The penultimate season of Game of Thrones is here, zooming fast towards a climactic ending (so just a few more years, guys!). While that makes plenty of people sad, it makes just as many people happy. Those who dislike the show have their reasons for doing so, and whether we think they’re legitimate or not doesn’t matter, this also goes for people who love the show.
Of course, there could never be a show about ‘medieval times’ (Game of Thrones does not have a specific historic era in mind, no matter what people may try to argue), without there being some critique of the show’s medieval practices. We find these critiques to be rather silly considering that Game Of Thrones is a high-fantasy novel where historical accuracy isn’t something that’s entirely necessary.
But, we realize that there are some people who do care about these things. For those interested, there was a small historical accuracy blip in the first episode of the new season. We follow Samwell Tarly’s day to day chores at the Citadel as he studies to be a Maester and the first thing you might notice are the chains on the books.
According to historical purists, Game of Thrones was ‘off’ with its portrayal of the functionality of said chains. In the episode, Sam repeatedly returns books to shelves, simply reaching through the chains to place the books back where they belong. The value of books in the Medieval ages was tremendous so the chains were designed to prevent people from taking books away from their shelves.
Oxford scholar B.H Streeter published a study on early libraries in 1931 and explained where the tradition came from: “In the Middle Ages books were rare, and so was honesty. A book, it was said, was ‘worth as much as a farm.’ Unlike a farm, it was a portable property that could easily be purloined. Valuables in all ages require protection. Books, therefore, were kept under lock and key.” He explains that books were either chained or kept in a locked chest.
So, as noted, the only reason the chains existed was to keep the books from going anywhere, so the re-shelving work Sam does on the show would have been completely unnecessary. On top of that, removing one book from the chain would cause a lot of inconveniences.
But, we figure if you can get past a woman being immune to fire, white walkers, dragons, a three-eyed raven, and lord knows what else, then you can look past this without trying very hard.
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