Gaemon Palehair

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Gaemon Palehair
Essie, Sylvenna Sand, and Gaemon Palehair by Riotarttherite.png
From left to right, Gaemon Palehair, Essie, and Sylvenna Sand, by Riotarttherite

  • King Cunny[1]
  • The Cunny King[2]
Title King
Allegiance House Targaryen
Culture Crownlands
Born In 126 AC[3]
Died In 135 AC (aged 9)[4], the Red Keep
Mother Essie

Gaemon Palehair was a pretender king during the Dance of the Dragons. His mother Essie, a whore in the House of Kisses, claimed he was a bastard son of Aegon II Targaryen.[5] After the war, Gaemon became the cupbearer, food taster, and whipping boy of his friend, King Aegon III Targaryen.[6]

Appearance and Character

Gaemon had pale hair.[1] The boy was fond of Mushroom, a fool at the Red Keep.[6]


Dance of the Dragons

Gaemon was the son of Essie, a prostitute at the House of Kisses on the Street of Silk. During the riot of King's Landing in 130 AC, the whores at the brothel claimed that Gaemon was the bastard son of King Aegon II Targaryen, who had disappeared after the fall of King's Landing to Rhaenyra Targaryen, and they raised the four-year-old boy as king. The women bestowed their favors free of charge to any man who swore his sword to the supposed monarch.[7]

During the Moon of the Three Kings, after Rhaenyra's escape from King's Landing, Gaemon gathered thousands of followers. Whores, mummers, and thieves made up his court atop Visenya's Hill, and his supporters in the streets included gangs, sellswords, and drunkards.[7] Gaemon's mother began calling herself Lady Esselyn.[2]

Edicts issued in Gaemon's name included that:[8][7]

  • Girls should henceforth be equal with boys in matters of inheritance;
  • The poor should be given bread and beer in times of famine;
  • Men who lost limbs in war must be fed and housed afterward by whichever lord they had been fighting for when the loss took place;
  • Husbands who beat their wives should themselves be beaten, regardless of the motive for the chastisement.

Gaemon's edicts were considered outrageous, and it is believed they were the work of Essie's Dornish paramour, Sylvenna Sand.[8][7] Trystane Truefyre, a rival pretender, countered Gaemon's edicts by allowing smallfolk to hunt in the kingswood.[7]

After the death of Rhaenyra at Dragonstone, Borros Baratheon, Lord of Storm's End, took the capital and the Red Keep. He and his knights rode against Visenya's Hill, where the court of the "Cunny King" was gathered, and routed the boy king's followers from three directions. A crying and chained Gaemon, who had celebrated his fifth nameday only two days earlier, was taken to the Red Keep slung over the back of a horse. Behind him were Essie, who held Sylvenna's hand, and the remnants of his court, including whores, witch women, criminals, and drunkards. Also defeated and imprisoned to await the return of King Aegon II and his judgement were Trystane and the Shepherd.[2]

Gaemon was spared by King Aegon on account of his age, and the boy was made a ward of the Crown. Essie confessed under torture that the boy's true father had been a silver-haired Lysene oarsman and not Aegon. Essie, Sylvenna, and twenty-seven other members of Gaemon's court were hanged from the battlements of the Red Keep.[2] Aegon ordered that the decrees issued by Gaemon and Trystane be publicly burned.[2] Aegon the Elder was eventually killed by poison, and the Iron Throne passed to Aegon the Younger.[2]

Regency of Aegon III

Gaemon was taken into the royal household, befriending young King Aegon III Targaryen. During the Hour of the Wolf, Gaemon was Aegon's only companion when he was confined to Maegor's Holdfast.[9] Munkun reported that Gaemon was the sullen king's only friend,[10] and the Grand Maester believed that Gaemon reminded Aegon of his missing younger brother, Prince Viserys Targaryen.[11] When his regents asked if he had a preferred heir, Aegon suggested his cupbearer, as Gaemon had "been a king before".[10]

After Lord Unwin Peake became Hand of the King, the Red Keep's new master-at-arms, Ser Gareth Long, recommended that Gaemon, by now also Aegon's food taster, become the king's whipping boy. Gareth punished Gaemon harshly whenever Aegon failed to met Gareth's standards. Although Aegon improved at arms, he resented Gareth's cruelty toward his friend.[6]

When Aegon chose Daenaera Velaryon at the Maiden's Day Cattle Show, the king allowed his cupbearer to announce the selection.[6] Munkun reports that Queen Daenaera and Gaemon began to be neglected by Aegon, however, after the unexpected return of Prince Viserys.[11]


In 135 AC during the Lysene Spring, Gaemon and Queen Daenaera Velaryon began complaining of stomach pains. Although Grand Maester Munkun was able to save the queen's life with a purgative, he was too late to save Gaemon, who quickly died of poison. The Kingsguard brought kitchen servants to the Lord Confessor, Lord George Graceford, for questioning and torture, but their admissions conflicted. King Aegon III Targaryen was left inconsolable by his friend's death.[4][12]

During the secret siege, Aegon angrily refused Ser Gareth Long, as the master-at-arms had often beaten his late friend.[4] Septon Bernard announced that Lord Thaddeus Rowan, once the Hand of the King, had poisoned Gaemon and Daenaera with the tears of Lys in an attempt to assassinate Aegon, but the king recognized that Thaddeus had been tortured into making false confessions. After the coup against Aegon defeated, Lord Torrhen Manderly, the new Hand, sat in judgement against those accused of poisoning Gaemon and conspiring against the king.[4]

Quotes by Gaemon

—Gaemon at the Maiden's Day Cattle Show

Quotes about Gaemon

You may beat poor Gaemon's bones, but you will get no more blood from him.[4]

Behind the Scenes

Gaemon may be an homage by George R. R. Martin to Lambert Simnel, who was claimed to be Edward Plantagenet, 17th Earl of Warwick, during the Wars of the Roses. After Lambert's supporters were defeated, King Henry VII pardoned Lambert and allowed the boy to become a royal servant.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - Rhaenyra Overthrown.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - The Short, Sad Reign of Aegon II.
  3. See the Gaemon Palehair calculation
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Fire & Blood, The Lysene Spring and the End of Regency.
  5. The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon II.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Fire & Blood, Under the Regents - War and Peace and Cattle Shows.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Fire & Blood, The Dying of Dragons - Rhaenyra Overthrown.
  8. 8.0 8.1 The World of Ice & Fire, Dorne: Queer Customs of the South.
  9. Fire & Blood, Aftermath - The Hour of the Wolf.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Fire & Blood, Under the Regents - The Hooded Hand.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Fire & Blood, Under the Regents - The Voyage of Alyn Oakenfist.
  12. The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon III.