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House Targaryen
House Targaryen

"When I am queen, I will create a new order."
―Rhaenyra Targaryen to Rhaenys Targaryen[src]

Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen[c] is the daughter and only surviving child of King Viserys I Targaryen and his first wife, Queen Aemma Arryn, and a princess of the Targaryen dynasty. She disputes the claim of her younger half-brother Aegon II, using the style Queen of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lady of the Seven Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm. A dragonrider, her mount is the she-dragon Syrax.

Biography[]

Background[]

Rhaenyra is the daughter and only surviving child of King Viserys I Targaryen and Queen Aemma Arryn. She rides the dragon Syrax.[1]

House of the Dragon: Season 1[]

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Rhaenyra astride Syrax.

Rhaenyra returns to the Dragonpit after riding Syrax around King's Landing, and rides back to the Red Keep with her friend, Lady Alicent Hightower. There, she visits her mother Aemma, who is heavily pregnant. While Rhaenyra is not very enthused at the prospect of having her own children, her mother reminds her of her duty as a princess, calling the childbed a royal woman's battlefield. Rhaenyra later greets her uncle Prince Daemon in the throne room, where he presents her with a gift acquired on his recent journey: a necklace made of Valyrian steel. Later that evening, Rhaenyra and Alicent spend time in the godswood, where Rhaenyra hopes that her unborn sibling is a boy, for the sake of her father's happiness. Alicent remarks that a son would overshadow her in the line of succession, but Rhaenyra is unconcerned.[1]

Rhaenyra is present in the royal box when her father commences the Heir's Tournament, where he announces that Aemma has gone into labor. Rhaenyra and Alicent are intrigued by a new contender in the tournament, Ser Criston Cole, after his victories against Lord Boremund Baratheon and another Baratheon. Rhaenyra witnesses a duel between Ser Criston and her uncle Daemon in which Criston emerges victorious. He then asks Rhaenyra for her favor. She then tosses down a floral wreath to him, and bids Criston good luck in the rest of the tournament. However, during the middle of the tournament, the spectators in the royal box are informed of Queen Aemma's death in childbirth.[1]

Several days later, the royal court gathers outside the city walls for Aemma's funeral and Rhaenyra's infant brother, Prince Baelon, who did not survive. Rhaenyra bitterly ponders to Daemon whether her father finally found happiness in the few hours that Baelon lived, and laments that she will never make her father truly happy, as she is not a son. She then sets her mother and brother's funeral pyre ablaze, with a command of "Dracarys" to Syrax.[1]

Princess of Dragonstone Promo

Rhaenyra is named Princess of Dragonstone.

After Viserys disinherits Daemon, he summons Rhaenyra to Balerion's shrine, much to her confusion due to her father's lack of contact with her since Aemma's funeral. Viserys then voices his intention to name Rhaenyra as his heir, and informs her of Aegon the Conqueror's dream, the "The Song of Ice and Fire." Viserys explains that every heir to the Iron Throne has been told of Aegon's dream to ensure the Seven Kingdoms remained united in preparation for the darkness that Aegon foresaw. Some time later, the realm's nobility swear oaths of fealty to Viserys and Rhaenyra before the Iron Throne, and Rhaenyra is proclaimed the Princess of Dragonstone by her father.[1]

Six months after her mother's funeral, Rhaenyra speaks up at a Small Council meeting to voice her opinion on how to handle the situation in the Stepstones, suggesting dragonriders be sent to force the Triarchy's surrender. Instead of taking her advice, Viserys tasks her with filling the vacant spot on the Kingsguard following Ser Ryam Redwyne's death. Ignoring the counsel of her father's Hand, Ser Otto Hightower, that she choose a knight that would earn them a strong alliance, she instead selects Ser Criston Cole, due to him being the only knight being considered to have seen actual combat, rather than tourney fighting.[8]

Later that day, Rhaenyra visits a sept with Alicent, where she vents her frustration about the Small Council plotting to replace her as heir. Alicent guides Rhaenyra—who does not worship the Seven—in a prayer to the Mother. Rhaenyra tearfully expresses her wish that Viserys see her as more than his little girl.[8]

That night, Rhaenyra and Viserys share an awkward dinner, during which they discuss the appointment of Ser Criston Cole on the Kingsguard and briefly bond over their shared love of Aemma. When she tries to apologize for speaking out at the Small Council earlier, he dismisses it, stating that she is young, and will learn propriety in time.[8]

Rhaenyra and her cousin, Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, discuss her succession to the Iron Throne, and the possibility of her displacement as heir to the Iron Throne due to her sex. Rhaenys, having previously been passed over at the Great Council at Harrenhal, bluntly expresses her belief to Rhaenyra that the men of Westeros would sooner put the realm to the torch than allow a woman to ascend the Iron Throne.[8]

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Rhaenyra confronts Daemon.

At the Small Council, Viserys and Rhaenyra get word from a Dragonkeeper Elder that Daemon has stolen a dragon egg from the Dragonpit, namely the one Rhaenyra had picked out for her brother, Baelon. Despite not being given leave to go to Dragonstone, Rhaenyra flies there atop Syrax to persuade Daemon to relinquish the dragon egg, and to leave the castle. She succeeds in getting the dragon egg back without bloodshed, but fails to get Daemon to leave Dragonstone. When Rhaenyra returns to King's Landing, Viserys angrily chides her for leaving and endangering herself, though he does credit her being the only person able to retrieve the egg without bloodshed. Viserys insists that because Rhaenyra is his only heir, the Targaryen line is vulnerable, and though he insists that he will not unname Rhaenyra as his heir, even if his new wife were to give him sons, he must ensure the continuation of the Targaryen line.[8]

At a Small Council meeting the next morning, Viserys announces his intention to marry Lady Alicent Hightower. Rhaenyra is infuriated and disugsted by her father and her friend keeping this from her.[8]

Three years later, Rhaenyra's relationships with both her father and Alicent, now queen of the Seven Kingdoms, have soured, and she herself is now disinclined to listen to either of them. She attends a royal hunt with her family to celebrate the second nameday of her half-brother, Prince Aegon Targaryen. At the camp, she is proposed to by Lord Jason Lannister, to which she declines. She then gets into a terse confrontation with her father, realizing that he intends to marry her off to one of the noblemen of Westeros, causing her to run off into the Kingswood. Ser Criston Cole goes after her, and she contemplates whether the realm will ever accept her as queen. As they make their way back to the camp, the two witness a white hart, believed to be a symbol of royalty. Later, back at the Red Keep, Rhaenyra confesses to her father that she believes he means to marry her off to replace her with Aegon. However, Viserys tells Rhaenyra that he has no intention of supplanting her, and instead wants to secure her succession with her own heirs.[4]

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Rhaenyra receives suitors at Storm's End.

After agreeing to get married to perpetuate the Targaryen line, she goes on a tour of Westeros to pick a lord of her own choosing to wed, arranged meticulously by Viserys and Alicent. However, she cuts the progress short at Storm's End. Returning to the Red Keep, Rhaenyra reunites with her uncle Daemon after four years, and he takes her through the Street of Silk late in the night to experience the night life of the city. They watch a play attended and held by smallfolk, who believe Rhaenyra would be a weak monarch due to her sex. Rhaenyra and Daemon then go to a brothel, where Rhaenyra witnesses the pleasures of sex. She and Daemon then proceed to couple together, but Daemon is rendered impotent and leaves her in the brothel. Rhaenyra, still sexually aroused, returns to the Red Keep, where she seduces Ser Criston Cole and loses her virginity to the Kingsguard knight.[11]

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Rhaenyra and Daemon on the Street of Silk.

Rhaenyra and Daemon are seen together by a Lysene boy, who brings word of this to Mysaria. Mysaria then orders the boy to inform Otto Hightower, who in turn brings the news to Rhaenyra's father Viserys. Alicent, who overheard the conversation between Viserys and Otto, confronts Rhaenyra about this, but she vehemently denies the allegations against her and Daemon, convincing Alicent. Viserys then confronts Rhaenyra about this, and to avoid scandal and reconciliate their relations with House Velaryon, he orders Rhaenyra to wed the son of Lord Corlys Velaryon, Ser Laenor Velaryon. She reluctantly agrees on the condition that Viserys dismisses Otto as his Hand. That night, Grand Maester Mellos, at Viserys's behest, gives Rhaenyra moon tea as a precaution.[11]

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Rhaenyra and Laenor come to an agreement about their marriage.

