House of the Dragon’s first episode had a lot to set up. There are current and former kings, a whole host of possible heirs, a battle for succession, and a prince so sad he couldn’t even have fun at an orgy. So it’s excusable that the pilot wasn’t able to devote much time to Corlys Velaryon and Rhaenys Targaryen, the realm’s greatest and pettiest couple.
In fact, if any of the characters in House of the Dragon could deserve their own prequel shows, it’s these two. So in case the show never makes time for their backstory, here’s a little bit more about Corlys Velaryon and Rhaenys Targaryen and why they’re both so damn cool.
Who is Corlys Velaryon?
Ser Corlys Velaryon is a member of House Velaryon, one of the Targaryens’ oldest and most ardent allies, and one of the few houses in Westeros that can lay claim to Valyrian blood — though they aren’t dragon riders. Despite the house’s vaunted place in Westeros, it wasn’t among the wealthiest or most important houses in the Seven Kingdoms until Ser Corlys took things over. The Velaryons have always had a reputation for their naval prowess (often serving as the Master of Ships for their Targaryen Kings), but Lord Corlys took seafaring further than anyone else in his family ever has.
In his younger days, long before he became Master of Driftmark, House Velaryon’s familial seat, Corlys sailed the seas on a ship known as the Sea Snake — which would give him the nickname he kept the rest of his life. Aboard the Sea Snake, Corlys sailed all through the known world. These adventures would later be mythologized as “The Nine Voyages” and took him to the strangest and most superstitious corners of the world. In the end, however, Corlys’ main takeaway from these trips was 14 ships full of treasure and gold from Essos that helped make his house one of the wealthiest in Westeros.
After his voyages, when he became Master of Driftmark — a position also known as Lord of the Tides — Corlys married Rhaenys Targaryen and began his service to the Iron Throne, including helping Rhaenys’ father, Aemon, fight a war against the Myrish, and eventually served on the small council as Master of Ships, which is where we join him in House of the Dragon.
Who is Rhaenys Targaryen?
Rhaenys Targaryen is the daughter of Aemon Targaryen, granddaughter of Jaehaerys Targaryen and at one point one of the prospective heirs to the Iron Throne. However, during the Great Council of 101, the realm elected to place her cousin Viserys on the throne instead, thus setting up the precedent of male succession in Westeros and dooming Rhaenys to the fate of forever being called “The Queen Who Never Was.”
Aside from harboring righteous anger about her claim to the Seven Kingdoms being denied, Rhaenys is also a fierce dragon rider whose dragon is Meleys, and she is as at home in a suit of armor as in a dress at court.
The couple also have two children, Laenor and Laena, who are both dragon riders. Without getting into any spoilers for the story ahead, all four will have a very important part to play as House of the Dragon marches toward its inevitable and violent conclusion.