Home of the Dragon: The Targaryen historical past behind HBO’s Recreation of Thrones prequel


Home of the Dragon, the long-awaited prequel to Recreation of Thrones, is lastly right here, and you realize what meaning: It’s time for a refresher course on the Targaryens — the household that dominated for 3 centuries over all of Westeros. Thanks to 1 proficient fanartist, we now have a beautiful household tree that will help you determine what’s occurring and who’s who.

Be aware: This text incorporates in depth potential plot spoilers for Home of the Dragon,

The sequence adapts parts of George R.R. Martin’s Hearth and Blood, a set of tales accompanying the Tune of Ice and Hearth sequence upon which the Recreation of Thrones universe relies. The guide is a partial historical past of the Targaryens, with whom followers can be well-acquainted, since their reign stretches from Daenerys all the way in which again to the primary king of Westeros. They’re famed for his or her potential to tame dragons; therefore, “home of the dragon.” That uncommon expertise helped the Targaryens set up an immense dynasty over the realm; however as at all times after we’re coping with Recreation of Thrones, even empires can topple, and the iron throne isn’t a protected place to sit down.

As a result of we’re coping with a prequel, we’re going to be dropping some main plot factors for each the guide sequence and the present, so be warned: from right here on in, there be dragons and spoilers!

For those who’re anticipating acquainted faces, you’re in for a shock: Home of the Dragon takes place 190 years or so earlier than the storyline of Recreation of Thrones begins, and although many issues have stayed the identical by way of the centuries — King’s Touchdown continues to be the capital of Westeros, the Starks are nonetheless the lords of Winterfell — we now have an entire forged of characters to familiarize ourselves with and complex household dynamics to parse.

We’re launched to a number of the key gamers in Home of the Dragon’s first episode, however there’s a significant studying curve because of the sheer measurement of the Targaryen household and their tendency to repeat names from technology to technology. Different household bushes on this universe are sometimes simpler to observe as a result of they’re, for instance, all named after the Muppets; however with the Targaryens, you’ve one thing like a dozen Aegons, a half-dozen Aemons, a slew of Viseryses, and on and on. Oh, and let’s not neglect their notorious tendency to marry one another — a enjoyable Targaryen trait we’ll quickly witness.

We gained’t know the whole lot the TV sequence will retain from the books, after all, so quite a lot of what we’ll be discussing is concept primarily based on the principle plot traces of Hearth and Blood. The sequence has made some adjustments, however a lot of the main occasions on this tumultuous Targaryen period are to this point the identical.

The sequence plops us in the midst of an ongoing simmering household battle about — what else? — succession. For those who’re confused about the place precisely we’re within the Targaryen household timeline, by no means concern: DeviantArt consumer Maryon B.’s Targaryen household tree is a beautiful (and GRRM-approved!) street map by way of three centuries of big Targaryen broods, inside squabbles, civil struggle, and, sure, inbreeding.

We first launched Vox readers to Maryon’s fanart all the way in which again in 2016, when she gave us her insights on the lengthy course of of making the tree. (Be aware: Maryon is not lively on DeviantArt, however you’ll be able to observe her Instagram, the place she’s begun sharing excerpts from the tree.) A yr later, the tree got here in useful to assist clarify one of many sequence’ greatest plot twists. Now, the “Targtree” can fulfill its final goal and assist us all prep for the sequence! Click on right here for the full-size model.

We stan a lovingly detailed infogram.
Poly-M/DeviantArt

Home of the Dragon lands in the midst of the household tree, about midway between the time the primary Aegon Targaryen, generally known as Aegon the Conqueror, united all of Westeros, and the ultimate fall of Daenerys Targaryen within the sequence finale of Recreation of Thrones. The occasions depicted in Home of the Dragon’s first episode set us as much as enter the interval highlighted on the household tree because the Dance of Dragons — a time when the query of succession cut up the Targaryens aside and led to a brutal civil struggle.

The Dance of Dragons period of the Targ household tree.
poly-hebdo/Tumblr

The years previous the start of the present witnessed a protracted interval of combating generally known as the Religion Militant Rebellion that ended solely when the reigning king, the merciless Maegor I, died mysteriously. After his dying, the one remaining son of the earlier king, Jaehaerys I, succeeded to the throne.

