Aegon the Conqueror is a mythical figure in the story of the A Song of Ice and Fire books by George R.R. Martin, along with the TV adaptation known as Game of Thrones. Aegon not only conquered Westeros, he also started a dynasty which lasted for nearly three hundred years. Characters in the books and show speak of him as though he was a demigod rather than an ordinary man, and it’s not hard to see why. But how did he become the person he was? What did he have to do to get to the Iron Throne? Find out more about Aegon the Conqueror below.
1. Did He Name a Month After Himself Too??
Aegon the Conqueror was so influential to the history of Westeros that they keep time based on his conquest! In Westeros, the years of the modern era are counted from the year that Aegon’s conquest of Westeros was (almost) completed. The abbreviation AC literally means “After Conquest.”
2. Have You Seen My Dragon?
During his lifetime, Aegon rode the black dragon called Balerion, who was also nicknamed “the Black Dread.” Named after a god worshipped by the Valyrians before the Doom, Balerion was the largest dragon ever seen in Westeros. In fact, Balerion’s jaws were so large that he could swallow a mammoth whole. No wonder he was also called Aegon the Dragonlord!
3. We’re Close Siblings
In keeping with the Targaryen tradition of practicing incest to keep their bloodline pure, Aegon the Conqueror married not just one, but both his sisters, Visenya and Rhaenys.
4. Recurring Character?
Although Aegon the Conqueror was long dead by the time the events of Game of Thrones are happening, he’s been named in four episodes so far. These episodes are found in seasons 1, 2, 6, and 7.
5. The Flower of his Youth
Believe it or not, Aegon the Conqueror was only 27 when he began his conquest of Westeros. Though to be fair, this is a world where teenagers are knighted and become leaders of armies, so maybe Aegon could be considered somewhat of a late bloomer?
6. Mom and Dad
Aegon was born to Lord Aerion Targaryen and Lady Valaena Velaryon of Dragonstone.
7. The Black Sheep of the Family
Aside from his sisters, Aegon is said to have also had a half-brother; his best friend Orys Baratheon. Orys was rumored to have been the illegitimate son of Aegon’s father, though he didn’t look like a Targaryen, being big, black-haired, and dark-eyed.
8. Humble King
Despite being known as a great warrior, Aegon never entered tourneys to show off or practice. Though to be fair, jousting with a dragon would have been deeply unfair to his potential opponents!
While Aegon never makes an official appearance in Game of Thrones, his dragon does! The huge dragon skeleton which rests in the bottom of the Red Keep belonged to Balerion the Black Dread.
10. Can You Eat Off It?
While he was living on Dragonstone, the traditional seat of the Targaryens after the Doom of Valyria, Aegon designed a large table upon which was painted a scaled-down version of the Seven Kingdoms. The paint job was so detailed that Aegon studied it while he was preparing his conquest. It became known as the Painted Table, and it remained intact throughout the centuries, being used by such people as Stannis Baratheon, who lived on Dragonstone for years.
11. The Look of a Man
Like most Targaryens, Aegon was said to have silver-gold hair and purple eyes. He was also broad-shouldered and tall, wearing black scale armor. After he became king, he wore a crown of Valyrian steel encrusted with rubies.
12. Long Live the King
Aegon’s reign as King of Westeros lasted from 1-37 AC. He certainly had a lot of time to enjoy his position!
13. Chaos Reigns
When Aegon came of age, the continent of Essos was in the full grips of what became known as the Century of Blood. The Doom of Valyria left a huge power vacuum, and people all across Essos tried to fill it, whether they were the Dothraki or any of the Free Cities.
14. International Intervention
Aegon threw his own hat into the ring when it came to the Century of the Blood. The city of Volantis tried to conquer the other Free Cities, leading Tyrosh and Pentos to ask Aegon the Conqueror for his assistance. Aegon agreed, and flew Balerion over to Essos, where he annihilated the powerful fleet of Volantis while it was on the way to invade Lys.
15. I Have Another Idea
Amazingly, despite effortlessly destroying the Volantine fleet, Aegon didn’t have any interest in carving a kingdom out of Essos. Instead, he returned to Dragonstone and prepared to conquer the kingdom of Westeros with his sisters in tow.
16. Eat Your Cake and Have it Too
Although Aegon was faithful to both his sisters and had children with both of them, there’s evidence that he very much favored Rhaenys to Visenya, as he married Rhaenys as a second wife out of desire and love, compared to marrying Visenya out of duty.
17. How About a Partnership?
Before Aegon invaded Westeros, he was already being courted as a possible ally by one of the kingdoms on Westeros. King Argilac Durrandon of the Stormlands was threatened by Harren Hoare, King of the Iron Islands and the Riverlands. Argilac offered a message of alliance to Aegon on Dragonstone, suggesting that Aegon marry Argilac’s daughter and only child, Argella.
