Saturday, June 30, 2012

[June 30] Charles II, duke of Guelders

Parents: Adolf, duke of Guelders, and Catharine of Bourbon
Date of Birth: 9 November 1467
Royal House: Egmond
Spouse: Elisabeth, daughter of Henry I, duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, and Marguerite of Saxony
Predecessor: Philip I
Reign: 1492 – 1538
Summary: The history of the duchy of Guelders should have ended when it merged with the much larger dynastic state of the Burgundian inheritance in 1473. In that year, Charles' father, Adolf, sold his duchy to Charles the Bold, duke of Burgundy and lord of the Netherlands. Charles was born and raised at the Burgundian court and viewed Charles the Bold as a father-like figure. He joined with the Burgundians in many battles against the French and was captured at the Battle of Béthune in 1487. Charles the Bold died in 1477 and Burgundy was inherited by his daughter, Mary, who died only five years later. Their son, Philip, was still a toddler when Mary died, so her husband, 
Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, took over as regent for Philip I in Burgundy. By 1492, the citizens of Guelders were tired of rule by a foreign overlord. They gathered enough money to ransom Charles of Egmond and declared him their duke as Charles II.

The French initially supported this new duke in the Low Countries, but Maximilian viewed Charles as an upstart and by 1505, Philip was old enough to retake Guelders and declare himself its duke. Charles was forced to accompany Philip to Spain to attend his coronation as king of Castile, but Charles managed to escape outside of Antwerp. Philip died a few months later and by 1513, Charles II was in control of Guelders again. The Burgundian inheritance was now in the hands of King Charles I of Castile, Philip's eldest son, but in Guelders, only Charles II was recognized. When Frisian peasants rose up in rebellion against Habsburg rule, Charles financially supported them. He switched sides when the peasants began to lose in order to avoid incurring the wrath of the Habsburgs. At the Treaty of Gorinchem in 1528, Charles I, now Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, proposed to recognize Charles II as duke in Guelders so long as the duchy would return to the Habsburgs upon  the extinction of the Egmond line. Charles II delayed since he had no children. When another battle occurred, the provision was removed from the treaty. A resolution was finally approved in 1536 in the Treaty of Grave. Charles II died two years later at Arnhem and was buried at the Church of Saint Eusebius there. William, duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg, took up the Egmond cause, being a distant cousin of Charles II. But in the Treaty of Venlo in 1543, Guelders was once-and-for-all merged into the Burgundian inheritance and became the property of the Habsburg Empire.
Date of Death: 30 June  1538
Successor: William II

Other Monarchs Who Died Today:

  • Nepotianus, usurper of Rome (350)
  • Adolf, prince-bishop of Osnabrück (1224)

Friday, June 29, 2012

[July 29] Moctezuma II, tlatoani of Tenochtitlan

True Name: Motecuhzoma Zocoyotzin
Parents: Axayacatl, tlatoani of Tenochtitlan
Date of Birth: circa 1466
Royal House: Tenochtitlan
Spouse: (1) Teotlalco, daughter of Matlaccohuatl, tlatoani of Ecatepec, and (2) Tlapalizquizochtzin, tlatoani of Eatepec, daughter of Matlaccohuatl, tlatoani of Ecatepec
Predecessor: Ahuitzotl
Reign: 1502 – 1520

Summary: Absolutely nothing is know of the early life of Moctezuma II before he became the leader of the Aztec people at Tenochtitlan. The sources all begin with his reign, and reports that Europeans were landing on his soil. In 1517, the first sighting of Spaniards in Aztec territory were reported to the king. When Hernan Cortés arrived in 1519, Moctezuma proactively sent ambassadors to attempt to negotiate with these newcomers before they got the upper hand. The legend that Moctezuma perceived Cortés as a god returned from the sky is probably a myth perpetuated by the Spaniards to emphasize the importance of Christianity. Cortés quickly made allies with Tlaxcalteca, a rival city, as he marched on Tenochtitlan. Moctezuma, hoping to pacify the Spanish, invited them into his city and lavished them with gifts for many months. Slowly, Moctezuma became a prisoner in his own home. When Cortés left to fight a rival conquistador, Moctezuma was left under guard, which kept him safe when the Spaniards killed the majority of the Aztec aristocracy at the massacre in the main temple. When Cortés returned, open warfare had broken out in the streets of Tenochtitlan. Moctezuma was forced onto the balcony of his palace to address his people, and was pelted with rocks and darts. He died soon after, either from injuries or by Spaniards who no longer saw the use in keeping the king alive. The Spaniards fled soon after and Moctezuma's brother, Cuauhtémoc, succeeded him in Tenochtitlan.

