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Was King Viserys poisoned on House of the Dragon?



king viserys episode 5 surrounded by the maesters

King Viserys Targaryen’s (Paddy Considine) health rapidly declined with each episode. He looked old beyond his years while he was supposed to be in his late forties to early fifties. Paddy Considine confirmed that his character has leprosy. But, there are various theories surrounding his condition, one of which is that the King might have been gradually poisoned.

We have seen Viserys entrust his care to the maesters of the Red Keep. Almost every house in the Seven Kingdoms employs a couple of maesters. They are seen as scholars and doctors who have a disdain for magic. They uphold scientific methods, and the biggest threat to them would be the proof of magic, like dragons brought by the Targaryens. In one of the books, a maester tells Samuel Tarly that the maesters conspired to end all the dragons. If we believe this account, could the maesters have been slowly trying to end the Targaryens too?

Read More: House Of The Dragon: House Targaryen’s “Greens” And “Blacks” Explained

Otto Hightower of Oldtown

otto hightower in house of the dragon episode 8

In episode 5, one of the maesters suggests they try to use a herbal poultice to treat Viserys’ pain. But the Grand Maester immediately shuts this idea down. This could be a hint that the Grand Maester is not considering all the possible ways to treat him. It seems they are trying to keep him alive but in a frail condition. The teaser of episode 8 opens with Otto Hightower before the Iron Throne declaring, “As Hand, I speak with the King’s voice on this and all other matters.” It is not news that Otto had been scheming for a long time, but it might be possible that he had been playing the long game.

After Rhaenyra was named heir by Viserys, Otto Hightower tried to persuade the King to change his mind but to no avail. It is not improbable that Otto joined hands with the maesters to weaken the already weak-minded King until he was unfit to make his own decisions. It may be no coincidence that all maesters reside and train at Oldtown, the royal seat of the House Hightower. The Hightowers are great believers of The Faith of the Seven and actively look down upon the Targaryen culture. The leadership of the religion is located in Oldtown. The faith and belief system brought by the Valyrians also threatened the power of their religion; while their belief in magic threatened the institution of the scientific maesters.

Having the King die while Aegon is underage might lead people to declare Rhaenyra worthy of the throne since she is more mature. This might have prompted Otto to keep Viserys alive until Aegon comes of age but in poor health.

Read More: New photos show Alicent Hightower in a green dress for the royal wedding, here’s why it’s important

The Grey Rats

blood-and-rat in house of the dragon

In the book A Dance with Dragons,  Lady Barbrey Dustin famously dislikes maesters, referring to them as grey rats. She once told Theon Greyjoy, “If I were queen, the first thing I would do would be to kill all those grey rats”. And coincidentally or not, we have been seeing grey rats all over the Red Keep. Once near Balerion’s altar, at Rhaenyra and Laenor’s wedding, and again in King Viserys’ room. Viserys noticed the rat in his room but did nothing. This perfectly symbolizes how he dealt with problems; he ignores them.

Let’s not forget how Otto Hightower forced his teenage daughter to woo the King as soon as his wife passed away. Even Aemma’s death could be linked to the Grand Maester suggesting performing a medieval C-section on her, thus ensuring her death. In the book Fire & Blood, Alicent spent plenty of time with King Jahaerys I, King Viserys’ grandfather. As the old King’s health slowly declined, Alicent spent a great deal of time with him. She would fetch his meals, help him dress, and read to him. One of the narrators suggests their relationship was more than platonic. In the book, it is rumored that Viserys had an affair with Alicent even when Aemma was alive.

All of this suggests that the Hightowers have played the game of thrones for much longer than anyone expected. By playing a pivotal role in the Targaryen Civil War, Otto Hightower tore the Targaryens apart and diminished their dragon power significantly. Whether purposefully or not, Otto Hightower’s actions brought significant losses to the Targaryen dynasty as they could never achieve the strength they had with much fewer family members alive and almost no dragons fit for war.

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Do you think the rats in the Red Keep symbolize the grey-garbed maesters spying on the royals? Or are the rats a setup for another storyline? Join in on our discussions on our discord server.

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