A dance of dragons – The Targaryen Civil war

This article contains no spoilers of the Game of Thrones show aired by HBO and is for general ASOIAF educational purposes.
This time we will be covering the events of the Targaryen Civil war that would change the Targaryen Dynasty forever.
Main sources:
-The dance of dragons – A true telling by Maester Munkun.
-The world of ice and fire – The untold history of Westeros and the game of thrones.
-Illustrations came from the video HBO released for the Lore of the seven kingdoms, season 5.
The story begins with King Viserys, first of his name.
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King Viserys had married Aemma Arryn and had fathered three children with her, although only one, had lived into adulthood. Viserys I was the fifth Targaryen king to sit on the iron throne after the conquest of Westeros and the unification of the seven kingdoms.
Lacking a male heir, king Viserys I started training Rhaenyra as his successor to the Iron Throne, since she was his only true born heir alive. She had been trained in discussions and decision making about the affairs of state, and was allowed to participate in meetings of the small council. Many of the nobles took note of this and her father’s decision, and Rhaenyra soon acquired a small but determined group of adherents and supporters. After the passing of Queen Aemma in 105 AC, Viserys named Rhaenyra his heir and hundreds of lords and landed knights paid obeisance to her. Viserys’ declaration disregarded precedents from 92 AC and 101 AC (In which the law of Westeros stipulated that male heirs were to be regarded as more important, above their female kin).
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The king remarried in 106 AC, this time to Alicent Hightower, and had four more children: Aegon, Helaena, Aemond, and Daeron.
A few years later, a great tourney was held at King’s Landing on the fifth anniversary of Viserys’ marriage to Alicent. During the opening feast, Queen Alicent wore a green gown, while Princess Rhaenyra wore a dress in the red and black sigil colors of House Targaryen. Note was taken by all attendees, and thereafter it became the custom to refer to “greens” and “blacks” when talking of the queen’s party and the party of the princess, respectively. Wearing Rhaenyra’s favor, Ser Criston Cole unhorsed all of Alicent’s champions in the tourney, including two of her cousins and her youngest brother, Ser Gwayne Hightower.
The relationship between Rhaenyra and her step mother declined from the early stages of her marriage to King Viserys, since both of them wanted to be the realm’s first lady but for obvious reasons, there could only be one. As a result of the tension these two experienced, Alicent’s children were not really too fond of the princess Rhaenyra (their sister) nor her children to come.
Viserys I, anticipating the conflict, tried to deliberately strengthen Rhaenyra’s place in the succession by marrying her to Ser Laenor Velaryon – who also had Targaryen blood through his mother, Princess Rhaenys. The marriage caused tension between Rhaenyra and Criston. Rhaenyra gave birth to three sons—Jacaerys, Lucerys, and Joffrey Velaryon—during her marriage to Laenor, although there were rumors that the father of these princes was not Laenor, Ser Harwin Strong.
After Laenor died, brutally, a few years later, Rhaenyra remarried, this time to her uncle, Prince Daemon Targaryen, younger brother to Viserys I (her father). Her sons by him were Aegon the Younger, third of his name—called so to distinguish him from his uncle, Alicent’s Aegon, who on occasion was called Aegon the Elder—and Viserys II.
At this point, Rhaenyra had earned another enemy on her stepmother’s side, her father Otto Hightower, since he had a profound dislike of her second husband Daemon Targaryen since the beginning of Viserys’ reign although the reasons remain unknown.
At this time, starts the great civil war that weakened House Targaryen making it go from the current 18 dragons belonging to them too, by the end of the war, barely 2.
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One fateful night, King Viserys I died in his sleep, and it all went downhill from there.
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The servant had run to let the queen regent know that her husband had passed and the protocol stated they had to ring the bells and announce his passing, sending a raven to Dragonstone, summoning his appointed heir, Princess Rhaenyra but Alicent, had other plans, she threw the servant into a cell and locked him there to buy time for a small council meeting that would decide the successor to the throne.