"Emperor Moctezuma II of the Aztec Empire was a special case in colonial Spanish diplomacy. He was regarded as a nuisance to Hernan Cortes, yet three of his legitimate children were granted “reyes naturales” status within the Spanish Empire. When the Aztec Empire was overthrown 489 years ago, Montezuma’s heirs were able to continue their fight against the conquest of Mexico through lawsuits that awarded them not only compensation but status as well.

"By the 1600s, Moctezuma’s legitimate heirs had found their way into Spain where they married into the noble houses and, for all intent and purposes, became Spanish. Their heirs still retain titles such as duke of Moctezuma & Tultengo, duke of Atrisco, and count of Miravalle today. Most importantly, multiple lines of the family became Grandees of Spain, the highest noble title obtainable in Spain.

"In Mexico, the majority of Moctezuma’s descendants today are from illegitimate lines. Since Spanish law disapproved of such offspring, the descent from these individuals is much harder to trace. However, many thousands of Mexicans still claim royal Aztec ancestry. In fact, from the beginning of the Mexican Republic in the 1810s until 1934, Mexico paid pensions to the descendants of Moctezuma until Interim President Abelardo Rodríguez halted them. A concerted effort to restore back-payments to Moctezuma’s descendants began in 2002 and continues to this day.

"Nearly five hundred years after his fall from power, Emperor Moctezuma II remains one of the most popular and well-known Native American royals to this day. His fame is such that people such as Hugo Chavez of Venezuela have attempted to link themselves to the Aztec emperor for political and social benefit. But it is not just celebrity presidents that can claim descent from Aztec royalty. Mexico has long been a melting pot of peoples who have spread and settled across the world. Maybe, just maybe, a little part of Moctezuma’s blood runs in your veins as well." (Portion in quotes published under the title "Moctezuma II" in XOXOR: La Gran Revisita...!!! in September 2010.)
Date of Death: 29 June  1520
Successor: Cuauhtémoc

Other Monarchs Who Died Today:

  • Cao Pi, king of Wei (226 CE)
  • Bernard II, duke of Saxony (1059)
  • Raymond, prince of Antioch (1149)
  • Abel, king of Denmark (1252)
  • Ferdinand I, emperor of Austria (1875)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

[June 28] Alboin, king of the Lombards

Parents: Audoin, king of the Lombards, and Rodelinda
Date of Birth: circa 535
Royal House: Gausi
Spouse: (1) Chlothsind, daughter of Chlothar I, king of the Franks in Soissons, and Ingund, then (2) Rosamund, daughter of Cunimund, king of the Gepids
Predecessor: Audoin
Reign: circa 565 – 572
Summary: The Ostrogothic Kingdom in Italy was failing only fifty years after they had overthrown the Western Roman Empire. Alboin's father became king after serving as regent to a minor who died before reaching eighteen. Although the Lombards began as vassals to the Byzantines, hard years had forced the Lombards to ally with the Franks in Gaul. Alboin was a pawn in that game, marrying the Catholic daughter of the Frankish king of Soissons. In 552, Alboin fought at the Battle of Asfeld where he killed the rival Gepid king Thurisind. Through this battle, he earned his right to sit as his father's councils and rule alongside him. Sometime in the early 560s, Audoin died and Alboin took control of the Lombards.

As king, Alboin fought long and hard against the Gepids, a rival clan, perhaps after kidnapping a daughter of their king, Rosamund. The fight earned the interest of the Byzantines who sent an army to pacify the Lombards in 566. It was successful and the Lombards were put on the run. Alboin made an alliance with the Avars at a high cost but was finally able to completely defeat the Gepids as an independent people. Facing the threat of war with his allies, the Avars, he decided to march south into Italy to find a new home for the Lombards. Before he departed, he made an enduring pact with the Avars to protect each other from Byzantine imperialism. This pact lasted throughout the entire life of the Lombard Kingdom. In 568, the Lombards began their march into the Roman highland. Alboin adopted Arian Christianity immediately prior to his march, possibly due to Gothic influences in the north and possibly because he hoped to sway the Arian Ostrogoths in Italy. Friuli was the first city taken and became the basis of the oldest duchy in Italy. They then continued on and sacked Venetia and its many cities before marching on Milan, the old Roman capital. The city was abandoned with most of the people having fled to Genoa. Alboin marked the beginning of his reign as king of Italy from his taking of this strategic place. By 569, most of northern Italy was under the control of the Lombards. Pavia had closed its doors and since it saw on important waterways, it became the target of Alboin's aggression. Pavia fell three years later and Alboin moved to conquering Tuscany in the south, which was only finished during the reign of his successor. Alboin was not an autocratic ruler presiding over a feudal society, but he was becoming a dictator to the people. When Burgundy began raiding northern Italy, the Lombards began to waiver. The Franks seem to have abandoned the Lombards and allied with the Byzantines, which weakened control over Italy for the Lombards. Other Lombard warlords likely conquered the rest of Italy without Alboin's approval or even encouragement. By the time of his death in 572, Alboin was losing his grip on his people. After taking Ticinum in 572, Alboin made his governmental set at Verona, where he was assassinated by a close associate possibly urged by the queen. Byzantine assistance was evident since the guilty party fled to Byzantine territory. The conquest of Italy was completed by Cleph, a Lombard duke unrelated to Alboin.
Date of Death: 28 June  572
Successor: Cleph

