We were on the lookout for hints about what might transpire on Game of Thrones when we started our History of Thrones series, which examines significant occasions and figures from Westeros’ complicated and contentious past.
We had no idea that some of those tales would eventually be adapted for television by HBO. Long before Daenerys brought dragons back to the Realm, House of the Dragon takes place.
But before she attempted to retake the Iron Throne from her kin, Rhaenyra Targaryen engaged in a power struggle to occupy it.
Here is everything you need to know about Princess Rhaenyra’s life and brief reign if you want to find out more about her and why we thought her narrative on Game of Thrones was a sign of things to come. Just be aware that there are many House of the Dragon and Rhaenyra Targaryen spoilers in this terrible story.
Introducing Rhaenyra Targaryen, the First Woman to Ever Attempt to Take the Iron Throne
Cersei Lannister becomes the ruler of Westeros at the end of Game of Thrones’ sixth season, but only after countless tragedies and horrible atrocities. She has few allies, is surrounded by foes on all sides, and, as if that weren’t bad enough, unlike the only other woman to claim the Iron Throne before her, she doesn’t have any dragons at her disposal.
Because even though Cersei was recognized as the first female monarch of the Seven Kingdoms, another woman had previously occupied Aegon the Conqueror’s throne as the ruler of Westeros.
Rhaenyra Targaryen, the Half-Year Queen, is the rightful owner of that title. During the historic Targaryen Civil War known as the Dance of the Dragons, Rhaenyra Targaryen briefly held King’s Landing. The Game of Thrones prequel, House of the Dragon, will now go into detail about this conflict and Rhaenyra Targaryen.
Rhaenyra is Designated as King Viserys Targaryen’s Heir
Both the participants in the conflict and the dragons who battled over the skies of the Seven Kingdoms gave the succession conflict between Rhaenyra Targaryen and her half-brother Aegon II their names. However, the story actually starts much earlier, during Rhaenyra’s early years.
King Viserys and his first wife, Aemma Arryn, had just one surviving child, Rhaenyra Targaryen, who was born in 97 AC. As a baby, their first son passed away. Additionally, their second child perished a day after Queen Aemma died while giving birth. This period of Rhaenyra Targaryen’s life is chronicled in the initial episodes of House of the Dragon.
Viserys declared in 105 AC that Rhaenyra, who was already a dragonrider, would succeed him on the throne in order to prevent his brother Daemon from becoming his heir. The King declared his eight-year-old daughter to be the legitimate heir to the throne and ordered the Lords of Westeros swear allegiance to her.
After being given the title of Princess of Dragonstone, Rhaenyra Targaryen earned the nickname “the Realm’s Delight” for her unwavering loyalty to her father. Rhaenyra was stunning and had a traditional, old Valyrian appearance. She was well-liked (early in life), but she was also a headstrong woman with a short fuse.
The Civil War and the Son of King Viserys
Viserys believed that the succession issue had been resolved definitively in 105 AC. He had grounds for thinking it was. He was named King Jaehaerys’ heir by the Great Council in 101 AC, and he succeeded to the Iron Throne without incident.
However, he remarried a year after claiming Rhaenyra as his own. He married Alicent Hightower, his Hand Ser Otto Hightower’s daughter. Even though the monarch was unaware of it, it was their relationship that ignited the upcoming civil war. Because King Viserys and Queen Alicent had Aegon, their first child, a year after their wedding. Aegon was followed by a daughter and two additional sons.
Probably, you can see where this is going.
No matter when they were born, sons were always placed first in the line of succession. Additionally, it was anticipated that the King would declare his eldest son to be the legitimate heir since he now had two living sons. Viserys, though, resisted making a decision.
The lords of the Realm had vowed to uphold his wish and will, he claimed, and he had already designated Rhaenyra as his successor. However, not everyone wanted to keep those promises. Some others also questioned Rhaenyra Targaryen’s claim to be the heir to the Iron Throne.
Ser Otto Hightower is Fired After Contesting Rhaenyra’s Assertion
Otto Hightower, Viserys’ Hand and the grandfather of the Queen, insisted on the succession after the birth of his grandson so frequently that Viserys fired him from both his position and King’s Landing.
Additionally, the once-warm bond between Princess Rhaenyra and Queen Alicent grown chilly. At court, two factions emerged out of their animosity. Rhaenyra had the “Blacks” on her side. The Queen was backed by the “Greens.” (The names were allusions to the clothes the women each wore to a big tournament.)
The two most significant men in Rhaenyra’s life at this time were her uncle Daemon and Ser Criston Cole. Both of them and her held a special place in her heart. She had a complex relationship with both of them, for want of a better word.
