A Targaryen rides a giant dragon

Let’s Go Back to ‘House of the Dragon’s Roots and Learn About the Targaryen Conqueror Who Started It All

The Targaryen Empire is my Roman Empire. An ancient lineage that traces its ancestry back to the Freehold of Old Valyria. Bottle blonde dragonriders that conquered the world. But who was the man who began the Targaryen dynasty? Aegon, First of His Name. Aegon The Conqueror.

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Not so humble beginnings…

Aegon the Conqueror was born on Dragonstone, the volcanic island off the coast of Westeros in the year 27 BC. In the world of A Song of Ice and Fire, BC stands for “Before Conquest.” Whose conquest? Why, Aegon’s, of course. But we’ll get to that. Aegon was a middle child, born to Aerion Targaryen and Lady Valaena Velaryon. He had an older sister, Visenya, and a younger sister, Rhaenys, both of whom he was very *ahem* close with. The young Aegon was born with a Valyrian steel spoon in his hand. As the eldest son of a Targaryen Lord, he was set for life. In his youth, he claimed a dragon named Balerion, who would someday grow into the largest and most powerful organism ever seen in the Known World. But that was later.

In the classic Targaryen tradition of incest, Aegon Targaryen married both of his sisters. It was said that he married his elder sister Visenya out of duty, and his younger sister Rhaenys out of love. Either way, it’s a little gross. But these were different times. This time in particular was known as the Century of Blood, a time of great violence and political upheaval after the Doom of Valyria caused a massive power vacuum in Essos. A hundred years of strife followed as the remnants of Old Valyria battled both each other and the Dothraki hordes in order to assert dominance in the fractured remains of an ancient empire. The Century of Blood came to an end during Aegon I’s young adulthood with the establishment of the Free Cities and the uneasy balance of power between them.

At the end of The Century, Aegon set his eyes on Westeros. Westeros in those days was very different from the one found in Game of Thrones or even during the events of House of the Dragon. The Seven Kingdoms were, in fact, seven separate kingdoms, each with their own ruling monarch. See, Aegon didn’t like that. Not one bit. He thought that the Seven Kingdoms should become one kingdom, with one king to rule them. But who would be the king to unite them? If you wanna see a job done right, you gotta do it yourself. So Aegon decided to do it.

The Conquest begins!

The first thing Aegon did was have a massive wooden table cut in the shape of Westeros built in his castle in Dragonstone, the same table that Rhaenyra and her allies use to strategize in House of the Dragon. This table map was a physical representation of Aegon’s ambition, as it was made without the borders of the seven kingdoms hewn into it. Where we’re going, baby, we don’t need borders.

The kings of Westeros got wise to Aegon’s continent-conquering intentions, and the Storm King Argilac Durrandon sent an envoy to Aegon offering his only Princess Argella’s hand in marriage, along with all the lands the lands east of the Gods Eye from the Trident to the Blackwater Rush as a dowery. It was a political move. See, those lands didn’t belong to the Storm King, but ol’ Argilac offered them in order wanted to create a buffer zone between his lands and the lands of Harren the Black of the Isles and Rivers. As far as kings go, Black Harren was a cruel bastard and no other king in Westeros wanted to be anywhere near him. King of Aegon returned Argilac’s offer of a wife with a “Thanks bro, but I already have two” and sent his own envoy back to deliver the news. Argilac was so furious that he cut off the hands of Aegon’s envoy and mailed them back to him. Big mistake. Aegon took that personally. So personal that he sent ravens to every king in Westeros declaring that the throne (the Iron Throne he hadn’t even built yet) was his.

The kings of Westeros took that personal right back. They declared war on Aegon, and war was what they prepared for. What they weren’t prepared for were Aegon and his three sister wives each riding three massive dragons, the Song of Ice and Fire equivalent of bringing nuclear bombs to a gunfight. Aegon landed on the eastern coast of Westeros and built a fortress creatively named The Aegonfort. The subsequent battle Aegon fought against Houses Darklyn and Mooton might have been called Aegon’s First Test, but his dragon Balerion served as a cheat sheet. It was a fiery slaughter, and the surviving houses quickly bent the knee.

Aegon proceeded to absolutely dunk on the seven kingdoms. Harren the Black tried to put up a fight. So what did Aegon do? He hopped on Balerion and burned Harren’s castle down. Balerion’s fire was so damn hot that it could MELT STONE. This event was known as the Burning of Harrenhall, and it was only an appetizer for the seven-course meal of destruction to come. The Reach tried to put up a fight too, but was all but destroyed in a calamitous battle known as the Field of Fire, where Aegon and his sisterwives used the combined might of their three dragons to incinerate the armies of the Lannisters of Casterly Rock and the King of the Reach himself.

Aegon then marched his army to Highgarden, where House Gardner surrendered immediately. When Aegon and his sisterwives flew North to do battle with The Starks, Torrhen Stark took one look at the three dragons and said “nah” and bent the knee posthaste. Torched Stark would forever be known as The King Who Knelt, which is a better name than The King Who Was Burned to Ashes For Making A Bad Decision.

Meanwhile, Visenya Targaryen quickly subjugated the Arryns in the Vale. Rhaenys flew south in order to pacify Dorne, but the Dornish would not be easily conquered. She and her dragon were killed when a lucky scorpion bolt shot from Hellholt landed square in her dragon’s eye, causing the pair to fatally crash into the castle’s wall. Aegon would try to unsuccessfully conquer Dorne for years to come, until eventually he and the Dornish King brokered peace. After being anointed by the High Septon in the Starry Sept, Aegon would become known as the first King of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm. He lived until his early 60’s, when he would finally die of a stroke.

As far as lives go in Westeros, his was not too shabby.

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Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.