Friday, August 31, 2012

[August 31] Al-Adil I, sultan of Egypt & Syria

Local Name: al-Malik al-Adil Sayf al-Din Abu-Bakr ibn Ayyub (الملك العادل سيف الدين أبو بكر بن أيوب)
Surnamed: "Sayf al-Din" (Sword of Faith)
Date of Birth: June 1145
Parents: Najm ad-Din Ayyub
House: Ayyubid
Predecessor: Al-Afdal ibn Salah al-din
Reign: 1199 – 1218
Summary: Born in Damascus, the younger brother of Saladin, he was a member of a Kurdish division of the Seljuk army from 1168. He followed his uncle, Shirkuh, on campaign and when the emir of Damscus died in 1174, Al-Adil governed in his place for his brother, Saladin. With the Crusades reaching their prime, Al-Adil mobilized Syria's resources to support his brother's war effort. He was made governor of Aleppo in 1183 and then Egypt in 1186 during the Third Crusade. In 1192, he moved to the northern provinces near Antioch where he suppressed a revolt of 'Izz Al-Din when Saladin died in 1193. When Saladin's sons went into open warfare over the succession, he acted as final deciding voice in the conflict. In 1196, he took the emirate of Damascus as his own, using it as a base to expand his power. When Al-Aziz, Saladin's elder son, died, Al-Adil fought against the younger son, Al-Afdal. Al-Afdal eventually besieged Damascus in 1199 but the wily brother of Saladin not only reversed his misfortune, but defeated his nephew at the Battle of Bilbeis the next year. For his victory, he was proclaimed sultan of Egypt and Syria and ruled the small empire for twenty years.

As the sultan, he attempted to hold a peaceful relationship with the Crusader states. Much trade passed between the two realms during the long peace of 1200 to 1217. He annexed the emirate of Ahlat during this time, consolidating his power. When the Fifth Crusade erupted in 1217, Al-Adil quickly mobilized and began his defense of Palestine. Unfortunately, while on campaign, he died. His son, Malik Al-Kamil succeeded him. While Saladin is remembered for his wise leadership, much of his accomplishments were made true by the work of Al-Adil. The longevity of the dynasty was linked directly to his success as sultan and emir.
Date of Death: 31 August 1218
Successor: Al-Mu'azzam (in Damascus) and Al-Kamil (in Egypt)

Other Monarchs Who Died Today:
  • Pacal II, ruler of the Maya of Palenque (683)
  • Go-Horikawa, emperor of Japan (1234)
  • Henry V, king of England (1422)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

[August 30] Emmanuel Philibert, duke of Savoy

Surnamed: "Ironhead" (Testa di ferro)
Date of Birth: 8 July 1528
Parents: Charles III, duke of Savoy, and Beatrice of Portugal
House: Savoy
Spouse(s): Margaret, daughter of François I, king of France, and Claude, duchess of Brittany
Predecessor: Charles III
Reign: 1553 – 1580
Summary: The fate of the Savoy dynasty often fell into the hands of only childs. Such was the case of Emmanuel Philibert, the only child of Charles III to reach adulthood. Because of his family ties with the House of Habsburg through his mother, Emmanuel joined the army of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V when still young against the armies of François I of France. At the age of 25, he captured the city of Hesdin for the emperor. His father died a month later and Emmanuel Philibert rose to the dukedom. Unfortunately, Savoy had few hereditary lands remaining as France had been occupying Piedmont since 1536. Emmanuel remained in imperial service in the hope that the emperor would help him regain his captured lands.

From 1555 to 1559, Emmanuel Philibert lived in the Netherlands, serving as regent for King Philip II following Charles V's death. He marched on France ahead of an army of Spanish soldiers in 1557 and won a victory at Saint-Quentin. During this time, he attempted to marry Elizabeth Tudor, the future queen, but was rebuffed since he possessed little land and money. When peace finally occurred between France and Spain in 1559 at Caateau Cambrésis, Emmanuel Philibert regained his lost lands and married a daughter of the king of France, Margaret. Upon the death of King Henrique I in Portugal in 1580, Emmanuel Philibert returned to the spotlight, this time as a royal claimant to the Portuguese throne. However, the claim of Philip II of Spain was stronger and the military forces he was able to muster made Emmanuel's attempt feeble at best. Over the last twenty years of his reign, Emmanuel worked to regain and reassert his authority in his lost lands, eventually taking Turin back as his capital. He died in 1580 and was buried in the Chapel of the Holy Shroud within Turin Cathedral. His only child, Charles Emmanuel, succeeded him.
Date of Death: 30 August 1580
Successor: Charles Emmanuel I

Other Monarchs Who Died Today:
  • Theodoric I, king of the Ostrogoths (526)
  • Sancho III, king of Castile (1158)
  • Khutughtu Khan, emperor of China (1329)
  • Shoko, emperor of Japan (1428)
  • Louis XI, king of France (1483)
  • Shimazu Yoshihiro, daimyo in Japan (1619)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

[August 29] Atahualpa, emperor of the Inca

Date of Birth: 20 March 1497
Parents: Huayna Cápac, emperor of the Inca, and Ñusta Pacha
House: Hanan Cuzco
Spouse(s): Asarpay
Predecessor: Huayna Capac
Reign: 1532 – 1533
Summary: Born in Quito, little is known about the childhood of Atahualpa. By the time of the Spanish conquest, he was a military leader conquering much of the outlying regions of the Inca Empire. In 1532, he captured his brother, Huáscar, and had most of his family executed. A few months later, at the Battle of Quipaipan, Atahualpa decisively defeated the remaining rival army and then marched on Cuzco. On his way to the capital city, his 80,000 troops ran across a Spanish force led by Francisco Pizarro. Thus, while Atahualpa was now the ruler of the Inca people, he never truly was able to take his throne.

