Princess Rhaenyra at the age of sixteen, as depicted by Magali Villeneuve in The World of Ice & Fire.
The Realm's Delight|
The whore of Dragonstone
King Maegor with teats
The Half-Year Queen
Rhaenyra the Pretender
Princess of Dragonstone|
Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men (claimant)
|Born||In 97 AC|
|Died||In 130 AC, at Dragonstone|
1st: Ser Laenor Velaryon|
2nd: Prince Daemon Targaryen
The World of Ice & Fire (mentioned)|
Fire & Blood (mentioned)
The Rogue Prince (mentioned)
The Princess and the Queen (mentioned)
The Hedge Knight (mentioned)
A Storm of Swords (mentioned)
A Feast for Crows (mentioned)
A Dance with Dragons (mentioned)
Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, cheered as the Realm's Delight when she was young and later called the Half-Year Queen, was the first-born child of King Viserys I Targaryen. Rhaenyra was King Viserys I's only living child by his first wife, Queen Aemma of House Arryn. At the age of eight she was made her father's heir and grew up expecting to become the first ruling Queen of Westeros. Rhaenyra was a dragonrider whose mount was Syrax.
Her claim to the Iron Throne was challenged by her younger half-brother, Aegon II Targaryen, sparking the civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons. She was the mother of two kings, Aegon III and Viserys II.
Rhaenyra's personal sigil was the normal Targaryen heraldry (a three-headed red dragon on a black field), quartered with the moon-and-falcon sigil of House Arryn (for her mother Aemma Arryn), and the silver seahorse on sea green of House Velaryon (for her first husband Laenor Velaryon, as well as for the Velaryons in general, who were among her major supporters). During the Dance, her faction used her personal heraldry as their battle-flag.
Appearance and Character
Rhaenyra had her family's Valyrian looks, wearing her silver-gold hair in a long braid in the manner of Queen Visenya Targaryen. Beautiful as a child, Rhaenyra was later declared by her uncle, Prince Daemon Targaryen, to be the most beautiful maiden in all the Seven Kingdoms. Rhaenyra never lost weight gained from pregnancies, and she had grown stout and thick of waist at the age of twenty after her third pregnancy. Rhaenyra had a large bosom.
Rhaenyra was proud and stubborn, and there was a certain petulance to her small mouth. Though she could be charming, Rhaenyra was quick to anger and never forgot a slight. She resented her slender older stepmother, Queen Alicent Hightower, but was fond of Lady Laena Velaryon.
Rhaenyra always dressed richly, favoring purple and maroon velvets and golden Myrish lace in intricate patterns. Her bodice often glittered with pearls and diamonds, and there were always rings on her fingers. Whenever she was anxious, she would turn them compulsively, round and round. During the Dance of the Dragons, she wore the crown of her father, Viserys I, which had first been worn by King Jaehaerys I Targaryen.
Rhaenyra became a dragonrider at the age of seven, when she flew into the sky on the back of a young dragon, whom she named Syrax. A year later, when she was eight, Rhaenyra became a cupbearer for her father, serving him at the table, at tourneys, and at court. From that point onward, King Viserys was seldom seen without Rhaenyra.
At a young age, Rhaenyra became enamored with her uncle, Prince Daemon Targaryen. The roguish prince often brought her exotic gifts from his trips across the narrow sea. During the tourney for King Viserys I's accession, Ser Criston Cole won the melee by disarming Daemon. The knight granted the victor's laurel to Rhaenyra and asked the seven-year-old girl for her favor in the lists. Rhaenyra became smitten with Criston when he joined the Kingsguard in 105 AC, calling him her white knight, and Viserys allowed the charming knight to become Rhaenyra's personal shield and protector. From that moment on, Cole always wore Rhaenyra's favor in the lists and protected the girl during public events.
Late in 105 AC, Rhaenyra's mother, Aemma, died birthing Rhaenyra's second brother, Prince Baelon, who died a day later. King Viserys then proclaimed Rhaenyra his heir, having all the lords of the Seven Kingdoms swear fealty to her, promising to honor and defend her rights of succession. In addition, Rhaenyra was named Princess of Dragonstone.
