Alfonso IX was the King of Leon and Galicia during the 12th century. Despite his rather unfortunate nickname, he was a leader that promoted modernization and democratization in his kingdom. His nickname comes from the fact that he at times was subject to fits of rage in which he would foam at the mouth.
He took the throne after the death of his father in 1188. He tried to be good to his people by founding the University of Salamanca. He summoned the first parliament reflecting the full representation of the people that had ever been seen in Western Europe. Alfonso also took part in the Reconquest which covered the area of the Extremadura.
What Alfonso the Slobberer is more remembered for today, other than his nickname, was the fact that he was often at odds with the Pope due to his marriages. His marriage to his first cousin was declared null by the papal legate for consanguinity. He was even excommunicated by the Pope after he invaded Castile with the use of Muslim troops. He further angered the church when he married his first cousin once removed in order to bring unity to Leon and Castile. This marriage was declared invalid by Pope Innocent III, but the pair stayed together for six years and had five children.
His problems with the Pope had little effect on him as his own clergy supported him. When he died in 1230 it brought together the two Kingdoms of Castile and Leon, as his son Ferdinand III of Castile was already sitting on the throne of Castile. Ferdinand’s mother convinced Alfonso’s older daughters to renounce the throne and therefore allow Ferdinand to be crowned King of Leon as well.
Ivar the Boneless was a famous son of Ragnar Lodbrok and was even less lucky in the nickname department than his father. No one is exactly sure where the Viking got the strange nickname from. There are some who believe it was due to a physical deformity that made it seem like he was without bones. It was said that he was cursed by his mother, Ragnar’s third wife, who was known to be a sorceress. There is a theory that the name was poorly transcribed by a medieval scribe and was meant to be “Ivar the Hated.”
The sagas do tell that Ivar had some sort of a deformity and that he was lacking bones, but it is unclear how bad the deformity was. It seems unlikely that he would be able to be a successful Viking conqueror if his deformity left him without the ability to move. However, the sagas do tell of his wisdom, cunning, and unmatched mastery of strategy and tactics.
Ivar was the leader of the Great Heathen Army in 865 that invaded the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy in order to exact revenge for the death of Ragnar Lodbrok. The sagas say that at first Ivar did not defeat Aella and sought reconciliation asking for only as much land as could be covered with an ox hide. Then he tore the ox hide into so many fine strands that it was able to envelop a mighty fortress.
The next year Ivar and his army invaded Northumbria and captured Aella. Together with his brothers he murdered the King and then continued to invade more of what is now known as England, including Mercia and York. All historical records for Ivar stop in 870, which many believe is the date of his death. He told his men to bury him in a place that was exposed to attack and he would ensure that no one would succeed. This proved true until William I of England dug up the burial mound, found that the body of Ivar had not decayed and ordered that it be burned. It was only after the body was burned that William was successful.
Louis V of France comes by his nickname in the most obvious way; he did nothing. His father started preparing him to be king from a young age and used his son to the advantage of the Kingdom. In 978, he started to be associated with the government despite being only 12 years old. The following year he was crowned co-King with his father.
When Louis V was just 15 his father married him to the 40-year-old Adelaide-Blanche of Anjou in order to cement Carolingian royal power in the southern part of the Kingdom. The marriage was short-lived because the two could not get along. They kept separate rooms, traveled separately, and only spoke in short conversations in public. As Louis V was only 15, they never consummated their marriage. She eventually left him during a visit to Aquitaine and went back with her family after only two years of marriage. She did not produce a single heir for Louis V.
Louis V became the undisputed king in 986 after the death of his father. Having already been crowned for nearly 10 years, there was no dispute over his taking the crown. At the time there were two groups in France that had different ambitions for the future of the Kingdom. One wanted to renew friendly relationships with the Ottonian dynasty, and the other wanted to continue expansion to the east and the recovery of Lotharingia. There was also a dispute between the elected kings of Louis V’s father and it was all put on the young monarch’s shoulders at once.
Louis V vacillated between the sides and refused to take any strong stance on the issues that were presented to him. He died from a fall while hunting just a year after taking the throne which prevented him from making any lasting impact with his reign. Since he had no heirs the throne was taken by his uncle and the Carolingian dynasty ended.