Rulers of the Middle Ages

The Middle Ages were a time dominated by numerous kingdoms, each striving to become the wealthiest and the most powerful, and behind each kingdom was a monarch.  During this time the monarchs began to consolidate the smaller regional kingdoms in the attempt of creating vast empires.   The various wars and alliance amongst kings and nobles within the same region and further abroad were the foundation of medieval politics, a highly variable form of political structure.

The rulers of these courts and kingdoms welded immense power in the Middle Ages.  They were among the greatest patrons of the arts and were responsible for the economic success of their kingdoms and trade.  The vast majority of wealth in the Middle Ages was held by a very small percentage of the population allowing the nobility, and particularly monarchs, to live tremendously lavish lifestyles while the peasant class had very little.

The geography of Europe in the Middle Ages was different than in modernity, but it was the forging of alliances and fighting of wars at this time that led to the foundation of current territorial demarcations.  The primary kingdoms included England, France, and the Holy Roman Empire.  The rulers of these kingdoms were responsible for much of the history of the Middle Ages.


Medieval England can generally be defined by the perameters of the years 1066-1377.  These years correspond to the end of the reign of Edward the Confessor and the end of the reign of Edward III.  These three centuries saw numerous kings ascend to the throne and continued strife within the British Isles among the smaller kingdoms and populations, particularly of the north. 

The rulers of the Middle Ages in England include:

  • Edward the Confessor (1042-1066)
  • Harold II (1066)
  • William I the Conquerer (1066-1087)
  • William II (1087-1100)
  • Henry I (1100-1135)
  • Stephen (1135-1141)
  • Empress Matilda (1141-1142)
  • Stephen (1142-1154)
  • Henry II (1154-1189)
  • Richard I the Lionheart (1189-1199)
  • John Lackland (1199-1216)
  • Henry III (1216-1272)
  • Edward I the Hammer of the Scots (1272-1307)
  • Edward II (1307-1327)
  • Edward III (1327-1377)


In France the Middle Ages refers to the period of history from the fifth-century to the late fifteenth-century.  Throughout this period a number of ruling groups held primary power over the French region including the Merovingians, Carolingians, Direct Capetians, and Valois.  The French kingdom was more decentralized than in England meaning the governance of the kingdom was primarily maintained by the local nobility.  The relatively large number of nobles, each vying for more power and affluence, led to a significant amount of internal strife.  It was not until the late fifteenth-century that a patriotic sentiment began to emerge.

The rulers of the Middle Ages in France include:

-Merovingian Dynasty

  • Chlodio the Longhair (428-445/448)
  • Merovech (445/448-457)
  • Childeric I (457-481/2)
  • Clovis I (481/482-511)
  • Childebert I (511-558)
  • Chlothar I the Old (558-561)
  • Charibert I (561-567)
  • Chilperic I (567-584)
  • Chlothar II the Great, the Young (584-629)
  • Dagobert I (629-639)
  • Clovis II the Lazy (639-657)
  • Chlothar III (657-673)
  • Childeric II (673-675)
  • Theuderic III (675-691)
  • Clovis IV (691-695)
  • Childebert III the Just (695-711)
  • Dagobert III (711-715)
  • Chilperic II (715-721)
  • Childeric III (743-751)

-Carolingian Dynasty

  • Pepin the Younger (752-768)
  • Carloman I (768-771)
  • Charlemagne, Charles I (768-814)
  • Louis I the Pious, the Debonair (814-840)
  • Charles II the Bald (840-877)
  • Louis II the Stammerer (877-879)
  • Louis III (879-882)
  • Carloman II (882-884)
  • Charles the Fat (885-888)
  • Odo of Paris (888-898)
  • Charles III the Simple (893-922)
  • Robert I (922-923)
  • Rudolph (923-936)
  • Louis IV from overseas (936-954)
  • Lothair (954-986)
  • Louis V the Lazy (986-987)

-Direct Capetians

  • Hugh Capet (987-996)
  • Robert II the Pious, the Wise (996-1031)
  • Henry I (1031-1060)
  • Philip I (1060-1108)
  • Louis VI the Fat (1108-1137)
  • Louis VII the Young (1137-1180)
  • Philip II Augustus (1180-1223)
  • Louis VIII the Lion (1223-1226)
  • Louis IX the Saint (1226-1270)
  • Philip III the Bold (1270-1285)
  • Philip IV the Fair (1285-1314)
  • Louis X the Quarreller (1314-1316)
  • John I the Posthumous (15 November 1316 – 20 November 1316)
  • Philip V the Tall (1316-1322)
  • Charles IV the Fair (1322-1328)

-House of Valois

  • Philip VI of Valois, the Fortunate (1328-1350)
  • John II the Good (1350-1364)
  • Charles V the Wise (1364-1380)
  • Charles VI the Beloved, the Mad (1380-1422)
  • Charles VII the Victorious, the Well-Served (1422-1461)
  • Louis XI the Prudent, the Universal Spider (1461-1483)
  • Charles VIII the Affable (1483-1498)

Holy Roman Empire

The Holy Roman Empire was a large dynasty covering much of Northern and Eastern Europe during the Middle Ages.  The kingdom existed from 962-1806 though the nature of the empire evolved as it passed from the Middle Ages into the Early Modern Period.  The Holy Roman Empire traced its origins to Charlemagne who became King of the Franks in the year 800. 

The Kings of France also trace their roots to Charlemagne, and this shared background led to a dualism of East vs. West.  Throughout the existence of the Holy Roman Empire, it included land that is part of present-day Germany, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, San Marino, Slovenia, Switzerland, France, Italy, Poland, and Slovakia.  Because of the immense size of the kingdom, like England and France, much of the governance was carried out by smaller regional kingdoms under the power of members of the nobility.

The Holy Roman Emperors included:

-Ottonian (Saxon) Dynasty

  • Otto I (962-973)
  • Otto II (967-983)
  • Otto III (983-996)
  • Henry II (1014-1024)

-Salian (Frankish) Dynasty

  • Conrad II (1027-1039)
  • Henry III (1046-1056)
  • Henry IV (1084-1105)
  • Henry V (1111-1125)

-Supplinburger Dynasty

  • Lothair III (1133-1137)

-Staufen Dynasty

  • Frederick I (1155-1190)
  • Henry VI (1191-1197)

-Welf Dynasty

  • Otto IV (1209-1215)

-Staufen Dynasty

  • Frederick II (1220-1250)

-House of Luxembourg

  • Henry VII (1312-1313)

-House of Wittelsbach

  • Louis IV (1328-1347)

-House of Luxembourg

  • Charles IV (1355-1378)
  • Sigismund (1433-1437)

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