Dance of the Dragons
- For the book, see A Dance with Dragons. For the song, see "The Dance of the Dragons". For the episode of the TV show, see "The Dance of Dragons".
The Dance of the Dragons was a civil war during Targaryen rule of the Seven Kingdoms. A war of succession between Aegon II and his half-sister Rhaenyra over their father Viserys I's throne, the war was fought from 129 AC to 131 AC. It saw the deaths of both rival monarchs, and the crowning of Rhaenyra's son, Aegon III.
In early 2013 it was announced that the anthology Dangerous Women, previously expected to include the fourth Dunk and Egg story, would instead include a novella by George R. R. Martin named The Princess and the Queen which he described as "(...) the true (mostly) story of the origins of the Dance of the Dragons." The abridged version in The Princess and the Queen consists of 30,000 words, while the complete 80,000 word history of the civil war is planned for Fire and Blood.
- 1 Background
- 2 The Dance of the Dragons
- 2.1 The Small Council meeting
- 2.2 Coronation of Aegon II
- 2.3 The Black Council
- 2.4 The Dance over Shipbreaker Bay
- 2.5 Blood and Cheese
- 2.6 The Battle of Rook's Rest
- 2.7 The Dragonseeds
- 2.8 Battle in the Gullet
- 2.9 The Battle on the Honeywine
- 2.10 Fall of King's Landing
- 2.11 Battle by the Lakeshore/The Fishfeed
- 2.12 The Red Kraken
- 2.13 The Butcher's Ball
- 2.14 The First Battle of Tumbleton
- 2.15 Dancing dragons at Dragonstone
- 2.16 Fall of Dragonstone
- 2.17 The Battle Above the Gods Eye
- 2.18 The Riots at King's Landing
- 2.19 The Second Battle of Tumbleton
- 2.20 Rhaenyra’s retreat to Dragonstone
- 2.21 The Moon of the Three Kings
- 2.22 The Battle of the Kingsroad/The Muddy Mess
- 2.23 The End of the Dance
- 3 Aftermath
- 4 Historical sources
- 5 Consequences of the Dance
- 6 Family Tree of House Targaryen during the Dance
- 7 References and Notes
King Viserys I had three children by his first queen Aemma Arryn, but only one, Princess Rhaenyra, survived to adulthood. Lacking a son to succeed him, Viserys began to train Princess Rhaenyra to be his heir. Young Rhaenyra was included in discussions of the affairs of state, and was allowed to participate in meetings of the small council. Many of the nobles took note, and Rhaenyra soon acquired a clique of adherents and supporters. However, after his queen died, the king remarried in 106 AC, this time to Alicent Hightower and had four more children, including three sons, the eldest son named Aegon. Nonetheless, Viserys I strengthened Rhaenyra's place in the succession; he married her to Ser Laenor Velaryon - who himself had Targaryen blood through his mother, Princess Rhaenys. Rhaenyra gave birth to three sons during her marriage, although there were rumours that the father of these boys was not Ser Laenor, but Ser Harwin Strong.
When Laenor Velaryon passed away Rhaenyra married anew, this time to her uncle, Prince Daemon Targaryen, younger brother to Viserys I Targaryen. Her sons by him were the future Aegon III (called Aegon the Younger in his youth, to distinguish him from his uncle, Aegon II, who on occasion was called Aegon the Elder) and Viserys II. Her father's intention that she should follow him on the Iron Throne was confirmed by proclamation and the will of Viserys I Targaryen. In 105 AC, hundreds of Lords and landed knights had done obeisance to the Princess Rhaenyra.
In 111 AC, a great tourney was held at King’s Landing on the fifth anniversary of the king’s marriage to Queen Alicent. At the opening feast, the queen wore a green gown, whilst the Princess Rhaenyra dressed dramatically in Targaryen red and black. Note was taken, and thereafter it became the custom to refer to “greens” and “blacks” when talking of the queen’s party and the party of the princess, respectively. In the tourney itself, the blacks had much the better of it when Ser Criston Cole, wearing Princess Rhaenyra’s favor, unhorsed all of the Queen’s champions, including two of her cousins and her youngest brother, Ser Gwayne Hightower.
Rhaenyra and Alicents relationship had gone bad early in Alicent's marriage to Viserys, since both ladies had been trying to be the realm's first lady, and there could only be one. As a consequence of their bad relation, Alicent's sons did not take to Rhaenyra's sons. Ser Otto Hightower had also disliked Prince Daemon since the beginning of Viserys' reign, though the exact reasons are unknown.
The Dance of the Dragons
The Small Council meeting
Upon the death of King Viserys I Targaryen, Queen Alicent and Ser Criston Cole send out the Kingsguard to summon the small council members. During the gathering, the conversation quickly stirred towards Rhaenyra’s coronation, but Ser Otto Hightower, the Hand of the King, told those who had gathered that Prince Aegon would be crowned, whilst Lord Lyman Beesbury, the master of coin, insisted Rhaenyra should be crowned a queen.
Several other council members countered him. Ser Tyland Lannister argued that the oaths made to Rhaenyra in 105 AC had not been made by them, since it had been twenty-four years. Jasper Wylde mentioned that King Jaehaerys I Targaryen twice chose a male heir over the female heir and her descendants, and Ser Otto argued that Rhaenyra was married to Prince Daemon, who would become the true ruler, should Rhaenyra gain the crown. Both Hightowers argued that not only they, but also Alicent’s children would die should Rhaenyra become their queen. It would later be said that Prince Aegon II only reluctantly accepted the crown because his mother, brothers, sister and children would otherwise be killed by Rhaenyra.
Grand Maester Orwyle predicted a war, believing that Rhaenya would never be willing to give up her birthright, and had dragons at her disposal. When Lord Beesbury declared that he was not willing to listen to people plotting to steal her crown and attempted leave Ser Criston Cole killed him. This made Lord Beesbury the first casualty of the Dance of the Dragons.
