Corlys Velaryon

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House Velaryon.svg
Corlys Velaryon
House Velaryon.svg
Sea Snake.jpeg
Art by Enife.

Alias The Sea Snake
Title Ser
Lord of the Tides
Master of Driftmark
Lord admiral
Master of ships
Hand of the Queen
Lord Regent
Captain of the Cod Queen
Captain of the Summer Maid
Captain of the Ice Wolf
Captain of the Sea Snake
Allegiance House Velaryon
Race Valyrian
Culture Crownlands
Born In 53 AC[1], at Driftmark[1]
Died In 132 AC[2], at Red Keep, King's Landing[3]
Spouse Princess Rhaenys Targaryen
Issue Laena Velaryon
Laenor Velaryon
Addam Velaryon (rumored)
Alyn Velaryon (rumored)
Book(s) The World of Ice & Fire (mentioned)
Fire & Blood (mentioned)
The Rogue Prince (mentioned)
The Princess and the Queen (mentioned)

Corlys Velaryon, known as the Sea Snake, was a fabled Lord of the Tides, Master of Driftmark, and head of House Velaryon.[4] He was the husband of Princess Rhaenys Targaryen. During the Dance of the Dragons, he became Hand to Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen.[5]

Appearance and Character

During his elder years, Corlys liked to say that he was clinging to life "like a drowning sailor clinging to the wreckage of a sunken ship".


Early life

Corlys was born in 53 AC to the eldest son of Lord Daemon Velaryon.[6] He was named after Ser Corlys Velaryon, who served King Aegon I Targaryen as the first Lord Commander of the Kingsguard.[7]

Corlys took the sea at a young age, first crossing the narrow sea to Pentos when he was only six. He captained Cod Queen from Driftmark to Dragonstone and back when he was sixteen. On voyage took him to Oldtown, Lannisport, and Lordsport, while another saw him visit Lys, Tyrosh, Pentos, and Myr. Corlys sailed Summer Maid to Volantis and the Summer Isles, and he took Ice Wolf to Braavos, Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, Hardhome, Lorath, and the Port of Ibben. He also took Ice Wolf beyond the Wall, but was unsuccessful in find a northerly route in the Shivering Sea around Westeros.[8]

Ser Corlys sailed aboard his Sea Snake, a ship he designed and built, on nine great voyages to Essos. During his first voyage, he sailed beyond the Jade Gates at Qarth to Yi Ti and Leng. Corlys returned with treasures like silk and spice, allowing to double the wealth of House Velaryon.[8] His second voyage took him to Asshai, where he thought he saw the Sun Chaser of Elissa Farman.[1] Corlys's third voyage led to him becoming the first Westerosi to navigate the Thousand Islands in the Shivering Sea and visit Nefer[9] in N'ghai and Mossovy.[8]

During his ninth voyage on Sea Snake, Corlys filled the ship's hold with gold and bought twenty more ships at Qarth, loading them with spices, elephants, and silk. Only fourteen ships reached Driftmark and all the elephants died, but Corlys became vastly wealthy from the venture.[8] He took his nickname "Sea Snake" from his famous ship. Corlys's expeditions on the Sea Snake have been described by Maester Mathis in his book The Nine Voyages.[7]

Lord of the Tides

Ser Corlys became head of House Velaryon and Lord of the Tides after the death of his grandsire. Richer than Lords Lannister or Hightower through his expeditions, Lord Corlys used his great wealth to construct a new seat, High Tide,[7] where he stored his eastern treasures. The towns of Hull and Spicetown sprang up and drew trade away from King's Landing.[8]

Corlys had been married to Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, the only child of Prince Aemon Targaryen, who in turn was the eldest son of King Jaehaerys I Targaryen.[10] When Prince Aemon died in 92 AC, King Jaehaerys named his second son, Prince Baelon, heir to the throne over Corlys's wife, Rhaenys.[7]

Corlys and Rhaenys had two children, Laena, born in 93 AC, and Laenor, born in 94 AC. Upon the death of Prince Baelon in 101 AC, a Great Council was called at Harrenhal to determine the new heir of King Jaehaerys I. There, Corlys defended the claim of his son Laenor.[7] It was rumored that Corlys had been readying a fleet for that purpose.[11] Corlys's fame, reputation, and wealth did much to support Laenor's claim, but in the end, Baelon's son Viserys received the majority of the votes, and was named Prince of Dragonstone.[7] Viserys would inherit the throne in 103 AC.

