Aegon IV Targaryen
Aegon IV Targaryen, known as Aegon the Unworthy, was the eleventh Targaryen to sit the Iron Throne, and is considered to be one of the worst Targaryen kings. He sired numerous bastards, legitimizing them on his deathbed, an act that led to five Blackfyre Rebellions.
Appearance and Character
Aegon began his reign when he was young, vigorous, robust, and handsome but ended it old, corrupt and morbidly obese. By the end of it he was bloated and fat. His eyes were almost lost in the fat of his face, his legs too weak to support his belly. He had a small mouth and a large beard used in an attempt to cover the fat of his neck and face. He wore a new crown he had made, huge and heavy, red gold, each of its points a dragon head with gemstone eyes. On his coinage, he was depicted with a beard.
Aegon coveted the Iron Throne as a boy. As a prince he was handsome, skilled with lance and sword. He loved to hunt, hawk, and dance. At court he was the brightest prince who dazzled lords with his wit. He had one major flaw, however: he could not rule himself. His lusts, gluttony and desires ruled him.
Aegon was the eldest son of the King's Hand, Prince Viserys Targaryen, and his wife, Larra Rogare. He grew up during the rule of his uncle, King Aegon III. In 139 AC, his mother Larra returned to her native Lys, where she died in 145 AC. In 153 AC, Viserys had Aegon married to his sister, Princess Naerys, with Aegon III's blessing. Their marriage was an unhappy one. Naerys had a better relationship with her second brother, Prince Aemon, for he knew how to make her laugh and had something of the piety she had, while Aegon did not. When Aegon and Naerys were wed in the early months of 153 AC, Aemon quarreled with Aegon at the wedding feast, and Naerys wept during the bedding. Aegon's first child with Naerys, Prince Daeron, was born on the last day of 153 AC.
As a young prince, Aegon accompanied his cousin, King Daeron "the Young Dragon", in his conquest of Dorne, as did Aegon's younger brother, Prince Aemon "the Dragonknight", who had joined the Kingsguard. After the submission of Sunspear, Aegon was tasked by King Daeron I to escort the highborn Dornish hostages to King's Landing. One of these hostages, Lady Cassella Vaith, became one of Aegon's mistresses for a few years.
When Baelor the Blessed became king after Daeron's death in Dorne, Baelor dissolved his marriage to his sister-wife, Daena, and imprisoned her and his other sisters in comfortable confinement of the Maidenvault so the sight of her would not tempt him or the men of his court to carnal thoughts. That did not stop Daena from escaping her confinement on three occasions, one time with the help of her cousin, Aegon. Daena became pregnant, refused to say who the father was, and was dubbed "Daena the Defiant" for her willfulness. In time she gave birth to Aegon's son who she named Daemon.
Daemon was not the first of Aegon's bastards, however. Aegon had already acknowledged multiple children by two of his four mistresses, and more children would follow. In his marriage, however, childbirth went less easily. During the years of their marriage, Princess Naerys had several difficult pregnancies. In 161 AC, Naerys gave birth to twins who died shortly after the birth. This caused the new king, Baelor I Targaryen, to fast for a moon's turn. Because Naerys nearly died during this pregnancy, King Baelor sent Prince Aegon to Braavos on a diplomatic mission. Accounts at the time suggest it was an excuse to make certain Aegon left Naerys alone as she recovered from the failed childbirth. In 172 AC, after another troubled labor, Naerys gave birth to a daughter named Daenerys. Daenerys' twin brother, however, was stillborn.
Eventually Baelor starved himself to death during one of his pious fasts, and Daena and her sisters were passed over in the succession. Aegon's father Viserys became king, but he only ruled for a year before passing away himself. So, in 172 AC, the throne passed to Aegon, the Fourth of His Name. Some historians suspect that the sudden death of Aegon's father, King Viserys, was not natural and that his successor and son Aegon poisoned him in order to hasten his inheritance to the Iron Throne.
