Back in the events of the first five episodes of House of the Dragon, there was a clear connection between Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Ser Criston Cole, as the princess chose him as the new knight of the Kingsguard and her sworn protector. Of course, Ser Criston was also the one who took Rhaenyra’s maidenhood back in episode 4. But in episode 6, ten years changed a lot of things as Criston now hates Rhaenyra. So, why does Ser Criston Cole hate Rhaenyra so much?
Ser Criston Cole is simply a spurned lover that became bitter towards Rhaenyra due to the fact that she rejected his love ten years ago. He lost his honor at one point in life due to Rhaenyra’s seduction. As such, he grew to hate and despise the princess because of what happened between them.
One of the classic examples of how quickly time can change a person is Criston Cole, who used to be Rhaenyra’s defender but has now quickly become one of her worst enemies. That means that anything can happen in a matter of ten years, and that was the case for Criston. Now, that said, let’s look at the deeper reasons why Ser Criston hates Rhaenyra so much.
Why Does Ser Criston Cole Hate Rhaenyra?
When Ser Criston Cole was first introduced during the first five episodes of House of the Dragon, one of the things that we saw about him was that he was clearly attracted to Rhaenyra, and the same could be said about the princess, whose attraction to the knight was one of the reasons why she chose him to be the new knight of the Kingsguard and her sworn shield and defender.
In that regard, the princess and her knight spent years together and were able to form a strong bond. Ser Criston, at one point, was willing to do anything for Princess Rhaenyra, as he would put himself in harm’s way to keep her safe. After all, as a sworn knight of the Kingsguard, that was what he was supposed to do.
But the relationship between the two quickly developed when Rhaenyra, after getting left hung and dry by Daemon, seduced Ser Criston and slept with him. In that regard, he was the one who took her maidenhood, as Criston Cole broke his oath of chastity as a knight of the Kingsguard. Nevertheless, thinking that he had a chance to marry the princess, he couldn’t care any less about the fact that he broke his oath.
After Rhaenyra had agreed to marry Laenor Velaryon in episode 5, Ser Criston tried to win the princess over by telling her to choose him so that they could be together far away from the politicking that’s been happening in the Seven Kingdoms. He was telling her to forsake her claim and live a simple life with him so that they could be together.
But instead of accepting Ser Criston’s marriage proposal, Rhaenyra had a counter-offer wherein she would marry Ser Laenor Velaryon, who preferred the company of men, and continue her affair with her knight. However, Criston didn’t want to do anything with that proposal because he didn’t want to be her “whore.” And he even said that he believed that he could redeem himself when he broke his oath by marrying Princess Rhaenyra.
The pain of rejection and the fact that he ultimately confessed his transgression to Queen Alicent allowed Criston Cole to enter a deeply troubled emotional state that was enough for him to kill Ser Joffrey Lonmouth during the banquet for the betrothal of Rhaenyra and Laenor. And he even wanted to kill himself for his mistakes but was prevented by Alicent from doing so.
Ten years later, Ser Criston was now closely working with Queen Alicent as one of her confidants. He was clearly bitter and angry at Rhaenyra as he went as far as calling her a spoiled cunt, which Alicent took offense to because she wanted “honor and decency would prevail,” as Criston apologized for his underhanded comment regarding the princess.
So, while both Alicent and Criston were angry at Rhaenyra, the knight’s anger was more personal and bitter due to his comments regarding the princess. So, why is it that Ser Criston Cole hates Rhaenyra so much?
Ser Criston Cole’s anger at Rhaenyra stems from the fact that he is a scorned lover that got rejected by the princess when he offered his love to her. He couldn’t accept the fact that he got rejected by her, and that was one of the reasons why he hated her.
But above all that, he hated the fact that he broke his oath just to be with her ten years ago. He sullied his white cloak and broke his vow of chastity. The fact that he felt that he dishonored himself and broke his oath without even having a chance to redeem himself made him bitter towards the princess. He lost his honor and nearly killed himself because of the incident he had with Rhaenyra.
Yet, from the looks of things, he doesn’t hate Rhaenyra as much as he hates himself. All of the bitterness coming from Ser Criston Cole is a product of the fact that he hates himself for willingly breaking his vow and losing his cool ten years ago. He is yet to accept it, or he may never accept it, but deep inside, he knows that he is angry at himself for everything that happened ten years ago. As such, he is now projecting his anger toward Rhaenyra because he can’t accept the fact that he is actually angry at himself.
Was Criston Cole In Love With Rhaenyra?
To say that Criston Cole was a scorned lover presupposes the possibility that he may have truly been in love with Princes Rhaenyra all those years ago and had become angry at her because she rejected his love. So, was Criston Cole really in love with Rhaenyra Targaryen?
It may have been possible that, at one point, he felt an attraction to the princess and genuinely cared for her. However, at the end of the day, he cared more about his honor and dignity than the princess. The fact that he wanted to marry her and make her forsake all of her claims and inheritances just to redeem his honor shows that Criston wasn’t really in love with her. He just wanted to find a way to cancel out his mistakes.
Criston Cole even went as far as playing favoritism with the children of the queen and the princess during training sessions. He also ended up insulting Ser Harwin Strong with allegations that he was the father of Rhaenyra’s children. As such, he found himself on the other end of a Strong beatdown.
So, the fact that he couldn’t find a way to redeem his honor and make up for the mistake of sleeping with Rhaenyra was the reason why Criston Cole kept holding on to his grudge for ten years. He wasn’t really in love with her but was in love with the idea of being with her so that he could redeem his honor. And because he could no longer do so, Criston became an angry and bitter ex-lover that now wants to see Rhaenyra fall from grace.
Had Criston been really in love with Rhaenyra, he would have genuinely accepted rejection and continued serving the royal family with whatever was left of his honor and dignity instead of plotting against her for ten years.