In this article:
- House Velaryon is a newly introduced noble house that’s expected to play an influential role in the upcoming HBO series, House of the Dragon.
- The family traces its origins to Old Valyria, just like the Targaryens. Their powerful fleet and shared ethnicity made House Velaryon a favorite family for House Targaryen to intermarry with.
- House Velaryon’s political ties allowed them to secure the position of master of ships in the small council for so many generations that the seat was believed to be hereditary.
- Even after the ouster of House Targaryen in the main Game of Thrones series, House Velaryon remains a force to be reckoned with thanks to their massive warships.
House Velaryon is one of the most ancient houses in Westeros and while they don’t play a central role in HBO’s Game of Thrones, they are one of the two key houses involved in the power struggle between factions of House Targaryen in the upcoming House of the Dragon series.
The noble house is known to fans of A Song of Ice and Fire and Fire & Blood for their longstanding marriage and blood connections to House Targaryen as well as their heritage as Velaryons.
During their heydey, House Velaryon commanded the largest and most fearsome fleet in Westeros, were wealthier than the Lannisters, and held positions in the small court of centuries.
1. House Velaryon Came to Westeros Before the Fall of Valyria
Believe it or not, House Targaryen wasn’t the first Valerian family to land in Westeros. Far before Daenys the Dreamer even thought to make her entire family move west to avoid the Doom of Valyria, a cataclysm that destroyed the Valyrian peninsula, House Velaryon was already consolidating power on Driftmark.
Driftmark is an island near Dragonstone, the seat of House Targaryen, located in Blackwater Bay. During their rule, the surrounding area developed into a small hub for trade as young Velaryon sons were expected to spend their younger years as adventurers and tradesmen at sea.
Their backstory vaguely resembles that of House Greyjoy, especially since both House Greyjoy and House Velaryon have mermaids in their mythic pasts, supposedly magical thrones (the Seastone Chair, in the case of House Greyjoy), and keep seafaring as a custom for men in the family.
According to local legends, House Velaryon of Driftmark kept a throne in Driftmark castle known as the Driftwood Throne that was given to the family by the Merling King.
The Merling King is said to be a god popular among sailors who travel the Narrow Sea, earning it a spot among the statues of the House of Black and White, a temple of the Many-Faced God, in Braavos.
But why didn’t House Velaryon conquer Westeros themselves if they were there first? The answer is likely to do with the fact that House Velaryon didn’t have their own dragons at the time, making it harder for them to consolidate all of Westeros under one monarch if they tried to go against their Andal, First Men, Rhoynar, and Ironborn neighbors.
When House Targaryen finally arrived in Westeros, the two families quickly realized they had what the other needed. House Targaryen dominated the skies with their dragons while House Velaryon had near-uncontested power over the seas.
That’s why this next fact about House Velaryon exists.
2. House Velaryon Is Related to House Targaryen
This one seems dead obvious since we literally know from the trailer that he marries Rhaenys Velaryon, but House Velaryon’s ties to House Targaryen run far deeper than just one marriage. The family has served House Targaryen since the days of Aegon the Conqueror.
According to the companion book The World of Ice and Fire, House Velaryon agreed to help the Targaryens conquer Westeros by ferrying their soldiers to different battlefields throughout the continent.
Turns out, you can’t exactly put thousands of soldiers and their equipment on the back of one dragon and expect it to act like a Boeing CH-47 Chinook. Or maybe you could, but not without Balerion snacking on a few of them.
Because of the massive fleet that House Velaryon had at its disposal, House Targaryen found it beneficial to marry a few of their members to Velaryons every now and then. It also didn’t hurt that House Velaryon was “the blood of Old Valyria” which gave them Valerian physical characteristics like silver hair, pale skin, and purple eyes.
We know of at least two specific marriages between a Targaryen and a Velaryon aside from the marriage between Princess Rhaenys and Lord Corlys.
The first one is a marriage from before Aegon’s Conquest that was arranged between a Velaryon lord and a Targaryen princess.
They later had Lady Valaena Velaryon. Valaena herself then married Aerion Targaryen, though he probably wasn’t completely faithful to her since it’s rumored that the Baratheons get their Targaryen blood from Aerion having a bastard named Orys Baratheon, the first member of House Baratheon.
Fire & Blood, the book that House of the Dragon is based on, introduced additional Targaryen-Velaryon marriage alliances between Aenys Targaryen and Alyssa Velaryon and Lady Laena Velaryon and Prince Daemon Targaryen. Years later, Laena’s daughter, Baela, marries Lord Alyn Velaryon.
Hey, it wouldn’t be Game of Thrones without an endless cycle of incest.
3. House Velaryon Has Its Own Dragons
But only after they started marrying Targaryens.
Though the Velaryons were ship masters, they weren’t dragonriders in their own right. They only started having dragons and members that could ride them after they began marrying members of House Targaryen into their family and vice versa.
