The Dance of the Dragons is the most important event in House of the Dragon. The house is split into two alliances throughout the series; the Greens and the Blacks. Both alliances have powerful characters and important families. This is what led to a complex and bloody battle.
Now let’s delve deep into both of these alliances.
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Understanding the Targaryen Clan
The Dance of the Dragons will see Rhaenyra Targaryen and Aegon II Targaryen battle for the Iron Throne after their father’s death. Rhaenyra has long been King Viserys I’s heir to the throne. This was despite her uncle Daemon’s view that he was the true heir. The succession of the throne became more difficult once Viserys remarried and finally birthed a son. Viserys pressed that Rhaenyra would be his heir. But Aegon II’s mother Alicent Hightower, grandfather Otto Hightower, and a number of other lords plotted to award him the crown.
This led to the Targaryen Civil War. The war prevailed for about three years. It dipped Westeros into one of its deadliest conflicts in history. It was one of the few times when both sides of the war had access to dragons. The unions of the main houses include the Starks, Tullys, Lannisters, and Baratheons. This will be much easier to follow in House of the Dragon’s Civil War. This is unlike Game of Thrones’ War of the Five Kings. Pledging swords to the Greens or the Blacks often included more personal negotiations, unions, or allegiances.
This is due to the fact that there were only two sides to choose from. Each family had already sworn their allegiance to House Targaryen. It was just a case of deciding which Targaryen had the greatest claim or provided them with the best prospects. The Dance of the Dragons observes the exact moment when the realm splits in half. But the Westerosi support for the Greens and Blacks had been growing for years. When Rhaenyra realized that Aegon II had been crowned in a ceremony, she quickly organized her own, torching the Targaryen Civil War.
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Events leading up to the war
The war in House of the Dragon begins when Viserys I Targaryen weds his daughter’s friend, Alicent Hightower. He then births children with her. Viserys I had earlier lost his wife Aemma Arryn and their offspring in a very traumatic and distressing birth. This pushes him to choose Rhaenyra Targaryen as his successor and the Princess of Dragonstone. This decision was because Aegon I had already ordered that a Targaryen must lead the humans against an upcoming winter. However, as king, he also must bring a new wife and find a male heir.
That causes more problems than he could imagine. Rhaenyra Targaryen is his pick as heir to lead the throne. But the birth of Aegon problematizes everything. Rhaenyra was keen on defending her claim when Viserys I announced her to be his legitimate heir to the Iron Throne. But Alicent and her father, Otto, thought that her son Aegon II merited it more. Especially when Otto Hightower chooses to do everything in his power to introduce his grandson to the throne.
Otto Hightower is the Hand of the King and the father of the queen. His efforts to place his grandson on the throne went against the king’s wishes. This is what brought a divide within the kingdom. This is also what started off the Dance of the Dragons, a war that brings the Targaryens to fight among themselves. The divide between those who support Rhaenyra and those who believe that the way the line works of succession means that the true heir must be his younger half-brother.
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The long rivalry between Rhaenyra Targaryen and Alicent Hightower explained
Rhaenyra and Alicent started on amicable terms. Alicent’s father, Otto Hightower was the Hand of the King to both Jaehaerys I and his successor Viserys I. Rhaenyra and Alicent shared a lot of time at court together because the latter was just nine years older than the former. The two were friends following Alicent’s marriage to Viserys of the House of the Dragon. The sons she bore him continued to fatigue Rhaenyra’s claim to the throne. Alicent had suggested that Rhaenyra marry her son Aegon even though she was 16 and her half-brother was just six.
This was despite the fact that the two had not been getting along. Viserys blamed Alicent for only striving to earn a position on the Iron Throne for her own child. This was despite the king’s rejection to marry her. The idea was that only one of them would deem to be the highest lady at court. This fueled the rivalry between the heir to the throne and the king’s wife. Problems rose even higher when Rhaenyra married her uncle Daemon Targaryen. Alicent’s son Aemond and Rhaenyra’s son Lucerys battled a decade before the Dance of the Dragons.
This resulted in Lucerys carving out Aemond’s eye. This prompted King Viserys to split the families. This kept Alicent and her children at court and sent Rhaenyra and her children to Dragonstone. The final straw for Alicent appeared to be Rhaenyra’s first son Daemon. Daemon was called Aegon, a name she misinterpreted for her own eldest son of the same name. King Viserys I died in 129 AC. Following his death, Alicent and Criston Cole of the House of the Dragon assembled a small council to prepare the crowning of Aegon II over Rhaenyra.
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Why is the Targaryen Civil War split into Greens and Blacks?
The land splits between supporters of the Greens and supporters of the Blacks. This is because the Westerosi lords should devote their swords to one of two Targaryen claims to the throne. The Greens and Blacks of the Targaryen Civil War go back to Alicent Hightower and Rhaenyra Targaryen’s respective house colors. A rivalry between Alicent and Rhaenyra’s father Viserys emerged after Alicent wed the king’s young wife and handed him a male heir. Alicent sported the green of House Hightower at the 111 AC great tourney in King’s Landing.
