Monday, April 30, 2012

[April 30] Tabinshwehti, king of Burma

True Name: တပင်‌ရွှေထီး
Parents: Mingyinyo, king of Burma, and Yaza Dewi
Date of Birth: 16 April 1516
House: Toungoo
Spouse: Hpone Soe and Myat
Predecessor: Mingyinyo
Reign: 1530 – 1550
Summary: Tabinshwehti was the founder of the Second Burmese Empire. He came from the kingdom of Toungoo where he succeeded his father in 1530 as king. To emphasize trade, he moved the capital to the city of Pegu, an important trading center. Historians date the founding of the empire from this year. During the first nine years of his reign, Tabinshwehti led four military expeditions into the Mon kingdom which controlled Pegu and was on the Bay of Bengal. The Mon rulers had ruled since at least 1385. With European markets making headways into Burma, Tabinshwehti wanted to unify and consolidate the empire before Mon became the powerhouse. He also wanted to strengthen the empire against the advances of the Thai Shan confederation that had hounded Toungoo for a decade. European military and Burmese troops from Mon would help achieve this goal. Indeed, in his invasion of Mon, Tabinshwehti used Portuguese and Muslim troops to win the Battle of Naungyo.

Soon after he unified Mon to his kingdom, he moved to the port of Martaban, a port used by the Portuguese. Tabinshwehti sieged the city for seven months before defeating the Portuguese garrison there.  Tabinshwehti was crowned King of Burma in 1541 at the Shwedagon Pagoda. He then sent his armies to Prome where he met his harshest defense. Another long siege won the day rather than outright attack. Tabinshwehti punished the citizens of the city harshly for their long resistance. In 1543, forces from the Shan confederacy attacked the Burmese army but were defeated. Tabinshwehti marched north and defeated Pagan and Salin, adding them to his realm. He continued his war efforts until 1550 when a Mon resistance movement was able to arrange for the king's assassination. Tabinshwehti was decapitated in his own court by his chamberlains. The Mons usurped the throne for a short while until Bayinnaung was able to restore order in Burma and take the title of king once again.
Date of Death: 30 April 1550
Successor: Bayinnaung

Other Monarch Deaths:
Mahmud, sultan of the Ghaznavid Empire (1030)
Renzong, emperor of China (1063)
John III, duke of Brittany (1341)
Sigismund I, king of Sweden (1632)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

[April 29] Burchard II, duke of Swabia

Swabia (Orange) during this period, 911.
The Green area is the kingdom of Burgundy.
Parents: Burchard I, duke of Swabia, and Liutgard of Saxony
Date of Birth: circa 883
House: Hunfriding
Spouse: Regelinda, daughter of Eberhard I, count of Zürich
Predecessor: Erchanger
Reign: 917 – 926
Summary: Burchard was born into a Franconian family which was fighting over rights to the whole of Germany, especially Swabia in the heart of the country. Prior to his elevation to the dukedom, he founded the monastery of Saint Margarethen in Waldkirch in an attempt to expand his family's influence into the Rhineland. His father, Burchard I, was arrested and executed for high treason in 911, where after he fled to Italy with his wife, Regelinda. He returned to Germany in 913 to take control over his father's property and, in 915, he joined forces with Erchanger and Arnulf of Bavaria against the Magyars of Hungary. They defeated the Magyars then turned on Conrad I, king of Germany, at the Battle of Wahlwies and defeated him. Erchanger was finally proclaimed duke of Swabia in 916. Within a few months, Erchanger was killed and Burchard took the opportunity to claim the duchy of his father. He was recognized as duke within a month.

Duke Burchard continued his fight for control over Germany. A move by Rudolph II, king of Burgundy, in 919 threatened the integrity of Swabia. Burchard attacked him at Winterthur and defeated them, and then centralized the duchy to secure it against further invasion. When Henry the Fowler, duke of Saxony, claimed the German crown, Burchard supported him. In return, he was recognized universally as duke of Swabia and given taxation and investiture rights within his realm. Burchard and Rudolph came to terms through a marriage alliance in 922. Burchard then went with Rudolph into Italy where Rudolph was elected anti-emperor to the claims of Berengar, Holy Roman Emperor. Hugh of Arles took up the senior claim in 924 when Berengar died, but Burchard attempted to depose the newly-crowned monarch. He was killed in battle at Novara supporting his son-in-law, Rudolph. His wife, Regelinda, married herself to Burchard's successor, Herman I. Their son, Burchard, eventually reclaimed the title of duke of Swabia for the Hunfridings.
Date of Death: 29 April 926
Successor: Herman I

