Great Council of 101 AC/Theories

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The Great Council of Harrenhal, convened in 101 AC, was held to determine who should be the heir to King Jaehaerys I Targaryen after the sudden death of his younger son Baelon. Jaehaerys's eldest son had been Aemon, but after his death fighting Myrish pirates in 93 AC, Baelon was formally named as heir to the throne - passing over Aemon's daughter Rhaenys.[1]

Identity of minor candidates

The text states that fourteen potential claims were considered by the council, and that this passed through three rounds:[1]

  • Nine minor claims were quickly discarded without significant debate
  • The five serious candidates left were Baelon's eldest son Viserys, Aemon's daughter Rhaenys, Rhaenys's daughter Laena Velaryon, Rhaenys's son Laenor Velaryon, and Jaehaerys's younger son Archmaester Vaegon. Vaegon was passed over on account of his vows, while Rhaenys and Laena were passed over due to their sex.
  • Viserys and Laenor were the final candidates, settled by a formal vote (which it is said Viserys won by a factor of twenty to one).

The identity of all nine minor candidates, however, is not directly stated. Only six are clearly identified:

  • Saera Targaryen's three bastard sons (each by a different father)
  • A minor cousin claiming descent from Gaemon Targaryen's younger daughter, who wed a petty lord
  • A man who claimed to be a bastard of Maegor the Cruel through rape (who was not believed due to suspicions that Maegor was sterile)
  • A man who claimed to be a bastard of Jaehaerys I (who Jaehaerys himself proved to be a liar).

This leaves three potential minor claimants who are not directly specified.

This broadly leaves two possibilities: either there were three minor claimants that Martin never developed, or Martin's intention was that three of the other living Targaryens were considered to have "claims" even if they didn't press them.

There were four, possibly five living characters of Targaryen descent at the time of the council:

  • Daemon, Viserys's younger brother
  • Aemma Arryn, Viserys's wife and first cousin, through his father Baelon's younger sister Daella
  • Rhaenyra, Viserys's only living child with Aemma Arryn, a four year old daughter
  • Saera, Jaehaerys's estranged daughter living in exile in Lys
  • Septa Rhaella, Jaehaerys's niece through his older siblings Aegon and Rhaena

The text states that Daemon supported his older brother's claim, and that Saera did not wish to press her claim (though her bastard sons did). A point suggesting that the council considered all potential claims is that Jaehaerys's younger son Archmaester Vaegon was considered a candidate, even strong enough that he was not considered one of the nine "minor" claimants who were initially dismissed - even though Vaegon never publicly pressed a claim, and was indeed later ruled out due to his vows as a maester.

A point against Rhaella as a candidate is that out of universe, Martin actually wrote the chapters of Fire & Blood about the reign of Jaehaerys I about 5 years after he wrote the novella that became The Rogue Prince, in which the Great Council occurs (it couldn't have been written later than 2013). Given that Rhaella's fate wasn't elaborated upon until the most recently written chapters of Fire & Blood, she probably wasn't intended as a candidate at the council. The later revelation that she became a septa, and thus would have been childless and beyond child-bearing years by the time of the Great Council, serves as an in-universe explanation of why the council didn't consider her a claimant. It also isn't even confirmed if Rhaella was still alive at this point.

Viserys's wife Aemma and daughter Rhaenyra aren't mentioned by name. Rhaenyra, as the child of potential male heir Viserys, may have been excluded from the count because it would have gone to her father first. Aemma might have been considered, simply because she was one of Jaehaerys's four living grandchildren.

Thus, if Martin intended specific characters to be these three minor candidates, the count may have included Saera, Daemon, and Aemma. But the other possibility is that Martin didn't intend specific characters, and the three minor ones may have just been more false claims.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Fire & Blood, Heirs of the Dragon - A Question of Succession.