Occasionally, in historical fiction or simple discussion, the question will arise: what did this famous person or that historical figure look like? What were the color of so-and-so's eyes, and how tall did such-and-such stand?

Collected here are accounts -- preferably contemporary and eye-witness -- of the appearances of notable historical personages of the medieval period. I will add more as I find them.Contact me: J. Chisholm.
Special thanks to Lea and Marianne!

This listing is organized loosely by geography, starting in Scandinavia and swinging south from Britain to central Europe and then to southern Europe, Russia, and the Holy Land, and terminating in the Muslim world and the Mongol Hordes.


Medieval Scandinavia


Gorm, King of Denmark (c.910-958)
"[T]he skeleton found in Jelling church, thought to be that of King Gorm of Denmark (later known as Gorm the Old), was only of average height. This man was 5 ft 7-3/4 in. tall, with heavy, robust features, but not heavily built."
Quoted from The Vikings by Else Roesdahl.
Analysis of his skeleton show that he was forty to fifty years old at death, and approximately 172 cm (5'7) tall. He suffered from osteoarthritis in the lower spine.

Knutr I, son of Sweyn Forkbeard, King of Denmark, Norway, and England (c.995-1035)
"Canute the king was large of build and very strong, a most handsome man in every respect except that his nose was thin and slightly aquiline with a high ridge. He was fair in complexion, had an abundance of fair hair, and eyes that surpassed those of most men both as to beauty and keenness of vision."
From the Knytlinga Saga (c. 1265)

Haraldr Fairhair, King of Norway, (c.850-c.933)
"[A] man fully developed in strength, stature, and counsels. His hair was long and tangled; for that reason he was called Lufa (shock-head). Then Rognvaldr, Jarl of Moerr, cut his hair and gave him a nickname, Haraldr harfagri (fine-hair)."
From the Fargrskinna chronicle

Magnus I, King of Norway, son of 觢醘r the Saint (1024-1047)
"[O]f middling height with a straight fair countenance, fair-haired, a good speaker and a quick thinker, strong-minded, generous with his wealth, a great warrior and very bold with weapons."
From the Heimskringla of Snorri Sturluson (1179-1242)

Haraldr Hardraada, King of Norway, father of Maria and Olafr Kyrre (1015-1066)
"A handsome man of distinguished bearing. He was fair-haired, with a fair beard, and long moustaches, with one eyebrow higher than the other. He had large hands and feet, but they were well-made. He was five ells [seven and a half feet!] tall."
From the Heimskringla of Snorri Sturluson (1179-1242)

Maria of Norway, daughter of Haraldr Hardr錮a (died 1066)
"She was the wisest and fairest of woman, and most loyal to her friends."
From the Morkinskinna chronicle

Olafr Kyrre, the Peaceful, King of Norway, son of Haraldr Hardraada, father of Magnus Barefoot (died 1093)
"[A] tall man, and everyone agrees that there has never been seen a fairer man or a man of nobler appearance. He had blond hair, a light complexion, and pleasing eyes, and he was well porportioned. He was taciturn for the most part, and not much of a speechmaker, though he was good company after drink."
From the Morkinskinna chronicle

"Olaf was a stout man, well grown in limbs; and every one said a handsomer man could not be seen, nor of a nobler appearance. His hair was yellow as silk, and became him well; his skin was white and fine over all his body; his eyes beautiful, and his limbs well proportioned. He was rather silent in general, and did not speak much even at Things; but he was merry in drinking parties. He loved drinking much, and was talkative enough then; but quite peaceful. He was cheerful in conversation, peacefully inclined during all his reign, and loving gentleness and moderation in all things."
From the Heimskringla of Snorri Sturluson (1179-1242)

Magnus Barefoot, King of Norway, son of Olafr Kyrre, father of Olafr, Sigurd, and Oystein (1073-1103)
"[G]allant and brisk...[Magnus] went about on the streets with bare legs, and had short kirtles and over-cloaks; and therefore his men called him Magnus Barefoot or Bareleg....He was distinguished among other men by his tall stature."
From the Heimskringla of Snorri Sturluson (1179-1242)

Oystein Magnusson, King of Norway, brother of Sigurd the Crusader and Olafr Magnusson (c.1088-1123)
"King Oystein was the handsomest man that could be seen. He had blue open eyes; his hair yellow and curling; his stature not tall, but of the middle size. He was wise, intelligent, and acquainted with the laws and history. He had much knowledge of mankind, was quick in counsel, prudent in words, and very eloquent and very generous. He was very merry, yet modest; and was liked and beloved, indeed, by all the people."
From the Heimskringla of Snorri Sturluson (1179-1242)

Sigurd Magnusson, the Crusader, King of Norway, brother of Oystein and Olafr Magnusson (c.1089-1130)
"[A] tall, strong man, distinguished and handsome, with dark hair, a good ruler bent on enforcing his authority."
From the Morkinskinna chronicle

"King Sigurd was a stout and strong man, with brown hair; of a manly appearance, but not handsome; well grown; of little speech, and often not friendly, but good to his friends, and faithful; not very eloquent, but moral and polite. King Sigurd was self-willed, and severe in his revenge; strict in observing the law; was generous; and withal an able, powerful king."
From the Heimskringla of Snorri Sturluson (1179-1242)

Olafr Magnusson, King of Norway, brother of Sigurd and Oystein Magnusson (1099-1115)
"Olaf was a tall, thin man; handsome in countenance; lively, modest, and popular.
From the Heimskringla of Snorri Sturluson (1179-1242)


Thorfinn Sigurdsson, jarl of Orkney, son of Sigurd Hlodvirsson, grandson of Malcolm II of Scots (c.1009-1065)
"He was unusually tall and strong, an ugly man with a head of black hair, sharp features, a big nose, and bushy eyebrows."
From the Orkneyinga Saga

St. Magnus Erlendsson, jarl of Orkney, grandson of Thorfinn Sigurdsson (1075-1116/7)
"[A] man of extraordinary distinction, tall, with a fine intelligent look about him... a man of strict virtue, successful in war, wise, eloquent, generous and magnanious..."
From the Orkneyinga Saga

Medieval Britain


Edith of Scots, daughter of Malcolm III and Margaret of England, queen of Henry I of England and mother of Empress Maude
"It causes pleasure to see the queen whom no woman
Equals in beauty of body or face
Hiding her body, nevertheless, in a veil of loose clothing
She alone, with new modesty, wishes to conceal it
But what gleams with its own light cannot be hidden
And the sun, penetrating his clouds, hurls his rays."
From a poem of Marbod of Rennes
Also according to a poem of Marbod of Rennes, she had "fluent, honeyed speech."

