HBO’s House of the Dragon is bringing Game of Thrones’ Targaryens into the spotlight, but the prequel only covers one section of the massive Targaryen family tree. While Game of Thrones primarily placed House Stark as the protagonists, the family’s most compelling dynamic was its history with House Targaryen, who ruled on the Iron Throne for three centuries. By the end of Game of Thrones, it became clear that the overarching conflict was based on the history and relationships between House Stark and House Targaryen.
By the time Game of Thrones began, the Targaryen family had finally been unseated after three centuries on the Iron Throne, with only two heirs, Danaerys and Viserys, remaining to claim their birthright. Despite this, House Targaryen’s history and influence never waned in importance for Westeros, as the legacy of the many kings that came before weighed heavily on the strategies and decisions made by the prominent houses while playing the titular game of thrones. Throughout the entire history of Westeros, one statement about the Targaryens would never fade: “Every time a new Targaryen is born, the gods flip a coin.” Westeros knew the reign of many Targaryen kings and queens, with too many being divided by fury and destruction or peace and greatness.
HBO’s House of the Dragon’s promotional materials have aptly adopted this quote as one of its taglines, setting up one of the most crucial eras in Targaryen history. This sentiment would trickle down through the Targaryen family tree, all the way to Game of Thrones’ Mother of Dragons, Daenerys Targaryen. As House of the Dragon depicts a much larger slate of Targaryens in Game of Thrones’ history, here’s a breakdown of the Targaryen family tree in Westeros from Aegon the Conqueror to Jon Snow.
House Targaryen History In Game Of Thrones Explained
Game of Thrones’ history of House Targaryen begins in the age that Westeros was conquered to the time that Jon Snow (Aegon Targaryen) begins his life Beyond the Wall. While the known history of Westeros extends back 12,000 years, Game of Thrones’ timeline is measured in BC (Before Conquest) and AC (After Conquest), with the first year AC indicating when House Targaryen was first crowned. Following Aegon the Conqueror, 16 more kings/queens would sit on the Iron Throne, concluding with Daenerys Targaryen’s death in 305 AC. The Targaryens would only finally be unseated in 283 AC, when Robert Baratheon usurped the crown from Aerys II and Rhaegar Targaryen.
The history of House Targaryen is also often remembered for its frequent incest, with Targaryens being married off to brother, sister, aunt, and uncle for centuries in order to keep the blood of the dragon “pure.” Dragons were also one of the most significant aspects of the Targaryen family’s reign in Game of Thrones, as the power of such creatures allowed instilled fear in their opponents. However, the last of House Targaryen’s dragons had seemingly died out in 153 AC, with Daenerys Targaryen then being the first Targaryen to reign with dragons over a century later. Fire and blood tend to describe House Targaryen’s history in Game of Thrones, which was finally put to an end when Bran the Broken was crowned as King of Westeros.
Aegon The Conqueror
Aegon I Targaryen, more commonly referred to as Aegon the Conqueror, was the first Targaryen to rule Westeros in Game of Thrones’ history and the founder of their dynasty. Born on Dragonstone, Aegon I Targaryen conquered Westeros’ kingdoms with his dragonrider sisters, Visenya and Rhaenys, who he had also taken as his wives. It was said that Aegon married Visenya, known as a fierce warrior, out of duty, while he wed his younger sister Rhaenys, notable for her beauty and love of the arts, out of desire. Aegon’s 37-year reign featured numerous battles with House Martell on Dorne, who refused to bend the knee even after Rhaenys and her dragon had burned much of the territory. One such war featured the deaths of Rhaenys and her dragon, Meraxes, which only inspired Aegon’s wrath to grow harsher. Aegon had two sons, Aenys I, with Rhaenys, and Maegor I, with Visenya. Following Aegon’s death from a stroke at age 64, the Iron Throne passed onto his eldest son, Aenys.
Aenys I Targaryen
The second king of the seven kingdoms was Aenys I Targaryen, who was notable for lacking the warrior prowess of his father and brother while being quicker to kindness and indecision. Son of Queen Rhaenyra, Aenys quickly married Alyssa Valeryon, with whom he had three sons (Aegon, Viserys, and Jaehaerys) and three daughters (Rhaena, Alysanne, and Vaella). Aenys’ short reign of only five years was marked by many rebellions, particularly by warriors connected to Game of Thrones‘ Faith of the Seven. Before his death, Aenys announced that he was marrying his son Aegon to his daughter Rhaena, who would be his heirs to the throne. However, Aenys died at the age of 35 in 42 AC, which led to a usurping by his younger half-brother, Maegor.
