life wife of Richard, Duke of York, who was the inspiration for Ned Stark.

Who was Cecily Neville, Duchess of York?

Cecily was the wife of Richard, Duke of York, and mother of Edward IV and Richard III of England. Cecily’s marriage to Richard was not one of love, just like the marriage between Ned and Catelyn was not. The two of them were betrothed at a young age. This was all to do with power and position for both families.

Eventually, their marriage did lead to one of love and respect. Cecily was raised to put aside her feelings of love at first and not question the marriage.

Cecily remained at home while her husband grew unhappy with the way the country was bring run and went off to war. It’s not all that clear just how on side she was with the idea of the Wars of the Roses, but she did subscribe to the idea of “family, duty, honor,” the motto of House Tully in Game of Thrones.

Where the similarities end for Catelyn Stark in Game of Thrones

Cecily did become a widow due to Richard, Duke of York being defeated in battle and potentially given a sham trial. He was ridiculed by the Lancastrian forces, similar to how those who supposed the Lannisters ridiculed Ned in Game of Thrones.

Cecily also lost all her sons by the time of 1485. We know Catelyn saw the death of one of her sons in Game of Thrones, and she would be joined in death by another. However, this is where the similarities end. Cecily wasn’t murdered at her brother’s wedding in as Catelyn was in Game of Thrones. Cecily died of natural causes in 1495, shortly after the births of three of her great-grandchildren.

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Game of Thrones is available to stream on Max.