18. I See Your Offer, and Counter It
Although Aegon’s forces were small compared to the armies of the Seven Kingdoms, and despite the fact that marrying the heir to a Great House would have given him the perfect entry into gaining land, Aegon refused the offer to marry Argella Durrandon. Instead, he offered the hand of Orys Baratheon. Argilac was so insulted by this suggestion that he cut off the hands of the messenger who gave the news. He sent them back to Aegon, declaring “These are the only hands you shall receive from me!” Admittedly, you shouldn’t shoot the messenger, but we’d bet even Aegon was impressed by that retort.
19. Our Survey Says…
Argilac wasn’t the only leader of the Seven Kingdoms to try and make an ally out of Aegon with marriage. Lady Sharra Arryn, Queen Regent of the Vale, was reputed to be one of the most beautiful women in the Seven Kingdoms. She sent Aegon a portrait of herself and offered to marry him on the condition that her son became Aegon’s heir. Aegon refused her as well.
20. The Sword of Aegon
Aegon’s weapon of choice was a hand-and-a-half sword made of Valyrian steel. The sword’s name was Blackfyre, and it would remain a Targaryen heirloom until King Aegon IV bequeathed it to his favorite bastard son, named Daemon, who took the name of the sword as his new surname when he was legitimized. Daemon and his descendants would battle the Targaryens for generations in an effort to take the Iron Throne, but they were forced into exile, taking the sword Blackfyre with them.
21. The King has Landed
When Aegon first sailed over to the mainland from Dragonstone, he had his sisters, their dragons, and around 1,500 men in his army. They landed at the mouth of the Blackwater Rush, and claimed the three hills nearby. Aegon would go on to build a fort on the tallest hill; this was the start of the massive city called King’s Landing.
22. Secret (Westerosi) Service
In 10 AC, Aegon and his sister, Visenya, were attacked by assassins in King’s Landing. They both realized that the king and his family needed a special bodyguard. At Visenya’s suggestion, Aegon organized the Kingsguard, seven highly skilled warriors who swore to live their lives totally devoted to being bodyguards (forbidden from wives, children, inheritance, titles, etc.). The first Lord Commander of the Kingsguard was Corlys Velaryon.
23. Did You Know I Had Four Hands?
Four men served as Hand of the King during Aegon I’s reign. They were (in order): Lord Orys Baratheon, Lord Edmyn Tully, Ser Osmund Strong, and Lord Alyn Stokeworth.
24. New Friends
While Aegon had fought his way through the Riverlands to Harrenhal, he acquired most of the riverlords’ support. They were all eager to get rid of the Ironborn tyrants, and eagerly gave their allegiance to Aegon when he destroyed Harrenhal—to be fair, anyone would have done the same. Since he had been the first nobleman to offer his allegiance, Edmyn Tully became the new Lord of the Riverlands, ruling it from Riverrun.
25. Maybe Get Me a Cushion?
Aegon collected the swords of his defeated enemies to construct and forge the Iron Throne. Made of these half-melted swords, the throne was a very uncomfortable seat, with anyone sitting in it risking a serious cut if they sat wrong. This was intentional on Aegon’s part, as he was convinced that a king shouldn’t ever sit comfortably on a throne.
26. Get Your Act Together!
With the extermination of House Hoare, the Iron Islands fell into chaos. However, Aegon didn’t intervene until 2 AC, when he flew to the islands and demanded that the Ironborn choose a leader to be Lord of the Iron Islands in submission to the Iron Throne. The Ironborn chose Vickon Greyjoy, and the Iron Islands were brought under Aegon’s authority.
27. Keep the People Content
Despite the violence of the conquest and the subsequent war with the Dornish, Aegon’s reign was mostly peaceful. He made sure to keep the Faith of the Seven happy, building religious temples devoted to the Seven in King’s Landing.
28. Westeros? Where’s That?
Incredibly, he was reported to have never even visited Westeros before conquering it, though this is disputed by reports that he had visited Lannisport in the Westerlands or the Citadel in the Reach. It would also be odd that a man could have such a detailed map of Westeros without having seen it from a dragons’ eye-view!
29. The Reward for Surrender
While King Loren Lannister eventually surrendered to Aegon, the male members of House Gardener, the ruling kings of the Reach, were all killed by his dragons. When Aegon arrived at the Reach’s capital of Highgarden, he was welcomed by Harlen Tyrell, who had served as a steward to the Gardeners. In return for his peaceful surrender, Aegon made Harlen Tyrell the ruling Lord of the Reach, quite a promotion for such a man!
30. No Shame in Surrender
While Aegon was at Highgarden, he heard that an army of Northmen led by King Torrhen Stark was coming south. He hastened to the Trident in the Riverlands, where the Stark forces saw that they were outnumbered by the forces of those who’d surrendered to Aegon, and they also saw Aegon’s three dragons for the first time. Instead of fighting, Torrhen Stark peacefully bent the knee, surrendering his crown and becoming the Lord of the North instead.