Henry of Scots, Earl of Huntingdon, son of King David I of Scots and Matilda of Northumberland, father of Malcolm IV and William I (1114-1152)
"Now he was a youth beautiful of face and handsome of appearance; of such humility that he seemed lower than all, of such authority that he was feared by all, so gentle, so loving, so affable that he was beloved of all."
From De Standardo of 苐red of Rievaulx

Alexander II, King of Scots, son of William I and Ermengarde de Beaumont, father of Alexander III (1198-1249)
"...although small of stature, yet dignifed and of amiable appearance."
From the Annals of St. Edmund

"[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

Robert Bruce, the Competitor, grandfather of King Robert I (died 1295)
"He was of handsome appearance, a gifted speaker, remarkable for his influence, and most important, devoted to God and the clergy."
From the Lanercost chronicle

The Royal Family of England

Alfred, the Great, King of England (849-899)
"He was loved by his father and mother, and even by all the people, above all his brothers, and was educated altogether at the court of the king. As he advanced through the years of infancy and youth, his form appeared more comely than that of his brothers; in look, in speech, and in manners he was more graceful than they. His noble nature implanted in him from his cradle a love of wisdom above all things; but, with shame be it spoken, by the unworthy neglect of his parents and nurses, he remained illiterate even till he was twelve years old or more; but, he listened with serious attention to the Saxon poems which he often heard recited, and easily retained them in his docile memory. He was a zealous practiser of hunting in all its branches, and hunted with great assiduity and success; for skill and good fortune in this art, as in all others, are among the gifts of God, as we also have often witnessed."
From Life of King Alfred by Asser

Edward the Elder, King of England, son of Alfred the Great, father of AEthelstan, AEthelweard, AElred, and Edmund (c.874-924)
"Very strong and handsome, and of great intelligence."
From the Chronicle of Peter of Langtoft (died c.1308)

AEthelstan, King of England, illegitimate son of Edward the Elder, grandson of Alfred the Great (895-924)
"[A] boy of handsome appearance and graceful manners... [N]ot beyond what is pleasing in stature and slender in body; his hair, as we ourselves have seen from his relics, flaxen, with gold threads."
From the Gesta Regum Anglorum of William of Malmesbury (c.1080-1143), describing having seen AEthelstan's corpse.

Edgar the Peaceable, King of England, son of Edmund I and father of Edward the Martyr and AEthelred the Unready (c.942-975)
"[H]e was extremely small both in stature and bulk..."
From the Gesta Regum Anglorum of William of Malmesbury (c.1080-1143)

AEthelred II the Unready, King of England, father of Edmund Ironside and Edward the Confessor (c.968-1016)
"[A] youth of graceful manners, handsome countenance, and fine person..."
From the Chronicle of Florence of Worcester

"[A] tall, handsome man, elegant in manners, beautiful in countenance, and interesting in his deportment."
From the Gunnlaugr Saga of Gunnlaugr the Scald

Edward the Confessor, King of England, son of AEthelred II and Emma of Normandy (1004-1066)
"[He] was a very proper figure of a man--of outstanding height, and distinguished by his milky white hair and beard, full face and rosy cheeks, thin white hands, and long translucent fingers; in all the rest of his body he was an unblemished royal person. Pleasant, but always dignified, he walked with eyes downcast, most graciously affable to one and all. If some cause aroused his temper, he seemed as terrible as a lion, but he never revealed his anger by railing."
From the Vita Edwardi Regis of Ailred of Rievaulx

William I, the Conqueror, King of England, father of Robert Curthose, William II and Henry I (c.1028-1087)
"He was of just stature, extraordinary corpulence, fierce countenance; his forehead bare of hair, of such great strength of arm... that no one was able to draw his bow, which himself could bend when his horse was at full gallop... of excellent health..."
From the Gesta Regum Anglorum of William of Malmesbury (c.1080-1143)

"He was great in body and strong, tall in stature but not ungainly. He was temperate in eating and drinking... If his voice was harsh, what he said was always suited to the occassion."
From the Gesta Normannorum Ducum of William of Jumieges
Analysis of William's surviving femur indicates he stood 5'10 tall.

Robert Curthose, Duke of Normandy, son of William the Conqueror (c.1054-1134)
"[A]lready considered as a youth of excellent courage... of tried prowess, though of small stature and projecting belly... he was neither ill-made, nor deficient in eloquence, nor was he wanting in courage or resources of the mind."
From the Gesta Regum Anglorum of William of Malmesbury (c.1080-1143)

William II Rufus, King of England, son of William the Conqueror (c.1056-1100)
"[William's] complexion was florid; his hair yellow; of open countenance; eyes of changeable color, varying with certain glittering specks; of astonishing strength, though not very tall; and his belly rather projecting; of no eloquence, but remarkable for a hesitation of speech, especially when angry."
From the Gesta Regum Anglorum of William of Malmesbury (c.1080-1143)

Henry I, King of England, son of William the Conqueror, father of the Empress Maude (1167-1135)
"He was of middle stature, greater than the small, but exceeded by the very tall; his hair was black and set back upon the forehead; his eyes mildly bright; his chest brawny; his body fleshy."
From the Gesta Regum Anglorum of William of Malmesbury (c.1080-1143)

