Conquest Legacy in House of the Dragon- Part 1

Conquest Legacy in House of the Dragon- Part 1

Season 2 of the Game of Thrones prequel show House of the Dragon airs in less than two weeks. Over the past decade the sporadic release of a new Game of Thrones season has been somewhat of a major cultural event- especially for white people. The finale of Game of Thrones had 20 million viewers with a 76% white audience, according to Nielsen data. At it’s height, Game of Thrones offered a new fantasy mythology that was based on European, particularly Anglo Saxon, history- a more adult version of Lord of the Rings. Irish-American author George R.R. Martin was heavily involved in the early Game of Thrones series. He wrote one whole episode in each of the first four seasons and his books were carefully followed by the showrunners. However, problems started to emerge when the show caught up to the books. Martin is known as being notoriously slow for finishing his books. “A Dance with Dragons” was released in 2011 and he has sill yet to release another book in the original A Song of Ice and Fire series. House of the Dragon is based on the book Fire and Blood from 2018 and Martin is currently also working on a sequel for that. This chaos had a major effect on the Game of Thrones show. Most episodes after season 5 were a huge disappointment and the ending was abysmal.

Mini Gamergate

When the first season of House of the Dragon was released it caused a small online culture war similar to Gamergate. HBO was going through major corporate drama behind the scenes and there was a growing reaction against “woke” franchises pushing diversity and feminism. When CEO David Zaslav took over the company in 2022 he lamented the rise of “cancel culture” and promised to allow writers like Martin and J.K. Rowling to be more involved in upcoming works. On August 15, 2022, right before the release of season one of House of the Dragon, Martin published a powerful blog about the dangers of cancel culture:

And these days freedom of speech needs defenders, for when I look around, I find it under attack everywhere. Blacklisting, cancel culture, libraries being closed or defunded, classic works of literature being banned or bowdlerized or removed from classrooms, an ever growing list of “toxic” words the mere utterance of which is now forbidden no matter the context or intent, the erosion of civility in discourse. Both the Rabid Right and the Woke Left seem more intent on silencing those whose views they disagree with, rather than besting them in debate. And the consequences for those who dare to say things deemed offensive have been growing ever more dire; jobs lost, careers ended, books cancelled, “deplatforming.”

While this was going on, Amazon was making a play for the fantasy market. They released their Lord of the Rings prequel series The Rings of Power at the same time as House of the Dragon. Known as one of the most expensive shows ever made, costing almost a billion dollars, The Rings of Power leaned into all the worst aspects of woke ideology. This led to a very interesting dynamic. Two fantasy shows being released side by side, with two different approaches to culture war topics. For ten weeks straight, social media was a battlefield- or more like a massacre. Major “anti SJW” nerd youtubers like “The Critical Drinker” “Nerdrotic” and “Mauler” gained massive audiences and racked up millions of views while they completely tore apart The Rings of Power. The lame feminist lead, hodge podge diverse populations, mind numbingly cliché writing, and boring asthenic was a total desecration of Tolkien’s work on multiple levels. House of the Dragon however gained favor among these critics and normies alike. There is forced diversity in House of the Dragon, and arguably some feminism. But its almost comical how this is downplayed. For example, house Velaryon- the white blonde relatives of the Targaryens- are played by all black actors. This is much easier to compartmentalize and dismiss then the kind of diversity in Rings of Power, where they go into a town and a Chinese woman, a black man, and a white guy are all casually hanging out together. Race is still a reality in the world of Westeros. Nothing is worse than the hodge podge. Martin is also pretty good when it comes to gender and sex issues. He has gay characters, but they always seem to get their heads smashed in. He doesn’t shy away from the patriarchy and sexism of the European world and navigates its darker moments in an non-moralistic way. He also has a certain reverence for women’s role of bearing children- more on that in part 2. Ultimately Rings of Power was a huge flop while House of the Dragon restored faith in the Game of Thrones franchise, delivering a major blow to the leftist cultural machine.

