Warning: If you aren’t caught up to season 7, this blog post may have a few spoilers!
In our excitement for the final season of Game of Thrones, Sutro Library teamed up with the J. Paul Leonard Library to host a pop-up exhibit where we shared historic resources related to the themes and imagery of George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy novels, A Song of Ice and Fire (the source material for the show). Even though the series is based on medieval English history (e.g. War of Roses), Sutro Library made connections to various titles found within our special collections from military maneuvers to historic figures that closely match the characters. The pop-up brought in more than 80 people—a mix of students, staff, faculty and the general public. All attendees seemed highly engaged in the materials on display. Rather than perusing, many stayed to look deeply at the books, asked us questions, and took pictures of the text plates with the bibliographic information. Some attendees even came back to view the exhibit a second time!
Here are some of the materials we displayed during the pop-up as well as their connections to Game of Thrones: (Click on images to enlarge)
Der aller durchleuchtigisten und grossmächtigen kayser königen and erthzhertzogen… by Jacob Schrenk von Notzing (1603) is full of woodcuts illustrating armor of history’s important military leaders collected by Archduke Ferdinand of Tyrol. The collection itself is in the Museum of Art History in Vienna. For those who aren’t able to visit Vienna anytime soon, the amount of detail seen in each illustration will suffice. Some leaders found in this volume include Charles V and Cosimo de Medici. In GoT, each of the houses had signature armor often relating back to their sigil, for example House Tully had armor that looked like fish fins and the armor Jaime Lannister wears has a lion’s face on his shoulders. It would be interesting to see which armor in this volume looks the most like those worn by the various houses in GoT!
From the Tiny Town section (books under 13.99cm) of our Special Collections, we found Le Dragon de l’ile de Rhodes by Fredrich Schiller (1829), a book about a mythical dragon living on the island of Rhodes in 1340. Towards the end of the book, there are illustrations showing the knight, Dieudonné de Gozon slaying the dragon. After that he became known as Extinctor Draconis which is Latin for “dragon slayer.” In GoT, the Night King gains this title when he kills one of Daenerys’ dragons, Viserion. What will happen to the remaining two in the final season?
While there are several notable women in GoT skilled in leadership and fighting, Brienne of Tarth, a warrior currently loyal to Sansa Stark, has the most overt connection to Joan of Arc. In Jeanne d’Arc: Ed. illustrée d’après les monuments de l’art depuis le quinzième siècle jusqu’à nos jours by Henri Wallon (1876), there are various illustrations including a few gorgeous chromolithographs depicting this historic figure.
The next is probably one of our favorites (second to the book of armor): Natural Magick: in XX Bookes by John Baptista Porta (1658). A work of popular science first published in Naples in 1558. Not a book of magic spells as the name would suggest, but rather an anthology of natural wonders observed by the author and written in a time when science was still in its infancy. It provides a perspective based on the known world. Once you get over the “s” looking like an “f” in some of the words, it makes for a fascinating read! To assist with navigation through the text, pages were bookmarked with Game of Thrones references, from how to change your hair color like Sansa does from red to black to observations on Greek Fire. In the show, Greek Fire is known as Wild Fire, and it was used by Tyrion in the Battle of Blackwater Bay as well as by Cersei Lannister to destroy her enemies in the Sept of Baelor.
Lastly, we had a couple of books from our family & local history collection. One was a book on heraldry, Royal book of crests of Great Britain & Ireland, Dominion of Canada, India & Australasia : derived from best authorities by James Fairbairn and Joseph MacLaren (1883). Various crests similar to the house sigils in GoT were bookmarked. One particular crest that drew everyone’s curiosity was the above image of a lion attacking a dragon. It left many of us wondering if this is foreshadowing what’s to come in this final season!
There you have it, a small sampling of what we displayed in our pop-up on Wednesday April 10th days before the final season premieres. It was so much fun, and we can’t wait for our next pop-up! If you have any suggestions, send them our way!
A huge thank you goes out to: our colleagues from J. Paul Leonard Library, the Sutro Library staff; all of our volunteers assistance; and our colleagues from Sacramento, Karina and Olena!
List of other materials shown in the pop-up:
- Carta de la Tierra Prometida [Map of the Promised Land] by Joseph Andrade (1752)
- The Dragon Empress: the life and times of Tzʻu-hsi, Empress Dowager of China, 1835-1908 by Marina Warner (1972)
- De Re Military by Flavius Vegetius Renatus (1532)
- The book of fate, formerly in the possession of Napoleon … now first rendered into English from a German translation of an ancient Egyption manuscript, found in the year 1801 by H. Kirchenhoffer (1828)
- Memoir on swords by Colonel Marey translated by Lieut.-Col. Henry Hamilton Maxwell (1860)
- C. Julij des ersten Rö. Keysers/ warhafftige beschreibunge aller namhafften fürtrefflichen kriege/ by Julius Cesar (1565)
- William the Conqueror coat of arms
- Braid of hair belonging to Charlotte Ferretti (circa 1938)
- Breviarium romanum ex decreto sacrosancti Concilii Tridentini restitutum… Pars autumnalis by the Catholic Church (1774)
- A display of heraldrie: manifesting a more easie access to the knowledge therof then hath hitherto been published by any, through the benefit of method by John Guillim (1660)
If you’d like to view any of the materials, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and give us at least 2 business days advance notice of your visit.
This post was written by Sutro Library’s Genealogy Librarian, Dvorah Lewis.