Viserys I Targaryen

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House Targaryen.svg King
Viserys I Targaryen
House Targaryen.svg
Viserys I, by Amok ©
Reign 103129 AC
Coronation 103 AC
Full name Viserys of House Targaryen, the First of His Name
Predecessor King Jaehaerys I Targaryen
Heir Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen
Successor King Aegon II Targaryen
Personal Information
Alias The Young King[2]
Born 77 AC[3]
King's Landing
Died the 3rd day of the 3rd moon of 129 AC (aged 52)[2]
King's Landing
Buried 129 AC
King's Landing[4]
Race Valyrian
Culture Crownlander
Dynasty Targaryen

With Aemma:
Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen
Unknown son
Prince Baelon Targaryen

With Alicent:
King Aegon II Targaryen
Queen Helaena Targaryen
Prince Aemond Targaryen
Prince Daeron Targaryen

Trystane Truefyre (allegedly)
Father Prince Baelon Targaryen
Mother Princess Alyssa Targaryen
Played by Paddy Considine
TV series House of the Dragon: Season 1

Viserys I Targaryen was the fifth Targaryen king to sit the Iron Throne,[5] ruling from 103 AC to 129 AC. Upon his ascension, he was known as the Young King to differentiate him from his predecessor, his grandfather the Old King Jaehaerys I.[2] Viserys continued the prosperous peace and legacy of his grandsire, but the seeds for the civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons that would later engulf the realm were inadvertently sown in his reign.[2]

Viserys was a dragonrider who rode Balerion until the dragon died of old age during the reign of Jaehaerys I. Viserys never bonded with another dragon after Balerion's death.[6]

In the television adaptation House of the Dragon, Viserys is portrayed by Paddy Considine.[7]

Appearance and Character

Viserys was plump and round-faced, with a bushy silver-gold mustache. He dressed in dark purple silk brocade and wore the gold-and-gemstone circlet of his grandfather, Jaehaerys I Targaryen.[8]

Viserys was a peaceful man who hated conflict, and was plump and pleasant. He was described as amiable, open-handed, and eager to please. Though Viserys was never considered strong willed, he was not pliable or indecisive either; when he made a choice, he was unwavering, and firmly stood by his decision.[2]

King Viserys's generosity was legendary, and the Red Keep became a place of song and splendor during his reign. He hosted countless balls, feasts, and tournaments, and he lavished gold and offices and honors among those he favored. Viserys was well loved by lords and smallfolk alike.[2]

In his midlife, Viserys's stoutness caused him numerous health problems, including gout, aching joints, back pain, and respiratory issues. Towards the end of his life, his girth nearly kept him from ascending the steps to the Iron Throne.[2]



Prince Baelon Targaryen, chosen by King Jaehaerys I as his heir in 92 AC, died before the Old King, leading to questions about the succession. Baelon's eldest son, Viserys, was eventually chosen by the Great Council of 101 AC. He was twenty-six years old and had been married for a decade to Lady Aemma Arryn.[2]

Early Reign

The Old King, Jaehaerys I Targaryen, died in his bed in 103 AC. Viserys inherited a secure throne, a full treasury, and a legacy of goodwill from his grandfather. House Targaryen was at its most powerful during Viserys's time, having the most members and dragons since the Doom of Valyria. Viserys was known as the Young King when he ascended the Iron Throne, and due to his amiable nature the smallfolk were optimistic about his reign.[9] The fool at his court was a dwarf known as Mushroom.[2]

In 104 AC, the tourney for King Viserys I's accession was held in Maidenpool.[2]

Holding a splendid court with his cousin and wife, Queen Aemma Arryn, the Young King was determined to maintain the peace and goodwill of his grandfather, Jaehaerys the Wise. They had a son who died in infancy, and a daughter, Princess Rhaenyra, who was six when her father became king. The princess became his royal cupbearer at the age of eight, and was always by her father's side at feasts, balls, and tourneys. Rhaenyra was dubbed "the realm's delight".[2]

