Dragonstone

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Dragonstone
Castle
A clash of kings by grr martin by marcsimonetti-d84tkck.jpg
Dragonstone © Marc Simonetti
Location island of Dragonstone, crownlands
Government House Baratheon of Dragonstone , Feudal lord.
Religion Faith of the Seven (former), R'hllor
Founded 500 years ago, by the Valyrians
The crownlands and the location of Dragonstone
The crownlands and the location of Dragonstone
Dragonstone
The crownlands and the location of Dragonstone
This article is about the castle in the crownlands. For the island, see Dragonstone (island). For the hill in the Dothraki sea, see Dragonstone (hill).

Dragonstone is a castle located on the island of the same name at the entrance to Blackwater Bay. Located below the Dragonmont and shaped from stone to look like dragons, Dragonstone was the original seat of House Targaryen in Westeros, and had been colonized and fortified as the westernmost outpost of the Valyrian Freehold. The castle has a dark reputation,[1]

After Aegon's Conquest of the Seven Kingdoms, Dragonstone in the newly-created crownlands served as the seat of their heir apparent, known as the Prince of Dragonstone. After Robert Baratheon overthrew the Targaryens in Robert's Rebellion, he gave the castle to his brother Stannis, creating House Baratheon of Dragonstone.

Dragonstone, though old and strong, commands the allegiance of only a few lesser lords whose islands are too thinly populated to provide any great numbers of troops, although they have some naval strength. A short distance west of Dragonstone is the island of Driftmark, which is the seat of House Velaryon, a Valyrian house and historically a naval power. Other houses sworn to Dragonstone include Celtigar of Claw Isle, who are also of Valyrian descent, Seaworth of Cape Wrath, Bar Emmon of Sharp Point, and Sunglass of Sweetport Sound.[2]

The maesters at Dragonstone are Cressen and Pylos,[3] and the castle's sept is maintained by Septon Barre.[4] At least two members of House Blackberry serve at Dragonstone.[5][6]

Layout

See also: Images of Dragonstone
Maester Cressen on his balcony. © Fantasy Flight Games
Dragonstone watchtower
© Fantasy Flight Games

The ancient fortress was built using advanced Valyrian techniques of masonry that were lost in the Doom, causing it to look unique among all the castles in Westeros. The citadel of Dragonstone is wrought all of black stone (the "stones of hell", if old tales are true)[5] its towers carved into the shapes of dragons. Instead of merlons, grotesques and gargoyles serve as brooding crenellations along the three curtain walls.[7][5] Designs include basilisks, cockatrices, demons, griffins, hellhounds, manticores, minotaurs, wyverns, and other creatures.[8] When Maester Cressen first came to Dragonstone the army of grotesques had made him uneasy, but as the years passed he grew used to them, and in his old age he came to think of the 12-foot-tall hellhound and wyvern on his windswept balcony as old friends.[7]

The design of the castle is very dragon-oriented. Small dragons frame gates and dragon claws hold torches. A pair of great wings cover the armory and smithy, and tails form archways and staircases.[8]

  • The Stone Drum is the central keep of Dragonstone, named as such because of the booming sound made by the powerful winds during storms. Cells in the dungeons beneath the citadel are warmer than they ought to be, but as dank as one might expect for an isle such as Dragonstone. It is said that there are shafts and secret stairs leading further below into the heart of the Dragonmont. The Stone Drum is connected to the dungeon tower by a high stone bridge that arches over emptiness.[7]
  • The Chamber of the Painted Table, located on the top floor of the Stone Drum, is a round room, with four tall windows, overlooking the north, south, east and west. It holds a large table, carved and painted in the form of a detailed map of Westeros. Here, Aegon the Conqueror planned for the invasion of Westeros.[9] The Painted Table is more than fifty feet long: roughly twenty-five feet wide at its widest point and four feet at its thinnest. At the precise location of Dragonstone is a raised seat that allows the occupant to view the entire map.[7]
  • The Great Hall is carved in the shape of a huge dragon lying on its belly; its doors are set in the mouth and those entering pass through its mouth. The kitchens resemble a curled up dragon where the smoke and heat vented through its nostrils.[8]
  • Aegon's Garden is a garden near the arch of the Dragon's Tail. Within its confines grow tall trees on every side, as well as wild roses. Cranberries grow in a boggy spot.[5] Aegon's Garden has a pleasant pine scent.
  • Windwyrm is one of the towers of Dragonstone. It is shaped like a dragon and arches into the sky, screaming defiantly.[8]
  • Sea Dragon Tower is shaped like a dragon at peace, facing the sea. The maester's chambers lie in this tower, below the rookery. The stairs of the tower are narrow and twisting.[8] Going down the stairs of the Sea Dragon Tower, one must then cross the gallery, pass through both the middle and inner walls with their gargoyles and black iron gates, and climb even more steps to reach the Chamber of the Painted Table.
  • The sept contains carved statues of the seven aspects of the Faith of the Seven's god. The Crone has pearl eyes, the Father a gilded beard, and the Stranger looks more animal than human. They had been carved from the masts of the ships that carried the first Targaryens to Dragonstone, and many layers of paint and varnish had been applied to them over the centuries. The sept has several altars and stained glass as well.[4] It is said that Aegon the Conqueror knelt to pray in Dragonstone's sept the night before he sailed to conquer the Seven Kingdoms. This may be apocryphal, as Aegon only publicly converted when he reached Oldtown during his invasion - the sept could have been constructed after that fact.

