Valyria, also known as Old Valyria, is a part of the historical lore of A Song of Ice and Fire. Being a crucial part of the history of House Targaryen, it was a city of marvels and mysteries and was the greatest civilization ever. Unfortunately, it got leveled to the ground. As the ancestral home of the Targaryens, the city of Valyria was known for its dragons and magic. The kingdom rose to great heights as it conquered many parts of Essos. Apart from the Targaryens, it contained other houses like Velaryon, Qoherys, and Celtigar. The Valyrians created new enhanced weapons with magic and used dragons to subdue their foes completely.
- Location: Valyrian Peninsula.
- Religion: Mixed Religions.
- Year Founded: Five thousand years before Robert’s Rebellion.
- Notable Organizations Faceless Men.
- Year of Destruction: 102 BC in the Doom of Valyria.
- Government Type: Dragonlords from 40 noble houses and Valyrian Freehold (Freeborn Landholders).
- Language: High Valyrian.
The word Valyria gets pronounced as ‘Val-Eerie-Uh.’ It is a ruined city in Essos that is the home origin of the Targaryens. It was a city of immense technological and magical wonder, and at the height of its reign, it got feared by everyone. From creating enhanced steel to having different magical arts, it ruled as the dominant power in Essos after conquering the Old Empire of Ghis about 5000 thousand years before the events of its destruction.
The Valyrian Freehold was a place of many religions and rich cultures. The kingdom practiced many arts and excelled at architecture, erecting incredible structures that impressed the present maesters of Westeros. Having cultures intertwined with the dark arts of magic, many practices like blood magic and human mutilation took place in the kingdom.
The people of Valyria looked different from others and got characterized by their purple eyes, slender figures, silver-gold hair, and pale skin. Originally being shepherds, Valyrians rose to power after they trained and tamed dragons with magic. With their rise, they defeated the Ghiscari Empire, and soon, their language, High Valyrian, got adopted by the cities they conquered.
As magic was a crucial part of their culture, the Valyrians practiced many religions and worshipped many deities. Even after their fall, remnants of their beliefs remained in sects like the Faceless Men. After the creation of the Freehold, a political system got created where Dragonlords ruled as leaders.
Incest and slavery were also a part of Valyrian culture. After their rise to power, the Freehold learned slavery from the Ghiscari Empire and amassed used slaves to work in their mines. It was also ok for the noble houses to inbreed; this got done to maintain a pure bloodline and beauty. Though many saw the inbreeding as an abomination, it kept their bloodline pure.
Valyria got founded more than five thousand years before Robert’s Rebellion by simple shepherds who discovered mysterious creatures, dragons, on a chain of large active volcanoes called the Fourteen Fires. The shepherds, who knew magic, tamed the dragons and used their overwhelming power against the massive Ghiscari Empire.
With the dragons, the shepherds conquered the Ghiscaris and began building an empire that stretched from the Fourteen Fires to Slaver’s Bay. They named their new empire the Valyrian Freehold. After defeating the Rhoynar and Andals, they built a massive interconnection of dragon roads linking them to their various colonies around Essos.
As time passed, Valyria became unimaginably powerful. With the power of the dragons and sophisticated technology, it propagated its power throughout Essos and was unrivaled. However, within its empire, people with the ability to see future events sprang up, and Daenys Targaryen predicted that a great calamity would befall the Freehold.
The dragonlords refused to follow the warnings, and life continued until 102 BC when the Fourteen Fires erupted. Though some believed that the volcanoes destroyed the Freehold, the actual cause of destruction was the ash from the eruption. The dragons and the Freehold got leveled as ash and fire rained on the city.
Aftermath of Destruction
After the destruction of the Freehold, the remaining provinces under the great kingdom fell into anarchy as there was no one to govern them anymore. The destruction of Valyria became a mark in the history of Westeros and Essos. The Targaryens migrated to Westeros, where under Aegon I Targaryen, they became the ruling house on the continent. The rule of the Targaryens in Westeros continued until their fall 280 years later, during the reign of Aerys II Targaryen.
