- This article is about the wife of Corlys Velaryon. For other uses, see: Rhaenys Targaryen (disambiguation)
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- "Men would sooner put the realm to the torch than see a woman ascend the Iron Throne."
- ―Rhaenys Targaryen to Rhaenyra Targaryen
Rhaenys Targaryen is the granddaughter of Jaehaerys I Targaryen, and the first cousin of Viserys I Targaryen and Daemon Targaryen. She is named after her grandfather Jaehaerys's grandmother (her great-great-grandmother): Rhaenys Targaryen, the sister-wife of Aegon the Conqueror.
Rhaenys married Corlys Velaryon, admiral of the Targaryen fleets and currently the wealthiest living man in Westeros, having grown rich on trading expeditions he personally made to the far east. Rhaenys and Corlys have two children: their daughter Laena Velaryon and son Laenor Velaryon.
Rhaenys's father died before her grandfather King Jaehaerys did, after which Jaehaerys made the controversial decision to name his second son as his heir, Rhaenys's uncle - even though according to traditional inheritance law based on primogeniture, a lord's daughter should succeed ahead of his younger brother. For this, she is called "The Queen Who Never Was". Jaehaerys's younger son, however, himself died a few years later, also while Jaehaerys was still alive, leaving two rival male heirs to the Iron Throne: Rhaenys's own son Laenor (based on primogeniture), or Rhaenys's first cousin Viserys (son of Jaeherys's second son, and thus an unbroken male line). Fearing a civil war, Jaehaerys solved the issue by holding a Great Council at Harrenhal in which all the lords of Westeros held a vote, and elected Viserys as heir to the throne. Jaehaerys died of old age a few years later and Viserys ascended to the throne.
Having been passed over twice for the crown, Rhaenys and the Velaryons then became estranged from her cousin Viserys's royal court.
|House of the Dragon: Season 1 appearances|
|The Heirs of the Dragon||The Rogue Prince||Episode 3||Episode 4||Episode 5|
|Episode 6||Episode 7||Episode 8||Episode 9||Episode 10|
- "Rhaenyra's succession will be challenged. Knives will come out."
- ―Rhaenys to Corlys Velaryon
- "A woman would not inherit the Iron Throne. Because that is the order of things."
- ―Rhaenys to Rhaenyra Targaryen
- "Have you never imagined yourself on the Iron Throne?"
- ―Rhaenys to Alicent Hightower
Behind the scenes
Rhaenys Targaryen was revealed to be a recurring character in House of the Dragon on December 8, 2020. On February 11, 2021, HBO announced that Eve Best had signed on for the series. The character breakdown reads as follows:
- "A dragonrider and wife to Lord Corlys Velaryon, "The Queen Who Never Was" was passed over as heir to the throne at the Great Council because the realm favored her cousin, Viserys, simply for being male."
There were actually three members of the Targaryen dynasty named "Rhaenys" over the three centuries of their rule. George R.R. Martin intentionally had names repeat like this because it's what happened in the real Middle Ages, i.e. all of the kings and princes in England named "Henry", "Edward", or "William". The first Rhaenys was the sister-wife of Aegon the Conqueror, while the second Rhaenys - wife of Corlys Velaryon - lived over a century after her death. This second Rhaenys is the granddaughter of Jaehaerys I, the first Rhaenys's grandson. The third Rhaenys was Rhaegar Targaryen's first child, with Elia Martell, who was killed during the Sack of King's Landing when she was only three years old. In the books, the second Rhaenys is usually distinguished by calling her "Rhaenys, daughter of Aemon", "Corlys's wife Rhaenys" etc., or the nickname "Rhaenys, the Queen Who Never Was". The House of the Dragon TV series seems to have approached clarifying this by simply referring to her by her married surname, "Rhaenys Velaryon". The books never actually call her that, but it is by no means inaccurate - George R.R. Martin himself said that whether married noblewomen drop their maiden name or not is usually up to personal preference, typically keeping their original surname if their family is more prestigious than their husband's. For example, "Cersei Baratheon" is hardly ever used for Cersei Lannister, though it isn't technically incorrect - while "Catelyn Stark" is also called "Catelyn Tully" more or less interchangeably.