Other Monarch Deaths:
Frederick William, elector of Brandenburg (1688)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

[April 28] Mohammed Alim Khan, emir of Bukhara

True Name: امیر عالم خان‎ 
Parents: Abdulahad Khan, emir of Bukhara
Date of Birth: 3 January 1880
House: Manghit
Spouse: Eleonore Erdmuthe, daughter of John George I, duke of Saxe-Eisenach, and Joanna of Sayn-Wittgenstein
Predecessor: 'Abd al-Ahad Khan
Reign: 1911 – 1920
Summary: The Emirate of Bukhara was a protectorate of the Russian Empire when Mohammed was born in 1880. The monarchy was absolute and the monarch had complete control within Bukhara, though international politics were taken care of by the Russians. Mohammed was sent to Saint Petersburg to study politics and military techniques when he was a teenager. He returned to Bukhara in 1896 with the title of Crown Prince. Two years later, he was appointed governor of the Nasef and then the Karmana disctict, which he ruled until he became emir in 1911.

As emir, he ruled as Alim Khan. He modernized the government, removing much of the spoils system previously in place with a merit-based bureaucracy. By the end of his reign, though, he had reverted to the previous system. This is partially because the reform movement in Bukhara failed and most of the reformists were exiled to Russia. Historians have speculated that Alim Khan feared the future of the monarchy if modernists won, perhaps explaining why he reverted to traditional government by the end of his reign. Alim Khan has several interesting notes to his reign. He took the title of Caliph when the Ottoman Empire began to crumble after World War I. He also was the last male-line descendant of Genghis Khan to rule a country, though this is somewhat in doubt. Things fell apart for Alim Khan when the Russian Revolution hit Bukhara in 1918. Alim Khan responded with violence to the protests and had many hundred Russian and supporters executed. Most of Bukhara did not support a revolution despite Russian propaganda. The revolution was nearly over when the Red Army marched in Bukhara again in 1920. After four days of fighting, Alim Khan fled to Afghanistan where he lived in exile for the rest of his life. His daughter and her family stayed in Afghanistan until the Soviet Army invaded in 1979, at which point they immigrated to the United States working as a broadcast journalist for the Voice of America. A son of the emir renounced his claim to Bukhara and served in the Red Army. Alim Khan was the last ruler of the Manghit dynasty and had been ruling Bukhara since 1747.
Date of Death: 28 April 1944

Other Monarch Deaths:
Conrad, king of Montferrat (1192)
Faud I, king of Egypt (1936)

Friday, April 27, 2012

[April 27] John George IV, elector of Saxony

Parents: John George III, elector of Saxony, and Anna Sophie of Denmark
Date of Birth: 18 October 1668
House: Wettin
Spouse: Eleonore Erdmuthe, daughter of John George I, duke of Saxe-Eisenach, and Joanna of Sayn-Wittgenstein
Predecessor: John George III
Reign: 1681 — 1684
Summary: Born the eldest son of John George III, the Holy Roman Imperial elector of Saxony, John George IV was destined to be a leader. During his youth, John George fell in love with a minor noble, Magdalena Sibylla, who may have been John George III's illegitimate daughter and, thus, John George IV's half-sister. Despite the rumor, the young prince continued his relationship with Madgalena and, after he became elector in September 1691, lived with her openly. She was declared the Official Mistress in 1692.

Soon after his election to the electorate, John George IV's chief advisor, Hans Adam von Schöning, suggested unifying Saxony and Brandeburg and turning against Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I. John George agreed and withdrew Saxon troops from the Imperial army, prompting Leopold to capture Schöning and imprison him indefinitely. John George finally relented and returned Saxon troops to the army in 1693. John George was forced to marry Eleonore Erdmuthe in 1692 by his mother, who sought to continue the Wettin bloodline through her son. His mother also had the ulterior motive of separating John George from his Madgalena. It backfired, though, as John George instead simply relegated his wife to the back burner, humiliating her publicly and allowing her to reside in the electoral palace while he moved to a country estate with his mistress. John George eventually tried to murder his wife but was stopped by his younger brother, Frederick Augustus. The brother was wounded from the encounter for the rest of his life. John George had his mistress elevated to the rank of countess by the Holy Roman Emperor in 1693 and she bore a baby girl soon after. Within months, though, Magdalena died of smallpox and the elector also became infected. He died less than a month later. The elector was succeeded by his brother, Frederick Augustus (who was also king of Poland as Augustus II). He took care of his illegitimate niece and eventually married her to a Polish count.
Date of Death: 27 April 1694
Successor: Frederick Augustus I

