SOVEREIGNTY: Powerful kings, queens, rulers, warriors and great battles have shaped our world.


Principalities have existed in ancient and modern civilizations of Africa, Asia, ancient Egypt, ancient Greece and ancient Rome in the Mediterranean region, and ancient India and Pre-Columbian America and Oceania.


Though principalities existed in Antiquity, before the height of the Roman Empire, the modern principality as it is known today evolved into being in the Middle Ages between 350 and 1450 when feudalism was the primary economic system employed by Eurasian societies. Feudalism increased the power of local princes to govern the king's lands. As princes continued to gain more power over time, the authority of the king was diminished in many places. This led to political fragmentation and the king's lands were broken into mini-states led by princes and dukes who wielded absolute power over their small territories. This was especially prevalent in Europe, and particularly with the Princes of the Holy Roman Empire.


The feudal system first appears in definite form in the Frankish lands in the 9th and 10th cent. A long dispute between scholars as to whether its institutional basis was Roman or Germanic remains somewhat inconclusive; it can safely be said that feudalism emerged from the condition of society arising from the disintegration of Roman institutions and the further disruption of Germanic inroads and settlements. Of course, the rise of feudalism in areas formerly dominated by Roman institutions meant the breakdown of central government; but in regions untouched by Roman customs the feudal system was a further step toward organization and centralization.

Feudalism spread from France to Spain, Italy, and later Germany and Eastern Europe. In England William I (William the Conqueror) imposed the Frankish form after 1066, although most of the elements of feudalism were already present. It was extended eastward into Slavic lands to the marches (frontier provinces), which were continually battered by new invasions, and it was adopted partially in Scandinavian countries. The important features of feudalism were similar throughout, but there existed definite national differences. Feudalism continued in all parts of Europe until the end of the 14th cent.


After Constantine I made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire in 391 AD, the Christian Church was able to flourish. By the Middle Ages, Christianity had spread, making the Church the most powerful institution in Europe.


During the period known as the Renaissance from 1200 to 1500, principalities were engaged in constant warfare with each other as royal houses asserted sovereignty over smaller principalities. These wars caused a great deal of instability and economies were destroyed. To add insult to injury, the bubonic plague reduced the power of principalities to survive independently. However, eventually, agricultural successes, development of new goods and services to trade and patronization by the Roman Catholic Church boosted commerce between principalities. These states became wealthy, expanded their territories, and improved the services provided to their citizens. Princes and dukes developed their lands, established new ports and chartered large thriving cities. Some took their newfound wealth, built the first palaces, and elaborate government offices people now associate with principalities.

While some principalities prospered in their independence, less successful states were swallowed by stronger royal houses. Europe saw consolidation of small principalities into larger kingdoms and empires. This trend directly led to the creation of such states as Great Britain, France, Portugal, and Spain. The Medici family orchestrated another form of consolidation in Italy during the Renaissance. A banking family from Florence, the Medici took control of governments in various Italian regions and even assumed the papacy. They then appointed family members to become princes and assured their protection by the Medici-controlled Vatican.


Principalities where genealogical inheritance is replaced by succession in a religious office have existed in significant number in the Roman Catholic Church, in each case consisting of a feudal polity held ex officio-the closest possible equivalent to hereditary succession- by a Prince of the church, styled more precisely according to his ecclesiastical rank, such as Prince-bishop, Prince-abbot and, especially as a form of crusader state, Grand Master.


With such a great deal of power, wealth and influence over Medieval European society, the Church was also involved in non-religious matters. Clergymen were among the most educated people in Medieval Europe. Aside from giving spiritual advice, cardinals, archbishops and bishops were often required to assist the king in governing his kingdom. Clergymen advised the king on political, financial, judicial and military matters.


The Church played a large role in the feudal system. The Church believed that the Pope was God's representative on Earth and that God appointed kings. It taught people that God decided their position in life. This belief supported feudalism, which operated on the understanding that each person knew his or her place in society. The support of the powerful and influential organization of the Church assisted the kings and nobles to maintain social order. Monarchs would often give land to the clergy to show their support. Wealthy nobles, in the belief that it would earn them a place in heaven, also donated Land to the Church. The Church was the largest landowner in Medieval Europe, controlling about one third of the total area.

PRINCIPALITIES


Principalities have existed in ancient and modern civilizations of Africa, Asia, ancient Egypt, ancient Greece and ancient Rome in the Mediterranean region, and ancient India and Pre-Columbian America and Oceania.


Though principalities existed in Antiquity, before the height of the Roman Empire, the modern principality as it is known today evolved into being in the Middle Ages between 350 and 1450 when feudalism was the primary economic system employed by Eurasian societies. Feudalism increased the power of local princes to govern the king's lands. As princes continued to gain more power over time, the authority of the king was diminished in many places. This led to political fragmentation and the king's lands were broken into mini-states led by princes and dukes who wielded absolute power over their small territories. This was especially prevalent in Europe, and particularly with the Princes of the Holy Roman Empire.


During the period known as the Renaissance from 1200 to 1500, principalities were engaged in constant warfare with each other as royal houses asserted sovereignty over smaller principalities. These wars caused a great deal of instability and economies were destroyed. To add insult to injury, the bubonic plague reduced the power of principalities to survive independently. However, eventually, agricultural successes, development of new goods and services to trade and patronization by the Roman Catholic Church boosted commerce between principalities. These states became wealthy, expanded their territories, and improved the services provided to their citizens. Princes and dukes developed their lands, established new ports and chartered large thriving cities. Some took their newfound wealth, built the first palaces, and elaborate government offices people now associate with principalities.