Maude, the Empress, Lady of the English, daughter of Henry I and Edith of Scotland, wife of the Emperor Henry V and Geoffrey V of Anjou, mother of Henry II (1102-1167)
"She was well-mannered, courageous, and beautiful."
From the Chronique des ducs de Normandie of Beno顃 de Sainte-Maure (1154-1173)

Henry II, King of England, son of Geoffrey V of Anjou and the Empress Maude, grandson of Henry I (1133-1189)
"The lord king has been red-haired so far, except that the coming of old age and gray hair has altered that color somewhat. His height is medium, so that neither does he appear great among the small, nor yet does he seem small among the great. His head is spherical...his eyes are full, guileless, and dove-like when he is at peace, gleaming like fire when his temper is aroused, and in bursts of passion they flash like lightning. As to his hair he is in no danger of baldness, but his head has been closely shaved. He has a broad, square, lion-like face. Curved legs, a horseman's shins, broad chest, and a boxer's arms all announce him as a man strong, agile and bold... he never sits, unless riding a horse or eating... In a single day, if necessary, he can run through four or five day-marches and, thus foiling the plots of his enemies, frequently mocks their plots with surprise sudden arrivals...Always are in his hands bow, sword, spear and arrow, unless he be in council or in books."
From the Epistolae of Peter of Blois (1070-1117)

"[Henry had] a reddish complexion, rather dark, and a large, round head. His eyes were grey, bloodshot, and flashed in anger. He had a fiery countenance, his voice was tremulous, and his neck a little bent forward; but his chest was broad, and his arms were muscular. His body was fleshy, and he had an enormous paunch, rather by the fault of nature than from gross feeding."
From Gerald of Wales

"He was a little over medium height, a man blessed with sound limbs and a handsome countenance, one upon whom men gazed a thousand times, yet took occassion to return. In physical capacity he was second to none, capable of any activity which another could perform, lacking no courtesy, well read to a degree both seemly and profitable, having a knowledge of all tongues spoken from the coasts of France to the river Jordan, but making use of only Latin and French."
From De Nugis of Walter Map

Henry the Young King, son of Henry II (1155-1183)
Henry and Richard were "both tall in stature, rather above the middle size, and of commanding aspect. In courage and magnanimity they were nearly equal; but in the character of their virtues there was great disparity... [Henry] was admirable for gentleness and liberality...had a commendable suavity... commended for his easy temper... remarkable for his clemency... the vile and undeserving found their refuge in [Henry]... was the shield of bad men... was bent on martial sports... bestowed his favours on foreigners... [Henry's] ambition magnanimously compassed the world."
From The Topography of Ireland by Gerald of Wales

"He was tall in stature and distinguished in appearance; his face expressed merriment and mature judgment in good measure; fair among the children of men, he was courteous and cheerful. Gracious to all, he was loved by all; amiable to all, he was incapable of making an enemy. He was matchless in warfare, and as he outstripped them all in valor, cordiality, and the outstanding graciousness of his manners, his true generosity, and true integrity... "
From the Otia Imperialia of Gervase of Tilbury (c.1145-c.1225)

Richard I, the Lion-Heart, King of England, son of Henry II (1157-1199)
Henry and Richard were "both tall in stature, rather above the middle size, and of commanding aspect. In courage and magnanimity they were nearly equal; but in the character of their virtues there was great disparity..."
From The Topography of Ireland by Gerald of Wales

"He was tall, of elegant build; the color 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

Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany, son of Henry II (1158-1186)
Geoffrey and John both "were of rather short stature, a little below the middle height, and for their size were well-shaped enough."
From The Topography of Ireland by Gerald of Wales

John, King of England, son of Henry II (1166-1216)
"...About fifty years of age; his hair is quite hoary; his figure is made for strength, compact but not tall..."
From Matthew Paris

Geoffrey and John both "were of rather short stature, a little below the middle height, and for their size were well-shaped enough."
From The Topography of Ireland by Gerald of Wales
His body was exhumed in 1797 and measured at five feet, six inches and half, as related by Valentine Green in The Gentleman's Magazine, 67, pt 2, 1797.

William de Longspee, Earl of Salisbury, illegitimate son of Henry II (c.1075-1226)
"[T]he brother of the King of the English, a man of incredible strength whom the English had on this account nicknamed "Longsword..."
From the Philippiad of William le Breton

Henry III, King of England, son of King John and Isabelle of Angouleme (1207-1272)
"[O]f middling height. He had a narrow forehead, and one of his eyelids was half-closed, and almost hid the dark of the pupil. Strong in physique, he was impulsive in action..."
From the Chronica of William Rishanger

Edward I Longshanks, King of England, son of Henry III and Eleanor of Provence (1239-1307)
"...handsome, tall and elegant, standing head and shoulders above ordinary people."
From Walter of Guisborough

"Long arms gave him an advantage as a swordsman, long thighs one as a horseman. In youth, his curly hair was blond; in maturity it darkened, and in old age it turned white. [His features were marred by a drooping left eyelid.] His speech, despite a lisp, was said to be persuasive."
From Edward I by Michael Prestwich
Edward's skeleton was examined in 1774, and measured to be 6'2 (about 1.90 meters). See J. Ayloffe, "An Account of the Body of King Edward the First", Archaeologia (1786).