Following the death of Queen Aemma Arryn, in 105 AC, Grand Maester Runciter suggested to King Viserys I Targaryen that he take Corlys's twelve-year-old daughter, Laena, to wife. King Viserys, however, chose Alicent Hightower. Angered by the third time his wife and children had been scorned by House Targaryen, Corlys and his family did not attend the wedding in 106 AC.[12] Instead, he made an alliance with Prince Daemon Targaryen, King Viserys's younger brother, equally angered by the King's marriage. Corlys had suffered from the Triarchy's rule over the Stepstones, and together with Daemon was determined to conquer the Stepstones for themselves. While Daemon would lead their army, Corlys would lead their fleet. They began their battles in 106 AC. Winning many victories in the first few years, by 109 AC all but two of the islands, and the waters in between were firmly under Daemon and Corlys's control. When Daemon declared himself King of the Stepstones and the Narrow Sea, it was Corlys who placed the crown upon the new king's head.[12] Daemon gave up his crown in 111 AC[12][11] (though he returned to battle there the next year),[12] and no further involvement of Corlys in the conflicts have been reported after 109 AC.

In 113 AC, King Viserys I and his small council began discussions concerning a betrothal for Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, Viserys's heir. They eventually agreed on Corlys's son, Laenor. They were married in 114 AC. When Rhaenyra gave birth late that same year, Corlys overruled his son's wish and insisted that the child would be given a traditional Velaryon name. The boy was named Jacaerys.[12] Two more sons, Lucerys, in 115 AC, and Joffrey, in 117 AC, would follow.[12]

In 115 AC, the newly widowed Prince Daemon visited High Tide, where he conceived the idea to marry Corlys's daughter, Laena. While Laena had been betrothed for nearly a decade to the son of a former Sealord of Braavos. However, Laena's betrothed had proved to be a wastrel and a fool after the death of his father. Eventually, he had turned up on Driftmark after losing all of his family's wealth and power. Though Corlys lacked a graceful way to get rid of the betrothal, he was not willing to let the marriage occur, and postponed the wedding on multiple occasions. When Daemon asked for Laena's hand in marriage, he mocked her betrothed until the latter demanded a trial by combat, which he lost. A fortnight later, Corlys saw his daughter wed to Prince Daemon.[12] Through this marriage, Corlys would have two more grandchildren: the twin girls Baela and Rhaena Targaryen, born in 116 AC.[12]

The year 120 AC was less joyful for Corlys and his wife, however. In the first few days of the year, their daughter Laena died several days after giving birth to her third child. The child, malformed, had already died an hour after birth. Their son Laenor died not long after, stabbed to death by Ser Qarl Correy while attending a fair in Spicetown. Laena's husband, Prince Daemon Targaryen, and Laenor's wife, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, married each other within six months of the deaths of their spouses.[12]

Lord Lyonel Strong and his son, Ser Harwin, died during a fire at Harrenhal in 120 AC. While there are many stories concerning this fire, the court fool Mushroom claims Corlys had been involved in the fire, as revenge on Harwin cuckolding his son.[12]

When Corlys fell ill with a sudden fever in 126 AC, the issue of the succession of Driftmark arose. As both of his children were dead, according to law Laenor's eldest son Jacaerys stood to inherit. However, Jacaerys, as the eldest son to the Princess of Dragonstone, already stood to inherit the Iron Throne after his mother, and as such, Corlys was being urged by Rhaenyra to name her second son by Laenor, Lucerys, as his heir. However, the eldest of Corlys's six nephews, Ser Vaemond Velaryon, insisted that he should be proclaimed heir, insisting that Rhaenyra's three sons by Laenor had in truth been fathered by the late Ser Harwin Strong. Prince Daemon seized and executed Vaemond, and Vaemond's wife, children, and siblings were punished by King Viserys I for repeating the rumors.[12] By 129 AC, Corlys had recovered from his illness.

