Aegon's Conquest

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Aegon's Conquest
Part of Wars of Conquest
King Who Knelt.jpg
Torrhen Stark kneels to Aegon I Targaryen, as depicted by Chase Stone in The World of Ice & Fire

Date 2 BC – 1 AC
Location Westeros
Battles Aegon's first test
Battle in the waters off Gulltown
Battle of the Reeds
Wailing Willows
Burning of Harrenhal
Last Storm
Field of Fire
Result Aegon conquers six of the Seven Kingdoms and builds the Iron Throne.
Aegon crowned King of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm.
Dorne remains independent.
1. House Targaryen of Dragonstone
2. House Darklyn of Duskendale
House Mooton of Maidenpool
3. House Arryn, King of Mountain and Vale
4. House Hoare, King of the Isles and the Rivers
5. House Durrandon, Storm King
6. House Gardener, King of the Reach
House Lannister, King of the Rock
7. House Stark, King in the North
8. House Martell, Princess of Dorne

Aegon's Conquest,[1][2] also called the Conquest,[3][4] was the campaign in which Aegon I Targaryen conquered most of Westeros. Together with his sisters, Visenya and Rhaenys, and their dragons, Balerion, Vhagar and Meraxes, Aegon subdued six of the Seven Kingdoms, successfully resisted only by Dorne. Not all the continent had to be taken by conquest, as some regions and houses actively supported House Targaryen and others submitted voluntarily.

The first and most prominent of the Wars of Conquest, Aegon's initial campaign lasted two years.[2] It was followed by the First Dornish War.[5] The date of Aegon's coronation by the High Septon during the Conquest has been used by maesters to track years before and after Aegon's victory.[2]


Lord Aenar Targaryen had moved his family to Dragonstone, the westernmost outpost of the Valyrian Freehold, twelve years before the Doom destroyed Valyria.

During the Century of Blood, multiple factions struggled for power in Essos. Towards the end of the Century of Blood, the young Lord Aegon Targaryen, rider of the dragon Balerion, was approached by the Free Cities of Pentos and Tyrosh to form an alliance. Aegon aided the alliance in defeating the Volantene fleet, after which he returned to Dragonstone. With the struggles for power in the east to an end, Aegon instead turned his attention to the west, to the lands that had always interested him.[2]

Some believe that Aegon had never visited Westeros before his invasion, but there are reports of him having visited the Arbor and the Citadel and possibly Lannisport.[2] Years before the Conquest he had ordered the construction of the Painted Table, a table at Dragonstone cut into an accurate geographical map of Westeros.[6]

Harren Hoare, the King of the Isles and the Rivers, was nearing completion of his vast castle, Harrenhal, and was said to be looking for more conquests. Argilac Durrandon had grown afraid of Harren and so proposed an alliance with Aegon to create a buffer zone between him and Harren. He offered Aegon the hand of his daughter, Argella, in marriage as well as dowry lands, though much of the lands were in the possession of Harren the Black. Aegon refused, offering instead the hand of his best friend and rumored bastard brother, Orys Baratheon, as Argella's husband, and asking a part of Argilac's lands as an additional dowry. Argilac took this as a grave insult and had the hands of the envoy cut off. He sent them to Aegon with the message "These are the only hands you will receive".[2]

Aegon called his banners and took counsel with them and his sisters, after which he sent ravens to the rulers in the Seven Kingdoms. He informed them that he would be the only king in Westeros and that those who bent the knee would keep their lands and titles, while those that did not he would destroy.[2] He apparently considered all of Westeros as one land, despite the fact that the continent was long split into Seven Kingdoms, and was determined to unify it under his rule.[6]

Meria Martell, Princess of Dorne, replied she would be Aegon's ally against the Storm King Argilac, but would not yield; Aegon rejected her offer. The Lord of Dragonstone also rejected Sharra Arryn, the Queen Regent of the Vale, who desired the eastern bank of the Green Fork from Harren, since Sharra offered Aegon an alliance and not submission.[7]

The Conquest

The seven rulers at the time were:

