The Targaryens are the most important family in Game of Thrones. A case can be made for the Starks, but while the Stark bloodline may be the ultimate saviors of the world, it is hard to argue that the most influential name in Westeros isn’t Targaryen. The story revolves around how a young Targaryen girl will become Queen of Westeros and save the known world. They are the most influential and powerful families ever to step foot on Westerosi soil, so it’s important to know as much about them as possible.
If you’ve read the companion book, The World of Ice and Fire, then this information may not be any news to you. It reads like a textbook; informative but a bit boring. Most of its information, however, is new to fans, and it fills in holes and answers questions that fans have been asking. Another companion book will be released in the future that will divulge even more secrets of the Targaryen history, but for now, we’ll focus on what we know from The World of Ice and Fire as well as some tidbits fans of the show probably never picked up on.
Here are 15 Things You Didn’t Know About House Targaryen.
15. Their Real Hair And Eye Colors
A lot of fans of the show aren’t familiar with the accurate depiction of the Targaryen family because the show doesn’t stress these details like the book does. The Targaryens traditionally have purple eyes and silver hair. Daenerys, the most prominent Targaryen we see, has the traditional look of a Targaryen, and is therefore further validated as the Targaryen queen who was foretold.
For some reason, the show abandoned the purple eyes of the Targaryen house, but their appearance is more important than you may think. Eye and hair color is stressed, both in the books and the show, as important in order to determine lineage. If you remember the book Ned Stark obtained in season one regarding the natural hair and eye color of houses who breed together, you will know that these facts are the foundations on which the incest allegations stand.
Another alleged Targaryen character who was not included in the show (more on him later) had to alter his appearance so that no one would suspect his lineage. Many people don’t realize how important these details are to the story, and therefore overlook the unique appearance that the Targaryens are meant to have.
14. How They Escaped The Doom Of Valyria
If you’re a die-hard Game of Thrones fan, then you’re aware that the line of the Targaryens originated in Old Valyria. The doom of Valyria, an event that casts shadows over the entire plot of the series, was the cataclysmic demise of the most dominant country in the known world. Based on the stories that surfaced surrounding the doom, it sounds as if there was an earthquake and subsequent volcanic eruption that destroyed Valyria, but the Targaryens were the only family of dragonlords to escape with their lives.
Dreams and prophecies carry special weight in Game of Thrones, as characters seem to have relatively predicted paths that they are destined to follow. It was Aenar Targaryen’s daughter, Daenys, who had a dream that foretold of the doom that would descend upon Valeria. He took his family, slaves, and dragons to Dragonstone so that they would be safe from what was to come.
13. Their Dragons Can Live For Hundreds Of Years
Dragons have been synonymous with Targaryens and their Valyrian ancestors for the entirety of known history. The Valyrians were able to train dragons like no one else had done, and were thus able to rule their respective continents for hundreds of years.
Dragons, in many ways, are superior beings to humans in the world of Game of Thrones. Not only are they highly intelligent, but they live for hundreds of years in the wild. Balerion “The Black Dread,” Aegon the Conqueror’s dragon and the biggest in known history, lived for around 200 years before finally dying. I
f they don’t die in battle, trained dragons can live to see many riders come and go through their lifetime. Of course, many do die while fighting, and the majority of the dragon population of Westeros was killed in battle, fighting their own.
12. The Strategic Location Of The Royal Throne
Many don’t consider the history of the conquest and the seven kingdoms when they think of the geography of the region. In reality, there are concrete reasons why Aegon I Targaryen decided to make his home on King’s Landing. When he first sailed from Dragonstone with his three dragons and a small host, he landed at the mouth of Blackwater Rush (later titled “King’s Landing” for this very reason).
After he finished his conquest, many in the kingdom expected him to rule from Dragonstone or Oldtown, as those were some of his favorite places and bustling cities. Aegon, however, foresaw what others did not. He built a wooden hut on the tallest hill of King’s Landing and called it Aegonfort. He then ruled from this seat as he saw the development of a city under way.
Aegon knew that King’s Landing would soon overtake some of the other major cities in the kingdom, as it was a centralized location of his newfound kingdom and a fantastic place to initiate trade. The entirety of Aegon’s new kingdom was geographically altered by the creation of King’s Landing, and Aegon knew that his ancestors would put his vision for the city into action.
11. The Blackfyres
The Name “Blackfyre” originates from the Valyrian steel sword that is the family sword of the Targaryens. To many in the family and those outside, the sword represented the throne, as it was passed down from king to king during the Targaryen rule.
King Aegon IV, who was much closer to his bastard son Daemon Waters than he was to any of his true-born heirs, gifted the sword to Daemon. To make matters worse, on his deathbed King Aegon IV legitimized all of his bastards. Many, including Daemon himself, took these gestures to indicate that he was the true heir to the Iron Throne. He took the last name Blackfyre, while some of his other half-siblings adopted the Targaryen name.
