Elia Martell, art by Elalendi ©.
|Alias||Elia of Dorne|
|Born||In 256 AC or 257 AC, at Sunspear|
|Died||In 283 AC, at King's Landing|
|Spouse||Prince Rhaegar Targaryen|
The World of Ice & 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 or Elia of Dorne 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 in the sack of King's Landing during Robert's Rebellion.
Appearance and Character
Elia Martell was said to be beautiful, slender, with black eyes, and a flat chest. She always had a delicate health, having been born a month premature, which did not permit her much travel in her youth. According to Barristan Selmy, Elia was a gentle, good, and gracious lady, but he also describes her as frail, due to her delicate health. He also says she was kind and clever, with a sweet wit.
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 did not expect her to live, when he learned about her birth; she survived, however, though her health was always fragile thereafter. During her youth she was very close to her younger brother, Oberyn, to whom she was only one year apart.
When Elia reached the age of marriage, she and her brother Oberyn, together with their mother and their mother's 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. Oberyn mocked all Elia's suitors. In Oldtown, Elia met Baelor Hightower, whom she liked most of all her suitors. She had been half in love with him, until he farted in the presence of both her and Oberyn, leading to Oberyn naming him "Baelor Breakwind". Elia could not look at him without laughing afterwards.
Elia's mother had known Lady Joanna Lannister from the time they both served as ladies in waiting to Queen Rhaella Targaryen. Despite having learned of Joanna's death in childbirth, in 273 AC, during their stay at Oldtown, the Martells traveled onwards to Casterly Rock. Oberyn Martell believes that his mother had planned with Joanna to marry either Elia or Oberyn to one of Joanna's twins, Jaime and Cersei, since there had been an empty cabin on their ship, meant for someone of high birth. Waiting until it was decent, Elia's mother eventually broached the subject of marriage to Lord Tywin Lannister, first suggesting a match between Cersei and Oberyn, next a match between Elia and Jaime. Tywin refused both matches brusquely, informing her how Cersei was meant to marry Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, and suggesting the new-born Tyrion as betrothed to Elia instead, which was taken as an insult.
Several years later, Elia's mother was able to arrange her marriage to Prince Rhaegar. In early 279 AC, Elia and Rhaegar were betrothed. They married a year later, in 280 AC, in a great ceremony at the Great Sept of Baelor in King's Landing. They moved to Dragonstone shortly after their wedding, where later in 280 AC, Rhaegar and Elia's first child was born, Rhaenys. When the baby was presented to Rhaegar's parents at court, 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.
Their marriage — though not romantic — seemed happy, although Elia's health, which had always been problematic, remained fragile. Elia was bedridden for half a year after giving birth to Rhaenys, and giving birth to Aegon nearly killed her. Following Aegon's birth, the maesters told Rhaegar that Elia would bear no more children.
Elia attended the tourney at Harrenhal in 281 AC, during the year of the false spring, together with her husband, Prince Rhaegar, and her father-in-law, King Aerys II Targaryen. Rhaegar won the tournament, and was to crown the queen of love and beauty. However, he passed over Elia, and crowned Lady Lyanna Stark of Winterfell instead. Elia's reaction to the event remains unknown. At the start of the next year, Rhaegar left Elia and their newborn son Aegon on Dragonstone, and took to the road with several companions. Not long thereafter, Rhaegar disappeared with Lyanna, and this event was one of the events which sparked Robert's Rebellion. According to Rhaegar's younger brother, Viserys, Rhaegar was simply not happy with his marriage. He believes that, if Rhaegar had been happy with Elia, he would not have needed Lyanna. George R.R. Martin has described Elia's relationship to Rhaegar as "complex".
Elia's elder brother the Prince of Dorne, Doran Martell, had been furious at Elia's mistreatment, and thus was slow to lend aid to House Targaryen during the war. Preparing to battle the rebels, King Aerys II Targaryen threatened Elia's uncle, Prince Lewyn Martell of the Kingsguard, gracelessly reminding him that he held Elia and her young children. Lewyn took control of the ten thousand Dornishmen who had eventually been sent to aid the Targaryens, and accompanied Elia's husband, Rhaegar, to fight in the battle of the Trident. Lewyn and Rhaegar both died at the Trident, and King Aerys, due to his paranoia, believed that Prince Lewyn must have betrayed Rhaegar during the battle. As a consequence, he kept Elia and both of her children in King's Landing as hostages against possible Dornish betrayal.
