Do the Velaryons Practice Incest Like Targaryens? Explained

With the release of ‘House of the Dragon,’ HBO has brought us back to the world of ‘Game of Thrones,’ and it is filled with more dragons, backstabbing, and incest than ever before. Set 172 years before Daenerys Targaryen, the show is a prequel to ‘Game of Thrones’ and is based on certain sections of the 2018 book ‘Fire & Blood’ by George R. R. Martin, who is also the co-creator of ‘House of the Dragon.’ The major players in the newer series are different, but the great game remains the same. In the ‘Game of Thrones‘ TV series, House Velaryon doesn’t hold any prominence. In the second season of the original show, the Velaryons support Stannis Baratheon’s claim to the Iron Throne. That isn’t the case in ‘House of the Dragon,’ Like their Targaryen overlords, the Velaryons are at the height of their power during the reign of Viserys I, much of which is due to the accomplishments of Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint), the richest and one of the most powerful men in Westeros.

Incest was a Targaryen custom before Westeros. We can answer your questions about whether House Velaryons, another Valyria-based house, practice incest.

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Are the Velaryons married?

Incest must be understood in Westeros in order to answer this question. In the books, the continent has two major religions — the old gods and the Faith of the Seven. Incestuous relationships between parents-child and siblings are considered sinful and children born of such relationships are regarded as abominations by both these religious practices. Marriages between first cousins, especially among the nobility are allowed. This is just as it was in medieval times. Aemma Arryn, Tywin Lannister, and Viserys II Targaryen are first cousins.

Image Credit: Ollie Upton / HBO

The Faith of the Seven has encountered situations throughout history where its rules regarding incestuous relationships have to be invoked, revised, or scrapped entirely. House Targaryen adhere to the Valyrian tradition that the dragonlords allow them to arrange for siblings’ marriages. The Faith is silent during Aegon’s reign and the two sister-wives, but it rises to the occasion of his successors. Eventually, King Jaehaerys I Targaryen — with the help of Septon Oswyck and Septon Barth — develops the Doctrine of Exceptionalism, which essentially sets the Targaryens apart from the Andal followers of the religion because of their Valyrian origin and identity as dragonriders. The Faith can tolerate incestuous marriages within the royal family through this doctrine.

However, this doesn’t seem to have been extended to other noble families of Valyrian origin, such as the Velaryons and Celtigars. Therefore, it seems unlikely that they are practicing incest as defined under the Faith of the Seven. The Velaryons can be described as an ancient house. Their family history shows that they arrived in Westeros before the Targaryens. The family isn’t historically dragonlords. They are instead the masters over the sea. This doesn’t mean that dragonriders haven’t been born in the Velaryon family. In fact, it seems that almost all Velaryon dragonriders are born around the Dance of the Dragons, the Targaryen civil war that ‘House of the Dragon’ is set to depict.

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Image Credit: Ollie Upton / HBO

This could be because of the intermarriages that occur between the two families. In an August 2022 interview, Martin stated — with the caveat of reserving the right to change his mind later — that there was no reason for non-dragonriding families of Valyria to practice incest. So, until Martin says otherwise, it’s safe to assume that Velaryons didn’t practice incest when they were in Valyria. We can get a rough idea of House Velaryon’s performance over the years from the books. Save for those murky years around the Dance, the rulers of Driftmark don’t practice what the Faith of the Seven defines as incest.

Continue reading: Are Velaryons White or Black in House of the Dragon Book’s Velaryons?

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