Rhaegar Targaryen

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Rhaegar Targaryen
House Targaryen.svg
Rhaegar twoiaf.jpg
Rhaegar Targaryen, as depicted by Karla Ortiz in The World of Ice & Fire.

Alias Silver prince[1]
The dragon prince[2]
The last dragon[3]
Title Prince of Dragonstone
Ser
Allegiance House Targaryen
Race Valyrian
Culture Crownlands
Born In 259 AC[4], at Summerhall[5][4]
Died In 283 AC[N 1], at the Trident[6][7]
Spouse Princess Elia Martell
Issue Rhaenys Targaryen
Aegon Targaryen
Book(s) 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)
The Winds of Winter (mentioned)

Played by Wilf Scolding
TV series Season 7

Prince Rhaegar Targaryen was the firstborn son of King Aerys II Targaryen and his sister-wife, Queen Rhaella.[8] As heir-apparent, he was the Prince of Dragonstone and crown prince for the Iron Throne. Rhaegar was popular with the smallfolk during his lifetime, but he died in Robert's Rebellion which was triggered in part by his abduction of Lyanna Stark. He was slain in single combat by Robert Baratheon at the ruby ford during the battle of the Trident. Rhaegar was the elder brother of the exiled last members of House Targaryen, Prince Viserys and Princess Daenerys.

In the television adaptation Game of Thrones, Rhaegar is portrayed by Wilf Scolding in flashbacks.

Appearance and Character

The beautiful[9][10] Rhaegar had deep purple[11] or indigo colored eyes.[12] He had long, elegant fingers,[9] and was taller than his younger brother, Viserys, would be in his adulthood.[12] Rhaegar's hair was similar[12] to the silver-blond of Viserys and their sister, Daenerys.[13] The hair of Aurane Waters is reminiscent of Rhaegar's,[14] although the Bastard of Driftmark's is more silvery than gold.[15]

Rhaegar owned night-black plate armor, with the three-headed dragon of House Targaryen decorated in rubies on its breastplate,[6][16][17] and underneath the plate he wore golden ringmail.[9] Rhaegar decorated his helm with gold, orange, and red silken streamers resembling flames.[9]

Rhaegar was an intelligent young man, who excelled at anything to which he put his mind,[18] and grew to be a great knight and a skilled musician.[19] The latter, however, held his preference; men said Rhaegar loved his silver-stringed harp more than he loved his lance.[19] Jorah Mormont has described Rhaegar as valiant, honorable, and noble[20] while Barristan Selmy has called him determined, deliberate, dutiful, and single-minded.[18] The crown prince was said to have been uninterested in the play of other children as a boy, but bookish "to a fault". He learned to read at such an early age that people jested that his mother Rhaella had swallowed some books and a candle during her pregnancy.[18] Later in life, however, Rhaegar did acquire several trusted and loyal companions.[18] Rhaegar was deeply affected by "the shadow of Summerhall", because he was "born in grief" and was considered melancholic at times.[19] At the same time, Summerhall was also Rhaegar's favorite place.[19]

The prince was well-loved by the people of the Seven Kingdoms[9] during his lifetime and is still fondly remembered to this day.[20] While Robert Baratheon despises Rhaegar and accuses him of having raped Lyanna Stark, the only thought of Eddard Stark, Lyanna's brother, is he did not think Rhaegar frequented brothels.[21] Jaime Lannister remembers the iron tones of Rhaegar's voice.[17] Barristan Selmy, who served three kings, thinks that Rhaegar would have been better than any of them.[22] His sister, Daenerys, is frequently compared to Rhaegar as a compliment.[23][24][19] People who had romantic feelings toward Rhaegar include Cersei Lannister[9] and Jon Connington.[25]

History

Early life

Prince Rhaegar and Princess Elia Martell of Dorne's wedding.

Prince Rhaegar was the firstborn son of King Aerys II Targaryen and Queen Rhaella. He was born at Summerhall in 259 AC, on the same day as the great tragedy there.[5][26][4] As a child he read obsessively, to the point that jests were made about his habits. He became a noted warrior later in life, although he did not initially seem inclined to martial habits. However, apparently by something he had read, Rhaegar became motivated to become a warrior.[19]

At the age of seventeen, Rhaegar was knighted,[9][4] and from all reports grew into a highly skilled and capable fighter, always distinguishing himself well at tournaments, although he seldom entered the lists - he never loved the song of swords the way that men like Robert Baratheon or Jaime Lannister did.[19]