Pizarro had landed over a year earlier and had been marching toward the Empire ever since. He only had 180 men and 37 horses but he exploited the civil war between the brothers to begin conquering other portions of the Empire. Atahualpa, not fearing such a small force of Spaniards, allowed the company to pass unmolested up dangerous and easily-defended terrain to have an audience with him. In the town of Cajamarca, Pizarro successfully captured the Incan Emperor after killing all of his litter bearers. Atahualpa attempted to ransom himself by offering Pizarro an entire room filled with gold, silver, and jewels, to ensure the emperor's safety. When an Incan general, Rumiñahui, continued to threaten an attack on the Spanish encampment, Pizarro decided that holding onto the Incan emperor was too much of a liability. Atahualpa was executed by the Spanish after a scam trial, and accepted the Catholic faith to avoid execution by burning. His brother, Túpac Huallpa, succeeded him but was a puppet emperor of the Spaniards.
Date of Death: 29 August 1533
Successor: Túpac Huallpa

Other Monarchs Who Died Today:
  • Basil I, emperor of Constantinople (886)
  • Hugues I, duke of Burgundy (1093)
  • Eystein I, king of Norway (1123)
  • Albert III, duke of Austria (1395)
  • John VI, duke of Brittany (1442)
  • Louis II, king of Hungary & Bohemia (1526)
  • Pius VI, pope of Rome (1799)
  • Tokugawa Iemochi, shogun of Japan (1866)
  • Murad V, sultan of the Ottoman Empire (1904)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

[August 28] Magnus Maximus, emperor of Rome

Date of Birth: circa 335
Spouse(s): Elen, daughter of Octavius, king of the Britons
Predecessor: Gratian
Reign: 384 – 387
Summary: There are two stories of the life of Magnus Maximus, one of his exploits as a Roman, the other as his exploits as a Briton. In reality, nothing is known of the mane until 368 when he appeared in Britain as a junior officer in response to the Great Conspiracy. He soon moved to Africa where he served under Theodosius the Elder, father of Emperor Theodosius I, and then he went on to serve in the Danube campaign of 376. In 380, he was back in Britain defeating the Picts and Scots along Hadrian's Wall. Victories in Britain inspired his troops and in 383 he was proclaimed emperor by his army. He went to Gaul and began recruiting an army to secure his claim to the imperial throne. All of Britain was emptied out, with Magnus taking all the soldiers, armed recruits, governors, and youth from the colony. Near Paris, Magnus defeated Emperor Gratian and killed him near Lyon. He then marched on Rome where he stopped when the eastern emperor granted him the title of Augustus alongside Valentinian II, who ruled in Italy.

Magnus Maximus settled in Gaul and ruled Britain, Spain, and Northwest Africa as well. It is possible that Magnus was the person who started the office of Comes Britanniarum (Count of the Britons) which would one day factor into the Arthurian legend. As a Christian ruler, Magnus despised heretics and was the first recorded monarch to execute people for heresy. Magnus may have retained his position had he not become eager to depose Valentinian II, his co-ruler. He marched on Italy in 387 and Valentinian fled to Constantinople. The two emperors returned in summer 388 and defeated Magnus at the Battle of the Save. While he was gone, Franks had crossed the Rhine and invaded Gaul, surrounding Magnus with threats on all sides. Magnus finally surrendered to the two emperors and was summarily executed for his crimes. Most of his family was killed as well, though his mother and two daughters were spared. One of those daughters may have married Vortigern, the comes Britanniarum and possible king of the Britons. Welsh legend has much to say about Magnus Maximus, who may be the same person as Macsen Wledig, a legendary king of the Britons. Two prominent Welsh royal lines claim descent from Magnusa and Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote extensively about his reign where he ruled under the name Maximianus. 
Date of Death: 28 August 388
Successor: Theodosius I

Other Monarchs Who Died Today:
  • Leo V, king of Armenia (1341)
  • Afonso V, king of Portugal (1481)
  • Boris III, tsar of Bulgaria (1943)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

[August 27] Haile Selassie, emperor of Ethiopia

Local Name: ኃይለ፡ ሥላሴ
Birth Name: Tafari Makonnen
Parents: Makonnen Woldemikael Gudessa and Yashimebet Ali Abajifar
Date of Birth: 23 July 1892
House: Solomon
Spouse(s): Menen, daughter of Asfaw, Jantirar of Ambassel, and Woizero Sehin Mikael
Predecessor: Zewditu
Reign: 1930 – 1974
Summary: A descendant of a distant scion of the Solomonic dynasty of Ethiopia, Tafari Makonnen actually claimed his maternal descent to determine his right to the throne. At the age of fourteen, he was given the provincial governorship of Selale, where he continued independent studies through numerous schools. He became an acting governor of Sidamo in 1907 and then transferred to rule the more prestigious province of Harar in 1910. It was there that he married his wife, Menen, the niece to the Ethiopian heir, Lij Iyasu. Lij became the emperor of Ethiopia in 1913 but was not crowned or universally recognized. He was possibly Muslim, which put him at odds with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church as well. In 1916, he was deposed, possibly with the help of Tafari. In the wake of the deposition, Emperess Zewditu was made ruler of Ethiopia while Tafari was declared heir to the throne. He became a co-regent of himself, in a strange twist, and administered Ethiopia while Zewditu ruled the capital city and oversaw the imperial court. As administrator, Tafari oversaw the admission of Ethiopia into the League of Nations in 1923 with the promise to end slavery in his country. Slavery did not in fact end until the early 1930s. Tafari then went on a tour of Europe and the Middle East beginning in 1924. The goal of the mission was to secure a seaport for Ethiopia, but he also wished to open Ethiopia up to a moderate amount of Western modernization. Problems at home forced Tafari back in 1928 where he had to fight with a provincial governor to keep his position. By the end of the conflict, Zewdity feared that her regent was conspiring against her. When a coup attempt failed, Zewditu crowned Tafari king in Ethiopia, though she retained the imperial dignity. The problem of having two monarchs ruling the same country were resolved suddenly in April 1930 when Zewditu died without warning. Tafari ascended the throne and was proclaimed the neguse negest ze-'Ityopp'ya (King of Kings of Ethiopia) and he took the regnal name Haile Selassie, which means "Power of the Trinity." Two years later, he annexed the Kingdom of Jimma to Ethiopia, bringing the country to its current size.

As an initial move, Haile promulgated a new constitution in 1931 that provided for a legislature while retaining power in the nobility. In this new document, only the heirs of Haile Selassie were allowed to inherit the throne, which made many dynastic rivals angry but helped resolve a long debate between   rival branches of the Solomonic dynasty. Problems with Italy soon became the subject of Haile's reign. Determined to conquer Ethiopia after it had lost a war many decades prior against the African state, Benito Mussolini put all his efforts into conquering Ethiopia in 1935. Italy never planned to play fair, utilizing air strikes, carpet bombing, chemical weapons, and psychological terror on the Ethiopian peoples. Haile set up camp in northern Ethiopia, where the mountains provided some refuge. After some initial success in repelling the Italians, Haile was forced to go on the defensive throughout 1936. He finally left for Jerusalem and exile in 1936, leaving a cousin as his regent in Ethiopia. The state was annexed by Italy three days later and King Victor Emmanuel III was proclaimed emperor. Haile met at the League of Nations and proclaimed the outright oppression and slaughter of his people, earning him the title "Man of the Year" by Time magazine. But he gained nothing from it, and many more countries recognized Victor Emmanuel's conquest. Haile settled in Bath, UK, where he remained until 1941. He was restored to the Ethiopian throne in 1942 after Britain removed the British presence from Ethiopia. As his first move, he abolished any semblance of slavery, severely punishing those who practiced it. He also began to centralize and modernize the state, though the nobles resisted at every step in an attempt to retain the feudal system from before the war. Haile attempted to separate Ethiopia's church from the Egyptian patriarchate with some success, and he participated in the Korean War on the side of the Americans. By 1955, he had promulgated a new constitution that allowed for universal suffrage, though most power was still reserved for the emperor. Throughout the 1960s, Haile supported the independence of African states and was the first president of the Organisation of African Unity, a precursor of the African Union. A larger goal of uniting all of Africa never materialized, but was pursued from the mid-1960s onward.

