Born in the year 97, Rhaenyra Targaryen was a princess of House Targaryen, the eldest child of King Viserys I Targaryen and his first wife, Queen Aemma Arryn.
As a child, she was known as the Joy of the Kingdom. Although she was the eldest and designated by her father as the long-time heir to the Iron Throne, her right of succession was disputed.
She rode the dragoness Syrax.
Personality and Physical appearance
As a child, Rhaenyra was an exemplary little girl, beautiful, brave and intelligent, characteristics she seems to derive from her Targaryen blood. Very precocious, she was admired by the entire court and adored by her parents. Her uncle Daemon Targaryen showered her with gifts, and she had a great deal of affection for him.
She has long been courted by many prestigious parties. However, a deep rivalry soon pits her against her stepmother, Alicent Hightower, and her half-brothers and sister.
As an adult, Rhaenyra's three successive pregnancies make her put on a lot of weight, and, despite her twenty years, the great beauty of her youth is faded.
Proud and determined, she likes to dress richly and wear her hair like the warrior Visenya Targaryen, the sister and first wife of Aegon the Conqueror, although she herself has no practice with weapons.
The Joy of the Kingdom
In the year 97, after several miscarriages and the death of a child in the cradle, Lady Aemma Arryn gives birth to a daughter, Rhaenyra. She is healthy and adored by her parents.
In the year 103, her father ascended to the Iron Throne. A tournament is given for this occasion in Viergétang, which the young princess attends. A young knight, Ser Criston Cole, made a name for himself by winning the melee, notably by disarming Prince Daemon Targaryen with his Valyrian steel sword Black Sister in the final duel.
He dedicates this victory to the princess and asks her for the honor of wearing his colors during the duel. She accepts, and Ser Criston once again illustrates himself by dismantling Prince Daemon and the twin knights Erryk and Arryk Cargyll of the Royal Guard. He was finally defeated in the final match by Lord Lymond Mallister, who won the tournament.
In the year 104, Rhaenyra became a dragoness, riding her dragon Syrax for the first time at the age of seven.
The following year, Ser Criston Cole was inducted into the Royal Guard and Rhaenyra begged her father to make him her liege shield, a whim that the king granted her. Dazzled by her white knight, Rhaenyra favors him on the lice and is protected by him at feasts and banquets.
The same year, Lord Lyonel Fort's two daughters became his ladies-in-waiting. In the last days of the year 105, his mother died giving birth to a son, Baelon, who died the next day.
After a joke by Prince Daemon, King Viserys I Targaryen decides to settle the question of his succession: despite the precedents of 92 and 101, he appoints his daughter Rhaenyra as the legitimate heir and names her Princess of Peyredragon.
A sumptuous ceremony is organized in the last days of the year: hundreds of lords come to recognize Rhaenyra as heir. Placed at the feet of her father, at the bottom of the Iron Throne, she receives their oaths to honor and defend her right of succession.
Rhaenyra is then placed as her father's cupbearer. She is constantly by his side at feasts, tournaments and court. However, many still hope that the king will have a male heir.
In the year 106, the king remarried Lady Alicent Hightower, daughter of the King's Hand, ser Otto Hightower. Rhaenyra serves her at the wedding banquet and she affectionately calls her daughter. The princess participates in the bedtime ceremony by undressing her father.
However, in the years that follow the friendship between them quickly fades, replaced by a terrible rivalry. Alicent soon gave birth to sons: first Aegon in 107, then Aemond in 110.
However, the king does not question the precedence of his eldest daughter, despite the insistence of his wife and father-in-law. Rhaenyra still sits under the Iron Throne and even participates in her father's councils.
Although she is courted by many lords and knights, she still only has eyes for Ser Criston Cole, her liege shield. Queen Alicent begins to hint that they may be having an affair.
Lords and courtiers form the "Queen's Party" and support Alicent's son's right to the throne, while others band together to form the "Princess's Party", which supports Rhaenyra.
In the year 111, a feast is given at the opening of the King's Landing tournament, celebrating the fifth wedding anniversary of King Viserys I and Queen Alicent.
The latter wears a green dress, and Princess Rhaenyra a sensational red and black dress in the colors of House Targaryen. During the following jousts, Ser Criston Cole of the Kingsguard, Princess Rhaenyra's champion, wears his color, black.
He triumphed over all the queen's champions, including two of her cousins and her younger brother, Ser Gwayne Hightower. From then on, the supporters of Princess Rhaenyra are nicknamed the Blacks, and those of Queen Alicent and her children, the Greens.
This tournament also saw the reconciliation of the king and his brother, Daemon, who, it seems, did not leave the fourteen-year-old princess indifferent. In the days that follow, Rhaenyra and Daemon get closer: he captivates her with his stories of travels and battles, he offers her books, rich clothes and precious jewels, he eats, hunts and sails in her company, praising her beauty and mocking the queen, her children and their supporters.
