Home > kingdoms
Print Friendly

Tag Archive for: kingdoms

Kingdom of England (13th – 15th c.)

27 Jul
July 27, 2012

John’s attempt to evade the provisions of the Great Charter resulted in a civil war known as the First Barons’ War (1215-1217) which ended with accession of his minor son Henry III (1216-1272) to the English throne. He reissued the Great Charter but the need of additional financial sources forced him to accept the Provisions of Oxford which greatly limited the monarchical power in 1258. Henry later renounced the Provisions of Oxford and provoked a civil war known as the Second Barons’ War (1264-1267). The royal forces were defeated by the baronial forces led by Simon de Montfort in the Battle of Lewes in 1264, while Henry III and his heir to the throne Prince Edward were taken captive. De Montfort became de factoruler of England and summoned the first directly-elected parliament in Medieval Europe. However, he was killed in the battle against Prince Edward one year later. Simon’s followers continued the struggle until 1267 when King Henry III restored his authority.

A portrait of Henry III of England by unknown artist, 17th century

Henry III

Henry III was succeeded by his son Edward I (1272-1307) who was at the time of his father’s death on the Ninth Crusade. He returned to England in 1274 when he was crowned. Edward’s reign is notable for his conquest of Wales in 1282 and for his attempt to conquer Scotland. However, the majority of historians agree that the legal and constitutional development during Edward’s reign was of greater significance than his military achievements. He played an important role in defining the English common law and he is often referred as Edward the Lawgiver or the English Justinian. Edward’s inner politics was also marked by the formation of the Parliament which began to meet regularly during his reign. His successor Edward II (1307-1327) did not pursue his father’s policy and did not had the capacity to govern. In 1311, the barons forced him to accept the appointment of a committee of 21 lords ordainers which limited the king’s power over finances and appointments, while the Scots decisively defeated the English forces at Bannockburn in 1314 and restored their independence. Edward II was forced to abdicate and was most likely murdered at Berkley Castle in 1327.

Edward II was succeeded by his son Edward III (1327-1377) who was a minor at his accession to the throne. The regency was held by his mother Isabella and her lover Roger Mortimer, Earl of March until 1330 when Edward killed Mortimer and forced his mother to retire. His rule was characterized by the outbreak of the Hundred Years’ War which started favorable for England. The English forces won all the major battles but the English advance was halted by the outbreak of the Black Death that swept over western Europe in 1348-1349. Warfare was renewed in 1369 but it was marked by the French victory in the Battle of La Rochelle in 1372.

The enthusiasm for the war waned and Edward’s successor Richard II (1377-1399) had to face general unrest reaching its height with the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381. The Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 was provoked by the new tax poll of 1380 to finance the Hundred Years’ War. Richard II managed to suppress the revolt by promising the abolishment of serfdom and further reforms. However, he forgot about his promise after he reestablished order although serfdom in England began to decline and practically disappeared by 1450.

Painting of Henry IV of England by unknown artist, 16th century

Painting of Henry IV of England by unknown artist, 16th century

Richard’s despotic rule brought him into conflict with the barons. Henry of Bolingbroke, Duke of Hereford took advantage of Richard’s absence in Ireland and general dissatisfaction with his rule, and forced him to abdicate in 1399. Henry of Bolingbroke was crowned as Henry IV (1377-1413) and founded the Lancastrian dynasty. His reign was characterized by the persecution of the Lollards, followers of John Wycliffe which also marked the reign of his successor Henry V (1413-1422). The latter renewed the claim to the French throne resulting in renewal of the war against France. The English forces severely defeated the French in the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, while Henry V conquered much of Normandy and concluded formal alliance with the Duchy of Burgundy that had taken Paris. In 1420, Henry V forced Charles VI of France to sign the Treaty of Troyes according to which Henry would marry Charles’ daughter Catherine and would be recognized as heir to the French throne after Charles’ death. However, both Charles VI and Henry V died in 1422.

Henry VI (1422-1461) was an infant at the time of his accession to the throne, while the French recognized the son of Charles VI, Charles VII as king of France. Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester became the regent of the Kingdom and protector to Henry VI, while John, Duke of Bedford continued the war against France. However, the French forces led by Joan of Arc lifted the Siege of Orleans in 1429 and the English were forced to withdraw from the continent by 1453. At the same time occurred struggles between the barons for the influence over Henry VI leading to the outbreak of a civil war known as the Wars of the Roses that started almost immediately after the end of the Hundred Years’ War.

