You Gotta Know These European Royal Families
- Romanov (Russia, 1613–1917): Following the Time of Troubles, the sixteen-year-old Michael Romanov was appointed tsar and co-ruled with his father, Patriarch Filaret. Its rulers included Peter the Great (who westernized Russia and defeated Sweden in the Great Northern War), Catherine the Great (an “enlightened despot” who greatly expanded the borders of Russia), and Alexander II (who freed the serfs). The Romanovs ruled Russia as tsars and emperors until the Russian Revolution and Nicholas II’s execution.
- Orange-Nassau (Netherlands, 1544–present): The House of Orange was founded by William the Silent, who led the Dutch Revolt against the Spanish in the Eighty Years’ War, resulting in the recognition of the Netherlands’ independence in 1648. In 1688, William III of Orange, at the invitation of Parliament, invaded England with his wife Mary in what is called the Glorious Revolution. The House of Orange is currently led by Willem-Alexander, the King of the Netherlands.
- Hohenzollern (Brandenburg 1415–1618, Prussia 1525–1918, Germany 1871–1918, and Romania 1866–1947): The House of Hohenzollern began as Burgraves of Nuremburg, but eventually gained such titles as Margrave of Brandenburg, Duke and later King of Prussia, Emperor of Germany, and King of Romania. Some of its notable rulers included Frederick the Great (an enlightened ruler who led Prussian troops during the Seven Years’ War) and Wilhelm II (the Emperor of Germany during World War I).
- Hapsburg, also known as Habsburg (Holy Roman Empire 1440–1806, Austria-Hungary 1867–1918, and Spain 1516–1700): The Hapsburgs ruled much of Central Europe from the Middle Ages to the end of World War I. Their first important ruler was Rudolf I, the King of Germany and Duke of Austria in the late thirteenth century. Other notable rulers included Charles V, Maria Theresa and Franz Joseph.
- Plantagenet (England, 1154–1399): The Plantagenets rose to power when Geoffrey V of Anjou married Matilda, and their rule ended when Richard II was deposed in 1399. Some of their notable rulers included Richard I, John, and Edward I. The signing of the Magna Carta, the English conquest of Wales, and the beginning of the Hundred Years’ War all occurred during their reign. The houses of Lancaster and York were cadet branches (new royal houses formed by non-inheriting members) of the Plantagenets.
- Tudor (England, 1485–1603): The Tudors rose to power when Henry Tudor aligned with the Lancasters in the War of the Roses. He became King Henry VII following his victory at Bosworth Field. Their notable rulers included Henry VIII (who broke with the Catholic Church in England and had six wives) and Elizabeth I (whose lack of a husband and heir led to the extinction of the house).
- Stuart (England, 1603–1714 and Scotland, 1371–1714): The first Stuart king of England was James I (James VI of Scotland), who commissioned the King James Bible and survived the Gunpowder Plot. Other notable rulers included Charles I (who was beheaded following the English Civil War) and Charles II (who was restored to power after Oliver Cromwell died). It was under the last Stuart ruler, Queen Anne, that the Acts of Union were passed and Great Britain was founded.
- Capetians (France, 987–1328): The Capetians’ first monarch was Hugh Capet, who was elected king following the death of Louis V. Their notable rulers included Philip II, who went on the Third Crusade; Louis IX, a canonized saint; and Philip IV, who expelled the Jews of France in 1306 and arrested the Knights Templar in 1307. The rule of the Capetians ended when Philip IV’s sons failed to produce male heirs.
- Valois (France, 1328–1589): The first Valois king of France was Philip VI, during whose reign the Hundred Years’ War began and the Black Death struck France. Notable Valois rulers included Louis XI, who acquired Burgundy; Francis I, who began the French Renaissance; and Henry III, whose assassination in the French Wars of Religion ended the Valois dynasty.
- Bourbon (France, 1589–1792): The first Bourbon king was Henry IV, who was victorious in the War of the Three Henrys and issued the Edict of Nantes guaranteeing religious freedom. Notable Bourbon rulers included Louis XIV and Louis XVI (who was beheaded during the French Revolution). Following Napoleon’s fall, the Bourbons briefly ruled France again until the July Revolution of 1830. Spain has also been ruled mostly by the Bourbons since 1700.
Honorable mentions: Braganza, Burgundy, Carolingians, Hanover, Hohenstaufen, Jagiellon, Lancaster, Merovingians, Oldenburg, Rurik, Savoy, Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Vasa, Wittelsbach, and York.
This article was contributed by former NAQT writer George Stevens.