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Home > Maegor The Cruel: The Most Vile Targaryen King

Maegor The Cruel: The Most Vile Targaryen King

One of the Greatest Monsters of Game of Thrones Lore

George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones and its prequel House of the Dragon have given viewers many horrid villains over the years, but there are many more hidden in the deep history and lore of A Song of Ice and Fire. Here is the backstory to the worst of the Targaryen Dynasty, Maegor the Cruel.

Seizing the Throne with Fire and Blood

In Westeros, every time a Targaryen is born the Gods flip a coin between greatness and madness. Maegor The Cruel landed on madness, he was the firstborn of the Targaryen dynasty’s founder, Aegon the Conqueror. As a child, there were stories of him killing a cat, killing a horse that kicked him, and mutilating a nearby stableboy. 

By 16 years old, he earned his reputation as a fierce warrior by taking on much older squires and eventually being knighted. Maegor became the Hand of the King by brutally butchering several rebels in the Vale even after their leader Lord Jonos Arryn was killed. However, he was exiled across The Narrow Sea after breaking the rules of the Faith when taking a second wife after his first proved barren.

Maegor’s tyranny began as soon as his brother Aenys died, immediately contesting his nephew Aegon’s right to the throne. When the Grand Maester advised against this, he was immediately executed, this would not be the last time Maegor abused the power of the throne. Despite terrorizing anyone else from objecting to his rule, Prince Aegon led a rebellion against Maegor. This culminated in the Battle Beneath the God’s Eye, in which the prince rode his dragon Quicksilver into battle. However, neither was a match for Maegor and his dragon, the infamous Balerion the Black Dread. His slaying of his nephew earned him the title of Maegor the Cruel. 

While working on the construction of the Red Keep in King Landing, he had his workers build hidden tunnels throughout. To preserve its secrecy, he slaughtered them all during a feast.

Maegor artwork

Maegor’s Fiery Marriage Struggles 

While Maegor had committed a litany of atrocities throughout his reign, the majority were during his struggle against the Faith Militant. Casual viewers will remember the Faith Militants as the fanatics who opposed Cersei in season five of Game of Thrones, but their history goes back further. While Maegor’s father did not have ideal relations with the Faith, they were made even worse under his son’s rule. Part of their anger came from the Maegor’s infidelity. After succeeding in a Trial by Seven (a trial by combat with seven on each team), Maegor used this as grounds to burn down the entire Sept of Remembrance using Balerion, killing hundreds.

This was only the beginning, as Maegor would go on to scorch away any other pockets of resistance to be found within the Seven Kingdoms. By the end, he returned with 2,000 skulls (mostly from innocent civilians) as trophies of his “victory”. During this time, Maegor had been keeping his brother’s widow, Alyssa, captive, but she escaped with two of her children. Her middle child, Viserys, was still in Maegor’s custody as the latter had him tortured to death out of spite.

Maegor beheaded yet another Grand Maester out of rage after a stillborn son from his second wife Alys Harroway. His third wife Tyanna, a courtesan, had accused Alys of being unfaithful and that the stillbirth wasn’t his own. Maegor would kill not only his second wife, but also her father, his Hand of the King, and burn down their entire castle.

image of the iron throne

His Inevitable and Self-Inflicted Downfall

Despite Maegor’s best efforts, he would do little to prevent resentment from building throughout his realm. Still unable to sire an heir, he would forcefully take three “black brides”, named for the fact that all were widowed because of him. Regardless of how many wives he took, none would be able to give him what he desired, leaving him without an heir to cement his claim. Faced with as many stillbirths as he was, this only drove Maegor to further instability. 

Eventually, Maegor’s crimes would catch up to him as the Faith Militant refused to be extinguished. More and more lords across Westeros had rightly joined them in opposing his insanity. This rebellion would include half of the great houses, his master of ships, one of his black brides and her dragon, and his new Hand all supporting his nephew, Jaehaerys. Maegor tried to turn to his fourth Grand Maester, but he had taken the hint and fled. The next day, Maegor’s mutilated corpse was found resting on the Iron Throne, the perpetrator’s identity remaining a mystery.

Despite the chaos Maegor brought about, his nephew Jaehaerys would usher in an age of peace, as they had already united. For his many atrocities, Maegor went down as one of the most reviled figures in Westerosi history, and given the reputation of Game of Thrones, this speaks volumes. While the likes of Aegon IV and Aerys II (Daenerys’ father) may outclass him in incompetence and madness, even they would bend the knee to Maegor’s depravity.

House of The Dragon Season 2 Official Max Teaser 

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Omid Rad is a freelance writer, movie lover and overall geek.