1. Daemon I Blackfyre
“The rightful king, Daemon Blackfyre. The King Who Bore the Sword.” ~Ser Eustace Osgrey
Daemon I Blackfyre, born Daemon Waters, was the bastard son of Princess Daena Targaryen and King Aegon IV Targaryen. He was born roughly 130 years prior to the events of the show. When King Aegon IV died, he legitimized his bastard children (he had quite a few), and most importantly gave the Targaryen family’s ancestral Valyrian Steel sword (Blackfyre) to Daemon. Many whispered that Daemon should have been made King over his half-brother Daeron II, who was a good but meek man.
For twelve years Daemon refused the call of his supporters, and instead became widely known for his honorable nature and prowess in combat. He saw great success at jousting tournaments, married the wife his father had chosen for him prior to his death (a woman he disliked, and had to pay the large attending dowry out of his own coffers), and generally lived a quiet and respectable life.
But eventually, after years of still being referred to as a bastard, Daemon rose in open rebellion– the First Blackfyre Rebellion had begun. Known as “the King Who Bore the Sword”, he attracted many followers and tore Westeros apart as neighboring lords declared for him or King Daeron.
The rebellion culminated in the Battle of the Redgrass Field, where Daemon Blackfyre fought with unbelievable courage and skill. Leading personally from the front, he smashed the loyalist vanguard and personally slew two prestigious knights. Afterward he came upon Ser Gwayne Corbray of the Kingsguard, a renowned swordsman who also wielded valyrian steel (the longsword called “Lady Forlorn”). Waving off his compatriots, Daemon engaged Ser Corbray in single combat, which all observers agree was a heroic and masterful engagement. When Corbray was finally badly injured, Daemon remained near him, to ensure he was properly cared for. This most chivalrous of actions allowed Bryden Rivers and his company of elite archers to mount a nearby hill. Daemon’s eldest son Aegon died in the first barrage, and when Daemon himself charged the hill he was struck seven times– and would die soon after.
2. Lord Cregan Stark
Cregan Stark was Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North during the Dance of the Dragons, the civil war that broke out between the supports of King Aegon II and Queen Rhaenyra. He lived roughly 150 years prior to the events of the show.
Prior to the war, the Starks had supported Queen Rhaenyra during the Great Council that was supposed to have determined who would rule after King Viserys I (who himself had favored Rhaenyra). When Viserys died and Aegon declared himself King however, the Starks pledged to Queen Rhaenyra’s banner.
The North is a massive place, and thus a smaller force of young men was first sent South while Cregan himself remained in Winterfell to collect the main Stark host– one he intended to compose of family-less and old men, those who could afford to die.
By the time Cregan finally collected his army and made his way South, however, over a year had passed, and in that time a dozen battles had been fought. King Aegon II had even captured Rhaenyra and fed her to his dragon, but the now crippled King had in turn been murdered by his courtiers as the Starks approached (the King had refused to offer peace terms).
The Queen that Cregan supported may have been dead, and the King he had intended to fight murdered as well, but he declared he would see justice done. Marching into King’s Landing, he had himself named Hand of the King. Thus began what historians refer to as the Hour of the Wolf. Twenty Two men were arrested for the murder of King Aegon II. Nineteen agreed to take the black and join the Night’s Watch. Two were executed. One was found not guilty. After exactly one day as Hand, Cregan than resigned from his post and marched back North, where he would live quietly until his death.
3. Prince Daemon Targaryen
“Over the centuries, House Targaryen has produced both great men and monsters. Prince Daemon was both.” ~Archmaestar Gyldayn
Prince Daemon Targaryen was a member of House Targaryen and the uncle and husband of Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, whose claim he supported in the Dance of the Dragons. He lived roughly 150 years prior to the events of the show.
During his early years Daemon served as Lord Commander of the City Watch of King’s Landing, where he argued frequently with his brother, King Viserys. When Daemon joked about the death of Viserys’ son, the King was furious and Daemon was exiled to Dragonstone. While there Daemon took a consort, and when he gave her a dragon egg King Viserys exiled Daemon from the realm completely.