While some principalities prospered in their independence, less successful states were swallowed by stronger royal houses. Europe saw consolidation of small principalities into larger kingdoms and empires. This trend directly led to the creation of such states as Great Britain, France, Portugal, and Spain. The Medici family orchestrated another form of consolidation in Italy during the Renaissance. A banking family from Florence, the Medici took control of governments in various Italian regions and even assumed the papacy. They then appointed family members to become princes and assured their protection by the Medici-controlled Vatican.

Principalities where genealogical inheritance is replaced by succession in a religious office have existed in significant number in the Roman Catholic Church, in each case consisting of a feudal polity held ex officio-the closest possible equivalent to hereditary succession- by a Prince of the church, styled more precisely according to his ecclesiastical rank, such as Prince-bishop, Prince-abbot and, especially as a form of crusader state, Grand Master.














Ancient Rome


To understanding of the period in European history called the Middle Ages, one must understand its historical context. This chapter discusses the Roman Empire, which provided the background from which the Middle Ages evolved. The chapter specifically addresses the downfall of the Roman Empire, in the lead up to the early Middle Ages.


The period, which existed between 3000 BC and 500 AD, is often classified as ancient times. Ancient civilizations, including the ancient Romans, lived in the period. Rome is thought to have been founded between 1400 and 1100 BC by local tribes. From its early beginnings, the Roman Empire evolved to become, what many believed to be, the greatest empire in history.


The people of ancient Rome were an advanced civilization. Roman law has had a significant influence on the European legal and political system. Terms which include ''senate' and ''dictator' originated with the Romans. The Roman language, Latin, has influenced Spanish, French and modern Italian. The ancient Romans were known for their engineering and construction skills, having built roads, bridges, town squares called forums, and aqueducts (channels that carried water across long distances). Not only have these architectural concepts formed the basis for a number of modern-day structures, but also some ancient Roman structures still stand, more than two millenniums after they were built.


Factors leading up to the fall of the Roman Empire

Despite the prosperity and power of the Roman Empire, it eventually began to weaken from around 180 AD onwards. There were a number of factors that led to the decline of the Roman Empire.


While most people today know Rome as the capital city of Italy, at the height of the Roman Empire (around 120 AD), it comprised almost all of southern and western Europe (except for modern-day Ireland and Scotland), Asia Minor (the region of modern-day Turkey) and north Africa. Many historians believe that the Roman Empire had become too large, leaving it vulnerable to attack from non-Roman tribes, or barbarians (as the Romans commonly referred to them). Many of these so-called barbarians were from Germanic tribes. Despite being drawn by the wealth of the Roman Empire, the Germanic tribes were also attempting to escape another tribe of warriors called the Huns.


While the Romans were concerned about being invaded by foreigners, power struggles between the Empire's own people were often the cause of a number of battles. Roman army commanders went into battle against one another, in an attempt to secure the position of emperor.


The weakening economy played a major role in the decline of the Roman Empire. Large amounts of money were spent on maintaining the army and building grand cities. As travel became unsafe and the poor farming practices of the Romans led to crop failure, trade declined. Taxes were increased, which left peasants forced to bear most of the burden, since they were taxed more heavily than the wealthy. Historians suggest that the Roman emperors, preoccupied with ensuring that their rivals, neglected to address these problems, did not overthrow them.


Constantine I

Constantine I (r. 312-337 AD) was the last emperor of a united Roman Empire. When Constantine came into power, he united the previously divided Roman Empire under his rule. The outcome was promising. Constantine managed to keep the enemy barbarians out of the Roman Empire. Constantine is also known for playing a major role in the spread of Christianity. He was the first emperor to make Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire (313).


Before Constantine's death in 337 AD, he had a new capital for the Eastern Roman Empire built on the site, which was originally the Greek city of Byzantium. Initially named Nova Roma (New Rome), the city was later renamed Constantinople. The city of Constantinople is now known as Istanbul (in Turkey).


The end of the Roman Empire and the beginning of the Middle Ages

After the death of Constantine, the Roman Empire became divided again. The Eastern Empire was ruled from Constantinople and the Western Empire was ruled from Rome. As invasions by the barbarians began to increase, many parts of the Western Empire were captured. In 410 AD, the Goths seized the city of Rome. In 476 AD, the Germans defeated the last of the Western Roman emperors, Romulus Augustus. Despite the fact that the Eastern Roman Empire (ruled from Constantinople) survived for another 1000 years, the date 476 AD marks the official end of the Roman Empire


The fall of the Roman Empire gave way to the Medieval period in Europe, which lasted from around 500 to 1500 AD. While the Roman Empire had officially collapsed, Roman civilization did not vanish completely. Despite being under the new name of the Byzantine Empire, the original Eastern Roman Empire was essentially still intact. The people belonging to the Byzantine Empire still considered themselves as Romans. Frankish King Charlemagne (r. 768-814), who was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 800, also ensured that Roman books were copied and translated. The actions of Charlemagne prevented knowledge of the ancient Roman civilization from being lost.


Bibliography – Ancient Rome

J.E. Stambaugh (1988), The Ancient Roman City. John Hopkins: Baltimore.

E. Nash (1968), A Pictorial Dictionary of Ancient Rome. Thames and Hudson: London.

F. Yegül (1992), Baths and Bathing in Classical Antiquity (New York)

Barrett, et al, A Map History of the Ancient World, Longman Cheshire, Melbourne, 1987.
Barrow, RH, The Romans, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1949.
Bradley, P, Ancient Rome: Using Evidence, Edward Arnold, Melbourne, 1990.
Cary, M & Scullard, H, A History of Rome, Macmillian, London, 1975.
















