Aegon II Targaryen
Aegon II Targaryen was the sixth Targaryen king to sit the Iron Throne, succeeding his father, Viserys I Targaryen, as Lord of the Seven Kingdoms. His ascent was disputed by his older half-sister, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, who had been their father's designated heir. Aegon and Rhaenyra fought for the throne in the civil war the singers called the Dance of the Dragons, in which both siblings perished.
Aegon was married to his full sister, Princess Helaena Targaryen, and sired three children, though none reached adulthood. His dragon was Sunfyre the Golden and for his personal sigil he took a golden dragon instead of a red Targaryen one, indicating his mount. During the Dance of the Dragons, his faction used his personal heraldry as their battle-flag.
Appearance and Character
Aegon resembled his father in appearance, though not in personality. He had only a wispy mustache and a sullen look to his face. He wore the iron-and-ruby crown of Aegon the Conqueror and carried the Valyrian steel sword Blackfyre, the Conqueror's blade. His injuries from the Dance of the Dragons left Aegon bent and twisted. His right leg was broken in two places, and the bones of his left leg were shattered. Though once handsome, he grew puffy from milk of the poppy and burn scars covered half his body.
Aegon II was quick to anger and slow to forgive. At the age of fifteen, Aegon was known to be a lazy and somewhat sulky boy, inclined to gluttony at the table and given to swilling ale and strongwine, traits he carried to adulthood. A sweet Arbor red was Aegon's favorite vintage. During the Dance of the Dragons, after a series of defeats and setbacks, Aegon's drinking grew more frequent, as he used strongwine to drown his fears. He would later use wine to dull his pain from the injuries and burns he had suffered. Grand Maester Kaeth also described him as grasping. Through his reign, Aegon never knew joy nor peace.
Aegon was also very promiscuous, and it was widely known that he fathered several bastards. Even at a young age, he was known to pinch or fondle any serving girl who strayed within his reach. When news came of his father's death, Aegon was not found with his wife and children, but in the bed of one of his paramours. Septon Eustace insists that his paramour was the daughter of a wealthy merchant, and well cared for. After his injuries left him incapable of sexual congress, the court fool Mushroom claims Aegon would watch as one of his favorites coupled with a serving girl or lady of court, though he would later weep and summon Eustace to grant him absolution.
Aegon's father, King Viserys I Targaryen, had three children by his first wife, Queen Aemma Arryn. Two were sons who died in infancy. Only Princess Rhaenyra survived to adulthood. Lacking a son to succeed him, Viserys had started to groom Rhaenyra to be his heir. He taught her how to rule and made her part of his small council. In 105 AC, shortly after the death of Aemma and her son, hundreds of lords and landed knights had done obeisance to the princess and sworn solemn oaths to defend her rights.
A year later, in 106 AC, King Viserys married again, this time to Lady Alicent Hightower, the daughter of Ser Otto Hightower. In 107 AC, Alicent bore Viserys a healthy son, naming him Aegon, after Aegon the Conqueror. Queen Alicent would birth two more sons, Aemond and Daeron. Alicent also birthed Viserys a daughter, Helaena. Despite now having three sons, however, Rhaenyra remained King Viserys's heir, a decision he left in his will. Upon his return to court, Prince Daemon Targaryen, the brother of Viserys, was notably cool towards Aegon and Aemond, as their birth had pushed Daemon further down the line of succession.
Aegon's mother, Queen Alicent, did not agree with her husband's decision to name Rhaenyra heir to the throne over Aegon. Ser Otto was stripped of his office as Hand of the King for continually encouraging Viserys to name Aegon his heir. When attempts to persuade him to do otherwise failed, Alicent attempted to convince her husband to have Rhaenyra and Aegon marry. Viserys did not agree, as the two siblings were ten years apart in age, and had never gotten along. King Viserys knew that Alicent only proposed the match to get Aegon on the throne, and thus married Rhaenyra to Ser Laenor Velaryon, heir to Driftmark, instead.
