Great Kings Followed by Their Horrible Sons

One of the hardest things about being a ruler is to ensure that the legacy they leave behind is a good one and that often includes being known as a fearless warrior, ensuring the development of their country, or even leaving behind an heir. The kings in this article were great for many reasons, but unfortunately it doesn’t include their heirs. Some of their sons were such disappointing leaders that they’ve either become laughing stocks or have been forgotten altogether. Here’s a list of great kings whose sons did not live up to their legacy.

1. Edward II 

Edward II was the son of Edward I of England, the king who famously defeated William Wallace as well as subduing Wales in several military campaigns. His success on the battlefield earned him the nickname “Hammer of the Scots” and is generally regarded as one of the country’s best kings. His son on the other hand was crowned monarch in 1307 after his father’s sudden death and knowing that his father had big shoes to fill, he did nothing to live up to the country’s expectations. Not only was he defeated by Robert the Bruce of Scotland which forced him to flee England, but he did nothing to quell rumors of his wife’s unfaithfulness. After alienating himself from his advisors, he was made to abdicate the throne to his 14-year-old son. 

2. Edward VIII

Edward VIII succeeded his father George V who successfully ruled Britain for 26 years. Not only did George lead his country through several revolutions but he also ended up on the winning side of World War I. Unfortunately, he did not have the best relationship with his heir Edward who was known to be a consort of several high-profile women. Edward became king in 1936 but his reign would not make it to a full year. He caused quite the stir when he proposed to a divorced woman from America and eventually left the throne to marry her. His brother George and his father’s favorite son became king shortly after. 

3. Louis the Pious

Louis the Pious was the son of Charlemagne who he ruled Rome with from 813 until his father’s death in 814. During his father’s reign, Charlemagne united much of Europe, introducing Christianity, and earning the nickname “father of Europe”. After his death, Louis became the king of the Franks and Holy Roman emperor and despite keeping the country together, he drove it into civil war when he divided it among his three sons. The division led to fighting between them. Louis was eventually deposed as ruler and although he regained his title, he was constantly undermined. After his death, another war erupted.

4. John, King of England

John was the king of England from 1199 to 1216 and he had some big shoes to fill. Not only was his father Henry II who established dominance in Ireland and laid the foundation for several laws, but he was also the younger brother of Richard the Lionheart, one of the most famous kings of England. Because Richard did not have a legitimate heir, John became king when he died and unbeknownst to him, he would have one of the worst reigns in the history of the country. Shortly into his reign, John was nicknamed “John Lackland” after losing much of the father’s lands. Additionally, history books describe him as paranoid and volatile and many people died at his command, including his nephew.

5. George IV 

George IV was the son of George III who successfully ruled the United Kingdom for 59 years. His father, although called a tyrant by many, led the way to make advancements in agriculture and he was also known for ruling the United States before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Unlike his father, George IV lived a very lavish lifestyle which caused an enormous amount of debt. He had several illegitimate children and was also said to have more drinks than any self-respecting man should and unfortunately the little that he did contribute was outweighed by his poor reputation.


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