Aegon's Landing

The war began in 2 BC when Aegon Targaryen and his two sister-wives Rhaenys and Visenya landed with fewer than 1,600 men[8] at the mouth of the Blackwater Rush next to three hills. Upon the highest hill, Aegon started construction of the Aegonfort, a wooden motte and bailey fort as his first claim to the mainland of Westeros. The Targaryens were supported by Houses Celtigar, Massey, and Velaryon.[2]

House Rosby yielded Rosby to Rhaenys, while House Stokeworth surrendered to Visenya after Vhagar used dragonfire on the roof of Stokeworth.[2]

Aegon's first test came form Lord Darklyn of Duskendale and Lord Mooton of Maidenpool, who joined their power and marched south with three thousand men. Aegon sent Orys Baratheon to meet them on the march, whist he descended on them from above with Balerion. After both lords were slain, Darklyn's son and Mooton's brother, Jon Mooton, yielded their castles and swore their swords to House Targaryen.[2]

Queen Visenya placed a Valyrian steel circlet, studded with rubies, on her brother's head and Queen Rhaenys hailed him as "Aegon, First of His Name, King of All Westeros, and Shield of His People."[2]

Battle in the waters off Gulltown

Aegon sent his fleet commanded by Daemon Velaryon to take Gulltown with Visenya and Vhagar. A hastily assembled Arryn fleet, augmented by a dozen Braavosi warships, met and defeated the Targaryen fleet in a battle in the waters off Gulltown. Among the dead was Aegon's admiral, Daemon. Visenya descended on the Arryn fleet and burned their ships.[2]

Rebellion broke out on the Three Sisters, when the Sistermen renounced their allegiance to House Arryn of the Eyrie and declared their queen to be Lady Marla Sunderland.[2]

Burning of Harrenhal

The burning of Harrenhal, by Rene Aigner ©

Aegon marched northwest to the Gods Eye and Harrenhal, but he was attacked by House Hoare twice on the south shore of the Gods Eye. The Battle of the Reeds was a Targaryen victory, but they suffered heavy losses at the Wailing Willows when two of King Harren the Black's sons crossed the lake in longboats with muffled oars and fell upon their rear. Balerion fell upon the victors as they were crossing back across the lake, burning Harren's longboats and sons as well.[2]

Harren summoned the river lords to defend Harrenhal, but they rose against the Hoares under the leadership of Lord Edmyn Tully of Riverrun. One by one the river lords joined their strength to Aegon, with Edmyn being the first to do so. Suddenly outnumbered, King Harren the Black took refuge in his supposedly impregnable stronghold. Aegon met Harren at the gates, under a peace banner to parley.

Aegon: Yield now, and you may remain as Lord of the Iron Islands. Yield now, and your sons will live to rule after you. I have eight thousand men outside your walls.
Harren: What is outside my walls is of no concern to me. Those walls are strong and thick.
Aegon: But not so high as to keep out dragons. Dragons fly.
Harren: I built in stone. Stone does not burn.
Aegon: When the sun sets, your line shall end.[2]

Descending from the sky atop Balerion, Aegon used dragonflame against the great castle, and Harren and his sons died in the burning of Harrenhal.

The next day Aegon accepted an oath of fealty from Edmyn Tully, and named him Lord Paramount of the Trident. The other river lords did homage as well, to Aegon as king and Edmyn as liege lord of the riverlands. The melted swords of Harren's ironborn were sent to the Aegonfort.[2]

Conquest of the Stormlands

While Aegon dealt with Harrenhal, the greater part of his host crossed the Blackwater Rush heading south for Storm's End under the command of Orys Baratheon, with Queen Rhaenys Targaryen accompanying him astride Meraxes. While the Storm King Argilac Durrandon gathered his bannermen to Storm's End, pirates from the Stepstones raided Cape Wrath and Dornishmen from the Red Mountains attacked the Dornish Marches.[2]

Lords Errol, Fell and Buckler, bannermen of Argilac the Arrogant, surprised the advance elements of Orys's host as they were crossing the Wendwater, cutting down more than a thousand men before retreating back into the trees. Rhaenys unleashed Meraxes and set the forest ablaze, killing Lord Errol.[2]