Tensions at court
Relations at court began to escalate as lords began to side with either Alicent or Rhaenyra, with many favoring the laws established at the Great Council of 101 AC, declaring that the Iron Throne could not pass to a woman. The two parties soon became known as the "greens" and the "blacks", the former consisting of those in favor of Aegon inheriting the Iron Throne, while the latter favored Rhaenyra.
The enmity between Queen Alicent and Princess Rhaenyra was passed on to their children; Aegon and his brothers did not get along with their Velaryon nephews, and resented the three boys for having stolen their "birthright", the Iron Throne itself. Prince Aegon was convinced that Rhaenyra's three Velaryon sons were fathered by Ser Harwin Strong, and stated such to his brother Aemond. The six boys attended the same feasts, balls, and revels, and sometimes trained together under the same master-at-arms and studied under the same maesters. Archmaester Gyldayn believed that forcing Aegon and his siblings to be close to Rhaenyra's sons only caused their mutual dislike to grow.
By the time he was thirteen years old, Prince Aegon had become a dragonrider, having successfully bonded with the young Sunfyre. After the deaths of their spouses, Princess Rhaenyra and Prince Daemon married. In 120 AC, Rhaenyra bore a son she named Aegon, intended to be a slight towards Prince Aegon, much to the wroth of Queen Alicent. In 122 AC, in accordance with the ancient tradition of House Targaryen, Prince Aegon married his sister, Princess Helaena Targaryen, in King's Landing. Their first children, the twins Prince Jaehaerys and Princess Jaehaera, were born a year later, as were Aegon's first two bastards, one boy he had fathered on a girl whose maidenhead he had won at an auction in the Street of Silk, and one girl he had fathered on one of his mother's servants. In 127 AC, Helaena gave birth to Aegon's youngest son, Prince Maelor.
Despite the various attempts of King Viserys to get Aegon, his siblings, and their Velaryon nephews on friendlier terms, Aegon remained resentful of Rhaenyra's children. When at a feast on the first day of 127 AC, Prince Jacaerys Velaryon asked Princess Helaena for a dance, Aegon took offense. They argued, and might even have fought, had the Kingsguard not intervened.
The Dance of the Dragons
When King Viserys I died in 129 AC, Princess Rhaenyra was still the heir to the throne. Since Rhaenyra was pregnant on Dragonstone when her father died, the greens in King's Landing hid the news of Viserys's death, keeping the king's body in his room for seven days, until their preparations for Aegon's coronation were complete. After the small council was ready to crown Aegon, the prince was found abed with a paramour. According to Septon Eustace, Aegon at first refused to be a part of his mother's plans to crown him, insisting Rhaenyra was heir. However, Ser Criston Cole, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, convinced him that should Rhaenyra take the throne, Aegon and his brothers would be executed. Eustace insists that only this persuaded him to take the crown.
While the council made plans to win the Great Houses over to Aegon, the prince grew tired of the secrecy and demanded to be crowned. On the tenth day of the third moon of 129 AC, the death of King Viserys I was finally announced to the realm and Aegon was declared king. Preparations were made to have the coronation at the Dragonpit. On the appointed day, Ser Criston the Kingmaker placed the crown of Aegon the Conqueror upon the prince's head, proclaiming him King of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men. With the aged High Septon in Oldtown, it fell to Septon Eustace to anoint and bless King Aegon II.
However, Ser Steffon Darklyn of the Kingsguard fled to Rhaenyra at Dragonstone with the crown of Viserys I. Rhaenyra refused to be denied her crown, disputing Aegon's ascension. Aegon enjoyed the wealth of King's Landing, Oldtown, and Lannisport, as well as the support of House Hightower, House Lannister, and House Baratheon. He also maintained the appearance of legitimacy, with the Conqueror's crown, the Valyrian steel sword Blackfyre, and the Iron Throne. Upon hearing of Rhaenyra's coronation, Aegon demanded the heads of her and Prince Daemon, though Grand Maester Orwyle managed to convince Aegon to allow him to give peace terms to Rhaenyra. However, Rhaenyra refused the terms, much to the anger of Aegon. The realm was split into two as the greens and the blacks battled for the Iron Throne, and the civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons began.