A portrait of Edward IV of England

Edward IV

Henry VI became insane shortly before the birth of his son Edward in 1453 and Richard, Duke of York was declared protector of the realm. Henry VI reestablished his authority two years later and excluded Richard from the royal council provoking a struggle over the throne between the House of Lancaster (red rose) and the House of York (white rose). In 1461, the English crown was assumed by Edward IV of York (1461-1483) with help of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick but the civil war continued. The alliance between Edward and Earl of Warwick had fallen apart and Warwick liberated Henry VI and restored him to the throne in 1470. Edward was forced to flee but he returned to England one year later, and defeated and killed Warwick and nearly all the remaining Lancastrian leaders. The Lancastrian line virtually extinguished after the assassination of Henry VI in 1471 and the only rival left was Henry Tudor who was living in exile. The English throne was seized by Richard, Duke of Gloucester (1483-1485) upon Edward’s death and probably had both sons of Edward IV murdered. Richard’s unpopularity reached its lowest point and greatly contributed to his downfall. He was defeated and killed by Henry Tudor in the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 due to desertion and switching sides of his key allies. Henry Tudor ascended to the English throne as Henry VII (1485-1509) and founded the Tudor dynasty which ruled England until 1603.

Kingdom of Sicily (11th – 13th c.)

27 Jul
July 27, 2012

The Normans captured Sicily from the Arabs who ruled the island from 902 in the 11th century. The Kingdom of Sicily encompassing the island of Sicily, the whole Mezzogiorno region of southern Italy, and the islands of Malta and Gozo was established by Roger II, Count of Sicily who crowned himself King of Sicily in 1130.

Medieval depiction of Roger II riding a horse

Medieval depiction of Roger II riding a horse

Roger II (1130-1154) spent his early reign struggling for confirmation of his title, defending his kingdom against the foreign invasions and quelling rebellions of his premier vassals Grimoald of Bari, Robert II of Capua, Ranulf II of Alife, Sergius of Naples and others. Roger II managed to consolidate his power by 1140 and later conquered the coast of Africa from Tunis to Tripoli.

Roger II was succeeded by his son William I the Bad (1154-1166) who suppressed the rebellions of the barons. His heir and successor William II (1166-1189) died childless and the Sicilian crown was assumed by his cousin Tancred of Lecce (1189-1194) on his death in 1166. The Sicilian throne was also claimed by Constance of Sicily, Tancred’s aunt and wife of Holy Roman Emperor, Henry VI. The latter launched a campaign and deposed Tancred’s infant son and successor William III (1194). Thus the Sicilian crown passed to the Hohenstaufen Dynasty.

Taifa Kingdoms

27 Jul
July 27, 2012

The Iberian Peninsula saw the rise of numerous more or less independent Taifa Kingdoms after the collapse of the Caliphate of Cordoba in 1031. The period of Taifa Kingdoms also known as “the period of regional kings” strengthened the position of the Christian Kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula which started their expansion on the expense of Muslim lands. Taifa states were unable to defend themselves against the Christian Kingdoms on the north and the west, and were forced to seek help at the Almoravids, a Berber confederation that succeeded the Fatimid dynasty in Northern Africa.

Map of the Iberian Peninsula after the collapse of the Caliphate of Cordoba

Map of the Iberian Peninsula after the collapse of the Caliphate of Cordoba

The Almoravids under Yusuf ibn Tashfin defeated the Christian forces led by Alfonso VI of Castile in 1086. However, Almoravids afterwards subdued the Taifa Kingdoms and ruled the Muslim Spain until 1174 when they were overthrown by the Almohads, another Berber dynasty. The Almohads were defeated by a coalition of Christian kings under leadership of Alfonso VIII of Castile in the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212 which was a major turning point in the history of Reconquista.

Caliphate of Cordoba

27 Jul
July 27, 2012
Caliphate of Cordoba

Caliphate of Cordoba

Emir Abd-ar-rahman III (919-961) proclaimed himself Caliph in 929 after the establishment of the Fatimid Caliphate in Northern Africa (909). Thus the Emirate of Cordoba became Caliphate of Cordoba and ruled Al-Andalus until 1031 when the Caliphate fractured into numerous independent kingdoms known as the Taifa Kingdoms. The Caliphate of Cordoba reached its height in the 10th century, while Cordoba was the most prosperous city in Europe and one of the leading cultural centers of the Islamic world. However, inner conflicts and weak rulers who were unable to assert authority resulted in decentralization of power and a civil war between 1009 and 1013 which led to the collapse of the Caliphate of Cordoba.

