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Everything you need to know about Daemon Targaryen’s Assault on Harrenhal

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daemon-harrenhal

The Dance of the Dragons is the main focus of HBO’s House of the Dragon, and it covers the Targaryen Civil War fought between the Greens and Blacks. The entire war was made up of various battles that happened in Westeros over the span of many years.

Both sides participated in acts that triggered the war and caused negotiations to fall apart. One of the first battles was Prince Daemon’s attack on the ancient castle of Harrenhal. This initial assault caused King Aegon II to recognize the threat to his reign. This article covers everything we know about this battle, known as the Assault on Harrenhal.

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Background of the Battle

harrenhal

Credits: HBO

As there were two claims for the throne between Rhaenyra and Aegon II, the houses of the realm began to take sides in the inevitable war that would follow.

The Blacks had more dragons than the Greens. However, all the strength of the Black forces was on the island of Dragonstone instead of mainland Westeros.

The Blacks required a rallying point for their potential supporters. Their preferred location was the Riverlands, as they had allies there, although some of them were afraid to declare it. One example was the Tullys, who remained neutral at the beginning of the war.

The Lord of Riverrun, Grover Tully, was a bedridden old man who supported the claim of Aegon II. However, his grandson Elmo Tully supported Rhaenyra’s claim. Due to this disagreement and fearing the strength of the dragons of both the Greens and the Blacks, House Tully remained neutral.

The Blacks needed a place where all their allies could gather. Daemon stressed the need for a toehold on the mainland large enough to house a sizable host and hold fast against Aegon II’s forces.

Therefore, he suggested the castle of Harrenhal as an effective rallying point for the Blacks’ allies. At the time, House Strong ruled Harrenhal.

The head of House Strong, Lord Larys ‘the Clubfoot’, was at King’s Landing, serving as King Aegon II’s Master of Whisperers. In his stead, his great uncle Ser Simon Strong, an elderly man, served as castellan at Harrenhal.

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How did the battle take place?

daemon-harrenhal

Credits: Ruben de Vela

Prince Daemon led an army to strike at the castle of Harrenhal. Seated on Caraxes, he flew to the top of the tallest of the five melted towers of the castle. The scene was similar to the Burning of Harrenhal by Aegon the Conqueror and Balerion the Black Dread, which Ser Simon Strong still recalled.

Balerion had rained fire down on the castle, killing Harren the Black atop the Kingspyre Tower and melting the towers of Harrenhal. Not wanting to experience a similar fate, Ser Simon Strong decided to strike his banners and surrender the castle.

Prince Daemon took Ser Simon and his grandsons hostage, along with a dozen other members of the castle. The Blacks took possession of all the wealth of House Strong.

When King Aegon II realized that Harrenhal was lost, he was stunned as he realized the peril he was in. Before this point, he did not consider Rhaenyra’s claim to be a threat to his reign.

The victory encouraged the Blacks, who soon won many other battles. The Blacks’ allies, including House Blackwood and other Riverlords, met at Harrenhal. It was here that Daemon approved the assassination of King Aegon II’s son by Blood and Cheese.

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What was the aftermath of the Assault?

Later in the war, Prince Aemond was appointed regent and given command of the Greens’ forces at King’s Landing. He intended to assault the Blacks’ forces at Harrenhal before they had amassed enough strength to attack King’s Landing.

To achieve this assault, Prince Aemond led an army from King’s Landing to attack Harrenhal. The army comprised 4000 men and had Ser Crison Cole at the helm. Cole had recently become Hand of the King.

Prince Aemond and Cole had lost 800 men at the Battle of Rook’s Rest. They had now gathered all their remaining forces from King’s Landing to attack Harrenhal. The 4,000 men they took consisted mostly of infantry soldiers.

They traveled along the kingsroad, expecting to reach Harrenhal in sixteen days. Muddy roads and rainstorms slowed the army’s advance. Prince Aemond kept Vhagar with the army throughout the March, as he expected that Prince Daemon and Caraxes would attack them.

The army faced an ambush on the way by Black allies. Aemond’s army won the battle fairly quickly and met no other opposition on the way. As it turns out, the ambush by the Blacks was a feint meant to lure Aemond’s army closer to Harrenhal and away from King’s Landing.

When the army reached Harrenhal, they found it abandoned. Prince Daemon had got word of Prince Aemond’s departure from the city through his spies at King’s Landing.

 
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When he heard that the city was left with little to no defenses, he flew with Caraxes to join Rhaenyra and the Black forces. Together, they attacked the capital in an event known as The Fall of King’s Landing.

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