We have all heard of the great monarchs of history: Alexander the Great, Frederick the Great, Catherine the Great, etc. But what about those who weren’t quite so great? Certain rulers had the bad luck of acquiring some outspoken enemies who used unflattering adjectives—and even, in one case, a vegetable—to describe them. The worst part? Some nicknames stuck, which was unfortunate for those rulers but fortunate for us.
7. The Cabbage: Ivaylo, Tsar of Bulgaria
Ivaylo embodies the rags-to-riches tale. Born a peasant, he was known by his Bulgarian nickname, “Cabbage.” He led an uprising in northeastern Bulgaria in 1277 wherein he and his army gained multiple victories against the Tartars. After his army killed Tsar Konstantin during one of the battles, Ivaylo was recognized as the new tsar of Bulgaria. His reign was short—he was beheaded by political rivals in 1280—but his name lived on as two false Ivaylos later tried to lead peasant revolts under the inspiring moniker of the man also known as “Cabbage.”
6. The Do-Nothing: Louis V, King of France
5. The Bald: Charles II, King of France and Holy Roman Emperor
4. The Bloody: Mary I, Queen of England
Daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, Mary I became the first sole female monarch of England. From the beginning of her reign, in 1553, she was determined to make Catholicism England’s primary religion through her marriage to Phillip II of Spain. A Protestant rebellion led by Sir Thomas Wyatt soon erupted but was quickly suppressed by her supporters, who left a bloody residue of massacred “heretics”. Once a popular queen among her subjects, Bloody Mary ended her life heirless and despised.
2. The Bad: William I, King of Sicily
1. The Mad: Charles VI, King of France
King Charles VI of France ascended to the throne in 1380, at the age of 11, and became the sole ruler of the country eight years later. During disputes between England over the residence of the papacy in 1392, Charles had an attack of “madness” that included fever and convulsions. He would come to have 43 more incidents—each lasting between three to nine months—that cemented his reputation as Charles the Mad.