The Ancient Home Of The Mightiest Family To Conquer Westeros
Old Valyria, the ancient homeland of the dragon lords. The origin of the bloodline of the Targaryens, one of the most powerful families in the fantastical world of Game of Thrones. Many Targaryen kings and their formidable dragon mounts can trace their bloodline to this ancient city connected to the Valyrian Peninsula of Essos, The massive continent east of Westeros. When Old Valyria fell from the historical cataclysm, the ancestral bloodlines of both Velaryons and Targaryens made their way to conquer the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros and settle in King’s Landing.
The Origins of the Family Line
Interestingly, the Targaryens were not the main ruling power of Old Valyria. That position belonged to the Valerians themselves, with many of their most influential members being Dragonlords that raised and trained their dragons as beasts of war. Being the greatest power of Old Valyria, many of the Valerian customs, rituals, and even their old language survived and passed on long after the fall. As the main Dragonlords of Old Valyria, the Valerian houses were said to have tampered in the dark arts of magic, creating many of the monstrous hazards of Essos and Westeros in extension. As a result, many historians blamed their hubris for the cataclysm.
To marry into a Valerian family adds value and prestige to whoever is in the Targaryen family, especially after the Doom of Valyria. It’s also proof of the legitimacy of the Iron Throne when King’s Landing is established centuries later. Even with their fall from grace after the destruction of Old Valyria, these families persevered together in Westeros.
Taming of the Dragons
The greatest call to power for Targaryens and Valerians is the great beasts they command, dragons. Dragons are the largest and most powerful creatures in the world. To tame and ride on these beasts represents absolute power and practical Godhood, the fantastical equivalent of an Atomic Bomb. The dragons were so symbolic of the power of the Targaryen house that their banner is an image of a three-headed crimson dragon.
Taming a dragon and ordering it to breathe fire through the use of the term “dracarys” is part of the rite of passage for all Valyrians. One can argue that the reason why the Targaryen and Velaryon families survived and thrived for so long is due to their perceived monopoly and control of the dragons raised to be mounted for the royal families. No other nation would dare oppose such formidable strength. Yet it’s this prideful hubris to control the dragons that brought the families close to destruction on multiple occasions.
The Doom and Aegon’s Landing
300 years before the events of Game of Thrones, The Doom fell upon the ancient kingdom of Old Valyria. The Doom is an unspecified cataclysmic event that rocked the entirety of Essos, leaving the prospering civilization of Valyria in ruins and bringing forth a new era of chaos and conflict. Many attempts were made to retake the old kingdom, but none ever returned or were heard from again. Even now, the lands are still under the effects of the Doom, and the region is fabled to be ruled by demons and unspeakable terrors. The people of Westeros treat the desolated lands of old Valyria as a death sentence for those infected with Greyscale, a near-fatal affliction that corrodes the flesh and minds of its victims and makes them appear to turn to stone.
Driven by a mysterious vision of another cataclysm known as the Frost, Aegon Targaryen I set off to invade and conquer the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros with his two sisters Visenya, and Rhaenys, establishing a new home for the two families. Aegon’s Conquest was swiftly completed due to the Targaryens having the strength of their formidable dragons, Meraxes, Vhagar, and Balerion the Black Dread. Thousands perished in the resulting, war and soon after the Field of Fire, the remaining powers swiftly yielded to Aegon and his house. The Targaryens would rule as the absolute power of Westeros, along with their related allies, the Velarions, until the infighting that occurred during the Dance of Dragons nearly brought the family to ruin once again.
The Doom of Valyria has similar thematic elements to the mythical fall of Atlantis, A large bustling civilization whose destruction and erasure from history represent the hubris of humanity’s hold on the idea of civilization and power. One other example of literary work that has a glorious city or civilization that gets destroyed includes the ancient City of Numenor in Tolkein’s Middle Earth books. In these cases, they tend to be the result of some divine punishment or intervention. The Doom of Valyria seems to be more of an inevitable force that was bound to happen as opposed to these other archetypes of the fallen civilization tropes.
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