If you were to look through the Targaryen family tree and make a list ranking all the bastards (and we don’t mean Jon Snow), you’d probably think the Mad King would be top of the pile. After all, Aerys II was such a cruel and callous leader that his people revolted and overthrew the Targaryen dynasty.
Yet honestly, Aerys would probably struggle to break the top three worst kings to rule the Seven Kingdoms. No, when it comes to the worst of the worst, there are two front runners for the worst kings in the history of Westeros, Maegor and Aegon IV, who we didn’t see on the TV series. While both were utter shits when it comes to cruelty, Maegor has Aegon beat, so much so that he earned the nickname Maegor the Cruel.
Maegor was the third Targaryen to plant his royal kiester on the Iron Throne, and we learn in the book The World of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin how poorly suited this colossal prick was to being king. The firstborn son of Aegon the Conqueror and his sister-wife (yuck) Queen Visenya Targaryen Maegor’s callousness was clear from his youth.
Growing up in Dragonstone, the Game of Thrones character practised his swordplay on local cats and took pleasure in killing them. By the time Maegor was eight-years-old his talents for violence led to him becoming a knight’s squire, and he began to learn the arts of war.
His skill with the blade saw him become the youngest ever knight at just 16 years old, but despite his martial prowess, he never claimed a dragon of his own. Eventually, Aegon died, and Maegor’s half-brother Aenys took the throne.
After his father’s death, Maegor took Balerion the Black Dread as his personal dragon and served his brother loyally as Hand of the King, crushing a number of rebellions. However, the two brothers would have a falling out after Maegor tried to defy the Faith of the Seven and take a second wife.
Aenys banished Maegor, and it seemed for a time that Westeros would never see him again. Unfortunately, when Aenys died, Maegor returned and threw out the rules of succession, claiming the Iron Throne for himself ahead of Aenys’ son, Prince Aegon, and his tyranny began.
In his first year as king, Maegor slaughtered all who opposed his rule and brutally suppressed the Faith of the Seven. He also commanded that the Red Keep be built with secret passages and four new dungeons, one of which was specifically designed to torture prisoners.
On the day the work was finished, Maegor held a great feast for the builders, final mercy before he had them entombed in the walls of his new fort so that the secrets of the Red Keep would be his and his alone.
The faith attempted to resist Maegor, but with the power of Balerion on his side, no resistance could overcome the tyrant. Eventually, Prince Aegon would lead a rebellion in an attempt to take back his birthright, but Maegor cut him down on the battlefield and earned the reputation as a kinslayer.
Over his brief six-year rule Maegor inflicted countless cruelties on the realm. He pillaged the land, persecuted the common folk, and frightened his lords and bannermen. Inevitably then, when Aenys’ last surviving son, Prince Jaehaerys, rose against his evil uncle Maegor found himself friendless.
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With no banner armies to protect himself against this new rebellion, King’s Landing was besieged, but Maegor refused to surrender. His reign ended when he was discovered dead on the Iron Throne, his wrists slashed. While the exact cause of death was never confirmed, many believe it was the swords that make up the Iron Throne that killed Maegor the Cruel.