House of the Dragon: Targaryen Incest Code Happens To Have Sound Reasoning

House of the Dragon: Targaryen Incest Code Happens To Have Sound Reasoning
Image credit: HBO

Actually, the Targaryens have at least three reasons to marry within the family.

House of the Dragon Season 2 is almost here, which means the big return for our favorite guilty pleasure couple, Matt Smith's Daemon Targaryen and Emma D'Arcy's Rhaenyra Targaryen. 'Pleasure' because the chemistry between the Westeros bad boy and the dragon-riding tough girl is off the charts. And 'guilty' because they are not only husband and wife, but also uncle and niece.

As a matter of fact, in the Seven Kingdoms universe, the incestuous undertones of the 'guilty' part are not really an issue, as the ruling Targaryen family has a long tradition of marrying their closest relatives. Hence the union between the newly crowned King Aegon and his sister Helaena.

For crying out loud, the legendary Aegon the Conqueror, the first Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and King on the Iron Throne, was married to not one, but two of his sisters. And while the custom of marrying brothers to sisters may seem gross to many viewers, there is a plausible explanation for it. Three, in fact.

1. Dragon-Riding Gene

Of course, George R.R. Martin was inspired by real-life European royal families and their traditions of inbreeding when he came up with the idea of incest in the House Targaryen. But there is a reason for interfamily marriage that no real monarch could offer.

It's widely believed that individuals of the Targaryen bloodline have a special bond with dragons, allowing them to tame and ride these majestic creatures. The purity of their bloodline increases the likelihood that a child born into the family will become a dragon rider. Needless to say, this unique ability has been instrumental in ensuring the Targaryens' hold on the Iron Throne for generations.

While Targaryen heirs may occasionally marry into other families for strategic political alliances, their kids are always encouraged to marry individuals with Targaryen DNA to maintain the strength of the line and its connection to dragons.

2. Power Play

Another crucial purpose of incest is actually similar to the motives of real kings and queens. As foreign rulers who seized power in Westeros through conquest, the Targaryens must constantly safeguard against attempts by native families to reclaim the Iron Throne.

In the eyes of the noble houses of Westeros, a man of both Targaryen and native blood would be considered a more acceptable ruler than a pure-blood Targaryen. Consequently, Targaryen rulers seek to minimize intermarriage with other families to maintain their grip on power.

As history shows, this issue ultimately contributed to the downfall of House Targaryen. Robert Baratheon was able to legitimize his rebellion by claiming Targaryen ancestry on his mother's side, using blood ties to rally support against the ruling dynasty.

3. Aegon the Conqueror's Prophecy

Finally, there's a third, profoundly noble reason for the Targaryens' centuries-long desire to sit on the Iron Throne and consolidate their power through interfamily marriage.

The prophecy of the aforementioned Aegon the Conqueror, passed down from one Targaryen monarch to the next rightful heir, dictates that in the face of impending doom from the North, only a king or queen of Targaryen descent can unite the realm and ensure the survival of mankind. We doubt any European royal family could make such a compelling case for incest, right?

House of the Dragon Season 2 premieres June 16 on both HBO and Max.