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Rhaenyra Targaryen

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Daemon Blackfyre, the brothers Toyne, the Vulture King, Grand Maester Hareth... traitors have always paid with their lives ... even Rhaenyra Targaryen. She was daughter to one king and mother to two more, yet she died a traitor's death for trying to usurp her brother's crown.
~ Stannis Baratheon, to Davos Seaworth

Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen is an historical figure from A Song of Ice and Fire. She was the first-born and only surviving child of King Viserys I's first marriage, to his cousin Aemma Arryn. To prevent his brother Daemon Targaryen becoming king, Viserys named Rhaenyra his heir when she was 8 and since then she expected to become the first reigning Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. However Viserys later remarried to Alicent Hightower, and had sons. Alicent tried to have her eldest son Aegon named heir, but Viserys refused to change the succession. Rhaenyra was married to Ser Laenor Velaryon, heir to Driftmark, and had three sons, Jacaerys, Lucerys, and Joffrey Velaryon. However despite having two Valyrian-looking parents, all three had brown hair and pug noses, similar to Harwin Strong, their mother's rumored lover. This led to accusations they were bastards. Laenor was later murdered by Ser Qarl Correy, possibly his lover, who disappeared after the murder. Shortly after this Daemon married his niece (he was rumored to have paid Ser Qarl to murder Laenor, then murdered him). Daemon and Rhaenyra had two sons, the future Aegon III and Viserys II.

History

Young rhaenyra targaryen

Rhaenyra at the age of sixteen.

When Viserys died Rhaenyra was on Dragonstone. Alicent and the Small Council decided Aegon should be King, as by the laws of succession a son came before a daughter. The only man who spoke for Rhaenyra, Lord Lyman Beesbury, was murdered by Ser Criston, though according to another account he died while imprisoned. On hearing of her brother's coronation Rhaenyra miscarried her daughter. Rhaenyra had her own coronation, her husband Daemon placing the crown on her head. She was supported by Laenor's father Lord Corlys Velaryon, Master of Driftmark and the richest man in the Seven Kingdoms.

Terms were sent to her by Aegon, offering her Dragonstone to be held after her by Jacaerys, and for Lucerys to be named heir to Driftmark. She refused. Jacaerys on his dragon was sent to gather the support of the Arryns, Manderlys, and Starks, and Lucerys on his dragon to Storm's End, in the hope Lord Borros Baratheon would support her. However though Jacaerys was successful Lucerys was not. He encountered his half-uncle Aemond Targaryen, who had been sent to Storm's End for the same purpose. Borros forced Lucerys to leave, at which Aemond pursued Lucerys' dragon on his own dragon, and slew them both. In revenge Daemon sent the two men "Blood and Cheese" into the Red Keep, who murdered Aegon's heir Jaehaerys, fleeing with his head.

Aegon II was wounded at Rook's Rest in battle with Corlys wife Rhaenys Targaryen, who died in the battle. Jacaerys came up with the idea of recruiting dragonriders from the "dragonseeds", people who claimed illegitimate Targaryen blood. Corlys persuaded Rhaneyra to have Addam and Alyn, the sons of Marilda of Hull, legitimized as Velaryons and heirs to Driftmark, claiming they were the sons of Laenor. However due to Laenor not showing much interest in women and more in men, it is widely believed that Corlys was the true father of Addam and Alyn.

Among the dragonseeds were Hugh Hammer, Ulf the White, and Nettles. Jacaerys was killed in the Battle of the Gullet, however, and Viserys taken by the fleet of the Kingdom of the Tree Daughters, though Rhaenyra's son Aegon escaped.

Aemond had become regent and took most of King's Landing's forces to retake Harrenhal from Daemon Targaryen. However Rhaenyra took King's Landing, though her half-brother escaped. Yet when she took power many were executed, and taxes increased, leading to King's Landing turning against her. She was nicknamed "King Maegor with Teats", after Maegor the Cruel. While King's Landing starved she held a lavish party to declare Joffrey Prince of Dragonstone.

Later Hugh and Ulf turned against Rhaenyra's forces at the Battle of Tumbleton, attacking her army and sacking the town. Rhaenyra then declared the Dragonseeds traitors. When Corlys helped his heir Addam Velaryon escape, Rhaenyra had him imprisoned. She sent a message to Lord Mooton ordering him to execute the dragon-rider Nettles, her husband's lover. However the Maester warned Daemon, and Nettles escaped. Daemon and Aemond then slew each other in the Battle over the God's Eye.

A riot in King's Landing led to the deaths of all the dragons in the city, along with Prince Joffrey. Rhaenyra sold her crown to buy passage to Dragonstone. However Aegon had fled there and taken the island. He fed Rhaenyra to his dragon Sunfyre, before the eyes of her son Aegon. However Aegon II died the following year from poison, leading to Rhaenyra's son succeeding him as Aegon III.

Though the current line of Targaryens is descended from Rhaenyra, the official histories do not refer to her as a Queen, and treat her as a usurper, even her descendant Stannis Baratheon, though Aegon II is not regarded well either. Both of them are generally remembered negatively in the history of Westeros.

Gallery

Notes

  • Though Rhaenyra has sympathetic motives, having been declared her father's heir, her treatment of the dragonseeds and Velaryons, along with her tyranny means she is regarded as a villain.

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