Kingdom of Galicia

27 Jul
July 27, 2012

The Kingdom of Galicia was established in 910 when Alfonso III the Great divided the Kingdom of Asturias among his sons. The first King of Galicia was Ordono II (910-925) who succeeded his brother Garcia I as King of Leon after his death in 924. Ordono died one year later and the third brother, Fruela II of Asturias who was elected his successor incorporated Galicia into the Kingdom of Leon. Galicia became an integral part of the Kingdom of Castile in 1037 when Fernando I of Castile conquered Leon. However, the unified kingdom of Castile and Leon was divided among Fernando’s three sons on his death in 1063. Galicia was given to his youngest son Garcia II (1063-1072) who renewed its independence.

Kingdom of Galicia

Kingdom of Galicia

The tensions between the three brothers that followed the division of the Kingdom of Castile and Leon were taken advantage by Count of Portugal, Nuno II Mendes who proclaimed himself independent ruler and established the Kingdom of Portugal in 1065. He was defeated by Garcia II in 1071. Garcia added to his title King of Portugal but he was defeated by his brother Sancho II of Castile in 1072. The latter was murdered by the third brother Alfonso VI in the same year, while Garcia was imprisoned for lifetime. The Kingdom of Galicia and Portugal was an integral part of Kingdom of Castile and Leon until 1139 when Alfonso I (the son of Henry of Burgundy, Count of Portugal) proclaimed himself King of Portugal and declared independence from the Kingdom of Castile and Leon.

Kingdom of Pamplona or Navarre (9th -13th c.)

27 Jul
July 27, 2012

The Kingdom of Pamplona or Navarre emerged in the 9th century when the Franks withdrew from the country. At the same time began to rise the power and influence of the Vasconic dynasty and Inigo Arista became the first King of Pamplona in 825. The Kingdom of Pamplona greatly extended its territory under Inigo’s successors and came to be known as the Kingdom of Navarre.

The Kingdom of Navarre reached its height under successors of Sancho II Garces (970-994), especially during the reign of Sancho III the Great (1000-1035) who ruled Pamplona, Castile and Aragon, and conquered kingdoms of Castile and Leon at the end of his reign. He divided his kingdom among his four sons on his death: Garcia of Najera inherited the Kingdom of Pamplona, his eldest son Fernando received Castile, Gonzalo gained Sobrarbe and Ribagorza, while his illegitimate son Ramiro inherited the County of Aragon. The division resulted in severe conflicts between Sancho’s successors and led to further partition of the Kingdom of Navarre. Assassination of Sancho IV (1054-1076) in 1076 caused a dynastic crisis which enabled the Castilian and Aragonese kings to seize the territory of the Kingdom of Navarre.

Location of the Kingdom of Navarre

Location of the Kingdom of Navarre

The Kingdom of Navarre reached its territorial peak under Aragonese overlordship from 1074 to 1134. Garcia V of Navarre (1134-1150) restored Navarrese independence from Aragon in 1134 and tried to recapture the historic lands of Navarre from Castile. His son and successor Sancho the Wise (1150-1194) continued the fight against Castile. The dispute between the kingdoms of Navarre and Castile was settled by an arbitration of Henry II of England in 1177. Henry II gave each side what they actually controlled. However, Alfonso VIII of Castile took advantage of the absence of Sancho the Strong (1194-1234) and conquered western Navarre in 1200.

Kingdom of Castile (10th – 13th c.)

27 Jul
July 27, 2012

Castile achieved its independence from the Kingdom of Leon under Fernan Gonzalez, Count of Castile (923-970). Sancho III of Navarre inherited title to the County of Castile in 1026 and left it to his son Fernando I as a kingdom in 1035. Fernando I started a war with Kingdom of Leon shortly after his accession to the throne, defeated Bermudo III of Leon, unified both kingdoms and assumed the title Fernando I of Leon. He divided the Kingdom of Castile-Leon among his sons before his death in 1065: his eldest son Sancho II received Castile, the second and his favorite son Alfonso VI inherited Leon, while the youngest son Garcia gained the Kingdom of Galicia.

Alfonso VII

Alfonso VII

Sancho II of Castile turned against his brothers and captured both Leon and Galicia in 1072. However, he was assassinated in the same year and was succeeded by his brother Alfonso VI (1072-1109) who recovered the Kingdom of Leon, captured Galicia and proclaimed himself Emperor of all Spain. Alfonso VI was succeeded by his daughter Urraca (1109-1126). She married Alfonso I of Aragon in 1109 but the royal couple separated already in 1114. Urraca’s reign was marked by incessant warfare with her ex-husband who had seized her lands. She managed to recover most of her lands with help of her son Alfonso VII, King of Galicia who succeeded Urraca after her death in 1226.

