I discovered a rather funny medieval figure known as Charles the Simple, who was a notoriously useless French king from the 9th to 10th century. His subjects overthrew him and locked him in a jail because he was such a bad general. “The Simple” is not a wise name for a king to earn. Three centuries later, Simon de Montfort said that Henry III should be locked up like Charles the Simple due to Henry’s own poor military record. Thinking about locking up your king is one thing, but saying it to his face like Simon did is flirting with treason.
When I first started my third fantasy volume, I originally considered the main character’s reign to be relatively peaceful with the exception of one major war and a few cutthroat politics. However, thinking back to everything I have learned about medieval monarchs, life was NEVER that easy. We often think of the medieval kings and queens of Europe to be either great leaders or tyrants. My father, for instance, has a strong animosity towards the English kings of old for how they treated our Scottish and Irish ancestors. The reality is that they were both the heroes and the villains, great leaders and tyrants, all at the same time. They were flawed individuals who made human mistakes every day of their respective reigns. Every one of their decisions had consequences that either launched a long-lasting dynasty or cut their reign short. I am thinking of applying this deeply flawed nature to the main character. They will be the most human character in my fantasy series so far.
For the beginning of my third fantasy book, I will be depicting the protagonist of The War of the Gilded Beasts (Kemrin Magnus) as an older man. In the second book, Kemrin received a series of wounds that will never fully heal and leave him in a state of constant debilitating pain. Also, he will be haunted by the knowledge that what happened to the previous Emperor could also happen to him. The constant pain will make him murderously bad tempered and his fear of being overthrown will make him paranoid and irrational. Due to these factors, I will be basing his later reign on the reign of Edward II. Edward II was neither in pain or paranoid, but his incompetent and spineless leadership led to him being overthrown by his wife, Isabella the She-Wolf of France and her lover Roger Mortimer. After he was overthrown, Edward II was replaced by his son Edward III. In the end, Edward II was sodomized to death by a white-hot poker by his wife’s men and his dying shrieks could be heard throughout the castle. Overall, Kemrin’s reign will end in blood as his son becomes the new Emperor of Gradaia.
Like many early Targaryens, Jaehaerys the Conciliator was a dragonrider with his own dragon. His dragon was named Vermithor AKA the Bronze Fury. Vermithor had magnificent bronze scales, tan wings, and he was the third largest dragon after Balerion and Vhagar. We have all seen Targaryens threatening their enemies with their dragons, but Jaehaerys did it in a smart way. Instead of openly threatening unruly vassals and describing what his dragon will do to them, Jaehaerys simply showed them his dragon. He made no mention of threatening them with his dragon, but the veiled threat was in plain sight. He was nonverbally saying, “Obey me or I will unleash HIM on you!” The very sight of the growing dragon was more than enough to frighten his enemies into submission. When showing the dragon was not enough, Jaehaerys rode Vermithor and took flight to put down the conflict personally. On one occasion, Jaehaerys took his sons Aemon and Baelon on their dragons with him to defeat an attempted invasion from Dorne. Jaehaerys and his sons used their dragons to burn the Dornish fleet into the sea and the royal army did not suffer a single casualty and this war with Dorne ended in a single day. Both with his sword and with his dragon, Jaehaerys knew how to fight and win his battles quickly and decisively. Jaehaerys demonstrated how you should rule the Seven Kingdoms with dragons.
As I mentioned in my previous post, Jaehaerys I ruled the Iron Throne longer than anyone before or after him. He was widely known as a good king, but you do not have a reign as long as his just from being good. Just because he was a good king, Jaehaerys was by no means a weakling like his father Aenys I. During the first two years of his reign, Jaehaerys trained every morning with his master-at-arms and Kingsguard so that he would not be weak like his father and no one would doubt his courage. Based on the reigns of his grandfather, father, and uncle, Jaehaerys knew there would be challenges for him throughout his reign and he wanted to be ready when those challenges came. There were times when Jaehaerys had to put down a rebellion or fight his own battles. One time, a knight from the Reach seduced and violated one of his daughters and Jaehaerys brought the knight before him. When the knight asked for a trial-by-combat, Jaehaerys personally fought him instead of sending one of his Kingsguard. During the duel, Jaehaerys remained on the defensive and waited for the younger man to tire himself out. When that happened, Jaehaerys went on the offensive and drove his sword through the knight’s skull. Most kings we have seen in Game of Thrones were either warriors or politicians, but Jaehaerys was a healthy balance between warrior and politician.
Easily my all-time favorite Targaryen king would be Jaehaerys the First of His Name AKA The Conciliator. He was easily the greatest king House Targaryen ever produced and many historians believed he was the greatest king Westeros has ever known. He ruled the Iron Throne for fifty-five years, which is longer than any living soul before or after him. He was crowned when he was just a fourteen-year-old kid, but he proved wise, charismatic, and just beyond his years. Like Robb Stark, Jaehaerys married for love instead of political gain, but unlike Robb Stark, Jaehaerys was able to get away with it because of the power and authority he wielded. His true love was his sister Alysanne, who was a wise and capable politician in her own right. He always listened to his queen and many of his decisions were influenced by her. They had thirteen children, but only nine of them grew into adulthood and four had children and grandchildren of their own. Later in his reign, Jaehaerys had one succession crisis after another as several of his children died from wars, diseases, and accidents. Eventually, Jaehaerys held a Great Council where the lords of Westeros decided who would succeed him, which turned out to be his grandson who would reign as Viserys I. After his queen died, Jaehaerys became a broken shadow of his former self and old age made his mind fade. He died peacefully in his bed, which is EXTREMELY rare in the Game of Thrones universe. He was sixty-nine years old and his death was felt across the Seven Kingdoms. Even Dorne, who were part-time enemies of the Targaryens at the time, mourned Jaehaerys’s death. You know someone was a truly great king if even his enemies mourned him. His reign was a time of unprecedented peace, prosperity, and justice that Westeros would never see again. Thanks to Jaehaerys’s efforts, his grandson inherited a secure throne, an overflowing treasury, and a legacy of goodwill from the people. No other king since has been on Jaehaerys’s level and he was one of the rare few who were truly worthy to rule the Iron Throne.
When Henry VIII came to the throne, he was just a seventeen year old kid. Before he became the obese tyrant we know, Henry VIII was handsome, sexy, athletic, intelligent, charming, generous, and charismatic. In the early years of his reign, Henry’s court was filled with young noblemen who were around his age, giving his court the energy and vigor of a frat house. He often engaged in sports such as jousting, hunting, and tennis. Also, while most kings appointed nobles to high ranking positions, Henry VIII appointed commoners to high ranking positions. He did not care if his ministers were nobles or commoners. As long as they ran his kingdom and made him rich, he was happy as a clam. Before divorcing Katherine of Aragon, the first half of Henry’s marriage to her was very happy. Before he became a tyrant, many thought of Henry VIII as the brightest and most charismatic prince and king England ever knew. Thomas More once wrote that “this king is loved” and he compared the passing of Henry VII and the ascension of Henry VIII to the transition of winter to spring. If Henry VII was the winter, then Henry VIII was the spring. However, Henry VIII had one fatal flaw in his character: he could not rule himself. A king who cannot rule himself must not rule a kingdom. Still, I am curious and interested in Henry VIII’s early reign as a young king. I will be basing aspects of one my main fantasy characters’ reigns on the early reign of Henry VIII. This way, we could see what kind of king Henry VIII could have been if he could rule himself.