Early in the war, Prince Aemond slew Prince Lucerys Velaryon over Storm's End, while Lucerys was attempting to win Lord Borros Baratheon over to his mother's side. Upon Aemond's return, having ensured Storm's End's support, Aegon welcomed his brother with a great feast, though Queen Alicent and Ser Otto were concerned about the extent of Aemond's actions. Seeking revenge against Aegon, Prince Daemon took action. Aegon's heir, Prince Jaehaerys, was murdered in the Red Keep by Blood and Cheese, agents of Mysaria, Prince Daemon's spymaster. His sister-wife Helaena quickly began to sink into depression and madness, due to the role she had played in the events leading to Jaehaerys' death. While Blood was captured and tortured to death, Cheese the ratcatcher was not found. In his fury, Aegon ordered every ratcatcher in the city to be hanged. Aegon and his wife slept separately thereafter, with the king drinking in anger.
While the greens suffered a series of defeats in the riverlands, Ser Otto attempted to win allies with letters and buying sellswords. Aegon mistook his efforts for inaction, and his caution for cowardice. With House Velaryon, House Stark, House Arryn, and much of the riverlords firmly behind his sister, Aegon drowned his growing fears in strongwine. With Lord Corlys Velaryon blockading King's Landing, Ser Otto attempted to reach out to the Triarchy and Lord Dalton Greyjoy for aid. Because of his grandfather's delays in waging war, Aegon stripped Ser Otto of the Handship and awarded it to Criston the Kingmaker. Under Ser Criston's advice, those nobles who were imprisoned for their loyalties to Rhaenyra were brought before the King's Justice and executed if they did not bend the knee to Aegon. The king also desired to attack Dragonstone, though was dissuaded by his council.
Ser Criston soon took to the offensive. Aegon himself took the field in a trap set by Cole at Rook's Rest, where he and Aemond fought and killed Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, the Queen Who Never Was, and her dragon, Meleys. However, Sunfyre were badly maimed by Rhaenys and Meleys, and Aegon suffered from burns that covered half his body, a broken hip, and numerous broken ribs. His armor had melted into his left arm, and it would take him a year to recover, his mind clouded by milk of the poppy, causing him to sleep nine hours out of every ten. He did not rise from his bed for the rest of the year, and some say he prayed for his death. Only his mother, Queen Alicent, and his Hand, Ser Criston, were allowed to disturb his rest. Prince Aemond took over the rule in his stead as Prince Regent and Protector of the Realm. Aegon remained bent and twisted for the rest of his life, half his body covered in burn scars.
Prince Aemond was later slain by Daemon, while Ser Criston perished in the Butcher's Ball. When Rhaenyra took King's Landing and the Iron Throne in 130 AC, Lord Larys Strong secretly smuggled Aegon and his children out of the city. While Maelor and Jaehaera were spirited away to safety, Aegon disguised himself as one of the smallfolk and escaped on a fishing boat, later arriving on Dragonstone where he convinced several blacks to defect and help him take the island. During the coup, he fought Princess Baela Targaryen, both of them mounted on dragons. When the dragons fell to the earth during the fight, Aegon tried to jump off Sunfyre's back, shattering his legs. He carried great pain with him for the rest of his life, but refused milk of the poppy when offered it by Grand Maester Gerardys, due to his experience with it from his recovery from Rook's Rest. Aegon had no trust for Gerardys and ordered him fed to his dragon, although the upper torso was kept and hanged on the battlements to welcome his sister. Having been protected by Ser Marston Waters on his journey to Dragonstone, Aegon named the bastard knight to his Kingsguard. Meanwhile, Aegon's wife Helaena had ended her grief by suicide in the capital, and his son, Prince Maelor, was killed by a mob in Bitterbridge.
In late 130 AC, Rhaenyra chose to flee to Dragonstone where, unaware of the coup, she was captured, judged a traitor, and fed by Aegon to Sunfyre, as Rhaenyra's son, Prince Aegon the Younger, watched. Ser Alfred Broome argued for killing Prince Aegon as well, though the king forbade it. The war continued, however, as Rhaenyra's supporters continued her cause supporting her son, Aegon the Younger, despite the boy being King Aegon's prisoner. However, King Aegon's return to King's Landing was prevented by the Velaryon fleet surrounding Dragonstone.