Mounted on their dragons, they begin to fly together. However, a new quarrel soon broke out between the king and his brother. While sources differ on the causes, Prince Daemon once again walks away from the court.
In the year 112, Princess Rhaenyra visits the Conflans and then the western lands. Amos Bracken wins a duel against Samwell Nerbosc to gain her favor. Forrest Frey openly asks for her hand. The Lannister twins Jason and Tyland try to seduce her during a banquet in Casterly Rock.
She is also courted by the sons of Lords Tully, Tyrell, du Rouvre, Tarly, and Ser Harwin Fort, the heir to Harrenhal. The small council and the king are also considering the question of finding her a consort. Viserys thinks for a while of marrying her to the Prince of Dorne, in order to bring the principality into the Seven Crowns.
Queen Alicent Hightower is advancing her own son, Rhaenyra's half-brother, Aegon. But the princess is ten years older than him and they never got along well, so Viserys refused.
When she came of age in the year 113, Princess Rhaenyra took possession of Peyredragon. That year, the king and his council finally agreed on Laenor Velaryon, Rhaenyra's cousin and Viserys' rival at the Great Council of 101.
Rhaenyra was not consulted, however, and when the king tells her of his choice, she claims that her half-brother Aegon would be even more to her liking than Laenor, who seems to prefer the company of young men to that of women.
A quarrel breaks out between father and daughter, until Viserys threatens to disinherit Rhaenyra in favor of her half-brother Aegon. Rhaenyra gives in. The next night, an incident breaks out between Rhaenyra and her liege shield Criston Cole.
From then on, they became mortal enemies, although the cause of their quarrel remains unclear. Soon after, Rhaenyra sets sail for Lamarck aboard the Sea Serpent, with her retinue: the dwarf jester Mushroom, her new champion ser Harwin Fort, and her damsels, including Harwin's two sisters.
In the year 114, Rhaenyra marries the newly ordained ser Laenor Velaryon. Seven days of banquets celebrate the union, as well as a great tournament. Rhaenyra gives her favor to her new champion, ser Harwin Fort. The latter is wounded by the queen's champion Alicent Hightower and Lord Commander of the Royal Guard, ser Criston Cole.
After the tournament, Ser Laenor returns to Lamarck, where he stays most of the time and finds a new favorite, leaving his wife at court. Rumors circulate that the marriage has not been consummated.
Surrounded by her friends and courtiers, Rhaenyra's main support is now Ser Harwin Fort, who accompanies her to all banquets, balls and hunts. Ser Laenor had no objection, as the two spouses were not very close, as Ser Laenor only came to court for important events where his presence was required.
In the last days of the year 114, the princess Rhaenyra gave birth to a son, named Jacaerys. At the end of the following year, surrounded by Laenor Velaryon and Harwin Fort according to septon Eustace, she gave birth to a second son, Lucerys.
The two children do not have the characteristic Targaryen features that both parents share. The court judged their physique to be rather common, reminiscent of Harwin Fort's than of the Valyrians. These births exacerbate tensions with Queen Alicent Hightower and her supporters.
The princess and the queen could not stand each other's presence and Alicent stayed in the Red Keep, while Rhaenyra set up her court in Peyredragon.
In the year 117, Joffrey was born. His physique, similar to that of his brothers, makes the rumors start again: Alicent's supporters argue that Rhaenyra's three sons are not from her husband, Laenor, but that they are the bastards of her liege shield, Harwin Fort.
King Viserys I Targaryen remained deaf to the rumors and did not question his decision to make Rhaenyra his heir and to have the lineage continued through his sons.
Over the next few years, Rhaenyra's sons grow up at the court in King's Landing, along with Alicent Hightower's sons. The mothers' rivalry is passed on to the sons, who develop a mutual dislike for each other.
At the same time, Rhaenyra became closer to her sister-in-law Laena Velaryon, the wife of her uncle Daemon Targaryen. The proximity of Peyredragon and Lamarck allows them to visit each other frequently and to fly together, all three being dragon riders.
In the year 118, Rhaenyra obtained the blessing of her father Viserys, to announce the engagement of her two eldest children, Jacaerys and Lucerys, to Daemon and Laena's twins, Baela and Rhaena. The following year, Rhaenyra went to Lamarck to assist Laena during her delivery. On the seventh day of the year 120, Laena Velaryon died a few days after giving birth to her child.
Rhaenyra stands vigil with Daemon over the body of her friend and comforts her uncle. Later that year, her husband Laenor Velaryon dies under strange circumstances, murdered by Ser Qarl Correy in what passes for a lovers' quarrel.
