Everything Rhaenyra Does in ‘House of the Dragon’ Is Political—Including Naming Her Son
Why did Rhaenyra Targaryen name her son Aegon? Why not Chad? Why not Bradley? Or Asher? Or Bridger? Why not give bro a name suitable for brohood?
Naming him Aegon is just gonna get him made fun of in House of the Dragon school, or whatever … or will it?
Like everything Rhaenyra does, naming her son was a political move
So we all know that Viserys I—King of the Seven Kingdoms and Rhaenyra’s dad—named her his true and rightful heir in the event of his death. After all, someone has to do it. His wife and infant son both died in childbirth; major downer for the realm. But some people saw it as an opportunity. And by “some people,” I mean Hand of the King, Otto Hightower. So Otto sends his young daughter Alicent Hightower to provide the grieving king with some “comfort,” if you know what I mean. It’s a ploy to get the king to fall in love with Alicent and marry her, thus allowing House Hightower to achieve increased status and influence in the realm.
It was ALSO a move to solidify that power and influence for all Hightower descendants. And it worked. Viserys fell for Alicent and decided to make her his new wife. They had two children, Aegon and Aemon. Their first born, Aegon, shares his name with the man who united the Seven Kingdoms and began the Targaryen dynasty centuries before: Aegon Targaryen, a.k.a. Aegon the Conqueror. The young Aegon II’s stately name and position as King Viserys’ first born son make him a contender for the crown, and put Rhaenyra’s claim into question. After all, no queen has ever sat the Iron Throne, nor do many of the crown’s subjects want one to, despite Viserys’ earlier succession decree.
Meanwhile, Rhaenyra is married to Laenor Velaryon of House Velaryon, a staunch, longtime ally of the Targaryen dynasty. However, Laenor is gay, and is not interested in having children with Rhaenyra. Rhaenyra instead has two bastard children—Jacaerys and Lucerys—with her sworn shield (personal bodyguard), Harwin Strong. Her two children are accepted as legitimate by King Viserys I, their grandfather. However, rumors of Rhaenyra’s unfaithfulness abound, further eroding her claim to the throne.
After King Viserys I succumbs to illness, Alicent Hightower tells the Small Council that her late husband named their son Aegon as the new heir to the throne. The Small Council had already put a plan in place to overthrow Rhaenyra and her supporters, even if the king had not done so, and the realm is plunged into chaos. Houses are divided against one another as each chooses a throne claimant to support. After faking Laenor’s death, Rhaenyra decides to marry her uncle Daemon, the younger brother of Viserys I, in order to strengthen her claim. After all, wedding your kin is a Targaryen tradition. Aegon the Conqueror married both of his sisters.
All-out civil war sweeps across the Seven Kingdoms in a conflict known as the Dance of the Dragons. Rhaenyra’s two sons Jacaerys and Lucerys are both killed in the conflict, and so the would-be queen decides to have more. She and her husband Daemon have a child named Aegon, his full name being Aegon Targaryen. Rhaenyra chose this name in order to further support the legitimacy of her claim to the crown. After all, she’s the mother of the boy who bears the name of the greatest king the realm has ever known. But now there are TWO kids running around the realm who share a name with the famous conqueror of old: Aegon II, son of Viserys I and Alicent; and Aegon III, son of Daemon and Rhaenyra.
The naming of Aegon III is also important because on his deathbed, Viserys I referred to the Song of Ice and Fire, an ancient prophecy that has been handed down since the days of old Valyria. The prophecy foretells the coming of the Prince Who Was Promised, whose song “shall be the song of ice and fire.” In fact, the prophecy is so ancient and well known that the Prince Who Was Promised is known as Azor Ahai to the Red Priests of Essos. Aegon the Conqueror himself had dreams of the prince and an enemy coming out of the frozen north to lay waste to the world (white walkers, anyone?) On his deathbed, Viserys dreamt of one of his heirs wearing the Conqueror’s Crown—the crown that once belonged to Aegon.
By naming her first born son Aegon, it shows that Rhaenyra intends to fight to fulfill the prophecy in the same way that her father did. After all, she loved her father and he was her greatest supporter.
Did it work?
Well… yes and no. Rhaenyra was able to claim the Iron Throne, but she only held it for less than a year. The uncertain and terrified populace of King’s Landing eventually rioted and ousted Rhaenyra from power after hearing rumors of an imminent attack from Aegon II’s forces. The riot resulted in the death of Rhaenyra’s dragon and all of her sons—except for Aegon III. Rhaenyra sold her crown and fled to Dragonstone with Aegon III, but she was betrayed by her companions and turned over to Aegon II, who fed her to his dragon. Yikes.
Aegon II wasn’t long for this world, either. He sustained grievous injuries during the Dance of the Dragons, and his rule was a miserable and paranoid one. He was later found dead in his litter with blood on his lips, a victim of poison. Who did it? No one knows. Probably someone who was a fan of Rhaenyra back in the day. The kingdom was lousy with them.
Aegon II was succeeded by Rhaenyra’s child, Aegon III, but his rule was equally bleak. He was known as Aegon the Unlucky, Aegon the Unhappy, Aegon the Broken King, and Aegon the Dragonbane. Under his leadership, dragons died out completely (or so it was thought). Aegon III had seen his mother eaten by one, so he wasn’t exactly a fan. He died of consumption at the age of 36, a shell of his former self.
Politics, am I right?
(featured image: HBO)
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