Though his sister was dead, the Dance was not yet over. Aegon II offered House Velaryon a pardon if Alyn Velaryon, the heir of Lord Corlys, swore fealty to him and allowed him to cross Blackwater Bay. While on Dragonstone, Sunfyre died from his wounds and Aegon wept. Although Aegon at first ordered Princess Baela's execution, he instead threatened to execute her if Alyn did not present himself before the king. When Lord Borros Baratheon finally arrived at King's Landing, Dowager Queen Alicent arranged a marriage between Aegon II and Lady Cassandra Baratheon, Borros's eldest daughter. Meanwhile, Lord Corlys agreed to swear fealty to Aegon II and was named master of ships. As Aegon was preparing to behead Baela again while Alyn prepared an attack on Dragonstone, news of House Velaryon's accord with the Iron Throne reached both sides. Aegon returned to King's Landing aboard Mouse, a battered cog captained by Alyn's mother.
Unable to climb the steps of the Iron Throne, Aegon held court from a wooden, cushioned seat, with a blanket covering his twisted legs. Though in great pain, Aegon refused to return to the use of dreamwine or milk of the poppy, but instead turned his attention to the three pretender kings in King's Landing. While he executed Trystane Truefyre, he spared Gaemon Palehair on account of his youth, though hanged his followers. After arresting the Shepherd, Aegon had his tongue ripped out, then had him burned to death alongside his followers. While Lord Velaryon urged Aegon to pardon those lords that supported Rhaenyra, the king had said lords of the crownlands brought to him in chains to swear fealty, pay a heavy ransom, and provide hostages to the Crown, hardening them against him. Meanwhile, the riverlords marched towards King's Landing, while a large host from the Vale was hiring ships to bring them down on the capital. Aegon made efforts to hatch dragon eggs from Dragonstone, but to no success. Velaryon implored the king to wed his Jaehaera to Aegon the Younger, though Aegon II desired for his sister's line to end; Aegon decreed that the prince would either join the Night's Watch or serve him as a eunuch.
With armies closing in on the capital and his lords plotting and arguing, Aegon II remained oblivious, only taking pleasure from contemplating his marriage to Lady Cassandra. The king commanded for the Dragonpit to be rebuilt and two statues commissioned of his late brothers, Daeron and Aemond. However, Lord Kermit Tully and his army had reached King's Landing and defeated Lord Baratheon in the Battle of the Kingsroad. With no armies remaining and with the approach of the Valemen and Lord Cregan Stark's army, Lord Corlys knew defeat was imminent. He counseled King Aegon to abdicate and join the Night's Watch, though Queen Alicent reminded her son of their hostages and the king refused. He instead gave orders to have the ear of his nephew, Aegon the Younger, cut off and sent to Lord Tully as a warning. Aegon then climbed into his litter, to be carried to the castle sept, and was given a cup of wine along the way to ease his pain. When his escort arrived and Ser Gyles Belgrave of the Kingsguard lifted the litter's curtains, Aegon II was found dead with blood on his lips. Thus died Aegon, the second of his name, in 131 AC, dead by poison.
With Aegon II dead, Lord Corlys and Prince Aegon rode out to meet the vanguard of Lord Tully's host, proclaiming the king was dead. Meanwhile, Lord Leowyn Corbray, commander of the Arryn host, witnessed the Velaryon fleet remove the banner of Aegon II. Aegon II had no male heirs left, which led to his nephew Aegon the Younger ascending to the throne and marrying Aegon II's daughter, Princess Jaehaera, thus uniting the two branches of House Targaryen. She would die two years later and with her ended the royal line of the marriage of King Viserys I and his second wife Alicent Hightower. As per Targaryen traditions, Aegon II was consigned to the flames, with some hoping that the ills and hatreds of his reign would be burned away with his remains.
