House of the Dragon has introduced us to several fascinating family trees (and family circles, if you know what we mean). The most prominent among them are the dragon riders and tamers—the Targaryens. Among the Targaryens’ most powerful weapons and allies in the series is none other than Vhagar, the oldest living dragon in the show. We’re here because you likely want Vhagar explained and to learn why she’s so important apart from her power and size.
Vhagar’s history is as rich and tumultuous as any character in the series. It’s high time we dive into the captivating tale of Vhagar, from her birth on Dragonstone to her legendary exploits during the War of Conquest and beyond, up to the current timeline in House of the Dragon.
The birth and early life of Vhagar (52 BC)
Vhagar’s story begins on the island of Dragonstone, where she hatched from her egg a remarkable 52 years before Aegon’s Conquest (basically 52 BC, with ‘BC’ standing for Before Conquest). The name “Vhagar” was inspired by one of the gods of the Valyrian Freehold, hinting at the dragon’s ancient lineage and significance.
While Vhagar’s early years were relatively uneventful, a pivotal moment in her life occurred when a young Visenya Targaryen claimed her as her dragon mount. Visenya, who would later marry her brother Aegon Targaryen, formed a formidable partnership with Vhagar.
At this time, House Targaryen resided on Dragonstone, seemingly content with their secluded existence. However, their lives took a dramatic turn when they received an offer from Argilac “the Arrogant” Durrandon, the Storm King. Argilac sought an alliance with Aegon Targaryen and proposed a marriage between his daughter Argella and Aegon.
Instead, Aegon declined and suggested that Argella marry Orys Baratheon, his best friend and rumored bastard half-brother. King Argilac, offended, dismembered the hands of the Targaryen emissary and sent the disembodied hands back to Dragonstone. This affront led to a series of events that would change the course of history.
Aegon thus set his sights on the Seven Kingdoms.
The War of Conquest and Vhagar’s ascendance
Aegon Targaryen, with his dragon Balerion, Rhaenys on Meraxes, and Visenya atop Vhagar, initiated their campaign to unify the Seven Kingdoms. They symbolized this quest with the famous House Targaryen three-headed sigil, each head representing a dragon and its rider.
The trio set their sights on conquest, and the rest of Westeros would soon bear witness to their might.
Visenya wasted no time and led the initial attack by flying north to Castle Stokeworth, where the castle’s defenders attempted to thwart Vhagar with crossbow bolts. In response, Vhagar unleashed her fiery breath, setting Castle Stokeworth ablaze and forcing House Stokeworth to surrender.
One by one, the lords of Westeros began submitting to House Targaryen’s might, either through surrender or resistance.
The campaign continued with a dramatic clash at the Field of Fire, a battle that would go down in history as one of the fiercest. Aegon, Rhaenys, and Visenya, atop their respective dragons, faced the combined forces of House Gardener and House Lannister.
Despite being outnumbered five to one, the Targaryen dragons, including Vhagar, unleashed their devastating power, decimating the enemy’s ranks. The dry grass on the battlefield ignited, resulting in the deaths of countless soldiers and the complete annihilation of House Gardener.
Visenya and Vhagar’s next destination was the Riverlands, where they expected to confront King Torrhen Stark of the North. However, Torrhen wisely chose diplomacy over confrontation, bending the knee and earning the moniker “The King Who Knelt.”
Vhagar’s subsequent journey took her to the Vale, where she secured the Arryns’ surrender, showcasing that no castle was impervious to Dragonfire.
The First Dornish War and Beyond
Following the initial conquest, six of the Seven Kingdoms swore fealty to House Targaryen, and the Iron Throne was forged with the fiery breath of Balerion. However, the Dornish remained defiant, and Rhaenys and her dragon, Meraxes, ultimately met their demise during the invasion of Dorne.
In response to this loss, Aegon and Visenya embarked on a campaign known as the “Dragon’s Wroth,” scorching Dornish strongholds for two years. Despite their ruthless efforts, Dorne remained independent, refusing to submit to Targaryen rule.
Visenya’s tenure as Vhagar’s rider lasted for nearly half a century until her death in 44 AC (After Conquest).
After Visensya’s passing, Vhagar remained without a rider for 29 years, alternating between Dragonstone and the Dragonpit in King’s Landing. It was only in 73 AC that Prince Baelon Targaryen, the father of Viserys, mounted Vhagar and returned her to battle during the Fourth Dornish War.
Eventually, in 94 AC, Balerion the Dread died of old age, leaving Vhagar as the only surviving dragon of the War of Conquest, which made her an even more significant figure for the Targaryens. Not only was she a living relic but also a testament to Targaryen supremacy.
Throughout her long life, Vhagar saw numerous battles and played a pivotal role in shaping the fate of Westeros. Her ferocity and power remained unmatched, making her one of the most formidable dragons in history.
Vhagar during the House of the Dragon timeline (103 AC)
Come to the events of House of the Dragon, Vhagar found a new owner in the form of Lady Laena Velaryon of Driftmark. The Velaryons, like the Targaryens, were also a clan of dragonriders hailing from Old Valyria. Laena claimed Vhagar a few years after Baelon, Viserys’ father, died of appendicitis in 101 AC and left the dragon riderless.
Laena’s accord with Vhagar sadly ended shortly after she begged Vhagar to kill her due to a failed pregnancy.
Relatively shortly after Laena’s death, the riderless Vhagar would once again be claimed by a Targaryen, namely Aemond Targaryen. This brought Vhagar back to King’s Landing, and she would later be complicit in sparking a civil war between the Targaryens after killing both Prince Lucerys Velaryon and his dragon, Arrax.
To recap, here is a list of Vhagar’s notable riders:
- Visenya Targaryen
- Baelon Targaryen
- Lady Laena Velaryon
- Prince Aemond Targaryen
As House of the Dragon unfolds later on past its first season, we’ll be witnessing the dragon’s journey continuing with new riders and alliances. Vhagar’s legacy endures as she becomes a symbol of power and conquest in the draconian world of House of the Dragon.