Bran’s Tower of Joy vision in the “The Winds of Winter” was an enormous moment for Game of Thrones. In once and for all what everybody had known for years, it promised to divert Jon Snow’s course toward a meeting with Daenerys Targaryen, his paternal aunt and the fire to his ice.
So that’s the end of it… unless it’s not. Unless there’s more. Because in the realm of Game of Thrones fan theories, there’s always more.
Right now Bran believes he’s one of only three people on Westeros to know the truth (along with Meera and the adult Howland Reed, in the near future, ), but what if a crucial detail has been withheld from him? What if Lyanna Stark actually married Rhaegar Targaryen?
Popular opinion among those who know the tale of Lyanna’s “ordeal” at the hands of Rhaegar Targaryen is that he raped the young Stark girl and held her hostage against her will. When relaying the story to Petyr Baelish in the Season 5 episode “Sons of the Harpy”, Sansa seems certain of this version of events (although ).
When we meet Lyanna, though, she does not seem distressed. Even on her deathbed, she appears overwhelmed with joy at the arrival of her baby into the world she’s about to depart. See for yourself by revisiting the birthing scene below.
The Clue’s In The Name
The biggest clue that Lyanna was, in fact, very much in love with her alleged captor lies in the fact that she was found in the Tower of Joy. The very name itself implies that this was her heaven, and that Rhaegar, far from being her tormentor, was the love of her life.
If that’s the case, it’s not much of a jump in logic to imagine that they might have cemented that love through marriage. Rhaegar was already married to Elia Martell, but polygamy is hardly out of character for a Targaryen — the first in the dynasty, Aegon the Conquerer, married his sister Visenya out of duty, and his other sister Rhaenys for love. Rhaegar taking a second wife for love would make for some interesting symmetry three hundred years later.
The Madness of Queen Daenerys
So, let’s assume for a moment that Rhaegar and Lyanna were married in secret. In an instant, Jon Snow’s assumed bastard status would be wiped out. In a way it feels like the books and the show have been hinting at this since the very beginning, so often has Jon been degraded as a bastard and an embarrassment to House Stark.
Jon being legitimized as a Targaryen would have major consequences for the great game. On the one hand, it might drive a wedge into his relationship with Sansa, instantly losing him the title of King in the North. On the other, Jon would become the true Targaryen heir, rendering Daenerys’ claim to the throne entirely void. Could that be the trigger for ? Daenerys driven to insanity by the revelation that her entire journey on Essos had been for nothing would be brutal, and also kind of hilarious.
Without proof, though, that Lyanna and Rhaegar had married, would Jon’s claim even be recognized? And, for this theory to be watertight, Ned would have to have been told of Jon’s legit Targaryen blood in the moment that Lyanna whispered something unheard in his ear. If Lyanna told her brother that , that would essentially confirm in one both the identity of his father and his Targaryen legitimacy.
Young Ned would have known beyond question that a Targaryen heir would be killed by a vengeful Robert Baratheon, so the potential for this secret to be exposed rests on whether or not he shared it with Howland Reed, or allowed his friend to believe Lyanna had been raped by Rhaegar.
If Meera’s father should turn up in Season 7, the likelihood of a further twist in the tale seems strong. Until then, we can only wait. And speculate. There’s probably an even madder Jon Targaryen theory lurking around the corner, so share it if you’ve come across it, or tell me why the idea of Lyanna and Rhaegar having married isn’t as strong a theory as it seems right now.
Could the White Wolf of Winterfell really be a legitimate Targaryen?
You are the Princess Shireen of the House Baratheon, and you are my daughter.