But Rhaenyra sported the black and red of House Targaryen. At the opening feast, Queen Alicent wore a green gown. While Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, Viserys’s daughter by his first wife, flaunted in a Targaryen red and black. Thereafter their respective coalitions at the royal court replicated the fashions they set. The queen’s party sporting green, and the princess’s party sporting black. Eventually, it became the practice to refer to each party as simply “the greens” and “the blacks”. The Green and Black Targaryen allegiance coalitions will swiftly split the House of the Dragon’s realm.
They will play an important role in the plot way before the Civil War. Those who supported the queen were the “Greens”, while those who backed the princess were the “Blacks”. The Blacks and Greens of the House of the Dragon were originally directed to the princess’s and queen’s parties. But later it associates with Alicent’s son Aegon II Targaryen’s claim against Rhaenyra’s claim. The Targaryen Civil War between Aegon and Rhaenyra was split between the Green and Black parties as a result. This was despite the fact that it was predominantly about Rhaenyra and Alicent’s conflict at court.
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Who are the Greens in House of the Dragon?
The greens were originally the queen’s party. They were the coalition of House Targaryen and their followers. They supported the rise of Aegon II as King of the Seven Kingdoms during the Dance of the Dragons and the years that preceded it. The blacks opposed the greens. House of the Dragon’s struggle contains feuds mostly inside House Targaryen’s family tree. These rivalries had been boiling for quite some time before King Viserys’ death.
The wider war fought between numerous kings in Game of Thrones differs from this. While being a Targaryen, Aegon II is also Hightower on his mother’s side. The recognizable color of the crest of this powerful Oldtown family is green. This is why Aegon’s allies label themselves as the Greens. Their name originates from a great tournament held in 111 AC at King’s Landing, It was on the fifth anniversary of King Viserys I’s nuptials to Queen Alicent Hightower, his second wife.
The Hightowers support Aegon for obvious reasons. Aegon doesn’t have his last name, but he is of the same blood and that gives them power. But the alliance also includes Criston Cole and Tyland Lannister. Criston Cole was initially an ally of Rhaenyra, but then changed sides quickly. Master of Whisperers Larys Strong and Grand Maester Orwyle also joined the alliance. So did Corlys Velaryon and Borros Baratheon.
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Who are the Blacks in House of the Dragon?
The blacks were previously the party of the princess. They were the coalition of House Targaryen and their loyalists. They supported the rise of Rhaenyra Targaryen as Queen of the Seven Kingdoms during the Dance of the Dragons and the years that preceded it. The greens opposed the blacks. Being the chosen one by her father, Rhaenyra Targaryen is the one who wears the color of her house. Her allies label themselves as the Blacks since her shield is of the color black. Her followers include Daemon, who is the second husband of the princess during the point of the war.
Not a single woman had ever sat on the Iron Throne until before Rhaenyr. This helped Aegon II gather powerful followers for his cause. But as her father’s chosen, she is also able to recruit various key powers to fight for the throne. The blacks held a tournament of the heir, where Alicent wore green and Rhaenyra wore the colors red and black. The blacks include Daemon Targaryen and Rhaenyra’s three children from her first marriage (Lucerys, Joffrey, and Jacaerys Velaryon).
Rhaenyra’s children with Daemon (Aegon and Viserys) and Daemon’s children from his first marriage (Baela and Rhaena) are also a part of the blacks. Rhaenys Targaryen, who was also skipped in the line of succession for being female, is also among the blacks. In addition, the Blacks include Corlys Velaryon, members of House Crabb, and Northmen Cregan Stark. Corlys Velaryon later switched gears to join the greens. Lord of Winterfell, members of House Tully, and House Arryn are also a part of the blacks.
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Which Targaryen has the better claim? Rhaenyra vs Aegon II
Aegon II would have been the king of Rhaenyra under the traditional laws of succession. These laws came during the preceding century of House Targaryen’s reign in Westeros. None of the previous Targaryen kings had demanded that their firstborn daughter would be the successor above a son. Some thought Viserys I’s cousin Rhaenys Targaryen to be the true heir to King Jaehaerys I. This is due to her status as the eldest living heir of Jaehaerys’ eldest child. However, the Great Council at Harrenhal chooses Viserys instead.
Viserys I, heir to the Iron Throne, was officially the House of the Dragon’s Rhaenyra. The king was reluctant to reverse his order even when Alicent bore his sons. Viserys even gathered some noble lords to court to pledge their allegiance to Rhaenyra as his successor. This demonstrates that the House of the Dragon’s monarch had pushed to extreme lengths to secure her seat on the Iron Throne. The kingdom had long planned for her to inherit the throne as Queen Rhaenyra I.
House of the Dragon characters Alicent and Otto conspired to put Aegon II on the Iron Throne. They did this without even holding a Great Council to decide among the powerful lords and ladies of Westeros. This went against the ruler’s order and the man by whom Aegon backed his claim originally. Aegon II had a solid claim to the kingdom as the eldest male child. In House of the Dragon, Rhaenyra Targaryen had a more powerful claim to the throne than Aegon II. But as Game of Thrones revealed, such a claim only counts if somebody with better power doesn’t try to seize it.