Elia Martell

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Elia Martell
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Elia martell by daenerys mod.jpg
Illustration by Elia Fernandez©

Alias Elia of Dorne
Title Princess
Allegiance House Martell
House Targaryen
Born In 256 AC or 257 AC[1]
Died In 283 AC[1], at King's Landing
Spouse Prince Rhaegar Targaryen
Book(s) The World of Ice and Fire (mentioned)
A Game of Thrones (mentioned)
A Clash of Kings (mentioned)
A Storm of Swords (mentioned)
A Feast for Crows (mentioned)
A Dance with Dragons (mentioned)

Princess Elia Nymeros Martell, also known simply as Elia Martell, was a Dornish princess from House Martell. She was married to the crown prince, Rhaegar Targaryen, and by him birthed Rhaenys and Aegon. Elia was raped and murdered by Ser Gregor Clegane during the Sack of King's Landing.

Appearance and Character

See also: Images of Elia Martell

Elia Martell was said to be beautiful,[2] with the typical Martell features of dark hair, black eyes and olive skin.[3] According to Barristan Selmy, Elia was a gentle, good, and gracious lady, but frail due to her delicate health.[4] He also says she was kind and clever, with a sweet wit.[5]


Early years

Elia Martell was the fourth child and first daughter born to the ruling Princess of Dorne, and the second child to live past infancy. She was born a month premature, and her older brother Doran was afraid she would not live; she survived, however, though her health was always fragile thereafter.[6] During her youth she was very close to her younger brother, Oberyn.[7]

When Elia became old enough to marry, she and her brother Oberyn, together with their mother and her consort, traveled from Dorne to several potential suitors for both Elia and Oberyn. Amongst the places they visited were Starfall, the Arbor, Oldtown, the Shield Islands, Crakehall, and finally Casterly Rock. Mostly due to the behavior of her brother Oberyn, Elia rejected all of her potential suitors; even Baelor Hightower, whom Elia liked most of all her suitors, until Baelor farted once in the presence of both her and Oberyn, and Oberyn named him "Baelor Breakwind". Elia could not look at him without laughing afterwards.[8]

Elia's mother, who was good friends with Lady Joanna Lannister, then brought Oberyn and Elia to Casterly Rock with the idea of marrying one or both of them to Lady Joanna's twin children, Cersei and Jaime. Unfortunately, during the Martells' journey, Joanna died giving birth to Tyrion Lannister, and when the Martells arrived Lord Tywin Lannister was unreceptive to the proposal. He told them that Cersei was meant for Crown Prince Rhaegar Targaryen. Then, when Elia's mother asked for Jaime, Tywin instead offered her Tyrion, which the Martells took as an insult.[8]


Marriage to Prince Rhaegar Targaryen

Elia's mother was able to arrange her marriage to the crown prince, Rhaegar Targaryen, in 279 AC, and they were married a year later in 280 AC.[9] Rhaegar and Elia's first child, Rhaenys, was born in 280 AC on Dragonstone. When the baby was presented to Rhaegar's parents in King's Landing, Queen Rhaella embraced her granddaughter warmly, but King Aerys refused to touch or hold the child and complained that she "smells Dornish." Rhaegar and Elia's second child, Aegon, was born near the new year of 282 AC.[9]

Their marriage—though not romantic—seemed happy, although Elia's health, which had always been problematic, remained fragile.[4] Jon Connington once stated that Elia was bedridden for half a year after giving birth to Rhaenys and nearly died giving birth to Aegon, after which the maesters told Rhaegar she would be unable to have any more children.[10]

