Game of Thrones: Every war in Westeros history, in chronological order

The Game of Thrones universe is known for its violence and territorial conflicts, which is why there have been so many wars in the short time the Targaryens first sat the Iron Throne.
Season 8, episode 5 (debut 5/12/19): Marc Rissmann.
photo: Courtesy of HBO
Season 8, episode 5 (debut 5/12/19): Marc Rissmann. photo: Courtesy of HBO /

George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire saga is known for its violence, brutality and political scheming. Those core themes are why the series is so crowded with brutal wars that consistently plague the continent of Westeros. And these wars go back to way before the start of the story proper. Since the Targaryens established their dynasty, here is every war ever fought in Westeros:

Aegon's Conquest

Aegon's Conquest is the first pivotal event in the Song of Ice and Fire saga, as it set the stage for nearly three centuries of Targaryen rule over the Seven Kingdoms.

Aegon I Targaryen, along with his sisters Visenya and Rhaenys, arrived in Westeros with their dragons: Balerion the Black Dread, Vhagar, and Meraxes. Aegon's decision to use dragons in warfare was a strategic masterstroke, as dragons were formidable weapons of mass destruction that could lay waste to enemy armies and fortifications.

The conquest began with Aegon's landing at the mouth of the Blackwater Rush, where he established a fort that would eventually grow into the capital city of King's Landing. From there, he launched his campaign to assert his authority over the Seven Kingdoms, starting with the region known as the Stormlands.

One of Aegon's most convincing victories was the Field of Fire, where his forces clashed with the combined armies of House Gardener and House Lannister. Aegon and his sisters rode their dragons together for the only time in the war, burning thousands of men and securing a decisive victory for the Targaryen forces. Following The Field of Fire, many of the other kingdoms of Westeros submitted to Aegon's rule, either through diplomacy or force. Some houses, like House Stark of the North, initially resisted Aegon's demands but eventually bent the knee to avoid the destruction of their House by dragon flame.

Aegon's Conquest culminated in the construction of the Iron Throne, which was smelted with the swords of Aegon's enemies and symbolized his family's dominance over the Seven Kingdoms. He established the capital city of King's Landing and used shrewd political decisions to show the continent he did not mean to only conquer the Seven Kingdoms, but to rule them. These decisions included accepting the heraldry customs of Westeros by creating the iconic three-headed dragon banner of House Targaryen, and adopting the Faith of the Seven as his religion.

Despite Aegon's success in uniting Westeros, his reign was not without challenges. Aegon was only able to secure six of the seven kingdoms as the desert region of Dorne stuck to the words of their Martel overlords and remained unbowed, unbent and unbroken. House Targaryen spent the better part of two centuries trying to fully integrate Dorne with the rest of the realm. Aegon didn't manage to do it in his lifetime.

The legacy of Aegon's Conquest reverberates throughout the history of Westeros, shaping the political landscape for centuries to come. Aegon's Targaryen dynasty ruled over the Seven Kingdoms for nearly three hundred years before its eventual downfall during Robert's Rebellion.

Game of Thrones season 5 episode 9 The Dance of Dragons Dorne Ellaria Sand Myrcella Baratheon Prince Doran Martell Sand Snakes
Photograph by Macall B. Polay/courtesy of HBO /

The Dornish Wars

Dorne was the only kingdom in Westeros that refused to bend the knee to the Targaryens. Unlike other Houses that resisted, the Dornish were able to avoid destruction at the hands of the dragons by using guerilla tactics and possibly secret tunnels underneath their lands. During the conquest, Aegon sent his sister Rhaenys to take Dorne in his name, but she found every castle abandoned. She did find Dorne's leader Meria Martell in her castle at Sunspear. Meria asserted that her kingdom would never bow to the Targaryens. Four years later, Aegon began the first of several unsuccessful invasions of Dorne.

The First Invasion saw Rhaenys and her dragon Meraxes slain after being shot by a scorpion bolt. Aegon and Visenya mounted their dragons and burned every castle they could find, placing bounties on Dornish lords. Thinking he broke the Dornishmen's courage, Aegon installed his own lords to look over the kingdom, only to find out later that they had all been killed and the Martells restored to power.