History of Feudalism in Europe


The feudal system first appears in definite form in the Frankish lands in the 9th and 10th cent. A long dispute between scholars as to whether its institutional basis was Roman or Germanic remains somewhat inconclusive; it can safely be said that feudalism emerged from the condition of society arising from the disintegration of Roman institutions and the further disruption of Germanic inroads and settlements. Of course, the rise of feudalism in areas formerly dominated by Roman institutions meant the breakdown of central government; but in regions untouched by Roman customs the feudal system was a further step toward organization and centralization.


The system used and altered institutions then in existence. Important in an economic sense was the Roman villa, with the peculiar form of rental, the precarium, a temporary grant of land that the grantor could revoke at any time. Increasingly, the poor landholder transferred his land to a protector and received it back as a precarium, thus giving rise to the manorial system. It was also possible for the manorial system to develop from the Germanic village, as in England.


The Roman institution of patrocinium and the German institution of mundium, by which the powerful surrounded themselves with men who rendered them service, especially military service, in exchange for protection, also influenced the development of fiefs. More and more, this service-and-protection contract came to involve the granting of a beneficium, the use of land, which tended to become hereditary. Local royal officers and great landholders increased their power and forced the king to grant them rights of private justice and immunity from royal interference. These processes fixed feudalism in Frankish lands by the end of the 10th cent.

The church also had great influence in shaping feudalism; although the organization of the church was not feudal in character, its hierarchy somewhat paralleled the feudal hierarchy. The church owned much land, held by monasteries, by church dignitaries, and by the churches themselves. Most of this land, given by nobles as a bequest or gift, carried feudal obligations; thus, clerical land, like lay land, assumed a feudal aspect, and the clergy became participants in the temporal feudal system. Many bishops and abbots were much like lay seigneurs. This feudal connection between church and state gave rise to the controversy over lay investiture.


Expansion

Feudalism spread from France to Spain, Italy, and later Germany and Eastern Europe. In England William I (William the Conqueror) imposed the Frankish form after 1066, although most of the elements of feudalism were already present. It was extended eastward into Slavic lands to the marches (frontier provinces), which were continually battered by new invasions, and it was adopted partially in Scandinavian countries. The important features of feudalism were similar throughout, but there existed definite national differences. Feudalism continued in all parts of Europe until the end of the 14th cent.


Decline

The concentration of power in the hands of a few was always a great disruptive force in the feudal system. The rise of powerful monarchs in France, Spain, and England broke down the local organization. Another disruptive force was the increase of communication, which broke down the isolated manor, assisted the rise of towns, and facilitated the emergence of the burgess class. This process accelerated in the 14th cent that did much to destroy the feudal classifications of society.


The system broke down gradually. It was not completely destroyed in France until the French Revolution (1789), and it persisted in Germany until 1848 and in Russia until 1917. Many relics of feudalism persist, and its influence remains on the institutions of Western Europe.


Early leaders of a feudal system

The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be largely honorary, and vary from country to country and era to era. There is often a variety of ranks within the noble class. g, san Marino and the Vatican City in Europe. Hereditary titles often distinguish nobles from non-nobles, although in many nations most of the nobility have been un-titled, some countries have had non-hereditary nobility, such as the Empire of Brazil.


The term “nobility” derives from Latin nobilitas, the noun of the adjective nobilis. In modern usage, nobility is applied to the highest social class in pre-modern societies and it rapidly came to be seen as a hereditary caste, sometimes associated with a right to bear a hereditary title and, for example in pre-revolutionary France, enjoying fiscal and other privileges. Nobility is a historical, social and often legal notion, differing from high socio-economic status in that the latter is based on income.


Being wealthy or influential cannot, ipso facto, make one noble, various republics, including former Iron Curtain countries; Greece, Mexico, and Austria have expressly abolished the conferral and use of titles of nobility for their citizens. Not all of the benefits of nobility derived from noble status per se; usually privileges were granted or recognized by the monarch in association with possession of a specific title, office or estate.


Most nobles wealth derived from one or more estates, large or small and it also included infrastructure such as castle, well and mill to which local peasants were allowed some access, although often at a price. Nobles were expected to live nobly, that is, from the proceeds of these possessions, work involving manual labour or subordination to those of lower rank was either forbidden or frowned upon socially. In some countries, the lord could impose restrictions on such a commoners movements.


Nobles exclusively enjoyed the privilege of hunting, in France; nobles were exempt from paying the taille, the major direct tax. In some parts of Europe, the right of war long remained the privilege of every noble. During the early Renaissance, dueling established the status of a respectable gentleman, Nobility came to be associated with social rather than legal privilege, expressed in a general expectation of deference from those of lower rank. By the 21st century even that deference had become increasingly minimized, in France, a seigneurie might include one or more manors surrounded by land and villages subject to a nobles prerogatives and disposition. Seigneuries could be bought, sold or mortgaged, if erected by the crown into, e. g. a barony or countship, it became legally entailed for a specific family, which could use it as their title. Yet most French nobles were untitled, in other parts of Europe, sovereign rulers arrogated to themselves the exclusive prerogative to act as fons honorum within their realms.


Nobility might be inherited or conferred by a fons honorum.


Charlemagne

Born around 742 AD, Charlemagne (r. 768-814) was ruler of the Frankish Empire. During his reign, the Frankish Empire comprised northern Italy, France and central Europe, totaling a landmass larger than the Roman Empire. In 800, this powerful ruler was also crowned Holy Roman Emperor. Charlemagne is thought to have introduced a new way of running society.


Charlemagne controlled the Frankish Empire by giving land to the people who pledged their loyalty to him. He also helped the Frankish people to become church bishops and counts, who were the heads of noble families. This concept of supporting the king in exchange for land and favors is thought to have laid the foundations for feudalism. This early type of social order, introduced by Charlemagne, later spread across Europe throughout the Middle Ages.


