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The Red Wedding From Game Of Thrones Happened In Real Life

It was real, and maybe even more brutal.

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Let’s face it, we still haven’t gotten over the Red Wedding. It still haunts us to see Robb Stark and most of his family and clan be wiped out like that. But, George RR Martin confirms that this horrifying wedding from Game of Thrones happened in real life! Here’s what inspired him to write this iconic episode from the show.

The Real Red Wedding happened in Scotland

George RR Martin usually takes several events from history and molds them into his books. And the Red Wedding is no different. But, he chose Scottish history because it is extremely brutal. He said:

Scottish history is an amazing source for all this because it’s one of the most incredibly bloody histories of any country that I’ve ever studied.

And that brings us to the Red Wedding. It was inspired by the Black Dinner of 1440, held at the court of the Boy King James II of Scotland. Martin recalls in an interview:

The Black Dinner occurred when the King of Scotland was having a dispute with the Black Douglasses. The Lord of Douglas was a young man, 18 or 19 years old, kind of like a Robb Stark figure and he brought his even younger brother. And they had a marvellous feast and everybody was having a great old time. But then when the feast was over, a single drum began to play just boom boom boom.

It sounds a lot like the Red Wedding, right? Reminds you of the moment when the Rains of Castamere started to play in Lord Walder Frey’s dining hall.

After the drums, men rushed in and grabbed the Earl of Douglas and his brother, dragged them outside, and beheaded them. But the Red Wedding was more than just the death of Robb Stark. It was a complete massacre too. And the Glencoe Massacre inspired the rest of it.

The Glencoe Massacre

The Red Wedding From Game Of Thrones Happened In Real Life
After the Massacre of Glencoe by Peter Graham, 1889 | Wikimedia Commons

This massacre was what made the second half of the Red Wedding. Glencoe was a MacDonald town where the Campbells came in 1692 and stayed overnight with the MacDonalds, a few centuries after the Black Dinner. Remember the tradition of bread and salt in Game of Thrones that was a signal of guest rights? They were a part of Scotland’s culture.

The MacDonalds gave the Campbells bread, water, and shelter from the storm. But then, in the middle of the night, the Campbells rose and started killing their hosts one by one in the middle of the night. That’s the opposite of the Red Wedding, where the hosts killed the guests instead. George RR Martin said:

It’s these two incidents I blended together to make the Red Wedding.

Moreover, there was a written command too, much like Tywin Lannister gave for the Red Wedding in Game of Thrones.

The Red Wedding From Game Of Thrones Happened In Real Life 2
Wikimedia Commons

We really like to talk about how George RR Martin just loves killing off people like a sadistic maniac. But, the truth is that a lot of what he wrote in his books and Game of Thrones was based on reality. And the Red Wedding is no different. As the saying goes,

The truth is stranger than fiction.

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