The Targaryen family tree is chock-full of bastards. From the actively cruel and malicious, like Maegor I and Aegon IV, to the weak and ineffective Viserys I and Aenys I, the family has got more bad eggs than a hen house built on a toxic waste dump.
Still there are a few kings who managed to buck the typical Game of Thrones character trend of being a total arse. Kings like Baelor the Blessed, Aegon the Unlikely, and Daeron the Good were all great rulers. If pressed to name the greatest Targaryen King ever to command Westeros, however, most would default to Ageon I, better known as Aegon the Conqueror.
It makes sense. Aegon was the man who managed the impossible (with some help from his sister wives) and forged the seven kingdoms with blood and fire. Through sheer force of will (and Balerion the Black Dread), Aegon united the land and became the first man to ever sit on the world’s sharpest chair, the Iron Throne. Yet Aegon is not the greatest king.
The greatest King to ever rule the Seven Kingdoms is a man who’s regularly mentioned on the TV series House of the Dragon, Jaehaerys I the Old King. Don’t take our word for it, though. George RR Martin details Jaehaerys many great works in his book The World of Ice and Fire.
It was Jaehaerys (and his small council) who created the first unified code of law for the Seven kingdoms and worked to minimise the country’s debt. This allowed Jaehaerys to start work on a great number of civic projects, including modernising King’s Landing (building fountains for the common folk as well as drains and sewers) as well as The King’s Road, which helped untie the land.
After hearing of the practice from his wife, Jaehaerys abolished the lord’s right to the first night (you don’t want to know), and he worked to improve the lives of commoners in all the lands, rooting out banditry and crime.
While he was famous for his negotiation skills and he brokered peace between many great houses, Jaehaerys was also a powerful warrior helping end the fourth Dornish war in one day. Jaehaerys ended up being the longest-ruling monarch in Westerosi history, and he is described as the best of the Targaryen kings.
A statue built in King’s Landing puts Jaehaerys’ rule best. “He bound the land together and made of seven kingdoms, one.” If you love Game of Thrones, check out our list of the best fantasy series.