HBO’s highly anticipated ‘Game of Thrones’ prequel, ‘House of the Dragon’, introduces us to a host of historical Targaryens, centuries before Daenerys’ quest for the Iron Throne. Two of the most important members of the complicated family tree are Rhaenyra and Daemon Targaryen, and their relationship is both incredibly important and incredibly tangled. Spoilers ahead for the book “Fire and Blood” and for “House of the Dragon”!
Are Rhaenyra and Daemon related?
Like many other Targaryens, both Daemon and Rhaenyra are related by blood and (eventually) involved in a romantic relationship. Rhaenyra is Daemon’s niece, as the daughter of his older brother, King Viserys I. The two are also brother-in-law and sister-in-law through their previous marriages. Rhaenyra’s first marriage is to Laenor Velaryon, while Daemon’s second wife is Laenor’s sister Laena. Daemon is, of course, younger than Rhaenyra’s father, Viserys, but he’s still much older than her: in the books, there’s a 16-year age gap between Rhaenyra and Daemon.
Rhaenyra and Daemon’s past relationship
In the books, Rhaenyra and Daemon are married and have children before getting married. Fictional historians in the books differ in their accounts of the couple’s early relationship once Rhaenyra was in her mid-teens, but rumors circulate that they had some sort of sexual relationship before Rhaenyra’s first marriage. In any case, Rhaenyra and Daemon later married the Velaryon siblings and had children with them, though again rumors swirled around Rhaenyra that her husband Laenor was gay, and their sons were said to be gay. were sired by her lover, Harwin Strong. .
Rhaenyra and Daemon’s wedding
In the year 120 AC (the calendar of Westeros is measured by the years following the conquest of Aegon I), both Velaryon siblings die. Shortly after being widowed, Daemon and Rhaenyra marry in secret when he is 39 and she is 23. Their marriage causes a huge scandal at court and another rift between Daemon and Viserys, but he is finally accepted. The couple have two sons together, Aegon and Viserys.
Almost a decade after their marriage, the civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons begins with the death of Viserys I. Rhaenyra, his designated heiress, is not even informed of her father’s death until her half-brother, Aegon II, has reclaimed the throne for himself. Of course, Rhaenyra isn’t interested in going down without a fight, and Daemon is firmly behind her: in fact, he personally crowns her with his late father’s crown.
Rhaenyra and Daemon’s Legacy
Neither Rhaenyra nor Daemon live to see the end of the Dance of the Dragons, but neither does Aegon II. With both pretenders to the Iron Throne dead, Dance of the Dragons ends with a negotiated peace and sees Rhaenyra and Daemon’s son, Aegon III Targaryen (aka Aegon the Younger), crowned king. Descendants of Rhaenyra and Daemon sit on the Iron Throne until the fall of the Targaryen dynasty centuries later.