Aegon IV Targaryen

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Aegon IV
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Aegon IV by Amok©
Biographical Information
Reign 172 AC - 184 AC
Full Name Aegon Targaryen, the Fourth of His Name
Alias Aegon the Unworthy
Other Titles King of the Seven Kingdoms
Born in 135 AC[1], at King's Landing
Died in 184 AC, at King's Landing
Royal House House Targaryen
Predecessor Viserys II Targaryen
Heir Daeron II Targaryen
Successor Daeron II Targaryen
Queen Naerys Targaryen
Issue Daeron II Targaryen
Daenerys Targaryen
Daemon I Blackfyre
Bellanora Otherys
Narha Otherys
Balerion Otherys
Aegor Rivers
Mya Rivers
Gwenys Rivers
Brynden Rivers
Shiera Seastar
Books The World of Ice and Fire (mentioned)
The Hedge Knight (mentioned)
The Mystery Knight (mentioned)
A Game of Thrones (mentioned)
A Storm of Swords (mentioned)
For the articles sharing the same title, please see this disambiguation page.Disambig.png

Aegon IV, known as Aegon the Unworthy, was the eleventh Targaryen to sit the Iron Throne and is considered to be one of the worst Targaryen kings. He sired numerous bastards, legitimizing them on his deathbed, an act that led to five Blackfyre Rebellions.


Character and Appearance

Aegon began his reign when he was young, vigorous, robust and handsome but ended it old, obese and corrupt. By the end of it he was bloated and fat. His eyes were almost lost in the fat of his face, his legs too weak to support his belly. He had a small mouth and a large beard used in an attempt to cover the fat of his neck and face. He had a new crown made, huge and heavy, red gold, each of its points a dragon head with gemstone eyes.[2] On his coinage, he was depicted with a beard.[3]

Aegon coveted the Iron Throne as a boy. As a prince he was handsome, skilled with lance and sword. He loved to hunt, hawk and dance. At court he was the brightest Prince who dazzled lords with his wit. He had one major flaw though, he could not rule himself. His lusts, gluttony and desires ruled him. [4]


Early life

Prince Viserys and his wife Larra Rogare hold a young Prince Aegon, as depicted by Magali Villeneuve in The World of Ice and Fire.

Aegon was the eldest son of the King's Hand, Prince Viserys Targaryen, and his wife, Larra Rogare. He grew up during the rule of his uncle, King Aegon III. In 139 AC, his mother Larra returned to her native Lys, where she died in 145 AC.[5][6] In 153 AC, Aegon married his sister, Princess Naerys, as their father wanted with Aegon III's blessing.[1] Their marriage was an unhappy one. Naerys had a better relationship with her second brother, Prince Aemon, the best of her two brothers, for he knew how to make her laugh and had something of the piety she had, while Aegon did not. When Aegon and Naerys were wed in the early months of 153 AC, Aemon quarrelled with Aegon at the wedding feast, and Naerys wept during the bedding. Aegon's first child with Naerys, Prince Daeron, was born on the last day of 153 AC.[7]

As a young prince, Aegon accompanied his cousin, King Daeron "the Young Dragon", in his Conquest of Dorne, as did Aegon's younger brother, Prince Aemon "the Dragonknight", who had joined the kingsguard. After the Submission of Sunspear Aegon was tasked by King Daeron I to escort the highborn Dornish hostages to King's Landing.[8] One of these hostages, Cassella Vaith, became one of Aegon's mistresses for a few years.[9]

When Baelor the Blessed became king, Baelor dissolved his marriage to his sister-wife, Daena, and imprisoned her and his other sisters in comfortable confinement of the Maidenvault so the sight of her would not tempt him or the men of his court to carnal thoughts. That did not stop Daena from escaping her confinement on three occasions, one time with the help of her cousin, Aegon. This left Daena pregnant, however. Daena refused to say who the father was, and was dubbed "Daena the Defiant" for her willfulness. In time she gave birth to a son who she named Daemon.[10][4][11][12]

Daemon was not the first of Aegon's bastards, though. Aegon had already acknowledged multiple children by two of his four mistresses, and more children would follow. In his marriage, however, childbirth went less easily. During the years of their marriage, Princess Naerys had several difficult pregnancies. In 161 AC, Naerys gave birth to twins who died shortly after the birth. This caused the new king, Baelor I Targaryen, to fast for a moon's turn.[10] Because Naerys nearly died during this pregnancy, King Baelor sent Prince Aegon to Braavos on a diplomatic mission. Accounts at the time suggest it was excuse to make certain Aegon left Naerys alone as she recovered from the failed childbirth.[8] In 172 AC, after another troubled labour, Naerys gave birth to a daughter named Daenerys.[7] Daenerys' twin brother, however, was stillborn.[8]