Their exchange of husbands and wives with the Targaryens gave House Velaryon the dragon blood they needed to be able to ride dragons and, more importantly, dragons to ride.
By the time of House of the Dragon‘s unrelenting civil war, members of House Velaryon who were children of Targaryens were being given their own dragons to ride and fight with. In addition to that, it was a custom of House Targaryen to leave dragon eggs in the cradle of a newborn child to see if they had dragonblood in them.
Four Velaryons are known to have hatched their own dragons. Lucerys, Joffrey, Jacaerys Velaryon each had Arrax, Tyraxes, and Vermax.
It wasn’t just a “guys only” custom either since Lady Laena Velaryon, daughter of Lord Alyn Velaryon and Lady Baela Targaryen, was given a dragon’s egg too despite being a woman and being a Targaryen on her mother’s side.
Of course, these eggs were only given to children of direct Targaryen descent. Still, not a bad deal for House Velaryon.
4. Several Members of House Velaryon Were Powerful Within the Court
With a powerful fleet of ships at their disposal and several key marriages to Targaryens, it would have been impossible for House Velaryon not to have any officials within the small council.
Following Aegon’s Conquest, House Velaryon was given a spot on the small council as master of ships. This gave Lord Daemon Velaryon command over the entirety of the royal fleet and a cushy spot from which to whisper in Aegon’s ear.
Daemon’s son, Corlys — not to be confused with the Sea Snake — became the first Lord Commander of the Kingsguard.
But it was the master of ships role that really stuck, particularly because a majority of the ships in the royal fleet were fielded by House Velaryon. This cemented many Lords of the Tides, which is what the head honcho of the Velaryon family was called, as masters of ships and lord admirals of the royal fleet all at the same time.
House Velaryon’s lords served in these three offices for so many generations that most people basically forgot that it was a by-appointment position in the first place and believed it to be hereditary along with the Driftwood Throne.
5. Corlys Velaryon, AKA the Sea Snake, Was Euron Greyjoy Before Euron Greyjoy
Many Fire & Blood fans tuned in to see the first official trailer for House of the Dragon with only one person in mind: Lord Corlys Velaryon, the Sea Snake.
Lord Corlys Velaryon is known for being the Euron Greyjoy before Euron Greyjoy but with better morals.
While House Velaryon was already wealthy, Lord Corlys Velaryon’s adventures in Yi Ti not only made him the first Westerosi to travel that far east, but also made House Velaryon so rich that they eclipsed the wealth of House Lannister.
Corlys had brought back rare treasures, such as spices, from Yi Ti and other lands east of Westeros. These rare goods later allowed him to make enough money to build a new castle which he called High Tide.
But that’s not what makes him a fan favorite. See, Corlys Velaryon is a grade-A certified badass, a nautical Indiana Jones of House of the Dragon. He began serving as a ship’s captain at sixteen before moving on to sail from Oldtown to major cities of Essos such as Lys, Tyrosh, Pentos, and Myr.
He’s also traveled from the Summer Isles to the Port of Ibben far south of Westeros, among other exotic places that haven’t even been mentioned by name in the shows yet. That said, just as Euron merely followed in Corlys’s footsteps, Corlys was also following the path of Elissa Farman who sailed through the Sunset Sea west of Westeros.
It’s implied that Corlys later found her ship somewhere in Essos, hinting that the world of Game of Thrones is round like ours.
6. The Velaryon Fleet Was One of the Largest and Most Powerful of Its Time
House Velaryon had the wealth, ships, and political influence to keep on building their fleet beginning from the Conquest up to the time of the Dance of the Dragons. In fact, their fleet made them among the most influential houses of Westeros during that period.
Most mentions of House Velaryon in The World of Ice and Fire and Fire & Blood include mentions of the family’s ships. Just before the events of Game of Thrones, the master of ships was still a Velaryon, namely Lucerys Velaryon.
7. House Velaryon Isn’t as Influential as It Used to Be
House Velaryon’s close ties to House Targaryen proved to be their downfall by the time Robert’s Rebellion dethroned the dynasty, quickly pushing them out of court because of their strong ties to their fellow Valerians.
However, House Velaryon hasn’t completely been taken out of the game of thrones since they remain active during the events of A Song of Ice and Fire. In A Clash of Kings, they’re still said to have a formidable navy which is proven when Lord Monford Velaryon answers Stannis Baratheon when he calls on all of his bannermen.
The then-Lord Velaryon brought massive warships such as the Pride of Driftmark and the Seahorse, a ship named from the animal on their house crest. The ships are so large that they’re able to take on several ships of the royal fleet at a time.
It’s heavily implied that the blood of Old Valyria remains strong among the Velaryons since Aurane Waters, a Velaryon bastard, is described as looking like Rhaegar Targaryen in his youth.