• Weird History

Actual Nicknames Of Historical Figures That Made Us Say 'Really?'

List RulesVote up the most colorful nicknames of historic characters.

Nicknames can be serious business. Whether created by one's enemies or allies, nicknames often become more associated with a historical figure than their given name. "Gaius" was an extremely common name in Ancient Rome, but there's only been one Caligula. Similarly, England has been ruled by three Richards, the most famous of whom is remembered as the "Lionheart."

US Presidents have had all sorts of nicknames, too, from the unflattering "Tricky Dick" to the superior "Honest Abe." When it comes to monarchs and other rulers, a nickname often reflects how their contemporaries viewed their reign. These can be insightful, funny, and sometimes just plain embarrassing. Vote up the best nicknames of historical figures.

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  • Photo: Franz Xaver Winterhalter / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
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    Queen Victoria Is Known As The 'Grandmother of Europe' For Good Reason

    This one requires very little explanation. England's Queen Victoria (1819-1901) had nine children, who in turn produced 42 grandchildren. Not only did these children marry into the royal families of Prussia, Denmark, Russia, and other European aristocracy, their grandchildren did the same. The German Emperor Wilhelm II, Queen Sophie of Greece, and Czarina Alexandra, were among Victoria's many royal descendants.

    And the queen's progeny still rule to this day. As Town & Country explains, "of the approximately 28 surviving monarchies around the world, five of them are held by descendants of Victoria."

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    Vikings Were Chiefly Known By Their Nicknames

    Instead of surnames, Norse people used patronyms. For example, the mythical Thor is known as Thor Odinson, or Odin's son. Since there was a limited number of personal names, Vikings developed a plethora of colorful nicknames. Like most nicknames, these were not always complimentary. 

    A great source of these Viking nicknames can be found in the Landnámabók, or "Book of Settlements." Some of the male names found in that work: Eirik Ale-Lover, Eystein Foul-Fart, Hermund the Bent, Olaf the Witch-Breaker, Thorgeir the Clumsy, Thorstein Ill-Luck, Vemund Word-Master. Some of the female names: Gro the Second-Sighted, Hlif the Horse-Gelder, Thordis the Big, Yngvild All-Men’s-Sister.

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  • Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
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    Edward I Was Called 'Longshanks' Because He Was Tall

    Fans of 1995's Braveheart may remember Edward I (1239-1307) as the sinister King of England with a penchant for tossing men out windows. While his portrayal in that film is up for debate, his conflict with Scotland was very real. His invasion and domination of that country resulted in him being called the "Hammer of the Scots."

    Prior to this nickname, Edward was known as "Longshanks," which just means "long legs." This is due to Edward's imposing height of 6'2" - quite tall for his era. 

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    Abd al-Rahman ibn Sakhr Ad-Dausi Was Known As The 'Father of Cats'

    The Islamic faith looks kindly on cats due to the Prophet Muhammad's great affection for them. 

    One of Muhammad's companions and a teacher of the hadith, Abd al-Rahman ibn Sakhr Ad-Dausi is popularly known as Abu Hurairah, the "father of cats." This is due to his habit of always having a cat with him.

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