Monday, January 2, 2012

A Miscellany of Red-Haired Historical Figures

The other week I came across a website that listed historical figures along with contemporary descriptions of their physical appearance. A few of the descriptions mentioned red hair. I’ll catalogue them here.

Alexander II, King of Scots (1198-1249)
“[King John] taunted King Alexander, and because he was red-headed, sent word to him, saying, 'so shall we hunt the red fox-cub from his lairs.'“
From the Chronica Majora of Matthew Paris

Henry II, King of England (1133-1189)
“The lord king has been red-haired so far, except that the coming of old age and gray hair has altered that colour somewhat.”
From the Epistolae of Peter of Blois (1070-1117)

Richard I, King of England (1157-1199)
“He was tall, of elegant build; the colour of his hair was between red and gold; his limbs were supple and straight. He had long arms suited to wielding a sword. His long legs matched the rest of his body.”
From the Itinerarium peregrinorum et gesta regis Ricardi by Richard de Templo

Fernando I, King of Aragon (1380-1416)
“He was tall, a little more than average, and thin and ruddy, and his cheeks had a few freckles…”
From Cronica de Juan II by Alvar Garcia de Santa Maria

Frederick I Barbarossa, Holy Roman Emperor (1122-1190)
“He was indeed an illustrious man, of stature moderately tall, of red hair and beard; his head was partly turning grey, his eyelids were prominent, and his eyes sparking; his cheeks short and wide, his breast and shoulders broad…”
From the Chronica of Geoffrey de Vinsauf

Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor and king of Sicily (1194-1250)
"The Emperor was covered with red hair, was bald and myopic. Had he been a slave, he would not have fetched 200 dirhams at market."
From the Muntazam by Sibt Ibn al-Jawzi

Baldwin IV, King of Jerusalem (1161-1185)
“[A] blue-eyed, freckled, leprous evil-doer.”
From the correspondence of al-Qadi al-Fadil.

Ismail I, Shah of Persia (1487-1524)
“His hair is reddish; he wears only moustachios, and uses his left hand instead of his right. He is as brave as a gamecock, and stronger than any of his lords…”
From Giovanni Angiolello

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