Other Monarch Deaths:
Ardashir III, king of Persia (630)
Philip II, duke of Burgundy (14040
Leo XI, pope of Rome (1605)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

[April 26] Yoshihisa, shogun of Japan

True Name: 足利 義尚
Parents: Yoshimasa, shogun of Japan

Date of Birth: 11 December 1465
House: Ashikaga
Spouse: Mór, daughter of Uí Fiachrach Aidne, king of Connacht, then Gormflaith of Leinster, among others
Predecessor: Yoshimasa
Reign: 1473 – 1489
Summary: The birth of Yoshihisa began a succession struggle in Japan over the Ashikaga shogunate. Although the shoguns were the de facto rulers of Japan during the 1400s, they were just as prone to succession problems as the Japanese monarchy. Prior to Yoshihisa birth, his father appointed an uncle, Yoshimi, as heir to the shogunate. But Yoshihisa was born and his uncle became angry about his lost place in the line of succession. Yoshihia's father, Yoshimasa, and Yoshimi went into open war in 1467 over the different claims. The war that resulted was the Ônin War and it prompted the Sengoku period in Japanese history. To make matters worse, Yoshimasa retired in 1473 leaving the title of shogun to his eight-year-old son. 

Throughout the course of the war, the Ashikaga shogunate lost much of its power to the Hosokawa family, which turned Yoshihisa into a puppet ruler. Thus the Japanese emperor was controlled by a puppet shogun. Yoshihisa took over the government in 1479 but failed to achieve independence from his overlords. In 1487, Yoshihisa led a campaign against the daimyo of southern Omi who had risen up in rebellion against the shogunate. The shogun died unexpectedly while on campaign in 1489 and his rival, Yoshimasa took over for a year until his cousin, Yoshitane, could legitimately succeed in 1490.
Date of Death: 26 April 1489
Successor: Yoshitane

Other Monarch Deaths:
Go-Shirakawa, emperor of Japan (1192)
Giuliano di Piero, patriarch of Florence (1478)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

[April 25] Trinley, Dalai Lama of Tibet

True Name: འཕྲིན་ལས་རྒྱ་མཚོ་
Date of Birth: 26 January 1857
Predecessor: Khedrup
Reign: 1858 – 1875
Summary: Trinley ruled Tibet as a minor in a time of intense struggle. Neighboring Qing China had been the defenders and supporters of Tibet since it took the Chinese throne in the 1700s. But India, to the south, was dominated by the United Kingdom at this time and wished to occupy Tibet as well. In 1858, Trinley was recognized as the twelfth reincarnation of the original Dalai Lama. His upbringing was unique in that all foreigners were banned from Tibet in an attempt to keep the Dalai Lama apart from foreign influence. The future Indian province of Sikkim and the country of Bhutan, both on Tibet's Himalayan border, were in open war with Britain. The two countries were controlled by lamas loyal to the Dalai Lama. Further influence from Christian missionaries sneaking in through the Mekong and Salween Rivers were turned away throughout the 1860s. During Trinley's reign, Tibet turned increasingly isolationist, only retaining ties with the quickly crumbling Qing state. Trinley never left a mark in history dying of a mysterious disease at the age of eighteen. He only ruled for two years outside of his minority, and nothing of note occurred in those years. His successor, Thubten, was the first active Dalai Lama in three decades.
Date of Death: 25 April 1875
Successor: Thubten

Other Monarch Deaths:
Mark, pope of Alexandria (68)
Géza I, king of Hungary (1077)
Sancho IV, king of Castile (1295)
Naresuan, king of Siam (1605)
Congzhen, emperor of China (1644)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

[April 24] Theodore I, marquess of Montferrat

Montferrat in relation to the rest of Italy.
(Montferrat is at the top-left in burgundy)
True Name: Theodore Komnenos Doukas Angelos
Parents: Andronikos II, emperor of Constantinople, and Irene of Montferrat

Date of Birth: circa 1291
House: Palaeologos
Spouse: Argentina, daughter of Opicino Spinola of Genoa
Predecessor: John I
Reign: 1305 – 1338
Summary: The early years of Theodore's life are relatively unknown. He was the son of Andronikos II, emperor of the Byzantine Empire, and his wife, Irene. Irene was the daughter of William VII, marquess of Montferrat of the House of Aleramici. When her brother, John I, died in 1305, the claim passed to Irene, who allowed it to pass to her son, Theodore.