After Beesbury’s death, the green council made their plans, vowing their loyalty to their new king, and arresting all those in King's Landing who could be loyal to Rhaenyra. To all those who might be loyal to Aegon, ravens were sent. Meanwhile, Rhaenyra remained on Dragonstone, unaware of what had happened.
Coronation of Aegon II
Prince Aemond was sent to Storm's End to betroth himself to one of Lord Borros’ daughters, so House Baratheon might fight for Aegon II. By the time he left, the smell coming from Viserys I’s room was all over Maegor's Holdfast. Seven days after Viserys had died, his death was announced to King's Landing and the Silent Sisters were sent for.
Aegon’s coronation was prepared in short time. Ser Criston Cole crowned Aegon, while Alicent Hightower crowned Aegon's sister-sife, Helaena. The night before, however, the first defection had taken place. Ser Steffon Darklyn had left the city, with, amongst other things, the crown Kings Viserys I and Jaehaerys I had worn.
On Dragonstone, Rhaenyra had learned about the death of her father and the betrayal of her siblings. Anger had made her go into labour, which lasted for three days and brought forth a still born, deformed girl, whom Rhaenyra named Visenya. Rhaenyra, in answer to Aegon’s betrayal, swore revenge.
The Black Council
Rhaenyra made her own council at Dragonstone, the black council. Participants were, amongst others, Rhaenyra’s husband Daemon, her three eldest sons Jacaerys, Lucerys and Joffrey, Lord Corlys Velaryon, and his wife Princess Rhaenys.
Princess Rhaenys was convinced that Storm's End would declare for Rhaenyra, since Lord Boremund, the deceased father of Lord Borros and Rhaenys’ own uncle, had always been a supporter of Rhaenys herself. Though they believed the North to be too remote to play an important part in the war, messages were send to those lords as well.
Rhaenyra was crowned queen, using the crown her father and great-grandfather had worn, thanks to Ser Steffon Darklyn, who had arrived from King's Landing. Prince Daemon was named Protector of the Realm, and Jacaerys was officially named Prince of Dragonstone and heir to the Iron Throne. Declaring Otto Hightower and Queen Alicent traitors, Rhaenyra allowed for her half-siblings to be forgiven if they would bend the knee. Upon hearing about these developments, King Aegon II declared Rhaenyra and Daemon traitors as well.
Grand Maester Orwyle travelled to Dragonstone and spoke with Rhaenyra, offering generous terms, but he was refused. Not long after, Jacaerys visited Lady Jeyne Arryn, the Maiden of the Vale, the Starks of Winterfell, and the Manderlys of White Harbor. Lucerys, Rhaenyra’s second son, travelled to Storm's End, instead.
Harrenhal fell quickly to Daemon. In the mean time, Jacaerys gained Lady Arryn and the Lords Manderly, Borrell and Sunderland, and Cregan Stark to Rhaenyra’s cause, with Cregan allying through the Pact of Ice and Fire.
The Dance over Shipbreaker Bay
Lucerys flew to Storm's End, arriving before a gathering storm. He found Prince Aemond and his dragon Vhagar already present. Aemond tried to goad Lucerys into a fight, insulting him, calling him a Strong bastard, but Lucerys, sworn not to fight, refused him. He delivered his message to Lord Borros, but was refused and told to leave. Lord Borros prevented Aemond from attacking his cousin in the castle, but did allow for the prince to follow him. Mounted on his dragon, Aemond caught up with Lucerys during a raging storm. The fight between the two dragons did not last long. Vhagar, being five times bigger, had the advantage, and Arrax fell broken. His head and neck would wash ashore three days later, along with the corpse of Prince Lucerys Velaryon.
Blood and Cheese
Using one of his friends from King's Landing, Daemon enlisted the help of a former serjeant in the City Watch, known now only as Blood, and a rat-catcher from the Red Keep, known now only as Cheese. The two sneaked into the Red Keep, using secret tunnels and hidden doors, which brought them into the Tower of the Hand. There, Queen Alicent was bound and gagged, and her bedmaid strangled. When Queen Helaena and her three children appeared, Blood and Cheese barred the doors and told Helaena to choose which of her sons would die. Helaena reluctantly chose Maelor, but Blood did the opposite and killed Prince Jaehaerys instead. The two fled with the Prince's head, leaving all the others unharmed.
The Battle of Rook's Rest
After the fall of Harrenhal, King Aegon II suffered defeats at the Burning Mill and Stone Hedge, making the young king realizing his situation was severe. While House Hightower and the Arbor stood firmly behind Aegon, Lord Owen Costayne of Three Towers, Lord Mullendore of Uplands, Lord Alan Tarly of Horn Hill, Lord Thaddeus Rowan of Goldengrove and Lord Grimm of Greyshield declared for Rhaenyra, as did the Vale, White Harbor, Winterfell, the Blackwoods and other riverlords, who were assembling at Harrenhal.
Ser Otto Hightower believed that Daemon was Rhaenyra's greatest weakness, and reached out to an old foe of Daemon's, the Kingdom of the Three Daughters across the narrow sea, hoping to use them against Corlys Velaryon. Aegon II was running out of patience, however, and removed Otto as Hand. Ser Criston Cole was named in his stead, and decided actions were necessary.
Aegon acted by sacking Duskendale, and having Lord Darklyn beheaded, for supporting Rhaenyra. Ser Criston then turned his attention to Rook's Rest, for House Mooton had pledged their support to Rhaenyra as well.
