As with the majority of the population of the country, I have been waiting patiently week after week for episodes of the recent series Game of Thrones. Although I must admit that it is not all I expected – or desired – I’m not one of the hundreds of thousands (or is it millions now?) that have signed a petition to have the season re-written and re-shot. I’ve enjoyed the countdown for each episode, the avoiding of spoilers, and the reactions and impressions from others throughout the series (although it is a shame that many of the great fan theories didn’t come to anything). Furthermore, whilst watching the rise of Daenerys Targaryen’s power as monarch of all of Westeros I was reminded of the striking parallels between her and a real life monarch: Henry VII.

Like Daenerys, Henry Tudor was an outcast from his home kingdom. Like Daenerys, Henry had to sail back across the “narrow sea” in order to retake his kingdom. And like Daenerys, Henry was paranoid and filled with mistrust of the nobles and prominent houses in his newly acquired kingdom. Perhaps there is even room to stretch the role of the dragon: Daenerys may have ridden her dragon into battle to scorch her enemies, but it was Henry who used the symbolism of a dragon to help cement his authority across the kingdom.

All of this made me think: how would have Henry VII handled the pressure of ruling Westeros? And furthermore, how would have Daenerys handled the pressure of the English kingdom in 1485 if she had entered this land with her dragons? So, how about a post on what this blog does best: analysis and evaluation of – arguably – interesting things that have never happned.

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Scenario #1: Henry Tudor lands in Westeros

If Henry had been safely tucked away in Essos – rather than Brittany – during the reign of a usurper (Robert Baratheon, rather than the Yorkist Edward IV) – he could have made his bid for the throne during the tumultuous period in the reign of Joffrey. However, in real history, Henry’s opportunity only came after the “disappearance” (or, as is more likely, murder) of Edward IV’s sons: the so-called Princes in the Tower. It was only then that Henry launched his own bid for the throne, and therefore all other stronger candidates would need to cleared in Westeros. As such, Henry may have been cooling his heels in Essos during Joffrey’s reign and Tommen’s reign, and perhaps only made his major bid after the removal of the “Baratheon” children when Cersei took hold of power.

Ultimately, Henry would have sailed to Westeros at roughly the same time as Dani, however, it is debatable as to how the Tudor man would have managed to get across the narrow sea. Daenerys managed to gather together an interesting alliance of Unsullied soldiers and Dothraki warriors, and even became queen in her own right of other lands (notably Meereen). But in real history Henry and his uncle Jasper remained in Brittany for over a decade without growing any support or proving himself in tests (such as against Dothraki hordes, freeing slaves, or in overcoming hurdles in the city of Qarth). Instead, he simply lived at the pleasure of Duke Francis, existing as a mere footnote.

However, in 1483 – on the removal of Edward IV’s sons – Henry did demonstrate his ability in concocting an alliance of different groups. Old Lancastrians committed to his cause as the leader of that faction (notably the likes of the Earl of Oxford), whilst disgruntled former Yorkists supported him due to their disgust of the actions of Richard III. Furthermore, there was almost the support of the – rather much hated – Woodville family, topped off with financial backing from the French king. All of this suggests that Henry could have united an army of different elements on sailing to Westeros, but he would have needed a rich, powerful backer in the mould of the King of France.

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In Game of Thrones (Season 7) Dani landed at Dragonstone to mount her bid for the Iron Throne. This was a perfect option, for it was an old ancestral seat of the Targaryens, and it was also geographically situated close to King’s Landing (her central aim). But perhaps Henry would have taken a different route, for in real life he landed at Milford Haven in Wales. This provided him opportunity to build up support before his show-down battle with Richard III at Bosworth in 1485. It is possible, then, that Henry would have landed further north; not as far north as Winterfell, but rather in the Vale. This could have allowed him to build his army (which would not have been as strong as Dani’s one) to give him time before moving to the capital. In real history Henry never got as far as London, and perhaps he would have met Cersei in the field north of King’s Landing: perhaps as far north as Riverrun (the “midlands” of Westeros).

Of course, if Henry landed in Westeros at the same time when the Night King made his march southward to destroy all humanity his bid for the Iron Throne would have been thrown into disarray. Without dragons for support, it is unlikely that Henry would effectively have helped Jon Snow and the Northerners in their fight. But, on the whole, what good did Dani’s presence make in the war with the White Walkers? On reflection, the Night King wasn’t defeated with dragon-fire, or by Dani’s armies, but rather by a surprise attack by Arya Stark. Perhaps the White Walkers would have been nullified without the use of one of Dani’s dragons (taken and transformed during Season 7). Therefore, Henry may have been best off waving away the appeals of a distressed and worried Jon Snow; and without the romantic involvement, Henry could have focussed fully on the main task at hand.

