Seven bloody warnings to you dear reader, for this post contains major, major spoilers for tonight’s Game of Thrones, “Eastwatch.” So if you haven’t seen the episode yet and hope to avoid them best not cross into the dangerous lands beyond this Wall.
After years of theories and fan speculation, Game of Thrones gave us an answer to a monumental question, and the ramifications are Wun Wun sized: Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark were legally married.
And that means Jon Snow is not a bastard, and is the rightful heir to the Iron Throne.
Additional Reading: Rhaegar Targaryen’s Short Life and Lasting Legacy
If you missed it, Gilly was reading the recordings of High Septon Maynard–the highest official in the Faith of the Seven, so those were not the writings of a maester, which is a monumental difference–she asked Sam what “annulment” means. “It’s when a man sets aside his lawful wife,” Sam answered. Only a septon could do that, and for a royal wedding it seems unlikely anyone but the High Septon could. Plus, the Targaryens followed the Faith of the Seven (minus the whole incest thing).
Gilly then says High Septon Maynard recorded this:
“Maynard says here that he issued an annulment for a Prince Rhaegar and remarried him to someone else at the same time in a secret ceremony in Dorne.”
She mispronounced Rhaegar’s name (she said “Rah-gar” not “Ray-gar”), which is partly why it didn’t register to the distracted Sam, but that’s clearly who she was reading about. Which means Rhaegar got the highest priest in the land to put aside his marriage to Elia Martell, and he then he married Lyanna Stark right away, most likely at or near the Tower of Joy where Jon was born. The Tower of Joy was located on the northern edge of the Red Mountains of Dorne.
Rhaegar had to go fight against Robert’s Rebellion, and since we know Lyanna was pregnant when he left, that probably necessitated the urgency in getting an annulment to Elia and his new marriage to Lyanna. Rhaegar was obsessed with the prophecy about the Prince That Was Promised, and likely imagined Lyanna (ice) and him (fire) would give birth to that Prince. Making sure his son was a legal Targaryen instead of a bastard would have been very important to Rhaegar.
Additional Reading: Why Rhaegar Targaryen Fell in Love With Lyanna Stark
So Jon is not a bastard; he is legally the son of Rhaegar Targaryen. Jon is officially a Targaryen, and as Rhaegar’s last remaining son he is the rightful heir to the Iron Throne.
His claim is far greater than Daenerys’s claim, because throughout the Targaryen Dynasty men were always crowned over daughters (a civil war broke out when that was ignored). So even though Daenerys is the daughter of the Mad King and Jon is just his grandson, the history of Westeros shows quite overwhelmingly how in this scenario Jon would be crowned and not her.
Like we said, holy ****.
It’s been long theorized that Rhaegar and Lyanna did get married in secret, and maybe Rhaegar got an annulment since polygamy isn’t allowed by the Faith of the Seven, but knowing it for certain is still bonkers. What’s even crazier is that the High Septon wrote it down and there is documented evidence. This won’t just come down to Bran saying he saw it in a vision, there’s real proof. The King in the North could quickly gain followers all over Westeros if this gets out (the common people loved Rhaegar, and many lords hate Cersei). Especially if Jon manages to become a dragonrider for one of the the two dragons in the world who currently need one.
(Side note for book readers: Like many others I have always thought that “Young Griff” is not really Rhaegar’s lost son Aegon, but is instead an impostor. But if this revelation about Jon is also true in the books, and Rhaegar’s marriage to Elia was annulled, that means if Aegon truly is Rhaegar’s son, he would now be a bastard and not have nearly as strong a claim to the Iron Throne. This really changes the potential for that plot in the novels.)
In some ways this is an even bigger revelation than when we learned the truth about Jon’s mother, because even then a bastard is still a bastard. Instead Jon Snow, right now, is really Jon Targaryen, and he has a greater claim to the Iron Throne than anyone else has ever since Jaime killed the Mad King.
Now hopefully Jon doesn’t get killed–again–while north of the Wall because he wasn’t smart enough to ride a horse to face the army of the dead.
For being the legal son of a prince he sure is stupid sometimes.
What do you think of this revelation? What does it mean going forward? Be like Maynard and record your thoughts in the comments below.