Amazing Medieval King Facts That We Bet You Didn't Know!

Anusuya Mukherjee
Jan 25, 2024 By Anusuya Mukherjee
Originally Published on Jan 19, 2022
Learn more about the history and life of Medieval kings.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.5 Min

In order to know who the medieval kings were, it is necessary to know when the Medieval Period in history began and ended.

The Middle Ages in England began with the Battle of Hastings, where William the Conqueror came out victorious and gained the English throne. Meanwhile, the end of the Middle Ages in England was marked by the start of the Early Modern Period in 1485.

During the Middle Ages, there were many ways to become a king. One of them was through the royal bloodline, or hereditary succession. This meant that when a king died, the next king would be his eldest son. If the king had no children, then his brother or cousin would become the next king. Another way to become a king was to take over the throne through battles.

The kings of the Middle Ages came from various different dynasties, and each had a unique personality. Read on to explore more interesting facts about the medieval kings.

Famous Medieval Kings

Although there were many medieval kings who ruled over medieval England, there were some that drastically changed the history of the country with their reign.

The kings belonged to different families and societies.

With William I the Conqueror came the Norman invasion of England. William, belonging to the Norman dynasty, brought with him the feudal system, which was introduced for the first time in England.

He was the one who had commissioned the Doomsday Survey, which was carried out in order to ascertain the taxes which were to be created to provide funds for the military.

Henry I was William I's youngest son who was crowned king after the death of his brother, William Rufus. King Henry I was known as the Lion of Justice due to the excellent laws he passed, even though the punishments for defying some of them were quite savage.

Matilda, daughter of Henry I, took over the throne when all her brothers died by drowning.

Empress Matilda was never officially crowned the ruler of England. Moreover, her cousin, King Stephen, usurped the throne of England and ruled for some time.

His poor leadership became the reason for the start of the civil war called 'The Anarchy', which lasted for 19 years. The power struggle continued between Matilda and Stephen until Stephen eventually agreed to pass the crown to Matilda's son Henry II.

King Henry II was considered to be a strong king. He had introduced his own magistrates and courts, thereby founding the Jury System of England. King Henry II also created new taxes to be collected from the landowners in order to fund the military. He was also able to expand the French lands under his rule. He had conquered almost all of France.

Richard I was the son of Henry II, and by 16 years of age, he had been able to lead his own army in order to curb the rebellion forces of France. The reign of Richard I was mainly spent outside of England as he led the Third Crusade in search of the holy land. He was known as the 'Lionheart'.

He was succeeded by King John, who was his brother. King John was given the title of the 'worst English king.' This title was given to him because of his cruel and selfish nature. In addition to this, he was also self-indulgent and greedy. Society as a whole, including the clergy and laymen, came together to show their distaste for him.

Henry III was crowned king of England when he was just nine years old. He was raised by priests, and as he grew, his devotion toward the church, learning, and art grew too. The rule of King Henry III was heavily influenced by the churchmen and the French relations of his wife.

King Edward I was the son of the previous king. He was a soldier, a lawyer, as well as a statesman who made the knights, nobility, clergy, lords, and the common all come together in 1295 to create the Model Parliament. He was also called the Hammer of the Scots for the battles he won in Scotland.

After Edward I, the crown of England was passed on to his son, King Edward II. King Edward II was believed to be a frivolous man who was easily led. His death was very controversial and was actually a murder. Christopher Marlowe even wrote a play titled 'Edward II' about him. His son, Edward III, later succeeded him.

King Edward III is considered to be quite a strong king who was also known to be kind. He was an ambitious man whose goal was to bring glory to the military. The Seven Years' War between France and England took place during the reign of King Edward III.

After the demise of King Edward III, his grandson, King Richard II, took over the throne of England. Richard II was the son of the Black Prince and was quite brave during his youth. According to history, though, he changed and was believed to have become selfish when he grew older.

He had no children out of his two marriages; his cousin Henry IV became the king of England after usurping his throne and putting him in prison, where he died.

