THE PRINCESS AND THE QUEEN,
THE BLACKS AND THE GREENS
Being A History of the Causes, Origins, Battles, and Betrayals
of that Most Tragic Bloodletting Known as the Dance of the Dragons,
as set down by Archmaester Gyldayn of the Citadel of Oldtown
((here transcribed by GEORGE R.R. MARTIN))
The Dance of the Dragons is the flowery name bestowed upon the savage internecine struggle for the Iron Throne of Westeros fought between two rival branches of House Targaryen during the years 129 to 131 AC. To characterize the dark, turbulent, bloody doings of this period as a “dance” strikes us as grotesquely inappropriate. No doubt the phrase originated with some singer. “The Dying of the Dragons” would be altogether more fitting, but tradition and time have burned the more poetic usage into the pages of history, so we must dance along with the rest.
There were two principal claimants to the Iron Throne upon the death of King Viserys I Targaryen: his daughter Rhaenyra, the only surviving child of his first marriage, and Aegon, his eldest son by his second wife. Amidst the chaos and carnage brought on by their rivalry, other would-be kings would stake claims as well, strutting about like mummers on a stage for a fortnight or a moon’s turn, only to fall as swiftly as they had arisen.
The Dance split the Seven Kingdoms in two, as lords, knights, and smallfolk declared for one side or the other and took up arms against each other. Even House Targaryen itself became divided, when the kith, kin, and children of each of the claimants became embroiled in the fighting. Over the two years of struggle, a terrible toll was taken of the great lords of Westeros, together with their bannermen, knights, and smallfolk. Whilst the dynasty survived, the end of the fighting saw Targaryen power much diminished, and the world’s last dragons vastly reduced in number.