Sansa Stark: the red-haired daughter of a traitor who was publicly beheaded. The link between Queen Elizabeth I and Sansa Stark is one of the most readily recognizable parallels between the A Song of Ice and Fire saga and real-world Tudor history, but of course the comparison is no less valid because it is commonplace. That is why I will be exploring the similarities between Sansa and Elizabeth Tudor in this post. I will then use these comparisons as a springboard for some speculation about where Sansa’s story arc may be headed in the conclusion of A Song of Ice and Fire.
Sansa and Queen Elizabeth: What do They have in Common?
Appearances matter, and on a superficial level, both Elizabeth Tudor and Sansa Stark have long, copper-toned hair. In addition to their striking red hair, both Elizabeth and Sansa are clever, appreciating heroic tales and music, capable of great wit and charm, and skilled at manipulating others after being captives and targets of abuse after their parents (Anne Boleyn in the case of Elizabeth and Eddard Stark in the case of Sansa) were beheaded for treason.
Perhaps as a result of these luscious locks, neither of these lovely ladies suffered from a lack of suitors, royal and otherwise. Among those attracted to Elizabeth Tudor were rulers of realms: Philip II of Spain, Prince Eric of Sweden, and Charles II, Archduke of Austria. Meanwhile, Sansa was engaged to Joffrey Baratheon (both when he was Crown Prince and when he was King) and later was married to Tyrion Lannister, who at one point served as acting Hand of the King. Like Elizabeth, Sansa is attractive not only because of her powerful bloodline but also since she is beautiful to behold.
Given that Elizabeth and Sansa are so pleasing on the eyes, it is not surprising that they should draw more than royal attention. Elizabeth was known for inspiring poetry from many of her suitors and admirers (indeed the Elizabethan Age was a golden one for the arts), while Sansa earned the attention and devotion of Dontos, the knight who was demoted to a fool by Joffrey and was only spared execution by Sansa’s deft manipulation of her betrothed. Throughout her reign, Elizabeth was famous (or perhaps infamous, depending on one’s perspective) for charming men into acting to her advantage. On several occasions, Sansa receives guidance in this cunning art from Cersei, who advises her that a woman’s power over men can be found between her legs, and she seems to have an intuitive grasp for how to do so, because she is able to convince Dontos to help her escape from court, to keep men as different as Joffrey and Tyrion attracted to her, and to encourage the Hound to treat her in a manner that is (by the Hound’s standards, at least) relatively gentle and protective.
Among their many admirers, both Elizabeth and Sansa have to contend with creepy older courtiers who take on a protective yet sexually exploitative role in their lives: Thomas Seymour and Petyr Baelish.
When Elizabeth, then the disgraced daughter of a decapitated traitor, was only fourteen, she was invited to live with Thomas Seymour and his new wife, Catherine Parr, at Chelsea Manor. At Chelsea Manor, Elizabeth was subject to daily flirtation (with undertones of sexual harassment) from Thomas Seymour in the form of morning romps. During these morning romps, Thomas Seymour, dressed in his nightclothes, would burst into Elizabeth’s bedchamber and awaken her with bouts of tickling and slaps on her behind.
Like Elizabeth, Sansa, the out-of-favor child of a beheaded traitor, is offered an escape from court by Littlefinger and his new wife, Lysa Arryn, at the Vale. Unfortunately, during her time at the Vale, Sansa finds herself the object of Littlefinger’s sexual desire, most noticeably when she is kissed by Littlefinger after Littlefinger helps her finish the snow castle she is building at the Vale. A jealous Lysa Arryn blames Sansa for Littlefinger kissing her-perversely faulting Sansa for being what amounts to a victim of sexual harassment-because she supposedly bewitched Littlefinger, rather than raging at Littlefinger for being a pedophile and overall pervert. This confrontation comes to a peak when Littlefinger pushes Lysa Arryn out of the Moon Door and (so far successfully) frames a hapless but annoying musician for her murder.
In an eerie echo, Elizabeth was ultimately sent away from Chelsea Manor by Catherine Parr during her pregnancy because Catherine was so troubled by the relationship between Elizabeth and Thomas. Tragically Catherine Parr died-allegedly from complications from childbirth-a few days after bringing a daughter into the world, and in her last days, Catherine Parr, like Lysa Arryn, was described as hostile and delusional. Since, upon her passing, Thomas Seymour was bequeathed all of her possessions (making him one of the richest men in England), whispers that he was responsible for her death haunted him. A wealthy and powerful man, he tried to pursue a romantic relationship with Elizabeth after Catherine’s death, but she fled to the countryside. It was wise of Elizabeth to disassociate herself from Thomas Seymour, since he went on to plot a rebellion against the current king that ended with his execution. Elizabeth was questioned in connection with his plot but though the embarrassing details of Thomas’ flirtation with her were examined, no evidence that she had partaken in any treason came to light.
Predictions: What does Elizabeth’s Story Tell Us about Sansa’s Fate?
+Sansa will continue to hone her it and charm, growing from a mere survivor to a true player and plotter at court.
+Sansa will continue to be very attractive to multiple men and will become even more accomplished at using her beauty and her brains to manipulate men to doing her bidding. We can expect her to evolve from victim to master manipulator.
+Sansa, after learning valuable lessons in how to play the Game of Thrones from Littlefinger, will start to distance herself from Littlefinger, and this will probably prove to be a prudent decision, because Littlefinger might find himself in hot water that he can’t get out of from accusations of treason or of murdering his wife (or both).
+Sansa could turn out to be the disgraced daughter of a traitor who rises to become queen just as Elizabeth Tudor did, though whether she becomes just Queen of the North, Queen of the Vale, Queen of the North and the Vale, or Queen of Westeros, I am hesitant to say. Either way, I do predict that she will be a winner of the Game of Thrones, especially if winning is defined as surviving, which leads me to my last point:
+I firmly believe that Sansa will survive the Game of Thrones.