During his funeral, an incident breaks out between Rhaenyra's sons and Aemond, Alicent Hightower's second son. Informed, the princess asks that her half-brother be questioned vigorously until he confesses where he had heard that his sons were called "the Strong".
Viserys forbids any further accusations of bastardy against Rhaenyra's sons, on pain of having his tongue torn out. He also orders his daughter and his wife to kiss and exchange promises of love and affection.
He also decides that from now on, Alicent and his sons will stay in the Red Keep, while Rhaenyra and her family will stay in Peyredragon. He dismisses Ser Harwin Fort from Rhaenyra's service, and assigns him as his new liege shield Ser Erryk Cargyll of the Kingsguard.
According to the Mushroom Jester's Testimony, Rhaenyra is visited many times by her uncle Daemon, to console her pain. Sometime later that year, Ser Harwin Fort died with his father, Hand of the King, in a fire in Harrenhal. These deaths are the subject of much suspicion.
Viserys I Targaryen considered appointing his daughter Hand of the King, so that she could rule by his side as the designated heir. However, fearing the tensions that would ensue with Alicent and her children, he finally recalls his father-in-law, Otto Hightower.
Still in the same year 120, Rhaenyra and Daemon got married hastily and secretly, in Peyredragon. This marriage provokes a new scandal: Viserys I Targaryen reproaches his daughter and her brother for not having respected the memory of their previous spouses, Laenor and Laena Velaryon, both dead for less than half a year.
In her book, septon Eustace claims that Rhaenyra acted in secret from her father, because she knew he would refuse if she asked his permission. The dwarf jester Mushroom suggests instead in his Testimony that Rhaenyra was already pregnant, and did not want to give birth to a new child that could be accused of bastardy.
At the end of the year, Rhaenyra gave birth to a new son whom she named Aegon. Queen Alicent Hightower took offense at the child's name, seeing it as an insult to her own son, Aegon; Mushroom confirmed that this was the case.
In 122, Rhaenyra gave birth to a fifth son, whom she named Viserys in honor of her own father.
In the year 126, Lord Corlys Velaryon fell ill; Rhaenyra urged him to name his second son, Lucerys Velaryon, as heir to Lamarck, but Lord Corlys' nephews claimed that Rhaenyra's children should be discarded because of their alleged bastardy.
Furious at these allegations, Rhaenyra sends her uncle-husband to seize the main accuser, ser Vaemond Velaryon, and has him beheaded, then feeds his remains to his dragon, Syrax. Shortly after, Viserys is injured on the Iron Throne.
Despite the care of Grand Maester Mellos, he gets a fever and threatens to die. Rhaenyra arrives from Peyredragon and entrusts his father to the care of his Maester, Gerardys.
He amputates two of the king's fingers and his health is restored. On the first day of the following year, Viserys organizes a great banquet to celebrate his recovery, at which all his family is summoned to appear. Rhaenyra and Alicent show up with all their children.
Wearing each other's colors, they exchange many declarations of affection according to the court records. Late in the evening, the tired king retires and incidents break out between the Blacks and Greens. The next day, Rhaenyra and her family once again left King's Landing for Peyredragon.
When Mellos dies, Rhaenyra insists that Maester Gerardys should replace him, with Alicent putting forward his own candidate. Viserys refuses to decide, leaving the Conclave of Archmasters to appoint the new Grand Maester, as tradition dictates.
At the beginning of the year 129, Rhaenyra is bedridden in Peyredragon, expecting her sixth child. Her father Viserys dies, triggering a terrible conflict of succession between Rhaenyra and her half-brother, Aegon II.
The Dance of the Dragons
Upon the death of King Viserys I Targaryen, despite her status as heir apparent acquired before the birth of her half-brothers and later confirmed by her father, the small council dominated by the party of Queen Alicent dismisses Rhaenyra and crowns her half-brother Aegon seven days later as Aegon II.
The princess is then in Peyredragon, pregnant, with two sworn brothers of the Kingsguard, ser Erryk Cargyll and ser Lorent Marpheux. When she finally learns of her father's death and her half-brother's betrayal, her fury triggers her to give birth and, after three days of labor, she gives birth to a deformed and stillborn daughter whom she names Visenya.
The princess had many supporters among the nobles of the court, and she decided to make her cause triumph by all means. The ensuing war of succession is now known as the Dance of the Dragons.
Princess Rhaenyra first forms her own council, the Black Council, consisting of her husband Daemon, her sons Jacaerys, Lucerys and Joffrey Velaryon, Lord Corlys Velaryon and his wife Rhaenys.