Rhaenyra travels with her father to Driftmark to discuss a marriage alliance between her and Laenor. The two walk on a nearby beach, where Rhaenyra expresses that she is aware that the two of them love other people, and that he is no more enthusiastic about this marriage pact than she is. She proposes a mutual arrangement: they will perform their duty for their respective families to marry and produce heirs, but otherwise they will both continue having their own private romantic relationships.[10]

Later, as Viserys's ship heads back to King's Landing, Rhaenyra is approached by Criston on the deck. He tells her he knows she doesn't love Laenor and for years she's talked about her fear of being trapped in a loveless arranged marriage. Instead, he pleads with her to flee with him into exile beyond Westeros, where they can be married. Rhaenyra insists that she has duties to her family and to the realm that keep her from eloping with him. However, she doesn't consider this a problem because she just worked out an "understanding" with Laenor. Criston becomes agitated about being just Rhaenyra's "whore", hoping that he could restore some of his lost honor by marrying her. Rhaenyra begins to explain again that this is impossible, but Criston storms off.[10]

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Rhaenyra at her wedding feast.

Rhaenyra, Viserys, and envoys from many noble houses gather at the Red Keep for a celebration feast celebrating the royal wedding of Rhaenyra and Laenor, with Rhaenyra and Viserys seated at the middle of the high table set up in front of the Iron Throne. Rhaenyra and Viserys are approached by Lord Jason Lannister and Ser Gerold Royce before Laenor and the rest of the Velaryon family make their entrance to the throne room. As Viserys delivers his speech about a second Age of Dragons, Alicent defiantly enters the throne room in a stark green dress. As she approaches the high table, she coldly refers to Rhaenyra as her "stepdaughter," signifying the end of their friendship.[10]

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Rhaenyra and Daemon talk at the feast.

After Viserys's speech, the wedding feast begins in earnest, as musicians begin to play and Rhaenyra and Laenor begin the first dance of the evening, and are later joined by dozens of other couples in a large-scale ballroom dance, during which Rhaenyra and Criston exchange tense glances. During the dance, Rhaenyra is approached by Daemon, and they speak in High Valyrian to keep their conversation private from those around them. Daemon urges Rhaenyra that she has yet to marry Laenor, and though he is a good man and a brave knight, he would bore Rhaenyra senseless in their marriage. Rhaenyra, however, is highly suspicious of Daemon's true intentions. Their tense conversation comes to a head when they almost kiss, with Viserys angrily observing from the high table, but the situation is interrupted by a brawl between Ser Criston and Ser Joffrey Lonmouth, during which Joffrey is brutally killed by Criston. Rhaenyra is almost trampled by the crowd, but is saved by Ser Harwin Strong.[10]

Some time later, after the guests have been cleared from the throne room, and Viserys has cancelled the seven days of festivities, Rhaenyra and Laenor are married in a grim ceremony by the High Septon. Rhaenyra and Laenor are still in shock and crying as they go through the rote exchange of vows on their now-ruined wedding day.[10]

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Rhaenyra, ten years later, takes her newborn son Joffrey to the queen's apartments with her husband Laenor.

Ten years later, Rhaenyra gives birth to her third son. Almost immediately after her delivery, Elinda Massey brings the message that Queen Alicent has commanded the baby be brought to her immediately. Determined not to let Alicent shame her, Rhaenyra rises and commands her handmaidens to dress her immediately, intending to bring the baby to Alicent herself. Laenor then enters, only to find Rhaenyra insisting she walk across the entire castle personally holding her baby to show the queen, despite Laenor's plea to let him hold the baby to alleviate Rhaenyra's stress.[2]

Rhaenyra and Laenor make their way to Alicent's private chambers with the child after Rhaenyra's arduous journey up the stairs. Alicent disingenuously expresses concern that Rhaenyra should be resting after her labors. Viserys, whose health has continued to decline, then arrives to proudly view his newest grandson, stating he will make a fearsome knight. Alicent then inquires about the baby's name, and Laenor interjects ahead of Rhaenyra that he will be named "Joffrey" (after his late lover Joffrey Lonmouth),[10] which Alicent states is an unusual name for a Valyrian child. Rhaenyra and Laenor then head back to their private chambers, where she expresses her annoyance with Laenor that he named the baby without consulting her.[2]

Rhaenyra and Laenor are greeted by their two eldest sons, Jacaerys (Jace) and Lucerys (Luke), along with Ser Harwin Strong, now the Commander of the City Watch. Laenor escorts Jace and Luke back to the Dragonpit to return a dragon egg that they had stolen for Joffrey, while Rhaenyra and Harwin talk alone with Joffrey. Due to the appearance of Rhaenyra's sons, there have been rumors stirring at court for many years that her sons are bastards fathered by Harwin, something that has been perpetuated by Queen Alicent.[2]

Rhaenyra is informed of a brawl in the castle courtyard between Harwin and Criston, and she eavesdrops on a conversation between Harwin and his father, Lord Lyonel Strong, the Hand of the King following Otto's dismissal. The conversation upsets Rhaenyra, as she is finally forced to face how widespread the suspicions are about her sons' parentage.[2]

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Rhaenyra and Laenor talk about the legitimacy of their children.

Later, Rhaenyra, soothing her pain in her bedchambers, is interrupted by a drunk Laenor, singing with his lover Ser Qarl Correy after a night of celebrating in Flea Bottom. Rhaenyra and Laenor have a private conversation about the mounting threats against their family and rumors about their sons. While she doesn't begrudge Laenor for continuing his affairs with other men, as they made an agreement before their wedding, she would like his support in preparing their House for Rhaenyra's accession. Laenor, however, announces his intentions to head east to return to the fighting in the Stepstones, but she denies him leave, as it would worsen the rumors. At an impasse, Rhaenyra, as his princess, orders Laenor to remain by her side in King's Landing.[2]

Rhaenyra and Alicent attend a meeting of the Small Council with Viserys, during which they disagree on every issue: Rhaenyra has a more interventionist approach to rule, whereas Alicent is more diplomatic and wishes to delegate issues to regional rulers. With the business concluded, Rhaenyra asks for the Small Council to remain, as she has one final proposal to make. Rhaenyra states that she is aware of the rising strife between her and Alicent's families, but as long before, she and Alicent were friends, she calls for and end to the infighting. She proposes a betrothal between Jace, her son, and Helaena, Alicent's daughter. In addition, Rhaenyra says that Aemond, Alicent's second son, will be gifted a dragon egg. Alicent, however, calls attention to the breast milk leaking through Rhaenyra's dress, and flatly says that she will "consider" the terms.[2]

Some time later, Harwin and Lyonel die in a fire at Harrenhal, secretly orchestrated by Larys Strong, and Lady Laena Velaryon commits suicide in Pentos, prompting Daemon's return to Westeros after a decade. Around the same time, Rhaenyra informs Laenor of his plans to relocate their family and hold their seat at Dragonstone, where they will be free from the politics of the capital. She asks Laenor to come with her and invites his companion Qarl as well, stating they will need every sword they can muster for the eventual conflict with Alicent and her children.[2]

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Rhaenyra and her sons at Laena's funeral.

Rhaenyra and her family, alongside the royal court and Daemon's family, attend the funeral of Laena Velaryon at High Tide. Laena's uncle, Ser Vaemond Velaryon, delivers the eulogy, making several pointed remarks about Velaryon blood remaining pure, while glancing at Rhaenyra and her alleged trueborn children with Laenor. The bereaved court then gathers in the courtyard where Rhaenyra and Alicent's families are forced to meet in one place again after Rhaenyra removed herself from King's Landing. Jace, who is old enough to know that Harwin was his father, privately expresses his sadness that they are not at Harrenhal to mourn Harwin and Lord Lyonel, but Rhaenyra firmly tells him that the Velaryons are their kin, whereas the Strongs are not. Rhaenyra then tells Jace to go and comfort his cousins Baela and Rhaena after having just lost their mother, Laena.[9]

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Rhaenyra seduces Daemon.