However due to the previous technology of chaos, the road of succession isn’t clear. So, in the beginning of Home of the Dragon, Jaehaerys summons a council to decide on the following inheritor. The 2 Targaryens with the very best declare to the throne are his grandson, Viserys, and his granddaughter-slash-grandniece, Rhaenys. They’re each his grandchildren, so each have an equal declare to the throne. However as a result of Westeros has by no means had a queen as ruler earlier than, the council chooses Viserys to be the following ruler; thus he turns into Viserys I.

Nonetheless, Rhaenys, nicknamed “the Queen That By no means Was,” is a well-liked member of the royal household, and many individuals nonetheless profess loyalty to her and her progeny. In the meantime, till Viserys can produce a male inheritor — or till the courtroom decides it’s wonderful for a girl to rule — his brother Daemon is subsequent in line to succeed to the throne. However Daemon isn’t precisely a well-liked alternative.

Let’s take a more in-depth have a look at our major gamers. If the books are any indication, their projected storylines gained’t be all roses.

The Older Technology

Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine)

Viserys I (Paddy Considine)

A sensible however silly king.
Ollie Upton/HBO

Viserys, performed within the present by Paddy Considine, is a sort and beneficiant king who brings stability to the realm. Nonetheless, relating to the query of succession, he’s fanciful to a fault in his pursuit of a male inheritor. This results in him making a horrible determination that leads to the dying of his first spouse, Aemma, and their new child son. It additionally results in him hedging his bets about who his inheritor needs to be after he remarries and has extra youngsters. His indecision leads the heirs in query — his daughter Rhaenyra and his son Aegon — to battle for the crown.

This battle performs out whereas the king continues to be alive, main him into frequent tussles along with his family members as he makes an attempt to wrangle all of them into submission and clear the way in which for his daughter, Rhaenyra, to inherit the throne. Nonetheless, not occasionally, the one he winds up butting heads with is Rhaenyra herself.

Rhaenys (Eve Greatest) and Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint)

Viserys greeting the Velaryon OGs, Corlys aka “the Sea Snake” and his spouse Rhaenys.
Ollie Upton/HBO

Rhaenys, a.ok.a. “the Queen That By no means Was,” is the product of a wedding between Jaehaerys’s eldest son Aemon and Aemon’s personal aunt, Jocelyn Baratheon. In her adolescence, she gained fame as one of many Targaryen dragonriders in addition to for her magnificence. At 16, Rhaenys married a person practically 20 years her senior: the gallant Corlys Velaryon, generally known as the “Sea Snake” for his daring sea expeditions. (Their age distinction appears to be decreased within the TV sequence.) Collectively, they make an influence couple at courtroom, and their youngsters proceed to have a declare to the throne. However as a result of Rhaenys is a lady, and since her oldest inheritor, Laena, can be a lady, her household continues to be handed over for the road of succession — which regularly places her and Corly at odds with King Viserys.

The blacks: Rhaenyra, Daemon, and their youngsters

For extra context on “the greens” and “the blacks”, take a look at our article on Alicent’s inexperienced gown.

Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock / Emma D’Arcy)

Is she a hero or an antihero? Time will inform.
Ollie Upton/HBO

Rhaenyra is Viserys’s firstborn baby, the daughter of his first spouse Aemma. Intelligent and athletic, Rhaenyra (performed by Milly Alcock as a teen) is at first extra considering using her dragon, Syrax, than in profitable video games of thrones. That adjustments when her father can’t make up his thoughts who to nominate as his inheritor, and he or she turns into first an unwitting pawn after which an lively participant within the battle for succession.

Following Aemma’s dying, Viserys marries Alicent Hightower (performed by Emily Carey as a youthful girl), a lady only some years older than Rhaenyra herself. As she grows up, Rhaenyra finds herself at odds together with her former buddy Alicent, and shortly they’re locked in a battle over whether or not Rhaenyra or Alicent’s son Aegon ought to take the throne after Viserys’s dying.

Their supporters grow to be divided into “blacks” and “greens” after the 2 ladies make trend statements at a tourney following the wedding; “blacks” are Rhaenyra’s supporters after she dons a robe in conventional Targaryen pink and black. The greens and the blacks aren’t nearly who’s extra well-liked; the greens additionally characterize the widespread perception {that a} girl shouldn’t be capable of inherit the crown. Assist for Rhaenyra, a.ok.a. figuring out as one of many blacks, is an indication of assist for girls’s equality.

