Throughout the books, there were several indications that something about Cersei was off, but as she is described exclusively by those whom she considers to be her enemies, it gets hard to know the full extent of a behaviour that seems insane. As ‘Feast’ brings the readers her own point of view for the first time, it becomes evident that she isn’t just a little off, but rather that she is entirely unhinged. She is ‘Targaryen-crazy’ and there are numerous indications to that effect and literary evidence that have filled several pages of those books. The Targaryens had always been drawn to their siblings. In the stories, it is more than just a way of keeping their line pure. In fact, the texts show that the purity of their lineage wasn’t significant at all. Even if every Targaryen in history until Aegon the Conqueror had only crossed amongst themselves, which they didn’t, after all the Baratheon line exists, Aegon had no daughters, which forced his sons to marry non-Targaryen women and nobody can say that king Jarhaerys and his sister/wife Alysanne were less Targaryen than Aegon himself, even though their mother wasn’t Targaryen at all. What seems to have made the Targaryens attracted to one another was something beyond their control, beyond logic and beyond the purity of their blood. They were attracted to one another from birth. Parents would see their younger children following their “sibling/mate” and even the parents who wished their children to marry outside the family incestuous ways couldn’t break the unions that seemed more genetic than physical. The concept behind the Targaryen madness is generated from their in-breading, but although the flipping coin of madness had been tossed from the moment the individuals were conceived, it looks like that there was a trigger point to many of them, that pushed the loose screws to pop out altogether. The most recent and well-established story of their madness came with the Mad-King who crossed all lines of insanity into the point of absurdity, however, before him the kingdom endured several Targaryens who were simply not in full control of their mental capacities. Many of those had striking similarities to Cersei’s behaviour. Queen Visenya did many wonderful things for the kingdom, but from time to time, she would simply flip the switch and act in a manner that wasn’t entirely rational. She was often aggressive, prone to violent outbursts against all who were around her – including, on occasion, her husband/brother whose cheek she slashed with her Valyrian sword, just so to prove a point. Queen Visenya’s son, the usurper who is known as king Maegor the Cruel, was equally mashuga. He brought so much destruction to the kingdom that it seems the end of the Targaryen dynasty started with him. It took three centuries to crumble into ashes, but Maegor was the first one to start chipping the ground under their feet. His reign brought so many wars and so many deaths that over half a century after his death the kingdom was still not fully healed. “Queen” Rhaena and princess Aerea were mother and daughter, both walking the thin line of madness. Rhaena’s husband/brother was the heir to the throne and he died fighting Maegor who usurped his position. She was always slightly odd as a child. Once her partner died, she became even more so. Nobody could argue with her. Her adventures were many and they came at a cost that often seemed too high – One example is how her actions caused three dragon eggs to be stolen and sold to a Braavosi sealord. Her daughter, Aerea, had a very difficult relationship with Rhaena, and the desperate need to be free, brought that child to mount Balerion without ever having ridden any dragon. Balerion at the time, was already old, but still strong, and the child didn’t dominate the dragon. Instead, he flew with her to what seems to have been Valyria, where they both got seriously hurt and returned to Westeros for a brief and painful end of life. Jaehaerys and Alysanne had 13 children. One of those children was a girl named Saera who was absolutely and unquestionably crazy. She drank too much and played “sex games” at a very young age. Nothing the king and queen did could control that child, so she was given to the faith, but on her first opportunity, she fled to Lis and became a prostitute in a pleasure house. Another of Jaehaerys and Alysanne’s children was a girl Viserra, who was obsessed with power. She would seduce boys and charm them to get what she wanted, and she even tried to bed one of her much older brothers in order to become queen. Both girls are comparable to Cersei. Princess/queen Rhaenyra and her half-brothers contributed to the chipped ground under the Targaryen dynasty that had started with Maegor. Rhaenyra was slightly mad and she played the game of thrones until she died, but some of her half-siblings were far from sane themselves. Her usurper brother Aegon was a glutton with a temper similar to the beggar king Viserys. Aegon married his sister Helaena, who was loved as a young girl, but as an adult, she completely lost control of her faculties and went bananas. King Baelor (the blessed), was completely mad and an extremist who nearly brought a quicker end to the Targaryen dynasty. His religious obsessions were to the point that he even imprisoned his sisters in a structure he had built named the “Maidenvault” to protect them against the temptation of the flesh. King Aegon IV Targaryen was another mad Targaryen who slept with as many women as he could, even though he was a foul, fat and crude man. He was married to his sister and had countless children with countless women, prostitutes, commoners, servants, and even ladies of high birth. He and his insanity brought forth the events known as the Blackfyre Rebellions, as he legitimized his