Who was Balerion the Black Dread? The House of the Dragon has taken us back to Westeros, and it feels good to be back. This isn’t the war-torn kingdom we know and love, though. This new TV series is set 172 years before the Mad King was overthrown and the coming of the White Walkers.
The fantasy series is set during the reign of Viserys Targaryen when the House of the Dragon was at the height of its power with ten adult dragons under their control. Still, threats lurk in the shadows, and the ancient Valyrian house is wracked with internal problems, not least of all Viserys’ brother Daemon who appears to covet the Iron Throne for himself.
Viserys himself seems aware of his family’s issues and is determined to keep the Targaryen’s grip on the throw to protect the world from an ancient apocalyptic prophecy. During the final moments of the first episode, Viserys confesses this secret to his daughter in front of the skull of Balerion, the Black Dread. But who was this mighty dragon?
Who was Balerion the Black Dread?
Balerion was the personal dragon of Aegon Targaryen, the man who conquered Westeros. Aegon used the power of Balerion to forge the Seven Kingdoms into one cohesive country (well, all of them except Dorne). It was Balerion who broke the Iron Island’s hold on the Riverlands when he destroyed Harrenhal.
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When Aegon crowned himself king of Westeros, it was Balerion who helped forge the Iron Throne using his firey breathe to melt the swords that make up the land’s spikiest chair. After Aegon died, Balerion was claimed by Maegor the Cruel and used to kill his nephew Prince Aegon.
As Balerion grew older, he began to slow down and eventually, he was wounded while on an adventure with Princess Aerea Targaryen. Eventually, the dragon was housed in the newly constructed Dragon Pit and was only ever ridden again by Viserys Targaryen.
How did Balerion die?
Balerion dies of old age at 200 years old. His massive skull was displayed in the Red Keep as a reminder of Balerion’s size and the Targaryen’s power.
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Despite passing away before the events of Game of Thrones, Balerion is kind of reborn in the form of Daenerys’ dragon Drogon who’s frequently compared to the Black Dread.
How big was Balerion?
Known as the Black Dread, Balerion was a deep ebony colour and the largest of all known Targaryen dragons. The dragon’s wings were said to be so big that they could cover entire towns in shadow, with teeth the size of swords and jaws so large they could swallow a cow whole.
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To put it into context, Balerion was probably roughly the same size as a jumbo jet with a larger wingspan. If you love House of the Dragon and fantasy, you’ll want to check out our guide to the new Dungeons and Dragons movie, or if you want to know more about the people of Westeros, we have a guide to Daemon Targaryen and Ser Criston Cole, two of the most important men in the land.