Maegor The Cruel
The younger son of Aegon the Conqueror, Maegor seized the Iron Throne upon his brother’s death after spending years in exile for his polygamous marriage with Ceryse Hightower and Alys Harroway. Maegor continued to marry as a result of his previous wives never giving him children, with the king taking six wives by the end of his life. Maegor continued to battle the High Septon and Warrior’s Sons, where he executed dozens of septons before one would marry him to his next wife. When Aenys’ eldest son, Games of Thrones’ historic Aegon Targaryen, announced his claim to the throne, Maegor slew him and his dragon, whereafter he placed Aenys’ children Jaehaerys and Alysanne on Dragonstone as his mother’s wards. Maegor kept Aenys’ eldest surviving child Viserys with him at court, who he soon had tortured and killed when learning that his nephew and niece had escaped Dragonstone. Soon after, Maegor forcibly took his niece, Rhaena, for his wife, intending her daughter from a previous marriage to be his heir. In 48 AC, Jaehaerys announced his claim to the Iron Throne, with his sister Rhaena and many lords of Westeros joining his cause. Maegor was soon found dead seated on the Iron Throne, with his wrists slashed and throat impaled by the throne, though it’s unknown who was responsible for his death.
Jaehaerys I Targaryen
Following Maegor’s death, Aenys’ son Jaehaerys was crowned at 14 years old, becoming the fourth king on the historic Iron Throne. Jaehaerys was known for being wise beyond his years, forgiving, decisive, and born to be a king. Although he was advised against doing so, Jaehaerys took his sister Alysanne Targaryen as his wife, with whom he had 13 children: Aegon, Daenerys, Aemon, Baelon, Alyssa, Maegelle, Vaegon, Daella, Saera, Viserra, Gaemon, Valerion, and Gael. Aemon sired a daughter, Rhaenys, while Jaehaerys married his son Baelon to his daughter Alyssa, who had three children: Viserys, Daemon, and Aegon Targaryen. After the sudden death of Baelon, Jaehaerys summoned a Great Council to decide the line of succession, with the lords ultimately naming Baelon’s eldest son, Viserys, his heir. Jaehaerys’ 55-year-long, largely peaceful reign came to an end in 103 AC when he was age 69.
HOTD’s Viserys I/Rhaenyra/Daemon Targaryen
After his grandfather’s death, the dragonrider Viserys I Targaryen ascended the Iron Throne, continuing Jaehaerys’ peaceful reign. However, Viserys’ reign would lay the seeds of House of the Dragon’s Civil War, the Dance of the Dragons, fought by his eldest daughter and heir, Rhaenyra, with his oldest son, Aegon. Viserys first married Aemma Arryn, his first cousin, with whom he had Rhaenyra, though the queen died giving birth to their son, Baelon, who died the next day. Rhaenyra was soon after officially named Viserys’ heir, even at the contest of his younger brother Daemon, who considered himself the heir to the Iron Throne. However, when Viserys was remarried to Alicent Hightower, the king sired a son, Aegon, and several more children who would contest Rhaenyra’s claim after Viserys’ death in 129 AC.
Rhaenyra was first wed to Laenor Velaryon, whereafter she had three sons. Meanwhile, Prince Daemon had two daughters with his wife, Laena Velaryon. Soon after, Rhaenyra and Daemon Targaryen’s spouses died, leading the niece and uncle to quickly wed one another. Rhaenyra and Daemon soon welcomed a son, Aegon the Younger, who would later become her own heir. During this time, animosity between Rhaenyra and Alicent grew, leading to a separation within the Targaryens known as the “greens” (Aegon II’s supporters) and the “blacks” (Rhaenyra’s supporters). Following Viserys I’s death, Rhaenyra was decreed his heir, but the greens decided to support the claim of his eldest son Aegon II Targaryen, thus leading to the Targaryen Civil War.
Aegon II Targaryen
Upon Viserys’ death, Aegon II ascended the throne, with his claim disputed by his sister Rhaenyra. The two split the realm amidst their battles, with both Targaryens perishing in the Dance of the Dragons. Aegon had married his sister Helaena, with whom he had two sons that both died during the war as young boys. Following the deaths of his children, Aegon’s heir became Rhaenyra and Daemon’s son Aegon III Targaryen. So, when Aegon II died in 131 AC, the Iron Throne passed to his nephew.
