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Why Does Daenerys Targaryen Calls Herself the “First of Her Name?”

Strap in, nerds. You're about to learn something semi-useful.

daenerys

As we saw on last week’s episode of Game of Thrones, the Mother of Dragons currently has more titles than Oberyn Martell has bastards. One of those includes “the first of her name.” But as people who read the A Song of Ice and Fire series of books know, the girl we call Khaleesi is not the first Daenerys Targaryen to be born. So what gives? The answer has a lot to do with the way that the history of kings and queens is generally recorded, both in George R.R. Martin’s fictional world and in the one we actually live in.

While Daenerys is not a popular name in the world of Westeros (at least as far as we know), it did also belong to a woman who was our Dany’s great great great grand-aunt, daughter of Aegon IV. Back in the day she was married off to a Dornish prince, Maron Martell, as a peace brokerage that brought the southern nation under the rule of the Iron Throne.

So logic would dictate that Daenerys Targaryen Martell is the first of her name and that the Queen of Meereen is the second, right? Please, like logic has any place in the monarchy when there are opportunities to make yourself sound more badass. The “first of his/her name” actually refers very specifically to reigning kings and queens. Stormborn is the first person named Daenerys to ever call herself a queen by blood. Because the first Daenerys Targaryen was merely a princess consort, she doesn’t count.

Here, Random House’s Anne Groell backs us up. She would know, because she’s George R.R. Martin’s editor.

Here’s a real world example of the same principle: Elizabeth I is called so because she is the first ruling queen named Elizabeth. However, she isn’t actually the first noble Elizabeth in the Tudor line. Her grandfather and Henry VIII’s mother, Elizabeth of York, married Henry VII to become the queen consort. However, she wasn’t a Tudor by blood, so she doesn’t get a cool number at the end of her name like her husband and his heir both do.

So his isn’t just some arbitrary rule that George R.R. Martin made up to trace his fictional lineages. It’s an arbitrary rule made up by actual living heralds to trace lineages you were probably supposed to learn in history class. George R.R. Martin was inspired by the real life War of the Roses — though Daenerys is usually thought to be a stand-in for Henry VII, not for Elizabeth I –  so it makes sense that he’d borrow the naming devices of English monarchs to track the family histories of Westeros.

See, look at that! You just sort of learned something about real, non-made-up people! And who said that all our geek knowledge takes up valuable brain space that we could be using to remember useful information about world politics? You know, other than all of our friends and loved ones. But they’re still calling Cersei Lannister “that evil blond lady,” so what do they know?

(via Anne Groell, A Wiki of Ice and Fire, image via HBO)

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