Game of Thrones inspirations: Who is Robert Baratheon based on from real history?

With so many Game of Thrones characters inspired by real history, it's time to look at Robert Baratheon. If it wasn't for him, a Targaryen would still be on the Iron Throne.
2023 BAFTA Television Awards with P&O Cruises - Winner's Room
2023 BAFTA Television Awards with P&O Cruises - Winner's Room / Dave Benett/GettyImages

If it wasn’t for Robert Baratheon in Game of Thrones, the War of Five Kings would never have started. Of course, it did, and it led to a lot of death and a lot of heartbreak.

Like most Game of Thrones characters, Robert Baratheon is inspired by some people from real history. It looks like George R.R. Martin took inspiration from two people in real history, developing the storyline that we know happened before the series and then the storyline we saw during the series.

There are some substantial changes, though. This inspiration is loose.

Young Robert Baratheon before Game of Thrones is King Edward IV in real history

Before we get to know Robert Baratheon, we know that he started Robert’s Rebellion. This was due to learning Lyanna Stark had been taken by Rhaegar Targaryen. He believed that Lyanna had been taken against her own will, but we would later find out that she left freely. She and Rhaegar loved each other.

Regardless, Robert started a war. He pulled in various houses to take down King Aerys II.

There are some similarities to King Edward IV, although Edward didn’t go to war to get a girl. He went to war because he believed the House of York should sit on the throne, not the House of Lancaster. It’s why Robb Stark ends up becoming more like King Edward IV when it comes to reasons to start a war.

The part that is very much inspired by Edward is the mistakes that Robert makes. You see, I don’t think he ever actually wanted to be king. Not for the sake of being a king. He wanted Lyanna. Everything he did was for love, and that was something Edward would find: he would make mistakes for love that would change the rule of England.

Robert’s death is somewhat similar to Edward IV

There is a moment at the end of Robert’s time in Game of Thrones that connects to Edward IV. It’s all about Robert’s death.

Edward IV died at the age of 40, and it was a surprise death. Edward died shortly after a fishing trip. Nobody knows what happened to him to this day, with some historians suspecting murder while others believe he may have had a heart attack or stroke. By the time he was 40, he was overweight, drinking and eating to excess.

Robert’s death happened after a boar attacked him while he was out hunting. We know that this was something planned by the Lannisters.

Robert Baratheon is also inspired a little by Henry VIII

We can also turn to the Tudor period for some of Robert’s inspiration. There are elements of Henry VIII in him. This is more to do with his looks and attitude rather than anything else.

Henry VIII was originally a fit man. A jousting accident led to him being injured, and that injury never really healed. It became infected a lot, making it difficult for Henry to enjoy activities. He ended up eating and drinking to excess, gaining a lot of weight and becoming the man that we know of in his later portraits.

While some would like to say that Robert’s ways with women is linked to Henry, they’re actually linked to Edward IV. Henry did enjoy the company of women, and there are elements of Robert’s story to the Henry married to Catherine of Aragon. However, Robert didn’t go out to change the religion of Westeros to remarry in the way that Henry did. Edward IV liked to sleep with a lot of women, often in excess, which is more of what Robert did.

The way Robert ran Westeros was also more like Henry’s actions. Henry VIII squandered the wealth his father left him for the country, leading to problems that future monarchs would have to deal with. Henry wasn’t interested in fully ruling the country, but he did demand to be treated with respect. He left it all up to his advisors in the way that Robert left it to Ned and others to deal with everything in Westeros.

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