The history of medieval kings started in early medieval times when the Western Roman Empire collapsed. It became a fully established institution during the middle and late medieval times throughout Europe. The king enjoyed absolute power over the subjects particularly during the middle and late medieval times. By the end of medieval times, however, the power of the medieval king started to decline.
During the early medieval times, Europe was plunged into virtual anarchy with large tracts of its territory being governed by local lords and warring groups. However, there were also medieval kings in certain areas. The void left by the Roman Empire was filled by various strong groups who then went on to choose their medieval king. For instance, Ostrogoths settled in Italy and chose Theogoric as their ruler. Similarly, the medieval king of the Frankish kingdom during the early medieval period was Childeric.
During the middle medieval times, various critical changes took places in Europe. Christian Europe came into contact with the Muslim East through the Crusades and this resulted in wide cultural, intellectual, and political impact. During the same time, England was conquered by William the Conqueror who can be considered the most important medieval king of England. The Norman Conquest of England ushered in the era of middle medieval times.
During the late medieval times, the powers of a medieval king continued to grow. One factor for this increase in power was also the declining power of the Church and the changing political dynamics of Europe. In England, the Normans continued to retain their distance from the local people although assimilation of language and culture had already begun and was to continue. Thus it was during the late medieval times that a medieval king had the most power.
Before the Norman Conquest of England, Harold of Wessex was ruling England. He had ascended to the throne after the death of Edward the Confessor. Eventually, Harold was killed in the Battle of Hastings against William the Conqueror and with this a new chapter in the history of medieval times begins. William was followed by his son, William Rufus after whom Henry I ascended to the throne. From 1066 to 1377, England was ruled by eight kings and one queen.
In France, Louis VI can be considered the first real medieval king who reigned from 1108 to 1137. However, he had a reckless temper and hardly enjoyed popularity with his vassals, which was important for a medieval king. To establish his authority as a medieval king, Louis VI had to defeat many robber barons and lords. He was succeeded by King Louis VII who ruled from 1137 to 1180.
The concept of a medieval king clearly dates back to early medieval times but the chaotic situation in Europe during these times hardly warranted the establishment of a stable kingdom. Thus it was during the middle and late medieval times that the concept of a medieval king took full form and the medieval king enjoyed enormous powers. Decline of the power of Church coupled with the emerging concept of nation state contributed to the power of a medieval king.