Game of Thrones: Jon Snow's Backstory & Real Name Explained

Jon Snow's real name and history have been revealed on Game of Thrones!

NOTE: The following post contains spoilers for the Game of Thrones season 7 finale.

Who is Aegon Targaryen?

The last time Eddard Stark saw Jon Snow, he made a promise. “The next time we see each other, we’ll talk about your mother.” Eddard leveled with his adoptive son after he unleashed a fusillade of questions about his mother: “Is [she] alive? Does she know about me? Where I am? Where I’m going? Does she care?” It’s an rare moment of vocal insecurity from Jon Snow, and it speaks to the significance of bloodlines, heritage, and legacy in Game of Thrones.

Though Ned would never see his boy again, that scene remains one of the most heartfelt and mysterious moments in Game of Thrones, thanks in large part to Sean Bean’s performance. Even then, when the show was in its infancy, the pathos in Ned’s promise hinted at something darker and more secretive than viewers might have imagined. Their conversation will surely haunt Jon's mind when he learns the truth of his birth.

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Though his foster father kept him in the dark all those years, Ned never lied to him: “You are a Stark. You might not have my name, but you have my blood.” Finally, after a biblical seven seasons of waiting, we have learned the truth. Though he has lived his whole life in the shadow of the pejorative "Snow" title, Jon is no bastard. He’s not Eddard Stark’s son. He’s not illegitimate. He is Aegon Targaryen, son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, and the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. His other titles (of which there will be many) are just icing on the cake.

Game of Thrones: Ned Stark and Jon Snow

Though he took a knee for Daenerys, he will be forced to stand in season 8. He is Aegon Targaryen, the sixth of his name, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm. He is the Song of Ice and Fire, the King of the North with dragonblood DNA.

For theorists of George R. R. Martin’s books and show, this is a tremendous victory. The R+L=J theory caught the internet by storm years ago, and while we’ve known that Rhaegar plus Lyanna equals Jon Snow since season 6, we only just learned how the equation came to be

Contrary to the libelous accusations of Robert Baratheon, Rhaegar Targaryen never kidnapped Lyanna Stark. Following the Tourney of Harrenhal, the besotted couple ran off with one another and made a covert home for themselves in the Tower of Joy in Dorne. As Gilly recently discovered at The Citadel, this elopement happened after Rhaegar lawfully annulled his first marriage to Elia Martell, with whom he had two children, Rhaenys and Aegon, his first son (more on the name issue in a moment).

After ending his first marriage, Rhaegar and Lyanna were married in a forest setting not unlike the secret wedding of Robb Stark and Talisa Maegyr. Their marriage was presided over by the Maester of the Citadel in Dorne. As Robert’s Rebellion raged on, the couple absconded to the Tower of Joy, where Lyanna would receive protection from Arthur Dayne and his loyal Kingsguard. Though Rhaegar was killed by Robert Baratheon during the Battle of the Trident, his lineage lived on through the birth of his second son, Aegon Targaryen.

Robert Baratheon and Rhaegar Targaryen in Game of Thrones

This raises several questions about Rhaegar’s sense of ethics. He not only abandoned his first wife and their two children, but he stole another man’s betrothed bride-to-be, impregnated her, then gave his second son the same name he and his first wife gave their first son? That’s questionable at best, but with a little background on Rhaegar’s obsession with prophecy, it makes a bit more sense.

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