Jon’s best friend Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) unravels all of this game-changing family history in Thrones' season 8 premiere, “Winterfell.” The gist of the story is that Jon isn’t the bastard son of Ned Stark (Sean Bean), as he has believed his entire life. Instead, Jon’s parents are Ned’s sister Lyanna Stark (Aisling Franciosi) and Targaryen prince Rhaegar Targaryen (Wilf Scolding). Before the events of GoT, Rhaegar, a married man, was in line for the Iron Throne when he met Lyanna, fell in love, and ran away with her.
As Sam and Bran Stark confirm to each other in season 7 finale “The Dragon And The Wolf,” Rhaegar annulled his marriage with his first wife, Oberyn Martell’s (Pedro Pascal) sister Elia Martell, and married Lyanna in a secret ceremony. Since Rhaegar and Lyanna were married, their child, “Jon,” is a legitimate Targaryen heir. That’s why when Young Ned (Robert Aramayo) finds Lyanna in the midst of giving birth during Thrones flashbacks, she tells him her son’s name is Aegon Targaryen, rather than a regional bastard’s name.
Now that Jon has learned this complicated family history, he probably has a lot of questions about where he comes from and how he fits in the Targaryen line. Oh, and how, exactly, he’s related to his newfound lover, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke). Keep reading for the answers, including all the historical relevance of Jon’s (Aegon’s? AeJon’s?) name.
Who is Aegon Targaryen?
A little over 300 years prior to the events of Thrones season 8, Westeros was a sprawling continent run by various warring factions led by different kings. Then, Jon's true namesake Aegon Targaryen decided to bring each and every one of those fiefdoms to heel under his rule. At the time, the Targaryens were relative newcomers to Westeros, who fled their original home, the great holdfast of Valyria, 12 years ahead of the Doom. As we see in season 5’s “Kill The Boy,” Valryia was a technologically and culturally advanced society that was brutally devastated by an unknown, fiery cause.
About 100 years after the Targaryens’ relocation to Westeros’ Dragonstone, Aegon began his conquest with the help of his two sister-wives, Queens Rhaenys and Visenya. After years of bloodshed, the Targaryens took control of Westeros and began their dynastic rule over the Seven Kingdoms, complete with Aegon sitting atop the Iron Throne in King’s Landing. The throne is famously made of the swords of Aegon’s slain enemies.
It’s important to note the Targaryens were not royalty in Valyria. They were merely nobility and one of many clans of dragonriders. It was only after the Doom they became the last people in the known world to possess dragons.
Who is Daenerys Targaryen’s Father?
Aerys Targaryen (David Rintoul), also known as The Mad King. As George R.R. Martin’s Fire And Blood, a “historical” Westerosi text in the Song Of Ice And Fire series, confirms, Aerys was the seventeenth king in the Targaryen dynasty.
Aerys was an increasingly unstable king, who executed Ned Stark’s father Rickard (Wayne Foskett) and brother Brandon in a truly ghoulish manner. Rickard was roasted alive in the Red Keep’s throne room as Brandon strangled to death. Prior to their deaths, Aerys accused Rickard and Brandon of treason for demanding the death of the king’s son Rhaegar Targaryen. It was believed Rhaegar had kidnapped and raped Ned’s only sister, Lyanna Stark (no one knew about their doomed little love story).
The “abduction” of Lyanna, paired with the brutal Stark murders, kicked off Robert’s Rebellion, which would eventually install Robert Barathon (Mark Addy) as King. Robert was engaged to Lyanna and madly in love with her.
So How Are Dany & “Jon Snow” Related?
Dany, born on Dragonstone and a baby during the events of Robert’s Rebellion, is the only daughter of Aerys Targaryen. Danys’ older brother, Viserys Targaryen (Harry Lloyd) was a toddler around this time. The pair’s mother is the late Rhaella Targaryen, sister and wife to Aerys, who died giving birth to Daenerys.
This means Dany is Jon’s aunt, and Viserys is his uncle. Considering Jon and Dany’s sexual relationship, at least they can take solace in knowing they come from a long line of intra-family liaisons. The first Aegon was married to both of his sisters. Dany’s parents, and therefore Jon’s grandparents, were siblings. In between these two royal marriages, there are too many Targaryen-Targaryen pairings to count.
What Happened To Jon’s Father, Rhaegar Targaryen?
Rhaegar was killed by Robert Baratheon during the Battle Of Trident during Robert’s Rebellion, hundreds of miles north of King’s Landing. The death of Rhaegar, the most beloved member of the royal family and expert warrior, all but ended the Targaryen cause. However, Aeyrs still sat on the Iron Throne. The Targaryen dynasty was finally destroyed when Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), a member of the Kingsguard, stabbed Aeyrs to death and opened the castle up to his father, Lord Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance).
Does Jon Snow Have Any Other Relatives?
Jon and Daenerys are now the final living members of house Targaryen. Jon’s half-brother and sister — born of Rhaegar’s original annulled marriage with Elia Martell — were all violently murdered in King’s Landing by Lannister bannerman Gregor Cleagane (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) during Tywin’s seizure of the capital. Rhaegar’s first children were named Rhaenys and Aegon, meaning the prince had two sons named Aegon.
There was also another, much older Targaryen hobbling around Westeros during early seasons of Game Of Thrones. As we learn in season 1’s “Baelor,” Night’s Watch maester Aemon (Peter Vaughan) is also a Targaryen. “What could I do when the ravens brought the news from the South?,” Aemon recalls to Jon of Robert’s Rebellion. “The ruin of my house, the death of my family?”
Aemon reveals he is a Targaryen prince and his father was the little-heard-of King Maekar. Aemon was offered the crown after Maekar’s death but refused it due to his duty as a maester. So, the Iron Throne went to his brother Aegon V, the fourth son of Maekar. Aerys is Aegon V’s son.
Is Jon Still A Stark?
Yes, of course he is. The reveal that Lyanna is his mother and Rhaegar is his biological father means Ned isn’t technically his dad — he’s his uncle. That makes the living Stark siblings — Sansa (Sophie Turner), Arya (Maisie Williams), and Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) Stark — Jon's first cousins.