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By Richard Bruce BA, MA, and PhC in Economics

Are the Targaryens the Welsh?

I have not read Game of Thrones, nor have I seen the HBO TV series. I have read a fair amount about the books and the TV series. Nevertheless, I should warn the reader that there may be spoilers here, even though I am working from considerable ignorance.

It is well known that the War of the Roses was a major source for The Game of Thrones The War of the Roses was a long struggle for the throne of England. It was fought between two branches of the Royal house of Plantagenet, the house of Lancaster and the house of York. In the Game of Thrones the Lannisters are the House of Lancaster, and the Starks are the Yorkists. They are two of several families that are struggling for the Iron Throne of Westeros. All of this is known.

Another family in the struggle are the Targaryens. In the fictional period covered in the series of books and the TV series the Targaryens had ruled Westeros. They had gained control because they had dragons. A red three-headed red dragon was the symbol of their family. Over time they lost their dragons, and ruled poorly, which is why they lost power and the last members of the royal family fled.

Today the red dragon is a symbol of Wales and the symbol on the Welsh flag. So are the Targaryens the Welsh?

The Welsh, like the Scots, Irish, Cornish, and the ancient Britons were Celts. The largely mythical King Arthur supposedly lead the Celts in their resistance to the Saxon invasion of England. While the Saxons, Angles, Jutes, and later the Normans conquered England the Celts held the highlands of Wales and Scotland. So King Arthur is thought of as an English king, or perhaps more specifically a King of the Britons, but he is particularly thought of a Welsh King. The red dragon on the Welsh flag is the symbol of King Arthur Pendragon. Pen is Welsh for head. The Pendragon is the head dragon and therefore a symbol of the head of the country, the king. King Arthurs symbol is today the symbol of Wales.

So the mythic early king of England has as his symbol a dragon and the house of Targaryen has the same symbol. We might also note that the ancient myths of King Arthur are filled with supernatural elements, just as the fictional history of the house of Targaryen has dragons which are supernatural.

Even though I included a spoiler alert at the beginning of this essay, so far I do not believe I have provided any real spoilers. This is a second spoiler alert because now I will reveal things about the story, not just the set up before the story begins.

At the end of the War of the Roses the Welsh Kings, the Tutors, are given the throne of England. In return, they unite their Kingdom, Wales with England. So the Welsh Kings, whose symbol is a red dragon, win the English throne that is being fought for in the War of the Roses.

Daenerys Targaryen is one of the last of the Targaryens. She brings back the dragons and as I understand it at least temporarily wins the Iron Throne of Westeros. So it appears that like the War of the Roses, the Welsh or at least the dragon related royalty wins the throne.

The last of the Tutors was, of course, Queen Elizabeth the First, the virgin queen. Daenerys Targaryen is not a virgin, but like Queen Elizabeth, in much of the story, and particularly in her rise to power Daenerys Targaryen does not have a husband. She is also a very effective leader much like Queen Elizabeth. So is Daenerys Targaryen based in part on Queen Elizabeth.

I suppose all of this might have been presented before but I was unable to find it when I Googled some of the relevant words.

You can find lots more speculation like this, particularly concerning Star Wars in a couple of essays available through my index page on Media topics.


Last edited August 2, 2016

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