It’s been ten years since Game of Thrones came into our lives, changing everything we thought was possible on television and putting a fantastical crazy spin on real life history. With enough main characters to fill a chess board, a storyline spanning several years, and centuries of lore surrounding each house that most viewers know only in broad strokes, it’s difficult for even the most avid fans to remember everything there is to know about the history of Westeros.
Now, with the eighth and last season coming this spring, it seems more urgent than ever to remind everyone of the major events that have lead to this epic showdown. So without further ado, here’s a Game of Thrones timeline recapping all major historical events starting from the very, very beginning…
The First Men Arrive in Westeros
When? About 12,000 Years Before Game of Thrones
The First Men were the very first humans to set foot in Westeros, bringing with them bronze swords, leather shields and horses for combat. Upon their arrival, they caused an immediate feud with peaceful, supernatural creatures known as the Children Of The Forest who’d lived there for a great thousand years before the First Men claimed the land. The First Men supposedly came from the continent of Essos, cruising towards Westeros through the Arm of Dorne, a land bridge that has since fallen apart and is now named the Stepstones.
In an unsuccessful attempt to block the First Men, the Children of the Forest broke The Arm of Dorne down. After the settlers cut down the Children’s supernatural weirwood trees, they made themselves at home in their world and a war ensued in which the humans won.
The Children of the Forest Create The White Walkers
When? About 10,000-12,000 Years Before Game of Thrones
As revealed in season 6 through a flashback narrated by one of the last Children, the Children of the Forest created the White Walkers to use as soldiers against the First Men. In the flashback, Leaf tells Bran Stark that at times of war, they had no other choice but to find the best weapon to save themselves from the humans. After planting a dagger of dragonglass into the heart of a First Man, he turned into a White Walker who is believed to have become the Night King.
Although trying to protect themselves, the Children had no idea that this would backfire in such epic proportions. The White Walkers turned against the Children which led to a Pact being made between the Children and humans. This Pact which eventually brought the war to an end, called for the two peoples to live peacefully. This event has no precise date, but the Pact of the Isle of Faces is said to have initiated ‘4,000 years of friendship’. Therefore this helps us situate the creation of the first White Walker somewhere in the 2,000 years before the pact was signed.
The Long Night Arrives
When? About 8,300 Years Before Game of Thrones
The Long Night occurred a few thousand years after the White Walkers’ creation, during The Age of Heroes – an era that began with the signing of the pact between the Children and the First Men. During these fun times, the White Walkers came down upon Westeros and wreaked havoc with none other than ice spiders, and wights (the resurrected humans that look like Christmas zombies). In short, literal hell broke loose and Winter lasted an entire generation.
The Long Night was a terrifying event that nearly brought humans as well as the Children of the Forest to extinction. Think the Black Plague, but far more sentient and deathly. Fortunately, the penny dropped and people figured out that dragonglass could kill White Walkers, which resulted in their defeat during the Battle For The Dawn. But folks had to make sure it wouldn’t happen again…
Bran the Builder Builds the Wall
When? About 6,300 – 8,300 Years Before Game of Thrones
No one really knows how long The Long Night was. The only certainty is that it was unbearably long indeed and ended with the Battle For The Dawn, during which the first members of the Night’s Watch fought for their world, and at the end of which the White Walkers were successfully (for a couple of thousand years, at least) shoved back to their northern lands. After that, a wall was built under the supervision of Bran the Builder to make sure that neither a long, short, or medium night would ever befall them again.
Playful that he is, G.R.R. Martin deliberately left out a blur as to whether the events occurred 6,300 or 8,300 years before Aegon’s conquest.
The Andals Arrive in Westeros
When? About 6,300 Years Before Game of Thrones
You’ve heard it countless times in the show but, like us, you probably didn’t jot it down – the royal titles in Westeros are usually quite long. Royals are named rulers of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men – the three main ethnic human groups in Westeros.
Essos seems to be a rather boring continent since the Andals, a race of men who came to Westeros a few thousand years after the First Men, were also hailing from the place. For a change, another war raged that saw the Andals fight against the First Men and the Children of the Forest. The Andals conquered some parts of the land or eloped into Westeros families, though Northerners prevented them from taking over the North. Once again, the Children of the Forest couldn’t catch a break and were slaughtered, this time by Andals, who also cut down their trees. The First Men had converted to the Children’s religion of the Old Gods but the Andals preferred to force everyone to adhere to their belief – the Faith of the Seven.
The Rhoynars Arrive in Westeros
When? About 1,000 Years Before Game of Thrones
The Rhoynars are the last humans to have arrived in Westeros and constitute the last major ethnic group to have settled in this continent. A prince of Essos lost a war with Valyria, causing a Rhoynish princess named Nymeria to exile herself and her people to Westeros. When she arrived, Nymeria wed a Dornish nobleman named Mors Martell and gave him a hand in conquering the land, turning Dorne into one and the same house – House Martell.
