As I delve into the history of House Targaryen, I turn my attention to the tragedy of their cadet branch, House Blackfyre. Like many great houses, the Targaryens had their own cadet branches of relatives. House Baratheon was rumored to be a cadet branch of House Targaryen, but this was never confirmed. The only confirmed cadet branch of the red dragon was the black dragon of House Blackfyre, which died out decades before the main story of Game of Thrones.
The story of House Blackfyre began during the reign of Aegon the Unworthy, who was both famous and infamous for his insatiable sexual appetite. Due to his numerous mistresses and affairs, Aegon had a large brood of bastard children. The greatest of these bastards was Daemon Waters, who was his father’s favorite child. Aegon the Unworthy favored Daemon so greatly that he knighted the boy when he was twelve and gifted him Blackfyre, the ancestral Valyrian steel sword of House Targaryen. When Aegon was on his deathbed, his final command was to legitimize all of his bastards, including Daemon.
With the passing of Aegon the Unworthy, Daemon’s legitimate half-brother Daeron the Good became king. Befitting his title as “The Good”, Daeron tried to be on good terms with Daemon and his other half-siblings. Daeron even gave Daemon an edict on his wedding that permitted him to build his own castle in the Crownlands. Sadly, simply having his own lands and castle was not enough for Daemon.
Since Daemon was legitimized, he had a claim to the Iron Throne. Also, several lords preferred Daemon over Daeron. This was because these lords were unsatisfied by the peace that Daeron promoted and wanted a warrior as their king, which they saw in Daemon. In addition, these lords saw Aegon gifting Blackfyre to Daemon as a sign that Aegon preferred Daemon as his heir despite being illegitimate. With his newly legitimized status, Daemon changed his surname from Waters to Blackfyre after the sword his father gave him.
After rallying his armies, Daemon declared war on his half-brother with the intention to claiming the Iron Throne for himself. Ultimately, Daemon and his two eldest sons were killed on the Redgrass Field while the rest of his children fled into exile. Despite Daemon’s death, his descendants would continue to plague the Targaryens with four more rebellions of fire and blood. The male bloodline of House Blackfyre was severed when Barristan Selmy slew Maelys the Monstrous on the Stepstones during the final Blackfyre Rebellion. What happened to the female bloodline of House Blackfyre is unknown.
I call the fate of House Blackfyre a tragedy because if they had known their place, they would still be alive and enjoying a castle not far from King’s Landing. They could have had the positive relationship with their Targaryen relatives that Daeron the Good wanted. Great houses such as the Starks, Lannisters, Tyrells, and so on had working relationships with their cadet branches that lasted for centuries. Sadly, a dragon’s ambition burns too hot and the Iron Throne is too great a prize to resist.