Lord Staunton defied his attackers and send a raven to Dragonstone, asking for help. The help that arrived was Princess Rhaenys on dragon Meleys. Unbeknownst to the blacks, Ser Criston had been expecting a dragon to appear. Men on the ground attacked the dragon with scorpions, longbows and crossbows.
Next, Sunfyre and Vhagar appeared. The dragons fought a thousand feet above the ground. Meleys’s jaws closed around Sunfyre’s neck, and Vhagar fell upon them, causing all three dragons to crash into the ground. From the ashes, only Vhagar rose again. Sunfyre had one wing half torn from his body, whilst his rider, King Aegon II, suffered from several broken bones and severe burns. Princess Rhaenys was found completely burned next to the dead body of Meleys. After the battle, Prince Aemond and Ser Criston took Rook's Rest and put the garrison to death. The head of Meleys was brought back to King's Landing, inspiring fear amongst the small folk, causing thousands to flee the capitol until the gates were barred by Dowager Queen Alicent.
King Aegon II was brought back to King's Landing, where maesters attended to his wounds. He was severely wounded, and slept most of the time, under the influence of milk of the poppy. Sunfyre was too large to be moved, and due to his injuries unable to fly. The dragon remained at Rook's Rest, where guards were posted to keep him safe and feed him. With Aegon unable to rule, Prince Aemond assumed the style of Protector of the Realm.
Lord Corlys Velaryon, upon learning of the death of his wife, threatened to leave Rhaenyra’s cause, until Prince Jacaerys named him Hand of the Queen. Together they planned an assault on King's Landing, sent Prince Joffrey to the Vale of Arryn with Lady Rhaena and three dragon eggs and Joffrey’s dragon Tyraxes. Prince Aegon the Younger and Prince Viserys were sent to Pentos by ship, to be fostered with the Prince of Pentos, a friend of Prince Daemon's, until Rhaenyra had secured the throne.
Jacaerys wanted to attack the capital with as many dragons as possible. With six riderless dragons present on Dragonstone, Jacaerys called out to the dragonseeds, promising knightship and wealth to anyone who could master a dragon. Many men tried, and some women as well. Many were injured or died (amongst them Lord Commander Steffon Darklyn), though four people eventually succeeded: Vermithor was claimed by Hugh Hammer, Silverwing by Ulf the White, Seasmoke by Addam of Hull, and Sheepstealer by a girl named Nettles. Lord Corlys asked Rhaenyra to remove the taint of bastardy from Addam and his brother Alyn, making them true Velaryons, and named Addam heir to Driftmark.
Battle in the Gullet
- Main article: Battle in the Gullet
Meanwhile, ninety warships were sailing from the Stepstones chanced upon the Gay Abandon, carrying Prince Aegon the Younger and Prince Viserys. The escorting ships were sunk or taken. Prince Aegon managed to escape by clinging to the neck of his dragon, Stormcloud. During the flight, Stormcloud was injured terribly. Prince Viserys, having only a dragon egg, was unable to escape, and was made a captive of admiral Sharako Lohar of Lys.
Prince Aegon managed to make it to Dragonstone, and Prince Jacaerys on Vermax flew to the Lysene galleys, quickly followed by the four dragonseeds. The warships tried to flee. In the fighting Vermax flew too low and crashed into the sea. Jacaerys leapt free, but was pierced by quarrels.
The twenty-eight lysine ships that survived sacked Spicetown on their way back, and butchered men, women and children. High Tide, containing all the Corlys Velaryon 's treasures, was consumed by fire, one-third of his fleet brought down.
The Battle on the Honeywine
- Main article: Battle on the Honeywine
A fortnight later, Lord Ormund Hightower found himself stuck between two armies: Lord Thaddeus Rowan and Tom Flowers, from Goldengrove and Bitterbridge, came down on him from the northeast, while Ser Alan Beesbury, Lord Alan Tarly and Lord Owen Costayne were cutting off the retreat route back to Oldtown. They closed around him, when Prince Daeron on his dragon joined the battle. Tom Flowers died, Lord Rowan fled, the Alans were captured, and Lord Costayne was dying. The victory lead to Lord Hightower knighting Prince Daeron, naming him Daeron the Daring.
Fall of King's Landing
- Main article: Fall of King's Landing
Jacaerys’s death filled Rhaenyra with anger and hatred, and she decided to use her dragons.
Meanwhile, Lord Walys Mooton retook Rook's Rest, and attempted to kill Sunfyre, who was still wounded. The dragon fought back. Lord Mooton died and some of his men died, the others fled. When they returned, Sunfyre had disappeared. They found no tracks, suggesting Sunfyre had taken wing again despite his wounds. The dragon would not be seen for another half year.
The North was assembling forces, and the host Prince Daemon had gathered at Harrenhal was still growing as well. Prince Aemond believed Daemon to be the real danger, so. Aemond and Ser Criston rode forth from King's Landing with a host of four thousand and the dragon Vhagar. Daemon knew of their plans even before Aemond had left the capitol. He hastened south on Caraxes, staying well away from Criston’s line of march.
Aemond and Criston found Harrenhal abandoned after a nineteen day march, and believed themselves victorious. But with Vhagar away from King's Landing, Daemon on Caraxes had joined up with Rhaenyra on Syrax above King's Landing, while Corlys Velaryon's ships sailed into Blackwater Bay. Grand Maester Orwyle, trying to dispatch ravens asking for help, was arrested before a single letter could be send. Riders bearing messages were arrested at the city gates, and the seven captains commanding the gates we killed or arrested, all by those gold cloaks still loyal to Prince Daemon, who had once commanded them. The city gates were opened for the men arriving with the Velaryon fleet. King's Landing fell in less than a day.
All from the green council who had been in King's Landing when the attacks began were arrested, except for Lord Larys Strong, who had disappeared. With him, King Aegon II, Princess Jaehaera, Prince Maelor, and Ser Willis Fell and Rickard Thorne of the Kingsguard had disappeared. The other green council members yielded, and Rhaenyra took her place on the Iron Throne.