Although Haile Selassie was an immensely popular progressive monarch in international politics, he suffered in Ethiopia. A famine erupted in the early 1970s and killed upwards of 200,000 people. Marxist instigators paid for by Russia may have encouraged the early rebellion against the emperor. Other issues combined to put Ethiopia's empire in jeopardy. Although Haile was able to pacify the people, the military rebelled and deposed the emperor on 12 September 1974. Within months, a grandson of the emperor and two former prime ministers were executed. The government then abolished the Solomonic dynasty. A year later, Haile Selassie was dead, probably due to a successful assassination that was covered up by the government. The government that replaced his, the Derg, fell alongside the Soviet Union in 1991. His bones were uncovered the next year and reburied in 2000 in an imperial-style funeral. The Rastafarian movement, however, denies that the bones are his and believe that Haile Selassie is the messiah. While the emperor was a devout Orthodox Christian, he never criticized or rebuked the Rastafarian movement for proclaiming him their messiah. His son, Amha Selassie, briefly served as emperor but never reigned. He served as the head of the household until 1997. 
Date of Death: 27 August 1975
Successor: Amha Selassie I (as pretender)

Other Monarchs Who Died Today:
  • Eugene II, pope of Rome (827)
  • Arthur II, duke of Brittany (1312)
  • Chokei, emperor of Japan (1394)
  • Sixtus V, pope of Rome (1590)

[August 26] John, king of Bohemia

Surnamed: "The Blind" (de Blannen)
Parents: Henry VII, Holy Roman Emperor, and Margaret of Brabant
Date of Birth: 10 August 1296
House: Luxembourg-Limburg
Spouse(s): (1) Elizabeth, daughter of Wenceslaus II, king of Bohemia, and Judith of Habsburg, then (2) Beatrice, daughter of Louis I, duke of Bourbon, and Mary of Avesnes
Predecessor: Henry
Reign: 1310 – 1346
Summary: An amalgam of nationalities who ruled an assortment of states, John was raised in Paris where he received a French education in German politics. His marriage in 1310 to a Bohemian princess sealed his fate in European politics. When Henry of Carinthia was deposed in Poland that same year, John was elected to replace him by the Bohemian cortes. His election also gave him the title King of Poland & Hungary, though the two thrones were currently occupied by another rival. As a prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire, John attempted to succeeded his father in 1314 to the imperial throne, but was defeated by Louis IV, duke of Bavaria. Despite his defeat, John generally supported the Bavarian emperor and even participated on the Bavarian side in the Battle of Mühldorf which saw the defeat of Frederick of Habsburg.

As with many foreign Bohemian kings, John was not well liked by the native Czech nobility. Accepting that, John left Bohemia to the cortes and travelled through Europe, living primarily in Paris and Luxembourg. From 1326 to 1332, he participated in conflicts between the Poles and the Teutonic Knights in Livonia in the hope that Wladyslaw I would be deposed in Poland to be replaced with John. John finally abandoned his pretensions to Poland and Hungary in 1335 at the Congress of Visegrád after being paid a significant sum by Wladyslaw's successor, Casimir III. By 1336, John was entirely blind but continued fighting for the Knights in Lithuania. When the Hundred Years' War broke out between England and France, John served as governor of Languedoc. Despite his blindness, John participated in the Battle of Crécy where he was ultimately killed alongside three other semi-sovereign princes. Chronicles of the time state that four of his knights tied horses to the king's horse and they rode into the battle where they killed many men before being overwhelmed. The body of the king and his knights, with their dead horses still tied together, were found the next morning. Edward, the Black Prince, took John's personal crest, a pair of black wings, and his motto, "I Serve", and they have remained a part of the badge of the Prince of Wales ever since. John's final words were said to have been "Let it never be the case that a Bohemian king runs!" And so he did not, but he died all the same, and was succeeded by his son Charles, who became Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, thereby fulfilling one of the many desires of John's life.
Date of Death: 26 August 1346
Successor: Charles I

Other Monarchs Who Died Today:
  • Michael IV, patriarch of Constantinople (1214)
  • Otakar II, king of Bohemia (1278)
  • Charles II, count of Alençon (1346)
  • Louis I, duke of Flanders (1346)
  • Rudolph, duke of Lorraine (1346)
  • Antonio, pretender to Portugal (1595)
  • Louis-Philippe, king of the French (1850)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

[August 25] Temujin, khagan of the Mongolian Empire

Surnamed: Genghis Khan (Чингис хаан)
Parents: Yesügei, leader of the Borjigin clan, and Oulen of Olkhunut
Date of Birth: circa 1162
House: Borjigin
Spouse(s): Börte, daughter of Dei Seichen, chieftan of the Onggirat clan, and Tacchotan
Predecessor: Hotula Khan
Reign: 1206 – 1227
Summary: Descended from khans of the Khamag Mongol Confederation, that ruled much of Mongolia in the previous century, Temujin was born to the leader of the Borijin clan, one of the more powerful families in Mongolia, but his early life was harsh. At the age of nine, his father died and his clan rejected him due to his age. Temujin and his mother and siblings left and lived in poverty for many years until Temujin was captured by former allies of his father, the Tayichi'ud. His escape at the age of twenty inspired many to come to his side. Years after originally intended, Temujin married Börte of the Onggirat clan, and cemented his first political alliance which was further aided by the births of his four sons and heirs. To help him in his rise to power, Temujin allied himself to the khan of the Kerait, Wang Khan. As a military commander, Temujin broke with tradition almost immediately, granting promotions based on merit rather than family ties. He also added conquered peoples into his growing empire as citizens rather than slaves, offering them both protection and military positions. As Temujin conquered, the loyalty of those he conquered inevitably shifted to him. By 1206, Temujin had conquered and assimilated the Merkits, Naimans, Mongols, Keraits, Tatars, Uyghurs, and many other tribes into his empire. At a meeting of the Mongol chieftains, Temujin was made the universal khan of the empire—the Khagan, though the title would only be conferred upon him posthumously—and the new monarch took the title Genghis Khan.