bastard children in his deathbed. The Blackfyre Rebellion, evidently, was absurd and illegal. The law is clear on the line of succession, which means that even though those children were all legitimized, the child of the first marriage will always and unquestionably be heir, regardless of gender. The issue is that King Aegon was mad and his madness went to several of his children. His eldest son was the illegitimate result of his relationship with his cousin Daena, who had been, for a brief period of time, married to King Baelor the Blessed until the latter brought the marriage to be annulled. She was confined to the “Maidenvault” in order to remain pure, but that didn’t work and she got pregnant of her cousin. Her natural son, Daemon Rivers, was later called Blackfyre and he was at first a good, intelligent, handsome "illegitimate Targaryen", much like the Baratheons of old, but as time passed, he became more and more fanatic for power and destructive, until he and his sons died on the Red Grass field, which should have brought an end to the rebellion if it weren’t for the king’s second child born out of wedlock with a lady, Ser Aegor Rivers, later known as Bittersteel. Aegor was handsome, but hardly anyone could appreciate it because he was mad, temperamental, got easily offended, was incredibly entitled and an overall despicable man. He had a personal beef against his younger half-brother for illogical reasons and his actions brought the kingdom to yet more suffering that outlasted his death for approximately one hundred years. My stories took place during those events. The Targaryens at the time went through a long spout of bad luck with their madness coin-toss. King Aegon’s son with his sister Naerys, Daeron, was a good man and a good king. He had 4 male heirs to the throne and those heirs had heirs of their own, which brought a false sense of security in regard to the line of succession for the Iron Throne, but it wasn’t quite as secure as they believed, which brought the second Great Council to determine who the next King should be. The next two generations of Targaryens were riddled with madness. King Aerys I Targaryen walked the thin line of insanity, fanatic for prophecies and books. Aerys, who was a second child, became king after several unexpected deaths and his reign was very turbulent. As he had no children, he named his brother Rhaegal as his successor, but Rhaegal was mad. Dancing-naked-in-the-castle-mad. He was married and had three kids. Rhaegal died because he choked on piece of pie, so King Aerys named Rhaegal’s son, the twin boy – Aelor – as his successor. Aelor married his twin sister, Aelora, and she accidentally killed him, so Aerys named her his successor instead, but she went mad and killed herself, so Aerys named his brother Maekar. King Maekar, like his father, had four sons: Daeron, Aerion, Aemon and Aegon (as well as two daughters, one of them a little crazy) Daeron was slightly mad, riddled with the Targaryen prophetic dreams and a craven to boot. He was married to a Tyroshi woman and had a simple-minded daughter. Daeron died from a pox he got from a whore, causing a serious problem to the line of succession. Aerion was completely mad – he was the prince who attacked my beloved puppeteer, Tanselle Too-Tall. He was exiled in Lys and when he returned to Westeros, he married one of his cousins and fathered a boy he stupidly decided to name ‘Maegor’. Certain he was a dragon; prince Aerion took the name Aerion ‘Brightflame’ and died screaming after he drank wildfire convinced that it would transform him into a dragon. The second Great Council of Westeros took place then, where the lords of Westeros decided Aerion’s son Maegor was dismissed as a future king because they feared his name. The other two men on the line to the throne were Maester Aemon and my squire Egg. As Aemon was a maester, when the lords expressed that they wanted him to abandon his maester’s robes to become king, he told them to choose Egg instead and to avoid further problems, he joined the Night’s Watch. Egg was a bright and funny boy who grew into a smart man who loved the smallfolk and made the high lords hate him for his reforms. The conflicts that took place during his reign were so many that he showed his own sort of madness in the shape of obsession by believing that only dragons could solve the problems in the kingdom. He searched far and wide for knowledge on how to bring the creatures back and it all ended with him joining a number of people from his court in Summerhall where he used wildfire and magic to bring back dragons, but ended up dying instead, alongside myself (I type from my Ouija board) and the king’s eldest son, Prince Duncan. It was in the Tragedy of Summerhall that prince Rhaegar was born, coming to life while the king and court perished inside the palace. Prince Rhaegar’s birth has a relationship of sorts to the idea that only death may pay for life and it is exemplified throughout the books as his mother, queen Rhaella had numerous miscarriages for seventeen years after Rhaegar was born. The deaths in Summerhall could possibly have brought a dragon, but as it brought prince Rhaegar instead, Rhaegar became “the last dragon”. With Egg’s death, his second son, Jaehaerys, became king. Jaehaerys was also a little mad and forced his son and daughter to get married because he had heard from a woods witch that from their union the Prince that was promised would be born. When he died, Mad King Aerys II Targaryen became king, with his son Rhaegar as heir-apparent to the throne. Aerys was charming, handsome and smart. He placed Lord Tywin as his Hand and Tywin undid most of Egg’s laws that benefited the smallfolk. The lords and ladies seemed the love them both. On occasion, Aerys would show signs of madness