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The Targaryen family tree in House of the Dragon explained

The Targaryen family tree is a difficult thing to explain so we've broken it down from Aegon the Conqueror to the Breaker of Chains, Daenerys Targaryen.

Targaryen Family tree: Viserys Rhaenyra, Daenerys, Daemon

The Targaryen family tree explained. House Targaryen is one of the oldest and most venerable noble families in Westeros, with a lineage going back hundreds of years to a time before the House of the Dragon ruled from the Iron Throne. By the time of Game of Thrones, though, the Targaryens have fallen from glory, and the family is close to extinction.

Still, though, you should never underestimate a dragon, and during the events of Game of Thrones, Daenerys Targaryen manages to revive the family’s fortunes (With the help of her dragons). However, the story of House Targaryen is a long one, going back centuries, if not millennia. So as some of our favorite Game of Thrones characters (And House of the Dragon characters) belong to this noble line, we thought we’d forge our maester’s chain in genealogy and give you a full explanation of the Targaryen family tree (After all, you never know which member of the Game of Thrones cast might have a drop of Valyrian blood in them)—warning spoilers for one of the best fantasy series ever ahead.

The Targaryen Family Tree explained

For the record, the Targaryen family tree is like an ancient oak that’s not been pruned in centuries. As such, it’s pretty confusing. To simplify things, we’ve broken the tree up into bite-sized chunks and only focussed on the direct line of kings; so sorry if you were a fan of that random Targaryen who’s the second cousin of ‘Valeagaerysion’ or whatever.

Targaryen family tree: The three headed dragon of House Tragaryen

The Targaryens before the Doom of Valyria (At least 1000BC-102 BC)

Originally from the Valyrian Freehold, the Targaryens were one of forty dragonlord houses who ruled over the lands with the help of their mighty dragons. Intriguingly, during this time, the Targaryens were not a particularly noteworthy house.

However, when Daenys Targaryen had a vision of a great disaster destroying the Freehold, Aenar the Exile led the family and their dragons to Dragonstone, just off the coast of Westeros. For 12 years, they lived there until the doom Daenys had predicted came true, wiping out the rest of the dragonlords.

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The Century of Blood (102 BC – 0BC)

As the enemies of the Freehold fought for control of the Valyrian’s former empire, generations of Targaryens lived and died on Dragonstone.  Gaemon the Glorious followed Aenar as the lord of Dragonstone, and in turn, his son Aegon (not that one) inherited the castle.

Little is written of this time in the books, but one interesting note is that Aegon’s second son, Aerys, appears to have been made heir over his eldest brother. This is presumably because Maegon died without marrying. Even weirder, Aerys’ third-born son, Daemion Targaryen, inherited Dragonstone. Again, we presume his elder brothers Aelyx and Baelon died without heirs, but once is a coincidence twice is a pattern. Did Daemion kill his siblings? Well, we can’t prove it, but it wouldn’t be the first time the Targaryens fought each other for a throne.

Anyway, Daemion eventually had a son, Lord Aerion, who would name his first son Aegon. As we learn in the fantasy series, eventually, this young dragonlord would rise to lead the house and turn his ambitions west to the Seven Kingdoms, seeking to unite them under his banners. So the Targaryen family tree took root in Westeros, and the House of the Dragon began.

House of the Dragon Targaryen Family tree generation 1

Aegon the Conqueror and his sons (2 BC – 37 AC)

Aegon the Conqueror and his sister wives, Visenya and Rhaenys, were the Targaryens who kicked off the royal dynasty on Westeros. Using their dragons Balerion, Vhagar, and Meraxes, they forged the Seven Kingdoms (although they failed to conquer Dorne), bringing the land’s current rulers to heel.

After establishing their kingdom, the siblings set out to make more Targaryens to ensure their house would always sit on the Iron Throne. Aegon supposedly preferred Rhaenys, his younger sister, as a wife to Visenya, and so the youngest of the siblings bore the king his first son, Aenys. Five years later, Visenya gave birth to Maegor (supposedly with the help of dark blood magics), who would go on to become the first Targaryen usurper.

House of the Dragon Targaryen Family tree generation 2

Aenys I and his line (37 AC -48 AC)

In his youth, Aenys could not have been less like his father. He was bookish and artistic, leading some to question whether Aenys was not a bastard. As he grew, however, Aenys became more like his father, yet he never quite had the same appetite for war.

The same could not be said for Maegor. Maegor was strong but callous, and many saw him as Aegon’s true-born son. When Aegon died, and Aenys took the throne, his rule was a brief one. He died after just five years of sitting on the Iron Throne.

