House of the Dragon: What the Rise of House Strong Means

House Strong has stayed in the background on House of the Dragon up until this point, but with Lyonel now Hand of the King and his progeny making all sorts of acquaintances with the queen consort and princess, the family is clearly on the rise. Here’s what you need to know about this increasingly important clan.

Lord Lyonel Strong

Lord Lyonel has been on the show since the first episode, appearing in every Small Council scene as Master of Laws for King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine). With so much sniping and melodramatic fireworks going off between his fellow counselors Otto Hightower, Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint), and the hot mess we call Prince Daemon (Matt Smith), you’d be forgiven for not even noticing Lord Lyonel was there.

But from the first, he’s attempted to give the king practical (if sometimes disturbingly medieval) advice. He was the one who told Viserys the hard truth in the second episode that marrying a 12-year-old Valeryon would bring unity to the realm; and he was also the one who first floated the idea of marrying Rhaenyra to Ser Laenor Valeryon (Theo Nate) in the third episode. At the time, Viserys was deep in his cups and sneering that Lyonel was about to propose a match between the Princess of Dragonstone and his son “Breakbones.” After all, Otto just suggested she marry the Hightowers’ grandson (who is also her infant half-brother).

But Lyonel gave Viserys good and true counsel. This shouldn’t be terribly surprising when you know his history. Before becoming Lord of Harrenhal, Lord Lyonel originally studied to be a maester in Oldtown. For several years he went to the equivalent of Westerosi university, obtaining an impressive six links on his chain—which indicated he achieved at least the rank of “acolyte” and would have eventually become a proficient maester if he so wanted. However, he had a change of heart (and perhaps a distaste for celibacy) and decided he did not want that life.

It seems likely Lyonel had an older brother who died considering that he was studying to be a maester, although the full family tree of House Strong is not revealed in the source material for House of the Dragon, George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood. What is known is that Lyonel eventually succeeded his father as Lord of Harrenhal. Lyonel’s family claimed that largest, and most ruined, of great Westerosi castles after Aegon the Conqueror melted it, along with King Harren Hoare and his whole family, during the Conquest.

If you recall from Game of Thrones, Harrenhal is the melted wreck that Arya, Gendry, and Hot Pie wind up in when captured by Lannister men. There she becomes cupbearer to Tywin Lannister and sees the seeds being planted for the castle to come into the acquisition of Lord Petyr Baelish (Littlefinger). Hundreds of years before that though, the Strongs ruled and lived in Harrenhal. They came into its possession after Ser Osmund Strong pledged loyalty to Aegon the Conqueror and House Targaryen instead of the Strongs’ then-king, Harren the Black. Osmund Strong would go on to become Hand of the King to Aegon I and oversee the construction of King’s Landing.

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