Tuesday 24 January 2017

These real-life horror stories inspired one of the most gruesome scenes in Game of Thrones

Sasha Brady

Published 20/04/2016 | 17:48

Catelyn Stark is murdered in a bloody scene from The Rains of Castamere episode of Game of Thrones. Photo: Game of Thrones / HBO
Catelyn Stark is murdered in a bloody scene from The Rains of Castamere episode of Game of Thrones. Photo: Game of Thrones / HBO

The infamous 'Red Wedding' scene in Game of Thrones was inspired by real-life events.

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The season three finale, The Rains of Castamere, featured one of the most bloody, brutal and devastating scenes of the HBO series.

Robb Stark and his men, along with his mother Catelyn and pregnant wife, attend the wedding of his uncle Edmure Tully to one of the daughters of Walder Frey.

The wedding itself goes smoothly but as the celebrations are drawing to a close, the Stark family and allies are betrayed by some of their men and slaughtered by the Freys.

The shocking bloodbath sickened fans of the show and book series but what's most disturbing of all is that the massacre was based on real-life events.

Author George R.R. Martin said that the inspiration for the betrayal is based on two dark events in Scottish history: the Black Dinner of 1440 and the Massacre of Glencoe from 1692.

"No matter how much I make up, there's stuff in history that's just as bad, or worse," he said.

The Massacre of Glencoe

Catelyn Stark looks on in horror as members of her family are slaughtered. Photo: Game of Thrones / HBO
Catelyn Stark looks on in horror as members of her family are slaughtered. Photo: Game of Thrones / HBO

In 1691, all Scottish clans were ordered to renounce the deposed King of Scotland, James VII and swear allegiance to King William of Orange before January 1, 1692.

The Clan MacDonald of the Highlands had already sworn an oath to James VII and could not break that oath until he had given them written permission.

The pardon from the former king arrived on December 28 and it gave Maclain, the chief of the MacDonald clan, just three days to present the newly-signed oath to the Secretary of State, John Dalrymple (a Lowlander who despised the MacDonald clan).

Maclain missed the deadline by five days as he was detained by bad weather when delivering the letter. The Secretary of State rejected the late document and the MacDonald's sworn allegiance to William and set plans to make an example out of them and enlisted longtime enemies of the Macdonalds, the Campbells, to do so.

In late January 120 men under the command of Captain Robert Campbell arrived at the MacDonalds' in Glencoe, claiming to need shelter because a nearby fort was full.

The MacDonalds offered their hospitality and took them in for two weeks before Captain Drummond arrived with instructions to "put all to the sword under 70."

After playing cards with their victims and wishing them goodnight, the soldiers waited until the MacDonalds were asleep, then slaughtered as many people as possible.

Approximately 30 people were killed and at least 300, including women and children, escaped into the hills. However, fleeing into a blizzard meant that most died of exposure or starvation.

The massacre was considered especially awful because it was "Slaughter Under Trust". To this day, the door at Clachaig Inn in Glen Coe has a sign on the door denying entry to Campbells.

The Black Dinner of 1440

The cunning guardians of 10-year-old King James of Scotland invited 16-year-old William Douglas, head of a powerful Scottish clan, and his little brother David for a weekend of entertainment at the castle.

Robb Stark tries to protect his dying wife. Photo: Game of Thrones / HBO
Robb Stark tries to protect his dying wife. Photo: Game of Thrones / HBO

The invitation had been issued by Sir William Crichton, Chancellor of Scotland, who feared that the Black Douglas clan (there was another Red Douglas clan) were growing too powerful.

Legend has it that the boys were getting along well with each other and enjoying a night of fun and feasting but the celebrations were brought to an abrupt end when the head of a black bull was dropped on the table - symbolising the death of the Black Douglas.

Little King James begged for mercy for his new friends but William and David were beheaded.

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