In the fourth episode of “House of the Dragon,” we see that Viserys finally makes up his mind to remove Otto Hightower from the position of Hand of the King. Now, this was not a sudden or impulsive move, but the thought had been brewing inside Viserys Targaryen for a very long time. A lot of times, Viserys was not able to see through things, and he needed the advice or the support of someone else. Viserys always looked towards Otto Hightower, if he was stuck in a situation and kept him in very high regard. Viserys lacked administrative qualities, and Otto did take complete advantage of that fact. Viserys was a dreamer, and the intricacies of bureaucracy did not interest him that much. So, a lot of times, Otto took matters into his hands, and it was his will that prevailed. Otto had an uncanny way of influencing the King and making him act in the manner he wished. Otto never dictated terms, but he raised a doubt, a suspicion in the King’s mind, which made the king act a certain way. By playing his cards so cunningly, Otto was not only able to have his way but do it without letting the others know that he was the one responsible for orchestrating the whole game plan.
Throughout the first four episodes of “House of the Dragon,” we are made privy to the intentions of Otto Hightower. He liked staying in a position where he could influence the King. He had a problem with Daemon Targaryen and Lord Corlys because these two were influential personalities who held a great amount of power. Daemon was King’s own blood, and Lord Corlys came from one of the strongest houses in the seven kingdoms. Otto Hightower was a learned man, and his acumen was the only resource he had as compared to the other two gentlemen. He was able to get his daughter married to King Viserys Targaryen even when an alliance between the King and Lord Corlys’ daughter was almost finalized. But somewhere down the line, he became too greedy and, like in earlier times, didn’t act judiciously. Otto was removed from the position of the hand of the King because he became too persistent, and he relentlessly hounded the King to make Aegon II Targaryen the heir to the Iron throne instead of Rhaenyra Targaryen. Otto exposed himself this one time, and he had nobody to blame but himself. He let others notice his desperation. Viserys Targaryen accused him of one more thing that maybe even Otto didn’t see coming. Everybody believed that Baelon Targaryen, son of Jaehaerys Targaryen, had died from a wound during a hunting trip. But nobody saw that it had resulted in Otto Hightower becoming the hand of Jaehaerys Targaryen for the last two years of his reign. Viserys believed that Otto Hightower had a role to play in the death of the prince. So, let’s try to decipher if Otto could have done the acts that Viserys was accusing him of and whether he had some ulterior motive in making Aegon II Targaryen, the heir of the Iron Throne, apart from the fact that he was his own blood.
Did The Faith Of Seven Have A Role To Play? Did Otto Really Conspire To Kill Baelon?
Now we all know that House Hightower was one of the first houses to abide by the teachings of the Faith, swear allegiance to it, and take steps for the furtherance of the religion. The religious teachings had an impact on the law of the land in King’s Landing, but it could never administer the kind of authority that it would have wanted to. The kings who sat on the Iron throne always had a cordial relationship with the Faith, and that is why it became the most widespread religion in the land. But if we logically assess the situation, then it couldn’t be denied that the way Aegon the conqueror annexed Oldtown, it would have left Manfred Hightower, who was the head of the House Hightower, with a bitter feeling. He was a religious man, and he abided by the prophecy made by the High Septon, which said that if he came in the way of Aegon the Conqueror, then the whole city would burn to ashes.
Aegon had dragons. Manfred’s army was no match for a flying beast who had the potential to wreak havoc on the entire kingdom. Even if the prophecy was not made, it was a judicious decision to not go into a battle where you know that defeat is certain. The Hightowers had to abide by it because they didn’t have any other option. The High Septon did give its blessings to Aegon the Conqueror, but they knew that Targaryens were made differently and had different sensibilities. They held the laws of God in reverence, but they could also go against them if it didn’t align with their interests. In this respect, they were not like the House Hightower, who didn’t diverge from the path of God. Targaryens were conquerors, and they abided by the rules till the time it suited them.
There is a stark difference that is established between the lifestyles of Alicent Hightower and Rhaenyra Targaryen, which aids us in making an assessment of the beliefs their respective houses adhered to. Alicent Hightower was a devotee, like her father. She prayed regularly and often asked Rhaenyra to kneel down with her. If a Hightower sat on the Iron Throne, two things would be accomplished: firstly, the blood of Otto would have supreme authority, and secondly, the Faith would have a much greater say in matters of importance. The Faith had its own courts, own marital laws, and a lot of other customs that it wanted the public to abide by. So basically, they wanted to have a say in all socio-political matters. The most abysmal fact about the Faith of the Seven was that they had their own military, which, as history tells us, often went against the King if he hurt the sanctity of their religious beliefs. Now, these conflicts could be ended if a person who was pious sat on the Iron throne, much like Baelor I Targaryen, who was often referred to as Baelon the Blessed. The agenda was obvious: High Septon wanted to have as much influence as it could have in King’s Landing. For that, the High Septon needed to have people of Faith in the right positions. Otto had made his way higher up the food chain. He had risen to a stature where he could influence the decisions of the King himself. Though he never sat on the Iron throne, he had an unparalleled influence on it. The next step was to cement his position even more, and that could only be done if his own blood was made the heir of the seven kingdoms.
Apart from the vendettas of The Faith of Seven, Otto had his own desires and ambitions too. He had toiled hard to gain the trust of Jaehaerys and Viserys Targaryen. A man who didn’t mind using his daughter to get leverage, could very well plan the murder of a prince, if he perceived him to be a barrier in his way. There is no evidence given in the book “Fire and Blood” that corroborates this fact, and it is merely a speculative theory. But how can we not think Otto to be capable of such a dastardly act when we have witnessed strains of that behavior in Viserys’s rule too. He didn’t want Daemon to be in King’s Landing, so he made sure that he was made the commander of the city watch so that he did not have the opportunity to sit in the small council and voice his opinions on matters of state. As history tells us, House Hightower did not have the spirit of the conquerors, but they believed in their nobility. Through their motto, we know that they believed themselves to be leaders who showed others the path. They considered themselves to be purebred, as people said that they were the descents of the first men. House Hightower always enjoyed the support of the Faith, but that too wasn’t enough to protect their empire. Their pride and traditions were lost in oblivion after Aegon the Conqueror came on his dragon, but there were a few who still had hope that they would once again rekindle the fire, light the way and regain the lost glory for their house.