One of the things that we know about Game of Thrones is that the entire continent of Westeros was conquered by the Targaryens, as this began with Aegon the Conqueror, who went on to seize the land through the strength of Balerion the Dread and the other dragons that his house controlled. In that regard, almost the entirety of Westeros bowed down to him within two years. However, the region called Dorne, which lies to the very south of Westeros, was able to resist the Targaryens for a very long time. So, how did Dorne resist Aegon’s Conquest?
The Dornish people were able to resist Aegon’s Conquest by making use of the harsh terrain and deserts of Dorne to their advantage instead of meeting Aegon’s army and his dragons in open combat or allowing them to besiege their castles. They resorted to ambushes by hiding in the mountains and the deserts.
It was the fact that Dorne was able to resist Aegon the Conqueror and his dragons for a long time that proves that warfare is not only reliant on the strength of an army but also on how well one uses the terrain. In that regard, Dorne had a distinct advantage over the Targaryens because they knew their home better. So, with that said, let’s look at how Dorne resisted Aegon and how they were finally conquered.
How Did Dorne Resist Aegon’s Conquest Of Westeros?
We saw in Game of Thrones that one single king was the ruler of an entire continent that had seven different kingdoms under the control of the monarch. Of course, this wasn’t always the same because different kings and lords ruled their own different realms and territories throughout the history of the continent of Westeros. This was the case for thousands of years until the arrival of Aegon Targaryen.
With the strength of his dragons, Aegon the Conqueror was able to bring Westeros to its knees as no king or lord could stand up to the power of the beasts that the Targaryen brought west all the way from the now-destroyed empire of Valyria. It was through these dragons that he was able to conquer much of the entire continent in only a span of two years, as it was clear that no weapon in the world could stand up to the power of these flying fire-breathing beasts. And the reason why he wanted to unite the entire continent under his rule was to prepare it for the upcoming threat from the north, as revealed to him by his dream.
But while Aegon was able to conquer Westeros and even force some of the most powerful kings and lords to swear allegiance to him and burn to the ground some of the strongest castles and forts on the entire continent, there was one region that made things hard for him. This land is called Dorne.
The region of Dorne is the southernmost area of Westeros and is also the hottest place on the entire continent. Dorne is ruled by princes and princesses. And these rulers were able to actually resist Aegon’s Conquest of Westeros.
While Aegon used the power of his dragons to force kings and lords to submit to his rule and make them swear allegiance to him as the one true king of the continent, the Dornish people were able to make things hard for him because they knew their land better than anyone else in Westeros. And it was this fact that frustrated Aegon and the rest of the Targaryens for decades.
But before Aegon even conquered Westeros, Dorne offered an alliance to the Targaryens so that they could defeat the Storm Kings together. However, Aegon refused the offer because he wanted submission from Dorne instead of an alliance. And during the Conquest of Westeros, the armies that Aegon sent to Dorne struggled.
That’s because the Dornish knew that they could never defeat the dragons in open combat. Instead, the Dornish used guerilla tactics that allowed them to frustrate Aegon and his sisters. They regularly sent small groups of armies to ambush and raid the Targaryen forces before retreating to the deserts and the mountains of Dorne. In that regard, they were able to make full use of the terrain to their advantage, as not even the dragons were able to chase the Dornish soldiers in the deserts and mountains of the regions.
Eventually, Aegon decided to try to conquer Dorne once more, four years after he conquered Westeros. He sent Rhaenys Targaryen on Meraxes, one of the three dragons that conquered the continent. However, the First Dornish War was a failure because it led to many different losses on the part of the Targaryen forces.
Rhaenys was actually able to conquer different castles and territories all over Dorne, but most of them didn’t have soldiers. Instead, the armies of Dorne decided to stay hidden in the deserts and mountains while launching raid after raid on the Targaryen forces. On top of that, the armored knights and soldiers that the Targaryens sent were no match for the Dornish soldiers, who excelled fighting in the hot deserts of Dorne because they wore lighter gear and had weapons that were meant to pierce armor.
The First Dornish War led to the death of Queen Rhaenys Targaryen and Meraxes. They both died when a scorpion ballista went straight through the dragon’s eye, as both the beast and the rider perished when Meraxes crashed. On top of that, the First Dornish War led to the creation of the Kingsguard because there were attempts on Aegon’s life when Dorne sent an assassin.
Finally, a peace treaty was finally brokered nine years after the war broke out when a Dornish envoy to King’s Landing. This envoy brought the skull of Meraxes while offering a letter to Aegon. While Aegon was initially insulted by the skull of the dragon that his sister wife once rode, his demeanor changed upon reading the letter. The contents of the letter were never revealed, but Aegon was quick to accept the peace treaty offered by Dorne, as the region remained unconquered for more than a hundred years after the Conquest of Westeros.
When Was Dorne Conquered?
After the peace treaty between House Targaryen and Dorne in 13 AC, the Dornish people were allowed to rule their own region independently for more than 140 years. That means that, even during the Dance of the Dragons, Dorne was an independent state that the Targaryens couldn’t touch.
However, King Daeron Targaryen finally decided in 157 AC that there was a need to conquer Dorne because he felt that this was unfinished business on the part of his predecessors, who allowed the Dornish independent rule for more than a century and a half after Aegon conquered Westeros.
This time, however, the Targaryen king relied on the strength of the armies of the Seven Kingdoms instead of relying on dragons. After all, the Last Dragon died four years before the Conquest of Dorne. Daeron made use of ships and armies that forced Dorne to challenge his forces in open battle.
In that regard, it only took a single year for Daeron to conquer Dorne after he was able to fully control the capital city of Sunspear in 158 AC. This allowed the Targaryens to finally rule the Seven Kingdoms, both in fact and in the name. And this was done without relying on dragons, which proved to be incapable of fighting the Dornish people more than 150 years ago.
Nevertheless, after the Conquest of Dorne, there were still a few rebellions that made things difficult for Daeron to rule the Seven Kingdoms. In fact, there was an assassination attempt that was hidden under the guise of a peace treaty. This killed King Daeron I, as Dorne was once again an independent state.
In 187, Daeron the Good finally united the entire Realm in a peaceful manner when he brokered a marriage pact between House Targaryen and House Martell. It was this marriage that allowed the Seven Kingdoms to finally become united nearly 200 years after Aegon the Conqueror failed in his attempts to force Dorne to submit to his rule.