The Dance of the Dragons is the first major civil war for a post-Targaryen Conquest united Westeros. And… it was pretty damn ugly.
In one corner, you had the Greens, so named for Alicent Hightower, second wife of King Viserys I and mother of future claimant Aegon II, wearing a green gown to a tourney in 111 AC. Alicent and her father, who was Viserys’ on and off again Hand of the King, were not bashful about pushing for Aegon’s claim to the Iron Throne, a claim based on the laws of Westeros as confirmed in the Great Council 101 AC, that held that neither a woman nor a man who’s claim descended through a female line could inherit the Iron Throne before an eldest male heir.
In the other corner, you had the Blacks. Rhaenyra Targaryen, first born daughter of Viserys and for much of his reign his only child, elevated to Crown Princess of Dragonstone and heir in order to push back the claims of Viserys’ brother and Rhaenyra’s later lover and husband (and uncle!) Daemon, the Rogue Prince. Her claim was based on the proclamation of the King, and the fact that she was trained for the role since she was a young girl.
Prior to the Dance, both Rhaenyra and Aegon were fairly reasonable people. Rhaenyra demonstrated a questionable level of selfishness by prioritising her personal pleasure and love affair with Ser Harwin Strong over her thoroughly unsuitable marriage to cousin and former claimant for the Iron Throne, Laenor Velaryon, but had undoubtably received years of training in how to rule and had the connections with the nobility to be a decent Queen Regnant. Aegon II seems to have been a fine young man, albeit a little bit under the influence of his grandfather and mother, as you’d expect for a young man in his late teens.
But by the end of the war, both Rhaenyra and Aegon were bitter, twisted, cruel, capricious and vicious people, who you wouldn’t want to rule over a piss up in a brewery, let alone a civil war devastated kingdom.
So who was the rightful claimant?
Who was the better candidate for the Iron Throne?
What could or should have Viserys done to avoid this inevitable conflict?
What was the legacy of the Dance, and does it have any relevance to our current situation in ASOIAF? (Yes. It does.)
And… how many Romeo + Juliet gifs can I put into a blog about historical Westeros?
Continue reading “A plague o’er both their Houses…”