Rhaenyra’s love life is its personal dramatic saga. She stays enamored all her life together with her personal uncle, Daemon, who’s 16 years older. She additionally has a factor for a dashing knight named Criston Cole (performed by Fabien Frankel), who we see getting flirty together with her within the first ep. Criston, nonetheless, finally turns into her enemy after he allies with Aegon and convinces him to go for the crown.

Later, Viserys, making an attempt to dodge his spouse Alicent’s suggestion to marry Rhaenyra to their son Aegon, pressures her into marrying Rhaenys’s son Laenor Velaryon as a substitute. Rhaenyra hates this concept — for one factor, Laenor is homosexual — however Viserys threatens to disinherit her except she agrees. The 2 wind up having three strapping sons, however their actual father is usually regarded as Rhaenyra’s lover, Harwin Sturdy (Ryan Corr), who serves as Rhaenyra’s loyal servant and sworn protect. Or, as our artist Maryon stated, “Don’t name them Strongs — even when they’re in each methods.”

Rhaenyra’s actual nuclear household?
poly-hebdo/Tumblr

Issues don’t finish nicely for Rhaenyra and Harwin, sadly — the scenario is simply too unstable for Rhaenyra to maintain a lover on the aspect whereas the road of succession is in dispute, and the king sends Harwin into exile. Rhaenyra responds by secretly marrying her uncle Daemon after Laenor Valeryon’s dying — which infuriates her father.

Within the ensuing drama, and with battle heating up between Rhaenyra and Alicent and Aegon, she relocates to the Targaryen hold of Dragonstone, which suggests she’s not round when King Viserys dies. As an alternative of telling Rhaenyra about her father’s dying, Alicent and Aegon put together to anoint Aegon as the brand new king. When Rhaenyra finds out, she enters right into a rage from which she by no means absolutely recovers. In her quest to take the throne for herself, she winds up going to some very darkish locations. However the two sons she bears with Daemon, Viserys II and Aegon III, finally do each grow to be rulers of Westeros, so maybe in the long run, she wins.

Luke (Harvey Sadler) and Jace (Leo Hart) as youngsters.
Ollie Upton/HBO

Jacaerys Velaryon (Leo Hart / Harry Collett)

Because the eldest of Rhaenyra’s three sons, Jace bears an undue quantity of strain — and since everybody is aware of he and his fellow brown-haired brothers have been born out of wedlock, fathered by Rhaenyra’s guard Harwin Sturdy, he additionally bears the sting of illegitimacy. Titled the Prince of Dragonstone, Jace rides the dragon Vermax and carries out his duties as Rhaenyra’s inheritor faithfully and loyally. Nonetheless, the rising rivalry between his household and Alicent’s finally consumes him, together with practically everybody round him.

Lucerys Velaryon (Harvey Sadler /Elliot Grihault)

Center baby Luke makes up in ferocity and grit what he lacks in age. Because the rider of Arrax, he initially promised his mother he’d abstain from combating in the course of the vicious civil struggle. As an alternative, because the inadvertent lifelong rival of Aegon II, he finally turns into the poster boy for the rivalry between Alicent’s clan and Rhaenyra’s clan.

Joffrey Velaryon

To present you an concept of how sophisticated the Velaryon household bonds are, Joffrey is definitely named after Laenor’s past love, Joffrey Lonmouth — a person who seems briefly in HotD solely to satisfy a horrible finish by the hands of Ser Criston Cole.

Joffrey’s advanced household historical past, in addition to his being on the very middle of the nation’s civil struggle alongside his two older brothers, appears to have taken its toll. He grows up reckless and decided to show himself worthy of their bravery and braveness, regardless of being far too younger for combating. He rides the dragon Tyraxes.

Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith)

He’s scorching, then he’s chilly.
Ollie Upton/HBO

Daemon Targaryen is well-liked with everybody besides the individuals who could make him the following king. King Viserys’s right-hand man, Otto Hightower (performed by Rhys Ifans), repeatedly blocks Daemon from changing into the following inheritor after which chooses Rhaenyra over him as successor — at the least, he does till his personal daughter Alicent marries the king.

