In a new weekly column where we answer your ‘Game of Thrones’ questions, the first topic is Rhaegar Targaryen, the fallen brother of Daenerys Targaryen….
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
Send Your Questions on Twitter: @DamonMartin
MASSIVE BOOK SPOILERS BELOW BE FOREWARNED
The latest episode of ‘Game of Thrones’ this past Sunday brought up a vital character to the history of the show, but one we have still (and likely will never) see in person.
His name is Rhaegar Targaryen, affectionately known as ‘Dragon Prince’ or ‘The Last Dragon’ — who was the crown prince son of King Aerys Targaryen II, better recognized as ‘The Mad King’ we’ve heard so much about during the last five seasons.
He was first referenced in the most recent episode titled ‘The Sons of the Harpy’ when Sansa Stark visited the crypts beneath Winterfell and talked to Petyr Baelish about her aunt Lyanna.
The second mention of Rhaegar happened towards the end when Barristan Selmy told Daenerys about her brother’s love of singing and how he was never that fond of killing. He used to stroll among his people disguised as a minstrel, collecting money and then giving it back to those in need.
So who was Rhaegar Targaryan in a much shorter version than reading all of George R.R. Martin’s books?
Rhaegar Targaryen was the oldest son of King Aerys II and the man who would one day become king after his father died.
Prince Rhaegar was beloved by his people and even Tywin Lannister, who was the Hand of the King for many years, believed he would be a far superior rule to his own father.
Because Aerys and his wife/sister Rhaella were unable to have any female children until many years later, Rhaegar had to be married off to someone outside of the Targaryen bloodline. He eventually landed with Elia Martell from Dorne — sister of Prince Doran and Oberyn Martell, who we got to know quite well in season 4 of ‘Game of Thrones’. Side note — at one point Tywin Lannister tried to marry his daughter Cersei to Rhaegar, but the king denied him and more or less said she wasn’t worthy of his son.
Rhaegar and Elia had two children — Rhaenys and Aegon — but the downfall of the Targaryen empire was brought about in large part thanks to a tournament held at Harrenhal. Rhaegar was an outstanding knight, who bested several top competitors over the years, but at Harrenhal he not only won the tournament but he even beat his good friend Ser Arthur Dayne, who was called ‘the Sword of the Morning’.
When the tournament was over, Rhaegar passed his own wife and gave his crown of winter roses to Lyanna Stark, naming her the queen of love and beauty. This was considered to be a huge insult to his wife, but also fateful moment for Rhaegar because Lyanna was already promised to marry Robert Baratheon, the oldest Baratheon child and future ruler of the Stormlands.
A year after the tournament, Rhaegar allegedly kidnapped Lyanna unprovoked, which prompted Robert to stage his rebellion that eventually ended with the Targaryens being wiped off the map and ‘The Mad King’ being murdered by Jamie Lannister. It also must be said that while Rhaegar may have triggered Robert’s rebellion, his father ‘The Mad King’ was already crazier than a shit house rat — he killed Ned Stark’s older brother Brandon and their father Rickard, which only further infuriated the North.
Rhaegar himself was killed in single combat with Robert Baratheon at The Battle of the Trident. Despite hurting Robert during their battle, the future king eventually turned the tides and crushed Rhaegar with a single blow from his warhammer. Rhaegar’s armor that was adorned in rubies scattered into the water and soldiers from both sides of the war scrambled to pick up the loose jewels from the fallen prince.
Robert would go on to finish the rebellion alongside his close friend Ned Stark before becoming king of Westeros for the next 17 years.
So the biggest question this week was concerning the true parentage of Jon Snow and whether that relates back to Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark.
— Chris27 (@ChrisConte27) May 4, 2015
The question of Jon Snow’s parents is so important in fact that David Benioff and Dan Weiss, the creators behind ‘Game of Thrones’ on TV, had to answer that question from author George R.R. Martin before he would allow them to move forward with the series.
Now as Sansa notes when speaking about her aunt Lyanna — Rhaegar Targaryen kidnapped her, raped her, and kept her prisoner against her will until the day she died. Notice during that conversation, Petyr Baelish never really confirms or denies those allegations. Later in the episode when Barristan Selmy is talking about Rhaegar, once again notice how he describes the ‘Dragon Prince’ as a man who loved books and music and really detested violence.
Rhaegar never really struck anyone as the impetuous type to go and kidnap a woman, rape her and keep her captive. Maybe Rhaegar and Lyanna were actually in love and tried to escape not quite realizing what kind of revolt their union might inspire.
Ned Stark claims to be Jon Snow’s father after getting a bar maiden pregnant during his time away from Winterfell while fighting alongside Robert during his rebellion. No one has ever heard from or seen this bar wench, much less know her identity.
The popular theory is this —
When Ned Stark finally found his sister during Robert’s Rebellion, Rhaegar had her stashed in Dorne at a place called The Tower of Joy. Ned and his bannermen killed the guards that were stationed to protect Lyanna, but when it was over he was the only man left standing along with his friend Howland Reed (father of Jojen and Meera Reed, who are with Bran Stark currently).
When Ned found his sister, she was laying in a ‘bed of blood’, already near death. Before she expired, Lyanna whispered ‘promise me, Ned’ to her older brother and then she died.
The theory is ‘the promise’ Ned made to his sister and the reason she was covered in blood was because she just gave birth to her son along with Rhaegar — and his name would be Jon Snow.
Let’s also not forget the message Melisandre passed to Jon in last week’s episode when she told the new Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch that he had power in him yet he refused to embrace it. She seems to sniff out royal blood like a hound dog so that’s another Easter egg to keep tucked away as the seasons move forward.
Obviously this is all rumor and a lot of assumptions being made, but now you begin to understand why Rhaegar Targaryen is so important to the overall story of ‘Game of Thrones’ and maybe why we’re starting to hear more about him this season.