Judging from the trailer for the Season 7 Game of Thrones finale, Jon Snow successfully makes it to King’s Landing with proof of his Northern trek in tow. This has been a season of great reunions, but the one previewed in the trailer will be the best of them all. Cersei, Jaime, and Euron will meet with Tyrion, Ser Jorah, Davos, the Hound, Jon Snow, Varys, Theon, Greyworm, and Missandei for an epic showdown about the future of the realm. What place could possibly handle this amount of star power?
The Dragonpit, that’s where.
The Dragonpit is one of the five most important places in King’s Landing, right up there with the Red Keep, Flea Bottom, the Guildhall of Alchemists, and the Great Sept of Baelor (RIP). Yet it’s the only one of those locations we haven’t visited yet in King’s Landing.
The Dragonpit looks like the Coliseum, and has a history just as bloody. So why hasn’t this incredibly important location received any love yet on Game of Thrones? Well, most of the Dragonpit’s significance lies not in the present, but in its past — a past that involves fire, crazed Targaryen kings, and lots and lots of dragons.
The Dragonpit, and the hill it stands on, are symbols of the Targaryen rule. Three hundred years ago, Aegon the Conqueror and his two Targaryen sisters/wives (yes, he married his siblings) climbed aboard their dragons and conquered Westeros, as one does when one has dragons. Unfortunately, Aegon’s beloved sister/wife, Rhaenys, was shot from the sky somewhere over Dorne. Aegon named one of the three prominent hills in King’s Landing after her. After becoming the King and converting to the Faith of the Seven, Aegon erected the Sept of Remembrance atop Rhaenys Hill, in honour of his sister/wife.
That said, just because you build a Sept doesn’t mean that all your ancestors will change their polygamous ways to suit the Faith of the Seven’s rules. The Targaryens clashed with the Faith when Maegor, Aerys’ son and the brother of the ruling king Aenys I, took a second wife in 39 A.C. (which stands for after Aegon's Conquest). In a PR cleanup move, Aenys exiled his brother, Maegor. But the Faith of the Seven were irrevocably angered when Aenys himself married his two children to one another. Once a Targaryen, always a Targaryen.
From watching the High Sparrow's ascent during Season 6, we know what happens with the Faith Militant gets riled up. After Aenys' children got married, the Faith Militant took up arms and occupied the Sept of Remembrance. King Aenys fled for Dragonstone, and died in exile.
As a result, Aenys’ brother, whose nickname was Maegor the Cruel for a reason, became the king. Maegor decided to pull a Cersei on the Faith Militant troops. He climbed atop Balerion, a dragon so large it could blot out the sun, and burned down the Sept of Remembrance. His archers were waiting outside to kill anyone who escaped.
Atop the ruins of the Sept of Remembrance, Maegor erected the Dragonpit, a building with an entirely new purpose. The Dragonpit was a massive, domed structure intended to keep all of the Targaryen dragons in one place. After all, who would mess with a kingdom that kept all of their weapons roaring in one place?
Let’s get something straight about dragons, though. If left in the wild, a dragon in George R.R. Martin’s universe can grow indefinitely. Balerion, the largest Targaryen dragon ever, was so large because it was so old. Yet dragons’ magical regeneration abilities are squashed the second they’re confined. By keeping the Targaryen dragons in a confined space, Maegor was effectively limiting their ferocity going forward.
As a result of being kept in captivity, the Targaryen dragons grew smaller by the decade. In fact, the last dragon was the size of — wait for it — a cat.
The Targaryens’ remaining dragon stock took its last major hit during the Storming of the Dragonpit, which took place during the Targaryen civil war. During this violent incident, a bunch of angry, hungry, Flea Bottom masses yearning to break free decided to storm the Dragonpit, after an incendiary prophet called the Shepherd convinced them dragons were the cause of their misery.
What resulted was utter carnage: The crazed commoners attacked the four dragons chained within the Dragonpit. Though thousands of humans perished, they managed to kill the four dragons. One gravely wounded dragon, Dreamfyre, broke free from her chains, and flew upwards, destroying the dome. The falling ceiling crushed Dreamfyre to death.
Within two generations, the rest of the dragons died out.
Later on, in the years 209-210 A.C., the Dragonpit was used to store bodies during a plagued called the Great Spring Sickness, which killed 40% of the population. Bodies were stacked 10 high, and destroyed using wildfire.
Speaking of wildfire: We know that Aerys placed wildfire in underground tunnels all around the city, and we know that Maegor constructed the Dragonpit to have an elaborate network of tunnels, like the Red Keep does. In the novel A Clash of Kings, a couple falls through the ruined floor of the Dragonpit, indicating the floor is hollow.
So, there might still be some of Aerys II Targaryen’s wildfire lingering in the Dragonpit. It makes one wonder why Cersei is choosing to meet her opponents there. Can she pull the same trick twice?
If the Game of Thrones showrunners were trying to prove that Cersei is a psychological descendant of Maegor the Cruel and Aerys II “The Mad King” Targaryen, then there’s no better setting to do so than in the Dragonpit. It's where Maegor burnt down the Faith Militant, and Aeyrs stored wildfire. Cersei used the tactics of the latter to carry out the plan of the former. She is both.
Beyond the potential presence of wildfire, there's a symbolic reason why Cersei has chosen to meet Daenerys and her allies at the Dragonpit. It symbolises the demise of the Targaryens. The very structure intended to house the source of the Targaryen power was ultimately the Targaryens' undoing.
Though we don't see Daenerys in the trailer for the season 7 finale, if she does join the meeting after all, having fully grown and healthy Targaryen dragons back in the pit will be significant in its own way. Daenerys will be triumphing over her family history — so long as she can avoid the mistakes of her ancestors; namely, hot-headedness and impulsiveness and using too much dragon fire.
Or, at least, she'll almost be triumphing. Daenerys lost Viserion in the land beyond the Wall when rescuing Jon Snow. Cersei, who knows Daenerys had three dragons, will see that now she only has two. Is that a show of weakness that Daenerys can risk?
Since the reunion is in Dragonpit, Daenerys has a chance to fix her ancestors' mistakes — or consign herself to being another brief Targaryen burst of glory.
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