"My sister, Elia, she married Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and became the princess she already was. In Dorne, she walked among vipers and none would bite her. In King's Landing, she found herself surrounded by lions."
Oberyn Martell[src]

Princess Elia Martell was the sister of Doran Martell, the Prince of Dorne and head of House Martell, and Oberyn Martell, the Red Viper. She was married to Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, heir to Aerys II, and bore him two children: Rhaenys and Aegon. She and her children were killed by Ser Gregor Clegane on the orders of Lord Tywin Lannister during the Sack of King's Landing at the end of Robert's Rebellion.



Rhaegar Targaryen Elia Martell marriage

Elia marries Rhaegar Targaryen.

Princess Elia was the wife of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, who was also her distant cousin.[1] They had two children; a daughter Rhaenys, and a son, Aegon. She was born into House Martell in Dorne. She was the younger sister of Prince Doran Martell, ruler of Dorne at the time, and an older sister of Prince Oberyn.[2] Her marriage to Prince Rhaegar was arranged by King Aerys II Targaryen and considered an insult by Tywin Lannister, Aerys's Hand of the King, who had proposed his daughter Cersei as a bride for the Prince but was rejected. The marriage was one of the reasons Lord Tywin resigned his post as Hand. Like her younger brother, Elia was very popular among the Dornish people.[3]

As a teenager, Elia accompanied her brother Oberyn on a visit to Casterly Rock. While there, Elia and Oberyn were eager to see the monster that had just been born. Cersei finally showed them the baby, but the Martell siblings were somewhat disappointed to see that Tyrion was just a baby, and somewhat disturbed by Cersei's already strong hatred of him.[4]

Elia loved her husband Prince Rhaegar dearly. She bore him two children, Rhaenys and Aegon, to whom she was equally devoted; according to Oberyn, Elia took care of them from birth, rather than delegating the task to a wet nurse.[5] Both pregnancies were very difficult, and each nearly killed Elia.[6]


Gregor, about to kill Elia and her children.

When Robert's Rebellion erupted, Elia was retained in King's Landing by King Aerys to ensure the loyalty of House Martell during the conflict- a measure the Martells considered unnecessary, as they would always fight for whichever side Elia was on and had no intention of breaking their oaths of loyalty to the Targaryens. Ultimately Rhaegar was killed in personal combat with Robert Baratheon at the Battle of the Trident, leaving Elia a widow. A few weeks later during the Sack of King's Landing, Tywin Lannister's army betrayed the Targaryens and overran the city. Ser Gregor Clegane - known as "The Mountain That Rides" burst into the royal chambers and before Elia's eyes, killed her daughter Rhaenys, then bashed her infant son's head in against a wall. Covered in the blood and gore of her children, Gregor proceeded to brutally rape Elia, and finally he killed her by smashing her head in with his brute strength.

Elia's death deeply alienated her family from the crown after Robert ascended the throne, and their hatred of the Lannisters now knew no bounds. Subsequently, they were never seen and rarely if ever mentioned at the royal court in King's Landing.[7]

Season 4

Elia is mentioned many times by her brother Oberyn in his conversations with various members of House Lannister. It is clear that Oberyn loved his older sister very much.[5] When speaking to Tyrion, Oberyn expresses apparent anger that "beautiful, noble Rhaegar Targaryen left her for another woman" despite Elia's love and loyalty for Rhaegar. Oberyn tells Cersei that his fifth daughter is named for her, and that he finds it difficult to interact with her as a result.[8]

After the assassination of King Joffrey, Tywin Lannister approaches Oberyn to determine if he had a hand in it, considering his hatred for House Lannister. Oberyn confirms that he blames Tywin for the deaths of Elia and her children, which Tywin cryptically suggests was all the Mountain's doing. He offers Oberyn an opportunity to confront the Mountain privately on the condition that he first preside as the third judge at Tyrion's court trial for Joffrey's murder, which Oberyn agrees to do.[9]

