Aerys II Targaryen
Born in 244, King Aerys II Targaryen, also known as Aerys the Mad or Aerys the Mad, was married to his sister, Queen Rhaella Targaryen, whom he married at the behest of his family (who were following the prophecy of a wood witch), but without love or affection for her.
Their relationship was therefore not very cordial, especially towards the end of his reign. He was the father of Rhaegar, Viserys and Daenerys, as well as of several children who were stillborn or did not live longer than a few months. He was the last king of the Targaryen dynasty and, like many members of that house, he had violet eyes.
Despite a promising start to his reign, Aerys seems to have developed a strong paranoia quite quickly, which made him see challenges to his royal authority everywhere.
He felt the need to assert his status as king and was very cruel to his supposed opponents, which earned him the nickname of Mad or Demented.
He was also famous for his love of fire and was very close to the members of the King's Landing Alchemists Guild. His outbursts of anger often led to him being injured while sitting on the Iron Throne, which also earned him the nickname King Scab.
In fact, towards the end of his reign, Aerys no longer allowed any blades in his presence except those of his Royal Guard. In addition, he had grown his hair into a long shaggy head, and he wore his nails very long.
As his violence increased, his wife also suffered from his fits of insanity. He had also become extremely thin because he ate little for fear of being poisoned. He wore the outrageous crown of King Aegon IV Targaryen.
King of the Seven Crowns
Beginning of the reignAerys was young when he took the throne (he was nineteen), and he decided to surround himself with new and young personalities to rule. This leads him to choose Tywin Lannister as Hand of the King.
Indeed, Aerys and Tywin knew each other in their youth (it is possible that they were squires together). His reign began auspiciously, with Aerys and his Hand working together to settle the affairs of the realm.
In the year 263, Lord Tywin married Lady Joanna Lannister, his cousin, who had been Queen Rhaella's lady-in-waiting for four years (according to malicious but not very credible rumors, she was deflowered on the night of Aerys's father's coronation and was then briefly his mistress).
During the bedtime ceremony, King Aerys, who, during the banquet, had loudly regretted the abolition of the custom of the first night, allows himself unseemly liberties with the young bride, who is shortly afterwards dismissed by the queen.
The king against his Hand
However, Aerys does not delay to feel a growing jealousy for his Hand who has the reputation to govern the kingdom in his place. He had the tongue of Ser Ilyn Payne, who had impudently declared Lord Tywin to be the true ruler of the Seven Crowns, ripped out with fire-reddened pincers.
Events during the Sombreval Challenge and Varys' arrival at the small council probably exacerbated his paranoia.
The last years of Aerys' reign were marked by many humiliations against his Hand. Thus, in 276, during a tournament given in Port-Lannis in honor of the birth of his son Viserys, Aerys publicly refused to marry his son and heir Rhaegar to Cersei Lannister.
He humiliates Lord Tywin by declaring that the latter is his most capable servant, but that a king does not marry his heir to the offspring of a mere executor. In the year 277, looking for a suitable match for his son, he sends Lord Steffon Baratheon to search for a descendant of the Valyrian line in the free cities.
This mission was a failure, and Lord Steffon and his wife were killed on the way back in the wreck of their ship, The Windy Pride. In 278, he was persuaded by the Princess of Dorne to marry Rhaegar to Elia Martell.
Finally, in 281, following the death of Ser Harlan Grandison, and perhaps at the instigation of Cersei Lannister, he brought Ser Jaime Lannister into the Kingsguard, thus depriving Lord Tywin of his eldest son and heir.
This event led to Tywin's resignation as Hand of the King and his return to Casterly Rock with his daughter, whom he had never really given up on marrying the crown prince or his younger brother Viserys, Princess Elia Martell being of frail constitution.
Still in 281, the king left the Red Keep for the last time to go to the great tournament of Harrenhal. Indeed, convinced by Lord Varys that his own son was plotting to depose him, Aerys was actually traveling to prevent Rhaegar from negotiating with the lords who had come to the tournament.
Robert Baratheon's Rebellion
In the year 282, when, after the kidnapping of Lyanna Stark by Crown Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, Brandon Stark arrives at the Red Keep with his companions to demand accountability from the prince, Aerys has them arrested and summons their fathers.
When they arrive in King's Landing, they are mercilessly executed, except for Lord Rickard Stark. The latter, thinking that he will have the opportunity to defend himself by arms, goes before the king in armor.
Aerys then makes him burn with small fire, under the eyes of Brandon who cannot intervene without strangling himself, having his hands tied and his neck enserrated in a noose. Both Stark die during this cruel ordeal.