History

House Targaryen colonization

Aegon's Painted Table by Kim Pope

Two centuries before the Doom, Valyrians took possession of the island and built a castle upon it, which became the westernmost outpost of the Valyrian Freehold.[10] The castle towers were shaped by Valyrian magic to look like dragons, giving it the name Dragonstone.

Twelve years prior to the Doom, Aenar Targaryen, the head of House Targaryen, relocated his family, their five dragons, and all their wealth to Dragonstone, because of the visions of his maiden daughter Daenys.[10] In Valyria their rivals saw the Targaryen flight to bleak Dragonstone as an act of cowardly surrender.[11] Four of the dragons brought from Valyria eventually died on Dragonstone, leaving only Balerion. However, two ‎eggs hatched and Vhagar and Meraxes were born.

The Targaryen Lords of Dragonstone were:[12]

Wars of Conquest

Main article: Aegon's Conquest

In 2 BC, Lord Aegon Targaryen launched his invasion of Westeros, conquering six of the Seven Kingdoms (Dorne alone resisted in the First Dornish War). The Targaryens of Dragonstone were supported by the nearby Velaryons of Driftmark and Celtigars of Claw Isle, both of whom were also of Valyrian origin.[13]

Aegon established his new seat, the Aegonfort, where he first made landfall at the mouth of the Blackwater Rush. The city of King's Landing eventually formed around it. In time, the Aegonfort was torn down and replaced by the Red Keep. King's Landing became the capital of the Seven Kingdoms and Dragonstone became the seat of the heir apparent to the Iron Throne, who was styled as the "Prince of Dragonstone" (or, in the cases of a female heir, the "Princess of Dragonstone"). Aegon the Conqueror died from a stroke while at the Chamber of the Painted Table.[14]

Dance of the Dragons

Main article: Dance of the Dragons

Rhaenyra Targaryen, Princess of Dragonstone and daughter of King Viserys I Targaryen, secretly wed her uncle, Prince Daemon Targaryen, at her castle of Dragonstone in 120 AC.[15] When Viserys died in 129 AC, Rhaenyra, his proclaimed heir, was eight months pregnant and confined on Dragonstone, awaiting the birth of her sixth child. Rhaenyra's half-brother claimed the throne and, with the help of the so-called "greens", was crowned King Aegon II Targaryen, with his sister-wife Helaena Targaryen as his queen. Princess Rhaenyra, upon learning of her father's death and her half-brother's coronation, went into a black fury, which caused a premature labor. Rhaenyra, after three days of labor, delivered a stillborn daughter, Visenya.[16]

Rhaenyra, once recovered, was crowned queen by her husband and uncle, Daemon. She declared war on her brother, beginning the Dance of the Dragons. The war lasted about two and a half years, and saw the deaths of many members of House Targaryen, including the deaths of both claimants, Rhaenyra and Aegon II, as well as most of the dragons who had lived during the Targaryen dynasty. The war saw many major battles, and saw King's Landing change hands on several occasions, as well as multiple claimants arising, some for a fortnight, some for a moon's turn. Rhaenyra was fed to Aegon II's dragon, Sunfyre, after the fall of Dragonstone.[16]

The Dance ended in 131 AC, after the death of King Aegon II, with the marriage of Rhaenyra's eldest surviving son, a prince also named Aegon, to Aegon II's only surviving child, Princess Jaehaera Targaryen. Rhaenyra's son Aegon was crowned as King Aegon III Targaryen.

War of the Usurper

Dragonstone castle in Game of Thrones
Main article: Robert's Rebellion

Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, the heir of King Aerys II Targaryen, decided to live at Dragonstone instead of the Red Keep of King's Landing after he wed Elia Martell.[17] The War of the Usurper, also known at Robert's Rebellion, broke out after Rhaegar kidnapped Lyanna Stark and Aerys executed Lord Rickard Stark and Brandon Stark.[18]

The most decisive battle of the War of the Usurper was the Battle of the Trident, where the royalist army met with the rebel army. Rhaegar was killed in the battle by Robert Baratheon, Lord of Storm's End. News of Rhaegar's death reached King's Landing before any army could, and Aerys II sent his pregnant sister-wife, Queen Rhaella, and his only surviving child, Prince Viserys, to the ancient Targaryen stronghold, Dragonstone. Aerys kept his daughter-in-law, Princess Elia Martell, and Rhaegar's two children by her, Princess Rhaenys and Prince Aegon, with him in King's Landing. The army of House Lannister later attacked the capital, leading to the deaths of the Mad King and Rhaegar's family in the Sack of King's Landing.