Edward II, King of England, son of Edward I and Eleanor of Castile (1284-1327)
"[H]e was tall and strong, a handsome man with a fine figure."
From the Vita Edwardi Secundi (c.1326)

"[He] was a handsome man of outstanding strength, but his behavior was a very different manner... prodigal in giving, bountiful and splendid in living, quick and unpredicatable in speech..."
From the Polychronicon of Ranulf Higden

Edward III, King of England, son of Edward II and Isabella of France, husband of Philippa of Hainaut (1312-1377)
"He was a shapely man, of stature neither tall nor short, his countenance was kindly..."
From Chronica Maiora of Thomas Walsingham (died c. 1422)

Edmund of Langley, duke of York, son of Edward III and Philippa of Hainaut (1341-1402)
"The skull belonging to the male skeleton had a sloping forehead. The chin and lower jaw were powerfully developed. The front teeth were small in size and crammed together, and many of the back teeth lost. Still the retention of the front teeth and the good development of the lower jaw and chin, coupled with the length and breadth of the facial region, must have given a commanding expression to the old man who owned this skull... A piece of coarse textile fabric, with some hair of a greyish-red color adhering to it, was found with the skull. He was from 5' 5" to 5' 7" in height."
From an account of the exhumation of his corpse in 1877.

Richard II, King of England, son of Edward the Black Prince and Joan, Fair Maid of Kent (1367-1400)
"King Richard was of the common stature, his hair yellowish, his face fair and rosy, rather round than long, and sometimes flushed; abrupt and somewhat stammering in his speech, capricious in his manners, and too apt to prefer the recommendations of the young, to the advice of the elder, nobles. He was prodigal in his gifts, extravagantly splendid in his entertainment and dress, timid as to war, very passionate toward his domestics, haughty and too much devoted to voluptuousness. So fond of late hours, that he would sometimes sit up all night drinking."
From the Historia Vitae et Regni Ricardi II by the Monk of Elvetham

Katalina of Lancaster, daughter of John of Gaunt and Constanza of Castile, wife of Enrique III of Castile (1372-1418)
"The queen was tall of body and very fat. She was pink and white in her complexion and fair. In her figure and movements she seemed as much like a man as a woman... she was not very well ordered in her body and had a serious affliction of palsy which did not leave her tongue properly loose or her body movements free."
From the Generaciones y semblanzas of Perez y de Guzman


Gryffudd ap Cynan, Prince of Gwynedd, son of Cynan ab Iago and Radnaillt of Dublin, father of Owain Gwynedd (died 1137)
"Gryffudd in his person was of moderate stature, having yellow hair, a round face, and a fair complexion, eyes rather light, light eyebrows, a comely beard, a round neck, white skin, strong limbs, long fingers, straight legs, and handsome feet. He was moreover skillful in several languages, courteous to his friends and fearsome to his enemies, resolute in battle, of a passionate temper and fertile imagination."
From Life of Griffith ap Conan

Angharad verch Owain, daughter of Owain of Tegeingl, wife of Gryffudd ap Cynan, mother of Owain Gwynedd
"She was an accomplished person. Her hair was long and of a flaxen color, her eyes large and rolling, and her features brilliant and beautiful. She was tall and well-porportioned, her leg and foot handsome, her fingers handsome, and her nails thin and transparent. She was good-tempered, cheerful, discreet and witty..."
From Life of Griffith ap Conan

Rhun ab Owain, son of Owain Gwynedd (died 1146)
"He was fair of form and aspect, kind of conversation, and affable to all... tall of stature and fair of complexion, with curly yellow hair, long of countenance, with eyes somewhat blue... he had a long and thick neck, broad chest, long waist, large thighs, long legs which were slender above his feet; his feet were long and his toes were straight."
From Brut Y Tywysogion

The Nobility of Britain


Waltheof, Earl of Northumbria, husband of Judith of Lens and father of Maud of Huntingdon (died 1076)
"Waltheof was in person tall and stout, very handsome..."
From Orderic Vitalis


Ralph de Monthermer, 1st Baron Monthermer, second husband of Joan of Acre and hence son-in-law of King Edward I
"A certain knight elegant in appearance but poor in substance."
From the anonymous chronicle of St. Albans


Odo, Count of Paris and King of the Franks, son of Robert the Strong, brother of Robert I of France (d.898)
"[A]n energetic man who excelled others by his beauty, great stature and strength, and abundant wisdom."
From the Chronicon of Regino of Prüm (d.915)

Robert II the Pious, King of France, son of Hugh Capet and Adelaide of Aquitaine, father of Henri I of France (972-1031)
"His bodily stature was outstanding; his hair was fully straight and well ordered; his eyes, humble; his nose, straight and long; the mouth, pleasant and sweet to give the kiss of holy peace; his beard, quite full; his shoulders, high. The crown put on his head marked him off as descending from a royal line through his grandparents and great-grandparents. It is amazing to say, but when he sat on the royal horse his toes almost joined his heels,11 and those who saw this thought it was a miracle of the world."
From the Epitoma vitae regis Rotberti pii of Helgaud

Constance of France, daughter of King Philippe I, and wife of Bohemond of Taranto (1078-1125)
"Constance, a young lady of excellent breeding, elegant appearance and beautiful face."
From the Vita Ludovici regis of Abbot Suger (1081-1151)

Louis VI, King of France, son of Philippe I and Bertha of Holland, brother of Constance of France, husband of Adelaide of Savoy, father of Louis VII (1081-1137)
"He was eloquent in speech, tall in stature, pale and corpolent."
From Orderic Vitalis

Philippe II Auguste, King of France, son of Louis VII and Adele of Champagne, father of Louis VIII (1165-1223)
"[A] prince of well-composed figure, elegant in bearing and comely in person with a lively expression and high color."
From the Chronicum Turonense magnum

"Well-built, good-looking but balding early, a lover of women and good food who never could stick to diets his doctors prescribed, Philip had the hot temper that folk wisdom associates with his ruddy coloring. Contemporary chronicles present him as cynical, impulsive, wilful, and emotional, but equally wise, patient, persistent, and shrewd. He was a master intriguer and sower of discord. He was brave, yet sometimes fearful; vain, and subject to nerve storms that terrified his entourage. Above all, he was determined to get his own way. Spoiled and cosseted from infancy, this late-born, long-awaited heir of Louis VII was a true enfant terrible."
From A Capetian Queen as Street Demonstrator: Isabelle of Hainaut by Aline Hornaday, based on the testimony of Rigord, William le Breton, Gislebert of Mons, Canon Payen Gastinel, and Philippe Mouskes.

