First Blackfyre Rebellion
|First Blackfyre Rebellion |
Part of the Blackfyre Rebellions
|Location||westerlands, riverlands, the Reach|
|Battles||Battle of the Redgrass Field|
Decisive Targaryen victory|
Exile of House Blackfyre to Essos
The First Blackfyre Rebellion, known to contemporaries as the Blackfyre Rebellion, was a war fought between the loyalist forces of King Daeron II Targaryen and the rebel forces of his half-brother, Daemon I Blackfyre. Conflict arose when Daemon, a bastard son of the late King Aegon IV Targaryen, claimed the throne of his older, trueborn brother, King Daeron II Targaryen, which resulted in open civil war that divided the Seven Kingdoms.
Baelor I and Viserys II
After King Baelor I Targaryen made peace with Dorne, he returned to King's Landing and annulled his marriage to his eldest sister, Daena. He then locked Daena with his other sisters, Rhaena and Elaena, in the Maidenvault, so they could not tempt the lusts of men. However, Daena contrived to escape her imprisonment on several occasions, and towards the end of her brother's reign became pregnant by her cousin, Prince Aegon. In late 170 AC, she gave birth to a bastard son whom she named Daemon Waters. Daena refused to reveal the identity of the father of her child, though Aegon was already suspected to have been involved. Baelor I, in response to Daemon's birth, began a forty-day fast, which eventually caused his death in 171 AC. After the claims of Daena and her sisters were dismissed, Daena's uncle was crowned as King Viserys II Targaryen. Viserys ruled only for a year, until his own death, after which his eldest son, King Aegon IV Targaryen, ascended the Iron Throne in 172 AC.
In addition to his unacknowledged bastard son by Daena, King Aegon IV Targaryen had by his marriage to his sister, Naerys, a trueborn son named Daeoron, born in 153 AC, and a daughter, Daenerys, born in 172 AC. Aegon often clashed with Prince Daeron during his reign, with Daeron opposing the ideas and the corrupt style of rule of his father. Aegon, on the other hand, despised his sister-wife, Naerys, and his younger brother, Prince Aemon the Dragonknight, to both of whom Prince Daeron was close. When Aegon, in 174 AC, planned to launch an unprovoked attack against Dorne, the homeland of his daughter-in-law Myriah Martell, Daeron opposed his ideas. Around the same time, rumors began to circulate, instigated by King Aegon himself, that Daeron was a bastard born of adultery between his siblings, Naerys and Aemon. For the first time, though not the last, Aegon threatened to name one of his bastard sons (Aegor Rivers and Balerion Otherys being the only sons Aegon had, at this point, acknowledged) as his heir over Daeron. The rumors about Daeron's parentage forever remained, but despite Aegon's threats and japes, Daeron was never formally disowned. Meanwhile, two factions began to form at court, one supporting the corrupt reign of Aegon IV, the other supporting Daeron.
In 182 AC, Aegon knighted his bastard son, Daemon Waters, after the boy won a squire's tourney at the age of twelve. Aegon publicly bestowed Blackfyre, one of the Valyrian steel swords of House Targaryen, on Daemon as well, finally acknowledging him. There were some who felt that the sword symbolized the monarchy (not unlike rumors that were spread when King Aenys I Targaryen bestowed the sword on his half-brother, Prince Maegor), as it had been the sword of King Aegon I Targaryen, the Conqueror, and had been passed on from king to king ever since. Aegon's public gift of the sword eventually started talk that Daemon should be king. Following the acquisition of the sword, Daemon took the name "Blackfyre" for himself.
In early 184 AC, King Aegon IV Targaryen legitimized all of his bastards on his deathbed. Prince Daeron ascended the throne as King Daeron II Targaryen, and did all he could to keep the nobly-born Great Bastards close. He paid the dowry his late father had promised to the Archon of Tyrosh, seeing his half-brother Daemon I Blackfyre wed to Rohanne of Tyrosh, as per the late Aegon's desire.
