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Targaryen Rulers Ranked

It might be concerning to some, but I probably know more of Targaryen kings and princes than I do of United States presidents. There are a few things that determine ranking here, namely: the character of the ruler in question (e.g. how bad-ass they are), the storytelling capacity of their reign, or simply how successful they are as a ruler. Non-essential spoilers from the five books might pop up.
1Aegon I, the Conqueror

Who else would be number one? Aegon is a total bad-ass. While everyone else of his lineage was concerned with reclaiming Essos after the Doom, this motherfucker decided to conquer an entire continent with his sister-wives and three dragons. He conquered six of the seven kingdoms of Westeros, and established the greatest dynasty to ever reign. The blades of those he had slain in numerous battles comprise the Iron Throne. Awesome.
2Aerys II, the Mad King

Aerys II is the ultimate villain, and overall one of the most fascinating characters in the Song of Ice and Fire series. That's a lot to be said considering he never makes an actual appearance in the books. The effect that his reign had on the world probably equals that of Aegon the Conqueror, albeit of a completely opposite distinction. He was largely responsible for the fall of the greatest dynasty to ever reign, but also the greatest story to ever be told.
3Aegon V, the Unlikely

Also known as Egg from the Dunk and Egg prequel stories. In the context of the histories, Aegon V was not the most successful ruler. He was, however, probably the most likeable and "human" Targaryen king to ever lead. He was responsible for sending Bloodraven, and Maester Aemon, to the wall, and had a huge part in quelling the Blackfyre rebellions. Also notable for not partaking in Targaryen incestual traditions. In the context of the Dunk and Egg stories, he's a bit like a male Arya Stark, but without the unrelenting heartbreak and vengeance motive.
4Baelor I, the Blessed

Batshit Jesus Targaryen is just a cool dude. A lot of alternate histories have their staple pious zealot character, but as far as they are concerned, Baelor ranks pretty high up there. Baelor repaired a good portion of the damage from the Dornish rebellions, and overall seemed to have a positive impact on Westerosi society. The most interesting thing about him was that he was clearly a raving lunatic, and I always wonder what else there is to his character, that isn't told in the histories. There are hues of an evil interior.
5Jaehaerys I, the Conciliator

Arguably the most successful king to ever reign, Jaehaerys was responsible for uniting Westeros under a single law system (as opposed to letting each kingdom govern separately, as under Aegon I), and keeping peace for over fifty years. Given what we know of this series and how long kings tend to live, a fifty-plus year reign is absolutely unfathomable, let alone one ruled under uninterrupted peace. While not entirely exciting, Jaehaerys' influence on Westeros as a whole is unrivaled.
6Aegon IV, the Unworthy

This guy right here is mostly here for the storytelling potential of his reign. As a person and as a ruler, Aegon IV is an entirely deplorable and disgusting human being. He is single-handedly responsible for the Blackfyre Rebellions that haunted Westeros for decades, by legitimizing his nearly infinitely-numbered bastards. His only reputation of importance was that he was a glutton, regarding women and all other bodily pleasures. He claimed to have bedded over nine-hundred women, nine of which he came to love. He is also known for fathering three bastards who have utmost importance in the histories: Daemon Blackfyre, Aegor Rivers (Bittersteel), and Brynden Rivers (Bloodraven); Bloodraven is one of my personal favorite characters in the series, and despite being over 125 years old, he is still alive beyond the wall. He played a huge part in several kings' reign, before being banished to the Wall.
7Rhaenyra, the Realm's Delight

She never officially became a queen, but I personally just love Rhaenyra, and think she's a strong, sexy bitch. She's everything that I wish Daenerys could be; unwavering in her desire to obtain her birthright, plotting and conniving, and she truly danced with dragons. Also notable for her romance with Daemon Targaryen, who along with his dragon, was a total bad-ass as well.
8Maegor I, the Cruel

Maegor I is the original evil ruler of the Song of Ice and Fire series. Of course, the rumors that his mother and one of Aegon I's wives, Visenya, killed his brother so that he may reign is a juicy story in itself. Maegor was most notable for trying to destroy the impact of religion in Westeros. His reign was distracted by these ideas of destroying the religious pillars and putting an end to the Faith Militant (the group that Cersei recently re-armed). One positive impact of his reign was the completed construction of the Red Keep (the primary fortress at King's Landing).
9Daeron II, the Good