Aenys’ eldest son Aegon should have inherited the throne, but Maegor usurped it. The second son of the Conqueror became known as King Maegor the Cruel, and he ruled with an iron fist, but, perhaps as punishment for his evil acts (although some believe he had been born from magic), he was never able to conceive an heir, so the line of Aenys took back the throne.

With Aenys’ first two sons, Aegon and Viserys, dead, the throne passed to Jaehaerys Aenys’ third-born son.

House of the Dragon Targaryen Family tree generation 3

Jaehaerys I and the great council (48 AC – 103 AC)

Jaehaerys was the fourth Targaryen to lead Westeros, and the kingdom prospered under his wise and judicious rule. He forged peace between warring houses, brought prosperity to the Seven Kingdoms, and managed to defeat a Dornish invasion with the help of his dragon Vermithor.

However, his life wasn’t without tragedy. Despite having 13 children, not all survived into adulthood, and because Jaehaerys ruled for 55 years, he managed to outlive all of his kids who did make it out of diapers. This meant that when he reached the winter of his life, he had no heir and had to decide who would inherit his throne.

In what became known as The Great Council, Jaehaerys gathered the great houses of Westeros, the Maesters, and the faith and asked them to help him settle the issue of succession before civil war destroyed the kingdom he had built. 13 claimants came forward, but nine were quickly dismissed until the only three left were.

Archmaester Vaegon, Jaehaerys’ last living son who had given up his claim when he became a maester, Prince Viserys Targaryen, and Laenor Velaryon, the grandson of Jaehaerys’ eldest son Aemon and son of his daughter Rhaenys.

Ultimately, the kingdom voted for Viserys, believing that Laenor’s claim was weaker as it came through his mother, not his father. After Jaehaerys passed away, Viserys took the throne, and so began the Targaryen dynasty’s decline.

House of the Dragon Targaryen Family tree generation 4

Viserys and the Dance of the Dragon (103 AC – 131 AC)

You’ve seen House of the Dragon. You know what’s happening here. Basically, King Viserys Targaryen had two wives, Aemma and Alicent Hightower. After Aemma and Baelon died, Viserys named Rhaenyra Targaryen heir to the Iron Throne, and even when he had a son, Aegon, with Alicent, he didn’t change his mind despite the protests of Otto Hightower.

When Viserys died, there was a bit of a disagreement about who’d be the new ruler, with one faction, the Greens supporting Aegon II, while the Blacks supported Rhaenyra. The resulting civil war (which we’ll see in House of the Dragon season 2) became known as the Dance of the Dragons, and ultimately, Rhaenyra’s sons, with her uncle Daemon Targaryen, Viserys II and Aegon III, ended up on the throne.

Aegon III Targaryen to Aegon IV the Unworthy (131 AC – 184 AC)

Targaryen family tree: The Unworthy line

After the Dance ended with a phyric victory for the Blacks, Rhaenyra’s eldest surviving son, Aegon, was crowned and put on the Iron Throne. Unfortunately, his reign was not a happy one.  Known as the Broken King and the Dragonsbane, Aegon III’s reign was famous for two things: the extinction of the dragons and his melancholy moods. When he died at just 36 years old, few in the realm mourned his passing.

Aegon was then succeeded by his eldest son, Daeron, who sought to bring Dorne into the realm. While he was initially successful, Daeron, like his forefathers, inevitably failed, and he died during a Dornish ambush just four years after he was crowned. He was succeeded by his younger brother Baelor, who would earn the nickname the Blessed for his pious nature.

Baelor’s reign showed promise, and he was beloved by the smallfolk, but his religiousness posed a problem for those in court as he refused to conceive an heir. He eventually passed away after fasting for forty days and nights, although there were rumors that his uncle and successor, Visery II, had him poisoned to avoid a holy war.

With Viserys II now seated on the Iron Throne, the last of Rhaenyra’s children set about reforming the realm in a similar way to Jaehaerys I, but after just a year, he too passed away, leaving his eldest son Aegon IV to take the throne.

Arguably the worst Targaryen king to ever sit on the Iron Throne, Aegon IV earned the name the unworthy for his cruelty and greed. To make matters worse, he constantly quarreled with his son and heir, Daeron.

Inevitably, Aegon IV eventually passed away, his swollen body literally rotting from the inside out as if the moral corruption had infected his own flesh. With Aegon dead, Daeron ascended to the throne and became Daeron II Targaryen, but the unworthy king played one final trick on his son. With his dying breath, he legitimized his bastard children, creating the Blackfyre family in the process and sewing the seeds for future rebellions.

