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«illustration credit 1 illustration credit 2 The World of Ice & Fire is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the ...»

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The third marriage was one of her own choice, after she fell in love with Ser Michael Manwoody, a Dornishman who had attended Princess Mariah at her court. Manwoody, who in early life had studied at the Citadel, was a cultured man of great wit and learning who had become a trusted servant to King Daeron after Daeron’s marriage to Queen Mariah. He was sent to Braavos to negotiate with the Iron Bank on several occasions, and there is record of a correspondence between him and the keyholders of the Iron Bank (sealed with his seal and signed with his name, but apparently in the hand of Elaena) regarding these negotiations.

Elaena wed Ser Michael, apparently with Daeron’s blessing, not long after her second husband died. Elaena said, in her later years, that it wasn’t his intelligence that made her love Ser Manwoody, but his love of music. He was known to play the harp for her, and when he died, Elaena commanded that his effigy be carved holding a harp, and not the sword and spurs of knighthood as is common.

The sisters of King Baelor I (l. to r.): Elaena, Rhaena, and Daena. (illustration credit 66) V ISERYS II THOUGH BOTH OF the sons of King Aegon III were dead, his three daughters yet survived, and there were some amongst the smallfolk—and even some lords—who felt that the Iron Throne should by rights now pass to Princess Daena. They were few, however; a decade of isolation in the Maidenvault had left Daena and her sisters without powerful allies, and memories of the woes that had befallen the realm when last a woman sat the Iron Throne were still fresh. Daena the Defiant was seen by many lords as being wild and unmanageable besides … and wanton as well, for a year earlier she had given birth to a bastard son she named Daemon, whose sire she steadfastly refused to name.

The precedents of the Great Council of 101 and the Dance of the Dragons were therefore cited, and the claims of Baelor’s sisters were set aside. Instead the crown passed to his uncle, the King’s Hand, Prince Viserys.

It has been written that while Daeron warred and Baelor prayed, Viserys ruled. For fourteen years he served as Hand to his nephews, and before them he served his brother, King Aegon III. It is said he was the shrewdest Hand since Septon Barth, though his good efforts were diminished in the reign of the Broken King, who lacked any desire to please his subjects or win their love. In his Lives of Four Kings, Grand Maester Kaeth seems to hold little opinion, good or bad, of Viserys … but there are those who say that, by rights, the book should be about five kings, Viserys included. And yet Viserys is passed over for a discussion of his son, Aegon the Unworthy, instead.

After his years as a hostage in Lys following the Dance, Viserys returned to King’s Landing with a beautiful Lyseni bride, Larra Rogare, the daughter of a wealthy and influential noble house. Tall and willowy, with the silver-gold hair and purple eyes of Valyria (for the blood still runs strong in Lys), she was seven years Viserys’s elder. She was also a woman who never felt a part of the court and was never truly happy there. Yet she gave him three children before she at last returned to her native Lys.

The eldest was Aegon, born in the Red Keep in 135 AC after Viserys’s return from Lys. He was a robust lad who grew to be handsome and charming, and also irresponsible and capricious, devoted to his pleasures. He caused his father much trouble and toil, and the realm much pain.

In 136 AC, Aemon followed. He was as robust as Aegon as an infant, and as beautiful to look upon, but his brother’s faults were not in him. He proved the greatest jouster and swordsman of his age—a knight worthy to bear Dark Sister. He became known as the Dragonknight for the three-headed dragon crest wrought in white gold upon his helm. To this very day some call him the noblest knight who ever lived and one of the most storied names to ever serve in the Kingsguard.

The last of Viserys’s children was his only daughter, Naerys, born in 138 AC. She had skin so pale that it seemed almost translucent, men said. She was small of frame (and made smaller by having little appetite), with very fine features, and singers wrote songs in praise of her eyes—a deep violet in hue and very large, framed by pale lashes.