Other Monarchs Who Died Today:

  • Paul I, pope of Rome (767)
  • Louis III, Holy Roman Emperor (928)
  • Floris I, count of Holland (1061)
  • Andrei I, grand prince of Vladimir-Suzdal (1175)
  • Xiaozong, emperor of China (1194)
  • Andronikos IV, emperor of Constantinople (1385)
  • Lazar, autocrat of Serbia (1389)
  • Meletius IV, patriarch of Constantinople (1935)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

[June 27] Alfonso V, king of Aragón

Surnamed: "The Magnanimous"
Parents: Fernando I, king of Aragón, and Eleanor of Alburquerque
Date of Birth: 1396
Royal House: Trastámara
Spouse: Maria, daughter of Enrique III, king of Castile, and Catherine of Lancaster
Predecessor: Fernando I
Reign: 1416 – 1458
Summary: Very little is written about the early life of Alfonso V of Aragón. He was born at Medina del Campo to Fernando de Antequera (the future Fernando I) and Leonor de Alburquerque. He dynasty was a Castilian line descended through females to the old counts of Barcelona. He became king of Aragón, Majorca, Sicily, and Valencia upon the death of his father in 1416. In 1421, he was adopted as the heir to Juana II, queen of Naples. Alfonso immediately left for the south coast of Italy upon this declaration. He recruited local mercenaries to depose the pretender, Louis III, who was supported by Muzio Attendolo Sforza. Pope Martin V supported the Sforza army so Alfonso switched his allegiance to the Antipope Benedict XIII. Alfonso won the battle but lost favor with Juana after capturing her lover. After another brief war, Aragón was defeated and Louis III was declared Juana's heir.

Alfonso's reign fell into chaos after this. The Mediterranean chose sides in the ensuing war, with Genoa joining with Naples and Milan joining Aragón. The Italian portion of the kingdom of Sicily was taken in 1424 by Genoan soldiers and Alfonso's brother, Pedro, was forced to flee to the island of Sicily. For eight years, Naples remained outside of Alfonso's grasp. Then, in 1432, he had his chance to regain the favor of the queen. He failed, and Naples remained with Juana until her dead three years later. Naples was deeded to René of Anjou, the brother of Louis III, but the new pope opposed the inheritance. Alfonso set out again and was captured by Genoa. While imprisoned, he convinced Genoa to switch sides and the armies marched south again. During the meantime, René had made it to Naples and claimed the throne. Pedro was killed in the battle that followed when Alfonso tried to take the city, and then Aragón began to take over everything outside of Naples. In November 1441, the siege of Naples began and the city finally fell the next spring. He centralized the state and reduced the opposition, then conquered Sardinia as a slight to his temporary allies in Genoa. To ensure his legitimacy in Naples, he petitioned the pope and received license to pass the entirety of the kingdom on to his illegitimate son, Fernando. For the next ten years, Alfonso planned the conquest of Genoa, but the king died before ever marching on the merchant republic. While Alfonso was campaigning, his Hispanic possessions were controlled by Juan, his brother and eventual legitimate successor in Iberia, Sicily, and Sardinia.
Date of Death: 27 June  1458
Successor: Juan II

Other Monarchs Who Died Today:

  • Eudes II, duke of Burgundy (1162)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

[June 26] Julian, emperor of Rome

Surnamed: "The Apostate"
Full Name: Flavius Claudius Julianus
Parents: Julius Constantius and Basilina
Date of Birth: circa 331
Royal House: Constantine
Spouse: Helena, daughter of Constantine I, emperor of Rome, and Fausta
Predecessor: Constantius II
Reign: 360 – 363
Summary: The son of a junior scion of the House of Constantine, both his parents converted to Christianity when Constantine proclaimed it as his favored religion. When Constantine died, Constantius II massacred many surviving members of the family, leaving only Julian and his half-brother, Gallus, alive from among their branch. During his youth, Julian was under constant guard and given a Christian education. He was largely raised by his maternal grandmother and educated by Eusebius, an Arian Christian bishop of Nicomedia. For the final years of his youth, he was educated by bBshop George of Csappodocia, who finally taught him the pre-Christian classics. When Julian became 18, he was allowed to live in Constantinople. From his education, he became a strong Christian leader and wrote strongly of the religion. For around five years, Julian toured around Greece learning the classics while lecturing on Christianity. In 351, Julian's brother, Gallus, became the caesar of the East. He was executed three years later after a short terrible reign. After his brother's death, Julian was imprisoned for a year under the fear that he was involved in his brother's intrigues. In 355, Julian was cleared of all charges and made caesar of the West to resolve problems in Gaul. During his stay there, Julian learned how to lead and run an army and led numerous campaigns against the Germans. After his campaigns, he began to rule Gaul directly, using his knowledge of Greek civil codes to run Germanic tribal cities. In the east, the Sassanid Empire has invaded Mesopotamia forcing Emperor Constantius II to demand troops be sent to the east. The troops in Gaul rebelled against their order and proclaimed Julian augustus, despite Julian's personal desire to remain a simple administrator. By November 360, Julian had accepted his bestowed title after numerous victories against the Franks. After a year campaign and the separate death of Consantius in 361, Julian was the uncontested Roman Emperor.