Theodore arrived in Montferrat, a small territory in north-western Italy near Genoa and Savoy, in 1306 and fought a short war with Marquess Manfred IV of Saluzzo, King Charles II of Naples, and claimants from the House of Acaja. He was finally recognized in 1310 by Holy Roman Emperor Henry VII and the civil war formally ended. During the war, Theodore married a Genoese woman to form a dynastic alliance between Genoa and Montferrat. Their had two children, John and Yolande. Yolande married Count Aimone of Savoy while John eventually succeeded to Montferrat after his father died in 1338. Little is known about Theodore's reign as marquess.
Date of Death: 24 April 1338
Successor: John II

Other Monarch Deaths:
Antoku, emperor of Japan (1185)
Benedict XII, pope of Rome (1342)

Monday, April 23, 2012

[April 23] Brian Boru, high king of Ireland

True Name: Brian Bóruma mac Cennétig
Parents: Cennétig mac Lorcáin and Bé Binn inion Urchadh
Date of Birth: circa 941
House: O'Brien
Spouse: Mór, daughter of Uí Fiachrach Aidne, king of Connacht, then Gormflaith of Leinster, among others
Predecessor: Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill
Reign: 1002 – 1014
Summary: Like so many others founders of dynasties, Brian came from relatively humble origins. He was one of the many sons of the king of Dál Cais, a sub-kingdom in Munster. When his father died in 964, his brother Mathgamain became the king. With the help of his brothers, Mathgamain began the conquest of all of Munster. He fought rivals for the title throughout the 960s and 970s but had to fight both Vikings and legitimate claimants the entire time. Mathgamain was murdered in 976 by the legitimate claimant to the title "king of Munster". Brian succeeded his brother that year and renewed his attacks on the claimant, eventually defeating him in 978. Brian claimed the overlordship of Munster and defeated the Vikings as well, though he made some survivors into his faithful allies. Soon after his victory, he began to stretch his power outward toward Leinster and Connacht, two neighboring kingdoms. By doing so, he came into direct conflict with Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill, the reigning titular high king of Ireland. For fifteen years the two kings fought over each other's territories. Brian began to win when he combined land and water tactics to surprise his enemy. In 996, Brian took control of Leinster and Máel Sechnaill made a treaty with him the next year. They split Ireland in two. Brian controlled Munster and Leinster, as well as the Norse holdings in the south; Máel Sechnaill took Meath, Connacht, and Ulster in the north. In 998, Leinster went into open revolt against Brian and the Viking holdings joined in. Brian crushed them both but retained their rulers as vassals under his direct control. Brian immediately followed his victory in the south with a new attack on the north. Máel Sechnaill had had enough. In 1002, he surrendered the high kingship of Ireland to Brian and retired to his small kingdom of Meath.


Unlike his predecessors, Brian intended to be the true high king of Ireland. He sought power and authority. Brian invaded Ulster with a vengeance and forced every provincial lord to recognize his authority. In 1005, Brian changed his tactics and won over Ulster by basically bribing their head monastery. He donated a large sum of money to the monastery at Armagh and declared it the new religious capital of Ireland. Armagh instantly recognized Brian's claim by naming him Imperator Scottorum, "Emperor of the Irish". With control over the Catholic Church and the submission of the northern kingdoms, Brian began his rule as uncontested rulers of Ireland in 1011. He wished to establish a centralized Irish state such as that in Scotland and England. With unity achieved, his next step was to reduce the sub-kingdoms to duchies or other forms of vassal states. The feudal system had to be imposed and soon.  But then everything went wrong. Leinster once again rose up in revolt in 1012. Allying with a lordling in Ulster and the Viking ruler of Dublin, the Leinster king fought long and hard and successfully defeated Brian. But his victory was tenuous and the rest of Ireland was not following his lead. The rebel king sent for help from Britain while Brian rallied his own armies to go on the offensive. All was going good for Brian until Máel Schnaill withdrew his support and his troops from Brian's army. The rebel king succeeded in brining fresh troops from Orkney and the Isle of Man. Outside Dublin, the two armies met and fought the long Battle of Clontarf into the night. Brian was killed in the battle and Máel Schnaill briefly retook his lost title of high king. The Ui Briain (O'Brien) clan would return time and again to reclaim the title of high king, but none of them ever received the authority that its founder, Brian Boru, maintained during his brief reign.
Date of Death: 23 April 1014
Successor: Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill

Other Monarch Deaths:
Wihtred, king of Kent (725)
Ethelred I, king of Wessex (871)
Ethelred II, king of England (1016)
Alexander I, king of Scots (1124)
Inge II, king of Norway (1217)
Boris Godunov, tsar of Russia (1605)
Maurice, stadtholder of the Netherlands (1625)
Solomon I, king of Imereti (1784)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

[April 22] St. Caius, pope of Rome

Parents: Caius, a relative of Emperor Diocletian of Rome
Predecessor: Eutychian
Reign: 283 – 296
Summary: Little is known about Pope Caius' early life. He was briefly mentioned by Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History and he may have been an uncle of Saint Susanna as he was linked to a site attributed to her martyrdom. A Caius was noted as being a donor of the property and an uncle of the woman.

As pope, Caius created the Catholic hierarchy of porter, lector, exorcist, acolyte, subdeacon, deacon, priest, and bishop. As a result, the western Christian world was formally divided into deaconates. The Roman Empire heavily persecuted the Christians during his reign but new churches continued to be built and both subterranean and traditional cemeteries were expanded. Contrary to tradition, Caius was probably not martyred by Diocletian but he may have still experienced a violent death, which earned him his sainthood. Caius' tomb was discovered in catacombs under the Vatican, linking the site to at least this period in history. His feast day is April 22nd.
Date of Death: 22 April 296
Successor: Marcellinus

Other Monarch Deaths:
Petronius Maximus, emperor of Rome (455)
Agapetus I, pope of Rome (536)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

[April 21] Cosimo I, grand duke of Tuscany

Parents: Lodovico de Medici and Maria Salviati
Date of Birth: 12 June 1519
House: Medici
Spouse: Eleanor, daughter of Pedro Álvarez de Toledo, Marquis of Villafranca, and Maria Osorio, then Camilla, daughter of Antonio Martelli and Elisabetta Soderini
Predecessor: Alessandro
Reign: 1569 – 1574
Summary: Cosimo won renown for the Medici family like none other before him. Born in Florence to a Medici condottiere, Cosimo became Duke of Florence at the age of 17 when his cousin, Alessandro, was assassinated leaving no legitimate heir. The new duke was relatively unknown in Florence but he was viewed as capable and many hoped to use the duke as a pawn in their own schemes. When Cosimo took over leadership of Florence, he was not so easily manipulated. Exiled Florentines marched on the city in 1537 with French support and Cosimo defeated them soundly, solidifying his rule in Florence. Holy Roman Emperor Charles V recognized his authority over Florence that same year and invested the Medici family with complete control over the duchy. Cosimo began a small expansionist movement a few years later. In 1554, he laid siege to Siena. By 1559, all of Siena was under Florentine control. In recognition of his mastery of north-central Italy, Pope Pius V elevated Cosimo to the rank of Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1569.

Cosimo ruled with an iron fist, employing Swiss mercenaries to do his dirty work. He even had his relative, Lorenzino de Medici, assassinated to further solidify his claim to Florence. He was also an active builder. He expanded the military and public buildings across his realm, placing a heavy tax burden on the people. His most famous building was the Uffizi which today houses Florence's most famous art museum. Cosimo expanded the Florentine navy and founded the heraldic Order of Saint Stephen. By 1564, he resigned from active politics leaving the government of Florence then Tuscany to his son, Francesco. His two other surviving sons both died of malaria. Cosimo eventually died at his Villa di Castello in the Florentine countryside. His son then succeeded him as grand duke.
Date of Death: 21 April 1574
Successor: Francesco I

Other Monarch Deaths:
Alexander II, pope of Rome (1073)
Frederick IV, duke of Lorraine (1329)
Henry VII, king of England (1509)

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