Eventually Baelor starved himself to death during one of his pious fasts and Viserys only ruled for a year before passing away himself, so the throne passed to Aegon, the Fourth of His Name. Some historians suspect that the sudden death of Aegon's father, King Viserys, was not natural and that his successor and son Aegon poisoned him in order to hasten his inheritance to the Iron Throne.[1]


Aegon IV is generally considered to be one of the worst kings in the history of Westeros, and is dubbed "Aegon the Unworthy" in the face of his excess and misrule. Aegon's behavior caused great strife at court, especially with his son Daeron and Aegon's brother Aemon, who was then the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard.

Aegon was a decadent, corrupt ruler who indulged his passions and whims at every opportunity. Being attractive, he was popular with women both highborn and lowborn. He had as many as nine mistresses and many bastards. Supposedly, he had any woman he wanted whether they were married or not.[13]

Aegon's misrule started with small acts of pleasure, but in time his appetites knew no bounds and his corruption and oppression led to acts that would haunt the realm for generations to come. He filled his court not with men who were noble, wise or honest but with those who could flatter and amuse him. The women at court were largely those who could do the same, letting him slake his lusts upon their bodies. On his whims he gave to one House while taking from another. He deprived men of their rightful inheritance, when he desired their wealth, as rumors claim he did following the death of Lord Ossifer Plumm during his wedding day.

Aegon gave away priceless treasures to Lords who managed to please him and for the sake of his desires: an example, on one of his many trips he gifted a dragon egg to Lord Butterwell, after guesting at his castle and allegedly impregnating his host's three maiden daughters in one night.[3] Aegon used promotions of the City Watch of King's Landing as a way to shower largesse on those he most favored, and they in turn made sure that the brothels - and even the decent women of the city were made available for Aegon's lusts whenever their King desired.[7]

Aegon once renamed the Teats, two hills that were disputed territories between House Bracken and House Blackwood. They were dubbed by Aegon as Barba's Teats in honor of his Bracken mistress, Barba Bracken, the mother of Bittersteel. A few years later, he casually appropriated the hills from the Brackens and gifted them to the Blackwoods while renaming the hills for his new Blackwood mistress, Melissa Blackwood, the mother of Bloodraven. The Blackwoods still call them Missy's Teats, while the Brackens call them Barba's Teats.[14]

To the smallfolk, Aegon's reign might have been a source of gossip and amusement. To the lords of the realm who did not stay at his court, and who did not wish Aegon to take liberties with their daughters, he might have seemed strong and decisive, frivolous, but largely harmless. Those who were actually at court (among them Aegon's brother Aemon) saw him for what he truly was. Aegon was too mercurial, too greedy and too cruel too be anything other then dangerous.[4]

From a young age, Aegon indulged himself with women and continued to do so after his marriage, even during his own reign. He quite openly flaunted his mistresses at court, to the distress of his wife. Naerys Targaryen was the only woman Aegon took no pleasure in bedding; he did not love her as she was pious, gentle and frail, everything Aegon loathed. Aegon could have easily absolved the marriage by allowing her to join the Faith of the Seven, which is what his wife wanted, and then married any other woman of his choosing. Why he never did this is cause of much speculation among the maesters. The answer most likely was simple cruelty. According to Grand Maester Alford, after the birth of Prince Daeron, he warned Aegon that a second pregnancy could kill Naerys. After giving the king an heir, the queen begged him to allow her to join the Faith as a septa and absolve the marriage. Aegon refused though and insisted she still perform her "wifely duties".[15]

Aegon's treatment of Naerys inflamed matters between Aegon and his brother, Aemon. As children Aemon and Naerys had been inseparable growing up. Aegon's resentment of his younger noble, famed, and celebrated brother was plain for all to see, most likely because Aemon was everything Aegon was not.

When Queen Naerys was accused of adultery and treason by the knight Ser Morgil Hastwyck, Prince Aemon defended his sister's honor in trial by combat and slew Morgil. This event became famous and inspired many songs, stories and fables by bards, furthering Prince Aemon's renown much to King Aegon's annoyance. According to the writings of Maester Kaeth in Lives of Four Kings, it was Aegon who secretly started the rumors of Naerys's adultery and used Morgil to instigate this tale, though at the time Aegon denied this. Strangely enough there were no known rumours spread about the parentage of Princess Daenerys, only about Daeron, these accusations also coincidentally started when Aegon and his heir, Prince Daeron, were quarreling. Daeron opposed Aegon's plan for an unprovoked war on Dorne. The king ignored Daeron's protests, he built a massive fleet, and in 174 AC sent it to launch an invasion by landing in the Dornish coast. The fleet was scattered en route and destroyed by a vicious storm, however.

