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|“||I am the only dragon that you need.||„|
|~ Young Griff|
|“||Trust no one, my prince. Not your chainless maester, not your false father, not the gallant Duck nor the lovely Lemore nor these other fine friends who grew you from a bean. Above all, trust not the cheesemonger, nor the Spider, nor this little dragon queen you mean to marry. All that mistrust will sour your stomach and keep you awake by night, 'tis true, but better that than the long sleep that does not end.||„|
|~ Tyrion Lannister, to Young Griff|
Young Griff is a character of A Song of Ice and Fire series, serving as the head of the landing of the Golden Company in the Stormlands, assisted by a sellsword known as Griff.
However, this might not really that simple. Several plots in the books, espeacially Tyrion and Dany's chapters, implied and/or even possibly confirmed that "Young Griff" is in fact the rumored deceased Prince Aegon Targaryen, who was the second child and only son of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and Elia Martell, in disguise. He is accompnied by Jon Conninton, the true identity of Griff, as a secret claimer of the Iron Throne.
Note: As there is no other evidence suggested that Young Griff is not Prince Ageon, this page will include the birth and apparant death of Prince Aegon, and it will be removed if it is disproved by later novels.
Aegon Targaryen's history
A comet was seen above King's Landing on the night Aegon was conceived, which led his father Rhaegar Targaryen to believe that he was the prince that was promised. The comet was seen as "the bleeding star" of the prophecy. Maester Aemon was aware of Rhaegar's beliefs, though it is unclear if he shared them. Aemon would later came to doubt the wisdom of looking for a prince, rather than a princess. He realized there was a translation error, and that the term translated was fluid in terms of gender. This is connected to the term for dragons, which are neither male nor female. It should be noted that at this moment in time, Aemon Targaryen believed Aegon to be dead.
Sack of King's Landing
Aegon was just an infant during Robert Baratheon's Rebellion, having been born just a few months before its onset. Prior to the Battle of the Trident, Aegon's great-uncle, Prince Lewyn Martell, was reminded gracelessly by King Aerys II that Aegon, and his sister and mother, were in Aerys' hands. Lewyn was then ordered to take command of the ten thousand Dornishmen who were marching up the Kingsroad. During the Battle of the Trident, Aegons father Rhaegar and great-uncle Lewyn died, amongst others, and King Aerys II decided to send his wife, Queen Rhaella, and their last remaining son, Prince Viserys, to Dragonstone for safety. The original plan had been for Elia to join them, but Aerys came to blame the loss of the battle on Prince Lewyn Martell of the Kingsguard, accusing him of having betrayed Rhaegar. He thus chose to keep Elia and her children by his side as hostages to ensure continued Dornish loyalty.
With the death of Rhaegar, Grandmaester Pycelle was convinced that the war was effectively over, and that House Targaryen could no longer offer a proper king to the realm. Pycelle worked to convince Aerys II to open the gates of King's Landing to the Lannister forces, secretly hoping Tywin Lannister would rise to the throne.
A fortnight after the royal forces had left for the Trident, the Sack of King's Landing occured. During the Sack, Jaime Lannister killed Aerys in the throne room of the Red Keep. Jaime, though the only Kingsguard member left in the city, didn't think his father, whose troops were attacking the city, would harm little Aegon and his young sister. But while Jaime was standing over Aerys' corpse, Gregor Clegane and Amory Lorch were already scaling the walls of Maegor's Holdfast. Aegon, his sister and his mother were brutally killed in the process. The deaths of Aegon and Rhaenys caused a fight between Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon, and also began the feud between House Martell and House Lannister, as well as caused Dorne to remain loyal to the Iron Throne only by name, interacting with the other kingdoms as little as necessary.
During the Sack, Jaime Lannister, unaware of what was occuring at the Holdfast, briefly toyed with the idea of proclaiming a new Targaryen king. Tywin Lannister would gain control as Hand of the King, the "wolves" of the North would howl in frustration and Robert Baratheon would choke with rage. For a moment, Jaime found this option tempting, until he recalled that both Aegon and Viserys had inherited the blood of Aerys and with it, the potential for madness. Jaime decided against supporting either one of them.