However for all his enemies suspect him of plotting to take over the throne, Daemon, a.ok.a. the “rogue prince,” has higher issues to do, like seducing his brother’s daughter Rhaenyra and conquering his personal kingdom. Daemon is congenial however aggressive, and he has a foul behavior of killing all his potential love rivals. He falls for Rhaenys’s daughter Laena Velaryon — a handy match by way of sustaining his place at courtroom — however Laena’s already engaged. No drawback; he kills his rival in a duel.

Later, rumor has it he murders his personal brother-in-law, Laenor Velaryon, then married to Rhaenyra. Then he possibly seals the deal by murdering Rhaenyra’s lover Harwin, thereby efficiently taking out each of his rivals for Rhaenyra’s hand, and marrying her. Finally, all of this may increasingly have simply been Daemon’s means of getting as near the throne as he might. In brief, Daemon Targaryen will not be a person you need to cross.

The Velaryon youngsters.
poly-m/DeviantArt

Laenor Velaryon

Laena and Laenor have restricted selections of their roles as heirs to the mighty Home Velaryon. They every wind up marrying into the Targaryen dynasty — Laenor types a wedding of comfort with Rhaenyra that enables him to reside freely as a homosexual man below her safety whereas she pursues her love affair with Harwin Sturdy. Although he didn’t marry for love, he makes the very best of it, and nobly claims every of her three clearly illegitimate youngsters as his personal.

Laena Velaryon

We first meet Laena at age 12 as she’s being provided in marriage by her dad and mom to a mortified King Viserys. She fortunately fares higher after that and winds up distinguishing herself as a dragonrider and noblewoman. She marries Daemon and so they reside collectively fortunately whereas she raises her twin daughters, Rhaena and Baela. Sadly, she doesn’t have the best destiny relating to childbirth — however suffice it to say she doesn’t go down quietly.

Baela Targaryen (Shani Smethurst / Bethany Antonia)

Rhaena Targaryen (Phoebe Campbell / Eva Ossei-Gerning)

The twins.
Ollie Upton/HBO

We barely get to know Laena Velaryon on HotD earlier than she dies (how else) horrifically; however she clearly passes her spirit and the Aristocracy alongside to her two daughters with Daemon.

Although the Targaryen sisters are twins, they’re opposites in most methods: Baela’s a tomboy who loves combating and flying, Rhaena turns into the darling socialite of King’s Touchdown; Rhaena rides the dragon Morning, Baela rides the dragon Moondancer; Rhaena is a diplomat, Baela a warrior.

At one level they’re each engaged to their cousins — Baela to Jace and Rhaena to Luke. However finally these marriages by no means occur; as a substitute, each ladies are destined to play pivotal roles in knitting the dominion collectively after the struggle. By way of all of it, their completely different personalities show important to this effort: As a natural-born insurgent, Baela works her means, whereas the refined and political Rhaena works hers. However the necessary factor — a rarity amongst Westerosi — is that as sisters, they’re at all times working collectively.

Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno)

A dancer with eyes in every single place.
Ollie Upton/HBO

Typically referred to as “Distress,” Mysaria begins out as a intercourse employee in King’s Touchdown however shortly turns into indispensable to her patron and lover Daemon as a supply of data. (At one level, he claims to be about to marry her, however she rejects him; we’d name her the spouse that wasn’t.) From there, she turns into the rating spy first for Daemon and later for Rhaenyra, which makes her one of the crucial highly effective folks in Westeros. Not too shabby for a dancer from Essos.

The greens: Alicent and her youngsters

Alicent’s fierce and fiercely loyal brood.
poly-m/DeviantArt

Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey / Olivia Cooke)

On one stage, the Dance of Dragons is absolutely in regards to the conflict between two former mates, Alicent and Rhaenyra, who grew up within the king’s courtroom collectively solely to be pulled into reverse sides of the continued dispute over who will inherit the throne. The Hightowers have been and are a small however highly effective home; Alicent’s father, Otto Hightower, served as Hand of the King to Jaehaerys after which as Hand to Viserys.

The Hightowers haven’t at all times had probably the most fruitful relationship with the crown; a number of generations prior, Maegor I’s unsuccessful marriage to a Hightower provoked dissension amongst her highly effective household and kicked off the occasions resulting in the Religion Militant Rebellion. Now, Otto schemes efficiently to current his daughter Alicent to Viserys as an acceptable bride. They’re married when she’s simply 18.