Several open conflicts between the Targaryens and the Dornishmen occurred over the next two centuries under the reigns of King Aenys I, Jaehaerys I and Daeron I. Dorne was not fully assimilated with the rest of the realm until the reign of Daeron II, who married a Dornish noblewoman and negotiated a unification.

Jonathan Pryce, Lena Headey
Photograph by Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO /

The Faith Militant Uprising

As the third King of Westeros, Maegor I's reign was tumultuous and violent from the start. After his brother King Aenys I died of illness, Maegor usurped the throne from his nephew Aegon and executed anyone who protested. Maegor's primary opponent for his brief six-year rule was the Faith of the Seven religion. The Faith became radicalized and war-like due to the Targaryens violating their rules, with them taking special exception to the Targaryen tradition of incest marriages. Maegor took things further by defiantly marrying several different women at once and escalating the conflict with the Faith into an all-out war known as the Faith Militant Uprising.

The Faith's warriors, known as the Faith Militant, made the Sept of Remembrance in King's Landing their base of operations in the capitol. After his coronation, Maegor made his way to the city and challenged his opposition to a trial by seven. Although Maegor was a skilled warrior and he survived the skirmish, his injuries put him in a coma and he was bedridden for a month.

When Maegor woke up, he immediately mounted his dragon Balerion and burned the Sept of Remembrance to the ground while his archers picked off anyone who tried to flee. Maegor's royal forces then clashed with the Faith Militant two times in open battle, at Bitterbridge and at the Great Fork. During the latter clash, Maegor again used Balerion to burn many opponents.

Many lesser lords sided with the Faith during this conflict and refused to swear fealty to Maegor when he summoned them. This resulted in Maegor and his mother Visenya mounting their dragons and burning the castles of several lords in the Riverlands and Westerlands. The High Septon was their final target. He had openly labeled Maegor an abomination for his polygamous marriages. But he was mysteriously murdered before Oldtown could be burned and the conflict deescalated for a time.

Maegor then focused on building the Red Keep while the now disorganized and illegal Faith Militant formed into guerilla groups roaming the woods. The Uprising would eventually outlive Maegor until his successor Jaeherys I settled the conflict through diplomacy while the remaining members were sent to the Wall.

House of the Dragon /

The Dance of the Dragons

The Dance of the Dragons stands as one of the most tumultuous and tragic chapters in the history of Westeros. This brutal civil war, which tore through the Seven Kingdoms roughly 200 years before the time of Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow, was a struggle for the Iron Throne marked by betrayal, brutality, and widespread bloodshed.

The roots of the Dance of the Dragons can be traced back to the death of King Viserys I Targaryen, who left behind a tangled succession crisis. His death sparked a bitter dispute over who would ascend to the throne: his eldest child Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and his son Prince Aegon II Targaryen both claimed the right to rule. This schism within House Targaryen ignited a conflict that would engulf the realm in flames.

As Viserys' designated heir, Rhaenyra had long been groomed for rule and had garnered the support of many lords and knights throughout the realm. But Westeros had never seen a Queen ascend the throne, so Rhaenyra's rivals used Aegon's status as his father's oldest male child as justification for his claim. Aegon's main supporters were his mother Alicent's family, the powerful Hightowers of Oldtown.

The conflict soon escalated into open warfare, with both factions marshaling their forces and rallying allies to their cause. What followed was a devastating civil war that ravaged the Seven Kingdoms, pitting Targaryen against Targaryen, dragon against dragon, and sibling against sibling.

The Dance of the Dragons earned its name from the fierce aerial battles that took place between the rival dragon riders. The Targaryens, renowned for their ability to tame and ride dragons, unleashed these powerful beasts upon each other in a bid for supremacy. The skies above Westeros became a battleground, with dragons spewing fire and death upon one another and the armies below.

The conflict was not confined to the skies, however. Battles raged across the realm as loyalists and rebels clashed on land and sea. Old alliances were shattered and new ones forged as lords and ladies chose sides in the struggle for power. The war brought widespread devastation and suffering to the people of Westeros, as crops were burned, villages pillaged, and entire regions laid waste.

