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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Forget Catherine the Great and Ivan the Terrible - here's Fruela the Leprous, Alfonso the Slobberer and Wilfred the Hairy

These royal epithets are nicknames used to encapsulate a leader’s personality or appearance, or to sum up the events or legacy of their time in power. Frequently, as you can see, they're not particularly flattering.

This guy, King Oskar of Sweden, is not
on this list but is funny-looking enough
that maybe he should be.
ALEXANDER THE POTBELLY was Prince of Suzdal, in western Russia, from 1414-17. Other holders of the same title included “George Longarm,” and “John the Strongbow.”

ALFONSO THE SLOBBERER was King of Galicia from 1188-1230. He apparently earned his nickname because he foamed at the mouth when enraged.

BERENGUER-RAMON THE FRATRICIDE was an 11th century Count of Barcelona who earned his unappealing nickname when rumors began to circulate that he had been involved in his twin brother’s death in a hunting accident in 1082.

BERNARD THE HAIRY-FOOTED was a 9th century Count of Auvergne. If not a genuine reference to his feet, his nickname might instead have been inspired by some family crest or emblem.

BOLKO THE STRICT was a 13th century Prince of Germany. His father was Bolesław the Bald, and his brother was Bernard the Lightsome.

BROCHWEL THE FANGED, or Brochwel Ysgrithrog, was a 6th century ruler of Powys in central Wales. His epithet ysgrithog means “fanged” or “tusked,” and probably refers either to his large or prominent teeth, or to his aggressive, short-tempered personality.

BURMUDO THE GOUTY, King of Léon from 984-999, suffered from such a bad case of gout towards the end of his life that he couldn’t ride his horse and had to be carried everywhere by his courtiers.

Charles II is not, for some reason,
known as Charlie the Big-Nose
CHILDERIC THE IDIOT was King of the Franks from 743-751. No one is quite sure what he did to earn the epithet “the Idiot,” but seeing as he ended his reign by being deposed and consigned to a monastery, it may be nothing more than an attempt by his successors to tarnish his name.

CONSTANTINE THE DUNG-NAMED was the nickname of Constantine V, the Byzantine Emperor from 741-55. The Latin epithet Copronymus, “dung-named,” was unsurprisingly bestowed on him by his many enemies.

DOMNALL THE SPECKLED was the freckle-faced ruler of Argyll in Scotland from 629-42. He’s also a distant ancestor of Kate Middleton.

FERDINAND THE BOMB was King Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies, who ruled from 1830-59. He earned the Italian epithet re bomba, “The Bomb King,” when he ordered the shelling of a Sicilian town believed to be a stronghold of antimonarchist separatists, despite its large civilian population, in 1848.

FREDERICK THE BITTEN was apparently bitten on the cheek by his mother when he was just a baby. He served as Margrave (a medieval title equivalent to marquis) of Meissen in Germany from 1291-1323.

FRUELA THE LEPROUS was king of Asturias in northern Spain from 910 until his death from leprosy in 925.

GARCÍA THE TREMBLER, García Sánchez II, was king of Pamplona in Spain from 994-1004. According to one account, “though a man of tried courage, he never prepared for battle without visibly trembling from head to foot.”

HALFDAN THE BAD ENTERTAINER, also known as King Halfdan the Mild, was the son of Eystein the Fart. His nickname apparently refers to his habit of paying his soldiers generously, but providing them with little food or entertainment.

HARALD THE LOUSY ruled Norway as King Harald I for almost 50 years from 872-930. He is better known as “Harald Fairhair,” but is also referred to as “Harald Tanglehair” and “Harald the Shockhead.”

HENRY THE IMPOTENT was king of Castile from 1454-74. His nickname probably refers to his disastrously ineffectual reign, although some accounts have since suggested that Henry was genuinely impotent, if not secretly homosexual.

IVAYLO THE CABBAGE, also known as “Ivaylo the Swineherd,” was a Bulgarian farmer who led a peasants’ revolt in the late 13th century and proclaimed himself Emperor of Bulgaria in 1278. He was overthrown the following year and assassinated.

IVAR THE BONELESS was a 9th century Viking leader. Although some accounts claim his nickname was a reference to impotence, a more likely theory is that he was an incredibly swift fighter and was able to move quickly and effortlessly in battle.

LOUIS THE STAMMERER was King Louis II of France, the great-great-grandfather of Louis the Good-for-Nothing. He reigned for just two years from 877-879.

Caption contest!  Leave your "Obama the _____"
suggestions in the comments.
MANUEL THE SAUSAGE-MAKER was Count Manuel Francisco Domingo Godoy, Prime Minister of Spain from 1792-1797 and 1801-1809. Born in an area of central Spain known for producing sausages, Godoy’s epithet is probably also a crude reference to his long-term affair with the Spanish Queen, Maria Luisa.

PIERO THE UNFORTUNATE was ruler of Florence for two years from 1492-1494. Abandoning an alliance with France in favor of one with Naples, Piero lost control of the city when the French invaded, then was ousted from power when the people revolted and plundered the Medici Palace. As if that weren’t unfortunate enough, he eventually drowned crossing a river while fleeing from a battle in 1503.

VASILY THE CROSS-EYED was Grand Prince of Moscow from 1434 until he was overthrown the following year by an alliance of forces loyal to his brother Dmitry and his cousin, Vasily II. He was subsequently blinded and banished from the Kremlin.

WILFRED THE HAIRY was a 9th century Catalan nobleman and Count of Barcelona. According one medieval description of him, Wilfred was “hairy in places not normally so in men.”

16 comments:

  1. Obama the Treasonous

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  2. There is also Fulk the Rude, Count of Anjou 1043-1109, a distant ancestor of mine (And many Americans of English origin).

    As for the president, "Obama the Inhaler."

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  3. Obama the Retrograde

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  4. Obama the Whiffer.

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  5. Obama the Blameless

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  6. Obama the Chickenshit

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  7. Obama the Feckless

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  8. Bolko I (the Strict) was not "Prince of Germany"; he was Polish and ruled territories in Silesia. You forgot: Aethelred the Unready and Timur the Lame not to mention Wladyslaw Spindleshanks and Wladyslaw the Spitter

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  9. Obama the Squealer

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  10. Obama the Besmirched

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  11. You also missed Harald Bluetooth, who leant his name to the wireless technology
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harald_Bluetooth

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  12. Obama the Temp-worker

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