Historical Characters of Christian Europe

    Frankish Empire     Norman and Crusaders     Medieval France     Renaissance France     Early Modern France     Holy Roman Empire     German Reformation     Renaissance Italy



Frankish Empire—500 to 845

Baptism of Clovis to Treaty of Verdun


Character/Date Short Biography

Merovingians

Clovis
466–511
Founder of the Frankish Kingdom. Converted to Christianity by his wife Clotilda.
Clotilda
d. 545
Christian wife of Clovis; converted him to Christianity, and built a church.
Fredegonde
d. 597
Murderous queen consort of Chilperic, a Merovingian King. Quarreled for 40 years with Brunhilda, sister of his former wife.
Brunhilda
603-639
Merovingian Queen who ruled as regent for her sons and grandsons. Feuded with Fredegonde.
Dagobert I
603-639
Last of the strong, respected Merovingian kings. Later Merovingians were "do-nothing" kings.

Carolingians

Charles Martel
686–741
Frankish King who defeated the Moors at the Battle of Tours.
Pepin the Short
714–768
King of the Franks. Son of Charles Martel. Father of Charlemagne.
Charlemagne
742–814
First Holy Roman Emperor. Unified most of Western Europe into a Frankish Empire.
Roland
d. 778
Nephew of Charlemagne and legendary hero of his wars. Died at Roncesvalles.
Wittekind
~ 780
Leader of Saxon resistance to Charlemagne. After years of struggle, converted to Christianity.
Alcuin
735–804
Famous teacher of the middle ages in both England and France. Founded schools in York, and under Charlemagne.

Later Carolingians

Louis the Pious
778–840
Son of Charlemagne and king of Franks. On his death his three sons divided the kingdom between them.
Louis the German
804–876
Grandson of Charlemagne, ruler of East Franconia.
Charles the Bald
823–877
Grandson of Charlemagne who Inherited Kingdom of the West Franks. Dealt with Norse pirates who besieged Paris.
Charles the Fat
832–888
Briefly reunited the East and West Kingdoms of Charlemagne.
Arnulf of Carinthia
850–899
Deposed uncle, Charles the Fat. Repelled Vikings invaders at Battle of Leuven.

Early French Saints

St. Denis
d. 250
Saint of the third century who was martyred in Roman Gaul by druid priests for converting Celts to Christianity.
Martin of Tours
317–397
Roman soldier who gave up his military career to follow Christ. Bishop of Tours and early monastic personality.
St. Irenaeus
~ 190
Early Christian theologian, bishop in Roman Gaul, recognized as a Father of the Church.
St. Germanus
380–448
Renowned Bishop from Gaul visited Britain in order to help combat Pelagianism heresy.
Gregory of Tours
538–594
Bishop of Tours, historian who record the deeds of the early Merovingians and Martin of Tours.
Genevieve
420-502
Peasant girl of France whose prayers diverted the Huns from attacking Paris.
Remigius
437-533
Bishop of Reims who befriended, helped convert, and baptized Clovis.



Norman and Crusaders—845 to 1270

Viking's besiege Paris to Battle of Bouvines


>
Character/Date Short Biography

Dukes of Normandy

Rollo the Viking
d. 931
Viking Leader who was granted the Dukedom of Normandy if he became Christian.
Richard the Fearless
932–996
Grandson of Rollo the Viking who introduced Feudalism into Normandy and increased influence of Duchy.
Robert the Magnificent
1008–1035
Duke of Normandy and Father of William the Conqueror.
William the Conqueror
1028–1087
Claimed the crown of England and won it at the Battle of Hastings. Ruled forcefully but justly.
Robert Curthose
1051–1134
Eldest son of William the Conqueror, querreled with Father but succeeded him in Normandy. Leader of First Crusade.
Arthur of Brittany
1187-1203
Grandson of Henry II, and rightful king of England, murdered by his uncle John I. His murder led to the King of England's loss of Normandy.

Normans of Italy

Robert Guiscard
1015–1085
Norman mercenary who conquered Southern Italy and Sicily from the Greeks and Saracens.
Roger of Sicily
1093–1154
Formed the Kingdom of Naples and Sicily, a great sea power of southern Italy for 7 centuries.