Aegon IV is generally considered to be one of the worst kings in the history of Westeros, and is dubbed "Aegon the Unworthy" in the face of his excess and misrule. Aegon's behavior caused great strife at court, especially with his son Daeron and Aegon's brother Aemon, who was then the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard.
Aegon was a decadent, corrupt ruler who indulged his passions and whims at every opportunity. Being attractive, he was popular with women both highborn and lowborn. He had as many as nine mistresses and many bastards. Supposedly, he had any woman he wanted, whether they were married or not.
Aegon's misrule started with small acts of pleasure, but in time his appetites knew no bounds and his corruption and oppression led to acts that would haunt the realm for generations to come. He filled his court not with men who were noble, wise, or honest, but with those who could flatter and amuse him. The women at court were largely those who could do the same, letting him slake his lusts upon their bodies. On his whims he gave to one House while taking from another. He deprived men of their rightful inheritance, when he desired their wealth, as rumors claim he did following the death of Lord Ossifer Plumm during his wedding day.
Aegon gave away priceless treasures to Lords who managed to please him and for the sake of his desires: an example, on one of his many trips he gifted a dragon egg to Lord Butterwell, after guesting at his castle and allegedly impregnating his host's three maiden daughters in one night. Aegon used promotions of the City Watch of King's Landing as a way to shower largesse on those he most favored, and they in turn made sure that the brothels - and even the decent women of the city were made available for Aegon's lusts whenever their King desired.
Aegon once renamed the Teats, two hills that were disputed territories between House Bracken and House Blackwood. They were dubbed by Aegon as Barba's Teats in honor of his Bracken mistress, Barba Bracken, the mother of Bittersteel. A few years later, he casually appropriated the hills from the Brackens and gifted them to the Blackwoods while renaming the hills for his new Blackwood mistress, Melissa Blackwood, the mother of Bloodraven. The Blackwoods still call them Missy's Teats, while the Brackens call them Barba's Teats.
To the smallfolk, Aegon's reign might have been a source of gossip and amusement. To the lords of the realm who did not stay at his court, and who did not wish Aegon to take liberties with their daughters, he might have seemed strong and decisive, frivolous, but largely harmless. Those who were actually at court (among them Aegon's brother Aemon) saw him for what he truly was. Aegon was too mercurial, too greedy and too cruel to be anything other than dangerous.
From a young age, Aegon indulged himself with women and continued to do so after his marriage, even during his own reign. He quite openly flaunted his mistresses at court, to the distress of his wife. Naerys Targaryen was the only woman Aegon took no pleasure in bedding; he did not love her as she was pious, gentle and frail, everything Aegon loathed. Aegon could have easily ended the marriage by allowing Naerys to join the Faith of the Seven as she wanted, and then married any other woman of his choosing. Why he never did this is cause of much speculation among the maesters. The answer most likely was simple cruelty. According to Grand Maester Alford, after the birth of Prince Daeron, he warned Aegon that a second pregnancy could kill Naerys. After giving Aegon an heir, Naerys begged him, "Let us live henceforth as brother and sister." Aegon refused, saying "that is what we are doing", and insisted she still perform her "wifely duties" for the rest of her life.
Aegon's treatment of Naerys inflamed matters between Aegon and his brother, Aemon. As children, Aemon and Naerys had been inseparable. Aegon's resentment of his younger noble, famed, and celebrated brother was plain for all to see, most likely because Aemon was everything Aegon was not.
