Saturday, March 31, 2012

[March 31] Philip I, landgrave of Hesse

Surname: "Der Großmütige" (The Magnanimous)
Parents: William II, landgrave of Hesse, and Anna of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Date of Birth: 13 November 1504
House: Brabant-Hesse
Predecessor: William II
Spouse: Christine (daughter of George, duke of Saxony, and Barbara of Poland) and Margarethe von der Saale
Reign: 1509 - 1567
Summary: Philip was born into a troublesome time for Germany. He became landgrave at the age of five when his father, William II, died young. His mother fought for five years to become regent but only succeeded in 1514. Hesse remained in a state of quasi-civil war until 1518 when the Hessian estates proclaimed their fourteen-year-old landgrave old enough to rule. During his early years, he had a very scattered education with both morality and religious training being neglected, something that would become important oversights later in his life. Soon after he reached sixteen, he started actively participating in the government of Hesse.

Philip was lucky in that Hesse was a single unified state under his rule. Salic Law often separated German states and, indeed, Philip divided his own state into four quarters upon his death. Philip met Martin Luther, the Protestant reformer, in 1521 at the Diet of Worms and he became attracted to the priest's ideas. In 1524, he personally accepted Lutheranism and then went out to suppress a peasant revolt at the Battle of Frankenhausen. By 1526, Philip was actively participating in a Protestant alliance that was growing in Germany. He began the Protestantization of Hesse that same year and opened the Protestant University of Marburg the year after. Intrigues in 1528 forced Hesse and the Electorate of Saxony to launch a preemptive strike against Catholic Germany to ensure the survival of Protestantism. They only awaited the time that such a rebellion would be required. A secret treaty was signed in 1529 and in 1530 the Schmalkaldic League against the Holy Roman Emperor was formed. For four years tensions rose in Germany as peace settlements were tried. Finally in 1534, the situation became dire. Ferdinand of Austria was invested with the duchy of Württemberg and at the Battle of Lauffen he was denied that and Philip was proclaimed a Protestant hero. The Schmalkaldic League was a success and in 1535 new members were added and the treaty was extended to 1545. Personal problems affected Philip's popularity after 1540 when the landgrave entered into a bigamous marriage with Margarethe von der Saale. To avoid utter scandal, Philip began negotiating with Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and came to terms with him over all but Protestantism. Philip's position as leader of German Protestantism was at an end. For a brief while he was a trusted advisor to Charles V, and the emperor even considered using him as the commander of a new war against the Ottoman Empire.Things feel apart again in 1544, though, as differences between the emperor and Philip broke out into the Schmalkaldic War which ended in 1547 with the capture of the Saxon Elector John Frederick and the dissolution of the Schmalkaldic League. Charles imprisoned both John Frederick and Philip in southern Germany until 1552. Philip was now old and new Protestant leaders had arisen during his captivity. Philip spent his last years seeking a peace between Catholics and Protestants while also supporting the Protestant cause in France. Upon his death, Hesse was divided permanently into four landgraviates.
Date of Death: 31 March 1567
Successor: William IV (Kassel), Louis IV (Marburg), Philipp II (Rheinfels), & Georg I (Darmstadt)

Other Monarchs Who Died Today:
  • Ivan I, prince of Moscow (1340)
  • Francis I, king of France (1547)
  • Philip III, king of Spain, Portugal, Naples and Sicily (1621)

Friday, March 30, 2012

[March 30] Arnulf II, count of Fanders

Coat of Arms of the House of Flanders
Parents: Baldwin III, count of Flanders, and Mathilde of Saxony
Date of Birth: circa 960
House: Flanders
Predecessor: Arnulf I
Spouse: Rozala, daughter of Berengar II, king of Italy, and Willa of Tuscany
Reign: 965 – 987
Summary: Arnulf II was the ruler of Flanders during the years of its rise to greatness. His father was Baldwin III, a co-count of Flanders under his own father Arnulf I, the founder of the county. Baldwin predeceased his father and, when Arnulf I died in 965, Arnulf II was only an infant still when he became count. A regency was established under the leadership of Baldwin Balso, a relative of the house of Flanders. This regency lasted until 976.