The Dance of the Dragons also saw the rise of legendary figures whose deeds would be remembered for generations to come. Rhaenyra Targaryen, known as the Realm's Delight, proved to be a formidable leader despite facing betrayal and adversity at every turn. Her half-brother Aegon II fought fiercely to defend his claim to the throne even as his reign descended into chaos and cruelty.

One of the most tragic aspects of the Dance of the Dragons was the toll it took on the dragons themselves. Once revered as symbols of Targaryen power and majesty, these magnificent creatures were reduced to mere weapons of war, forced to fight and die for the ambitions of their riders. By the end of the way, there weren't many dragons left, and Targaryen power never recovered to the heights it had enjoyed before.

Beware SPOILERS for House of the Dragon ahead!

The war reached its climax in the devastating Battle Above of the Gods Eye, where Daemon Targaryen atop Caraxes and Aemond Targaryen on Vhagar fought to the death. While the dragons tore each other to shreds, Daemon leaped from his dragon and plunged his sword Dark Sister into his nephew's face, killing him just before the dragons violently plummeted into the water below. Rhaenyra herself was captured soon after and executed, bringing an end to her bid for the throne. By this time, however, Aegon II was severely disfigured after participating in two brutal dragon fights. He was poisoned by an unknown conspirator in King's Landing, allowing the Blacks to install Rhaenyra's young son Aegon III on the throne.

Ultimately, the Dance of the Dragons left a deep and lasting scar on the Seven Kingdoms, severely weakening the Targaryen dynasty and plunging Westeros into chaos and uncertainty. The war demonstrated the high cost of power and the destructive consequences of unchecked ambition. Some theories suggest the war was a calculated effort by background players like the Maesters of the Citadel to remove dragons from the realm.

The Game of Thrones prequel show House of the Dragon is telling the story of the Dance of the Dragons. The second season premieres on HBO and Max on June 16.

First Blackfyre Rebellion

This rebellion was sparked by the legitimization of Daemon Blackfyre, a bastard son of King Aegon IV Targaryen, and his subsequent claim to the throne. Many disaffected lords rallied to Daemon's cause, believing him to be a more worthy and capable ruler than his legitimate half-brother King Daeron II Targaryen.

Despite Daemon's prowess in battle and the support of powerful allies, including his formidable half-brother Aegor 'Bittersteel' Rivers, the rebels were ultimately defeated. The rebellion culminated during the Battle of Redgrass Field, where Daemon and his followers faced off against the forces of King Daeron II. Daemon fell in combat and his rebellion was quashed, solidifying the rule of House Targaryen over the Seven Kingdoms.

The loyalists were aided by Brynden Rivers, also known as Bloodraven. Like Daemon and Bittersteel, Bloodraven was a bastard of Aegon IV, but he chose to remain loyal to his father's legitimate heir Daeron II. Bloodravan led his elite archer company at the Battle of the Redgrass Field; they were responsible for Daemon's death. Bloodraven also had a bitter rivalry with Bittersteel, and they fought a one v one duel that resulted in Bloodraven losing an eye.

The aftermath of the First Blackfyre Rebellion saw the surviving members of House Blackfyre scattered and flee across the Narrow Sea with Bittersteel. Although their legacy was tarnished by their failed attempt to seize the throne, their cause continued to live on through Bittersteel and Deamon's descendants for decades to come, and their opposition to Targaryen rule was enticing to lesser lords looking to move up the feudal ladder.

Third Blackfyre Rebellion

The second Blackfyre rebellion was quashed by Bloodraven before it broke out into war, which is detailed in the Dunk and Egg novellas, which HBO is adapting for television as A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Knight. However, the third rebellion came to open combat when Bittersteel returned to Westeros to crown Daemon's fourth son Haegon as king. After arriving in Essos, Bittersteel founded a sellsword company known as the Golden Company, who built up their strength to again attempt to install a Blackfyre on the Iron Throne.

