|The title of this article is conjecture based on information revealed in the A Song of Ice and Fire novels or related material and may be subject to change.
- "One of my foolish ancestors didn't see what separated his bastards from our family proper and legitimized them all on his deathbed. Adopting the name "Blackfyre", the bastards proved their nature and tried to seize their father's kingdom, and when they failed their sons tried."
- ―Viserys Targaryen
The Great Bastards were the infamous bastard children of King Aegon IV Targaryen, also known as "Aegon the Unworthy". Several of these were born to noble mothers, and Aegon foolishly legitimized all of them on his deathbed. This placed them in the line of succession after his firstborn, Daeron II Targaryen and led to the Blackfyre Rebellion (interestingly, two of them kept their bastard surnames after being legitimized, the two being Brynden and Aegor Rivers).
The Great Bastards
|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, Aegon the Unworthy was a decadent and corrupt ruler who indulged his passion and whims at every opportunity. He would have any woman he wanted whether they were married or not, and had a total of nine mistresses and as many bastards. It was often joked that while the words of House Targaryen were "Fire and Blood", Aegon IV's motto was "Wash her and bring her to my bed." He openly flaunted his mistresses at court, much to the distress of his sister-wife Naerys.
When his cousin Baelor reigned, he dissolved his marriage to his sister-wife Daena and imprisoned her in the Maidenvault so the sight of her would not tempt him to carnal thoughts. Aegon was not under any such prohibition and developed a fondness for his cousin Daena. On one occasion he helped Daena escape from the Maidenvault and they conceived a child. Daena refused to say who the father was, and was dubbed 'Daena the Defiant' for her wilfulness. In time she gave birth to a son, Daemon Blackfyre, and Aegon noted with approval that he was growing up to be a strong warrior.
Aegon had a total of nine mistresses (not including his cousin Daena):
- Falena Stokeworth
- Merry Meg
- Cassella Vaith
- Bellegere Otherys, the Black Pearl of Braavos
- Barba Bracken
- Melissa (Missy) Blackwood
- Bethany Bracken
- Jeyne Lothston
- Serenei of Lys
Aegon fathered a daughter on Bellegere Otherys, who succeeded her as Black Pearl of Braavos. She was then succeeded by her own daughter and granddaughter.
Aegon fathered Aegor Rivers (later known as "Bittersteel") on Barba Bracken. Due to Barba's buxom figure, Aegon named a pair of hills on either side of Pennytree "Barba's Teats" in her honor. His next mistress, Melissa "Missy" Blackwood, he renamed them "Missy's Teats", as Melissa was slender and flat-chested. This only added fuel to the fire of the long-running feud between House Bracken and House Blackwood, and the last is still disputed by the two families during the events of the series. Aegon fathered on Melissa Brynden Rivers (later known as "Bloodraven"). Due to Melissa replacing Barba as Aegon's mistress, Bittersteel and Bloodraven grew up with an intense hatred of one another.
Serenei of Lys was Aegon's final mistress, the last daughter from an ancient but impoverished Valyrian noble family. She was cold and haughty towards others at court. Rumors spread that that she was much older than the king, practising dark arts to retain her youth and beauty. She died giving birth to their daughter Shiera Seastar. She grew up to become a famous seductress and had many lovers, including her half-brother Bloodraven. Bittersteel also desired her, though she rejected him. This only intensified the rivalry between Bittersteel and Bloodraven. Like her mother, Shiera was rumored to use dark magic to maintain her beauty and it was also believed that she and Bloodraven engaged in sinister sorcery together.
When Aegon died, he legitimized all of his bastards. When Aegon had knighted Daemon at the age of twelve and given him the Valyrian steel sword Blackfyre, talk began that this was a sign that he intended Daemon to be his heir, not his trueborn son Daeron. Daemon was in love with his trueborn half-sister Daenerys, though Daeron refused to allow them to marry as he planned to marry her to Prince Maron Martell and finally bring Dorne into the Seven Kingdoms. Daemon rebelled against Daeron and founded the cadet branch House Blackfyre, hoping to claim the Iron Throne for himself. In the rebellion, Bittersteel took Daemon's side and Bloodraven took Daeron's.
The rebellion culminated at the Battle of Redgrass Field. Daemon engaged in an immense duel with Ser Gwayne Corbray of the Kingsguard, with Daemon being victorious. He stopped to ensure that Corbray was taken to his maesters and healed. By that time Bloodraven and his longbowmen, the Raven's Teeth, had gained the higher ground on the Weeping Bridge and rained down arrows upon Daemon and his sons Aegon and Aemon, killing them. The Blackfyre army began to flee but Bittersteel rallied them around him and lead another attack. He personally fought a great duel against Bloodraven, taking his left eye in the process. Daeron's sons Baelor and Maekar then arrived with reinforcements, crushing the rebels between them.
Bittersteel fled to Essos with Daemon's five remaining sons and founded the Golden Company. For the next hundred years Daemon's descendants continued to plague the Targaryen dynasty until the War of the Ninepenny Kings, where a young Barristan Selmy slew Maelys the Monstrous, the last of the male Blackfyre line, at Stepstones. Bittersteel eventually died and ordered the other members of the Golden Company to preserve his skull in gold. Subsequent commanders of the Company have followed his example.
Bloodraven was named Hand of the King and Master of Whisperers for his part in crushing the rebellion. He served Daeron until the latter's death of the Great Spring Sickness, which had also claimed the lives of both sons of Baelor Blackspear, who had been killed in a trial by combat at Ashford. He then served Daeron's son Aerys and was blamed for the plague, drought and rebellion that took place during his reign, though Bloodraven was the man maintaining order in Westeros during this time. Aerys died without issue and since his brother Rhaegel suffered from the infamous Targaryen madness, the throne went to Maekar. Maekar I, despite distrusting his bastard uncle, he kept Brynden Rivers as Hand of the King. When Maekar died his son Aegon succeeded him and had Bloodraven sent to the Wall along with his older brother Aemon as part of an honor guard led by Ser Duncan the Tall. Bloodraven and Aemon both joined the Night's Watch and over the years Bloodraven rose through the ranks and became Lord Commander. He served long and well in this position, but one day he went out alone ranging beyond the Wall, and mysteriously never returned.
Despite having many lovers, Shiera never married. Bloodraven proposed to her dozens of time, but she always rejected him - though she sometimes did share her bed with him. Her fate – and indeed, many details of her life – has not been mentioned.