King Aegon IV publicly knighting and then bestowing the Targaryen sword of kings, Blackfyre, on his bastard Daemon

In 178 AC Aegon caught one of his Kingsguard knights, Ser Terrence Toyne, sleeping with one of his mistresses, Lady Bethany Bracken. Even though they proclaimed love, Aegon had them both executed.[16] Terrence was dismembered piece by piece, while Bethany was forced to watch before meeting her own death. Aegon also had Bethany's father,Lord Bracken, who had once served as his Hand of the King, also executed just for spite.[17][8] This action led to an assassination attempt against King Aegon by Terrence's brothers who desired revenge. Prince Aemon the Dragonknight, who despite their conflicts and Aegon's hatred and disrespect towards him, sacrificed his own life to protect Aegon and saved him from Terrence's brothers' assassination attempt.[3] Aegon's wife, Naerys, died in childbirth a year later in 179 AC along with the child. Aegon did little to honor either his brother's or his wife's memories. After the death of both his siblings, Aegon began to make barely veiled references to his son's alleged illegitimacy - something he now only dared now because both his wife and the Dragonknight were dead.[4]

Blackfyre, the Valyrian steel sword of Aegon the Conqueror, was traditionally carried by the Targaryen kings who succeeded him. Aegon IV, however, gave Blackfyre not to his heir, Daeron, but to one of his bastards, Daemon, when he knighted Daemon at the age of 12. Talk of Daemon becoming Aegon's heir instead of Daeron began after this point.

Aegon betrothed Daemon to the daughter of the Archon of Tyrosh, a girl named Rohanne. This match, however, was not one of Daemon's wishes. It was claimed he wanted to wed his half sister, Princess Daenerys. King Aegon, however, refused this, and it was believed that Aegon saw more profit in making ties with Tyrosh, as to have the aid of the Tyroshi fleet available, should he want to make another attempt to conquer Dorne.[7]

Other sources claim that Daemon did not mind the marriage to Rohanne, as he had believed he would be allowed to follow the example of Aegon the Conquerer and Maegor the Cruel and have more than one wife. Some of the Blackfyre loyalists would later claim that Aegon IV even promised this to Daemon. Daemon's half-brother Daeron, on the other hand, had different views on the matters, and after his own coronation, made certain that the dowry for Daemon's wedding to Rohanne was paid.[7]

In the last few years of Aegon's corrupt reign his heir, Daeron, became one of the biggest obstacles to Aegon's misrule. While some lords saw opportunity in the gluttonous, corpulent king who could easily be convinced to part with honors, offices and treasures for a chance at pleasure, many others who condemned the king's behavior flocked to Daeron. Aegon, despite all the threats, japes and disparities he heaped upon his son, never formally disowned Daeron. Accounts differ as to why, the most likely explanation being that Aegon knew that his hold on his throne would not be secure if he disowned his son. It would mean civil war as many lords who were sickened by Aegon's depravity would defend Daeron's rights. Chief amongst them were House Martell, due to the fact Daeron was married to Princess Mariah Martell of Sunspear. Aegon tried to use the hatred of the stormlands and the Reach toward Dorne to his advantage. Aegon decided to go ahead with another plan to invade Dorne, which led to an even greater folly then his first attempted invasion.

Like many other Targaryen kings, Aegon was obsessed with regaining dragons for his house. Instead of trying to resurrect the dead dragons of his ancestors, Aegon instead turned to the pyromancers and commanded them "build me dragons". What followed were seven wood and iron monstrosities, fitted with pumps that shot jets of wildfire. Upon their completion Aegon ordered these devices dragged to the Boneway to initiate the invasion of Dorne; this plan lacked any tactical sense, as the Boneway was too steep for the lumbering constructs. The man-made dragons did not even reach that far, due to unstability of wildfire and the difficulty of moving the massive siege engines. All seven were consumed by fire in the kingswood; hundreds of men operating them burned alive inside them and a quarter of the kingswood went up in flames. Aegon, after this humiliation, never spoke of Dorne again.[18][19][4]