By the time Julian entered Constantinople, he had denied Christianity and become commonly known as "the Apostate," sticking to Greek pantheism. He still gave his cousin a Christian burial and placed him alongside Constantine the Great. Skipping his own dynasty's traditions, Julian harkened back to the era of Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius two hundred years prior, attempting to establish an older bureaucratic system that had been lost in the third century. He emptied the royal palaces and cleaned out the government. He removed and executed officials who had been too close to his immediate predecessors. Most importantly, Julian gave increased power to the cities to regulate their own local affairs, removing some of the responsibilities from the Senate. With the government in order, Julian travelled to Antioch to personally clean up the city that served as one of the most important trading centers in the world. To solidify his rule in the east, Julian set out on a campaign to invade Sassanid Persia. He marched his army all the way to Ctesiphon, the Sassanid capital along the Tigris River. The Roman army was quickly surrounded after first defeating the Persians at the Battle of Ctesiphon. Julian was forced to retreat and at the Battle of Samarra was wounded when Persian soldiers raided his camp. Three days later, Julian died from a major hemorrhage. A Roman commander, Jovian, was appointed the new emperor by the army.
Date of Death: 26 June  363
Successor: Jovian

Other Monarchs Who Died Today:

  • Albert I, prince of Monaco (1922)

Monday, June 25, 2012

[June 25] Niels, king of Denmark

Parents: Sweyn II, king of Denmark
Date of Birth: circa 1065
Royal House: Estridsen

Spouse: (1) Margaret, daughter of Inge, king of Sweden, and Helena, then (2) Ulvhild, daughter of Håkon Finnsson
Predecessor: Eric I
Reign: 1104 – 1134
Summary: Niels was the fifth son of King Sweyn II of Denmark to ascend the throne in a succession that was problematic at best. He isn't even mentioned in records until 1086 when he was a hostage sent to Flanders in exchange for his elder brother Olaf. Two decades later, his closest brother, Eric I, died during a pilgrimage and the Danish courts elected Niels as the next king against the claims of Eric's son, Harald Kesja. To solidify his reign and position, Niels quickly married the daughter of the king of Sweden, Margaret, and she continued to control much of his politics throughout his reign.

Despite having such an obvious rival for the throne, most of Niels' reign was peaceful. The king was calm and talkative, but not entirely competent. The king installed many people personally loyal to him including relatives, in-laws, and other family members. Most importantly, he installed is elder brother's other sons as local lords to counter the claims of Harald. Another elder brother, Canute IV, was canonized in his reign partially through his own prompting and support. In 1125, his only known son, Magnus, became king of Sweden, through the right of his mother, Niels' wife. Margaret soon died around 1129 and Magnus was dethroned the following year. Chaos then ensued in neighboring Sweden as war broke out between the claims of Magnus and the claims of a cousin, Canute Lavard. Canute had strong claims to Denmark as well, being the jarl of Schleswig. Magnus was forced to kill his cousin in 1131 in Denmark and Niels condemned his son for the crime. Canute's brother, Eric, then rose up in rebellion in Denmark to claim the succession to the Danish throne despite Niels still being alive. Niels and Magnus joined forces against their erstwhile nephew and cousin. Eric brought in German mercenaries and decimated their forces. Magnus was killed and Niels fled to Germany and the court of Holy Roman Emperor Lothair III but was captured in Schleswig. In confidence that he would be alright, he marched up to the capital of Schleswig and was slain in front of the ducal palace. Eric was now the uncontested king of Denmark and took the throne as Eric II.
Date of Death: 25 June  1134
Successor: Eric II

Other Monarchs Who Died Today:

  • Cornelius, pope of Rome (253)
  • Gaozu, emperor of China (635)
  • Sigismund Francis, archduke of Further Austria (1665)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

[June 24] Hongwu, emperor of China

True Name: 洪武帝
Parents: Zhu Shizhen and Chen Erniang
Date of Birth: 21 October 1328
Royal House: Ming

Spouse: Xiao Ci Gao, daughter of Ma Gong and Zheng
Predecessor: Huizong
Reign: 69 – 79 CE

