Louis XIV of France reigned as the King of France from 1643 to 1715. Louis XIV is the longest-reigning monarch of a sovereign country in the history of Europe. Under his rule, France often asserted its military prowess and emerged as the most dominant European monarchy. His life inspired several films, such as The Taking of Power by Louis XIV.
Henry IV of France reigned as the King of France from 2 August 1589 until his death on 14 May 1610. Remembered for his concern about the welfare of the people of France, Henry worked to eliminate corruption, promote agriculture, encourage education, and regularize state finance. The character of Ferdinand in Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost was loosely based on Henry.
Shivaji was an Indian warrior-king. He is credited with founding the Maratha Empire, which became a force to reckon with during the 18th century. He is also credited with creating his own navy. Considered one of the most important Indian kings and a hero of the Hindus, Shivaji's life and work have inspired several works of art, including films.
Many biographers consider Anne, the Queen of Great Britain, a weak and irresolute woman. It is said that she lacked political astuteness and was easily influenced by others. Though she was troubled by poor health throughout her life, she became increasingly obese and ill during her 30s and eventually died at the age of 49.
James II of England reigned as the king of Ireland, Scotland, and England from 1685 to 1688. His deposition as king, caused by the Glorious Revolution of 1688, ended a century of civil and political strife by establishing the principle that Parliament would be preferred over the Crown as opposed to the principles of divine right of kings and absolutism.
Charles I, the King of England, Scotland and Ireland from 1625 to 1649, was said to be authoritarian and was in constant battle with the Parliament over the issue of royal prerogative. The friction led to a civil war from 1642 to 1645 between him and the English and Scottish Parliaments. He was defeated and executed in 1649 for treason.
Mary II of England was Queen of England, Ireland, and Scotland from 1689 to 1694. Although she co-reigned along with her husband William III of England, she also took major decisions by herself whenever William was abroad. Mary has been portrayed in films, such as Orlando and England, My England.
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Louis XIII of France reigned as the King of France between 1610 and 1643. He is best remembered for saving the kingdom from the mismanagement of his mother Marie de' Medici, who was exiled by a 16-year-old Louis XIII. He is also credited with popularizing wigs among men, which had not been fashionable since antiquity.
Charles II of Spain reigned as the king of Spain from 1665 to 1700. He was the last king from the House of Habsburg to rule the Spanish Empire. Despite suffering from many illnesses throughout his life, Charles proved to be a reasonably influential king. The town of Charleroi and the Caroline Islands in modern Belgium were named after Charles.
Nigerian warrior queen Amina ruled the 16th-century city-state Zazzau at a time when women leaders were hard to come by. Her 34-year-old reign saw her expanding her kingdom and developing trade routes. Some believe she was merely a mythical figure, but remnants of the walls she had built prove otherwise.
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Murad IV, who ruled as the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1623 to 1640, was infamous for his cruelty. He took over the throne at 11 and subsequently came to be known for his exploits in the Ottoman–Safavid War, which changed the map of the Caucasus.
Philip V reigned as the king of Spain from November 1700 to January 1724, and again from September 1724 to 1746. Philip introduced the centralization of monarchy and imposed the Nueva Planta decrees. Philip's accession initiated the 13-year War of the Spanish Succession. His final years were marred by depression.
Catherine I of Russia was the second wife and Empress consort of Peter the Great. She served as the Empress regnant of Russia from 1725 until her death in 1727. The daughter of a peasant, she had an adventurous life as a young woman and eventually married Peter the Great who was taken by her beauty. They had 12 children.
Françoise d'Aubigné was a French noblewoman. She was secretly married to King Louis XIV and was one of his closest advisers. She was never considered the queen of France and served as the royal children's governess. She was born in an impoverished family and was previously married to poet Paul Scarron. She married Louis years after Scarron’s death.
Philip IV of Spain was the king of Spain from 1621 to 1665 and the king of Portugal from 1621 to 1640. He was a fine horseman and a keen hunter but was considered a weak ruler with excessive dependence on the ministers. Even though the Spanish empire expanded considerably during his reign, he was not a popular king.
