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Angel Eyes

How come the Targaryens rarely married into Great Houses?

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So I've been looking at the various marriage of Targaryens, and there are very few that married into the Great Houses; I can name five: 

  • Aemon son of Jaehaerys I married Jocelyn Baratheon
  • Viserys son of Baelon (later Viserys I), married Aemma Arryn
  • Daeron son of Aegon IV (later Daeron II) married Mariah Martell
  • Daenerys, daughter of Aegon IV, married Maron Martell
  • Rhaelle Targaryen, daughter of Aegon V, married Ormund Baratheon

So is there any reason why the Targaryens rarely married into Great Houses? They married their bannermen enough; Maekar I married Dyanna Dayne and Aegon V married Alyssa Blackwood. And nobody married a Northerner...

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One possibility is that they didn't want to set up rival claimants to the throne that had the power to press their claim. If a Dayne or a Blackwood decided they should be king then they would be relatively easy to take care of. A Lannister or a Baratheon (as we know), less so.

In the Middle Ages, English kings tended to marry foreigners for precisely this reason - not wanting a rival "branch" growing within the English nobility.

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Hmm, I think their first priority was the 'purity' of the dragonlord bloodline - so fellow Targs and other Valyrians will always be favoured, though some generations (like Aegon V) thought this inbreeding was actually bad news, and also went for/allowed romantic rather than political matches, too.

35 minutes ago, Shouldve Taken The Black said:

In the Middle Ages, English kings tended to marry foreigners for precisely this reason - not wanting a rival "branch" growing within the English nobility.

Well, yes and no. For a start there was an emphasis on marrying other royals, not even stooping so low as the nobility. After a while, that leaves pretty much only foreigners due to issues of consanguinity, (but by the 19th century nearly all the royal houses of Europe were so intermarried it was impossible to find a match who wasn't related....) Rival branches will pop up any time there are siblings, foreign spouse or no (Lancaster, Beaufort, York, Tudor.... Targaryen, Blackfyre, Velaryon, 'Strong'...) I'm not saying it isn't an issue, but I also don't think it's a definite policy passed down from generation in the family rulebook.

Another strong reason for marrying foreigners was diplomatic: usually to seal a truce or establish an alliance (eg Henry VI/Margaret of Anjou); and to some degree that also occurs in Westeros. The first Martell marriage was what brought Dorne into the 7k, and if you trawl through each marriage you'll probably find what political issues were playing at the time.

Maybe there are fewer marriages to the Lords Paramount because they are mostly already loyal and don't need to be tied in by marriage (though that didn't work out so well for the last Aerys, after he decided that dragons don't marry their servants....)

1 hour ago, Angel Eyes said:

So I've been looking at the various marriage of Targaryens, and there are very few that married into the Great Houses; I can name five

  • Aemon son of Jaehaerys I married Jocelyn Baratheon
  • Viserys son of Baelon (later Viserys I), married Aemma Arryn
  • Daeron son of Aegon IV (later Daeron II) married Mariah Martell
  • Daenerys, daughter of Aegon IV, married Maron Martell
  • Rhaelle Targaryen, daughter of Aegon V, married Ormund Baratheon

So is there any reason why the Targaryens rarely married into Great Houses? They married their bannermen enough; Maekar I married Dyanna Dayne and Aegon V married Alyssa Blackwood. And nobody married a Northerner...

Could it all be part of the set up for ASoIaF - like, you know, ELIA Martell (makes six)and Lyanna Stark (and seven depending on your tolerance for tinfoil ;)).

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3 hours ago, Angel Eyes said:

So I've been looking at the various marriage of Targaryens, and there are very few that married into the Great Houses; I can name five: 

  • Aemon son of Jaehaerys I married Jocelyn Baratheon
  • Viserys son of Baelon (later Viserys I), married Aemma Arryn
  • Daeron son of Aegon IV (later Daeron II) married Mariah Martell
  • Daenerys, daughter of Aegon IV, married Maron Martell
  • Rhaelle Targaryen, daughter of Aegon V, married Ormund Baratheon

So is there any reason why the Targaryens rarely married into Great Houses? They married their bannermen enough; Maekar I married Dyanna Dayne and Aegon V married Alyssa Blackwood. And nobody married a Northerner...

The rulers should maintain appropriate distance between themselves and the ruled in order to avoid the perception of bias.  Only by maintaining this distance can the rulers rule effectively.  The rulers are called upon to settle disputes between families.  A fair judgement is easier when the ruling person has no connection to the families being ruled.

