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Rhaegar fought valiantly, Rhaegar fought nobly. And Rhaegar died.
~ Jorah Mormont about Rhaegar Targaryen.

Rhaegar Targaryen is the posthumous overarching protagonist of the A Song of Ice and Fire book series and it’s television adaptation Game of Thrones. He was the crown prince of the Seven Kingdoms during the rule of his father Aerys "The Mad-King" Targaryen.

He is the eldest son of King Aerys II and Queen Rhaella Targaryen; the elder brother of Prince Viserys and Princess Daenerys Targaryen, and the the father of Rhaenys Targaryen, Aegon Targaryen and Jon Snow. He was slain at the Trident by his cousin, Lord Robert Baratheon.

In the TV-series Rhaegar is portrayed by Wilf Scolding.

Personality and Appearence

Rhaegar never liked killing. He loved singing.
~ Barristan Selmy to Daenerys about her brother.

Prince Rhaegar was tall and handsome, having dark lilac eyes and the silver hair of the Targaryens, worn long. He had the iron tones of a Prince. Many say that Rhaegar was beautiful, some people like Cersei Lannister viewed Rhaegar as the most beautiful man she's even seen. Rhaegar was exceedingly intelligent and excelled at anything he put his mind to. He was considered to be a talented musician and skilled knight. He was well loved by the smallfolk and some lords alike. While well-loved by the people, Rhaegar was said to be quiet, private and bookish. He was deeply affected by "the shadow of Summerhall", because he was "born in grief" and was considered melancholic at times.

While King Robert I Baratheon despises him, many think of Rhaegar with respect, especially Targaryen loyalists. Ser Jaime Lannister still remembers the iron tones of Rhaegar’s voice and thinks he would have made a good king. Ser Barristan Selmy, who served three kings, recalls that Rhaegar would have been better then all three combined. His sister, Daenerys Targaryen, is often compared to Rhaegar as a compliment. Eddard Stark, Robert's friend and Lyanna's brother, remembers Rhaegar in a neutral manner. People who had romantic feelings toward Rhaegar include Cersei Lannister and Jon Connington (and possibly Lyanna Stark).

Early life

Prince Rhaegar was King Aerys II and Queen Rhaella's first-born son. He was born in the year 259AL, on the same day that the Tragedy at Summerhall took place.

As a child he read obsessively, to the point that jests were made about his habits. He became a noted warrior later in life, although he did not initially seem inclined to martial habits. However, he became motivated to excel in this field, apparently by something he read.

At 17, Rhaegar was knighted, and from all reports grew into a highly skilled and capable fighter, always distinguishing himself well at tournaments, although he seldom entered the lists - he never loved the song of swords the way that Robert Baratheon or Jaime Lannister did.

Men said Rhaegar loved his harp more then he loved his lance.

Rhaegar often liked to visit the ruins of Summerhall with only his harp and when he returned he sang songs of such beauty they could reduce women to tears. Although Rhaegar was often dour, private and bookish, Cersei Lannister noted at the tourney for King Aerys II in Lannisport the smallfolk cheered for Lord Tywin Lannister twice as much as for King Aerys II, but only half as loudly for Tywin as for Rhaegar.

Aerys refused Tywin's offer at the tourney to betroth Cersei to Rhaegar.

Rhaegar's squires were Myles Mooton and Richard Lonmouth, and after he knighted them they remained close companions. Lord Jon Connington was a good friend to Rhaegar too, but Rhaegar's closest and oldest friend was Ser Arthur Dayne.

When Rhaegar was born the Targaryen bloodline had decreased, and once he came of age, there was no one of that bloodline available for him to marry.

To try and rectify this matter, King Aerys, when he was not quite so mad, had sent his first cousin, Steffon Baratheon, to seek a bride for Prince Rhaegar, who had no sisters to wed. The problem that Steffon found when looking for Valyrian blood in Essos was not that there were none with it left, but that he could not find any appropriate females of noble-enough birth.

Later, Rhaegar married the Dornish princess Elia Martell, with whom he had two children: a daughter, Rhaenys, and a son, Aegon Targaryen.

Elia, due to her delicate health, was bed-ridden for half a year after giving birth to Rhaenys and nearly died giving birth to Aegon, after which the maesters told Rhaegar she would be unable to have any more children. Maester Aemon, whom Rhaegar corresponded with via raven messages, remembers that Rhaegar erroneously believed his child Aegon to be the prince that was promised.

Later Life and Death

Rhaegar's armor.

During the Tourney at Harrenhal, Rhaegar Targaryen seemed unstoppable and defeated even Ser Arthur  Dayne, the Sword of the Morning. Taking the winter rose crown for the queen of love and beauty, he revealed his interest in Lyanna Stark by passing over his wife, the Princess Elia of Dorne, and setting it in Lyanna's lap. Eddard Stark later recalled that moment as "when all the smiles died". Robert Baratheon, Lyanna's husband to be, was not bothered at all and agreed with Rhaegar's taste for Lyanna, thinking that everyone was overreacting. A year later, Rhaegar apparently kidnapped Lyanna, for reasons unknown. This act ultimately caused the death of Rickard and Brandon Stark by King Aerys II, which triggered Robert's Rebellion and the downfall of the Targaryen dynasty.