For most of the rebellion, House Lannister had remained neutral, but after the battle of the Trident, Lord Tywin Lannister and twelve thousand of his westermen approached the capital. King Aerys opened the gates to them, mistaking them for allied reinforcements. Instead they began to sack the city in the name of King Robert. Ser Jaime Lannister later recollected that as he himself was murdering Aerys to prevent the wildfire plot, Ser Gregor Clegane and Ser Amory Lorch were scaling the walls of Maegor's Holdfast, while Lord Eddard Stark was leading his own forces through the city gates. 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. Ser Gregor Clegane murdered Elia's son, Prince Aegon, in front of her by smashing his head against a wall. He then raped and killed her by crushing her head.
Consequences to Elia's murder
Although Ser Gregor Clegane involvement is common knowledge at Casterly Rock, the official histories (written by the victors) records that it is not known who murdered Princess Rhaenys in her bed, or who smashed the infant Prince Aegon's head against a wall and killed Elia. Some rumors say King Aerys II 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.
However, according to Tywin Lannister himself, he thought the deaths of Elia's children had been necessary to prove the loyalty of House Lannister to the rebel cause after his neutrality, so he directly ordered them killed. Tywin claims, however, that he had never ordered the rape, and that Elia, by herself, had been nothing, stating that her death had been unnecessary. He claims that he most likely had neglected to mention her when giving orders to Gregor Clegane, and that Clegane had killed her because he had not explicitly been told by Tywin to spare her. Elia's younger brother, Prince Oberyn, however, believes that Tywin 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, marrying Elia, whom Tywin had refused for his own heir, to Rhaegar instead.
The Martells were enraged by the murder of Elia and her children. Oberyn wanted to continue the war and champion the cause of Prince Viserys Targaryen, the only surviving son of King Aerys II Targaryen. Secret messages were sent, but the new Hand of the King, Lord Jon Arryn, travelled to Sunspear, where he returned the body of Prince Lewyn Martell, and spoke with Prince Doran, ending all talks of war. However, Doran Martell, the Prince of Dorne, claims he has been working on the downfall of Tywin since the day he was told about the fates of Elia and her children.
A Game of Thrones
A Storm of Swords
Ser Jaime Lannister has a nightmare involving Elia's husband, Prince Rhaegar Targaryen. He stands between Jaime's deceased sworn 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.
Prince Oberyn Martell arrives in King's Landing, asking for justice for Elia and her children. 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. He extracts a confession from Clegane after mortally wounding him, but Gregor takes advantage of Oberyn letting his guard down, and kills him.
A Feast for Crows
It is revealed that Prince Doran Martell has been plotting secretly to restore the Targaryens and revenge himself on Lord Tywin Lannister, whom he and his brother, Oberyn, held responsible for the murders of Elia and her children.
A Dance with Dragons
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.
Jon Connington believes that Elia was not worthy of Rhaegar. 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".
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.
I grant you, it was done too brutally. Elia need not have been harmed at all, that was sheer folly.
You raped her. You murdered her. You killed her children.
- See the Elia Martell calculation.
- George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Elia Martell.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 3, Daenerys I.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 58, Eddard XV.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 70, Tyrion X.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aerys II.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Fall of the Dragons: The Year of the False Spring.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Dorne: Dorne against the Dragons.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 63, Daenerys V.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 11, Jaime II.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 24, Bran II.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 24, Cersei V.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 2, The Captain Of Guards.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 42, Daenerys IV.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 67, The Kingbreaker.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 23, Daenerys IV.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 38, Tyrion V.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 19, Tyrion III.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Fall of the Dragons: The Year of the False Spring.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 61, The Griffin Reborn.
- ConCarolinas May 30 - June 1, 2014, Q&A
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 37, Jaime V.
- So Spake Martin: The Baratheon Brothers (September 11, 1999)
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 12, Eddard II.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 53, Tyrion VI.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 17, Tyrion IV.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Fall of the Dragons: The End.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 40, Princess In The Tower.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 44, Jaime VI.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 66, Tyrion IX.