House Targaryen is a noble family of Valyrian descent that escaped the Doom. They lived for centuries on the island of Dragonstone until Aegon Targaryen and his sisters rode their dragons to the conquest of the Seven Kingdoms. House Targaryen ruled as the Kings of Westeros for nearly 300 years, until their ouster in the Robert's Rebellion. Their seats were the Red Keep in the capital city of Kings Landing, the island castle of Dragonstone, and the summer residence of Summerhall.
House Targaryen's sigil is a three-headed dragon breathing flames, red on black. The three-headed dragon represents Aegon the Conqueror and his two sisters, Rhaenys and Visenya. Their house words are "Fire and Blood." Although the Targaryen kings took their seat at Kings Landing, the place where Aegon and his army first landed in Westeros and made their first fort, Dragonstone remained the traditional seat of the heir-apparent to the throne. House Targaryen historically followed the gods of Valyria. Sometime before the conquest of the Seven Kingdoms, the Targaryens abandoned the Valyrian gods and converted to the Faith of the Seven, the predominant religion in Westeros. However, they continued to follow the Valyrian practice of incestuous marriage, wedding brother to sister, cousin to cousin, uncle to niece and aunt to nephew, holding themselves apart from and above the noble Westerosi families. Deceased Targaryens are traditionally cremated.
The phrase "blood of the dragon" refers to what are considered typical Targaryen features: silvery-gold (or platinum) hair and violet eyes. The Targaryens can tolerate a bit more heat than most ordinary people, though they are by no means immune to fire. Another trait typical to Targaryens, and one that was passed on to the cadet branch, House Blackfyre, was the ability to have premonition-like dreams. Before the Doom, a noble in Valyria called Aenar Targaryen had a maiden daughter whose visions moved him to relocate his family to Dragonstone, twelve years before the Doom. Her visions were written down and published in a book called Signs and Portents, which is now lost. Probably due to their incestuous practices, the Targaryens are prone to madness; King Jaehaerys II said that with the birth of a new Targaryen, the gods tossed a coin to decide whether the child would be a genius or a lunatic.
The Targaryens are known as dragonlords, and seem to be closer to dragons than other men are. Aegon I introduced dragons to Westeros when he conquered it, and dragons were kept and ridden by the Targaryens until the last one perished in the reign of Aegon III Dragonbane. The Targaryens kept dragons for much of their reign in Seven Kingdoms. To house them they built an immense domed structure in King's Landing called the Dragonpit. New dragons were bred from Aegon's original three: Vhagar, Meraxes, and the dreaded Balerion. However, violent deaths in battle and a growing infirmity in each following generation caused the family's stable to dwindle. The last Targaryen dragon was a deformed and sterile creature that died very young. It is not clearly understood what caused the last dragons to die out. A legend holds that Aegon III poisoned them, but Archmaester Marwyn suggested that the maesters were somehow responsible. Others have also claimed that raising dragons in enclosed spaces, even the Dragonpit, was unnatural and stunted their growth.
Origins and Conquests Edit
House Targaryen was one of the forty ancient noble houses known as dragonlords who ruled the Valyrian Freehold, a great empire spanning most of the eastern continent. They were traditionally not one of the most important of these families, however. Daenys the Dreamer, the daughter of the head of House Targaryen, Aenar, had visions of a cataclysm that would come over Valyria. Aenar led House Targaryen and their five dragons, including Balerion, to the westernmost outpost of Valyrian influence, the island of Dragonstone, off the east coast of Westeros. Twelve years later the Doom descended on the city of Valyria, leading to the collapse of the Freehold. The Targaryens were one of the few families to survive the destruction of their home and were the only dragonriders of Valyria to survive. Thereafter four of the dragons died under unknown circumstances, possibly due to infighting among the family, but two more were born from eggs, Vhagar and Meraxes. Following the Doom, there was pressure for the Targaryens to go east and ally themselves with Volantis, who attempted to restore the Freehold by conquering the rest of the Valyrian colonies to survive the Doom, now known as the Free Cities. However, the Targaryens remained on Dragonstone for another century. After flying to the Disputed Lands and joining an alliance to crush Volantene aspirations, the young Aegon the Conqueror developed ambitions toward Westeros. Aegon aspired to unite the seven Westerosi kingdoms under one ruler, himself. A hundred years after the Doom, Aegon set forth from Dragonstone with his sister/wives Rhaenys and Visenya, their dragons, and a small force, landing at the mouth of the Blackwater Rush and beginning the Wars of Conquest. During his campaigns, Aegon was anointed king by the High Septon in Oldtown, leading to the unification of the Seven Kingdoms under Targaryen rule from the Iron Throne, starting a dynasty that lasted nearly 300 years. The area where the Targaryens began their conquest became the site of their new capital, King's Landing. Dragonstone was used as the seat of the heir to the throne. The region around these strongholds became known as the Crownlands, and several houses of the area, such as the Velaryons, Darklyns, and the lords of Crackclaw Point, were among the staunchest Targaryen loyalists. Another close ally was House Baratheon; Aegon had installed his bastard brother Orys Baratheon to rule the Stormlands.