Dance of the Dragons

Corlys sat on Rhaenyra's council during the civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons; he was the greatest lord to pledge his strength to the cause of Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen, when her claim to the throne following King Viserys I's death was opposed by her half-brother, King Aegon II Targaryen. More than half of Rhaenyra's army was made up of men sworn to House Velaryon. Corlys's fleets also gave the blacks superiority at sea.[5]

When Lord Bartimos Celtigar urged the princess to fly from Dragonstone to King's Landing at once and reduce the city to ash and bone, Corlys demanded to know how that would serve them, telling him "we want to rule the city, not burn it to the ground".[5] Corly had command over the Velaryon fleet when it closed off the Gullet and sailed back and forth from Dragonstone and Driftmark, blocking all ships from entering or leaving Blackwater Bay, thereby choking off trade to and from King's Landing. The Velaryon blockade was eventually broken by the Battle of the Gullet, however, and High Tide was sacked by the Triarchy. All of the treasures Corlys had gathered in the east were destroyed, and Spicetown was never rebuilt.[13]

Corlys's wife, Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, flew on Meleys to aid Lord Staunton at Rook's Rest, where she battled Aegon II, Prince Aemond Targaryen, and their dragons Sunfyre and Vhagar. Rhaenys and Meleys died in the battle at Rook's Rest, and when news reached Dragonstone, Corlys blamed Rhaenyra for Rhaenys's death, as she had forbidden her sons from going to Rook's Rest with Rhaenys. Corlys was brought back into the fold when Prince Jacaerys named him Hand of the Queen. Together, they planned an assault on King's Landing. For his plans, Jacaerys offered lands, riches and knighthood to anyone who could mount one of the riderless dragons. A fifteen-year-old Addam of Hull managed to claim Seasmoke, formerly ridden by Corlys's late son Laenor. Addam's mother Marilda proclaimed that Addam and his younger brother Alyn had both been fathered by Laenor, and, apparently accepting this fact, Corlys petitioned Rhaenyra to legitimize them both, naming Addam his new heir.[5][14]

Marilda's proposed parentage for her sons was found remarkable by many, due to the rumors concerning Laenor's sexuality. The court fool Mushroom, however, proposed another possibility, suggesting that that Addam and Alyn had both been fathered by Corlys himself, and that he had kept them far from court whilst his wife was still alive, but took the opportunity, after her death, to acknowledge them after a fashion.[14]

Rhaenyra took King's Landing, though Aegon II and his remaining two children, Jaehaera and Maelor had escaped capture. Though her forces were victorious in the Butcher's Ball, in which Ser Criston Cole died, the First Battle of Tumbleton resulted in a loss for the blacks. Prince Aemond was terrorizing the riverlands with Vhagar, and Lord Ormund Hightower's host, with Prince Daeron and his dragon Tessarion, was slowly advancing on the city. With these threats in mind, Lord Corlys suggested to Rhaenyra that she should offer pardons to Lord Borros Baratheon, Ormund Hightower and House Lannister, send Queen Alicent Hightower and Queen Helaena Targaryen to the Faith, to make Aegon II's daughter Jaehaera Corlys's ward, as to marry her to her own son Aegon in due time, and to allow her half-brothers to take the black. Rhaenyra, however, insisted that her half-brothers had broken their vows before, and that the vows of the Night's Watch would mean little to them. Prince Daemon proposed to destroy both House Lannister and House Baratheon, and granting their seats to Ulf White and Hugh Hammer, two of the four dragonseeds, but Corlys, horrified by this suggestion, insisted that half of the Westerosi lords would turn against them if they were to destroy two ancient and noble houses.[5]

After Hugh Hammer and Ulf the White, the Two Betrayers, switched sides during the Second Battle of Tumbleton, Lord Corlys was the only person on the black council to speak in defense of Nettles and his own heir Addam, the two remaining dragonseeds. He remarked that Addam and Alyn were "true heirs" and worthy of Driftmark, and that Nettles had fought valiantly in the Battle in the Gullet. His protests were in vain, however, and Rhaenyra commanded Ser Luthor Largent to arrest Addam in the Dragonpit. Corlys warned Addam, who made his escape on Seasmoke's back. Confronted by an angry Ser Luthor, Corlys did not deny the accusations of treachery. Corlys remained silent, though he was bound and beaten before he was taken down into the Red Keep's dungeons and thrown into a black cell to await trial and execution.[15][5]