William the Conqueror

William the Conqueror, as he famously became known, ruled as the Duke of Normandy (r. 1035-1087). In 1066, the King of England, Harold Godwinson, and his army met with William the Conqueror who had his sights set on the English throne. In the battle, Harold was killed and William became the King of England (r. 1066-1087).

During his reign, William introduced the feudal system to England. William needed the support of the Anglo-Saxons to secure his power and wealth. This form of social order enabled him to achieve this. William took all of the English land from the ruling class of Anglo-Saxons and distributed the property amongst Norman knights. In return, the knights were required to give their service to William, marking the beginning of feudalism in England.


The feudal system

The feudal system was a type of social order that, over a period of several hundred years, spread across Europe. Feudalism was similar to a contract in which individuals pledged their loyalty and services to a lord or person of higher rank. The loyalty was rewarded with the promise of protection and the chance to occupy land.


In Medieval Europe, the monarch was at the top of the feudal system. Usually a king, the monarch, would grant land called fiefs to tenants-in-chief, who were usually lords. Before fiefs could be granted to an individual, that person needed to take part in a ceremony in which they were made a vassal. The ceremony involved the individual swearing his loyalty to the king and agreeing to fight for him if commanded to do so.


Wealthy tenants-in-chief were often required to pay the king money, while those who were well-educated clergymen (members of the Church) were required to give advice to the king. The most important task of the nobles, however, was to provide the king with knights (mounted soldiers) to fight in his army. This enabled the king to retain even more wealth and power, since he had a large army at his disposal but did not have to pay for keeping them.


The lords granted land to sub-tenants, which usually included knights. In exchange for the land, it was the responsibility of the knight to fight for the king and to protect the property of his lord. The knight also was required to give the lord part of the taxes he received from peasants.


At the bottom of the feudal system were the peasantry. Sub-tenants often granted land to peasants, who were also known as serfs. In return for renting the land to the peasantry, payment was made in the form of work or goods. A number of serfs worked the knight or lord's land for three days per week, while also working their own rented land. Peasants also had to pay a tax of 10 percent to the Church.  


Feudalism and the Church

After Constantine I made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire in 391 AD, the Christian Church was able to flourish. By the Middle Ages, Christianity had spread, making the Church the most powerful institution in Europe.


With such a great deal of power, wealth and influence over Medieval European society, the Church was also involved in non-religious matters. Clergymen were among the most educated people in Medieval Europe. Aside from giving spiritual advice, cardinals, archbishops and bishops were often required to assist the king in governing his kingdom. Clergymen advised the king on political, financial, judicial and military matters.


The Church played a large role in the feudal system. The Church believed that the Pope was God's representative on Earth and that God appointed kings. It taught people that God decided their position in life. This belief supported feudalism, which operated on the understanding that each person knew his or her place in society. The support of the powerful and influential organization of the Church assisted the kings and nobles to maintain social order. Monarchs would often give land to the clergy to show their support. Wealthy nobles, in the belief that it would earn them a place in heaven, also donated Land to the Church. The Church was the largest landowner in Medieval Europe, controlling about one third of the total area.


Bibliography -Feudalism

See F. Pollock and F. W. Maitland, The History of English Law (2d ed. 1898, repr. 1968); R. W. Carlyle and A. J. Carlyle, A History of Medieval Political Theory in the West (6 vol., 1903–36; repr. 1962); H. Pirenne, Medieval Cities (tr. 1925, repr. 1969); J. W. Thompson, Feudal Germany (1927; repr., 2 vol., 1962); C. Stephenson, Mediaeval Feudalism (1942, repr. 1956); A. L. Poole, Obligations of Society in the XII and XIII Centuries (1946, repr. 1960); R. Coulborn, ed., Feudalism in History (1956, repr. 1965); F. L. Ganshof, Feudalism (3d Eng. ed. 1964); D. Herlihy, ed., The History of Feudalism (1970); J. R. Strayer, Feudalism (1979).














Ancient Rulers From History


Ancient history lasted 5,000 years and during that relatively short time, thousands of great ancient rulers existed. This is a list of military rulers, as well as kings and emperors from ancient times. These people created vast empires, or simply led their people exceptionally well. The actions of these rulers changed history forever.


Qin Shi Huang

Qin Shi Huang was the first man to become emperor of China, and the first man to unify China. He was an amazing strategist and leader. He managed to overcome the enemies close to him, by allying with the enemies from afar. After unifying China, Qin was said to be tough but capable ruler. The country did well under him, and he even started building the Great Wall of China. He also built a massive new road system, and created a giant mausoleum. Inside the mausoleum is the famous Terra Cotta army.


As he got older, he became terrified of death, and worked tirelessly to try to find the secret of immortality. He was so afraid of dying that at night he would walk around with a crossbow. One night he dreamt that a sea creature would kill him. Qin ordered his alchemists and court physicians to create an elixir of life that would allow him to live forever, but ironically, this elixir is what killed him. The alchemists had used mercury and arsenic believing it could make him immortal; instead, he died of mercury and arsenic poisoning.


Pachacuti

Is name means “he who overturns space and time”. Pachacuti was king of the Kingdom of Cusco, and successfully turned it into a vast empire. Although it started relatively small, under Pachacuti leadership they soon came to rival even the much larger Chimur. The kingdom became the Inca Empire, and by the 1500’s it was possibly the largest empire in the 16th century. He built the famous site Machu Picchu to be his estate.


Menes

Menes was an Egyptian Pharaoh who united upper and lower Egypt. Also known as Narmer, he was the first Pharaoh in history, and started Egypt’s first dynasty. Overtime he became a semi-mythical figure in Egypt. It was said that he inherited the throne directly from the god Horus. Menes is a mysterious figure and not much is known about him. Historians are not even certain when he was alive, or when he unified Egypt. It is likely to be somewhere between the 34th and 30th centuries.


