- "It wasn't just Aegon riding his dragon, it was Rhaenys and Visenya, too... Rhaenys rode Meraxes, Visenya rode Vhagar... Visenya Targaryen was a great warrior. She had a Valyrian steel sword she called 'Dark Sister'."
- ―Arya Stark
Queen Visenya Targaryen was the sister and wife of Aegon the Conqueror. Along with her siblings, Visenya played a key role in the Targaryen invasion of Westeros, her most notable action being the single-handed conquest of the Vale of Arryn.
BackgroundVisenya was the sister of Aegon and Rhaenys, and was born on Dragonstone, the Targaryen stronghold in the Narrow Sea. Following Valyrian custom, she and Rhaenys both married Aegon. All three siblings were dragonriders, with Visenya riding the dragon known as Vhagar. She also wielded the Valyrian steel sword known as Dark Sister .
Visenya was also responsible for bringing the Vale to heel. The Vale's seat of power, the Eyrie, was impossible to take by conventional means owing to its natural defenses atop a mountain. Visenya, however, merely flew her dragon Vhagar over the narrow pass and mountain peaks to land in the courtyard of the Eyrie, where the young king Ronnel Arryn was at play. Recalling the fate of Harrenhal and its lords who refused to bend the knee, the Queen Regent of the Vale, Sharra Arryn, surrendered peacefully on the condition that her son Ronnel be allowed to ride on Vhagar; Visenya kindly complied.
Visenya was the mother of Maegor Targaryen, known as Maegor the Cruel, the third King of the Seven Kingdoms, but he died without issue, so all of the subsequent Targaryen rulers (including Daenerys Targaryen) claim their descent from Visenya's sister, Rhaenys.
Arya Stark, while posing as a common serving girl in Lannister-occupied Harrenhal, reveals to Tywin Lannister that Visenya was a heroine of hers. She shows knowledge of Visenya's role in razing Harrenhal.
Shireen Baratheon gives Davos Seaworth a book about Aegon the Conqueror to read during his incarceration. Just before his release, Davos reads a passage about Visenya, having a bit of difficulty reading her name and that of Vhagar.
|Aegon I Targaryen|
|Argella Baratheon née|
|Maegor I Targaryen|
2nd son of Aegon I
1st wife of Maegor
|Alys Harroway |
2nd wife of Maegor
|Aenys I Targaryen|
1st son of Aegon I
|Jaehaerys I Targaryen|
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Visenya is the oldest of the three Targaryen siblings born to Aerion Targaryen, Lord of Dragonstone, and his wife, Valaena Velaryon. She is said to have been the more temperamental of Aegon's sisters. She was a noted warrior but also had diplomatic skills. After the razing of Harrenhal, she flew on her dragon to Crackclaw Point and won the support of the native inhabitants by promising that they would hold fealty only to the Iron Throne and no other lords.
The World of Ice and Fire confirms that Visenya was the more martial of the two sisters. She supported the Targaryen fleet when it attempted to take Gulltown early during the War of Conquest, but was unable to prevent its destruction at the hands of the Arryn fleet. She did destroy much of the Arryn fleet with her dragon in vengeance, but could not follow up on the victory. Later, she joined her brother-husband on the Field of Fire, helping win a great victory there (despite sustaining a wound from an arrow). Afterwards she managed to secure the loyalty of House Arryn by simply flying her dragon to the Eyrie and allowing King Ronnel, a child, a ride on her dragon's back, thus avoiding a bloody conflict.
Though beautiful, skilled in battle and fierce, Visenya was somewhat stand-offish in matters of the heart. Aegon allegedly spent only one night with her for every ten he spent with Rhaenys. For that matter, Visenya was also a skilled ruler: Aegon did weigh in on major decisions both before and after the Conquest, but he usually left his sisters to handle the day-to-day tasks of governance (aided after the conquest by the new "Hand of the King", their bastard half-brother Orys Baratheon). It was Visenya who conceived of the Kingsguard, as Aegon had been somewhat lax in security after the Conquest was completed, proven by Visenya slashing his face with Dark Sister and his guards being too slow on the draw. Even then, Aegon had Visenya design the order and iron out the details of its foundation.
Rhaenys died in Dorne before the end of Aegon's reign, and a few years after Aegon's death their bastard half-brother Orys died after an attempted conquest of Dorne, meaning that Visenya was the last surviving member of the Conquest-generation of Targaryens. She continued to exert political influence during the reign of Aegon's successor, Rhaenys's son Aenys I - who proved to be a weakling, and was totally overwhelmed when the Faith Militant uprising broke out, and fled from King's Landing to Dragonstone.
The stress of the uprisings caused Aenys to fall gravely ill, and Visenya was called in to try to heal him with her arcane knowledge of potions. For a time, Aenys actually seemed to recover, but when news came that his son and daughter were besieged at Crakehall, his health drastically worsened again. Some suspect that Visenya poisoned her nephew, though others point out that he did seem to be recovering. Even those who suspect she killed him debate her motivations: some think it was a cynical power-grab for her son Maegor, while others think she did it for the good of the Targaryen dynasty, as Aenys had proved to be a hapless failure and incapable of resisting the Faith Militant.
Within hours of Aenys's death, Visenya flew to Pentos to retrieve Maegor from exile. They returned with Vhagar, Maegor riding his father's dragon Balerion, and an army of several hundred sellswords. Maegor then proclaimed himself king ahead of Aenys's surviving sons and daughters, usurping the throne, and proceeded to reclaim King's Landing.
Afterwards, Visenya actively look part in the conflict with the Faith Militant - riding her dragon to war despite being over 80 years old, burning out castles in the Riverlands as once she had burned out castles in Dorne.
Visenya developed a rivalry for the position of Maegor's closest advisor with Tyanna of the Tower, a new bride that Maegor had returned with from Pentos (whom he polygamously took as a third wife). Tyanna became Maegor's Mistress of Whisperers with an extensive spy network, but she was also known to be an infamous poisoner and torture-master.
Visenya ultimately died late in Maegor's reign from a sudden illness. Maegor lost a key ally, and Vhagar was left riderless. Not long afterwards all the Great Houses finally turned against Maegor openly, and he died on the Iron Throne itself.
Maegor was the only child that Visenya ever had. Maegor died without surviving issue, and so he was succeeded by Aenys's last surviving son Jaehaerys I - which means that later generations of Targaryens (such as Daenerys Targaryen) are not directly descended from Visenya.