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The current Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, Ser Criston Cole, summoned the meeting to inform the council that the king was dead and the hand of the king, Ser Otto Hightower demanded that the matter of succession be straightened out at once, for he wanted his grandson on the throne and not Rhaenyra.
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When it became clear that the council was not going to participate in the treason, Criston Cole slit the throat of the master of coin, and that seemed to have convinced the rest of them.
When Ravens arrived to Rhaenyra -who at the time was living in Dragonstone- with the news of her brother’s coronation alongside his full sister Helena, she assembled her own council and agreed that she could win the Iron throne for dragons win wars, and she had dragons, but they could not keep the throne, which is a task only achieved by armies.
In king’s landing, her brother’s banners were all over the capital. The golden dragon soared high in the skies.
Rhaenyra then sent her son Lucerys to storm’s end in the hopes that Lord Baratheon would support her claim to the throne and not her brother’s. To the young prince’s demise, was that when he arrived, his uncle was already there, Aemond, younger brother to Aegon the second, speaking to Lord Borros Baratheon about the alliance to the new king of the seven kingdoms.
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When Lucerys left, on his dragon Arrax, he was devastated, with rain pouring over him, when he heard the thunderous roar of Vhagar, his uncle’s dragon and 5 times bigger than Arrax, Vhagar struck his throat and killed him, damning Lucerys to inevitably drowning in the stormy sea.
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With Lucerys’ death, the war of ravens ended and so began, the war of fire and blood.
Rhaenyra received the news of his son’s death, and grief almost persuaded her to giving up on her throne and ending the war, until her husband sent a raven to her, assuring her, that her son’s death, was going to be avenged.
The Blood and cheese incident.
Daemon, who was considered one of the most dangerous men in the seven kingdoms, rushed into fleabottom to hire the two men who would only come to be known as Blood and Cheese. He paid them and little did anybody know, what his plan was. At night, Queen Helaena (the king’s wife) was in the red keep’s chambers, with her daughter, and two sons, ready to put them to bed, when blood and cheese arrived, stating that a debt was to be paid.
“A son for a son,” the men said and held her two sons by the neck, asking her which son they should kill. Helaena pleaded for them to kill her instead, but the men refused and stated if she did not make a decision, the would kill both boys. Desperate and broken, she cried her youngest son’s name, Maelor, maybe thinking that the boy was too young to understand and the other one, was her husband’s first born son, and heir to the throne
At night, Queen Helaena (the king’s wife) was in the red keep’s chambers, with her daughter, and two sons, ready to put them to bed, when blood and cheese arrived, stating that a debt was to be paid. “A son for a son,” the men said and held her two sons by the neck, asking her which son they should kill. Helaena pleaded for them to kill her instead, but the men refused and stated if she did not make a decision, the would kill both boys. Desperate and broken, she cried her youngest son’s name, Maelor, maybe thinking that the boy was too young to understand and the other one, was her husband’s first born son, and heir to the throne
 At night, Queen Helaena (the king’s wife) was in the red keep’s chambers, with her daughter, and two sons, ready to put them to bed, when blood and cheese arrived, stating that a debt was to be paid. “A son for a son,” the men said and held her two sons by the neck, asking her which son they should kill. Helaena pleaded for them to kill her instead, but the men refused and stated if she did not make a decision, the would kill both boys. Desperate and broken, she cried her youngest son’s name, Maelor, maybe thinking that the boy was too young to understand and the other one, was her husband’s first born son, and heir to the throne
Helaena pleaded for them to kill her instead, but the men refused and stated if she did not make a decision, the would kill both boys. Desperate and broken, she cried her youngest son’s name, Maelor, maybe thinking that the boy was too young to understand and the other one, was her husband’s first born son, and heir to the throne after himself. Without hesitation they killed her eldest son, without missing the chance to remark to her youngest, that she had wished him dead. When the guards finally came in, they found her screaming and crying, still clasping her son’s body to herself.
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The Dynastic dispute had now become a matter of annihilation. Only one party would remain in the end, the greens or the blacks, but not both.
