Princess Rhaenyra at the age of sixteen, as depicted by Magali Villeneuve in The World of Ice and Fire
The Realm's Delight|
The Whore of Dragonstone
King Maegor with Teats
The Half-Year Queen
Princess of Dragonstone|
Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men (claimant)
Lady of the Seven Kingdoms (claimant)
|Born||In 97 AC|
|Died||In 130 AC, at Dragonstone|
1st: Ser Laenor Velaryon|
2nd: Prince Daemon Targaryen
The World of Ice and Fire (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)
The Targaryen three-headed red dragon on black, quartered with the moon-and-falcon sigil of House Arryn and the silver seahorse on sea green of House Velaryon|
(Quarterly 1st and 4th Sable a dragon thrice-headed gules; 2nd Bleu celeste upon a plate a falcon volant of the field; 3rd Aquamarine a seahorse argent)
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, 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.
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 Aegon I's warrior wife, Visenya, though Rhaenyra was no warrior herself. In her youth, she was described as the most beautiful maiden in all the realm. She 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.
She was very proud and stubborn, and there was a certain petulance to her small mouth. She gained a lot of weight after her first three pregnancies, even though she was only 20. Later in life, after six pregnancies, Rhaenyra became a stout woman, with a thick waist and a large bosom.
Though Rhaenyra could be charming, she was quick to anger and never forgot a slight. During the Dance of the Dragons, she wore her father's crown, the one first 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. Daemon, who often went on trips across the sea, brought back exotic gift for her. In 105 AC, Ser Criston Cole was named to the Kingsguard. Cole had made an impression on the court the year before, when he won a tourney and crowned Rhaenyra the Queen of Love and Beauty, after which he begged for her favor to wear in the joust. A charming man, he caught the eye of many ladies at court, Rhaenyra included. She became smitten by him, and called him "my white knight". When Rhaenyra begged her father to name Cole her personal shield and protector, Viserys agreed. From that moment on, Cole would always wear Rhaenyra's favor in the lists, and be her protector during public events.
Late in the year 105 AC, Rhaenyra's mother, Aemma, went into labour. Aemma died birthing Rhaenyra's second brother and the boy died a day later. King Viserys then proclaimed Rhaenyra his heir, having all the lords of the Seven Kingdoms swear fealthy 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 very well. That changed quickly 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 Visery'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 Visery'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. In the tourney itself, the blacks had much the better of it when Ser Criston Cole, wearing Princess 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 Daemon Targaryen after he seduced her. The account of the fool Mushroom is much more scandalous than the account of Eustace. Mushroom claims 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 Ser Criston Cole, and wanted him to see her as a woman, no longer as a girl. 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 married Ser Laenor Velaryon in 114 AC, though it took the threat of removing her status as heir to the throne to convince her to accept the marriage, as Rhaenyra did not feel the need to marry a man with interests like Laenor's. She was reported to have stated that "My half brothers would be more to his taste", to her father.
Laenor and Rhaenyra had three sons together: Jacaerys 'Jace' Velaryon, Lucerys 'Luke' Velaryon, 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, Ser Harwin "Breakbones" Strong, as all three of them were born with brown hair, even though Laenor and Rhaenyra both had light silver/gold hair. The truth of the parentage of Rhaenyra's three eldest children is still unclear.
Rhaenyra's other sons, the future Aegon III and Viserys II, were fathered by her second husband, her uncle Prince Daemon Targaryen, the most experienced warrior of his time. They married after the deaths of Daemon's second wife and Rhaenyra's (rumored) lover, Harwin Strong. 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.
Dance of the Dragons
Rhaenyra was her father's designated heir and he intended that she would succeed him. Viserys's intent had been confirmed by a proclamation of his will. However, when King Viserys I Targaryen died in 129 AC, 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, Alicent'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 conspirators in King's Landing ensured that the news of the King's death did not reach her until after all her supporters in the Red Keep were dead or imprisoned, and Aegon II's coronation had already occurred. When news did reach her, she went into a black fury and went into early labor, producing a deformed, stillborn daughter. She blamed this tragedy on the enemies who had stolen her crown. Rhaenyra needed a coronation of her own, which was hastily arranged. 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 King Viserys I and Jaehaerys I had worn. Thanks to this act, 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, 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 fathers 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. 
Those living in King's Landing initally welcomed Rhaenyra's return as a ruler, for they had always had little love for Aegon II Targaryen and his brother Aemond. Once in power, however, the spikes of the gates started to be filled with more and more heads each day, and the taxes increased. The smallfolk slowly started to turn against her, and eventually named her "King Maegor with Teats." This term would remain 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 Ser Addam his heir, alerted Ser Addam in time for the knight to flee upon the back of the dragon Seasmoke. This lead to the arrest of Lord Corlys, which caused the fleet of House Velaryon to abandon Rhaenyra's cause.
In order to have 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 King Viserys I and Jaehaerys I would never have asked such a thing, Lord Manfryd then decided to change his allegiance to King Aegon II Targaryen, after both the girl Nettles and Prince Daemon had left his roof for the very last time.
After the Storming of the Dragonpit, Rhaenyra fled King's Landing. 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, after both of the sons of Aegon III died without any issue.
Neither Rhaenyra or Aegon II are remembered well in the history of the Westeros.
A Storm of Swords
Quotes about Rhaenyra
References and Notes
- The Princess and the Queen.
- 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. http://www.westeros.org/Citadel/SSM/Entry/1604/.
- 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
- The Hedge Knight.
- A Game of Thrones, Appendix.