King Henry IV was the famous son of John of Gaunt. He was believed to have had a cheerful and friendly attitude. He was later succeeded by his son, Henry V. King Henry V was considered to be a great and brave knight who was fair and just. He led the army and came out victorious in the Battle of Agincourt. He was also known as Henry of Monmouth.

After the death of his father, Henry VI, who was still only nine years old, was crowned King of England. He also ascended to the French throne. He has a meek and gentle personality. It was during his reign that the Hundred Years War came to an end. One of the notable accomplishments of King Henry VI was that he established Elton College, which is situated close to Windsor Castle.

King Henry VI was imprisoned by Edward IV, who was the youngest son of Edward III. He thus usurped the crown of England and became King Edward IV. He was considered to have a complex personality, as he was sometimes known to be intelligent and good-natured, while at other times he was believed to have been lazy and selfish.

After his death, his illegitimate son, Edward V, was briefly crowned King of England. However, he was believed to have been murdered only three months after he was given the throne. Edward V is famously known as one of the Princes in the Tower.

The throne of England was then passed on to Richard III. King Richard III was one of the suspects in the murder of Edward V, and he was defeated by Henry VII. King Henry VII, also known as Henry Tudor, belonged to the Tudor dynasty. His reign marks the end of the Middle Ages in England.

The England of the Middle Ages is also known as Medieval England. The kings of England during the Middle Ages came from different dynasties. While William the Conqueror was the first of the Norman kings during the Middle Ages, King Stephen was, later, the last of the Norman kings to rule England.

The four kings of the Norman dynasty were followed by the Plantagenet kings of the Middle Ages.

The Plantagenet kings had a division during their reign, including the Angevin Dynasty. From Henry II to Edward III, all of them were Plantagenet kings who ruled over England during the Middle Ages.

Then the reign of the Lancaster and York Kings began, which consisted of seven kings. These seven kings of the Royal Houses of Lancaster and York were Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI, Edward IV, Edward V, and Richard III.

The Lifestyle Of A Medieval King

Many people might believe that being a king would have many benefits. And they are partly right, as there are advantages to being in a powerful position. But with great power really does come great responsibility.

The individual who would become a king in the future had to be trained from a very young age. The future kings were strictly monitored and appraised so as to see if they were fit to lead the country. Even when the kings took over the throne and accepted their duties as the ruler of a country, they were still watched by the lords of the king's court.

On the other hand, the kings also had certain privileges. They did not have to pay tax, and before the establishment of a proper court of parliament, the kings used to directly make and issue a new tax or any other law they wanted. Many kings also enjoyed their privileged lives by hosting events and celebrating several occasions lavishly.

Learn all about the lifestyle of medieval kings.

What qualities did a medieval king need to have?

Leadership positions aren't easy to acquire. Only people who had the right qualities could become and stay as kings, or attain and retain other positions of power.

There were many criteria required to become a king during the Middle Ages. The kings did not just rule the kingdom by sitting in their castles. The kings of the Middle Ages were required to lead their men into battles.

The kings had to be just, fair, and intelligent enough to properly rule their kingdoms. They also needed to be strong, brave, and courageous so as to lead the army and fight for the people they ruled over.

What did medieval kings do?

Each new era in history has been marked by changes in the way kingdoms and countries are ruled. These changes also involved the duties of the kings toward their kingdoms.

The most significant duties of the king during the middle ages were to maintain control over the kingdom and maintain peace with the neighboring kingdoms. Meanwhile, some kings wanted to expand their empire and thus fought various battles. The kings also had to make laws for the kingdom and give punishments to those who didn't follow them.

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Written by Anusuya Mukherjee

Bachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

Anusuya Mukherjee picture

Anusuya MukherjeeBachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

With a wealth of international experience spanning Europe, Africa, North America, and the Middle East, Anusuya brings a unique perspective to her work as a Content Assistant and Content Updating Coordinator. She holds a law degree from India and has practiced law in India and Kuwait. Anusuya is a fan of rap music and enjoys a good cup of coffee in her free time. Currently, she is working on her novel, "Mr. Ivory Merchant".

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