On the night of Laena's funeral, Rhaenyra and Daemon take a moonlit walk along the beach. They discuss their recent mutual losses, and their unresolved tension after being split apart for over a decade. Rhaenyra reveals to Daemon that she and Laenor had tried to conceive children several times but to no avail, and confirms that all three of her children are Harwin's. Rhaenyra then moves on to accuse Daemon of abandoning her right when she needed him, and contemplates her life turning into a droll tragedy. Rhaenyra then offers her condolences to Daemon for his loss of Laena, to which Daemon tells her not to be sorry, as she cannot publicly mourn Harwin. Consoling each other in their shared grief, Rhaenyra and Daemon proceed to take shelter in a nearby wrecked boat, and disrobe each other to then tenderly make love. Afterwards they observe suspiciously as Aemond flies Vhagar for the first time.[9]

Rhaenyra and Daemon later enter the Hall of Nine after an altercation between Rhaenyra's, Daemon's, and Alicent's children, during which Luke slashed at Aemond with a knife, cutting his left eye. Rhaenyra rushes to her more mildly injured sons, and demands to know what happened. Jace then whispers to Rhaenyra that Aemond called them bastards. Alicent angrily claims that Rhaenyra's sons are responsible, to which Rhaenyra responds that it was a regrettable accident that only arose because Jace and Luke were forced to defend themselves after Aemond made "vile insults" against them. Rhaenyra calls for Aemond to be "sharply questioned" to find out where he heard these slanders. After Aemond states he heard them from his older brother Aegon, the latter tells their father that everyone knows about Jace, Luke and Joffrey's bastardy. Viserys then orders them all to make good will to one another by order of their king. Alicent states that the decree is insufficient, and that a debt must be paid: Lucerys Velaryon's eye. Viserys insists the matter is finished, and from henceforth, anybody who dares too question the legitimacy of Rhaenyra's sons should have their tongues removed.[9]

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Rhaenyra blocks Alicent's attack.

Alicent refuses to accept this, and takes the Valyrian steel dagger from Viserys's belt and rushes toward Luke to take out his eye. Just before this can happen, Rhaenyra blocks Alicent and grabs both of her wrists. Alicent shouts accusations at Rhaenyra, stating that Rhaenyra has no sense of duty or sacrifice and is always free to do as she pleases, whereas Alicent cannot and has behaved in the manner that she was always expected to. Rhaenyra coldly retorts that it must have been exhausting for Alicent to keep up her façade for so long, but by attacking her like this, everyone now sees Alicent for what she really is, prompting Alicent to make a final push to break free from Rhaenyra's grip, slashing Rhaenyra's left arm in the process.[9]

The next day, in Rhaenyra's chamber, Laenor arrives as Maester Kelvyn finishes stitching the cut on Rhaenyra's arm, witnessing the horrifying events of the previous night. Rhaenyra informs Laenor that Aemond called their sons bastards. Laenor admits that he has failed Rhaenyra, and that he tried to make their marriage work even though they knew it was a sham. Laenor states that while he may truly love their sons, he maybe has not loved them enough. Rhaenyra says that she did hope to bear Laenor's children, and that things may have been different if that happened. Laenor says he hates the gods for making them as he is, but Rhaenyra gently insists that he is an honorable man with a good heart, a rare thing in Westeros, which he shouldn't be ashamed about. Laenor informs Rhaenyra of Ser Qarl's intentions of returning to the fighting in the Stepstones, but he recommits himself to Rhaenyra, and preparing her and their family for her ascension to the Iron Throne, and raising their sons as princes of the realm, telling her she deserves a husband.[9]

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Rhaenyra and Daemon's wedding.

Rhaenyra then watches Viserys and Alicent's ship, followed by Sunfyre, Dreamfyre, and Vhagar with their respective riders, leave from the shore whilst speaking to Daemon in High Valyrian. She has come to realize from the events of the night before that conflict is now inevitable, and says that she needs him to strengthen her side, proposing a marriage. Daemon states that they could only marry if Laenor were dead, to which Rhaenyra replies that she knows. Rhaenyra states she will not be a tyrant and rule through terror, to which Daemon tells her that if she wishes to be a strong queen, she must cultivate love and respect, but her subjects must fear her. Rhaenyra says that she does love Laenor, but Daemon says that if she loves him, she should "set him free." Rhaenyra says that their plot will cost Corlys and Rhaenys their only remaining child, and the realm would surmise that she would be responsible for the plot. Daemon says that it doesn't matter as he and Rhaenyra would know the truth, and Rhaenyra contemplates that the realm would fear what else they might be capable of. Rhaenyra and Daemon then retire to Dragonstone, and marry each other in a Valyrian rite ceremony on the beach, a small gathering witnessed by their children and Maester Gerardys. What appears to be Laenor's murder was a carefully orchestrated plot by Rhaenyra, Daemon, Laenor, and Qarl, allowing Rhaenyra and Daemon to marry, and Laenor to live the life of adventure he wanted with Qarl in Essos.[9]

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Six years later, Rhaenyra arrives at King's Landing with her family.

Six years later, the succession of Driftmark is put into question after Lord Corlys Velaryon is grievously wounded during the fighting in the Stepstones. Daemon informs Rhaenyra, who is now pregnant. She then realizes that Alicent and Otto, who are now heading a regency in King's Landing, will side with Ser Vaemond Velaryon, who is challenging Luke's claim. This would create severe problems for Rhaenyra's family, as if Luke's claim is overturned, Jace's and her own would likely also be be jeopardized. She then finds out that Rhaenys has flown to court, and Rhaenyra is unsure of her intentions. Daemon assures Rhaenyra that Rhaenys won't support Vaemond, as she has taken Baela to ward, but Rhaenyra reminds him that Rhaenys still blames them for Laenor's death, and she is only honoring her daughter Laena's memory. Rhaenyra then decides to travel to King's Landing to confront the Hightowers and secure Luke's inheritance.[5]

Rhaenyra and Daemon arrive in King's Landing, accompanied by her three sons and Daemon's younger daughter, Rhaena, receiving a meager greeting. Their anger at the lack of reception grows when they discover that the Targaryen heraldry in the Red Keep has been replaced by the iconography of the Faith of the Seven.[5]

Rhaenyra and Daemon arrive in Viserys's chambers and find his model city of Old Valyria in cobwebs, having been unattended for years. To their horror, they find Viserys bedridden, disorientated and in severe pain. Daemon brings up the matter of Corlys being wounded in the Stepstones and the succession of Driftmark being disputed, but Viserys deliriously states that both are already settled. Viserys says that Alicent and Otto attend to court business now. Rhaenyra then proceeds to introduce Viserys to his youngest grandsons from her marriage to Daemon: Aegon and Viserys. The king is delighted to see the children, joking the younger has a name fit for a king. The children are taken out of the room as Viserys is stricken by a sudden onset of pain, insisting he needs his tea, which Daemon inspects suspiciously.[5]

Rhaenyra and Daemon discuss the extent of Viserys's deterioration and Rhaenyra states that she should bring Maester Gerardys to King's Landing to see the king himself. Alicent then enters the room, with Rhaenyra and Daemon accusing her and Otto of keeping Viserys stupefied on milk of the poppy so that they can rule in his name without interference. When Alicent protests that Viserys's condition leaves him in such agony that milk of the poppy is needed, Daemon sarcastically asks if the maesters also prescribed the removal of Targaryen heraldry in the halls of the Red Keep. Alicent retorts that the displays exist to remind the court of a higher authority, prompting Rhaenyra to ask which authority will sit in judgement of Luke's right on his own inheritance, and Alicent's smugly replies that she and her father, in his capacity as Hand of the King, will decide.[5]

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Rhaenyra speaks with Rhaenys.