Date of Death: 24 June 1398
Successor: Jianwen

Other Monarchs Who Died Today:
  • Maximinus Thrax, emperor of Rome (238)
  • Frederick IV, duke of Austria (1439)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

[June 23] Vespasian, emperor of Rome

True Name: Titus Flavius Caesar Vespasianus Augustus
Parents: Titus Flavius Sabinus I and Vespasia Polla
Date of Birth: 17 November 9 CE
Royal House: Flavian

Spouse: Domitilla the Elder, daughter of Flavius Liberalis
Predecessor: Vitellius
Reign: 69 – 79 CE
Summary: Vespasian not only was never meant to be an emperor of Rome, he didn't even respect politics when growing up. His elder brother, Titus Flavius Sabinus II, was the successful one, working closely with the Roman army and becoming personal friends with Emperor Caligula. His mother was his chief motivation, and it did little for him at first. He married young and had two sons, Titus Flavius Vespasianus and Titus Flavius Domitianus. A daughter predeceased him. Seeing few other options, Vespasian finally joined the military in order to raise in political rank. When he returned, he became the head of street-cleaning in Rome and tradition states that Caligula was so upset with his poor performance that he stuffed a handful of mud down Vespasian's toga. Soon after, he became a quaestor in Crete then an tribune in 38 CE. It is probably during this time that he met his long-term mistress, Antonia Caenis, who was a member of the imperial circle and a possible inroad for Vespasian's future successes. By 41 CE, his prospects were looking up. He as a legate in the Legio II Augusta stationed in Germania and he participated in the Roman invasion of Britain in 43. He was vital to the success of the invasion in the southwest, subduing Hampshire, Dorset, Somerset, Devon, Cornwall, and Wiltshire. Upon his return to Rome, he earned himself a triumphal regalia in the parade. In 51 CE, he became a consul and then he retired from public live. In 63, he returned to become governor of Africa and became a close associate with many of the provincial leaders, ingratiating himself rather than earning their enmity. In 66, he was sent to suppress the growing Jewish Revolt in Palestine. During his campaign, he befriended Flavius Josephus who eventually wrote a great tome concerning the Jew's history in Palestine. Josephus praised Vespasian, even once claiming he was the messiah, and lauded his efforts to protect the non-revolting Jews while being kind to those captured in rebellion. Soon after the Jewish campaign was ended, Emperor Nero died and Rome fell into civil war. Three emperors—Galba, Otho, and Vitellius—were all killed in short order and Vespasian felt it his duty to claim the imperial regalia. Troops in Egypt were the first to proclaim him emperor, followed by his own army in Caesarea. Vitellius still had a significant army in Rome but one-by-one the armies outside of Rome and the west declared for Vespasian. While Vespasian secured the grain supply in Egypt, his army invaded Rome and burned much of the city. Vitellius was defeated and killed and the Senate declared Vespasian emperor of Rome.

Domitian, Vespasian's son, was placed in charge of the government while Vespasian returned him. Tax collection became important to refinance the government. Titus continued to quell the Jewish Revolt which had resurged when Vespasian departed for Egypt. He finally ended it by sacking the Jewish Temple and leveling it. Titus then pursued all surviving descendants of David to maintain the myth that Vespasian was the messiah. In Gaul and Germania, a new uprising began led by Julius Sabinus, a claimed descendant of Julius Caesar. Vespasian was a selfish emperor who wished for the focus to remain on him, editing critical histories to emphasize his greatness, and building triumphal architecture to increase his fame. The odd thing is that little is known of his actual reign in Rome. He built many buildings including a colossus of Apollo and he began the Flavian Amphitheater known as the Colosseum. But it is likely that he was under constant threat of assassination and attack, and that he remained in seclusion most of the time. In 78, Vespasian sent Agricola to Britain to consolidate Roman rule in the north. By the middle of 79, Vespasian had grown very sick with a stomach illness and he died at a country estate proclaiming as his last words: "Oh! I think I'm becoming a god!" His eldest son, who is known by the regnal name Titus, succeeded him.
Date of Death: 23 June 79 CE
Successor: Titus

Other Monarchs Who Died Today:

  • Henry I, margrave of Austria (1018)
  • Mashita Nagamori, daimyo in Japan (1615)
  • Wilhelm Ludwig, Duke of Württemberg (1677)

Friday, June 22, 2012

[June 22] Innocent V, pope of Rome

True Name: Pierre de Tarentaise
Date of Birth: circa 1225
Predecessor: Gregory X
Reign: 1276
Summary: A little-known pope of Rome, Pierre was born in Savoy or in La Salle around 1225. In either case, his overlord was the Holy Roman Emperor in the capacity of the King of Arles. Early in life, he joined the Dominican Order where he earned renown as a preacher. During his early years, he brushed shoulders with Thomas Aquinas and Albertus Magnus who together reorganized the Dominican Order. At the University of Paris, he became a doctor famosissimus, a leading theologian. Pope Clement IV requested that Pierre preach the crusade beginning in 1268 and he did so with a passion. By 1273, Pierre had risen to the rank of cardinal-bishop of Ostia which he held until his papal election. When Pope Gregory X died in 1275, the papal conclave elected Pierre as the first Dominican pope, electing him on the first round of balloting. Pierre took the regnal title Innocent V.