Accounts and Motivations
Viserys often told stories to his sister Daenerys. One of these stories involved the Sack of King's Landing by the "Usurper's dogs", Tywin Lannister and Eddard Stark. In this story, Elia Martell was pleading for mercy as Aegon was ripped from her breast and murdered before her eyes. Aegon was "Rhaegar's heir". Daenerys later recalled an additional detail, that Aegon's head had been dashed against a wall. Eddard Stark recalls that "Lord Tywin's soldiers" had torn Aegon from his mother's breast and dashed his head against a wall. They were also said to have dragged Rhaenys from beneath her bed, putting her to the sword. Eddard Stark had heard rumors that it was Gregor Clegane who dashed the skull of infant Aegon against a wall. It was whispered that afterward Gregor had raped Elia Martell, and then put her to the sword. At the time Gregor was only seventeen. Nobody dared to repeat these rumors when Gregor himself could be listening. According to Tyrion Lannister, the responsibility of Gregor for the murders of Elia and Aegon was "common knowledge" in Casterly Rock. The tale went that while Gregor raped Elia, his hands were still covered in the blood and brains of Aegon. A wounded Gregor later narrated a brief account of the events to Oberyn Martell, while killing him. He had first killed Aegon, the "screaming whelp". Then came the rape of Elia; Clegane claimed to have smashed her head with his bare hands, the same method Gregor used to finish off Oberyn.
Tywin Lannister later narrated his view of the events to his son Tyrion. Rhaenys was hiding under Rhaegar's bed, while Elia and Aegon were in the nursery, just a floor below the location of Rhaenys. Tywin had kept the Westerlands from joining Robert's cause for most of the Rebellion. They had only joined said cause at the last stage of the war, and their loyalty would be suspected. He needed a way to demonstrate loyalty to Robert, a way to convince people that the Lannisters had severed all ties to House Targaryen. In addition, Eddard Stark was also heading toward King's Landing, leading Robert's army south from the Trident. Instead of the Lannister and Stark forces meeting as allies, there was still a chance for the two armies to clash. Tywin also feared that his elder son Jaime might do something stupid or that Aerys would kill Jaime for no more reason than sheer spite.
Tywin also narrated his reasons for the murders. By eliminating Rhaegar's children, an a single move the Lannisters would be proving their commitment to Baratheon's cause and secure the throne for Robert by eliminating rival claimants for the throne. Tywin himself was somewhat surprised by the result of his commands. The murders were performed "too brutally" for his needs; he insisted that Elia didn't have to die, it happened because he didn't specify she should be spared. He had not grasped yet that Gregor is bestial, not just "terrible in battle".
Oberyn Martell had another view on Tywin's motives. Elia was once supposed to marry Jaime Lannister, based on an agreement between her mother and Joanna Lannister. Following the death of Joanna, Tywin broke the agreement, though he offered Tyrion as a a prospective bridegroom instead of Jaime, taunting the Martells. He had also informed them that his own daughter, Cersei, was meant for Rhaegar, not for Oberyn. When Elia married Rhaegar, the Martells had ruined Tywin's plans. Tywin was "not a man to forget such slights". Oberyn believed that the murder of Elia was decided by Tywin, to teach Elia the same lesson that Houses Reyne and Tarbeck had learned.
Eddard Stark recalled how Tywin Lannister presented Robert with the corpses of Elia, Aegon, and Rhaenys: his "token of fealty". Tywin had laid the bodies beneath the Iron Throne, wrapped in the crimson cloaks of his house guard - a clever choice, as the blood was less obvious against the red cloth. Rhaenys had been barefoot, dressed in a bed gown. The condition of the boy horrified Eddard. The skull was a "red ruin", and even Robert could not stand its sight. Kevan Lannister was also present during this scene. He was able to recognize Rhaenys, but recalls that nobody could recognize Aegon. All that remained of the boy was a faceless horror of bone, brain, and gore with a few hanks of fair hair. Tywin stated that this was Aegon and everyone else took him at his word. Seventeen years later, however, Kevan expresses uncertainty about the identity of the babe.
Reactions to the death
- Robert I Baratheon was actually relieved and glad that Rhaegar's children were killed. Robert viewed himself as a hero, and was reluctant to kill children, but he knew Rhaegar's children had to die if his throne was ever to be secure. Tywin painted himself as the villain, allowing Robert to keep his hands clean, the reason Robert refused to punish any of the Lannisters for the brutal act. Upon the protest of his friend Eddard Stark that the two children had been no more than babes, Robert had named Aegon and his sister "dragonspawn".
- Tywin Lannister knew that killing both children would prove to Robert that House Lannister had forsaken the House Targaryen forever. Years later, Tyrion came to question the wisdom of the act. Robert Baratheon would have bloodied his own hands, soiling his own reputation, if he had done the deed himself. Instead, the Lannisters had damaged their own reputation, gaining long-term enemies in the process. Tywin Lannister expressed the act had been necessary, because House Lannister had come into the war only at the end.