At this time, the realm was essentially ruled by Bloodraven, who served as the Hand of the King to his bookish nephew Aenys I. There are few details known about this rebellion except that Prince Maekar, Prince Aerion and Prince Aegon participated in the fighting and that Bloodraven and Bittersteel had another duel. In the final battle, Haegon was killed dishonorably after giving up his sword in surrender.

With the rebels killed or captured, Bittersteel was taken to King's Landing in chains where he was found guilty of high treason and sent to the Wall by King Aenys. But the rebels intercepted his ship before it reached its destination, and Bittersteel escaped to plan the next rebellion.

Fourth Blackfyre Rebellion

Bittersteel's next prospect was Haegon's eldest son Daemon III, who led yet another invasion of Westeros in 236 AC. By this time, the Blackfyres struggled to find widespread support in Westeros and were seen as foreign invaders. The bulk of Westeros came to support the Targaryens, who were led by King Aegon V at the time.

Aegon V and his sons rode with their host to meet the rebels on the field, whose cause ended at the Battle of Wendwater Bridge. Ser Duncan the Tall, the Lord Commander of Aegon's Kingsguard, killed Daemon III in battle while Bittersteel fled again across the Narrow Sea. Bittersteel died a few years later, but the Golden Company encased his skull in gold and carried on his legacy. They're still around by the time of Game of Thrones, with Tyrion Lannister and Jorah Mormont joining their ranks in the books A Dance with Dragons.

The War of the Ninepenny Kings

The War of the Ninepenny Kings, also known as the Fifth Blackfyre Rebellion, was a pivotal conflict that took place about 40 years before the main series.

The war arose when Maelys Blackfyre, the last of the Blackfyre Pretenders, attempted to claim the Iron Throne of Westeros. He formed an alliance with several other exiled lords and mercenaries, collectively known as the Ninepenny Kings, and invaded the continent from the East. Their aim was to seize control of the Seven Kingdoms and establish the Blackfyre dynasty.

In response, the ruling Targaryens led by King Aegon V Targaryen mobilized their forces to counter the invasion. Aegon's forces were successful in defeating the Ninepenny Kings, with the decisive battle taking place in the Stepstones.

The war earned its name from the nine leaders of the rebellion, who each proclaimed themselves king in their respective regions. However, their rebellion ultimately failed, and Maelys Blackfyre was killed in battle by Ser Barristan Selmy.

The War of the Ninepenny Kings had significant consequences for Westeros, as it demonstrated the continued threat posed by exiled Targaryen loyalists and other claimants to the Iron Throne. Although Maelys was thought to be the last living Blackfyre, some believe that a line of members survived to threaten the realm again. This war also served as the first taste of combat for many of the experienced power players in the main series like Tywin Lannister, Aerys II, Brynden Tully and Barristan Selmy.

Robert Aramayo, Aisling Francioso
Photograph by Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO /

Robert's Rebellion

The seeds of Robert's Rebellion were sown years before the conflict erupted, stemming from a series of grievances and tensions that had been brewing within the realm. One of the primary motivators for the rebellion was the reign of King Aerys II Targaryen, also known as the "Mad King." His rule was erratic and tyrannical. It alienated many of his subjects and led to widespread discontent.

The rebellion was ignited by the abduction of Lyanna Stark, who was betrothed to Robert Baratheon at the time, by the Mad King's heir Prince Rhaegar Targaryen. Rhaegar's actions sparked outrage among the Starks and Baratheons, as well as their allies, who viewed the incident as a grave insult and an act of dishonor. In response, Lyanna's brother Brandon and their father Rickard traveled to King's Landing to demand justice. Instead, the psychotic king imprisoned and executed them along with their Northern companions.

The Mad King then demanded the Lord of the Vale Jon Arryn bring his former wards Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon to King's Landing to swear fealty. After being scorned, insulted and their loved ones brutalized, the three men instead called their banners and began a rebellion. Lord Hoster Tully eventually lent his support to the rebel cause when Eddard Stark and Jon Arryn agreed to marry Hoster's daughters Catelyn and Lysa.