Innocent reigned for only six months. During the first month of his reign, Innocent permitted the coronation of Rudolf of Habsburg as the king of Germany, thereby ending the interregnum in the Holy Roman Empire. He was a staunch supporter of a reunification with the Eastern Orthodox Church and he sent legates to Emperor Michael VIII in Constantinople in response to the decisions made at the Second Council of Lyons. Unfortunately, Innocent died in Rome before the legates ever returned. The pope was the author of several philosophical and theological works, and addressed numerous issues of canon law. His death in June 1276 was caused by an unknown illness. The next papal conclave elected Ottobuono de' Fieschi as Pope Adrian V, another pope who reigned for only a few months. It was a number of years before longer-reigning popes took control over the Papacy. Innocent V was beatified in 1898 and his memorial day is celebrated on June 22nd.
Date of Death: 22 June 1276
Successor: Adrian V

Thursday, June 21, 2012

[June 21] Enrico Dandolo, doge of Venice

Parents: Vitale Dandolo
Date of Birth: circa 1107
Spouse: Contessa Minotto
Predecessor: Orio Mastropiero
Reign: 1193 – 1205
Summary: Venice was not yet at the height of its power when Enrico Dandolo entered the scene. He was born in Venice to a prominent jurist. Enrico served as a diplomat and ambassador for many years, traveling locally to Ferrrara and further to Constantinople. His family was close to Doge Vitale II and his uncle was patriarch of Grado. When the Byzantine Empire began seizing Venetian goods in 1171, Enrico advised the doge and went with him to invade the Constantinople. The invasion force fell to pieces after a plague killed many members. The doge was killed violently by a mob Enrico accepted blame and returned to Constantinople the next year to settle the dispute. It took twelve years, until 1186, for the Venetians and Byzantines to come to a resolution, and Enrico grew to loathe the Eastern Roman Empire. During his negotiations, he gained the respect and alliance of William II, king of Sicily, which helped him in later years. During his first years in Constantinople, it is now thought that Enrico became blind either through a head wound given by a Byzantine or from cortical blindness. He was blind for the rest of his life, which makes his later accomplishments even more profound.

Enrico Dandolo became the thirty-ninth doge of Venice on 1 January 1193 despite his advanced age and blindness. Soon after taking control of Venice, he reformed the Venetian currency and debased the dinaro to keep it useful in foreign trade. This move eventually set up Venetian currency as the ultimate form of money in the Mediterranean. When the Fourth Crusade attempted to set off in 1202, far fewer soldiers than expected arrived and Enrico had to find a way to get rid of them. The easiest solution became his plan: to take up the cross and go crusading at the young age of 95. Thousands of Venetians joined him and the knights. The trade-off was that the crusaders had to take the city of Zadar from Hungary and return it to Venice. Soon after, Alexius Angelus, the son of the deposed emperor Isaac II arrived in Zadar asking for help. The doge agreed to install Alexius on the Byzantine Throne in exchange for support against the Holy Land. This plan backfired terribly when the crusaders sacked Constantinople in 1204 and installed the Latin Empire controlled by the pope instead. Venice gained nearly a third of the Byzantine Empire as a result and the Byzantines were permanently weakened from this point onward. Enrico died while on campaign against the Bulgarians near Adrianople in 1205. He was buried in the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople where his tomb was eventually destroyed after the conquest of the city by the Turks in 1453. His grandfather, Anna Dandolo, eventually married the Serbian king Stefan Nemanjic. Many other members of his family became doges in future years, though none were directly descended from Enrico.
Date of Death: 21 June 1205
Successor: Pietro Ziani

Other Monarch Deaths:
Liu Bei, emperor of China (223)
Fulk III, count of Anjou (1040)
Philip, king of Germany (1208)
Wenceslaus II, king of Bohemia and Poland (1305)
Edward III, king of England (1377)
Leonardo Loredan, doge of Venice (1521)
Odo Nobunaga, daimyo in Japan (1582)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