King Viserys remarried in 106 AC, to Lady Alicent Hightower, and stepmother and stepdaughter initially got along well. That changed when Alicent birthed the king two sons, Aegon in 107 AC and Aemond in 110 AC, yet Viserys did not proclaim either boy his heir. People continued to ask Viserys about the succession, though Viserys was unwilling to discuss it. Ser Otto Hightower, Alicent's father and Viserys's Hand, was sent away from court for pushing the issue too much. But even after he left, clearly two parties formed at court: the party of the Queen, and the party of the Princess.
In 111 AC, a great tourney was held at King's Landing on the fifth anniversary of King Viserys's marriage to Queen Alicent. At the opening feast, the queen wore a green gown, whilst Princess Rhaenyra dressed dramatically in Targaryen red and black. Note was taken, and thereafter it became the custom to refer to “greens” and “blacks” when talking of the queen's party and the party of the princess, respectively. The blacks had greater success in the tourney as Criston, wearing Rhaenyra's favor, unhorsed all of the queen's champions, including two of her cousins and her youngest brother, Ser Gwayne Hightower.
According to the accounts of Septon Eustace, prior to her turning sixteen, Rhaenyra lost her virginity to her uncle, Prince Daemon, after he seduced her. The account of the fool Mushroom is more scandalous, however, claiming that Daemon gave Rhaenyra lessons on how to seduce and please a man, lessons in which Mushroom insists he took part as well. Mushroom's account differs from Eustace's account, in that Mushroom claims Rhaenyra remained a virgin during these lessons. According to Mushroom, Rhaenyra received those lessons from Daemon because she was in love with Criston Cole, and she wanted him to see her as a woman. Whichever account is true, (Grand Maester Runciter simply claims that the two brothers quarreled), King Viserys sent his brother into exile.
Ruling Princess of Dragonstone
At the age of sixteen, in 113 AC, Rhaenyra took possession of Dragonstone. She had been courted by many lords and nobles who sought her hand and her favor. The sons of Lords Blackwood and Bracken had dueled over the Princess of Dragonstone when she visited the Trident in 112 AC, and the so-called Fool Frey asked for her hand in marriage. The twin knights Jason and Tyland Lannister wooed her at Casterly Rock, and she was also courted by the sons of Lords Oakheart, Tarly, Tully, and Tyrell. Ser Harwin Strong, the son of Lord Lyonel Strong, also courted the princess. King Viserys I Targaryen considered wedding his daughter to the Prince of Dorne to bring Dorne into the Seven Kingdoms, while Queen Alicent Hightower pondered a marriage between Rhaenyra and her eldest son, Prince Aegon Targaryen.
Rhaenyra instead married Ser Laenor Velaryon in 114 AC, though it took Viserys's threat of removing her status as heir to the Iron Throne to convince her to accept the marriage, as Rhaenyra did not feel the need to marry a man with interests like Laenor's. The princess was reported to have stated that "My half brothers would be more to his taste", to her father. Laenor's closest friend, Ser Joffrey Lonmouth, was mortally wounded by Ser Criston Cole during the wedding tourney. Laenor chose to spend most of his time at High Tide, while his wife preferred to remain at court. Rhaenyra was fond of Laenor's sister, Lady Laena Velaryon, who had wed Prince Daemon Targaryen after the death of his first wife, Lady Rhea Royce.
Laenor and Rhaenyra had three sons together: Princes Jacaerys 'Jace', Lucerys 'Luke', and Joffrey 'Joff' Velaryon. All were near adulthood and had dragons of their own when Rhaenyra's father, Viserys I, died. It was rumored that those sons of Rhaenyra's were actually fathered by her lover, Harwin Strong, called "Breakbones", as all three were born with brown hair, though Laenor and Rhaenyra both had light silver/gold hair. The true parentage of Rhaenyra's three eldest children is still unclear.
The siblings Laenor and Laena Velaryon both died in 120 AC, as did Rhaenyra's alleged lover, Breakbones. Rhaenyra then secretly married her uncle, Prince Daemon, the most experienced warrior of his time, at Dragonstone. Septon Eustace claimed the two had wed in secret to prevent Viserys from prohibiting the marriage, while Mushroom suggested that Daemon, aged thirty-nine, had already impregnated the princess, who was then twenty-three. The news of their wedding caused a great scandal at the court of King's Landing and made Rhaenyra's father livid. It took some time before Viserys and Daemon reconciled. Rhaenyra's other sons, Princes Aegon and Viserys Targaryen, were fathered by Daemon.