When Queen Naerys was accused of adultery and treason by the knight Ser Morgil Hastwyck, Prince Aemon defended his sister's honor in trial by combat and slew Morgil. This event became famous and inspired many songs, stories, and fables by bards, furthering Prince Aemon's renown, much to King Aegon's annoyance. According to the writings of Maester Kaeth in Lives of Four Kings, it was Aegon who secretly started the rumors of Naerys's adultery and used Morgil to instigate this tale, though at the time Aegon denied this. Strangely enough, there were no known rumors spread about the parentage of Princess Daenerys, only about Daeron; these accusations also coincidentally started when Aegon and his heir, Prince Daeron, were quarreling. Daeron opposed Aegon's plan for an unprovoked war on Dorne. The king ignored Daeron's protests, he built a massive fleet, and in 174 AC sent it to launch an invasion by landing on the Dornish coast. The fleet was scattered en route and destroyed by a vicious storm, however.
In 178 AC, Aegon caught one of his Kingsguard knights, Ser Terrence Toyne, sleeping with one of his mistresses, Lady Bethany Bracken. Even though they proclaimed love, Aegon had them both executed. Terrence was dismembered piece by piece, while Bethany was forced to watch before meeting her own death. Aegon also had Bethany's father, Lord Bracken, who had once served as his Hand of the King, executed just for spite. This action led to an assassination attempt against King Aegon by Terrence Toyne's brothers, who desired revenge. Prince Aemon the Dragonknight, who despite their conflicts and Aegon's hatred and disrespect towards him, sacrificed his own life to protect Aegon and saved him from the Toyne brothers' assassination attempt. Aegon's wife, Naerys, died in childbirth a year later in 179 AC, along with the child. Aegon did little to honor either his brother's or his wife's memories. After the death of both his siblings, Aegon began to make barely veiled references to his son's alleged illegitimacy - something he now only dared now because both his wife and the Dragonknight were dead.
Blackfyre, the Valyrian steel sword of Aegon the Conqueror, was traditionally carried by the Targaryen kings who succeeded him. Aegon IV, however, gave Blackfyre not to his heir, Daeron, but to one of his bastards, Daemon, when he knighted Daemon at the age of 12, formally recognizing him as his son. Talk of Daemon becoming Aegon's heir instead of Daeron began after this point.
Aegon betrothed Daemon to the daughter of the Archon of Tyrosh, a girl named Rohanne. This match, however, was not one of Daemon's wishes. It was claimed he wanted to wed his half-sister, Princess Daenerys. King Aegon, however, refused this, and it was believed that Aegon saw more profit in making ties with Tyrosh, as to have the aid of the Tyroshi fleet available, should he want to make another attempt to conquer Dorne.
Other sources claim that Daemon did not mind the marriage to Rohanne, as he had believed he would be allowed to follow the example of Aegon the Conquerer and Maegor the Cruel and have more than one wife. Some of the Blackfyre loyalists would later claim that Aegon IV even promised this to Daemon. Daemon's half-brother Daeron, on the other hand, had different views on the matters, and after his own coronation, made certain that the dowry for Daemon's wedding to Rohanne was paid.
In the last few years of Aegon's corrupt reign, his heir, Daeron, became one of the biggest obstacles to Aegon's misrule. While some lords saw opportunity in the gluttonous, corpulent king who could easily be convinced to part with honors, offices and treasures for a chance at pleasure, many others who condemned the king's behavior flocked to Daeron. Aegon, despite all the threats, japes and disparities he heaped upon his son, never formally disowned Daeron. Accounts differ as to why, the most likely explanation being that Aegon knew that his hold on his throne would not be secure if he disowned his son. It would mean civil war, as many lords who were sickened by Aegon's depravity would defend Daeron's rights. Chief amongst them were House Martell, due to the fact Daeron was married to Princess Mariah Martell of Sunspear. Aegon tried to use the hatred of the stormlands and the Reach toward Dorne to his advantage. Aegon decided to go ahead with another plan to invade Dorne, which led to an even greater folly then his first attempted invasion.
