After finishing A Dance With Dragons, I'm not sure who has more right to the Iron Throne. Who does, according to the rules of succession in Westeros?

Here are the options:


Daenerys Targaryen. She is Rhaegar's sister, and the daughter of Aerys II. She is claiming the throne from the beginning of the first book, but does she have the right to claim it?


Stannis Baratheon. After his brother Robert died, and as his children are not really his, Stannis is the Baratheon legitimate heir, but does he have right to claim the throne his brother conquered?


Aegon Targaryen. He is Rhaegar's son, and he would be the legitimate heir if Robert's Rebellion wouldn't have occurred.


Any other. What would happen if any or every of them would eventually die? Who could claim the throne? The one with the biggest army?

  • 13
    This is not an opinion-based question. It might be an in-world opinion-based question, but this website is not in Westeros. You can easily compile a list of the various kings and the validity of their claims.
    – TLP
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 15:46
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    I agree with @TlP. I was the one who voted to reopen this Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 19:01
  • 3
    I'm not quite sure how people think when they think this can be opinion-based. Its not like we have "favourite" kings that we will irrationally defend. "Almost entirely based on opinions" it says in the description of the close reason, whereas an answer to this question could be written entirely without opinions, just using quotes from the books.
    – TLP
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 19:41
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    Whomever it is, is probably dead.
    – user16696
    Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 4:59
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    @TLP The last spoiler is the one that kills this question. The question basically boils down to "Who has the best claim to the throne right now, and if none of those people were alive, who would take the thronw?" The first part we can answer with canon. The second part is "whoever Martin pulls out of his ass at that point."
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 14:27

8 Answers 8


Depends on what you understand as legitimate.

Actually, all kings come from one who got their rule by force. I don't think there is something as Divine Right (in the mean that they are elected by some holy being).

Stannis claim is based on being related to Robert, who was an usurper. Cersei's sons claims are based on being sons of the usurper. The Targaryen claims seems more legitimate, but can't it be traced to one warrior (Aegon the Conquerer) that conquered by force other "legitimate" kings?

In the end, there is no divine right. The Iron Throne belongs to the one who has the power to keep it. In that way, Renly Baratheon had the same right as any Targaryen.

  • 5
    I agree with your answer, but souichiro has a good point in his answer. The question as written isn't who has a right to be king, it's who has the best claim as heir to the iron throne. Since the Targaryens created the Iron Throne their claim seems more legitimate.
    – Memnoch
    Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 13:57
  • The problem with this answer is that the question asks two very different things: it starts by asking who is the "most legitimate heir", and since Robert definitively established himself as King, the only two possible answers to that question are Stannis or Joffrey. It then switches who "who has the 'most right' to be King", which is a far more subjective answer, because Joffrey as heir has every right to be king, but if Daenerys can "take back" her father's throne by force, that gives her the right to be Queen...
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 14:42
  • Put another way: as person X's heir, your claim to the Iron Throne is only as good as person X's claim.
    – chepner
    Commented Feb 2, 2016 at 22:17

It all depends on whose perspective you take; generally there are three ways to determine who is the legitimate heir in Westeros.

Or as G.R.R.M. puts it:

The short answer is that the laws of inheritance in the Seven Kingdoms are modelled on those in real medieval history... which is to say, they were vague, uncodified, subject to varying interpretations, and often contradictory.

We can break them down into the following categories though:

1. Right of Succession

Right of Succession in Westeros is the normal way of determining succession.

  • In general, Westeros follows the "Primogeniture" rights
    • Males have precedence over females1
    • Age is more than just a number (eldest is preferred)
  • In Dorne (and perhaps the Iron Islands)
    • It is the eldest child, then grandchild and so on
    • Females are given the same preference as males, so eldest daughter will come before the next male2
  • The Targaryen Inheritance way is also slightly different in that
    • ALL males are given precedence, not just the immediate males (sons etc.)3
    • Females only come into the equation if there are no males left in the entire line
    • In other words, if there is any male - up or down the line - his claim will come before Dany's, regardless of age or how far the line you had to search
    • See the Dance of the Dragons civil war for more info.
    • This seems to follow the Male-preference cognatic primogeniture
  • Extra reading on Rights of Succession in Westeros: https://scifi.stackexchange.com/a/37871/21267

2. Right of Conquest

Right of Conquest is the right to rule based on conquering and usurping the current dynasty. This is the Baratheon way4.

At this point, the successorship of the Iron Throne is so highly disputed that in my opinion, this is the one we need to look out for. The person with the biggest dragons army will win.

3. The Great Council

The Great Council is a council formed when the succession is unclear5. They determine who should sit the Throne and their decision is binding. This is how "Egg" came to be king.

What does this mean for the claimants?

1. This puts Sansa in line to inherit Winterfell - ahead of any Karstarks or distant male relatives of the Starks. This is what Littlefinger is banking on for Sansa.

2. This puts Myrcella ahead of Tommen. This was the cause of the whole botched plan to crown Myrcella as queen.

3. This places Aegon VI Targaryen (Rhaegar's son) ahead of Daenerys.

Jon Snow and Bloodraven (had they not taken the vows of the Night's Watch) even come before her!

4. This puts Tommen as the rightful heir as he is the eldest surviving son of Robert Baratheon. It also puts Stannis Baratheon as the rightful heir since it is his claim that Joffrey, Myrcella and Tommen are not actually Robert's true-born children.

