>> Wednesday, August 12, 2009
I now have a bunch of questions. Thanks for those of you who wanted my own trivia breaks to STOP. Or just wanted to know something. :)
Once again, my knowledgeable commenters came through. Boris Legradic and The Mother both provided many great answers and, again, I'll just add tidbits as I see fit.
Who was the first "Anglo-Saxon" king, who founded the dynasty that the Norman over threw in 1066? The first Anglo-Saxon to rule over a unified England was king Æthelstan, in 927, but the unification was lost several times after. I was actually looking for the first "Anglo-Saxon" king, Alfred the Great, who was Æthelstan's grandfather, I believe, but the question was ambiguous enough I can accept your answer.
Bonus: The last Anglo-Saxon William defeated the English king Harold Godwinson at the battle of Hastings, 1066. Although there were some murmurs of irregularities following the rapid coronation of Harold after the death of Edward the Confessor, he was elected properly by the Witengamot. Technically, Harold Godwinson was brother-in-law to Edward the Confessor (so not technically in the line), though he'd been elected and fought the Danes to keep the throne, which was likely how William beat him. He was tuckered (and one of only two kings of England slain in battle). William's connection was also through marriage (his great-aunt had been married to Edward the Confessor's mother so they were cousins). However, Edgar the Aethling was proclaimed king though never crowned. William carried all. Ironically, William's son (Henry I)married the granddaughter of one of the Anglo-Saxon queens so the Normans carried the same line forward.
William the Conqueror took over England, and married Maud of Flanders. What was unusual about their marriage compared to other royal marriages? William the Conquerer wasn't the nicest of guys and it is rumored that he assaulted poor Matilda, forcing her to marry him. Not that that was unusual in those days. What was weird was that they married without the Pope's consent--apparently they were too closely related, but since the Pope was always issuing bulls that allowed cousins to marry, he must have had a craw up his rear about this particular relationship. Although it was somewhat challenging to marry without the Pope's bull, there are quite a few examples. But I worded this ambiguously so the fault is mine. What has always struck me about this relationship (which was reputedly tempestuous) is that William the Conqueror appears to have been completely faithful to his wife, something that was almost unheard of then or after (see Charles II, for example). Not only faithful himself, he enforced faithfulness (to their spouses) among his soldiers. Perhaps, this was a side effect of being illegitimate himself for his father had no legitimate heir and William managed to win the title Duke of Normandy (which is a feet of its own). Maud was the shortest of all England's queens (at 4'2") while William was unusually tall (5'10").
Which English King was beheaded? Charles I was beheaded after the English Civil War, when the English finally decided that kings were bad. It didn't last long though, because the Puritan theocracy Cromwell imposed wasn't any fun, either, and they eventually put Charles's son (also Charles) in as king, in what everyone now calls the Restoration. (Interestingly, the Anglican church made him a saint, as a martyr for the Anglican succession. Pity they didn't bother to look at his record as a king, which is what got him into trouble to begin with).
Which English king was deposed by his French wife (in the name of her son), supported by her lover? Ah, no one got this one. Edward II (famed as the son of Edward Longshanks in Braveheart) married Isabella of France (princess) who was sent back to France in 1325 to negotiate terms with France. The terms weren't particularly thrilling for England, so he sent his son (13) to France. Big mistake. Isabella, with her new lover, Roger Mortimer, gathered troops and, in the name of her son, Isabella and Mortimer came back and overthrew Edward II. Edward is generally believed to have been murdered shortly thereafter (after abdicating power) and there is at least one account of a particularly gruesome end. Edward II is reputed to be one of two likely homosexual kings (the other being Richard I), but the evidence that he was is spurious. Ivan the Terrible was not easy to live with. What did he do to earn the "the Terrible" moniker? Ivan the Terrible wasn't the nicest guy, but my understanding is that the nickname is a mistranslation of the Russian, which actually means something like awesome or powerful (incidentally, a traditional use of the English word "terrible," too.) You are right that "terrible" in this case was intended to express might rather than horror; however, he, in my opinion, qualifies as both. For one thing, he managed to burn through EIGHT spouses (that's two more than Henry VIII), several of them reputed to be poisoned (or killed by violent means) by either his enemies or himself. That's not counting the numbers tortured and killed by Ivan in retaliation. It was during his reign that laws restricting movement for peasants (setting the groundwork for serfdom) were laid. He was involved in devasting wars (Moscow was burned during his realm) and famine and the plague were both side effects. Ivan had something of a special police for torturing and murdering the enemies of the Tsar, the Oprichnik. He burned and pillaged his own prosperous city of Novgorod. He beat his daughter-in-law (reputedly causing a miscarriage) and slew his own son. He was also accused of trying to rape Boris Gudonov's wife. Really, terrible seems a rather tame moniker after all that.
How did Catherine the Great (of Russia) inherit the throne? Catherine the Great, as did so many women of power, slept her way into the job. She married Peter, the soon to be Czar, who was rumored to be homosexual and was at least very, very weak. When Peter took power, Catherine wrested it away from him in the name of the couple's son, and sent him into a lavish exile at one of their palaces, where he mysteriously died. She was rumored to have had many affairs, mostly with men who could boost her standing (military, wealthy), and bore at least a couple of illegitimate kids, easily concealed in those days by the enormous skirts women wore. She was, however, a pretty smart cookie who is credited with modernizing Russia.
In what year did the Catholic Spanish rulers finally defeat the remainder of the Moors that had owned all to part of the Iberian peninsula since 711? Which rulers pulled it off? Isabella and Ferdinand finally ended the Muslim occupation of Spain in the 15th century. They started the Spanish Inquisition to ferret out any last heretics in their midst--which is technically a misnomer, because one can only be a heretic if one is of the religion that is deciding what a heretic is, but that little detail didn't matter to the Spanish Inquisition. Neither, apparently, did innocence. It was also intended to weed out Jews and Protestants who were cast out or killed.
How many King Louis ruled France the old monarchy was finally eradicated? Which numbered Louis never reigned? (And, no, don't count Louis Napoleon). The Louis question is a trick--while there was titularly a Louis 17th, since his father was beheaded during the Revolution, he died (rumored to be suspiciously) shortly thereafter and did not actually ever reign. When the monarchy was temporarily restored (the French never learn), a cousin took the name Louis 18th. So 17, the last being Louis 18th. There was a Louis-Phillipe after that (famous for gutting the fabulous Versailles staircase to make room for more downstairs gaming rooms). I'd forgotten about Louis-Phillipe, thanks. You hit it on the head.
What country do the Bourbons still nominally rule today? Luxembourg. And there's still a Bourbon on the throne in Spain (incidentally, the Swiss accidentally invaded Luxembourg last year when they got "lost" during a training exercise. We had a grand laugh about that one). I did not know about Luxembourg, but did know about Spain. The Luxumbourg tie-in is fairly recent and I missed it. Aron got this as well.
Nicely done. And tomorrow, on with the questions.