Rhaegar remained absent during most of the war, until he reunited with his supporters and led the royal army from King's Landing after Jon Connington's last failure to end the rebellion. Rhaegar was not able to get support from most of the Reach, because Robert's younger brother, Stannis, was holding the Reach's army and fleets in the south. Commanding the royal Targaryen loyalist army, Rhaegar met Robert in combat at a ford during the Battle of the Trident, where the pair had a legendary duel in the raging rivers of the Trident. Rhaegar, despite wounding Robert, was struck down with a massive blow from Robert's warhammer, which scattered the rubies encrusted in Rhaegar's armor under the water. While Rhaegar lay dead in the stream, soldiers of both armies scrabbled in water to search for the rubies. The location was named the ruby ford thereafter. Rhaegar died with Lyanna Stark's name on his lips.

His wife Elia and their children were murdered by Ser Gregor Clegane and Ser Amory Lorch during the Sack of King's Landing. Amory dragged the screaming girl, Rhaenys, from under her father's bed and stabbed her to death. Gregor, whom Rhaegar had knighted himself, killed the infant Aegon by dashing his head against the wall while his mother watched. He then raped and killed Elia while still covered in the blood and brains of her son.

The circumstances of Rhaegar's taking of Lyanna remain unknown, as is true for Lyanna's reaction to it. The Starks, Brandon Stark in particular, saw it as an abduction, and Robert Baratheon imagined that Rhaegar was raping Lyanna while he kept her prisoner. However, the Targaryen tradition sees Rhaegar acting out of true love for Lyanna. By the time Lyanna was found by her brother, Eddard, she was kept in the Tower of Joy in Dorne where, on Rhaegar's command, she was guarded by three knights of the Kingsguard. Lyanna died soon after Eddard's arrival and his defeat of the knights. She made her brother give a promise, the content of which remains unknown, as Eddard apparently never shared Lyanna's secret with anyone.

What all sides seem to agree upon is that the meeting of Rhaegar and Lyanna was fateful as it led to immense bloodshed. This leads to imaginations of an alternate history, in which Rhaegar never becomes infatuated with Lyanna. Viserys Targaryen blamed his sister Daenerys once for the downfall of the Targaryens, because she was not born earlier, as Rhaegar could then have married her and might have never become interested in Lyanna. Daenerys replied that by the same logic, it was also Viserys' fault for not being born a girl, much to the anger of Viserys.

Ser Kevan Lannister imagines that, had King Aerys accepted Lord Tywin Lannister's proposal of marrying his daughter Cersei to Rhaegar, the Dragon Prince might have never looked twice at Lyanna. After his death Rhaegar was cremated, as is traditional for fallen Targaryens.

Post Mortem Impact

Even after his Death, Prince Rhaegar still got a strong impact in the lives of others.

  1. It is evident that both Viserys and Daenerys feel a strong admiration for their deceased brother
  2. Ser Barristan looks for Daenerys because he believes that that´s the way to repay to House Targaryen in the name of Rhaegar.
  3. While Imprisioned Cersei often think of what her life would have been with Rhaegar.
  4. Most of the actions of Daenerys while ruling are based on the thoughts "What would Rhaegar do?".

R+L=J theory

Ever since Book 1 was released, several hints appeared that suggested that Jon Snow, the supposed bastard son of Eddard Stark, was really the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. Fans nicknamed the theory R+L=J, short for Rhaegar+Lyanna=Jon. Hints included that Eddard gave incoherent and indeed contradicting accounts of who Jon's mother was (claiming it was the Dornish maid of House Dayne, named Wylla), indicating that he was lying about something, and also the conspicuous fact that Lyanna died shortly before Ned returned to the North with the infant Jon Snow: hinting that Lyanna died in childbirth. There were also many hints (still unconfirmed) that Lyanna didn't actually love Robert Baratheon, and she ran off with Rhaegar - particularly that everyone except for Robert himself describes Rhaegar as a chivalrous, intellectual, kind man who didn't seem the sort to randomly rape the daughter of a major noble house. Another major hint was that Rhaegar had the three greatest members of the Kingsguard (two in the TV version) sit out the entire war, purely to guard Lyanna at the Tower of Joy.

This theory remained unconfirmed in the books for a long time. However in the seventh season of the TV Show's version of the story, Bran Stark, using his greenseer abilities, has a vision of the past where Ned found Lyanna dying in bed in the Tower of Joy with a newborn baby boy. George R.R. Martin himself has never confirmed this theory, contrary to popular belief and there is little textual evidence that supports R + L = J. Throughout the book, Jon has no Dragon dreams, no Targaryen or Dragon imagery or symbolism and the only time Jon even mentions Dragons is discussing how a certain dwarf tells him of his own Dragon dreams. Therefore this theory is confirmed only in the show and is not canon.

Jon Snow's rights have been likely simplified in the TV series in order to favor Jon as a more legitimate heir for House Targaryen. In the books, marriage and inheritance are far more complex. Also, the TV version of Rhaegar is made more negative by having him annulling his marriage with his previous wife, Elia Martell, thus openly insulting her, his own children and heirs born before Jon and House Martell. In the books divorce does not exist, because marriage vows are considered holy.


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