Email From Harrel regarding line of succession (TV Spoilers! You’ve Been Warned!)

“Who’s” second in line? No, “What’s” second in line. “Who’s” third in line.


Last week, Mike Hall asked if Daenerys was the last Targaryen. Being that I’m a lawyer, I’m naturally obsessed with Westerosi succession laws. Moreover, as I have done a great deal of cases regarding inheritance and intestate succession (and the rules of royal succession follow a similar order), I’m somewhat an expert in this area. So, given that I don’t have anything to add to the chapters this week, I figure that this is a good place to recap where we are currently in regards to the lines of succession in Westeros.



I. Important Background (King Robert Targaryen):


Let’s begin with how Robert Baratheon became king. I know some folks have attempted to cite the conversation between Rob & Ned to argue that succession in Westeros is based simply on winning a war. Rob tells Ned he should have been king saying, “It should have been you Ned.” However, Martin has been clear on this in his public talks, explaining that Westeros follows the pre-2011 English rules of succession, and that Robert Baratheon became king because he was legitimately next in line to the throne. Martin has stated that this was his reason for having Ned respond to Robert’s statement with, “You had the best claim.” Okay. So how exactly was Rob Baratheon next in line to the Mad King?

Well, once Mad King Aerys was dead, along with his son Rhaegar, and his grandchildren through Rhaegar, Viserys became king, as he was the eldest surviving child of Aerys. As the eldest sibling of the childless and brotherless  king, Daenerys became Viserys’ heir. However, because they were very young, Viserys and Daenerys were treated as “naturally dead.” This is a legal term, and it is typically only used when a person has either renounced their claim or has been excluded from the line of succession for some disgrace or undesirability.

For example, when King Edward of England chose to marry a divorcee, he was forced to abdicate and proclaim himself and his descendants “naturally dead” in order to keep the children of a divorcee from ever inheriting the British throne (ironically, in the current British order of succession, six of the first seven claimants are either divorcees or the children of divorcees). However, Robert and his supporters never had a legitimate reason to consider Viserys and Daenerys “naturally dead,” so in truth, they simply overlooked them and hoped that they would never become an issue. Thus, Robert, and even Tywin to some extent, remained concerned about them until death.

So, with Aery’s having no nieces or nephews, and with his only living descendants proclaimed “naturally dead,” Aerys’ line of succession flowed back up through his father, King Jaehaerys II, and over to his only child-bearing sibling, Rhaelle Targaryen.

I know this is confusing, so just keep in mind that Rhaelle Targaryen was the Mad King’s aunt (his father’s sister), and that this lady, along with the Mad King’s father, were children of King Aegon V, whom we know as “Egg” from the Dunk & Egg Tales. Thus, Mad King Aerys was Egg’s grandson.

Well, Rhaelle Targaryen (Egg’s daughter) married Ormund Baratheon, the Lord of Storm’s End. Her eldest son was Steffon Baratheon, and, Steffon own eldest son was Robert. Thus Robert, Stannis, and Renly are: 1) the grandchildren of Rhaelle Targaryen; 2) the great-grandsons of Egg; 3) the great-nephews of the Mad King’s father; 4) first cousins once removed from the Mad King himself; and 5) second cousins to Rhaegar, Viserys, and Daenerys Targaryen.

If this is still confusing, just remember that Rhaelle Targaryen is the link, as she was both the Mad King’s paternal aunt (sister of the Mad King’s father), Robert Baratheon’s grandmother, and daughter of “Egg” from the Dunk & Egg Tales.

Thus to pointedly answer Mike’s question, even with legitimacy of Aegon in doubt, Daenerys is not the last Targaryen. Although lacking the Targaryen surname, Stannis and his daughter Shireen are also surviving Targaryens. In fact, you should keep in mind that Stannis and Daenerys are as closely related as Tommen would be to the children of Lancel Lannister. Or another way to look at it, Robert’s relationship to the Mad King had the same degree of separation that King Joffrey had to Lancel Lannister.



II. The Caveats of This Analysis


Some baseline rules to keep in mind:

1) Bastards cannot inherit (in Westeros or in England), so they will not be discussed here.

2) I’m NOT assuming that anyone would step aside because someone else has a better claim, so we’re only talking from the standpoint of who would succeed that particular monarch under the Westeros laws of succession. This is not covering who is more legitimate or who should move aside for whom.

3) All references to Aegon are contingent upon him being recognized as the actual child of Rhaegar Targaryen & Elia Martell.