Word of King Harren's end having reached Storm's End, Argilac rode north to meet his foes in the field. After being advised through Rhaenys's reconnaissance, Orys fortified a strong position on the hills south of Bronzegate and waited for Argilac's stormlanders.[2]

In what became known as the Last Storm, Argilac attacked the Baratheon and Targaryen forces during a howling gale. The Storm King and his knights broke through Orys's center during their third charge, but they then faced Queen Rhaenys. Meraxes's dragonflame killed the personal guard of Argilac, who was thrown from the saddle. Orys offered him to yield, but Argilac cursed him instead. After Orys slew the wounded Storm King in single combat, the stormlanders threw down their swords and fled.[2]

Argilac's daughter, Argella Durrandon, barred the gates of Storm's End and declared herself Storm Queen. The castle's soldiers, however, eventually delivered her to Orys's camp.[2] Orys took Argella as his wife and chose the words and sigil of House Durrandon for the new House Baratheon. Aegon named Orys the Lord Paramount of the Stormlands and made him Lord of Storm's End.[9]

Submission of Crackclaw Point

Following the death of Harren the Black at Harrenhal, Aegon sent his sister-queen Visenya to demand the submission of Crackclaw Point. Its lords understood they had no chance, so they laid their swords at her feet. Visenya took them as her own men and they would owe no fealty but to the Iron Throne.[10] They bent the knee to her without qualm, and in return she promised them that they would be direct vassals of the Targaryens.

Conquest of the Westerlands and the Reach

Meanwhile, the two great western kings made common cause and assembled their own armies. From Highgarden marched Mern IX Gardener, King of the Reach, with a mighty host from the Reach. Beneath the walls of Goldengrove he met Loren Lannister, King of the Rock, leading his own host from the westerlands. Together they commanded the mightiest host ever seen in Westeros: an army fifty-five thousand strong, including over five thousand knights. The Two Kings did not linger at Goldengrove, marching north.

The host of the Two Kings, from Game of Thrones Blu-ray

Advised of their coming in his camp beside the Gods Eye, Aegon gathered his own forces and advanced to meet them. He commanded only one-fifth the men and was able to more quickly move his host. At the town of Stoney Sept, both his queens joined him with their dragons, Rhaenys from Storm's End and Visenya from Crackclaw Point.

The two armies came together amongst the wide open plains south of the Blackwater Rush. House Gardener commanded the center of the allied army, with House Lannister the right and House Oakheart the left. The charge of their knights began to break the Targaryen army, but Aegon and his sisters attacked from the air with their dragons. Over five thousand died in this Field of Fire, and tens of thousands were wounded. Mern and his kin all were all mortally wounded from the battle, ending House Gardener. Loren managed to escape, but he and the Lannister bannermen yielded to Aegon after being captured the following day. Loren was named Aegon's Warden of the West.[2]

Aegon marched at once for Highgarden, hoping to secure its surrender. He found the castle in the hands of its steward, Harlan Tyrell, who yielded the castle without a fight and pledged his support to Aegon. In reward Harlan was granted Highgarden and named Warden of the South and Lord Paramount of the Mander.[2]

Submission of the North

The King Who Knelt, by Jota Saraiva

Aegon's next planned to secure Oldtown, the Arbor, and Dorne, but while at Highgarden he learned that Torrhen Stark, King in the North, had crossed the Neck with an army of northmen some thirty thousand strong. In response, Aegon and his queens gathered the lords and knights who had already yielded to House Targaryen.

When Torrhen's northmen reached the Trident, they found a Targaryen host half again their size south of the river, including men from the Reach, riverlands, stormlands, and westerlands. Some northern lords wanted to attack, while others wanted to fortify Moat Cailin. Brandon Snow offered to assassinate the sleeping Targaryen dragons. With Harrenhal and the Field of Fire in mind, however, Torrhen instead sent Brandon with maesters to negotiate a peace. The following day Torrhen crossed the Trident and yielded to Aegon, becoming Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North. Torrhen has subsequently been known as the King Who Knelt.[2]

Submission of the Vale

In response to the Targaryen successes, Sharra Arryn, Queen Regent of the Vale, strengthened the defenses at Gulltown, moved a host to the Bloody Gate, and tripled the garrisons at the way-castles which guard the Eyrie. Sharra made Aegon an offer of marriage and alliance if he named as his heir her son, Ronnel Arryn, the young King of Mountain and Vale, but was refused.