31. The Sons of the Dragon
Aegon had a son with each of his sisters. With Rhaenys, he had a sickly son named Aenys, and with Visenya, he had a tall, powerfully-built boy named Maegor. Both would eventually become kings of Westeros.
32. Turbulent Inheritance
Although Aegon had ruled a peaceful realm, his sons wouldn’t get that same luxury. Aenys was weak and indecisive, with many in the Seven Kingdoms rebelling against his rule. Maegor made the situation even worse, becoming known as Maegor the Cruel for his unspeakably brutal and bloodthirsty reign. Both kings were also attacked as abominations by the Faith of the Seven for their being products of incest. Things weren’t resolved until the rule of King Jaehaerys the Wise, Aegon’s grandson.
33. No Hard Feelings?
In 23 AC, King Aegon flew down to Sunspear, the capital of Dorne, to join them in celebrating the ten-year peace between the Iron Throne and Dorne. Given all the destruction of that war, though, we can’t imagine that the feast was anything but awkward.
34. Died with His Boots Off
At the ripe old age of 64, Aegon the Conqueror was spending time in the chamber of the Painted Table with his grandchildren Aegon and Viserys, regaling them with tales of his conquest. It was there that Aegon suddenly collapsed and died of a stroke.
35. Some More Protection, Please!
Although King’s Landing quickly became a huge, thriving city, it didn’t have any walls for the first 20 years of its existence! Aegon and his sister both considered it ridiculous than an army would dare attack a city which had dragons inside. However, Aegon eventually realized that he wasn’t always around, and his enemies would know that. Construction on city walls began in 20 AC and was completed six years later.
36. See You Again Eventually
Aegon’s dragon, Balerion, outlived his master, and would go on to be ridden by other members of House Targaryen. These included Aegon’s son, King Maegor I, and his great-grandson, King Viserys I. Balerion would eventually die after living for nearly 200 years!
37. A Proper Send-Off
After he died, Aegon was cremated on Dragonstone in the tradition of House Targaryen. The dragon Vhagar, Visenya’s dragon, personally lit Aegon’s funeral pyre. His sword, Blackfyre, was also burned with Aegon, but survived the fire, so it was able to be reclaimed—does anything destroy Valyrian steel?
38. We Duped the Conqueror!
In one rather bizarre incident during the First Dornish War, Aegon and his forces approached the castle of Ghost Hill, the seat of House Toland. The castle sent out a single warrior, saying that he was Lord Toland’s champion. Aegon personally fought the man, slaying him easily with his Valyrian steel sword Blackfyre.
It was only after the man was dead did Aegon realize that it was no champion, but the mad jester of Lord Toland’s court. The castle had evacuated using the distraction of the single combat, making a fool out of Aegon. From then on, House Toland changed their sigil to a green dragon on a gold field biting its own tail, in honor of the colors that the jester had worn when he was alive.
39. The Destruction of Harrenhal
At the start of the conquest of Westeros, Aegon sent Orys Baratheon and Rhaenys to conquer the Stormlands and Visenya to conquer the Reach. Meanwhile, Aegon led a small force into the Riverlands against the massive castle of Harrenhal, commanded by King Harren Hoare. King Harren had spent years building Harrenhal; it was bigger than any other castle in Westeros by far and was impregnable to siege. However, Aegon rode Balerion against the huge castle, spewing flames so hot that the stone towers began to melt. House Hoare died within the burning of Harrenhal, and the castle was left a ruined, burned wreck as a message to anyone who doubted the power of dragons.
40. Burn Them All!
The biggest battle of Aegon’s conquest occurred when the forces of the Westerlands and the Reach combined to make an army more than 55,000 strong to oppose Aegon. In return, Aegon summoned his sisters and the men who had sworn him fealty and marched against them. Despite being heavily outnumbered, Aegon and his sisters consumed a dry field in dragon flame, trapping and burning thousands of their enemies. That devastating day was known as the Field of Fire.
41. Dorne: Total War
Just four years after Aegon secured his throne and position as King of the Andals and the First Men, he launched a devastating war against the Dornish. However, his dragons proved less effective in Dorne than they had in other parts of Westeros. The Dornish used guerrilla tactics, disappearing before the dragons and returning when the dragons left.
Garrisons left behind to govern the Dornish were massacred, prompting Aegon to try and burn every large settlement he could find. This only intensified when the Dornish managed to kill the dragon Meraxes, causing Meraxes’ rider, Rhaenys, to fall to her alleged death.
42. Enough is Enough
After nine years of being assaulted by the armies of Westeros and dragon flames, the Dornish sent Princess Deria Martell to King’s Landing with the skull of Meraxes and a message offering peace, with Dorne remaining independent. Aegon was about to refuse the offer when Deria gave him a letter from her father.
Nobody knows what the letter contained, but while Aegon read it, he gripped his own hand so hard that he bled onto the paper. After reading it, he burned the letter, flew to Dragonstone, and returned the next day agreeing to the Martells’ terms. Dorne wouldn’t submit to the Iron Throne until the time of King Daeron II many years later.
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