In the Red Keep's godswood, Rhaenyra meets with Rhaenys, accompanied by Rhaena. Rhaenys is delighted to see her younger granddaughter, but less so Rhaenyra, who asks Rhaena to leave to let the older women talk privately. Rhaenyra concludes that Rhaenys is in King's Landing to advocate for her own claim to Driftmark, rather than in support of Vaemond. Rhaenyra insists that the proceedings are a trap engineered by Otto and Alicent, meant to insultingly denounce Lucerys as illegitimate; Rhaenys retorts that Rhaenyra did worse when she cuckolded Laenor. Rhaenyra insists that she loved Laenor in her own way and that she was uninvolved in his death. She also offers to betroth Jace and Luke to Baela and Rhaena, allowing Baela to be Jace's queen and ensuring that the rule of Driftmark will pass through Laena's line by Rhaena as Rhaenys originally wished. Rhaenys seemingly rebuffs the offer, remarking that she must stand alone.[5]

That night, as a storm rages over King's Landing, Rhaenyra sits at Viserys's bedside. He awakens and briefly mistakes her for Alicent before Rhaenyra corrects him. Rhaenyra then asks her father if he believes that the Song of Ice and Fire, the prophetic dream of Aegon the Conqueror, is a true prophecy. She reminds Viserys that he told her it was their duty to hold the realm united against the return of a coming evil, but warns his naming her heir divided the realm and she has found the burden of that duty a hard one to bear, and that she didn't actually desire for any of this. Rhaenyra tearfully pleads for her father to defend her and her children if he believes the dream true, but Viserys is too delirious from pain, illness and medication to respond, and Rhaenyra weeps at the realization even her beloved father has forsaken her to fend for herself.[5]

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Rhaenyra champions Luke's claim to Driftmark.

The next day, Otto, seated on the Iron Throne, presides over the succession of Driftmark in the event of Lord Corlys's death. Vaemond speaks first, claiming that Driftmark should pass to him as Lord Corlys's closest kin. Rhaenyra says that true Velaryon blood is also present in Luke, the son of Laenor Velaryon, and that Vaemond's claim is nothing but an act on his own vaulting ambition, undermining the true and preferred successor, only to be silenced by Alicent. After the end of Vaemond's petition, Rhaenyra is invited to speak on behalf of Luke. She begins by denouncing the proceeding as a farce and is about to obligate the court by reminding them that she is the heir to the throne, but before she can continue, Viserys enters the throne room determined to support Rhaenyra one last time. Viserys displaces Otto and decides to preside over the proceedings himself, and is aided to the Iron Throne by Daemon. Viserys declares his confusion as to why a settled succession is being disputed, and states that only Princess Rhaenys Targaryen is the only one present who can offer a keener insight into her husband, Lord Corlys's wishes. Rhaenys proceeds to back Rhaenyra and Lucerys's claim and announces Rhaenyra's intentions to betroth Jace and Luke to Lord Corlys's granddaughters, Baela and Rhaena, respectively, after which Viserys declares the matter settled. Vaemond furiously snaps that Viserys has no right to decide House Velaryon's fate, and rages that he will not allow the end of House Velaryon on the account of Lucerys, holding his tongue before openly calling the boy a bastard. Challenged by Daemon to continue, Vaemond screams that Rhaenyra's children are bastards and that she is a whore. Viserys vows to take his tongue for the insult against his daughter, but Daemon promptly executes Vaemond before Viserys gets the chance. Rhaenyra then approaches her father as he collapses in pain on the throne, pleading him to take medical assistance alongside Alicent.[5]

TLOTT Rhaenyra and Daemon Still 1

Rhaenyra dines with her family.

Later that night, Rhaenyra and Daemon's family join Viserys and Alicent's family for a supper, commemorating Luke's succession to Driftmark and the betrothals of Jace and Baela, and Luke and Rhaena. Viserys makes a despondent speech about the fragmented state of House Targaryen that has worsened over the last 20 years, and begs Rhaenyra and Alicent's families to make peace for him. Rhaenyra proceeds to thank Alicent for her years of servitude to the king and for taking care of her father for all these years when she could not. She also apologizes for the strife she may have caused Alicent and Viserys since being named Princess of Dragonstone and hopes for an end to the infighting. Alicent then thanks Rhaenyra for her sentiment, stating they are both mothers, and they may have more in common than they sometimes allow. She then toasts Rhaenyra, stating she will make a fine queen.[5]

The supper then starts, with the Targaryen family in a state of happiness and peace for the first time in 20 years. Viserys is then taken from the room during a sudden onset of extreme pain. A fight then ensues after Aemond makes a passively aggressive tribute to Jace, Luke, and Joff, calling them "strong" in reference to their real father's family. Rhaenyra then orders her sons to her bedchambers, and declares her intention to return to Dragonstone. Alicent states that Rhaenyra has only just arrived, and wishes for her to stay, prompting Rhaenyra to say she will return on dragonback after escorting the children home, to Alicent's delight.[5]

After Rhaenyra and her family return to Dragonstone, Viserys passes away, succumbing to his illnesses, after mistaking Alicent for Rhaenyra and telling her that he believes her to be the Prince That Was Promised, and she will be the one to unite the realm, which Alicent misinterprets as Viserys wanting Aegon to succeed him as king.[5] A coup is then staged in King's Landing, which results in Aegon being crowned King of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men, displacing Rhaenyra.[12]

TBQ Rhaenyra and Luke Still 3

Rhaenyra talks to Luke about Driftmark.

On Dragonstone, Rhaenyra finds Luke studying the island of Driftmark on the Painted Table of Dragonstone. Luke insists that he doesn't want Driftmark, and that the lordship should have passed to Ser Vaemond. Rhaenyra assures her son that she felt the same when her father Viserys named her Princess of Dragonstone, and promises that just as Viserys prepared her to play that part, she will do the same for him. They are interrupted by Ser Lorent Marbrand of the Kingsguard, who informs Rhaenyra that Princess Rhaenys has arrived on dragonback, and requests an audience with her and Prince Daemon.[3]

Rhaenyra welcomes Rhaenys to Dragonstone, and asks if there is word of her husband Lord Corlys's recovery, but Rhaenys interrupts to inform Rhaenyra and Daemon that Viserys is dead. Daemon inquires how Viserys died, to which Rhaenys replies that she does not know. Daemon then draws the conclusion that Viserys has been murdered by Alicent and Otto. Rhaenys also informs them that the Greens have usurped King's Landing, and Aegon has been crowned as Viserys's successor. Rhaenyra is appalled to learn that Aegon had been crowned before the masses, knowing, as Rhaenys reiterates, that the masses will now see Aegon as the true king. Rhaenys advises Rhaenyra to leave Dragonstone with her family at once, before the Greens come for her. Rhaenyra then doubles over in pain, reaching beneath her dress. Her fingers come away bloody, and she realized that the shock of the news has sent her into premature labor.[3]

TBQ Daemon and Rhaenyra Still 7

Rhaenyra is crowned as queen.

Rhaenyra struggles with her labor pains, attended by Maester Gerardys, Elinda Massey, and several midwives, all of whom are fearful as Rhaenyra's pregnancy is far from full term. Jace and Luke are summoned to Rhaenyra's bedchamber, where Rhaenyra informs them of their grandfather Viserys's death, Aegon and the Greens' usurpation of the Iron Throne, and Daemon's preparation for war. Rhaenyra then instructs Jace to control the situation with her supporters, as he is now heir to any claim Rhaenyra has left, and that nothing is to be done without her leave. Ignoring the advice of her midwives to help her, Rhaenyra gives birth to a deformed, stillborn daughter (that she planned to name Visenya). She later prepares the child for burial under the watchful eye of the Silent Sisters. A small funeral is later held outside. The funeral is interrupted by the arrival of Ser Erryk Cargyll, who kneels before Rhaenyra and declares his loyalty to her, and offers her the crown of Viserys and Jaehaerys, stolen from the Red Keep in the confusion of the Green coup. Daemon places the crown on Rhaenyra's head, kneeling before her and declaring her his queen. Rhaenyra's sons, stepdaughters, Queensguard, and the congregation (save Rhaenys) kneel before Rhaenyra as the rightful queen of the Seven Kingdoms.[3]

Rhaenyra's attendant lords gather around the Painted Table, readying themselves for Rhaenyra's first council meeting, placing map markers on the table and lighting it up with candles, with Rhaenyra approaching, flanked by knights of House Targaryen. As Rhaenyra enters, Daemon formally announces her as "Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen, First of Her Name, Queen of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lady of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm." She is offered wine by her stepdaughter, Rhaena, who she then thanks and invites to join the Black Council at the Painted Table.[3]

