The latest episode of HBO’s House of the Dragon revealed Rhaenyra and Daemon Targaryen’s secret marriage, and fans are rooting for them. Episode 7, entitled Driftmark, finally unites the two Targaryen royalties in a solemn and traditional Valyrian wedding, despite their relationship as uncle and niece.
Incestuous relationships are not a new concept in the world of Westeros, as it has been first introduced in Game of Thrones. Jaime and Cersei Lannister are practically twins, and they have always engaged in intimate moments since childhood. But, why is incest in Game of Thrones considered a taboo and a common affair in House of the Dragon?
Why Is There So Much Incest In House Of The Dragon?
Viewers might have noticed that several characters in House of the Dragon have been betrothed to their siblings and/or cousins. King Viserys I Targaryen was married to Aemma Arryn, his cousin. Rhaenyra was married to Laenor Velaryon, her cousin. Alicent Hightower betrothed her son Aegon to her daughter Helaena. Now, after Laenor has fled with his lover Qarl Correy to Essos for good, Rhaenyra marries her uncle Daemon.
George R.R. Martin’s novel, Fire & Blood, explains that Aegon the Conqueror maintained a good relationship with the High Septon and the latter tolerated their tradition of incest; besides, crossing someone who possesses a beast at their disposal is not a wise decision. The Targaryens have been inbreeding to keep their bloodlines pure and be able to control dragons. While incest was still unlawful during Aegon’s time, he and his sisters-wives were given a free pass. This continued for the next generations that came after them.
Westerosi Culture Views Incest As A Sinful Crime
The Doctrine of Exceptionalism, as mentioned in the novel, was the treaty that the Faith and King Jaehaerys agreed upon, exempting the Targaryens from the rules against incest, especially those who worshipped the Seven.
Meanwhile, Jaime and Cersei have been engaging in sexual activity since they were children. This relationship has produced three offspring, which caused several mental health defects, especially in Joffrey. Westerosi culture does not accept this practice; however, first-cousin marriage is fine. In fact, their father, Tywin Lannister, was married to his cousin Joanna Lannister.
Incest is considered a vile sin in Westeros, alongside kinslaying and violation of guest rights. The Faith of the Seven called the children of such union ‘abominations’. The Targaryens have a legacy to uphold and they have a valid reason for doing so. There will be more incestuous relationships in House of the Dragon in the coming episodes as the final time jump reveals older versions of the Targaryen children.