- Eddard Stark called the act murder, Robert called it war. Eddard protested that Aegon and Rhaenys were "no more than babes", but Robert disagreed, calling the children "dragonspawn". The two men quarreled over the matter, and even Jon Arryn was unable to calm them. Eddard had ridden out of King's Landing in a cold rage, heading south to fight the last battles of the war on his own. He and Robert would only be reconciled by their shared grief over the death of Lyanna.
- Thoros of Myr claims to have personally seen the corpses of Aegon and Rhaenys, as they were placed before the Iron Throne. In his view, House Clegane was "built upon dead children" and their arms should display "two bloody infants".
- Arianne Martell calls Robert Baratheon a monster who climbed onto his throne over the corpses of children, directly connecting his rise to the murders of Aegon and Rhaenys. Robert is not held in high regard in Dorne.
- Viserys Targaryen was convinced that the Dornishmen were determined to avenge Elia and her children, and would thus rise to his cause.
- Years following the murders, Doran Martell still mourns for the victims. According to Varys, Prince Doran's hatred for House Lannister is well known. Doran himself claims to have worked at the downfall of Tywin Lannister since they first brought him word of the fates of Elia and her children.
- Oberyn Martell, in his words, hungered for justice for sixteen years. He was certain that Gregor had been following orders rather than acting on his own, and wanted vengeance on the man who gave the orders, not just the man who performed the deed.
- Nymeria Sand believes that the only fitting payment for the death of Elia's children would be the death of "Lord Tywin's golden twins". Cersei and Jaime would pay with their lives for the old murders.
- Jacelyn Bywater stated to Tyrion Lannister there were still whispers in King's Landings that "the butchery of Rhaegar's children" was one of the sins of House Lannister and that the Seven would punish the entire city for the the act.
- Daenerys Targaryen is unable to see a difference between Houses Lannister and Stark. She considers Eddard Stark also responsible for the murders of Rhaenys and Aegon, arguing that "the Usurper's dogs" acted as a pack of hounds, hunting children. Which individual hound kills a child doesn't matter, all the dogs are equally guilty. Barristan Selmy disagrees with her, and has tried to explain the distinction between Eddard, who wasn't even present at King's Landing, and Tywin. Daenerys notices a "flicker of disapproval" in his face when she insists on her original opinion.
- Barristan Selmy himself has been haunted by the "bloody bodies" of Aegon and Rhaenys. His serious injuries following the Battle of the Trident prevented him from personally examining the corpses, but he wondered for years about whether Robert smiled at the bodies. Selmy concludes that such a smile would've led him to kill Robert, and that no army could have saved him.
- Maestar Yandel when recording the history of Roberts Rebellion, not wishing to offend or anger either King Robert or Lord Tywin, tries to paint the events of the murder in a way that did not cast a negative light on those who sided with King Robert. Yandel writes the following about the murder of Elia and her children...
|“||It is tragic that the blood spilled in war may as readily be innocent as it is guilty, and those who ravished and murdered Princess Elia escaped justice. It is not known who murdered Princess Rhaenys in her bed, or smashed the infant Prince Aegon's head against a wall. Some whisper it was done at Aery's own command when he learned Lord Lannister had taken up Robert's cause, while others suggest that Elia did it herself for fear of what would happen to her children in the hands of her dead husband's enemies.||„|
Aboard the Shy Maid a young man claiming to be Aegon explains his apparent survival to Tyrion Lannister. According to his account, the infant killed during the Sack of King's Landing was a tanner's infant son born at the Pisswater Bend, a street of King's Landing.
The child's mother had died at birth. The tanner sold his boy to Varys for a jug of Arbor gold wine, since he already had other sons, but had never tasted Arbor gold. Varys then arranged the swap between the two infants. Elia received the tanner's son (whom Tyrion dubs the pisswater prince), while Varys took custody of the real Prince Aegon.
Tyrion Lannister deduces the rest of the story. Once the impostor infant was "safely dead", Varys smuggled the genuine Aegon Targaryen across the narrow sea. Varys first entrusted the boy to Illyrio Mopatis and eventually found an adoptive father for Aegon in the person of exiled Lord Jon Connington. Aegon does not comment on Tyrion's deductions.
There is a hint that Tyrion may have harboured doubts as to whether or not Aegon is actually Aegon Targaryen. When Young Griff loses their game of cyvasse after being tricked by Tyrion he gets angry and kicks over the cyvasse board. He immediately commands Tyrion to pick up the pieces. As Tyrion is about to do so he thinks to himself: "He may well be a Targaryen after all."
