Hidden Targaryens

Everyone loves a hidden Targ theory, right?

I want to go over the popular, the accepted and the contentious tinfoil theories about whether various characters are knowing or unknowing hidden descendants of House Targaryen and its offshoots. Some of these has been touched on previously, when discussing “Aegon”/Young Griff.

TL-DR: There’s a lot of hidden Targ theories, but only a handful are credible – Jon Snow, Varys, and fAegon the hidden Blackfyre. 

First up: the classic. R+L=J

Jon Snow or Jon Targaryen?

  • Theory is well accepted and supported by hints in main text – elaborated in another blog
  • Suggest Jon is not Ned Stark’s son, but his nephew: Lyanna and Rhaegar’s son
  • Lots of debate around whether Lyanna ran off realising she would be a royal mistress or whether they wed under a heart tree as it was Twoo Wuv
  • Equal levels of debate around whether such a marriage would make Jon legitimate and heir to the Iron Throne after Rhaegar or not. I don’t believe Westeros would accept Targaryen polygamy, given that the last Targaryen with multiple wives was Maegor the Cruel.
  • Presence and determination of 3 Kingsguard at the Tower of Joy, where Ned found dying Lyanna and Jon was most likely born, suggests that Rhaegar persuaded at least them that Lyanna’s child was the next king for Westeros, or the mythic Prince That Was Promised.
  • Actually, there are way more interesting questions around the Tower of Joy than the almost too obvious R+L=J – why were there 3 Kingsguard guarding Lyanna, including the Lord Commander? Shouldn’t they have been at the Red Keep, or Dragonstone, or with Rhaegar at the Trident? And what did Ned promise Lyanna?
  • Status: you know nothing Jon Snow. Hopefully the mystery will be revealed in S6/TWOW.

Next up: the curious case of Varys the eunuch

We don’t know much about Varys. He’s a talented and ruthless spymaster, who grew up as a street kid thief in Lys after he was castrated by a Mage. So he says: it’s hard to know how much of what Varys tells Tyrion of his origins is true. But I think this much is true. Illyrio confirms these details and adds some more to Tyrion when Tyrion is roped into their Aegon plot, indicating that when Varys was a teen, he and Illyrio (then a braavo) combined their talents to run rings around the other crims and plotters in Pentos.

  • I subscribe to the Brightflame theory: Varys is the son of Maegor Targaryen or Maegor Brightflame, son of Aerion Brightflame. Assuming Varys is around mid 30s-40s in the current events, and knowing that Maegor disappeared from westerosi history as an infant, the ages match up. Previously discussed and dated
  • Aerion was exiled to Lys for some years after his misconduct at the Tourney of Ashford. He has bastards there.
  • We have known clue at all as to what happened to Maegor or his mother after Aerion’s death and Maegor being passed over in favour of Aegon V. It’s possible he went to Lys or the free cities
  • The lack of information on Maegor Targaryen (or Maegor Brightflame) is intriguing – the absence of info in TWOIAF suggests there is more to tell, but revealing it in TWOIAF would spoil either D&E or ASOIAF. 
  • From the beginning of AGOT Varya is described as “bald as an egg” – some argue that this is just an ordinary phrase but I think it’s a clue. GRRM has been pottering around with Westeros for a long time. The only other character described in this way is Egg, young Prince Aegon V, who shaved his head to avoid his Valyrian silver blonde locks giving away his importance when he was traveling as squire to Ser Duncan the Tall.
  • I think Varys is similarly hiding his Targaryen features with a razor.
  • But why?

I feel that the only reason it makes sense for Varys to be disguising his Targaryen features, and to have engaged in the spymaster tactics he has for the Mad King and the Baratheons, and his spiel to Kevan Lannister in ADWD, is that he is helping Illyrio and Serra Blackfyre put a previously passed over Targaryen scion on the Iron Throne – revenge for his father Maegor being passed over by the Great Council in favour of Egg.

The Lannister connections – or lack thereof

So far I’ve discussed the 2 hidden Targ theories that I think are true. The rest…. nope.

Plenty of fans love the idea that one, two or all of Tywin Lannister’s children are a result of the Mad King’s infatuation with Joanna Lannister, Tywin’s cousin/bride, and the alleged affair she had with Aerys before her marriage.

