Numerous have been the kings (and queens) who have gone down in history by some nickname or nickname by which they are remembered and thus appear in the writings, chronicles and books that speak of them.
Naming kings and queens became effective publicity campaigns for or against monarchs throughout history (images via Wikimedia commons)
The fact of giving a nickname to a dignitary has been done since time immemorial and it was almost always done with the intention of highlighting some quality of the current ruler. Normally it was done as a useful and effective propaganda instrument, in order to ensure that the people knew their monarch through some personal trait and, most of the time, it worked very well.
Hence, we find characters who have gone down in history with grandiose or totally flattering nicknames towards him: Alfonso X ‘el Sabio’; Ferdinand III of Castile ‘the Saint’; Luis I ‘the Well Beloved’; Fernando I ‘the Honest’; Alfonso V of Aragon ‘the Magnanimous’; Jaime II of Aragon ‘the Just’; Alfonso IV of Aragon ‘el Benigno’; Philip IV ‘the Great’; Felipe II ‘the Prudent’; Luis I ‘the Well Beloved’; …
Isabel I of Castile and Fernando II of Aragon have gone down in history as ‘the Catholic Monarchs’, but this was not a nickname but a title that was granted to them by Pope Alexander VI, on December 19, 1496, through the bull ‘Yes convenit’. However, the daughter of both, Juana I came to be remembered with the nickname of ‘la Loca’ (commonly as ‘Juana la Loca’) and her husband as Felipe ‘el Hermoso’, something very present in the nicknames of the sovereigns in which men were usually more favored than women.
Although we find some cases of derogatory nicknames towards the kings (which were normally launched from sectors and interests contrary to the monarch) such as Henry IV ‘the Impotent’; Luis I of Navarra ‘the Stubborn’; Ordoño IV of León ‘el Malo’; Sancho I ‘el Crasso’; Pedro I of Castile ‘the Cruel’; Enrique II of Castile ‘the Fraticide’; Fruela II ‘the Leper’, Carlos II ‘the Bewitched’ or José I Bonaparte, who was known as ‘Pepe Botella’.
In some kings we can also find that there is a duality of nicknames and that they had two (or more) that were coined by supporters or detractors, among which we find as one of the most striking cases that of Fernando VII, known as ‘the Desired’ by his followers and as ‘King Felon’ by opponents of his regime.
Isabel II also received several nicknames, among them ‘that of the Sad Fates’ and ‘La Reina Castiza’, but also others that were totally disparaging and that made reference to her insatiable sexual appetite and infidelities that she committed. For his part, her husband, Francisco de Asís received such derogatory nicknames as ‘Doña Paquita’, ‘Paquita Natillas’ or ‘Paquito Mariquito’, which made reference to the alleged homosexuality of the king consort.
But it should be noted that, curiously, many of the nicknames by which we currently know some historical monarchs were not coined at the time of their reigns but several years and even centuries later, in subsequent revisions of the history that has been made and that , according to the political tendency or preferences of the historian on duty, they have spread and popularized.
At the international level, we also find that outside of Spain there are numerous nicknames that have been assigned to famous kings and queens, but these I will explain in a future post.
Image source: Wikimedia commons