Did Princess Rhaenys Have a Better Claim Than King Viserys? Succession Explained
Episode 7 of House of the Dragon allowed us to see a good scene involving both Corlys Velaryon and Rhaenys Targaryen as they were discussing Laena’s death and the succession of the Driftmark. That was when Corlys brought up the topic of Rhaenys and the Iron Throne, as he believed that his wife was supposed to have a better claim than Viserys. So, did Princess Rhaenys really have a better claim than King Viserys?
Princess Rhaenys was the only child of Aemon Targaryen, who was supposed to be the heir to the Iron Throne before his demise. Meanwhile, Viserys’s father, Baelon, only became heir after Aemon’s death. But he also died before he became king. As such, it is believed that Rhaenys had a better claim.
The fact that King Viserys was chosen to become ruler was something that has never escaped Corlys, even though Rhaenys had already gotten over the fact that she wasn’t chosen. This is one of the reasons why Corlys is so adamant about seeing his supposed grandsons rising to the Iron Throne after Rhaenyra passes it to them. Now, let’s take a look at Rhaenys and her claim to the Iron Throne.
Did Princess Rhaenys Have A Better Claim Than King Viserys?
House of the Dragon opened up with a scene that allowed us to see the Targaryen family and the way the next king after Jaehaerys was selected. This was when we saw several people who believed that they had a claim to the Iron Throne stepping up, only to realize that the battle for the crown boiled down to two people: Princess Rhaenys Targaryen and Prince Viserys Targaryen. In the end, however, Viserys was chosen to become the next heir to the Iron Throne, and that’s why he was the king that ruled the Seven Kingdoms in the events that led to the Dance of the Dragons.
We already know that Viserys had a somewhat peaceful rule during his time as king, even though there was infighting between the different members of his household. But it was his time as king that eventually led to the Targaryen civil war, as Rhaenyra and Alicent went to war against each other for the Iron Throne.
In episode 7, however, the fact that Viserys was chosen over Rhaenys was once again brought up by Lord Corlys Velaryon. This happened during a scene in Driftmark, where House Targaryen and House Velaryon gathered together for the funeral of Laena Velaryon. Back in their own quarters, Rhaenys told Corlys to name Baela Targaryen as heir to Driftmark ahead of Jacaerys or Lucerys, who were both the sons of Princess Rhaenyra. And the reason why Rhaenys wanted the succession to pass to Laena’s daughters was the fact that none of Rhaenyra’s children belonged to Laenor.
Corlys, however, didn’t want to question the paternity of Rhaenyra’s sons because that also meant questioning their right to inherit the Iron Throne from their mother, who was the heir to the Seven Kingdoms. And the reason why Corlys wanted to see his supposed grandsons becoming king was the fact that Rhaenys was supposed to be queen.
According to Corlys, Rhaenys was supposed to be the queen of the Seven Kingdoms until Viserys was chosen to become the heir to King Jaehaerys. So, did Princess Rhaenys really have a better claim to the Iron Throne than King Viserys?
Princess Rhaenys was born the only daughter of Prince Aemon, who was the second-born son of King Jaehaerys. However, because his older brother died as a baby, Aemon Targaryen was the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. Aemon, however, died before he could assume the Iron Throne. As such, the succession passed to Baelon Targaryen, his younger brother and the father of Viserys.
The problem was that Baelon also died before Jaehaerys could pass the Iron Throne to him. That was what led to the succession problems during the tail end of Jaehaerys’s rule, as there was no clear successor to the Iron Throne.
This is where it got confusing because the two eldest children of, Aemon and Baelon, were the ones who had the best claim to the Iron Throne. Princess Rhaenys was the eldest child of Jaehaerys’s first heir. Meanwhile, Viserys was the eldest son of Jaehaerys’s second heir. Because neither Aemon nor Baelon ever became king, that meant that the succession should have restarted all the way to Aemon’s line. And because Rhaenys was the only child of Aemon, she was the one who had a better claim.
On the other hand, Viserys’s claim to the Iron Throne stemmed from the fact that he was the only living son among the two sons that were named heir to the Seven Kingdoms. Considering that Westerosi culture was always patriarchal in nature, Viserys’s claim mostly relied on the fact that he was born male while Rhaenys was born a woman.
In that regard, it was possible that Corlys was right when he said that Princess Rhaenys should have been queen. And this is where the nickname “The Queen That Never Was” comes from, as she was supposed to be queen but never had the chance to sit on the Iron Throne.
Why Was King Viserys Chosen For The Iron Throne?
Going back to what Corlys said about Rhaenys supposedly having a better claim than Viserys, he also said that the title of the queen was stolen from her, as Viserys was chosen to become king of the Seven Kingdoms. So, why was King Viserys chosen for the Iron Throne ahead of Rhaenys?
When there was confusion regarding the succession during the final years of King Jaehaerys’s rule as the one sitting on the Iron Throne, a large meeting was called so that the different lords and ladies of the Seven Kingdoms could convene and choose who they wanted to be named the heir to the Iron Throne. In that regard, it was an election where the different lords and ladies throughout Westeros were given a chance to vote, as even Jaehaerys and his Small Council were probably confused in relation to who the rightful heir was.
Considering that most of the other rulers all over the Seven Kingdoms were male and that Westeros had never been ruled by a queen before, it was logical for them to choose a male successor over a female heir. That was the reason why Viserys was chosen in a landslide election that favored him from the very start.
It is also the fact that King Viserys was chosen by the lord and ladies of the Seven Kingdoms that Otto Hightower believes that the realm would never accept Princess Rhaenyra as their queen. As he was the Hand of King Jaehaerys before he assumed that role during Viserys’s reign, Otto saw firsthand that the Seven Kingdoms chose a king over a queen to rule over them. This is why he wanted Prince Aegon to succeed over Princess Rhaenyra, as he believed that the realm would tear itself apart if a queen were to rule over the Seven Kingdoms. He never had anything personal against Rhaenyra, but it was merely his firm belief that the Seven Kingdoms would never accept a queen that made him decide to scheme against her.