The reign of the unworthy monarch finally ended in 184 AC. At only forty-nine years of age, he had become so morbidly obese he could not walk anymore, making many wonder how his last mistress withstood his embrace. Aegon died a horrible death, his bloated body so swollen that he could not even lift himself from his couch that became covered in his feces. Aegon's limbs were rotting and crawling in hosts of flesh worms, and the maesters said they had never seen the like of this before. The septons, however, pronounced it a judgement of the gods. He was given the milk of the poppy to try to dull the pain but nothing else could be done.[4]

Aegon's last decree before his death was bitter poison that would lay the seeds to generations of war, bloodshed, death and woe to the realm. Aegon legitimized all his bastard children, causing five generations of strife as they and their descendants tried to claim the Iron Throne of Westeros.[20][4]

Mistresses and Bastards

Throughout his life, Aegon Targaryen had many mistresses. From the highest-born princess to the meanest whore, Aegon made no difference between them, By the end of his life, he claimed to have slept with at least nine hundred women (the exact number he could not remember). However, out of all those women, Aegon claims to have only ever truly loved nine. His wife, Naerys Targaryen, is not counted among them.

Beside these nine "official" mistresses, Aegon had had an affair with his cousin, Princess Daena, during her time in the Maidenvault, which led to the birth of Daemon Waters in 170 AC. Aegon would not acknowledge the boy until 182 AC.[21][4] Aegon took many other women to his bed, including, according to stories, the three daughters of Lord Butterwell.[3] It is also rumored that Aegon also had an affair with his other cousin Elaena Targaryen and that he was the actual father of her son, Viserys Plumm, instead of her late husband, Lord Ossifer Plumm.[21]

While on his deathbed, Aegon legitimized his bastard sons and placed them in his line of succession after his firstborn, Daeron II. Twelve years after Aegon's death, Daemon Blackfyre rose against his half-brother and attempted to take the throne in the First Blackfyre Rebellion. He was defeated, but the Blackfyres continued to trouble the Targaryens for sixty-four more years.[4]

Male Great Bastards.jpgSheria Seastar.jpg
Great Bastards: Bittersteel, Daemon, Bloodraven and Shiera

Great Bastards

The bastard sons and daughters born to Aegon IV from noblewomen were known as "Great Bastards".[4] They included:

Quotes about Aegon the Unworthy

Aenys was weak and Maegor was Cruel and Aegon II was grasping, but no king before or after that would practice so much willful misrule. [4]
- Grand Maester Kaeth in Lives of Four Kings

Aegon was not called the Unworthy without cause.[22]
Arys Oakheart to Arianne Martell

That King Aegon, he had any woman he wanted, whether they were married or not.[23]
- Joffrey Baratheon

Aegon the Fourth legitimized all his bastards on his deathbed. And how much pain, grief, war, and murder grew from that? ... The Blackfyre pretenders troubled the Targaryens for five generations, until Barristan the Bold slew the last of them on the Stepstones.[24]
- Catelyn Tully to Robb Stark

'Fire and Blood' were the words of House Targaryen, but Dunk once heard Ser Arlan say that Aegon's should have been, 'Wash Her and Bring Her to My Bed'.[13]
- thoughts of Dunk


Aegon II
Aegon III
Viserys II
Daeron I
Baelor I
Aegon IV
Daeron II

References and Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 The World of Ice and Fire, Viserys II.
  2. So Spake Martin: Targaryen Kings (November 1, 2005)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 The Mystery Knight.
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 The World of Ice and Fire, Aegon IV.
  5. The World of Ice and Fire AMA [1]
  6. The World of Ice and Fire, Aegon III.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 The World of Ice and Fire, Daeron II.
  8. 8.00 8.01 8.02 8.03 8.04 8.05 8.06 8.07 8.08 8.09 8.10 8.11 8.12 8.13 8.14 8.15 8.16 The World of Ice and Fire, The Nine Mistresses of Aegon IV, the Unworthy.
  9. The World of Ice and Fire, The Nine Mistresses of Aegon IV.
  10. 10.0 10.1 The World of Ice and Fire, Baelor I.
  11. Three Maidens in the Tower[2]
  12. The Great Bastards[3]
  13. 13.0 13.1 The Sworn Sword.
  14. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 48, Jaime.
  15. A World of Ice and Fire, Aegon IV.
  16. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 16, Sansa.
  17. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 17, Cersei.
  18. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 54, Davos.
  19. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 68, The Dragontamer (Quentyn IV).
  20. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 6, Sansa.
  21. 21.0 21.1 The World of Ice and Fire, The Sisters of Baelor I.
  22. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 13, The Soiled Knight.
  23. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 28, Sansa.
  24. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 45, Catelyn.

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