BoLS logo Tabletop, RPGs & Pop Culture

Daemon Targaryen – The Rogue Prince of the Blacks Explained

6 Minute Read
Jul 1 2024

Daemon Targaryen was supposed to be his brother’s heir, Prince of Dragonstone, and next in line for the infamously-desired Iron Throne.

Man, the life of a second son ain’t easy in George R.R. Martin’s world. Especially when you’re as ambitious and driven as Daemon Targaryen. In HBO’s new Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon, actor Matt Smith stands in for the mercurial silver-haired Prince. But who is Daemon Targaryen?

Daemon Targaryen’s Childhood

Daemon was the second son born to brother-and-sister couple Baelon and Alyssa Targaryen. His older brother Viserys I became the king and sat on the coveted (and massive tetanus risk) Iron Throne. The brothers also had a younger brother, Aegon, but he died as a baby.

As a newborn, Daemon was taken flying on a dragon within a fortnight of his birth. When he was old enough, he claimed the dragon Caraxes, the Blood Wyrm, who had previously belonged to his uncle Aemon. He was knighted at sixteen by his grandfather, King Jaehaerys I. At his knighting, he was gifted the legendary Valyrian steel blade Dark Sister.

As he grew up, Daemon was charming, brave, and a skilled fighter. But he was also moody and capricious. These are all qualities that would continue to define him throughout his life.

Aegon the Conqueror on Balerion by Jordi Gonzalez, via The World of Ice and Fire

Daemon Targaryen: Lord Flea Bottom

Initially, he was married to Lady Rhea Royce, the heir to Runestone. He often referred to her as his “bronze [expletive]” in reference to the traditional armor of the Vale. He was not a big fan of the Vale of Arryn, where she lived. Daemon was pretty vocal about his displeasure, and he asked his brother to annul his marriage to Rhea, to which Viserys said, “Nope.” His brother also refused to name him the Prince of Dragonstone, which was their family’s homeland.

Returning to King’s Landing to avoid the wifey, Daemon served briefly as Master of both Law and Coin. But being a man of action, he didn’t take well to either position. He and Ser Otto Hightower, the King’s Hand, did not get on very well. Otto saw Daemon as his only competitor for the position of Hand of the King.

art by Marc Simonetti via The World of Ice and Fire

He was then appointed as the Commander of the City Watch, where he gained the trust and loyalty of the soldiers as their commander. He also fashioned their signature gold cloaks, which earned them their long-standing nickname. Daemon was known for inflicting harsh punishments on criminals, but his methods worked—he effectively cleaned up the city streets. 

It was during this time that Daemon became well-acquainted with the brothels in Flea Bottom. He would often visit a prostitute named Mysaria. Many in King’s Landing would refer to Daemon as Lord Flea Bottom.

Daemon with Mysaria via HBO

Daemon Targaryen’s Exile

During this time, Viserys’ first wife and queen, Aemma Arryn, died while giving birth. Their newborn son, Prince Baelon, died in the cradle soon after. On the night of Baelon’s death, Daemon was overheard in a brothel drunkenly referring to the baby as “the heir for a day”. When King Viserys heard that his brother was mocking his recently dead son, Viserys banished his brother and named his daughter Rhaenyra as heir to the throne. Daemon Targaryen fled King’s Landing with Mysaria, and Caraxes flew them to Dragonstone. 


Soon after, Mysaria became pregnant with Daemon’s child. He wanted to place a dragon’s egg in the babe’s cradle, as the tradition with Targaryen children. But an angry Viserys demanded that he return to his wife in the Vale. To keep Mysaria safe, he sent her to Lys while he plotted with Corlys Velaryon to secure his position as the heir to Dragonstone. But during her trip to Lys, Mysaria lost the baby.

Together, Daemon and the Sea Snake launched a war in the Stepstones to remove the Triarchy from power. After Daemon managed to conquer all but two of the Triarchy’s islands, Corlys crowned Daemon King of the Steopstones and the Narrow Sea. The war created much bad blood between Daemon and the nations of Lys, Mar, Tyrosh, and later Dorne.

Daemon Targaryen and the Sea Snake
via HBO

Back to the Family

Daemon then brought his shiny new crown back to King’s Landing. There, he lay it at his brother’s feet as a way of extending an olive branch. Viserys, non-confrontational to a fault, was delighted by an opportunity to forgive his brother and move on. But the brotherly truce doesn’t last for very long.

via The World of Ice and Fire

Through different tellings, Daemon is either seducing his niece Rhaenyra or showing her around the carnal pleasures to help her seduce the target of her admiration, Ser Criston Cole. In the streaming series, it’s kind of a mish-mash of both. Rhaenyra ends up sealing the deal with Cole, who turns out to surprisingly be the more problematic of the two characters.

Either way, when Viserys hears the news, he is properly scandalized. Daemon is exiled again to Bloodstone in the Stepstones. During this time, his wife mysteriously falls from her horse and dies. In the show, it’s not much of a whodunnit—it was Daemon with a rock in the Vale.


But by all tellings, he tried to claim his seat as Lord of the Vale. House Aryn said, “Pass,” which sent Daemon back to Driftmark. There, he proposed a marriage to Laena Velaryon, Corlys’ daughter. The two would eventually have twin daughters, Baela and Rhaena. The marriage, previously un-blessed by King Viserys, was given a blessing when Daemon asked for the opportunity to present the girls at court.

Daemon is a Widower (Again)

Laena would eventually die delivering a baby, who also died. You know, regular GoT stuff. Her brother, Laenor, who was married to Rhaenyra, was murdered(?) afterward. Some accounts credit Daemon with this death, while the show manages to actually give a gay character a reasonably happy ending (as far as this franchise is concerned). It does this by faking his death and sending him to sail away to a foreign land.

This frees up Daemon and Rhaenyra to marry. Keeping with his new move of having love affairs his brother explicitly does not approve of, the ceremony was held in secret.

via HBO

The Dance of the Dragons

The inevitable passing of King Viserys I caused a predictable upheaval when it came to the line of succession. Rhaenyra, now Daemon’s wife, had been promised the throne before the birth of Viserys’ sons with Allicent Hightower. The Greens moved to claim the throne for the late king’s eldest son, Aegon II.

The second season of The House of the Dragon, airing on HBO now, tells the tale of the family’s civil war.

Author: Danni Danger
Author: Clint Lienau
  • AtLA: You Gotta Deal With This Avatar Korra Explainer