House of the Dragon: The Targaryen family tree explained

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HBO’s madly anticipated Game of Thrones prequel, House of the Dragon, has finally arrived.

House Targaryen is at the centre of this adaptation of George RR Martin’s work.

The 10-episode series is set around 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones, when the Targaryens had united the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros under one ruler.

So, before Daenerys – who was there? Introducing the messiest family in Westeros...

Aegon the Conquerer

In A Song of Ice and Fire, the book series that Thrones is based on, author George RR Martin explains that, similar to real-life’s Before Christ and Anno Domini, dates in Westeros are described as “Before Conquest” (BC) or “After Conquest” (AC).

The conquest in question occurred when Aegon, Daenerys’s ancestor, conquered the whole of Westeros with his dragons, uniting all seven kingdoms under one ruler.

It’s been hinted that Ty Tennant, son of Doctor Who star David Tennant, may star as Aegon in House of the Dragon, meaning there could be some flashbacks in store.

Ty Tennant (right) may play Aegon the Conqueror in House of the Dragon (AFP via Getty Images)
Ty Tennant (right) may play Aegon the Conqueror in House of the Dragon (AFP via Getty Images)

Aegon I Targaryen died in 37 AC, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Aenys I Targaryen.

The Targaryens held themselves above the laws of men and therefore practised incestuous marriage and polygamy.

In true Game of Thrones fashion, Aenys married his eldest daughter, Rhaena, to his eldest son and heir, Prince Aegon. This union caused an uproar and Aenys fled to Dragonstone before dying in 42 AD.

Aenys’ sixth son Maegor returned from exile, killing Aegon and his dragon Quicksilver to reclaim the Iron Throne.

Following his mysterious death in 48 AD, Maegor was succeeded by Aenys’s only remaining heir, Jaehaerys.

House of the Dragon begins with Viserys I Targaryen’s rule

Paddy Considine in ‘House of the Dragon' (HBO)
Paddy Considine in ‘House of the Dragon' (HBO)

Jaehaerys ruled wisely for 55 years until he was succeeded in 103 AC, by his grandson, Viserys I Targaryen – this is where House of the Dragon takes its cue.

Viserys, played by Paddy Considine, chose his daughter from his first marriage to Lady Aemma Arryn, Princess Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) to succeed him, over Daemon (Matt Smith) – his younger brother and rightful heir to the throne.

Spoiler alert: After the death of their respective spouses, Rhaenyra and Daemon married each other in 120 AC, and had three more children, Aegon the Younger, Viserys, and the stillborn Visenya.

When Viserys died in 129 AC, his widow and second wife, Dowager Queen Alicent Hightower defied Viserys's last will, and crowned his son Aegon II while Rhaenyra resided on Dragonstone.

Rhaenyra declared war over the succession, dividing the kingdom and killing thousands of men and several dragons.

After killing Rhaenyra with his dragon, Aegon II betrothed his daughter and only remaining child, Jaehaera, to Rhaenyra's eldest surviving son, Aegon the Younger, and named them his heirs.

Emma D’Arcy as Rhaenyra Targaryen and Matt Smith as Daemon Targaryen (HBO)
Emma D’Arcy as Rhaenyra Targaryen and Matt Smith as Daemon Targaryen (HBO)

Between two series

In 131 AC, Aegon II was poisoned by his own councillors and 11-year-old Aegon the Younger ascended the throne as Aegon III Targaryen.

Aegon III died in 157 AC from consumption and was succeeded by his eldest son, Daeron I Targaryen, born to him by his second wife, Queen Daenaera Velaryon.

In 160 AC, Daeron was killed without heir and succeeded by his younger brother, Baelor I Targaryen.

Baelor starved himself to death and was succeeded in 171 AC by his uncle, Prince Viserys, brother of Aegon III.

Viserys II was succeeded by his eldest son, Aegon IV, who was rumoured to have been involved in his father's death.

Aegon was succeeded by his son Daeron II after legitimising many bastard children, including Daemon Blackfyre who rebelled against the king and was killed.

Daeron II was succeeded by his second son, Aerys I Targaryen, in 209 AC.

Aerys I's youngest brother, Maekar was named heir and succeeded in 221 AC reigning for 12 years. Maekar I's youngest son Aegon V was later crowned “The Unlikely” as he had been the fourth son of a fourth son.

The events of Game of Thrones begin

Mark Addy as Robert Baratheon in ‘Game of Thrones’ (HBO)
Mark Addy as Robert Baratheon in ‘Game of Thrones’ (HBO)

Aegon V's second son Jaehaerys II Targaryen ascended the throne in 259 AC but died after just three years of rule and was succeeded by his only son, Aerys II Targaryen AKA... “The Mad King”.

Cue Game of Thrones.

Aerys’ reign would prove to be the one that ended the Targaryen Dynasty. Aerys appointed his friend Tywin Lannister (played by Charles Dance), as his Hand of the King.

Growing in jealousy, Aerys appointed Tywin's heir, Ser Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), to his Kingsguard in 281 AC, leaving Tywin with his dwarf son Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) for an heir.

Meanwhile, Aerys’ heir, Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, the older brother of Viserys and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), secretly married Lyanna Stark, the betrothed of his cousin Lord Robert Baratheon (played by Mark Addy), and fathered Jon Snow (Kit Harington). This revelation comes to light in the final season of Thrones as it is revealed that Jon Snow is Daenerys’ nephew. Awkward.

Kit Harington, right, as Jon Snow in ‘Game Of Thrones’ alongside Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen (HBO/PA)
Kit Harington, right, as Jon Snow in ‘Game Of Thrones’ alongside Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen (HBO/PA)

Robert then proclaimed his intent to claim the Iron Throne due to the fact that his grandmother was Princess Rhaelle Targaryen, the youngest daughter of King Aegon V Targaryen.

Robert killed Rhaegar and Jaime Lannister, earning his monicker of “Kingslayer” killed Aerys in the throne room of King’s Landing.

Following his victory and Lyanna’s death, Robert married Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) to secure an alliance with House Lannister.

Meanwhile, Aerys’s remaining heirs Viserys and Daenerys fled to Essos where they attempted to recruit followers and reclaim the Iron Throne.

Thus we join the first series and chaos unfolds.

House of the Dragon will begin on Sunday 21 August at 9pm on HBO. It will then be available to stream on HBO Max afterwards.

For UK viewers, it will premiere at 2am on Monday 22 August on Sky. The episode will then be repeated at 9pm on Monday, and will be available to stream on Sky and NOW after its initial airing.