British Monarchs and Russian Tsars

  1. House of Tudor. The son of the Tudor founder, he brought England into both the Renaissance and the Reformation. He patronized the philosopher Erasmus, the painter Hans Holbein the Younger, and the writer Thomas More. Originally a supporter of the Catholic Church--the Pope had named him "Defender of the Faith"--he named himself head of the Church of England in 1533 so that he could divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn. Executed top ministers who crossed him, including Thomas Cromwell and Thomas More. He married six times, but only his third wife, Jane Seymour, bore him a son, the sickly Edward VI.
    Henry VIII
  2.  House of Tudor. Known as the "Virgin Queen" because she never married, as Henry VIII's daughter by Anne Boleyn, the Catholic Church considered her illegitimate. After the death of her Catholic sister Mary I, she tried to restore religious order by declaring England a Protestant state but naming herself only "Governor" of the Church. She foiled attempts at her throne by Spanish king Philip II and Mary, Queen of Scots; the latter of her name reluctantly executed in 1587. Her reign saw great expansion of the English navy and the emergence of William Shakespeare, but when she died, the Crown went to Scottish king James VI, the son of Mary, Queen of Scots.
    Elizabeth I
  3. House of Hanover. Though he lost the American colonies in the Revolutionary War, Britain's economic empire expanded during his reign. While his ministers kept their lives, they fell from power frequently, including both William Pitts, Lord Bute, and Lord North. Popular at home, he suffered from porphyria, causing the "madness" that ultimately led to the Regency period (1811-1820) of his son.
    George III
  4. House of Hanover. The longest-reigning monarch in British history, she relinquished much of the remaining royal power, both to her husband Albert and to her favored prime ministers, Lord Melbourne, Robert Peel, and Benjamin Disraeli. After Albert's death in 1861, she largely went into seclusion, though she influenced the passage of the Reform Act of 1867, which doubled the number of Britons who could vote.
  5. House of Normandy. Duke of Normandy from 1035, he was promised succession to the throne by Edward the Confessor, but when Edward gave the throne to Harold II in 1066, he invaded England, killing Harold and defeating the Anglo-Saxons at the Battle of Hastings. An able administrator, he authorized a survey of his kingdom in the 1086 Domesday Book. By that time he had replaced Anglo-Saxon nobles and clergy with Normans and other continentals.
    William I (the Conqueror)
  6. House of Stuart. The last absolute English monarch, he ran into trouble almost immediately. His minister, the Duke of Buckingham, asked Parliament for money to fight costly foreign wars, and when Parliament balked, he had to sign the Petition of Right. From 1630 to 1641 he tried to rule solo, but financial troubles forced him to call the Short and Long Parliaments. His attempt to reform the Scottish Church was the last straw, as Parliament entered into the English Civil War. They defeated him, convicting him of treason and executing him. England became a Commonwealth with Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector.
    Charles I
  7. House of Stuart. At age one he succeeded his mother Mary as King James VI of Scotland. As the great-great-grandson of Henry VII, he claimed the English throne upon the death of Elizabeth I. He was the intended target of Catholic fanatic Guy Fawkes' failed Gunpowder Plot in 1605. A believer in absolutism, he dissolved Parliament from 1611 to 1621, favoring ministers Robert Cecil and the Duke of Buckingham instead. His rule saw English expansion into North America, through royal charter in Virginia and Puritan protest in Massachusetts.
    James I
  8. House of York. He was made Duke of Gloucester in 1461 when his brother Edward IV deposed the Lancastrian king Henry VI, as part of the Wars of the Roses. Upon Edward's death in 1483, he served as regent to his nephew Edward V, but likely had the boy murdered in the Tower of London that year. Two years later, he died at the hands of Henry Tudor's Lancastrian forces at Bosworth Field, ending the Wars of the Roses and beginning the reign of Henry VII.
    Richard III
  9. House of Windsor. Representative of the modern ceremonial monarchy, she and her husband "Prince" Philip Mountbatten have traveled the globe representing British interests. Marital failures by her sons Charles (the Prince of Wales) and Andrew have plagued her reign.
