That which has been is what will be,
That which is done is what will be done,
And there is nothing new under the sun.
These prophetic words appear in the Bible: Ecclesiastes 1:9
I am always amused by fans of Cinema and TV who are astounded by shocking and horrific events, especially those who wonder what kind of sick minds the writers must possess to think up such cruelty.
In truth they are probably just good students of history. While not as immediately bloody, the events of the Red Wedding in Game of Thrones remind me of the events in Sweden called the Håtuna games and their dreadful conclusion, the Nyköping Banquet.
I don’t want to give you a detailed lesson in the History of Sweden in the 13th and 14th Centuries. You can check out the details yourselves with the aid of some online searching.
Suffice to say that King Birger of Sweden was imprisoned in Nyköping dungeon for two years by his brothers the Dukes Valdemar and Eric who visited on their way back from a wedding in 1306 AD. This coup d’etat was called the Håtuna games.
Birger was reinstated due to intervention from the Kings of Norway and Denmark. He held a banquet for Christmas 1317 AD on the night of the 10th of December. There was not enough room in the castle for all the Dukes’ retinues so they were lodged outside the castle in the nearby town. Fans of the Game of Thrones “Red Wedding” are now putting the pieces together.
That night the Dukes were woken up after their drunken revelry by squads of Crossbow men and were escorted to the dungeon. Birger is said to have thrown the key of the dungeon into the river (and such a key was found in the river many years later). He starved his two brothers to death.
Breaking the laws of hospitality appears to reap divine vengance. Fans of Game of Thrones know what happened Walder Frey. King Birger did not meet so dramatic an end but his actions led to a rebellion that deposed him. He had to flee Sweden and died in exile in Denmark.