Early Dynasty and the Faith Militant Uprising Edit
Despite converting to the Faith of the Seven, the Targaryens held themselves apart from the laws of gods and men, and continued to follow the Valyrian practice of incestuous marriage, which was a sin in the eyes of the Seven. Indeed, Aegon married both of his sisters. When Aegon died 37 years after his landing and was succeeded by his incest-born son and heir, Aenys I, local populations revolted in what is known as the Faith Militant uprising. Early Targaryen kings often appointed those of the blood royal to act as their Hand. Such was the case with Aenys, who was served by his brutal half-brother and cousin, Prince Maegor. Maegor conducted the suppression of these revolts, and seized the throne for himself after Aenys's death, going on to earn the moniker "the Cruel" in his attempts to crush the rebellion. Construction of the Red Keep in King's Landing was finished during Maegor's reign. After his mysterious death in 48AL he was succeeded by Aenys's son Jaehaerys the Conciliator, who disbanded the Faith Militant. His rule was long and wise.
Death of the Dragons Edit
After his death in 103AL, Jaehaerys was succeeded by his grandson Viserys I, who had been chosen as heir in the Great Council of 101. Viserys ruled well except in marriage. He raised his daughter Rhaenyra as his heir, but his wishes were defied by the Lord Commander of his Kingsguard, Ser Criston the Kingmaker, who earned his epithet by crowning Aegon II, a son of a second marriage. In the resulting war of succession, called the Dance of the Dragons (129-131 AL), Rhaenyra was devoured by Sunfyre, the dragon of Aegon II, while her son Aegon III looked on. However, Aegon II was grievously injured and he too died soon after, causing Rhaenyra's son Aegon III to take the throne. Many lesser branches of House Targaryen, and most of their dragons also perished in the war. During the reign of Aegon III, the son of Rhaenyra who held the Iron Throne at the war's conclusion, the last dragon died, earning him the nickname "Dragonbane." The loss of their signature war mounts and the deaths of so many family members severely weakened the Targaryens' grip on the Seven Kingdoms.]Targaryen Family Tree, during the Dance of Dragons. Since the Dance, House Targaryen has practiced a highly modified version of agnatic primogeniture, placing female claimants in the line of succession behind all possible male ones, even collateral relations.
Incorporating Dorne Edit
Since resisting the conquest of Aegon I, the Martell princes of Dorne had ruled their land as a sovereign realm. Upon assuming the throne in 157AL, Aegon III's fourteen-year old son Daeron I, the Young Dragon, decided to end that. Despite his youth and lack of dragons, Daeron defeated the Dornishmen in a successful invasion. His rule of Dorne did not last, however, and he and 40,000 men died trying to defeat an uprising. Dead at eighteen without issue, the Young Dragon was succeeded by his brother Baelor the Blessed, who was in training to become a septon. One of Baelor's first acts was to make peace with Dorne by marrying his cousin, Prince Daeron, to Myriah Martell. Baelor is well-remembered by the smallfolk, but maesters and others learned in history recall his piety as his undoing. As his Hand, Baelor retained his uncle Viserys, who had also served Daeron. Viserys held the realm together while Daeron warred and Baelor prayed. During his reign, Baelor locked his three sisters in the "Maidenvault" of the Red Keep to avoid carnal thoughts. One, Daena the Defiant, carried on an affair with their cousin Aegon. When Baelor died childless as well in 171AL, his uncle took the throne as Viserys II. After a brief reign, Viserys was succeeded by his son Aegon, who reigned as Aegon IV and was called "the Unworthy". It was during the reign of Aegon's son Daeron II that Dorne finally joined the Targaryen empire, after Daeron's sister Daenerys, daughter of Aegon IV, wed Prince Maron Martell.