Sargon Of Akkad

Sargon is significant for founding the first known empire in history. He founded the Akkadian empire by conquering the Sumerian city-states over 4000 years ago. The Akkadian empire under his rule included the majority of Mesopotamia, as well as bits and pieces of the Levant. His dynasty lasted for an impressive 100 years. Towards the end of his life, Sargon was revolted against, and threatened by famine.


Written in The Chronicle of Early Kings it says:

“Afterward in his [Sargon’s] old age all the lands revolted against him, and they besieged him in Akkad; and Sargon went onward to battle and defeated them; he accomplished their overthrow, and their widespreading host he destroyed. Afterwards he attacked the land of Subartu in his might, and they submitted to his arms, and Sargon settled that revolt, and defeated them; he accomplished their overthrow, and their widespreading host he destroyed, and he brought their possessions into Akkad. The soil from the trenches of Babylon he removed, and the boundaries of Akkad he made like those of Babylon. But because of the evil which he had committed, the great lord Marduk was angry, and he destroyed his people by famine. From the rising of the sun unto the setting of the sun they opposed him and gave him no rest.” Long after Sargon died he became a mythical creature in some ancient literature.”


Ashoka Maurya

Maurya is one of India’s most famous ancient rulers and the first person to unify the Indian subcontinent. He ruled the Maurya dynasty from 268 BC to 232 BC. Ashoka achieved his empire by conquering the land of the Kalinga. The Kalinga were a state that his ancestors could never defeat, but Maurya managed to defeat them in a devastating war. The war caused over 100,000 deaths which Maurya came to regret. Eventually he became a Buddhist, and made it his mission to spread the religion throughout his empire. He died in his empire’s capital city, Pataliputra aged 72.


Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu was one of the greatest military rulers in history. He is most famous for writing the Art of War. The art of war is a guide for rulers or generals who want to be successful at warfare. The book is still read and studied by businessmen all over the world, and is considered one of the seven military classics of ancient China. Sun Tzu proved his methods worked when he went to war himself and dominated his enemies. Sun Tzu commanded the Wu forces at the battle of Boju, where they were faced with a Chu army 10 times the size of their own. Wu marched into battle with only 33,000 troops, whereas Chu commanded 300,000 men. Almost all of the Chu soldiers were killed, or captured, and Wu forces suffered only minor casualties.


Trajan

Trajan is arguably Rome’s greatest emperor and is clearly one of the most significant ancient rulers in history. He expanded Roman rule further than anyone else in history did. Trajan was one of the greatest military rulers, and one of the most philanthropic leaders Rome ever had. Under Trajan Rome prospered. In 117 AD, the Senate named him the best ruler.


Alexander The Great

Alexander III of Macedon is one of the most successful ancient rulers in history. He started one of the largest empires the world had ever seen, and all by the age of thirty. Alexander was King of Macedonia, Pharaoh of Egypt, King of Persia, and King of Asia.


The famous philosopher Aristotle taught him until he was 16. After his death, his empire went into turmoil. His generals and heirs turned on each other and established states of their which broke the empire apart. Alexander’s dream was to “reach the ends of the world, and the great outer sea”. The only reason he stopped conquering is that his troops felt homesick. It is impossible to say how much of the world he might have conquered if he kept going, or did not die at such a young age.


Alaric The Visigoth

Alaric the Visigoth is famous for sacking Rome in 410. He was the first king of the Visigoths. Alaric served both under a Gothic soldier and under the Roman army. This meant he was well trained and knew both the Gothic and Roman army incredibly well. In 401, Alaric invaded Italy, but was defeated. Only a year later he invaded again, but was once again defeated. Emperor Flavius Honorius of Rome suspected that one of his generals had made a deal with Alaric.


In response, he killed the general, and executed thousands of the wives, and children of Goths serving in the Roman military. This was a huge blunder, as it led to 30,000 Visigoth soldiers turning on Rome to avenge their families. Alaric led them and sacked Aquileia, and Cremona. Alaric invaded Rome twice; each time was successful and resulted in Rome buying him off. However, they betrayed him constantly and so he invaded Rome once again. This time he sacked it for three days.


The Clan of the Great Khan

Mongolian warrior and ruler Genghis Khan created the largest empire in the world, the Mongol Empire, by destroying individual tribes in Northeast Asia.


Genghis Khan was born "Temujin" in Mongolia around 1162. He married at age 16, but had many wives during his lifetime. At 20, he began building a large army with the intent to destroy individual tribes in Northeast Asia and unite them under his rule. He was successful; the Mongol Empire was the largest empire in the world before the British Empire, and lasted well after his own death in 1227.


Genghis Khan, founder of the vast Mongol Empire, was a visionary warrior and leader. Temujin rose to power after successfully uniting all nomad tribes in Northeast Asia and dominating the green steppes of Mongolia. In 1206, the daring horseman proclaimed the Mongol Empire and called himself Genghis Khan, the “universal ruler.” His next move was to attack China.


The Great Khan died in 1227 and was buried in a secret place in the Mongolian steppe. According to traditional tales, he fell from a horse and died from his injuries. Other sources mention malaria and even an arrow wound. The exact cause of death remains a mystery. Throughout his rule as Khan, he conquered 12 million square miles of territory. He reached lands in the distant corners of today’s Iran, Iraq and Turkey.


Before he died, Genghis Khan ordered his sons to split the empire in multiple khanates that would continue to push the boundaries of the Mongol Empire. At the peak of its glory, it occupied most of Eurasia, spreading from Austria to Korea and from south Siberia to the Himalayas. The Great Khan’s descendants conquered nearly everything of interest, turning the Mongol Empire into the largest territory in history. Genghis Khan’s grandson, Kubilai Khan, founded the Yuan dynasty in 1271, which ruled China until 1368.


