Rhaenyra Marrying Laenor Velaryon Is A Bigger Deal Than You Realize
Rhaenyra Targaryen marrying Laenor Velaryon has a massive impact on House of the Dragon’s story and her path to ascending the Iron Throne.
WARNING: This post contains SPOILERS for House of the Dragon season 1, episode 4 and George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood!
Rhaenyra’s marriage to Laenor Velaryon sets up a complex future for the Princess in House of the Dragon, while giving the Targaryens a major political advantage. King Viserys previously ordered Rhaenyra to find a husband and secure her succession on the Iron Throne, but she returned home in episode 4 without a match. In the House of the Dragon episode 4 ending, Viserys informs Rhaenyra that she will be marrying Laenor Velaryon without protest as a consequence of her rumored tryst with Daemon. She reluctantly agrees to the match due to its political value and her duty as Princess of Dragonstone, thus setting up a big wedding in House of the Dragon episode 5.
Following Queen Aemma’s death, Viserys was originally advised to marry Laena Velaryon in order to heal the rift between House Targaryen and House Velaryon. The two Valyrian families had been increasingly divided after the Sea Snake’s wife Rhaenys Targaryen had been passed over as heir in favor of Viserys, which only worsened when Viserys chose Alicent over Laena. After word spread of Rhaenyra’s sexual encounter with Daemon (though the two didn’t actually sleep together) in House of the Dragon episode 4, an angry Viserys devised a plan to kill two birds with one stone.
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By marrying Rhaenyra to Laenor, Viserys regains the strength of House Velaryon’s fleet, wealth, and dragons. The Velaryons are a dangerous enemy to have during the House of the Dragon timeline due to their significant influence, so having them back on the Targaryens’ side ensures further protection of the crown. Rhaenyra and Laenor’s marriage also means that House Velaryon will be even fiercer supporters of her claim to the Iron Throne, as they’ll want to protect their own interests given Laenor’s children will be her heirs. Considering Rhaenyra has also just begun exploring her sexuality in House of the Dragon episode 4, being married seemingly allows her to act on her desires without the worry of a tarnished reputation, disinheritance, or moon tea drinks. Rhaenyra and Laenor’s marriage begins as mutually beneficial for the House Targaryen family and the Velaryons, but the true impact of their union is far greater in House of the Dragon’s future.
What Rhaenyra Marrying Laenor Velaryon Sets Up For House Of The Dragon
Not only does Rhaenyra marrying Laenor prevent gossip about her trysts, but it also keeps his own secrets from affecting his reputation. Fire & Blood all but confirms that Laenor Velaryon is gay, suggesting Rhaenys and Corlys were eager to accept the marriage proposal to alleviate gossip. While Laenor being gay essentially means that Rhaenyra can have affairs without her husband objecting, it also makes the issue of producing heirs more complex. Their marriage thus sets up one of the biggest controversies in the House of the Dragon show: the parentage of Rhaenyra and Laenor’s three sons. Jacaerys, Lucerys, and Joffrey all have the Velaryon name, but are heavily implied to be fathered by Rhaenyra’s sworn shield Harwin Strong. Considering the actors cast as Rhaenyra’s sons share more physical traits with Harwin than Rhaenyra or Laenor, House of the Dragon is giving more weight to the rumors’ truth.
Although Rhaenyra’s sons are technically Strong bastards, Corlys and Rhaenys remain instrumental figures in defending Rhaenyra’s claim during the Dance of the Dragons. Rhaenyra and Viserys fervently maintain that they’re Velaryons, which gives Corlys the opportunity to make his family the most powerful in the realm if a child with his name is named heir to the Iron Throne. Having the Sea Snake’s army on Rhaenyra’s side also becomes more significant after the dragonrider Laenor Velaryon dies and she marries Daemon, as Corlys and Daemon had already established a strong alliance. If not for her close ties to the Velaryons in House of the Dragon, it’s unclear how successful her fight in the Targaryen civil war would have actually been.
New episodes of House of the Dragon release Sundays on HBO/HBO Max.
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