Dowager Queen Alicent was spared, but her father, Ser Otto was beheaded, as was Jasper Wylde. Ser Tyland Lannister was given to the torturers, in the hopes of regaining some of the gold he had hidden. Princes Joffrey and Aegon the Younger, Rhaenyra's remaining sons (Viserys was believed to be dead) were called to King’s Landing.
Battle by the Lakeshore/The Fishfeed
- Main article: Battle by the Lakeshore
A Lannister host, led by the old Lord Lefford, was on the move. At the western shores of the Gods Eye, they came across Lord Roderick Dustin with his Winter Wolves, who had combined his forces with Lord Forrest Frey and Red Robb Rivers. From the south, Longleaf the Lionslayer and Lords Bigglestone, Chambers, and Perryn locked him in. Lords Garibald Grey, Jon Charlton and Benjicot Blackwood joined up with the northmen and other rivermen the following day, whilst Lord Lefford's ravens were all shot down. The day after, they began their battle, which would be called the bloodiest land battle of the Dance. Hundreds died that day in the Battle by the Lakeshore, also called the Fishfeed.
Prince Aemond and Ser Criston Cole at Harrenhal could no longer agree on a plan of action. Cole wished to withdraw to the south, to join strength with Lord Hightower and Prince Daeron, while Aemond wished to attack the capital. They parted ways, with Cole taking the army south, whilst Prince Aemond remained to ravage the riverlands, hoping that Rhaenyra would send out a dragon after him.
The Red Kraken
At the beginning of the war, the office of master of ships had been offered to Dalton Greyjoy by the greens. Rhaenyra's council offered Lord Dalton something more to his liking, however, and so House Greyjoy declared for Rhaenyra. With the Lannister armies destroyed at the Fishfeed and the green armies of the Reach marching east to Tumbleton, the coasts of the westerlands only had skeleton defenses. For two years, Dalton and his Ironborn raided and pillaged the coasts of the Westerlands and the Reach. Greyjoy captured Kayce and Fair Isle, and though the ironborn could not force entry into Casterly Rock, they sacked Lannisport.
The Butcher's Ball
- Main article: Butcher's Ball
Aemond burned Darry, Lord Harroway's Town, Lord's Mill, Blackbuckle, Buckle, Claypool, Swynford and Spiderwood. Ser Criston, going south, found everything in front of him dead: forests, villages, horses, men. His scouts found scenes where armored corpses sat beneath the trees, rotting away, a mockery of the fallen throwing a feast. Seeing multiple “corpse feasts” during their march, Criston and his men grew accustomed to the sight. At Crossed Elms, however, the corpses were no true corpses at all, and attacked Criston and his men when they were riding past. In his flight, Cole fell upon the Lords of the Trident, with Roderick Dustin leading. Cole challenged them to single combat, but was refused. The battle was the most decisive in the Dance, and after Cole died, his remaining men broke and ran, and were killed by the hundreds in the rout. The massacre became known as the Butcher's Ball, and it marked the high point of Rhaenyra's fortunes.
Prince Daemon had taken residence at Maidenpool with Nettles,while Prince Aemond still terrorized the riverlands, striking at Stonyhead, the Mountains of the Moon, Sweetwillow and Sallydance, and many more. Each day Caraxes and Sheepstealer would take wing from Maidenpool to find Vhagar, but they did not succeed.
News of King Aegon II's children reached King's Landing as well. While Princess Jaehaera had safely arrived at Storm's End, Prince Maelor had been discovered and stopped by a mob of pro-Rhaenyra supporters at Bitterbridge. The mob of men and women clamored over the three-year old boy, each trying to claim him, until the boy was torn to pieces. When the Hightower army worked its way up the Roseroad to Bitterbridge some time later, it razed the castle to the ground in revenge.
The First Battle of Tumbleton
- Main article: First Battle of Tumbleton
The army of Lord Ormund Hightower, accompanied by Prince Daeron and his dragon, was slowly advancing on King's Landing, defeating Rhaenyra's loyalists wherever they went, as her armies fled before Tessarion. To defeat Daeron and Tessarion, Ulf the White and Hugh Hammer flew to Tumbleton.
Rhaenyra's forces at Tumbleton greatly outnumbered the Hightower army. People fleeing into the city for safety from Lord Hightower's army were secretly part of the army, and infiltrated the ranks of defenders. In addition, Ser Ulf the White and Ser Hugh Hammer, since then known as the Two Betrayers, changed their allegiance. Though Lord Ormund and his cousin Ser Bryndon died in the First Battle of Tumbleton, killed by Roddy the Ruin, who himself was mortally injured, the Hightower army kept the advantage. The dragons Vermithor, Silverwing and Tessarion loosened their flames upon Tumbleton. A savage sack followed.
Upon learning of the betrayels, Queen Rhaenyra ordered the city gates closed and barred. The Betrayels at Tumbleton made the black council question the loyalty of the other dragonseeds, Addam Velaryon and Nettles. Despite Corlys Velaryon speaking in their defense, Rhaenyra ordered Addam Velaryon and Nettles arrested. Ser Addam, who had been guarding the dragons at the Dragonpit, was warned by Lord Corlys, and escaped on Seasmoke, causing Corlys' arrest. Slowly, chaos started to arise again in King's Landing.
In Tumbleton, meanwhile, chaos reigned. Lord Hightower's army remained there, leaderless. Lord Ormunds sons were too young, and in Oldtown, and Prince Daeron, though a knight, he was still a boy, used to following commands. Ser Hobert, a Hightower cousin, presumed to take command. Prince Daeron commanded him to stop the savage sacking, but the man proved to be very ineffective. Ser Ulf, dreaming of Highgarden, became angry upon being granted Bitterbridge. Ser Hugh, began to dream of a crown of his own. With the Hightower army leaderless, desertions caused the army to shrink every day.