Louis VIII, King of France, son of Philippe II and Isabelle of Hainault, husband of Blanche of Castile, father of Louis IX (1187-1226)
"Blonde and blue of eye, like his kinsmen the counts of Hainault."
From the Chronique rimee of Philippe Mouskes

Louis IX the Saint, King of France, son of Louis VIII and Blanche of Castile (1214-1270)
"The king was slender and delicate, tall and somewhat emaciated. He had a very pleasing face and an angelic expression...his dovelike eyes emitted graceful rays, and his face was white and shiny. The precocious whiteness of his hair and beard presaged his inner maturity..."
From Salimbene di Adam

Charles of Anjou, see Naples.
Philippe IV Le Bel, King of France, son of Philippe III and Isabel of Aragon, husband of Queen Jeanne of Navarre, father of Louis X, Philippe V, Charles IV, and Isabella of France (1268-1314)
"[T]he king of France was a very big man, more than a palm's breadth taller than other tall men, with bones bigger than beams. He was hardy and brave-hearted like a lion, and there was no horse so big or so strong but that it would sag beneath him. His hips and thighs were so large that when he was mounted, his feet were within a palm's breadth of the ground. He was so handsome of face and so fair-skinned and so blond that in his time there was no one more handsome than he, and anyone who has seen him knows well that what I have told you is the very truth."
From The Templar of Tyre (Gestes des Chiprois)

Charles V, le Sage, king of France, son of Jean II of France and Jutta-Bonne of Bohemia, paternal grandson of Philippe VI of France and Jeanne of Burgundy, maternal grandson of Jan I of Bohemia and Elizabeth of Bohemia, father of Charles VI of FRrance (1338-1380)
"In his body he was tall and well-formed, straight and large at the shoulders and thin at the hips. He had large arms and attractive limbs... the face was nicely round, slightly elongated, he had a tall and wide forehead, eyebrows like arches, the eyes... chestnut in color... the nose high enough and the mouth not too small and slender lips. He had enough of a beard and had slightly high cheekbones, his hair neither blond nor black, his flesh a clear brown."
From Christine de Pisan, writing in 1404.

Blanche de Bourbon, daughter of Pierre I, duc de Bourbon (a descendant of Louis IX) and Isabelle de Valois (a granddaughter of Philippe III), wife and possible murder victim of Pedro "el Cruel" of Castile, maternal aunt of Charles VI (1339-1361)
"[S]he had fair skin and hair, and she was very elegant and intelligent..."
From Cronica de Pedro by Lopez de Ayala

Charles VIII, King of France, son of Louis XI and Charlotte of Savoy (1470-1498)
"...small and ill-formed in person, with an ugly face, large lusterless eyes which seem to be short-sighted, an enormous aquiline nose, and thick lips which are continuously parted. He stutters and has a nervous twitching of the hands which is unpleasant to watch. In my opinion... he is not of much account either physically or mentally."
From Zaccaria Contarini


William I Longsword, Duke of Normandy, son of Rollo and Poppa, father of Richard I (c.900-942)
"He was a tall man with a handsome face and sparkling eyes... as strong as a giant."
From the Gesta Normannorum Ducum of William of Jumi鑗es


Fulk V, Count of Anjou and King of Jerusalem, husband of Éremburge of Maine and Melisande of Jerusalem, father of Geoffrey V and of Kings Baldwin III and Amaury I of Jerusalem (1092-1143)
"[He] was a ruddy man, like David... faithful and gentle, affable and kind... an experienced warrior full of patience and wisdom in military affairs."
From the Historia rerum in partibus transmarinis gestarum of William of Tyre (c.1130-1185)

Geoffrey V Plantagenet, Count of Anjou, son of Fulk V and Éremburge of Maine, grandson of Élie I of Maine, husband of the Empress Maude and father of Henry II of England (1113-1151)
"This man was quite adept in arms, and, so to speak, most wise in his simplicity; generous to all, noble of build, with a beautiful and ruddy face, lean and sinewy body, flashing eyes."
From Historia Gaufredi ducis Normannorum et comitis Andegavorum by John of Marmoutier


Beatrix of Burgundy, daughter of Renaud III of Burgundy and Agatha of Lorraine, wife of Frederick Barbarossa (c.1145-1184)
"[O]f medium stature, with shining golden hair, a very beautiful face, white teeth and a well-proportioned, upright figure, small mouth, modest bearing, bright eyes; modest, with soft and gentle speech; with very beautiful hands, and slender body... she was literate and devout; and as she was Beatrix by name, so was she truly most blessed."
From the Historia Frederici I of Otto & Acerbo Moreno of Lodi


Vulgrin II, Count of Angouleme (died 1140)
"[A] man of great height and very handsome, prudent, skilled in martial arts, patient in endeavor, the terror of his enemies and the strong tower of his own men, virgorous in body and almost always successful in military conflict and the common struggle."
From Gerard of Brogne


Élie I, Count of Maine, son of Jean de Baugency, lord of La Flčche, and Paule de Maine; husband of Matilde de Château-du-Loir, and father of Éremburge (died 1110)
"Élie was brave and honorable, and dear to all for his many virtues... being strong and of large stature, tall and graceful, with black curling hair, and well shaved like a priest."
From Orderic Vitalis


Godefroi I, Count of Namur, son of Albert III and Ida of Saxony (died 1139)
"Godefroi was a young man who was handsome in every feature..."
From the Memoirs Guibert of Nogent

The Montfort family

Bertrade de Montfort, daughter of Simon I de Montfort, wife of Count Fulk IV of Anjou and paramour of King Philippe I of France, mother of Fulk V of Anjou (c.1070-1117)
"The lecherous Fulk then fell passionately in love with the sister of Amaury of Montfort, whom no good man ever praised save for her beauty..."
From the Historia Gaufredi ducis Normannorum et comitis Andegavorum of John of Marmoutier