The conflict quickly escalated into a full-scale civil war, with battles raging across the Seven Kingdoms. The rebels scored several early victories against loyalist forces, including at the Battle of the Trident, where Robert famously killed Prince Rhaegar in single combat by slamming his war hammer into Rhaegar's chest plate. This decisive battle shattered the Targaryen forces and significantly weakened their grip on power as Rhaegar's enigmatic charisma was seen as a beacon of hope for the loyalists. All they were left with was Aerys' paranoia and disorganized rage.

The last nail in the Targaryen coffin came with the sack of King's Landing, when the city was stormed by Lannister forces. As Aerys' former Hand of the King, Tywin remained neutral in the war until it was clear that Robert was going to emerge victorious. Thinking Tywin had come to help, Aerys was inclined to let his army in to fortify the city, only for the heartless Tywin to sack the city and root out the Targaryens.

All out of options, Aerys attempted to ignite several caches of wildfire he had planted around the city to burn down King's Landing and take Tywin's army with him. But his last remaining Kingsguard was Tywin's son Jaime Lannister, who slew the Mad King and his pyromancer before the deed could be done. This event marked the end of Targaryen rule in Westeros and paved the way for Robert Baratheon to claim the Iron Throne.

In the aftermath of the rebellion, Robert Baratheon was crowned king, effectively ending the Targaryen dynasty's nearly three-hundred-year reign over the Seven Kingdoms. However, the rebellion left scars that would linger for years to come, including deep-seated resentment among loyalist houses and unresolved questions surrounding the fate of certain Targaryen heirs, such as Prince Viserys and Princess Daenerys, who were smuggled out of the capital before its fall. The rebellion also set the stage for the complex political landscape depicted in Game of Thrones.

Gemma Whelan, Michael Feast Game of Thrones Ironborn
Photograph by Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO /

The Greyjoy Rebellion

The Greyjoy Rebellion was an uprising conducted by Balon Greyjoy, the Lord of the Iron Islands. Balon's father Quellon was a supporter of Robert Baratheon, and he desired to strengthen the Iron Islands' ties to the rest of Westeros through diplomacy. However, when his son Balon took over, he and his violent brothers decided to revert to the "Old Way" of the Ironborn, which involves taking what they want through force and enslavement. With a deep-seated resentment towards the mainland houses and their perceived dominance over his people, Balon aimed to carve out an independent kingdom for House Greyjoy.

The rebellion began with Balon's declaration of independence and his self-proclamation as the King of the Iron Islands. His first strategic move was to launch surprise attacks on key coastal territories along the western shores of the continent. The Greyjoy fleet, renowned for its agility and raiding prowess, struck swiftly and decisively, seizing control of vital ports and strongholds.

Balon's attack on Seagard, a castle originally built to repel Greyjoy raiders, proved to be a mistake. He sent his eldest son Rodrik to storm the Riverlands castle, but Rodrik was killed by the Lord of Seaguard Jason Mallister and his men were repelled back into the sea.

The rebellion escalated into a full-scale conflict as other major houses of Westeros rallied to support King Robert Baratheon's efforts to quell the Greyjoy uprising. Houses Stark, Lannister, and Tully, among others, mobilized their armies to confront the Ironborn threat and preserve the unity of the realm.

The turning point of the rebellion came with the decisive naval battle known as the Battle of Fair Isle. The Royal Fleet, under the command of Robert's brother Stannis Baratheon, engaged the Greyjoy navy in a fierce confrontation off the coast of Fair Isle. Despite the Ironborn's skill at sea, they were ultimately outmatched by the superior tactics and discipline of Stannis' forces. The Royal Fleet emerged victorious, dealing a devastating blow to Balon Greyjoy's ambitions.

With their naval power shattered and their territories under siege, the Greyjoys found themselves increasingly isolated and vulnerable. Balon's dreams of independence were shattered as his rebellion crumbled beneath the might of the Iron Throne and its allies. Balon's second eldest son Maron died when a guard tower fell on top of him when the Royal forces collapsed onto Balon's seat of Pyke.

In the aftermath of their defeat, the Iron Islands were brought back under the authority of the crown, and Balon Greyjoy was forced to bend the knee to King Robert Baratheon, ending the rebellion. Balon's youngest and last son Theon was forced to become a hostage/ward of House Stark to keep Balon from attempting another uprising.

