“Burn them all!”
Aerys II Targaryen was one of the worst kings in the history of Westeros, and his insanity led half of the continent to rebel against him. He was famously killed, not in battle against Robert Baratheon, but murdered in the Red Keep by Jaime Lannister, a member of his own Kingsguard. Nearly three centuries of Targaryen rule and power ended because this one king’s madness was too intolerable. But how did Aerys go from the start of his reign to the bloody end of it? What made the Mad King go mad? Find out more about him below.
1. Only Two Grandparents? Ew…
Aerys II was the seventeenth king of the Iron Throne. He was the son of Jaehaerys and Shaera Targaryen. His two grandparents were Aegon V Targaryen and Betha Blackwood, and his parents were brother and sister.
2. It’s a Date
Aerys was born in 244 AC (“After the Conquest”), in the reign of his grandparents. His sister, and eventual wife, Rhaella, was born two years later.
3. Friendships for a Lifetime
When he was a boy, Aerys befriended two other boys who were serving as pages at the royal court. Both were heirs to the positions of Lord Paramount in their respective regions. One was Steffon Baratheon, and the other was Tywin Lannister.
4. Returning to Tradition
Despite the years and years of incestuous marriages within House Targaryen, Aerys’s parents, Jaehaerys and Shaera, had to elope in order to be together. This was because Aerys’s grandfather, King Aegon V, was disgusted by the practice of incest and had engaged all his children to members of other Great Houses in an effort to secure his authority without the power of dragons. However, Jaehaerys and Shaera desired each other so much that they defied their father’s will, getting married in secret. Aegon was forced to accept his children’s decision and had to make amends to House Tully and House Tyrell for the broken engagements (thankfully, no Red Weddings happened as a result).
5. What a Promising Young Man!
In his youth, Aerys was actually considered to be an extremely charming young man. While he wasn’t particularly intellectual or very attentive to his duties, people couldn’t deny that he had real charisma. Oh, how times changed.
6. Starting Young
Aerys became king at the young age of 18 when his father died of an illness. Jaehaerys II had only ruled for three years before his untimely death.
7. No Need for Love in a Marriage
Unlike their incestuous parents, the teenaged Aerys and Rhaella were completely uninterested in each other, but their father forced them to marry anyway. This was because Jaehaerys heard a prophecy that the line of Aerys and Rhaella would produce “the prince that was promised.” Aegon V was opposed to the idea of his grandchildren getting into a loveless marriage, but he made no effort to prevent his son’s decision. We have yet to see if that was a good or bad decision.
8. Generals Gathered in Their Masses…
In 258 AC, word reached King Aegon V that a group of mercenaries and pirates formed the Band of Nine. One of these was Maelys Blackfyre, the last of the Blackfyre Pretenders. By the time of Aerys’ father, King Jaehaerys II, the Band of Nine were poised to bring war to the Seven Kingdoms. Aerys was among the forces of Westeros who were sent to fight in what became known as the War of the Ninepenny Kings (as the Band of Nine were mockingly called).
9. I Dub Thee Ser Aerys
Aerys was only a squire when he fought in the War of the Ninepenny Kings, but he carried himself with such distinction that by the end of the war, he was given his knighthood at just sixteen years of age. Aerys requested that he be knighted by his friend, Tywin Lannister.
10. Welcome, Eunuch
Most people are familiar with Varys, the cunning eunuch who seems to know everything going on in Westeros and Essos. What you might not know was that it was specifically King Aerys who invited the Spider to come to King’s Landing and serve on the Small Council as Master of Whisperers. Varys would go on to serve him until Aerys’ death during Robert’s Rebellion.
Read more: https://www.factinate.com/things/raving-facts-aerys-targaryen/