The Targaryen Family Tree, Explained

ytsfreeSeptember 6, 2022

Warning: This article refers to House of the Dragon‘s source material and contains spoilers for future episodes.

We are now well into the new Game of Thrones spinoff House of the Dragon, which solely covers the Targaryen line about eight generations prior to Daenerys (Emilia Clarke). The new HBO series features five key players: King Viserys I (Paddy Considine), his daughter Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy as adult and Milly Alcock as young), his brother Daemon (Matt Smith), his cousin Rhaenys (Eve Best), who is also known as the Queen Who Never Was, and her husband Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint). Rhaenys and Corlys’ two children will also come in to play as the first season progresses. The Targaryen line was around before the characters in the spinoff came to be, but it’s these characters that spark the bloody civil war between the family, which became known as the Dance of Dragons. It’s this civil war that almost annihilated the dragon-wielding house.

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To start this story, you need to understand the background of the reasons for the civil war. King Jaehaerys I had multiple children, but only two of them are really worth mentioning: Aemon and Baelon. Aemon passed away before being named heir to the throne, leaving Baelon to inherit. However, he also later died, leaving the succession line a question. He had two sons, Viserys and Daemon, but they were not direct descendants to inherit the throne. The succession was left up to the monarch to choose between Rhaenys, Aemon’s eldest daughter, and Viserys, Baelon’s eldest son. It’s this choice that you see in the opening scene of the first episode. Naturally, the monarch did not want a woman to sit on the throne, so Viserys was crowned king. Now that you know the beginning, let’s take a closer look at these key players and recap the Targaryens we met in Game of Thrones.


Viserys Targaryen I

Viserys, the first of his name, was chosen over his cousin Rhaenys to ascend the throne. He married Aemma Arryn, and they had a daughter named Rhaenyra. As King, it was important for him to have a son who could ascend the throne upon Viserys’ death. In the first episode of House of the Dragon, it’s revealed that Aemma has only had one successful childbirth, two stillborn or miscarriages, and is about to give birth to their second child. She tells her husband she will not go through another pregnancy, and unfortunately, this might have jinxed her as she ended up dying in childbirth when Viserys chose to save their breached son by performing a c-section, something that was not practiced at the time. After his wife and their son died, Viserys was forced to choose between his brother Daemon and his daughter as to who would become his heir. He ultimately chose Rhaenyra, which lit the match to the rest of the season. Later, Viserys takes Alicent Hightower as his second wife and the two have four children, including Aegon, whose name will come into play for power later on.


Related: House of the Dragon: How Does Rhaenyra Compare to Daenerys?

Rhaenys Targaryen and Corlys Velaryon

Rhaenys Targaryen is the eldest daughter of Aemon I (deceased) and is King Jaehaerys I’s granddaughter. She was one of the two options to ascend the throne upon King Jaehaerys’ death. At the time she was up for the throne, she had married Corlys Velaryon of House Velaryon aka the Sea Snake. Their marriage united two powerful houses and also gave them two children, who will play a huge part in Rhaenyra’s life in House of the Dragon, especially their son Laenor. There seems to be a bit of hostility between Rhaenys and Rhaenyra, but not much has been fleshed out between them yet. Corlys took Daemon’s side when King Viserys rejected the marriage proposal with their daughter to marry Alicent Hightower. The fallout of that decision is now playing out.


Daemon Targaryen

Daemon Targaryen is King Viserys’ brother and was the Commander of the City Watch. He is powerful, deceitful, and borderline cruel. He is married to Rhea Royce of the Vale, though the two are estranged and Daemon actually asks his brother to nullify the marriage. Daemon ends up marrying twice more to people mentioned on this list: first with Rhaenys and Corlys’ daughter, and then with his niece Rhaenyra. While it seems Daemon is a “bad guy” right now, he will go through phases of both good and bad throughout the rest of House of the Dragon. Eventually, the children he has with Rhaenyra will become direct ancestors of Daenerys.

Rhaenyra Targaryen

Rhaenyra Targaryen is one of the main characters in House of the Dragon. She is the daughter of King Viserys I and Queen Aemma and was named heir to the Iron Throne. Though she will not have an easy trek there, she did get to sit on the throne for six months. This part of her story has not been told yet, but it is the height of the Dance of Dragons or the Civil War between the Targaryens for the Iron Throne. This war is between Rhaenyra and her half-brother Aegon II, who is the son of Alicent and King Viserys. Most of Rhaenyra’s life has yet to be told in the season, but she does end up marrying Leanor, son of Rhaenys and Corlys Velaryon. When he dies, she quickly marries her uncle and has two children with him, Aegon III and Viserys II. It’s said that it’s through her children with Daemon that Daenerys is directly related. Her death was actually told — if it remains that way in House of the Dragon — in season 3 of Game of Thrones when Joffrey was showing Margaery around King’s Landing, as outlined by Looper.


Aemon Targaryen

In Game of Thrones, Maester Aemon slyly announced to both Sam and Jon Snow, in different episodes, that he was Aemon Targaryen, great-uncle of Daenerys. As the second-born son of his father, King Maekar, he knew that he would not ascend to the throne, so he took the black and joined the Night’s Watch as a Maester. When his brother died, many wanted Aemon to take the throne, but he declined and passed it to the third brother, who was known as Aegon the Unlikely. Aemon was definitely one of the kindest members of the Targaryen family.

Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark

Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark deserve a mention as their affair caused both Robert Baratheon’s rebellion and the big reveal behind Jon Snow’s true identity. Lyanna died giving birth to Jon, and Rhaegar died at the hands of Robert Baratheon.

Daenerys Targaryen

Many claim that, thanks to Daenerys Targaryen, House of Dragon was able to proceed. From the timid girl that is introduced in the pilot episode of Game of Thrones up to her death in the poorly received finale, Daenerys shows her strength, vulnerability, compassion, and fearlessness. As the daughter of the Mad King, she has a lot to live up to, and although her journey to the Iron Throne may have ended just when she made it there, it was her adventures that made fans fall in love with the show.

Viserys Targaryen III

Viserys Targaryen III is the cruel brother of Daenerys, and who uses his sister to get back to Westeros and claim the throne he says is rightfully his. Luckily, he never achieves that dream as it’s Daenerys’ husband Khal Drogo who kills him with a melted-down gold crown placed on his head. To quote Khal, “a crown for a king.”

Related: House of the Dragon: Game of Thrones Houses We Have Seen So Far

Jon Snow aka Aegon Targaryen

One of the biggest surprises in Game of Thrones franchise was finding out that Jon Snow was, per Screen Rant, the child of Rhaegar and Lyanna Stark, who was secretly wed after his annulment with Ellia Martell was granted. Lyanna’s brother, Ned, was there to take Jon as one of his own to protect him from Robert and his desire to kill off the Targaryen line. Naturally, no one tells Jon he is related to Daenerys, with whom he has a relationship, until after they had already been intimate. It is also Jon who ultimately kills Daenerys after she nearly burns down all of King’s Landing. It’s assumed he will never have children, thus ending the Targaryen line with him.

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