The Blackfyre Pretenders were a series of claimants to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, flying the banner of House Blackfyre, opposing the reign of House Targaryen. It is said that the Blackfyre Pretenders troubled the Targaryens for five generations before their threat was finally eradicated. They originated during the reign of King Daeron II and were eliminated when the future King Aerys II was still a young man, spanning five generations.
King Aegon IV Targaryen, who reigned in 172-184 AL, legitimised all of his bastard children on his deathbed, most notably his so-called 'Great Bastards', the most infamous of whom were Daemon Blackfyre, Aegor Rivers (called 'Bittersteel') and Brynden Rivers (called 'Bloodraven'). Whilst Aegon was succeeded his eldest trueborn son, Daeron II, some whispered that Daemon would make the better king, as he was stronger, more martial, more handsome and more worthy of the crown. There were also rumours that Daeron II was the result of a union between Queen Naerys and her brother Prince Aemon the Dragonknight and not the rightful king at all.
The First Blackfyre Rebellion
In 195 AL these rumours encouraged Daemon Blackfyre to claim the throne of the Seven Kingdoms. Almost half the realm rose for him, and the resulting civil war, known at the time as the Blackfyre Rebellion, cost tens of thousands of lives. At the end of the war Daemon and his two eldest sons were killed by Ser Brynden Rivers, known as Bloodraven, during the Battle of the Redgrass Field.
However, five of Daemon's sons survived and were carried into exile in the Free Cities by Bittersteel, to continue plotting the downfall of the Targaryen dynasty. In Tyrosh Bittersteel founded the Golden Company, an army of exiled knights and Westerosi freeriders who would form a loyal nucleus for any future attempt to reclaim the Iron Throne.
The Second Blackfyre Rebellion
In 212 AL, Daemon II Blackfyre plotted to return to Westeros incognito and raise support for a second uprising. Bittersteel did not support this venture, judging the time to not be right. Daemon II nevertheless made the attempt and summoned a group of former Blackfyre supporters to meet at Whitewalls, under the cover of a wedding. Agents working for Bloodraven, now serving as the Hand of the King, exposed the plot and the conspiracy was smashed. Most of the conspirators were executed and Daemon II was imprisoned in the Red Keep. Despite the incident not involving any pitched battles, Bloodraven referred to it as the "Second Blackfyre Rebellion".
The War of the Ninepenny Kings
In the 250s AL, during the reign of King Aegon V Targaryen, Maelys Blackfyre, descendant of Daemon, allied with eight other warlords of the east in a joint campaign to conquer several territories. The plan was that each leader would help the others win his throne, where each alone would fail. Having overrun the Disputed Lands and installed Alequo Adarys as ruler of the city of Tyrosh, the warlords conquered the Stepstones in preparation for an assault on Westeros itself.
Instead, an expeditionary force of Westerosi lords and knights landed on the Stepstones and launched a pre-emptive attack. Maelys, known as Maelys the Monstrous for his deformities (including a second head growing out of his neck), was slain by Ser Barristan Selmy during the battle. The ninepenny kings were dispersed and the threat to the Targaryens ended.
Whilst the Blackfyre Pretenders have all been slain, the Golden Company escaped from the War of the Ninepenny Kings to become one of the most professional and feared mercenary companies in Essos, known for their loyalty and skill at arms.
- Daemon I Blackfyre: killed at the Battle of Redgrass Field with his two eldest sons in 196 AL.
- Daemon II Blackfyre: third (and eldest surviving) son of Daemon I Blackfyre. Captured in 212 AL during the aborted Second Blackfyre Rebellion.
- Haegon I Blackfyre, fourth born son of Daemon I.
- Daemon III Blackfyre, eldest son of Haegon I.
- Maelys Blackfyre: killed by Ser Barristan Selmy on the Stepstones during the War of the Ninepenny Kings.