She was then crowned queen with her father's crown stolen by Ser Steffon Sombrelyn in King's Landing. An attempt at reconciliation is made by Maester Orwyle, who travels to Peyredragon, but his terms are rejected and the two sides declare each other traitors to the realm.
Recognizing the need for a base of operations on the continent to gather the armies of the Conflans that might answer Rhaenyra's call, Daemon flies to the Trident and Harrenhal.
Lord Corlys denies access to Peyredragon and Lamarck by deploying his powerful fleet in Gosier. In search of allies, the council decides to send Jacaerys to seek support from Houses Arryn, Stark and Manderly.
Lucerys, for his part, is sent to Accalmie to seek the support of Lord Borros Baratheon. There, he meets his uncle, Prince Aemond, who takes the opportunity to avenge the loss of his eye and, mounted on Vhagar, kills the young prince and his dragon.
In retaliation, Prince Daemon has the eldest son of King Aegon II, Jaehaerys, murdered in King's Landing. The first pitched battles begin, and during the battle of Gosier, Queen Rhaenyra loses another son, Jacaerys, pierced by Myrian arrows with his dragon.
Her youngest son, Aegon, narrowly escaped, while her youngest son, Viserys, disappeared and was pronounced dead. If the death of Lucerys had plunged Rhaenyra into apathy, to the point of entrusting her government to her advisors, the death of Jacaerys awakened her rage, and the queen then took matters in hand.
In the year 130, Harrenhal is still occupied by the Blacks since its capture a year earlier. Prince Aemond and Ser Criston Cole, at the head of the Green forces, march towards the fortress, leaving the capital defenseless.
The opportunity to take King's Landing is immediately seized by the Blacks, who occupy the city thanks to the complicity of Prince Daemon. Ser Otto Hightower is executed and the queens Helaena and Alicent are imprisoned.
King Aegon II was able to escape with his surviving children. Queen Rhaenyra thus acceded to the Iron Throne, which was initially well received by the population, King Aegon II and his brother Aemond being little appreciated.
But, as executions and tax hikes continued, the queen became hated, so much so that she was soon nicknamed "King Maegor with breasts". The armed struggle is not over, tough fights still rage, including, the same year, the battle of Chutebourg which sees the victory of the Greens thanks to the treachery of two dragon seeds and especially the sack of the city that follows.
The fear of suffering the same fate and of seeing Aegon II and his dragons return to King's Landing. The suspicious death of Queen Helaena is the trigger for the revolt and a huge crowd marches to Fossedragon to fight the dragons, blamed for the city's misfortunes.
The result is the massacre of all the dragons present, including Syrax, the queen's dragon, but also the death of the prince of Peyredragon, Joffrey, who had tried to intervene. The queen must then flee the capital.
Her first three sons were dead, her husband Daemon, with whom a rift had developed since he had taken Nettles, a dragon seed, as his mistress, suffered the same fate during a terrible duel above Harrenhal against Prince Aemond. The queen then returns to Peyredragon (ruined, she must sell her crown to pay for the trip).
She is unaware that the fortress is already taken by the Greens led by her half-brother who, thanks to Lord Larys Fort, had taken refuge incognito for six months on the island, stripped of its forces by the occupation of King's Landing.
Taken prisoner on the twenty-second day of the tenth moon of the year 130, the queen was taken before King Aegon II, who fed her to his dragon Feux-du-Soleyl before the eyes of his last living son, Aegon.
LegacyRhaenyra's lineage continues through her last two sons, Aegon III and Viserys II, who become kings and perpetuate the house of Targaryen. The first one is very marked by the execution of his mother.
Having lost the war to Aegon II Targaryen, Rhaenyra is not considered as queen in the official dynastic lists. While some books give her the title of queen that she claimed, some scholars simply refer to her as a princess, obscuring her short reign and her claims.
The memory of Rhaenyra and the Dance of the Dragons is often evoked as a repudiation and as an argument why a woman cannot ascend the Iron Throne and rule the Seven Crowns.
Scholars such as Grand Maester Pycelle consider the enmity between Rhaenyra and her mother-in-law Alicent Hightower to be the cause of the division of the realm during the Dance of the Dragons.
Rhaenyra is considered by Stannis Baratheon to be a traitor, having known the death of traitors, although she is the daughter of a king and mother of two kings. Some Westrians, however, remember that Rhaenyra was the heir apparent to Viserys I Targaryen, and blame the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, Criston Cole, for the plots that led to the rise of Aegon and the ousting of Rhaenyra.
There are many rumors about Cole's motives: some believe that he pitted brother against sister because Rhaenyra was less easily manipulated than Aegon, others that he defended the ancient Andean custom of male preference, and others that he had a forbidden relationship between Rhaenyra and Criston before he joined the Kingsguard, which led him to favor Aegon over his former lover.