Aegon III Targaryen
Concluding the Dance of the Dragons, Aegon the Younger ascended the Iron Throne after the deaths of his mother, Rhaenyra, and uncle, Aegon II. Aegon’s reign saw unity in the Seven Kingdoms after the Civil War with the help of his brother and Hand of the King, House of the Dragon’s Viserys. The joyless king was scarred by his youth during the Civil War, with his 26-year rule being marked by little emotion unless a dragon was mentioned, which would send him into a fury as the dragons had died out during his reign. Aegon III first married his cousin, Jaehaera, who died two years later, apparently by suicide. He then married Daenaera Velaryon, with whom he had five children: Daeron, Baelor, Daena, Rhaena, and Elaena. When Aegon the Younger died at age 36 from consumption, the Iron Throne passed onto his eldest son, the 14-year-old Daeron I Targaryen.
Daeron I Targaryen
In 159 AC, Daeron I ascended the throne as the eighth king in House Targaryen’s history. His short reign, which lasted only until 161 AC, was marked by his notable invasion of Dorne, which ended in 158 AC when the Dornish prince and various lords finally bent the knee. The Young Dragon’s conquest of Dorne still led to the Dornish rebellion, which soon saw the 18-year-old king killed by dozens of enemies. With no children of his own, Daeron’s throne passed to his younger brother, Baelor.
Baelor I Targaryen
At age 17, Baelor I Targaryen, better remembered as Baelor the Blessed, was crowned as King of Westeros. Baelor’s first act was to forgive his brother’s killers, which caused an outcry by many Westerosi lords. Baelor soon made peace with the Prince of Dorne by marrying his cousin Daeron to the Princess of Dorne from Game of Thrones’ House Martell. Known for his piety, Baelor soon outlawed acts of prostitution, constructed the great sept, and became a septon. Baelon died in 171 AC after fasting for 40 days, so with no children as his heir, the Iron Throne passed onto his father’s brother, Viserys II, the younger son of Rhaenyra and Daemon Targaryen.
Having previously served as Hand of the King to his two nephews, Viserys II ascended the throne with much more experience and knowledge for ruling than his predecessors. It was rumored in Westeros that Viserys had poisoned Baelor in order to gain the Iron Throne, so Viserys’ legacy wasn’t fondly remembered in Game of Thrones’s history. However, his reign would only last one year, as Viserys would die of a sudden illness in 172 AC.
Aegon The Unworthy
Viserys II was succeeded by his eldest son, Aegon IV Targaryen, known as Aegon the Unworthy. Considered to be one of the worst Targaryen kings in Game of Thrones’ history, Aegon IV was best known for his excessive lifestyle, misrule, and many bastards. At the age of 49, Aegon’s morbid obesity caused numerous health problems, which led to the king suffering a brutal death. Before his death, Aegon IV Targaryen legitimized his bastard children, which included Daemon I Blackfyre (sired with his cousin, Daena) and Brynden Rivers (the Three-Eyed Crow).
Daeron II Targaryen
The only trueborn son of Aegon IV Targaryen, Daeron II ascended the throne in 184 AC to many challenges by his recently legitimized bastard brothers, known as The Blackfyre Rebellion. Daeron II is remembered as one of Game of Thrones’ best kings, as he had brought peace to the realm by uniting all Seven Kingdoms. After marrying Myriah Martell, Daeron II had four sons: Baelor, Aerys, Rhaegel, and Maekar Targaryen. Close to the end of Daeron II’s reign in 209 AC, Baelor was accidentally killed by his brother Maekar during a trial of the seven. His heir then became Baelor’s son Valarr, though Daeron and Valarr would both die in the Great Spring Sickness, leaving Aerys as his heir.
Aerys I Targaryen
The second son of Daeron II, Aerys I Targaryen became King of Westeros in 209 AC, where he was known for his interest in books and lore. During his time of study, Aerys appointed his uncle Brynden Rivers as Hand of the King, letting him rule in his stead. Aerys’ reign in Game of Thrones’ history was notable for its troubles of war with Blackfyre Rebellions. With no children, Aerys’ crown passed onto his younger brother, Maekar Targaryen, upon his death in 221 AC.