At the age of sixteen, Arnulf II became the sovereign count of Flanders. In the early years of this county's history, it was common for the counts to call themselves margraves, or marcher lords. It implied that the counts served a purpose of protecting other realms, namely France, from outside threats, namely the Vikings of Denmark and Norway. Flanders was a small county in 976, with Arnulf III having given a portion of it away to King Lothar of France to ensure a safe succession of his grandson. The county of Boulogne was partitioned off to a cousin in 964, a year before Arnulf would have inherited the little appendage county. Little else is known about Arnulf's reign. It appears to have been relatively uneventful and the succession passed cleanly to his son, Baldwin IV, in 987.
Date of Death: 30 March 987
Successor: Baldwin IV

Other Monarchs Who Died Today:
  • Jin Aidi, emperor of China (365)
  • Ludwig I, grand duke of Baden (1830)
  • Jigme Wangchuck, king of Bhutan (1952)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

[March 29] Go-Murakami, emperor of Japan

True Name: Noriyoshi Go-Murakami-tennō (義良 後村上天皇)
Parents: Go-Diago and Fujiwara
Date of Birth: 1328
House: Japan
Predecessor: Go-Daigo
Spouse: Fujiwara
Reign: 1339 – 1368
Summary: Noriyoshi grew up in the middle of a civil war that divided Japan between north and south. Following the Kemmu Restoration completed by his father, Go-Daigo, Noriyoshi settled in Tagajo to establish authority over the eastern samurai who had sided with the Hojo branch of the Imperial Family during the war. In 1335, a rebellion broke out and the civil war resumed, forcing Go-Daigo and his family to return to the west of Japan. Takauji, the samurai rebel leader, defeated Go-Daigo in 1336 at Kyoto, forcing the entire family to flee east again. Takauji was finally defeated in 1337 and the imperial family returned again to Kyoto where they set up their capital. Noriyoshi became crown prince in 1339. In September of that year, Go-Daigo abdicated his throne in favor of his eleven year-old son, Noriyoshi.

Emperor Go-Murakami, as he was now called, ruled under a regency for ten years before claiming his authority. This regency was crippling for the Southern Empire. His capital was retaken in another rebellion in 1348 and recovered in 1352 after the Battle of Shichiko Omiya. During the battle, three emperors of Northern Japan were captured. The emperors were released when Kyoto was yet again captured the next month and the imperial family was forced to flee. Brief forays in 1361 briefly recovered the capital but it was lost again. In 1368, the emperor died and the Northern Empire moved the capital to the northern city of Sumiyoshi. The emperor was buried in Kawachinagano, Osaka.
Date of Death: 28 March 1368
Successor: Chōkei

Other Monarchs Who Died Today:
  • Stephen IX, pope of Rome (1058)
  • Go-Murakami, emperor of Japan (1368)
  • Gustav III, king of Sweden (1792)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

[March 28] Martin IV, pope of Rome

True Name: Simon de Brion
Parents: Jean, sieur de Brion
Date of Birth: circa 1210
Predecessor: Nicholas III
Reign: 1281 – 1285
Summary: A Frenchman by birth and upbringing, Simon de Brion was born on the Île-de-France to the Brion family, which controlled land near Joigny. Simon studied at the University of Paris then studied law at Padua and Bologna. With such a background, it was only a matter of time until he received notice from the Papacy. He was made canon at Saint-Quentin in 1238 and a decade later was canon in Rouen serving as an archdeacon. Simultaneously, Simon served as treasurer of Saint-Martin in Tours, a political position he retained until 1281. Simon had a high standing in the French court and was made chancellor of France and keeper of the great seal in 1259. His rise continued when Pope Urban IV made him a cardinal in 1261 and granted him a residence in Rome. Until his nomination to the Papacy in 1281, he served as a papal legate for three popes and was chief negotiator over the claims of Charles of Anjou to the Kingdom of Sicily. Simon was finally elected to the Papacy in 1281 after Charles of Anjou imprisoned two leading Italian cardinals.