Simon de Montfort, the Parliamentarian, Earl of Leicester, son of Simon IV de Montfort and Alix de Montmorency, husband of Eleanor of England (1208-1265)
"He was a vigorous soldier, in body tall and beautifully formed in appearance."
From the Lanercost chronicle

Medieval Spains


Alfonso III, King of Asturias, son of Ordono I, father of Garcia I of Leon;, Ordono II of Leon;, and Fruela II of Leon; (c.848-910)
"He was brilliant in his knowledge and placid in his appearance, dress, and stature."
From the Chronicle of Albelda (c.881)


Fernando I, King of Aragon, son of Juan I of Castile and Leonor of Aragon, nephew and heir of Martin I of Aragon, husband of Leonor of Alburquerque, father of kings Alfonso V and Juan II, and Maria, later queen consort of Castile, and Leonor, queen consort of Portugal (1380-1416)
"He was tall, a little more than average, and thin and ruddy, and his cheeks had a few freckles... very patient to all who wanted to talk to him, even if their speeches were ordinary or not well-reasoned..."
From Cronica de Juan II by Alvar Garcia de Santa Maria


Guifred Pilosus, Count of Barcelona (died 897)
"...[H]e was hairy in places not normally so in men..."
From the Gesta comitum barcinonensium

Ramon Berenguer II, Count of Barcelona, son of Ramon Berenguer I and Almodis de la Marche, twin brother of Berenguer Ramon II, father of Ramon Berenguer III (1154-1082)
"[H]e was exceeding brave and bold, kind, pleasant, pious, joyful, generous, and of an attractive appearance. Because of the extremely thick hair he had on top of his head, he was known as Cap d'Estop."
From the Chronicle of San Juan de la Pena.

Berenguela of Barcelona, daughter of Ramon Berenguer III of Barcelona and Dulce of Provence, queen of Alfonso VII of Castile, mother of Sancho III of Castile and Fernando II of Leon (died 1149)
"She was a small girl, very beautiful, and very chaste and truthful. She loved all who fear God."
From the Chronica Adefonsi imperatoris of Arnaldo of Astorga

Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Barcelona, son of Ramon Berenguer III and Dulce of Provence, brother of Berenguela, husband of Queen Petronila of Aragon, father of King Alfonso of Aragon (died 1162)
"[A] man of particularly great nobility, prudence, and probity, of lively temperament, high counsel, great bravery, and steady intellect, who displayed great temperance in all his actions. He was handsome in appearance, with a large body and very well-porportioned limbs."
From the Cronica of San Juan de la Pena


Berengaria of Navarre, daughter of Sancho VI of Navarre and Sancha of Castile, queen of Richard I of England (1165-1230)
"...a maiden more accomplished than beautiful..."
From the Chronica of Richard of Devizes
An analysis of Berengaria's skeleton in 1960 revealed that she would've stood about 1.57 meters (5'2).

Sancho VII, King of Navarre, son of Sancho VI and Sancha of Castile, brother of Berengaria (died 1234)
"[I]mmeasurably and marvelously fat was he; he was ashamed to let people see him if it were not in private...[Sancho] embraced me (he was as big as myself); that he did very joyfully and laughing."
From Llibre del fets by Jaime I, King of Aragon


Blanca of Castile, daughter of Alfonso VII and Eleanor of England, granddaughter of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, wife of Louis VIII of France (1188-1252)
"[E]legant in body, in aspect singled out for all the noble gifts of nature."
From Vie de Saint-Louis by L.S. Le Nain Tillemont

Alfonso XI, King of Castile, son of Fernando IV and Constança of Portugal, husband of Maria of Portugal and lover of Leonor de Guzman, father of King Pedro 'el Cruel' of Castile and King Enrique II of Castile (1311-1350).
"...King Alfonso was not very tall but well proportioned, and he was rather strong and had fair skin and hair."
From Cronica de Pedro
by Pedro Lopez de Ayala (1332–1407).

Pedro I, "el Cruel", King of Castile, son of Alfonso XI and Maria of Portugal, husband of Blanche de Bourbon, lover of Maria de Padilla, half-brother and rival of Enrique of Trastamara (1334-1369)

"And King Pedro was tall enough, and had fair skin and hair, and he lisped a little... and he was very hardy... and slept little, and loved women greatly..."
From Cronica de Pedro
by Pedro Lopez de Ayala (1332–1407).
Juan II, King of Castile, son of Enrique III and Katalina of Lancaster, maternal grandson of John of Gaunt, great-grandson of Pedro the Cruel, husband of Maria of Aragon, father of Enrique IV and Queen Isabel I (1405-1454)

"[T]all and handsome, fair-skinned and slightly ruddy... his hair was the color of a very mature hazelnut, the nose a little snub, the eyes between green and blue... he had very graceful legs and feet and hands."
From Cronica de Juan II by Lorenza Galindez de Carvajal (1517).

Eustace II, Count of Boulogne, father of Godfrey of Bouillon (died 1093)
"[A] Frenchman with a magnificent set of whiskers...drooping in an elegant blond curve from behind his ears to under his nose."
From 1066 by Andrew Bridgeford, based on Eustace's depiction in the Bayeux Tapestry.

Eustace IV, Count of Boulogne, son of King Stephen of England and Matilda of Boulogne (c.1130-1153)
"[A] man of handsome appearance, affable and gracious, popular with soldiers, and munificent; he took after his father in military prowess.
From the Otia Imperialia of Gervase of Tilbury


Matilda of Flanders, daughter of Baldwin V of Flanders and Adela of France, wife of William the Conqueror, mother of kings William II and Henry I of England (c.1030-1083)
Analysis of her skeletal remains shows she stood about fifty inches (4'2) tall.


