Who is Jaehaerys Targaryen? The Old King in ‘House of the Dragon,’ explained

King Jaehaerys sits on his throne flanked on either side by members of the royal court and family.
Photo via HBO

The following article contains spoilers for The House of the Dragon.

The first episode of HBO’s prequel to Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon has finally been released. The premiere gave us a look at the lives of the Targaryens led by King Viserys Targaryen, played by Paddy Considine. The series is set over 150 years before the events of Game of Thrones and it starts off with a look at one of the oldest Targaryens we have ever met. 

The start of the episode told the story of how King Viserys became the King. He became the ruler of Westeros after his predecessor’s children had mostly died and The Old King, as Jaehaerys Targaryen was known, had to have another heir chosen. But who was Jaehaerys Targaryen, and what was his reign as king like?

Who is Jaehaerys Targaryen in House of the Dragon?

Paddy Considine as King Viserys House of the Dragon
Photo via HBO

Jaehaerys Targaryen was known as The Old King later in his life; however, he began his reign as the ruler of Westeros from a very young age, after his uncle Maegor the Cruel died while sitting on the Iron Throne. Maegor had forcefully claimed the Iron Throne after the death of Jaehaerys’s father Aenys Targaryen. When Jaehaerys Targaryen was anointed as the ruler of Westeros in 48 AC he was only 14 years old. He rode a male dragon named Vermithor.

Jaehaerys reigned for a total of 55 years and he was the longest reigning ruler to sit upon the Iron Throne. As he did rule for a long time, the tale of Jaehaerys Targaryen is a long one and best examined in the source material Fire and Blood by George R. R. Martin. The book goes into his reign in detail as it tells the story of how his children died, and the strife he went through after choosing Viserys as his heir rather than Rhaenys Targaryen, his granddaughter, played by Eve Best in the series. 

By the time we see him in House of the Dragon, he has lived a long life, reigning as King for most of it. Unfortunately, he outlived his wife (and sister), Alysanne Targaryen, as well as 11 of his 13 children. He was estranged from his two remaining children. Interestingly, Jaehaerys was cared for by Lady Alicent Hightower in the last years of his life, the same Alicent who is played by both Emily Carey and Olivia Cooke in the series, and friends with Rhaenyra Targaryen, played by Milly Alcock, as seen in the first episode. 

It’s unknown whether or not we will see any more of The Old King’s reign in House of the Dragon as anything we do see will need to be a flashback. His reign was long enough as to take up his own show, so there would be more than enough content to portray in the rest of the series. If not, we will have to do with our brief glimpse at Jaehaerys Targaryen. 

Catch House of the Dragon as it airs on Sundays on HBO.