Rhaegar's squires were Myles Mooton and Richard Lonmouth, and after he knighted them they remained close companions. Jon Connington, whom he had squired with,[27] was a good friend to Rhaegar as well. Returning from a trip to Dorne, Rhaegar once visited the Connington seat of Griffin's Roost. His songs brought the castle's women to tears, while Lord Armond Connington sought House Targaryen's support against rival House Morrigen.[11] Rhaegar's closest and oldest friend, however, was Ser Arthur Dayne,[18] the Sword of the Morning, trusting him more than Ser Barristan Selmy.[28]

Rhaegar often liked to visit the ruins of Summerhall with only his harp and when he returned he sang songs of such beauty they could reduce women to tears. Although Rhaegar was often dour, private and bookish, Cersei Lannister noted at the tournament in honor of Viserys's birth in Lannisport in 276 AC that the smallfolk cheered for Lord Tywin Lannister twice as much as for King Aerys II, but only half as loudly for Tywin as for Rhaegar.[9] Rhaegar fought well in the tourney besting a dozen skilled knights, among them Barristan Selmy, Gerion, and Tygett Lannister but was defeated in the champion's tilt by his friend Arthur Dayne.[4] Aerys refused Tywin's offer at the tourney to betroth Cersei to Rhaegar.[9] Rhaegar defeated Arthur in the tourney at Storm's End.[19]

Rhaegar was born at a time when the Targaryen's had declined, and once he came of age, there was no sister, or anyone else of their bloodline, available for him to marry.[29][30] King Aerys sent his first cousin, Lord Steffon Baratheon, to seek a bride for Rhaegar.[30] Despite Valyrian blood still being present in Essos, Steffon could not find appropriate females of noble-enough birth for Rhaegar to wed.[4]

After this in early 279 AC, Rhaegar was formally betrothed to the Dornish princess, Elia Martell, the younger sister of Doran Martell, Prince of Dorne. They married the following year in 280 AC, a lavish ceremony was held at the Great Sept of Baelor. His father did not attend the wedding as he was paranoid about an assassination attempt and nor did he permit the young Prince Viserys to attend. Rhaegar and his father's relationship was straining at this point, and he and his new bride took up residence on Dragonstone instead of King's Landing. Rhaegar and Elia had their first child, a girl named Rhaenys,[8] in 280 AC. When the babe was presented at court, Rhaegar's mother, Queen Rhaella, embraced her grandchild warmly while King Aerys remarked: "she smells Dornish". The relationship between Aerys and Rhaegar became more and more estranged.[4]

Elia and Rhaegar had a son they named Aegon. Elia, due to her delicate health, was bed-ridden 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.[11]

Maester Aemon, whom Rhaegar corresponded with via raven messages, remembers that Rhaegar believed his child Aegon to be the prince that was promised.[5]

When Lord Tywin resigned his position as Hand of the King and left court, the new focus of King Aerys's mistrust and paranoia was his own son and heir, Prince Rhaegar. At court, there was growing tension between factions loyal to the king and to the prince. Grand Maester Pycelle dispatched a letter to the Citadel, writing that tensions and division at court strongly resembled those before the Dance of the Dragons. Pycelle was fearful a civil war would break out unless some accord could be reached that would satisfy both factions.[31]

Tourney at Harrenhal

Rhaegar crowns Lyanna Stark as queen of love and beauty, as depicted by Paolo Puggioni in The World of Ice & Fire.

In 280 AC,[N 2] Lord Walter Whent announced a tourney would be held at Harrenhal to rival any previous tournament. It is believed by some that the tourney was secretly arranged and financed by Prince Rhaegar, as a pretext, so Rhaegar could meet up with the great lords of the realm to discuss arranging a Great Council and the removal of his father. The tournament was announced by Walter shortly after his brother, Ser Oswell of the Kingsguard, visited his older brother. When Lord Varys alerted Aerys II to this possibility, the king decided to attend the tourney.[28][31]

During the great tourney at Harrenhal, Rhaegar seemed unstoppable and defeated even Ser Arthur Dayne. Taking the winter rose crown for the queen of love and beauty, he revealed his interest in Lyanna Stark by passing over his wife, Princess Elia of Dorne, and setting it in Lyanna's lap. Eddard Stark later recalled that moment as "when all the smiles died".[16][19] The next year, Rhaegar seemingly kidnapped Lyanna, for reasons unknown. This act ultimately triggered Robert's Rebellion and the downfall of the Targaryen dynasty.

Robert's Rebellion

Prince Rhaegar and Lord Robert Baratheon in combat at the battle of the Trident, as depicted by Justin Sweet in The World of Ice & Fire.

Some believe that Rhaegar spent the beginning of Robert's Rebellion, also known as the War of the Usurper, with Lyanna Stark at the tower of joy in the Red Mountains of Dorne. King Aerys sent Ser Gerold Hightower, the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, to retrieve Rhaegar. Leaving Ser Gerold, Ser Arthur Dayne, and Ser Oswell Whent at the tower,