Spoilers ahead for Episode 8 of House of the Dragon Season 1, called “The Lord of the Tides.”
The eighth episode of House of the Dragon will go down as one of the most game-changing of the first season, with Viserys finally dying, Rhaenys aligning House Velaryon with Rhaenyra’s side, and Daemon beheading Vaemond in front of the entire court. Viewers also got the reveal that Rhaenyra had given her eldest son with Daemon the name of “Aegon,” making him the second Targaryen prince with that name born in one season. Plus, Viserys was talking about Aegon the Conqueror again. The abundance of Aegons may be about to cause a lot of problems, so why is it such a popular name in this era? George R.R. Martin has the answer.
With Alicent’s Aegon and Rhaenyra’s Aegon as two of the eight young Targaryen princes (one of whom hasn’t even appeared yet), one fourth of the main characters’ kids share the same name. In George R.R. Martin’s in-universe history book Fire & Blood, he explains why the queen and princess chose the same name for their sons. First off, Fire & Blood – which is the work that inspired House of the Dragon – explained why Alicent chose the name for her firstborn after wedding King Viserys:
Alicent actually had a pretty normal reason for choosing the name, as it makes sense to name a firstborn prince after the king who had established the dynasty, even if this Aegon wasn’t the heir. Plus, the Targaryen dynasty in Westeros is only about a century old at this point in the timeline, so there hadn’t been an overload of royal Aegons in the Targaryen family tree yet.
So, why is there another Aegon on the show? Rhaenyra’s eldest son with Daemon was her first born with the pale skin and light hair expected of a Targaryen. According to the court fool known as Mushroom in Fire & Blood, her reason for naming him Aegon was at least partly out of pure pettiness toward her stepmother. The book shares what supposedly happened after the news of Rhaenyra’s son reached the king and queen:
According to Mushroom in Martin’s book, Rhaenyra didn’t name her son Aegon because the Targaryens just have a limited pool of names to choose from, but at least partly because she could also spite Alicent by doing so. Sure, House of the Dragon softened the relationship between Rhaenyra and Alicent compared to the source material, but I for one am accepting the idea that it was meant at least somewhat as a slight.
After Daemon and Rhaenyra faked her husband’s death so they could marry in a secret incestuous blood ritual, it really fits their brand of chaos to have a name for their firstborn that is both fit for a conqueror and also a little bit petty toward their enemy. A bigger question may be why House of the Dragon kept “Aegon” from the book, and how much it will matter.
After all, Game of Thrones changed the name of a key character to avoid confusing audiences, as Yara Greyjoy’s name in A Song of Ice and Fire is actually Asha. Plus, the final season announced that Gendry’s name was “Gendry Rivers,” which book readers know was inaccurate in so many ways. So, why keep two Aegon Targaryens in the span of eight episodes?
The answer to that may lie in what happened at the end of Episode 8, when Viserys – in a cloud of milk of the poppy and moments away from death – accidentally gave Alicent the impression that her son Aegon was the “Prince That Was Promised.” Viewers know that he thought he was talking to Rhaenyra and was actually referring to Aegon the Conqueror, but Alicent’s confusion could fuel the Greens’ push to steal the throne from Rhaenyra. Her son with Daemon also being named Aegon could add fuel to the confusion.
The book doesn’t have all the answers, but Fire & Blood does at least provide a way to differentiate between the two princes. The book says:
Even though House of the Dragon hasn’t yet given the two princes these titles, I vote that fans start using “the Elder” and “the Younger” to separate the two! The separation may not be as necessary on screen with visuals as opposed to on the pages of the Targaryen history book, so it’ll be interesting to see how the show handles the two Aegons.
You can find new episodes of House of the Dragon on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO, and streaming with an HBO Max subscription. The first season is winding down with just two episodes left and possibly a long wait until Season 2, so check out our 2022 TV premiere schedule for some upcoming viewing options.