She loved Aemon best of her brothers, for he knew how to make her laugh—and he had something of the same piety that she possessed, while Aegon did not. She loved the Seven as dearly as she loved her brother, if not more so, and might have been a septa if her lord father had allowed it. But he did not, and Viserys instead wed her to his son Aegon in 153 AC, with King Aegon III’s blessing. The singers say that Aemon and Naerys both wept during the ceremony, though the histories tell us Aemon quarreled with Aegon at the wedding feast, and that Naerys wept during the bedding rather than the wedding.

There are those who write that many of the follies of the Young Dragon and Baelor the Blessed originated in Prince Viserys, while others argue that Viserys moderated the worst of their obsessions as best he could. Though his reign lasted little more than a year, it is instructive to consider his reforms of the royal household and its functions; the establishment of a new royal mint; his efforts to increase trade across the narrow sea; and his revisions of the code of laws that Jaehaerys the Conciliator had established during his long reign.

Viserys II had within him the capacity to be a new Conciliator, for no king had ever been shrewder or more capable. Tragically, a sudden illness carried him away in 172 AC.

It need not be said that some found the illness and its swiftness suspicious, but none dared speak their suspicion at the time. It would be more than a decade before the first accusation was put to paper that Viserys had been poisoned by none other than his successor, his son Aegon.

Is there truth to this suspicion? We cannot say for certain. But given all the infamous and corrupt deeds of Aegon the Unworthy, both before and after he assumed the crown, it cannot be discounted.

A EGON IV WITH HIS FATHER’S death in 172 AC, Aegon, the Fourth of his Name, came at last to the throne that he had coveted as a boy. He had been comely in his youth, skilled with lance and sword, a man who loved to hunt and hawk and dance. He was the brightest prince at court in his generation and was admired for his wit. But he had one great flaw: he could not rule himself. His lusts, his gluttony, his desires—they all controlled him utterly. Seated upon the Iron Throne, his misrule began with small acts of pleasure, but in time his appetites knew no bounds, and his corruption led to acts that haunted the realm for generations. “Aenys was weak and Maegor was cruel,” Kaeth writes, “and Aegon II was grasping, but no king before or after would practice so much willful misrule.” Aegon soon filled his court with men chosen not for their nobility, honesty, or wisdom, but for their ability to amuse and flatter him. And the women of his court were largely those who did the same, letting him slake his lusts upon their bodies. On a whim, he often took from one noble house to give to another, as he did when he casually appropriated the great hills called the Teats from the Brackens and gifted them to the Blackwoods. For the sake of his desires, he gave away priceless treasures, as he did when he granted his Hand, Lord Butterwell, a dragon’s egg in return for access to all three of his daughters. He deprived men of their rightful inheritance when he desired their wealth, as rumors claim he did following the death of Lord Plumm upon his wedding day.

The young Prince Aegon, with his parents, Prince Viserys II and Larra Rogare. (illustration credit 68) For the smallfolk, his reign might have been a source of gossip and amusement. To the lords of the realm who did not stay at court, and who did not wish to have Aegon make free with their daughters, he might have seemed strong and decisive, frivolous, but largely harmless. But to those who dared enter his circle, he was too mercurial, too greedy, and too cruel to be anything but dangerous.

It was said of Aegon that he never slept alone and did not count a night complete until he had spent himself in a woman. His carnal lusts were satiated by all manner of women, from the highest born of princesses to the meanest whore, and he seemed to make no difference between them. In his last years, Aegon claimed he had slept with at least nine hundred women (the exact number eluded him), but that he only truly loved nine. (Queen Naerys, his sister, was not counted among them). The nine mistresses came from near and far, and some gave him natural children, but each and every one (save the last) was dismissed when he grew weary of her. However, one of those natural children came from a woman not accounted his mistress: Princess Daena, the Defiant.

Daemon was the name Daena gave to this child, for Prince Daemon had been the wonder and the terror of his age, and in later days that was seen as a warning of what the boy would become. Daemon Waters was his full name when he was born in 170 AC. At that time, Daena refused to name the father, but even then Aegon’s involvement was suspected. Raised at the Red Keep, this handsome youth was given the instruction of the wisest maesters and the best masters-at-arms at court, including Ser Quentyn Ball, the fiery knight called Fireball. He loved nothing better than deeds of arms and excelled at them, and many saw in him a warrior who would one day be another Dragonknight. King Aegon knighted Daemon in his twelfth year when he won a squires’ tourney (thereby making him the youngest knight ever made in the time of the Targaryens, surpassing Maegor I) and shocked his court, kin, and council by bestowing upon him the sword of Aegon the Conqueror, Blackfyre, as well as lands and other honors. Daemon took the name Blackfyre thereafter.

