- For other characters who share the same name, see "Aegon Targaryen (disambiguation)".
- "Aegon the Fifth tried to hatch stone dragon eggs with sorcery, and burned to death."
Aegon V Targaryen, also called Aegon the Unlikely, and informally known as Egg, is an unseen character in Game of Thrones. He is long dead by the time the series begins.
Aegon V was the fifth king of his name to sit on the Iron Throne and the fifteenth king of the Targaryen dynasty to rule the Seven Kingdoms. He was the father of the Mad King and his sister-wife Queen Rhaella, the grandfather of Rhaegar, Viserys and Daenerys Targaryen, the great-grandfather of Jon Snow, and the younger brother of Maester Aemon. In the books, he was dubbed "the Unlikely" because he was the fourth son of Maekar Targaryen, who was in turn the fourth son of Daeron II Targaryen, and thus Aegon was highly unlikely to have inherited the crown.
Unlike most of their forebears, Aegon and his brothers were not born out of marriage between brother and sister. Their father and grandfather respectively married Dyanna of House Dayne and Myriah of House Martell. Aegon was not originally expected to succeed his father to the throne, but after his older brother Aerion died, and his next older brother Aemon refused the throne due to his vows as a maester, the crown passed to him. Aemon then joined the Night's Watch to remove himself from the royal court, where he might be used as a political tool against his brother.
Starting as a child, Aegon V began an odd friendship with the hedge knight Ser Duncan the Tall. He became Duncan's squire, and they had many adventures across Westeros. Eventually, after Aegon V came to the throne he named Ser Duncan to the Kingsguard, and in time he became its Lord Commander. He later sent his army to deal with Maelys Blackfyre during the War of the Ninepenny Kings.
After ruling for many years, Aegon V ultimately died along with Ser Duncan the Tall in the Tragedy at Summerhall when he attempted to hatch new dragon eggs using fire and sorcery. Instead, it caused a fire that spread out of control and destroyed the entire palace. Aegon V died in the conflagration, and was succeeded by his son Aerys II Targaryen.
At Castle Black, Maester Aemon reveals to Jon Snow that his father was Maekar, and after their father died the crown passed to his brother Aegon, because Aemon refused the throne due to his vows as a maester. He also bitterly recounts how his brother's son, grandson, and great-grandchildren were all slaughtered during Robert's Rebellion, making Snow realize that Aemon is a member of House Targaryen. Unbeknownst to them both, Jon is also descended from Aegon, though Aemon would not live to learn the truth about Jon's parentage.
After the death of her son Joffrey Baratheon, Cersei Lannister remarks to Margaery Tyrell that the realm hasn't really had a good king in nearly fifty years. While she doesn't mention Aegon V by name, he is the king who died nearly fifty years ago: Robert Baratheon ruled for seventeen years before Joffrey, but was a drunken whore-mongering glutton who ignored politics, delegating matters of state to his Small Council. Before Robert, the Mad King Aerys II Targaryen sat the throne for about twenty years - prosperous years for the most part, but due to Aerys's Hand of the King Tywin Lannister, who had become the real power behind the throne.
Eventually, Bran Stark discovers that his "half-brother" Jon Snow is in fact the son of his aunt Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, meaning that Aegon was in fact Jon's patrilineal great-grandfather.
In the books
Aegon, using the alias "Egg", spent many years traveling the Seven Kingdoms as a squire in the service of Ser Duncan the Tall, a hedge knight. At their first meeting Duncan was unaware of Egg's true identity, until he used his royal authority to save Duncan from being killed by his bullying older brother, Prince Aerion. Duncan was able to instead face Aerion on the tournament field and defeat him in combat. Unfortunately, Prince Baelor "Breakspear" Targaryen, the royal heir, was killed during the tournament. Prince Maekar - Aegon's father - despaired of Aerion's spoiled indolence and agreed to let Aegon serve as Duncan's squire to build character and gain experience of living in the "real" world.
Aegon ascended to the Iron Throne in 233 AL, following his father Maekar's death in battle with an outlaw lord. Of Aegon's three older brothers, the eldest Daeron (who appears to have been omitted from the show) died of a pox, Aerion had poisoned himself to death (by ill-advisedly drinking wildfire, thinking it might turn him into a dragon), and Aemon had disinherited himself by first joining the maesters and later the Night's Watch. As Aegon V Targaryen, he ruled for twenty-six years. During this time he made Ser Duncan the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard and secured an alliance between the Targaryens and House Baratheon by wedding his daughter Rhaelle to the then-Lord of Storm's End (she became the grandmother of Robert, Stannis and Renly Baratheon, giving the Baratheons their claim to the Iron Throne). He married Betha of House Blackwood and had three sons, Duncan (often called Duncan the Small), Jaehaerys, and Daeron, as well as his two daughters Shaera and Rhaelle.