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Rhaenys Targaryen was the daughter of Prince Aemon Targaryen and Lady Jocelyn Baratheon, born in 74 AC on the seventh day of the seventh month. She was a great beauty with Baratheon black hair and Targaryen pale violet eyes. By the age of fifty-five she had a lean lined face and her hair was streaked with white. She was clever, capable, spirited, proud, fierce, and fearless, with a fiery temperament. In battle, she wore steel and copper armor that flashed in the sun.
Her father was the Prince of Dragonstone, and since she was his firstborn child many considered Rhaenys to be next in line to the Iron Throne. Her grandmother Queen Alysanne called her "our queen to be."
In 89 AC she joined her grandfather King Jaehaerys I for part of his royal progress. She flew to Highgarden on her dragon Meleys to meet up with the king and together they flew to all four of the Shield Islands. During this trip she informed him of her intention to marry Lord Corlys Velaryon and he gave her his blessing. She married Corlys the following year, arriving at the wedding on Meleys at her own insistence, and two years later she learned that she was pregnant with her first child.
In 92 AC, Rhaenys's father died, and the king was forced to formally appoint a new heir to the throne. Rhaenys's uncle Baelon was chosen as the new heir, causing Rhaenys to protest the decision and her husband Corlys to give up his position as lord admiral and his place on the small council. Rhaenys's mother and grandmother were both angered by the decision, as was her uncle Boremund Baratheon.
Rhaenys and Corlys returned to Driftmark and in 92 AC she gave birth to a daughter, Laena Velaryon, and a son Laenor in 94 AC. Both House Velaryon and House Baratheon claimed that Laenor had a stronger claim to the throne, but Baelon remained King Jaehaerys's heir.
Baelon died in 101 AC and King Jaehaerys held a Great Council at Harrenhal to determine the line of succession. Rhaenys and her children were among fourteen claims considered: she and her daughter Laena were rejected on account of their sex, but the final candidates were Viserys and Rhaenys's son Laenor. Rhaenys's uncle Boremund and Lord Ellard Stark were both outspoken in their support of her claim, along with House Dustin and House Manderly. Corlys used his wealth to persuade the vassal Houses along the coasts of the narrow sea to support Laenor's claim as well, such as Lords Bar Emmon and Celtigar. In the final vote, however, Baelon's son Viserys won by a wide margin: while the ballot was secret, it was rumored that he beat Laenor by a factor of twenty to one. Following this, the fool Mushroom gave Rhaenys the moniker of "The Queen Who Never Was," which became a popular nickname for her among the commoners.
- Rhaenys Targaryen (daughter of Aemon) on A Wiki of Ice and Fire (MAJOR spoilers for House of the Dragon)
|Head:||King Viserys I Targaryen||Heir:||Prince Daemon Targaryen|
|Seat:||The Red Keep, King's Landing ·
Dragonstone, Dragonstone island (secondary)
|Titles:||King of the Andals and the First Men · Lord of the Seven Kingdoms · Protector of the Realm|
|Ancestors:||Aenar · Daenys · Aegon I, the Conqueror · Visenya · Rhaenys · Aenys I · Maegor I, the Cruel|
|Current members:||Rhaenys Targaryen · Aemma Arryn · Rhaenyra Targaryen|
|Deceased members:||Rhaena Targaryen · Aegon Targaryen · Jaehaerys I, the Concilliator · Alysanne Targaryen|
|Head:||Corlys Velaryon||Heir:||Laenor Velaryon|
|Seat:||High Tide, Driftmark||Lands:||The Crownlands|
|Titles:||Lord of the Tides|
|Current members:||Vaemond Velaryon · Rhaenys Targaryen · Laena Velaryon|