Episode 8 of House of the Dragon was the final time we saw King Viserys Targaryen because he finally succumbed to his condition. However, throughout the first eight episodes of the series, we saw how the king steadily regressed from a king in his prime to an old man that looked like a walking corpse. The maesters, of course, tried to treat him, but there was only so much he could do until he finally died. So, does that mean that his wife, Alicent Hightower, poisoned King Viserys?
Alicent Hightower did not poison the king. She and her father, Otto Hightower, only drowned him in milk of the poppy so that his pain could be eased. Then again, there is still the possibility that the maesters collaborated to give him the wrong treatment for his condition due to their loyalty to House Hightower.
Rhaenyra was sort of correct when she said that Alicent was not capable of cold-blooded murder. But that doesn’t mean that his father isn’t capable of that, as we all know that Otto Hightower isn’t the most morally upright man in the series is one that is quite conniving in terms of his personality. In that regard, let’s talk more about how Viserys died and whether or not there was a conspiracy involved.
Did Alicent Hightower Poison King Viserys?
Ever since the first episode of House of the Dragon, it was already obvious that King Viserys was not going to live long. That’s because he was suffering from a mysterious disease that resembled leprosy. He presumably got the disease after getting cut by one of the blades on the Iron Throne, as these swords aren’t exactly that clean. In that regard, the bacteria that entered the cut caused the disease that was slowly eating him up from the inside in a steady manner.
Viserys’s condition had only gotten worse with every time skip in the series, as he eventually degraded to a point where he looked a lot older than he was. Despite the fact that he was only 52 the final time we saw him, he looked like a walking corpse and was basically skin and bones. That was because none of the treatments that he underwent ever worked. It was just as if whatever the maesters were doing was just prolonging his agony, as they didn’t seem to be doing anything to solve Viserys’s condition.
While we can point a lot of fingers here, fans were quick to point out the fact that, in episode 8, Viserys was drinking some sort of tea that allowed him to ease his pain. This was given at the order of not only Alicent but also Otto. But he only ended up dying at the end of episode 8. So, did Alicent Hightower poison king Viserys?
It is unlikely that Alicent poisoned Viserys. That’s because the tea that they were giving him was milk of the poppy, which was supposed to dull his pain and allow him to sleep. However, milk of the poppy also clouded his head and made it more difficult for him to make his own decisions with a sound and logical mind. That was why Daemon, when he sniffed the tea, was quite aware of what it was, as he knew that milk of the poppy could make affect a person’s mind, even though it does help with the king’s pain management.
Another reason why it is unlikely that Alicent was poisoning the king is the fact that she isn’t capable of cold-blooded murder and is a woman that tries to keep herself in a morally upright position. Rhaenyra said it herself when she said that Alicent wasn’t someone who was capable of killing anyone on a whim. A good example of Alicent’s morally upright position is the fact that she took the side of the maid Dyana, who said that she had been sexually assaulted by Prince Aegon. The queen vehemently scolded the prince and was even ready to disown him for what he did to a maid that she barely knew.
The Hightowers, of course, have a history of being some of the most morally upright people in the Seven Kingdoms, as they are the ones who are said to be the most religious of all of the different houses in Westeros. That is why Alicent, during the time that she was sitting on the Iron Throne while Viserys was sick, decorated the Red Keep with the emblems of the Seven as a reminder to everyone of where she stood as far as her religion and morals were concerned.
And to be fair with Alicent, she really did care about King Viserys. She cared about her duty as the queen consort to the king and as his wife, even though she may not have necessarily loved him deeply. As such, killing the king by poisoning him was beyond her capabilities during the time when they were together.
How Did Viserys’s Condition Worsen?
It might be true that Alicent did not have a hand in the worsening condition of King Viserys. After all, the king’s condition was already getting worse even before they got married. So, how did Viserys’s condition worsen? Well, the man who was always with him from the very start was Otto Hightower.
Otto Hightower may be from the religious and morally upright House Hightower, but he has always been a scheming man that was ready to do whatever it took to achieve whatever he believed was good for the realm. That was the reason why he installed his daughter to be the king’s new wife and why he was pushing for Aegon to be the heir to the Iron Throne, as he believed with all of his heart that a woman as the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms would only lead to civil war.
But Otto wasn’t always in the picture, especially after he got fired from his position. This is where the theory regarding the Grand Maester and the other maesters comes in, as they may have a hand in the worsening condition of King Viserys.
The maesters are based in the Citadel, which is located in Oldtown, which is also the same city that the Hightowers rule as lords. That means that the maesters owe a lot of their loyalty and gratitude to House Hightower. It is even possible that they are more loyal to the lords of Oldtown than to the king of the Seven Kingdoms, as the Hightowers have always been staunch supporters of the Citadel and the maesters long before the Aegon even conquered Westeros. History also mentions that House Hightower had a huge hand in constructing the Citadel, and that means that the maesters are quite close to the Hightowers.
What we are implying is that there is a good possibility that the maesters did a poor job of healing King Viserys. We saw this in the fact that Grand Maester Mellos, in the earlier episodes, opted to forego other methods of treatment in relation to Viserys’s wounds and worsening condition. Instead, he was simply using leeches to treat him. Of course, for nearly two decades, it was clear that leeching had little to no effect on the leprosy-like symptoms that Viserys was showing.
The fact that the maesters are the only ones that truly understand science and medicine makes it difficult for anyone in the Red Keep to dispute the treatments that Grand Maester Mellos were using to try to heal King Viserys. In that regard, it is quite possible that the king’s worsening condition was due to the fact that the maesters used wrong treatments on him on purpose on the orders of none other than Otto Hightower himself.