Throughout the fantasy genre, madness is all too common as it is in medieval history. Mad monarchs in history include: George III (England), Charles IV (France), Henry IV (England), Ivan IV of Russia (AKA The Terrible) and Christian II (Denmark) to name a few. Madness in the monarchy is as common as taking a glass of water. I wouldn’t be surprised if the British Royal Family will contract insanity down the line at some point as they have in the past due to incest breeding.
Originally, Durin’s folk lived in Moria in The Misty Mountains, led by Durin I (The Deathless). He was succeeded by numerous other kings and six of them were named Durin and the last of them was Durin VII (The Last). The dwarves believed them to be a reincarnation of Durin I. The most famous of Durin’s line are Thrór, Thráin and Thorin Oakenshield. Thorin, most notably lead the dwarves in The Battle Of The Five Armies and led his people to victory against the orcs of Dol Guldur and led a throng of dwarves to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from the dragon, Smaug The Tyrannical. Thráin is known for going missing after the dwarves’ attempt to reclaim Moria from orcs led by the pale orc, Azog The Defiler. After the battle, Thráin and Thorin led the exiles of Lonely Mountain to live in the Blue Mountains. Over the next four decades he grew increasingly obsessed with the lost riches of the Lonely Mountain. Eventually, he went missing and was never seen by his kin again.
The member of Durin’s folk that went completely mad is King Thrór, Thorin’s grandfather. He contracted the fictional mental condition known as dragonsickness. He became so obsessed with his gold and riches and wealth that he couldn’t see beyond his own desire. Then the Arkenstone was found and he became so obsessed with it. He cared about nothing else. Not the people he ruled nor his family but a material object. Smaug heard of this and plundered the mountain of riches killing its people and laying his body on the vast hoard of gold. Only few escaped.
“Yes! Yes, I’m afraid! I fear for YOU, Thorin. A sickness lies on that treasure, a sickness that drove your grandfather mad”
Balin To Thorin On The Hoard Of Erebor
In George R.R Martin’s A Song Of Ice & Fire series/HBO’s Game Of Thrones, there is a whole house dedicated to madness. The renowned Targaryens who conquered The Seven Kingdoms atop dragons have a reputation for being crazy and mad. Many believe the Targaryens carry the characteristic of insanity in its bloodline, often refered to as madness in the series and books alike.
Some Targaryens aren’t born mad but they develop it later in the life when subject to a specific event or trauma in their lives. A good example is Mad King Aerys II Targaryen at The Defiance Of Dukensdale. Daenerys’ brother, Viserys, is said have been a younger of version Aerys and had the inclination to be mad. Thrór had a similar event. When he found the Arkenstone, his life changed forever. All the houses of Middle Earth were in envy of the great jewel that he possessed. The power went to his head and it corrupted his heart to the point of no return. It ruined him. The same happened to Thorin when they got the mountain back. It corrupted him. Before he reclaimed the mountain, he was fair and just, full of compassion. He wanted to reclaim the dwarvish city for the good of his people. When he reclaimed it, the gold that was his birthright nearly sent him mad. He was standing on a sharp line between sanity and insanity hearing voices in his head. When Laketown was destroyed by Smaug, Bard demands Thorin pay tribute for the damage. Thorin turns him away out of greed for the gold and lust for power. He gives them his word that he would share the wealth but then turns his cloak when he has the power.
Ser Barristan Selmy spies on Dany in disguise to see if she displays any inclinations of being mad as many of her line were before her. He calls it a “taint”. His alter ego being Arstan Whitebeard and explains plainly what he did to her in simple terms. Until now, Daenerys knew that her father was called The Mad King but she thought people were spreading lies. She had no clue about the extent of her father’s insanity and the trait that defines her bloodline.
“Your father was not the first. King Jaehaerys once told me that madness and greatness are two sides of the same coin. Every time a new Targaryen is born, he said, the gods toss the coin in the air and the world holds its breath to see how it will land.”
Barristan To Daenerys: A Storm Of Swords
Quentyn Martell has his reservations about marrying Dany. He, like everyone in Westeros know the stories about House Targaryen renowned for their insanity. Aerys had exiled two hands and burned another. He had his suspicions of Dany’s character and what could possibly happen to her in future. Robert’s Rebellion was created because The Mad King killed Rickard and Brandon Stark; one by suffocation and the other by burning. He went cuckoo. Rhaegar took Lyanna but I believe that could have been settled if Aerys hadn’t killed them both. He could have locked them in cell and settled it with his son Rhaegar and Ned and Benjen Stark. This is what the rational person would do. Aerys was anything but rational. He was mad with paranoia and he burned anyone who opposed him. Nothing he did was logical or with reason. He killed because he could and saw no wrong in his actions.