Dancing dragons at Dragonstone
Around the time of the First Battle of Tumbleton, the merchant cog Nessaria made a stop at Dragonstone for repairs and provisions, having been driven off course by a storm. They had passed the Dragonmont before arriving at Dragonstone's port, and there they had spotted two fighting dragons.
Inspired by the story from those of Volantis, local fisherman took their boats out for a look the next morning, and they reported having seen the burned and broken remains of a dead dragon. From the color of its scales and wings, they concluded the dead dragon was Grey Ghost, completely torn apart. Ser Robert Quince, Dragonstones castellan, named the Cannibal as the killer. Only later in the war would the truth surface.
Fall of Dragonstone
- Main article: Fall of Dragonstone
Having smuggled Aegon, Jaehaera and Maelor out of King's Landing, Lord Larys had dispatched Jaehaera and a Kingsguard to Storm's End, and Maelor and another Kingsguard to Lord Hightower. Larys himself had disguised King Aegon and smuggled him to Dragonstone. There, Aegon was kept hidden in disguise, until Sunfyre had found them. It had been Sunfyre who had fought and killed Grey Ghost, and had been spotted by Nessaria, not the Cannibal.
Rider and dragon went out flying again, regaining strength, while Aegon's loyal men had found people enough who were willing to betray Rhaenyra, due to mislike for her. Dragonstone had not been well defended, and it had fallen easily. There had only been one problem. Lady Baela, Prince Daemon’s daughter, had managed to escape her attackers and mount her dragon, Moondancer. She met Aegon II and Sunfyre in the sky, unexpectedly, where the two dragons fought. Sunfyre blinded Moondancer with fire, but the younger dragon fought on. The dragons eventually fell on the earth. On the ground, Sunfyre won the battle. King Aegon had jumped off Sunfyre’s back before the dragon hit the ground, but had broken both his legs. Baela had stayed strapped on Moondancer, and was burned and battered. She was taken captive, and King Aegon the Elder now held Dragonstone.
The Battle Above the Gods Eye
- Main article: Battle Above the Gods Eye
Lord Manfryd Mooton found himself in a difficult situation, when the message from Rhaenyra arrived from King's Landing, telling Mooton to send her the head of Nettles. Nettles, during her time with Prince Daemon, was said to have become his lover, according to Rhaenyra, and was thus guilty of high treason. Prince Daemon was to not be harmed. The decision Lord Mooton had to make was a difficult one, for Nettles was a guest beneath his roof, and killing her would mean breaking the guest right, and facing Prince Daemons wroth. Refusing Rhaenyra, however, would mean being attainted a traitor. Maester Norren suggested that they had never read the letter, and later that night, went to inform Daemon of Rhaenyra´s command.
The next day, Nettles mounted her dragon Sheepstealer, with tears on her cheeks. Daemon and Nettles spoke no word of farewell, but when Sheepstealer climbed the sky, Caraxes gave a scream. Nettles and her dragon disappeared that day, and were never seen again.
Prince Daemon told Lord Mooton to spread the word that he would fly for Harrenhal, so Aemond could come face him, alone. Once Daemon was gone, Lord Mooton took down Rhaenyra’s banners, and raised the golden dragons of King Aegon II.
Prince Daemon took Harrenhal from the few who still remained there, and waited for thirteen days. On the fourteenth day, Vhagar appeared in the sky, and on her back rode Prince Aemond and his bedmaid, the pregnant seer Alys Rivers. Dropping Alys on the ground, Daemon and Aemond had one last conversation before both Targaryens mounted their dragons and climbed into the sky. Caraxes fell down upon Vhagar, starting the fight. Their fight ended as the two dragons, locked together, tumbled down towards the lake. According to the tales, this was when Prince Daemon leapt from one dragon to the other, Dark Sister in his hand. Aemond looked up in terror, but was chained to his saddle, and could not do anything when Daemon ripped off Aemond's helm and drove the sword through Aemond's blind eye. The dragons struck the lake half a heartbeat later.
Caraxes lived long enough to crawl back onto the land, beneath the walls of Harrenhal, where he died. Vhagar died in the water, and was found some years later, when the Dance was over, with Aemond’s armored bones still chained to the saddle, and with Dark Sister still in his eye-socket. Daemon's remains, however, were never found, causing singers to tell that he survived to spend his last days with Nettles. It was the twenty-second day of the fifth moon of the year 130 AC.
The Riots at King's Landing
In King's Landing, the Velaryon fleet, counting more than half the army that had sailed from Dragonstone, had abandoned Rhaenyra when they learned Lord Corlys was in the black cells. Those who remained could no longer be trusted.
That same day, Queen Helaena threw herself from her window in Maegor's Holdfast and died impaled upon the iron spikes that lined the dry moat below. The stories told of Helaena’s death on the streets and in inns, by nightfall, were much darker. The people believed she had been murdered, as her sons before her. The rumours were believed very quickly. Tales tell that at the moment of Helaena’s death, her dragon Dreamfyre rose with a roar, snapping two of her chains.
That night a riot rose in King's Landing. The chaos was big, and neither noble nor lowborn was spared. Sailors unable to return to their ships attacked the River Gate. Ser Luthor and his gold cloaks went to Cobbler's Square, to disperse the rioters, but after the first had fled, there were ten thousand more, and they believed Luthor to have killed Helaena: the mere sight of him angered them even more. The rioters were ten thousands where the gold cloaks were only five hundred, and so the gold lloaks were slaughtered, Ser Luthor amongst them.