Last of the Carolingians

Charles the Bald
823–877
Grandson of Charlemagne who Inherited Kingdom of the West Franks. Dealt with Norse pirates who besieged Paris.
Charles the Simple
879–929
French King who conceded the Dukedom of Normandy to Rollo the Viking.
Odo of Paris
860–898
Ruled briefly as king of France after Charles the Fat was deposed. Gained renown for fighting vikings, but died without issue.

Early Capet Kings

Hugh Capet
938–996
Noble who became a king of France after the death of the last Carolingian King.
Robert II of France
972–1031
Second of the Capet Kings of France. Married to Constance, a woman of great intrigue and mischief.
Louis VI
1081–1137
Influential Capet King who centralized royal power and fought the Normans.
Louis VII
1120-1180
Led the disastrous 2nd Crusade with his queen Eleanor of Aquitaine (later divorced).
Philip II Augustus
1165–1223
King of France who expanded his realm by retaking Normandy and Anjou from the Plantagenets.

Clergy and Ministers

Archbishop Hatto
850–913
Scheming minister of Arnulf, and regent for Louis the Child. Secured vacant throne for Conrad I.
Peter Abelard
1079–1142
Eminent Priest and Teacher, famed for his ill-fated affair with Heloise.
Abbot Suger
1081–1151
Trusted Counsellor of Louis VI. Remodeled St. Denis Abbey in Paris in Gothic style and popularized Gothic Architecture. .
Peter the Hermit
1050–1115
Monk who helped instigate the First Crusade, by preaching against the Moslems of Jerusalem.
Bernard of Clairvaux
1091–1153
Monk who helped revive the original spirit of monasticism among the Cistercian Order.
Pope Sylvester II
946-1003
First French Pope. Originally a noted scholar, Gerbert of Aurillac. Promoted use of decimal number system in Europe.
Pope Urban II
1035-1099
Second French Pope. Called for the First Crusade at the Council of Clermont.

Crusader Kings

Baldwin I
1060–1118
Leader of the first Crusade, served as Count of Edessa, the first Crusader state, and then 'king' of Jerusalem.
Bohemond I
1054–1111
Norman Prince of Italy who led the first Crusade became ruler of Antioch crusader state.
Godfrey of Bouillon
1060–1100
Leader of the First Crusade. Reconquered Jerusalem for the Christians.
Tancred
1072–1112
Leader of the first Crusade who eventually became regent of Antioch and Galilee.
Raymond VII of Toulouse
1197–1249
Count of Toulouse who sided with the Albigensian heretics against the King of France.



Medieval France—1200 to 1380

Saint Louis to Bernard du Guesclin


Character/Date Short Biography

Late Capet Kings

Louis IX
1214–1270
Crusading king. Canonized as a saint for his concern and compassion for the poor.
Blanche
1188–1252
Queen of France and mother of St. Louis who served as regent when he was on crusades.
Philip III
1245-1285
(the Bold) King during 'Sicilian Vespers'. Died while campaigning against Aragon, whose king was blamed for the massacre.
Philip the Fair
1268–1314
King of France best known for feuding with pope Boniface VIII and executing the Knights Templars.
Louis X
1289-1316
First of three sons of Philip the Fair who became king of France and died mysteriously. Ordered all slaves and serfs in France be freed or allowed to buy their freedom.

Popes and Knights Templars

Jacques de Molay
1243–1314
Last Grandmaster of the Knights Templar. Convicted of heresy and satanism, and executed on Friday the 13th, 1314.
Pope Boniface VIII
1235–1303
Pope who advocated of papal supremacy against king Philip IV of France, and was ultimately defeated.
Clement V
1264–1314
French Pope who moved the Papal court to Avignon. Dissolved the order of Knights Templars and died shortly after their execution.

Early Valois Kings (Hundred Years War)

Philip VI
1293-1350
(the Fortunate) First king of the Valois line. Had to deal with a rebellion in Flanders and early losses to Edward III in the Hundred Years War.
John II
1319-1364
(the Good) Second king of the Valois line. Quarrel with Charles the Bad led to further English incursions. Taken prisoner by Black Prince at battle of Poitiers.
Charles V
1338-1350
(the Wise) As regent during captivity of John II, dealt with civil war led by king's enemies. As king, won back much French territory from England with du Guesclin.

