Aegon II Targaryen
Aegon II Targaryen, also known as Aegon the Elder, was the sixth Targaryen king to sit the Iron Throne, succeeding his father, Viserys I Targaryen, as Lord of the Seven Kingdoms. His ascent was disputed by his older half-sister, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, who had been their father's designated heir. Aegon and Rhaenyra fought for the throne in the civil war the singers called the Dance of the Dragons, in which both siblings perished.
Aegon was married to his younger sister, Helaena, and had three children by her, though none reached adulthood. His dragon was Sunfyre, also known as "the Golden". During the Dance, Aegon took a three-headed golden dragon for his personal sigil instead of the red three-headed Targaryen dragon, indicating his mount. Aegon's supporters used his personal heraldry as their battle-flag.
Appearance and Character
According to a semi-canon source, Aegon resembled his father, Viserys I Targaryen, in appearance. He was a handsome young man, though he had a sullen look to his eyes and a pouty mouth. Aegon had a wispy mustache instead of a beard. Overall, he did not look like a warrior. He wore the iron-and-ruby crown of Aegon I Targaryen and carried Blackfyre, his namesake's Valyrian steel sword.
Aegon was severely injured during the Dance of the Dragons, which left him bent and twisted. At Rook's Rest, Aegon broke his ribs, his hip, and was burned on half his body, most severely on his left arm. His burns turned to scars, and his subsequent use of milk of the poppy gave him a puffy face. Later at Dragonstone, Aegon broke both his legs and was for the remainder of his life unable to walk.
Aegon II was quick to anger and slow to forgive. At the age of fifteen, he was known to be a lazy and somewhat sulky boy, inclined to gluttony at the table and given to swilling ale and strongwine, traits he carried to adulthood. A sweet Arbor red was Aegon's favorite vintage. During the Dance, after a series of defeats and setbacks, Aegon's drinking grew more frequent, as he used strongwine to drown his fears. He would later use wine to dull his pain from the injuries and burns he had suffered. Grand Maester Kaeth described him as grasping. Through his reign, Aegon never knew joy nor peace.
It was widely known that the promiscuous Aegon had fathered several bastards. Even at a young age, he was known to pinch or fondle any serving girl who strayed within his reach. After his injuries left him incapable of sexual congress, the court fool Mushroom claims Aegon would watch as one of his favorites coupled with a serving girl or lady of court, though he would later weep and summon Septon Eustace to grant him absolution.
Aegon was born in 106 AC to King Viserys I Targaryen and his second wife, Queen Alicent Hightower. Aegon had three older half-siblings: two brothers who had died in infancy, and a sister, Rhaenyra, who had officially been appointed as Viserys's heir in late 105 AC, with hundreds of lords and landed knights having done obeisance to her and having sworn sworn solemn oaths to defend her rights.
Aegon was named by his mother after Aegon the Conqueror. He would have three younger siblings: two brothers, Aemond and Daeron, and a sister, Helaena. Although King Viserys now had three sons, he refused to alter the succession and kept Rhaenyra as his heir, a decision he left in his will. Prince Daemon Targaryen, the king's younger brother, was notably cool towards Aegon and Aemond, as their births had pushed Daemon further down the line of succession.
Aegon's mother, Queen Alicent, did not agree with her husband's decision to name Rhaenyra heir to the Iron Throne over Aegon. When her father, Ser Otto Hightower, continually encouraged Viserys to name Aegon his heir, he was stripped of his office as Hand of the King. When attempts to persuade the king to do otherwise failed, Alicent attempted to convince her husband to have Rhaenyra and Aegon marry. Viserys did not agree, as the two siblings were ten years apart in age, and had never gotten along. King Viserys knew that Alicent only proposed the match to get Aegon on the throne, and thus married Rhaenyra to Ser Laenor Velaryon, heir to Driftmark, instead.
Tensions at court
Relations at court began to escalate as lords began to side with either Alicent or Rhaenyra, with many favoring the laws established at the Great Council of 101 AC, declaring that the Iron Throne could not pass to a woman. The two parties soon became known as the "greens" and the "blacks", the former consisting of those in favor of Aegon inheriting the Iron Throne, while the latter favored Rhaenyra.
