Aerys Targaryen, also called The Mad King, ruled the Seven Kingdoms as Aerys II shortly before the events of A Song of Ice and Fire and was the last Targaryen king. When he first took the throne, he was said to have been generous and charming, though short-tempered and prone to fits of madness. With the help of his many Hands of the King, the kingdom enjoyed many years of peace and the treasury was well-stocked with gold. In accordance with ancient Targaryen practice, he married his sister Rhaella, but their marriage was not a happy one and became abusive towards the end. They had three children, Rhaegar, Viserys, and Daenerys. As his reign continued, Aerys’s behavior became increasingly erratic and his lapses into madness became more frequent. A defining moment occurred when, while trying to arrest Lord Denys Darklyn of Duskendale, a Lord who had openly defied him, he was taken prisoner and held captive for six months, before being rescued by Ser Barristan Selmy. Shaken by this experience, Aerys’s descent into madness worsened, and he eventually became cruel, sadistic, paranoid and capricious. He was also obsessed with fire and burned many people alive, to the point where he became sexually aroused by watching someone burn alive. His paranoia led to him being scared of poisoning, and he ate little and became gaunt and frail, and despite being around forty at the time of his death, he appeared much older. He developed a phobia of blades as a result of enduring many cuts on the Iron Throne, and banned any sharp implements in his presence, with the exception of the swords of his Kingsguard, and also refused to trim his hair or nails. Because of this, his hair and beard hung far past his shoulders, and his fingernails grew nearly a foot long. After Rhaegar and Lyanna Stark disappeared, House Stark and Lyanna’s betrothed Robert Baratheon believed her to have been abducted. In response to their protests, Aerys horrifically executed Lyanna’s brother and father. Shortly after, several houses rebelled. As the rebels defeated Targaryen forces, he planned to burn King’s Landing to the ground with all its inhabitants instead of allowing the rebels to take the city. Before this could be done, he was murdered by Jaime Lannister, a member of the Kingsguard sworn to protect him. Liam Burke was cast as the Mad King for a flashback scene in the HBO adaptation, but it was cut for timing and pacing.