Learn more about Targaryen history before the release of House of the Dragon.
Everything from the Targaryens’ organizational structure to the proper placement of all those vowels
We’re returning to Westeros thanks to HBO’s House of the Dragon, but it’s not the Westeros most people are accustomed to seeing on television. Due to the fact that the new Game of Thrones prequel series is set approximately 200 years before the events of the original series, viewers will be introduced to a completely new cast of characters and events.
The second half of George R.R. Martin’s novel Fire & Blood, which serves as an in-universe history of the Targaryen family in Westeros, served as the inspiration for the television series. House of the Dragon can be understood without having read the first part, however there are a few tidbits that may be helpful. So here is everything you need to know in order to enjoy the premiere of House of the Dragon.
THE WHO IS KING JAEHAERYS?
Jaehaerys I Targaryen, sometimes known as the Old King, occupied the Iron Throne prior to Viserys and played a significant part in establishing the norm of male succession in Westeros when he let the Great Council to name Viserys as his successor rather than his older daughter, Rhaenys, in 101 AC. Jaehaerys had one of the longest and most successful reigns in the annals of Westeros. Despite being universally adored, he left his son Viserys with a tremendous legacy to uphold. Even though the majority of this story takes place after Jaehaerys’ passing, it also develops in his wake.
AEGON the Conqueror and DAENYS the Dreamer: Who Are They?
You might consider of these two as the ones who began the Targaryen dynasty’s story in Westeros, which is why they’re still important to this story, even though they’ve both been dead for a long time by the time House of the Dragon starts.
The Valyrian Freehold, a province of Essos on the Valyrian Peninsula, is where the Targaryens originally came from. Despite the wealth and prominence of the region, the Targaryens abruptly moved their family from Valyria to Dragonstone, a small island near the entrance to Westeros’ Blackwater Bay. Aenar made his choice in light of a vision his daughter Daenys had that predicted a major calamity that would devastate the area and permanently destroy Valyria. She was confirmed to be correct as the Doom of Valyria began twelve years after the family had relocated. She adopted the moniker Daenys the Dreamer after that.
Aegon I Targaryen set his sights on Westeros with the intention of conquering the continent and uniting its different warring kingdoms and factions about 100 years after the Targaryens relocated to Dragonstone. Despite the fact that his motivations are frequently disputed, it is evident that at least one of them was his belief that it would be relatively simple. He and his sisters Rhaenys and Visenya were the only people in Westeros with dragons, after all. Aegon was ultimately successful in unifying all of Westeros after his supposition turned out to be accurate (except Dorne).
DO THE TAGARYENS PERSONALLY MARRY RELATIVES?
Similar to royal families in our own history, the Targaryens frequently wed members of their own family in an effort to preserve the strength of their bloodline. While this is a long-standing Valyrian custom, Targaryens in Westeros are not required to follow it, and the royals frequently wed outside of their line. The Targaryens who are unlikely to inherit the Iron Throne are especially affected by this. When people did get married inside the family, it was mostly between brothers and sisters, though on occasion it involved cousins, nephews, or nieces. When it came to the family members least likely to be crowned, the Targaryens occasionally used marriage as a valuable weapon for alliances and favors from other great houses, even if they most frequently preferred to preserve the positions of king and queen within the family.
In the first episode of House of the Dragon, we witness a few instances of these concepts in action when Rhaenys Targaryen—not Aegon the Conqueror’s sister, but a different one—marries Ser Corlys Velaryon. Even though they were from Valyria, the Velaryons fled the Freehold far earlier than the Targaryens because they lacked their dragon-riding prowess and social stature in the area. Despite this, house Velaryon has always been a crucial friend of the Targaryens, which is why the relationship was sealed in matrimony to Rhaenys, who was once on the verge of becoming queen but has earned the moniker “The Queen Who Never Was” by the time House of the Dragon opens.
But nearly 200 years after House of the Dragon, when Game of Thrones’ primary plot begins, the Targaryen rulers are still wed to their brothers. In reality, Rhaella was the wife of King Aerys II, also referred to as The Mad King.
Before you see the show, if you have any more queries, we’ll let George R.R. Martin address them in the video preview he made for House of the Dragon.
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