The Targaryen family tree: The Blackfyre family

The Blackfyre family (184 AC – 260 AC)

The Blackfyre family is a branch house of the Targaryens created when Aegon the Unworthy legitimized the bastard son Deamon he conceived with his sister Daena. Following the death of Aegon IV and Daeron’s coronation, Daemon sought to press his own claim to the throne and began the first Blackfyre Rebellion.

While the rebellion was crushed and Daemon killed, his third son Daemon II survived, and 15 years after his father’s death, the would-be King attempted to seize the Throne for himself.  Thankfully, the actions of Bloodraven (Himself, one of Aegon IV’s bastards) managed to kill the insurgency in its infancy, and Daemon’s son was killed.

But, surprise! Daemon had another son, Haegon, who went into the family business of rebelling against the Targaryens. Led by Aegor Rivers (Yet another of Aegon IV’s bastards), the third Blackfyre Rebellion threatened the stability of the realm until Haegon I was slain and Rivers imprisoned.

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Unfortunately, Rivers managed to escape, and within a few years, the Blackfyres were back, claiming Haegon’s son Daemon was the true King of Westeros. You’d think after all these failed rebellions, the Blackfyres would have learned a thing or two about combat, but unfortunately, they did not. At the Battle of Wendwater Bridge, Daemon was killed by Ser Duncan, the Tall of the Kingsguard.

The last known Blackfyre Rebellion was led by Maelys I Blackfyre, the leader of the Golden Company who followed in his ancestor’s footsteps by failing spectacularly to take the Iron Throne, and with his death, the male line of the Blackfyres was destroyed.

Or was it? In the books, at least, there’s a character who claims to be Daenerys nephew, Aegon the Targaryen, who’s hanging around with the Golden Company. Could Aegon really be a Blackfyre?

The Targaryen framily tree: Daeron II

Daeron the Good and the Conquest of Dorne (184 AC – 209 AC)

Following the death of Aegon the Unworthy, his son Daeron ascended to the throne as Daeron II. The new king began his reign by addressing the rot his father had allowed to fester in the capital. As such, Daeron reformed the City Watch and rebuilt the Small Council to rid it of his father’s lackeys.

Having married into the Martell family, Daeron also did something no other Targaryen King achieved: he managed to bring Dorne into the Seven Kingdoms. It took him two years of negotiations and involved marrying his sister Princess Daenerys to Maron Martell, the Prince of Dorne (Daeron was married to Maron’s sister, Myriah), but 189 years after the conquest began, the Martells swore loyalty to the Targaryens.

Still, there was a problem on the horizon. Ousted lord and those jealous of the preferential treatment being shown to Dorne began to plot Daeron’s downfall. This group planned on putting Daemon Blackfyre on the Iron Throne, and so began the first Blackfyre Rebellion.

Across the realm, battles broke out, and the threat was only ended when Daemon and his two sons, Aegon and Aemon, died at the Battle of the Redgrass Field. With peace restored, the rest of Daemon’s rule was peaceful, and he eventually earned the nickname ‘the good’ for his wisdom and peaceful nature.

Daeron would eventually pass away during the Great Spring Sickness after 25 years on the throne. He was succeeded by his second eldest son, Aerys Targaryen.

Targaryen family tree: Aerys and Maekar

Aerys I and Maekar I Targaryen (209 AC – 233 AC)

Aerys I Targaryen wasn’t meant to take the throne. As the second-born son of Daeron, Aerys was the very definition of the spare, and when his elder brother had not one but two sons, Princes Valarr and Matarys, the idea of him taking the throne seemed laughable.

The Great Spring Sickness, though, was no laughing matter, and it chewed through the Targaryen dynasty like a rabid dog, so when Daeron died, Aerys was next in line for the throne. Bookish and weak, Aerys was not exactly the ideal Westerosi king and his supposed asexuality made the matter of his succession extremely complicated.

It’s perhaps unsurprising then that the Blackfyre family rose up twice during his reign, as did the Greyjoys. Thankfully, the machinations of one of Aeon IV’s Great Bastards, Aegon Waters, aka Bloodraven (Yes, the same Bloodraven Bran trained with), kept the kingdom from ruin. When Aerys died, we can’t imagine the realm wept.

As Aerys died having fathered no sons, the crown passed to his youngest brother Maekar (Rhaegal had since died choking on a piece of pie).

Like Aerys, Maekar had never expected to sit on the Iron Throne, but that’s where the similarities between the two brothers end. Maekar was a stern and unforgiving man; Maekar was a man of impressive martial skill who fought fiercely in the Blackfyre Rebellions and in tourneys across the Seven Kingdoms.

