By the end of House of the Dragon season 1, we’ve finally caught up with how and why the Targaryen Civil War came to be. Rhaenyra, who was named heir to the Iron Throne, has her position usurped by her younger step-brother, Aegon II.
You may have already pledged your allegiance to either the Greens or Blacks, and are now curious to know which side will be victorious. So, who wins the Dance of the Dragons: Aegon II or Rhaenyra?
The Blacks (Rhaenyra’s alliance) win the Dance of the Dragons/Targaryen Civil War. However, both Aegon II and Rhaenyra die during the course of the war, and it is Rhaenyra’s son (with Daemon), Aegon III who ultimately sits on the Iron Throne uncontested.
If you’d like a brief run-down of what exactly happens, continue reading. You’ve been warned, there are major spoilers and no juicy details have been spared!
1. The Targaryen Civil War Begins
There were many factors that led to the Targaryen Civil War, but the move that kicked it into motion was the Green Council crowning Aegon II as King after Viserys’ death. As soon as Rhaenyra hears of this, she crowns herself as Queen in Dragonstone.
Obviously, the realm can’t have two rulers (and God forbid, a lady one at that!) and with neither Aegon nor Rhaenyra willing to bend the knee, this will lead to a full-blown war.
In the books, Alicent’s character was heavily antagonistic towards Rhaenyra, and the feelings were reciprocated. However, the show has chosen to give their relationship some more depth, filling this enmity with more regret and pain than ever.
So although it was initially marketed that the battle was between Alicent and Rhaenyra, season 2 will be more of an Aegon II versus Rhaenyra narrative.
2. First Phase of the War
Along with Aegon’s coronation, it’s also the fact that Aemond played a part in Luke’s death, that rallies the Blacks into going to war. Luke was an envoy and hadn’t provoked Aemond, so his death was unjustifiable.
As revenge, Daemon will carry out his “Blood and Cheese” plan, helped by Mysaria. This will result in the death of Aegon II’s eldest son, Jaehaerys.
After this, we shall witness a few minor subplots like the Assault on Harrahal, Pact of Ice and Fire, Civil war in the Riverlands, among others.
The Battle at Rooks’ Rest, in particular, will deliver a blow to both sides — Rhaenys and Meleys perish after their encounter with Aegon, Aemond, Sunfrye and Vhagar. However, Aegon is also heavily wounded and maimed in the process, causing him to stay out of battle.
3. Rhaenrya Takes Over King’s Landing
You’d think that it is Aegon II’s weak position that allows Rhaenyra to take on King’s Landing. As much as that aids the situation, it is Rhaenyra’s anger over Jace’s death that fires her to take over the city.
Sadly yes, Jace too dies in the Battle of the Gullet. If it’s any consolation, Otto is set to die during this arc as well.
Criston Cole and Aemond’s absence means that King’s Landing is left unprotected, which Daemon takes advantage of. Altough Rhaenyra takes over the capital, Aegon manages to flee.
Alicent, who is in captivity, pleads to Rhaenyra — But she’s not bending the knee. Instead, she pleads to have the kingdom divided so that Rhaenyra can rule half, while Aegon rules the other half. Even when faced with death, Alicent wants her son to be King!
4. Aegon II Takes Over Dragonstone
The war doesn’t end there and unfortunately, Rhaenyra only holds King’s Landing for a short amount of time, earning her the name “the Half-Year Queen.” During this time, we will go through a few other subplots like Red Kracken, Butcher’s Ball, and more.
Now since Rhaenyra is at King’s Landing, Larys (yes, the conniving Master of Whispers is still alive!) schemes with Aegon to take over Dragonstone. They successfully do so and even take Baela captive.
But once again, Aegon loses something in the bargain: his legs are badly broken.
5. Rhaenyra is Fed to a Dragon
This is the arc that will prove once again that Rhaenyra could never be a ruler because of the prejudice against women in the GOT universe. Despite sitting on the throne, there were too many people who did not accept her as Queen.
The unrest in King’s Landing simply kept increasing, leading to the Storming of the Dragon Pit. To make matters worse for her, Daemon supposedly takes on a new lover and then subsequently dies in a battle with Aemond. (The latter too perishes.)
In the end, Rhaenyra has to flee King’s Landing in order to avoid getting literally lynched. Her troubles don’t end there, as no one is willing to shelter her or offer her passage out of Westeros.
She is captured by Aegon who punishes her by feeding her to Sunfrye, making Aegon III watch the whole act. It’s painful and it’s cruel — But it won’t be the end of Rhaenyra’s legacy.
6. Aegon II Dies of Poisoning
By the time Aegon II has finally disposed of his opponent, Rhaenyra, he’s suffered too many loses as well. Along with the deaths of his family members, Aegon is also injured beyond recovery.
Prior to her death, Rhaenyra had written to Cregan Stark to send reinforcements. Stark gets involved in the battle quite late, and upon marching to King’s Landing, he finds that Aegon has passed away only six months after Rhaenyra’s death.
At this point of time, the Houses fighting for Rhaenyra have had considerable victories, even with their Queen dead. Although Aegon is asked to surrender and join the Night’s Watch, he refuses, threatening to kill Aegon III instead.
However, he later found dead by poisoning after drinking some wine. Who the Kingslayer was remains a mystery till this date!
7. Aegon III Finally Sits on the Iron Throne
We’ve made it to the end of the war, and trust me, it’s way longer and more intricate that this brief run-down. All in all, most of the key players are dead by the time the war is over.
So it is neither Aegon II, nor Rhaenyra who get to live out the rest of their days as the uncontested ruler of Westeros.
It will be ten-year-old Aegon III who sits as the next King on the Iron Throne, marking that the Blacks ultimately win the Dance of the Dragons.
As you’d expect, the end of the war is not a happy affair — the kingdom is in ruins, the Houses are divided, the dragons are extinct, Cregan Stark’s actions adds some additional damage to the mix, and there is child sitting on the throne.
Truth be told, Dance of the Dragons is a Shakespearean-level tragedy that truly did not have any real winners.
8. About House Of The Dragon
House of the Dragon is the prequel series to HBO’s blockbuster Game of Thrones based on George R. R. Martin’s book Fire & Blood.
Set three hundred years before the events of Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon will show Westeros under the Targaryen family’s rule before the dragons went extinct. It will follow the Dance of the Dragons, the Targaryen civil war between siblings Aegon II and Rhaenyra, who fought for the throne after the death of their father, Viserys I.
Directed by Ryan Condall and Miguel Sapochnik, the show stars Paddy Considine as Viserys I Targaryen, Emma D’Arcy as Rhaenyra Targaryen, Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower, Matt Smith as Daemon Targaryen, Tom Glynn-Craney as Aegon II Targaryen, Rhys Ifans as Otto Hightower, Steve Toussaint as Corlys Velaryon, Eve Best as Rhaenys Velaryon, Sonoya Mizuno as Mysaria, Fabien Frankel as Criston Cole, and Graham McTavish.