Warrior Kings Who Led Their Own Armies

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Charles Martel
> Nation: Kingdom of the Franks
> Conflict(s) Various
> When: 718-741

You might remember Charles Martel from your grade-school books as Charles the Hammer. It was a name well-earned. Charles, an illegitimate child of Pepin II, rose in power and eventually gained control of the Frankish kingdom in what is now Belgium, most of France, and parts of Germany. While his most famous victory – the one in the schoolbooks – was the defeat of the invading Moors at the Battle of Tours in 732, he also prevailed in the battles of Ambiève, Vincy, Boarn, and more.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

King Pepin the Short
> Nation: Kingdom of the Franks
> Conflict(s) 751-768
> When: 8th century

Pepin, leader of the Franks, son of Charles Martel, and father of Charlemagne, became the first Carolingian king. He accrued power after he was anointed by Pope Stephen II at a ceremony at St. Denis Basilica in Paris. Pepin attacked the Lombards under King Aistulf and forced them to relinquish lands to the Church, thus creating the Papal States. Pepin drove the Saracens out of Gaul and the Moors from Narbonne and over the Pyrenees.

Source: Spencer Arnold Collection / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte
> Nation: France
> Conflict(s) Napoleonic Wars
> When: 1803-1815

The fact that an era of warfare is named after Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte gives you an idea of how he dominated Europe. These wars, conducted from 1803 until 1815, were conflicts France and its allies fought against various coalitions of nations. Napoleon, known as a tactical genius, was the victor in some of Europe’s largest battles to that point, at Austerlitz and Wagram; saw his army dissolve during a disastrous Russian campaign; and was the loser at Leipzig and most famously, Waterloo.

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