House Targaryen is one of the most recognisable family institutions in fantasy.
Renowned for its red 3-headed dragon atop a black background, they were the first family to bring dragons to Westeros.
They are known for their fiery personality and strong sense of justice that has led to some pretty despicable acts over the years.
While the Targaryens are known for Aegon’s Conquest and Daenerys’ story arc, there is so much more behind them.
Such a rich history is covered in facts, glory, and surprises.
With the recent announcement of the House of the Dragon TV Series, there’s never been a better time to brush up on your Game of Thrones knowledge.
Everyone has heard about the events surrounding Robert’s Rebellion but what else should you know about them? Let’s take a look at 10 facts about House Targaryen!
Fun fact, House Targaryen ranks in the top 3 for the best houses in Game of Thrones.
10) Date Founded
As an official House to coincide with Westerosi customs, House Targaryen has only existed since 1AC when Aegon landed and crowned himself King of the Seven Kingdoms.
Before Aegon’s Conquest, the Targaryens fled Valyria to Dragonstone in 114 BC, where they built one of the biggest castles in Westeros.
There is no official documentation of the first Targaryen but they could be thousands of years old as they have an affinity for dragons. Valyrians first encountered dragons at around 8000 BC.
9) Targaryen Swords
Valyrian steel swords are incredibly rare weapons to find with many of the highest-ranking houses in Westeros history having just one each.
House Targaryen had two swords to their name, Dark Sister and Blackfyre. These famous swords helped conquer the Seven Kingdoms but were lost nearly 200 years later.
If you’re curious, here’s a list of all known Valyrian steel swords, as well as who they originally and currently belong to:
- House Tarly: Heartsbane – Status unknown.
- House Stark: Ice – Reforged into Oathkeeper, wielded by Brienne of Tarth and Widow’s Wail, status unknown
- House Corbray: Lady Forlorn – Currently located in Heart’s Home
- House Mormont: Longclaw – Currently wielded by Jon Snow
8) Maegor the Cruel
The son of Aegon the Conqueror and Visenya, Maegor is one of the most important figures in Targaryen history,
Born 12 years after Aegon’s conquest, he was considered to be a great swordsman, wielding the ancestral blade Blackfyre.
He claimed the throne when his brother Aenys passed away in 41 AC, even though he was not next in line.
His skills as a warrior were demonstrated when he participated in a Trial of Seven, pitting 7 of the Crown’s greatest warriors against 7 Faith Militant fighters. Only Maegor survived but he was left in a coma.
When he awoke, his fire and passion were as heated as ever.
One of his first acts was to burn the Sept of Remembrance using Balerion the Black Dread in retaliation for the Faith Militant’s rebellion.
Maegor was the one who ordered the construction of tunnels underneath the Red Keep, executing those involved to keep the secrets safe.
Known for beheading loyal servants who spoke against him, burning thousands of people, constructing extensive torture chambers and treating wives as objects, his cruelty title was well deserved.
Maegor was the first Targaryen to be considered truly mad and it set the tone for future generations.
7) Master Aemon’s History
Mester Aemon is a beloved character in both the books and TV show, yet there’s so much information that fans aren’t aware of.
His older brother passed away, leaving Aemon next in line to the throne. However, he had previously relinquished all titles to join the Order of Maesters.
Next in line was Aegon the fifth who later died, leaving Aerys Targaryen in line for the throne, where he would become the Mad King.
What’s sad is the unlikely chain of events that led up to Aerys being crowned. Aemon was a wise, prudent fellow who would have served the realm well as King. No doubt he bore that in his heart until his death.
6) Doom of Valyria
Targaryens being the last surviving Valyrian bloodline is no fluke.
One night, while residing in the Valyrian Freehold, she dreamed of the Doom of Valyria, an event that saw the Fourteen Flames erupt and forever melt away the power and history of Valyria.
Her father luckily believed her and fled to Dragonstone 12 years prior, erecting a fort and claiming the island as his own. He brought his family and 5 dragons with him. Her name would include the title “the Dreamer”.
Five generations later, Aegon the Conqueror is born.
For centuries after, Valyria has remained an inhospitable place.
Another dragonlord named Aurion attempted to reclaim Valyria with 30,000 Qohor men atop his dragon. Not a single soul who ventured to that land would ever be heard from again.
5) Aegon vs Dorne
Aegon’s Conquest is well explained in the original books and TV show.
Throughout history, victors have a habit of leaving out the troubling times, instead focusing on the key victories and glory they achieved.
It’s important to note that Aegon never actually conquered Dorne!