When he took the throne, though, his reign was mostly peaceful, although his personal life was full of tragedies. His eldest son, Daeron, died of pox, while his second son, Aerion, drank dragon fire, believing it would turn him into a dragon (he simply died). So when Maekar passed away, he had two sons left to inherit the throne: Maester Aemon (The same Aemon who served the Night’s Watch with Jon Snow), who’d renounced his claim, and his youngest son Aegon.

At a Great Council of the Lords of Westeros, it was decided that Aemon had disqualified himself by becoming a maester, so Aegon the Unlikely took the throne as Aegon V.

Targaryen Family Tree: Aegon the Unlikely

The reign of Aegon the Unlikely (233 AC – 259 AC)

Following the Great Council, Aegon the Unlikely took the throne at the age of 33. Believe it or not, one of the first things Aegon did was to have Bloodraven arrested for the murder of a Blackfyre. Bloodraven had previously promised Aenys Blackfyre safe passage to King’s Landing during the Great Council, but no sooner had the pretender stepped in the capital was he executed.

Bloodraven would ultimately join the Night’s Watch rather than be executed himself, and Aegon, clearly feeling little enmity toward the former Hand of the King, showered the North with aid to help them through the harsh winter that began the same year he took the throne. The King also busied himself with bettering the lives of the smallfolk, whom he had become well acquainted with while squiring for the hedge knight Duncan the Tall.

Domestic policy wasn’t the only thing on Aegon’s plate, though. Once again, the Blackfyre rose up to try and claim the throne. The fourth Blackfyre Rebellion was led by Daemon III Blackfyre, and this time there was no Bloodraven to resolve things quickly. Thankfully, Aegon did have Duncan, who slew Daemon in single combat, bringing the uprising to an end.

Aegon also had to deal with his lords, who weren’t pleased with the reforms the King had brought in to help the peasantry. Tytos Lannister was also a constant thorn in the King’s side, not because he was a political threat but because the so-called Warden of the West couldn’t keep control of his lands.

Still, Aegon’s biggest headache came from his eldest son, Duncan. Aegon had planned to wed his children to the heirs of great lords across the Seven Kingdoms, but Duncan chose to abdicate as Prince of Dragonstone and marry the commoner Jenny of Oldstones. This greatly upset Lyonel Baratheon, whose daughter was to marry Duncan. The Storm Lands briefly rose up against the King, and again, Duncan the Tall was forced to step in and end the threat with his sword.

Ever the diplomat, Aegon would have his daughter, Rhaella, marry into the Baratheon family to placate the Storm lords. Unbeknownst to Aegon, this marriage would later pave the way for Robert Baratheon to claim the Iron Throne, as he was technically a relative of the Targaryen family.

In the end, Aegon would perish during a terrible fire, which became known as the Tragedy at Summerhall. Aegon had gathered his closest family and friends at SUmmerhall, including his heir Jaeherys and his grandson Aerys, in the hopes of reawakening the dragons. No one knows what happened, but things went terribly wrong, and the castle was consumed by fire.

King Aegon V Targaryen, Prince Duncan, and Ser Duncan the Tall all died in the flames, leaving Jaeherys to take the throne. Still, there was some joy to be found in the catastrophe. Aerys’ first son, Rhaegar, was born as the inferno consumed the Targaryen castle.

Targaryen family tree: Jaehaerys Targaryen II

The short reign of Jaehaerys II (259 AC – 262 AC)

Following the inferno and the deaths of Aegon and his heir Duncan, Jaehaerys was crowned king. While the common folk believe Jaehaerys proved himself a weak king during his short reign, he ruled for just three years, but that’s not entirely true.

The King got the kingdom through the War of the Ninepenny Kings, also known as the fifth Blackfyre rebellion led by Maelys the Monstrous, and even sought to lead his armies personally despite his fragile health. While Jaehaerys would be talked out of this, it demonstrates a certain mettle others would not have expected of their ruler.

Ultimately, though, Jaeherys’ poor health would get the better of him, and he’d pass away after a short illness at the age of 37, leaving his son Aerys II to take the throne.

The Targaryen family tree: Aerys II, aka the Mad King

The reign of the Mad King and the end of the Targaryen dynasty (262 AC-283 AC)

Contrary to popular belief, the reign of Aerys II, who would later become known as the Mad King, began rather fortuitously. Like so many kings before him, Aerys began by clearing out the dead wood from his court and bringing a host of new younger advisors.

The most ambitious of these men was a young Tywin Lannister, who impressed the King so much that he quickly named him Hand. With Tywin by his side, it seemed as though the reign of Aerys would be a prosperous one, and some dared to dream Aerys would earn the title “the great.”

