A plague o’er both their Houses…

The Dance of the Dragons is the first major civil war for a post-Targaryen Conquest united Westeros. And… it was pretty damn ugly.

giphy

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…”

Advertisements

Mr and Mrs and Mrs and Mrs Targaryen…

There’s an impression amongst some in the ASOIAF fandom that House Targaryen has a history of polygamy, and that Westeros permitted this. Ergo, Rhaegar could TOTALLY take Lyanna Stark as a second wife and thus Jon Snow is legitimate.

Um…. No.

As I’ve ranted elsewhere, Jon does not need to be legitimate. There’s just no need to tie ourselves up in knots to find a way for Jon Snow to be Jon Targaryen. Or Jaehaerys or Aemon or Visenya/Viserys or whatever Targaryen. The world will be saved by a bastard son of House Stark… and that’s fine.

But the need for a legitimate Jon, and this idea that House Targaryen was super special and never, ever subject to the social norms, customs and laws of Westeros when they conquered and took on the role of the defender of the Faith seems to perpetuate throughout the fandom. This post is about breaking down how and why we can be reasonably sure that the Targaryens took on the laws and lores of their new Seven Kingdoms. And, bonus…. polygamy was never “common” in Valyria. It was just a thing that happened.

Continue reading “Mr and Mrs and Mrs and Mrs Targaryen…”

Why did Benjen take the black?

At least once a month, if not more on /r/asoiaf someone asks…

Hey guys – does anyone know why Benjen Stark took the black?

I mean, House Stark had just been decimated and sure, Ned was married but he only had one (legitimate) son and his wife was pretty pissed with him for bringing home a bastard… wouldn’t it be more prudent for Benjen to hang around, get married and supply some spare Starks?

Without fail. Every few weeks.

YES THIS IS A GOOD QUESTION. But from now on, I’m just going to copy/paste a link to this blog as my response.

Continue reading “Why did Benjen take the black?”

The problem with Rhaegar

320px-rhaegar_twoiaf

They had come together at the ford of the Trident while the battle crashed around them, Robert with his warhammer and his great antlered helm, the Targaryen prince armored all in black. On his breastplate was the three-headed dragon of his House, wrought all in rubies that flashed like fire in the sunlight. The waters of the Trident ran red around the hooves of their destriers as they circled and clashed, again and again, until at last a crushing blow from Robert’s hammer stove in the dragon and the chest beneath it. When Ned had finally come on the scene, Rhaegar lay dead in the stream, while men of both armies scrabbled in the swirling waters for rubies knocked free of his armor.

Rhaegar Targaryen is, to put it mildly, problematic.

At worst, he’s a kidnapping, prophecy-obsessed rapist. At best, he’s a fool in love who forgot everything political he knew (or ought to have known) to run off with 15 year old Lyanna Stark.

Continue reading “The problem with Rhaegar”

None so blind as those that will not see: Dany and the Mad King

This was my entry for the /r/asoiaf annual tournament. I was beaten by Something Like A Lawyer of Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire fame. Now I’m out of the tourney, I can publicly post my entry, and amend it to look further than just the assigned chapter. (And taking on feedback from /r/asoiaf to adjust the essay is good too 🙂 )

48911fd9_edit_img_facebook_post_image_file_41510706_1464793176

Continue reading “None so blind as those that will not see: Dany and the Mad King”

House Targaryen, dragonriding and genetics

A popular belief amongst fans, perpetuated by commentary from characters in the books to show that it is widely believed in-universe, is that House Targaryen only ever practised incestuous marriage.

They certainly were fond of incest, and this was because of their Valyrian heritage. More particularly, their dragonriding heritage. This recently came up on /r/asoiaf where a new fan believed they had cracked a theory, but it’s actually just stated directly in the text: the dragonlords practised incest to maintain their ability to control their dragons.

What is not stated is why this was necessary, but from what we do know about taming dragons, there is more than a component of blood magic. But it’s not always necessary.

That’s the why. This blog is about the who.

Continue reading “House Targaryen, dragonriding and genetics”

Quick post: bastard names

Something that is often brought up by new fans, and I sure as hell was one of them, is the realisation that if Rhaegar Targaryen + Lyanna Stark = Jon Snow, then our dearly beloved bastard of Winterfell isn’t actually a Snow!

Right?

Yeah nah. Not how bastard names in Westeros work.

Here is a quick guide to my interpretation (opens to feedback otherwise!) about how GRRM intends bastard names to work in Westeros.

Continue reading “Quick post: bastard names”