Relevance in A Song of Ice and Fire
A Game of Thrones
After Robert incites a rebellion against King Aerys II Targaryen, Queen Rhaenys and Viserys get sent to dragonstone, where Daenerys Targaryen is born. After her death, Viserys and his sister head to Braavos in the company of Willem Darry. However, Willem passes away, and Viserys and his sister are left alone. They meet Illyrio Mopatis, who marries Daenerys to Khal Drogo.
After getting married to Khal Drogo, Daenerys receives three dragon eggs, and her brother gets killed after violating the laws of the Dothraki. The three eggs hatch and become Drogon, Viserion, and Rhaegal. With three dragons at her side, Daenerys leads a conquest against the slave-run cities of Astaphor, Yunkai, and Meeren. She became the Queen of Meeren but left with Drogon after an incident happened.
A Dance with Dragons
Euron Greyjoy, the oldest of Balon Greyjoy’s younger brothers, returns to the Iron Islands and claims he visited Valyria and brought the dragon horn, Dragonbinder. Others get skeptical of his claim as the waste of Valyria was stated to be filled with untold evil. However, he shows the horn and gets the support of the ironborn.
Euron sends his brother, Victarion, to deliver a marriage proposal to Daenerys in Meereen, and on the way, he meets Moqorro, a red priest of R’hllor. The priest tells him Dragonbider grants one the power to control dragons and states that it can only get acquired through blood.
House of the Dragon
Though the events of HBO’s House of the Dragon are from ‘Fire and Blood,’ the show focuses on the history of the Targaryens after they became the established rulers of Westeros. It stars Milly Alcock and Emma D’Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra, Matt Smith as Daemon Targaryen, Steve Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon, Paddy Considine as King Viserys, and Emily Carey and Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower.
After surviving the destruction of Old Valyria by the Fourteen Flames, the Targaryens, led by Aegon I, conquered the Andals to become the rulers of the Seven Kingdoms. However, in 101 AC, the Great Council got convened by King Jaeherys I Targaryen to determine the next King. Prince Viserys got crowned and later chose his daughter Rhaenyra, as his heir; this sparked a great Civil War.
Valyria: The City of Dragons and Demons
Throughout A Song of Ice and Fire, Valyria gets mentioned many times as it was crucial to Essos and the Targaryen culture. Before its fall in 102 BC, it was the home to magic, dragons, and the arts of architectural wonder. However, all that faded with the Doom of Valyria, which led to the destruction of the Freehold.
The Freehold played a crucial part in the history of Westeros as it caused the Andals to migrate from Essos for fear of getting destroyed. After the Andals arrived on the new continent of Westeros, they created the seven kingdoms. However, House Targaryen fled from the peninsula because of a vision Daenys had about the destruction of the Freehold.
As the House Targaryen were a minor house in the kingdom, they got mocked for running away. However, 12 years after Daenys’s dream, the Fourteen Fires erupted. The fires were so hot that the dragons melted and fell from the sky.
Terminologies Associated with Valyria
- Dragonlord: A Dragonlord is one of the rulers of Valyria who rides and controls dragons using magic and whips.
- The Doom of Valyria: The Doom is a cataclysmic event that took place about 400 years before the events of A Song of Ice and Fire. It caused the destruction of the Freehold and the death of almost all the dragons in the world. The Doom happened when the Fourteen Fires erupted and burnt the Freehold to the ground.
- Valyrian Steel: A sword forged through magic. It is light and never gets dull, even with constant use.
- High Valyria: This is the language spoken by the Valyrians before their destruction.
Why did the Valyrians inbreed?
When the first shepherds discovered dragons, they tamed the creatures, and in the process, they changed physically. The nobles began inbreeding to keep their bloodline pure.
How good was Valyrian Steel?
Valyrian Steel was the best steel ever known to man. Its structure made it a marvel of the Westerosi Maesters. The blade was so sharp that it could never get blunt, and it was lighter and more durable than steel.
Was the Valyrian Freehold evil?
Though it was the mightiest empire, the Valyrian Freehold was the evilest empire ever. They partook in horrible things like blood magic, slavery, and human mutilation. The Freehold performed genocide and unspeakable atrocities before their destruction.
Who was the mightiest house in Valyria?
As all records of Valyrian history got lost, there is no knowledge of the strongest of the Dragonlord houses.