So, Henry is in Westeros and starts to build support in the Vale, slowly moving southward to King’s Landing. Cersei would have had two options: wait patently in King’s Landing or go and meet Henry in battle. Her tactic of “wait and see” made perfect sense when faced against Daenerys’ dragons, where they had the option of using the scorpions to fire in the sky. But Henry, without dragon support, would not appear to be such a formidable appointment. So, perhaps armed with the Golden Company and under-estimating Henry’s forces, Cersei may have been more bold in order to strike out against her enemy. Richard III made the same move in 1485, not allowing Henry to continue to grow and ferment discord in the kingdom.

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The battle would have taken place in Riverrun, with Henry heading out of the Vale (hopefully armed with more fighters), and with Cersei’s forces moving north from King’s Landing. At Bosworth, Henry was only able to overcome Richard through a crucial switch in the battle: the Stanleys, who nominally backed Richard, gave their support to the Tudor claimant. Sir William Stanley was vital in entering the fray just at the moment when Richard charged at Henry, and in doing so played the role of Arya Stark in killing the Night King. Therefore, if up against Cersei – with her Golden Company and greater forces – a similar switch of allegiance would need to occur for Henry to be successful.

But who would be the key player that would support Henry in Westeros? Having already spurned the appeals from the North there would be no backing from Jon Snow. The other major lords of Westeros had either been weakened or removed by the Lannister beast, leaving no other option for Henry. The only glimpse of salvation may come in the form of those from Dorne or those from the Vale. But, on the whole, all of this points to a bleak defeat – and death – for Henry Tudor on a battlefield in Riverrun. Cersei would prove to be victorious.

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Scenario #2: Daenerys Targaryen lands in England in 1485

Let’s rewind and now place Daenerys Targaryen in Brittany in the late 15th Century. She has been living there since having to flee the English kingdom after the defeat of the Lancastrian faction, and has been nurtured through her formative years by her uncle Jasper (who is a close approximation of Jorah Mormont). Would she have been as idle or placid as Henry was in Brittany during the 1470s, or would she have been more aggressive and ambitious?

In real history, Edward IV made a couple of small attempts to tempt Duke Francis of Brittany to bring Henry Tudor back to England. But Edward IV himself was firmly cemented on the throne; yes, a usurper like Robert Baratheon, but far more content in peace at home and abroad. Therefore, it is safe to assume that Dani would have been left alone during until 1483, when Richard took the English throne. Perhaps at this point Dani would have made more of a noise as a claimant, and this would create instability in the Breton dukedom.

Let’s say it is 1483 and Edward IV’s sons have vanished from view, leading to suspicion and hostility to Richard III as the new king. Henry capitalised on this turmoil to position himself as the credible, sane alternative; however, Daenerys had a clear disadvantage: she was a woman. A woman on the English throne was unheard of during this period, with the last attempt coming in the form of Matilda in the 12th Century (and that event led to a 19 year long civil war in the kingdom!); a successful female monarch would not take shape until the reign of Elizabeth I (1558-1603). So, how could Dani show that she was the rightful monarch? Ancestry alone could not determine this, because after all, Edward IV had a daughter with a stronger claim: Elizabeth of York. Therefore, Dani would need to rule by might: here the dragons would be vital.

In this scenario we can provide Daenerys with her children: three dragons. Perhaps she found them whilst living in Brittany, or when having to flee to France after Richard III became more aggressive about demanding her extraction to England. But on entering France the French king would have taken notice of her for her harnessing of the three dragons, and therefore would have backed her enterprise to invade England and take the throne. Not only would the French king have a new valuable ally, it would also mean that the dragons were removed from French soil.

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So, armed with an alliance of Lancastrian supporters, disgruntled Yorkists, French soldiers, and the dragons, Dani would set sail across the narrow sea of the Channel to land in England. As noted above, Henry decided on the long-route: landing in Wales to build support. In the show Game of Thrones Dani landed at her ancestral home – Dragonstone – and perhaps, if linked to Welsh ancestry as Henry was – there could have been a temptation to land in Wales. But a far more fitting substitute for the island of Dragonstone would be another island, with a possible match being the Isle of Wight. This would give her a great position to land across the south coast, and also placed her close to London. However, Dragonstone was strategically placed in Blackwater Bay, offering easier access to a direct attack on King’s Landing. So, perhaps Dani would have continued sailing up the Channel until settling on a more convenient point; therefore, the Isle of Sheppy off the Kent coast could have been a more attractive opposition.

