Medieval Europe saw many monarchs, kings, and emperors who left an indelible mark on the continent’s history.
Richard I, also known as Richard the Lionheart was the son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. He ruled England from 1189 to 1199 and was known for his successes in warfare.
Despite being an English king, Richard spent most of his time in France. He was a leading fighter in the Third Crusade which was a long and hard campaign. The European Crusaders had to cope with a radically different environment against the Muslims led by Saladin who were more united and well prepared.
After a long fight, the Crusaders failed to retake Jerusalem from Muslims and Richard finally returned to England in 1194.
Richard the Lionheart died in 1199 and was buried in the Abbey church of Fontevrault.
He is well-deserving of his place as one of the top 10 medieval kings of the medieval period.
Born in 849 at Wantage, Alfred was one of the outstanding Anglo-Saxon Kings in British history. He is the only English monarch labeled as “Great”. Alfred was famous mainly for defending his kingdom successfully against the Viking invaders.
Moreover, he defeated the Danes at the Battle of Ashdown in 871 AD.
However, the battles with the Danes continued, and finally, in 886, Alfred negotiated a treaty with the Danes which was designed to divide England. During his reign, a lot of building work took place in order to fortify southern England from future invasions.
Alfred the Great also established a navy, introduced a tax and conscription system, and unified the Kingdoms that previously operated separately.
Alfred the Great died in 899, leaving behind an extraordinary legacy and this makes him one of our top 10 medieval kings’ choices!
Robert I, also known as Robert the Bruce was the King of Scots who took up arms against Edward I and Edward II of England. He was born in 1274 in an aristocratic Scottish family. In his first two battles against the English, Robert was defeated and became a fugitive.
Robert the Bruce led Scotland during the First War of Scottish Independence against England
Whilst hiding, he is said to have watched a spider swinging from one rafter to another. After failing six times, the spider succeeded in the seventh attempt. Robert took this as an omen and determined to struggle on.
In 1314, the decisive victory of this great King against Edward II finally won the freedom he had struggled for.
He ruled Scotland from 1306 to 1329 and died on 7 June 1329.
Also known as Karl and ‘Charles the Great, Charlemagne was a renowned medieval emperor who ruled from 768 to 814.
Charlemagne was the ruler of a vast territory, later known as the Holy Roman Empire. Charlemagne had a significant impact on the character as well as the shape of medieval Europe. He is often remembered as a great empire-builder, politician, and military leader.
He waged a bloody and long series of battles against the Saxons and a Germanic tribe of pagan worshipers. Charlemagne was a zealous defender of Christianity. As an emperor, he proved to be an able administrator and a talented diplomat.
By the time of his death in 814, his empire had encompassed much of Western Europe.
Born in 1068, Henry I was the youngest and most able son of William the Conqueror and makes it into our top 10 Medieval Kings list based on his great achievements!
He not only modernized the royal administration but also strengthened the Crown’s executive powers.
The reign of Henry I is noted for its political opportunism, judicial and financial reforms. During his ruling period, the differences between Norman populations and Anglo-Saxons began to break down and he himself married the daughter of a Saxon royal family.
Although Henry won his major battles but preferred bribery to the risks of the battlefield. He defended his Anglo-Norman state against various rebellions and made alliances with neighboring princes.
Henry died in 1135 due to food poisoning and was buried in Reading Abbey.
In place, number 6 of our top 10 medieval Kings is Otto I, also famed as Otto the Great was thought to be one of the most powerful western European leaders. Born in 912, this crowned Emperor was a ferocious warrior and a shrewd politician.
He encouraged military expansion and missionary activity eastward into the Slavic world. Despite many internal problems, Otto I found time to extend and strengthen the frontiers of his kingdom.
The first campaign of Otto in Bohemia was however a failure, but until 950 the Bohemian Prince was forced to pay tribute. He expanded his authority over Italy and Burgundy, organizing a strong German state. Otto the Great died in 973 and Otto II succeeded him.
William was born in 1027 in Normandy and was an illegitimate son of Duke Robert I. His mother was the daughter of a wealthy merchant. It is strongly believed that William was responsible for making Britain the most powerful nation in Europe.
He was crowned the King of England after the Battle of Hastings in 1066 on Christmas day. He was illiterate and never spoke English, but had more influence on the evolution of the English language than anyone else.
William dealt successfully with the rebellion inside Normandy. He was an experienced military commander, ruthless ruler, and administrator who unified Normandy. He died in 1087 leaving behind four sons and five daughters.
Born in 938, Hugh Capet was the king of France from 987 to 996 and was also the founder of the Capetian dynasty. Hugh was the eldest son of the Duke of Franks, Hugh the Great. In 987, he was elected king and crowned at Noyon.
Hugh ruled for almost four decades and his reigning period was marked by constant political struggle and intrigue. However, his position was saved invariably by the disunity of his enemies. Descendants of Hugh would rule France for many subsequent centuries.
Born in Ghent in 1500, Charles V was a Holy Roman Emperor, King of Spain, and Lord of the Netherlands. He struggled hard to hold his Empire together against the increasing French and Ottoman pressure and the growing forces of Protestantism.
During his reign, Charles V had to face many conflicts outside the Holy Roman Empire, mainly the revolt in Spain. He died in 1558.
Henry was born in 1386 and was one of the great warrior kings of medieval England. As a teenager, he showed his military abilities in the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403. He ruled England from 1413 until his death in 1422.
He was famed for his victory against the French in the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. Furthermore, he followed up his success with the conquest of Normandy between 1417 and 1419.
Henry V married Catherine, the daughter of the French king, and was recognized as heir to the French throne. In 1422, Henry died, probably of dysentery and his nine-month-old son succeeded him.
We hope you enjoyed reading this top 10 medieval kings list. If you would like to learn more about medieval kings please see all the articles at the bottom of this top 10 medieval kings page.