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‘Game of Thrones’ prequel ‘House of the Dragon’: Why did Rhaenyra Targaryen look up to Rhoynish legend Nymeria

Nymeria was the warrior-queen who led the Rhoynar refugees to Dorne a thousand years ago
UPDATED AUG 26, 2022
Lady Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey) and Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) in ‘House of the Dragon’ (HBO)
Lady Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey) and Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) in ‘House of the Dragon’ (HBO)

Spoilers for ‘House of the Dragon’ Episode 1

While we have got a detailed introduction to the Targaryen dynasty in 'House of the Dragon' Episode 1, many avid fans do not know how Rhoynish queen Nymeria is related to the tale. In the first episode of series, we see that young Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock) and Lady Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey) are seen studying the history of their worlds together beneath the weirwood tree in King’s Landing. Alicent thinks Rhaenyra hasn't been paying attention. But the princess quickly impresses her best friend by reciting the story they were discussing with all the details.

Rhaenyra recounts the tale of Nymeria who was a warrior princess of the Rhoynar and was one of the main founders of the nation which ultimately came to be known as Dorne. But viewers might have a burning curiosity to know how Nymeria is connected to the House Targaryen saga. So let's take a look at the ferocious and braveheart queen Nymeria.

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Who is Nymeria?

According to Game of Thrones, Nymeria was the warrior-queen who led the Rhoynar refugees to Dorne a thousand years ago. She is an ancestor of House Martell and House Dayne. Not many might know this but she is seen as the original founder of Dorne. Dorne is a nation which had its own progressive and unified realm under Martell rule.
The Rhoynish Wars in the land of Essos took place long before the events of ‘House of the Dragon.’ These wars had been led by the Valyrian dragon-riders who wanted to take the entire continent for their own. Their main aim had been forcing the people who lived along the rivers of Essos to go away permanently. Nymeria was a princess who ruled the river city of ‘Ny Sar’ before the Rhoyne were dethroned by the Valyrians. She eventually got all her people unified from the city of Essos who joined her on a massive fleet of ships. Then they all ended up going away from Essos by sailing down the rivers and across the sea.

Nymeria’s arrival at Dorne

Nymeria and her people sailed around and tried to settle on some of the many islands of the world. Finally they all eventually ended up in Dorne which is situated on the southern tip of Westeros. She then married Lord Mors Martell and the duo set out to conquer the entirety of Dorne and unite it under the new House Martell. Once married, Nymeria burned the remainder of her fleet which consisted almost 10,000 ships. She did this to make her people get a realization that they all do not have anywhere else to go but be here.

Why Rhaenyra Targaryen looked up to Nymeria?

In the ‘House of the Dragon’, the reason why Rhaenyra looked up to the Rhoynish queen Nymeria is because she did it all without catering or bowing to any man. She ruled as a warrior queen and also led armies. She solely saved her people from the rule of Valyrian dragonlords. Eventually, we see that the Valyrians would invade Westeros and claim it as their own. This ended up forcing Nymeria's descendants under the patriarchal Targaryen reign. But undoubtedly even if for a specific period of time, the original society which had been built from the scratch by the Rhoyne and the Dornish was completely free.

Significance of Dorne in ‘House of the Dragon’ and ‘Game of Thrones’

In ‘House of the Dragon’ and ‘Game of Thrones,’ Dorne is by far the most progressive place in entirely traditionalist kingdom of Westeros. In Dorne, women are treated as equals. Also the bastard children are given the same rights as children born to married parents. Even homosexuality isn't seen as a taboo. It's a paradise compared to the brutal patriarchy of the rest of the continent inside Westeros. This was all a reality because of Nymeria's reign in Dorne. She had been forced to completely leave her homeland after getting defeated by Valyrians. She came to Dorne and made it a more open-minded and better place. She unified all the kingdoms within Dorne under a solid Martell rule. She created Dorne in a way where it is a family that cares for everyone. Nymeria is what Daenerys Targaryen tried to be on 'Game of Thrones'. Sadly, the Targaryens aren't exactly known for their open heartedness or liberal political policies.