The name that is often mentioned with such respect and admiration in Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon is Aegon I Targaryen, who was the first Lord of the Seven Kingdoms after he united the entire continent under his banner when he conquered Westeros. Before his time, the entire continent was divided into Seven Kingdoms that were ruled by different lords and kings. But Aegon united the entire realm during his time. So, why did Aegon conquer Westeros, and why didn’t he conquer the lands beyond the Wall?
House of the Dragon mentions that Aegon conquered Westeros because he dreamt of the threat that was going to come from beyond the Wall. As such, he decided to conquer the continent because he believed that only a Targaryen could unite the realm against this common threat.
This was never mentioned in any of the books that George RR Martin wrote but let’s not forget that he had an active role in the development of House of the Dragon. In that regard, Aegon’s reasoning for conquering the Seven Kingdoms could be semi-canon. So, with that said, let’s look more into the reason behind Aegon’s Conquest.
Why Did Aegon Conquer Westeros?
If there’s someone who is often regarded as the most legendary figure to ever rule the Seven Kingdoms in the world that George RR Martin created in his Ice & Fire books, then that would be Aegon I Targaryen. And there is a very good reason why he is such a revered figure in the events of Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon, as he was the one who was responsible for conquering the entire continent of Westeros and uniting it under one banner.
Of course, the thing about Aegon is that there was a really good reason why he conquered Westeros and united all of the Seven Kingdoms under his rule. Most people would think that he simply did so because he saw a rich land that was ripe for the taking. This is an understandable thought because we know that the people in Ice & Fire tend to be power-hungry. But there is actually a better reason why Aegon conquered Westeros.
Let’s look at a short history lesson first. Before the Targaryens settled in Dragonstone and conquered Westeros, they lived in Valyria, which was the greatest empire in the history of the known world because nothing in the world could challenge the power of the dragonlords and their dragons. The Targaryens were middle-class dragonlords that were far from the top of the ladder in Valyria.
However, when Daenys the Dreamer dreamt of the destruction of the empire, House Targaryen sold all of the family’s properties in Valyria and moved all the way to Dragonstone, which was a trading post they owned just off the eastern coast of Westeros. The Targaryens brought a few of their belongings and five large dragons, which included Balerion the Black Dread. A few years later, the Doom of Valyria happened and destroyed the entire city of Valyria.
That all happened more than a hundred years before Aegon decided to conquer Westeros, as the Targaryens were the only remaining dragonlords that were able to hold on to their power and their dragons after the Doom of Valyria. All of the other dragonlords and dragons started dying off in the next 100 years as they struggled for power in Essos. This was called the Century of Blood. And while all of that was happening, the Targaryens continued to grow and prosper in Dragonstone.
More than a hundred years after the Doom of Valyria, however, Aegon Targaryen began his conquest of Westeros and was able to unite the entire realm under his rule in just two years. Most of the lords and kings of the continent bowed down to his rule upon seeing the might of the three large dragons that he used to conquer the land. And most people think that he simply conquered Westeros because he wanted power and saw that there was a land ripe for the taking.
But it was explained in the events of House of the Dragon that there was something more to Aegon’s Conquest than his thirst for power. After all, the Targaryens had more than a hundred years to try to conquer the Seven Kingdoms after settling on Dragonstone, but none of them ever tried to do what Aegon did.
In House of the Dragon, King Viserys passed on to Princess Rhaenyra a secret that only the Targaryen rulers knew. He said that Aegon the Conqueror united the Seven Kingdoms because he dreamt of a threat that was going to come from the north. Aegon realized that the prophesized Prince that was Promised was going to come from his line, and that was the reason why he decided to conquer the Seven Kingdoms. After all, only a Targaryen ruler was going to be able to unite the entire realm against this common threat that could potentially plunge the entire world into darkness.
Of course, the threat that Aegon dreamt of was the Night King and his White Walkers. We know that the First Men and the Children of the Forest defeated the Night King and pushed him all the way to the far reaches of the north thousands of years before the time of the Targaryens. That was exactly why the First Men built the Wall, as it was important for them to keep the Night King and his Army of the Dead away from the Seven Kingdoms. Meanwhile, the Night’s Watch was established to make sure that the Wall was guarded.
In that regard, Aegon dreamt that the Night King was going to return soon and that the only way for the world of the living to defeat him was if a Targaryen was going to unite the entire realm against him. And that is why he passed this secret down from one king to another so that no Targaryen would ever forget the reason why they needed to make sure that the realm was united.
Why Didn’t Aegon The Conqueror Go Beyond The Wall?
At this point, you are probably thinking about the fact that Aegon the Conqueror merely stopped at the Wall and never conquered anything beyond it. After all, if he knew that the Night King was out there somewhere, it would have been a proactive solution to bring the fight to him instead of waiting for him to come to the Seven Kingdoms. So, why didn’t Aegon go beyond the Wall?
If you look at the lands beyond the Wall, there is nothing there for Aegon to conquer because of the fact that this is a place that is largely uninhabitable and difficult to live in. The lands beyond the Wall are frozen. That means that it is incredibly difficult to live in such a land as there is hardly anything edible that would ever grow or live there. And conquering these lands offered little to no value to Aegon.
There is also the fact that there are no castles or fortified settlements that Aegon would have been able to conquer to keep his army there during the entirety of his conquest. It would have been incredibly difficult for him to keep his armies and dragons garrisoned on the Wall throughout the entire time while he was trying to conquer the lands beyond it. His men and dragons needed a place to rest while moving from one location to another in the lands beyond the Wall, and these lands didn’t have a real settlement where an entire army could rest during the campaign.
Of course, Aegon knew that this was the territory of the Night King. It would be stupid to bring the fight to a frozen land that was ruled by a creature or entity that basically thrives in frozen areas. No matter how powerful dragonfire is, Aegon’s dragons wouldn’t have been able to survive long in a cold area, as it has always been common knowledge that dragons don’t thrive in the cold. And we saw in Game of Thrones that the Night King was powerful enough to bring down an entire dragon all on his own.