Spoiler alert: This article contains major spoilers for House of the Dragon.The Iron Throne is the subject of much debate in this season of House of the Dragon, as each prospective king and queen desperately tries to lay down their claim. With the audience already well aware of Westerosi politics, thanks to Game of Thrones, the show has had the chance to really dive into the political realities of the kingdoms.
Yet none of the current candidates for the Iron Throne truly deserve it. Aegon is arrogant and uninterested, Rhaenyra has a cruelty streak and is wildly irresponsible, and even Daemon is too much of a wildcard to qualify. For several Redditors, there have been many kings and queens in Westerosi history that are greater and shine brighter than the Targaryens of Rhaenyra's generation.
While King Tommen had a tragically short reign, it was also a fairly good one. Tommen clearly loved the smallfolk and the Faith, which helped to build a strong alliance between the Crown and the Faith of the Seven. He also worked to improve the lives of all those around him and contributed heavily to Cersei's downfall.
"I also think that under the right small council, he could have been the best," says Reddit user littleliongirless. "He and Myrcella truly could have turned the Lannister name around if not mainly for Cersei." All the pieces were there to make a great king. Unfortunately, Cersei refused to give Tommen the opportunity to thrive by killing a loyal queen.
During the Dance of the Dragons, the supposed bastard son of Aegon II gathered thousands of supporters and claimed the Iron Throne for himself. Though Gaemon had no true power, those ruling as his regents decreed equality in succession laws, free healthcare for any civilians harmed in war, and a dole of bread to the poor.
When deciding the best king, this Redditor says, "If we go with our morals, it's probably Gaemon Palehair." Gaemon certainly gave King's Landing a chance to rise from the wastes. In the midst of a devastating war, he offered them a reprieve, which made him an excellent king.
The woman who brought Dorne into the Seven Kingdoms, Mariah Martell was certainly a brilliant queen. "She gave up her claim, lost her friends, her people, her house, her lifestyle... to marry," says Reddit user Seasmoke_LV. "Bore children with their worst and ancestral enemy of her lands and people."
After all, book readers know that the Targaryens and Dorne had been at war for centuries. After endless bloodshed, Mariah afforded her people the opportunity to know peace and gain prosperity through equal trade with Westeros. She sacrificed her entire life in pursuit of that goal, and she won it completely bloodlessly.
Aegon III Targaryen
After the Dance of the Dragons, Westeros was in a state of severe devastation. Dozens of Lords were dead and entire lines had been exterminated. The dragons were mostly dead, and House Targaryen was on its last legs. Yet, King Aegon III actually managed to keep it together.
"He was made king on hard mode not only with the state of the kingdom after the Dance but also just with his own issues considering what he went through as a child, any lesser man would’ve" went down that dark path, says Reddit user MelkorTheDarkOne. Though he seemingly contributed little, Aegon proved that the realm would survive after the Dance just as he had.
After the ascent of King Jaehaerys, the Dowager Queen Alyssa managed to hold the realm together in his regency period. Although the Baratheons were scheming to undermine House Targaryen, Alyssa proved that her will was stronger than an incredibly important House.
"In my personal opinion, the Targaryen dynasty wouldn't have survived as long as if not for her actions," says Reddit user AlayneMoonStone. After her marriage to King Maegor, most other queens would have fallen apart, but Alyssa was strong enough to push through to see his end. It showed her strength as a person and as a queen.
Aegon I Targaryen
Now known as Aegon the Conqueror, the first King of Westeros brought together six kingdoms on the back of Balerion the Black Dread. "In terms of greatness, you can't beat conquering six kingdoms. Really, no one comes close," says Reddit user EUPW.
Yet, it wasn't only his conquests that made him great. Aegon also managed to be a fairly good ruler, as he adopted Westerosi customs in order to compel the Lords to accept him. As one of the best Targaryen characters, he also built King's Landing out of nothing and started the greatest dynasty in Westeros.
One of Aegon's wives and a fellow dragon rider, "Rhaenys was vital in Aegon's conquering of the Seven Kingdoms," says a now-deleted Reddit user. As the softer of Aegon's brides, she earned the love of the realm and even bore the first descendent of Aegon.
Yet Rhaenys was far from weak, as she proved capable of terrifying her enemies on the back of the mighty dragon Meraxes. Having worked to pass laws forbidding excessive abuse of women, she did her best to protect smallfolk as well. While she unfortunately died young, she left her mark on the kingdoms as the surviving Targaryen line went through her.
Another wife to Aegon the Conqueror, Visenya was far more brutal than Rhaenys. The wielder of Dark Sister, Visenya was a warrior who was often rumored to practice dark magic. Yet, in spite of her skills, she also proved to be an excellent queen to the Six Kingdoms.
Having put together the idea to form the Kingsguard, Visenya selected the greatest knights ever to join the Kingsguard. Her historical contributions alone made her incredible, but the fact that she managed to secure the loyalty of the Vale of Arryn without a drop of blood spilled showed her skill and grace. "While Visenya may not have been as loved as her sister, she was just as important and one of the best queens in history," says a now-deleted Reddit user.
The wife of King Jaehaerys Targaryen, Alyssane was an incredible ruler and one who certainly made a difference in the lives of tens of thousands of members of the smallfolk. "It's pretty clear if you read in between the lines that Alysanne was the real power behind the throne," says Reddit user Dachitron_Magnus14.
Having strengthened the power of the Night's Watch, Alysanne also brokered dozens of marriages, which helped ensure stability throughout the realm. She also advocated for the rights of women in succession, while doing her best to prevent revolt by becoming personally familiar with each of the lords of the kingdom.
The king who ruled after Maegor the Cruel, Jaehaerys reigned well for decades. "He was undoubtedly the best king to ever sit the throne. Long, peaceful reign during House Targaryens golden age. His only fault was that his sons died before him and complicated the succession," says Reddit user DavidTheWhale7.
Every road in Westeros was laid by Jaehaerys' order, as he tried to make it easier for his congregation to follow him throughout the Six Kingdoms. Jaehaerys also managed to cool tensions with Dorne, and he even managed to decrease the power and influence of the Faith of the Seven. It was an incredibly successful reign, largely thanks to his willingness to listen to even common-born advisors.
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