Category Archives: Kings and Queens

Anna, princess of Russia, queen of France

Anna, princess of Russia, queen of France

In the year of our Lord 1048, Henry I, king of France, had decided to marry again. At first he wanted to marry his relative’s daughter, but the Pope said “No way!”, out of fear of inbreeding (most royal families were all relatives back then). So Henry sent emissaries all over Europe to find a suitable bride. Perhaps the emissaries got lost during their travels, because they’ve found an unlikely bride for a catholic French king – Russian orthodox princess Anna of Kiev, daughter of Yaroslav the Wise. Unlike most princesses of the time, Anna could read and write and even ride a horse. It took a while to get the things arranged, but in 1050 Anna of Kiev had married Henry and became “Anne of Rus, Queen of France”.

Even while her husband was still alive, Anna was actively participating in the affairs of France. She gave birth to 4 children, including the next king of the Franks, Philip I. After Henry’s death she has managed to govern France all by herself for a while. Yet being a woman, she didn’t get a chance to do it for long.

Some time after Anna’s death, the French have introduced the Salic Law, an interpretation of an older custom which specifically prohibits any property to be owned by a woman. By extension it means that any time a king of France dies, the crown goes to the closest relative from the male line (brother, uncle or cousin), bypassing the dead king’s wife or any of his daughters. The law was put in place to prevent an English queen to become the queen of France as well, thus ruling both countries and was the primary reason for the 100-year war between France and England. Because of the Salic Law, while there’s still Elizabeth the II, the ruling queen of England, all French queens after Anna could only reign, not rule.

But Anna’s biggest accomplishment wasn’t the fact that she could rule France all by herself. She introduced the name “Philip” into Western culture. “Philippos” means “lover of horses” in Greek. So if your name is Phil, please give your thanks to Anna. Just don’t get any crazy ideas about horses, ok?


Posted by on January 29, 2016 in History, Kings and Queens


The difference between Czar and King

The difference between Czar and King

Ever wondered why a British monarch was called “king” and an Imperial Russia’s monarch was called “czar”? Both august fellows seem to perform identical duties, but for some reason are being called differently. Why? Let’s find out!

The original Latin word “rex” means leader, ruler, chieftain or monarch. It has the same meaning as Sankrit word “rajan”, better known as “maharaja” (great king). While the word “rex” is not in active use today, it’s traces can be found in many modern words, such as “di-rect”, “regis”, “Regina” and “Reich”

The English word “king” is a combination of Anglo-Saxon words “kin” and “son of”. You know, back in the day where men were chosen to lead rather than born, the kings were meant to take care of their people.

Here’s another word – “Caesar“. Originally a surname of the Roman emperor Julius Caesar, the word became a synonym for “king” shortly after he got stabbed. Many Roman emperors were including this word in their official titles without hesitation.

Lastly, there was this great King of Franks and everybody was calling him Charlemagne. In Latin his name was “Karolus Magnus” and in English “Charles the Great”. The modern male names “Charles”, “Karl” and “Carl” are direct descendants of this king’s name.

Now to the point. The Slavic word “tzar” (also tsar or czar) is directly derived from “Caesar”. For the same reason many German emperors had a the title of “Kaiser”, even though in German language there’s a different word for a king – “Konig”. And most Slavic languages, including Russian, have a word reserved for any Western European king: korol’ (король) – a descendant of the Charlemagne’s Latin name Karolus.

So in an unlikely case you’re ruling over a Slavic country your title will be “czar”, but if your little kingdom lies way out West, your title will be “king”. Hail Caesar!



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Posted by on January 8, 2016 in History, Kings and Queens

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