Viserys's younger brother, Prince Daemon Targaryen, considered himself his brother's heir, and coveted the title Prince of Dragonstone. While Viserys loved his younger brother despite his flaws, he had no wish for Daemon to succeed him. Viserys was hopeful that his wife would give him a son, and settle the succession issue. Viserys appointed his brother to the small council. Unfortunately, the rivalry between Daemon and the Hand of the King, Ser Otto Hightower, became so great, that in early 104 AC, Viserys appointed Daemon to be Commander of the City Watch to remove him from the council. Fearful of Daemon becoming king, Otto tried to convince Viserys to make Rhaenyra his heir. Viserys refused, as he was confident he and his wife would one day have a son. Aemma later became pregnant, to the king's delight.[2]

In 105 AC, Aemma died in labor, birthing the king's son and heir. Viserys named him Baelon after his late father, Prince Baelon the Brave, but the infant died a day after Aemma. While the king was bereaved, his brother Daemon was observed in a brothel in the Street of Silk, making drunken japes with his cronies about the "heir for a day". When word of this reached the grieving Viserys, his grief turned to rage. After the mourning period was over, in response to his ungrateful brother's ambitions, Viserys held a lavish ceremony in 105 AC and had Rhaenyra declared the heir and Princess of Dragonstone. Hundreds of lords and landed knights did obeisance to the princess, and swore solemn oaths to defend her rights of succession. Daemon left the capital in a fury.[2]

Viserys began to groom Princess Rhaenyra to be the ruling queen, teaching her how to rule, and made her part of his small council.[2]

Second Marriage

Since Viserys was not yet thirty, Grand Maester Runciter was the first to urge him to remarry, suggesting Laena Velaryon, daughter of Lord Corlys Velaryon. Such a marriage would have healed the rift between the Iron Throne and Driftmark, since Viserys had been chosen as heir to the Iron Throne over Corlys's son, Laenor Velaryon, in the Great Council of 101 AC. Viserys instead chose Alicent Hightower, the eighteen-year-old daughter of Ser Otto Hightower, his Hand of the King.[2]

Viserys and Alicent married in 106 AC. Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen poured wine for her new stepmother at the wedding feast, and Queen Alicent kissed her and named her "daughter". Prince Daemon Targaryen, when he was told about his brother's marriage, reportedly whipped the messenger who brought the news nearly to death. When Daemon and House Velaryon fought a war for control of the Stepstones against the Triarchy, the peaceful Viserys was unperturbed.[2]

Rhaenyra and Alicent at first got on well, but that soon changed. The fertile Alicent bore a healthy son, Aegon, in 107 AC. A daughter, Helaena followed in 109 AC, and another son named Aemond was born in 110 AC. The amity between Queen Alicent and Princess Rhaenyra soon ended, as both desired to be the first lady of the realm. Though Alicent had given Viserys male heirs, the king did nothing to change the order of succession, as he considered the matter already settled by naming Rhaenyra in his will. Otto Hightower hectored the king so much, that Viserys sent him back to Oldtown, bestowing the position of Hand on Lyonel Strong, the Lord of Harrenhal.[2]

Two parties began to form at court. The queen's party consisted of powerful lords friendly to Alicent, and supportive of the rights of her sons. In opposition was the party of the princess, those who supported Rhaenyra as heir. Envoys from the Free Cities made note of the coolness between the two in letters sent back to Braavos, Pentos, and Volantis. In 111 AC, a tourney was held to celebrate the five year anniversary of Viserys and Alicent's wedding. Since the queen wore a green gown, and the princess wore the Targaryen colors of black and red, it became the custom to refer to "greens" and "blacks" when talking of the two parties.[2]

Daemon offers his crown to his brother at the tourney celebrating King Viserys and Queen Alicent's five year anniversary, by Chase Stone, as depicted in The World of Ice & Fire.