What we know:

  • Aerys made inappropriate jokes and comments about Joanna Lannister’s beauty and boobs as a Prince and as King, before and after her marriage to Tywin
  • Rhaella dismissed Joanna Lannister as one of her handmaidens after rumours about her supposed affair with Aerys circulated the Red Keep – but TWOIAF notes that Joanna was one of many women dismissed from the Queen’s service on the basis of rumours and allegations, without evidence that these rumours were supported by facts. No smoke without fire? Or is the smoke due to Aerys’ groping Joanna non-consensually?
  • Aerys “took liberties” with Joanna’s person at the bedding. Some people have interpreted this as rape, but seriously? The Mad King thought he was untouchable, but he wasn’t so untouchable that he could rape a women in the presence of dozens of lords stripping the bride and taking her to the bed chamber during Tywin and Joanna’s wedding. And had that happened, people wouldn’t be obliquely referring to it as ‘taking liberties’…
  • Shortly after the wedding, Joanna (dismissed from Queen Rhaella’s service) went to Casterly Rock. Joanna rarely returns to King’s Landing after this. Tywin travels between King’s Landing and Casterly Rock at unspecified intervals to work as Hand of the King and perform his duties as Lord Paramount in the Westerlands, and lord husband to Joanna.
  • Cersei and Jaime were born about 3 years after the wedding – HIGHLY unlikely, nigh impossible to be a result of an affair (willing or not) with the Mad King, despite the parallels between Cersei’s deepening madness and Aerys.
  • The royal court was based at Casterly Rock for a time in the year before Tyrion’s birth and Joanna’s death.
  • Tywin adored Joanna.

While TWOIAF knocks the wind out of the sails of A+J=C+J, there are those who say it helps support A+J=T. I don’t think so.

In the YEAR prior to Tyrion’s birth, the Royal Court was based in Casterly Rock for about 6 months. But that also means Tywin, Hand of the King, was in residence in his home, with his wife, every day for 6 months, rather than travelling back and forth from King’s Landing.

Personally, I think far too much is made of the supposed connection between Tyrion’s dwarfism and the Targaryen propensity for stillborn deformities, like Daenerys experienced with Rhaego. That’s a very long bow to draw between dwarfism and magical reptilian deformed babes in dragonriders.

We also don’t know if the Royal Court was in residence before Joanna announced her second pregnancy, or during it. If before, and Aerys did act on his often spoken attraction for Tywin’s wife, then it’s possible that Tyrion is a secret Targaryen.

But frankly I think it cheapens Tyrion’s arc enormously if he is not Tywin Lannister’s trueborn son. Of all three of them, Jaime the irresponsible knight, Cersei the narcissist Mad Queen, and Tyrion the bitter, shrewd diplomat, Tyrion is (as noted by their aunt Genna Lannister Frey) the most like Tywin. He is Tywin’s truest son.

Tywin might have suspected Tyrion was a result of Aerys’ interference in his marriage, and he says as much to Tyrion, repeatedly in ASOS:

But this could have been down to what Tyrion previously thinks about – that his father punishes him, the freakish dwarf, who took his beloved wife from him in childbirth. But then this we have this stinger:

Here, Tywin displays his staggering arrogance and narcissism: he refuses to accept that Ser Jaime Lannister, his eldest son and sworn knight of the Kingsguard since he was 15, cannot be his heir in the laws of Westeros. Tyrion, the second born dwarf, despised by his father, is the lawful heir to Casterly Rock, but has never been allowed to live up to this. But he has not be allowed to do anything else: take a tour through Essos, travel Westeros, go to the Citadel or the Wall – all of those vows would be beneath a Lion of the Rock in the eyes of Tywin Lannister, but he cannot bring himself to acknowledge that Tyrion is his trueborn son. His lawful heir.

It’s unclear if this is just because Tyrion is a dwarf, or if Tywin would have treated Tyrion as poorly as he did if Tyrion had been born a full sized, healthy child that still led to Joanna dying in childbirth? It’s a big question, and one we will probably not get the answer to – but y’know, next time there is a chance to ask GRRM, someone should ask this: is Tywin’s hatred of Tyrion down to the fact Tyrion “killed” Joanna, the love of Tywin’s life, or is it because he is disabled and thus bringing “dishonour” to House Lannister, or is it because Tywin suspects Tyrion is actually the bastard son of Aerys Targaryen?

My money is on the first one: Tywin would have been as big an arsehole to his younger son even if there was no possible doubt over his paternity (and frankly I’m not convinced there is) and Tyrion was 100% able bodied and the embodiment of knightly chivalry like Jaime, just because Tyrion’s birth led to Joanna Lannister’s death.

Prove me wrong in the comments 🙂

6 thoughts on “Hidden Targaryens

    1. LadyKnitsALot says:

      This is the problem with Varys: so much of what he says in bullshit, so it’s hard to know what to trust.

      But IF he is from Lys, and IF he was castrated as a child as he describes… then I think the power of his “king’s blood” support the thesis that he is descended from Maegor Targaryen or Aerion Targaryen’s bastards, or House Blackfyre.