Daemon thus collected an army together from his friends’ forces and invaded the Stepstones, a lawless series of islands between Westeros and Essos. Five years later, with the help of his dragon, he crowned himself King of the Stepstones and the Narrow Sea. A mere two years later, however, Daemon made a surprise landing at a tournament in King’s Landing and reconciled with his brother. Within six months however rumors circulated that Daemon had taken his cousin Rhaenyra’s virginity (she was 15 at the time), and King Viserys demanded his execution, but stayed his hand only so as not to be declared Kingslayer. Daemon was exiled for a third time.
For a few years he lived in the Stepstones, but after the death of his first wife (yes, despite all his sleeping around he had a wife), he took a second wife and toured Essos. In Pentos his wife had two daughters, but died during childbirth– and Daemon immediately sent for the niece he had slept with before, and married her without King Viserys’ consent. The King was enraged, but would die soon after, leading to the Dance of the Dragons in which Daemon would support his wife (the now Queen Rhaenyra).
By then Prince Daemon had more combat experience than all his foes combined, and in short order captured Harrenhal, then King’s Landing. His final and greatest battle, however, would be against Prince Aemond Targaryen, who rode the last of the great dragons– Vhagar, a monster twice the size of any other.
Flying to Harrenhal, he issued forth a challenge, that Aemond meet and face him alone.
Fourteen days later, Aemond obliged him. They met atop Harrenhal, exchanged words, and then took flight. Daemon atop Caraxes was swifter, allowing him fly out of sight, into the clouds. Aemond and mighty Vhagar searched for them, only to be taken from above by Caraxes in a terribly steep dive. Daemon’s mount seized Vhagar’s great throat, while the elder dragon ripped Caraxes’ stomach asunder, until:
“It was then the tales tell us that Prince Daemon Targaryen swung a leg over his saddle and leapt from one dragon to the other. In his hand was Dark Sister, the Sword of Queen Visenya. As Aemond One-Eye looked up in terror, fumbling with the chains that bound him to his saddle, Daemon ripped off his nephew’s helm and drove the sword down into his blind eye, so hard the point came out the back of the young prince’s throat. Half a heartbeat later, the dragons struck the lake, sending up a gout of water so high that it was said to have been as tall as Kingspyre Tower.”
Caraxes lived long enough to crawl upon the shore, where it died shortly afterward. Vhagar never surfaced, but when his body was dredged from the lake after the war, Prince Aemond’s bones were still chained to the saddle. Prince Daemon was never found, although singers like to speak of his survival against all odds.
4. Ser Arthur Dayne
“The finest knight I ever saw was Ser Arthur Dayne, who fought with a blade called Dawn, forged from the heart of a fallen star. They called him the Sword of the Morning, and he would have killed me but for Howland Reed.” ~Eddard Stark
Ser Arthur Dayne, known as the Sword of the Morning, was a famed and legendary knight from House Dayne and a member of King Aerys II Targaryen’s Kingsguard. Many considered him to be the most chivalrous and best swordsman to have ever lived. He died roughly 20 years prior to the events of the show.
Arthur wielded the greatsword called Dawn, a massive weapon forged from a meteor that nevertheless bore all the characteristics of Valyrian steel. His combat prowess was demonstrated during the campaign against the Kingswood Brotherhood, an outlaw band who operated near King’s Landing. In his most famous instance of single combat, he dueled the Smiling Knight, a madman who was believed to be the best swordsman at that time. Arthur and the Smiling Knight exchanged blow after blow, and when the latter’s sword broke Ser Arthur even allowed his foe to select another– before finally killing him.
During a tournament a few years later he broke twelve lances against Price Rhaegar Targaryen, before finally be defeated. Sometime after the tournament Arthur (seemingly against his chivalrous nature) helped kidnap Lyanna Stark, thus touching off Robert’s Rebellion that saw the fall of the Targaryen dynasty.
For the entire conflict, however, Ser Arthur was missing. Only afterward was he found, alongside two of his fellow Kingsguard, guarding Lyanna Stark at the Tower of Joy. Eddard Stark and six companions arrived to challenge him, and despite their superiority in numbers only Eddard Stark and Howland Reed survived. We do not know who actually killed Ser Arthur but his sword was returned to the Dayne family who have been holding it until someone worthy of the weapon arises..
