The line of succession
The history of the Seven Kingdoms regards King Aegon the Conqueror as an invader but also as a hero. When the story of his life is told, he is put under positive light. He was fair, just, honourable, brave, loyal, understanding, handsome, smart, fearless and every good thing under the sun while still inspiring the fear of his enemies and allies at the same time. From the moment he set foot in what would become King’s Landing with his sisters, everything he did was registered as historical.
Aegon was the middle child between his older sister Visenya and younger sister Rhaenys. It would have been expected for him to marry Visenya, but as he loved Rhaenys, he married them both, which is the perfect example of who he was – a man who could combine his duty and his objectives. Aegon had two sons, one with each sister, the first one Aenys, born from Rhaenys, and the second one, Maegor, born from Visenya. Aenys was considered to be the heir apparent. Wherever Aegon went, he would take Aenys with him. Aenys was trained at arms by the Kingsguards and by his own father. He was adequate enough not to embarrass himself, but not a warrior. His half-brother Maegor was called the “Prince of Dragonstone”, that title came to be known as the title of succession. Maegor was a natural warrior. Visenya put a sword in his hands when he was three and it is said that he immediately killed a cat with it. He was trained by Ser Gawen Corbray, who was said to be the deadliest knight in the Seven Kingdoms. Aenys was popular, the court loved him, girls adored him. He loved to sing and was an excellent rider, master of coursers, palfreys, destriers, and his favourite, his dragon Quicksilver. Maegor could ride well enough, but had no connections to horses, dogs, or any animal at all. He didn’t connect to a dragon until his father died, at which point he rode Balerion, his own father’s dragon. Aenys got married and had six children: Rhaena, Aegon, Viserys, Jaehaerys, Alysanne and Vaella (who died while still an infant). With five healthy children, the throne seemed secure. Aegon was named Prince of Dragonstone, which caused a great deal of family drama as it made Aegon the successor to the throne instead of Maegor, and when Aegon and his eldest sister Rhaena got married, the whole kingdom, promoted by the church, moved into a state of war against the Targaryens and their inbreeding. All the popularity Aenys had as a young man, vanished when he became king, and his children were married. As a soft, indecisive leader, he started to be called “the false king” and “king abomination”. His whole reign was marked by his fear to choose or act. By the time of his death, the kingdom was at war and the Targaryen reign was at risk. Aegon, Aenys’s son and heir, was in Lannisport in procession with his sister/wife Rhaena. As war was all around them, they took refuge in Casterly Rock and there they stayed. Maegor, who had been exiled in Essos, upon Aenys’s death returned to Westeros, usurped his nephew’s crown, and crowned himself king. What a king he was! As a king, he mass murdered builders and followers of the Seven. He also executed without remorse anyone who went against him or simply said something he didn’t like to hear, including three maesters. He married several women back-to-back, hoping to produce an heir, when that didn’t work, he forced women who had children into marriage, including his half-brother’s widow, and murdered some of his nephews who were heirs to the crown. He was a terribly violent man and a complete lunatic.
So shorty after Aegon conquered the Seven Kingdoms into one and ruled to bring Westeros into a better place without petty wars, his two sons followed suit to build something worse than when it began, but in terms of who did most for the Targaryen throne, Maegor is the obvious winner. He brought back fear to be linked to the crown, and more importantly, he separated state and religion for centuries, until Queen Cersei made the terrible mistake of giving power to the church to affect laws.
Many of us have opinions as to who should rule Westeros. Some would rather a Targaryen than a Baratheon or a Lannister. Some want a Targaryen from a Stark line rather than a “pure Targaryen”, and most of us would not like to have a king who can “tell stories”. But whomever ends up ruling the kingdom must understand the line of succession is never secure and no system guarantees that the next leader will be good.
art by Marc Simonetti