Once Aegon and his troops have landed in Westeros, Aegon and his claim is discussed by the Small Council in King's Landing. Here, Kevan Lannister expresses doubts about whether or not Prince Aegon had actually died during the Sack of King's Landing, remembering that no one had dared to look too long at the body of the small babe. When Tywin Lannister had said that the child was Aegon, Rhaegar's son, everyone took him for his word. Kevan doesn't express these doubts out loud to the council, however, keeping them to himself instead.
A Clash of Kings
One of the visions Daenerys Targaryen sees in the House of the Undying involves Rhaegar, Elia, and Aegon. In this vision, a newborn Aegon nurses from the breast of Elia. The woman is seated in a great wooden bed. Rhaegar decides on the name "Aegon" for his newborn son, as he thinks the name fit for a king. Elia asks whether Rhaegar will make a song for their son. He replies that Aegon already has a song, "the song of ice and fire". Part of his role as "the prince that was promised".
However, Rhaegar then claims that there must be "one more", since "the dragon has three heads". Rhaegar moves to a seat near the window, and picks up a harp. Daenerys listens to the "sweet sadness" of his music as the vision fades away.
Daenerys later describes this vision to Jorah Mormont. Jorah helps her confirm the identities of the people in this vision but points out that if Aegon was the promised prince, the promise was broken with his death. Daenerys notices a pattern in the names Rhaegar chose for his children. They were named after Aegon I Targaryen and his sisters. There was a daughter named after the original Rhaenys Targaryen, but none named after Visenya. She wonders if that was the missing third head of the dragon. Neither Daenerys nor Jorah have heard of the term "song of ice and fire". They are unable to determine its meaning.
A Dance with Dragons
Coming not so soon!
|“||If Lord Connington’s prince has a crushed skull, I will believe that Aegon Targaryen has returned from the grave. Elsewise, no. This is some feigned boy, no more. A sellsword’s ploy to win support.||„|
|~ Daemon Sand to Arianne Martell|
Young Griff / Aegon claims that he is the son of Rhaegar, rescued by Varys during the Sack of King's Landing through the forces of Tywin Lannister. Tywin has sent Ser Gregor Clegane and Ser Amory Lorch to kill Rhaegars family to secure the throne for Robert Baratheon. Varys said, he switched the baby Aegon with the baby of a commoner and brought the young Targaryen to Essos, to raise him, prepare him to rule and to claim the throne when he is old enough! The possibility that this is true exists, Varys has many ways as spymaster to arrange things like this, even to prepare, in a worst case scenario, to switch the crownprince with a baby of the same age.
The circumstance that this occured during of the Sack of King's Landing has brought up the question if Varys had enough time to do that, but it's important to know that Aerys II had already planned the Wildfire plot, the destruction of King's Landing through wildfire, before, and this gave the spymaster enough time to find a suitable baby to switch, to have a chance to continue the Targaryen-Dynasty.
When Varys murdered Kevan Lannister, who was Lord Regent at this time, to prevent him of clearing up the mess caused by his niece Cersei Lannister and to secure the campaign of the Golden Company, he revealed that Aegon is really the son of Rhaegar. Because of the situation that Kevan was killed a few moments after this revelation, Varys had no reason to lie.
However, some readers have the theory that Young Griff is in truth a Blackfyre, a descendant of Daemon I Blackfyre, a bastard of Aegon IV who started a rebellion against the Iron Throne like his offsprings which resulted in more than one battle. Officially the male Blackfyre-line was wiped out when Ser Barristan Selmy killed Maelys I Blackfyre, but Young Griff could be related to this House/family. Bookreaders have theorized that the Golden Company would never back a Targaryen after they have fought for generations against them. Illyrio mentioned towards Tyrion Lannister that the Blackfyres are extinct in the male line (information that is not varifiable, neither for Tyrion nor for the bookreaders), which could imply there are still female-line descendants. Or that Maelys I had a wife and children in secret. In this case, because of the age, Young Griff could be his grandson. Or he is in a similar way related to another known Blackfyre of the timespan, a man who bears the same name like their ancestor, another Daemon Blackfyre who was killed by Maelys when both fought over the command of the Golden Company. It is also theorized Aegon could also be descended from another of Aegon IV's bastards, Aegor Rivers "Bittersteel", founder of the Golden Company, who married one of his half-brother Daemon's daughters, Calla, though it is unknown if he had children or what happened to Daemon's daughters.