Nine moons after the flight from King's Landing, Rhaella died giving birth to Princess Daenerys Targaryen, while a summer storm was raging. The Targaryen fleet, which had been anchored before Dragonstone, was smashed, and huge stone blocks were ripped from the parapets and sent hurtling into the wild waters of the narrow sea.[19]

The new king, Robert I Baratheon, tasked his younger brother, Stannis, with building a new fleet to take Dragonstone. With the Targaryen fleet destroyed and Rhaella dead, Dragonstone's garrison was prepared to sell Viserys and Daenerys to Robert. Just before Stannis prepared to sail to Dragonstone, however, Ser Willem Darry and four loyal men broke into the nursery one night and stole the two children, the last scions of House Targaryen, and fled with a wet nurse, setting sail under cover of darkness for the safety of the Braavosian coast. Stannis commanded the successful Baratheon assault on Dragonstone.[19][20][21]

Baratheon Dynasty

Stannis Baratheon brooding on Dragonstone. Screencap from Game of Thrones Blu-ray.

After Robert's Rebellion ended, the castle passed to Stannis Baratheon, who became Lord of Dragonstone. Stannis resented the castle because its lands were far poorer than those of Storm's End, which he felt was his due as heir of House Baratheon, but King Robert I had granted that castle to their younger brother, Renly. Robert felt a strong leader should be placed in the old Targaryen seat, and its occupant was traditionally the heir to the Iron Throne. However, Robert was also angered that the Targaryen children had escaped to Essos, and Stannis considered Dragonstone to be an insult.[7]

Years later Stannis is still brooding and has not forgotten or forgiven Robert for not giving him his due, and says so to old Maester Cressen:

I never asked for Dragonstone. I never wanted it. I took it because Robert's enemies were here and he commanded me to root them out. I built his fleet and did his work, dutifully as a younger brother should be to an elder, as Renly should be to me. And what was Robert's thanks? He names me Lord of Dragonstone, and gives Storm's End and its incomes to Renly. Storm’s End belonged to House Baratheon for three hundred years; by rights it should have passed to me when Robert took the Iron Throne.[22]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

Stannis Baratheon, Lord of Dragonstone, returns to his seat from King's Landing shortly after King Robert I Baratheon travels north to offer the Hand of the King to Lord Eddard Stark.[23] According to Varys, Stannis is being aided by a shadowbinder from Asshai.[24]

A Clash of Kings

During the War of the Five Kings, the poor lands of Dragonstone give King Stannis few supporters for his claim to the Iron Throne. The castle's maester, Cressen, is killed during his attempt to poison Melisandre.[22] Queen's men sack the sept and Melisandre burns the statues of the Seven outside of the castle's gates.[4]

After his defeat at the Battle of the Blackwater, Stannis retreats to Dragonstone with less than 1,300 swords and a token fleet in order to plot his next move.

A Storm of Swords

Ser Davos Seaworth is imprisoned for plotting to kill Melisandre,[5] but is eventually freed by Stannis.[9]

Davos secretly smuggles Edric Storm from the castle against the wishes of Stannis. In his defence Davos tells Stannis that a king has a duty to his people, and reads a recent letter from the Night's Watch explaining the desperate situation the men of the Night's Watch are in.[6]

Stannis Baratheon and his forces leave Dragonstone to defend Castle Black and the Wall.[25] Ser Rolland Storm, the Bastard of Nightsong, is made castellan of the castle in the absence of Stannis.[26]

A Feast for Crows

Forces loyal to King Tommen I Baratheon commanded by Lord Paxter Redwyne lay siege to the island.[27]

Lord Aurane Waters reports to Queen Cersei Lannister that Ser Loras Tyrell of the Kingsguard took command and stormed the castle, taking it at a heavy cost to himself and his forces. Cersei believes Aurane wants Dragonstone for himself, but she considers Rosby to be more suitable for Lord Waters.[9]

Chapters that take place at Dragonstone

Quotes

Dragonstone was grim beyond a doubt, a lonely citadel in the wet waste surrounded by storm and salt, with the smoking shadow of the mountain at its back.[22]
- thoughts of Cressen


I never asked for Dragonstone. I never wanted it.[22]
- Stannis Baratheon to Cressen


A place of dragons and dragonlords, the seat of House Targaryen.[8]
- thoughts of Davos Seaworth


The Valyrians had raised it, after all, and all their works stank of sorcery.[28]

- thoughts of Kevan Lannister


If you look at how the citadel of Dragonstone was built and how in some of its structures the stone was shaped in some fashion with magic... yes, it's safe to say that there's something of Valyrian magic still present.[29]
- George R. R. Martin

References and Notes

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