Game of Thrones season 7: Who has the strongest claim to the Iron Throne, Jon Snow or Daenerys Targaryen?

The matter is a web of lineage and tradition

Christopher Hooton
Wednesday 09 August 2017 11:11
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The lack of awareness of Jon Snow's true parentage precludes any real discussion of the rightful heir to the Iron Throne in Game of Thrones right now, but it's a debate that's going to happen soon or later.

The answer to who has the strongest claim in Westeros, Jon or Daenerys, is probably neither, but we'll get to that.

Right now, Daenerys seems the strongest challenger, the only surviving child of King Aerys II Targaryen and Queen Rhaella Targaryen, the former of whom sat on the Iron Throne before Robert Baratheon.

Aerys II, the "Mad King", may not have had the most stellar of reputations, but his father and predecessor Aegon V did, ruling over the Seven Kingdoms for many years and cementing the noble Targaryen name.

As far as everyone in the Seven Kingdoms (except Bran) knows, she is the only living Targaryen, Aemon Targaryen (who set aside his surname when he became the maester of Castle Black) having died peacefully in season 5, and therefore the only true heir to Aerys II.

However, we now know that Jon is the (legitimate) son of Rhaegar Targaryen, who was Daenerys' older brother, Aerys II's oldest child, the Prince of Dragonstone and the heir to the throne prior to his death in the Battle of the Trident.

With succession always going through the male line, this would make Jon the rightful heir ahead of Daenerys, even though she is his aunt and a branch earlier in the family tree.

Jon's claim is strengthened by his mother being Lyanna Stark - the Stark name having a powerful reputation that has only grown thanks to Jon, Sansa and Arya.

This all suggests then, that if anyone should be bending the knee or at least falling in line it should be Daenerys.

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But wait! There is the small matter of Gendry, the unacknowledged bastard son of King Robert Baratheon. He was last seen escaping from Dragonstone with Ser Davos and his current whereabouts is unknown, but he is expected to make a return this season.

With Joffrey and Tommen dead, the last "Baratheons" (actually the product of incest between Cersei and Jaime Lannister, but passed off as such), House Baratheon is extinct at this point, unless Gendry makes his parentage public and attempts to revive it.

This might be unlikely, with Jon, Daenerys and Cersei all being such formidable leaders, but someone will surely at least raise the possibility. After all, Robert's usurping of the Iron Throne from Aerys II was respected and aided by houses Stark, Arryn, Tully, Lannister (including Ser Jaime who was key) and Greyjoy.

There's a lot of politics to be chewed over, then, and that's if the White Walkers don't get to everyone first.

Game of Thrones continues on HBO, Sky Atlantc and through NOWTV on Sunday nights.

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