We all know that Daenerys Targaryen became one of the biggest figures in Game of Thrones as she was the one who basically changed the entire course of the series through her actions. However, while we do know that she was the daughter of the Mad King, Aerys, who she never even met, another key fact is that not a lot was ever talked about about her mother. So, who was Daenerys Targaryen’s mother, and what happened to her?
Daenerys Targaryen’s mother was Rhaella Targaryen, who was the sister’s wife of Aerys Targaryen. She was also the mother of Rhaegar and Viserys. Rhaella spent most of her pregnancy on Dragonstone. She died due to complications of childbirth soon after giving birth to Daenerys.
In a sense, Daenerys never met both her father and mother, as the only family she ever knew was Viserys. Of course, Rhaella Targaryen herself probably didn’t want things to end the way they did, especially in relation to how she left her children without a mother or even any money to live with. So, with that said, let’s see what we know about Rhaella Targaryen.
Who is Daenerys Targaryen’s Mother?
One of the biggest figures in George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire and in the Game of Thrones adaptation is Daenerys Targaryen. Introduced as an exile from Westeros because her family was overthrown by a rebellion, Daenerys was still quite young when we first saw her. She was living in a foreign land with the only family she had—her brother Viserys.
Nevertheless, we learned quite early in the series that Daenerys was the daughter of Aerys Targaryen, who ruled the Seven Kingdoms before Robert Baratheon overthrew him as the new king. In that regard, it was always clear who Daenerys’s father was because her status as the daughter of the Mad King was well-documented. And, at the very end of the series, she was even just as mad as the Mad King himself when she burned half of King’s Landing to the ground due to her rage.
But while we do know a thing or two about Aerys Targaryen, who was Daenerys’s father, we didn’t hear a lot from her mother. After all, queen consorts were never really focused on in the history of Westeros because their only duty was to provide the king with a male heir. So, who was Daenerys Targaryen’s mother?
True to the tradition of the Old Valyria, the Targaryens often married brothers and sisters in an effort to keep the bloodline pure and to make sure that the Targaryens remained the ruling family of the Seven Kingdoms. This was a tradition that King Aerys followed when he married his sister, Queen Rhaella.
As queen consort, Rhaella’s duty was to provide Aerys heirs that were supposed to further the Targaryen dynasty and bloodline as well. As such, Queen Rhaella gave birth to Rhaegar Targaryen and Viserys Targaryen, who were both heirs to the Iron Throne at certain points in time. Of course, Rhaella was also the one who gave birth to Daenerys Targaryen. As such, she is also the mother of the Mother of Dragons.
Not a lot of things were ever told about Rhaella during the entire Game of Thrones series, but the books provide a good account of her back story and how she came to be the sister-wife of Aerys Targaryen.
During her youth, Rhaella was actually in love with a knight from the Stormlands, but they never became serious with their relationship because how this knight’s status was too low for a Targaryen princess.
Meanwhile, Prince (and soon-to-be king) Jaehaerys, the father of both Aerys and Rhaella, was told of a witch from the woods that the prince that was promised by the prophecy was going to be born from Aerys and Rhaella’s line. Because Jaehaerys wanted to make sure that the prince that was promised was going to come, he was determined to wed his son and daughter to one another.
King Aegon V, who was the ruling monarch at the time of the wedding of Aerys and Rhaella, wasn’t even happy with his son’s decision to marry his children. Meanwhile, Ser Barristan even said that both Aerys and Rhaella weren’t happy on the day of their wedding as they were forced into a situation that they didn’t like, even though Targaryens were always known to marry brothers and sisters. Nevertheless, they did their royal duty.
According to the books, Rhaella had eight unsuccessful pregnancies after she gave birth to Rhaegar Targaryen. These pregnancies either resulted in miscarriages or in stillbirths. The miscarriages and stillbirths eventually contributed to Aerys’s descent into madness, as he actually accused Rhaella of being unfaithful. He also blamed other people for the miscarriages and stillbirths, as he had them beheaded when he became too frustrated by the fact that he couldn’t produce more children to follow his firstborn son.
After Viserys was born, Aerys became quite violent with Rhaella. It came to a point when he would sexually abuse her after he had burned or executed someone because that was the only time he was sexually aroused. At one point, Jaime Lannister, a knight of the Kingsguard, protested when he was already hearing Rhaella screaming as the Mad King was raping her, believing that it was also his sworn duty to protect the queen. Nevertheless, his fellow knight told him that it wasn’t their duty to protect the queen from the king.
What Happened To Queen Rhaella Targaryen?
At one point during Robert Baratheon’s rebellion, Queen Rhaella became pregnant, probably as a result of one of King Aerys’s sexual assaults on her. Nevertheless, she was pregnant during the final stages of the rebellion as the Mad King ordered her and Viserys to be sent to Dragonstone following the death of Rhaegar Targaryen. This was to ensure that the Targaryen bloodline would survive, as Prince Viserys was now the heir to the Iron Throne.
Jaime Lannister became the Kingslayer when he broke his sworn vow as a knight of the Kingsguard by killing Aerys Targaryen, who ordered him to kill his own father. After that, Rhaegar’s children were also slaughtered by Gregor Clegane’s men. This meant that the only Targaryens known to have survived were Rhaella and Viserys, who was now the sole heir to the Iron Throne.
Nine months after retreating to Dragonstone, Rhaella gave birth to her only daughter, who she named Daenerys. A raging storm was threatening to rip Dragonstone apart during the birth of Daenerys, and that was why she earned the nickname “Stormborn.”
However, after giving birth to Daenerys Targaryen, Rhaella died from complications of childbirth. This meant that, while Daenerys was already alive when her mother gave birth to her, she didn’t even have a chance to meet her. As such, Viserys was the only family that Daenerys ever knew, as she never met her father and mother.
Shortly after Rhaella’s death, Stannis Baratheon launched an assault on Dragonstone. Before that, Viserys and Daenerys had already fled the Targaryen family’s ancestral seat as they sailed east to survive. Viserys had to sell Rhaella’s crown to have enough money to feed himself and his sister before they found themselves in the company of Illyrio Mopatis in Pentos.