House Of The Dragon: Why Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen Can Be A Better King Than Viserys And Daemon?


Viserys was constantly getting bruised from sitting on the Iron throne, and after “House of The Dragon” Episode 3, you cannot help but ask the question: whether there were more worthy candidates in the Targaryen clan, who should have sat on the throne for the betterment of the realm? It is said that a worthy administrator has the perfect concoction of fierceness and magnanimity. There were many who had one of these attributes, but there was only one who encompassed them both, and in the right proportion. So, let’s look into this aspect and try to find out who could be the most apt person to be the ruler of the seven kingdoms.

Spoilers Ahead

Administrative Capabilities

A kingdom only flourishes when an administrator is able to maintain a perfect balance between deterrence and liberty. If he or she disturbs this balance or becomes incapacitated to maintain it, for any reason, there is a high probability that their regime will either be called autocratic, or they will be considered weak and unfit for governance. Sometimes the proficiency of a king cannot be decided on the basis of the length of the tenure. It may happen that their authority is never challenged by anybody, but that isn’t proof of the fact that they are an able administrator. A lot of the time, people just want to look out for their own agendas, and if their interests are being fulfilled, they don’t even mind if an incompetent king sits on the throne. Viserys I Targaryen was a weak administrator. Throughout the three episodes of “House of the Dragon,” we get evidence that corroborates this fact. 

At the beginning of the first episode, we see that Lord Corlys enlightens the king about the worsening conditions in Stepstones. He asks him to take some steps and curb the rebellion before it gets out of hand. But Viserys was more concerned about the tournament that was supposed to happen in a few days. Also, it becomes evidently clear that Otto Hightower is not just a spokesperson or a mere advisor of the king. Otto, who is the hand of the king, actually does the decision-making, though he makes it look like he is acting on Viserys’ commands. Now Viserys, a lot of times, does not take a strong stand for matters that are crucial for his kingdom, and you get a feeling that maybe he is an escapist and does not want to take responsibility. Maybe the king does not have the aptitude of an administrator and just wants to delegate business so that he doesn’t have to indulge in it. Otto wouldn’t have been able to take charge of matters if he hadn’t been given such leeway by his king. Criminal activities were on the rise in King’s Landing, and Viserys never tried to bring policies and laws that would bring the chaos to an end. 

On the other hand, Daemon doesn’t care about what precedent his actions are going to set. He always wanted to hold an important position in the council, but the extremity of his innate violent nature concerned the others. Daemon wanted to be the Hand of the king, but not even once had he shown the sensibility and dignity required to hold that kind of position. He commanded the army of gold cloaks to inflict brutality on the criminals. Yes, they were hardened criminals, but mutilating them and subjecting them to such brutality in public disturbs the fabric of civil society. It makes the monarchy look like a fascist regime. Daemon was erratic at times, and his life choices were not always noble either. He lacked the magnanimity that is so much needed to be an able administrator. Being a custodian of the state, it is very important that one cares for their subjects. Daemon was a wild spirit. He only looked out for his own interests and had little or no empathy for others in general. 

Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, from the very beginning, shows that not only did she have a keen interest in matters of state, but she was also somebody who was not scared to make bold decisions and chart out strategies. She speaks out of turn in a council meeting but unabashedly keeps her opinion on the table. She tells her father that the Triarchy shouldn’t be allowed to capture and plunder the cities. She was of the opinion that a show of force was necessary. She was not asking to deliberately oppress the people but to keep them in check and make them abide by the law of the land. This is the aspect where Daemon and Rhaenyra had conflicting ideologies. Daemon showed barbaric tendencies. He didn’t mind spilling blood, sometimes for no apparent reason at all. Rhaenyra wasn’t scared of violence but only resorted to it when it was extremely necessary. In the third episode of “House of the Dragon,” this stark difference between Daemon and his niece is clearly established. When a wild boar attacks Ser Criston Cole and Rhaenyra, we see that the latter impales it quite viciously. Her face gets smeared in blood, and we feel that maybe she has the instinct of a plunderer, who doesn’t mind indulging in savagery. But then the princess says that she won’t kill the white hart. She had resorted to violence only when she had to defend herself. Her anger never overtook her sensibilities. She had the prudence to recognize unjustified behavior. Whereas at the end of the third episode, we see Daemon getting blinded by his anger. It is a universal tradition that a noble king never inflicts any kind of harm on the messenger, even if he belongs to an enemy clan. Daemon lost his temper when he read the message which came from the king’s landing. He felt like his abilities were being questioned. He brutally assaulted the messenger and then, in a fit of rage, went to kill the Crabfeeder. The manner in which he killed Craghas Crabfeeder also showed his barbaric tendencies. Daemon didn’t care about his men, or his colleagues, or anybody else, apart from his own self. He was a narcissist, and though he got rid of the enemy, he did it solely for himself.