Being the fourth son of a fourth son, Aegon V was known as "the Unlikely" because he was unlikely to have inherited the crown. Actually, given that two of his uncles had twin sons, Aegon was initially twelfth in line to the throne when he was born (during the reign of his grandfather Daeron II). Even after his father was crowned he was still fourth in line for many years.
Aegon V ruled wisely and well, but he had three major weaknesses. The first was that due to his years travelling across Westeros with Ser Duncan, he gained a great concern for the welfare of the Smallfolk, yet opinions about this varied. Commoners remember him as a great king who was genuinely concerned about their well-being, who ensured their economic livelihoods by raising taxes on aristocrats and wealthy merchants, and who punished lords who abused the rights of the commoners they ruled over. The nobility of the Seven Kingdoms, meanwhile, grew to resent Aegon V - for exactly the same reasons.
Second, Aegon V indulged his sons: having married for love himself, he permitted his sons to do the same, although this was not politically wise and made him enemies within the Seven Kingdoms. The nobility was already growing to resent him for his liberal policies with the smallfolk, and a marriage-alliance with one of the Great Houses would have helped to stabilize Targaryen rule. Duncan the Small famously abdicated his place in the line of succession to marry a commoner, Jenny of Oldstones (a story which has become a favorite theme of romantic songs, which gave Sansa Stark an idealized vision of courtly love). Shaera was supposed to marry Luthor Tyrell, Jaehaerys was supposed to marry a Tully girl, and Daeron was supposed to marry the young Olenna Redwyne. Aegon V was determined to put an end to the incestuous marriage practices of the Targaryens but this only seemed to encourage a forbidden romance between Jaehaerys and Shaera, who eloped and married without his permission. Daeron, a splendid and brave knight, did not want to marry Olenna either - and is heavily implied to be homosexual in ''The World of Ice and Fire''. Thus after his two older brothers broke their betrothals he broke his as well, saying that his father could not rightfully force him to marry against his will when he had already relented for his two elder brothers. Olenna Redwyne was then free to marry Lord Luthor, becoming Olenna Tyrell.
Third, Aegon V also had an overwhelming obsession with hatching the surviving Targaryen dragon eggs. He encountered so much resistance from the Great Houses over the years trying to enact reforms that would benefit the smallfolk that he came to believe that the only way to bring them all in line again was to enforce royal power with new dragons. These last two weaknesses culminated in 259 AL at the so-called "Tragedy at Summerhall". This was a fire that got out of control and destroyed the castle, killing Aegon V, Ser Duncan the Tall, and Prince Duncan the Small. On the same night, Aegon's great-grandson Rhaegar Targaryen was born. Aegon V was succeeded by his son Jaehaerys II.
Behind the scenes
For the TV series, the Targaryen lineage was simplified. In the books, there were seventeen Targaryen kings that ruled the Seven Kingdoms, rather than the show having sixteen. After the death of Aegon V, his son Jaehaerys inherited the throne as Jaehaerys II and ruled for three years before dying of grief. After Jaehaerys's death, his son the Mad King took over as the last Targaryen king. This would make Aegon V the grandfather of the Mad King, the great-grandfather of Rhaegar, Viserys, and Daenerys Targaryen, and great-great-grandfather of Jon Snow.
So far, it has not been confirmed in the series if Aegon V's daughter Rhaelle did marry into House Baratheon, giving the Baratheons their claim to the throne in the TV series as well as in the books, or if the entire progeny of Aegon V has been replaced with just Aerys and Rhaella. The HBO Viewer's Guide confirms the existence of Duncan Targaryen in the TV show (making him Aerys and Rhaella's brother instead of their uncle), though in the Complete Guide to Westeros video "House Baratheon", Robert states that his claim to the throne was based on his descent from Orys Baratheon, said to be a half-brother of Aegon I Targaryen.
Another issue that could arise due to the removal of Jaehaerys II is the Mad King's insanity. In the books, Aegon V married Betha of House Blackwood. If this turns out to be the case in the TV series, it would be a stretch to say that Aerys succumbed to insanity due to multiple generations of incest as he would then be descended from three Targaryens who married outside the family (though Aegon V's brother, Aerion Brightflame suffered from the madness despite being the issue of a marriage between a Targaryen and a Dayne as did their uncle Rhaegel despite being the issue of a marriage between a Targaryen and a Martell). There remains a possibility that Aegon did have a sister he married in the TV continuity.
On 10 February 2013, George R.R. Martin confirmed that he had been in discussion with HBO over a possible adaptation of the Dunk and Egg short stories, though in what format (TV movies, theatrical movie, or a spin-off TV series) was not made clear.
Rulers of the Seven Kingdoms
Aegon I, the Conqueror · Aenys I · Maegor I, the Cruel · Jaehaerys I, the Conciliator · Viserys I · Aegon II · Aegon III, the Dragonbane · Daeron I, the Young Dragon · Baelor I, the Blessed · Viserys II · Aegon IV, the Unworthy · Daeron II, the Good · Aerys I · Maekar I · Aegon V, the Unlikely · Aerys II, the Mad