The enmity between Queen Alicent and Princess Rhaenyra was passed on to their children; Aegon and his brothers did not get along with their Velaryon nephews, and resented the three boys for having stolen their "birthright", the Iron Throne itself. Prince Aegon was convinced that Rhaenyra's three Velaryon sons were fathered by Ser Harwin Strong, and stated such to his brother Aemond. The six boys attended the same feasts, balls, and revels, and sometimes trained together under the same master-at-arms and studied under the same maesters. Archmaester Gyldayn believed that forcing Aegon and his siblings to be close to Rhaenyra's sons only caused their mutual dislike to grow.
By the time he was thirteen years old, Prince Aegon had become a dragonrider, having successfully bonded with the young Sunfyre. After the deaths of their spouses, Princess Rhaenyra and Prince Daemon married. In 120 AC, Rhaenyra bore a son she named Aegon, intended to be a slight towards Prince Aegon, much to the wroth of Queen Alicent. In 122 AC, in accordance with the ancient tradition of House Targaryen, Prince Aegon the Elder married his sister, Princess Helaena Targaryen, in King's Landing. Their first children, the twins Prince Jaehaerys and Princess Jaehaera, were born a year later, as were two bastards, a boy Aegon had fathered on a girl whose maidenhead he had won at an auction in the Street of Silk and a girl he had fathered on one of his mother's servants. In 127 AC, Helaena gave birth to Aegon's youngest son, Prince Maelor.
Despite the various attempts of King Viserys to get Aegon, his siblings, and their Velaryon nephews on friendlier terms, Aegon remained resentful of Rhaenyra's children. When at a feast on the first day of 127 AC, Prince Jacaerys Velaryon asked Princess Helaena for a dance, Aegon took offense. They argued, and might even have fought, had the Kingsguard not intervened.
The Dance of the Dragons
When King Viserys I Targaryen died in 129 AC, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen was still the heir to the Iron Throne. Since she was pregnant at Dragonstone when her father died, the greens in King's Landing hid the news of Viserys's death, keeping the king's body in his room for seven days, until their preparations for Aegon's coronation were complete. With the exception of Lord Lyman Beesbury, the small council agreed to crown Aegon. According to Mushroom, the prince was found with a young girl in Flea Bottom, while Septon Eustace claimed Aegon was found abed with a paramour, the daughter of a trader. According to Eustace, Aegon at first refused to be a part of his mother's plans to crown him, insisting Rhaenyra was heir. However, Ser Criston Cole, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, convinced him that should Rhaenyra take the throne, Aegon and his brothers would be executed. Eustace insists that only this persuaded him to take the crown.
While the council made plans to win the Great Houses over to Aegon, the prince grew tired of the secrecy and demanded to be crowned. On the tenth day of the third moon of 129 AC, the death of King Viserys I was finally announced to the Seven Kingdoms and Aegon was declared king. Preparations were made to have the coronation at the Dragonpit. On the appointed day, Ser Criston the Kingmaker placed the crown of Aegon the Conqueror upon the prince's head, proclaiming him King of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men. With the aged High Septon in Oldtown, it fell to Septon Eustace to anoint and bless King Aegon II.
However, Ser Steffon Darklyn of the Kingsguard fled to Rhaenyra at Dragonstone with the crown of Viserys I. Rhaenyra refused to be denied her crown, disputing Aegon's ascension. Aegon enjoyed the wealth of King's Landing, Oldtown, and Lannisport, as well as the support of Houses Hightower, Lannister, and Baratheon. He also maintained the appearance of legitimacy, with the Conqueror's crown, the Valyrian steel sword Blackfyre, and the Iron Throne. Upon hearing of Rhaenyra's coronation, Aegon demanded the heads of her and Prince Daemon, though Grand Maester Orwyle convinced Aegon to allow him to give peace terms to Rhaenyra. However, Rhaenyra refused the terms, much to the anger of Aegon. The realm was split into two as the greens and the blacks battled for the Iron Throne, and the civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons began.
Early in the war, Prince Aemond slew Prince Lucerys Velaryon over Storm's End, while Lucerys was attempting to win Borros Baratheon, Lord of Storm's End, over to his mother's side. Upon Aemond's return, having ensured Storm's End's support, Aegon welcomed his brother with a great feast, though Queen Alicent and her father, Ser Otto Hightower, the Hand of the King, were concerned about the extent of Aemond's actions. Seeking revenge against Aegon, Prince Daemon took action. Aegon's heir, Prince Jaehaerys, was murdered in the Red Keep by Blood and Cheese, agents of Mysaria, Daemon's spymaster. His sister-wife, Queen Helaena Targaryen, quickly began to sink into depression and madness, due to the role she had played in the events leading to Jaehaerys' death.} While Blood was captured and tortured to death, Cheese was not found. In his fury, Aegon ordered every ratcatcher in the city to be hanged. Aegon and his wife slept separately thereafter, with the king drinking in anger.
