- This article is about the son of King Aegon III, "Daeron the Young Dragon". For the son of his first cousin Aegon IV, known as "Daeron the Good", see "Daeron II Targaryen".
- "Daeron, First of His Name, tried to finish his ancestors' work and bring Dorne into the fold. For his efforts, he lost 60,000 men and his own life of 18 years."
Daeron I Targaryen, also called the Young Dragon, was the first King of his name to sit on the Iron Throne and the eighth king of the Targaryen dynasty to rule the Seven Kingdoms. He was formally styled Daeron of the House Targaryen, the First of His Name, King of the Andals and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm.
Daeron I lived about a century and a half before the War of the Five Kings. He succeeded his father Aegon III to the throne. Daeron I is best known for his military campaign in Dorne, which had stubbornly resisted prior invasions by the Targaryens. In the process, Daeron lost 60,000 men, and ultimately his own life. Having fathered no heir, he was succeeded by his younger brother, Baelor Targaryen, called "Baelor the Blessed".
|Aegon III Targaryen|
|Viserys II Targaryen|
|Daeron I Targaryen|
"Daeron the Young Dragon"
|Baelor I Targaryen|
"Baelor the Blessed"
"Daena the Defiant"
|Aegon IV Targaryen|
|Aemon Targaryen |
"Aemon the Dragonknight"
of Aegon IV by different women: Bloodraven, Bittersteel, and Shiera
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Daeron I became king when he was only 14 years old, but quickly proved himself one of the finest warriors and generals in the history of Westeros. Later history and popular culture remember him as the paragon "young warrior king". Jon Snow idolized him growing up. George R.R. Martin has described him as essentially the Alexander the Great of Westeros, in the sense that he was a young, preternaturally skilled genius at military tactics.
While the Targaryens had conquered and unified six of the "Seven Kingdoms" during the initial War of Conquest, the dry desert region of Dorne had remained stubbornly independent for over a century. The Dornish accomplished this by resorting to guerrilla warfare, fleeing before the Targaryen dragons only to return and harass their supply lines as soon as the Targaryens withdrew their forces.
Seeing Dorne as unfinished business for the Targaryen dynasty, and a blight on their claims to complete mastery of Westeros, Daeron proclaimed that he would invade Dorne and bring it into the royal fold. However, Daeron's advisors initially cautioned him against this course of action, since he was at a significant disadvantage: nearly all of the Targaryen dragons had been wiped out in the civil war two generations previously, and the last of them had died out during the reign of Daeron's father. Aegon the Conqueror, one of the greatest warriors of his time, was unable to take Dorne even with dragons. To this skepticism, Daeron replied; "You have a dragon. He stands before you". The Young Dragon's tactics were brilliant, and his larger strategy was innovative: he feinted an invasion through the passes of the Red Mountains, luring all of the Dornish armies to the west. He then followed by sending the real invasion force to make an amphibious landing at the mouth of the Greenblood River itself, at the doorstep of Sunspear. The Dornish were caught completely off guard and with their army on the other side of the central deserts. Daeron thus gained control of Dorne, succeeding where even Aegon the Conqueror had failed, and this achievement was considered all the more astonishing because he did not have dragons.
Unfortunately for the Daeron, occupying Dorne proved to be far more difficult than conquering it. The Dornish settled into a long insurgency, repeatedly ambushing the occupying force and then retreating. Daeron lost far more men during the occupation than he did during the conquest itself: ten thousand men in the conquest, another fifty thousand during the occupation. Ultimately, the Tyrell lord he installed as governor of Dorne was assassinated by dumping a hundred red scorpions into his bed, leading to a general insurrection. All that the Young Dragon had accomplished evaporated in a single fortnight, and Daeron himself was killed in battle trying to fight the insurgency. The Young Dragon died young, at only 18 years of age, and after ruling for only four years. Dorne was to remain independent for another two generations, before later uniting with the Targaryen realm through peaceful marriage-alliance (a double-marriage pact in which Daeron's own first cousins, Daenerys and Daeron II, married the ruling Prince of Dorne and his younger sister).
Jon Snow idolizes the Young Dragon, as have many others, given that he is the type of young conqueror every youth hopes to be. His uncle Benjen's assessment of Daeron is blunter: he dismisses Daeron's successes as "a conquest that lasted a summer", adding that he lost 10,000 men conquering Dorne and another 50,000 trying to hold it. He cautions Jon that the real moral of Daeron I's life is that despite winning on the battlefield he lost the war itself. This presages Robb Stark's own death under similar circumstances, despite never having lost a battle. Daeron I was a great military leader, but not a great politician, nor particularly skilled at the day-to-day governance of the realm. Tyrion points out that his uncle and Hand of the King, the eventual Viserys II Targaryen, was the man really responsible for holding the realm together during his reign.
Daeron I was unmarried and died childless, so he was succeeded by his younger brother Baelor.