Does The House Targaryen Incest Tradition Have A Credible Explanation?

Does The House Targaryen Incest Tradition Have A Credible Explanation?
Image credit: HBO

Actually, there are three.


  • The tradition of incest within the House Targaryen is probably the most disturbing storyline in Game of Thrones and its prequel, House of the Dragon.
  • However, it was inspired by real European royal families who tried to remain as pure-blooded as possible.
  • Besides, the intermarriage trend has at least three convincing explanations in the fictional Seven Kingdoms universe.

If you think about it, the most disturbing storyline in Game of Thrones for modern viewers was not multiple gruesome murders and scenes of torture. We have gotten used to that. But the incestuous love affair between the twins Cersei and Jaime and the whole Targaryen tradition of marrying brothers to sisters is really icky and doesn't sit well with many viewers.

The prequel House of the Dragon continues this creepy trend with a marriage between Aegon and Helaena and other pairings between close and distant relatives. In fact, the steamiest romance in the series is between an uncle and a niece.

It's clear that George R.R. Martin didn't just come up with the idea of incest in the House Targaryen out of the blue. He was inspired by real-life European royal families famous for their inbreeding traditions.

But within the Seven Kingdoms universe, the trend of intermarriage within the Targaryen family also has some plausible explanations.

Dragon-riding DNA

It is believed that people with Targaryen blood in their veins have a special connection to dragons, allowing them to tame and ride the beasts. The purer the blood, the greater the chance that a child born into the family will become a dragon rider. And without this unique ability, the Targaryens wouldn't be able to hold the Iron Throne for generations.

Of course, Targaryen heirs have to marry into other families from time to time to make important political alliances. But in this case, the children of that couple would be encouraged to marry someone with Targaryen DNA to get back on track.

Power Games

Another big reason for interfamily marriages is that the Targaryens are foreign rulers to Westeros who came to power by force. And that means they have to be constantly on guard to make sure the native families don't try to usurp the Iron Throne.

Any man with Targaryen blood and the blood of a native family would be considered a better option than a pure-blood Targaryen by the noble families of Westeros, so the rulers have to make sure they mix with other families as little as possible.

As we know, this is exactly what led to the fall of House Targaryen. Robert Baratheon was able to turn his rebellion into a blood-based legitimacy because he had Targaryen blood on his mother's side.

Prophecy of Aegon the Conqueror

Finally, there's a third, much more noble reason for the Targaryens to want to sit on the Iron Throne for centuries, and to strengthen their hold on it by marrying within the family. Aegon the Conqueror's prophecy, passed down from a Targaryen king to his rightful heir, literally says that for humanity to survive when death comes from the north, a king or queen of Targaryen blood must unite the realm.

Bet no European royal family could offer such a convincing explanation for incest, huh?