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2 hours ago, Rufus Snow said:

Well, yes and no. For a start there was an emphasis on marrying other royals, not even stooping so low as the nobility. After a while, that leaves pretty much only foreigners due to issues of consanguinity, (but by the 19th century nearly all the royal houses of Europe were so intermarried it was impossible to find a match who wasn't related....) Rival branches will pop up any time there are siblings, foreign spouse or no (Lancaster, Beaufort, York, Tudor.... Targaryen, Blackfyre, Velaryon, 'Strong'...) I'm not saying it isn't an issue, but I also don't think it's a definite policy passed down from generation in the family rulebook.

Another strong reason for marrying foreigners was diplomatic: usually to seal a truce or establish an alliance (eg Henry VI/Margaret of Anjou); and to some degree that also occurs in Westeros. The first Martell marriage was what brought Dorne into the 7k, and if you trawl through each marriage you'll probably find what political issues were playing at the time.

^This^

Although in the case of the Seven Kingdoms some leeway could be allowed, as @Rufus Snow pointed out. Being kings or of royal lines originally in their own right does still give their pedigree the proper prestige needed, but dynasties have this weird way of getting too caught up in purity of lineage as well as the practical matter of keeping the nobles at arms length and creating foreign alliances for future wars. Look what the Lannisters were able to do to the Crown in a very short time by muscling into the royal bed. The policy made for lispers and hemophiliacs in our history and fire obsessed maniacs in Westerosi history.

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3 hours ago, Angel Eyes said:

So I've been looking at the various marriage of Targaryens, and there are very few that married into the Great Houses; I can name five: 

  • Aemon son of Jaehaerys I married Jocelyn Baratheon
  • Viserys son of Baelon (later Viserys I), married Aemma Arryn
  • Daeron son of Aegon IV (later Daeron II) married Mariah Martell
  • Daenerys, daughter of Aegon IV, married Maron Martell
  • Rhaelle Targaryen, daughter of Aegon V, married Ormund Baratheon

So is there any reason why the Targaryens rarely married into Great Houses? They married their bannermen enough; Maekar I married Dyanna Dayne and Aegon V married Alyssa Blackwood. And nobody married a Northerner...

There are nine by my count. 

  1. Lord Rodrik Arryn married Princess Daella Targaryen (TWoI&F 169-170)
  2. Lady Aemma Arryn married King Viserys I Targaryen (TWoI&F 170)
  3. Lady Alys Arryn married Prince Rhaegal Targaryen (TWoI&F 312)
  4. Lord Robar [Rogar] Baratheon married Lady Alyssa Velaryon TWoI&F 53) Targaryen on her mother's side
  5. Lady Jocelyn Baratheon married Prince Aemon Targaryen (TWoI&F 227)
  6. Lord Ormund Baratheon married Rhaelle Targaryen (TWoI&F 230)
  7. Prince Maron Martell married Princess Daenerys Targaryen (TWoI&F 101)
  8. Princess Mariah Martell married King Daeron II Targaryen (TWoI&F 313-314)
  9. Princess Elia Martell married Prince Rhaegar Targaryen (AGoT 690)

I leave the discussion of whether or not Rhaegar and Lyanna wed for another thread.

I agree the general reason for few marriages with Great Houses is the Targaryen preference for Valyrian bloodlines. The politics involved in these nine marriages vary from one to another, other than the dual marriages that brings Dorne under Targaryen control.

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5 hours ago, Angel Eyes said:

So I've been looking at the various marriage of Targaryens, and there are very few that married into the Great Houses; I can name five: 

  • Aemon son of Jaehaerys I married Jocelyn Baratheon
  • Viserys son of Baelon (later Viserys I), married Aemma Arryn
  • Daeron son of Aegon IV (later Daeron II) married Mariah Martell
  • Daenerys, daughter of Aegon IV, married Maron Martell
  • Rhaelle Targaryen, daughter of Aegon V, married Ormund Baratheon

So is there any reason why the Targaryens rarely married into Great Houses? They married their bannermen enough; Maekar I married Dyanna Dayne and Aegon V married Alyssa Blackwood. And nobody married a Northerner...

I don't think there was an intentional policy. I think each generation had different reasons for the marriages they arranged based on the objectives they were trying to achieve in their day.

Prior to Baelor I's arrangement of the marriage between Daeron (II) and Mariah Martell, Targaryens most often were wed or betrothed within the Crownlands, whether to other Targaryens or to Velaryons.

There were a number of Vale marriages between the end of the reign of Jaehaerys I and the reign of Aegon III. There were clusters of Dornish and Stormlands marriages between the reign of Baelor I and the reign of Daeron II.

In 237 AC, Aegon V made the most significant known attempt to marry with the great houses, when he betrothed Duncan to a Baratheon daughter, Jaehaerys (II) to Celia Tully, and Shaera to Luthor Tyrell, (and Daeron to Olenna Redwyne).

But all of those betrothals were eventually broken by his children, though his youngest daughter Rhaelle did eventually wed Ormund Baratheon.