The tourney also saw the return to court of Daemon. The two brothers reconciled, with Daemon offering Viserys the crown he claimed while fighting for the Stepstones. However, within six months, Daemon was exiled again from King's Landing. While Grand Maester Runciter claimed the two brothers simply quarreled, it was rumored that Daemon took Rhaenyra's virginity. Lyonel Strong counseled the livid King Viserys that Daemon should be executed for treason, but Septon Eustace reminded the council about the taint of kinslaying. Thus Daemon was exiled instead.[2]

Viserys hated conflict, and made repeated attempts to cease the hostilities between the greens and the blacks, with many fights and false apologies issued on both sides. He loved his wife and daughter equally, but they only loved each other when he commanded. So long as Viserys ruled, peace prevailed in the Seven Kingdoms.[2]

In 113 AC, Viserys decided it was time for his daughter Rhaenyra to wed. Queen Alicent wanted the princess to wed her eldest son, Prince Aegon, so he could one day be king. Viserys would not hear of it, as Aegon was ten years Rhaenyra's junior and the two had never gotten on well. The king and council chose Laenor Velaryon to wed Rhaenyra, to regain the friendship between the Iron Throne and Driftmark. However, Rhaenyra protested the match, stating Laenor would prefer her half brothers instead of her. Only after Viserys threatened that if she did not accept the marriage, he would change the succession, did Rhaenyra yield. In 114 AC, a reluctant Rhaenyra wed Ser Laenor, though it is questioned if the marriage was ever consummated. Laenor spent most of his time on Driftmark, surrounded by handsome squires, and infrequently visited Rhaenyra on Dragonstone. Later the same year, Rhaenyra gave birth to her first son, Jacaerys Velaryon. However, due to the babe not having the traditional Valyrian features of either of his parents, but rather brown hair, brown eyes, and a pug nose, rumor spread that the child's real father was Lord Lyonel's son, Ser Harwin Strong, Rhaenyra's sworn shield who resided with her on Dragonstone.[2]

Queen Alicent bore a third son, Daeron, the same year. Viserys had Jacaerys and Daeron share a wetnurse till weaned, hoping to prevent enmity by raising them as milk brothers. Soon Rhaenyra gave her father two more grandsons, Lucerys Velaryon, born in 115 AC, and Joffrey Velaryon, in 117 AC. All three of Rhaenyra's children had pug noses, brown hair, and brown eyes, further spreading the belief throughout the kingdom that the children's real sire was Ser Harwin Strong.[2]

Prince Daemon and his wife, Laena Velaryon, had twin daughters named Baela and Rhaena. The brothers Daemon and Viserys reconciled a second time, and with the blessing of the king, Princess Rhaenyra betrothed Jacaerys and Lucerys to Baela and Rhaena. This did not change Daemon's ways as the king had hoped, however.[2]

Later Reign

King Viserys in his final year with his daughter Helaena, entertaining his grandchildren; Jaehaerys, Jaehaera and Maelor with a story, by Douglas Wheatley, as depicted in Fire & Blood.

The year 120 AC became known as the Year of the Red Spring because of its many deaths and accidents.[9]

Laena Velaryon, the wife of Prince Daemon Targaryen, died after a failed birth. At her funeral, a quarrel broke out between Aemond Targaryen and the sons of Rhaenyra, who he accused of being bastards from House Strong. Aemond lost an eye when Lucerys defended Jacaerys with a knife. The false apologies from the families of Rhaenyra and Alicent fooled no one but Viserys. The king issued an edict that anyone spreading the Strong rumor would lose their tongue, and ordered Ser Harwin Strong to depart from Dragonstone to Harrenhal. Afterward, a massive fire at Harrenhal killed Harwin and his father Lyonel, the Hand of the King. While some blamed the inferno on the curse of Harrenhal, others whispered that Daemon, Lord Corlys Velaryon, Harwin's younger brother Larys Strong, or even Viserys were responsible for the blaze. The king recalled Ser Otto Hightower as the King's Hand.[2]

