‘House of the Dragon’: Breaking Down the Targaryen Family Tree

House of the Dragon will tell the story of the Dance of the Dragons, the civil war among House Targaryen. The new prequel is set approximately two centuries before Game of Thrones in the fake Westeros’ history created by author George R. R. Martin. And it will show how Daenerys’ ancestors tore the family apart and caused dragons to go extinct. Who are the main Targaryen players in House of the Dragon? Let’s break down the family tree.

House of the Dragon Targaryen Family members King Viserys and Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen
Paddy Considine (King Viserys) and Maddy Alcock (Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen) | Ollie Upton/HBO

The Targaryens in ‘House of the Dragon’ are the last of the dragonlord families

As explained in Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series and the Westeros history book Fire & Blood, the Valyrian Freehold in Essos was ruled by dragonlord families who used magic to tame dragons and exert power over them. One of those families was the Targaryens, who were the only ones to survive a mysterious event known as the Doom of Valyria.

This event wiped out the city, including every person and dragon in it. The only exception being the Targaryens — who managed to survive because they moved with five dragons to Dragonstone just before the event occurred. 

As the only surviving house of the Valyrian dragonlords, House Targaryen had the last known dragonriders — people who are able to bond with and mount a dragon. 

In an effort to keep their lineage “pure” — and keep what they believed was their inherited ability to control dragons — the Targaryens had a lot of incest in the family. Which makes it a bit difficult to follow the Targaryen family tree.

Breaking down the Targaryen family tree

The rule of House Targaryen over the Seven Kingdoms began with Aegon I and his Wars of Conquest, aided by his two sister-wives Rhaenys and Visenya. When Aegon died, he was succeeded by his eldest son, Aenys I Targaryen. His brother Maegor was next on the throne, a cruel king who killed Aenys’ heir, Aegon.

Known as Maegor the Cruel, he also denounced the claims of Aenys’ only surviving son, Jaehaerys, and married his three Black Brides. One of those brides was Jaehaerys’ sister, Rhaena. 

When Maegor mysteriously died, it was Jaehaerys who succeeded him. Jaehaerys ruled for 55 years, but he had to make a difficult decision when his heir, Prince Aemon, died. He had to decide between his daughter Rhaenyrs and Aemon’s brother Baelon, and he ultimately chose Baelon. But then Baelon died before taking the throne, and Jaehaerys had to call a Great Council.

That’s when Baelon’s son Viserys I is chosen as his grandfather’s heir. And it’s Viserys (Paddy Considine) who is the king when House of the Dragon begins.

Princess Rhaenyra and Prince Aegon II fight for the Iron Throne in ‘House of the Dragon’

King Viserys names his daughter Princess Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) as his heir when she is just 8 years old, instead of his brother Prince Daemon (Matt Smith). But later, Viserys marries Alicent Hightower and has sons — Aegon II, Aemond, and Daeron. Alicent believes that Aegon II should be the heir. And it’s her and her son’s battle with Princess Rhaenyra over the Iron Throne that sparks the Dance of the Dragons.

As the story unfolds, Princess Rhaenyra marries her uncle Daemon and they have two sons — Aegon the Younger and Prince Viserys. And it’s from Viserys and his wife Rogare that the Targaryen lineage eventually gets to Daenerys.

House of the Dragon premieres Sunday, August 21 on HBO.

RELATED: ‘House of the Dragon’ Is ‘Dark, Powerful, Visceral, Disturbing, Stunning to Look at’ Claims George R.R. Martin

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