Dance of the Dragons
Rhaenyra was the designated heir of her father, King Viserys I Targaryen, who desired that she succeed him. Viserys's intent had been confirmed by a proclamation of his will. When Viserys died in 129 AC, however, Ser Otto Hightower, the Hand of the King, and Ser Criston Cole, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard and possibly the former lover of Rhaenyra, defied the king's will and instead crowned Rhaenyra's half-brother, Queen Alicent Hightower's son Aegon II, who was ten years younger. This brought about the Targaryen civil war, known as the Dance of the Dragons, in which dragonriders fought each other. During the war, Rhaenyra rode her dragon, Syrax.
At the time of her father's death, Rhaenyra was on Dragonstone awaiting the birth of her sixth child. The greens in King's Landing ensured that the news of the Viserys's death did not reach her until her own supporters in the Red Keep were dead or imprisoned and Aegon II's coronation had already occurred. When news reached Rhaenyra, she went into a black fury and went into early labor, producing a deformed, stillborn daughter, Visenya. Rhaenyra blamed this tragedy on the enemies who had stolen her crown. Rhaenyra had a hastily-arranged coronation of her own. The arrival of Ser Steffon Darklyn of the Kingsguard on Dragonstone, accompanied by some other supporters, was therefore celebrated, as they brought with them the crown worn by Jaehaerys I and Viserys. Rhaenyra was crowned with her father's crown by her husband and uncle, Prince Daemon Targaryen.
To gain more support to take the throne from her brother, Rhaenyra sent her son Jace on his dragon to treat with the Arryns, Manderlys, and Starks, and her son Luke to treat with Lord Borros Baratheon at Storm's End. Luke's mission was thought to be the safer journey, but he arrived at Storm's End to find Queen Alicent's younger son Aemond already there. Aemond, riding Vhagar, killed Luke over Shipbreaker Bay as he attempted to leave after failing to gain Lord Borros' allegiance. The news of Luke's death devastated his mother.
Rhaenyra took the capital and sat in the throne for roughly half a year. Upon taking the city, Rhaenyra insisted on claiming her father's seat, and so she climbed the Iron Throne and accepted pleas of forgiveness and loyalty from those in the Red Keep all throughout the night. Although Rhaenyra was dressed in armor, Septon Eustace claimed that those present witnessed the throne leaving several cuts on her legs and left hand. The dripping blood was taken as a sign that the throne had rejected her; her days as ruler would be few. Eustace further claims that Rhaenyra would continuously cut herself more frequently when she sat on the Iron Throne and became more stout from gluttony during her time in King's Landing.
Those living in King's Landing initially welcomed Rhaenyra's return as a ruler, for they had always had little love for Aegon II Targaryen and his brother Aemond. Rhaenyra once in power sent knights inquisitor to pursue those who had helped Aegon escape the capital, the spikes of the gates started to be filled with more and more heads each day and although the late king Viserys I Targaryen had left the treasure vaults full of gold upon his death, the treasury was completely empty by the time Rhaenyra had taken the city, for the greens had sent three quarters of the gold away for safekeeping and spent the rest prior to the fall of the capital. Rhaenyra was in desperate need of coin, Lord Bartimos Celtigar, her new master of coin placed new taxes on the populace that increased day by day. The smallfolk slowly started to turn against her, and eventually named her "King Maegor with teats." The term Maegor's Teats became a common curse in King's Landing for a hundred years thereafter.
After hearing of the Two Betrayers, Rhaenyra grew paranoid and declared the two remaining dragonseeds, Ser Addam Velaryon and the girl Nettles both traitors, a decision with disastrous consequences. Rhaenyra's Hand, Lord Corlys Velaryon, who had named Addam his heir, alerted Addam in time for the knight to flee upon the back of the dragon Seasmoke. This led to the arrest of Corlys, which caused the fleet of House Velaryon to abandon Rhaenyra's cause.