Daeron II was in the unenviable position of restoring Westeros after Aegon IV nearly decimated it with his legitimization of his bastards. Daeron did an admirable job, while also quelling the Blackfyre rebellions that emerged as a result of Aegon IV's final proclamation. Daeron II definitely seems like a cool dude to throw back some Arbor Red with. The Blackfyre rebellion would likely have succeeded were it not for Brynden Rivers' (AKA Bloodraven) miraculous performance in battle. Daeron reigned for quite a long time at twenty-five years, and is easily one of the most successful kings in the history of the realm.
10Daeron I, the Young

Daeron I's reign is significant for finally bringing Dorne under Targaryen rule at a young age, as ever since Aegon's conquest, Targaryen kings have tried, and failed, to conquer Dorne. Though there would be multiple Dornish rebellions to come, that did not stop the impact of Daeron I's short tenure.
11Aegon II

Aegon II's reign is marked by the Dance of the Dragons, the bloodiest war ever conceived by men. The dance was a war fraught with deceit and treachery, made worse because the warring sides were of the same family. It is a reign unique for being a time of civil war in this history. As far as entertainment goes, this seems like one of the most exciting periods of history, as there was battle upon battle of merciless war, complete with tens of dragons claiming the skies. Aegon II succeeding in bringing an end to the Dance, and in preventing a complete fracture of the realm. Good job, guy.
12Daemon Blackfyre, the Black Dragon

Daemon, like Rhaenyra, was not officially king of Westeros, but the story of the Blackfyres, and whether or not they still exist in secret, is one of my favorites. Daemon was the bastard son of Aegon the Unworthy, and was given Blackfyre, the sword of Aegon the Conqueror. This decision nearly crippled the realm in its implications, and caused decades of strife initiated by Daemon's rebellion. He was unsuccessful in claiming the throne, however.
13Jaehaerys II

Jaehaerys II's reign is notable for finally putting an end to the highly unsuccessful Blackfyre rebellions, and returning the realm to peace. Like Daeron I, he had a short but successful tenure.
14Aegon III, the Unlucky

Aegon III was a boy king, too young to govern on his own. His reign was handled primarily by a wealth of regents, the most notable of them being Corlys Velaryon, the Sea Snake. It was a time of chaos and political subterfuge, not unlike the current state of affairs in the novels. This tumult was the final product of the Dance of Dragons. Regaining peace was a struggle, but was mostly attained. Aegon III's reign was also the era of the last dragon, until Daenerys' were born nearly 150 years later.
15Viserys I

Viserys I's reign is culpable for planting the seeds of the Dance of Dragons. His bitter love-hate relationship with brother Daemon Targaryen was a constant thorn in the side of his rule. It was a time of political indecisiveness fraught with intrigue and threat of rebellion, but despite all of that, it was one mostly woven with peace; this was certainly aided by Jaehaerys I's previous reign. Viserys I ruled for over twenty-five years, making him one of the most successful kings.
16Viserys II

Viserys II had an uneventful and extremely short reign shortened by a suspected poisoning. He showed great promise in being a ruler much like Jaehaerys I was, but unfortunately he was never given the opportunity to rule properly. As a Hand to kings before him, he proved effective. He reminds me somewhat of Kevan or Tywin Lannister, but none could say how far those comparisons stretch.
17Aerys I

The thing that stands out the most about Aerys I's reign to me is the prominence of Bloodraven as his Hand. This period was mostly consumed by Blackfyre rebellion and related turmoil. It was a reign of about a decade, spent resisting rebellion mostly under the influence of Bloodraven.
18Daenerys, Mother of Dragons

Where to even begin with Daenerys? At one point I loved her, but most of the time she's a complete fool. She brings ruin everywhere she treads. She is responsible for the death of at least one husband, at least one child, and thousands of others. She strode into Essos whining and kicking and completely divested their economy of any feasible structure. She often seems to care more of carnal fancies than of ruling or reclaiming her birthright. I doubt her conquest will prove fruitful, if she ever embarks on it, as she often displays that she has no clue what she's doing, and never shows any signs of learning from her mistakes (unlike characters such as Sansa). She gets cool points for bringing dragons back into the world, but she's better off dead, in my opinion. Again, not a true queen at this point, but still a prominent ruler figure, and possibly the last bastion of the Targaryen dynasty.
19Maekar I

Maekar I stands out to me because he was a renowned warrior. As a leader, he did a solid job keeping peace. But complete peace is boring, init?
20Aenys I

Aenys I's rule is completely overshadowed by Aegon the Conqueror's. This period was uneventful, though he seemed to maintain the kingdom well enough to pass it to someone more capable (eventually). Aenys himself was considered to be somewhat of a defect, like Robert Arryn, currently; only somehow I think that Sweetrobin sitting the throne would be much more entertaining. I always pronounce his name “Anus.”
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