Rhaenyra takes a moment to contemplate her situation, before asking for a report on the Blacks' standing. Daemon informs Rhaenyra that Dragonstone's garrison stands at 30 knights, 100 crossbowmen, and 300 men-at-arms; sufficient to defend the island, but not to conquer Westeros, and word has been sent to the loyalists within the City Watch. The loyalties of Houses Celtigar, Massey, Darklyn, Staunton, and Bar Emmon have been secured, with Rhaenyra adding that House Arryn will also declare loyalty due to their shared kinship through Rhaenyra's mother, Aemma Arryn. The loyalties of Houses Tully, Baratheon, and Stark are brought into question; whereas the Starks are staunchly loyal oathkeepers as well as the other Northern houses, who will follow where the Starks lead, Lord Borros Baratheon will need to be reminded of his late father's oath. Rhaenyra then turns her attention to Princess Rhaenys, and asks for news from Driftmark. Rhaenys says that Corlys sails for Dragonstone, though his loyalty to Rhaenyra and the Blacks is still in the air. Rhaenyra and Daemon surmise that House Lannister will not support them due to Ser Tyland Lannister's servitude to Otto, and that with the Lannisters' allegiance to the Greens, the Westerlands will also support the Greens, so the Riverlands are essential to the Blacks' cause. Lord Bartimos Celtigar interrupts, arguing that talk of men is irrelevant, when Rhaenyra's forces command dragons in numbers not wielded since the days of Old Valyria. Rhaenyra points out that the Greens also command dragons, but Daemon points out that they only have three adult dragons, compared to the Blacks' command of Syrax, Caraxes, Meleys, Vermax, Arrax, Tyraxes, and Moondancer. He also notes that there are several unclaimed dragons in need of riders, all of whom nest in regions that the Blacks control. Daemon suggests using the dragons to lay waste to King's Landing, but before further discussion can be had, Ser Erryk interrupts to inform them a galleon is approaching Dragonstone, flying the banner of a three-headed green dragon.[3]

Rhaenyra arrives on the bridge leading to Dragonstone, atop Syrax, to confront the Green negotiation party, headed by Ser Otto Hightower. Otto greets Rhaenyra as "Princess," but Rhaenyra icily retorts that she is Queen Rhaenyra now, labeling Otto and his companions as traitors to the realm. Otto presents Aegon II's peace terms to Rhaenyra in return for Rhaenyra's allegiance and her acknowledgement of Aegon being king: Rhaenyra will keep Dragonstone, and the castle will pass to Jacaerys upon her death; Lucerys will be confirmed as the legitimate heir to Driftmark, and all the lands and holdings of House Velaryon. Rhaenyra and Daemon's sons will be given places of honor at court: Aegon the Younger as the king's squire and Viserys as his cupbearer; and Aegon II will pardon any knight or lord who conspired against his ascent to the Iron Throne. Daemon immediately rejects the offer, venomously calling Aegon II a "drunken, usurper cunt of a king." Otto states that Aegon's claim is far more legitimate than Rhaenyra's as he was crowned by a septon of the Faith before the masses of King's Landing, and carries Aegon the Conqueror's crown, sword, and name. Rhaenyra asserts that Houses Baratheon, Stark, and Tully all swore allegiance to her when Viserys I named her his heir, to which Otto smugly replies that stale oaths will not put Rhaenyra on the Iron Throne, and that the succession changed the day Aegon was born. Rhaenyra proceeds to rip Otto's badge of office from his cloak, denouncing him as a "fucking traitor." Otto then gives Rhaenyra a sheaf of parchment, which is revealed to be a page torn from Ten Thousand Ships, a book she and Alicent read when they were teenagers in the godswood 20 years ago. Daemon, enraged at Otto's attempts to manipulate his wife, calls to end this farce, and kill the negotiation party, but is stopped by Rhaenyra, who declares that King's Landing shall have her answer to their terms on the morrow.[3]

Rhaenyra and her advisors discuss the terms offered to them by the Greens. Rhaenyra states that she knows the histories of Valyria and the dangerous potential of dragons thanks to her father's teachings: when dragons flew to war, everything burned, and she doesn't wish to rule over a kingdom of ash and bone. Rhaenyra asserts to her advisors that it is her duty to hold the realm together, rather than descend it into war and chaos just for her pursuit of the Iron Throne. Daemon rebukes this, stating that the Greens have already declared war and raises his voice at Rhaenyra's inaction. Rhaenyra and Daemon then talk privately, with Daemon insisting that she cannot submit to the Hightowers, who have stolen her birthright, and that it is her duty as queen to crush rebellion. Rhaenyra protests that they are bound by more than personal ambition, reminding Daemon of what Viserys told them about the "Song of Ice and Fire," and Aegon the Conqueror's goal to keep the realm united against the coming great evil in the north, only for Daemon to seize her by the throat. Daemon angrily hisses that Viserys was obsessed with omens and prophecies to give meaning to his feckless reign and that dragons, not dreams, made the Targaryens kings. Daemon then releases Rhaenyra, who is taken aback by his violence against her, but quickly comes to the realization that Viserys never told Daemon about Aegon's dream, indicating Viserys never once truly viewed Daemon as his heir.[3]

TBQ Corlys Velaryon Still

Corlys Velaryon pledges allegiance to Rhaenyra.

The next morning, Rhaenyra heads another congregation of the Black Council, which Corlys, who has finally arrived at Dragonstone, attends with his wife Rhaenys, and his granddaughters Baela and Rhaena. Rhaenyra quickly expresses her relief to see Corlys healthy again, while Corlys offers her condolences for Viserys's death. He points out that Rhaenyra has too few allies to win a war for the throne, and that the hope of allies from Houses Stark, Arryn, and Baratheon is potentially futile. Rhaenyra point out that all the noble houses of the realm swore fealty to her when Viserys named her heir, and when Corlys points out that House Hightower too swore their allegiance, Corlys and House Velaryon also did. Corlys notes that his and Rhaenyra's are bound by common blood and common cause, and declares his allegiance to Rhaenyra and the Blacks. Rhaenyra thanks him and Rhaenys for their support, but insists that if war's first stroke is to fall it will not be by her hand, as she wishes to know who her allies are before sending them to war. Corlys adds that House Velaryon now controls the Stepstones, as the Triarchy have been routed from the region, and they have been properly garrisoned this time. He states his men will institute a blockade of the shipping lanes that pass through the Stepstones, and that a second blockade will be placed across the Gullet, reinforced by Rhaenys and Meleys, to cut off all sea trade to King's Landing. This would aim to starve the Greens into surrender, but Rhaenyra asserts they need to secure the allegiance of the Starks, Arryns, and Baratheons before having enough men to surround King's Landing. Jace suggests that he and Luke bear Rhaenyra's messages themselves on dragonback, as dragons are faster than ravens, and will be intimidating and therefore more persuasive to the lords of Westeros. Corlys agrees, and Rhaenyra decides that Jace will go the Eyrie and then to Winterfell to win the support of Lady Jeyne Arryn and Lord Cregan Stark, while Luke will travel south to Storm's End to ensure the support of Lord Borros Baratheon.[3]

That evening, Rhaenyra speaks with Jace and Luke before they depart on their mission. Rhaenyra notes that while some may view the Targaryens as closer to gods than to men, if they wish to rule Westeros, the Targaryens must answer to the gods of Westeros. To that end, she has Jace and Luke swear on The Seven-Pointed Star that they will take part in no fighting, and go only as envoys. Rhaenyra hopes that Jace and Cregan will be able to find some common ground as young men, as Cregan is closer to Jace's age than to hers, and assures Luke that he will be safe on his journey to Storm's End, as he has Baratheon blood from his grandmother Princess Rhaenys, and that the eternally proud Lord Borros would be honored to host a prince of the realm. With that the three dragons depart Dragonstone: Rhaenys atop Meleys, bound for the Gullet; Jace atop Vermax, bound for the Eyrie and Winterfell; and Luke atop Arrax, bound for Storm's End.[3]

Some time after the dragons' departure, Rhaenyra holds another council with her lords on Dragonstone. Daemon approaches Rhaenyra and whispers in her ear the news of Luke's death at the hands of Aemond and Vhagar at Storm's End. Rhaenyra briefly staggers from grief before turning to face her council with an expression of vengeful fury.[3]

House of the Dragon: Season 2[]

2x1 Rhaenyra Targaryen Still

Rhaenyra on the shores of Shipbreaker Bay.

