Strange Royal Epithets in History

Posted September 10, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment

Do you have royal ancestors in your family tree? You may be familiar with some of the epithets that follow their names. An epithet is an adjective or descriptive phrase expressing a quality characteristic of the person or thing mentioned. Many figures throughout history are remembered and referred to by their epithets, long after they are deceased. A familiar one from history may be Richard the Lionheart, who earned his nickname because of his reputation as a great military leader and warrior. To the misfortune of others, some earned rather unfortunate sounding nicknames.

Check out a few strange royal epithets found in Geni’s World Family Tree:

  1. Bermudo the Gouty – Bermudo II of León was the King of León from 984 – 999. At the end of his reign, he suffered from a severe case of gout which made it impossible for him to ride a horse. As a result, he mainly traveled by litter and was carried every where he went.


  2. Ferdinand the Bomb – Also dubbed “King Bomb,” Ferdinand II was King of the Two Sicilies from 1830 until his early death in 1859. The early years of his reign were considered to be quite peaceful and he was fairly popular amongst his subjects. However, in 1837 he violently suppressed Sicilian demonstrators who demanded a constitution. When Sicily proclaimed its independence in 1848, the King assembled an army of 20,000 to restore his authority. The city of Messina was shelled for eight hours with “savage barbarity” after its defenders had already surrendered. The attack killed many civilians and earned Ferdinand the nickname “Re Bomba” or “King Bomb.”


  3. Bertha Broadfoot – Bertrada of Laon was the mother of Charlemagne. Her nickname “Bertha Broadfoot” dates back to the 13th century. The reason for her name is unclear, however many believe it is because Bertrada was born with a clubfoot.


  4. Vasily the Cross-Eyed – Vasily II was the Grand Prince of Moscow from 1425 – 1462. He was overthrown by his brother Dmitry Shemyaka and a cousin. Dmitry had Vasily blinded and exiled him to Uglich. As such, he’s also known as Vasily the Blind.


  5. Alfonso the Slobberer – Alfonso IX of León is said to have been called “Slobberer” because he was subject to fits of rage during which he foamed at the mouth.


  6. John of Happy Memory – John I was the King of Portugal and the Algarve in 1385 – 1433. His nickname stems from the positive memory of his reign. He was also called “the Good” and “the Great,” and more rarely outside of Portugal, “the Bastard.”


  7. Albert with the Pigtail – Albert III was a duke of Austria and a member of the House of Habsburg. He reigned between 1365 – 1395. Can you guess where his epithet may have come from?


What strange epithets have you come across in your genealogy research? Share them with us in the comments below!

Post written by Amanda

Amanda is the Marketing Communications Manager at Geni. If you need any assistance, she will be happy to help!

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