As Pope Martin IV, Simon received much antagonism from the Italians and was crowned at Orvieto rather than Rome due to protests. Simon was absolutely dependent on Charles much as Charles had been dependent on Simon. As a vassal of the Sicilian king, Simon excommunicated the Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII, thereby ending a tenuous alliance made many years earlier between the two monarchs. The breach was never resolved and the Catholic and Orthodox Churches remain to this day at odds. Charles, meanwhile, was deposed in 1282 in a violent revolution known as the Sicilian Vespers. The new king, Peter III of Aragon, sought papal confirmation but was denied despite reasserting the Papacy's dominance over Sicily. Simon, on his part, excommunicated the new king, withdrew papal support for Aragon, and ordered a crusade against the king. Yet for all his trying, Simon did not have the power to force the issue. He was pushed out of Rome and died at Perugia in 1285, a little-respected pope who never wielded much actual power.
Date of Death: 28 March 1285
Successor: Honorius IV

Other Monarchs Who Died Today:
  • Pertinax, emperor of Rome (193)
  • Ordulf, duke of Saxony (1072)
  • Go-Toba, emperor of Japan (1239)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

[March 27] Herman, duke of Saxony

The March of the Billungs, circa 1000.
Parents: Billung von Strubenskorn and Ermengarde of Nantes
Date of Birth: circa 900
House: Billung
Predecessor: Otto I
Spouse: Oda, then Hildegarde of Westerbourg
Reign: 961 – 973
Summary: A relatively unknown duke of Saxony during the transitional years before the House of Wettin took the throne, Herman was originally a margrave (marcher lord) of the Holy Roman Empire. His father was a little known local lord and his wife a Frankish woman. He ruled an area north of the Elbe River between the Limes Saxoniae and Peene Rivers. Herman began expanding his domains to the east, pushing into Slavic land and creating what became known as the March of the Billungs, named after his family. The Saxons at this time were in an almost constant state of warfare with the eastern Slavs. Otto I, the Holy Roman Emperor, was the duke of Saxony at this time but entrusted increasing amounts of authority to Herman while Otto was away on Imperial business. It is unclear if Herman was ever officially duke, but Otto relinquished the title during his reign and it is fairly certain Herman received it around the year 961.

The new duke ruled in his own right but under the authority of Otto. He was known as a military leader outside of Saxony and supported the emperor's prerogatives. His son, Bernard, was responsible for making Saxony a strong bastion in the center of Germany. Herman centralized his rule around Lüneburg in western Germany and founded the monastery of St. Michael there. He had five children, the eldest of whom succeeded him to Saxony in 973. Of his other children, one married two margraves of Meissen, a margraviate that would later inherit Saxony, another married the count of Flanders and then the count of Verdûn. A third became an abbess in Herford in Saxony. Herman died at Quedlinburg after a long and successful life. His family ruled Saxony for 150 years before the dynasty ended in dynastic warfare.
Date of Death: 27 March 973
Successor: Bernard I

Other Monarchs Who Died Today:
  • Herman, duke of Saxony (973)
  • Clement III, pope of Rome (1191)
  • Alfonso XI, king of Castile (1350)
  • Gregory XI, pope of Rome (1378)
  • Vasili II, grand prince of Moscow (1462)
  • Mary, duchess of Burgundy (1482)
  • James VI/I, king of Scots, England & Ireland (1625)

Monday, March 26, 2012

[March 26] Barghash, sultan of Zanzibar

True Name: Barghash bin Said Al-Busaid (برغش بن سعيد البوسعيد‎)
Parents:  Said bin Sultan, sultan of Muscat and Oman
Date of Birth: 1837
House: Al-Said
Predecessor: Majid
Spouse: Sultana bin Ahmed bin Muhammad Al-Sudairi, then Iffat Al-Thunayan
Reign: 1870 – 1888
Summary: Not much is known about Barghash's childhood. He was sent into exile from Zanzibar in 1859 after the Shortest War broke out and Barghash and the sultan, Majid, fought for control of the state. It was resolved when an English gunboat decided on the side of Majid, forcing Barghash to live in India for two years. Barghash became sultan eleven years later upon the death of his brother.

