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Mame Bougouma Diene

Daario Naharis and The Death of Khans: From the Mongol Empire to Game of Thrones

There is a Khan’s daughter,
Who steps on in a swinging manner,
And has the marks of twenty tigers…

When Aegon Taragaryen swept through Westeros with his sister-wives, Rhaenys and Visenya, he did so with a vision—that of a unified Westeros, rather than seven kingdoms of shifting alliances, under one king. He succeeded, with the exception of Dorne, but the Dragon’s Peace didn’t last, ruined by his sons, Aenys and Maegor, the first for lack of will, the second the exact opposite. Both left behind a kingdom in rebellion that never matched the glory of its founder’s era—though it’s also said that in the last twenty years of his rule, Aegon was somewhat of a recluse, leaving the reins of governance to his sisters.

Chengis Khan too had a vision for his empire—that of a Great Khan and a centralized authority ruling from and chosen in the steppe, according to Mongol tradition. His four sons, Jochi, Chagatai, Ögedei and Tolui, fractured Chengis’ succession, and divided the empire into separate khanates that would never reunite, as the four brothers were more interested in bickering over titles and drinking than in truly ruling. Lacking in sisters, Chengis relied instead on his four daughters Checheyegin, Alaqai Beki, Al-Atun Beki and Tolai to rule over early conquered nations in his stead.

Chengis’ life was shaped by women, by his wife Borte and his mother Hoelun. He had gone to war for Borte, in defiance of all tradition, and he strived to balance the Mountain and the River—the male and female elements that, when combined, formed the strongest bond under the blue sky according to Mongolian spiritual belief.

His sons and their partners unmade this within a generation.

Yet the rebirth of Chengis’ line is certainly due to a woman, and so is that of the Targaryen dynasty.

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