A hedge knight, Ser Perkin the Flea, crowned his squire Trystane Truefyre, declaring him to be King Viserys I's bastard. Ser Perkin then began dubbing all those who would support Trystane knights, and so many fled to their cause. The next day, some order was restored to parts of King's Landing again, but in the rest of the city, chaos remained.
That night Rhaenyra learned about Maidenpool's betrayel and the escape of Nettles. Rhaenyra send ravens to Winterfell and the Eyrie, pleading for more aid, and named a new Lord Commander to her Queensguard, Ser Glendon Goode. Prince Joffrey Velaryon donned his armor and begged to fight, but he was forbidden.
The night came once more, and Ser Perkin and “King” Trystane were gaining strength. The King's Gate and the Lion Gate were opened by rioters, the gold cloaks at the King's Gate having fled, and those guarding the Lion Gate having joined the rioters. With Ser Perkin holding the River Gate, three out of seven gates were now open to enemies.
The people of King's Landing no longer believed Rhaenyra could protect them and a mob twice as big as the one of the night before formed in the city. A crazed prophet made the mob turn their attention to the Dragonpit and the entire mob moved towards Rhaenys's Hill to kill the dragons. By the time they reached the hill, their numbers had doubled. Rhaenyra was watching all this unfold from Maegor's Holdfast. Prince Joffrey pleaded, fearing Tyraxes, his own dragon, would be killed, but Rhaenyra would not listen, insisting the mob would burn. Joffrey, dissatisfied, went outside and mounted Syrax, Rhaenyra’s she-dragon, the dragon that was not his own, to fly to the Pit. All attempts to get him back failed, as Syrax threw Joffrey off her back as arrows and spears flew up from below. Joffrey, not having used a saddle, fell from Syrax's back and crashed into the ground.
The battle in the Dragonpit began. Four dragons there were: Shrykos, who died first, slain by a woodsman who slamed his axe into her skull. Morghul was killed by the Burning Knight. Tyraxes went into his lair and roasted many before finally dying. And last Dreamfyre, who broke free of her remaining bonds, plunging into the mob with fire, tooth and claw. Dreamfyre slew more than the other three dragons combined, until a crossbow blinded one of her eyes. Dreamfyre then tried to leap free, and the weakened dome cracked under her force, only to crash down on both dragon and dragonslayers.
Syrax was still alive and free in the air, and descended on the survivors. Rhaenyra, watching from atop Maegor's Holdfast, would not dare let go of her last remaining son, Aegon the Younger, until she saw Syrax fall.
The Second Battle of Tumbleton
- Main article: Second Battle of Tumbleton
News of unrest in King's Landing reached Tumbleton, making the Hightower army believe they should advance upon the city, but Ser Hobert Hightower doubted, and the Two Betrayers refused to join unless their demands were met.
With Aemond slain and Aegon II still missing, the greens found themselves without a leader and a king. Prince Daeron was now next in line for the throne and there were some who wanted to name him Prince of Dragonstone, or even king, but the Two Betrayers did not agree. Lord Hugh Hammer wanted to be crowned king, by the rights of conquest. He had the oldest and largest dragon alive, Vermithor, thrice as big as Tessarion, Daeron’s dragon.
Offended by the arrogance of the Betrayers, the lords and knights of the Reach and Prince Daeron grew wroth. The Two Betrayers plotted together Hard Hugh Hammer's coronation, and indeed Hugh later wore a crown of black iron. When insulted, Hard Hugh’s men came to blows with loyalists, and Lord Unwin Peake and Ser Hobert summoned eleven other lords and landed knights, who together became known as the Caltrops, as to discuss what to do about the dragonseeds. They agreed that disposing of Ulf the White would be easy, but that Hammer was dangerous, surrounded by men and women day and night. They decided Hammer had to die first.
With Prince Daeron's consent, the Caltrops carried out their plans. But the day the Caltrops planned to strike, the people at Tumbleton woke at night to find themselves under attack. The dragon attacking was Seasmoke, with Addam Velaryon on his back, and with an army of four thousand loyal to Rhaenyra behind them. The great host encamped at Tumbleton outnumbered their attackers, but due to their long stay, they had grown lax.
Ulf was asleep inside Tumbleton, his dragon outside the town. They tried to wake him, but he slept through the entire Second Battle of Tumbleton. Hard Hugh did respond, and rushed to the yard, screaming for a horse so he could go and mount his dragon, when Lord Jon Roxton, one of the Caltrops, met up with him. He offered Hammer his condolences, and when asked why, he told the new made King he had died in battle, before killing Hammer. He was shortly after killed himself by Hammer's men in revenge. Prince Daeron died in the battle as well, though no one knows exactly how. Three different accounts exist on his death.
The three dragons encamped at Tumbleton were unchained, however, and all had been roused by the battle. Addam turned Seasmoke to meet Tessarion, and the two dragons danced around each other in the sky. Vermithor eventually rose into the sky as well, attacking everything he came across. And thus Addam turned Seasmoke towards him, to protect those men who were helping them, although he must have known Seasmoke could not beat Vermithor. The dragons were so locked together, neither could get free. Tessarion joined the fight, which ended with Vermithor ripping off the head of Seasmoke. Vermithor, due to his wounds, died next. Tessarion, after trice trying to fly, remained in pain, until Lord Benjicot Blackwood ordered her killed to end her suffering.
Though having won the battle, the rivermen had not been able to take the town. Tumbleton's walls were closed, and without a dragon or equipment, they could not start a siege, so the rivermen took all that they found useful and left. Only one dragon now remained at the city, Silverwing.
Eight of the thirteen Caltrops had died in the battle, and one would die the next day. Ser Hobert and Lord Unwin Peake remained, and both found Ulf the White, the last dragonrider, proclaiming himself their last hope. White now proposed to take the throne for him, since Prince Daeron was dead. And so Ser Hobert visited him the next day with two casks of wine, one red for himself, one golden arbor for White. Ulf, however, became suspicious of Ser Hobert, and insisted they drink the arbor gold together.