Manasses, Count of Guines
"Count Manasses, who was most praiseworthy in the appearance of his elegant body, looked like a giant in height and a greybeard in authority. He was handsome in face and appearance, and lovable to all..."
From Lambert of Ardres


Baldwin V, Count of Hainault, father of Isabelle of Hainault (1150-1195)
"The Count Baldwin with eyes of blue."
From the Chronique rimee of Philippe Mouskes

Isabelle of Hainault, daughter of Baldwin V of Hainault and Margaret of Flanders, queen of Philippe II Auguste, King of France (1170-1190)
"Queen Isabelle, she of noble form and lovely eyes."
From the Chronique rimee of Philippe Mouskes
In 1858, Isabelle's body was exhumed and measured. At 90 cm. from pelvis to feet, she would've stood about 5'8-5'9, a "noble form" indeed!

Philippa of Hainault, daughter of Willem III of Hainault and Jeanne of Valois, wife of Edward III of England (1310-1369)
"The lady whom we saw has not uncomely hair, betwixt blue-black and brown. Her head is clean-shaped; her forehead high and broad, and standing somewhat forward. Her face narrows between the eyes, and the lower part of her face is still more narrow and slender than the forehead. Her eyes are blackish-brown and deep. Her nose is fairly smooth and even, save that it is somewhat broad at the tip and somewhat flattened, yet it is no snub-nose. Her nostrils are also broad, her mouth fairly wide. Her lips somewhat full, and especially the lower lip. Her teeth which are fallen and grown again are white enough, but the rest are not so white. The lower teeth project a little beyond the upper; yet this is but little seen. Her ears and chin are comely enough. Her neck, shoulders, and all her body and lower limbs are reasonably well shapen; all her limbs are well set and unmaimed; and nought is amiss so far as a man may see. Moreover, she is brown of skin all over, and much like her father; and in all things she is pleasant enough, as it seems to us. And the damsel will be of the age of nine years on St John's day next to come, as her mother saith. She is neither too tall nor too short for such an age; she is of fair carriage, and well taught in all that becometh her rank, and highly esteemed and well beloved of her father and mother and of all her meinie, in so far as we could inquire and learn the truth."
From the Register of Walter de Stapledon


William II, Count of Holland and King of Germany, son of Floris IV and Mathilda of Brabant (1228-1256)
"[A] young man about thirty years old, handsome in appearance, and of noble birth..."
From the Cronica Majora of Matthew Paris

The Holy Roman Empire and the German States

Charlemagne, Holy Roman Emperor (c.747-814)
"Charles was large and strong, and of lofty stature, though not disproportionately tall (his height is well known to have been seven times the length of his foot); the upper part of his head was round, his eyes very large and animated, nose a little long, hair fair, and face laughing and merry. Thus his appearance was always stately and dignified, whether he was standing or sitting; although his neck was thick and somewhat short, and his belly rather prominent; but the symmetry of the rest of his body concealed these defects. His gait was firm, his whole carriage manly, and his voice clear, but not so strong as his size led one to expect. His health was excellent, except during the four years preceding his death, when he was subject to frequent fevers; at the last he even limped a little with one foot."
From Vita Caroli Magni of Einhard
The exhumation of Charlemagne's body in 1861 revealed that his height was 6 feet 3 1/2 inches. See Deutsche Geschichte unter den Karolingern by E. M黨lbacher.

Louis the Pious, son of Charlemagne and Hildegarde of Lorraine, father of Louis the German, Lothar I, and Charles the Bald (778-840)
"[He] was of average height; he had large bright eyes, a long straight nose, a broad chest..."
From the Vita Ludovici imperatoris of Thegan (d. c. 850)

Louis the German, son of Louis the Pious and Ermengarde of Hesbaye, grandson of Charlemagne (c. 810-876)
"[O]f medium physique, very handsome, skilled in every exercise, daring, generous, prudent, and eloquent."
From the Historiarum libri of Nithard, describing Louis along with his brother Charles.

"[A] man of large stature and noble presence. His eyes were as bright as the stars and his voice was clear and manly. He was remarkable for his wisdom."
From the Gesta Karoli of Notker

Charles the Bald, Holy Roman Emperor, son of Louis the Pious and Judith, grandson of Charlemagne (823-877)
"[O]f medium physique, very handsome, skilled in every exercise, daring, generous, prudent, and eloquent."
From the Historiarum libri of Nithard, describing Charles along with his brother Louis.

Ermengarde of Tours, wife of Lothar I, mother of the HRE Louis II (died 851)
"Her voice is as pure as gold and clear as the note of zither. Her skin is as roses mixed in snow. Her blonde hair circles her head like a chrysolith. Her eyes are lively, her white neck like milk, lillies, ivory. Her graceful hands are like the snow."
From Sedulius

Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor, son of Heinrich the Fowler and Matilda of Ringelheim, husband of Ealdgyth of England and Adelaide of Italy, father of Emperor Otto II (912-973)
"[Otto] has his hair cut short... has a hat on his head, is a lover of truth, detests wiles, is compassionate when compassion is proper but severe when severity is called for, truly humble, never avaricious."
From the Relatio of Luitprand of Cremona (c.922-972)

"From his sunburnt face shone light and lively eyes. Sparse grey hair covered his head and his beard, after the Saxon manner, blowed long and mighty over his chest, which was very hairy like a lion's mane. He wore Saxon dress and shunned foreign splendor. He spoke his native Saxon tongue, but had some knowledge of Roman and Slavic speech. He slept sparingly, and as he talked in his sleep, seemed always awake."
From the Res gestae saxonicae sive annalium libri tres of Widukind of Corvey

Ida of Saxony, daughter of Duke Hermann of Saxony, wife of Duke Liudolf of Swabia
"Noted for her surpassing beauty and womanly virtue."
From the Chronicon of Thietmar of Merseburg

Gisela of Swabia, daughter of Duke Hermann of Swabia and Gerberga, wife of Emperor Konrad II, mother of Emperor Heinrich III (c.1000-1042)
"Though she was characterized by such great nobility, and by a most becoming appearance, she was marked by no arrogant pride..."
From the Gesta Chuonradi II imperatoris of Wipo