Some of Corlys's men joined the mob in Cobbler's Square that had gathered for the riot of King's Landing.[14][5] Others attempted to scale the walls and free him,[14] and yet others fled the city.[5] Half of Rhaenyra's army that had left from Dragonstone had been made up of Velaryon men, and following Corlys's imprisonment, they began to abandon her by the hundreds, and those who remained could not be trusted.[5] Two of lord Corlys' sworn swords, Ser Denys Woodwright and Ser Thoron True, attempted to cut their way to the dungeons to release their liege but their plan was betrayed to Lady Mysaria by a whore Thoron had been bedding. Both men were hanged and Lord Corlys remained imprisoned.[16]

Rhaenyra was eventually forced to flee the city. Ser Perkin the Flea took the Red Keep to install his squire, Trystane Truefyre, on the Iron Throne. His men released Lord Corlys, among other prisoners,[16] though Yandel would record than Corlys was released when King Aegon II Targaryen's men took the city back.[14]

In return for being pardoned,[14] Corlys used his wealth and power to support King Aegon II. However, he refused to accept the execution of Aegon the Younger, and insisted that Aegon should be betrothed to King Aegon II's only remaining child, Princess Jaehaera, as a requirement for his support of Aegon II.[17] King Aegon agreed, and his nephew, Aegon the Younger, was betrothed to Princess Jaehaera.[18]

Corlys served Aegon II on his small council during the short remainder of Aegon's reign. Following the defeat of Lord Borros Baratheon at the Battle of the Kingsroad, with an army of rivermen near the city, and a second host, led by Lord Cregan Stark, coming down the kingsroad, he advised King Aegon II to join the Night's Watch. The king refused, but was poisoned soon after, thereby ending the war.[14]

Reign of Aegon III

Following the death of Aegon II, Corlys sent envoys to Casterly Rock, Storm's End and Oldtown, who had been Aegon II's main supporters, suing for peace. When Lord Cregan Stark arrived in King's Landing, he took power over the court and, insisting that the poisoners of Aegon II were punished, had twenty-two men arrested, including Corlys. This time became known as the Hour of the Wolf. Corlys was spared a trial. Instead, he was freed thanks to an edict of King Aegon III Targaryen that Baela and Rhaena Targaryen had persuaded him to issue. Alysanne Blackwood promised Lord Cregan her hand in marriage if he would honor the edict, which he did.[2]

Corlys served as one of the regents for Aegon III Targaryen during from 131 AC until his death in 132 AC. Corlys was regarded as the most powerful of the regents. When he died of old age, at the age of seventy-nine, his body was placed beneath the Iron Throne for a week.[2] Marilda of Hull and her son, Alyn Velaryon, sailed Corlys's remains to Driftmark on Mermaid's Kiss. Corlys was then buried at sea east of Dragonstone on his ancient Sea Snake. When the ship sank, the Cannibal allegedly flew overheard in salute.[3]


Mayhaps the Seven have preserved me for this fight.[5]

—Corlys at the start of the Dance of the Dragons


Rhaenyra Targaryen
Marilda of Hull
Aegon III Targaryen
Rhaena Targaryen
Baela Targaryen
Jon Waters
Jeyne Waters


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Fire & Blood, The Long Reign - Jaehaerys and Alysanne: Policy, Progeny, and Pain.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon III.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Fire & Blood, Under the Regents - The Hooded Hand.
  4. The World of Ice & Fire, The Iron Islands: The Red Kraken.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 5.9 The Princess and the Queen.
  6. Fire & Blood, Birth, Death, and Betrayal Under Jaehaerys I.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Jaehaerys I.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Fire & Blood, Heirs of the Dragon - A Question of Succession.
  9. George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Nefer.
  10. The World of Ice & Fire, Appendix: Targaryen Lineages.
  11. 11.0 11.1 The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Viserys I.
  12. 12.00 12.01 12.02 12.03 12.04 12.05 12.06 12.07 12.08 12.09 12.10 The Rogue Prince.
  13. Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - The Red Dragon and the Gold.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 14.6 The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon II.
  15. Fire & Blood, They Dying of the Dragons- The Red Dragon and the Gold.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Fire & Blood, The Dying of Dragons - Rhaenyra Overthrown.
  17. Aegon II and Aegon III (April 23) - post 1
  18. Aegon II and Aegon III (April 23) - post 2