[June 20] Theodoric I, king of the Visigoths

Parents: Alaric, king of the Visigoths
House: Balti
Spouse: An unknown daughter of Rechiar, king of the Suevic
Predecessor: Wallia
Reign: 418 – 451
Summary: King Wallia was dead and had a bad reputation. In his five years as king of the Visigoths, the Romans had forced the migratory German settlers out of Iberia and into southern Gaul. Theodoric I was elected to replace Wallia in 418 and used his increasing power and the declining status of Rome to reverse the migration. As king, he moved south into Iberia while retaining lands in southern Gual, specifically lower Aquitaine and Narbonne. Rome broke out into civil war in 423 and Theodoric used the distraction to attempt a capture of the important crossing at Arelate. He was defeated, but just barely, by Huns working for the local magister. Rome and the Visigoths made peace, and Emperor Avitus sent his sons to be raised at the Visigothic court. The Franks were a rising threat by the mid 430s and they not only blocked Roman progress back into Gaul but impeded the expansion of the Visigothic realm. Theodoric reneged on his treaty and invaded Narbo Martius in 436 in an attempt to reach the Mediterranean Sea and secure the passes into Iberia. The Romans, once again, with the help of the Huns pushed Theodoric back to Toulouse, the Visigoth capital, but were defeated there. Avitus again visited Theodoric and it is thought that the Visigoth state was recognized as independent of Rome at this time.

The Vandals became a major target of Theodoric following the mutilation of his daughter by the Vandal ruler Geiseric. Despite differences with his neighbors in Iberia, the Suevics, Theodoric married a daughter of their king and made common cause against the Romans in Iberia around the year 449. Meanwhile, Avitus desperately sought Visigothic aide against the invasion of Attila the Hun, which Theodoric agreed to seeing the threat the Huns posed to his own empire. The joint Roman-Visigoth army repelled Attila out of Aurelianorum and moved on to Châlons where the allies defeated Attila decisively, though Theodoric was killed in the battle. The battle is thought by many to be the last major victory for the failing Western Roman Empire and the last united stand against a common foe in Late Antiquity. Three of Theodoric's sons succeeded him over the next twenty years.
Date of Death: 20 June 451
Successor: Thorismund

Other Monarch Deaths:
Louis I, emperor of Rome (840)
Mikhail, grand prince of Kiev (1176)
Feodor II, tsar of Russia (1605)
William IV, king of the United Kingdom (1837)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

[June 19] Maximilian, emperor of México

Parents: Franz Karl, archduke of Austria, and Sophie of Bavaria
Date of Birth: 6 July 1832
House: Habsburg-Lorraine
Spouse: Charlotte, daughter of Leopold I, king of Belgium, and Louise-Marie of France
Predecessor: Agustín II (as pretender)
Reign: 1864 – 1867
Summary: México’s two emperors were very different people. Augustín was a popular and well-known figure before his coronation while Maximilian had never even been to México until 1864. That’s because Maximilian was Austrian in origin. He was the brother of Emperor Francis Joseph I and was married to the Belgian princess Charlotte. Maximilian was the commander-in-chief of the Austrian Navy and did whatever his brother required of him. He was liberal-minded and hated suffering.

In 1859, the Mexican aristocracy invited Maximilian to become emperor of México. They hoped that by restoring the monarchy, they could centralize the government around their rule. Maximilian declined the invitation at first but then France got involved. Napoleon III invaded México in the midst of the U.S. Civil War, hoping to create a loyalist state in the New World to check the growing power of the United States. He captured México City in 1863 and a rigged election soon after chose Maximilian as emperor. The Austrian archduke accepted the invitation. He and his wife arrived in Veracruz in May 1864. They never knew his election was arranged.

México had fallen into civil war. Benito Juárez, the elected president, controlled the north and Maximilian spent most of his power to return México to peace. But peace was impossible so long as Maximilian ruled. Still, he tried to improve conditions in his new home. He banned child labor and shortened work hours. He also cancelled debts and forbade corporal punishment. He wished to return México to its democratic ideals. Every day, he became more involved than his aristocratic supporters wished. His blatant liberalism would become his downfall.

When the United States Civil War ended in 1865, Maximilian began losing supporters. In response, he invited ex-Confederates and foreigners into México to tip support in his favor. He even adopted the two grandsons of Emperor Agustín as his heirs to emphasize continuity and respect for the former monarchy of fifty years earlier. But it all backfired terribly. Napoleon III withdrew his support in 1866 and Charlotte went to Europe to seek allies. She never returned. Maximilian was captured by the Republican army on May 15th, 1867. A month later, he was executed by firing squad. He died proclaiming: “I die for a just cause: the independence and liberty of México. Let my blood be the last disgrace of my new home! Long live México!” His body was returned to Austria where he rests today. Mexico dissolved the monarchy upon his death and became a problematic but sometimes functional republic again. (Expanded version of the article "The Tragic Tale of Maximilian I" soon to be published in XOXOR: La Gran Revista!!!)
Date of Death: 18 June 1867
Successor: Agustín III (as pretender)

Other Monarch Deaths:
Roman, grand prince of Kiev (1205)
Albert, king of Saxony (1902)