and paranoia, but mostly he still had some grip of his mental faculties. With Varys’s arrival and the constant buzzing in the king’s ears of plots and enemies, Aerys descended into a more evident madness that sprung forth openly when his paramour, lady Joanna Lannister, married his Hand and her first-cousin, lord Tywin. Tywin was unable to find a flaw on his lady wife and the king’s advances on the wedding night brought their relationship to an irreparable crack that would only grow over time. Queen Rhaella banished Joanna from court, but although the books say the king was in King’s Landing while lady Joanna was in Lannisport, her whereabouts cannot be confirmed. She wasn’t the lady of Casterly Rock as lord Tytos was still alive and he had a lover, lord Tywin lived in King’s Landing serving as Hand, and Joanna, who still had no children, was free to come and go as she pleased. The possibility of king Aerys leaving the castle using secret passageways isn’t really a rare feature to the books. The fact remains that lady Joanna gave birth to Twins – which is not a Lannister family trait but definitely a Targaryen one, and when the twins were born, the king gave the children their weight in gold as a gift. Once lord Tytos died, Tywin, Aerys and court went to Lannisport and there the king asked questions about lady Joanna’s breasts after motherhood, which caused lord Tywin to resign as Hand of the king, sending the king back to the capital as crazy as ever. The Mad King wasn’t just mad, he was vain, emotionally unstable, proud, paranoid and lustful. Later in the story, when Tyrion was born killing lady Joanna, the Mad King mocked Tywin for the child he had produced, which insinuates that what he himself had produced with lady Joanna was better. Tywin, who was equally proud and stupid, couldn’t accept that a deformed child could be his, but lack of evidence and the family’s visibility, forced him to keep that child, but he continuously believed that the Mad King had somehow impregnated his wife and couldn’t fathom the possibility that Tyrion was the fruit of his loins. The interesting issue, however, is that it isn’t likely. Lady Joanna was a mother of two, lady of the castle, the main member of a powerful house, and living under the same roof as her husband, so her chances of slipping were very different from the chances she had before. Equally, the Mad King’s descent into madness kept him in King’s Landing and afraid of leaving the castle, which goes to show that lord Tyrion can’t possibly be the Mad King’s son. The writing has so many suggestions that the twins are king Aerys's natural children it is hard to ignore the validity of the claim, but it becomes even more evident when the consideration is made using George Martin’s unique style of writing, using hints and foreshadows, verisimilitude, metaphors and all sorts of literary devices to hide his meaning while exposing them at the same time. Cersei was unequivocally attracted to Rhaegar, her half-brother, and also to Jaime, with whom she had a relationship that went beyond their control. Her similarities to other mad Targaryens are so many that by comparison, she wasn’t a Lannister at all, and as Viserys and Daenerys are her younger half-siblings, they could also qualify as her Valonqar when the prophecy was told. Thanks to this gift of being given her POV, the reader gets to see that “the seed is strong” can truly cover many facets. Filled with paranoia, obsessed with power, ruthless, trusting no one, unable to compromise, using sex to manipulate people into doing what she wanted and being continuously controlled by physical urges, Cersei goes on to have three children with her twin brother. The eldest son could put the Mad King to shame, but it is Cersei herself that brings madness to light – She judges everyone and assumes everyone judges her back for every move she makes. She wants her uncle to be Hand, but when he refuses her offer and suggests other men, she considers him an enemy. Her son, a little boy, shows emotion when he sees the man that he believes to be his grandfather dead, and she scalds him for it. Qyburn finds an old coin from a Gardener king in a dodgy place and immediately she assumes that if it is a Gardener coin, then the Tyrell were implicated in Tyrion’s escape. The Tyrell had absolutely no valid connection to the Gardeners to justify them using an old coin instead of a dragon, which was much easier to come by and would not link anyone to their region. She watches to see who gets to wrinkle their noses to the stench oozing from lord Tywin, but her thoughts are never of him, her loss, the sentiment, but rather of one day becoming so important a queen that lord Tywin would only be remembered as “her father”. She goes on and on about wearing black, and in her mind, she imagines what she will wear when Tyrion’s head is given to her. She lies to get flatterers in the Small Council so she can continue doing whatever she wants, but although there are many arguments that what she “holds dear” is power, Feast shows that she also holds dear her Lannister name and the Lannister legacy, the fascination for being like her father and seen as strong as he was. She judges people by their names because she believes she holds the best name of all, but what a surprise that can become when she is cast down and loses her power while finding out that she isn’t a Lannister at all. As a matter of fact, she isn’t a Targaryen either. Cersei is a Hill and her children are also illegitimate. In the end, the Blackfyre Rebellions came to give the illegitimate line a chance to sit the Iron Throne, but truly, Cersei is the best player and illegitimacy sitting the Iron Throne was a trick she delivered without breaking a sweat – the only cost were her marbles.
Art by StefTastan