Rhaenyra was the only surviving daughter to King Viserys I's first wife, Aemma of House Arryn. Viserys had three children, two boys that were stillborn, and Rhaenyra. Because there were no male heirs, Rhaenyra was named as his heir. Princess Rhaenyra was groomed by Viserys to succeed him by taking part in her father's small council and other political matters. Many nobles respected Rhaenyra, who was widely accepted as the future queen. She later married Ser Laenor Velaryon and gave birth to three sons; Jacaerys, Lucerys and Joffrey Velaryon, although many believed they were instead sons of Rhaenyra's lover, Ser Harwin Strong. She later married her uncle Daemon Targaryen, who fathered her sons Aegon and Viserys, after the death of Ser Laenor ten years before the Dance of Dragons. None of the children of her first marriage survived the civil war. Her dragon was named Syrax.
During the fifth anniversary of the marriage between her father and stepmother, Alicent Hightower, the princess wore a black and red dress, while the queen used a green dress. This simple difference in color served as a way of differenciating the two factions during the war.
The Dance of Dragons
After the death of her father King Viserys I, it was accepted that Princess Rhaenyra would inherit her father's kingdom, as stated in his will. This upset many lords of the Seven Kingdom, who all followed the Andals traditions of male primogeniture. After Viserys' passing, Ser Criston Cole, the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, defied the King's will and instead crowned Viserys's elder male son Aegon II. Rhaenyra, furious over the injustice, proclaimed herself the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. This proclamation sparked the entire realm to go to war. Some supported Rhaenyra and others Aegon II. Dragons covered the entire sky. Because the dragon riders fought each other, the civil war became known as the Dance of Dragons.
Her faction, known as the Blacks, had their headquarters at Dragonstone, where many semi-wild dragons roamed, she also counted with the support of Houses Velaryon, Stark, Arryn, Mooton, Staunton, Beesbury, Dustin, Manderly, Blackwood, Frey, Tarly, Rowan, Costayne, Sunderland, Borrell and Caswell.
The death of her second son Lucerys in what was supposed to be a safe misision, turned the conflict into a total war. Her eldest son Jacerys proposed to look for more dragon riders to gain an edge in the war, with four succeeding: Addam Velaryon, Hugh the Hammer, Ulf the White, and Nettles. When Jacerys was killed in battle, she tried to send her two youngest sons Aegon and Viserys to Essos for safety, only for Viserys to be captured by the enemy fleet and Aegon returning traumatized to Dragonstone.
Thanks to Daemon and the allegiance of King's Landing City Watch, the Blacks took over the city while most of the Green's armies and dragon riders were away, imprisoning Heleana and Queen dowager Allicent. Ser Otto Hightower and Lord Jasper Wylde were executed instead and Aegon disappeared.
When it seemed the war was turning in favor of the Blacks, the sudden betrayal of Hammer and White made her believe all bastards were traitors and ordered the imprisonment of Addam Velaryon and the execution of Nettles. This irrational order made Lord Corlys Velaryon, Rhaenyra's former father in-law, to release his heir and letting himself be imprisoned, while Lord Manfryd Mooton let Nettles go from Maidenpool and then turned to the Greens.
The important victory at the Tumbleton didn't reached Rhaenyra's ears in time, and during the Storming of the Dragonpit, her third son Joffrey died trying to climb his mother's dragon. The loss of all their current dragons made Rhaenyra flee the capital, taking her (believed to be) last remaining child to Dragonstone, not realizing Aegon's forces had already taken over the castle.
She was brought to her brother Aegon II, who branded her a traitor of the realm. She was executed by his command. In a grisly and sadistic lesson, he had her body fed to his dragon as her son Aegon III watched.
Character and Appearance
Rhaenyra had her family's Valyrian looks- braided long silver-gold hair and purple eyes. While very beautiful in her youth, six pregnancies took a toll on her figure, becoming a very pudgy and stout woman with an thick waist and a very large bosom. She would always dress lavishly, favoring purple and maroon velvets with intricated patterns. She always wore glittering pearls and diamonds. Rhaenyra also wore her father's crown.
Rhaenyra had an arrogant personailty, but at times could be very charming. However, she was quick to anger and never forgot a slight. Despite those defects, she usually listened to the advices of her Small Council, which was in large contrast with her brother Aegon, who usually refused to listen their advices. The other advantage against Aegon was her experience, being raised her whole life as heir made her a very capable ruler, unlike Aegon who was motivated by his mother Alicent Hightower to take the throne. There was only one occasion where she truly quarrelled with her father, and it ended when he threatened to disinherit her, showing that Rhaenyra did, to an extent, enjoy power.
Rhaenyra was reportedly cruel and ruthless when she sat on the Iron Throne, earning the name 'King Maegor with Teats', and became dangerously paranoid as her very short reign progressed. By the time of her death, Rhaenyra was mad with grief from losing her precious dragon Syrax, so much that she frightened her own son. Her last words suggested that she still believed she was supported, but she had lost major support throughout the Dance, ending with her husband Daemon.