Following Lucerys's death, Rhaenyra flies to Storm's End atop Syrax in order to recover her son's remains, and to find closure. Only able to find one of Arrax's wings and a fragment of Luke's clothing, she returns to Dragonstone, bent on revenge. At a meeting of her Black Council, Rhaenyra orders her half-brother Aemond's assassination.[13]

Some time later, while Rhaenyra is spending time alone, her son Jacaerys, who has just returned from Winterfell after receiving the news of his brother's death, comes to her. Jace, with his voice breaking, tells his mother about the support of Jeyne Arryn and Cregan Stark, Rhaenyra, seeing her son's despair, approaches him and hugs him.[13]

S2 Jace Rhaenyra and Joff Still

Rhaenyra with her sons at Luke's funeral.

On the same day, Prince Lucerys's funeral takes place on Dragonstone. Rhaenyra and her sons, Jacaerys and Joffrey, burn the deceased prince's belongings.[13]

When Rhaenyra learns about the murder of Prince Jaehaerys and that she is accused of this act, she is shocked. She quickly realizes that Daemon is behind the murder and an argument breaks out between the pair, which ends with Daemon leaving for Harrenhal.[6]

2x2 Rhaenyra and Daemon Still

Rhaenyra argues with Daemon.

Rhaenyra talks to Mysaria, to whom Daemon promised freedom in exchange for identifying people willing to help in the murder of the young prince. During the conversation, Rhaenyra realizes that men will never accept her as queen. Some time later, she comes to Mysaria's dungeon and declares that she is free, and that she has arranged for the Velaryon ship Corwyn to take her to Myr by way of Pentos].[6]

As Rhaenyra is getting ready for bed, Ser Arryk Cargyll, pretending to be Erryk, enters her chamber. He moves towards her with a mission to kill her, but his brother Ser Erryk enters the room. There is a duel between the brothers, in which Arryk is killed. Then, a heartbroken Erryk commits suicide in front of Rhaenyra.[6]

Personality[]

Rhaenyra is strong-willed and independent.[14] Rhaenyra rejects the idea of being a lady and is more interested in flying on top of her dragon Syrax having adventures and choosing her own destiny.[1] It is not until her father speaks of his dream of ice and far that warns of a war to come, that she decides to take her role as heir more seriously. During her youth, Rhaenyra was in love with her friend Alicent, and a long series of lies, rumors and added pressures expected of the two severed the trust they shared and left a permanent rift in their friendship. The culmination of the marriage of Alicent to Viserys made Rhaenyra increasingly insecure in her position as heir to the throne, fueling the division between them.[15][disputed; see talk page]

Quotes[]

Spoken by Rhaenyra[]

"The only thing that could tear down the House of the Dragon was itself."
―Rhaenyra Targaryen[src]
Aemma: "You will lie in this bed soon enough, Rhaenyra. This discomfort is how we serve the realm."
Rhaenyra: "I'd rather serve as a knight and ride to battle and glory."
— Aemma and Rhaenyra[src]
Alicent: "You want him to have a son?"
Rhaenyra: "I want to fly with you on dragonback, see the great wonders across the Narrow Sea, and eat only cake."
Alicent: "I'm being serious."
Rhaenyra: "I never jest about cake."
Alicent: "You aren't worried about your position?"
Rhaenyra: "I like this position. It's quite comfortable."
— Alicent and Rhaenyra[src]
"Everyone says Targaryens are closer to gods than to men, but they say that because of our dragons. Without them, we're just like everyone else."
―Rhaenyra Targaryen[src]
"I'm right here, uncle. The object of your ire. The reason that you were disinherited. If you wish to be restored as heir, you'll need to kill me. So, do it. And be done with all this bother."
―Rhaenyra to Daemon[src]
Viserys: "You went to Dragonstone."
Rhaenyra: "And retrieved the egg without bloodshed. A feat I'm not sure Ser Otto could've accomplished alone."
— Viserys and Rhaenyra[src]
Joselyn: "The crown is at war, princess. Though your father refuses to admit it, we've been dragged into it by your uncle and the Sea Snake."
Rhaenyra: "And how have you served the realm of late, Lady Redwyne, by eating cake?"
— Joselyn Redwyne and Rhaenyra[src]
Rhaenyra: "My mother was made to produce heirs until it killed her. I won't subject myself to the same fate."
Daemon: "What happened to your mother was a tragedy. But this is a tragic world. You cannot live your life in fear, or you will forsake the best parts of it."
Rhaenyra: "I have no desire to live in fear. Only solitude."
— Rhaenyra and Daemon[src]
Criston: "In Essos, you could marry me. A marriage for love, not for the crown."
Rhaenyra: "I am the crown, Ser Criston. Or I will be. I may chafe at my duties, but do you think I would choose infamy in exchange for a bushel of oranges or a ship to Asshai?"
— Criston and Rhaenyra[src]
Jace: "Is Harwin Strong my father? Am I a bastard?"
Rhaenyra: "You are a Targaryen. That's all that matters."
— Jace and Rhaenyra[src]
"We performed our duty as best we could, but to no avail. There was no joy in it. I found that elsewhere. It felt good to be desired."
―Rhaenyra Targaryen[src]
"Exhausting, wasn't it? Hiding beneath the cloak of your own righteousness. But now they see you as you are."
―Rhaenyra to Alicent[src]
"Fire is such strange power. Everything that House Targaryen possesses is owed to it. Yet it has cost us both what we loved."
―Rhaenyra Targaryen[src]
"I will not be a tyrant, nor rule through terror."
―Rhaenyra Targaryen[src]
"'The Song of Ice and Fire.' Do you believe it to be true? You told me it was our duty to hold the realm united against a common foe. By naming me heir, you divided the realm. I thought I wanted it. But the burden is a heavy one. It's too heavy. If you wish me to bear it, then defend me. And my children."
―Rhaenyra to Viserys[src]

Spoken about Rhaenyra[]