Opponents of the Valois Kings

Edward III
1312–1377
Reigned for nearly 50 years. Invaded France, and won the Battles of Crecy and Calias.
The Black Prince
1330–1376
Excellent general and leader who ruled alongside his father, Edward III. Victor at the Battle of Poitiers.
Jacob Van Artevelde
1290-1345
Wealthy Flemish merchant, known as "Brewer of Ghent." Led a rebellion against Philip VI, but was killed by his own countrymen for corruption.
Charles II of Navarre
1332-1387
(Charles the Bad) Treacherous enemy of the Valois kings, who claimed the crown through his mother, Joan of Navarre.
Etienne Marcel
1302-1358
(a.k.a. Stephen) Powerful leader of the merchants of Paris, allied with Charles the Bad, attempted to betray Paris. Provoked 'Jacquerie' peasant riots, funded 'Great Companies'.
Philippa of Hainault
1313–1369
Wife of Edward III and mother of 13. Intervened at siege of Calias in favor of citizens.

Martial Heroes

Bertrand du Guesclin
1320–1380
French commander during the Hundred Years war, who harassed the English rather than seeking pitched battles.

Saints and Scholars

Thomas Aquinas
1225–1274
Foremost theologian and philosopher of the Catholic Church. Doctor of the Chruch.
Bonaventure
1221–1274
Francisican Theologian and Philospher. Doctor of the Church.
Nicole Oresme
1320-1382
Medieval monk and scholar who served as an advisor to Charles V.
Jean Froissart
1337–1405
Famous historian of mediaeval France, especially regarding the Hundred Years War. Served as secretary to Philippa of Hainault.



Renaissance France—1380 to 1560

Charles the Mad to Italian Wars


Character/Date Short Biography

Kings of France: Hundred Years War

Charles VI
1368-1422
(the Mad) King who was controlled by his uncles and queen after he went insane. Reigned for forty years during the Armagnac-Burgundy Civil War.
Philip the Bold
1342-1404
Duke of Burgundy who founded the Burgundian-Valois dynasty. Served as primary Regent for Charles VI until his death in 1404. Feuded with the Duke of Orleans.
Charles VII
1403-1461
(the Victorious) Disinherited as Dauphin until Joan of Arc escorted him to Rheims to be crowned. As king, ruled wisely and brought the 100 Years' War to a close.
Henry V
1403-1461
(of England) Led a victorious army of longbowmen against France at Agincourt. Made regent of France by Treaty of Troyes, but died shortly afterward.

Armagnac-Burgundian War

Isabella of Bavaria
1370-1435
Wicked queen of the Mad king Charles VI. Betrayed former allies and even her son Charles VII to make alliance with the English.
Count of Armagnac
1360-1418
Constable of France and leader of the Armagnac pro-Charles VII faction during the later years of the Hundred Years War.
Yolande of Aragon
1384-1442
Mother in law of Charles VII who supported Joan of Arc and protected the king in his wars against the English.
John the Fearless
1371-1419
Duke of Burgundy and leader of the Burgundian faction until he was assassinated by the Armagnac faction..
Joan of Arc
1412–1431
Led the French Army to Victory at the Siege of New Orleans. Burned at the stake by English.

Kings of France: Renaissance Period

Louis XI
1423-1483
(the Spider King) Wily and treacherous King who increased the power of the throne and took vengeance on his enemies.
Charles the Bold
1433–1477
Duke of Burgundy who fought France in the Burgundian Wars. At his death his domains passed to the Hapsburgs.
Louis XII
1462-1515
Only king from Valois-Orleans line. Married Anne of Brittany and became involved in the Italian Wars.
Francis I of France
1494–1547
King of France who was a patron of the arts, and was involved in the Italian Wars.
Henry II
1519-1559
Brought Italian Wars to a close. Influenced by mistress Diane Poitiers and queen Catherine de Medici.

