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Charles II, King of England, Scotland and Ireland

Today I am taking a break from my pretenders series and will do something a little fun, well fun for me. I am going to list my top 10 favorite monarchs with some biographical information. I will do this in two sections. 5 today and 5 tomorrow.

Top 10 Favorite Monarchs

1. Charlemagne, King of the Franks, Emperor of the West
Born: c. 742. Died: 28 January 814. Reign: King, 768-814; Emperor 800-814.

Charlemagne, or Charles the Great, ruled the majority of Europe in his life time and the forging of his empire was to have repercussions throughout European history. He was a strong warrior and also an able administrator.

2. William I the Conqueror, King of England, Duke of Normandy
Born: c. 1028 Died: 9 September 1087. Reign: Duke, 1035-1087; King, 1066-1087

William the Conqueror was another powerful warrior and his conquest of the throne of England changed the course of English history. He brought permanent changes to the Church, aristocracy, culture, the nature of kingship and language that can still be felt today.

3. Karl V, Holy Roman Emperor, King of Spain
Born: 24 February 1500. Died: 21 September 1558. Reign: King, 1516-1556; Emperor, 1519-1556

Holy Roman Emperor Karl V (Carlos I of Spain) also ruled a vast empire and had titles too numerous to list here. His empire rivaled that of Charlemagne’s. One of the most powerful rulers of the Habsburg family Karl and his policies played a large role in Protestant Reformation a significant moment in European history. His empire was broken up on his abdication in 1556. The Holy Roman Empire went to his brother Ferdinand and Spain to his eldest son, Felipe II.

4. Louis XIV, King of France and Navarre.
Born: 5 September 1638. Died: 1 September 1715. Reign: 1648-1715.

Louis XIV holds the record for being the longest reigning king in European history ruling France and the tiny kingdom of Navarre for 72 years 110 days. He came to his throne as a child and survived political uprisings to take the reigns of government himself and has become the model for absolute monarchy. He built the Palace of Versailles and brought much good for France but also sowed the seeds for future revolution.

5. Charles II, King of England, Scotland and Ireland
Born: 5 September 1638. Died: 1 September 1715. Reign: 1660-1685

A first cousin to king Louis XIV of France, Charles II, was called the Merry Monarch but almost never came to the throne. His father, Charles I, lost his head at the end of the English Civil War and the monarchy was abolished. He spent much of that time with a bounty on his head and living in exile. Restored to the throne in 1660 Charles opened a breath of fresh air after 11 years of puritanical rule. He allowed the theater to thrive once again and became a patron of the arts. Science also returned to prominence and this was an area in which the king specifically supported. Charles II founded the Royal Observatory and supported the Royal Society, a scientific group whose members included Sir Isaac Newton.

The next five will be revealed tomorrow.