Daeron was a cultured and scholarly man, and swept the court clear of Aegon the Unworthy's corruption, depriving several people of their advantageous positions. Daeron placed men of his own in the positions of power, and began negotiations with his brother-in-law, Maron Martell, the Prince of Dorne, which resulted in the wedding of Maron to Daeron's younger sister, Princess Daenerys, in 187 AC, and the joining of Dorne into the Seven Kingdoms. However, dissatisfaction grew from the fact that Dorne had won several concessions during Maron's negotiations that the other regions did not have (e.g. the right to keep their royal title, autonomy to maintain their own laws, the right to assess and gather the taxes due to the Iron Throne with only irregular oversight from the Red Keep). Additionally, it was the belief that the Dornish held too much power at court, as many Dornishmen were brought to Daeron's court, and several filled important offices. While Daeron had chosen to be crowned with his father's crown, rumors about his legitimacy remained. Daeron was not a warrior, and while Prince Baelor, Daeron's eldest son by his Dornish wife Myriah Martell, was all that could be desired in a warrior, Baelor had the looks of a Martell, and not, like Daemon Blackfyre, of a Targaryen. Nobles and knights from the Dornish Marches began to mistrust both Daeron and Baelor, and began to long for the days when the Dornish were still their enemies.
Meanwhile, Daemon Blackfyre had grown into a great warrior of his own, trained by Ser Quentyn Ball, and had come to resemble Aegon the Conqueror in appearance according to his supporters, with silver-gold hair and deep purple eyes. Married to Rohanne of Tyrosh in 184 AC, his twin sons Aegon and Aemon were born later that same year. five other sons, and at least two daughters followed during the years to come. Daemon's supporters claimed that Daemon had desired his half-sister, Princess Daenerys, and the singers claim that she loved him as well. It is said that Aegon, who had seen more profit in the match with Tyrosh, had promised Daemon that he could have more than one bride. Daeron, however did not agree. Nor has it ever been proven that Princess Daenerys indeed loved Daemon, as the singers and Daemon's supporters claimed.
The Dornish concessions and influence, the sudden change of Dornish enemies to Dornish allies, Daeron's rumored illegitimacy, and Aegon IV's public gift of the sword of kings to Daemon, all were part of the seeds from which the first Blackfyre Rebellion grew. Still, it took many years for the actual rebellion to begin. There was no final insult that resulted in the declaration of Daemon's claim. Daemon had come to resent having the status of bastard, and what it represented. Additionally, he had councillors who urged him to rebel, and many famous warriors who disagreed with the peace with Dorne sought him out. Years passed between the first man approaching him, and Daemon finally declaring his claim. However, Maester Yandel considers it likely that it had been Aegor Rivers, Daemon's younger half-brother, who managed to convince Daemon in the end. According to King Maekar I Targaryen, it had been both Aegor and Fireball, the master-at-arms at the Red Keep, who had played the largest role in convincing Daemon. Aegor pressed him to proclaim, increasing his efforts after marrying Daemon's eldest daughter, Calla, and many lords and knights joined in.
The First Blackfyre Rebellion finally broke out in 196 AC. It lasted nigh on a year and divided the Seven Kingdoms. Daemon's decision to claim the throne had been made rashly, and word soon reached Daeron's court that Daemon meant to declare within a month. It has been suggested by Archmaester Merion that Brynden Rivers, another one of Aegon IV's bastard sons, was involved in the news reaching Daeron. The Kingsguard was sent to arrest Daemon, but, with the aid of the master-at-arms of the Red Keep, Quentyn Ball, Daemon managed to escape imprisonment. Daemon reversed the colors of House Targaryen, taking for his own sigil a black dragon on a red field, which led to his nickname, the "black dragon" (with Daeron becoming known as the "red dragon").
It is said that half the realm declared for Daemon, though this may be an exaggeration, as none of the Great Houses did, and not all houses pledged their full support. Notably, Houses Hightower, Butterwell, Oakheart and Tarbeck gave support to both Daemon and Daeron, while others (e.g., Manfred Lothston) were willing to betray Daemon for Daeron.  Most of Daemon Blackfyre's core supporters were concentrated in the Reach and the stormlands, primarily among the border lords with strong anti-Martell sentiment who resented the new peace with Dorne. Daemon did manage to openly control enough territory that at some point he began minting his own coinage (not so much for function but as propaganda). At some point the thief Quickfinger attempted to steal dragon eggs for Daemon, but was caught.