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4 hours ago, Shouldve Taken The Black said:

One possibility is that they didn't want to set up rival claimants to the throne that had the power to press their claim. If a Dayne or a Blackwood decided they should be king then they would be relatively easy to take care of. A Lannister or a Baratheon (as we know), less so.

 

:agree:

It was why Aerys refused a marriage to Cersei

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Those five that you mentioned, all of them were partially Targaryens.

4 hours ago, Angel Eyes said:
  • Aemon son of Jaehaerys I married Jocelyn Baratheon
  • Viserys son of Baelon (later Viserys I), married Aemma Arryn
  • Daeron son of Aegon IV (later Daeron II) married Mariah Martell
  • Daenerys, daughter of Aegon IV, married Maron Martell
  • Rhaelle Targaryen, daughter of Aegon V, married Ormund Baratheon

1. Jocelyn's father was Rogar Baratheon (grandson of Orys Baratheon, who was bastard half-brother of Aegon I, so Jocelyn was Aegon's great grand niece or something like that), and her mother was Alyssa Velaryon (her father was Aethan Velaryon, and her mother was a Targaryen). So Jocelyn was 25% Targaryen thru her mother, and 12,5% Targaryen thru her father. 37,5% of common blood is even more than between first cousins. Furthermore, Jocelyn's mother, Alyssa Velaryon, was grandmother of Jocelyn's husband, Aemon (son of Jaehaerys I). Father of Jaehaerys I was Aenys I Targaryen, and Alyssa Velaryon was married with him first, and after Aenys I died, she had remarried with Rogar Baratheon, and gave birth to Jocelyn.

So those first two were very tightly related, both thru blood and marriages of their relatives/ancestors.

2. Aemma Arryn was daughter of Daella Targaryen.

3 & 4. Larra Rogare married with Viserys II Targaryen (Aegon IV was their son), and Larra's uncle, Drazenko, married with Aliandra Martell. Next ruler of Dorne, after Aliandra, was father of Mariah and Maron, and it was him, who arranged that marriage between Mariah and Daeron II Targaryen. Maybe that Prince of Dorne, was Aliandra's son, or brother, or cousin, maybe he and his children M&M also had Valyrian blood thru Rogares, or maybe not. Though this two marriages were more political, than any other of Targaryen marriages, because thru them, they finally managed to add Dorne to other 6 Kingdoms, and to unite Westeros. So in this case, blood mattered less than other benefits.

5. Baratheons intermarried with Targaryens and Velaryons, so they had lots of Valyrian blood. Thus they were a good match. Though originally it was Duncan Targaryen, who was supposed to marry with daughter of Lyonel Baratheon. Instead, after Duncan married with Jenny of Oldstones, and Lyonel was defeated by Duncan the Tall, after Baratheon Rebellion, Aegon V married his daughter to Lyonel's son, Ormund. And Rhaelle even became Lyonel's cupbearer. Probably the original reason, why Duncan was engaged with Lyonel's daughter, was because of high percentage of Valyrian blood in Baratheon family.

So even when Targaryens married with non-Targaryens, they usually were chosing someone with Valyrian or Targaryen blood. Probably even in those marriages of Targaryen family with Daynes, Dondarrions and Hightowers, it's likely, that among ancestors of those matches from great Houses, were drops of Targaryen blood. For example, Boros Baratheon, Jocelyn's nephew, had four daughters, they were great granddaughters of Alyssa Velaryon, and some sort of cousins to Rhaenys Targaryen and her children. So maybe those four half-Targaryens married with Dayne, Dondarion, Hightowr, and Blackwood, thus their descendants had Targaryen blood, and that's why Daeron II married with Dyanna Dayne, one of his grandsons married with Dondarrion, the other with Blackwood (Aegon V), etc.

I think, that Targaryens tried to intermarry as much as possible with other people, that also had Valyrian/dragonseed blood. So probably there are many marriages between Targaryens and people from great Houses, that were also somehow carriers of Targaryen/Valyrian blood, and we will know more about them, when the F&B book will go on sale.

"How come the Targaryens rarely married into Great Houses?" - To keep their blood pure? :huh:

The last dragon died not that long ago, in 133(?), less than 70 years ago. Targaryens were dragonlords for 5000 years, and for that long they were intermarrying between themselves, to keep their blood as pure as possible. So, probably, even though the dragons died, Targaryens kept followinng old customs, because old habits die hard. Mere 70 years without dragons, can't obliterate five thousands years old tradition, of keeping blood pure. So marriages outside of their genetic pool were still a no no.

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6 hours ago, Angel Eyes said:

And nobody married a Northerner...

Even after Aegon's Conquest, northerners mostly married with other northerners. For the last 300 years, in Starks' family tree, outside of The North, there was two marriages with Blackwoods, one with Arryn, two with Royces, one with Tully, one with Rogers from Stormlands, all others were with other northern Houses.

