Iconic Leaders of the Middle Ages

By Taylor Tousignant

William the Conqueror

Biographical Information

William the Conqueror, or William King of England, was born in 1028 in Falaise, Normandy, a French province. However, for a large portion of his life he lived in England, but would leave very often to protect Normandy from invasions. He later died on September 9, 1087 in Rouen. People would have described him as stern, greedy, loved hunting, but also as religious, capable, intelligent, and determined.

Memorable Moments

One of his significant battles is the Battle of Hastings, which is directly associated with one of his greatest conflicts. This is that he had talked with the king of England, claiming the he was the true heir to the throne after King Edward died. However, one of King Edward's other relatives took over the throne after his death, which angered William, causing him to go to war with the new King Harold III. Other events that he was associated with include the creation of the Domesday Book and it was mainly him who introduced the Feudalism government to the English world. Some interesting facts are that he was deemed the illegitimate son of the Norman Duke Robert I and that he inherited and began ruling Normandy at the early age of 8. Something he may have said might be along the lines of "I am the one true ruler. To be conquered by me is one of the greatest privileges you will ever come to know."

Importance

Some of his important decisions include that he appointed all of the higher English clergies, bishops, and abbots so that almost all were replaced by foreigners. Also, he started up the idea of landholding in England for the first time, even though it was more popular in France. Last, he appointed his son William II as king after he died. He revolutionized social, political, and military structures in England and made religion a little bigger in England and Normandy. One of his best known accomplishments though, is that he completely reformed all of the churches and he was an extremely successful and well-leading king.

King John

Biographical Information

John, King of England was also known as "Lackland" due to the fact that when he was younger he had no land and "Softsword" because for a long period of time he stopped battle to work on his properties. He was born on December 24, 1167 in Oxford, United Kingdom and died on October 19, 1216 in Newark, United Kingdom. However he did live much of his life in the United Kingdom, but was always on the move. He could be described as indecisive, villainous, temperate, lustful, overconfident, untrustworthy, and cowardly.

Memorable Moments

One of his significant conflicts is that once, he and his brother Richard plotted to kill their father, King Henry, and succeeded, so Richard took the thrown. Another is a long battle or disagreement that he had with France, so for years there was constant war and turmoil. Other events include the fact that he was forced to sign the Magna Carta, which set it in motion. Also, he came to the thrown after his brother Richard died in 1199. Lastly, leading up to the Magna Carta, there was a large Baronial uprising of rebels against him due to his outrageous treatment and taxation of the people. An interesting fact is that he married his own cousin, but later divorced her on the grounds that they were too closely related because he wanted to be married to someone else. Also, in 1210, he had all Jews in England arrested and charged them all a loan of 66,000 marks. He may have said something along the lines of "There is no man fit to be of royalty, no matter if it means I must kill my father or await my brothers death, even if he is bribing me."

Importance

An important decision that he made was that once, he decided to stop fighting with his enemies (especially in France) and decided to take time out to rebuild and restore his pieces of land in England and France that his brother Richard had given him when he was king. However, he was one of the most vicious kings, but still led many aspects of the country well for a while as well as very many victories in battles. He also signed the Magna Carta (unwillingly) which started up all modern forms of fair and just government preventing unjust taxation and treatment. A huge accomplishment of his, though, was that he founded the Royal Navy.

Joan of Arc

Biographical Information

Joan of Arc was born in around 1412 in Domremy, France and died on May 30, 1431 in Rouen, France by being burned at the stake for "lying about speaking to God" and for not doing any womanly expectations. She lived most of her life in France but did leave often to go to battle with England. She was described as schizophrenic saintly, disobedient, persuasive, determined, extremely religious, and a realist.

Memorable Moments

One of her famous battles was her Battle against England where she invaded many English forts and captured or killed many prisoners and it was said that these conquers could have only happened due to sorcery or witchcraft. Another important event she was in was how she was the cause for King Charles being officialy crowned because when him and his army was trying to take over Troye, they would not surrender and King Charles's army began to became very hungry due to little food. They were about to leave when Joan told them that they shouldn't because Troye would surrender in just two days. So, they stayed and in two days, Troye had surrendered, so she was standing next to King Charles as he was crowned. Some interesting facts include that she was supposedly healed of large wounds in just two weeks due to her contact with Saint Catherine. Also, she decided to tell the king of her visions with God, so she picked him out of a crowd of people and told him a few of his secrets that he thought no one knew. Then she said "I have come to raise the siege of Orleans and to aid you to recover your kingdom. God wills it so. After I have raised the siege I will conduct you to Reims to be consecrated. Do not distress yourself over the English, for I will combat them in any place I find them."

Importance

Some of the important decisions she made included that she had decided that she would rather never marry and act manly, join the army, and protect France than marry and have to abide to womanly expectations. Also, when she went to court, instead of admitting to any crimes or explain in a sensible way that they would understand, she would instead say that it was all because of "the voices" she heard, which were suppossedly saints. She is one of the greatest French saints and holy prophets as well as one of the best female military leaders of her time, especially due to her young age. She was extremely successful because she used these "voices" and refusal to act womanly to attract attention and create a great icon for war, which ultimately led to her great conquest and her death.

Taylor Tousignant

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