While the greens suffered a series of defeats in the riverlands, Ser Otto attempted to win allies with letters and buying sellswords. Aegon mistook his efforts for inaction, and his caution for cowardice. With House Velaryon, House Stark, House Arryn, and much of the riverlords firmly behind his sister, Aegon drowned his growing fears in strongwine. With Corlys Velaryon, Lord of the Tides, blockading King's Landing, Otto reached out to the Triarchy and Dalton Greyjoy, Lord of the Iron Islands, for aid. Because of his grandfather's delays in waging war, Aegon stripped Otto of the Handship and awarded it to Criston Cole. Under Criston the Kingmaker's advice, those nobles who were imprisoned for their loyalties to Rhaenyra were brought before the King's Justice and executed if they did not bend the knee to Aegon. The king also desired to attack Dragonstone, though he was dissuaded by his council.
Ser Criston soon took to the offensive. Aegon himself took the field in a trap set by the Kingmaker at Rook's Rest, where he and Aemond fought and killed Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, the Queen Who Never Was, and her dragon, Meleys. However, Sunfyre were badly maimed by Rhaenys and Meleys, and Aegon suffered from burns that covered half his body, a broken hip, and numerous broken ribs. His armor had melted into his left arm, and it would take him a year to recover, his mind clouded by milk of the poppy, causing him to sleep nine hours out of every ten. He did not rise from his bed for the rest of the year, and some say he prayed for his death. Only his mother, Queen Alicent, and his Hand, Ser Criston, were allowed to disturb his rest. Prince Aemond took over the rule in his stead as Prince Regent and Protector of the Realm. Aegon remained bent and twisted for the rest of his life, half his body covered in burn scars.
Rhaenyra took King's Landing and the Iron Throne in 130 AC, Aemond and Daemon slew each other in the Battle Above the Gods Eye, and Criston perished in the Butcher's Ball. Before they could be captured by Rhaenyra, however, Larys Strong, Lord of Harrenhal, secretly smuggled Aegon and his children out of the city. While Maelor and Jaehaera were spirited away to safety, Aegon disguised himself as one of the smallfolk and escaped on a fishing boat, later arriving on Dragonstone where he convinced several blacks to defect and help him take the island. During the fall of Dragonstone, he fought Princess Baela Targaryen, both of them mounted on dragons. When Sunfyre and Moondancer fell to the earth during the fight, Aegon tried to jump off his dragon's back, shattering his legs. He carried great pain with him for the rest of his life, but refused milk of the poppy when offered by Grand Maester Gerardys, due to his experience with it from his recovery from Rook's Rest. Aegon had no trust for Gerardys and ordered him fed to his dragon, although the upper torso was kept and hanged on the battlements to welcome his sister. Having been protected by Ser Marston Waters on his journey to Dragonstone, Aegon named the bastard knight to his Kingsguard. Meanwhile, Aegon's wife Helaena had ended her grief by suicide in the capital, and his son, Prince Maelor, was killed by a mob in Bitterbridge.
Following the Storming of the Dragonpit, Rhaenyra fled to Dragonstone in 130 AC. Unaware of Aegon's coup, she was captured on arrival, judged a traitor, and fed by Aegon to Sunfyre, as Rhaenyra's surviving son, Prince Aegon the Younger, watched. Ser Alfred Broome argued for killing Prince Aegon as well, though the king forbade it. The war continued, however, as Rhaenyra's supporters continued her cause supporting Aegon the Younger, despite the boy being Aegon the Elder's prisoner. However, King Aegon's return to King's Landing was prevented by the Velaryon fleet surrounding Dragonstone.
