Game of Thrones Made It Abundantly Clear Why Real Medieval Libraries Chained Their Books

Contains minor spoilers for “Dragonstone,” the Season 7 premiere of Game of Thrones

In Sunday night’s season premiere, Game of Thrones continued its long streak of drawing on the real past to make Westeros come alive by using Samwell Tarly to make a point about real medieval libraries — sort of.

As Sam gets to know the ropes of the Citadel, part of his thankless job is to work at the library, which offers viewers a chance to get a good look at the grandest library in the Thrones universe. One of the details in that set is that the bookshelves, even outside of the restricted section, come with chains.

That detail is one that medieval-history buffs will recognize as true. Such chains were a common sight in early libraries, for a reason that Sam handily illustrates when he makes off with books that are clearly not intended for public circulation. In 1931, the Oxford scholar B.H. Streeter published a study of England’s early chained libraries, he 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 …read more

Source:: Time – Entertainment

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