Akbar, the third Mughal emperor, played an important role in inculcating Persian culture into the Indian subcontinent. Akbar is considered one of the most important rulers of the Mughal Empire, an empire that seeped foreign ideas and culture into medieval India, the effects of which are still visible in modern-day India, especially in the northern parts of the country.
Philip III of Spain was the king of Spain from 1598 to 1621. He also reigned over Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and Sardinia as Philip II. He was the son of Philip II of Spain and Anna of Austria. He was believed to be a weak man, who relied too much on his corrupt chief minister, the Duke of Lerma.
Aurangzeb reigned over most part of the Indian subcontinent for 49 years as the sixth Mughal emperor. He helped the Mughal Empire reach its greatest extent and helped India become the biggest manufacturing power and the world's largest economy. He was known for his religious piety and led a very simple life..
Yongzheng reigned over the Qing dynasty as its fourth Emperor from 1722 to 1735. He was also the third Qing emperor to reign over the Eighteen Provinces. Remembered for his hard-working nature, Yongzheng's most prominent objective was to come up with an effective government at minimum expense. Yongzheng, who cracked down on corruption, is credited with forming the Grand Council.
Often described as a "dumb blonde," Anne of Denmark, who became the queen of Scotland, England, and Ireland, through her marriage to King James VI and I, was an art connoisseur known for attending extravagant masques. She probably also converted to Catholicism later, going against James’s anti-Catholic stance.
Mariam-uz-Zamani, or Jodha Bai, was the wife of Mughal emperor Akbar. She was a Hindu Rajput princess and the daughter of Raja Bharmal of Amber. Mariam’s marriage to Akbar signified her father’s submission to the Mughal emperor. She was symbolic of the gradual rise of multiculturalism in the Mughal era.
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The Soldier King Frederick William I of Prussia is remembered for transforming his nation into a prosperous state. He was known for his simple lifestyle, as opposed to his father’s kingly excesses. His experience at the War of the Spanish Succession led him to strengthen Prussia militarily, too.
Madame de Montespan was the chief Royal mistress of King Louis XIV of France. Thanks to her strong influence over Louis XIV, Madame de Montespan was sometimes referred to as the true Queen of France during Louis' reign. One of the most celebrated chief Royal mistresses of all time, Madame de Montespan had seven children with Louis XIV of France.
Second son of Emperor Ferdinand III, Leopold I became the heir apparent to his father’s throne on the death of his elder brother in 1654, being coroneted as the Holy Roman Emperor in 1658. Although he received little training for the throne, Austria became a great European power during his reign, emerging victorious in struggles against Ottoman Empire and France.
The Maratha Empire’s second Chhatrapati, Sambhaji Bhosale, was the eldest son of Shivaji. After losing his mother at 2, he was raised by his grandmother. A treaty made him a Mughal mansabdar. Later, following repeated clashes with the Mughals, he was eventually captured and tortured to death.
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Queen Nzinga, also known as Nzinga of Ndongo and Matamba, was the queen of the Kingdoms of Ndongo and Matamba. Born into the family of Ndongo, Nzinga assumed power after the demise of her father and sibling, after which she fought for the stature and Independence of her kingdoms from the Portuguese. Her reign lasted 37 years.
Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor reigned as the King of the Romans and as the King in Germany between 1576 and 1612. Best remembered as an intellectual aficionado of occult arts, Rudolf is often seen as the founding father of the Scientific Revolution. He devoted his time to astrology and alchemy in an attempt to find the Philosopher's Stone.
Spanish princess Anne of Austria was also an archduchess of the House of Habsburg. She later became the queen of France, as King Louis XIII’s wife, and also ruled as the regent for her son, Louis XIV. She is one of main characters in The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas.
Ferdinand II was the Holy Roman Emperor from 1619 to1637. He was a member of the House of Habsburg and the son of Archduke Charles II of Inner Austria and Maria of Bavaria. A zealous Catholic, he wanted to restore the Catholic Church as the only religion in the empire, a move that earned him the ire of Protestant groups.