Why did the Targaryens leave Valyria? Every Game of Thrones fan worth their salt knows how the Targaryen family conquered Westeros and forged the Seven Kingdoms. Aegon the Conqueror and his sister wives used the power of their dragons Balerion, Vhagar, and Meraxes to either cow or batter the lords of the land into submission.
As the only family in the world with dragons, they were basically unstoppable. Buy why are the Targaryens the only family with dragons in the drama series? Well, the answer is they weren’t always the only dragon riders in the world. Back in their homeland Valyria, there were numerous dragonlord houses and hundreds of dragons.
So where did all these dragonlords go? What happened to Old Valiyria? And why did the Tragaryens leave Valyria? Well, it’s a horrifying story involving dragons, blood magic, prophecy, and potentially shape-shifting assassins.
Why did the Targaryens leave Valyria?
The Targaryens left Valyria after one of their house, Daenys Targaryen, had a prophetic dream about Valyria’s destruction. Fearing a cataclysm was on the horizon, the head of the house, Lord Aenar Targaryen, moved his family and dragons away from their homeland.
The Targaryens resettled on Dragonstone, saving them from destruction. Then less than a hundred years later, Aegon was born, and we all know what he went on to do.
What happened to Valyria?
Valyria was destroyed in a disaster known as “The Doom of Valyria”. The Doom was a catastrophic volcanic eruption that caused “every hill for five hundred miles” around Valyria to explode, filling the air with toxic smoke and deadly ash. Even the dragons could not survive the cataclysm, and the entire peninsula was shattered.
Some other dragonlord houses did survive the Doom but with their home destroyed, they were quickly snuffed out in the chaos of the Valyrian Empire’s collapse. Only the Targaryens survived due to their seclusion.
What caused The Doom of Valyria?
George RR Martin has never overtly stated what caused The Doom, but there are a few theories in Westeros. Those of the Faith believe the Valyrians mined too deep and accidentally split oven the Seven Hells, the maesters meanwhile think Valyrian magic controlling the volcanic activity around their home failed, while others blame ancient curses.
The most intriguing possible answer, however, comes from the Faceless Men. This group of shapeshifting assassins has its origins in Valyria. Specifically, the Faceless Men believe their god, the Many-Faced God, gave one desperate Valyrian slave the power to kill his master.
After receiving the power, this unknown slave taught the magic of shapeshifting to his fellow prisoners and began his guild of assassins. The Dragonlords immediately took interest in these efficient killers and used them to try and weaken their rivals.
This eventually got out of hand when the dragonlords started killing each other’s fire mages, and after a certain number had been killed, the Valyirans lost control of the volcanic power under their feet, and they were destroyed.
What’s Valyria like now?
Valyria is believed to be a cursed place full of poisonous gases, dark magic, and unknown horrors. One person who supposedly travelled there and returned was Princess Aerea Targaryen, who disappeared on Balerion one day only to return one year later.
Aerea was a ruined creature upon her return, rake thin and suffering from a fever so hot it could be felt through iron armour. Most terrifyingly, there were unknown creatures living under her skin that erupted from her body on her death. Following the princess’s death, King Jaehaerys barred anyone from travelling to Valyria under the pain of death.
If you love fantasy series like Game of Thrones, check out our guide to House of the Dragons season 2 or we have guides on some of the best House of the Dragon characters, including Alicent Hightower, Otto Hightower, King Viserys Targaryen, Daemon Targaryen, Larys Strong, The White Worm, and Ser Criston Cole.
If you’re curious about the future of the Seven Kingdoms, then check out our guide looking at the possibility of a Game of Thrones season 9.