The year also saw the death of Rhaenyra's husband, Ser Laenor Velaryon, killed in a fight between his companion and rumored lover, Ser Qarl Correy. Rhaenyra and Daemon shocked the realm by then wedding without Viserys's knowledge, a huge scandal as neither Laena nor Laenor had been dead for six months. The year ended with Rhaenyra and Daemon welcoming the birth of their first son, Prince Aegon the Younger. Another son, born in 122 AC, was given the name Viserys after Rhaenyra's father.[2]

The forced closeness of Rhaenyra's and Alicent's children increased animosity between the blacks and greens. The royal children and grandchildren became dragonriders, and court visitors observed the dragons of one faction snapping and spitting flames at the dragons of the other party.[2]

In 126 AC, Rhaenyra argued that her second oldest son, Lucerys, officially be named heir to Driftmark. Several lesser cousins of House Velaryon, however, unsuccessfully protested to the Iron Throne that her sons were bastards fathered by Harwin Strong and had no claim to Driftmark. King Viserys heard them in stony silence, and after issuing the order to remove their tongues, slipped and cut his hand to the bone on the Iron Throne. Grand Maester Mellos was ineffective at trying to heal the king, who suffered a fever from an infection, and it was feared he would die. Viserys only recovered after two of his fingers were removed by Maester Gerardys, who was brought to King's Landing from Dragonstone by Princess Rhaenyra. Viserys never sat on the throne again.[2]

After Mellos passed away, Rhaenyra recommended that her trusted Maester Gerardys take his place as Grand Maester. Queen Alicent, on the other hand, wanted Maester Alfador, who served House Hightower, named to the office. Beset from both sides, Viserys chose neither, reminding both his wife and daughter that the Citadel would decide who filled the office. Archmaester Orwyle was in the end selected by the conclave as the new Grand Maester.[2]

Over the last decade of Viserys I's reign, Otto Hightower largely succeeded in stacking the small council with his own supporters. Though the exact timeline of when these men joined the council is unclear, by the last year of Viserys's reign in 129 AC, Lord Larys Strong was master of whisperers, Ser Tyland Lannister was master of ships, and Lord Jasper Wylde was master of laws. Ser Criston Cole, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, was already a fervent member of Alicent's faction, while Orwyle was considered politically neutral (in part due to his vows as a maester). The only holdout who opposed them was old Lord Lyman Beesbury, who had served as master of coin since late in the reign of Jaehaerys I.


Viserys died on the third day of third moon of 129 AC, in his sleep, in Maegor's Holdfast of the Red Keep, in King's Landing. That day, his daughter Helaena had brought her three children, Jaehaerys, Jaehaera and Maelor, to the king's chambers, where Viserys entertained his grandchildren with a fictional tale[N 1] about their great-great-grandsire, King Jaehaerys I Targaryen.[2] Afterwards, Viserys sent them away, pleading weariness and a tightness in his chest. He then closed his eyes for a nap, and never woke.[2][4]

Viserys's body was discovered by a serving man at the hour of the bat, when it was the king's custom to take a cup of hippocras. The servant informed Queen Alicent Hightower, whose apartments were on the floor below the king's. However, Alicent concealed Viserys's death from the public, and instead had Ser Criston Cole, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, summon the small council to the queen's apartments in Maegor's Holdfast. Viserys had decreed his heir to be Rhaenyra Targaryen, Princess of Dragonstone, the daughter from his first wife, Aemma Arryn. The greens at the Red Keep supported Aegon the Elder, the eldest son of his second wife Alicent, however, and Criston took into custody any blacks remaining at court.[4]

Alicent forbade septons and silent sisters from treating Viserys's body, which began to swell and rot. A week after Viserys' death, his passing was finally publicly revealed, with the greens accounting the accession of Aegon II Targaryen. The silent sisters then prepared the late king's body for the traditional Targaryen cremation ceremony.[4]

