The Origins Of House Targaryen

The Origins Of House Targaryen
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
If you still need some background history for the world of "A Song of Ice and Fire," we've got you covered with the origins of House Targaryen. For this video, we'll be looking at this mighty house and charting its history up to the events of “House of the Dragon.” We'll cover the Doom of Valyria, Aegon's Conquest, the following kings, and more!

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re recounting the Origins of House Targaryen. For this video, we’ll be looking at this mighty house and charting its history from the Doom of Valyria all the way up to the events of “House of the Dragon.” Who’s your favorite Targaryen? Share with us in the comments!

The Origins of House Targaryen

Before House Targaryen was the major power player in Westeros, we have to cross the Narrow Sea all the way to the eastern continent of Essos. There, a civilization known as the Valyrian Freehold reigned supreme, seated in the city of Old Valyria, obviously then known as just Valyria. The Valyrians had a mastery over magic and dragons, giving them near-omnipotent power in the realm for thousands of years. The Targaryens were at this time just one of the many dragonlords, but everything changed when fire rained down from the sky.

The Doom of Valyria, as it’s most commonly called, is exactly what it sounds like - the utter destruction of the Freehold society. Though it’s not entirely known what caused it - be it a perfect natural disaster or a consequence of great sorcery - the Fourteen Fires completely devastated the region when a series of volcanic eruptions went off simultaneously. Even the dragons, who were thought to hold complete mastery over fire, succumbed to the flames. And along with them, every known dragonlord. But there were a select few dragons and lords that avoided the Doom altogether, all of which hailed from House Targaryen.

Whereas all the other Valyrians saw themselves as indestructible, one Targaryen named Daenys foresaw the Doom in a dream. This would be just the first of the many “dragon dreams” that would go on to shape House Targaryen’s destiny. Thankfully, Daenys was able to convince her father Aenar Targaryen of the looming threat, and so the Targaryens made their storied journey across the Narrow Sea to Westeros, where their Valyrian influence would shape the continent forever.

After settling on what would become their ancestral home, Dragonstone, the Targaryens found themselves drawn back into conflict with the goings on of Essos. In the wake of the Doom, a mad scramble began that saw eight colonies tenuously rise up and jockey for power in a period that would be known as the Century of Blood - we’ll give you one guess as to how that turned out. A single colony, Volantis, sought to rebuild the Freehold by conquering all other colonies under its rule. The colonies united to resist Volantis, but it was Aegon Targaryen’s dragon influence that swayed the tide against the Volantenes. From here, the colonies were shaped into the nine Free Cities that we know today, including Volantis.

However, Aegon’s distance from the world of Essos disenchanted him with his House’s legacy. He sought to create a new legacy for the Targaryens, and Westeros was just the place to do it. On top of this, Aegon experienced the second-known dragon dream, and this one would prove to be more crucial than any of them. He foresaw the coming of the White Walkers, a personification of death itself that would require the unification of the realm to defeat. Not just that, but Aegon predicted the Prince That Was Promised, a future Targaryen who would defeat the impending threat. Obviously, the events of “Game of Thrones” depict these developments, but we still don’t have confirmation as to who exactly the Prince That Was Promised is. In fact, the High Valyrian word for “Prince” is gender neutral, meaning it could be a “Prince” or a “Princess.” In any case, this vision of Aegon’s, which he would dub “The Song of Ice and Fire,” would influence generations to come in preparation for it.

To prepare for this coming winter, Aegon set out to enact the Targaryen version of manifest destiny, conquering the rest of Westeros and uniting it under their rule. This War of Conquest was achieved thanks to Aegon’s mighty dragon Balerion, as well as those of his sister-wives Rhaenys and Visenya - hey, this is House Targaryen we’re talking about here. Six of the Seven Kingdoms were conquered, all save for the scrappy nation of Dorne. Despite the incomplete set, King Aegon would be known as Aegon the Conqueror, and arguably the most influential Targaryen who ever lived. Following this, Aegon founded King’s Landing, where future kings and queens would rule the Seven Kingdoms. He also created the Iron Throne, a gaudy amalgamation of swords that would be a fixture in the designs of power players for generations to come.

Speaking of power players, they say that whenever a Targaryen is born, the gods flip a coin when it comes to their madness. As such, House Targaryen got rulers of both varieties over the years after Aegon’s death. Aenys Targaryen, Aegon’s first-born by way of ​​Rhaenys, was first to take the throne. However, the Targaryens’ continued traditions - like marrying their own siblings - made an enemy out of the Faith of the Seven, the premier religion in the Seven Kingdoms. The Faith Militant drove Aenys out of King’s Landing, but Maegor, Aegon’s other son by way of Visenya, did what his brother/cousin could not. Maegor proved his family’s legitimacy in a holy trial by combat of sorts. Maegor proved to be one of these mad kings, earning the title of Maegor the Cruel in his continued battle against the Faith. However, as Maegor had no children of his own, the realm passed to Aenys’s son, Jaehaerys.

A benevolent king, Jaehaerys cleaned up Maegor’s mess by making peace with the Faith. Part of this came with the understanding that the Targaryens would continue to mate with their own kin, as Jaehaerys went on to wed his sister, Alysanne. The realm experienced a period of peace for some time, as the line of succession eventually passed through Jaehaerys’s grandson, Viserys. Though some would find this controversial.

This leads us into the events of “House of the Dragon,” where we’re already seeing the pieces put in play for the storied Dance of the Dragons, a period of a great war of succession within House Targaryen. Meanwhile, Viserys does his best to make sure his successors are prepared to face the new impending doom when Aegon’s Song of Ice and Fire comes to pass.