Instead of meeting the Targaryen armies in battle, Dorne would abandon cities and towns as soon as they saw their enemy approach.
Once the armies colonised the lands and left small garrisons behind to keep the peace, the Dornish forces would emerge.
These skirmish attacks were pretty much impossible for the Targaryen forces to deal with.
Fighting would become more fierce through the years, Princess Rhaenys would eventually lead an army with herself and her dragon Meraxes.
During the battle for Hellholt, a scorpion slew Meraxes and Rhaenys body was found mostly crushed.
While the Dornish forces revelled in victory, this angered Aegon and Visenya to the point where they torched every Dornish castle, town, village & settlement they could find for 2 years.
4) Jaehaerys Targaryen
Considered to be the greatest ruler in Westeros’ history, Jaehaerys was a perfect example of the opposite spectrum of Targaryen rulers.
In contrast to his predecessor Maegor, Jaehaerys was far more diplomatic and reasonable. Rather than insult and wage war on those who would question them, he used communication to grant reforms for the benefit of all parties.
Crowned at just 14 years of age, he would go on to earn the respect and loyalty of his citizens, as well as quell multiple plots to manipulate or even end his reign.
A great deal of his success was partly due to his wife Alysanne Targaryen. Together, they led Westeros into a golden age of peace and prosperity.
They would go on to produce a whopping 13 children together, with his grandson Viserys Targaryen taking the throne in 103 AC.
There is so much more to read about Jaehaerys and I highly recommend you read more on the wiki.
3) Blackfyre Rebellion
Between Aegon’s Conquest and the present day, 67 different Targaryens lived and died.
We all know what the Targaryens are like for waging war, political back-stabbing and incestuous relations so it isn’t a surprise to hear of a rebellious group of Targaryens.
It all started in 184 AC. Aegon IV Targaryen is King of the Seven Kingdoms, having fathered several trueborn children and over a dozen “bastard” children.
Children born to unmarried parents wasn’t uncommon but what Aegon in a few sentences would correlate through generations and see the deaths of tens of thousands.
On his deathbed, Aegon legitimised all of his bastard children.
So of course, many of them would seek the throne.
The most ambitious was a young Daemon Waters, who had established himself as a competent warrior and was even granted the valyrian steel sword Blackfyre when he was personally legitimised by his father.
Such a public display was a sign of lineage, Blackfyre was used by Aegon the Conqueror.
Boosted by encouragements from many noble houses, Daemon was eventually convinced to lay a claim to the throne.
He announced an open rebellion against the crown in 196 AC, reversing the colours of the famous Targaryen sigil to form his own House Blackfyre.
This rebellion had a big effect on the Seven Kingdoms with many lords announcing their loyalty to Daemon rather than the crown.
Battles would be fought all across the Seven Kingdoms with the penultimate battle coming in the Battle of the Redgrass Field.
Daemon lead his forces to smash his opponents before Brynden Rivers, a seasoned archer, had positioned his best men on the high ground.
They would rain arrows on the Blackfyre forces, slaying Daemon and his two sons.
Blackfyre supporters and pretenders would force four more rebellions for 64 years after Daemon’s death. Drowning the land in war until Ser Barristan Selmy finally ended the Blackfyre lineage for good in the War of the Ninepenny Kings.
2) The Dance of Dragons
Under Aegon’s command was known houses such as Baratheon & Lannister.
Whereas Rhaenyra earned the loyalty of houses Arryn, Stark, Greyjoy, Tarly, and Tully.
At the start of the war, around 20 dragons existed in Westeros. By the end of the conflict, just 4 remained.
Both claimants were also slain, with Aegon III being crowned as Lord of the Seven Kingdoms.
Although the war lasted just 2 years, it wreaked havoc on Westeros as over a dozen dragons saw combat against armies, castles, and towns.
The Dance of Dragons saw numerous famous dragons killed, including Vermithor and Caraxes.
Even Vhagar was killed in combat and she was a veteran of Aegon’s Conquest, ridden by Visenya. She was one of the most powerful dragons ever but her age had reduced her combat prowess.
1) They were actually a lesser house in Valyria
We tend to think of House Targaryen being one of the strongest family lines in fantasy history but the truth behind it is shocking.
The Valyrian Freehold Empire was ruled by 40 noble houses. House Targaryen were considered to be outside of even the top 10 strongest families.
It really shows a strong difference between old Valyrians and the free men of Westeros. A fairly weak Valyrian house has managed to cause so much war and distress for centuries in the Western continent.