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Hello! I am new to the website so forgive me if this has been brought up elsewhere and I missed it. I'm curious why Viserys and Daenarys of ASOIAF would be under the impression that Targaryens are immune to illnesses. Reading through both companion pieces, it seems that a decent number of Targaryens died of some illness or another, not to mention the girl that died of the shivers and Aegon the Unworthy catching the pox. Their own grandfather died at 37 years old of a short illness that included shortness of breath. I know that Daenarys believes this based only on what Viserys told her but why would he believe that to be true? 

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Posted (edited)
On 8/9/2019 at 3:35 AM, Gnobbels said:

Hello! I am new to the website so forgive me if this has been brought up elsewhere and I missed it. I'm curious why Viserys and Daenarys of ASOIAF would be under the impression that Targaryens are immune to illnesses. Reading through both companion pieces, it seems that a decent number of Targaryens died of some illness or another, not to mention the girl that died of the shivers and Aegon the Unworthy catching the pox. Their own grandfather died at 37 years old of a short illness that included shortness of breath. I know that Daenarys believes this based only on what Viserys told her but why would he believe that to be true? 

I think it was more likely an exaggeration or embellishment to sustain the belief that the members of House Targaryen were apart from other men and women. I asked the same question on the subreddit for ASOIAF, and was told that it reveals that Targaryens are no less likely to become ill than other individuals, it may just be a statement to maintain their aura and mystique without anything credible behind it. For example, Targaryens perished in the Great Spring Sickness I believe, so they aren't immune to illness. 

Edited by The Ghost Beyond the Wall

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17 hours ago, The Ghost Beyond the Wall said:

I think it was more likely an exaggeration or embellishment to sustain the belief that the members of House Targaryen were apart from other men and women. I asked the same question on the subreddit for ASOIAF, and was told that it reveals that Targaryens are no less likely to become ill than other individuals, it may just be a statement to maintain their aura and mystique without anything credible behind it. For example, Targaryens perished in the Great Spring Sickness I believe, so they aren't immune to illness. 

Yes, I agree. Plus at the end of the Dance, Dany had doubts that she's sick with the bloody flux.

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The Targaryens according to Fire and Blood, believed that they were immune due to never getting sick whenever there was an epidemic or just in general a head cold.  This in addition to being able to ride dragons the noble family also believe this elevated them above regular men. However this all changed when the shivers came Westoros during the reign of Jahaerys and good Queen Allysanne when their firstborn daughter Daenerys became afflicted and died.

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On 8/9/2019 at 8:35 AM, Gnobbels said:

Hello! I am new to the website so forgive me if this has been brought up elsewhere and I missed it. I'm curious why Viserys and Daenarys of ASOIAF would be under the impression that Targaryens are immune to illnesses. Reading through both companion pieces, it seems that a decent number of Targaryens died of some illness or another, not to mention the girl that died of the shivers and Aegon the Unworthy catching the pox. Their own grandfather died at 37 years old of a short illness that included shortness of breath. I know that Daenarys believes this based only on what Viserys told her but why would he believe that to be true? 

The Targs believe their own hype. They think they are above the laws of Gods and Men. Therefore they can't get ill like mortal man. Its all a con

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Hundreds of years of observation of a single family revealed a pattern of increased resistance to diseases.  This resistance is not going to be bestowed on every member of the family.  The gene may even be recessive.  A little girl living under the stress of poverty and never even so much as suffer from a minor illness is extremely out of the ordinary.  A little girl and her older brother never even gotten sick is extremely, extremely out of the ordinary.  It is true.  Disease resistance was strong in Viserys and it is very strong in Daenerys.  

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The claim never was that Targaryens were immune to all diseases, just that they had a hightened resilence against the common infectious diseases. And that seems to be not untrue for many of them.

