When Game of Thrones originally came out, many prospective fans who had not read the books found the pilot episode to be somewhat shocking. After losing its last season, the show afterwards had a dragon-sized surge in popularity. It will continue to be adored by viewers until the end of time.
The politics between each house, the large cast of individuals, and the intricate family trees were primarily what caused the issue. With the release of the first episode of House of the Dragon, we decided it was time to discuss the Targaryen family tree, internal politics, and outside forces that work to undermine the Targaryen line.
But it is important to keep in mind that the dragon itself could only destroy the dragon’s house. Although it may appear to be a simple line, it actually has numerous layers, which we will reveal in this video to make the rest of the HBO show easier to grasp. Oh, and be careful with spoilers. Shall we get started?
History of House Targaryen Before King Viserys
Exploring the history of the seven kingdoms is essential before delving into the events of the actual play. The timeline of George RR Martin’s fictional universe is divided into sections based on the year that Aegon conquered Westeros for practical reasons. As a result, AC and BC stand for after and before the conquest, respectively. Aegon Targaryen The First, a warrior and combat commander, arrived many hundred years ago with his dragon, Balerion the dread, as well as his two sister queens, Visenya and Rhaenys, and their respective dragons, Vhagar and Meraxes.
These three siblings and their dragons managed to take over Westeros and unite the six kingdoms into one. And, the last kingdom of Dorne came into the fold a little while later. Aegon ruled his country for almost four decades when his first-born son Aenys took over the throne in the year 37 AC.
However, Aenys was not a very strong ruler, although he was humble and just. He ruled the kingdom for only five years until he died in 42 AC due to natural reasons. After Aenys’s death, his son Aegon Targaryen, the second of his name, was to rule the country. However, Aenys’s half brother Maegor, took the throne and was crowned as king. However, Maegor was a terrible ruler, who was dubbed Maegor the Cruel by his subjects.
And no ruler whose subjects are unhappy, manages to rule for long. A rebellion started in his kingdom, but his cruel methods ensured that most of his bannermen and allies had escaped. In the end, he was found dead on the iron throne with his wrists slashed and neck impaled by one of the swords on the iron throne. After Maegor’s most mysterious death, which some say was the work of the throne itself, Jaehaerys Targaryen, the second son and fourth child of Aenys, took the throne for himself in the year 48 AC.
Jaehaerys was hailed by many as a wise king, and the House Targaryen saw its pinnacle during Jaehaerys’s long rule of five and a half decades until the year 103 AC. Now, the first episode of House of the Dragon begins with Jaeherys summoning a great council to choose the next heir. As it happened, he had lost both his sons and was now in need of a new heir. Of all the people who claimed to become the prince of Dragonstone, only two claims were heard.
These came from Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, Jaehaerys’s eldest daughter, and from Viserys Targaryen, Jaehaerys’s grandson. As was customary, no one wanted a woman to sit upon the iron throne, and Viserys was chosen as the new heir in the year 101 AC. Viserys became king in 103 AC after the old king Jaehaerys died in his bed, and Viserys found himself a prosperous kingdom, a happy subject, and no one to claim the throne but himself.
Viserys’s Tryst With Heirs
But House Targaryen had doomed itself because of their quest to keep the bloodline pure. Much like the ancient Egyptian kingdoms, the Targeryens wed amongst each other. The several incestuous children were often found to be suffering from sickness or were still born.
For instance, King Aenys’s parents were siblings Aegon and Rhaenys. According to Grand Maester Gawen, although the king died at the age of 35, he looked like a man of 60. Nevertheless, the new king Viserys was also without a son, having fathered one daughter named Rhaenyra, with his first queen Aemma. Now, it is important to note that Queen Aemma was the daughter of Rodrik Arryn of Vale and Daella Targaryen, the old king’s daughter. Naturally, Viserys’s Queen was also his first cousin. And the fruits from such a branch would not be quite healthy, would they?