The Blackfyre Pretenders Edit
Aegon IV kept many mistresses and sired several bastards by them. The oldest of them, by Princess Daena, had strong Targaryen features; he grew up to be a promising young knight and was granted Blackfyre, the Valyrian steel blade of Aegon the Conqueror. He became known as Daemon Blackfyre. Before his death in 184AL, Aegon IV legitimized all of his natural children, placing them in the succession, albeit behind his trueborn son, Daeron II. Nobles such as Aegor "Bittersteel" Rivers, one of Aegon IV's Great Bastards, did not care for Daeron's bookish nature or the Dornish flavor of his court, and whispered that Daeron was not the son of Aegon IV, but of his brother, Prince Aemon the Dragonknight, casting doubts over Daeron's right to rule. Finally, Daemon Blackfyre was bitter over the loss of Princess Daenerys, Daeron's sister, whom he had promised to Prince Maron Martell. For these reasons, Daemon and his supporters launched the First Blackfyre Rebellion against Daeron's rule. This was crushed by Daeron's sons, Baelor Breakspear and Maekar, and his bastard brother Brynden "Bloodraven" Rivers, Bittersteel's rival for the affections of their half-sister Shiera Seastar. Daemon was killed by Bloodraven in the Battle of the Redgrass Field, and Bittersteel was driven into exile across the narrow sea, where he founded the Golden Company, a sellsword army bent on naming a Blackfyre son as King of Westeros. Prince Baelor was named his father's Hand as well as heir, but died in 209AL in a trial of seven at the Ashford Tourney fighting opposite his brother Maekar for the honor of a hedge knight called Dunk. Maekar's son, Aerion Brightflame, was sent into exile after the trial, and Maekar allowed another son, nicknamed "Egg", to continue squiring for Dunk in order to teach him humility and honor. During Daeron's reign, the third major Targaryen palace was built at Summerhall, in the Dornish Marches.
Mounting Problems Edit
The Great Spring Sickness of 209AL killed King Daeron II and several of his grandchildren. His equally bookish son Aerys I took the throne, appointing his uncle Bloodraven as Hand. Aerys ignored the realm's problems (including plague, drought, dwindling trade, rising banditry, and the reaving of Dagon Greyjoy) as Bloodraven focused on dealing with minor Blackfyre rebellions instigated by Bittersteel. Prince Maekar, who had expected to be named Aerys's Hand, succeeded his brother on the throne in 221AL and had Bloodraven thrown into the Red Keep's dungeons. Across the Narrow Sea, House Blackfyre continued to be a distant threat to the main Targaryen line. In 233AL King Maekar fell in battle against a rebel lord, presumably a Blackfyre supporter. A series of misfortunes and deaths over the years culminated in a Great Council being held upon Maekar's demise in 233AL. The council bypassed the mad Prince Daeron's lackwit daughter and the infant son of the dead and mad Aerion Brightflame, leading to the crowning of Maekar's son "Egg" as Aegon V, called “The Unlikely” for being the fourth son of a fourth son. Aegon's elder brother, Aemon, had been quietly offered the throne before him, but Aemon refused the crown since he had taken a maester's vows, forswearing his inheritance and going on to join the Night's Watch lest he be used in plots against Aegon. The new king emptied the dungeons to accompany Aemon to the Wall, including their great-uncle Bloodraven, who went on to become Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. As Lord Commander of his Kingsguard, Aegon V appointed Ser Duncan the Tall, the hedge knight Dunk for whom he had squired in his youth.