And so Ser Hobert drank deep, and asked for more. Having seen this, Ulf drank three cups, and died shortly after due to the poison mixed in the wine. Ser Hobert tried to retch, but for him it was too late as well, and he died within the hour.
Rhaenyra’s retreat to Dragonstone
Yet Rhaenyra did not know about this. She had been refused entry at Rosby and was allowed to stay only one night at Stokeworth, half her gold cloaks deserted on the road, and attackers killed several of her knights. At Duskendale they were admitted, but not allowed to stay long. Refusing to part from her son Aegon, and without ships, Rhaenyra sold her crown to buy passage on a Braavosi ship. And so she returned to Dragonstone, where she knew were more dragon eggs, for she needed a new dragon.
At Dragonstone, Rhaenyra found her castellan, Robert Quince, slain. As Ser Alfred Broome, angered when he had not been named castellan, showed Robert's burned body, his men killed all of Rhaenyra’s men, and imprisoned Rhaenyra, her ladies, and Aegon the Younger. Once inside the gates of the castle, Rhaenyra stood face to face with Aegon the Elder and Sunfyre.
Not long after Dragonstone had secretly fallen to Aegon II, ravens had arrived telling him about Rhaenyra’s return to Dragonstone. This had given Aegon the opportunity to prepare for the arrival of his half-sister.
And so it was that Rhaenyra found her brother in her own seat. Aegon II wasted no time, and had Rhaenyra fed to his dragon, whilst Aegon the Younger looked on. With the chance that Rhaenyra’s loyalists would continue the fight in her son's name, Aegon the Younger became a hostage. It was the twenty-second day of the tenth month of 130 AC.
On the ninth day of the twelfth month, Sunfyre the Golden died on Dragonstone. After this, Aegon started planning his return to King's Landing. Though Rhaenyra had died, her cause lived on. Aegon II would sit the throne again, but it would only lest another half of a year.
The Moon of the Three Kings
After Rhaenyra's forces abandoned King's Landing, chaos took control of the city for several weeks. The Shepherd had survived the destruction of the Dragonpit, and his mob ruled much of the city.
Two pretender kings came to be in the city. The first was Trystane Truefyre, the squire of the hedge knight Ser Perkin the Flea, who claimed the boy was a bastard son of the late King Viserys I. Ser Perkin had previously already been gathering support for Trystane, and after Rhaenyra's flight, installed Trystane in the Red Keep.
The second pretender king was a four year old boy named Gaemon Palehair, the son of a whore, who claimed the boy had been fathered by King Aegon II Targaryen. Given King Aegon's philandering ways, this was not seen as improbable, though the boy's mother would later admit that Gaemon had been the son of an oarsman from Lys when she was hanged. Gaemon ruled from atop of Visenya's Hill, from the House of Kisses, and gathered thousands of followers. He issued a series of edicts, amongst them one declaring that females should be equal to males in matters of inheritance. According to Archmaester Gyldayn, Mushroom claims that these edicts were almost certainly the work of the paramour of Gaemon's mother Essie, a dornish whore named Sylvenna Sand.
In the end, it was Lord Borros Baratheon and his stormlanders who seized King's Landing back. Trystane Truefyre was executed, though not before he received the boon of knighthood. Gaemon Palehair was arrested, and would survive the war. King Aegon II Targaryen arrived back at King's Landing, and installed himself in the Red Keep once more. Lord Corlys Velaryon, who had been arrested by Rhaenyra and left in the dungeons when she fled the city, was freed and named to Aegon's small council.
The Battle of the Kingsroad/The Muddy Mess
- Main article: Battle of the Kingsroad
With King's Landing secured for King Aegon II, Lord Borros led his armies against the riverlanders who were approaching the city. These Lads were led by Lord Kermit Tully, Lord Benjicot Blackwood, and Ben's aunt, Alysanne Blackwood.
Lord Borros, upon learning this, grew more confident in his victory, but it was Ben Blackwood, thereafter known as Bloody Ben Blackwood, who broke his flank, and "Black Aly" who led the archers that brought down Borros's knights. Lord Borros fought on, and killed Lords Darry and Mallister, before he himself was killed by Kermit Tully.
This left King's Landing with only meager defenses, with the Lads only a short distance away, while Lord Cregan Stark and his forces were marching south as well to reinforce them.
The End of the Dance
The black army of the Lads was now a day's march outside of King's Landing, and there were no significant green forces to stop them. Lord Cregan Stark was coming south, and other armies were coming from the Vale as well. Yet King Aegon II refused to surrender, even when Lord Corlys Velaryon, now master of ships on Aegon II's small council, advised him that the only remaining option was to surrender and join the Night's Watch. Instead, King Aegon II gave orders to have cut off the ear of his nephew, Aegon the Younger, and have it sent to the Lads as a warning - if his bloodline died, so would Rhaenyra's. Aegon climbed back into his litter, to be carried to his chamber, and was given a cup of wine along the way to ease his pain. When his escort arrived at his private chamber and lifted the litter's curtains, Aegon II was dead, with blood on his lips. Who exactly poisoned the king remains unknown to history, though twenty-two men would later be arrested for this crime.
The False Dawn
With King Aegon II dead, Aegon the Younger was crowned as King Aegon III Targaryen. Despite the hopes that the troubles were done - Aegon II's host had been defeated, the Velaryon fleet once more served the Iron Throne - the period that followed the war immediately was named "the False Dawn".
