NOTES: Grandson of William the Conqueror and nephew of Henry I. During the
course of frequent civil wars, much of the land was ravaged and England was
plunged into almost complete chaos. Henry waged war against Stephen until 1153
when Stephen was forced to name Henry II, his heir. Reign: 1135-54.
NOTES: Reign: 1377-1399; Richard is perhaps England's most tragic king.
His reign began with great promise but after he attained his majority it
proceeded from failure to failure, not always of his making. He was only 33
when he died.
NOTES: Reign: 1715-74; His failure to provide strong leadership and badly
needed reforms contributed to the crisis that brought on the Franch Revolution.
He was frequently influenced by his mistresses, the most powerful of whom was
the Marquise de Pompadour. Louis XV's reported prophecy, "After me, the deluge,"
was fulfilled in the overthrow of the French monarchy less than two decades
NOTES: Reign: 1774-1793; On Louis's accession, France was impoverished and
burdened with debts, and heavy taxation had resulted in widespread misery among
the French people. After Louis granted financial aid to the American colonies
revolting against Great Britain in the New World, his finance minister proposed
drastic taxes on the nobility (who had been free from taxation). The anger of the French people against taxes and
the lavish spending of the court resulted in 1788 in the recall of the finance
minister who cold not prevent the bankruptcy of the government. On July 14, 1789,
the Parisian populace razed the Bastille and a short time later imprisoned the king
and royal family in the Palace of the Tuileries. In 1791 the royal family attempted
to escape to Austria, but they were caught and brought back to Paris. Louis swore
obedience to the new Franch constitution in 1791, but continued secretly to work against
the revolution and to plot intrigues with France's enemies. Louis XVI was guillotined on
Jan 21, 1793, in the Place de la Revolution (now Place de la Concorde) in Paris.
Historians consider Louis XVI a victim of circumstances rather than a despot such as the
previous French kings Louis XIV and Louis XV. He was weak and incapable as king and not
overly intelligent. He preferred to spend his time at hobbies, such as hunting and making
locks, rather than at his duties of state, and he premitted his wife to influence him
NOTES: a.k.a.: Francis Joseph I; Reign: Emperor of Austria 1848-1916; King of
Hungary 1867-1916; the last important ruler of the Habsburg dynasty; his
policies played a major role in the events that led to World War I. Beginning in
the 1870's, Austria-Hungary gradually became subservient to its powerful neighbor
and ally, the Prussian dominated German Empire. Franz Josef's later years were
marked by a series of family tragedies. In 1889 his only son and heir, Archduke
Rudolf, committed suicide. In 1898 his wife was assassinated by an Italian
anarchist; and, in 1914 his nephew, Francis Ferdinand, who had replaced Rudolf as
heir to the throne, was assassinated by a Serbian nationalist. The murder of Francis
Ferdinand added to the crisis between Austria-Hungary and Germany and Servia and Russia
and subsequent events led to World War I.
NOTES: He was originally named Robert de Bruce, and to distinguish him from
his father and grandfather, who had the same name, he is often referred to as
Robert de Brucce VIII. He is also called Robert the Bruce. Bruce defeated the
English in 1314, twice invaded England and in 1323 concluded with King Edward II
of England a truce for 13 years. After the accession of King Edward III in 1327,
war again broke out and the Scots were again victorious. In 1328 they secured a
treaty recognizing the independence of Scotland and the right of Bruce to the
throne. In his later years Bruce was stricken with leprosy and lived in seclusion at
Cardoss Castle, on the northern shore of the Firth of Clyde, where he died. He was
succeeded by his son, David II. Bruce's nephew, Robert II, who succeeded David, was
the first king of the Stuart house of English of English and Scottish royalty.