Breaking down the complex Targaryen family tree in 'House of the Dragon'

Attention: This post contains spoilers for The house of the dragon.

Which blonde dragon rider will rule the Seven Kingdoms? This is the question at the heart of The house of the dragonon Game of Thrones a prequel that tells the story of how a civil war—often referred to as the Dance of Dragons—pits Targaryen against Targaryen nearly 200 years before the events of Thrones.

The rules of succession in Westeros are complex and somewhat immutable. One king may decide to transfer a female heir in favor of a male, while another may reverse this tradition just a generation later.

When The house of the dragon begins, King Viserys (Paddy Considine) has no male heir. And after his newborn baby boy dies in the first episode, his courtiers pressure him to name the person who will succeed him on the Iron Throne: his nasty brother Damon (Matt Smith) or his daughter Rhaenyra (Millie Alcock at the beginning of the series, Emma D’ Arcee later). Despite his council’s objections, he chooses Rhaenyra, even though it means breaking the tradition of women not sitting on the Iron Throne.

But in the second episode, another potential successor emerges. After his wife’s death in childbirth, Viserys remarries and has a son with Rhaenyra’s best friend, Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey, then Olivia Cooke). In theory, this baby could have a claim to the throne. To understand the drama, you have to deal with family relationships. But all these blondes can blend together. The Targaryen family tree is undoubtedly complex – albeit compact thanks to the family’s penchant for incest.

Read more: The definitive guide to Game of Thrones Family tree

Here is the family tree as it stands up to the second episode of Season 1 of The house of the dragon. For clarity, we have included only relevant children in terms of the line of succession.

Photo illustration by Lon Tweeten for TIME; HBO

Daenerys “The Dreamer” Targaryen

Denys Targaryen, who became known as Denys the Dreamer, had a vision that the city of Valyria, where all the dragon riders once lived, would be consumed in some apocalyptic event. Her father, Aenar, took this vision to heart and moved his entire family from Valyria to Dragonstone. Denys’s vision comes true and the Targaryens become the last remaining dragon riders in the world.

Read more: Why are Targaryen dreams so important in The house of the dragon

Aegon “The Conqueror” Targaryen

Aegon Targaryen united the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros with the help of his two sister wives, Rhaenys and Visenia.

Targaryens often marry to keep the bloodline pure, but this tradition can have unpleasant consequences. As Cersei notes in Game of Thrones, when a Targaryen is born, the gods toss a coin. Some become monsters, others are good leaders. Such was the case with Aegon’s two sons. Aenys Targaryen was a good leader, but his brother Maegor “The Cruel” Targaryen killed him.

Read more: How the prophecy of A Song of Ice and Fire in The house of the dragon It changes the history of the mad king Game of Thrones

Aenys Targaryen

Aeneas has been bequeathed a rather pitiful name. (Though, to be fair, it’s pronounced “Ennis.”) But he overcame that to become a kind ruler until his brother killed him in cold blood. He married Alyssa Velarion, a descendant of the other Valyrian family that survived the fall of that city, although the Velarions were not dragonriders. However, the Velarions became major players in Game of Thrones quite early on, allying themselves with the Targaryens.

Jaehaerys “The Old King” Targaryen

Maegor ruled for only six years before dying – his council finding him impaled on his own Iron Throne. (Ouch!) Whether he was killed or injured on the throne, which was said to stab kings unworthy to sit on it, is up for debate.

Read more: Why does it matter when the king is cut down from the iron throne The house of the dragon

Aeneas’ son Jehaeris then inherited the throne. He married his sister Alisan, which isn’t great for obvious reasons, but apparently the two really were in love. Both were supposed to marry suitors outside the family, but instead ran away together. Jaegers’ rule was a golden era for Westeros. He built roads and sewage infrastructure—all the things a king does when he’s not busy burning people to the ground with his dragons. Jaehaerys and Alyssane had 13 children together, but for the sake of simplicity we will only talk about the few who fought for the throne.

Aemon Targaryen

Aemon was the first son of Jaehaeris to survive to adulthood. He married Jocelyn Baratheon, who wasn’t a Targaryen (good!) but was his aunt (not so good!). But Aemon died before his father, leaving behind a daughter Rhaenys Targaryen. Aemon’s younger brother, Baelon, succeeded.

