House of the Dragon episode 4 opens with a scene from Rhaenyra’s tour at Storm’s End where she meets all her suitors ranging from a mere boy to a man older than her father. Here we come across a young boy named Samwell Blackwood from House Blackwood in the Riverlands. He attempts to win over Rhaenyra and her hand in marriage. Boremund Baratheon, lord of Storm’s End sits alongside Rhaenyra as he helps her through the process. He explains that House Blackwood is an ancient house with a formidable army. They have the blood of the First Men of Westeros running in their veins. Within the next few moments, young Samwell is taunted by a knight from House Bracken. This breaks out a duel between them which surprisingly ends in Samwell’s favour as he drives his sword right through the Knight. So who are the Blackwoods and how powerful are they?
The House Blackwood of Raventree Hall is an old house in the Riverlands. Their arms and shields are etched with a flock of ravens on a scarlet background. They have descended from the First Men. The First Men were the culture of humans who first set foot on the continent of Westeros. House Blackwood has played an important part in the history of House Targaryen. They helped Aegon the Conqueror in his War of Conquest as he united the seven kingdoms and ruled over the realm. When Jaehaerys Targaryen called upon the lords of Westeros to decide upon an heir, the Blackwoods supported the claim of Laenor Velaryon. House Blackwood even became a powerful ally of Princess Rhaenyra during the Dance of the Dragons. They supported the blacks and fought multiple battles by their side. So, this is not the last you will see of House Blackwood in House of the Dragon.
“My princess, ours is a bond that has long endured since Lucas Blackwood, the grandsire of my grandsire who aided the dragon in his war of Conquest.”
Samwell Blackwood pitched his proposal with the above lines and suggested an alliance to strengthen the Kingdom. While his presence may have seemed as merely a filler, he will go on to play quite an important role in the future, especially during the Dance of the Dragons. The young boy has already shown his might and valor when he stabbed a Knight much larger than himself with quite ease and expertise. He had claimed that he would be able to protect the Princess, and he sure proved himself.
Despite not being able to win Princess Rhaenyra’s hand in marriage, he will continue to support her and her claim to the Iron Throne. In this measure he proves to be quite the loyal and chivalrous man. During the Targaryen Civil War he will bravely fight with Rhaenyra Targaryen and go against House Bracken. In the books he eventually meets his demise at the hands of Ser Amos Bracken.
This feud is one that has been alive for ages. Both House Bracken and Blackwood were contenders for the Riverlands and their rivalry has never died down. Both Houses were also a part of the First Men who arrived in Westeros. In the House of the Dragon episode itself, Samwell and another knight from House Bracken go at it. Even during the Dance of the Dragons, as House Blackwood supports Rhaenyra, House Bracken stands beside Aegon II. This intensifies their rivalry even further as they directly battle one another. From the very beginning, even before the birth of the Targaryens, the Blackwoods have had nothing but disdain for the Brackens and they have been at each other’s throats. The Blackwoods considered them to be petty lords and horse breeders who were desperately attempting to overthrow the superior House Blackwood.