With his back covered, Genghis Khan began his wars of expansion. He first went after the Western Xia dynasty in northern China, defeating it without much difficulty by 1209. He then moved onto the Jun Dynasty ruling in Manchuria, sacking Beijing in 1215 and forcing the dynasty into the fringes of its territory. An escaped rival who had fled to the Kara-Khitan Khanate was the next target on Genghis' list. He was soundly defeated and killed in 1218, spreading the Mongol Empire all the way to Europe. When Genghis Khan attempted to open negotiations for a trade treaty with the Persian Khwarezmian Empire in Iran, he was met with outright refusal and the deaths of many of his entourage. Genghis Khan personally led the army that defeated the Shah of Persia, forcing the shah into hiding and eventual death by treachery. Genghis moved north to Samarkand and then Bukhara, destroying everything in his path including entire towns and villages. Capturing the trade city of Urgench was the most difficult affair and the Mongols had to adapt to city fighting, which increased their casualties. When the city was finally suppressed, Genghis declared that the entire population was to be killed for their affront, and up to 1.2 million people were massacred, the largest known massacre in recorded history. Once Persia was secured, Genghis split his army to return to Mongolia, marching through Aghanistan and northern India while the other army marched through the Caucasus and Russia. One-by-one, the march home reduced local states to vassals of the Mongol Empire. Georgia, Armenia, Crimea, the Kievan Rus', and Transoxiana all fell between 1220 and 1227. Rebellions by the Western Xia puppet state in China forced Genghis to return to his first victory twenty years later in 1226. After defeating them again in 1227, Genghis had the entire imperial family executed, ending in further pretensions in this region. Soon after his victory against the Western Xia, Genghis Khan died under mysterious circumstances. While there are many different stories attempting to resolve the mystery, none has ever been confirmed. His eldest son, Jochi, whose legitimacy was always in question, died a year before the Khan. His third son, Ögedei, was the most level-headed of his four sons and chosen to succeed Genghis as Khagan after a short regency led by Tolui, the Khan's youngest son.
Date of Death: 25 August 1227
Successor: Tolui

Other Monarchs Who Died Today:
  • Gratian, emperor of Rome (383)
  • Gennadius I, patriarch of Constantinople (471)
  • Hugues III, duke of Burgundy (1192)
  • St. Louis IX, king of France (1270)
  • Christian V, king of Denmark (1699)
  • Jean III, pretender to France (1940)

Friday, August 24, 2012

[August 24] Michael V, emperor of Constantinople

True Name: Μιχαήλ Ε΄ Καλαφάτης
Surnamed: "The Caulker"
Parents: Stephen, a caulker, and Maria, sister of Michael IV, emperor of Constantinople
Date of Birth: circa 1015
House: Macedonian
Predecessor: Michael IV
Reign: 1041 – 1042
Summary: The story of Michael V is as unlikely as many stories in Byzantine history. Born to a caulker and his wife, an aunt became the wife of Emperor Michael IV, throwing his entire family into the spotlight. His father, Stephen, became an admiral where he failed utterly on an expedition to Sicily. Emperor Michael did not even like his nephew, Michael, but the emperor decided to take his wife, Zoë's, advice and adopt the boy as his heir. An uncle, John the Eunuch, also supported the young man's promotion to heir. In the days leading up the Emperor Michael IV's death, he granted his adopted son the title Caesar. Michael succeeded to the throne on 10 December 1042 to begin one of the shortest reigns in Byzantine history.

The hope of Empress Zoë and John the Eunuch was that Michael V would be a malleable emperor that they could use to rule the country. But Michael sought to rule under his own power. Within days of his ascension, he nearly exiled John to a monastery for contempt. Michael hoped to make a good start and recalled hundreds of courtiers that had been exiled under Michael IV. One of those returning men was Michael Keroularios, the future patriarch of Constantinople, while another was General George Maniakes, who was sent to fight the Normans in Sicily. But Michael went to far on the night of April 18 when he banished his adopted mother Zoë from the imperial palace. When the plot was revealed the next morning, the public revolted against the emperor, demanding Zoë be restored. Zoë came back and brought her sister, Theodora, along with her, and then promptly deposed her adopted son. Michael V fled to a monastery with an uncle but could not hide from Zoë's inquisitors. They found him, arrested, blinded, and castrated the man who was once their emperor. Michael V died soon after.
Date of Death: 24 August 1042
Successor: Zoë

Other Monarchs Who Died Today:
  • Magnus III, king of Norway (1103)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

[August 23] Olav II, king of Denmark

Parents: Håkon VI, king of Norway, and Margaret I, queen of Denmark
Date of Birth: 1370
House: Bjelbo
Predecessor: Vlademar IV (in Denmark) and Håkon VI (in Norway)
Reign: 1376 – 1387
Summary: The fortunes of three different kingdoms consolidated themselves in the guise of one man: the young prince Olav. Son of the king of Norway, his grandfather was the king of Sweden while his mother was the queen of Denmark. In 1376, King Valdemar IV of Denmark died, leaving the entire state to his grandson through his daughter to Olav II. Margaret, his mother, was to rule as his regent since he was only five-years-old at the time. At the time of his inheritance, his mother forced the Danehof to add the epitaph "true heir of Sweden" to his titles since Sweden was currently being ruled by a parliamentary-elected king, Albrect of Mecklenburg. The Swedish towns of Scania and smaller villages controlled by the Hanseatic League supported his claim and proclaimed him king. When King Håkon VI of Norway, his father, died in 1380, Olav became the undisputed ruler of Denmark and Norway. He was ten-years-old at the time.