Who exactly poisoned the king remains unknown to history, though those judged responsible were arrested for the crime during the Hour of the Wolf. The main conspirators in Aegon II's death were Lord Corlys, Lord Larys, and Ser Perkin the Flea, who feared that Aegon II remaining on the Iron Throne would lead to continued war. When Lord Stark arrived in King's Landing, he had them arrested. Grand Maester Orwyle was sentenced to death for providing the poison, Ser Gyles was executed for "allowing his king's death", and twenty-two lesser personages were also judged complicit, most of those under Ser Perkin's command. While Lord Corlys confessed to his involvement, Lord Cregan was eventually convinced to spare him, though Larys was executed while Ser Perkin was sent to the Wall. Construction of the statues of Aegon II's brothers was halted as the Dragonpit was repaired.
Despite being considered as part of the Targaryen dynasty, history would not be kind on Aegon II, though it is equally unkind to his half-sister, Rhaenyra. In the tome Lives of Four Kings, Grand Maester Kaeth would describe Aegon II as "grasping", and comparing him with some of the worst Targaryen kings: the weakling Aenys and the tyrannical Maegor the Cruel.
Small council under Aegon II
During the reign of King Aegon his small council had the following known members:
|Hand of the King||129 AC||Ser Otto Hightower||Dismissed by Aegon II for alleged inaction and caution.|
|129–130 AC||Ser Criston Cole||Concurrently served as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. Died at the Butcher's Ball.|
|Grand Maester||129–131 AC||Orwyle||Arrested by Princess Rhaenyra's forces when King's Landing fell.|
|Master of ships||131 AC||Lord Corlys Velaryon||Though unsuccessfully offered to Lord Dalton Greyjoy, the office was vacant until Lord Corlys bent the knee to Aegon II.|
|Master of whisperers||129–131 AC||Lord Larys Strong|
|Master of laws||129–130 AC||Lord Jasper Wylde||Executed when King's Landing fell to Princess Rhaenyra.|
|Master of coin||129–131 AC||Ser Tyland Lannister||Imprisoned and tortured by Rhaenyra.|
|Lord Commander of the Kingsguard||129–130 AC||Ser Criston Cole||Died at the Butcher's Ball while serving as Hand.|
|Prince Regent||129–130 AC||Prince Aemond Targaryen||Concurrently served as Protector of the Realm after Aegon II's injuries at Rook's Rest. Slain at Harrenhal.|
Quotes by Aegon
Rhaenyra: Dear brother. I had hoped you were dead.
Aegon II: After you. You are the elder.
Rhaenyra: I am pleased to know that you remember that. It would seem we are your prisoners ... but do not think that you will hold us long. My leal lords will find me.
Aegon II: If they search the seven hells, mayhaps.—Rhaenyra Targaryen and Aegon II
—Aegon II after the death of Rhaenyra
Aegon II Targaryen was the firstborn son of King Viserys I Targaryen and Queen Alicent Hightower, the daughter of Ser Otto Hightower. Aegon II had two younger brothers, Prince Aemond and Prince Daeron, as well as a sister, Princess Helaena. As per the traditions of House Targaryen, Aegon would marry his sister Helaena in 122 AC. Together, Aegon and Helaena would have three children. The twins Prince Jaehaerys and Princess Jaehaera were born in 123 AC, and Prince Maelor was born in 127 AC. None of his children lived to adulthood, and his line ended with Jaehaera's death in 133 AC.
Though he was Viserys' eldest son, Viserys had named his eldest child and daughter his heir, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, Aegon's half-sister. Rhaenyra and her children by Ser Laenor Velaryon and Prince Daemon Targaryen were to come before Aegon's own, conflicting with precedents set by the Great Council of 101 AC. The ensuring debate and struggle over the succession gave birth to the Dance of the Dragons when Viserys died in 129 AC. Ultimately, Aegon II reigned as king, though he would be succeeded by Prince Aegon the Younger, his nephew by Rhaenyra and Daemon.
Aside from his trueborn children, Aegon II was known to have sired several bastards, including a boy he had fathered on a girl from the Street of Silk, and one girl he had fathered on one of his mother's servants. After Helaena's death, Aegon II was betrothed to Lady Cassandra, daughter of Lord Borros Baratheon, though the king died before he was wed.
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