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"Maegor the Cruel"[3] is the sixth and final short of the eighth season of Histories & Lore. It is the hundred and twenty-first, and final, short of the series overall. It was released on December 3, 2019 in Game of Thrones: The Complete Eighth Season. It was narrated by Conleth Hill as Varys and written by Dave Hill.


Varys outlines the reign of Maegor the Cruel, Westeros' first ruthless dictator who embraced the worst impulses of his Targaryen blood.[3]


Varys: Though the Targaryens had forged the Seven Kingdoms in fire and blood, they didn't govern with them. Until they did. Maegor, First of His Name, defined counsel as confirmation and disagreement as treason. Three Grand Maesters tried to avert disaster. Instead of taking their advice, Maegor took their heads.

As a second son and exile, Maegor was never meant to rule.

But no sooner did Maegor hear of his brother's death that he flew Balerion to Dragonstone and demanded the crown. Only the Grand Maester dared object that the throne should pass to his older brother's firstborn son, Prince Aegon.

Maegor insisted that the Iron Throne should go to the man with the strength to seize it, and beheaded the Grand Maester. Prince Aegon soon took him at his word. He claimed his father's dragon, raised a host of Westermen, and marched on King's Landing while Maegor was in Oldtown.

Far from the capital, Maegor couldn't rally an army to match Aegon's. So he ordered his banners to swarm Aegon's larger army from all sides, confusing the young prince and slowing his advance.

Beneath the Gods Eye, Maegor's disparate forces came together and attacked Aegon as Maegor himself swooped down from the clouds.

For the first time since the Doom of Valyria, dragon fought dragon in the sky. But Aegon's dragon was no match for Balerion the Dread, who was four times its size. When Aegon fell to his death, his army broke and fled. For slaying his own nephew, Maegor forever after became known as "The Cruel."

Though, of course, not to his face.

The next Grand Maester dared object to Maegor taking a third wife when taking his second wife had ruined his brother's reign because Maegor's first wife was the niece of the High Septon. But Maegor beheaded the Grand Maester and declared war on the Faith.

He set fire to the Riverlands, the Westerlands, and the Reach in a campaign to root out disloyal lords and sponsored a more pliant High Septon.

None of it worked. Maegor may have returned to the capital with two thousand skulls of the Faith Militant, but most of them weren't soldiers. They were simple folk who had sheltered the outlaw septons or turned out in droves to hear them denounce the wicked king.

The third Grand Maester dared to declare Maegor the father of his own heir.

But when his second wife miscarried, and Maegor saw the monstrous stillbirth, Maegor beheaded the Grand Maester for his insolent adherence to truth.

So he had no one to warn him when his third wife, sensing an advantage, declared that his second wife had been unfaithful, and produced a list of potential fathers of the misshapen child.

Not only did Maegor execute his second wife and her father, his own Hand of the King, but he also marched on her family's castle and slaughtered everyone who bore a drop of her family's blood.

But his third wife couldn't give him a child either. Desperate to cement his stolen throne with an heir, Maegor took three wives at once, known as the Black Brides because each were women he'd widowed in his wars.

All three women grew full with child in time, but each gave birth to the same twisted monstrosities as his second wife. One need not be a maester, much less a Grand Maester, to deduce the common thread here.

Though Maegor stamped out the fires of rebellion, his cruelty and fear only scattered more tinder over the realm until even the smallest ember could set the realm alight. One day, the Faith Militant emerged from the shadows, and the lords sent to quash it joined it instead. His Hand resigned and retired to his island home.

Finally, House Baratheon declared for Maegor's own nephew as the rightful king. The Lannisters, Tyrells, and Arryns soon joined, adding more than half the might of Westeros to the prince and his two dragons. Which became three when Maegor's niece and involuntary Black Bride stole away from the Red Keep with her dragon.

Her treason wasn't even the last. Maegor's own lord admiral sailed the royal fleet into his nephew's harbor. But most fitting of all, when Maegor tried to send ravens to call his banners, he found that his fourth Grand Maester had learned from his predecessors and fled.

Maegor spent one final night on the Iron Throne. He was found in the morning with his wrists slashed and one of the throne's blades jutting from his throat. Nobody knows if it was one of his queens or Kingsguard or one of the thousands who wanted him dead. Or even Maegor himself, frustrated that his body had failed his will.

Whoever the culprit, no doubt he died as all tyrants do. Believing that history would vindicate him. It hasn't. History may be written with fire and blood, but histories aren't.

As any good advisor could have warned him.







Behind the scenes[]

  • This short is somewhat of a companion to the prior Histories & Lore short on "The Faith Militant", which explained how the Faith Militant uprising began. This short largely focuses on the middle and end of Maegor's reign.
    • Both shorts draw on material from George R.R. Martin's prequel novella The Sons of the Dragon, which was later collected into the anthology Fire & Blood. The novella is just an outline, written in the format of an in-universe history book, but Martin has said that if it was ever fully narrativized, The Sons of the Dragon could sustain three books' worth of material (and thus, potentially three TV seasons).
  • The short inaccurately makes the generalized statement that all three of Maegor's "Black Brides" were impregnated by him, resulting in stillborn abominations, when this actually only happened to two out of three of them: despite repeated attempts, he never succeeded in impregnating his half-niece Rhaena.


  1. Dan Selcke (November 25, 2019). New History and Lore videos explore Maegor the Cruel, the Blackfyre rebellion, and more. Winter is Coming. Retrieved December 15, 2023.
  2. Histories & Lore: Season 8, Short 6: "Maegor the Cruel" (2019).
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Game of Thrones: The Complete Eighth Season (2019).
  4. Vanessa Cole (July 22, 2017). Game of Thrones writer Dave Hill gives a behind the scenes look at the creative process. Watchers on the Wall. Retrieved December 15, 2023.