Was Rhaegar a good guy
Aerys II. Targaryen
|“||Burn them all.||”|
- The Mad King's last words. ("Lord Snow")
Aerys II. Targaryen
The mad king
Aerys died before the plot began and was the last Targaryen king to rule the Seven Kingdoms from the Iron Throne. Although initially a benevolent king, Aerys went mad and was overthrown by Robert Baratheon in a rebellion. He was murdered by a member of his own Royal Guard, Ser Jaime Lannister, who was nicknamed "Kingslayer" for it.
The remaining descendants of King Aerys, Viserys and Daenerys, were exiled to the Free Cities in Essos only to return to Westeros one day and claim their birthright.
His official salutation was:
"Aerys of the House of Targaryen, the second of his name, King of the Andals and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Empire."
In the series
Aerys Targaryen, the second of his name, was a king of Westeros and the last member of the House of Targaryen to ascend the Iron Throne. He earned his nickname, the "Mad King", through his unpredictable and murderous rule. Aerys developed a particular fondness for executions by fire. The Alchemists' Guild, which has always been involved in the manufacture of sea fire, was highly valued by him. Aerys, however, became increasingly cruel towards his own wife Rhaella Targaryen in later years; she suffered severe abuse from him.
After Lyanna Stark was kidnapped by Crown Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, her brother Brandon Stark rode to King's Landing, protested and demanded justice. Aerys had Brandon locked up for treason and ordered his father Rickard Stark to come to the capital. There Rickard should justify himself for the presumption of his son. Rickard ignored all warnings and consented, on condition that the matter be examined by a court. Instead, upon arrival in King's Landing, Aerys ordered the execution of both father and son. Rickard was burned alive while Brandon was strangled in front of the king's eyes.
The new Lord of Winterfell, Eddard Stark, declared war on Aerys, aided by Lyanna's fiancé Robert Baratheon and the influential Lords Jon Arryn and later host Tully. It was the beginning of a war that would go down in history as the Roberts Rebellion. The decision brought about the Battle of the Trident, in which Prince Rhaegar was killed. King Aerys, on the other hand, was betrayed by the former hand of the king and supposed friend Tywin Lannister, who apparently led an army to defend King's Landing, but then brutally plundered it.
Aerys was murdered by a member of his own Royal Guard, Ser Jaime Lannister, by stabbing him in the back with the sword and then cutting his throat. He prevented the Mad King's last order from being carried out. Before his death, Aerys planned to destroy the capital with sea fire. The king's last hand, Rossart, had already set up several hidden camps within the city. The king seemed to believe that the inferno would turn him into a dragon and that he himself would destroy his enemies.
With the death of Aerys, the Targaryen dynasty ended, which had ruled the Seven Kingdoms for almost three hundred years. He was succeeded by the leader of the rebellion, Robert Baratheon. Aerys youngest children, Viserys and Daenerys, survived the Targaryen massacre and were taken to safety in the Free Cities.
|“||Aerys Targaryen, of the thousands, thousands of plagues, madness is the worst. He was a good person, so charming. To watch him wear himself out before my eyes, worn down by dreams of fire and blood.||”|
Sandor Clegane tells Sansa Stark that the hangman Ser Ilyn Payn doesn't have much to say because King Aerys had his tongue torn out. Jaime Lannister is confronted with the murder of Aerys by Eddard Stark. Jaime killed the Mad King at the end of Robert's Rebellion when the Lannisters took the city under the leadership of his father, Lord Tywin Lannister. The king's last words were "Burn them all". His murder took place during the sack of King's Landing. Eddard mentions that Grand Maester Pycelle served the king.
Bored and tempted to humiliate Ser Jaime, King Robert realizes that he never asked the regicide what were the last words of Aerys Targaryen before Robert scoffed at him for killing a defenseless old man he swore to to protect. Jaime responds tersely that these were the same words he'd been repeating for hours while the looting of King's Landing raged, "Burn them all!" Robert was speechless.
Maester Aemon reveals to Jon Snow that King Aerys was his great-nephew and only came to the throne because he once gave up the crown and entered the service of the Night's Watch. Duty prevented him from rushing to the aid of his family at the time.
Grandmaester Pycelle recalls that King Aerys was a good man, at least at the beginning of his reign. Pycelle had to watch while Aerys went mad and his dreams of fire and blood drove him insane.
|“||Oh, and what a king he was. To Aerys Targaryen, the second of his name, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, Protector of the Empire and heir to the sword I rammed into his back.||”|
The sage Hallyn from the Alchemists' Guild mentions Aerys as a passionate patron of his guild. The Mad King in later years was obsessed with the sea fire that only they can make. Hallyn reminds Bronn that he would not have dared insult his guild if Aerys was alive.
|“||He didn't expect that he would die. He intended to burn and rise with all of us, reborn as a dragon that turns his enemies to ashes. I slit his neck open to make sure that doesn't happen.||”|
When held by Roose Bolton, Jaime reveals the truth about the Mad King's death to Brienne of Tarth.
When the war was lost for the king, Aerys had his pyromats spread the sea fire all over King's Landing, under the Great Septe of Baelor, under Fleahole, under the houses, stables, taverns, and even under the Red Keep. After Robert's victory at the Trident, the rebels marched on the capital, but Jaime's father Tywin reached them first, together with a Lannister army, and promised to defend the city. Jaime warned Aerys that his father was not a man to choose the loser's side and urged Aerys to surrender peacefully, but the Mad King refused. Nor did he believe Varys, who neither did Tywin trust. Ultimately, it was Grand Maester Pycelle who had convinced Aerys that the Lannisters were loyal vassals of the Crown.
Aerys opened the city gates and Tywin's soldiers began to sack the city. Jaime asked Aerys again to surrender, but instead the Mad King ordered him to bring his father's head. The mad king ordered his pyromancer to ignite the hidden sea fire and thus the death of half a million people, instead of losing King's Landing to the rebels. "Burn them all"said Aerys, "Burn them in their homes. Burn them in their beds".
Jaime makes it clear to Brienne that this was a crucial moment and he asks her what she would have done if it had been Renly's orders to kill her own father and not do anything about the murder of thousands of innocent people. Brienne doesn't answer him.
Because of this, Jaime first killed the pyromancer, then thrust his sword into Aerys' back as the king tried to flee. Even when Aerys was dying, he kept repeating the words "Burn them all ... burn them all ...". The Mad King did not seem to believe in his death in the flames, but in his madness he was sure to rise again as a dragon and turn his enemies to ashes. Jaime cut his throat to make sure that didn't happen before Eddard Stark found him.
Ser Barristan Selmy reports to Daenerys in Meereen about his time in the Kingsguard under Aerys II Targaryen. Despite his allegiance to the Targaryen Dynasty, Barristan says Daenerys' enemies do not lie when they call their father the Mad King. Barristan recalls how Aerys burned down villages and castles, murdered sons in front of their fathers, and burned people alive in sea fire while he laughed. His cruelty led to a rebellion, but Aerys believed in the appropriateness of his actions, which gave him a sense of power and legitimacy to the last.
While Bran Stark and Meera Reet flee from the revenants, Bran has visions of the past. Among them is the one who shows Aerys Targaryen shouting the words "Burn them all" and being killed by Jaime Lannister.
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