When he ascended the throne, he immediately imprisoned his brother, Khalifah, out of fear that he may rise up against Barghash. He only released his brother three years later when a sister threatened him with a curse if Khalifah not be released. Barghash was the last independent rulers of Zanzibar before colonialism took its toll. He ended slavery in the state after an agreement with the United Kingdom and he expanded the infrastructure of the state, expanding piping, building public bathhouses, creating a police force, paving roads, and erecting administrative and public service buildings. But the dominion of Zanzibar was coming to an end by the later years of his reign. Germany annexed great lands surrounding Zanzibar, taking tributary states away from Zanzibar and threatening control over the country. By 1886, Germany and the United Kingdom had limited the sultan's control to a 10-mile strip of land between Mozambique and the Tana River. Germany soon reneged on the treaty in order to secure sea access through Zanzibar. Barghash fortunately died before Germany took control over the country late in 1888 and prompted the start of a short war which saw Germany take direct control over the Zanzibar government. The sultan was succeeded by his brother, Khalifah. Within two years, Germany had abandoned the state to Britain which retained control until 1963.
Date of Death: 26 March 1888
Successor: Khalifah

Other Monarchs Who Died Today:
  • Sigurd I, king of Norway (1130)
  • Sancho I, king of Portugal (1212)
  • Charles I, duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (1780)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

[March 25] Faisal, king of Saudi Arabia

True Name: Fayṣal ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azīz Āl Su‘ūd (فيصل بن عبدالعزيز آل سعود‎)
Parents:  Abdul-Aziz, king of Saudi Arabia, and Turfa
Date of Birth: 1906
House: Saud
Predecessor: Saud
Spouse: Sultana bin Ahmed bin Muhammad Al-Sudairi, then Iffat Al-Thunayan
Reign: 1964 – 1975
Summary: Faisal was the son of Saudi Arabia's founder, Abdul-Aziz. During his youth, he was a commander in his father's army and won a decisive victory at Hijaz near Mecca. He was made governor of Hijaz in 1926. When the kingdom was formally established in 1932, Faisal became the Minister of Foreign Affairs, a position he held for life. He continued to command troops during the Saudi-Yemeni War in 1934. When his father's health became to decline in the 1950s, Faisal oversaw the expansion of the Saudi bureaucracy to better manage the government, and he installed extended family members to hundreds of government posts. His brother, Saud, became king in 1953 and Faisal became crown prince, but continued in his other positions. Saud was a reckless spender and nearly drove the government into bankruptcy so in 1958, Faisal convinced the family and religious leaders to appoint him Prime Minister. Two years later, Faisal resigned the post due to conflicts with the king. He regained it in 1962 but only after much effort among the Saud family. Faisal became known as a reformer and modernizer in Saudi Arabia. Women were permitted in education, though the content was controlled by the conservative religious establishment. Slavery was officially abolished. The first national television station was established in 1963. Saud was forced to leave the country that same year for medical reasons and Faisal reorganized the government while the king was away. When the king returned, Faisal demanded that the monarchy become ceremonial and himself be declared Regent. When Saud refused the demands, Faisal surrounded the royal palace with National Guard troops. Saud finally relented and appointed Faisal as regent. Later that year, Saud abdicated in favor of his brother and Faisal became king on 2 November 1964. Saud went into exile in Greece.

Balancing the budget became Faisal's primary political goal, which he succeeded in by cashing in on oil revenue. He modernized the state by establishing a modern judicial system and opening universities, while at the same time encouraging students to study abroad and then return to join the civil service. Faisal created a welfare state and divided the kingdom into administrative regions. The king also increased diplomacy internationally, reaching out to the United States and Islamic states. During the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, Faisal withdrew oil from the world market to punish Western states for supporting Israel. For this action, he was named Time magazine's Man of the Year in 1974. Profits earned from his boycott helped fund the Palestine Liberation Organization and other pro-Islamic movements in the region. Faisal was assassinated by his nephew in 1975 for not entirely known reasons. The king was shot point-blank in the chin and the ear. He died soon after. The nephew was found guilty of regicide and executed three months later in a public beheading, despite the final wish of the king being to spare the life of the nephew. Faisal was succeeded by his brother Khalid.
Date of Death: 25 March 1975
Successor: Khalid

Other Monarchs Who Died Today:
  • Stephen, pope-elect of Rome (752)
  • Afonso II, king of Portugal (1223)
  • Frederick I, king of Sweden (1751)
  • Faisal, king of Saudi Arabia (1975)


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