Margaret would not let Olav rule even after he turned fifteen—the legal age to rule—in 1385. The union of Denmark and Norway under Olav continued until 1814 with only brief interruptions. But Olav would not be the one to realize the opportunities presented by such a union. The young king died only two years later, in 1387, possibly due to poisoning. He had no wife or children. His mother proclaimed herself regent and became queen in Norway the next year. When King Albert in Sweden was defeated in 1389, she claimed the Swedish throne and united Scandinavia into the Kalmar Union, which was continued for centuries. For Olav, his death ended the Norwegian Bjelbo dynasty and brought an end to Norwegian sovereignty for centuries to come.
Date of Death: 23 August 1387
Successor: Margaret I

Other Monarchs Who Died Today:
  • Radagaisus, king of the Goths (406)
  • Abu Bakr, caliph of Sunni Islam (634)
  • Ali al-Rida, imam of Shi'a Islam (818)
  • Magnus, duke of Sxony (1106)
  • Rokujo, emperor of Japan (1176)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

[August 22] Philippe VI, king of France

Parents: Charles, count of Valois, and Margaret, countess of Anjou
Date of Birth: 1293
House: Capet-Valois
Spouse(s): (1) Jeanne, daughter of Robert II, duke of Burgundy, and Agnes of France, then (2) Blanche, daughter of Philippe, count of Évreux, and Jeanne II, queen of Navarre
Predecessor: Charles IV
Reign: 1328 – 1350
Summary: With three male first cousins and significant claims from a female first cousin, it was unlikely that Philippe would ever ascend to the French throne. His father, Charles of Valois, had fought for years to secure a throne outside of France, all for naught. Thus, when Charles died, all Philippe had were some French lands in Anjou, Maine, and Valois. False-starts consumed Philippe's earlier years. His cousin, Louis X, died leaving a pregnant wife who bore Jean I, who died a few days later. Then an uncle, rather than a daughter, succeeded, followed by that uncle's brother. In 1328, Charles IV died leaving yet another pregnant wife. When the child was stillborn, the fight was on between Philippe, the senior male claimant to the throne, and Isabella's son, Edward III, the primogeniture heir. Other females were also excluded in order for Philippe to succeed, but the French magnates supported his bid for the throne. Centuries later, this law would be codified as the Salic Law, which forced male-only lines to succeed before any female line could inherit. Resolutions with Navarre, which held the truly legitimate claim to the throne, allowed Philippe to inherit France while Jeanne, his first cousin-once removed, inherited Navarre and vast lands in Normandy.

Even though he was now king, Philippe VI had a lot of problems throughout the early years of his reign. He inherited his cousin's war with Flanders. Conflict with England was common, with disputes over Aquitaine occurring throughout the 1330s and support of Scotland enraging Edward III by 1336. Further disputes ended when Philippe condemned Robert III of Artois to death in 1336 and chased him into England, where Edward III not only offered him refuge, but made him Earl of Richmond. On 24 May 1337, Philippe declared war on England by declaring all English lands in Aquitaine forfeited to the French crown for supporting rebellion and disobedience. The longest continuous war in European history—the Hundred Years' War—had begun. France had many early successes in the war, destroying English lands in France and along the English coast through piracy. At the 1340 Battle of Sluys, the English destroyed the French fleet stationed in Zeeland and the war entered a new phase. The War of the Breton Succession broke out in 1341, which allowed the English to set up base in Brittany in support of one of the claimants. Edward attempted to end the war in 1343 by exchanging Brittany for Aquitaine, but Philippe refused. England then routed the French and invaded Normandy where they burned and sacked much of the countryside. The Battle of Crécy ensued and was an English victory with the French army all but destroyed. The English went on to capture Calais while Philippe limped home to regroup. By the end of his reign, Philippe had lost much of his early gains in the war and Edward III had a firm upper hand in France. The French magnates refused to tax their people for more Valois warmongering and the black death swept through France, killing one-third of the population. Labor shortages caused prices to soar and the country went into an economic crisis. When Philippe married his daughter's betrothed, Blanche of Navarre, the magnates and Philippe's son had had enough. Philippe died in disgrace a year later, having brought perpetual war to France with little to show for it.
Date of Death: 22 August 1350
Successor: Jean II

Other Monarchs Who Died Today:
  • Konoe, emperor of Japan (1155)
  • Ferdinand II, king of Léon (1188)
  • Gregory IX, pope of Rome (1241)
  • Nicholas III, pope of Rome (1280)
  • John II, count of Hainaut (1304)
  • Vladislav II, voivode of Wallachia (1456)
  • Richard III, king of England (1485)
  • John George II, elector of Saxony (1680)
  • Xianfeng, emperor of China (1861)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

[August 21] Sobhuza II, king of Swaziland

Parents: Ngwane V, paramount chief of Swaziland, and Lomawa Ndwandwe
Date of Birth: 22 July 1899
House: Swasi
Spouse(s): Many including Dzeliwe Shongwe and Ntombi IaTwala
Predecessor: Ngwane V
Reign: 1899 – 1982
Summary: Ruling over Swaziland for over eight decades, Ngwenyama Sobhuza first became king at the age of four months in 1899. His grandmother, Labotsibeni Mdluli, served as his regent for the next 22 years, serving through World War I and the darkest days of colonialism in South Africa. In 1921, Sobhuza II took over as paramount chief and oversaw his government emerge from colonial British control into a constitutional monarchy in 1968. In that year, he became the first king of Swaziland, ruling for five years under the control of a parliament. However, Sobhuza was not a king to be trifled with and on 12 April 1973, he repealed the Swaziland constitution and took direct control over the government. Beginning in 1980, he attempted to conquer neighboring KaNgwane, a region in South Africa that had been set aside for blacks during apartheid. The king died in 1982, leaving his son, Mswati, as his heir under a regency to be led by one of his wives. Dynastic and family squabbles delayed Mswati's coronation until 1986. Of his 210 children, one of them married the king of the Zulu Nation in South Africa, while another married the daughter of Nelson Mandela. When Sobhuza died, he was the verifiably longest-reigning monarch in world history, second only to King Pepi II of Ancient Egypt, whose age at death is disputed.
Date of Death: 21 August 1982
Successor: Mswati III

Other Monarchs Who Died Today:
  • Alfonso VII, king of León & Castile (1157)
  • Ugyen Wangchuck, king of Bhutan (1926)

Monday, August 20, 2012

[August 20] Pius VII, pope of Rome

Birth Name: Barnaba Niccolò Maria Luigi Chiaramonti
Parents: Scipione Chiaramonti and Giovanna
Date of Birth: 14 August 1742
Predecessor: Pius VI
Reign: 1800 – 1823
Summary: Born to a noble Italian family, Barnaba joined the Benedictine Order in 1756 in Cesena, where he served the Abbey of St. Maria del Monte under the name Gregory. He was promoted to a teacher and travelled between Parma and Rome until he eventually was ordained a priest in 1765. When his relative, Giovanni Angelo Braschi, became Pope Pius VI in 1775, life became much better for Gregory. The very next year, he became an honorary abbot at the school he was teaching at, Sant'Anselmo in Rome. Gregory was chastised by his Benedictine brothers for nepotism but he kept the titles and in 1782 became bishop of Tivoli. Three years later, he was made a cardinal of the Basilica of St. Callistus, and was also made the bishop of Imola. When the French Revolutionary Army invaded northern Italy in 1797, Gregory suggested acceptance and caution toward the French, arguing that democracy and Catholicism did not have to be enemies. Pius VI died in August 1799 and the papal conclave was split for months deciding between three candidates: a French candidate, an Austrian candidate, and a neutral candidate—Gregory. In March, Gregory finally was elected to the papal seat and took the name Pius VII, in honor of his relative and predecessor, Pius VI.