Queens and Mistresses

Catherine de Medici
1519–1589
Queen of France who is generally held responsible for the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre.
Maria de Medici
1573–1642
Queen of Henry IV, and regent following his assassination.
Anne of Brittany
1477-1514
Heiress to Duchy of Brittany. Compelled to marry two kings of France: Charles VIII, Louis XII.
Diane de Poitiers
1500-1566
Influential courtier during the reign of Francis I, and chief mistress of Henry II.
Mary of Burgundy
1457-1482
Daughter of Charles the Bold, and heiress to Duchy of Brittany. Married Maximillian, Holy Roman Emperor.
Anne of France
1461-1522
Shrewd and powerful daughter of the 'Spider King' Louis XI who served as regent for her brother. Won Brittany for France, supported Henry Tudor in England.

Ministers and Regents

Jacques Coeur
1395-1456
Exceedingly wealthy merchant of Bourges who became a chief advisor, diplomat, and master of the mint during the reign of Charles VII. Eventually disgraced, accused of various crimes, and exiled.
George Amboise
1488-1550
Cardinal from a powerful family .
Duke of Guise
1519-1563
Cousin, supporter, and Chamberlain of Henry II, prominent during the Italian Wars. Recaptured Calais for France. Ardent Catholic and enemy of the Huguenots.
Henry of Guise
1550-1588
Assassinated Coligny in retribution for the murder of his father. Later founded the Catholic League.

Huguenots

Gaspard de Coligny
1519–1572
French protestant military hero who was assassinated at the Massacre of St. Bartholomew.
William the Silent
1533–1584
Hero of the Dutch Revolt. Led resistance to the Inquisition and Spanish tyranny.
Jeanne de Albret
1528-1572
Queen of Navarre, mother of Henry IV, Huguenot leader. Possibly poisoned by Catherine de Medici.

Martial Heroes and Explorers

Chevalier Bayard
1476–1524
Renowned French knight who was thought to embody the ideals of chivalry.
Charles II
1661–1700
Invalid King of Spain. Last of the Spanish Hapsburgs. His death precipitated the War of the Spanish Succession.
Jacques Cartier
1491–1557
Discovered the St. Lawrence Seaway and great lakes, while searching for Northwest Passage.

Saints and Popes

Colette of Corbie
1381–1447
French Abbess and founder of the Poor Clares.
Pope Julius II
1443–1513
Renaissance character known as "Warrior Pope" for his defense of the Papal states. Commissioned Michelangelo and Raphael.
Alexander VI
1431–1503
Disgraced the office of Pope by appalling behavior, and worldly politicking.



Early Modern France—1560 to 1715

Amboise Conspiracy to Spanish Succession Wars


Character/Date Short Biography

The Three Henries

Henry III
1551-1589
Fourth son of Henry II and Catherin de Medici. Quarreled with Henry of Guise, and took the side of Protestant Henry Navarre during "War of the Three Henrys".
Henry IV
1553-1610
Protestant King of Navarre who ascended to the throne of France after converting to Catholicism. As king issued 'Edict of Nantes' decreeing religious toleration of Huguenots.
Henry of Guise
1550-1588
Founded the Catholic League to block the throne from Huguenot Henry Navarre. Quarreled with Henry III.

Kings of France and England

Louis XIII
1601-1643
Reigned for 33 years, but early reign was dominated by Italian 'favorites' of his mother Maria de Medici, and late reign was dominated by Cardinal Richelieu.
Louis XIV
1638–1715
French King who expanded the borders of France, and lived in great pomp and splendor.

Queens and Mistresses

Maria de Medici
1573–1642
Queen of Henry IV, and regent following his assassination.
Madame de Montespan
1640-1707
Notorious mistress of Louis XIV who held great power at court. Brought down by "Affair of the Poisons" with accusations of witchcraft, black magic, and murder.
Madame de Maintenon
1635-1719
Noblewoman who served as a governess, advisor, and companion of Louis XIV. Married privately after the death of his first wife.

Ministers

Duke of Sully
1560-1641
Chief advisor and principle minister to Henry IV. Capably handled the nation's finances, and encouraged agriculture, trade, and building of highways and fortifications.
Cardinal Richelieu
1585–1682
Very influential Minister of Louis XIII. Consolidated royal power and crushed dissenters.
Cardinal Mazarin
1602-1661
Minister of France during the early reign of Louis the XIV. Followed the polices of Richelieu. War of the Fronde fought to oppose his administration.
Colbert
1619–1683
As minister of Finance, improved France's economy under the extravagant Louis XIV.