Unfortunately, it was around now that Aerys began to demonstrate a rather mercurial personality, flitting from uncompleted project to uncompleted project. At one point, he wanted to build a second Wall in the North, and at other times, he’d rant about overthrowing the Iron Bank.

Still, kings are allowed their eccentricities, and the realm prospered under Aerys, though some whispered it was Tywin who was the real power behind the throne. Eventually, these rumors reached Aery’s ears, and in the grip of growing paranoia, the King came to resent his Hand.

As such, the King started to undermine his Hand at every turn and began behaving increasingly erratically. Things came to a head when Lord Denys Darklyn of Duskendale decided to exploit the rift between the King and his Hand and pressed for a charter that would grant his town autonomy from the crown. While Aerys initially planned on dismissing the charter, he changed his mind when Tywin agreed with him, and the King set off to Duskendale to settle the matter personally.

This didn’t go well, and Aerys was taken hostage by Lord Darklyn for six months. As Lord Tywin besieged Duskendale, Aerys, who was trapped in the dungeons, grew more and more paranoid, and by the time the defiance of Diskendale was brought to an end, he was well and truly mad.

Indeed, following his release, the King refused to leave the Red Keep for four years, and his relationship with Tywin deteriorated further. Even worse, Aerys came to believe that his heir, Prince Rhaegar, had conspired with Darklyn to have him imprisoned.

Seeing enemies everywhere, Aerys decided to further humiliate Tywwin by naming his son Jaime to the Kingsguard. While many would consider this an honor, the King knew that doing so would deprive his Hand of his ‘heir,’ which would leave Casterly Rock in the hands of Tyrion, Tywin’s dwarf son. Tywin was so furious at the slight that he resigned as Hand immediately and went back to Casterly Rock.

Twyin’s departure from court caused chaos as Aerys turned his paranoia toward his son Rhaegar. Ultimately, though, the King’s undoing would be caused by his son, just not in the way Aerys expected. In 282 AC, Rhaegar kidnapped Lyanna Stark, enraging the Wardens of the North. Brandon Stark set off at once to court, where he demanded Rhaegar answer for his crimes.

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Rhaegar wasn’t home at the time, but Aerys was, and seeing the enraged Stark, he had the lordling arrested and demanded his father come to court to answer for his son’s crimes. When Lord Rickard Stark arrived at the Red Keep, Aerys had him, and Brandon put to death and ordered that the youngest Stark, Eddard (Ned to you and me), be put to death as well, along with Lyanna’s betrothed Robert Baratheon. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and the North, the Riverlands, the Stormlands, and the Riverlands rose up in rebellion.

In what became known as Robert’s Rebellion, the Targaryen dynasty did everything they could to keep the Iron throne, but Aerys’ madness prevented those loyal to House Targaryen from mounting a proper counterattack. When Rhaegar returned, it seemed, however briefly, that the rebellion was doomed, but at the Battle of the Trident, Robert killed the prince and, with it, any chance House Targaryen had of keeping the Iron Throne.

With Rhaegar defeated, Aerys was consumed completely by his madness. He began burning his advisors with wildfire and set up caches throughout the city so he could destroy King’s Landing if the rebels sacked the city. It never came to that thanks in part to Lord Twyin, who arrived with an army nominally loyal to the King. The King’s council advised caution, but Aerys believed the Lannisters to be loyal subjects; he couldn’t have been more wrong, and when he opened the city gates, Tywin’s army began to sack the city.

With the end in sight, Aerys began to rant and rave about burning them all and demanded the wildfire caches in the city be ignited. Before the order could be followed through, though, Jamie Lannister forsook his vows and betrayed the King, slashing Aerys’ throat with his sword. As the King bled to death, Jaime sat on the Iron Throne and waited for the rebels to arrive, not knowing he’d be known from that moment on as the Kingslayerut it was more than that. With a slash of his sword, Jaime had ended not just Aerys but the reign of the Targaryen kings.

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Despite Aerys’ death, his younger son Viserys and daughter Daenerys Targaryen survived and escaped to Essos.

Viserys gets himself killed by the Dothraki, but Daenerys eventually reclaims her family’s throne… by committing war crimes. Yeah, she’s murdered soon after as well, bringing an end to the Targaryen bloodline once and for all (unless they ever greenlight a Game of Thrones season 9).

If you can’t get enough of the Targaryens, check out our articles on the mighty Game of Thrones dragonsCaraxes, Seasmoke, Syrax, and Meleys. We’ve also got articles on a number of major players in the Dance of the Dragon, including Alicent Hightower, Otto Hightower, Larys Strong, and Ser Criston Cole.

Our sister site, Wargamer, also has a guide to the best Game of Thrones board games if you want to play this deadly political game for yourself.