III. Lines of Succession


Okay, so let’s examine the legal line of succession from the perspective of each of the current potential claimants:


A. Stannis

**Sovereign: Stannis**

1. Crown Princess: Shireen

2. the current Aegon (as Stannis’ second cousin once removed)

*Note: So this is a little complicated, but we have to find the closest legitimate relative of Stannis descended from a king, i.e., they have to be “a blood royal.” Stannis currently has neither siblings, uncles, aunts, nor legitimate nieces or nephews, so we have go back up to King Aegon V (aka “Egg”), Stannis’ kingly ancestor and great-grandfather. Egg’s only other child to have children was King Jaehaerys, so we trace down from there to Mad King Aerys and then to Crown Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, and his first-born son, the current Aegon.

3. Daenerys (as Stannis’ second cousin & the first surviving descendant of Egg if Stannis & Shireen are dead, and the current Aegon is dead or proved to be fake)

4. Descendants of Egg’s nieces and nephews.


*Egg had four child-bearing siblings: Aerion, Daeron, Rhae, & Daella. Thus their descendants are in line after Egg’s descendants are exhausted.

*As the eldest surviving brother of Egg, Maester Aemon would have actually been fourth in line. However, as a maester, as a black brother, and because he explicitly renounced his title in favor of Egg, from the onset of this book series, Maester Aemon was “naturally dead” in regards to the line of succession.


B. Tommen


**Sovereign: Tommen**

1. Crown Princess: Myrcella

2. Stannis (as eldest sibling of Robert Baratheon, Tommen’s supposed father)

3. Shireen

4. the current Aegon (as Robert Baratheon’s second cousin once removed & the first surviving descendant of Robert’s royal ancestor, Egg, through the line of King Jaehaerys)

5. Daenerys (as Robert Baratheon’s second cousin & the alternative first surviving descendant of Egg through King Jaehaerys)

6. Descendants of Egg’s nieces and nephews.


C. Myrcella


**Sovereign: Myrcella**

1. Crown Prince: Tommen

2. Stannis

3. Shireen

4. the current Aegon

5. Daenerys

6. Descendants of Egg’s nieces and nephews.


D. Aegon


**Sovereign: current Aegon**

1. Crown Princess: Daenerys (as aunt and eldest surviving sibling of the king’s father)

2. Stannis (as the current Aegon’s second cousin once removed & first surviving descendant of Aegon’s royal ancestor, Egg, through Rhaelle Targaryen)

3. Shireen

4. Descendants of Egg’s nieces and nephews.



E. Daenerys


*Sovereign: Daenerys

1. Crown Prince: current Aegon (as nephew)

2. Stannis (as Daenerys’ second cousin & first surviving descendant of Daenerys’ royal ancestor, Egg, through Rhaelle Targaryen)

3. Shireen

4. Descendants of Egg’s nieces and nephews.



F. Euron


*Sovereign: Euron


1. Crown Prince: Victarion (Aeron Damphair is “naturally dead” having  renounced)

2. Reek (eldest son of sovereign’s brother)

3. Asha

4. Satan

5. Hitler

6. Tom Brady

7. Kim Jong-il

8. Cristiano Ronaldo

9. Dick Cheney

The Ironborn suck!


G. Big Takeaway


In my mind, the big takeaway is that Stannis, Shireen, Daenerys, & Aegon (if legit) are serious players in the line of successions of every real contender. Stannis is no further away than second-in-line to the throne regardless of who comes out on top, while Daenerys & Aegon (if real) always place in the top five.

What does this mean? It means that one or two calculated moves could eliminate a major player from the board even more cheaply than the Red Wedding.

For example, here’s one move that jumps out at me: To defeat the Lannisters, all Stannis needs to do is to hire two Faceless Men to take out Tommen and Myrcella. He has already made it clear that he has no moral quandary over killing “abominations” born of incest. And, the Faceless Men are so good and discreet, that Stannis could easily disavow all knowledge of the plot after the deed is done.

So, with that simple move, Stannis would defeat the Lannisters, because no one can dispute that Stannis is heir should Tommen and Myrcella die childless. Stannis would be in the same position he would have been in if Ned Stark had managed to expose the Lannister children as illegitimate. And Daenerys herself is only three or four Faceless Men away from retaking the Seven Kingdoms.

This makes me further speculate that Arya will play a pivotal role in determining the ultimate winner of the Game of Thrones.