Despite Aegon's refusal, House Arryn felt secure in the Vale. Visenya Targaryen, however, flew Vhagar to the Eyrie's inner courtyard, and Sharra found sitting on the knee of Aegon's queen her son Ronnel, who asked to fly on the dragon. After flying three times around the Giant's Lance on Vhagar, Ronnel became Lord of the Eyrie and Aegon's Warden of the East.[2][11]

Invasion of Dorne

Meria and Rhaenys by © Paparinka Art

Rather than confront the Dornish spearmen guarding the Prince's Pass in the Red Mountains, Rhaenys Targaryen flew above the pass on Meraxes to Vaith and Godsgrace, but found the castles abandoned. When Rhaenys reached the Planky Town, she found only women and children. At Sunspear, seat of House Martell, she found Meria Martell, the aged Princess of Dorne, waiting in her abandoned castle.

Meria: I will not fight you, nor will I kneel to you. Dorne has no king. Tell your brother that.
Rhaenys: I shall, but we will come again, Princess, and next time we shall come with fire and blood.
Meria: Your words, Ours are Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken. You may burn us, my lady, but you will not bend us, break us, or make us bow. This is Dorne. You are not wanted here. Return at your peril.[2]

Thus queen and princess parted and Dorne remained unconquered.

Submission of Oldtown and Crowning by the Faith

When word of Aegon's Landing reached Oldtown, the High Septon locked himself in the Starry Sept for seven days and nights, seeking after the guidance of the Seven. On the seventh day, the Crone allegedly lifted her golden lamp and showed that Oldtown would burn if the city opposed the Targaryens. Manfred Hightower, Lord of the Hightower, decided not to oppose Aegon by force of arms and House Hightower therefore was not involved with the Field of Fire.

When Aegon and his host approached Oldtown they found the city gates open and Lord Hightower riding forth in submission. Three days later in the Starry Sept, the High Septon anointed Aegon with the seven oils, placed a crown upon his head and proclaimed him Aegon of House Targaryen, the First of His Name, King of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm. This marked the official beginning of Aegon's reign.[2]


Now in control of six of the Seven Kingdoms and known as the Conqueror, Aegon I Targaryen announced he would rule not from Dragonstone or Oldtown, but from the Aegonfort and the new city growing around it, King's Landing. Aegon had melted the swords of those who had opposed him into the Iron Throne, a reminder of their submission to the Targaryens.[2] Queen Visenya Targaryen led the suppression of the Sistermen's Rebellion.[12]

The Iron Islands fell into chaos after the death of Harren the Black. In 2 AC, Aegon led the invasion of the Iron Islands and forced the surviving lords of the ironborn to submit. Aegon allowed them to choose Lord Vickon Greyjoy as the new Lord of the Iron Islands.[13] Dorne remained unconquered, however. Aegon continued the Wars of Conquest in 4 AC, beginning the bloody and unsuccessful First Dornish War.[14]



  1. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 11, The Kraken's Daughter.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 2.24 2.25 2.26 2.27 The World of Ice & Fire, The Reign of the Dragons: The Conquest.
  3. A Clash of Kings, Prologue.
  4. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 14, Catelyn II.
  5. The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon I.
  6. 6.0 6.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 36, Davos IV.
  7. The World of Ice & Fire, The Reign of the Dragons: The Conquest.
  8. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 54, Davos V.
  9. The World of Ice & Fire, The Stormlands: House Baratheon.
  10. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 20, Brienne IV.
  11. The World of Ice & Fire, The Vale: House Arryn.
  12. Fire & Blood, Reign of the Dragon - The Wars of King Aegon I.
  13. The World of Ice & Fire, The Iron Islands: The Greyjoys of Pyke.
  14. The World of Ice & Fire, Dorne: Dorne Against the Dragons.
  15. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 19, The Drowned Man.