Daeron, Aegon’s true-born son took the throne upon his father’s death, but the split in the house led to multiple rebellions against the crown. When influential houses would have dissenting opinions on what should happen in the kingdom, they would often reach out to the Blackfyre bloodline as possible alternatives to the ruling Targaryens.
10. Targaryens Aren’t Fireproof
One of the biggest misconceptions that the show has created (as witnessed by the masses of outraged ASOIAF fans) is that all Targaryens are immune to heat and fire. They do have a natural predisposition and tolerance to heat, but that doesn’t mean that they can withstand the immense heat of a dragon’s breath. The history books are littered with cases of Targaryens burning to death; some while drinking wildfire, others in battle against dragons.
Jon Snow is a confirmed Targaryen at this point, and he burned his hand while slaying a white walker. Viserys, a true-born Targaryen, was killed when Drogo dumped a vat of melted gold on his head. The fact that Daenerys survived the hatching of her dragons was nothing short of a miracle. Her second encounter with fire, when she burned down the Temple of the Dosh Khaleen, did not occur in the books (yet) and is unexplained other than our suspension of disbelief.
9. The Event That Killed The Dragons
The death of the last dragon occurred nearly two centuries before the events of Game of Thrones, but this dragon’s death was not as monumental as the war that caused the untimely deaths of most of the Targaryen dragons. The war was dubbed The Dance of the Dragons, and it split the Targaryen family in two and pitted dragon against dragon.
To summarize the history of what led to this; King Viseys named his daughter, Rhenyra, as his heir. When Viseys remarried and had three sons, he kept his word that his daughter was his true heir. Upon his death, his eldest son Aegon II, with the help of his brother and the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, defied Viseys’ orders and named himself king.
A deadly war took place to determine supremacy, with thousands of people dying and the majority of the dragon population being virtually exterminated. There are fan theories that the Maesters of Oldtown had a hand in the further demise of the dragon population, but even if it’s true, it wouldn’t have been possible without The Dance of the Dragons.
8. Dorne’s Role In The Targaryen Legacy
While you may not realize this from the fierce loyalty that Dorne currently shows the Targaryen House, Dorne was the very last kingdom to be conquered by the Targaryens. Aegon was unable to conquer the seventh kingdom, and it stayed that way for almost 200 years. Dorne fought wars and rebellions against their oppressor, and contention was at high levels for most of the modern history of Westeros.
Several Targaryen kings attempted to finally conquer Dorne. Some succeeded, though none lasted until nearly 184 AC (After Conquest). When Dorne finally joined the realm and began to have influence, many of the noble houses detested their new allies and preferred the days when they were at war. It wasn’t until 187 AC, when a marriage pact was forged, that Dorne officially became the seventh kingdom and peace reigned between Dorne and the other houses (for the most part). It would appear that sometimes the most recent ally can be the most loyal.
7. The Targaryens Created The Kingsguard
Many fans and members of the seven kingdoms alike take the existence of the Kingsguard for granted. It seems like an ancient order that has been in place forever, which is true to an extent, but they were not always part of the plan.
As we see in more recent season of Game of Thrones, Daenerys is organizing her Queensguard in preparation for her rule. While this is seemingly ritualistic in nature, parallels can be drawn between Aegon the Conqueror and her own story. Aegon didn’t show up on King’s Landing with a batch of knights he called his Kingsguard. The Kingsguard wasn’t created until after there was a clear need for their presence.
During the First Dornish War, an assassination attempt was made on King Aegon I– much like Daenerys, whose life was almost taken by the wine merchant in Essos. When it failed, he called forth the best knights in the kingdom to serve and protect him with their lives. Assassinations attempts clarify the need for insulation and protection. The Kingsguard’s place beside the king was only created after their need was made evident, much like Daenerys is finding on her own journey.
6. The Story of Aegon “The Unlikely”
The story of Aegon “The Unlikely” is possibly the most fascinating sub-plot in the Ice and Fire universe. The story of a fourth son of a fourth son becoming king is so enthralling that a series of short stories have been written by George R.R. Martin detailing how a young boy and a hedge knight become King of the Seven Kingdoms and Lord Commander of the Kingsguard.
The series is called A Tale of Dunk and Egg, and it is, as you can imagine, still unfinished. There are quite a few references to these two iconic figures in the world, as Aegon was the younger brother of Aemon Targaryen of the Night’s Watch. We also see Jamie thumbing through the White Book and reading the accolades of Sir Duncan “The Tall.”
Aegon “The Unlikely” was the fourth son of a fourth son. He was a long-shot for the throne, but everything that needed to happen happened. If you’re itching for Game of Thrones content during the Long Night before season 7, it’s worth taking a look at this series of short stories.