Like many other Targaryen kings, Aegon was obsessed with regaining dragons for his house. Instead of trying to resurrect the dead dragons of his ancestors, Aegon instead turned to the pyromancers and commanded them "build me dragons". What followed were seven wood and iron monstrosities, fitted with pumps that shot jets of wildfire. Upon their completion, Aegon ordered these devices dragged to the Boneway to initiate the invasion of Dorne; this plan lacked any tactical sense, as the Boneway was too steep for the lumbering constructs. The man-made dragons did not even reach that far, due to the instability of wildfire and the difficulty of moving the massive siege engines. All seven were consumed by fire in the kingswood; hundreds of men operating them burned alive inside them and a quarter of the kingswood went up in flames. Aegon, after this humiliation, never spoke of Dorne again.
The reign of the unworthy monarch finally ended in 184 AC. At only forty-nine years of age, he had become so morbidly obese he could not walk anymore, making many wonder how his last mistress could endure his embrace. Aegon died a horrible death, his bloated body so swollen that he could not even lift himself from his couch that became covered in his feces. Aegon's limbs were rotting and crawling in hosts of flesh worms, and the maesters said they had never seen the like of this before. The septons, however, pronounced it a judgment of the gods. He was given the milk of the poppy to try to dull the pain but nothing else could be done.
Aegon's last decree before his death was bitter poison that would lay the seeds to generations of war, bloodshed, death, and woe to the realm. Aegon legitimized all his bastard children, causing five generations of strife as the Blackfyre Pretenders tried to claim the Iron Throne.
Mistresses and Bastards
Throughout his life, Aegon Targaryen had many mistresses. From the highest-born princess to the meanest whore, Aegon made no difference between them. By the end of his life, he claimed to have slept with at least nine hundred women (the exact number he could not remember). However, out of all those women, Aegon claims to have only ever truly loved nine. His wife, Naerys Targaryen, is not counted among them.
- Lady Falena Stokeworth was Aegon's first mistress. In 149 AC, she took the virginity of the fourteen-year-old prince. Their affair continued, until a knight of the Kingsguard found them together in bed in 151 AC. Prince Viserys then decided to marry Falena off to the master-at-arms at the Red Keep, Ser Lucas Lothston, and convinced his brother King Aegon III Targaryen to name Lothston as the new Lord of Harrenhal, thereby removing Falena from court. Prince Aegon, however, continued to frequently visit Harrenhal for two more years, and it has been suggested that even after that, his visits to Falena continued.
- Megette, also known as Merry Meg, was found by Prince Aegon in 155 AC, when he was in need of a smith. Megette was married to the smith, and seven gold dragons and a threat of Ser Joffrey Staunton of the Kingsguard "persuaded" the man to let Aegon "buy" his wife. Megette was placed in a mansion in King's Landing, and "wed" Aegon in a secret ceremony by a mummer playing a septon. After four years in 158 AC, Prince Viserys returned Megette to her husband, who beat her to death within a year.
- Lady Cassella Vaith was one of the hostages King Daeron I Targaryen had accepted at the Submission of Sunspear. It was Prince Aegon who escorted the hostages back to King's Landing. Eventually, the Dornishmen revolted, and killed Daeron, leading to Prince Viserys demanding Cassella returned to the other hostages, as he planned to execute them. Prince Aegon, who by then had grown bored of her, did not resist. Casella was returned to Dorne by the new king, Baelor I Targaryen, and would live a long life, consumed by the belief that she had been Aegon's one and true love, and that he would soon send for her.
- Bellegere Otherys, the Black Pearl of Braavos, was the captain of the Widow Wind, whom Aegon met after having been sent as an envoy to Braavos in 161 AC. Their affair would continue for ten years.
- Lady Barba Bracken was the daughter of Lord Bracken; she had been a companion to the Princesses Daena, Rhaena and Elaena in the Maidenvault. She caught Aegon's attention in 171 AC, when all were free to leave the Maidenvault again following King Baelor's death. When Aegon became king in 172 AC, Barba openly became his mistress and her father became his Hand. She gave birth to a son that same year, two weeks before Queen Naerys gave birth to a daughter - a childbirth that nearly killed her. Hoping that Naerys would die and he could make his daughter a queen, Lord Bracken spoke openly of wedding Barba to Aegon. When Naerys eventually recovered, Prince Daeron and Prince Aemon forced Aegon to send the Brackens away from court.