    Elizabeth II
  10. House of Plantagenet. Though he tried to seize the crown from his brother Richard while the latter was in Germany, Richard forgave him and made him his successor. Excommunicated by the Pope for four years for refusing to accept Stephen Langton as Archbishop of Canterbury, he was also weak as a fighter, as French King Philip II routed him at Bouvines in 1214. A year later, England's barons forced him to sign the Magna Carta at Runnymede, an event that marked the beginning of the development of the British constitution.
  11. House of Stuart. While Cromwell ruled the Commonwealth, he was crowned King of Scotland in 1651. After Cromwell died, he used the Declaration of Breda to restore himself to the English throne. He fought two lackluster wars against the Dutch, and needed protection from Louis XIV through the Treaty of Dover. His wife Catherine of Braganza produced no legitimate heirs, but this "Merry Monarch" has as many as 14 illegitimate children. Tolerant of Catholics, he dissolved Parliament over the issue in 1681 and refused to prevent his brother James from succeeding him.
    Charles II
  12. House of Stuart. His three years featured heavy favoritism toward Catholics, so much so that Protestants invited his son-in-law William of Orange to rule England, deposing him in the bloodless Glorious Revolution. Exiled to Louis XIV's court, he made an attempt to regain his crown in 1690 but was routed at the Battle of the Boyne.
    James II
  13. House of Plantagenet. The son of Geoffrey of Anjou and Matilda, he married Eleanor of Aquitaine in 1152, and invaded England the following year, forcing Stephen of Blois to acknowledge him as his heir. While king he developed the common law and due process, but fought with Thomas (à) Becket over submission to the Pope; he had Becket executed in 1170 but performed penance at Canterbury. Eleanor and his four sons conspired with French king Philip II against him on several occasions.
    Henry II
  14.  House of Plantagenet. Third son of Henry II, he spent only five months of his reign in England. He went on the Third Crusade to Jerusalem, winning many victories in the Holy Land, but on his way back was captured and ransomed by Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI. He also fought Philip II in Normandy, and died while defending his possessions in Aquitaine.
    Richard I
  15. Saxon House. Actually just the King of Wessex in southwestern England, he expelled the rival Danes from the Mercian town of London in 886, eventually conquering most of the Danelaw territory. He also kept England from the worst of the Dark Ages by encouraging his bishops to foster literacy; in addition, he translated Boethius, Augustine, and the Venerable Bede's works into Anglo-Saxon.
    Alfred the Great
  16. He is famous both for his push for Westernization and for his boisterous personality. His Grand Embassy to Europe enabled him to learn about Western life (and even to work in a Dutch shipyard); he later invited Western artisans to come to Russia, required the boyars to shave their beards and wear Western clothing, and even founded a new capital--his "window on the West." He also led his country in the Great Northern War (in which Charles XII of Sweden was defeated at Poltava), created a Table of Ranks for the nobility, and reformed the bureaucracy and army. But he could also be violent and cruel: he personally participated in the torture of the streltsy, or musketeers, who rebelled against him, and had his own son executed.
    Peter I (the Great)
  17. He is known in the West as "Ivan the Terrible," but his Russian nickname ("Groznyi") could be more accurately translated as "awe-inspiring" or "menacing." He was proclaimed Grand Prince of Muscovy 1533 and tsar in 1547. Scholars differ on whether he was literate and on how auspiciously his reign began. Early in his reign, he pushed through a series of well-received reforms and called a zemskii sobor (or "assembly of the land"), but Ihe had an amazingly cruel streak and eventually became unstable: he temporarily abdicated in 1564, killed his favorite son, created a state-within-the-state called the oprichnina to wage war on the boyars, and participated in the torture of his enemies. He combined the absolutist tendencies of his predecessors with his own violent personality, helping to plunge the country into the subsequent period of civil strife known as the "Time of Troubles."
