- "To her credit, Rhaenys didn't flee."
- ―Viserys Targaryen
Rhaenys Targaryen was the granddaughter of Jaehaerys I Targaryen, and the cousin of Viserys I Targaryen and Daemon Targaryen. Her father died at some point, predeceasing her grandfather. Upon her grandfather's death, her cousin Viserys I Targaryen ascended the throne. She later married Corlys Velaryon, and the two had at least one son, Laenor Velaryon, who would later marry Rhaenys's niece Rhaenyra Targaryen. Rhaenyra would give Rhaenys three grandsons: Jacaerys, Lucerys, and Joffrey. When Laenor died, Rhaenyra remarried her uncle and Rhaenys's brother Daemon and had two more sons by him, Aegon and Viserys.
When her father Viserys died, Rhaenyra was expected to ascend the Iron Throne, since her father did not change the succession when he had a son. However, Aegon II Targaryen was crowned King in the Dragonpit, at bequest of Rhaenys's sister-in-law Alicent Hightower. The war between brother and sister would be known as the Dance of the Dragons. With Aegon's own Small Council in King's Landing, Rhaenys sat on Rhaenyra's, along with her husband, who was Hand of the Queen.
When Rook's Rest was attacked by Ser Criston Cole and the Greens, as Aegon II's supporters were called, Rhaenyra sent her aunt to burn the army and save the fort. Mounted on her dragon, Meleys, Rhaenys unexpectedly turned up at Rook's Rest and laid waste to the army, incinerating them, which she enjoyed. However, Rhaenys was flying into a trap. Her nephew Aemond Targaryen confronted her on his monstrous dragon Vhagar, the last of the original three Targaryen dragons along with the King himself, on his magnificent dragon Sunfyre. Despite being outnumbered, Rhaenys didn't flee. Meleys's flame faced Vhagar's and Sunfyre's, until it looked like that there was a second sun in the sky. By the time the fight was over, Aemond and Vhagar were the only ones uninjured, whilst Aegon had to have a constant dose of milk of the poppy to survive and Sunfyre (who lay on top of Aegon) was wounded, and a wing almost completely torn off. It was crippled and would never fly again. Meleys had been to "torn to shreds" and Rhaenys was just ash and bone.
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, 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 black hair and pale violet eyes, though by age 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 for the Iron Throne. Her grandmother Queen Alysanne Targaryen called her "our Queen to be".
In 89 AC she joined her grandfather King Jaehaerys I Targaryen 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' father died, and the king was forced to formally appoint a new heir to the throne. Rhaenys' 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' mother and grandmother were both angered by the decision, as was her uncle Boremund Baratheon.
Rhaenys and Corlys returned to Driftmark and in 93 AC she gave birth to a daughter, Laena Velaryon, and a son Laenor the following year. Both House Velaryon and House Baratheon claimed that Laenor had a stronger claim to the throne, but Baelon remained King Jaehaerys' heir.
Balon died in 101 AC and King Jaehaerys held the first Great Council in Harrenhal to determine the line of succession. Rhaenys and her children were among fourteen claims considered, with her uncle Boremund and Lord Ellard Stark both outspoken in their support of her claim, along with House Dustin and House Manderly. Rhaenys and her daughter were rejected due to their gender and she and Corlys used their wealth to persuade the lords present to support Laenor's claim, gaining the backing of Lords Bar Emmon and Celtigar. Ultimately, Baelon's son Viserys was named as the heir, allegedly favored by the assembled lords by a margin of twenty to one. Following this, the fool Mushroom gave Rhaenys the moniker of "The Queen Who Never Was".
Queen Aemma Arryn died in 105 AC, with Grand Maester Runciter suggesting to King Viserys that he take Rhaenys' twelve-year-old daughter Laena to wife, but he instead chose Alicent Hightower. Rhaenys and her family did not attend the wedding, angry that they had been passed over for the throne a third time. In 113 AC, King Viserys and his Small Council held discussions over the betrothal of his daughter Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, with them eventually agreeing on Rhaenys' son Laenor and the wedding taking place the following year. Tragically, both of Rhaenys' children died in 120 AC, with Laena and her child dying in childbirth and Laenor being killed by Ser Qarl Correy while attending a fair in Spicetown.
The Dance of the Dragons began in 129 AC, with Rhaenys sitting on the Rhaenyra's Black Council. The Velaryon fleet set sail from Dragonstone and Driftmark, blocking off the Gullet and preventing shipping to Blackwater Bay, with a plan for Rhaenys to fly overhead on Meleys and prevent the Greens from attacking their ships with dragons. Following the deaths of Rhaenyra's son Lucerys Velaryon at the hands of Prince Aemond Targaryen in the Dance Over Storm's End, Rhaenys and Corlys prevented his brother Joffrey Velaryon from mounting his dragon Tyraxes and seeking revenge. As Rhaenyra was consumed by death over her son's death, she granted Rhaenys and Corlys command of her war council.
Rhaenys made her last stand in the Siege of Rook's Rest, arriving on Meleys nine days after Lord Staunton called for help. They attacked Ser Criston Cole's soldiers, but it turned out to be a trap. King Aegon II Targaryen and Prince Aemond appeared suddenly on Sunfyre and Vhagar, and Rhaenys turned to meet them despite knowing that there was no chance of victory. The dragons attacked each other and became entangled, crashing into the ground. Meleys was killed in the attack, and a blackened corpse believed to be Rhaenys's was found next to hers, but it was so charred that it could not be said for certain if it was really her. Corlys was enraged that Rhaenyra had sent his wife to the battle alone rather than going herself or ordering her sons to accompany Rhaenys.