However, when Tyrion later demands a trial by combat, Oberyn volunteers to be Tyrion's champion after learning that the Mountain will be fighting for the Crown, hoping he will finally have vengeance for rape and murder of his sister.[4]

As the two champions commence battle at the trial, Oberyn identifies himself to the Mountain as the brother of Elia and reminds his opponent of the crime he committed against House Martell, saying, "You raped my sister, you murdered her, you killed her children." Despite wearing light armor and drinking before their fight, Oberyn initially gains the upper hand and proceeds to slowly cut down the Mountain all the while shouting in an ever louder voice, "You raped her! You murdered her! You killed her children!" Thinking his opponent to be fully incapacitated, Oberyn again demands the Mountain confess his crime and reveal who gave him the order, pointing accusingly at Tywin. However, in his hubris Oberyn is unexpectedly caught off guard when the Mountain suddenly trips him up. Berserk with fury at nearly being killed by his opponent, the Mountain pins Oberyn to the ground and proceeds to gouge out his eyeballs, making him scream in agony, as he roars for all to hear, "Elia Martell! I killed her children! Then I raped her! Then I smashed her like this!" He then crushes Oberyn's skull, effectively confirming the long-standing rumor of arguably his most infamous war crime.[10]

Season 6

During her coup d'etat in Dorne, Ellaria Sand cites the butchering of Elia, as well as Oberyn Martell, as one of the reasons she murders Prince Doran Martell. Ellaria and the Sand Snakes seek to avenge Elia and Oberyn despite having just murdered Elia and Oberyn's brother and nephew, Trystane Martell, both of whom refused to go to war with House Lannister.[11]

Season 7

While reading the journal of High Septon Maynard with Samwell Tarly in Oldtown, Gilly discovers that the High Septon issued an annulment for the marriage of "Prince Ragger" so that he could remarry someone else at a secret ceremony in Dorne, alluding to Elia Martell being the former wife.[12]

Family Tree

Ruling Princess Martell of Dorne
Consort of the Princess of Dorne
Lewyn Martell familytree
Lewyn Martell Kingsguard-Main-Shield
Doran Martell family tree
Doran Martell
Mellario of Norvos
Elia Martell
Rhaegar Targaryen House-Targaryen-Main-Shield
Unknown tree
Various women
Oberyn Martell
Ellaria Sand familytree
Ellaria Sand
of House Uller
Mother of 4 or 5 Sand Snakes
Trystane Martell family tree
Trystane Martell
Rhaenys tree
Rhaenys Targaryen House-Targaryen-Main-Shield
Aegon Targaryen
Obara Sand familytree
Obara Sand
Nymeria Sand familytree
Nymeria Sand
One or two other Sand Snakes
Tyene Sand familytree
Tyene Sand
Three or four younger Sand Snakes

Image Gallery

In the books

In A Song of Ice and Fire, Elia is also the wife of Rhaegar, and died with her children in the Sack of King's Landing. She was the sister of Princes Doran, the ruling Prince of Dorne, and Oberyn Martell. Elia was born nine years after Doran, and a year before Oberyn.

During Robert's Rebellion, Gregor Clegane raped and killed Elia after bashing in her son's head, while his hands were still tainted with the infant's blood. Elia's daughter was killed by Amory Lorch.

In actual fact, Tywin Lannister didn't order the Mountain to kill Elia. He tells Tyrion that there was no need to kill Elia because "by herself she was nothing" (in contrast to her children - as Rhaegar's blood heirs everyone knew they had to die for the war to end). The Mountain killed Elia simply because Tywin did not tell him to spare her. Tywin doubted if he had mentioned Elia at all, for he had many pressing concerns to worry about at that time, nor did he yet realize what kind of monster the Mountain was. On the other hand, he never punished Gregor for the rape and murder, because that would be an admission of indirect guilt on his part. This of course backfired: his inaction only served to convince the Martells that he was actively responsible and must have directly ordered Gregor to kill Elia, harming relations with the Martells far more than if he had simply admitted the truth. Tywin was also uncharacteristically defensive when Tyrion voiced his suspicion that he ordered Gregor to not only kill Elia, but rape her first, showing that even Tywin was disgusted by what Gregor did (but still did not punish him for it).

