WARNING! This article contains SPOILERS for House of the Dragon season 1!The birth defects of Rhaenyra’s stillborn baby in House of the Dragon’s season 1 finale have major connections to Game of Thrones‘ Daenerys and House Targaryen’s history. House of the Dragon‘s Prosthetics Designer Barrie Gower has released images (via Instagram) of what Rhaenyra and Daemon’s stillborn daughter Visenya looks like, which appears to be accurately adapting the baby’s description from George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood book. In the book, Visenya was described as being born with dragon-like defects, including scales, a tail, and a twisted body. Rhaenyra’s baby did end up having scale-like defects and a malformed body in House of the Dragon, which aligns with the occasional reports of Targaryen women bearing dragon-like stillborn children.
While House Targaryen professes to have the blood of the dragon, this wasn’t thought to be intended literally. However, their ancestors are said to have performed blood magic rituals back in Old Valyria in order to give them the power to magically bond with dragons. As such, it’s been theorized that these sacrifices for dragon power have also cursed the Targaryens with infrequent stillborn babies with dragon-like defects. However, there’s no confirmation that this magic truly mutated Rhaenyra Targaryen’s stillborn daughter into a part-dragon infant as theorized. Nonetheless, Visenya’s deformities do connect to the mysterious Targaryen history of bearing dragon-like stillborn infants, which includes Daenerys’ baby in Game of Thrones.
No, Rhaenyra’s Baby Wasn’t Born With Greyscale In HOTD
The scale birth defects seen on Rhaenyra’s baby in House of the Dragon’s season 1 finale are not symptoms of greyscale. Some have theorized that Daemon began carrying the disease after touching the dead body of the greyscale-afflicted Craghas Drahar, A.K.A. the Crabfeeder, in House of the Dragon episode 3. However, Daemon would have already shown signs of being infected with the illness, with House of the Dragon also suggesting that the Crabfeeder’s greyscale had been dormant by that time.
It’s also unclear whether a baby has ever been born with greyscale. While some have used Shireen Baratheon as an example of a Game of Thrones character with a lifelong greyscale infection, she actually didn’t contract the disease until she had already been born. Stannis Baratheon explains that she contracted greyscale as an infant from an infected doll, indicating greyscale is only contagious through touch. As such, Rhaenyra’s baby in House of the Dragon wasn’t born with greyscale, but rather a blood-related, Targaryen-specific dragon scale defect sometimes seen in their stillborn babies.
What Visenya’s Dragon-Like Defects Mean For House Targaryen
Visenya being born with dragon-like birth defects works to support the theory that the bond between Targaryens and dragons is far more magical than believed. There has been much speculation that some amount of dragon blood does truly flow through the veins of the Targaryens, so it’s not hard to believe that dragons could play a role in their birth. One theory (via Reddit) suggests that Targaryen “dragon babies” occur because of a genetic mutation that is a side effect of the blood magic originally used to create the Targaryens’ connections to the dragons. The Valyrians were said to have twisted the flesh of beasts and men during blood magic rituals, hinting that these sacrifices and experiments have had continued consequences on the family’s bloodline.
Visenya being stillborn with dragon characteristics after Rhaenyra’s anger and grief brought on her labor also connects to the blood of the dragon within House Targaryen. Some dragon-like babies are born after incredibly complicated and anger-induced births, so it’s possible that the fire of the dragon being released within both Rhaenyra and Syrax during the birth somehow impacted her daughter’s physical characteristics. While other theories speculate that the Targaryens’ specific birth defects are due to inbreeding or madness, the most plausible answer is that the creation of dragonriders through blood magic continues to cost the Valyrian family terrible tragedies during moments of intense grief or rage. House of the Dragon’s history suggests that dragon-like stillborn babies are the price the Targaryens pay for their magical connections to the dragons.
Rhaenyra’s Miscarriage Repeats Dany’s Tragic GOT Stillbirth
Daenerys’ stillbirth in Game of Thrones season 1 was incredibly important to her character trajectory in a manner similar to her ancestor Rhaenyra, with Rhaenyra’s graphic birth scene in House of the Dragon‘s season 1 finale giving further insight into what Dany experienced. In Game of Thrones’ season 1 finale, Daenerys Targaryen was grieving her near-dead husband Khal Drogo and had been cursed by blood magic before prematurely giving birth to her stillborn son Rhaego. Like Visenya, Rhaego was described in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books as “monstrous,” having lizard-like scales and wings – the calls of House Targaryen’s dragon-like birth defects.
However, Rhaego’s tragic birth in Game of Thrones is thought to be different from Visenya’s due to the direct blood magic curse from Mirri Maz Duur, but still aligns with the idea that a significant portion of Targaryen stillbirths involves dragon characteristics. In fact, it can’t be a coincidence that the death of the dragon-like Rhaego occurred shortly before the birth of Daenerys’ three dragons. If mixing the blood of humans with the blood of dragons in rituals gave the Targaryens their bonds with the creatures back when Rhaenyra was alive, it would make sense that the rebirth of the dragons coincided with the birth of another dragon-like Targaryen baby.
House Targaryen’s History Of Stillborn Dragon Babies Explained
The history of House Targaryen producing dragon-like babies goes back long before Rhaenyra Targaryen’s traumatizing birth scene in House of the Dragon season 1, episode 10. It’s unclear when this first occurred, but it likely began shortly after House Targaryen gained its magical connection to dragons in Old Valyria. The first noted instance seems to be the stillborn son of King Maegor the Cruel, who was born a “monster” with no eyes, an enlarged head, and “twisted” limbs. Maegor’s wives soon bore him more stillborn children with deformities, including an eyeless boy with “rudimentary wings.” Fire & Blood reveals that Maegor’s cruelty, blood magic rituals, or curses were thought to have caused his stillborn children’s deformities.
While it’s unclear whether the baby exhibited any dragon-like characteristics, Laena Velaryon and Daemon Targaryen’s stillborn baby in House of the Dragon episode 6 was described in Fire & Blood as being “twisted and malformed.” There are many more accounts of Targaryens having malformed stillborn children throughout Game of Thrones history, but the only other noted cases of dragon-like defects are Rhaenyra’s daughter and Daenerys’ son. Unless Targaryen descendant Jon Snow has children, no more Targaryen babies will be born, so it’s unclear whether this pattern would have ended with Daenerys. Nonetheless, House of the Dragon indicates that the Targaryen genes have been eternally impacted by their dragon bonds and Valyrian history of blood magic, suggesting these tragedies could happen to any future descendant.
Next: How THOSE Big Deaths Will Change Rhaenyra In HOTD Season 2