Martial Heroes

Prince of Conde
1621–1686
Renowned Marshal of France during the age of Louis XVI. Fought in numerous wars including Fronde, thirty years, and Franco-Dutch.
Comte de Tourville
1642–1701
Naval Commander during War of the Grand Alliance. Defeated British at Barfleur.
Vicomte de Turenne
1611–1675
One of the greatest Marshall's of France. Served Louis XIII and XIV, in Thirty Years War, Fronde, and Dutch Wars.

Other Influential Persons

Vincent de Paul
1576–1660
Parish priest who devoted life to helping the poor. Established home for foundlings.
Samuel de Champlain
1580–1635
Founded French colonies in the St. Lawrence seaway and great lake region. Father of 'New France.'



German Reformation—1350 to 1650

House of Luxembourg to Peace of Westphalia


Character/Date Short Biography

Hussite Rebellion

John Hus
1373–1415
Initiated a movement based on writings of Wycliffe. Excommunicated, and burned at the stake.
Wenceslas of Bohemia
1361–1419
Mentally unstable king of Bohemia best known for allowing execution of Jan Hus and provoking Hussite War.
Jan Ziska
1360–1424
Leader of the Hussites whose military tactics, were particularly interesting and novel.

Protestant Leaders

John Calvin
1509–1564
Protestant Theologian. Influenced French Huguenots, Presbyterian Scots, and English Puritans.
Martin Luther
1483–1546
Leader of the Protestant Reformation. Excommunicated by Catholic Church.
Philip Melanchthon
1497–1560
Protestant theologian who collaborated with Martin Luther. Served with Luther on the faculty at the University of Wittenberg
Frederick the Wise
1486–1525
Known as the 'Elector of Saxony', a powerful Prince who founded the University of Wittenberg, and supported Luther during his trial for heresy.
Huldrych Zwingli
1484–1531
Priest who was a critic of the abuses of the Church and an early leader of the Reformation in Zurich, Switzerland.
John Gutenberg
1400–1468
Invented printing press. Made improvements over many years on types, inks and methods.
Desiderius Erasmus
1466–1536
Humanist Philosopher and theologian. Befriended Luther, but did not break from the church.

German Peasant War

Thomas Munzer
1489–1525
Radical protestant reformer who was a rebel leader during the Peasants War in Germany.
Goetz of the Iron Hand
1480–1562
Robber baron who led the peasants uprising in Germany shortly after the protestant reformation.

Dutch Revolt

William the Silent
1533–1584
Hero of the Dutch Revolt. Led resistance to the Inquisition and Spanish tyranny.
Count Hoorn
1524–1569
Admiral of the Dutch Navy. With Egmont, protested Inquisition and was beheaded.
Count Egmont
1522–1568
Powerful Noble in Low Countries during Dutch Revolt. Protested Inquisition and was beheaded.
Marice of Nassau
1567–1625
Son of William the Silent and Statholder of the Dtuch Republic after the death of his father.
Margaret of Parma
1522–1586
Half-sister of Philip II of Spain who governed the Netherlands in the early years of the Dutch revolt.
Alexander Farnese
1545–1592
Nephew of Philip III, who governed the Netherlands in the later years of the Dutch revolt.

Thirty Years War

Count of Tilly
1559–1632
One of the two major generals of the HRE imperial forces during the Thirty Years War.
Wallenstein
1583–1634
Military leader of the Holy Roman Empire during the Thirty Years War.
Great Elector
1620–1688
Calvinist Duke of Prussia and Elector of Brandenburg who made commercial and domestic reforms and laid the groundwork for the rise of Prussia.

Hapsburg Emperors

Rudolf I of Germany
1218–1291
First Hapsburg to hold throne of Germany. Laid foundations of the Hapsburg Empire.
Maximilian I
1459–1519
Romantic and chivalrous Emperor. Added Burgundian Lowlands to the Hapsburg Realm.
Charles V
1500–1558
16th century Hapsburg Emperor who ruled Austria, the Netherlands, Spain and parts of Italy.