Maekar I Targaryen
The youngest son of Daeron II, Maekar I was notable for his harsh judgment, impatience, and success as an army commander. Maekar had a new crown forged in a more warlike style, although his reign is largely remembered for its short peaceful era. Maekar had six children: Daeron, Aerion, Aemon, Daella, Aegon V, and Rhae Targaryen. Maekar’s heir was put into a crisis when his two eldest sons both predeceased him and left children deemed unfit to rule. A Great Council was then held to decide the succession upon Maekar’s death, with his third son, Game of Thrones’ Maester Aemon, refusing the throne and declaring it should be given to his younger brother, Egg.
Aegon V Targaryen
Aegon V Targaryen, known as “Egg,” was the younger brother of Game of Thrones’ beloved Maester Amon. Aegon was crowned in 233 AC, with his first act being to arrest Bloodraven, who he sent to the Night’s Watch. This time also saw his brother Aemon join the Night’s Watch as its Maester, where he would later form a close bond with Jon Snow. Aegon’s reign saw another Blackfyre Rebellion and many uprisings, though the king put a significant focus on improving the lives of the smallfolk, leading to many reforms that angered lords. Aegon had five children with his wife, Betha Blackwood: Duncan, Jaehaerys II, Shaera, Daeron, and Rhaelle Targaryen. Duncan would become known for his wedding to Jenny of Oldstones, for whom he abdicated as heir to the Iron Throne. Although he disliked the Targaryen’s history of incest, Aegon’s son Jaehaerys secretly wed his daughter Shaera, who would inherit the Iron Throne upon Aegon’s death in 259 AC.
Jaehaerys II Targaryen
Jaehaerys II Targaryen ascended the throne for a reign of only three years, with the most significant event during his rule being the War of the Ninepenny Kings, the last of the Blackfyre Rebellions. Game of Thrones’ knight Ser Baristan Selmy put the rebellion to an end by slaying Maelys the Monstrous in battle, whereafter Jaehaerys named him to the Kingsguard. Following his death in 262 AC, Jaehaerys was succeeded by his son Aerys II, who he had forced to marry his daughter Rhaella.
Aerys II (The Mad King)/Rhaegar/Viserys Targaryen
The events that directly preceded Game of Thrones’ timeline involve the reign of King Aerys II Targaryen, better known to the realm as the Mad King. Aerys was known for his paranoia and fear of himself being poisoned or threats to his children’s lives, seeing any minor act of defiance as a conspiracy against him. Soon developing an interest in fire and wildfire, Aerys would punish criminals by burning them alive. Aerys and his sister had several children, only three of whom lived to adulthood: Rhaegar, Viserys, and Daenerys Targaryen.
Aerys II’s eldest son, Rhaegar, who was known around the realm for his charm and capability in battle, was soon married to Elia Martell. Rhaegar and Elia’s two children were both murdered in Game of Thrones’ world during the uprising of Robert’s Rebellion, which began after Rhaegar had seemingly kidnapped Lyanna Stark, who was betrothed to Robert Baratheon. Rhaegar would then be killed in battle by Robert Baratheon, who killed him at the Battle of the Trident. The rebellion truly took form after Aerys II had ordered the deaths of notable lords and planned to burn the entire city of King’s Landing, with Aerys soon being slain by a knight of his Kingsguard, Jaime Lannister. Aerys’ young children Viserys and Daenerys Targaryen were exiled to Pentos, where they remained after Robert Baratheon usurped the Iron Throne.
Daenerys Targaryen/Jon Snow
With Viserys eager to reclaim the Iron Throne, his plan in Game of Thrones began when he married his sister Daenerys to Jason Momoa’s Khal Drogo. However, Drogo soon murdered Viserys by dumping molten gold on his head, leaving Daenerys as the last Targaryen heir to the Iron Throne. After gaining a large following in Essos, the Targaryen queen sought to claim the Iron Throne in Westeros, where she received support from Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister, and Lord Varys. Daenerys would be named Queen of Westeros only briefly after sacking King’s Landing, where she would murder thousands of innocents while burning down the city. Her fury led Jon Snow to kill her in front of the Iron Throne, whereafter she was carried off by her dragon, Drogon. Just shortly before Daenerys ascended the Iron Throne, it was revealed that Jon Snow was actually the trueborn son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, making him the true heir as Aegon VI Targaryen. However, a Great Council was called that named Bran Stark as the King of Westeros, putting an end to the Targaryen reign yet again, with Jon’s Game of Thrones ending seeing him sent Beyond the Wall to live with the freefolk.