  1. With Tyrion Targaryen section you did not mention the rumors of Joanna being Aerys’s paramour which Pycelle dismissed saying Tywin would be too proud to use other man’s leavings (protesting too much maybe? Pycelle is a Tywin fan and not reliable).
    The court was not in Lannisport the year before Tyrion’s birth. This happened before when Tytos died in 267 AC and lasted for a year. The supposed date of Tyrion’s conception would be the King’s Landing Tourney 272 AC where Aerys made comments about Joanna’s breasts that seemed mocking (or was he just pointing out he had seem them before and would like to see them again?) The next morning (!) Tywin tried to resign as Hand but Aerys did not let him. This tourney happened year before Tyrion’s birth in 273 AC, we do not know how many months. You might also notice that the info about Tyrion’s birth in the wordbook comes right after the section of the tourney.

    You did not mention any of the character based reasons for Tyrion to be a Targaryen either. He has lighter blond hair than any other Lannister except Tommen whose hair later darkens like blond children ‘s often do and Tyrion has one eye that seems black (but is it?). He desired a dragon from a young child, something only Targaryen’s in the series have. He designed a saddle for Bran and is red about them a great deal and has travelled to them. He dreamed of Tywin and Cersei burning as a child and has a dream in Dance that has a dragons in it. Moqorro mentions him in a comment about dragons that could include him among them or not, it is vague. He has met nearly all “dragons” in the series, Jon, Aemon, Varys (if he is Brightflame and there might be a reason he has taken an interest in Tyrio), fAegon, Brown Ben Plumm and is near Daenerys. This could merely be a coincidence of there is a reason Tyrion has a connection to there “dragons”.

    Tyrion mentions how all dwarfs are bastards in their father’s eyes, the very same chapter he is introduced. Most of this info about character related things linking him to dragons came form the first book, the same as with Jon about his parentage. There are things about Jon such as a bastard is not supposed to fight a prince (or something like that) regarding him and Joffrey in one of the first chapters, it can be a similar comment as the bastards with Tyrion where we see the real meaning of the sentence only after the revelation.

    Regarding the relationship with Tywin, Tywin does not need to know for certain, he could also think he still could be Tyrion’s father but do not know. With that and Joanna being Tywin’s first cousin which makes Tywin and Tyrion related anyway (so killing Tyrion would be kinslaying anyway and Tywin does take care of all the Lannister’s anyway like Gerion’s bastard girl Joy who got a Westering marriage) and the shame of anyone knowing what happened would explain why Tywin did nothing. He can be good with denial like with Cersei and Jaime and their kids. But sometimes Tywin could still believe Aerys was Tyrion’s father, such as in the chapter where he denies Tyrion Casterly Rock, there he compares Tyrion to Aerys at one point, “mummers and monkeys require an applause and so did Aerys”. The idea that Tywin has been tormented about always doubting Tyrion’s parentage, getting robbed of Jaime by Aerys and been left Aerys’s son as a heir and having to face the fact the child who is most like him might not be his is infinitely more interesting than Tywin hating Tyrion because of looks and killing his mother only. Wouldn’t this explain why Tywin did not talk to Genna for a half a year after making her comment in a more interesting manner? And then Tywin says Tyrion is not his son as his last words (not wherever whores go as Tyrion remembers incorrectly in Dance, maybe he will remember the real words later?). Btw Tyrion passes a Targaryen dragon mosaic in the tunnels right before murdering Tywin. The whore issue in general has been a huge part of their relationship. Why Tywin was exactly so horrible to Tysha? Why he slept with Shae after finding she was Tyrion’s whore? Maybe because he was trying to get revenge on Aerys’s son after Aerys raped or slept with Joanna?

    In my opinion Tywin is Tyrion’s father no matter who sired him, he same as Jon and Ned. And the appeal of their relationship to me is not how wrongly Tywin is trying to keep CR from him or something (that is Sam and Randyll, and when Tywin denies CR he has pretty good reasons too, Tyrion has made threats against Tommen and does not deny the other things Cersei told about him when he was unconscious). It is about Tyion’s identity as an individual and a part of his family and if he is going to follow in Tywin’s footsteps. The reason Tywin and Tyrion are so alike is because Tyrion has tried to please and get acceptance his whole life, but he can decide to become another person after learning more of himself.

    Anyway I could talk longer but I have talked too long already. It just bothers me people dismiss this theory and i think all of this is very interesting. This might not be true but we have to look all the info, especially in the worldbook and ask why this was really put here. Things in novels are not there by coincidence so if there is too much things mentioned there really is smoke.


    1. LadyKnitsALot says:

      Thanks for the comment but I really don’t rate the alleged similarities in appearance between aerys and Tyrion. It’s a case of fans making a big deal of something that is nothing to fit their personal tinfoil or head canon.

      Aerys’ behaviour towards Joanna is clearly sexual and suggests he desired her – but we have zero evidence that she reciprocated these feelings or whether Aerys acted no consensually on those words. “Took liberties” is pretty vague and I do not think rape can be inferred from that – indecent assault yes, but if the King raped Joanna during the bedding it would have been a much bigger and more explicit scandal.

      Pycelle is a Lannister toady so I think his statement about Tywin not taking another man’s leavings is both misogynistic and irrelevant.


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