Pius VII immediately elevated the cleric Ercole Consalvi to the post of Cardinal Secretary of State and sent him to France to negotiate terms between the Papal States and the French Republic. This established a long policy of cooperation with the French, including support of the French blockade against Britain. During the United States' war with the Barbary Pirates from 1801 to 1805, Pius wholeheartedly supported the U.S. and stated that it "had done more for the cause of Christianity than the most powerful nations of Christendom have done for ages." Although Pius was responsible for crowning Napeolon emperor of the French in 1804, by 1809, tensions between France and the Papacy had once again reached a critical state. In that year, France annexed central Italy, forcing Pius into exile to Savona when he complained but accomplished little for four years. In 1813, he signed the Concordate of Fontainebleau, which allowed the release of many of his cardinals, including Consalvi, who immediately conspired with the pope to renounce the treaty that had just freed him. The French began arresting recently-released cardinals in early 1814 but Napoleon's abdication in April of that year ended any attack on the Papacy by the French. Little of importance occurred in his finals years, but in 1816, Pius VII was responsible for establishing the primacy of Ecumenical Councils over Papal decrees. Pius died in 1823 and was succeeded by Leo XII after a short interregnum.
Date of Death: 20 August 1823
Successor: Leo XII

Other Monarchs Who Died Today:
  • John XIV, pope of Rome (984)
  • Pius X, pope of Rome (1914)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

[August 19] Ramon Berenguer IV, count of Provence

Parents: Alfonso II, count of Provence, and Garsenda of Sabran
Date of Birth: 1195
House: Barcelona
Spouse(s): Beatrice, daughter of Thomas I, duke of Savoy, and Margaret of Geneva
Predecessor: Alfonso II
Reign: 1209 – 1245
Summary: Born to the count of Provence and the countess of Forcalquier, Ramon inherited Provence at the age of fourteen. Unfortunately he was under Aragonese imprisonment as a child at the castle of Monzón and was only able to escape and claim his county in 1219. Ramon Berenguer ruled as a kindly and just monarch, inspiring many of the monarchs around him and turning Provence into a beacon to which many local nobles were drawn. Soon after his escape, he married Beatrice, the daughter of the duke of Savoy, a beautiful and politically able woman. The couple produced no surviving sons that survived birth, but four daughters, all of whom married prominent European monarchs. By the time of his death in 1245, Ramon was the father-in-law of King Louis IX of France, King Henry III of England, King Richard of Germany, and King Charles I of Sicily. The count died in Aix-en-Provence and two famous funeral laments were written in his honor. He left Provence to his youngest daughter, Beatrice, who eventually passed on the title to her son, King Charles II of Naples.
Date of Death: 19 August 1245
Successor: Beatrice

Other Monarchs Who Died Today:
  • Augustus, emperor of Rome (14 CE)
  • Geoffrey II, duke of Brittany (1186)
  • Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor (1493)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

[August 18] Alexander VI, pope of Rome

Birth Name: Roderic Llançol i de Borja
Parents: Jofré Llançol i Escrivà and Isabel de Borja y Cavanilles
Date of Birth: 1 January 1431
House: Borja
Predecessor: Innocent VIII
Reign: 1492 – 1503
Summary: Few popes of Rome deserve a television series named after them, yet thus is the legacy and fame of Rodrigo Borja, the contentious cleric that became Pope Alexander VI at the time when Spain was discovering the New World. He was born in a Catalan town in the Kingdom of Valencia, in Spain. His mother was named Borja, but Rodrigo took the name when his uncle, Alonso de Borja, became Pope Calixtus III. Rodrigo studied at Bologna where he became a doctor of law. Under his uncle's support, he became a deacon and then a cardinal-deacon at San Nicola in Carcere in 1456. The very next year, his uncle made him Vice Chancellor of the Holy Roman Church, a nepotistic appointment not unusual in the Renaissance era. Ten years later, he was ordained a priest and consecrated a bishop, soon after becoming the Cardinal-Bishop of Albano. As a member of the Roman Curia, Rodrigo was an apt administrator with significant wealth and influence in Rome and within the Catholic Church. Throughout this time, Rodrigo was also serving as bishop of Valencia since 1458. In 1492, Pope Innocent VIII elevated the position to a metropolitan archbishopric, which Rodrigo continued to hold in his name throughout his papacy. When Innocent died in Jult 1492, the campaign to become the next pope began, with Rodrigo, Ascanio Sforza, and Guiliano della Roverese competing for the papal seat. Des
pite numerous rumors of simony on the part of Rodrigo, all three candidates were guilty of buying votes and the Borja faction was leading from the start of the election. Rodrigo Borja won in the end and took the name Alexander VI, skipping the name Alexander V as the canonists had yet to decide on the legitimacy of that pope (Alexander V was later declared an antipope).

