In "Eastwatch" (Game of Thrones, S07E05), in the scene with Gilly and Sam, Gilly is reading from the records of High Septon Maynard. From this scene, we can infer that this High Septon performed an annulment for Rhaegar Targaryen and married him in secret. I think that it is safe to assume that it was to Lyanna Stark.

From earlier episodes, we know that this was the coupling that produced Jon Snow. Now, given that they were married and that Rhaegar was the eldest of the siblings, does this make Jon the actual heir over Daenerys?

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    @Dawny33 Season 6 Episode 10 Aug 15, 2017 at 6:48
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    @AlexS Rhaegar (Jon's father) was Daenerys' brother, so Jon would be her nephew. That doesn't mean he's not also a likely partner/spouse (Targaryen's have a history of marrying each other), though. Aug 15, 2017 at 10:54
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    @AlexS He is Dany's nephew by her eldest brother Rhaegar. He can be her King Consort (Targaryens practice incest to keep the bloodline pure). Mostly it is between siblings. King Maegor however took his niece Rhaena Targaryen as a bride, so there is inverse precedent.
    – Aegon
    Aug 15, 2017 at 10:54
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    Argh, spoiler in question title appearing in hottest questions sidebar!! Can someone fix? :( Aug 15, 2017 at 11:15
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    Fixing the spoiler in the title is greatly appreciated Aug 15, 2017 at 15:08

2 Answers 2


In show, he does have a better claim.

From S07E05:

Gilly: What does "annulment" mean?

Sam: It's when a man sets aside his lawful wife.

Gilly: Maynard says here that he issued an annulment for a Prince "Ragger" and remarried him to someone else at the same time in a secret ceremony in Dorne. Is that a common thing in the south or--?

Here Gilly is reading records of a High Septon from days of Prince Rhaegar and she discovers that he annulled the marriage of Prince "Ragger" (Rhaegar) and married him to someone else. That someone can only be Lyanna. So it is all but confirmed in the Show that Rhaegar did marry her and Jon is legitimate child.

So he has a better claim because a grandson (Jon) by an elder son (Rhaegar) comes before a younger son (Viserys) and a daughter (Daenerys) in succession for a King (Aerys II).

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Ankit Sharma
    Aug 15, 2017 at 16:45
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    In fact, a female Targaryen's claim comes waaaaaaay after any legitimate male. See Targaryen Inheritance.
    – Möoz
    Aug 15, 2017 at 22:41
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    @Möoz They don't really come into the line at all. See the edit. I removed that bit because people objected that's book only thing not applicable to show. And you already have my +1 on that one ;) Nice one
    – Aegon
    Aug 16, 2017 at 7:30
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    The war of the Roses, which the war of the Five Kings is mainly based on, started when a ruler died, his first son was already dead before then, and the rule was passed to the dead son's son, rather than the first living son of the now deceased king. The same is true here. Rhaegar died before the Mad King, and Rhaegar's siblings can argue that Rhaegar's children cannot inherit a throne that Rhaegar never held in the first place. Of course, this is open to discussion (hence the war of the Roses), but the siblings' argument does have some merit, in my opinion.
    – Flater
    Aug 21, 2017 at 10:48
  • @Flater Targaryen succession doesn't work like that. Grandson by elder son comes before younger sons legally, so they can't claim that. Of course there are uncles like Euron Greyjoy anyways.
    – Aegon
    Aug 21, 2017 at 11:23

Bran told us exactly who the "legitimate heir" is...

Jon Snow, Aegon VII Targaryen

The line of succession always favors males and always favors children of the heir before siblings of the monarch.

Further reading: Comprehensive Rules for Game of Thrones Lines of Succession

The line of succession goes like this:

  1. Aerys "The Mad King" - "current" monarch, now deceased
  2. Rhaeghar - by rights as the first born son of Aerys, now deceased
  3. Aegon VI - by rights as the first born son Rhaeghar, now deceased
  4. Aegon VII (aka Jon Snow) - by right as the second born son of Rhaegar, alive!

The female line only comes into play once all male heirs are deceased, which is the crux of Danaerys' claim once her brother Viserys died. However, Viserys' claim was only considered valid because there were no other heirs (Rhaeghar and his line).

This was why Rhaegar's annulment was so important. If Rhaegar had still be married to Elia Martell, Jon Snow would still have been a bastard (assuming all other parties lived). This is why Bran initial says Jon is not a Snow but rather a Sand. The annulment make Jon a true-born heir and transforms him from Jon Snow to Aegon VII Targaryen.

  • Small sticking point. I believe Jon would also be Aegon VI since his older half brother Aegon never ascended to the throne. (So dumb that they gave two living brothers the same name, I hope this is a retconned thing by the show and not GRRM's idea).
    – kuhl
    Sep 1, 2017 at 13:04

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