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As we saw in Game of Thrones’ Season 8 premiere episode “Winterfell,” Jon Snow finally learned his real name, his real parents, and who he is meant to be. Audiences have known about the truth since the Season 6 finale, and confirmed in the Season 7 finale, that Jon is actually Aegon Targaryen, the legitimate son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark.

His best friend (if not his direwolf Ghost) Sam Tarly explains to him he should be the one sitting on the Iron Throne. But wait, what about Daenerys? Doesn’t that mean they’re related somehow… and didn’t they have fun under the sheets? MB Life is here to lay it all out for you to help you understand why Jon is the rightful heir to the Iron Throne, and all the titles that come with it.

The Targaryen Dynasty

To better understand Jon’s heritage, we have to go all the way back before the events of Game of Thrones, when the seven kingdoms were against one another. The first Targaryen in Westeros, named Aegon, arrived with his two sisters and their three dragons to conquer all the kingdoms. They were successful, and for the next 250 years or so, the Targaryens would rule as kings of Westeros.

The last Targaryen king was Aerys, more popularly known as the Mad King because of his erratic behavior. He was so suspicious of everyone else that he never left his castle, and even thought his eldest son and heir Rhaegar Targaryen had plans to overthrow him. After spending years in the capital, the Mad King left to attend a grand tournament – and what happened there would signal the downfall of the Targaryens’ rule in Westeros.

Rhaegar Targaryen naming Lyanna Stark as the “queen of love and beauty” (Illustration by Paolo Puggion in “The World of Ice and Fire”
Robert’s Rebellion

The winner of the tournament was Rhaegar, and as champion he had to name a lady the “queen of love and beauty.” But instead of naming his wife, Elia Martell of Dorne, he named instead Lyanna Stark of Winterfell (Ned Stark’s sister, who was set to marry Robert Baratheon). What most people know is that Rhaegar kidnapped Lyanna, which made Robert start a rebellion and overthrow the Mad King and his family.

And as we know since the beginning of Game of Thrones, Rhaeger was killed by Robert in battle while Jaime Lannister killed the Mad King which is how he got the name “Kingslayer.” The Mad King’s other children, Viserys and Daenerys, escaped and sailed to another continent where they lived for years – until Daenerys married Khal Drogo (and we are all familiar with what happened then, just watch Season 1).

The Truth

But in true Game of Thrones fashion, there’s a plot twist! Rhaegar did not actually kidnap Lyanna, they were actually in love (as Bran Stark saw in his vision during Season 7’s “The Dragon and the Wolf”). And through a diary that Sam found (or rather what Gilly found, she read it out loud for us fans), we learn that Rhaegar secretly annulled his marriage to Elia Martell so he could marry Lyanna.

Because Rhaegar and Lyanna’s marriage was legitimate, so would any children the two may have – which happens to be Jon. As we saw in the Season 6 and 7 finales through Bran’s visions, Ned made a promise to Lyanna to keep Jon – or should we say Aegon, his real name – safe because Robert would kill him for being the son of Rhaegar. And Ned kept his promise, even when he lost his head in Season 1.

Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow arrive in Winterfell.
The Ascension

When Mad King Aerys died, his heir Rhaegar should have been the next king but he was killed by Robert. Because Rhaegar was also dead, his children by Elia Martell would be next in line – but Elia and her children were also killed. Because Rhaegar’s line is extinguished (or so we thought), the next in line is his brother Viserys. Since Viserys was killed in Season 1, the new heir is now Daenerys.

BUT because Rhaegar and Lyanna were legally married before they both died, their son Jon aka Aegon Targaryen has a stronger claim than Daenerys as he is the son of the former heir. This mirrors the ascension in real-life monarchies, where the heir’s line comes first before any siblings (and usually, women are last in line). So yes, technically speaking Daenerys is Jon’s aunt, which makes their relationship really weird.

If it makes things any better, Targaryens usually marry their own relatives to keep their bloodline pure, so if Jon and Daenerys do hook up they would just be keeping in tradition – sort of. So yes, Jon is still a Stark through his mother Lyanna, but he is only a cousin to Bran, Sansa, and Arya. Through his real father Rhaegar, he is a legitimate Targaryen, and the rightful heir to the Iron Throne; and like his namesake, the first Aegon, Jon may just be the one to unite Westeros once more.

Information from George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire”, “The World of Ice & Fire”, and HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”


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