Viserys and Emma had tried several times to bear a son, but in the ten years of their marriage, they had to suffer two still births, two miscarriages, and one child died in the cradle. That’s five dead children in twice as many years. Only Rhaenyra survived. But in the year 112 AC, the ninth year of Viserys’s rule, Aemma was pregnant for the seventh time, and this time the king of certain of having a boy.
But all this doesn’t mean that Viserys did not have an heir at present, he did, and it was his brother Daemon Targaryen, but the man was no less than a demon. Not only was he vile and cruel, but he was overambitious for the Iron Throne. Daemon was the grandson of Jaehaerys Targaryen, King Viserys’ younger brother, and the prospective successor to the Iron Throne. Ser Otto Hightower, the King’s Hand, believed Daemon was the most significant threat to the kingdom. Unlike his older brother, Daemon was an erratic and reckless despite his immense wit.
He was the only individual who was both liked and despised simultaneously. To some, he was a hero, while to others, he was the darkest of villains. But king Viserys loved Daemon to death, at least initially. And that’s why Daemon was a member of his brother Viserys’s small council. Viserys still admired his brother, but Daemon’s behaviour was so erratic and wild that he hesitated to announce him as the heir to the throne officially.
King Viserys had named him the commander of the city watch after taking counsel from Otto Hightower, the hand of the king, a man well-known for his wisdom, but an arrogant man nonetheless. Otto was always outspoken about his distaste for Daemon Targaryen, and believed him to be the greatest threat to the realm. Although the books claimed that Otto Hightower was a cautious and methodical man, who was always loyal to king Viserys, he was replaced by Ser Criston Cole as the Hand of the King, because King Aegon the second thought of Otto as a lazy man who did not understand the realm.
Nevertheless, to celebrate the birth of his new heir, Viserys threw a huge tournament, which was attended by several knights from all over the seven kingdoms. One man who shone among these was Criston Cole, who defeated Daemon Targaryen, the Prince of the city, but we’ll come to Cole in a bit. On the day of the tournament, Queen Aemma went into labour, but unfortunately and most expectedly, the birth was not going to be easy. The maester called for the King, who was given an impossible choice by the maester.
Viserys had to either choose one or else he’d save none. The king made the impossible choice and asked the maester to save the infant child. As caesarean and other such birthing techniques were not yet available back in the day, the maesters cut open Queen Aemma’s belly to extract the child, an act that killed the Queen. But unfortunately for Viserys, his newborn son died not long after.
Now once again without an heir, Viserys had lost his wife as well. On the same night, as they were cremated by the dragon fire of Rhaenyra’s dragon, Daemon Targaryen went to celebrate with the members of the city-watch, where he address the dead Prince as ‘heir for a day.’ When the news of this came to King Viserys, he was left angered in his bones, and ordered Daemon to leave the city at once and join his wife.
Daemon knew better than making a claim for the throne at that moment, and left the throne room. But this brought about an imminent want for an heir. King Viserys had lost his newborn son, and his brother. So, who would rule the seven kingdoms after Viserys was gone? Well, the king named his eldest child, Rhaenyra, the princess of Dragonstone and heir to the throne. And yet, Viserys’s tryst with an heir did not come to an end, not yet, at least.
Prelude to the Dance of Dragons
Princess Rhaenyra, known as the Realm’s Delight, appreciated the freedom of being the king’s adored daughter, but she was aware that her father had always desired a son and heir, which pained her. But now that Rhaenyra had been named heir to the throne, she thought her tensions had been sunk into the narrow sea! She couldn’t be more wrong, though! On the one hand, she had to contend with her uncle, Daemon, whom she later married.
And, on the other hand, she had to face a troubling situation with Alicent Hightower, the daughter of Otto Hightower, the Hand of the king. Despite their competing ambitions, she was good friends with Alicent. The Hand’s daughter proved to be of immense trouble later for Raheneyra because she would later marry Viserys, and gave him a daughter and three sons, one of whom, Aegon the second would become the reason behind what is called the Dance of the Dragons, also called the Dying of the Dragons.