Rhaegar and Elia's final goodbye - by Denkata5698 ©

At the tourney at Harrenhal in 281 AC, Elia's husband Rhaegar apparently became infatuated with Lyanna Stark. He won the tournament and crowned her queen of love and beauty, passing over his wife.[4] Elia's reaction to the event remains unknown. A year later Rhaegar either abducted or ran off with Lyanna, and this event sparked Robert's Rebellion. According to Viserys Targaryen, Rhaegar was simply not happy with his marriage. If Rhaegar was happy with Elia, he would not have needed Lyanna. He once blamed their sister Daenerys Targaryen for being born too late to marry Rhaegar. A happily married Rhaegar would need neither Elia nor Lyanna. Daenerys countered that, by the same logic, it was the fault of Viserys that he was not a girl, because then he would be the sister destined for Rhaegar. Viserys beat her cruelly for her insolence.[4]


During the war, Elia's husband Rhaegar was killed by Lord Robert Baratheon at the Battle of the Trident. Rhaegar's father, the Mad King Aerys II, due to his paranoia, believed that Elia's Kingsguard uncle, Prince Lewyn, must have betrayed Rhaegar on the Trident, so Aerys kept Elia and both of her children in King's Landing as hostages against possible Dornish betrayal.[11]

Princess Elia's last moments - by Achen089 ©

For most of the rebellion, the Lannisters had remained neutral, ignoring calls to arms by both the rebels and the loyalists. After the Battle of the Trident, Tywin Lannister and 12,000 of his westermen approached the capital. Aerys opened the gates to them, mistaking them for allied reinforcements. Instead they began to sack the city in the name of King Robert.[12] Ser Jaime Lannister later recollected that as he himself was murdering Aerys to prevent the wildfire plot, Gregor Clegane and Amory Lorch were scaling the walls of Maegor's Holdfast, while Eddard Stark was leading his own forces through the city gates.[13] Elia's daughter, Princess Rhaenys, was killed by Ser Amory after breaking the door down; he dragged the screaming toddler from under her father's bed and stabbed her over fifty times.[14] Ser Gregor Clegane murdered Elia's son Aegon in front of her by smashing his head against a wall. He then raped and killed her by crushing her head.[15][8]

Results of Elia's murder

According to official histories, it is not known who murdered Princess Rhaenys in her bed, or smashed the infant Prince Aegon's head against a wall. Some rumors say Aerys had commanded it when he learned that Tywin Lannister had taken up Robert's cause, while others suggest that Elia did it herself for fear of what would happen to her children in the hands of her dead husband's enemies.[16] However, according to Tywin Lannister himself, he thought it necessary to prove the Lannister loyalty to the rebel cause after his neutrality, so he directly ordered the deaths of Rhaegar and Elia's children. Tywin later said that he had instructed his captains to kill the royal children to secure the throne for Robert I Baratheon, but had forgotten about Elia and had not intended for her to die.[14] Oberyn Martell, however, believes Tywin Lannister had Elia and her children killed as revenge for the slight he suffered when Aerys II refused the marriage of his son and heir, Rhaegar, to his daughter, Cersei.[8]

Elia's body, along with that of the two children, were wrapped in crimson Lannister cloaks and presented to Robert Baratheon as a token of fealty. Eddard Stark was disgusted with the act and was haunted afterwards with the memories of Elia and her children's bloody bodies. Robert Baratheon, however, was secretly pleased about their deaths and apathetic to the bodies of the young mother and her two children.[12]

The Martells were enraged by the murder of Elia and her children. Oberyn wanted to continue the war and champion the cause of Viserys Targaryen, the only surviving Targaryen prince, and only the intervention of Hand Jon Arryn and the return of Lewyn Martell's bones to Dorne ended the talk of war.[14] Furthermore, Doran Martell, who had succeeded his mother as ruler of Dorne, knew that his people were not strong enough to fight and thus overtly made peace, but continued secretly plotting the downfall of Tywin Lannister.[17]

Recent Events

A Storm of Swords

Jaime Lannister has a nightmare involving Elia's husband, Rhaegar Targaryen. He stands between Jaime's deceased brothers of the Kingsguard and burns with a cold light, now white, now red, now dark. He tells Jaime:

I left my wife and children in your hands.