Over the course of the war, battles were fought between the rebels and loyalists in, amongst other places, the Vale, the westerlands, the riverlands and the Reach. Ser Quentyn Ball - known as Fireball - attacked the westerlands, killing Lord Lefford at the gates of Lannisport and then defeating Lord Damon Lannister in turn. At the crossing of the Mander, Ser Quentyn slew all of Lady Penrose's sons, except for the youngest, whom he spared as a favor to the lady. Lord Leo Tyrell participated in the First Blackfyre Rebellion as well, fighting on behalf of House Targaryen. He won notable victories in the Reach against Daemon Blackfyre's supporters.
During the war, King Daeron II came to consider his Hand of the King, Lord Ambrose Butterwell, to be ineffectual, and in the end, Butterwelll's loyalty was questioned. Shortly before the Battle of the Redgrass Field, the final battle of the war, Butterwell was replaced by Lord Hayford, a noted loyalist.
On the eve of the Battle of the Redgrass Field, key Blackfyre general Quentyn Ball was slain in a chance encounter, picked off by a random archer when he stopped for a drink of water. Meanwhile, Lord Bracken had gone across the narrow sea to hire sellswords to reinforce the Blackfyres, but storms delayed the return of him and the Myrish crossbowmen he had hired.
The Battle of the Redgrass Field
The final conflict of the First Blackfyre Rebellion was the Battle of the Redgrass Field, in late 196 AC, as Daemon's rebel army approached King's Landing itself. Lord Leo Tyrell's forces could not gather quickly enough to arrive in time for the battle. House Arryn did participate, as Lord Donnel Arryn led the vanguard of the Targaryen forces. However, Daemon Blackfyre shattered his lines, leaving the loyalists in peril until Ser Gwayne Corbray of the Kingsguard arrived with reinforcements. Ser Gwayne Corbray and Daemon Blackfyre came face-to-face during the battle. Their duel, in which Daemon wielded the Valyrian steel sword Blackfyre and Gwayne the Valyrian steel sword Lady Forlorn, is said to have lasted nearly an hour, before Daemon gained the upper hand. Corbray was wounded, but Daemon dismounted, preventing Corbray from being trampled, and commanded that he was taken off the field.
In the meantime, Brynden Rivers with his archers, the Raven's Teeth, had captured and assumed a position atop the Weeping Ridge, which overlooked the battlefield and allowed them to rain arrows down among Daemon and his commanders. Daemon’s heir Aegon died first, followed by Daemon himself. When Daemon’s second son, Aegon’s twin brother Aemon took up Blackfyre, he was slain as well.
The rebels began to rout, but Aegor Rivers claimed Blackfyre and rallied the rebels by leading a charge against the Raven's Teeth. In the ensuing duel, Aegor took out Brynden’s eye. However, Prince Baelor arrived with a host of Dornish spearmen and stormlanders, while his younger brother, Prince Maekar, rallied what remained of the van. As such, Baelor crushed the rebel army against Maekar’s shield wall, a move later called “the hammer and the anvil”.
While the state of the rebellion across all of Westeros is unknown, many widely believed that the fate of the realm hung in the balance at Redgrass Field, and had Daemon won that battle he would probably have gone on to take King's Landing and win the entire war.
