History and Legends of Game of Thrones: The Doom of Valyria

WARNING: SPOILERS FOR THE BOOKS AND SHOW.  YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

Today we are going to to talk about the decline and fall of empires.  As we mentioned before, Valyria was once the most powerful empire in the known world and would have continued to have existed if it wasn’t for the Doom.  We all know the source of Valyrian power came from its dragons, who the Valyrian shepherds discovered in a volcano range called the Fourteen Fires. Unfortunately the Valyrians failed to realize that it is usually not a good idea to build massive cities filled with highly flammable people near a large collection of molten death traps and inevitably every volcano in Valyria decided to throw a tantrum and erupt.

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Like all good legends the details are a bit hazy and nobody knows exactly what caused this to happen.  Some say it was the righteous fury of the Seven Headed God punishing the Valyrians for their wicked ways and worship of false idols.  Some say former slaves of Valyria who would go on to become the Faceless Men…

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…somehow sabotaged the volcanoes and caused them to erupt.  And some say that it was just rotten luck and Mother Nature was having a particularly bad day and decided to take it out on poor old Valyria.  No matter what the cause was the results were clear.  The age of the Valyrian Freehold was over and the empire was no more.  While some colonies and cities would attempt to re establish the empire their efforts were thwarted in what would become known as the Century of Blood.

Unlike its fantasy counterpart Rome did not end with one massive bang, more like a long string of implosions and invasions.  It is interesting to note that the Roman Empire (which is different from the Roman Republic and became an Empire after a long string of awful civil wars that are very well known and very well documented) also suffered from a cataclysmic volcanic disaster that is very well known: the eruption at Pompeii.

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Like the Valyrians the Romans thought it would be a good idea to build a city right next to an active volcano and in 79 A.D it erupted burying the town of Pompeii in a cloud of ash and the neighboring town of Herculaneum in a molten lava.  While it must have been truly terrifying to behold, it was not the end of the Roman Empire and today is more famous for it’s archaeological and cultural value since it provides an in depth look into the daily lives of everyday Romans.

Another thing the fall of the Roman Empire shares with their Valyrian counterparts are the many theories as to why it was destined to fall.  Some earlier books on the subject like Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire claim that Rome fell because they had become fat and lazy with the spoils of conquest (author’s note: this is a HUGE paraphrase and the link will take you to a copy of the book that can be found online.  It’s a fun read but it’s also incredibly long.)  More modern and practical explanations would point to economic, social, and political woes that slowly picked away at Rome until very little remained.  In this way the Roman Empire shares quite a bit with the Valyrain Century of Blood which will talk about next time.

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