Aerys then orders Lord Jon Arryn to execute his two wards, Eddard Stark and the young Lord Robert Baratheon, who was promised to Lyanna Stark. Lord Arryn's refusal to do so, summoning his ban and seceding from the Iron Throne, sparks the rebellion.
From bad to worse
The king's decisions during this rebellion will prove catastrophic. The new Hand who has replaced Lord Tywin Lannister, Lord Owen Merryweather, treats these events with great levity, allowing the rebels to call their banns in their respective fiefs. In Lestival, loyalist Stormlords suffered three successive defeats at the hands of Robert.
These defeats led to the dismissal of Lord Owen. In his place, and in the absence of Prince Rhaegar, King Aerys appointed one of his young supporters, the fiery and arrogant Lord Jon Connington.
After Robert's defeat at Cendregué, Lord Connington is defeated in turn at the Battle of the Bells, and the king strips him of his ranks and titles and sentences him to exile. The king realizes that Robert is the most serious threat to House Targaryen since Daemon Feunoyr's rebellion.
Everyone expects the king to recall Lord Tywin Lannister, but he prefers to appoint Lord Qarlton Chelsted.
It seems that it is at this moment that Prince Rhaegar returns to King's Landing. He was asked by his father to lead the important loyalist army, reinforced by ten thousand Dornians who arrived by the Royal Road and commanded by Prince Lewyn Martell. In order to enjoin the latter to the strictest loyalty, Aerys reminds him that he holds Princess Elia Martell in his power.
On the insistence of his son, the sovereign takes his side to ask his help to Lord Tywin Lannister but no answer comes from Casterly Rock, which increases the terror of the monarch.
His paranoia grows and Varys feeds it considerably by pointing out to the king the potential enemies he might have overlooked. Once the royal army has left, Aerys begins planning the destruction of the capital, aided by his Guild alchemists.
Caches of Grecian fire are scattered throughout the city: Flea Bottom, the Great Septuary of Baelor, Fossedragon, the stables and sheds, the gates of the capital and the cellars of the Red Keep.
The king can proceed with all the more ease as his eldest son is absorbed in leading his army. Lord Qarlton Chelsted, the new Hand of the King - alerted by the constant presence of alchemists in Aerys' wake - tries to dissuade him from carrying out his project; realizing that he will not bring him back to his senses, he resigns from his office by throwing down his badge.
He was arrested and burned alive by the alchemist Rossart, who replaced him as Hand. Ser Jaime Lannister was the only sworn brother of the Kingsguard to remain with the king; being the son of Lord Tywin, the monarch did not trust him and subjected him to Varys' constant surveillance. Holding the son of his former Hand also provides Aerys with a valuable hostage.
Ending and fallAfter the defeat of the loyalists at the Battle of the Trident and the death of Prince Rhaegar, news reaches King's Landing that Robert's vanguard, led by Lord Eddard, is moving quickly to begin the siege of the capital.
King Aerys then sends his wife and youngest son Viserys to Peyredragon, guarding Elia Martell and her children in the Red Keep; convinced that the Dornians have betrayed Rhaegar at the Trident, he thinks he can secure Dorne's allegiance by holding the princess and Aegon Targaryen hostage.
He is more determined than ever to set the city on fire if Robert takes it, so that he will rule over a pile of ashes. When Lord Tywin Lannister arrives in King's Landing claiming loyalty to the Crown, Aerys has the Lannisters open the gates of the city despite Varys' advice not to; he was convinced by Grand Maester Pycelle's assurances that his governor of the west was coming to his defense.
The sack of King's Landing and the attack of the Lannister troops against the royal keep followed, while Lord Eddard's troops started to invest the capital.
Aerys ordered Lord Rossart to carry out the plan to destroy King's Landing, and he intended to have the largest funeral pyre of his line.
Ser Jaime Lannister, who is responsible for the defense of the Red Keep, understands that the situation is desperate and sends to the King to ask for permission to negotiate; the King - with whom Rossart is present - sends his envoy back, demanding that Jaime bring back his father's head and declares that he refuses to surrender. Realizing that the destruction of King's Landing will happen soon, Jaime goes after the alchemist and kills him.
When he enters the great throne room, his bloody sword in his hand, Aerys asks him if it is Lord Tywin's blood that stains his blade; but Jaime tells him that he has just killed his Hand and Aerys, frightened, defiles himself. He is then slaughtered by Jaime on the steps of the throne before he can send someone to the arsonists.