As we saw in episode 1 of House of the Dragon, queen consort Aemma died due to childbirth, as King Viserys was forced to grieve the loss of both his wife and his infant son. Nevertheless, it was clear that he was still relatively young and healthy enough to produce more heirs to a second wife. In what was a surprising twist of events for those who had never read Fire and Blood, Viserys chose Alicent Hightower, the best friend of his daughter, as his new queen consort. So, why did King Viserys choose to marry Alicent Hightower as his second wife?
King Viserys chose to marry Alicent Hightower because he was fond of her company, as she had spent the last six months accompanying him as someone to talk to during his time of grief. But this was Otto Hightower’s plan all along, as he knew that the king would get attached to Alicent due to grief.
In a way, Alicent’s rise as the queen consort of the Seven Kingdoms was a genius play on the part of Otto Hightower, who never pushed for her daughter to wed the king but somehow found a way to install his family closer to the most powerful seat in the known world. That said, let’s take a closer look at how King Viserys eventually chose Alicent Hightower as his second wife.
Who Is Alicent Hightower?
House of the Dragon didn’t waste too much time in introducing Alicent Hightower to the audience. In just the first few scenes after the quick prologue, Alicent was introduced as the best friend of Rhaenyra Targaryen, as it was clear that they cared a lot for one another. After Princess Rhaenyra dismounted Syrax, Alicent was there to greet her and tell her that she was always worried about her safety whenever she was on her dragon.
Throughout the first episode, Alicent and Rhaenyra spent quality time together, as it was clear that this friendship had been forged through many years of companionship. That’s because Alicent was most likely born in court because her father, Otto Hightower, had been the Hand of the King since the type of Jaehaerys, the Old King. Viserys immediately welcomed Otto into his Small Council because of his track record as the one who effectively ruled the Seven Kingdoms during the final years of King Jaehaerys, who became too old to rule.
As such, Alicent was born in court in King’s Landing and was able to forge a strong bond with Rhaenyra, who was also born in court because her father was a Targaryen prince that was eventually chosen to become the next king of the Seven Kingdoms. Of course, as a daughter, Alicent was willing to do her duties as well, especially when it was her father who asked for favors from her.
Why Did King Viserys Marry Alicent Hightower?
In episode 1 of House of the Dragon, we saw that King Viserys was expecting a son from his queen consort, Aemma. However, Aemma could not deliver the boy safely, and that was what forced Viserys to choose the child over his wife. Nevertheless, both Aemma and the boy died, as the heir of the Iron Throne was passed onto Rhaenyra Targaryen due to Viserys’s inability to produce a male heir.
Nevertheless, in episode 2, the Small Council believed that King Viserys was still relatively young and was still capable of producing more children if he were to remarry. Episode 2 takes place six months after the death of Aemma, and that meant that it was high time for the king to consider taking another wife after grieving for half a year.
But, as we saw in episode 1, throughout his time of grief, King Viserys wasn’t alone. That’s because Otto Hightower immediately installed his daughter, Alicent Hightower, to keep the king company while he was grieving. Alicent spent a lot of time with Viserys as they enjoyed long talks together, all while the Hightower daughter remained obedient and loyal to her father’s wishes. This continued for a span of six months, as not even Rhaenyra was aware of what was happening behind her back.
Of course, the different houses of Westeros didn’t waste time offering their daughters up to the king so that they could improve their stations and relationships with the crown. But the only family that had a legitimate chance of convincing Viserys to wed their daughter was House Velaryon. Corlys Velaryon and Rhaenys Targaryen, the Queen Who Never Was, tried to offer Laena Velaryon, a girl of 12, to become the new queen consort of King Viserys.
All of the different members of the Small Council, except for Otto, believed that the match was perfect. That’s because House Velaryon was the most powerful family in Westeros, as it controlled half the kingdom’s ships and half its dragons due to the marriage with Rhaenys. On top of that, Laena also had Targaryen blood in her, as this marriage would have not only united the most powerful houses in all of the Seven Kingdoms but would have also allowed the royal bloodline to remain pure in terms of its Valyrian origins.
However, in what was a surprising turn of events, King Viserys chose to pass on the chance to marry the young Laena Velaryon and announced in front of his Small Council and his daughter that he was going to marry Alicent Hightower. This surprised everyone in the room, including Rhaenyra, who stormed out right after Corlys did. So, why did Viserys choose Alicent as his second wife?
Before King Viserys announced his plan of marrying Alicent, he had a small conversation with Rhaenyra regarding what her mother meant to him. Viserys said that he still loved Aemma and that he chose her because he loved her. He also told Rhaenyra that he was still willing to do his duty as king by producing more offspring to further the Targaryen bloodline, as the princess was probably thinking that her father was going to choose Laena as his new wife.
Nevertheless, Viserys chose to follow his heart instead, as the conversation with Rhaenyra was the clue that pointed to the possibility of him choosing someone that he had feelings for instead of simply fulfilling his duty as a king. Of course, the feelings he developed for Alicent were already planted by Otto himself.
Just after the death of Aemma, Otto was already sowing the seeds of what ultimately became the marriage between Viserys and Alicent. That’s because Viserys, who was still grieving over the loss of his wife, wanted to be with someone who reminded him of her instead of a child. Alicent was the one person that kept him company during his time of grief. In a sense, he was genuinely fond of her company because Alicent was the one who helped him through his grief.
It was a personal choice that made Viserys want to marry Alicent Hightower, as he disregarded any of the political marriages offered to him by all of the other powerful houses throughout the Seven Kingdoms.
What Does The Marriage Between King Viserys And Alicent Meant For House Of The Dragon?
When King Viserys announced that he would marry Alicent Hightower, the Small Council was surprised. Corlys Velaryon himself was outraged by this announcement as he walked out of the chamber. Meanwhile, Rhaenyra, Alicent’s best friend, followed soon after by storming out.
Before the episode ended, Corlys was seen discussing the matters regarding the Stepstones with Daemon Targaryen, as he believed that he had found an ally that would help him in the war against the Crabfeeder. In that regard, the marriage between the king and Alicent ultimately led Corlys to Daemon, who became closer to the Velaryons.
Meanwhile, we all know that Alicent was Rhaenyra’s best friend, but the effects of this marriage were going to be bigger than the friendship between two young girls. And it all leads back to the Iron Throne.
Even though Rhaenyra was already named the rightful heir to the Iron Throne, she feared the prospect of her father remarrying and producing male heirs that could take the throne away from her. And Alicent knew about this but still opted to get close to the king due to her father’s wishes.
In a way, Rhaenyra felt betrayed by this because she knew that Alicent was aware of her feelings about her father remarrying and possibly producing male heirs. Meanwhile, in the books, it was the fact that Alicent produced male heirs that eventually led to the Targaryen civil war, known as the Dance of the Dragons. And it all goes back to Otto Hightower’s machinations of installing his daughter as the new queen consort.