5. Ser Addam Velyaron
Ser Addam Velaryon, formerly known as Addam of Hull, was a legitimised bastard from Driftmark of dragonseed descent. He became heir to Driftmark and House Velaryon, and lived roughly 150 years prior to the events of the show.
During the Dance of the Dragons, it was decided that Queen Rhaenyra’s armies needed more dragonriders. Many men on Dragonstone came forward to answer the call (the Dragonseed). One of them, Addam of Hull, managed to bond with Seasmoke. When his brother Alyn tried to tame Sheepstealer, the dragon set fire to his cloak. Seasmoke drove off Sheepstealer as Addam used his own cloak to beat out the flames. In response, Lord Corlys Velaryon (the Velaryon family sharing Valryian heritage, alongside the Targaryens) requested that Queen Rhaenyra legitimize him, and so she did.
After two of his fellow dragonseed suddenly shifted sides to Queen Rhaenyra’s enemies, she grew suspicious of Ser Addam (and the fourth and last dragonseed, a girl named Nettles). Addam escaped the city aboard his dragon just as the men sent to arrest him arrived. Days later, King’s Landing would rise in open rebellion as Queen Rhaenyra’s enemies approached the capital, forcing her to flee.
Addam, meanwhile, is said to have landed at the sacred Isle of Faces and took counsel with the legendary (and possible mythical) Green Men. From there he took to the air again, landing at castles great and small, piecing together one last army capable of preventing the army at Tumbleton (who supported King Aegon II, and had three dragonriders, including the two turncloaks, accompanying them) from reaching the capital, thus proving his loyalty beyond all doubt.
Ser Addam attacked that army at night, taking them completely by surprise. In short order the two turncloaks died, as did Price Daeron, the Targaryen who had been leading them all. The dragonriders were dead, but their dragons were not, and the bloodshed all around them sent them into a reckless fury.
Addam turned Seasmoke to meet Tessarion, and the two dragons danced around each other in the sky. Their fight was interrupted, however, by the rise of Verthimor, who attacked everything he came across. And thus Addam turned Seasmoke towards him, to protect those men who were helping them, although he must have known Seasmoke could not beat a dragon twice its size. When they eventually collided, Verthimor was driven into the mud. Then Tessarion joined the fight, which ended with Vermithor ripping off the head of Seasmoke. Vermithor, due to his wounds, died next. Tessarion, after thrice trying to fly, remained on the battlefield in pain, until Lord Benjicot Blackwood ordered her killed to end her suffering. Addam Velyaron died in the battle as well, but his name had been redeemed– when buried, a singular word would be emblazoned upon his headstone: LOYAL.
6. Princess Meria Martell
“I will not fight you, nor will I kneel to you. Dorne has no king. Tell your brother that.” ~Meria Martell
Meria Nymeros Martell was the ruling Princess of Dorne from House Martell during the invasion of Westeros by Aegon the Conqueror. By this time she was eighty years old, blind, overweight, and almost bald. She was mockingly called the “Yellow Toad of Dorne.” Meria lived roughly 300 years prior to the events of the show.
When King Aegon I Targaryen sent ravens to every ruler of Westeros, demanding they yield, Meria replied that she would not. Dorne’s distance from King’s Landing meant that it was the last Kingdom to be invaded, however, and Queen Rhaenys Targaryen (one of Aegon’s sister-wife) led the effort. Meria’s armies refused to give combat however, and instead turned to guerilla raids before melting away into the Dornish mountains and deserts. Rhaenys even took Dornish keeps, but found them empty or filled with only women and children. When asked where their armies had gone, the locals would always give the same simple response– “away.”
In desperation, Queen Rhaenys flew ahead to the Martell’s capital of Sunspear, only to find it too abandoned– by all except Meria herself, who declared she would never submit. Rhaenys was forced to retreat soon after, her armies starving and low and water.
