Monarch Nicknames: From Fat to Terrible

Charles the Fat

On this date in year 884, Charles the Fat became emperor of the Frankish Empire.

Here are a few historical monarchs with less-than-flattering nicknames, and the stories behind them.

Charles the Fat was a great-grandson of Charlemagne, and reunited his forebear’s empire for a short time. There’s some disagreement over whether he fully qualifies as a Holy Roman Emperor, but he was crowned by Pope John VIII. His empire consisted of large parts of what is now western Europe. He was considered lethargic and inept. He is also believed to have suffered from epilepsy. He was overthrown by his nephew Arnulf of Carinthia three years after reuniting the empire.

One of Charles the Fat’s predecessors was Charles the Bald, who might have been the first monarch to receive an ironic nickname. It’s thought that he had a full head of hair and was quite hairy. Speaking of hirsute monarchs, at about the same time as Charles the Bald’s reign, Wilfred the Hairy was ruling over a portion of what is now Spain.

Among Charles the Bald’s children was Louis the Stammerer. Besides his apparent speech impediment, Louis was also in ill health and only survived his father by two years.

William I of England was known as William the Bastard by enemies and William the Conquerer by allies, while John George I of Saxony was known as Beer Jug because of his alcoholism. Three other monarchs, including Wenceslaus VI were known as “the Drunkard.”

Wladyslaw the Elbow High was known as such because of his short stature.

Ivaylo of Bulgaria was known as Radish, Lettuce, or Cabbage, after leading a peasant revolt  against the Byzantines and Mongols.

Four kings, including Louis XI of France and Peter I of Portugal were known as “The Cruel.” Constantine V was known as “the dung-named” by his enemies.

There was Fulk the Ill-Tempered, Henry the Impotent, Louis the Indolent, and Ferdinand the Inconsistent. Other interesting names include Eric the Priest Hater, Frederick the Quarreller, James the Rash, Pippin the Short, and Pippin the Hunchback.

There was Uros the Weak of Serbia, Ethelred the Unready of England and Thomas the Albanian-Slayer.

Besides Ivan, there were three other monarchs known as “the Terrible.”

Of course, most of these nicknames were applied by their enemies, and several of them are known by more favorable names as well.

Our question: Vlad the Impaler was the inspiration for what literary character?

Today is Constitution Day in Russia, Ground Forces Day in Ukraine and Croatian Air Force Day.

It’s unofficially National Ambrosia Day, Poinsettia Day, and Gingerbread House Day.

It’s the birthday of artist Edvard Munch, who was born in 1863; singer Frank Sinatra, who was born in 1915; and game show host Bob Barker, who is 93.

Because our topic happened before 1960, we’ll spin the wheel to pick a year at random.

This week in 1982, the top song in the U.S. was “Maneater” by Hall and Oates.

The No. 1 movie was “The Toy,” while the novel “Space” by James Michener topped the New York Times Bestsellers list.

Weekly question

What wireless technology was named after a Danish king’s nickname?

Submit your answer at and we’ll add the name of the person with the first correct answer to our winner’s wall … at We’ll reveal the correct answer on Friday’s episode.


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