Though Rhaenyra was dead, the Dance of the Dragons was not yet over. Aegon II offered House Velaryon a pardon if Alyn Velaryon, the heir of Lord Corlys, swore fealty to him and allowed him to cross Blackwater Bay. While on Dragonstone, Sunfyre died from his wounds and Aegon wept. Although Aegon at first ordered Princess Baela Targaryen's execution, he instead threatened to execute her if Alyn did not present himself before the king. When Lord Borros Baratheon finally arrived at King's Landing, Dowager Queen Alicent Hightower arranged a marriage between Aegon II and Lady Cassandra Baratheon, Borros's eldest daughter. Meanwhile, Corlys agreed to swear fealty to Aegon and was named master of ships. As Aegon was preparing to behead Baela again while Alyn prepared an attack on Dragonstone, news of House Velaryon's accord with the Iron Throne reached both sides. Aegon returned to King's Landing aboard Mouse, a battered cog captained by Alyn's mother, Marilda of Hull. According to Mushroom, the selection of that ship was intended by Alyn to be an insult to the king.
Unable to climb the steps of the Iron Throne, Aegon II held court from a wooden, cushioned seat, with a blanket covering his twisted legs. Though in great pain, he refused to return to the use of dreamwine or milk of the poppy, but instead turned his attention to the three pretender kings in King's Landing. Aegon allowed Trystane Truefyre to receive knighthood before being executed. The king spared Gaemon Palehair on account of his youth, though his followers were hanged. After arresting the Shepherd, Aegon had his tongue ripped out, then had him burned to death alongside his followers.
While Lord Velaryon urged Aegon to pardon those lords that supported Rhaenyra, the king had said lords of the crownlands brought to him in chains to swear fealty, pay a heavy ransom, and provide hostages to the Crown, hardening them against him. Meanwhile, the riverlords marched towards King's Landing, while a large host from the Vale of Arryn was hiring ships to bring them down on the capital. Aegon made efforts to hatch dragon eggs from Dragonstone, but to no success. Corlys implored the king to wed his daughter, Jaehaera Targaryen, to the captive Aegon the Younger, though Aegon II desired for his sister's line to end; Aegon decreed that the prince would either join the Night's Watch or serve him as a eunuch.
With armies closing in on the capital and his lords plotting and arguing, Aegon II remained oblivious, only taking pleasure from contemplating his marriage to Lady Cassandra Baratheon. The king commanded for the Dragonpit to be rebuilt and two statues commissioned of his late brothers, Daeron the Daring and Aemond One-Eye.
However, Kermit Tully, Lord of Riverrun, and his army had defeated Lord Borros Baratheon in the Battle of the Kingsroad. With no green armies remaining, the Lads marching on the capital, and with the additional approach of the Valemen and the northern army of Cregan Stark, Lord of Winterfell, Lord Corlys Velaryon knew defeat was imminent in 131 AC. He counseled King Aegon to abdicate and join the Night's Watch, though Queen Alicent Hightower reminded her son of their hostages and the king refused. He instead gave orders to have the ear of his nephew, Prince Aegon the Younger, cut off and sent to Lord Tully as a warning.
After his meeting with the small council, the fatigued Aegon climbed into his litter and asked to be carried to the royal sept. The king had his customary flagon of sweet Arbor red along the way to ease his pain. When his escort arrived and Ser Gyles Belgrave of the Kingsguard lifted the litter's curtains, Aegon II was found dead with blood on his lips.
With Aegon II dead, Lord Corlys and an unharmed Aegon the Younger rode out to meet the vanguard of Kermit Tully's host, proclaiming the king was dead. Meanwhile, Lord Leowyn Corbray, commander of the Arryn host, witnessed the Velaryon fleet remove the banner of Aegon II. The late king had no male heirs left, which led to his nephew Aegon the Younger ascending to the Iron Throne and marrying Aegon II's daughter, Princess Jaehaera Targaryen, thus uniting the two branches of House Targaryen. As per Targaryen traditions, Aegon II was consigned to the flames, with some hoping that the ills and hatreds of his reign would be burned away with his remains.
Who exactly poisoned the king remains unknown, though those judged responsible were arrested for the crime during the Hour of the Wolf. The main conspirators in Aegon II's death were Lord Velaryon, Lord Larys Strong, and Ser Perkin the Flea, who feared that Aegon II remaining on the Iron Throne would lead to continued war. When Lord Stark arrived in King's Landing, he had them arrested. Grand Maester Orwyle was sentenced to death for providing the poison, Ser Gyles was executed for "allowing his king's death", and twenty-two lesser personages were also judged complicit, most of those under Perkin's command. While Corlys confessed to his involvement, Cregan was eventually convinced to spare him by Alysanne Blackwood. Larys was executed while Perkin was sent to the Wall. Construction of the statues of Aegon II's brothers was halted as the Dragonpit was repaired.
