Medieval Nicknames

We’ve dealt with Basil the Bulgar-Slayer, Charles the Bald, and Antigonas the One-Eyed in HIS 111 this semester, but here, courtesy of my friend Peter Fleming, is a list of even better nicknames:

Medieval kings and rulers often got nicknames. If you were lucky, you would be called the Good, the Great, or the Hammer (honourable mention goes to John II, Duke of Cleves, who got nickname the Babymaker for having fathered 63 illegitimate children). Those monarchs who didn’t perform as well might get the name the Bad, the Cruel, or the Mad.

However, a few men from the Middle Ages had rather unusual nicknames, and probably ones they really didn’t want. Here is our list of the top ten worst nicknames given to medieval rulers.

Alfonso the Slobberer

Alfonso IX, King of León and Galicia – he was a fairly successful ruler of the northern part of Iberia during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, managing to stay on the throne for 42 years. However, the North African scholar Ibn Khaldun noted that he was called Baboso or the Slobberer because he would foam at the mouth whenever he got upset.

Bermudo the Gouty

Bermudo II was another King of León and Galicia, ruling from 982 to 999. His campaigns against Islamic state of al-Andalus had some initial success, but Muslim armies eventually captured many of his most important cities and even sacked Santiago de Compostela in 997. Meanwhile, Bermudo suffered from gout, a medical condition that can cause severe inflammation of the foot, particularly around the big toe. By the last year of his reign, Bermudo’s gout was so severe he could no longer ride on horseback and had to travel around on a litter.

Constantine the Name of Shit

Constantine V was the Byzantine emperor from 741 to 775, but his harsh stand against the use of icons in the Christian church earned him many critics. They gave him the nickname Kopronymos, which means ‘Name of Shit’, allegedly because when Constantine was an infant he defecated in the baptismal font.

More at the link.