Back once more, because history is fun! And so is Game of Thrones.
Machiavelli was probably an inspiration for Peter Baelish, no doubt about it. But I doubt that Machiavelli did the things Littlefinger does, it’s enough that he firmly believed them to be normal and necessary things to do if you are a ruler…
The Targaryens are in part based on the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt from the Hellenistic period. The Ptolemaic were also known to marry each other in order to keep the bloodlines pure. They were also foreigners who ruled Egypt, coming from a fallen empire. Martin even made the Targaryen rule Westeros for roughly three centuries, just like the Ptolemaic did in real-life.
Talking about fallen empires, Old Valyria is inspired by the Ancient Roman Empire but also from our myth about Atlantis. The destruction of Valyria by a devastating natural disaster is similar to most myths of the destruction of Atlantis. In the Story of Ice and Fire, Valyria did indeed exist, and wouldn’t be amazing if Atlantis really existed? It almost definitely didn’t, but it sure is fun thinking about it.
A quick and obvious one. The Dothraki in real-life are basically Mongols. Even the territory they roam is very similar in it’s vastness to the steps of Mongolia, and the wide open spaces of Russia and Central Asia.
Qarth, as an ancient, wealthy and large city that has access to Westeros, the slaver cities, and Ashai, is very similar to Constantinople, which was also all those things, except that it connected several real-life places… But you get the point.
Everyone probably knows that Vikings were the inspiration for the Iron Islanders. But what you probably don’t know is that this view of Vikings is basically false. They weren’t bloodthirsty evil barbarians who enjoyed destroying and stealing. They were actually a very democratic and liberal people. They only pillaged because they could and because they needed to. For heaven’s sake, those were the days when everyone was killing someone else and when wars were a common and constant occurrence basically everywhere. So cut them some slack.