The Martells (particularly Oberyn) were so outraged by Elia's brutal and needless murder that they initially intended to continue fighting in Viserys' name. After the rebellion's end, Jon Arryn's first act as Hand of the King of the King was to travel to Dorne and negotiate with Prince Doran; Arryn convinced the Dornish to cease hostilities, but the fact Elia's killers were never punished caused the region to adopt a largely isolationist policy with the rest of the Seven Kingdoms.

As part of the Lannister alliance with the Martells that he negotiates, to prevent them from joining Renly's host, Tyrion pledges to bring those responsible for the death of Elia and her children to justice, including the Mountain. Tywin later reneges on this, as he does not wish to lose as effective a soldier and terror weapon as Gregor, intending to place all the blame on the now-deceased Amory Lorch. Oberyn does not seem to believe that new version, and Tyrion assures him that Lorch killed Rhaenys, while the Mountain killed baby Aegon and then proceeded to rape and kill Elia. After Gregor roars his guilt for all to hear during Tyrion's trial by combat, Tywin is forced to have Gregor healed if only so Ilyn Payne can execute him to appease the Martells, for fear inaction might lead to Doran Martell supporting Stannis Baratheon.

See also


v  d  e
Lord: Heir:
Seat: Sunspear Lands: Dorne
Title(s): Prince of Dorne · Lord of Sunspear
Ancestors:Princess Nymeria · Prince Mors Martell · Daughter of Mors · Meria Martell · Prince Maron Martell · Princess Daenerys Martell · Queen Myriah Martell
Current members:Ellaria Sand · Sarella Sand · Elia Sand · Obella Sand · Dorea Sand · Loreza Sand
Deceased members:Prince Lewyn Martell · Princess Elia Martell · Prince Oberyn Martell · Prince Doran Martell · Prince Trystane Martell · Obara Sand · Nymeria Sand · Tyene Sand
Household:{Areo Hotah} · {Caleotte}
Overlord:House Baratheon of King's Landing
v  d  e
Lord: Queen Daenerys Targaryen Heir: None
Seat: Dragonstone Lands: Dragonstone
Title(s): Queen of Meereen · Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea · Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men (claimant) · Lady Regnant of the Seven Kingdoms (claimant) · Protector of the Realm (claimant)
Ancestors:Aegon I, the Conqueror · Visenya · Rhaenys · Aenys I · Maegor I, the Cruel · Rhaena · Aegon · Jaehaerys I, the Concilliator · Alysanne Targaryen · Viserys I · Rhaenys · Daemon · Aemma Arryn · Rhaenyra · Alicent Hightower · Aegon II, the Usurper · Helaena Targaryen · Aemond · Aegon III · Viserys II Targaryen · Jaehaera · Jaehaerys · Maelor · Daeron I, the Young Dragon · Baelor I, the Blessed · Aegon IV, the Unworthy · Naerys · Aemon the Dragonknight · Daena the Defiant · Rhaena · Elaena · Daeron II, the Good · Daenerys of Sunspear · Myriah Martell · Daemon Blackfyre · Brynden Rivers · Aegor Rivers · Shiera Seastar · Baelor Breakspear · Aerys I · Aelinor · Rhaegel · Maekar I · Dyanna Dayne · Aerion Brightflame · Aegon V, the Unlikely · Duncan the Small · Daeron
Deceased members:Aerys II, the Mad · Rhaella Targaryen · Rhaegar Targaryen · Elia Martell · Rhaenys Targaryen · Aegon Targaryen · Viserys Targaryen · Drogo · Rhaego · Aemon Targaryen
Household:Ser Jorah Mormont · Tyrion Lannister · {Ser Barristan Selmy} · {Rakharo} · Kovarro · Aggo · {Irri} · {Doreah} · Jhiqui · Malakho · Missandei · Grey Worm · Daario Naharis · {Mossador}