Bad Sansa to Rule Them All

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Bad Sansa to Rule Them All

Illustration: Sushant Ahire

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inter is here. Finally! And like a pimply, freckled, buck-toothed teenage boy waiting to lose his virginity, fans of Game of Thrones are experiencing a hopeless kind of desperation, as they wait for the new season to air. This year, the wait has been especially painful – the show is delayed by three months and has only seven episodes. Boohoo!

Our troubles are compounded by the fact that there are no more books to satisfy our curiosity about what happens next. Earlier, those of us who had read George RR Martin would snigger at those who hadn’t. We would wonder aloud about the role of obscure characters from the books who only had blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearances on the show. In fact, we were the only ones not surprised when pretty boy Jon Snow was stabbed to death at the end of Season 5. But now that the story has gone off book for many of the key characters, who will rule the Seven Kingdoms is anybody’s guess… or is it?

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Much like a crappy, clickbait article, what you are about to read will SHOCK YOU! My crystal ball (and a bit of history) tells me that the final ruler of Westeros is not going to be the wounded lioness and queen, Cersei, nor the fiery Mother of Dragons, Daenerys. The fast-approaching conclusion to this saga of brutal beheadings and bared boobs will see GoT’s answer to Alia Bhatt in Dear Zindagi, take the lead. Long Live the Queen, Sansa Stark!

Don’t squirm. I know the redhead has received a lot of hate for her allegedly spineless, whiny, ever-suffering character. Sansa Stark started out as an embroidery loving, sissy-prissy who dreamed of nothing more than marrying a prince. It was like watching Poo from K3G crossed over with Arwen from The Lord of the Rings! In fact, Sansa’s desperate desire to be Joffrey’s wife was ultimately responsible for her father, Ned Stark’s death. But Sansa did admittedly start coming into her own when the show went off book. In the books, she is still at the Vale. But the show gave us a Sansa who literally throws her abusive husband to the dogs, and Season 7 will also examine her rivalry with Jon Snow. Plus it would be interesting to watch how she allies with the slimy bastard, Littlefinger, and yet prevents him from controlling her destiny. Looks like the showrunners are investing a lot of time, money, and energy into making Sansa badass, and they don’t do that without good reason.

It is well known that Game of Thrones is loosely based on the brutal and bloody War of Roses, fought between the Lancasters and the Yorks, two branches of the Plantagenet royal family of medieval England, in the 15th century. The war ended when Elizabeth of York married Henry Tudor, a distant relative of the Lancasters. Interestingly, this was a period when Europe was experiencing what has come to be known as the Little Ice Age, where changes in levels of solar radiation, an increase in volcanic eruptions, and a shift in ocean circulation led to one of the coldest periods in European history. So if you are thinking about “Winter is Coming”, Lannisters and Lancasters, Starks and Yorks, congratulations, you are catching on!

Sansa Stark’s story arc can be alternatively viewed as television’s bloodiest arranged marriage.

So, what clues does the War of the Roses hold for Sansa’s ascension? First, we need to find Sansa Stark amid all the medieval politics and violence. Who among the constantly moving pieces on the chessboard of history was a breathtakingly beautiful, ginger-haired maiden with little initial purpose in life than marrying into a powerful family? Was there someone whose life was a dream until her father met a sudden and untimely death à la Ned Stark, leading to one of the bloodiest power struggles known to mankind?

Meet Elizabeth of York. She was born into the highly respected York faction of the royal Plantagenet family. Her father, King Edward IV, was known for his honourable and just ways much like Ned. Her mother, also named Elizabeth (because that name is to the firangs what Neha and Pooja are to us desis), was renowned for her beauty just like Catelyn Stark. Elizabeth of York had two brothers who mysteriously went missing and were presumed dead after being imprisoned in the Tower of London following her father’s death. Similarly, Sansa’s brothers Bran and Rickon were presumed dead after supporters of the Stark family faked their deaths and helped the boys escape.

Shae_Sansa_and_Tyrion_Mhysa

Sansa and everyone’s favourite Imp, Tyrion Lannister, were married. They never divorced, though her husband eloping to the other side of the world did put their marriage on the back-burner.

Image Credit: HBO

Elizabeth of York’s primary purpose was to marry the right man and help consolidate her family’s power in a bid to maintain their supremacy in the claim to the throne of England. Therefore, she was constantly treated like a commodity to be traded for power and influence. At the age of three, Elizabeth’s family offered her hand in marriage to the powerful Earl of Warwick’s nephew, but their engagement was called off due to political reasons. At the age of nine, Elizabeth was promised to others including Charles, son of Louis XI of France, who later reneged on the promise.

In the same way, Sansa Stark’s story arc can be alternatively viewed as television’s bloodiest arranged marriage. She was originally promised to Joffrey, but that ended with her betrothed having her father’s head chopped off. Sansa was also offered as a bride to Robyn Arryn, who was also her younger cousin, because family trees are singles mixers in Westeros. Between those two lovely engagements, Sansa and everyone’s favourite Imp, Tyrion Lannister, were married. They never divorced, though her husband eloping to the other side of the world did put their marriage on the back-burner.

Game of Thrones

In the books, she is still at the Vale. But the show gave us a Sansa who literally throws her abusive husband to the dogs, and Season 7 will also examine her rivalry with Jon Snow.

Image Credit: HBO

Our historical Sansa, Elizabeth, was finally forced to marry Henry Tudor, a distant relative of the Lancasters, putting an end to the War of the Roses by uniting the two warring factions. Similarly, Sansa was forced to marry Tyrion Lannister, which makes me wonder if this is a winning combination to Game of Thrones.

As much as I want Daenerys to claim her family inheritance, the ultimate outcome might be one that surprises us all. The whimpering, frightened princess from Season 1, I’m certain, will take the throne, and the meek shall inherit the earth. I know it sounds absurd, considering her rivals for the throne are fearsome – Mother of Dragons, King in the North, and Queen of the Seven Kingdoms.

You might think that a mere girl couldn’t overcome such odds, but history and Elizabeth of York have already proved you wrong. All hail Queen Sansa!

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