What does it mean to have the blood of Old Valyria?


Well, descent from Old Valyria is a proud feature often boasted about by members of House Targaryen, with Queen Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) boasting about it in Game of Thrones and various characters including Prince Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) discussing it in its new prequel House of the Dragon.

House Targaryen are not the only Valyrian family in the House of the Dragon cast, either, as we are introduced to the powerful and wealthy House Velaryon, led by the Sea Snake himself, Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint).

So, what is Old Valyria? What happened in the Doom of Valyria? What truly is High Valyrian?

RadioTimes.com has everything you need to know about House of the Dragon.

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What is Old Valyria?

Valyria was an ancient city that was the pinnacle of the decadent and powerful civilisation known as the Valyrian Freehold.

Situated on the continent of Essos, this was the peak of human life in the world for 5,000 years and had risen to great power through the use of dragons to conquer much of its empire.

Valyria itself was the greatest of cities in the world, vast in size and in population and as advanced in technology and culture as any place on the planet.

Some customs could be considered controversial, however, with incest and polygamy common in this society.

The Dragonlords were the rulers of Valyria, which came to be called ‘Old Valyria’ after the catastrophic event known as the Doom of Valyria.

What was the Doom of Valyria?

The ruins of Valyria in Game of Thrones
The ruins of Valyria in Game of Thrones HBO

The Doom of Valyria was a disaster caused by a volcanic event.

This saw the destruction of the Valyrian peninsula in Essos and and led to the collapse of the empire known as the Valyrian Freehold.

In Game of Thrones, Tyrion Lannister quoted a poem on the Doom: "They held each other close and turned their backs upon the end.

“The hills that split asunder and the black that ate the skies; The flames that shot so high and hot that even dragons burned; Would never be the final sights that fell upon their eyes.

“A fly upon a wall, the waves the sea wind whipped and churned — The city of a thousand years, and all that men had learned; The Doom consumed it all alike, and neither of them turned."

All the dragons in Valyria and everyone in the city were obliterated and only ruins remained.

Following the event, some blamed the city’s people for bringing about the disaster through sorcery or religious practices.

The event and the results bare some similarities to the real-life historical volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Pompeii which destroyed the opulent Ancient Roman city nearby in 79 AD.

George RR Martin has also compared the Valyrian Freehold to the Roman Republic and the mythical fall of the city of Atlantis.

Few Valyrians survived the Doom of Valyria.

Among the survivors were House Velaruon who had settled on the island of Driftmark in the Narrow Sea off the coast of mainland Westeros.

12 years before the Doom, the dreams of the maiden Daenys Targaryen saw her convince her family of the coming disaster and House Targaryen led by Lord Aenar Targaryen left Valyria and came to settle on the stony and volcanic island off Westeros known as Dragonstone.

Meanwhile, House Celtigar also went to settle on the Claw Isle in the Narrow Sea.

What is High Valyrian?

Milly Alcock as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen in House of the Dragon
Milly Alcock as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen in House of the Dragon Ollie Upton / HBO

High Valyrian is the language that was used in the Valyrian Freehold and continues to exist hundreds of years after the Doom of Valyria.

House of the Dragon depicts House Targaryen and House Velaryon continuing to use the language among each other, some servants and their dragons.

High Valyrian is considered a dead language used only by scholars, the descendants of the noble houses of Old Valyria and by the Red Priests who serve the Lord of Light, R’hllor.

"Low Valyrian" is used to describe the derivative languages that were adopted by former colonies or descendants of the Valyrian Freehold empire. These languages are commonly spoken throughout Essos and the Free Cities.

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