References:

  • Bienkowski, P. & Millard, A. 2000. Dictionary of the Ancient Near East. London:
  • Dalley, S. et al. 1998. The legacy of Mesopotamia. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • British Museum Press. [R 939.4003 DIC and in the Dept. of Ancient Studies – short articles, excluding Egypt]
  • Bryce, T. (ed.) 2009. The Routledge handbook of the peoples and places of ancient Western Asia from the early Bronze Age to the fall of the Persian Empire. London: Routledge.
  • Leick, G. 1999. Who is who in the ancient Near East.
  • Bosworth, A. B. 1988. Conquest and Empire: Cambridge University Press.













Queen (King) Tamar of Georgia. Shota Rustaveli presents his poem to Queen Tamar, a painting by the Hungarian artist Mihály Zichy (1880s) (Public Domain)



Greatest Warrior Queens In History

 

In most civilizations of the past, the men were engaged in the bloody business of war but not always. Throughout history there have been many powerful women who have led nations or guided armies into war, renowned as not only fearsome fighters, but also as cunning strategists and inspirational leaders. There were others who made a name for themselves in a domain traditionally held by men and whose stories, carried forward over the centuries.


Warrior Queens have never been as common as warrior kings have but when they do appear, it is often because they were a much better fit than anyone around. Some warrior queens have taken on some of the most fearsome enemies and lived to tell the tale, and others died fighting for their people.


Artemisia I of Caria

Artemisia was an ancient queen of Halicarnassus, a Greek city-state. She fought alongside Xerxes I, who was king of Persia, and famously fought against the Spartans at the Battle of Thermopylae. Artemisia commanded her own ships in battle, and was praised for her bravery by the historian Herodotus who lived in Halicarnassus. At the Battle of Salamis king Xerxes planned to send his fleet to attack the Persians in unfavorable conditions, it was a battle he was destined to lose, and Artemisia was the only one who saw it coming. She was the only one of his naval commanders opposed to the plan. When her prediction came true Artemisia did not panic, and displayed great leadership skills that earned her the praise of Xerxes.


Queen Boudica

Boudica is one of the most famous warrior queens in history. She led her tribe and rose up in rebellion against the Roman Empire. Boudica’s husband was an ally of Rome, and when he died, he left his kingdom to his daughters and to Rome jointly. However, Rome refused to share. Rome took his kingdom, Boudica was flogged, and her daughters were raped. Boudica raised an army 100,000 strong and took revenge on the Empire. She stormed Londinium (London), and burnt it to the ground. She continued to fight against the Romans, but eventually lost at the Battle of Watling Street. After the defeat, Boudica likely killed herself. The rebellion was so fearsome that Emperor Nero almost decided to withdraw from Britain, but the victory at the Battle of Watling Street convinced him to stay.


Queen Zenobia

Zenobia was Queen of the Palmyrene Empire and led a significant rebellion against the Roman Empire. Zenobia became queen after her husband’s death and greatly expanded the Empire. She took control of Egypt and defeated the Roman Prefect, who tried to recapture the land she owned. She ruled Egypt for many years but eventually she went the way of many warrior queens and died in battle. Zenobia conquered many countries, and became known as one of the fiercest warrior queens in history. She showed excellent leadership skills, great horse-riding skills, and would even march with her men. She was eventually defeated and executed by Emperor Aurelian of the Roman Empire.


Queen Gudit

Gudit is a semi-legendary queen. She devastated the Ethiopian city of Axum and caused enormous damage to its countryside, churches, and even attempted to annihilate members of the Axumite dynasty. It has said that she came to power by killing the emperor and then ascending the throne. She ruled for 40 years, and supposedly committed violent atrocities remembered for years. Not much is known about this mysterious warrior queen, but many feared her name. She founded the Zagwe dynasty that lasted for 300 years. Gudit was only one of many names she had, another was Esato that means fire in Amharic.


Queen Samsi

Samsi was a powerful ruler who, like many of the other warrior queens on this list, rose up in rebellion against a much more powerful foe. Samsi succeeded queen Zabide who abdicated in her favor. At first, she promised absolute loyalty to Assyria, but went back on this promise to rebel against the Assyrian kings. She lost to the Assyrian kings and fled from the battlefield but could not escape in the end. She surrendered and was allowed to return to her kingdom. She was allowed to continue ruling because the Assyrian kings wanted to maintain the lucrative north-south trade route, and they needed a pliable ruler to do this.


Queen K’abel

K’abel was a mighty queen of the Mayan civilization who even earned the title of supreme warrior. She was the daughter of the king of Calakmul a Mayan city. She was sent to marry K’nich Bahlam who was known as the Snake Lord. In 2012, her tomb was discovered in El Peru, which was inhabited from 500 BC to 800 AD. In her tomb, they found large amounts of treasure, and a huunai jewel that was normally worn by war leaders. They also found a jar that had the names “Lady Water Lily Hand”, and “Lady Snake Lord” written on the back. Even though K’abel was married off to someone, more powerful than her she eventually became even more powerful than her husband did.


Queen Tamar

Tamar’s royal house, the Bagrationi family, ruled Georgia for the entirety of its independent history.

Queen Tamar was a ruler of Georgia who lived between the 12th and 13th centuries AD. This monarch presided over what is today known as the Georgian Golden Age. This was a period that began in the 12th century AD with the reign of King David IV (the Builder), and ended shortly after the death of Queen Tamar in the early 13th centuries AD. Within this golden age, the period of Tamar’s reign has sometimes been regarded as the point when the Kingdom of Georgia was at its zenith.


