Who will be the king? Who will rule the kingdom? Though these affairs have never taken into consideration the will of the common man, the people have always taken a keen interest in the game of thrones. History has seen some rare warriors who raised their swords and swore to the god of sea, land, and air that they would one day become the crowned king of the realm. However, many times, the crown is just placed on their undeserving heads because they share a lineage or a bloodline. King Viserys Targaryen I, without a doubt, falls into the latter part. But what makes him our topic of discussion is the politics and confusion around his coronation, so without any further ado, let’s explore how Viserys became the king.
How Did Viserys Targaryen Become The King Of The Seven Kingdoms?
Jaehaerys I, also known as the Conciliator in the book “Fire and Blood,” ruled the Seven Kingdoms from 48 AC (After the Conquest of Aegon) to 103 AC. Jaehaerys had three sons: Prince Aemon, Prince Baelon, and Vaegon. As per the rules of succession of the Iron Throne of Westeros, Aemon, the eldest son of the old king, was anointed as the Prince of Dragonstone, who would later take over the kingdom after his father’s death. However, fate had something else designed for the family. In 92 AC, Aemon was accidentally killed on Tarth by a crossbow. His younger brother, Baelon, took revenge for his death and became known as Baelon the Brave in the eyes of the common folk. While Baelon enjoyed his newfound popularity, Jaehaerys struggled with the question of succession. Aemon had left behind a daughter, Rhaenys, who was 18 years of age during her father’s death and was carrying her husband, Corlys Velaryon’s child. But, Jaehaerys I and the Council ignored her right to the throne and appointed the old king’s second son, Baelon, as Prince of Dragonstone, who would eventually descend on the throne. The commoners already loved the seasoned knighthood and bravery of Prince Baelon, and so Rhaenys stepped back without any further argument.
In the meantime, Rhaenys gave birth to a girl, Laena, who she had earlier claimed would be a son. But fortunes favored her, and a year later, she gave birth to a son, whom she named Laenor. Baelon, on the other hand, was the father of two healthy princes, Viserys (born around 79 AC) and Daemon Targaryen (born in 97 AC). Happiness arrived in Baelon’s life from all four sides. While he enjoyed the birth of his second son and the marriage of his eldest, he was also made the King’s Hand in 99 AC after the death of the Hand of the King, Septon Barth, who died peacefully in his sleep. Everyone foresaw that it would be Baelon who would rule the Iron Throne of Westeros, but again, fate intervened. Baelon complained of a wound that worsened and took away his life at the age of 44 in 101 AC, compelling the old king to revisit the question of succession once again.
Fate had occasionally favored Rhaenys, Prince Aemon’s eldest daughter, but the Council chose to ignore her right to the throne because of her gender. However, after Baelon’s death, Rhaenys, too, had a male child in her family, who could claim the descent; but then there were Baelon’s sons, Viserys and Daemon, as well, putting their names forward. (Though, during this time, Daemon mostly supported his younger brother and desired to become his brother’s hand in the future). The old king, swinging between life and death, could predict a bloody struggle among his own kind for the throne, and thus, to prevent violent bloodshed, Jaehaerys I took the Archmaester Vaegon’s advice and called upon a Great Council at Harrenhal, the largest castle in the Seven Kingdoms, to discuss and decide the matter of his succession. Jaehaerys I’s third son, Vaegon, had no intent to sit on the Iron Throne or rule the seven kingdoms, which is the reason he gave such odd advice to his father.
More than a thousand lords attended the grand ceremony, and its grandeur could be witnessed in the prologue sequence of “House Of The Dragons” Episode 1. After a tedious discussion that went on for thirteen days, there were only two claimants left who had the support of the great Council. One was Rhaenys’s son, Laenor, and the second was Baelon’s eldest son, Viserys. In the series, we have witnessed that the Council had to choose between Rhaenys and Viserys, but it wasn’t the case in the book. Rhaenys was not even considered by the Council because of her gender, which is why this particular conflict lays down the seeds of the “Dance of the Dragons,” a bloodshed that we are going to witness later in the series.
The support of the Council was divided, yet Viserys enjoyed the support of the majority because of two strong arguments. In 103 AC, during the time of the Great Council, Viserys was 24 years old while Laenor was just seven years old, which clearly made Viserys a more fit ruler to sit on the iron throne. Secondly, Viserys was the last one to ride Balerion, the Black Dread dragon that belonged to Aegon the Conqueror. Balerion died in 94 AC, after which Viserys never mounted another dragon, while in the case of Laenor, the young boy still had to take his first flight upon his young dragon, Seasmoke. And we all know how important the dragons are to the Targaryens. So, without a doubt, the Great Council chose Viserys as the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. Two years later, Jaehaerys I died peacefully at the age of 69 in 103 AC, soon after which Viserys succeeded him and became King Viserys Targaryen I, the ruler of the seven kingdoms.
How Did Viserys’s Wife, Queen Aemma, And Son, Baelon, Die?
Those who are born on Earth ought to die someday. They will be replaced by the people they will leave behind. A man never has any control over the matters of life and death, yet he rebelliously tries to make a difference. He wants to leave his heir behind so that he or she will carry on his lineage, and for the kings, matters of succession were indeed a crucial affair because they wanted their blood to rule the kingdom after them.
In 93 AC, at the age of 14, Viserys was married to his 11-year-old cousin, Lady Aemma of House Arryn, the daughter of the late Princess Daella. Daella was the daughter of Jaehaerys I and Queen Alysanne, and her daughter, Aemma, was married to her own cousin, Viserys, because the Targaryens believed in keeping the bloodline pure. Two years after their marriage, Viserys and Aemma started trying for a son, but Aemma suffered several miscarriages as maesters believed that she was bedded too young. She even lost a son in the cradle but gave birth to a healthy girl in 97 AC who was named Rhaenyra Targaryen and was dubbed as “the Realm’s Delight.” However, Viserys, being a Targaryen King who had seen the horrors of the past, desired a son who would succeed him, and so he kept on torturing Aemma until she was alive. In 105 AC, Aemma was pregnant once again, and in pain, she was going through; she wanted this pregnancy to be her last, but maybe the heavens misinterpreted her prayers. In the book, Aemma was brought to Maegot’s Holdfast, where she died while giving birth to a son, who survived for a day. Viserys had cheerfully named his son Baelon after his father, Baelon the Brave, but who knew the son would never see the light of day? It can be surmised that Aemma’s son was not born healthy as the mother herself was struggling with a lot of pain, but Viserys refused to listen to her cries and instead forced her to bear a son, neglecting everything she was going through.
Though in the book, Viserys didn’t kill Aemma directly, in the series, he became a part of the heinous crime by allowing the Grand Maester to rip apart his wife’s belly to take out a son that killed her eventually. In both the book and the series, Aemma was bound to die, and Viserys was the reason behind it, but what makes Viserys grayer in the series is that he never consulted Aemma before cutting off her body like a bloodthirsty monster. So, while the book may present Viserys as a generous ruler, in the series, we may experience a dark version of the lord himself. And yes, Viserys will get an heir eventually, but let’s not discuss this further, as we may end up revealing major spoilers from hereon.