It was a full-fledged civil war amongst the members of the Targaryen family, who wanted the throne for themselves. Alicent has a huge part in provoking the civil war, and would be seen pushing her son to pursue the throne, even as Rhaenyra has been named heir. On the other hand, there are several other factions that want the throne for themselves, including people like Corlys Velaryon, also known as the Sea Snake, and the Lord of the Tides, who was the leader of House Velaryon.
Corlys was the man who married Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, commonly known as the Queen Who Never Was, the heir to the throne before she lost the throne to King Viserys. With Rhaenys, Corlys has two children, Laena, who married Daemon Targaryen and Laenor, who married Rhaenyra Targaryen. This match would later prove of great significance to Rhaenyra because it ensured that Corlys was no more a threat and also gave her all the houses that pledged their swords to House Valeryon.
In the books, Corlys joins Rhaenyra’s court as her Hand of the Queen, which is a huge advantage for Rhaenyra, because he is one of the wisest commanders in Westeros. Although Rhaenyra was married to Laenor Velaryon, it was a marriage of convenience. And, Ser Criston Cole felt strongly for Rhaenyra. Criston would be having a huge role in the House of the Dragon as he would turn out to become a kingmaker.
Other Players in House of The Dragon
Game of Thrones had several players fighting for the Iron Throne, I mean, there was something called the war of the five kings, to begin with, and then Daenerys Targaryen came to challenge Queen Cersi for the throne. While that’s not the case with House of the Dragon, there still are a few other players, such as the Triarchy, which is essentially an alliance between the free cities of Tyrosh, Lys, and Myr, which had survived the Doom of Valyria. We often hear of the Doom of Valyira, but not many know what it actually was. Well, the Valyrian Freehold had survived through five thousand years, and was one of the greatest civilisations ever.
Their magic, steel, customs, everything was considered superior. And they were the first to train dragons. However, a cataclysmic even destroyed Valyria, the mountains became volcanic and filled the sky with ash and fire– an event so potent that it killed even dragons. But in 114 BC, Daenys, a maiden princess, had foreseen the doom of Valyria, in a dream and convinced her father to leave.
So, King Aenar managed to flee to the island of Dragonstone, off the coast of Westeros. This was the place where Stannis Baratheon and Daenerys Targaryen had set up camps. Nevertheless, the Triarchy was led by a Craghas Drahar from Myr. We get to know about the Triarchy in one of the small council meetings of King Viserys, who seems rather indifferent toward the threat.
However, at the end of the first episode, when king Viserys tells Rhaenyra Targaryen about her being named the heir to the throne, Viserys reveals one more secret to Rhaeneyra, a secret that is only carried forward from ruler to heir. Just as Daenys had foreseen the Doom of Valyria, Aegon the first had seen the doom of men in a dream. This doom was, to begin with, an unimaginably terrible winter, that would rise from the distant north.
Yes, the same one from Game of Thrones. According to Viserys, Aegon saw absolute darkness riding those cold wintry winds; clearly, he was talking about the Night King, the white walkers and the wights. So, the rich lands wer not the only reason why Aegon flew on a dragon back to Westeros. It was this threat to humanity that he wanted to fight. And, according to Viserys, only a Targaryen leading the men would have been able to defeat this darkness.
If we compare this to Game of Thrones, Viserys’s belief did come rather true because it was under the leadership of Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen that the army of the dead was defeated. And both of them were Targaryens. Although it is unlikely that we’ll see much of the undead and White Walkers in House of the Dragon, one should never say never.
So, that was a brief history and family tree of the great house Targaryen, which now lives on with Jon Snow, the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. We do not know what role the Starks will play in House of the Dragon, but we are definitely excited about the confirmed Jon Snow spin off series, which is set after the events of Game of Thrones. And as for House of the Dragon, there is going to be a lot of action, adventure, and drama in the times to come. Let’s brace ourselves and hope that the Dance of Dragons is every bit as exciting in the show as it is in the books.