Baelon Targaryen

Baelon and his sister marry and have two sons, Viserys and Daemon Targaryen. Baelon died of a “ruptured stomach” (perhaps a ruptured appendix) before his father died. At this stage, Jaehaerys has no obvious heirs to the throne.

Rhaenys “The Queen That Never Was” Targaryen

Eve Best as Princess Rhaenys Velarion c The house of the dragon

Ollie Upton – HBO

As the child of Jaehaerys’ eldest son, Aemon, Rhaenys (Eve Best) should theoretically be first in line for the throne. But since Westeros is a sexist place, the lords balked at the idea of ​​a woman ruling over them. Jaehaerys, wary of rebellion, convenes a council to decide who will inherit the Iron Throne. The council chose Baelon’s eldest child, Viserys, over Rhaenys, who became known as “the queen that never was”.

Read more: Any character who died on Game of Thrones

Viserys Targaryen

Paddy Considine as King Viserys Targaryen c The house of the dragon

Ollie Upton – HBO

Viserys marries his cousin Aema (Cian Brooke), who gives birth to Rhaenyra Targaryen. Unfortunately, the couple could not produce a male heir. In the first episode of The house of the dragon, Aema dies in childbirth after Viserys cruelly forces her to have a C-section against her consent. Their son also dies. Viserys was left without an obvious heir and eventually decided to name Rhaenyra as next in line for the throne.

However, by the show’s second episode, Viserys had remarried Alicent Hightower and together they had a son, Aegon II Targaryen. Aegon II, just by existing, is a threat to Rhaenyra’s rule.

Demon Targaryen

Matt Smith as Prince Damon Targaryen in The house of the dragon

Ollie Upton/HBO

Daemon Targaryen, a renowned if bloodthirsty warrior, not-so-secretly yearns for the Iron Throne. Viserys’ advisors fear that Deamon may take drastic action to usurp the throne from Viserys or even Rhaenyra. Damon is married for strategic purposes, but he hates his wife. From the start of the show, it looks like he has very little hope of challenging Rhaenyra or Aegon II for a seat on the throne.

Corliss “The Sea Serpent” Velarion

Steve Toussaint c Game of Thrones background story The house of the dragon

HBO Max

Known as the Sea Serpent, Corlys Velarion (Steve Toussaint) is a legendary sailor who marries Rhaenys Targaryen – a rare love affair in Westeros history. Together they have Laenor (Matthew Carver in the beginning of the show, John McMillan later) and Laena Velaryon (Nova Foueillis-Mosé in the beginning, Savannah Stein later). Corlys pressures Viserys to marry Leanna when she is still a child, but Viserys chooses to marry Alicent Hightower instead. However, Velarion’s two children will play important roles in the future of the show as key allies of various Targaryens.

Read more: Your ultimate guide to binge watching anyone Game of Thrones Episode

Alicent Hightower

Olivia Cooke as Alison Hightower in The house of the dragon

Ollie Upton – HBO

Alicent is the daughter of Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), Hand of both King Jaehaerys and King Viserys. At the beginning of the show, she is a court woman who largely keeps Rhaenyra Targaryen company. But Otto encourages Alicent to comfort King Viserys after his wife’s death and become invaluable to the ruler. Viserys eventually falls in love with Alicent Hightower and they have Aegon II.

Read more: Who owns the Hightower family The house of the dragon?

Rhaenyra Targaryen

Enter Millie Alcock The house of the dragon

Ollie Upton – HBO

Viserys ignored Rhaenyra for a long time, hoping that a male heir would essentially replace her. When she finally names Rhaenyra as next in line for the throne, Rhaenyra faces skepticism from a kingdom that would rather see her half-brother as king than ever submit to a queen. Although she does not wish to marry, some marriages may prove essential in strengthening support for her bid for the throne.

Aegon II Targaryen

Aegon II Targaryen arrives just in time to send the kingdom into further chaos as the lords question why the Iron Throne will pass to Rhaenyra after the king finally has a son.

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Write to Eliana Docterman c [email protected].

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