Dany lets her husband, Khal Drogo, kill her brother Viserys. He crowned him with a pot of molten gold. The last of the Targaryens is gone because Dany let him die. People claim that she is this innocent and strong character but she is just as murderous as many other characters in the series. She is a kinslayer. She’s just as guilty of killing her brother as Khal Drogo.
Arianne Martell: She is the Mad King’s daughter…How do we do know —
Ser Daemon Sand: We cannot know, we can only hope (that Daenerys doesn’t have the taint)
Arianne: The Winds Of Winter
Maegor ‘The Cruel’ Targaryen truly was cruel. A true sociopath through and through. Joffery, Craster and Ramsay Snow have nothing on this guy. He had knights fight for the lands of Harrenhal, three maesters were executed and he killed all three of his wives (Black Brides). Word has it that Visenya conceived him through magic and the dark arts. This may have added to his madness. In A World Of Ice & Fire, she called in Maegi when Maegor was on his deathbed. Next we know, he is healthy and well. He became a tyrant after this point. He wasn’t so bad before the reanimation. He truly went insane after this and last parts of his former personality and humanity were stripped away. Revival of one’s body strips away the person they were before. Maegor was already pretty bad, revival just tipped him over the edge. If Joffery idolized the man, you can be sure he was capable of some messed up things.
“Now people name Maegor “the Cruel”, but I doubt any dared in his day. His strength was all too rare in the degenerate Targaryen blood. “
Joffery Baratheon On Maegor Targaryen
Baelor ‘The Blessed’ Targaryen was said to go mad after the Second Dornish War but is most famous for the construction of The Sept Of Baelor. He suffered from snake bites and hallucinations and many thought it was insane. As his reign progressed, he became more erratic. Walking to Dorne to free Prince Aemon Targaryen of the Kingsguard was considered questionable by many but he claimed that the gods told him to. Tyrion refers to Baelor as “Baelor The Befuddled”.
Aerion ‘Brightflame’ Targaryen (The Montstrous) was the second son of Maekar Targaryen. Aerion was cruel, arrogant and was hated by his brother Aegon. Aerion had flung his brother’s pet cat down a well and once visited Aegon in his bedroom at nightfall, placing a blade to Aegon’s regional parts and joked about castrating him so he would become a sister he could marry. Aerion wears a false a mask in front of his father but shows his true self to everyone else. Aerion met his end when he tried to turn himself into a dragon by drinking wildfire. He thought he was a dragon in human form. He took his sigil way too seriously.
If R+L=J is to be taken as truth, Jon is blood of the dragon and if Rhaegar and Lyanna married, he’s a true Targaryen. Jon was “killed” in the epilogue of A Dance With Dragons. A common theory is that he will be revived by Melisandre, that I to believe as well. Who’s to say that he will be same person he is when he wakes? I truly believe that he is Azor Ahai. Reborn amidst salt and smoke. Who’s to say that some part of his mind might be a little erratic? Dark magic isn’t the safest is it? Jon can be compared to Thorin Oakenshield in the sense that he is the Prince That Was Promised and he is not afraid in doing what needs to be done. Thorin marched on the mountain with a throng of twelve. Jon went against his brothers when he went to Hardhome with Tortmund and brought back the wildings to the Wall.
Even Stannis who the fanbase proclaim as the ‘Stannimal’ or ‘Stannis The Mannis’ has shown the taint. He’s not a Targaryen but House Baratheon is a bastard branch of Targaryens started by Orys Baratheon. In the show, he burnt his own daughter and many lords because the Red Woman says so. He’s one of my favorite characters but I couldn’t deny that the taint was on the forefront of his character in the latest season. I don’t like to admit it but Stannis is going a bit mad in the show. Stannis’ death was cut to edit so I am one of those who needs a body to admit that he’s dead.
I don’t believe the majority of the Targaryen line were actually mad. The only truly insane one was Aerys II Targaryen. The paranoia, the burning of his friends and allies, plus the irrational thinking too. They all constitute madness. The ones I have mentioned weren’t crazy. They were just bloodthirsty and depressed. They conducted acts of madness but these were one offs. It was oft great acts of arrogance or tragedy rather than outright acts of madness.There is magical power in Valyrian blood and its ilk. Due to this, a certain volatility in a Targaryen’s personality could occur but it could also be that this is due to dragons disappearing. When the dragons were active, the Targaryens were most stable.