King Aegon I would not forget, however, and led a second invasion (known as the First Dornish War, confusingly) with all the united might of Westeros behind him. Again Meria’s armies retreated to the deserts, but this time Aegon attempted to occupy the abandoned castles. Lord Rosby was even declared Warden of the Sands, the conquest declared complete, and Aegon went back north. And as soon as he did, the Martells emerged from the deserts, and all of Dorne rose in revolt.
Meria herself had been hiding in the city surrounding her capital, Sunspear, and when her rebels took the city she personally flung Lord Rosby from its highest tower. The war continued, but Meria would pass away some years later, and her son would finally sign a peace deal with Aegon– one that guaranteed their independence.
7. Ser Roderick “the Ruin” Dustin
“As the singers tell it, Lord Roderick was blood from head to heel as he came on, with splintered shield and cracked helm, yet so drunk with battle that he did not even seem to feel his wounds.” ~Archmaester Gyldayn
Lord Roderick Dustin, known as Roddy the Ruin, was a Lord of Barrowton and head of House Dustin during the Targaryen civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons. He lived roughly 150 years prior to the show.
A loyal bannerman of Cregan Stark, Roderick Dustin was chosen to lead the smaller band of young men immediately available to support the war against Aegon II, while his liege lord gathered the main Stark armies.
Marching south, Roderick led his forces into a series of victories battles. At the Fishfeed against Lannister armies, he personally led five charges against their spear lines, eventually breaking through at the cost of two out of every three of his men being injured or killed.
He next led a series of raids against a Hightower Army that culminated in the Battle at the Stone Ridge, where he personally sounded the charge that slammed into the opposing army. Ser Criston Cole, known as the “Kingmaker” for his role in crowining King Aegon II, died and his army was destroyed.
At the Battle of Tumbleton, despite facing terrible odds, Roderick again led a charge directly into the army of Lord Ormund Hightower. His guard died around him, but Roderick pressed forward, flying into berserk-like rage. Brydon Hightower managed to sever his shield arm compeltely, but Roderick fought on, killing the man (considered the best swordsman in the Reach at that time) and diving into Lord Ormund Hightower’s personal guard. Cutting through them, he finally pulled Ormund from his horse and killed him– before finally dying himself.
“That is Nymeria’s star, burning bright, and that milky band behind her, those are ten thousand ships. She burned as bright as any man, and so shall I.” ~ Arianne Martell
Nymeria was a warrior queen and a Princess of the Rhoynar. After the Rhoyne was conquered by Valyria, Nymeria led the Rhoynar to Dorne, where she took Lord Mors Martell as her husband. House Nymeros Martell has ruled Dorne since. She lived several hundred years prior to the events of the show.
The Rhoynar lived along the Rhoyne river in Essos, and in time came to neighbor several cities settled by Valyrians. Conflict inevitably arose, and in response the Rhoynar raised perhaps the largest army ever seen– over 250,000 men. Nymeria was the lone voice of dissent when time came to declare war, and she was forced to watch as Prince Garin the Great of Chroyane was named their leader and they marched to war. Prince Garin won several victories, and even stood firm when three dragonriders were sent with an army to crush him– one dragon died, another was greviously injured, and the last escaped. But Nymeria knew that Valryia could not be beaten so easily.
In response, for the first (and perhaps only) time, the Valyrian Freehold unleashed its entire force of dragons. Three hundred dragonriders descended upon Garin’s army, burning them by the thousands. When they tried to take shelter beneath great walls of water called forth by the Rhoynar water mages, the heat of so much dragonflame simply broke through. Tens of thousands died, and Garin himself was captured.
Nymeria led the remnants into exile, her leadership now guaranteed as she had been proven right. For a time they settled on Abulu, one of the Summer Islands. But the land was harsh, and with ten thousand ships she finally made the voyage to Westeros. Landing in Dorne, she made an alliance (and marriage) with House Martell, and together they united the land for the first time ever. Eventually Nymeria would send six defeated Dornish would-be kings to join the Night’s Watch.
9. Robar II Royce
High King Robar II Royce was the last Bronze King of House Royce of Runestone, of the Vale, who lived during the Andal invasion (which occurred between 2,000 and 3,000 years prior to the events of the show).
