- "Defying his mother's command, Rhaenyra's eldest son and heir, Jaecerys, mounted his dragon Vermax and flew to rescue his other brother and punish the enemy fleet. But the foolish boy let Vermax be hooked like a trout and dragged into the sea, where he soaked up even more arrows than seawater."
- ―Viserys Targaryen
The Battle of the Gullet was a naval battle during the Dance of the Dragons which took place in Blackwater Bay between the forces loyal to Rhaenyra Targaryen and the fleet of the Triarchy of the Three Daughters, old enemies of her husband Daemon and allies of her brother Aegon.
At the beginning of the civil war the then Hand of the King Ser Otto Hightower had maintained a strategy mainly diplomatic to maintain isolated the side of the Blacks. However, when the husband of Rhaenyra Daemon took control of Harrenhal, the largest castle in Westeros and put the Riverlords on the side of his wife's claim, the young king Aegon was impatient with the strategy of his grandfather and deposed of his functions, replacing him with the Lord Commander of his Kingsguard Ser Criston Cole.
Shortly before leaving his functions of government, Ser Otto proposed as a last plan of his management to agree to an alliance with The Triarchy across the Narrow Sea, whom in the past won in a war against Daemon, but The Triarchy took a long time to receive the letter of Ser Otto and he had already been deposed as Hand when they acted.
Upon receiving the news of the death of Rhaenys, Rhaenyra entered panic, believing that a direct attack on her headquarters in Dragonstone was imminent she ordered her two youngest children, Aegon and Viserys ride their dragons and cross the Narrow Sea.
But a few days after the children were flying over the Narrow Sea, they were intercepted by the fleet of Triarchy surrounding Blackwater Bay. Prince Aegon was barely able to return alive to the coast of Dragonstone with his badly wounded dragon, while his younger brother had been captured by the enemy fleet.
Determined to rescue his brother, the eldest son of Rhaenyra Jacaerys defied the orders of his mother and rode his best dragon to face the Triarchy over the sea. But Jacaerys did not expect that the invading fleet was ready to face the dragons, and they caught his dragon with an apron in its claw, forcing him to fly to the waves, where rider and dragon were exterminated.
The two continuous defeats suffered by the Blacks, in addition to the loss of her relatives, meant that Rhaenyra was losing too many of her dragons, which up to that moment seemed her greatest advantage. To make up for her losses, Rhaenyra reunited the bastard children of House Targaryen lodged in Dragonstone promising them great riches in exchange for them riding her dragons for her. They became known as the Dragonseeds.
Along with the death of Jacaerys, the battle meant the disappearance of Viserys Targaryen, the youngest son of Rhaenyra. No one knew for sure whether he was alive or dead after the ambush. Aegon, the prince who survived the attack became the youngest son of Rhaenyra whom she dedicated to protect personally until her death. After the war Aegon would become King of the Seven Kingdoms, and although his traumas made him a melancholy man, years after his coronation he discovered that his younger brother had not been killed but was kept as a hostage in the Free Cities, so he happily agreed to pay a ransom to have him returned to Westeros. Viserys would later become his brother's Hand, and eventually the successor of his sons on the throne.
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the Battle of the Gullet took place in 130 AC and is regarded as one of the bloodiest sea battles in history. The Gullet was blockaded by House Velaryon to control access to Blackwater Bay. Following the Assault on Harrenhal, Ser Criston Cole hatched a plan to break the Velaryon fleet's blockade. He reached out across the Narrow Sea to the Triarchy, who were enemies of Prince Daemon Targaryen, to persuade them to move against Lord Corlys Velaryon. The plan took a long time to come to fruition and King Aegon II Targaryen lost patience with Otto, replacing him with Ser Criston Cole as Hand of the King. The High Council of the Triarchy accepted Otto's offer and sent forth ninety warships from the Stepstones.
Toward the end of 129 AC, Prince Jacaerys Velaryon sent his half-brothers Aegon and Viserys to be fostered by a Prince of Pentos until their mother, Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen, claimed the Iron Throne. They travelled on a Pentoshi cog called the Gay Abandon and were accompanied by seven warships. The ships crossed paths with the Triarchy, taking the Gay Abandon hostage and sinking and capturing the warships. Aegon escaped on his dragon Stormcloud and returned to Dragonstone, warning his family of the threat from Essos, though Viserys was unable to escape as her only possessed a dragon egg. Stormcloud was struck with many arrows and crossbow bolts during the escape and later succumbed to his wounds.
On the fifth day of 130 AC, the Triarchy's ships reached the Gullet and attacked the Velaryon fleet at sunrise. Jacaerys swept down on Vermax, but the Triarchy's sailors had faced Daemon and his dragon Caraxes during the War for the Stepstones and launched a volley or arrows and spears at Vermax. However, Jacaerys was joined by Ulf the White on Silverwing, Nettles on Sheepstealer, Addam Velaryon on Seasmoke and Hugh Hammer on Vermithor, who destroyed the line of warships. Unfortunately, Vermax was gravely wounded and fell into the sea. Jacaerys leapt free but was killed by Myrish crossbowmen.
The battle continued into the night, with the southern squadron sailing past Dragonstone and sacking Driftmark, burning Lord Corlys' treasures and killing his servants. As both sides suffered heavy losses, the battle was considered a disaster for all involved.