Getting Influenced By Others

One more aspect where Rhaenyra proved to be worthier and more steadfast than Daemon and Viserys was getting swayed by the opinions of others. It is to be noticed here that Viserys had some disagreements with his brother, but never did he want to banish him from the territory. Otto influenced his decision making and the king became insecure. He misunderstood the intentions of Daemon and told him to leave the king’s landing. At that point in time, Daemon also didn’t feel spiteful toward his king. At times he didn’t obey his orders but never even once he thought of organizing a coup. Daemon was not influenced by men, but he was by his own uncontrolled emotions. In dire times, he did make impulsive decisions and didn’t know what the implications of the same could be. 

Rhaenyra, on the other hand, knew how to hold her ground. When she said something, she did it with a lot of conviction, and she always thought everything through. Many events in the first three episodes corroborate this fact. Firstly, when she had to choose a knight for the Kingsguard, she was very sure that she wanted somebody with actual war experience. Otto tries to influence her and thinks that just like her father, she would also be persuaded easily. The hand of the king was astonished to see that Rhaenyra didn’t agree with him, and stuck to her own rationale and thought process. Otto, maybe for the first time, gets to know that he is dealing with a headstrong person who wouldn’t bow down to his whims and fancies just like that.

Traditions And Customs

Rhaenyra didn’t feel bound by unreasonable traditions and customs. She didn’t do anything just because it had been done for ages. She held these traditions in high regard and never misused her power to belittle them. But she chose to not be a part of them if it wasn’t necessary for the betterment of the kingdom. Viserys felt bound by these traditions. He was psychologically not prepared to go on the royal hunt. The squealing of the deer reminded him of his own son and wife, whom he had lost. He felt guilty for their deaths and somewhere blamed himself for it. When Viserys is going to kill the deer, he isn’t able to do so in one go. The discomfort is evident on his face. He looks traumatized, but he still does it because traditions and customs require him to act in that particular manner. Rhaenyra straightforwardly says that she won’t go for the chase. It was an important tradition, but she knew that even if she didn’t do it, it wouldn’t affect the governance of her kingdom in general.

Lack Of Conviction: Viserys Is Just A Dreamer

Viserys didn’t have any faith in himself. Maybe he did, at one point in time, but slowly he kept going deep into the abyss of grief and loss, and now he questioned his own motivations and beliefs. Viserys wasn’t a warrior or a Dragon Rider. He himself believed that he was a dreamer, just like many other noblemen and women of the Targaryen clan. He believed in the power of prophecy with all his heart. Aegon Targaryen saw the dream of ice and fire, and Viserys maintained the sanctity and passed the secret to his heir, i.e., Rhaenyra, with a lot of reverence for the same. Viserys also believed in his own dreams. He aspired to be a dreamer. He never saw himself as a war hero, and his tastes, too, were very different and unique. But now, he had started to think that maybe he was not the dreamer that he aspired to be. He didn’t know who he really was, what his ideologies were, what his core was made of, what was right for his clan, and what was not. If a person has lost faith in himself and doubts his own authority, then how could he lead the masses and be somebody whom they look up to? The man didn’t believe in himself, and it was impossible for his kingdom to do so without questioning his authority.

Multiple mishappenings had led to Aerys II Targaryen being called a mad king by his own people. Daemon showed similar traits. He was a conqueror, no doubt, but he let his emotions and insecurities influence him in the worst possible manner. He went on a suicidal mission, not because he cared for his kingdom, or wanted to bring peace to the realm, but because he was frenzied with rage and couldn’t think rationally. In the third episode of the “House of the Dragon”, we see that when he is riding his dragon, Caraxes, and entering the Crabfeeder’s territory, saving his own people is the least of his concerns. He wanted to end the Triarchy, and it didn’t matter to him if he lost every soul who fought by his side. It felt like he lacked compassion and also didn’t value the lives of his people. He just wanted to prove a point for the sake of his own ego. Rhaenyra, on the other hand, was neither a conqueror nor a puppet whose strings were pulled by others. She knew when to be autocratic and when to be humble in her approach. She wanted to be at the helm of affairs. She wanted to make better policies and political decisions. She acted on her own discretion and was so positively obstinate that she didn’t allow the scavengers to prey upon the kingdom for their own benefit. She had the fierceness of a conqueror and the level-headedness of a dreamer. She was authoritative when the condition demanded her to be and also showed strains of egalitarianism, giving the freedom to the people to express themselves.

The Iron Throne expressed its will time and again. It gave a reality check to the rulers, though a lot of times, they were not able to comprehend the signals. It was said that no woman could ever sit on the Iron Throne, but maybe history was wrong this time. Maybe the customs that slowly evolved into traditions didn’t know that a fierce Dragon Rider would rise from the ashes of her ancestors and prove to be more worthy than any other male counterpart. The upcoming episodes of the House of the Dragon would tell us where destiny would lead the house of Targaryens, and whether the Dragon Riders are able to maintain their authority.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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