At Dragonstone, Rhaenyra refused to recognize the claim of Aegon, her younger half brother, and the blacks instead supported her as queen. The rival claims to Viserys's inheritance led to the Dance of the Dragons, the civil war between the blacks and the greens.[4]

Later during the war, Ser Perkin the Flea claimed that his squire, Trystane, was a bastard son of the late Viserys.[11]

Small council under Viserys I

During the reign of King Viserys, his small council had the following known members:[2]

Office Duration Name
Hand of the King 103 AC - 109 AC Ser Otto Hightower
109 AC - 120 AC Lord Lyonel Strong
120 AC - 129 AC Ser Otto Hightower
Grand Maester 103 AC - 112 AC Runciter
112 AC - 127 AC or 128 AC Mellos
127 AC or 128 AC - 129 AC Orwyle
Master of coin 103 AC - 104 AC Prince Daemon Targaryen
Unknown - 129 AC Lord Lyman Beesbury
Master of laws 104 AC Prince Daemon Targaryen
105 AC - 109 AC Lord Lyonel Strong
Unknown - 129 AC Lord Jasper Wylde
Master of ships Unknown - 129 AC Ser Tyland Lannister
Master of whisperers Unknown - 129 AC Lord Larys Strong
Lord Commander of the Kingsguard 103 AC - 105 AC Ser Ryam Redwyne
105 AC - 112 AC Ser Harrold Westerling
112 AC - 129 AC Ser Criston Cole

Quotes about Viserys I

The gold dragon of Viserys I © Shire Post Mint

Viserys I Targaryen had a generous, amiable nature, and was well loved by his lords and smallfolk alike. The reign of the Young King, as the commons called him upon his ascent, was peaceful and prosperous.[2]

—writings of Gyldayn

Viserys I Targaryen was not the strongest-willed of kings, it must be said; always amiable and anxious to please, he relied greatly on the counsel of the men around him, and did as they bid more oft than not.[2]

—writings of Gyldayn

He had ruled for six-and-twenty years, reigning over the most prosperous era in the history of the Seven Kingdoms but seeding within it the disastrous decline of his house and the death of the last dragons.[9]

—writings of Yandel


Viserys I
[Note 1]
[Note 1]
[Note 1]
Aegon II
Viserys II
Aegon III
  1. 1.0 1.1 Prince Daemon Targaryen was married to Lady Rhea Royce from 97 AC to 115 AC, to Lady Laena Velaryon from 115 AC to 120 AC, and to Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen from 120 AC to 130 AC.

Behind the Scenes

George R. R. Martin considers the character of Viserys as presented in the television adaptation House of the Dragon to be a better character than the Viserys he wrote in Fire & Blood. He is also very impressed by the performance of Paddy Considine, the actor portraying Viserys on screen.[12]


  1. Elio García has stated that George R. R. Martin confirmed to him that this story was made up by Viserys to entertain his grandchildren.[10]


  1. The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Jaehaerys I.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 2.24 2.25 2.26 2.27 2.28 2.29 2.30 2.31 2.32 Fire & Blood, Heirs of the Dragon - A Question of Succession.
  3. Fire & Blood, The Long Reign - Jaehaerys and Alysanne: Policy, Progeny, and Pain.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - The Blacks and the Greens.
  5. A Game of Thrones, Appendix.
  6. Not a Blog: The Rogues are Coming (March 12th, 2014) reply
  7. House of the Dragon Cast & Characters
  8. So Spake Martin: Targaryen Kings (November 1, 2005)
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Viserys I.
  10. A Forum of Ice and Fire: Inconsistencies, plot holes, and missing details in TSOTD, TRP, and TPATQ (February 28, 2018)
  11. Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - Rhaenyra Overthrown.
  12. Not A Blog: Good Stuff, Bad Stuff, Strange Stuff (June 1, 2022)
Preceded by 4th Prince of Dragonstone
101103 AC
Succeeded by
Preceded by 5th
King of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men
Lord of the Seven Kingdoms
Protector of the Realm

103129 AC
Succeeded by