Queen Tamar was born in 1166 AD to King George III and Queen Burdukhan. Tamar was the royal couple’s first child, and it has been claimed that the Georgian king decided that when his daughter reached the age of 12, she would be his co-ruler. In 1184 AD, George III died, and was succeeded by his daughter.


Once Tamar secured her power (whether by crushing a rebellion or by obtaining the approval of the nobles from the start), she could focus on running the kingdom. One of the first things she did during the beginning of her reign was to convene a Church Council.


On the one hand, this has been taken as a sign of Tamar’s piety and respect for the Church. On the other hand, as the Church was another powerful institution in the kingdom, Tamar had to ensure obedience. Thus, the Council was, according to one interpretation, really a means of removing dissenting clergymen from the hierarchy of the Georgian Orthodox Church, and replacing them with her loyal supporters.


Tamar died in 1213. Shortly after her death, Georgia’s Golden Age ended, one of the main reasons being repeated external invasions, most notably by the Khwarezmians and the Mongols. Tamar is a highly respected figure in Georgian history. In the Georgian Orthodox Church, for example, she is regarded as a saint. In more modern times, Tamar has been featured on the Georgian 50 lira banknote, and a small airport in the country has been named after this powerful queen.


Arachidamia

Arachidamia was a Spartan queen, and led a force of female Spartan warriors against Pyrrhus. When news first arrived of Pyrrhus’ invasion, the women were supposed to be sent away to Crete to keep them safe. Arachidamia the Gerousia where this was being discussed, sword in hand, and demanded the Spartan women be allowed to fight. The Spartan women did not hold the rest of them back and apparently completed a third of the trench with their own hands. She was one of Sparta’s most badass warrior queens.


Queen Tomyris

Tomyris was queen of the Massagetae, who were a Eurasian pastoral-nomadic confederation of Central Asia. Cyrus the Great attacked Massagetae. Tomyris went to war with him and won. She killed Cyrus and then chopped off his head, and plunged it into a container full of blood. She fought two battles against Cyrus, in the first battle she fell for Cyrus’s trick and lost. Cyrus left behind an empty camp full of intoxicants, which Tomyris’ people were not used to, and they got completely drunk from it. Cyrus attacked while they were drunk and won easily, even capturing Tomyris’ son. Her son managed to trick Cyrus into releasing him from his bonds and he took the opportunity to kill himself. Tomyris was infuriated and demanded Cyrus meet her in battle. In this battle Tomyris won, and inflicted heavy losses on Cyrus’ forces. She then killed Cyrus, cut off his head, crucified his body, and put his head into a wineskin filled with blood. It is believed that she said, “I warned you that I would quench your thirst for blood, and so I shall.”


Ana Nzinga Mbande, fearless African queen

Around the turn of the 17th century, the independent kingdoms and states of the Central African coast were threatened by Portuguese attempts to colonize Luanda. (Luanda, today the capital of Angola, was founded in 1576.) Portugal sought to colonize the region in order to control the trade in African slaves, and attacked many of their old trading partners to further this goal. By her own determination and refusal to give in to the Portuguese without a fight, she transformed her kingdom into a formidable commercial state on equal footing with the Portuguese colonies.


In 1617, the new governor of Luanda invaded the kingdom of Ndongo and forced King Ngola Mbandi (Nzinga’s brother) to flee from the area. Thousands of Ndongo people were taken prisoner. The king sent his sister Nzinga Mbandi to negotiate a peace treaty in 1621, which she did successfully. However, Portugal did not honor the terms of the treaty, and King Ngola Mbandi committed suicide, leaving the kingdom to his sister Nzinga.


As the new sovereign of Ndongo, Nzinga re-entered negotiations with the Portuguese. At the time, Ndongo was under attack from both the Portuguese and neighboring African aggressors. Nzinga realized that in order to achieve peace and for her kingdom to remain viable, she needed to become an intermediary. She allied Ndongo with Portugal, and was baptized as Ana de Sousa Nzinga Mbande with the Portuguese colonial governor serving as her godfather. By doing this, she acquired a partner in her fight against her African enemies, and ending Portuguese slave raiding in the kingdom.














THE POWERFUL FAMILIES OF ITALY RENAISSANCE

Background

The Nobility of Italy (Nobiltà Italiana) comprises individuals and their families of the Italian peninsula, and the islands linked with it, recognized by sovereigns, such as the Holy Roman Emperor, the Holy See, the Kings of Italy, and certain other Italian kings and sovereigns, as members of a class of persons officially enjoying hereditary privileges which distinguished them from other persons and families. They often held lands as fiefs and were sometimes endowed with hereditary titles or nobiliary particles. From the Middle Ages until 1861, "Italy" was not a single country but was a number of separate kingdoms and other states, with many reigning dynasties. These were often related through marriage to each other and to other European royal families.


Before Italian Unification, there was a relatively large nobility in Italy.


In the mid-19th century, the existence of the Kingdom of Sardinia, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (before 1816: the Kingdom of Naples and the Kingdom of Sicily), the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, the Duchy of Parma, the Duchy of Modena, the Duchy of Savoy, the Duchy of Milan, the Papal States, various republics and the Austrian and French dependencies in Northern Italy led to parallel nobilities with different traditions and rules.


16th-, 17th- and 18th-century Italy (after the Renaissance) was home to myriad noble families that had risen to prominence via judicial appointment, election to the various regional senates or appointment to Catholic Church office.


Papal nobility

During this period, throughout Italy, various influential families came to positions of power through the election of a family member as Pope or were elevated into the ranks of nobility through ecclesiastic promotion. These families freely intermarried with aristocratic nobility. Like other noble families, those with both papal power and money were able to purchase communes or other tracts of land and elevate family patriarchs and other relatives to noble titles. Hereditary patriarchs were appointed DukeMarquis and even Prince of various 16th- and 17th-century principalities.