Soon after becoming pope, Alexander granted his young sons various titles within Europe. His eldest, Cesare, became regent for Alexander in Valencia; Giovanni became the Duke of Gandia, a Borja hereditary title; for Gioffre, Alexander hoped to carve out a section of the Papal States or Naples for him. This last move put Alexander at odds with Ferrante I, king of Naples, whom he went to war with in 1493. Naples allied with Florence, Milan, and Venice, while the Papacy was allied with the Spanish states. For their aide, Castile was granted the vast majority of the New World in the papal bull Inter Caetera.  Alexander sought the aide of France in his Neapolitan war. Yet everything switched in mid-1493 when Alexander made peace with Naples by marrying Gioffre to the Neapolitan princess Sancha. To win over the Roman Curia, Alexander created 12 new cardinals, including his own son Cesare. When King Ferrante died in 1494, King Charles VIII of France declared himself the king of Naples and prepared for war. When the French army was marching toward Rome, Alexander declared his alliance with Naples and its legitimate king, Alfonso II, then everything began to fall apart. Parts of the Papal States and allies to Rome fled from France or were quickly captured. When Charles entered Rome on the last day of 1494, Alexander managed to win the day by granting Charles' confessor a cardinal's hat. Charles captured Naples within two months. As Charles languished in Naples, trying to consolidate his power, the rest of Europe responded. A Holy League was established between the Papacy, the Holy Roman Empire, Venice, Spain, and Milan. It's one goal was to expel the French from Italy. Only a short battle was fought before Charles was allowed to flee to France. Ferrante's grandson, Ferrante II, was installed as king soon after. The Borja's suffered many tragedies during their time in power, and the first of those was the murder of Giovanni, duke of Gandia, whose body was found in the Tiber in 1497 under suspicious circumstances. Though Cesare was later accused, no evidence has ever been found naming the murderer. Cesare soon after resigned his cardinalate and acted as ambassador to France during King Louis XII's annulment, from which he received the duchy of Valentinois. He became the gonfaloniere—standard bearer—of the Papacy and, in 1499, led a charge to centralize northern Italy under Papal Rule with French assistance. Unfortunately, he was defeated in 1500 when Milan reorganized and managed to expel France from the peninsula. 1500 was a jubilee year and thousands of people from across Europe flocked to Rome to purchase indulgences to help build Saint Peter's Basilica and fund Cesare's wars in the north. Twelve new cardinals were again appointed, and with the extra revenue, Cesare went out to centralize Central Italy. In 1501, Alexander created the Dukedom of Romagna for his eldest son. That same year, as France and Spain invaded Naples, Alexander led an army to defeat a rival family, leaving his daughter on the papal seat as his regent. In 1502 and 1503, Alexander, Cesare, and his brother Gioffre, defeated the Orsini and Colonna factions and finally centralized most of Italy under Borja rule. In August 1503, Cesare was preparing to invade Naples when he and his father became deathly kill. Cesare recovered but Pope Alexander VI died at the age of 72. The short-lived Pope Pius III succeeded Alexander one month later, and then in turn was succeeded by Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere under the name Julius II.
Date of Death: 18 August 1503
Successor: Pius III


Other Monarchs Who Died Today:
  • Decentius, usurper of Rome (353)
  • Sixtus III, pope of Rome (440)
  • Theodore II, emperor of Nicaea (1258)
  • Adrian V, pope of Rome (1276)
  • Paul IV, pope of Rome (1559)
  • Wanli, emperor of China (1620)
  • Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor (1765)

Friday, August 17, 2012

[August 17] Eustace IV, count of Boulogne

Parents: Stephen, king of England, and Matilda I, countess of Boulogne
Date of Birth: circa 1127
House: Blois
Spouse(s): Constance, daughter of Louis VI, king of France, and Adélaide of Maurienne
Predecessor: Matilda I
Reign: 1146 – 1153
Summary: The eldest son of Stephen, the future usurping king of England, Eustace was destined for an interesting life. Although born before 1131, little is known about Eustace before he appeared in the history books doing homage to King Louis VII of France in 1137. He eventually married Louis' sister, Constance, in 1140. Eustace's mother was the countess of Boulogne in France and made Eustace co-count in 1146, removing the title of count suo uxoris from Stephen. 
Eustace was knighted by his father in 1147 and joined King Louis on a raid on Normandy in 1151 after Matilda, the daughter of King Henry I of England, proclaimed herself the legitimate heir to the English and Norman thrones. By 1152, Stephen was dressing his eldest son up to inherit England, but most of the clergy refused to attend the ceremony because the Roman curia had declared that Matilda's son, Henry, was the heir to the English throne. Eustace was proclaimed sole count of Boulogne that same year, but died the following year during a raid of church lands in Sussex. His death signaled the end of Stephen's fortunes in England and the start of diplomacy to bring the House of Plantagenet to the English throne. He was buried at Faversham Abbey in Kent, but his grave was destroyed during the dissolution of the monasteries under King Henry VIII. He was succeeded in Boulogne by his brother, William I.
Date of Death: 17 August 1153
Successor: William I


Other Monarchs Who Died Today:
  • Go-Fukakusa, emperor of Japan (1304)
  • Frederick II, king of Prussia (1786)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

[August 16] Giorgi I, king of Georgia

Parents: Bagrat III, king of Georgia, and Martha
Date of Birth: circa 998
House: Bagrationi
Spouse(s): (1) Mariam, daughter of John-Senekerim Artsruni, king of Vaspurakan, then (2) Alda
Predecessor: Bagrat III
Reign: 1014 – 1027
Summary: As the first king who inherited a unified Georgian state, Giorgi was an unfortunately poor replacement for his father, Bagrat III. When Giorgi inherited the throne, he was still a teenager and the nobles jumped at the opportunity to take control of the country. Meanwhile, Kakheti and Hereti, two eastern provinces of Georgia, rebelled and elected their own king, Kvirike III, who went on to conquer a portion of Arran. Later in his reign, Giorgi decided it was better to ally with Kvirike than go to war with him, thereby leaving the territorial war to his descendants. Most of Giorgi's reign was dominated by war with the Byzantine Empire, which had seized significant parts of Georgia some twenty year earlier as part of a treaty made with King David III of Georgia. Bagrat III failed to keep the lands but Giorgi made it his mission to recapture them. He invaded Tao, a small area west of Georgia, in alliance with the Fatimid Caliph Al-Hakim in 1015. With Egypt suddenly at war with the Byzantines, Emperor Basil II had to divide his forces between the two fronts. The Byzantines were already at war with the Bulgars in the west but things feel apart when the Bulgars were conquered and Al-Hakim died. In 1021, Basil led an army into Georgia. The ensuing war lasted for two years and ended with Giorgi fleeing from battle and signing a peace treaty that lost not only Tao, but other southwestern lands. Worse for Giorgi, he was forced to send his son to Constantinople as a hostage. Georgia and the Byzantine Empire maintained peaceful relationships for a number of years thereafter, with Basil eventually releasing Giorgi's son in 1025 and Byzantine laborers helping to build a major cathedral in Mtskheta. Basil died soon after and Constantine VIII, the new emperor, decided it was best to keep the Georgian king's son, but the son had already been returned to Georgia. The Byzantines and Georgians were ready to return to open warfare in the summer of 1027 when Giorgi suddenly died. His formerly hostage son, Bagrat IV, succeeded him and ruled Georgia for 45 years.