The Anarchy

The Song of Ice and Fire universe is loosely based on Anglo Saxon political history. Aegon’s conquest was the Norman Conquest. The Targaryen civil war is based on a period known as “The Anarchy”. The events of Game of Thrones are based on the War of the Roses. The racial, political, and moral impacts of the Norman Conquest are vast and complex. In his work Suicide Note Mitchell Heisman discusses the thousand year racial blood feud between Anglo- Saxons and their Norman conquerors and how this tension evolved into modern liberal democracy. A thread on the subject can be found here:

In the work, Heisman describes the Normans as epitomizing the “Blonde beast of Prey”. They possessed the biology and vicious warrior ethic of their Viking ancestors but also the civilizational might and culture of the French people they conquered. They sacked Rome, conquered Normandy and England, established a kingdom in Southern Italy, led the crusades, and invaded the Byzantine empire. Their Germanic and Scandinavian cousins, the Franks and the Rus, conquered France and Russia.

Culturally Frenchified and Nordic Viking in race, the Normans were a unique Western synthesis. Local Lombard princes described these Norman holy warriors as “a savage, barbarous and horrible race of inhuman disposition”.


Amatus of Monte Cassino praised them for their “courage”, “boldness”, and “valor”. Anna Comnena, daughter of Byzantine emperor Alexios I and one of the first female historians, described the heir of this southern Norman empire, Guiscard’s son, Bohemond:


“[H]e was so tall in stature that he overtopped the tallest by nearly one cubit, narrow in the waist and loins, with broad shoulders and a deep chest and powerful arms. And in the whole build of the body he was neither too slender nor overweighted with flesh, but perfectly proportioned…His skin all over his body was very white…His hair was yellowish…His blue eyes indicated both a high spirit and dignity…implacable and savage both in his size and glance…He was so made in mind and body that both courage and passion reared their crests within him and both inclined to war. His wit was manifold and crafty and able to find a way of escape in every emergency. In conversation he was well informed, and the answers he gave were quite irrefutable. This man who was of such a size and such a character was inferior to the Emperor alone in fortune and eloquence and in other gifts of nature.”


Chronicler Geoffrey Malaterra thought, “the Normans are a crafty race, they always revenge wrongs done to them, they prefer foreign fields to their own in the hope of gain, they are greedy for booty and power.”


According to Orderic Vitalis, after a failed in a campaign against the Byzantines in 1107, a Norman soldier told his leader Bohemond:


“No hereditary right drew us to this daring attempt…but desire to rule in the domains of another persuaded you to undertake such a difficult task…and desire to gain enticed us.”

This is the Aryan Blonde Beast of Prey conqueror archetype. Much of the politics in the medieval world revolved around the tension between the conqueror aristocrats and the descendants of the people they subjugated. The Norman Conquest is particularly interesting because the Anglo Saxons themselves where a warrior elite with multiple generations of kings and an established, distinct culture. We see this reflected in the world of Westeros. The blonde Targaryens are conquerors from the east who are both more barbaric and more civilized than the brunette Hightowers, Starks, and Arryns. Other houses like the Ironborn and Greyjoys could be the various distinct Celtic, Danish, or Germanic tribes that existed before the conquest. The “first men” the “children of the forest” and the “Andals” are probably representations of indigenous, or even prehistoric populations on the British island. The Targaryens are also Frenchified morally- rejecting the established religion and having a more liberal attitude toward sexuality.

House of the Dragon takes place 200 years after the conquest. It’s based on “the anarchy” which was a period of civil war and turmoil over the succession of the throne of England. Son of William the Conquor, Henry I, married a Scottish princess with royal Saxon blood as a way of gaining popular support among the English people, and named his daughter Matilda as heir when his only legitimate son drowned. This posed a threat to the Norman conquest order, causing the Norman baron Stephen to try and claim the throne.

Henry I named Matilda as his heir before his death and made the barons swear allegiance to her. The behavior of the barons after the king’s death, however, is more commensurate with kin selective motives. Stephen, a Norman aristocrat, claimed the throne of England with the support of the majority of the barons behind him.