In the latter part of Aegon's reign, he sent a host to the Stepstones to defeat Maelys the Monstrous, the last Blackfyre. The Blackfyre pretender and his supporters were defeated in the War of the Ninepenny Kings, and Maelys slain. Hearing a prophecy from a woods witch that their line would bear the prince that was promised to defeat the Others, Egg arranged the marriage of his grandchildren Aerys and Rhaella. Since he had done so, Aegon allowed his children to marry for love, earning him bitter enemies instead of friends. His daughter Rhaelle married into House Baratheon. His son Duncan the Small, Prince of Dragonflies, "cast aside a crown" for Jenny of Oldstones, leading in some way to the Tragedy of Summerhall, where Aegon V and both Duncans lost their lives in 259AL. Aegon's sickly son Jaehaerys II reigned for a few years before dying in 262AL. Amiable, clever, and able, he nonetheless was seen as weak by those martial lords prejudiced against his frail constitution. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Aerys II.
Aided by his able Hand, Lord Tywin Lannister, King Aerys II began his reign with promise, but became paranoid and increasingly mad after being abducted during a failed revolt of the longtime Targaryen loyalists of House Darklyn and Tywin's cautious response. His heir, Prince Rhaegar, resolved to be a better monarch and set forth to prove himself, and to fulfill the prophecy of the prince that was promised. Aerys chose Tywin's heir, Ser Jaime, for his Kingsguard, robbing Tywin of his heir and provoking him to resignation because the king had also rejected Tywin's proposal of a marriage between Rhaegar and Jaime's twin sister, Cersei Lannister. Also during the Tourney at Harrenhal, Rhaegar offended Robert Baratheon by naming his betrothed, Lyanna Stark, as queen of love and beauty rather than his own wife, Princess Elia Martell. Shortly after the tourney, Prince Rhaegar ran off with Lyanna. When Lyanna's brother and father protested, Aerys had them killed, starting a civil war. Rhaegar took command of the royal troops, leading them to defeat in the Battle of the Trident, where he was killed by Robert Baratheon. Prince Viserys and the pregnant Queen Rhaella fled to Dragonstone. Perfidious Lannisters killed Aerys, Elia, Rhaenys, and the infant Aegon in King's Landing. On Dragonstone, Rhaella died giving birth to Princess Daenerys, who was spirited to the Free Cities along with Viserys by the loyal Ser Willem Darry. Robert Baratheon was crowned king, partially due to his having a Targaryen grandmother.King Aerys II Targaryen was the last king in a dynasty which had held for nearly 300 years of unbroken rule. Where the Targaryens had begun as untouchable demigods atop fire-breathing dragons, their power had fallen noticeably since the time of those beasts, with many more large-scale civil wars featuring pitched battles. In the short term, Aerys's madness had provoked the nobles to action, but such open defiance would not have occurred if his family's prestige had not been in decline for some time. This loss of influence is perhaps shown by the fact that Aegon V was invited to rule by a council rather than claiming a divine right. The Defiance of Duskendale by House Darklyn, one of the staunchest traditional royal allies, is another sign of the house's loss of influence.
Recent Events Edit
A Game of Thrones
Across the Narrow Sea, the Mad King's surviving son claims legitimacy as "Viserys III." He and his sister Daenerys Targaryen wander the Free Cities, seeking aid from various merchant princes to restore House Targaryen. Few take his claim seriously, calling him the Beggar King. In 288 AL, Viserys betroths his sister to Drogo, a mighty khal of the Dothraki, hoping to use his horde to retake the Seven Kingdoms. Viserys alienates the horselord with his arrogance and is eventually killed. After the death of Khal Drogo, Daenerys takes command of the khalasar's ragged remnants, and is able to hatch three dragon eggs, the first in a century and a half. At the Wall, the century-old Maester Aemon, brother to King Aegon V, imparts wisdom to a new recruit of the Night's Watch, Jon Snow, regarding the conflict of loyalty between family and duty.
A Clash of Kings
Daenerys nurtures her young dragons, Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion, and her people, bringing them through the Red Waste to the strange city of Qarth.