In order to have the girl Nettles killed, Queen Rhaenyra had sent a letter to Lord Manfryd Mooton, commanding him to kill the girl. Lord Mooton refused, as Nettles was under the protection of guest right. He feared Prince Daemon would kill them if they followed Rhaenyra's orders, but saw there was no winning option, since refusing to obey Rhaenyra's order would make him a traitor to the crown. Insisting that kings Viserys I and Jaehaerys I would never have asked such a thing, Manfryd decided to change his allegiance to Aegon II, after Nettles and Daemon had left his roof.
A massive riot soon sprang up in King's Landing, after the suicide of Helaena Targaryen who was beloved of the small folk. Many said, she was killed on Rhaenyra's orders. The fact that this story was so easily believed, showed how much the city had turned against Rhaenyra. The riots soon escalated to the storming of the Dragonpit, and the death of her son Joffrey Velaryon.
After this, Rhaenyra fled King's Landing, in the aftermath of the deaths of all her other children she refused to let Aegon out of her sight. Terrorized and despairing, she grew grey and haggard as she traveled past Rosby, Stokeworth, and Duskendale. Rhaenyra was forced to sell her crown to raise the coin to buy passage on a Braavosi merchant ship, the Violande. Once she reached Dragonstone, Rhaenyra was betrayed by Ser Alfred Broome, whose men slew the remainder of her Queensguard. Her half-brother Aegon II then had her fed to his own dragon, Sunfyre, at Dragonstone. King Aegon II decreed that Rhaenyra was never a queen and that she be referred to only as princess in all chronicles and court records.
Rhaenyra's three eldest sons all died fighting during the Dance of the Dragons, but her two youngest sons, the sons by her second husband, Prince Daemon, survived the civil war. The war ended when Aegon II died in 131 AC with no male issue, and was succeeded by Rhaenyra's and Daemon's elder son, the boy Aegon III, who had seen his mother's death by dragon. Rhaenyra's second son with Prince Daemon would also later rule as King Viserys II Targaryen, as both sons of his brother Aegon III, Daeron I and Baelor I, later died without issue.
Neither Rhaenyra or Aegon II are remembered well in the history of the Westeros.
A Storm of Swords
Quotes by Rhaenyra
Rhaenyra: Dear brother. I had hoped that you were dead.
Aegon: After you. You are the elder.
Quotes about Rhaenyra
Daemon Blackfyre, the brothers Toyne, the Vulture King, Grand Maester Hareth... traitors have always paid with their lives... even Rhaenyra Targaryen. She was daughter to one king and mother to two more, yet she died a traitor's death for trying to usurp her brother's crown.
Behind the Scenes
In earlier drafts of the family tree George R. R. Martin created for House Targaryen, Rhaenyra had several different husbands. The first draft had her married to a Lannister, with whom she had no children. A new draft, featured in the semi-canon A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying game produced by Green Ronin Publishing, listed her husband as Lyonel Strong, by whom she has three sons. The sons were not identified by name. The final draft, as featured in The Rogue Prince and The World of Ice & Fire, has Rhaenyra married first to Laenor Velaryon, by whom she had three sons, (Jacaerys, Lucerys, and Joffrey Velaryon) who were all rumored to have been fathered by Ser Harwin Strong. In that same final version, Harwin's father is called Lord Lyonel Strong. Additionally, after the deaths of Laenor and Harwin, both in 120 AC, Rhaenyra married her uncle, Prince Daemon Targaryen, by whom she had three more children (two sons and a stillborn daughter).
- The Princess and the Queen.
- Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - The Short, Sad Reign of Aegon II.
- Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - Rhaenyra Triumphant.
- The Rogue Prince.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 36, Davos IV.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon II.
- So Spake Martin: Good Queen Alysanne and Rhaenyra, June 18, 2006
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Viserys I.
- As Rhaenyra had an Arryn mother, and Laenor a Baratheon grandmother, there is a possibility Jace, Luke, and Joff inherited their looks from more distant relatives, instead of their parents.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 13, The Soiled Knight.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 8, Tyrion III.
- Ran discussing Eustace
- Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - Rhaenyra Overthrown.
- The Hedge Knight.
- A Game of Thrones, Appendix.
- Asoiaf.westeros.org: FIRE AND BLOOD volume 1 (July 21, 2018)
- A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Appendix: Targaryen Lineage.