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The fascinating and complicated House Velaryon are a new dynasty to some Game of Throne fans...
House of The Dragon exploded onto screens on 21 August, leaving audiences hungry for more of the action. Gory scenes abound within minutes of the opening episode airing, came as no surprise to anyone who has seen the show’s forerunner - Game of Thrones. Central to the already mesmerising plot, are members of House Velaryon alongside the well-established House of Targaryen (opens in new tab). Although the clan might be a new name for some, the House is certainly not new to George R. R Martin’s universe. Read on for everything you need to know about the ancient House Velaryon, and a breakdown of their family tree.
It's not the only burning questions GOT fans have about the spin-off show, with many wanting to know more about the King's betrothed Alicent Hightower (opens in new tab) and and who is the crab feeder (opens in new tab) - with both characters set to dominate the storyline in the forthcoming episodes.
Who are House Velaryon in House of The Dragon?
House Velaryon of Driftmark are rulers of Driftmark - the largest island of Blackwater Bay - and sworn to neighbouring Dragonstone. The residing head of House Velaryon is offered the title Lord of the Tides and Master of Driftmark.
They are an ancient and proud house, descended from the Valyrian people, and proud of the Valyrian blood running through their veins. The early members of House Velaryon made their way to Westeros even before the equally ancient House Targaryen. The Driftwood throne, the ruling seat of the dynasty, is positioned in the castle of Driftmark. This is named for the driftwood brought to its shores from the ever-moving tides. Legend has it that the Merling King gifted them the throne, to conclude a pact.
Contrary to popular belief, Velaryons are unable to ride dragons, although they remain closely allied with the dragon-riding Targaryens. Favouring the sea, Velaryon-built ships are held in high esteem, and it was given that House members served on the small council as master of ships. As with the Targaryens, the Valyrian bloodlines of the House often means that distinguishing traits include Valyrian features - this can be silver hair, and purple or indigo eyes.
Why is House Velaryon not in Game of Thrones?
By the time events of Game of Thrones take place, House Velaryon had largely died out and lost their power. During their time of prominence they made a strong bid for the Iron Throne, but lost their stake in the battle with the loss of their status and power.
Corlys Velaryon, or the “Sea Snake” as he’s popularly known, leads House Velaryon at the start of House of The Dragon. He had several bastard children, and had some of them legitimised. Following Corlys’ death, his newly legitimised grandson Alyn Oakenfist took the helm of the House. He became responsible for House Velaryon losing their power, as their wealth and status dwindled under his rule.
Other prominent and influential family members that could have contributed to the resurrection of the House’s status also died during this time. Alyn himself was lost at sea in approximately 175 AC, and this was the final death knell of House Velaryon’s power. By the time Game of Thrones picks up around 125 years following Alyn’s death, the House was no more. Corlys Velaryon - responsible for the rise of the dynasty, also saw its downfall in appointing the wrong successor, and the House essentially died with him.
House Velaryon family tree
One of the earliest Velaryons was Valaena Velaryon. Descended from Targaryens, Valaena married Aerion Targaryen. They had 3 children together; Visenya, Aegon, and Rhaenys. Her son, Aegon the Conqueror, was first to sit on the Iron Throne. Aegon married and had families with both his sisters. Daemon Velaryon was closely allied with House Targaryen when Aegon took the throne, becoming master of ships for the ruler. Daemon had two sons named Aethan and Corlys, and Aethan took the Lord of the Tides title when Daemon died in the year 2 AC. Corlys went on to become Lord Commander of the Kingsguard.
When Aethan died, Daemon took leadership of House Velaryon. He took the prestigious titles of master of ships and Hand of The King for various Iron Throne rulers. However, he left both positions behind to return to Driftmark when his sister Alyssa passed away. Although Daemon Velaryon had several children, they all passed away before he did, and he eventually died around 90 AC. Corlys Velaryon - his grandson - took up position as head of the House, and he is the character featured in House of the Dragon.
Corlys Velaryon grew the wealth and power of House Velaryon, and became the Master of Driftmark and master of ships upon his succession to head of the House. His wife is Rhaenys Targaryen, the daughter of King Jaehaerys I Targaryen’s eldest son Aemon. Together they have 2 children, Laenor and Laena.
House Velaryon: casting
Unnecessary criticism was made regarding the decision to cast a Black actor in the role of Corlys Velaryon. George R.R. Martin played a close role in casting of the show, and has advocated diversity within the adaption.
It’s been pointed out that Corlys’ skin colour was never discussed in any of the books. Those taking issue with the casting have made assumptions that because he is of Valyrian descent, he would naturally have the pale skin and silver hair of his ancestors. But it’s been ascertained that not every single Valyrian descendent would have those characteristics as they’re recessive genes and can be overridden by other genetics.
Speaking to Men's Health (opens in new tab) of the more unsavoury casting opinions, actor Steve Toussaint said “They are happy with a dragon flying. They're happy with white hair and violet-coloured eyes, but a rich Black guy? That's beyond the pale”.
He did however add: “What has been wonderful is for every toxic person that has somehow found their way into my timeline, there have been so many others who have been so supportive and been like, 'Oh my God, I can't wait, this is going to be great!”’
So good to see @StevieToussaint doing sensational work in #HouseOfTheDragonHBO really enjoyed the first episode.August 22, 2022
Is Corlys Velaryon a Targaryen?
No, Corlys Velaryon is not a Targaryen. His family have been close allies of the Targaryens, and it is often thought the two Houses are interchangeable, but Corlys is firmly a Velaryon.
House Velaryon also closely served the Targaryens, and Corlys is married to a Targrayen, but is not one himself. His wife is cousin of King Viserys I. Their bloodlines may have become mixed along the show’s timeline through marriage, but they remain separate Houses.
Related House of the Dragon features
- How many dragons are in House of the Dragon? (opens in new tab)
- When is House of The Dragon set? (opens in new tab)
- Meet the House of the Dragon cast (opens in new tab)
- Where is House of the Dragon filmed? (opens in new tab)
- When did House of the Dragon come out? Release date (opens in new tab)
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