Tuesday, January 16, 2018

10 Facts About Medieval Kings

Made from History

Rumours about Richard I’s sexuality have persisted since his death.

In the Middle Ages England was ruled by 8 kings and 1 queen. Each had their triumphs and failures — as well as secrets. Their lives continue to provide fodder for the imagination and their names remind us of times long gone. But how do we separate truth from fiction? As a start, here are 10 facts about the medieval kings of England.

1. A soldier named Owen founded the Tudors
We know them as the most famous and powerful of our Royal dynasties, but they had somewhat scandalous beginnings. In the 1420s a soldier and courtier Owen Tudor entered the service of the Queen Catherine of Valois after the death of her husband Henry. She was having a hard time finding a replacement husband as the government quashed almost all of her attempts. At some point she decided to elope with Owen. The marriage was later given legitimacy by Henry VI, and so the Tudor bandwagon was on the way.

2. Richard I was possibly homosexual
The symbol of a red blooded English King may actually have been a homosexual. There is evidence which suggests Richard I met his Queen Berrengaria while involved in a relationship with her brother.

 3. Plantagenet isn’t a real name
The Plantagenets ruled England for hundreds of years, but it was not their real name. They were in fact the Angevins or counts of Anjou. Plantagenet was a nickname earned by Geoffrey of Anjou for a plant which he often wore.

4. Many English kings lost their throne
 While the power of the French King was absolute, English Kings knew that they could all too easily be shifted from power. Edward II and Richard II were all forced from power while Henry II faced rebellions from his own children and King John was struggling to regain his throne when he died of dysentery.

5. Three medieval kings died in battle
They were Harold Godwinson, Richard I and Richard III.

6. Richard the Lionheart was killed by a chef

A picture of the death of Richard I. We think of Richard I as a great rampaging warrior of the middle ages, but he met an ignominious end. While returning to England he laid siege to a small castle hoping for some booty. However, a chef on the battlements spotted the King, grabbed a crossbow and killed him.

7. There were four hopefuls for the Crown in 1066

A family tree depicting the descent of Edgar the Aetheling.

We generally only think of Harold, William and the Hardrada as being claimants for the throne in 1066. However, there was another one. Edgar Aetheling was the closest relative to Edward the Confessor and actually had a pretty good case. However, he didn’t have much support so few people took much notice of him.

 8. Louis I was a King of England
We believe the last time we were invaded was 1066. This is not true – we’ve actually been invaded many, many times. In 1216, Prince Louis of France invaded England and took control of London and reigned as King Louis I for almost a year. He was eventually beaten back and forced to beat a path back to France.

9. Richard the Lionheart Hated England

Richard the Lionheart would have sold England if he had the chance.

We all think of him as a great hero King, but not only could he not speak the language, he even said he’d have sold the entire country off if only he could find a buyer.

10. England had a second Interregnum

Simon de Montfort who captured a King and briefly ruled England. We all know about Oliver Cromwell and the Interregnum but something similar happened much earlier. In 1264 Simon de Montfort rebelled against Henry III and won a resounding victory at the Battle of Lewes. He began setting up a new government and parliament, but his success was short lived. In 1265 Henry’s son Edward escaped captivity, rallied an army and defeated Simon.

By Tom Cropper
Tom is a freelance journalist who studied history at Essex University. His work can be found in many different publications focusing on business and politics.

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