House of the Dragon tells the story of the Dance of the Dragons, the civil war during which multiple storylines took place. One of these was the Moon of Three Kings, during which a boy named Gaemon Palehair rose to prominence as a pretender king. This article explains everything we know about Gaemon Palehair.
Who is Gaemon Palehair?
Gaemon Palehair was a boy born to a prostitute named Essie in a whorehouse called the House of Kisses. After the death of Helaena Targaryen, there were riots in King’s Landing. During this time, his mother Essie revealed that Gaemon was the bastard son of King Aegon II Targaryen. They began to raise the boy as a king and offered free services to any man who swore loyalty to him.
The Moon of the Three Kings was a period in which multiple pretender kings rose to prominence. The first of these was the Shepherd, a preacher of the Faith of the Seven, whom people considered a prophet. The second was Trystane Truefyre, who claimed he was a bastard son of King Viserys I. Gaemon Palehair was the third of these pretender kings. Gaemon ruled from the House of Kisses on top of Visenya’s Hill, gathering thousands of followers. He issued multiple edicts that were favourable to the poor.
His edicts were as such: In matters of inheritance, females should have equal rights to males. During famines, the crown with provisions such as bread and beer. Men seriously injured in war by losing limbs be housed and fed by the lord for whom they fought. Men who beat their wives should be beaten as punishment, no matter what their reason for the action was. Some guessed that Sylvenna Sand formulated these edicts. Sylvenna was a Dornish prostitute and the paramour of Gaemon’s mother Essie.
After King Aegon II executed Rhaenyra at Dragonstone, Borros Baratheon, rode into King’s Landing and took over the city and the Red Keep. Lord Borros took steps to defeat all three of the pretender kings. He led his knights up Visenya’s Hill and captured all the members of Gaemon’s camp. He chained Gaemon, who was 5 years of age at the time, slung him over a horse, and took him to the Red Keep.
His mother Essie and her paramour Sylvenna were also captured and taken in. King Aegon’s questioners tortured Essie until she confessed that Gaemon’s true father was a Lysene oarsman with silver hair. After this confession, King Aegon had her hanged along with Sylvenna and twenty-seven other members of Gaemon’s court. King Aegon spared Gaemon’s life because of his young age and took him to his court as a ward.
During the reign of Aegon III
King Aegon II died after an unknown assassin poisoned his wine. This incident would have dire implications for Gaemon in the future. To settle the political turmoil after the king’s death, the throne was passed to Rhaenyra’s son. Rhaenyra named her son Aegon to spite her half-brother, and he gained the title Aegon the Younger. When he ascended the throne, Aegon III was still a young boy.
He was sulk and unhappy, due to everything he had experienced during the Dance of the Dragons. He developed a friendship with Gaemon, who was apparently his only friend at court. It is possible that Gaemon reminded Aegon of his younger brother Viserys, who went missing during the Dance. When questioned by his regents about whether he had any preferred heirs, Aegon named Gaemon, saying that the boy had been a king before.
Aegon’s master-at-arms Ser Gareth Long decided to use Gaemon as a whipping boy to make Aegon obey him. Whenever Aegon did not meet Gareth’s standards during training, he whipped Gaemon in Aegon’s place. Though this caused Aegon to work harder, he grew resentful of Ser Gareth for his cruelty towards Gaemon.
When Aegon chose Daeneaera Velaryon as his Queen, he allowed Gaemon to make the announcement of this fact. However, Aegon’s younger brother Viserys eventually returned, much to Aegon’s joy. Unfortunately, Aegon began to neglect Gaemon and his wife Daenara after his brother’s return.
Gaemon was also Aegon’s royal taster, possibly due to the fact that Aegon’s predecessor died due to poisoning. In 135 AC, both Gaemon and Queen Daenara began to complain of stomach pains. The Grand Maester found out that the cause was poison in their food, and managed to use a purgative to save the Queen’s life. Gaemon was not as lucky, as the grand Maester was too late in saving him. He succumbed to the effects of the poison and passed away. King Aegon III was inconsolable after the death of his close friend. The poison that had killed Gaemon was most likely intended for Aegon himself.