House of the Dragon: Viserys Was Not a Good King

Now, at the conclusion of episode eight “The Lord of the Tides,” King Viserys is both dead and gone. That means the time has officially come to assess the ruling legacy of Viserys, First of His Name – the fifth king in the Targaryen dynasty that ruled over Westeros. Though we all love and respect the kindly man (mostly due to Considine’s achingly empathetic portrayal of him) we suspect that Westeros’s historians won’t look too favorably upon his time on the Iron Throne. Here are some reasons why.

Viserys and the Other Targaryen Kings

First, it might be helpful to have some historical context for how the other Targaryen kings performed in the nearly 300-year dynasty presented in George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” saga. By the time Robert Baratheon and his fellow conspirators deposed the Mad King Aerys II in 283 AC, the Iron Throne had played host to 17 total Targaryen rulers. And most of those rulers were, quite frankly: terrible.

As far as the conversation for “Worst Targaryen King” goes, a handful of names always come up: Aenys I, Maegor I, Aegon IV, and Aerys II. Aenys I and Maegor I were both sons of Aegon the Conqueror (by his two different sister-wives) and ascended the throne after Aegon I in back-to back fashion. The former nearly ended the Targaryen dynasty before it began by acting far too weakly and the second nearly finished the job his brother started by being far too cruelly. Targaryen king number four Jaehaerys had an immense reconstructive mission to undertake and the fact that he held the realm together at all makes him the consensus best Targaryen king ever.

Aegon IV and Aerys II arrive much later on in the Song of Ice and Fire continuity. Aegon IV, known as the “Unworthy” was hilariously lazy, thoughtless, and corrupt. He legitimatized all of his bastards upon his death – a decision would haunt the Targaryen bloodline through the rest of its existence. Mad King Aerys II, who you might remember from Game of Thrones flashbacks, was cuckoo bananas and his paranoia and cruelty eventually led to the end of his House’s 300-year reign. Hard to do a much worse job than that.

We should remember, however, that at the time of Viserys’s death in 129 AC, there are only four other Targaryen monarchs to compare him to: Aegon I, Aenys I, Maegor I, and Jaehaerys I. Of those four, he is undoubtedly a better king than Aenys and Maegor and undoubtedly a worse king than Jaehaerys and Aegon.

Viserys Maintained the Status Quo

The fact that Viserys is so firmly entrenched in the middle of the pack when it comes to his predecessors by the end of his reign is quite fitting. For any chance that Viserys has at being remembered fondly is through his ability to maintain the status quo. Viserys inherited quite a healthy, productive kingdom from his grandfather Jaehaerys and did everything he could to not rock the boat.

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