5. Assuming this could be formed to figure out who is the rightful heir given the following possibilities:

  • Jon Snow as the next surviving son of Rhaegar

  • Daenerys as Aerys' eldest surviving child*

*If Jon Snow and Aegon are proven to be false

Example Family - Starks
Ok, this is a bit muddy, let's take the Starks as an example and let's assume Bran, Arya, Sansa and Rickon are presumed alive:

  • Normal Westerosi (Primogeniture rules)
    • Bran is Lord of Winterfell
    • Followed by Rickon, then Sansa, then Arya...
  • Dornish Rules
    • Sansa is Lady of Winterfell
    • Followed by Arya, then Bran, then Rickon...
  • Targaryen rules (if the Stark kids were Targs)
    • Bran is Lord of Winterfell
    • Followed by Rickon, then Harrion Karstark, then all of Harrion's male descendants, then Sansa, and finally Arya...

  • 2
    As you explained it, right of conquest cancels previous right of sucession, so the only way for Aegon/Daenerys to claim the Iron Throne is by conquering Westeros again, right? In point #1 you mean that Sansa is heir in the North, not in Westeros, right?
    – greuze
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 9:08
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    I all comes down to Varys' riddle: awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Varys#A_Clash_of_Kings The power lies the common man believes is lies.
    – raznagul
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 9:56
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    @greuze 1. Yes Dany, Aegon and (funnily enough) Stannis all have to re-capture the Throne via conquest. 2. Yes Sansa is the legitimate heir to Winterfell and not all of Westeros (sorry for the confusion, I've edited to clarify).
    – Möoz
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 11:21
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    Sansa is the legitimate heir from what Littlefinger knows. But form what we know Rickon should be before her. Or have I got it wrong?
    – raznagul
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 11:45
  • @Raznagul yes Varys' have a lot to do with it. Yes, it is widely believed that Bran and Rickon are dead, making Sansa the heir to Winterfell.
    – Möoz
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 19:05

If you look at bloodlines (which is traditional) then if you accept that Robert taking the throne by force is legitimate then Stannis has the valid claim.

If you do not accept Robert as rightful king then Aegon has the correct claim.

If you are pragmatic then whomever gets to throne with the biggest army has the actual claim which they will then adapt to be a valid one!

  • 1
    Sure, assuming Aegon is who he's been told he is.
    – Paul
    Commented May 24, 2018 at 21:47

The right answer is Targaryen!

It depends on the fact, that the Targaryens united the seven Kingdoms. Before that they were seven individual Kingdoms. source

So, Aegon Targaryen I. also crafted the Iron Throne with dragon fire. source So the rights to the Iron Throne and, via the Throne to the seven Kingdoms, lies within the Targaryen bloodline.

Every other right would just be to one of the Kingdoms (like Robb Stark's claim as the King of the North), but the Iron Throne and the seven Kingdoms were always ruled by the Targaryens, until Aerys II went really really mad and summons the anger of Stark and Baratheon because of his paranoid actions.

  • 1
    Which Targaryen, then?
    – Flamma
    Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 16:19
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    As of now, Daenerys is the rightful owner. About Aegon, the real proof (aside from him telling it) is still missing. And even if he is the real Aegon, he stands in line behind Daenerys, but I believe they can rule together or she will become the queen regent.
    – souichiro
    Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 17:11
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    Why Aegon is behind Daeneris in the line? Before the rebellion, the king was Aerys II, the heir was his son Rhaegar, and then Rhaegar's son Aegon, right?
    – greuze
    Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 19:18
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    right, but after Robert died, Cersei was also the queen regent. And also there is still the prove missing, that it is the real Aegon, so by now it is Daenerys. And also it is Daenerys as direkt after Aerys II, just because she is still alive.
    – souichiro
    Commented Jun 28, 2014 at 13:15
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    The line of descent is by primogeniture, so it would go Aerys->Rhaegar->Aegon (Father->son->grandson), not Father->son->sister, or even Father->son->brother if Viserys was still alive.
    – Gerry Coll
    Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 23:22

There is no such thing as a rightful king in Westeros. The closest you would get is when they were still seven kingdoms with seven kings, because everything after that was simply the result of being conquered by somebody who then imposed himself as king.

Robert may have been the most recent usurper, but do not forget that the Targaryen also simply took the throne by force with their dragons. The era of "rightful kings" ended when "The Stark who bent his knee" ceased to be the king in the north.


Robert's claim (and hence Stannis') is based on more than the fact that he was the one to overthrow the Aerys (This makes sense overwise both Ned Start and Jon Arryn would have had equal claim). If you look at the bloodlines, Robert Baratheon was next in line to the throne under the false assumption that Daenerys and Aegon are dead.

  • 1
    Except everyone knew full well that Viserys and Daenerys escaped Dragonstone alive; Robert's claim was basically that he some claim to the throne but, more importantly, would make a better king.
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 14:39

John Snow
As the Son of Rhagar Targaryan he's in direct line to the throne.
His oath to the nights watch ended when he died. Melisandre can probably get him back though


If you go by traditional blood line, I would have to say a Targaryen should hold the throne. Since all of Aerys' male children are dead, that means the second in line to rule would be king. That would be a Rhaegar Targaryen. Since he's dead, it would be one of his kids. That leaves us with one choice.. Jon Snow or as I call him Jon Targaryen. The child of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark...

  • 2
    You are aware that this is still just a fan-theory? Sure, it's considered likely, but there is no authorial confirmation, so you can't claim it as a definite answer.
    – user8719
    Commented Jul 15, 2014 at 15:40

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