Date of Death: 16 August 1027
Successor: Bagrat IV


Other Monarchs Who Died Today:
  • John II, emperor of Trebizond (1297)
  • Albert II, duke of Austria (1358)
  • Wenceslaus, king of Bohemia (1419)
  • Ashikaga Yoshikatsu, shogun of Japan (1443)
  • John, elector of Saxony (1532)
  • Peter I, king of Serbia (1921)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

[August 15] Flavius Honorius, emperor of Rome


Parents: Theodosius I, emperor of Rome, and Aelia Flaccilla
Date of Birth: 9 September 384

House: Theodosian
Spouse(s): (1) Maria, daughter of Stilicho and Serena, then (2) Thermantia, daughter of Stilicho and Serena
Predecessor: Theodosius I
Reign: 393 – 423
Summary: The Western Roman Empire was approaching collapse when Honorius entered the world. He was the second son of Theodosius I, the emperor in the east, and became a consul at the age of two. In 393, he was proclaimed co-emperor alongside his father when Valentinian II died and Eugenius, a usurper, was deposed. Little time was awarded for imperial training to Honorius and he became sole emperor in the west when his father died in 395. His elder brother, Arcadius, gained the eastern throne. Theodosius had appointed Stilicho, a half-Vandal Roman 
general, as regent for Honorius. Upon Theodosius' death, Stilicho married Honorius to his own daughter, Maria, to solidify the pact of regency between them. The reign of Honorius would be dominated by external forces controlling him, with Stilicho and the Roman papacy taking center stage. In 401, at the age of seventeen, Honorius oversaw the moving of the Roman court from Mediolanum to Ravenna to protect it from Visigothic incursions in the north of Italy. The location was well-protected but hard to base attacks out of. It remained the Roman capital in the west through Ostrogothic times. From the start of his reign while still a minor, the Western Empire was besieged by barbarian attacks. Immediately after suppressing a revolt in North Africa, Stilicho hurried to Italy to hold off a Visigoth invasion around 402. While Stilicho fought against incursions into Italy, barbarians invaded Gaul in the northwest.

Even as Honorius reached his maturity, his reign was threatened by usurpers. Britain, which was cut-off from Roman aide, especially was prone to imperial claimants, with Marcus, Gratian, and Constantine III all claiming imperial titles in quick succession. Constantine invaded Gaul in 407 soon after Gratian's death leaving his son, Constans, to rule in Britain. By 410, Britain was formally abandoned by Rome and told to look after itself, initiating its dark ages. Meanwhile, Hispania and Italy were both under constant bombardment by Alans, Suevi, Vandals, and Visigoths. Maria died in 407 and Honorius married her sister, Thermantia, the next year. Later that year, Arcadius, Honorius' brother, died in Constantinople. The Western emperor sought to go East to see the accession of his nephew, Theodosius II, but Stilicho insisted on going instead. While away, a court minister, Olympius, convinced Honorius that Stilicho was plotting with barbarians against Rome. When Stilicho returned, he was arrested and executed for treason. Hundreds of court officials and their families were executed for being loyal to Stilicho, and those that were not executed fled to the army of Alaric the Visigoth. Alaric returned in 409 and attempted to install Priscus Attalus on the throne, but soldiers sent from Constantinople blocked Alaric, but not before the Visigothic king sacked Rome. In Hispania, a new usurper, Maximus, invaded Gaul and Honorius found a new general, Constantius, who defeated first Maximus and then Constantine III in 411. But even as these revolts were suppressed, Jovinus revolted in northern Gaul and was not suppressed for two years. In 414, Honorius entered Rome in a triumphal ceremony, hauling the former pretender Priscus Attalus before him and the banishing him to the island of Lipara. Honorius then went about reorganizing Gaul, granting self-rule as quasi-independent states. This signaled the virtual loss of Gaul to the barbarians. In 421, Honorius recongized Constantius as co-emperor but was denied the title by Theodosius in the East and died the next year while planning an invasion of the East. Honorius died in 423 without any children. Joannes, a Roman nobleman, was installed as interim emperor until the return of Valentinian III, the nephew of Honorius, the next year.
Date of Death: 15 August 423
Successor: Valentinian III


Other Monarchs Who Died Today:
  • Libius Severus, emperor of Rome (465)
  • Stephen I, king of Hungary (1038)
  • Macbeth, king of Scots (1057)
  • Alexius I, emperor of Constantinople (1118)
  • Conrad II, duke of Swabia (1196)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

[August 14] Rainald of Dassel, archbishop of Cologne


Parents: Reinold I, count of Dassel
Date of Birth: circa 1120

Predecessor: Frederick II von Berg
Reign: 1159 – 1167
Summary: Born into a wealthy Saxon noble family, Rainald was not the eldest son in the family and was destined for ecclesiastics rather than a life in politics or in the military. He began his schooling at Hildesheim in 1146 where he obtained the position of subdeacon. By 1148, he was a general provost and attended the Council of Rheims where he opposed changes to clerical dress. With the embassy of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I, Rainald ventured to Rome in 1153 where he met Pope Eugene III and first revealed his political acumen. 
In 1154, he was made provost of Petersberg at Goslar and St. Mortiz at Hildesheim and was offered the episcopal seat at Hildesheim, but he declined the position. Two years later, Emperor Frederick made Rainald chancellor of the Empire, one of the highest posts in the Imperial bureaucracy. At the Diet of Besançon in 1157, Rainald fought for the rights of the German kings over that of the papacy, suggesting that while Catholicism should be emphasized and strengthened in Germany, the pope and all of Rome should submit to Imperial authority. With these proclamations, Rainald became one of the most politically contentious clerics in Christendom. For his devotion to Frederick, Rainald was made archbishop of Cologne while he was away in Italy.

When a schism occurred between Pope Alexander III and an antipope, Victor IV, Rainald supported the antipope and, in 1160, went to France and England to try and convince the kings there to support the claims of Victor IV. While passing through Milan, he was almost killed and forced to flee. For this injustice, Frederick sacked the city in 1162 after a prolonged siege. Nor surprisingly, Pope Alexander excommunicated Rainald in 1163 for supporting the wrong pope. Rainald responded by proclaiming the right of the emperor to dispose of the papal see. When Victor died in 1164, Rainald elected Paschall III to replace him as antipope. Soon after, the archbishop returned to Germany bringing with him relics of the Three Magi taken from the ruins of Milan. Germany was up in arms against the legitimate pope because of Reinald's rabble-rousing. With the tentative support of the king of England, Rainald took a leading role in the attempted canonization of Charlemagne in 1165. With Christian I of Buch, the archbishop of Mainz, Rainald travelled back to Italy in 1167 where he defeated a Roman army at the Battle of Monte Porzio. But the overpowered archbishop of Cologne died soon after, probably from a malarial infection, and was buried at Cologne Cathedral. Much of his progress and legacy died with him.
Date of Death: 14 August 1167
Successor: Philip I von Heinsberg


Other Monarchs Who Died Today:

  • Tiberius II, emperor of Constantinople (582)
  • Duncan I, king of Scots (1040)
  • Minamoto no Yoriie, shogun of Japan (1204)
  • Philip I, duke of Brabant (1430)
  • João I, king of Portugal (1433)
  • Pius II, pope of Rome (1464)
  • Saito Tatsuoki, daimyo in Japan (1573)

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