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Aegon on Balerion.jpg
Aegon the Conqueror rides atop Balerion, as depicted by Jordi Gonzalez Escamilla in The World of Ice & Fire

Alias The Black Dread
Allegiance Aegon I Targaryen
Maegor I Targaryen
Viserys I Targaryen
Born In or ~several years before 126 BC[1][N 1], at Valyria
Died In 94 AC
Book(s) The World of Ice & Fire (mentioned)
The Sons of the Dragon (mentioned)
The Rogue Prince
The Princess and the Queen (mentioned)
A Game of Thrones (mentioned)
A Clash of Kings (mentioned)
A Feast for Crows (mentioned)
A Dance with Dragons (mentioned)
Balerion in the War of Conquest ©HBO

Balerion, called the Black Dread, was a dragon of House Targaryen. He was ridden by King Aegon I Targaryen during his Conquest, alongside his sister Queen Visenya's Vhagar, and his sister Queen Rhaenys's Meraxes.[2] Other known riders of Balerion were King Maegor I Targaryen[3][4] and King Viserys I Targaryen.[5][6]

Balerion died of old age[7] in 94 AC[5][6] during the reign of King Jaehaerys I Targaryen, around two hundred years old.[8]


See also: Images of Balerion

Balerion was the largest of all the Targaryen dragons. His fire was as black as his scales, his wingspan so vast that entire towns would fall under his shadow when he passed overhead.[2] His teeth were as long as swords, and his jaws were large enough to swallow an aurochs whole, or even one of the hairy mammoths that are said to roam the cold wastes beyond the Port of Ibben.[9]


Balerion was named after the ancient god of the Valyrian Freehold.[2] He was born in Valyria, and was one of the five dragons Aenar Targaryen brought with him when he fled to Dragonstone to survive the Doom of Valyria.[10][11]

At some point, Lord Aegon Targaryen claimed Balerion. Aegon first rode Balerion, demonstrating that he was a dragonrider, some time before he married his sisters Visenya and Rhaenys.[11] Aegon became involved in the wars in the Disputed Lands when Pentos and Tyrosh approached him, inviting him to join a grand alliance against Volantis, and he chose to heed their call. Mounting Balerion, he flew east to meet the Prince of Pentos and the magisters of the Free City, then flew to Lys in time to set ablaze a Volantene fleet trying to take the city.[10][12]

Aegon the Conqueror

Balerion and workers help forge the Iron Throne, as depicted by Donato Giancola

Aegon then turned west, to conquer the Seven Kingdoms. The first true test of Aegon's War of Conquest came from Lords Mooton and Darklyn, who had joined forces to push the invaders out. Orys Baratheon rode out to meet them, while Aegon, riding Balerion, descended on them from above. Both lords were killed in the battle.[11]

Aegon then crossed the Blackwater to meet King Harren Hoare at Harrenhal. King Harren the Black took refuge in the formidable fortress of Harrenhal. Aegon gave him till sunset to surrender, but he did not yield. Aegon took Balerion high up and descended inside the castle walls, and put the castle to flame. Balerion's dragonfire burned so hot that the towers of Harrenhal went up like candles, melting and twisting into the shapes they retain to this day. King Harren and his sons all perished, ending the line of House Hoare.[11]

Balerion was also deployed in the battle that became known as the Field of Fire, the only time in history that all three of the fabled Targaryen dragons took to the sky at the same time. Between Vhagar, Meraxes, and Balerion, four thousand men were burned to death. King Mern IX Gardener died, and with him House Gardener. The army was broken, and Aegon was victorious.[9][11]

Aegon then headed to Highgarden, which yielded without a fight. When he heard word of King Torrhen Stark and the northmen marching south, he flew to meet them, calling his sisters and all bannermen to join him. Torrhen submitted the north to the rule of the Targaryens. Afterwards, Aegon headed south for the submission of Oldtown.[11]

According to song, at the end of the war Balerion helped to forge the Iron Throne by melting the swords of Aegon's fallen enemies.[13]

Maegor I

Maegor I and Balerion burn the Sept of Remembrance, by Jordi Gonzalez for The World of Ice & Fire

After Aegon's death, Balerion was claimed by his son Prince Maegor, who had long coveted his father's mount, and had not claimed another dragon because he considered all others unworthy. After Jonos Arryn imprisoned his brother Lord Ronnel and declared himself independent of the Iron Throne, Maegor rode the Black Dread to the Vale and put down his rebellion.[4][3]

When Maegor was exiled to Pentos as punishment for his polygamous marriage, he took Balerion with him. After his brother King Aenys I died, Maegor flew back to Westeros on Balerion to claim the Iron Throne. In his reign as king, Maegor used Balerion to destroy the Sept of Remembrance, and in many other battles against the Faith Militant. In the Battle Beneath the Gods Eye, Maegor used Balerion to kill his nephew Prince Aegon and his dragon Quicksilver.[14]

Viserys I

The last rider of Balerion was Viserys I Targaryen, then still a prince. He was Balerion's rider at the time of his death in 94 AC. Viserys never claimed another dragon.[6]


Arya Stark encounters the skull of Balerion the Black Dread, by Justin Sweet for The World of Ice & Fire

Along with eighteen[9] other Targaryen dragon skulls, Balerion's skull hung on a wall in the Red Keep's throne room.[15][16] After Robert's Rebellion, King Robert I Baratheon had the skulls removed from the throne room, and stored them in a dank cellar. In 284 AC, when Tyrion Lannister visited the capital for the wedding of his sister Cersei to Robert, he observed the skulls in the cellar, including Balerion's.[9] In 298 AC, Arya Stark encountered the dragon skulls while passing through the Red Keep cellars.[17][18]

In 299 AC, Daenerys Targaryen had the three ships sent to her by Illyrio Mopatis renamed Vhagar, Meraxes, and Balerion, to tell the world that the dragons had returned.[19]

There is a rather nice picture of Balerion the Black Dread, done in colored inks, in the book Dragonkin, Being a History of House Targaryen from Exile to Apotheosis, with a Consideration of the Life and Death of Dragons, written by Maester Thomax.[20]

Known riders


The Conqueror's son had claimed a dragon at last, and none other than the Black Dread, the greatest of them all.[4]

His fire was as black as his scales, his wings so vast that whole towns were swallowed up in their shadow when he passed overhead.[2]

Balerion the Black Dread was two hundred years old when he died during the reign of Jaehaerys the Conciliator. He was so large he could swallow an aurochs whole. A dragon never stops growing, Your Grace, so long as he has food and freedom.[8]


  1. While Balerion's exact age at the time of his death cannot be established, Barristan Selmy's estimation of two hundred years compared to the two hundred and twenty year minimum, implies Balerion was reasonably young upon arrival on Dragonstone


  1. See the Balerion calculation
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 12, Daenerys I.
  3. 3.0 3.1 The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aenys I.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 The Sons of the Dragon.
  5. 5.0 5.1 The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Jaehaerys I.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 The Rogue Prince.
  7. Not a Blog: The Rogues are Coming (March 12, 2014), Reply to question (March 12, 2014)
  8. 8.0 8.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 8, Daenerys I.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 13, Tyrion II.
  10. 10.0 10.1 The World of Ice & Fire, Ancient History: The Doom of Valyria.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 The World of Ice & Fire, The Reign of the Dragons: The Conquest.
  12. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 14, Tyrion IV.
  13. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 43, Eddard XI.
  14. The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Maegor I.
  15. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 3, Daenerys I.
  16. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 12, Eddard II.
  17. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 32, Arya III.
  18. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 50, Arya IV.
  19. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 63, Daenerys V.
  20. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 5, Samwell I.