Rhaenyra and Alicent are the very best of mates, till they aren’t.
Ollie Upton/HBO

A be aware on royal marriages right here: In Martin’s historical past of the Targaryens, the timeline is usually compressed, with many royals forming alliances and marrying at very younger ages. In Hearth and Blood, Viserys marries Aemma when he’s simply 16 and he or she’s solely 11. (She dies in childbirth at age 23.) He later marries Alicent at age 29, when she’s 18 and his personal daughter Rhaenyra is simply 9.

In Home of the Dragon, all of those characters have been aged up considerably apart from Alicent, who continues to be 18-ish. This makes her a lot nearer in age to Rhaenyra — way more of a peer than a stepmother twice her age. However that additionally signifies that as a substitute of an 18-year-old being coerced into marrying a 29-year-old, she’s an 18-year-old being coerced into marrying a person of about 50. This makes the problems of consent, management, and energy imbalance even starker, and arguably makes Alicent’s position within the story to come back one which’s much less about power-seeking and extra about survival.

Initially, Alicent desires her personal son, Aegon, to marry Rhaenyra, though there’s a substantial age distinction between them. (That they’re additionally half-siblings is simply wonderful, after all.) When that doesn’t fly with Viserys, she finally ends up selling Aegon as inheritor above Rhaenyra. The ladies’s battle deepens when Rhaenyra’s former crush, Criston Cole, turns into loyal to the Hightowers and finally turns into Alicent’s private sworn protect. Alicent’s colour is inexperienced, which makes her supporters “the greens” against Rhaenyra’s “blacks.”

Alicent is a difficult determine; she alternately tries to make peace with Rhaenyra and keep away from battle whereas strategizing methods to place Aegon on the throne. Rumors abound that she poisoned her personal husband, the king, to be able to hasten his demise and crown Aegon whereas Rhaenyra’s again was successfully turned.

Like most of our different gamers, the pursuit of the throne doesn’t finish nicely for her or a lot of her progeny. However she does pull off her authentic aim: She survives to see her son grow to be ruler of Westeros. By way of succeeding generations, the Hightowers stay rich and highly effective; following the conquest of Dorne, they grow to be loyal to Home Tyrell. (If the identify is acquainted, Margaery Tyrell’s mom is a Hightower.)

Aegon II Targaryen (Ty Tennant / Tom Glynn-Carney)

Ty Tennant as Aegon.
Ollie Upton/HBO

It’s simple to see why there was a lot resistance to Alicent’s son Aegon changing into king: He’s like a smarmier, hornier Prince Joffrey. In earlier present appearances, Aegon comes off like a typical whiny teen, entitled, oblivious to the political intrigues round him, masturbating out a window of the Purple Maintain. However we all know from Hearth and Blood that, like everybody else in Westeros, he finally wises up and turns into brutal and vengeful in his quest for the throne.

Helaena Targaryen (Evie Allen / Phia Saban)

Alicent (Olivia Cooke) talks to daughter Helaena (Evie Allen).
Ollie Upton / HBO

We don’t know all that a lot about Helaena’s character, however her position within the Dance of Dragons can be pivotal. She’s the second of Alicent’s 4 youngsters, rides the silver dragon Dreamfyre, and, sadly, she is destined to marry her skeevy older brother Aegon. Because the eventual queen, Helaena is well-liked in King’s Touchdown and beloved by the folks of Westeros. She’s going to grow to be fiercely protecting of her personal three youngsters, however the occasions that play out in the course of the civil struggle won’t bode nicely for both her or her progeny.

Aemond Targaryen (Leo Ashton / Ewan Mitchell)

A younger Aemond (Leo Ashton) tries to show himself.
Ollie Upton/HBO

Once we first meet Aemond on HotD, he’s the weakling of the Targaryen clan, bullied particularly by older brother Aegon, with Rhaenyra’s sons becoming a member of in. He’s the one one of many Targaryen youngsters who hasn’t managed to bond with a dragon, which makes him a supply of ridicule among the many others. However whereas he could also be afraid, he’s not a coward, and a pivotal second in his childhood types the idea of an epic lifelong rivalry between Aemond and the three Velaryon brothers, particularly the center brother, Lucerys. Aemond finally rides the largest, most fearsome dragon of all, Vhagar — however this victory, like most in Westeros, has a worth.

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