Jaime replies to Rhaegar that he never thought his father would hurt them.[18]

When Tyrion Lannister stands on trial for the murder of King Joffrey I Baratheon and learns his adversary in a trial by battle will be Ser Gregor Clegane, Oberyn sees an opportunity for vengeance for Elia and champions Tyrion.[19] He extracts a confession from the Mountain after mortally wounding him, but Gregor takes advantage of Oberyn letting his guard down, and kills him.[8]

A Feast for Crows

It is revealed that Prince Doran Martell has been plotting secretly to restore the Targaryens and revenge himself on Tywin Lannister, whom he and his brother, Oberyn, held responsible for the murders of Elia and her children.[17]

A Dance with Dragons

Daenerys Targaryen says to Ser Barristan Selmy that he saw her brother Rhaegar wed; she asks him to tell her if Rhaegar wed for love or duty. Barristan hesitates and says:

Princess Elia was a good woman, Your Grace. She was kind and clever, with a gentle heart and a sweet wit. I know the prince was very fond of her.

Dany thinks to herself that the word fond speaks volumes, but Barristan compares their marriage positively with that of her own father and mother, who were not fond of each other when they wed. He says that the Seven Kingdoms in turn paid dearly for this lack of affection.[5]

Jon Connington believes that Elia was not worthy of Rhaegar.[10] Ser Barristan Selmy thinks that Elia's looks could never match those of her lady-in-waiting, Ashara Dayne, next to whom the Dornish princess was "a kitchen drab".[20]

Quotes about Elia

Daenerys: ... that was the tourney when he crowned Lyanna Stark as queen of love and beauty! Princess Elia was there, his wife, and yet my brother gave the crown to the Stark girl, and later stole her away from her betrothed. How could he do that? Did the Dornish woman treat him so ill?

Barristan: It is not for such as me to say what might have been in your brother’s heart, Your Grace. The Princess Elia was a good and gracious lady, though her health was ever delicate.[4]

Daenerys Targaryen and Barristan Selmy

I grant you, it was done too brutally. Elia need not have been harmed at all, that was sheer folly.[14]
Tywin Lannister, to Tyrion Lannister

Justice is in short supply this side of the mountains. There has been none for Elia, Aegon or Rhaenys.[19]
Oberyn Martell

You raped her. You murdered her. You killed her children.[8]
Oberyn Martell, to Gregor Clegane

If you die before you say her name, ser, I will hunt you through all seven hells.[8]
Oberyn Martell, to Gregor Clegane

It must have been the madness that led Aerys to refuse Lord Tywin's daughter and take his son instead, whilst marrying his own son to a feeble Dornish princess with black eyes and a flat chest.[21]
Cersei Lannister


Princess of Dorne
Mellario of Norvos
Rhaegar Targaryen
Various women
Oberyn "the Red Viper"
Ellaria Sand
Rhaenys TargaryenAegon Targaryen
Obara SandNymeria SandTyene SandSarella Sand
Elia SandObella SandDorea SandLoreza Sand

References and Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 See the Elia Martell calculation.
  2. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 24, Bran II.
  3. So Spake Martin: A Number of Questions, August 26, 2000
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 42, Daenerys IV.
  5. 5.0 5.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 23, Daenerys IV.
  6. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 2, The Captain Of Guards.
  7. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 38, Tyrion V.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 70, Tyrion X.
  9. 9.0 9.1 The World of Ice and Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aerys II.
  10. 10.0 10.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 61, The Griffin Reborn.
  11. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 37, Jaime V.
  12. 12.0 12.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 12, Eddard II.
  13. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 11, Jaime II.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 53, Tyrion VI.
  15. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 3, Daenerys I.
  16. The World of Ice and Fire, The Fall of the Dragons: The End.
  17. 17.0 17.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 40, Princess In The Tower.
  18. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 44, Jaime VI.
  19. 19.0 19.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 66, Tyrion IX.
  20. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 67, The Kingbreaker.
  21. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 24, Cersei V.

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