Arryns, Royces, Blackwoods and Tullys are First Men Houses (no further info is know about Rogers). So Starks married ONLY with other First Men like themselves. And other northern Houses also mostly married with other northerners. Jorah Mormont and his marriage with Hightower girl is a very unusual occurance for that region.

Targaryens never married with Northerners, because Northerners were also very segregative, nearly as much a Targaryens themselves. They married only with those, that were like them - First Men. So the marriage between Targaryens and Starks, the Pact of Ice & Fire was supposed to become a major step, to unite First Men and Valyrians, Old Gods and Fire God, but it never happened. (If we won't include Rhaegar + Lyanna, until it will be officially confirmed). Targaryens didn't had a spare Princess, when the Dance of the Dragons ended, and Jace Targaryen died in a battle, and thus, most likely, him and his northern girl never had children (even if they did secretly married, even if he did left dragon eggs in Winterfell's crypts, as his wedding present). So unless R+L=J is truth, then Northerners/Starks never ever married with non-First Men (the only known exception is Jorah Mormont).

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There is a combination of reasons there - the incest marriage policy first and foremost.

I'm pretty sure quite a few of the marriages of Daeron's sons were cousin marriages (like Aerys-Aelinor), so those wouldn't technically be marriages favoring smaller houses but would be in line with the Targaryen marriage practice (like they often married their Velaryon cousins).

Marriages outside the (extended) family only took place for political reasons and for love.

Apparently no Targaryen ever fell in love with a member of a great house (aside from Alicent Hightower, if we count her) but favored other women. And for political reasons great houses apparently never were great matches, either.

1 hour ago, Megorova said:

Alyssa Velaryon (her father was Aethan Velaryon, and her mother was a Targaryen).

That isn't the case. Ran has confirmed that Alyssa's mother was not, in fact, a Targaryen. Although she was likely a Targaryen on her father's side, through Valaena Velaryon's Targaryen mother, or some older Targaryen ancestor of the Velaryons.

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9 hours ago, Shouldve Taken The Black said:

One possibility is that they didn't want to set up rival claimants to the throne that had the power to press their claim. If a Dayne or a Blackwood decided they should be king then they would be relatively easy to take care of. A Lannister or a Baratheon (as we know), less so.

In the Middle Ages, English kings tended to marry foreigners for precisely this reason - not wanting a rival "branch" growing within the English nobility.

 

6 hours ago, Moiraine Sedai said:

The rulers should maintain appropriate distance between themselves and the ruled in order to avoid the perception of bias.  Only by maintaining this distance can the rulers rule effectively.  The rulers are called upon to settle disputes between families.  A fair judgement is easier when the ruling person has no connection to the families being ruled.

 

4 hours ago, Pikachu101 said:

:agree:

It was why Aerys refused a marriage to Cersei

All great ideas ladies and gentlemen.  This is about power and the monopoly on power.  They don't want another powerful family to bond with dragons.  It became a custom and there is the need to avoid the appearance of favoritism.  

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5 hours ago, Pikachu101 said:

:agree:

It was why Aerys refused a marriage to Cersei

Actually, there would have been no issue with that. Marrying a Targaryen princess to Jaime (or another Lannister) would have given their Lannister descendants a claim, but not the other way around. Marrying Cersei would have been perfectly fine - although it certainly might have given the Lannisters an unheard of amount of power and prestige at court which could also have posed certain problems.

That is why the Ormund-Rhaella match turned out to be dangerous, whereas Duncan-Baratheon girl wouldn't have been that much of an issue.

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11 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Marrying Cersei would have been perfectly fine - although it certainly might have given the Lannisters an unheard of amount of power and prestige at court which could also have posed certain problems.

Tywin would use his daughter to strengthen Lannister hold, he did just that with Robert and I think Aerys knew that. If the wife's family is ambitious then they'll pose just as big a threat 

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5 minutes ago, Pikachu101 said:

Tywin would use his daughter to strengthen Lannister hold, he did just that with Robert and I think Aerys knew that. If the wife's family is ambitious then they'll pose just as big a threat 

It only worked with Robert because Robert was essentially not giving a fuck about being king or ruling his kingdom. He allowed his queen to acquire a lot of informal power and fill the court with her favorites. Now, considering they are Lannisters and wealthy as hell this is a danger a King Rhaegar would have also faced if he were married to a Queen Cersei, but we can be sure he wouldn't have allowed Cersei to acquire as much power as she did if this hadn't been in her interest.

The Hightowers also had a lot of power at court while Viserys I was married to Alicent and Otto the Hand - but there were always other powerful factions there, too.

And it is up to the king how much he favors his wife's family. It most likely can't be helped that a queen brings her own retainers and ladies to court, but it isn't a given that they end up on the council, the Kingsguard, or get other important offices.

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