Aegon I Crowned by the High Septon, Artwork by Michael Komarck
In a two-plus year military campaign, Aegon I forged the single largest kingdom since Old Valyria, a feat never before equalled by a single conqueror. From the Wall to the Dornish Marches, there was one man and one throne in charge of a kingdom some four million square miles in size.
After his campaign, however, he was left in charge of a large and particularly quarrelsome kingdom, with grudges and blood feuds that went back to the Age of Heroes, and Aegon was left with the unenviable task of keeping this kingdom together. In this, he was tremendously successful: His actions propped up a dynasty that lasted for nearly three hundred years. Through war and peace, famine and plenty, the Targaryens led Westeros for 283 years. With geniuses and fools, warriors and scholars, the dynasty saw a range of colorful characters, most of whom managed to impart some part of their unique personalities onto the institution of the Iron Throne as a whole. For in-universe observers and for out-of-universe readers, each offers a lesson of leadership, even if it’s a cautionary tale of what not to do when in charge of a country.
Welcome to the first multi-author essay series for Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire, entitled: “The Three Heads of the Dragon: Kings, Pretenders, and the Ladies of Fire.” This series will take a comprehensive look at the Targaryen dynasty from inception to bloody demise, examining their strengths and weaknesses to better understand who they were, why they made the decisions they did, and the impact they had on Westeros as a whole. Militant_Penguin, Nfriel, and I will each take one aspect of the dynasty, and cast the analytical eye that War and Politics of Ice and Fire is known for upon those who fall under its critical gaze.
For my part, I will be focusing on the first head of the dragon, the actual kings who sat the Iron Throne, and specifically, the ones whose ascent to the Throne was acknowledged as legitimate (meaning that the Half-Year Queen and Trystrane Truefyre do not count, even though both sat on the Iron Throne and issued edicts as ruling monarch). Even without these colorful characters, there are still a wealth of things and characters to scrutinize. From Aegon I to Aerys II, these kings undoubtedly had widely differing politics and political philosophies, and naturally, these would shape much of what would happen in Westeros during their tenure.