According to Leopold von Ranke (21 December 1795–23 May 1886) was a German historian and a founder of modern source-based history): “Under Innocent X, there existed for a considerable time, as it were two great factions, or associations of families. The Orsini, Cesarini, Borghese, Aldobrandini, Ludovisi, and Giustiniani were with the Pamphili; while opposed to them, was the house of Colonna and the Barberini.” (Leopold von Ranke, The History of the Popes).


Popes commonly elevated members of prominent families to the position of Cardinal; especially second and third sons who would not otherwise inherit hereditary titles. Popes also elevated their own family members – especially nephews – to the special position of Cardinal-Nephew. Prominent families could purchase curial offices for their sons and regularly did, hoping that the son would rise through Church ranks to become a Bishop or a Cardinal, from which position they could dispense further titles and positions of authority to other family members.


The period was famous for papal nepotism and many families, such as the Barberini and Pamphili, benefited greatly from having a papal relative. Families that had previously been limited to agricultural or mercantile ventures found themselves, sometimes within only one or two generations, elevated to the Roman nobility when a relative was elected to the papal throne. Modern Italy is dotted with the fruits of their success – various family palazzi remain standing today as a testament to their sometimes-meteoric rise to power.


In the Middle Ages

The majority of feudatories were simply signori (from the French seigneur, a title introduced into Italy by the eleventh-century Normans), vassalli (vassals) or cavalieri (knights). Eventually, this class came to be known collectively as the baroni (barons), as in Italy barone was not always a title descriptive of a particular feudal rank. During the fourteenth century, most minor feudal lands became baronies, their holder’s barons. It must be observed that the use of these titles usually required some form of sovereign sanction or feudal tenure.


During the Renaissance, the monarchs conquered all the city-republics except Venice, Genoa, Lucca, San Marino and Ragusa. So, in most of Italy, patricians were integrated into the low ranks of aristocracy.


Until 1806, Northern Italy (except Venice and Ragusa, now Dubrovnik) and Tuscany formed the Kingdom of Italy, belonging to the Holy Roman Empire. The Emperor retained for himself the right of creating dukes and princes. The Northern Italian monarchs had received from the Emperor the right of granting the lower feudal titles (from Marquess downwards), since these monarchs often were princes and dukes themselves.


Powerful Families

At the time of Alexander VI's papacy, Italy was ruled by several types of government: territorial overlords called signori, marquises (counts appointed by regional bishops or the German emperor), dukes, princes, and kings - as in the case of Naples. The powerful and wealthy Republics of Venice and Florence were oligarchical republics ruled by the doge (military duke) and the signoria (council) respectively. Some 'princes' were technically papal or imperial vassals - often hereditary rulers who received the right (were invested) to own and inherit immovable property and revenue. They owned their lands under two major conditions: 1. they must send annual tribute to the granter, and 2. they must defend and protect the interest of the granter. These interests were sometimes circumvented or abandoned depending on the balance of power in Europe and among the Italian states.


Imperial vassals who held northern Italian lands in fief for the Holy Roman Emperor ruled the Kingdom of Italy, when it was a satellite of the Holy Roman Empire under Frederick I (Barbarossa). Gradual changes in the makeup of the Holy Roman Empire led to the deterioration of its control in much of northern Italy and Sicily. Some of these lords and princes gradually asserted their authority and maintained their independence from the Empire. At the same time, they were alternately free, papal, and conquered realms until the Italian Wars (1494-1550s) and later Unification of Italy (1859).


The Italian Wars, often referred to as the Great Italian Wars or the Great Wars of Italy and sometimes as the Habsburg–Valois Wars or the Renaissance Wars, were a series of conflicts from 1494 to 1559 that involved, at various times, most of the city-states of Italy, the Papal States, the Republic of Venice, most of the major states of Western Europe (France, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire, England, and Scotland) as well as the Ottoman Empire. Originally arising from dynastic disputes over the Duchy of Milan and the Kingdom of Naples, the wars rapidly became a general struggle for power and territory among their various participants, and were marked with an increasing number of alliances, counter-alliances, and betrayals.


Relying on brilliant diplomacy as well as on the military commanders and techniques forged in the war against Granada, King Ferdinand was chiefly responsible for making Spain into a major European power. The main opponent was France, both along the frontiers that separated the two states and in Italy, where Aragón’s traditional interests were threatened by French efforts to dominate the peninsula. The struggle began with the successful campaign of in southern Italy and continued intermittently for two decades, until Ferdinand’s death. By then Spain had won control of southern Italy, all Navarre south of the Pyrenees, and farther north, the regions of Cerdagne and Roussillon. Ferdinand’s anti-French strategy was continued in a series of wars hat made Spain a dominant power in northern as well as southern Italy.


In 1492, hereditary noble families, elites in control of independent communes, republics, and former imperial fiefs that were at war with one another throughout of the 13th and 14th centuries, ruled many important cities in Renaissance Italy. Some of these powerful ruling dynasties were continually shaping the borders of 1492 Italy.

The names of the great Italian dynasties - the Sforza, the Visconti, the Este values. The cast of memorable figures also includes the formidable Ludovico Sforza, known as 'Il Moro' because of his dark complexion; Vittoria Colonna, poetess and inspirer of Michelangelo; Cosimo de 'Medici, perhaps the greatest of all Renaissance patrons; the dazzling Beatrice d'Este; and Caterina Sforza, the Lady of Amazon of Forli, who was said to fight like a man and who, on one celebrated occasion, gave birth to a child after spending nearly 24 hours in the saddle.