The Origins of 9 Royal Nicknames

Many of Britain’s most famous monarchs are remembered by some nickname or soubriquet that has either long outlived them, or else has been bestowed on them posthumously by later historians. William I will forever be known as “William The Conqueror.” His red-headed son and successor William II was “William Rufus.” Both Edward VI and Henry VI were known as “The Boy King,” because they were just 9 years old and 9 months old, respectively, when they ascended to the throne. And while Elizabeth I was famously “The Virgin Queen,” her sister Mary I’s brutal treatment of anti-Catholic dissenters led her to become “Bloody Mary.”

But many royal nicknames aren’t quite as straightforward as these. King Henry I, for instance, was known as “Henry Beauclerc,” meaning “good-scholar”—a reference to his good education and love of learning. His grandson, Henry II, was nicknamed “Curtmantle,” apparently for his preference for hunting in short-trimmed jackets. And as well as being called “The King of the Sea” (more on that in a moment), Edward III was just as well known in his time as “Edward The Bankrupt,” after he defaulted on two personal loans in 1340, and thereby bankrupted two wealthy Florentine family banks. The origins of nine more royal nicknames, from the medieval period to the early 20th century, are explained here.

Read more: Mental Floss

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