It is said that the Normans championed Stephen over Matilda out of “sexism”. This assessment, however, fails to do justice to their “racism”. With her brother William out of the picture, only Matilda remained to threaten the simple kin cohesive unity wherein “English” government equaled Norman government. For the barons, Stephen stood for representative government, while Matilda and her heirs represented a breakdown of Norman conqueror unity.

In House of the Dragon, Martin flips the racial dynamic in some interesting ways. King Viserys makes the lords of Westeros swear loyalty to his daughter Rhaenyra. The Targaryens don’t have a class of barons that control Westeros. Aegon II is half Targaryen and half Hightower. The Hightower coup of Rhaenyra was a nativist backlash to the conqueror tradition, while Stephen’s coup of Matilda was an attempt at maintaining the conquer tradition against nativist backlash. We see this tension in the character and choices of Alicent Hightower.

The Green Dress

The normie take of Alicent is that she’s a resentful, insecure character who is jealous of her friend Rhaenyra, and becomes destructive and “evil” as a result. She’s seen as an anti feminist who supports the tradition of male succession- favoring her son’s claim over Rhaenyra. She’s also more sexually conservative and gets upset at Rhaenyra’s sexual freedom and shirking of responsibility. But there are some major details about Alicent at the beginning of the show that these people ignore. Alicent is constantly forced to serve the interest of her house and her Machiavellian father. The Hightowers were one of the wealthiest families in Westeros, living in it’s oldest city “Oldtown” before the conquest. The are akin to the Anglo Saxon elite that existed before the Norman conquest.

We see Alicent in a constant state of anxiety. She picks at her nails till they bleed as she nervously watches her brother get abused by Daemon Targaryen in a jousting match where he is privileged to break the rules. Alicent is forced into a marriage with a much older man and immediately bears his children. She does her duty and Rhaenyra holds it against her. It’s similar to the disdain that liberal women have toward conservative women who choose family and responsibility over freedom and pleasure. Alicent is humble, kind, and dutiful, but also not self righteous. Her frustration boils to its limit when she discovers Rhaenyra sneaking out at night, having sex in brothels, while she’s forced to fulfill her marital duty with Rhaenyra’s sickly father. Alicent’s arc as a young woman comes to a climax in episode 5 when she interrupts Rhaenyra’s wedding party wearing a green dress. The tower in Oldtown is lit green when the Hightowers go to war. It was a profound moment of Alicent’s will-to-power.

Alicent is forced into a world of duty and rules. But the political world- the world governed by conquest- ultimately transcends rules. We see this play out in strange ways in our history. The Normans would pick and choose when to define their right to conquest in legal terms. William the Bastard would create bullshit legal justifications that cloaked his political actions, which were ultimately governed by brute force- nothing to do with morality or legal rights. (See my article Serpentine Rainbows for more on this). Alicent gave birth to the first male heir of the king. The laws of nature and tradition dictate that her son should be king, but Viserys made the lords swear to back his daughter. But the conquest tradition to start with was arguably unjust. Which set of rules do you follow? The green dress moment was about Alicent deciding to play the game of thrones. It was her step beyond good and evil, beyond her reaction and obligation. She found a positive, egoistic will. The will to wage war on behalf of her children, her house, and her legacy.

Although Alicent does seem to represent the Anglo Saxon backlash, she doesn’t posses resentment toward the Targaryen conquest tradition. Rather she embraces it- marrying her son and daughter in the Targaryen tradition, and upholding Targaryen racial purity. Both Rhaenyra and Aegon II are half Targaryen. As Otto says

Aegon Targaryen sits the Iron Throne. He wears the conquerors crown. Wields the conquerors sword. Has the conquerors name. He was anointed by a septon of the Faith before the eyes of thousands. Every symbol of legitimacy belongs to him.

The Hightowers both subvert and uphold the legitimacy of the conquest system. The Hightowers bring out their Germanic, blonde beast side and wage war to establish a new, more conservative patriarchal conquest dynasty. They are underdogs who became tougher under harsh conditions and usurped the more decadent Targaryens.


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