5. Daenerys Wasn’t the First To Attempt To Hatch Dragons
Throughout the history of the Iron Throne, multiple Targaryen rulers have attempted to hatch dragon eggs. Dragons were extinct for a long time in Westeros, and many considered dragons to be the source of Targaryen power. It was, after all, the dragons that forced the seven kingdoms to become one under Aegon’s rule. Most of the attempts to hatch dragons ended poorly, with the most tragic taking place under Aegon V “The Unlikely”
Aegon was a fantastic king for many. His time with Sir Duncan brought him close to the most impoverished in the realm, and as king he attempted to restore rights back to the people. In his old age, however, he became obsessed with the concept of dragons. He would dream of them, and truly believed that he was the one meant to bring them back.
At Summerhall, Aegon attempted to hatch fossilized dragon eggs in a great fire. The fire spread and raged uncontrollably, and his attempt cost him his life and the life of his eldest son, Duncan Targaryen. This event would go on to be named The Tragedy of Summerhall.
4. Targaryens Are The Only Ones Who Truly Know The Red Keep
The Red Keep was finished under the rule of Maegor Targaryen in 42 AC. Maegor, perhaps known better as his moniker, Maegor “The Cruel”, decided that it would be best if only the Targaryen bloodline knew the secret passageways that lay behind the walls. He lived up to his name when he killed all of the architects and builders that had worked on the building, believing that the family lineage would only be truly safe if they were the keepers of the secrets of the Red Keep.
Although Maegor’s actions may have been brutal, they serve as a piece of evidence for multiple theories and explanations as to what is going on within the Red Keep. Since the Targaryens are the only ones who know the intricacy of the passages, the new Baratheon and Lannister rulers have no idea what’s hiding behind their walls. They are particularly vulnerable to someone who does know the secrets, such as Varys.
3. Robert Baratheon Had a Legitimate Claim
Robert Baratheon was dubbed “The Usurper” by many Targaryen loyalists across Westeros, and while he certainly did come to the throne through an uprising, many fans don’t realize that he actually had a legitimate claim. This fact isn’t heavily stressed in either the books or the show, but if you’ve read the companion book, The World of Ice and Fire, then you’ll know the origin of the Baratheon house and the reason Robert had the most legitimate claim out of the rebel group.
Eddard briefly mentions this to Robert when he asks why Eddard didn’t take the throne for himself, but the Baratheon house is anciently related house Targaryen, as its founder, Orys Baratheon, was one of Aegon I’s fiercest generals and rumored bastard brother. This being the case, house Baratheon is one of the youngest houses in the kingdom.
To make Robert’s claim stronger, Rhaelle Targaryen was Robert’s grandmother on his father’s side. There is no doubt that there is some Targaryen blood in house Baratheon, making Robert the legitimate heir after the extermination of House Targaryen.
2. Young Griff
Young Griff is probably the most important character who has been omitted for the Game of Thrones TV adaptation. Other characters, like Lady Stoneheart, play important roles, but the role of Young Griff could prove to be the most pivotal of all (spoilers ahead if you haven’t finished reading the books).
Before Tyrion is capture by Jorah Mormont, he is on a ship bound for Volantis with Illyrio Mopatis, a sellsword named Griff and his son, Young Griff. Tyrion, a naturally cunning individual, sees that Young Griff is extremely educated. He matches this fact with Young Griff’s violet eyes and deduces the truth.
Young Griff is Aegon Targaryen; the very same Aegon Targaryen who was supposedly killed by The Mountain during Robert’s Rebellion. Varys switched Aegon with a commoner’s child and smuggled him away to Essos where he lived with Illyrio until Jon Connington (Rhaegar Targaryen’s good friend) adopted him under the sellsword identity, Griff. They dyed Aegon’s hair blue and taught him the way to rule a kingdom as a true Targaryen.
1. R+L=J… So Now What?
For those who aren’t tuned-in to the Game of Thrones subreddit, one of the most widespread theories was proven correct in season six. R+L=J (Rhaegar + Leanna = Jon) is now a confirmed fact, which means that other fan theories may be on to something. Of course, they can’t all be right, and there are sure to be bombs dropped on us that we never saw coming (i.e. “hold the door“). Still, there are some prevalent theories surround the Targaryen house that are worth mentioning.
For one, it is theorized that Tyrion may be a Targaryen as well. It is well documented that “The Mad King” lusted after Tywin Lannister’s wife. It is possible that he had an affair with her, or even forced herself on her and fathered Tyrion Lannister. This would explain why Tywin detests Tyrion so much, as he not only “caused” the death of his mother but is also a living reminder that The Mad King had his way with his wife.
Varys and Illyrio are other rumored Targaryens, or at least Blackfyres, explaining their motives for restoring the Targaryens to their throne. On top of that, Varys keeps his head shaved and was castrated by a wizard who burned his parts in the flame. We all know the power that “king’s blood” has, and one of the hallmarks of Targaryen lineage is silver hair. His Targaryen blood would also explain his intricate knowledge of the Red Keep. None of this is necessarily true, but it’s worth thinking about as the plot continues to unfold.
Do you have any House Targaryen trivia to add? Is the wait for the new season of Game of Thrones killing you too? Sound off in the comments!