Robert I, King of France
> Last battle: Soissons
> Year: 923
> Enemy: Carolingian army
Robert I ruled as king of West Francia, the western part of the Frankish Empire in what today makes up about half of France and a portion of northern Spain, for less than a year. Eastern Frankish King Henry I recognized Robert I’s kingship after West Francian King Charles III express favoritism toward certain lords that angered the Frankish aristocracy. Robert was killed in a battle in northern France against Charles’s army despite victory by his troops.
Brian Boru, High King of Ireland
> Last battle: Clontarf
> Year: 1014
> Enemy: Viking mercenaries
Boru ruled for 12 years, but his role was so great that he spawned the dynastic family name O’Brien (aka O’Brian, or “descent of Brian”). Before becoming the leader of the Irish, Brian was king of the small state of Dál Cais and king of Munster. Men from Leinster and Dublin rebelled against his rule as high king, and though Brian’s son Murchad successfully routed the rebellion, Brian was found in a tent by fleeing soldiers and was hacked to death. At 72 or 73, he was too old to lead the battle.
Harald III Sigurdsson, King of Norway
> Last battle: Stamford Bridge
> Year: 1066
> Enemy: Anglo-Saxons
Known as Harald the Ruthless for his rough treatment of Norwegian chieftains, the king lost support of locals in his failed effort to conquer Norway. Nevertheless, his aggressive leadership kept him in power for 21 years until his death at Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire, in a battle against the English.
Harold II, Anglo-Saxon King of England
> Last battle: Hastings
> Year: 1066
> Enemy: Normans
Another king by the name of Harold/Harold died in battle in 1066. In this case, it was Harold II, also called Harold Godwinson, the head of a powerful English noble family. Harold II’s crown was challenged by William, Duke of Normandy, aka William the Conqueror. At the same time, Harold III, the king of Norway (no relation to Godwinson) had England in his sights. Harold III was killed attempting to conquer England while Harold II lost his life at the Battle of Hastings, leaving William the Conqueror to become the first Norman king of England.
William the Conqueror, King of England
> Last battle: Mantes
> Year: 1087
> Enemy: French
William I was the illegitimate son of Robert I and his concubine Herleva, the daughter of a tanner. He earned his nickname after rising in power (he became a knight by the age of 15) before conquering England to become the country’s first Norman king after the Battle of Hastings in 1066. He spent a considerable amount of time ruling from Normandy, preoccupied with unrest there. William I died five weeks after he was either injured or fell ill during that attack.
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