The relationships she has with them, however, assist to explain what will happen in the future. The complex interactions Rhaenyra Targaryen had with these two men are further explored in House of the Dragon.
The Guys Who Fell in Love With Rhaenyra Targaryen
At a spectacular tournament, Ser Criston Cole-Criston Cole crowned little Rhaenyra the queen of love and beauty.
He soon became her particular sworn shield as a Kingsguard soldier. She had pleaded with her father to give her son the job.
Viserys, though, was also obviously taken aback by Ser Criston. Cole finally received a promotion from the King to Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. In addition to exploring Criston Cole and Rhaenyra Targaryen’s courtship, House of the Dragon also answers a question raised about it in the Game of Thrones novel Fire & Blood.
However, the princess’s tale and that of her brave knight did not finish happily ever after. At the age of 16, a scandalous and divisive rumor that Rhaenyra had given her virginity to her uncle Daemon began to circulate.
Nobody is certain that is accurate. However, in order to maintain their pure bloodlines, Targaryens have long married inside the family. And soon after, his brother was banished by King Viserys.
According to House of the Dragon, Rhaenyra and Daemon Targaryen did not share a bed when they were younger. Perhaps, though, the complete picture is still unknown.
The histories, on the other hand, provide a different account of Rhaenyra and the second man who adored her. As previously mentioned, one story claims that on that particular day, Criston Cole proposed to Rhaenyra and invited her to accompany him on a journey to Essos.
But since he wished to violate his sworn Kingsguard promise, she instead questioned his allegiance.
Another version of the story, however, claims that she was the one who confessed her love to him and was rejected by him. The princess’s relationship with her sworn shield has remained a secret up until this point. Whatever it was, he immediately turned into her most hated enemy.
Once more, if House of the Dragon is to be believed, it was Cole who revealed his secret to Rhaenyra, but rather than interrogating him, she preferred that he continue to be her guardian and lover. Ser Criston Cole eventually sided with Queen Alicent and the Greens, though.
The prequel series to Game of Thrones claims to provide an accurate depiction of historical events. What we currently know was derived from meta-histories, in which the reality of the events was gradually corrupted.
It appears that Rhaenyra Targaryen, Daemon Targaryen, and Criston Cole’s ties are revealed to us in House of the Dragon. And, in fact, many of the moments involving the trio have been portrayed.
Rhaenyra Targaryen’s Controversial Marriages
Ultimately, Ser Laenor Velaryon and Rhaenyra got married for political reasons. When she objected to the match, her father arranged it and threatened to name his son the new Aegon heir in its place. She didn’t want a spouse, but she wanted to be queen more.
But it appears that none of the two did particularly well in the match. Laenor, according to the Princess, would like to romance her half-brothers. Officially, the couple did have three sons, but there was a strong case to suggest Laenor was not their father.
The inevitable and evident paternity dispute surrounding Rhaenyra Targaryen’s offspring would lead to a pivotal turning point on the road to civil war. Over time, violence resulted from arguments between the boy’s cousins and rumors about his real father.
Ser Laenor passed away after a quarrel with a close friend a few years later. Some people think it was a jealously-fueled love triangle argument. However, rumors circulated that Daemon orchestrated Laenor’s death.
That was never established. But nothing that followed did to stop the whispers of a plot. Rhaenyra immediately wed her uncle Daemon once more. Her father was furious about their contentious union. The king did not, however, name a different heir. When Viserys died in 129 AC, all dragon hell broke loose, that is the state of affairs.
The union of Rhaenyra and Daemon is depicted in House of the Dragon. The events of Rhaenyra, Daemon, and Laenor’s narrative unfold somewhat differently in House of the Dragon’s rendition.
The three reach a compromise and fabricate Laenor’s demise so that he can flee with his sweetheart to a distant location and Rhaenyra and Daemon can get married.
Who is Rhaenyra Targaryen to Daenerys?
Daenerys’ distant ancestor in the Targaryen family tree is Princess Rhaenyra. This exhaustive Targaryen family tree shows that Princess Rhaenyra and Daenerys are distant relatives who lived 200 years and eight generations apart.
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Who is Rhaenyra Targaryen’s Mother?
Aemma Targaryen, the queen.
The sole living offspring of King Viserys and Queen Aemma Targaryen is Rhaenyra. After Baelor, who was only alive for around 10 hours in episode 1, passed away, Viserys proclaimed Rhaenyra the legitimate heir to the throne.
Rhaenyra is technically the sixth great-grandmother of Daenerys and the seventh great-grandmother of Jon. That also makes Rhaenyra’s uncle and second husband, Daemon, the direct ancestor of Daenerys and Jon.