In the short term. Balon's rebellion backfired, as the might of the entire Seven Kingdoms came down on him, which strengthened Robert Baratheon's grip on the continent. In the long term, the Greyjoys continued to harbor resentment for the mainland, and they took revenge on the North when the Starks were at their weakest point during the War of the Five Kings.

Photograph by Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO Stannis Selyse Game of Thrones /

The War of the Five Kings

The War of the Five Kings is the main conflict in the Song of Ice and Fire books and the Game of Thrones TV show. This war erupted following the death of King Robert Baratheon and the subsequent power vacuum he left behind. It involved five claimants vying for the Iron Throne, each backed by various allies and supporters. Together, they plunged Westeros into chaos, political intrigue, and widespread violence.

Robert's eldest son, Joffrey Baratheon, was proclaimed king by his mother Queen Cersei Lannister, and her formidable family led by the powerful Tywin Lannister. However, Joffrey's legitimacy came under scrutiny due to rumors that he was not Robert's trueborn son, but the product of an incestuous relationship between Cersei and her twin brother, Jaime Lannister.

This revelation led to rival claims to the throne, setting the stage for conflict. The five main contenders for power were:

  1. Joffrey Baratheon: Claimed the throne as Robert Baratheon's heir, supported by the Lannisters.
  2. Stannis Baratheon: Robert's younger brother and his rightful heir under Westerosi law, who rejected Joffrey's claim due to his illegitimate birth.
  3. Renly Baratheon: Robert's youngest brother, who declared himself king and amassed significant support, particularly from House Tyrell.
  4. Robb Stark: The eldest son of Eddard Stark, who declared himself King in the North, seeking independence for the North from the Iron Throne in response to perceived Lannister treachery.
  5. Balon Greyjoy: Lord of the Iron Islands, who seized the opportunity to declare independence and assert the Ironborn's ancient claim to sovereignty.

The war unfolded across multiple theaters and involved complex alliances and betrayals. The conflict saw numerous battles, sieges, and political maneuvering as each contender sought to strengthen their position and eliminate rivals.

Robb Stark emerged as one of the early successes of the war, winning a series of military victories in his campaign against the Lannisters in the Riverlands. The culmination of Robb's efforts came after he defeated and captured Jaime Lannister in the Battle of the Whispering Wood. Robb's savvy military maneuvers earned him the loyalty of many Northern and Riverlands lords, solidifying his position as King in the North.

In the South, Renly Baratheon gathered significant support from the Reach and Stormlands. Many thought he would be a good king as he was kinder and less hot-headed than his older brothers, but his endeavor was tragically cut short. With his armies ready to march on King's Landing, Renly was assassinated by a shadow with the likeness of Stannis. This mysterious figure was sent by Stannis' servant, the Red Priestess Melisandre.

The majority of Renly's army flocked to Stannis and he sailed to King's Landing with a formidable force. However, his forces suffered a major defeat at the Battle of the Blackwater, where the Lannisters, aided by House Tyrell, repelled Stannis' naval assault on the city.

The Ironborn, led by Balon Greyjoy, launched a series of brutal raids along the western coast of Westeros, capturing strategic strongholds and establishing their dominance at sea. However, their ambitions were checked by setbacks, including the loss of territory to the North and the Westerlands.

As the war dragged on, alliances shifted, and new players entered the fray. House Tyrell, initially allied with Renly Baratheon, shifted its support to the Lannisters after Renly's death, securing an advantageous marriage alliance between Joffrey and Margaery Tyrell.

Ultimately, the War of the Five Kings resulted in significant casualties and widespread devastation across the Seven Kingdoms. While Joffrey Baratheon remained on the Iron Throne, his grip on power remained tenuous, and the realm was left fractured and vulnerable to further conflict and upheaval. The war's repercussions continued to reverberate throughout Westeros, setting the stage for future power struggles and shaping the fate of the realm. We may see those struggles when Daenerys Targaryen arrives in Westeros in George R.R. Martin's next book, The Winds of Winter.

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