    Ivan IV
  18. She wasn't really a Russian at all: she was born Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst (a minor German principality) and was chosen as the bride of the future Peter III. She had thoroughly Russianized herself by the time Peter became tsar, and soon had him deposed: she then dispatched several claimants to the throne and crushed a peasant uprising led by Emilian Pugachev. She also corresponded with Enlightenment philosophes, granted charters of rights and obligations to the nobility and the towns, oversaw the partition of Poland, and expanded the empire. She is well known for her extravagant love life: her 21 acknowledged lovers included Grigorii Potemkin (who constructed the famous Potemkin village on an imperial inspection tour).
    Catherine II (the Great)
  19. The last of the Romanovs, he ruled until his overthrow in the February Revolution of 1917. He is usually seen as both a kind man who loved his family and an incapable monarch who helped bring about the end of the tsarist state; he led his country through two disastrous wars, the Russo-Japanese War (which helped spark the Revolution of 1905), and World War I (which helped cause the 1917 revolutions.) He is best known for his loving marriage to Alexandra and for allowing the crazed monk Grigorii Rasputin to influence court politics while treating the hemophilia of Alexei, the heir to the throne. He abdicated in 1917 and was shot in 1918.
    Nicholas II
  20. He embarked on a program of Great Reforms soon after taking the throne near the end of the Crimean War. The most famous part of his program was the serf emancipation of 1861--a reform which occurred almost simultaneously with the end of American slavery (and whose gradual nature disappointed liberals.) But he also introduced a system of local governing bodies calledzemstvos, tried to increase the rule of law in the court system, eased censorship, and reorganized the army. He became more reactionary after an attempted 1866 assassination and was assassinated in 1881.
    Alexander II
  21. He took the throne in 1801 when his repressive father Paul was assassinated and immediately set out on a more liberal course, but he left his strongest supporters disappointed. He is best known for his wars with Napoleon (first as an ally and then as an enemy), and for seeking to establish a Holy Alliance in the years that followed. He was an eccentric and a religious mystic. Some even say that he didn't really die in 1825: instead, they argue, he faked his own death, became a hermit, and died in a monastery in 1864.
    Alexander I
  22. He ruled Russia from the failure of the Decembrist Uprising to the middle of the Crimean War, and has traditionally been portrayed as the embodiment of the Russian autocracy. His government pursued a policy of Official Nationality, defending a holy trinity of "Autocracy, Orthodoxy, and Nationality," and established a repressive secret police force known as the Third Section. Contemporaries referred to him as the "Gendarme of Europe" after he helped the Habsburgs squelch the Hungarian Revolution of 1848.
    Nicholas I
  23. Those who hoped that the assassination of his predecessor would lead to liberalization saw the error of their ways when he launched his program of "counter-reforms." Under him, the state enacted a series of Temporary Regulations (giving it the power to crack down on terrorism), increased censorship, tightened controls on Russia's universities, created a position of "land captain" to exert state control in the countryside, and either encouraged or ignored the first anti-Jewish pogroms.
    Alexander III
  24. He began his career as a boyar in Ivan the Terrible's oprichnina, and eventually became tsar himself. He first cemented his influence by marrying a daughter of one of Ivan's court favorites and arranging his sister Irina's marriage to Ivan's son Fyodor; then he became regent under Fyodor, and was elected tsar when Fyodor died in 1598. But he was rumored to have arranged the murder of Fyodor's brother Dmitrii, and the first of several "False Dmitriis" launched a revolt against him. He died in the midst of growing unrest and is now best known as the subject of a Pushkin play and a Mussorgsky opera.
    Boris Godunov
  25. In 1613, near the end of the Time of Troubles, a zemskii sobor elected this 16-year-old as the new tsar. He was a grandnephew of Ivan the Terrible's "good" wife Anastasia and the son of a powerful churchman named Filaret (who soon became patriarch); as tsar, he has usually been seen as a nonentity dominated by Filaret and other relatives. Nevertheless, his election marked the return of relative stability and the succession of the Romanov dynasty.
Card Set
British Monarchs and Russian Tsars
Quiz Wed. 10/24. This info comes from NAQT's You Gotta Know pages.