The blacks struck another blow, Daemon had taken his dragon Caraxes and fly it to Harrenhall, when the Lord of Harrenhall saw this, he immediately surrendered and pledged his banners also to Rhaenyra’s cause.
The Sack of Duskendale, and the Battle at Rook’s Rest.
King Aegon II realized suddenly that his situation was severe. While House Hightower and the Arbor stood firmly behind Aegon, Lord Owen Costayne of Three Towers, Lord Mullendore of Uplands, Lord Alan Tarly of Horn Hill, Lord Thaddeus Rowan of Goldengrove and Lord Grimm of Greyshield declared for Rhaenyra, as did the Vale, White Harbor, Winterfell, the Blackwoods and other riverlords, who were assembling at Harrenhal.
The hand of the king, at this time, Ser Otto Hightower (the king’s grandfather) deduced that Rhaenyra’s biggest weakness was her own husband, Daemon however before he could secure a plan, beyond reaching out to an old foe of Daemons across the narrow sea, the king removed him as hand and named Criston Cole instead. His first move was a move of treachery and manipulation. He decided along the king, to sack Duskendale having Lord Darklyn beheaded for supporting his sister’s claim and not his own.
Criston then turned his attention to Rook’s rest, whose own Lord, Lord Staunton, had pledged their support to Rhaenyra as well. Lord Staunton however did not stay still, he defied the invasion while at the same time sending a raven to Dragonstone.
For days he watched his field and villages burning, until a fateful day, help indeed arrived, in the form of Princess Rhaenys, nonetheless. She soared above the the field and above the other dragons, her previous mother in law, was without an army but she did not really need it. She had Meleys.
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Rhaenys quickly started to incinerate Ser Criston’s army but did not realize, Aegon II had set a trap and she had flown right into it. While she was doing this, two other dragons flew into the scene: Vhagar mounted by Aemond and Sunfyre mounted by Aegon II himself.
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Meleys locked his jaws around Sunfyre’s throat as Vhagar fell upon them. To her credit, Rhaenys did not consider for a second, to flee. Dragons fought dragons and when the smoked cleared, only Aemond and Vhagar stood without much injury. Sunfyre, the most beautiful dragon who ever existed, had one of its wings almost completely torn from its body and the king was trapped underneath, injured and gravely burnt. Legend says his armor was fused with his flesh. Meleys was torn apart and underneath him, was his rider Rhaenys, who at that point was a pile of ash.
Shaken by the defeat, Rhaenyra sent her youngest sons, Prince Aegon the younger (III) and Viserys to pentose, where they were to be housed by an old friend of her house until Rhaenyra had secured her throne. Her youngest returned a few days later clinging to his dying dragon’s neck. A fleet had attacked him and his brother, in the conflict perished the eldest of Rhaenyra’s sons, Jacaerys, who -against his mother’s will- took it upon himself to avenge his brothers and retrieve the one still lost amidst the waves or the mist, since no one could say for sure.
He had been reckless and this took him to die at the hands of his enemies and bringing down with him, his Dragon Vermax.
With her new loss of 4 dragons, she was losing her only advantage in this war, so she called upon all the Targaryen bastards (AKA The Dragonseeds) offering titles, gold, and legitimization to whoever could tame for themselves the 6 unclaimed dragons that dwelled on dragon stone. Four of the dragons accepted riders and were quickly enlisted in Rhaenyra’s cause.
After Rook’s rest, Aemond took command of the forces instead of his poppyseed mad driven brother king and he marched the armies back to Harrenhall to take it back from Rhaenyra’s husband Daemon but when he arrived, they found the gates open and Daemon and his men, gone. They thought he had fled rather than faced their wrath however they did not know he was actually acting under a plan of his own.
He flew Caraxes south slithering past the green army over the waters of the Godseye, getting to Rhaenyra and then, together flying back to kings landing, where they found a defenseless city and so, they would take her throne. Aemond’s move of taking the army from the city was due to be paid and so he did.
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Queen Alicent and Queen Helaena were brought to Rhaenyra but she could not find her brother Aegon. He somehow fled and made it out of the city on time.