Despite being considered as part of the Targaryen dynasty, history would not be kind on Aegon II, though it is equally unkind to his half-sister, Rhaenyra. In the tome Lives of Four Kings, Grand Maester Kaeth describes Aegon as "grasping", and comparing him with some of the worst Targaryen kings: the weakling Aenys and the tyrannical Maegor the Cruel.
Small council under Aegon II Targaryen
|Hand of the King||129–129 AC||Ser Otto Hightower|
|129–130 AC||Ser Criston Cole||Criston also served as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard at the same time.|
|Grand Maester||129 AC–Unknown||Orwyle||Orwyle was arrested by Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen's forces when she took King's Landing in 130 AC and placed in the black cells. He was later freed when Rhaenyra fled the capital.|
|Master of coin||129–131 AC||Ser Tyland Lannister|
|Master of laws||129–130 AC||Lord Jasper Wylde|
|Lord Confessor and master of whisperers||129–131 AC||Lord Larys Strong|
|Master of ships||At the start of Aegon's reign, the newly-vacant position was offered to Lord Dalton Greyjoy in the hopes of winning the Iron Islands as allies. Dalton never accepted the position and instead later attacked the westerlands. The position remained vacant for much of the war.|
|131 AC||Lord Corlys Velaryon||After the death of Rhaenyra, Corlys was released from imprisonment, pardoned, and appointed to the small council.|
|Lord Commander of the Kingsguard||129–130 AC||Ser Criston Cole|
Aegon II Targaryen was the firstborn son of King Viserys I Targaryen and Queen Alicent Hightower, the daughter of Ser Otto Hightower. Aegon II had two younger brothers, Prince Aemond and Prince Daeron, as well as a sister, Princess Helaena. As per the traditions of House Targaryen, Aegon would marry his sister Helaena in 122 AC. Together, Aegon and Helaena would have three children. The twins Prince Jaehaerys and Princess Jaehaera were born in 123 AC, and Prince Maelor was born in 127 AC. None of his children lived to adulthood, and his line ended with Jaehaera's death in 133 AC.
Though he was Viserys' eldest son, Viserys had named his eldest child and daughter his heir, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, Aegon's half-sister. Rhaenyra and her children by Ser Laenor Velaryon and Prince Daemon Targaryen were to come before Aegon's own, conflicting with precedents set by the Great Council of 101 AC. The ensuring debate and struggle over the succession gave birth to the Dance of the Dragons when Viserys died in 129 AC. Ultimately, Aegon II reigned as king, though he would be succeeded by Prince Aegon the Younger, his nephew by Rhaenyra and Daemon.
Mushroom claimed that Aegon fathered a bastard son on a girl from the Street of Silk and a bastard daughter on one of his mother's servants. The prostitute Essie claimed that Gaemon Palehair had been fathered by Aegon II, but under torture she stated the boy's father was actually a Lyseni sailor. After Helaena's death, Aegon II was betrothed to Lady Cassandra, daughter of Lord Borros Baratheon, though the king died before he was wed.
Quotes by Aegon
Rhaenyra: Dear brother. I had hoped you were dead.
Aegon: After you. You are the elder.Aegon: If they search the seven hells, mayhaps.
Rhaenyra: I am pleased to know that you remember that. It would seem we are your prisoners ... but do not think that you will hold us long. My leal lords will find me.
—Rhaenyra Targaryen and Aegon
—Aegon after the death of Rhaenyra
- A Game of Thrones, Appendix.
- Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - The Blacks and the Greens.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Viserys I.
- George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Aegon II Targaryen.
- Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - A Son for a Son.
- Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - The Short, Sad Reign of Aegon II.
- Fire & Blood, Heirs of the Dragon - A Question of Succession.
- Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - Rhaenyra Overthrown.
- Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - The Red Dragon and the Gold.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon II.
- So Spake Martin: Targaryen Kings (November 1, 2005)
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon IV.
- The Princess and the Queen.
- Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - Rhaenyra Triumphant.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 12, Tyrion II.
- The Hedge Knight.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon II.
- Fire & Blood, Under the Regents - The Hooded Hand.