The realm faced numerous problems. The cruel winter that had begun the year before on Maiden's Day of 130 AC would last until 135 AC. Much of the realm had been burned out by dragonfire - in particular, Aemond Targaryen's one-man war riding Vhagar, which had burned out most of the riverlands. Broken men and outlaws roamed the countryside in the hundreds and thousands, and public order had collapsed in many places. The ironborn, under the command of the Red Kraken - who had only nominally sided with the blacks as a pretext to attack wealthy green kingdoms - now refused to acknowledge the boy-king's commands to stop raiding.
Lord Cregan Stark and his army of childless and homeless men, unwed men, and younger sons, had marched to King's Landing with the hopes of war, adventure and plunder, and for a glorious death. The sudden death of King Aegon II had robbed them of that chance, leaving Lord Cregan furious. He had wanted to punish Storm's End, Casterly Rock and Oldtown for having supported Aegon over Rhaenyra, but upon his arrival, Lord Corlys Velaryon had already send out ravens, suing for peace.
Hour of the Wolf
- Main article: Hour of the Wolf
Lord Cregan could not be dissuaded in punishing the betrayers and poisoners of King Aegon II. He found the poisoning foul murder, and had twenty-two men arrested in the name of Aegon III - Lords Larys Strong and Corlys Velaryon amongst them. He then made the young King Aegon III name him Hand of the King.
Lord Cregan reigned as Hand of the King for only a day, a day filled with trials and executions. Most of those accused chose to take the black - chief amongst them was Ser Perkin the Flea - yet two chose death (Ser Gyles Belgrave of the Kingsguard and Larys Strong the Clubfoot. Only Lord Corlys was spared the trial thanks to the intervention of Baela and Rhaena Targaryen. The day after the executions, Lord Cregan resigned as Hand, and returned to the north, leaving many of his northmen behind in the south.
- Main article: Regency of Aegon III
With the war over, a council of seven regents was established for the young Aegon III. They would continue to reign until 136 AC, the day when King Aegon III came of age. This regency period was filled with many troubles as the realm struggled to rebuild from the war. Out of the seven original regents, only Grand Maester Munkun would serve the full term. The first seven regents were Lord Corlys Velaryon, Lady Jeyne Arryn, Lord Royce Caron, Ser Torrhen Manderly, Lord Manfryd Mooton, Grand Maester Munkun, and Lord Roland Westerling.
There are three main sources for historical information on the Dance of the Dragons, which are frequently at odds with each other. Grand Maester Munkun's The Dance of the Dragons, A True Telling is perhaps the most famous, but it was based on the prison-cell account of his predecessor Grand Maester Orwyle (who was in office at the time of Viserys I's death), which was biased in favor of Rhaenyra. Munkun himself also introduced several inaccuracies. The next major source was written by Septon Eustace, the septon attached to the Red Keep at the time of Viserys I's death, titled The Reign of King Viserys, first of His Name, and the Dance of the Dragons That Came After. Eustace's account was biased in favor of Aegon II and against Rhaenyra. The third major source are the accounts of the dwarf Mushroom, the court fool at the Red Keep during the reign of Viserys I and through the reign of Aegon II. Mushroom's accounts were ribald, lurid, and thoroughly debauched - yet he did personally know many of the major figures during the Dance and was present during several major events, and was thus privy to information that neither Orwyle nor Eustace had access to. While many of his tales were obviously the height of slanderous gossip, a few of them seem plausible enough that they cannot be easily dismissed out of hand. Mushroom's accounts were later copied down (by an unknown writer) in The Testimony of Mushroom. The massive and authoritative history of Maester Gyldayn, written about a century later, carefully compared all three accounts and cross-referenced them with other reports - though there are points when even Gyldayn was not certain exactly what happened, so he would list off what the different accounts said, then comment on which one he found the most likely to be true.
Consequences of the Dance
In 171 AC, after the death of King Baelor I Targaryen, the succession of the throne was not crystal clear. Baelor had not appointed an heir, and thus, after his death, there were some, both of the smallfolk and lords, who felt that the Iron Throne should pass to the eldest of Baelor's sisters, Princess Daena Targaryen. However, the memories of Rhaenyra on the throne, and all the woes that had befallen Westeros during that time, were still fresh. Thus the Dance of the Dragons became part of the reason why Prince Viserys Targaryen, King Baelor's uncle, was chosen to ascend the throne over Daena.
By chosing Viserys over Daena, since the Dance, women came after all men in Targaryen succession.
The war is the subject of the song "The Dance of the Dragons", as well as The Dance of the Dragons, A True Telling, a somewhat inaccurate history by Grand Maester Munkun. Archmaester Gyldayn wrote a history of the war, The Princess and The Queen, or, The Blacks and The Greens. Maester Yandel also discusses the Dance in The World of Ice and Fire.
Family Tree of House Targaryen during the Dance
*Prince Daemon Targaryen was married to Lady Rhea Royce from 97 AC until 115 AC. He then married Lady Laena Velaryon in 115 AC; their marriage lasted until Laena's death in 120 AC. That same year, Daemon married his niece, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen.
References and Notes
- ↑ 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 1.23 The Princess and the Queen.
- ↑ Not A Blog: The Princess and the Queen
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 The Rogue Prince.
- ↑ The World of Ice and Fire, The North: The Lords of Winterfell.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 The World of Ice and Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon II.
- ↑ The World of Ice and Fire, Dorne: Queer Customs of the South.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 7.8 7.9 The World of Ice and Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon III.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 The World of Ice and Fire, The Stormlands: House Baratheon.
- ↑ Clarification: Question regarding Black Aly's relation to Benjicot and the clarifying answer
- ↑ The World of Ice and Fire, The Riverlands: House Tully.
- ↑ Stockholm and Archipelacon report, June 28, 2015
- ↑ The World of Ice and Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Viserys II.
- ↑ Comic Con San Diego, July 20-23, 2006,