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When Aemond realized his arrogance had costed him the capital, he mounted Vhagar, furious and burning every village on his way -that he suspected of disloyalty- and now abandoned, ser Criston marched the royal army back to kingslanding but never made it. He was executed by the river Lords who had pledged their support for Rhaenyra’s claim.
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When the last remaining green loyalists, marched to the reach and laid siege to the city of Tumbleton, Rhaenyra sent 2 of her dragonseeds to take back the city however, as soon as the chance rose, they betrayed her, reminding her of their true nature as bastards. They burned the city with all the black armies garrison within it.
Rhaenyra now distrusted all the dragonseeds so she ordered all of them dead. Little did she know, her husband Daemon was sleeping with one of them, the bastard girl called Nettles, so when she asked for her head,
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Daemon protected the girl, sending her away on her dragon at dawn, watching her and her dragon vanish into the morning mist.
He then challenged his nephew Aemond whom, after a few days, came.
They both dueled with their dragons and when Caraxes fought Vhagar, clasping his neck with all it’s might, Vhagar ripped Caraxes’ belly, both dragons at this point freefalling at terrible speed. When it became clear they were going to die, Daemon jumped off his dragon onto Vhagar, dark sister in his hand, the valyrian sword of Aegon the conqueror’s sisterwife Visenya and drove it swiftly into the last remaining eye on prince Aemond.
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They both dueled with their dragons and when Caraxes fought Vhagar, clasping his neck with all it’s might, Vhagar ripped Caraxes’ belly, both dragons at this point freefalling at terrible speed. When it became clear they were going to die, Daemon jumped off his dragon onto Vhagar, dark sister in his hand, the valyrian sword of Aegon the conqueror’s sisterwife Visenya and drove it swiftly into the last remaining eye on prince Aemond.
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He drove it into his eye so hard, the sword came out on the other side of his skull, making it clear, he had died at his uncle’s hands. A heartbeat later, both dragons clashed upon a lake making the lake boil in dragon blood. Daemon was 49 years of age when he died, Aemond was barely 20. This is how the last magnificent creature died, from the time of Aegon’s conquest. Vhagar, Visenya’s dragon, had counted 181 years when he died.
Back in Kingslanding, Rhaenyra did not have time to grieve over her impulsive husband, the broken former queen Helaena had jumped off the balcony to be impaled by the spikes at the bottom of her fall. That night, the peasants rose in riot demanding Rhaenyra, justice for their former queen Helaena and her dead son, among other things they considered needed. Suddenly they turned their wrath and sights over to the dragons pit.
Claiming the dragons had no place in the city, they all marched towards the dragons pit and spikes and torches in hand, started slaughtering all the dragons in it.
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Four dragons were in there and nobody knows how many men were incinerated by their defensive fire.
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Since they were trapped in their cages, they could only fight with so much. They fought for their lives with fire, claws, teeth and might. But three of them were killed before they could even escape their cages.
The last one, all confused and aroused, exhausted, it tried to fly into the dome, but she had been left too weak, the dome cracked and it inevitably killed all the dragon-slayers and the dragon herself.
Atop the red keep, queen Rhaenyra was watching the disaster happening on the Dragon’s pit.
Her oldest son, stole Syrax and tried to rush into the mess, to defend the dragons but Syrax did not accept his mount, fighting the child beneath him, he shook left and right to rid himself of the young prince… until he did.
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Now that she had only, one son left, she fled the capital and renounced her right to the throne, in exchange for safe passage for herself and her son to dragonstone. There, she would find a dying dragon and her mad weakened brother Aegon II. He had her executed in front of her son, Aegon the younger by Sunfyre’s last blast of dragonfire and so, returned to his throne, to be killed half a year later by Rhaenyra’s loyals (in association with his own men).
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Her son Aegon III was crowned king and married to princess Jahaera Targaryen, her uncle’s last living child thus ending, the Targaryen Civil war.
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A dance of dragons – A true telling by Maester Munkun

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