We know for a fact that Game of Thrones is a series that includes conversations about the history of the Targaryen family and the different dragons that they had in their command. While there may have been a lot of ferocious dragons that the Targaryens controlled, the one that struck the most fear in the hearts of the people of Westeros was Balerion the Black Dread, who was the personal mount of King Aegon the Conqueror. But what happened to Balerion the Black Dread?
After Aegon’s death, Balerion was claimed by his son, Maegor the Cruel, who took the throne by force. After Maegor’s death, Princess Aera rode Balerion for a while. Prince Viserys, before he became king, was the last to ride Balerion in 93 AC. Balerion died of old age in 94 AC.
Balerion was the last living creature to have seen Valyria with its own eyes as it was one of the five dragons that were brought to Dragonstone before Aegon and his sisters conquered Westeros. Of course, this legendary dragon was also the only known Targaryen dragon to have died of old age, as no other dragon could beat it. That said, let’s look at the story behind Balerion the Dread.
Who Is Balerion The Black Dread?
One of the most legendary stories ever told in the history of Game of Thrones is the long history behind the Targaryen family and how it ended up in Westeros. But while we all know that the Targaryens ended up conquering the entire continent of Westeros and becoming the ruling monarchs for almost 300 years, the history behind the success of the Targaryens was rooted in the fact that they controlled the most fearsome creatures in the known world—the dragons.
Out of all of the different dragons that the Targaryens used to conquer Westeros, the one that everyone feared the most was Balerion, the biggest dragon in known history and was called the Black Dread. And Balerion’s own history is rooted in the origins of the dragonlords and the dragons themselves because he was born in Valyria.
More than a hundred years before Aegon the Conqueror became king of Westeros, Aenar Targaryen sold his entire family’s estate in Valyria and brought five dragons to Dragonstone, a small island just off the eastern coast of Westeros. The reason why Aenar did so was that his daughter, Daenys, foresaw the Doom of Valyria.
In Valyria, the Targaryens were one of the weaker dragonlord families, even though Westerosi history looks at them as the strongest family. That is why the other dragonlords thought that Aenar was weak for fleeing Valyria. However, 12 years after he fled, Valyria was destroyed, and all of the dragons in it were killed by the catastrophic event that doomed the great empire. In that regard, the five dragons that Aenar brought to Dragonstone were some of the few that survived in the known world.
Balerion was one of the dragons that Aenar brought to Dragonstone as he was born in Valyria. It was through Balerion and the five other dragons that the Targaryens were able to ensure that the dragons did not go extinct as they reproduced with one another to produce more dragons for the Targaryens to use in the future.
A hundred years after the Doom of Valyria, Balerion was the only dragon that survived out of the five dragons that were brought to Dragonstone. In that regard, he was already the biggest and oldest dragon that Aegon and his three sisters commanded when they sought to conquer Westeros.
Due to the might of the dragons, Aegon and his sisters were able to quickly subdue all of the kingdoms of Westeros and unite them under one rule. No other king in Westeros could stand against the might of Balerion, Meraxes, and Vhagar, as Aegon only needed two years to become king of Westeros and unite all of the kings of the continent due to a dream that he had in relation to the upcoming doom that was to come from the north.
During the Conquest of Westeros, Balerion came to be called the Black Dread because of his black scales and massive size. He was so large that his shadow could cover entire towns. And the moment that Balerion arrived at a battle, no army was able to stand against the might of the dragon regarded as the strongest in the history of Westeros.
What Happened To Balerion?
After the end of Aegon’s conquest of Westeros, Balerion remained unchallenged as the king often used him to keep the kingdom in check. The moment that the other cities and probable rebels saw Aegon flying on Balerion, they were already robbed of their will to rebel against the kingdom. As such, Balerion was also used as a way to make sure that peace was kept in the Seven Kingdoms.
Aegon died in 37 AC, and it was his younger son, Prince Maegor, who claimed the mighty dragon as his own. Before Aegon’s death, Maegor did not try to tame any other dragon because he deemed them unworthy. It was only Balerion who he thought was befitting of his status, as Maegor ended up usurping the throne from his nephew, Prince Aegon.
In what was arguably the first quarrel between Targaryens for the Iron Throne, Maegor and Prince Aegon battled using their mounts. However, Balerion the Black Dread proved to be too strong for Quicksilver, who was easily killed by the huge dragon. Balerion ripped one of Quicksilver’s wings and then blasted him and Prince Aegon with dragon fire to death.
After Maegor’s death, Balerion flew back to Dragonstone as no other Targaryen was able to claim the dragon. But on 54 AC, Princess Aerea claimed Balerion and flew with the dragon. They both disappeared for about two years, as they returned with Aerea severely ill and with Balerion wounded. The princess died soon after as it was speculated that she wasn’t able to bend the dragon to her will, and that was what forced Balerion to fly her to Valyria, where they spent two years together.
After the incident with Aerea, Balerion was the first dragon to be housed in the Dragonpit. No other Targaryen tried to claim him for nearly two decades until Alyssa Targaryen tried to do so. However, she was persuaded to go for another dragon because Balerion was already old and slow at that time.
Balerion finally found a mount in 93 AC when Prince Viserys claimed him. However, when Viserys tried to fly him all the way to Dragonstone, he felt that the dragon would not make the trip because of how old Balerion had become. Viserys, who soon became king, was the final person to mount Balerion.
How Did Balerion Die?
In 94 AC, Balerion died due to old age. That means that, unlike the other dragons, who died in battle, Balerion died of natural causes as he was already around 200 years old when he departed. He became the only known dragon in the history of the Targaryen dynasty to ever die of old age. On top of that, Balerion was also the last living creature to see Valyria with its own eyes because it was born there before the Doom of Valyria around 200 years ago.
After Balerion’s death, his skull was kept in the throne room of the Red Keep as a reminder of the power that the Targaryens wielded. He was, after all, the biggest and strongest dragon in the history of the Targaryen dynasty.
However, during Robert Baratheon’s reign, Balerion’s huge skull was kept in a dank cellar in the Red Keep. It was also used as a way to test the power of Qyburn’s scorpion weapon, which was powerful enough to pierce through Balerion’s skull. True enough, the scorpion ended up killing Rhaegar later on.