Most Targaryen dying of diseases seem to have lacked this resilience - indicated by them being sickly their entire lives (like Jaehaerys II, Aerys I, Archmaester Vaegon, etc.) - or by them being struck by a really powerful plague which, in the case of the Shivers, the Winter Fever, and the Great Spring Sickness might be of magical origin, just like greyscale originally seems to be (if it goes back to Garin's Curse, as is implied).

If one looks at the Shivers then it is very striking that Princess Daenerys is the only Targaryen who catches it and dies (Jaehaerys I, Alysanne, Rhaena, the boys do not catch it) whereas many other people who have the blood of the dragon to various degrees (various Velaryons and Baratheons) either don't catch it or catch it and recover. This is striking in and of itself if you compare it to the tragedies occurring in the households where there is no Targaryen blood at all - there the Shivers seems to have routinely eradicated entire families.

In that sense, I think one can assume that one of the healthy and well-bred 'great Targaryens' whose body is well-formed, etc. has a pretty good chance to be very resilient to most, if not all, normal diseases - like our Daenerys Targaryen actually is. She was apparently never sick from infection her entire life - but that doesn't mean she isn't afraid of catching a disease. And the fact that she doesn't jump the Pale Mare in ADwD despite being around the infected so much underlines this - as does the fact that Aegon III doesn't catch the Winter Fever despite the fact that he hung out with many people who died of the disease.

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We  are told in Fire and Blood that from Aenar the Exile, through Jaehaerys the Conciliator, no Targaryen got sick. Does that suggest that Targaryens became more susceptible to common illnesses after intermarrying with no Targaryens, notably Alyssa Velaryon, wife of Aenys I and daughter of Aethan Velaryon and Alarra Massey?  

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23 minutes ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

We  are told in Fire and Blood that from Aenar the Exile, through Jaehaerys the Conciliator, no Targaryen got sick. Does that suggest that Targaryens became more susceptible to common illnesses after intermarrying with no Targaryens, notably Alyssa Velaryon, wife of Aenys I and daughter of Aethan Velaryon and Alarra Massey?  

I don't think that's what implied, especially in light of the fact that Alyssa Velaryon pretty much counts as a, albeit distant, dragonlord descendant and Targaryen relative (like Corlys Velaryon later she is more closely related to her Targaryen spouse on the Velaryon side, but there is a Targaryen link there, too) considering her very striking Valyrian features.

And we also have 1-2 Targaryens dying of illness before the reign of Jaehaerys I - Queen Visenya was apparently killed by a disease she caught in old age with caused her to lose a lot of weight before she died and King Aenys died of an disease of the stomach if he was not poisoned (by his aunt). Although one certainly can make the case that neither of those diseases was necessarily an infectious disease - both (and especially Visenya's cause of death) could have been cancer.

If we want to believe that this heightened resilience against infectious diseases I talked about above goes back to back to the blood of the dragon, then one can speculate whether the dragonlords of Old Valyria (and the Targaryens among them) had a much stronger such resilience back when they were constantly strengthening their own 'magical blood' by only interbreeding with their peers (when they were not marrying their sisters).

Incest as practiced by the Targaryens in Westeros also preserves the Westerosi bloodlines marrying into the family - e.g. Jaehaerys II and Shaera's incestuous union preserved the golden blood of Old Valyria as much as the blood of the Blackwoods, Daynes, and Martells due to the non-incestuous unions of their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. That certainly means their blood is 'less pure' than the blood of Aegon I and his sister-wives.

But back in Jaehaerys I's things were still somewhat different.

And as I said, there are Targaryens who are described as weak and sickly from birth - King Aenys, Aerea, Archmaester Vaegon, Jaehaerys and Jaehaera, King Aerys I, Jaehaerys II, etc.

I'd say that the best take on that thing is that - just as there are more and less promising Targaryens insofar as physical and mental gifts are concerned - there are also such with heightened resilience to (infectious) diseases (i.e. such who rarely/never get sick in childhood, youth, and middle age) and such who have trouble with various vexing maladies and problems their entire lives.

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