The Doom Destroys Valyria
When? About 415 Years Before Game of Thrones
Valyria, original home of the Targaryens, was once the most beautiful, wealthy and peaceful land of the known world. Before their days as royals, the Targaryens were mere nobles there, but they were forced to leave when one of their daughters, Daenys the Dreamer had a foreshadowing dream that told her Valyria would soon be crushed by a massive natural disaster. The Targaryens therefore left for the castle of Dragonstone in Westeros which then still belonged to Valyria.
Soon after, Daenys’ dream became reality when a terrifying event known as The Doom fell upon Valyria. Earthquakes shattered and volcanoes erupted destroying everything in their wake, while clouds poured actual dragonglass and lakes went from water to acid. Sounds like Disneyland.
Valyria was very much like our real-life library of Alexandria since a vast array of knowledge, including secrets about magic and Valyrian steel were then lost forever. After these events, Valyria became a desolate land that many believed was cursed and haunted and it now inhabits the greyscale-afflicted Stone Men we met back in season 5.
Aegon Targaryen Invades Westeros
When? About 300 Years Before Game of Thrones
After The Doom, dragonlords became an extinct kind. Aegon Targaryen, a dragonlord himself, decided to take over Westeros around a century later. With his 3 dragons, one of which was a terrifying creature called Balerion The Dread, his two sister-wives (Visenya and Rhaenys) and an average sized army, Aegon managed to unite the six kingdoms and make them his own. However, 200 years passed before the Targaryens took over the seventh kingdom, Dorne. What King Aegon Targaryen did thereafter left a monumental mark on Westeros:
- He constructed the Iron Throne using the melted-down swords of all his dead enemies.
- He established King’s Landing on the spot where he first arrived.
- He gave the former kings their titles including the Starks, who were once Kings of the North rather than Wardens.
The Death of the Last Dragon
When? About 145 Years Before Game of Thrones
King Aegon III hated dragons a whole lot, and for understandable reasons, since his mother had been killed by them during the Targaryen civil war called the Dance of Dragons. That, and his first dragon, Stormcloud perished after they rode together for the first time, which permanently put Aegon off from the winged creatures. After his crowning, Aegon III only managed to hatch the eggs of unhealthy dragons and failed to keep the last living one alive. This ultimately earned him the nickname of “Dragonsbane”. After the death of the last dragons in 153 AC, the mystifying scaly creatures were officially MIA.
When? About 16 Years Before Game of Thrones
Robert’s Rebellion should be somewhat more familiar to fans considering the first season explored its events quite a bit. Robert Baratheon took the Iron Throne about twenty years before the beginning Game of Thrones as a result of the Mad King, Aerys Targaryen’s death.
The rebellion properly started when Rhaegar Targaryen, son of Aerys, “stole” and raped Ned Stark’s sister, Lyanna Stark (which we later learned was actually a consensual secret honeymoon). To save his daughter, Rickard Stark rode with his son, Brandon to ask Aerys for his daughter’s immediate return. Aerys already being out of sympathetic brain cells, responded by having Rickard and Brandon slaughtered. Robert, being Lyanna’s lover at the time of her kidnapping, joined Ned in sparking a rebellion against Aerys. They had many houses ready to help and the rebellion went on to last an entire year.
The Lannisters rebelled as well, leading Aerys’ very own kingsguard, Jaime Lannister to end the chaos by killing Aerys himself – earning him the nickname, “Kingslayer”. This war resulted in several notorious deaths including Prince Rhaegar who was killed by Robert in single combat. Elia Martell (Rhaegar’s wife), and her two children were killed following the demands of Lord Tywin Lannister while King Aerys’ two remaining children, Viserys and Daenerys managed to escape with the help of Varys to Essos. Two of the realm’s most powerful houses united when Robert married Cersei Lannister as a way of thanking the Lannisters for their help. And so off they went to rule in King’s Landing.
The First Greyjoy Rebellion
When? About 9 Years Before Game of Thrones
The First Greyjoy Rebellion took place some years after Robert’s Rebellion. It began as Balon Greyjoy decided it was high time he claimed the Iron Islands’ throne for himself and turned his islands into an independent territory. In season 7’s first episode, it is however suggested that Euron, his brother, started the rebellion with Balon being forced to play into it. Jaime Lannister indeed tells Euron Greyjoy that “Come to think of it, weren’t you the one who started that rebellion by sailing to Casterly Rock and burning the Lannister fleet?” This would makes sense since Euron was exiled when the Greyjoy lost their attempt at an emancipation, getting Balon’s eldest sons killed in the process. As a result of this, Theon Greyjoy, the last of Balon’s sons, became the Starks’ ward to make sure that the Greyjoys would know their place in the future. Considering Theon’s tortuous fate in later seasons, we can safely say that the Greyjoys learned about karma.
The War of the Five Kings Begins
When? Αround the Beginning of Game of Thrones
We’ve finally reached a part of the timeline that’s easier to picture – we’ve witnessed every big moment across the past seven seasons, after all. We begin with ‘The War of the Five Kings’ which we can say started as King Robert asked Ned Stark to become his hand. The action really turned up a notch when Robert was killed and his “son” was crowned King of Westeros. Ned discovered the truth about Cersei and Jaime Lannister’s incestual relationship, and so he denounced their son, Joffrey as King with the aim of getting Stannis Baratheon (Robert’s brother) on the throne. This sadly led to Ned’s assassination, ordered by the Lannisters, of course.