Monday, June 18, 2012

[June 18] Alfonso III, king of Aragón

Surnamed: "The Liberal"
Parents: Pedro III, king of Aragón, and Constanza of Sicily
Date of Birth: 1265
House: Barcelona
Predecessor: Pedro III
Reign: 1285 – 1291
Summary: A member of the infamous Barcelona family of Aragón, Alfonso III was the designated heir of his father, Pedro, from birth. He became king upon the death of his father at the age of twenty and almost immediately went on campaign against his uncle, King Jaime II of Majorca. Majorca had been separated from Aragón under the reign of King Jaime I of Aragón, but later Aragonese kings fought to return it to the main line. Alfonso conquered Majorca in 1285 and Ibiza, an appendage in the Balearic Islands, the next year. He then conquered Minorca in 1287 and claimed the title King of Majorca from his uncle immediately after.

Being the son of Constance, heiress of Sicily, Alfonso and his brother, Jaime, had an inheritance right to the kingdom. The two brothers at first attempted to rest control of the small island state from the Papacy but decided that it would be better for the pope to decide the future of the island. Alfonso's reign was constantly at odds with the more important nobles of the realm. In 1288, Alfonso was forced to agree to the Union of Aragon, a charter that united the crowns of Aragón and Valencia and granted privileges to some nobles and to the commoners. This charter eventually caused division and anarchy within Aragonese lands that lasted intermittently until the union of the Aragonese and Castilian crowns over two centuries later. For his inability to control his nobility, Dante Alighieri placed Alfonso III in Purgatory in his Divine Comedy. Alfonso died prior to his marriage to Eleanor, daughter of King Edward I of England. He was buried at Barcelona Cathedral and succeeded by his brother, Jaime II.
Date of Death: 18 June 1291
Successor: Jaime II

Other Monarch Deaths:
Leo III, emperor of Constantinople (741)
Chukyo, emperor of Japan (1234)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

[June 17] John III, king of Poland

Parents: Jakub Sobieski and Zofia Teofilla Danilowicz
Date of Birth: 17 August 1629
House: Sobieski
Spouse: Marie Casimire Louise, daughter of Henri de la Grange d'Arquien and François de la Châtre
Predecessor: Michael
Reign: 1674 – 1696
Summary: Born to a noble Polish family living in Ukraine, neither of John's parents were royal or powerful by any stretch of the terms. John graduated from Nowodworski College in Kraków then went to Jagiellonian University. Following two decades of study, the man travelled to Western Europe for two years, meeting many of the important monarchs of the day and learning French, German, Italian, and Latin. When the Khmelnytsky Uprising began, John returned to Poland and volunteered for the army. He founded his own cavalry unit and fought with increasing distinction over the years. King John II recognized his talents and sent him to Istanbul in the mid-1650s as an envoy of Poland to the Ottoman Empire. During the Battle of Warsaw, John received recognition for his loyalty to the state and was made Lord Standard-Bearer of the Crown.  A decade later, he was made Grand Marshal and then Field Hetman (Field General). He continued to make a name for himself during the Polish-Cossack-Tatar War of the late 1660s and became the highest military leader in Poland beneath the king. When King Michael died in 1673 while John was fighting in the Polish-Ottoman War, John became the leading contender for the throne despite his pedigree. A year later, he was elected king of the Commonwealth.

Fifty years of near-constant war had put Poland in an interesting position. The government had no money and there was nothing to encourage loyalty from the magnates. Within two years, John III forced a peace treaty with the Ottomans, ending the war in the south. The new king intended to capture and annex Prussia, which jutted harshly into Poland, using French and Swedish troops, but he was unable to because of the Ottoman war and political maneuvering by the Hohenzollerns who controlled Prussia. Despite setbacks and constant interference from the Hohenzollerns and Habsburgs, John managed to build up and reform his army into modern regimented units. He expanded the use of guns and artillery in his army, and decreased older medieval weaponry. He attempted to build up an anti-German alliance of France, Poland, and the Ottoman Empire but the plan had to be abandoned in 1683. Desperate for an ally, Poland finally allied with the Habsburgs which ensured the stability of Poland's southern borders. In 1683, John mandated a universal military conscription to protect against an Ottoman invasion. This was followed quickly by John joining the Holy League. At the Battle of Vienna, John achieved his greatest success. Leading a combined force of Polish, Austrian, and German troops against Ottoman commander Kara Mustafa, the Polish king decimated the invading force. John was proclaimed the "Savior of Vienna and Western European civilization." The triumphant king lived for another thirteen years before dying and being buried at Wawel Cathedral. An unrelated German prince, Augustus II, succeeded him.
Date of Death: 17 June 1696
Successor: Augustus II

Other Monarch Deaths:
Boleslaw I, king of Poland (1025)
Dirk V, count of Holland (1091)
Ashikaga Yoshiteru, shogun of Japan (1565)
Agha Muhammad Khan, shahanshah of Persia (1797)


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