Some readers believed that Young Griff is just a boy with the right age and look. Shortly before his death Kevan Lannister mentioned in a Small Council meeting that Young Griff isn't Aegon, just a boy as part of a plot to gain support for the Golden Company. That's also possible because in Essos, in the Free Cities, are people who descend from Valyria, with the purple eyes and the hair of silver-gold or platinum white. It is known that Targaryen kings looked for brides in the Free Cities like Lys to find right matches for their sons, especially when there were no other girls available, like sisters/cousins of House Targaryen or daughters of other Valyrian families, like House Velaryon. Varys and Illyrio Mopatis could have found a boy with the right age and look to portray him as Aegon, so that he can gain support. Varys is originally from Lys and had as spymaster still contacts to all Free Cities, including his hometown so that he could arrange such a scheme. Ironically this could mean that even if Aegon is really just a boy of right look and age, he could still have Targaryen-blood in his veins because Aerion Targaryen, who was called "Brightflame", had spent time in Lys during his exile, rode with the Second Sons and could have fathered a few bastards during his time there.
Others suggested that Young Griff is the son of Illyrio Mopatis. This explains why Illyrio is helping him. Tyrion thinks there is something more Illyrio is getting from his plan to cause a Targaryen restoration. Illyrio married a Lysene pillowhouse worker, Serra, and Lys is known to have people with Valyrian features, like mentioned above. This could fit in with the theory of Aegon being a Blackfyre (the female line) or descended from Aerion's bastards, as Serra's ancestry has not been revealed. A statue of Illyrio Mopatis as a youth has similarities to Aegon, further supporting this theory.
Line of succession to the Iron Throne
|“||Has the sun curdled your brains, Flowers? We need the girl. We need the marriage. If Daenerys accepts our princeling and takes him for her consort, the Seven Kingdoms will do the same. Without her, the lords will only mock his claim and brand him a fraud and a pretender.||„|
|~ Harry Strickland, to Franklyn Flowers|
Aegon himself, as well as Tyrion Lannister, believe Aegon's claim is stronger than Daenerys's claim. According to the relevant succession laws, "The sons of the first son come before the second son".
Aegon is a son of Rhaegar Targaryen, who was himself the eldest son of Aerys II Targaryen, which would, under normal circumstances, place Aegon higher in the Targaryen succession line than both Viserys (Aerys II's second son) and Daenerys (the daughter of Aerys II). However, documents from the end of King Aerys II's reign give doubt to the fact that Aegon's claim is truly stronger.
In both 92 AC and 101 AC, the succession of House Targaryen was brought into question when the proclaimed heir of King Jaehaerys I Targaryen died. On both occasions, the male line through a younger son was chosen over the female line through the elder (but deceased) son, by first choosing the King's second son, Baelon, over the elder son's heir, Rhaenys, and by later chosing Baelon's elder son over Rhaenys's son, after Baelon's death. According to Archmaester Gyldayn, in the eyes of many, the council of 101 AC established an iron precedent on matters of succession: that the Iron Throne could not pass to a woman, or to a male descendant of a woman. King Viserys I wished to set a new precedent by naming his daughter Rhaenyra his heir, despite the fact that he had three sons, an issue over which eventually a civil war called the Dance of the Dragons was fought. When King Baelor I Targaryen died without a son of his own, and without having proclaimed a specific heir, the claims of all three of Baelor's sisters, as well as the claim of Baelor's uncle (his closest living male relative) were discussed. The claims of his sisters were eventually dismissed. Further, in the Great Council of 233 AC, Aegon V Targaryen was crowned King despite the fact that the infant son of his older brother was still alive.
After her brother's death in Vaes Dothrak, Daenerys names herself a queen. If Aegon’s claim is a rightful one then the people of Westeros might see his claim as stronger than Daenerys's claim. Nevertheless, Daenerys is Queen of Meereen in her own right, having conquered the city and installed herself as ruler.
However, in contrast to the alleged Aegon Targaryen, Daenerys Targaryen's lineage is not under suspicion, as Kevan Lannister says no man can question Daenerys's blood (thanks to her dragons).
- So far, Young Griff is yet to appear in TV series, so Prince Aegon is apparently dead in TV series rather than (possibly) survived. He is unlikely to appear in TV series since it seems that the whole Griff plotline (that should appear in Season 5-6) is abandoned completely.
- Unlike Daenerys, Young Griff is actually willing to make peace with his enemies, as he suggested convincing Stannis Baratheon to renounce his own claim and fight for him. However, his Hand Jon Connington dismissed this idea, stating that Stannis is an enemy with little to no friends who will soon die in the snow at the hands of the Boltons.