"You're always like this when you're worried. Disagreeable."
―Alicent Hightower[src]
"If order and stability so concerns this council, then perhaps we shouldn't break 100 years of it by naming a girl heir."
―Lyonel Strong[src]
"I'm sorry, Rhaenyra. I have wasted the years since you were born, wanting for a son. You are the very best of your mother. And I believe it, I know she did, that you could be a great ruling queen."
―Viserys I Targaryen[src]
"There are times when I would rather face the Black Dread himself than mine own daughter of fifteen."
―Viserys I Targaryen[src]
"Whether it's to my daughter or to someone else's, your father will remarry sooner than late. His new wife will produce new heirs, and chances are better than not that one of those will be male. And when that boy comes of age and your father has passed, the men of the realm will expect him to be heir, not you. Because that is the order of things."
―Rhaenys Targaryen[src]
"One day, not so long ago, you held enough power to write my name into the White Book. And when your father named me to his Kingsguard, it was the highest honor any Cole had ever known. All that I have, I owe to you. Now I'd hardly call that toothless, princess."
―Criston Cole[src]
"I did not decide to name Rhaenyra my heir on a whim. All the lords of the kingdom would do well to remember that."
―Viserys I Targaryen[src]
"A truly great Targaryen king I am. Powerless over mine own daughter of seven-and-ten."
―Viserys I Targaryen[src]
"I thought Rhaenyra was the way out of my abyss of grief and regret. And naming her heir would begin to set things right. I never imagined I would remarry... that I would have a son. What if I was wrong?"
―Viserys I Targaryen[src]
Alicent: "Rhaenyra will be a good queen."
Otto: "It wouldn't matter if she were Jaehaerys himself born again. Rhaenyra is a woman."
— Alicent and Otto Hightower[src]
Willem: "If chosen as your match, princess, your days shall be easy and nights safe under my protection."
Jerrel: "Protection? The princess has a dragon, you dumb cunt."
— Willem Blackwood and Jerrel Bracken[src]
Theatre player: "Rhaenyra, the Realm's Delight, a girl so young and so slight, loved by all of her people. But would she make a powerful queen, or would she be feeble?"
Crowd: "Feeble!"
— A pantomime on the Street of Silk[src]
"Wed her to me. When I offered up my crown, you said I could have anything. I want Rhaenyra. I'll take her as she is, and wed her in the tradition of our house."
―Daemon Targaryen[src]
"Rhaenyra's succession will be challenged. Knives will come out for her, her husband, and for their heirs."
―Rhaenys Targaryen[src]
"The Princess Rhaenyra is brazen and relentless. A spider who stings and sucks her prey dry. A spoiled cunt."
―Criston Cole[src]
"I? What have I done but what was expected of me? Forever upholding the kingdom, the family, the law. While you flout all to do all as you please. Where is duty? Where is sacrifice? It's trampled under your pretty foot again! And now you take my son's eye, and to even that, you feel entitled."
―Alicent Hightower[src]
"You deserve better than what I have been. You deserve a husband."
―Laenor Velaryon[src]
"If you are to be a strong queen, you must cultivate love and respect, yes, but your subjects must fear you."
―Daemon Targaryen[src]
"Her children... are bastards! And she... is... a whore."
―Vaemond Velaryon[src]
"We are both mothers, and we love our children. We have more in common than we sometimes allow. I raise my cup to you, and to your house. You will make a fine queen."
―Alicent Hightower[src]
"The Prince That Was Promised. The Prince... to unite the realm against the cold... and the dark. It is you. You are the one. You must do this."
―Viserys to Alicent, mistaking her for Rhaenyra[src]
"Behold the works of Rhaenyra Targaryen! Pretender to the throne! Kinslayer! Defiler of the innocent! Behold the works of Rhaenyra the Cruel!"
―A herald at the funeral procession of Prince Jaehaerys[src]
"Oh, you know him better than I do, who was raised by his side? Do you believe he made you heir because of your great wisdom? Because of your virtue? Or did he merely use you as a tool to put me in my place because he was afraid of me? Because he knew your legacy, unlike mine, would never outshine his!"
―Daemon insulting Rhaenyra by insinuating Viserys only named her heir to spite him[src]

Family[]

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Famtree-RhaenaTargaryen
Rhaena
Targaryen

Deceased
 
Famtree-AegonTargaryenSonOfAenys
Aegon
Targaryen

Deceased
 
House-Targaryen-HotD-Square
Viserys
Targaryen

Deceased
 
Famtree-JaehaerysI
Jaehaerys I
Targaryen
1
Deceased
 
Famtree-Alysanne Targaryen
Alysanne
Targaryen

Deceased
 
House-Targaryen-HotD-Square
Vaella
Targaryen

Deceased
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
House-Targaryen-HotD-Square
Aemon
Targaryen

Deceased
 
House-Baratheon-Main-Square
Jocelyn
Baratheon

Deceased
 
House-Arryn-Square
Rodrik
Arryn[d]
Deceased
 
House-Targaryen-HotD-Square
Daella
Targaryen

Deceased
 
House-Targaryen-HotD-Square
Baelon
Targaryen

Deceased
 
Famtree-Alyssa Targaryen
Alyssa
Targaryen

Deceased
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Famtree-CorlysVelaryon
Corlys
Velaryon
House Velaryon

 
Famtree-RhaenysVelaryon
Rhaenys
Targaryen

Deceased
 
Famtree-AemmaArryn
Aemma
Arryn
House Arryn/House of the Dragon
Deceased
 
Famtree-ViserysITargaryen
Viserys I
Targaryen
2
Deceased
 
Famtree-AlicentHightower
Alicent
Hightower
House Hightower/House of the Dragon

 
Famtree-DaemonTargaryen
Daemon
Targaryen
Daemon Targaryen

 
Famtree-RheaRoyce
Rhea
Royce
House Royce
Deceased
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Famtree-DaemonTargaryen
Daemon
Targaryen
Daemon Targaryen

 
Famtree-LaenaVelaryon
Laena
Velaryon
House Velaryon
Deceased
 
Famtree-LaenorVelaryon
Laenor
Velaryon
3 House Velaryon

 
Famtree-RhaenyraTargaryen
Rhaenyra
Targaryen
2

 
Famtree-DaemonTargaryen
Daemon
Targaryen
Daemon Targaryen

 
Famtree-Aegon Targaryen
Aegon II
Targaryen
Aegon II Targaryen

 
Famtree-HelaenaTargaryen
Helaena
Targaryen


 
Famtree-AemondTargaryen
Aemond
Targaryen


 
House-Targaryen-HotD-Square
Daeron
Targaryen


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Famtree-Baela Targaryen
Baela
Targaryen


 
Famtree-Rhaena Targaryen
Rhaena
Targaryen


 
Famtree-Jacaerys Velaryon
Jacaerys
Velaryon
House Velaryon

 
Famtree-Lucerys Velaryon
Lucerys
Velaryon
House Velaryon
Deceased
 
Famtree-JoffreyVelaryon
Joffrey
Velaryon
House Velaryon

 
Famtree-AegonIII
Aegon
Targaryen


 
Famtree-ViserysII
Viserys
Targaryen


 
Famtree-PrinceJahaerysTargaryen
Jaehaerys
Targaryen

Deceased
 
Famtree-JaehaeraTargaryen
Jaehaera
Targaryen


1 Jaehaerys had thirteen children in all. For simplicity, only the direct ancestors of future generations are on this family tree and they are not in the exact order of birth. The thirteen children in correct order are: Aegon, Daenerys, Aemon, Baelon, Alyssa, Maegelle, Vaegon, Daella, Saera, Viserra, Gaemon, Valerion, and Gael.

2 Due to the nature of their respective births and deaths, Baelon Targaryen, son of Viserys and Aemma, and Visenya Targaryen, daughter of Rhaenyra and Daemon, are not included on this family tree.

3 While Jacaerys, Lucerys, and Joffrey are officially Laenor's, he and Rhaenyra never had any biological issue. Their three sons were in fact fathered by Harwin Strong.

Behind the scenes[]

Rhaenyra Targaryen was revealed to be a lead character in House of the Dragon on July 18, 2020. On December 11, 2020, HBO announced that Emma D'Arcy had been cast in the role for the series. Her character description for Season 1 reads as follows:

"The king’s first-born child, she is of pure Valyrian blood, and she is a dragonrider. Many would say that Rhaenyra was born with everything… but she was not born a man."[16]

On July 6, 2021, it was reported that Milly Alcock was set to portray young Rhaenyra.

Her character description for Season 2 reads as follows:

"A dragonrider and the late King Viserys I’s first-born child and named heir. Her claim to the Iron Throne has been usurped by her younger half-brother, Aegon II."[17]

In the books[]

Roman Papsuev - Rhaenyra Targaryen

Rhaenyra Targaryen by Roman "Amok" Papsuev.©

In Fire & Blood, Rhaenyra was the daughter of King Viserys I, and his only child to survive the cradle by his wife, Aemma of House Arryn. Viserys's younger brother Daemon was his closest male heir, but many at court felt he was so unruly that he was unfit to sit the throne, so Viserys officially named Rhaenyra his heir. This decision was controversial, as it contradicted the principle of male-preference proximity which had put Viserys himself on the throne, instead of his older first cousin Rhaenys Targaryen (who according to primogeniture should have been the heir).

Rhaenyra was therefore raised expecting to one day sit the Iron Throne herself, becoming somewhat pampered and arrogant, though also receiving an education in government as befitting the heir to the throne. From an early age, Rhaenyra regularly sat at the foot of the Iron Throne while her father held royal court, and her father also regularly brought her to meetings of the Small Council. A precocious young girl, in her childhood she was known as "the Realm's Delight". The year before her mother died, Rhaenyra also become a dragonrider, claiming Syrax as her mount. One of Rhaenyra's personal tics was also that she tended to nervously play with her hands (or the rings on them) when she was thinking.