It’s safe to say that Ned’s departure from Winterfell was the catalyst for most of the ensuing chaos. The fives kings feuding for the throne were, as we know, Joffrey Lannister, Balon Greyjoy, Stannis Baratheon, Robb Stark and Renly Baratheon, who obviously all died at some point in the said war.
Daenerys Targaryen’s Dragons are Born
When? 1 Year After the Beginning of Game of Thrones
An event that we won’t forget anytime soon is the hatching of Daenerys’ dragon eggs during one of her most epic scenes in the first season. As she walked into her husband’s funeral pyre, Daenerys didn’t become human toast as she scientifically should have but instead, she emerged from the flames with a tiny dragon on her shoulder. Not only were the first three dragons in over a hundred years born, but the birth of these creatures triggered a crucial realization for everyone fighting for the Throne – that yes, a dragon queen is indeed out there and she’s got one heck of a Trump card over you guys. ‘Badass’ wasn’t a powerful enough word to describe our thoughts for this amazing Game of Thrones moment, so we’ll let your memory speak for itself.
The Starks Fall at the Red Wedding
When? About 1-2 Years After the Beginning of Game of Thrones
Robb Stark, who was claimed King of the North following his father, Ned’s death, saw his unexpected end during the infamous ‘Red Wedding’. This was an event that shook millions of viewers and settled the cruel ground rule of the show – that even the most righteous and kind protagonists (especially these ones, actually) can die at any moment.
When King Robb’s rebellion attended a wedding organized by the Freys, (who were supposed to be their pals), an alliance that was secretly made between the Lannisters, Freys and Boltons led everyone in Robb’s entourage to get murdered in an atrocious and sudden way during the festivities. This included Robb himself, his pregnant wife Talisa, and his mother Catelyn. With the youngest Stark boys believed to be dead, Sansa betrothed to Joffrey Lannister, Arya MIA and Jon Snow with the Night’s Watch, it was assumed that the entire Stark family was no longer a threat.
The First Queen of Westeros
When? 1-2 Years After the Beginning of Game of Thrones
Another cheerful wedding that we probably wouldn’t have liked being invited to. The ‘Purple Wedding’ which was more satisfying than it was shocking, still didn’t exactly suit the expected parameters of a wedding ceremony. The highly detested incest-born Joffrey “Baratheon”, of whom everyone was more tired of than terrified at that point, died after being poisoned by what would later be revealed a concoction by the regretted Olenna Tyrell. Another royal member bit the dust and the Throne was ready for a younger Lannister to take his seat. Soon after King Tommen was crowned, he threw himself off the tower after his wife, Margaery Tyrell is blown up in the Sept by his awful mother.
Tommen’s death finally gave Cersei what she’d been fighting for after all those years – the chance to rule the Seven Kingdoms and be crowned queen. This marked a turning point in Westerosi history, making Cersei the first ever queen of Westeros…and certainly not the last…
Daenerys Targaryen Invades Westeros
When? 7 years After the Beginning of Game of Thrones
And finally, we’ve reached the end and present-day events of the timeline. Daenerys’ invasion of Westeros marks the most important event of the series, as it’s one that everything has pretty much been building up to (after the arrival of Winter, of course, that one took its sweet time). Following the death of her brother and next in-line to the throne, Viserys Targaryen, Daenerys is officially made the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. Across the many years of the show, the Mother of Dragons completed quite the checklist by managing to get a whole army of Dothraki and Unsullied, as well as countless supporters behind her.
We don’t doubt Daenerys’ determination and charisma, but we can’t deny that the dragons played quite the role in intimidating her adversaries, much in the way her own ancestors had conquered Westeros themselves before. With a Hand in the form of the extremely smart Tyrion Lannister, a sidekick who’s been through quite the wars himself, Jon Snow, a large army and fiery deadly dragons by her side, there’s no doubt that Daenerys’ invasion of Westeros is about to get LIT – pun intended.
The Wall Breaks Down
When? 7 Years After the Beginning of Game of Thrones
The Seven Kingdoms have been fearing the thought of the White Walkers for centuries and now, as seen at the end of season 7, the menacing creatures are about to invade and ravage the realm. The end of the seventh season saw the White Walkers and their colossal army break down the Wall that had been standing for thousands of years. After killing and resurrecting Daenerys’ dragon during the Battle Beyond the Wall, the Night King manages to steal the dragon for himself, break down the wall with the help of the creature’s icy blue fire breath and ride him into war across the Kingdoms. With Jon Snow having built an army to defend the realm and with Daenerys and her two dragons by their side, it seems Westeros is about to have an all-out war with the White Walkers. Will they bring Westeros and its complete history to an end? Or will Jon and Daenerys survive the game and protect their people?
So there you have it – the most important events to have befallen Westeros in its well-documented fictional history. Season eight will reveal where the story and Game of Thrones timeline goes from here. Most importantly, we’re about to find out how this story ends – who will sit on the Iron Throne and make Westeros history? More so, who will die and who will live during the final chapter of this game of thrones?