Warrior Kings Who Led Their Own Armies

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

King George II
> Nation: Great Britain
> Conflict(s) Battle of Dettingen
> When: 1743

George II, at the age of 60, was the last British monarch to fight alongside his soldiers, leading them in a coalition with Hanoverian and Austrian soldiers against the French at the Battle of Dettingen in 1743 in what is now Germany. George, from the House of Hanover, was the last British monarch not born in England.

Source: Hulton Archive / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

Emperor Napoleon III
> Nation: France
> Conflict(s) Franco-Prussian War
> When: 1870

France went to war with Prussia and other German states in 1870. The Prussians and their allies won a series of victories over the French, who were ill-prepared for war. The French army at Sedan led by Napoleon III was surrounded and the monarch was taken prisoner. His capture effectively ended the Second Empire, which was replaced by the Third Republic. Napoleon III was kept captive in a castle in Westphalia and then went to England in exile where he died in 1873.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Emperor Otto II
> Nation: Holy Roman Empire
> Conflict(s) Battle of Stilo
> When: 982

The Holy Roman Emperor Otto II led a mostly German army against the Muslim rulers of Sicily in 982 at the Battle of Stilo. After initial success that almost broke the Muslim center, and the death of the Muslim emir, the Muslims rallied, surrounding the European army and almost wiping it out. Otto II escaped aboard a Greek merchant ship.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

King Baldwin IV
> Nation: Kingdom of Jerusalem
> Conflict(s) Battles with Saladin
> When: 1176-1185

King Baldwin IV was afflicted by leprosy during his brief life (he died at 24), but he learned to ride and fight despite blindness and the inability to use his hands and feet. Baldwin’s reign would be marked by his continuous efforts to defend his Christian kingdom against Saladin, the renowned Muslim military leader who was sultan of Egypt and Syria. He defeated the famed Muslim leader at the Battle of Montgisard in 1177 but Saladin returned again and again, finally destroying the remains of Baldwin’s kingdom in 1187.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Emperor Frederick Barbarossa
> Nation: Holy Roman Empire
> Conflict(s) Various
> When: 1155-1190

Frederick Barbarossa, who holds a special place in German history, challenged the Vatican and sought to create German hegemony in Western Europe. He fought a nearly 30-year war with the Italian city-states, leading six expeditions into the Italian peninsula before emerging victorious. He was also co-leader of the Third Crusade, setting out for the Holy Land in 1189. He never reached his goal, drowning in the Saleph River in what is now Turkey in 1190.

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