A Song Of Ice And Fire or, as the show is titled, Game Of Thrones, is a vast world with a very extensive history. The events George R.R. Martin has created are so detailed and go so far back that it’s sometimes hard to believe this isn’t a real world, and it makes us wonder exactly how he comes up with and remembers it all.
Some of the history is extremely relevant to what’s happening in the world of Westeros right now, so if you’ve forgotten some of it or just never knew, take a look through this timeline compressed as much as possible. We sadly can’t note down every detail, or both the writer and reader would be here for years, but this is a good guide to the essentials!
This was the beginning of Westeros; when the First Men arrived from Essos. The Children of the Forest were the first ones to live there, and it’s still unknown exactly how long they did live in Westeros for; but the First Men came and took over, crossing into the land that would eventually become Dorne.
There was a war between the First Men and the Children of the Forest, although information has lately shown that they may actually have worked together more than they were at war. This age lasted more than 2,000 years, although much like most of the information from back then, the exact details are unknown.
When the Dawn Age ended, the Age of Heroes commenced. There was a pact between the Children of the Forest and the First Men, although a lot of kingdoms rose and fell during this time since it took a while for a system to be clearly worked out and agreed to. Most of the noble houses’ history seems to begin during this time, and a lot of the structures we’re familiar with now were built — such as Winterfell, and even the Wall itself.
It was mostly a peaceful era, but the longest and darkest winter Westeros has ever seen did belong to this time.
The Andals crossed the Narrow Sea under the banner of the Faith of the Seven, the major religion known in Westeros at the time that the show and books take place. The First Men and Children of the Forest fought against them as they attempted to conquer Westeros much like the First Men had, and the war went on for centuries as the religion spread across the land and they began to raise their own kingdoms.
The details about this time period are fairly unknown, and it could have taken place any time between -8000 AC and -2000 AC. All we know for sure is that it was long before Aegon conquered.
Aegon the Conqueror invaded Westeros around -2 AC and managed to overthrow most of the Seven Kingdoms pretty quickly, establishing his capital in King’s Landing. Using three dragons to secure his reign, he melted the weapons of his enemies after winning into the Iron Throne; the throne that would later be fought over fiercely. He appointed most of the noble families at the head of their regions after his victory, although Dorne successfully managed to defend their territory and remained independent.
This began the Targaryen Dynasty sitting on the Iron Throne, a family reign that would last 300 years.
The Targaryens began to rule over Westeros, but it was not an easy rule. With so many problems in the family—mainly due to the intermarrying and dragons at their disposal—there were plenty of wars (most notably, the Dance Of The Dragons, a civil war which involved a fight for the Iron Throne between Targaryens).
The last Targaryen king to rule was Aerys II, who was perhaps the maddest of them all and would burn his enemies with wildfire. He intended to finish King’s Landing and all of its inhabitants by burning them alive and burning the city to ashes.
Aerys had opposition in his plan from Robert’s Rebellion. Robert Baratheon claimed that the war was started over Aerys’ madness, when in reality he was jilted because his beloved ran away with Aerys’ son. Falsely claiming it was an abduction, he raised his banners against Aerys and the war that would later become known as Robert’s Rebellion won.
Robert managed to slay Rhaegar Targaryen at the trident and Jaime Lannister slit Aerys’ throat, leaving the Iron Throne to be usurped by Robert. He placed himself on it, ensured there were no more Targaryens left to challenge him in Westeros, and so began the reign of House Baratheon on the throne.
House Baratheon’s reign was a short one. For 15 years Robert ruled in relative peace, with the only Targaryens who could have possibly challenged him far away in Essos. He married Cersei Lannister and created three children with her, leaving an heir to the Iron Throne in the event of his passing.
The Lannister influence became extremely heavy over the throne with Cersei as queen, Jaime on the Kingsguard, and Tywin Lannister very close — the most dangerous of all of House Lannister. Upon Jon Arryn’s death, however, Robert Baratheon decided to ask Ned Stark to be his Hand, a friend he could trust and one starkly different from the Lannisters.
The books and/or show pick up with Robert traveling North to ask Ned, and we’ve all seen the rest. The discovery that Joffrey isn’t truly Robert’s son, Robert’s so-called hunting accident engineered by his wife, and all that followed. The Iron Throne has cycled through to the Lannisters now, and an even greater threat looms from the North, leaving some people to wonder if the fight for the throne even matters any more.
It’s become fairly clear that however Westeros ends, it will be a changed system; the Iron Throne has had so many monarchs sat on it that yet another simply wouldn’t be a satisfying ending. Maybe it’ll be melted down, maybe it won’t exist at all after the White Walkers reach it. We’ll see.