- Lady Melissa Blackwood, also known as Missy, was a kind girl who befriended Queen Naerys and Princes Daeron and Aemon. She "reigned" for five years as Aegon's mistress, before being set aside.
- Lady Bethany Bracken, the younger sister of Lady Barba, had been trained by her sister and father to seduce Aegon and replace Melissa Blackwood. She caught Aegon's eye in 177 AC, when he came to visit his bastard son by Barba, and was taken back to King's Landing. Aegon had grown fat by then, and Bethany did not feel comfortable with this relationship. She found comfort in the arms of Ser Terrence Toyne of the Kingsguard. The king discovered them in 178 AC, and had Bethany and her father executed and Terrence tortured to death.
- Lady Jeyne Lothston, the daughter of Lady Falena Stokeworth, Aegon's first mistress, and Lord Lucas Lothston (though some would claim Aegon himself was the father), was only fourteen years old when she was brought to court in 178 AC. She became Aegon's mistress, but not for long. Jeyne caught a pox from Aegon, which he had caught from a whore he had been seeing since Lady Bethany's death. Jeyne and her family were sent away from court quickly after this.
- Serenei of Lys was brought to court by Aegon's newest Hand, Lord Jon Hightower. Serenei was said to be a sorceress, and would die giving birth to the last of the king's acknowledged bastards.
Besides these nine "official" mistresses, Aegon had had an affair with his cousin, Princess Daena, during her time in the Maidenvault, which led to the birth of Daemon Waters in 170 AC. Aegon would not acknowledge the boy until 182 AC. Aegon took many other women to his bed, including, according to stories, the three daughters of Lord Butterwell, impregnating them as well. It is also rumored that Aegon also had an affair with his other cousin Elaena Targaryen and that he was the actual father of her son, Viserys Plumm, instead of her late husband, Lord Ossifer Plumm.
While on his deathbed, Aegon legitimized his bastard sons and placed them in his line of succession after his trueborn son, Daeron II. Twelve years after Aegon's death, Daemon Blackfyre rose against his half-brother and attempted to take the throne in the First Blackfyre Rebellion. He was defeated, but the Blackfyres continued to trouble the Targaryens for sixty-four more years.
|Great Bastards: Bittersteel, Daemon, Bloodraven, and Shiera.|
The bastard sons and daughters born to Aegon IV from noblewomen were known as "Great Bastards". They included:
- Daemon Waters, later in life known as Daemon I Blackfyre
- Aegor Rivers, later in life known as Bittersteel
- Mya Rivers
- Gwenys Rivers
- Brynden Rivers, later in life known as Bloodraven
- Shiera, later in life known as Shiera Seastar
Aegon was not called the Unworthy without cause.
That King Aegon, he had any woman he wanted, whether they were married or not.
Aegon the Fourth legitimized all his bastards on his deathbed. And how much pain, grief, war, and murder grew from that? ... The Blackfyre pretenders troubled the Targaryens for five generations, until Barristan the Bold slew the last of them on the Stepstones.
—thoughts of Duncan the Tall
Behind the Scenes
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Viserys II.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Baelor I.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon IV.
- So Spake Martin: Targaryen Kings (November 1, 2005)
- The Mystery Knight.
- The World of Ice and Fire "AMA" (November 9, 2014)
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon III.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Daeron II.
- So Spake Martin: Three Maidens in the Tower (June 27, 2006)
- So Spake Martin: The Great Bastards (December 26, 2005)
- The Sworn Sword.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 28, Sansa III.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 48, Jaime I.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 16, Sansa II.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 17, Cersei IV.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 54, Davos V.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 68, The Dragontamer.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 6, Sansa I.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 13, The Soiled Knight.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 45, Catelyn V.