Thursday, April 11, 2013

April's A-to-the-Zizzle: K

K is for King.  Of the royal variety, that is.

History is chock-full of famous monarchs - good guys, bad guys, crazy guys, guys who went missing only to be found hundreds of years later under a parking lot (true story).    British history provides a plethora of juicy scandals revolving around the royal families, as well as some disconcerting tales.    Some monarchs gained fame for their benevolence and good deeds, while others did so by mass murder and all-out tyranny.  People ruling with complete power went by other titles besides king and queen; there were Tsars (or Tzars, or Czars  - those crazy Russians are too indecisive), Emperors and Kaisers (which is really just the German word for "emperor").  Let's cover some of history's most famous absolute rulers.

King Henry VIII (I am, I am), Tudor

Everybody knows about this guy.  You know, the one who invented divorce.  Henry is credited with separating the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church.  He only did it because the Pope wouldn't annul his marriage to Catharine of Aragon, and he only wanted an annulment because he desperately wanted to shack up with his mistress Mary Boleyn's younger, hotter sister Anne, and she wouldn't put out until he married her.  Tease.  Unfortunately for Anne, Henry had a wee bit of a temper, and later had her beheaded.  Throughout his lifetime Henry married a total of six times.  Talk about commitment issues.

Tsar Nicholas II, Romanov

Poor Nicholas didn't have a chance, what with his wife being totally, hopelessly devoted to that creepy, dirty skeez Rasputin.  The Tsar was actually a pretty good guy (despite his nickname "Bloody Nicholas"), and the last years of his reign were spent in constant worry and stress over his son and heir, Alexei, who suffered from hemophilia. In the March Revolution of 1917, the Tsar and his family (Empress Alexandra, daughters Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and young tsarevich Alexei) were taken prisoner after Nicholas abdicated his throne and the right of his son.  Eventually sent to Yekaterinburg, the Romanovs were executed in a horrific manner, then their bodies were burned, covered in acid and buried in an attempt to cover up the murders.  Their remains weren't exhumed until 1991.  

King Richard III, House of York

Hide-and-seek World Record holder.

Richie was the last king of the House of York, and after his death in the War of the Roses the Tudor line rose to power. So we can blame him for Henry VIII.  The last English king to die in battle, Richard was buried in 1485, after which his grave was lost  (bet somebody got fired over that.  "Where'd you bury Richard?" "It was....uh.....I...I'm not sure."). He was missing for over FIVE HUNDRED YEARS.  He was finally found this past February underneath a parking lot.  What a bummer.  Five bucks says he's been haunting cars and making tires go flat. And before that, making carriage wheels fall off.  And before that, possessing horses.  Wow, five hundred years.  Sucks for you, Richie.

Lastly, because I'm all for women's equality and feminism...

Queen Elizabeth I, Tudor

Liz was the last ruler of the Tudor dynasty.  Daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth is known as one of the greatest monarchs in British history.  She was nicknamed "The Virgin Queen" for her refusal to marry, and though she had several suitors throughout her life (ie: booty calls), her virginity was celebrated throughout Britain.

Her reign is designated the Elizabethan Era or the Golden Age, due to the flourishing of poetry, literature and theatre. William Shakespeare was a major player during this time.  World exploration was also a priority for the British Empire. With all of the positive goings-on, poor Liz had a major bummer to deal with: she was constantly threatened by plots to have her killed and replaced with Mary, Queen of Scots.  Being a queen sucks sometimes.

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