After Rhaenyra's mother died, her father remarried and had several sons by his second wife, Alicent of House Hightower. Even so, Viserys still publicly expected his daughter to succeed him, and when he died, his official will even stated so. However, Rhaenyra's younger half-brother, Aegon, challenged her claim. Criston Cole, who crowned him, stated that the normal inheritance laws of the Andals (which formed the basis of the unified law code in Westeros) called for male-preference primogeniture, meaning that a younger son would rightfully inherit before an older daughter. Rhaenyra had been raised as the heir apparent for years and commanded the loyalty of an inner circle of noble families very close to the crown. In defiance, Criston crowned her half-brother in King's Landing as Aegon II, and rallied to his side those noble Houses who did not enjoy royal favor during the reign of their father.

Aegon II held many advantages in the war, including control of the capital city, the support of the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, and the approval of the High Septon. Rhaenyra's faction was based at Dragonstone, and to her advantage she had a larger number of dragons under her control - twelve to Aegon's four - though three of these were "wild" dragons and as-yet untamed, while another three were immature. She also did not have enough Targaryen blood relatives on her side to ride all of them, and a dragon will (typically) only bond with someone possessing the blood of Old Valyria.

The two factions during the war - one supporting Aegon and the other supporting Rhaenyra - became known as the "Blacks" and the "Greens" because of an incident that took place at a tournament some years before the war began. Aegon II's mother Queen Alicent had worn a green dress to the tournament while Rhaenyra wore a black dress. Generally, Rhaenyra was supported by noble families who had enjoyed royal favor during her father's reign and possessed strong ties to the crown, while Aegon II rallied those who had been out of favor. Viserys I had signed charters with many powerful Houses in which they swore to accept Rhaenyra as his heir, but at least some of them broke their word after Viserys died. Rhaenyra sent her eldest son Jacaerys north on his dragon to visit the Eyrie and then Winterfell.

Family[]

Rhaenyra was married twice, and had five sons. Her first husband was her second cousin, Ser Laenor Velaryon, the son of Lord Corlys Velaryon who served as Rhaenyra's Hand of the King during the Dance, and her first cousin once removed, Princess Rhaenys. She had three sons by him; Jacaerys Velaryon, Lucerys Velaryon, and Joffrey Velaryon. It was widely rumored by her opponents, however, that all three were actually bastards fathered by her lover, Harwin of House Strong. While this accusation was used as a political weapon, it is strongly suggested that there was some truth to it - though the matter is academic given that all three were definitely descended from the royal line through their mother, and it is irrelevant for later history because all three died without issue. Rhaenyra's second husband was actually her own uncle, Prince Daemon Targaryen, her father's younger brother. Daemon was a fierce and powerful warrior, and one of the most skilled and dangerous dragon-riders during the Dance. The two sons she bore to Daemon were Aegon and Viserys (who later became the Kings Aegon III and Viserys II). Rhaenyra's only daughter - carried during her final pregnancy - was stillborn; she named the dead girl, Visenya. The entire reason that Rhaenyra wasn't in King's Landing when her father died is because she was resting at Dragonstone eight months pregnant. However, when news reached the island that her half-brother had declared himself king in opposition to her, she became so distressed that she went into premature labor and her daughter was stillborn, as well as badly deformed (similar to Daenerys Targaryen's stillborn son Rhaego generations later). Rhaenyra blamed her brother and his supporters for causing the death of her daughter, adding further fuel to her hatred of them. Rhaenyra was also supported by Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, popularly known as "the Queen Who Never Was" due to that fact that she held a claim to the throne after her grandfather Jaehaerys I died, but her claim was ignored and the throne passed to her cousin Viserys I.

Rhaenyra's personal sigil was a variation on the normal Targaryen heraldry, quartered with the moon-and-falcon sigil of House Arryn (for her mother) and the seahorse sigil of House Velaryon (for her first husband, and because the Velaryons were one of her major supporters). Thus, viewed head-on, the top left and lower right quarters contained a normal red Targaryen dragon on black, the Arryn sigil was in the upper right, and the Velaryon sigil was in the lower left. While her faction during the Dance was informally known as "the Blacks", armies loyal to Rhaenyra bore banners displaying her personal heraldry of quartered red dragons.

Inspiration[]

The succession dispute and civil war between Rhaenyra and Aegon II is analogous to the Anarchy, a period in England during the early twelfth century. During this time, King Henry I's only surviving heir was his daughter Matilda. Like Rhaenyra, Matilda was quite pampered and arrogant; although she hadn't been raised as the heir apparent her whole life, after Henry I's son died in the White Ship disaster, Matilda was her father's only legitimate child. She was also the widow of the Holy Roman Emperor, one of the most powerful monarchs in Europe, and thus familiar with politics and rulership. Similar to Viserys I, Henry commanded the nobles of the realm to take oaths swearing they would support Matilda as his successor, but after Henry's death this began to crumble: Matilda's claim was challenged by her cousin Stephen of Blois, who was from a junior branch of the royal family but nonetheless usurped the throne by rushing to the capital to be crowned king. In the cases of both Rhaenyra/Aegon II and Matilda/Stephen, the resulting civil war wasn't really concerned with who the lawful heir was under different succession rights, but was truly a struggle between two major factions of nobles which had developed: those who currently enjoyed royal favor (under Rhaenyra and Matilda) and those who had not previously enjoyed royal favor (the supporters of Aegon II and Stephen).

Appearances[]

Forthcoming[]

References[]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 House of the Dragon: Season 1, Episode 1: "The Heirs of the Dragon" (2022).
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 House of the Dragon: Season 1, Episode 6: "The Princess and the Queen" (2022).
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 House of the Dragon: Season 1, Episode 10: "The Black Queen" (2022).
  4. 4.0 4.1 House of the Dragon: Season 1, Episode 3: "Second of His Name" (2022).
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 House of the Dragon: Season 1, Episode 8: "The Lord of the Tides" (2022).
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 House of the Dragon: Season 2, Episode 2: "Rhaenyra the Cruel" (2024).
  7. House of the Dragon: Season 2, Episode 4: "The Red Dragon and the Gold" (2024).
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 House of the Dragon: Season 1, Episode 2: "The Rogue Prince" (2022).
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 9.7 House of the Dragon: Season 1, Episode 7: "Driftmark" (2022).
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 House of the Dragon: Season 1, Episode 5: "We Light the Way" (2022).
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 House of the Dragon: Season 1, Episode 4: "King of the Narrow Sea" (2022).
  12. House of the Dragon: Season 1, Episode 9: "The Green Council" (2022).
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 House of the Dragon: Season 2, Episode 1: "A Son for a Son" (2024).
  14. Rhaenyra Targaryen. HBO. Retrieved March 15, 2023.
  15. Game of Thrones: House of the Dragon: Inside the Creation of a Targaryen Dynasty (2022).
  16. Unknown author (Unknown date). House of the Dragon S1 | Character Descriptions. Warner Bros. Discovery. Retrieved April 25, 2023.
  17. Unknown author (Unknown date). House of the Dragon S2 | Character Descriptions. Warner Bros. Discovery. Retrieved June 5, 2024.
  18. House of the Dragon Season 2 | Episode 6 Preview | Max
  19. HeroOfRodden (December 3, 2023). House of the Dragon Season 2 Official Teaser Breakdown. Redanian Intelligence. Retrieved December 7, 2023.
  20. Wake the Dragon (December 1, 2023). 🚨🐉SEASON 2 FINALE. X. Retrieved December 10, 2023.

Notes[]

  1. Viserys I Targaryen states that Rhaenyra Targaryen is 15 years old in "The Rogue Prince," which takes place in 112 AC. "The Heirs of the Dragon" takes place earlier in 112 AC, and in that episode she is 14 according to Emily Carey and the script for "The Heirs of the Dragon;" therefore, she was born in 97 AC, same as in the books.
  2. In "A Son for a Son," Daemon Targaryen and Otto Hightower mention that days have passed since Viserys Targaryen and Lucerys Velaryon's deaths. Unlike the first season, no major time jumps are expected; therefore, House of the Dragon: Season 2 takes place in 132 AC.
  3. High Valyrian: Rhaenyra Targārien
  4. Conjecture based on information from The World of Ice & Fire; may be subject to change.

External links[]

Preceded by Princess of Dragonstone
112 AC -
Incumbent
Heir apparent:
Jacaerys Velaryon


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