Back to Game of Thrones as a lot of people read my Ten Things about Dorne and House Martell and a similar post about House Stark so I thought it might be worthwhile to go back to Westeros and do something similar around for the HBO watchers. I’ve been reading George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire since the mid-90s but these are spoiler free and does not detail anything anyone who is even a passive reader doesn’t know. Just some added information or historical footnotes that may or probably won’t enrich the Game of Thrones experience.
Obviously we’ve been following Targaryens since jump on Game of Thrones but recently we’ve been getting some talk about the history, like a couple of weeks ago when Barristan took Dany aside and schooled her on her father so I thought it might be fruitful to take Selmy’s lead and role with the crew that Littlefinger referred to as the greatest dynasty the world had ever seen.
1. Daenerys and Visery Targaryen were taken from Westeros to Bravos by Ser Willem Darry, the same man that their brother, Crown Prince Rhaegar Targaryen went to when he learned he had to become a knight. Darry was the Red Keep’s master-at-arms. The House of Darry has suffered for their loyalty.
2. One of the pivotal battles that allowed for the beginning of the Targaryen dynasty in Westeros was the Field of Fire, the only time all three Targaryen dragons, Vhaghar, Meraxes and Balerion, were unleashed in the same battle at one time. Aegon the Conqueror faced a combined army of Lannister and Gardener men that was fifty five thousand strong, and defeated them with an army 1/5 of that size. Of the 55,000 men, four thousand were killed and another ten thousand suffered injuries from fire. The Gardener line ceased to exist. Less than 100 men were lost on the Targaryen side. This could offer context on what Dany’s dragons potentially represent.
3. Prince Rhaeger was born at Summerhall on the same day as what would become known as The Tragedy at Summerhall. Summerhall was a Targaryen castle in the Stormlands, and on that day a great fire would causes the deaths of numerous people, most notably King Aegon V Targaryen, his son and heir, Prince Duncan the Small, and the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, Ser Duncan the Tall.
4. Speaking of Ser Barristan, he killed the last Blackfyre pretender, Maelys the Monstrous. The Blackfyre’s were an offshoot house of Targaryens formed when Daemon Blackfyre was legitimized by his father, Aegon IV. The name Blackfyre comes from the Valyrian Sword that was passed on to Daemon.
5. There are a couple of famous Valyrian swords associated with the Targaryens. The most famous is Blackfyre which was wielded by every Targaryen King from Aegon the Conqueror to Aegon IV until he gave it to his bastard son Daemon, which preempted the Blackfyre Rebellion. The last known location of Blackfyre was with Aegor Rivers, aka Bittersteel, who took it with him to the free cities where he formed a mercenary company. Because of its lineage and provenance Blackfyre in some ways is considered a symbol of Targaryen rule.
Another famous blade was Dark Sister, which was famously wielded by Prince Aemon the Dragonknight, who Maester Aemon was named after. The whereabouts of Dark Sister is unknown, though it was last in the possession of Brynden Rivers, who went to the Wall.
6. Daenerys, although referred to as the first of her name was not the first Daenerys Targaryen. The first Daenerys was pretty important too because it was her marriage to Maron Martell that brought Dorne into the Seven Kingdoms. Also of note, to honor his new bride Maron had the Water Gardens built, we saw them when we first visited Dorne in the show, with Doran overlooking them from his seat.
7. The biggest of all the Targaryen Dragons was Balerion, who also was called the Black Dread. He lived to be 200 years old.
Balerion the Black Dread was two hundred years old when he died during the reign of Jaehaerys the Conciliator. He was so large he could swallow an aurochs whole. A dragon never stops growing, Your Grace, so long as he has food and freedom. — Barristan Selmy
How’d he die? Probably the only way dragons that size die. Old age.
You could have ridden a horse down Vhaghars gullet, although you would not have ridden it out again. Meraxes was even bigger. And the greatest of them, Balerion, the Black Dread, could have swallowed an aurochs whole, or even one of the hairy mammoths said to roam the cold wastes beyond the Port of Ibben.
8. Barristan also almost singlehandedly saved Aerys during The Defiance of Duskendale, breaking into an enemy castle and freeing an imprisoned King Aerys. The defiance of two houses, Hollard and Darklyn against the Throne ended with both houses being destroyed to a man, save one. Dontos Hollard, who HBO watchers will recall is the man made a court fool by Joffrey who helps Sansa escape and gives her a key necklace during Joff and Margaery’s wedding.
9. Ironically, Ser Gregor Clegane, The Mountain That Rides, was knighted by Rhaegar Targaryen. He’d later rape and murder Rhaegar’s wife and children, sealing the end of Targareyn rule in Westeros when Robert Baratheon, with Ned Stark’s help, took the throne. In his defense, in the books Gregor killed and raped Elia and bashed one of kid’s heads on wall. Princess Rhaenys was brutally killed by Ser Amory Lorch. For fans of the TV show, Lorch is the guy who killed Yoren, the Night’s Watchmen who was taking Arya to the Wall, and was later killed by Jaqen H’ghar with a dart at Harrenhal. Even Oberyn’s awesomeness doesn’t seem enough considering their actions.
10. Maester Aemon’s brother, Aegon Targaryen (the fifth of his name), in the show is the father of the Mad King, and thus Dany’s grandfather (in the books he is their great grandfather). He was known as Aegon the Unlikely and was actually a well loved if not perfect King. You can read his adventures, where he is known as “Egg” in a series of novellas by George R.R. Martin: The Hedge Knight, The Sworn Sword, and The Mystery Knight. I hope we get to see these adapted once they are done adapting the main book series. Two weeks ago we got word that Aemon was sick, though before that he cast the vote that made Jon Snow Lord Commander
Check out my interview with George R.R. Martin.