Queen Naerys—the one woman Aegon IV bedded in whom he took no pleasure—was pious and gentle and frail, and all these things the king misliked. Childbirth also proved a trial to Naerys, for she was small and delicate. When Prince Daeron was born on the last day of 153 AC, Grand Maester Alford warned that another pregnancy might kill her. Naerys was said to address her brother thus: “I have done my duty by you, and given you an heir. I beg you, let us live henceforth as brother and sister.” We are told that Aegon replied: “That is what we are doing.” Aegon continued to insist his sister perform her wifely duties for the rest of her life.

Matters between them were inflamed further by Prince Aemon, their brother, who had been inseparable from Naerys when they were young. Aegon’s resentment of his noble, celebrated brother was plain to all, for the king delighted in slighting Aemon and Naerys both at every turn. Even after the Dragonknight died in his defense, and Queen Naerys perished in childbed the year after, Aegon IV did little to honor their memory.

The king’s quarrels with his close kin became all the worse after his son Daeron grew old enough to voice his opinions. Kaeth’s Lives of Four Kings makes it plain that the false accusations of the queen’s adultery made by Ser Morgil Hastwyck were instigated by the king himself, though at the time Aegon denied it. These claims were disproved by Ser Morgil’s death in a trial by combat against the Dragonknight. That these accusations came at the same time as Aegon and Prince Daeron were quarreling over the king’s plans to launch an unprovoked war against Dorne was surely no coincidence. It was also the first (but not the last) time that Aegon threatened to name one of his bastards as his heir instead of Daeron.

Blackfyre, the sword of the Targaryen kings. (illustration credit 69) After the deaths of his siblings, the king began to make barely veiled references to his son’s alleged illegitimacy—something he dared only because the Dragonknight was dead. His courtiers and hangers-on aped the king, and this calumny spread.

In the last years of his reign, Prince Daeron proved the chief obstacle to Aegon’s misrule. Some lords of the realm clearly saw opportunity in the increasingly corpulent, gluttonous king who could be convinced to part with honors, offices, and lands for the promise of pleasures. Others, who condemned the king’s behavior, began to flock to Prince Daeron; despite all his threats and calumnies and tasteless japes, the king never formally disowned his son. Accounts differ as to why: some suggest that some shriveled part of Aegon still knew honor, or at least shame. The likeliest cause, however, was that he knew that such an act would bring war to the realm, for Daeron’s allies—chief among them the Prince of Dorne, whose sister Daeron had wed—would defend his rights. Perhaps it was for this reason that Aegon turned his attention to Dorne, using the hatred for the Dornishmen that still burned in the marches, the stormlands, and the Reach to suborn some of Daeron’s allies and use them against his most powerful supporters.

Fortunately for the realm, the king’s plans to invade Dorne in 174 AC proved a complete failure.

Though His Grace built a huge fleet, thinking to succeed as Daeron the Young Dragon had done, it was broken and scattered by storms on its way to Dorne.

This was far from the greatest folly of Aegon IV’s stillborn invasion of Dorne, however, for His Grace had also turned to the dubious pyromancers of the ancient Guild of Alchemists, commanding them to “build me dragons.” These wood-and-iron monstrosities, fitted with pumps that shot jets of wildfire, might perhaps have been of some use in a siege. But Aegon proposed to drag these devices up and through the Boneway, where there are places so steep that the Dornishmen have carved steps.

They did not come even that far, however, for the first of the dragons went up in flames in the kingswood, far from the Boneway. Soon all seven were burning. Hundreds of men burned in those fires, along with almost a quarter of the kingswood. After that, the king gave up his ambitions and never spoke of Dorne again.

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