Without the appeals of Jon Snow to fight against the White Walkers, Dani would have been able to stage a more direct strike against Richard in London. So, in this alternative history, the Battle of Bosworth would never have been; instead, the Targaryen forces would have made a front assault on London. Armed with three dragons Richard himself would not have been able to offer any resistance: his army would burn and the walls would be breached. But, what of Daenerys herself? In the show she took the decision – in a moment of madness? – to continue burning the city and people of King’s Landing. If replicated in this alternate history, it would have meant the deaths of tens of thousands of Londoners. Westminster and the Tower of London would be destroyed, leaving to a city of charred ruins.

And what of the aftermath? In the final episode of the show Dani spoke of liberating the rest of the world. In this timeline, she would have been stronger: with three living, fire-breathing dragons. Where would be the Jon Snow of the 15th Century to place a knife into her heart? The candidates are scant, for it would need someone to have become so close to strike up a romantic relationship, and late 15th Century was in short supply of suitable matches (hence the reason for Henry obtaining a claim to the throne). The likely candidates could have the Stanley brothers (who had amassed power in the Midlands), but both were much older and married. However, my favourite candidate is the Earl of Oxford: like Jon Snow he had lived a life of adventure, having fought for the Lancastrians in the 1460s-70s, served as a pirate in the early 1470s, before being imprisoned for a decade. Oxford managed to free himself to join Henry’s alliance to land in England, where he masterminded the army’s journey and performance at Bosworth. Perhaps, then, Oxford won over Dani’s heart during their invasion of England and taking of London, before stabbing her in the heart amongst the flaming ruins of the capital city.

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So, it could be argued that even armed with three dragons and against a weaker foe, the result could have ended the same way for poor Daenerys both in the show and in this alternate history. Her ego, self-belief, and trust in her confidants would have spelled her ruin. In the TV show the major lords elected a new king – Bran the Broken – to rule Westeros. It is unlikely that the English lords could have agreed to a similar outcome, therefore a civil war is the most likely outcome after Dani’s death, leading to years of bloodshed and a continuation of the Wars of the Roses. Who would have ended up on the throne? Perhaps a brand new dynasty would have cemented itself and the Tudors would never have been.

However, this optimistic view is far from certain. It hinges on the Earl of Oxford being able to win over Dani’s heart, and although we know that he was an honourable man – like Jon Snow – perhaps the age difference would have been too great. After all, Daenerys did not fall from the charms of Jorah Mormont (given the unfortunate name of ‘Ser Friendzone’ on social media), and the age gap was a significant factor. Therefore, it is far more likely that Dani would not be stabbed in the heart and would have reached out to bring the rest of the English kingdom to heel.

But, we could also argue that overall the political and socio-economic trends would have remained in tact. Yes, Daenerys would have achieved full and total power, in all of England as well as the rest of the British Isles: this includes Scotland, Wales and Ireland. In many ways, then, she would have simply sped up the method of the Tudor and Stuart monarchs: centralisation of power and the removal of regional power bases (which had been such a large concern during the Wars of the Roses). Furthermore, this newly formed Britain could have then extended to the New World far earlier than in reality; the Elizabethan sea-dogs started muscling in on Spanish domains in the late 1500s, but armed with three dragons would have given Dani a clear boost. Therefore, perhaps the Aztec and Inca empires would have fell to English troops, rather than Spanish, thereby providing a basis for a world empire. The British formed this large empire in the 1700s, but it is possible that the Targeryen force would have formed this much, much earlier.

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Yet, we could contend that the result would – ultimately – end the same way. After Dani’s death there would be a succession crisis, comparable to the death of Elizabeth I in 1603, and a civil war could have broken out amongst the families that remained. This could have divided the nation, as could have the growth of Protestantism on the European continent. So, on the whole, Britain could have been forged much earlier and an empire put in place that nobody could rival, but after the death of Dani and the dragons the normal course of history would be restored. Therefore, I conclude that the wider political patterns are far more important in charting the course of history than the actions of an individual, no matter how powerful they are.