Robar inherited his crown just prior to his sixteenth birthday, during the height of the Andal invasion, where throughout Westeros the First Men were being overthrown and their lands seized by invaders from across the Narrow Sea. The new king was a fearsome warrior and charming leader, however, and he saw that only a united kingdom of First Men could ever hope to retain their lands (by then, 75% of the Vale was held by Andal kings).
Once united, Robar then moved carefully, attacking one enemy at a time, preying upon the petty rivalries and infighting that had begun to spread among the invaders. The Andal King of the Fingers fell first, killed in single combat by Robar himself. Gulltown was retaken when Robar sent his own sister in to induce a rebellion. The Hammer of the Hills even fell, his armies destroyed beneath the walls of Ironoaks.
In the end the Andals themselves chose to unite under a knight named Ser Artys Arryn, and together he and Robar’s armies fought in the Battle of the Seven Stars, so named (allegedly) because the Andals began their attack when they saw seven stars in the dawn sky (as the Andals followed the Faith of the Seven). Robar’s armies threw back the first six Andal attacks, but the seventh broke through– to which King Robar responded by leading a counterattack himself, and engaged in single combat against Artys Arryn. Robar slayed the knight.
But five hundred Andal knights then suddenly attacked from the rear, led by Artys himself, who had sent a servant into the main battle wearing his armor. Robar’s army routed, and the King himself died trying to rally one last time. Alongside him thirty major lords fell, and the Vale firmly passed to the Arryn family of Andal blood.
10. Trystane Truefyre
Trystane Truefyre was a squire to a hedgeknight, and is the only man to have controlled the Red Keep and Iron Throne that wasn’t an established Targaryen or Baratheon. He lived 170 years prior to the events of the show.
During the Dance of the Dragons civil war, Queen Rhaenyra seized King’s Landing and held it for several months. The army she had sent alongside two dragonriders to defend it, however, had instead been defeated when those dragonriders changed sides and declared for her half-brother, King Aegon II. Without a friendly army between them and the capital, many of the smallfolk feared the approaching dragons would burn the city in its entirety, a fear that turned into panic and anger as food shortages began.
When the smallfolk finally rose in rebellion as night fell, the Goldcloaks proved incapable of controlling them. As rioting spread and open attacks began on guard barracks, a hedgeknight named Ser Perkin the Flea crowned his squire Trystan as a lost son of King Viserys. Any knight can make a knight, and when Ser Perkin began dubbing every sellsword, thief, and butcher’s boy who flocked to Trystane’s ragged banner, men and boys appeared by the hundreds to pledge themselves to his cause.
The next morning an expedition was sent out by the Queen under the command of Ser Torrhen Manderly to check on the situation, where they found Fishermonger’s Square and River Row swarming with Ser Perkin’s gutter knights. Hanging upon the River Gate itself was “King” Trystane’s ragged banner, along with the Gate Captain and three of his sergeants– the rest of the garrison having gone over to Ser Perkin. Ser Torrhen lost two dozen men fighting his way back to the Red Keep with the news. He and the rest of the Queen’s advisors suggested she abandon the city before night returned, but she refused.
When the sun set again, chaos returned.
At the River Gate, Ser Perkin feasted his gutter knights on stolen food, then led them down to the waterfront, where they looted and burned every warehouse and ship in sight. Reentering the city, “King” Trystane’s banner moved through its heart, looting as it went, until they reached the Gate of the Gods. With their Captain having died at Cobbler’s Square the night previous, it took only a short battle for Ser Perkin to add a second gate to his hodgepodge kingdom. Within an hour the King’s Gate would be abandoned, while at the Lion Gate the guards cast off their Gold Cloaks and joined the once again growing mobs.
After larger mobs stormed the Dragonpit and slew four dragons in a fit of madness, Queen Rhaenyra finally abandoned the city. King Trystan thus moved in, and for a few short days “ruled” the chaos consuming the city. King Aegon II’s forces would eventually restore order, and Trystane would be put to death, although he was knighted himself just beforehand, by the King himself.