|Born||In 257 AL|
|Died||In 283 AL, at King's Landing|
A Game of Thrones|
A Clash of Kings
A Storm of Swords
A Feast for Crows
Elia Martell was the fourth child and first daughter of the ruling Lady of Dorne. The name of her mother and father are not stated in the books. During her youth she was very close to her younger brother Oberyn Martell.
When she became old enough to marry her mother arranged a number of suitors to come to Dorne. Mostly due to the behavior of her brother, Oberyn, Elia rejected them all. Her mother who had been fast friends with Joanna Lannister then took Oberyn and Elia to Casterly Rock with the idea of marrying one or both of them to the children of Tywin and Joanna Lannister. Unfortunately, Joanna had died just before giving birth to Tyrion Lannister and Tywin was very unreceptive to the proposal. He told them that Cersei was meant for Rhaegar Targaryen.
Marriage to Rhaegar Targaryen
Elia's mother was able to arrange her marriage to the crown prince. According to Oberyn, Tywin took this for a slight and was the motive for her murder. Rhaegar and Elia had two children, Rhaenys and Aegon. The marriage seemed happy although Elia's health, which had always been problematic, remained fragile. Barristan Selmy stated that Rhaegar was quite fond of Elia and that Princess Elia had a sharp wit.
Jon Connington once stated that Elia was bed ridden for a year after giving birth to Rhaenys and nearly died giving birth to Aegon. After which the Maesters told Rhaegar she would be unable to have any more children.
At the Tourney at Harrenhal Elia's husband met Lyanna Stark and became infatuated with her. He won the tournament and crowned her Queen of Love and Beauty, passing over his wife. A year later Rhaegar either abducted or ran off with Lyanna, it is not entirely clear in the books, and this event sparked Robert's Rebellion. The war went against the Targaryens and Rhaegar was killed by Robert Baratheon at the Battle of the Trident. The outcome of the battle decided the war and Tywin Lannister wanted to be on the winning side. His army sacked King's Landing, entering the gates through trickery and surprising all those caught inside the walls. During the sack, Elia was raped and killed by Gregor Clegane after her children had been put to the sword.
Tywin later said that he had instructed his captains to kill the royal (Elia's) children to secure the throne for Robert Baratheon but had forgotten about Elia herself and had not intended for her to die. Oberyn Martell however believes Tywin Lannister had Elia and her children killed to remove the supposed slight he suffered when Aerys II refused the marriage of his son and heir Rhaegar to his daughter Cersei.
Her body along with that of the two children was wrapped in crimson Lannister cloaks and presented to Robert Baratheon as a token of fealty. While Eddard Stark was appalled, Robert was callous and apathetic to the young children's bodies and that of their mother's.
Results of the murder
The Martells were furious with the murder of Elia and her children. Oberyn wanted to continue the war and champion the cause of Viserys Targaryen, the only surviving Targaryen prince, but Doran Martell who had succeeded his mother as ruler of Dorne knew that they were not strong enough and made his peace. In A Feast for Crows it turns out that Doran is plotting secretly to restore the Targaryens and revenge himself on Tywin Lannister whom he and his brother hold responsible for the murders.
Oberyn saw another opportunity for revenge: when Tyrion Lannister stood on trial and his adversary in a trial by battle would be Gregor Clegane Oberyn championed Tyrion. He extracted a confession but Clegane, though mortally wounded by Oberyn, killed him.