16th century

Jun 292014
Eric XIV of Sweden
(given in the painting as King of the Swedes, the Goths and the Vandals)

On 29 June, 1561, Eric XIV was crowned king of Sweden. He was the eldest son of Gustav Vasa, a relatively minor nobleman who had risen to royal status during the Swedish War of Liberation against King Christian II of Denmark in the 1520s. His ascension to the throne cemented the transition of Sweden to a hereditary monarchy under the House of Vasa, which was a clear break from medieval Sweden’s elective monarchy. Continue reading »

Sep 092013


Young Henry VIII of England. Image source: Wikpedia

Today it’s 500 years since one of the bloodiest battles ever between the English and the Scots – the Battle of Flodden. It’s also the last battle on the British Isles in which a monarch was one of the casualties.

James IV of Scotland. Image source: Wikipedia

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Jun 302013
The fatal tournament between Henri II and Gabriel Mongomery, Lord of Lorges
16th century German print, anonymous

On 30 June, 1559, King Henry II of France (1519-1559), participated in a tournament to celebrate a peace treaty between France and Spain. In a joust against the captain of his Scottish guard, Gabriel Montgomery, his opponent’s wooden lance pierced the King’s headgear, shattered into fragments, and splinters penetrated in several places, among them his right eye and temple. The King was treated by two of the most distinguished physicians of the Renaissance; the royal physician Ambroise Paré and Andreas Vesalius. Nevertheless, he died after lingering for eleven days.

Immediately the queen, Catherine de Medici, took charge in the name of her son Francis. She would retain a firm grip on the reins of France through the reigns of three of her sons, more or less until her death in 1589.