King Daeron's punishment of the rebels was harsher than had been previously expected of him. Those who had supported Daemon lost lands, titles or wealth, and all were forced to give hostages. Lord Gormon Peake lost two of his three castles for his support of Daemon’s cause, while Ser Eustace Osgrey, whose three sons Edwyn, Harrold and Addam had died upon the Redgrass Field, had to give up his daughter Alysanne as a hostage, and lost a great amount of land to House Webber. The First Blackfyre Rebellion left its mark upon Westeros for years to come. Asking a man whether he had fought for the black dragon or the red was considered a dangerous question,
Aegor Rivers was able to recover the sword Blackfyre from the battlefield and escaped to the Free Cities, together with Daemon's widow and remaining children, eventually ending up in Tyrosh. In exile, Daemon's descendants continued their struggle for the Iron Throne, resulting in four more rebellions (Second, Third and Fourth Blackfyre Rebellion, and the War of the Ninepenny Kings), as well as one peaceful attempt during the Great Council of 233 AC. These attempts led to the arrest of Daemon's second son (Daemon), and the deaths of his third and fifth sons (Haegon and Aenys), as well as the death of a grandson, also named Daemon. Daemon's last male descendant, Maelys, was slain during the War of the Ninepenny Kings by Ser Barristan Selmy, ending the Blackfyre threat.
The Great Spring Sickness, which began in 209 AC, created the possibility for a Second Blackfyre Rebellion to arise. Many of those who had been taken hostage by King Daeron II had died, as had King Daeron himself. Daeron's heir, and Hand of the King, Prince Baelor Targaryen, had died shortly before, during a tourney mishap at the tourney at Ashford Meadow. Baelor's two sons, Valarr and Matarys had perished in the Spring Sickness as well, leading to the coronation of Daeron's second son, the bookish Aerys I Targaryen, who named Ser Brynden Rivers as his Hand. Under these circumstances did Daemon Blackfyre's eldest surviving son arrive in Westeros from Tyrosh, Daemon II Blackfyre, and preparations for the Second Blackfyre Rebellion began, in 212 AC.
Houses by Allegiance
While not every house supporting the loyalists and the rebels respectively is known, this list provides an overview of the loyalties that have been revealed thus far:
Loyalists (Targaryen supporters)
- House Arryn
- House Caswell
- House Darry
- House Hayford
- House Lannister
- House Lefford
- House Lothston (betrayed Daemon for Daeron)
- House Martell
- House Penrose
- House Smallwood
- House Targaryen
- House Tully
- House Tyrell
- House Templeton
- House Webber
- House Waynwood
Rebels (Blackfyre supporters)
- House Ambrose (possibly)[N 1]
- House Ball (possibly)[N 2]
- House Blackfyre
- House Bracken
- House Costayne
- House Lothston (betrayed Daemon for Daeron)
- House Osgrey
- House Peake
- House Reyne (possibly)[N 3]
- House Shawney
- House Strickland
- House Sunderland
- House Yronwood[N 4]
Houses who supported both sides
So many ifs, ser ... had any one come out differently, it could all have turned t'other way. Then we would be called the loyalists, and the red dragons would be remembered as men who fought to keep the usurper Daeron the Falseborn upon his stolen throne, and failed.
—thoughts of Duncan the Tall
- Ser Aubrey Ambrose supported Daemon, but it is unknown if he did so on his own or with the backing of his house.
- Ser Quentyn Ball supported Daemon, but it is unknown if he did so on his own or with the backing of his house.
- Robb Reyne supported Daemon, but it is unknown if he did so on his own or with the backing of his house.
- House Yronwood fought on the side of House Blackfyre for three of the five Blackfyre Rebellions. They are known not to have fought in the Second or Fifth Rebellion, leaving the first, third, and fourth.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Daeron II.
- George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Maekar I Targaryen.
- The Mystery Knight.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aerys I.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Vale: House Arryn.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Reach: House Tyrell.
- The Sworn Sword.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Baelor I.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon IV.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Viserys II.
- So Spake Martin: The Great Bastards (December 26, 2005)
- So Spake Martin: SF, Targaryens, Valyria, Sansa, Martells, and More (June 26, 2001)
- The Sons of the Dragon, notes from the reading at LonCon 2014
- So Spake Martin: Targaryen History (April 20, 2008)
- See the calculations for Aegon and Aemon Blackfyre
- So Spake Martin: Private Meeting (Santa Fe, NM) (May 4, 2004)
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon V.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Jaehaerys II.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 5, Tyrion II.
- The Hedge Knight.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 37, Brienne VII.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Riverlands: House Tully.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 24, The Lost Lord.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Dorne: Queer Customs of the South.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 13, The Soiled Knight.