Alfonso VII (1126-1157) renewed the supremacy of Kingdom of Castile over other Christian kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula. He conquered Cordoba and Almeria but his campaigns against the Moors did not bring permanent success and his territorial gains were soon lost. Alfonso VII divided his kingdom between his sons: Sancho III became King of Castile and Fernando II became King of Leon. The division led to the rivalry between both kingdoms which split apart about 1195. However, on the death of Henry I of Castile in 1217 his sister Berenguela renounced her right of succession in favor of her son Fernando III who also succeeded his father Alfonso IX of Leon and permanently reunited the kingdoms of Castile and Leon.

Kingdom of Leon

27 Jul
July 27, 2012

The Kingdom of Leon was established with the division of the Kingdom of Asturias among the sons of Alfonso III in 910. The first King of Leon became Alfonso’s eldest son Garcia I (910-914). He was succeeded by his brother Ordono II who was also King of Galicia in 914. On his death in 924 Kingdoms of Leon and Galicia passed to the third brother Fruela II, King of Asturias who moved the capital from Oviedo to the city of Leon. Thus the Kingdom of Leon is practically a continuation of Kingdom of Asturias.

Ramiro II of Leon

Ramiro II of Leon

The period from Fruela’s death in 925 until the accession of Ramiro II (931-951) was marked by a dynastic crisis. Ramiro II brought stability to the kingdom and defeated the Muslims several times but he could not prevent the establishment of Kingdom of Castile under Count Fernan Gonzalez (923-970) nor the rise of Navarre and County of Barcelona. Ramiro’s death was followed by an inner crisis which was caused by the struggles over the throne and the attacks of the Muslims of Al-Andalus.

The Kingdom of Leon retained its importance in the Iberian Peninsula until it was conquered by Fernando I of Castile and united with Kingdom of Castile in 1037. Ferdinand ruled both kingdoms as Fernando I of Leon until his death in 1065 when Kingdom of Leon renewed its independence. In 1072, Leon was reunited with Castile under Alfonso VI of Castile but the kingdoms were split again around 1195. However, Castile and Leon were permanently united by Fernando III of Castile in 1230.

Kingdom of Asturias (9th – 10th c.)

27 Jul
July 27, 2012

The Asturian throne was seized by Nepocian on the death of Alfonso II in 842 but he was defeated by Ramiro I (842-850) in the Battle of the Bridge of Cornellana in the same year. Ramiro I abolished the system of election and secured the crown of Asturias to his son Ordono I.

Alfonso III

Alfonso III

Ordono I (850-866) was succeeded by his son Alfonso III (866-910) who managed to consolidate the Kingdom of Asturias. However, he divided the Kingdom of Asturias among his three sons on his death in 910: his eldest son Garcia I received the Kingdom of Leon, the second born son Ordono II gained the Kingdom of Galicia and the youngest son Fruela II took the remaining part of the Kingdom of Asturias. Garcia I died in 914 and Ordono II was chosen as his successor acting both as King of Galicia and Leon until his death in 924. Kingdom of Asturias was reunited in 924 on Ordono’s death when Fruela II was elected his heir but came to be known as Kingdom of Leon.

Kingdom of Denmark 10th – 13th c.)

27 Jul
July 27, 2012

The Kingdom of Denmark was established by Harald Bluetooth who unified the Danish lands about 980. His successor Sweyn I (986-1014) ruled over most of Norway and was also crowned King of England one year before his death. Sweyn was succeeded by his eldest son Harald II (1014-1018) as King of Denmark, while his younger son Canute the Great (1016-1035) was crowned King of England. Canute the Great assumed the Danish throne on Harald’s death in 1018 and conquered Norway and part of Sweden.

Canute the Great

Canute the Great

Both Sweden and Norway restored their independence after Canute’s death in 1035, while Danish rule in England collapsed in 1042. The Kingdom of Denmark fell into a crisis until the accession of Valdemar I (1157-1182). Valdemar ended the period of a civil war and strengthened his authority in Denmark with support of the Bishop of Roskilde, Absalon who canonized his father Canute Lavard and performed the coronation ceremony for his son Canute VI (1182-1202). Valdemar I was also active in foreign politics and extended Danish rule over southern Sweden and greater part of the Baltic coast. By the end of his rule Valdemar I rejected the overlordship of Frederick I Barbarossa.

Danish expansion continued under Valdemar’s son and successor Canute VI who refused to acknowledge the overlordship of the Holy Roman Emperor. He conquered Pomerania and Mecklenburg, while his younger brother Valdemar, Duke of Schleswig conquered Holstein, including Lubeck and Hamburg in 1201. Danish territorial expansion also took place through marriages of Canute’s sisters: Ingeborg to the French King Philip II Augustus and Helen to William of Winchester, Lord of Lunenburg and brother of Otto IV, Holy Roman Emperor.

© Copyright - Medieval Times - Site by Local SEO Company