List of Famous Continental European Kings

List of Continental European Kings

Continental Europe saw the rise and fall of many dynasties during the medieval period. Some of the most notable kings and queens ruled over Europe during this time.


Monarchy, with its institutions of kingship and nobility, gained prominence during the medieval period. It also almost ended with the conclusion of the Middle Ages. Here is a look at some of the most kings of the period.

Charlemagne (Emperor: 800 – 814)

Charlemagne was the King of the Franks, the King of the Lombards, and later the Emperor from 800 to 814. He was the most powerful king since the fall of the Roman Empire.

Charlemagne King of the Franks Carolingian Empire

Charlemagne espoused the Christian cause and was responsible for forcing Germanic tribes to convert to Christianity. He conquered most of the Western Europe and made it a part of a single kingdom.

He is called the ‘Father of Europe’ for spearheading a military, religious, and political consolidation in Western half of Europe.

Frederick Barbarossa (Emperor: 1155 – 1190)

Frederick Barbarossa was the most notable and famous of the emperors that reigned over the Holy Roman Empire from 1155 to 1190. He warred continuously during his reign to subdue and retain his northern Italian territories.

Medieval Kings Frederick Barbarossa

This also brought his into conflict with Papacy. Barbarossa was considered a very charismatic ruler and was a patron of arts. His other qualities, such as exceptional longevity, battlefield prowess, and political abilities, made him a stuff of legends for centuries.

Hugh Capet (King: 987 – 996)

Hugh Capet was the King of the Franks from 987 to 996. His descendants would later become a part of a dynasty known as the Capetian dynasty.

Hugo Capet Medieval king Crowned

This dynasty continued to rule over France for more than three subsequence centuries. Capet was the first French ruler to choose Paris as his center of power. This started a process of the consolidation of royal power.

Medieval France map Capetian France

Otto I (Emperor: 962 – 973)

Otto the Great reigned over Germany and Italy before being crowned the Holy Roman Emperor. He remained the emperor from 962 to 973. He became the Duke of Saxony before becoming ruler of Germany.

Otto I Famous Holy Roman Empire Kings

His reign marked a consolidation and unification of the German tribes as a kingdom. He decisively defeated Magyars in 955 and brought an end to the Hungarian invasion of Western Europe.

His stand-out achievement is recognized as his ability to unify Germany and use politics to maintain control over much of Western Europe.

Philip II Augustus (King: 1180 – 1123)

Philip II ruled over France from 1180 to 1123. He decisively defeated the House of Plantagenet and brought an end to the Angevin Empire.

Philip II Augustus Famous Medieval King of France Portrait

This greatly expanded the territories of the French kingdom while checking the power of its enemies at the same time. During his reign, the power of the nobles was checked at the expense of towns which grew larger and prosperous.

His reign was one of general prosperity, financial stability, and glory for France. For his many achievements, he was granted the epithet ‘Augustus.’

Philip IV (King: 1268 – 1314)

King Philip IV ruled over France from 1268 to 1314. He ascended to power at a time when the royal power of the French king had grown at the expense of the nobility.

King Philippe IV Famous Medieval Kings King of France

Philip IV was among the most powerful kings at the time and significantly expanded French territories on all sides. His reign also marked the start of the decline in the temporal powers of the Catholic Church.

Philip was successful in installing his own relatives on the thrones of several other European kingdoms. This also enhanced his powers internationally and made him an important mediator in continental affairs.