Heinrich IV, Holy Roman Emperor, son of Emperor Heinrich III and Agnes of Poitou, husband of Bertha of Savoy, father of Emperor Henry V (1050-1106)
"When [Henry IV's] eyes looked piercingly into someone's face, he saw that man's innermost feelings and saw, as if he were looking into the eyes of a lynx, whether this person bore hatred or love in his heart. It also seems praiseworthy to me that he was the tallest in the circle of princes."
From Erlung, Bishop of Würzburg, c. 1106.
"The perfect curving of his cranium, including the temples, and the remarkable absence of bones with superfluous seams point, among other things, toward an undisturbed, robust constitution from birth on. An arched chest, broad shoulders, narrow loins, and energetic, well-shaped bones...especially in the arms and hands, insinuate the frame of a slender, stalwart, almost athletic male, adept and well-versed in all skills expected of a knight. Virility paired with a touch of feminine charm graces his countenance. The large cranium, delicately shaped forehead, the energetically protruding brow, and the characteristic elongated, aristocratic nose give the sharpely chiseled, narrow face an energetic look which is further accented by a martial mustache. The large, receptive eyes, a finely shaped mouth, and an almost delicate chin provide his expression with a certain softness and rare beauty."
From an analysis conducted of Henry's exhumed remains in 1900, qouted from The Salian Century by Stefan Weinfurter. Based on measurements of his bones, Henry would've stood over 6 feet tall.

Bertha of Sulzbach, daughter of Berengar II of Sulzbach, sister-in-law of Emperor Konrad II, and wife of Emperor Manuel of Byzantium (b.c. 1113-1158)
"[Bertha] was not much concerned with physical beauty as with inner beauty and the condition of her soul. Disdaining face powder, eyeliner, and eye shadow, she preferred nature's flush to rouge and considered other women who needed such aids to be winsome."
From Niketas Choniates

Heinrich XI, the Lion, Duke of Saxony, grandson of Emperor Lothar III; husband of Matilda of England, father of Emperor Otto IV (1129-1195)
"Henry, Duke of Saxony, was moderately tall, well-proportioned, with a strong physique, a large face, large, black eyes, and hair that was also almost black; high-hearted, in wealth and power. He was of the most noble lineage, and son of a daughter of the former Emperor Lothar."
From the Historia Frederici I of Otto & Acerbo Morena of Lodi

Friedrich I Barbarossa, Holy Roman Emperor, grandson of Emperor Henry IV, husband of Beatrix of Burgundy, father of the Emperors Henry VI and Philip of Swabia, grandfather of Frederick II (1122-1190)
"[Frederick's] character is such that not even those envious of his power can belittle its praise. His person is well-porportioned. He is shorter than very tall men, but taller and more noble than men of medium height. His hair is golden, curling a little above his forehead... His eyes are sharp and piercing, his beard reddish, his lips delicate ... His whole face is bright and cheerful. His teeth are even and snow-white in color... Modesty rather than anger causes him to blush frequently. His shoulders are rather broad, and he is strongly built."
From the Gesta Friderici I imperatoris of Otto of Freising (1114-1158)

"The Emperor was of the most noble lineage, and of medium height, handsome build, with straight and well-proportioned limbs, a white face suffused with red, and curly, almost yellow hair; a cheerful expression, as if he were always about to laugh; white teeth, very fine hands, and a well-shaped mouth. He was extremely warlike, slow to anger, bold and daring, swift and eloquent. He was generous but not prodigal, cautious and foreseeing in council, quick-witted, very full of wisdom..."
From the Historia Frederici I of Otto & Acerbo Morena of Lodi

"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

Konrad, Count Palatine of the Rhine, brother of Frederick Barbarossa (c.1135-1195)
"Conrad, the Emperor's brother and Count Palatine of the Rhine, was of stocky build, medium height, with blond hair, virtuous, but very modest and not very eloquent."
From the Historia Frederici I of Otto & Acerbo Morena of Lodi

Heinrich VI, Holy Roman Emperor, son of Frederick Barbarossa and Beatrix of Burgundy, father of Frederick II (1165-1197)
"[His] face was pleasant but very thin, and he was only moderately tall with a slight and frail physique."
From Burchard of Ursperg

Philipp of Swabia, King of Germany, son of Friedrich Barbarossa and Beatrix of Burgundy, husband of Irene Angelina (1177-1208)
"He is a man of soft nature, mild, friendly, liberal; of tender body, serene spirit, blond hair; of mediocre size and tall."
From Burchard of Ursperg

Friedrich II, Stupormundi, Holy Roman Emperor and king of Sicily, son of the Emperor Heinrich VI and Constance of Sicily, grandson of Frederick Barbarossa and Roger II 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

"He could read, write, sing, and compose music and songs. He was a handsome man, well-built but of medium stature."
From the Cronica of Salimbene

Heinrich VII, King of Germany, son of Friedrich II and Constanza of Aragon (1211-1242)
"[Henry had an] innocent and handsome appearance..."
From the Cronica Majora of Matthew Paris
From analysis conducted upon Henry's remains buried at the Cathedral of Cosenza, he was aged 30-35 years at death, was 166 centimeters (5 feet 4 inches) tall, with a lame left leg, and suffered from lepromatous leprosy.
From The leprosy of Henry VII by Gino Fornaciari.

Southeastern Europe


Wladyslaw I, King of Poland, son of Kazimierz I and Dobronega Vladimirovna of Kiev, father of Boleslaw III (1043-1102)
"[A] heavy man suffering from pain in his feet..."
From the Gesta Principum Polonorum of Gallus Anonymous


László I, King of Hungary, son of Béla I and Ryksa of Poland, husband of Adelheid of Swabia, father of Piroska, empress of Isaakios II (c.1050-1095)
"As for his natural endowements, a special gift of divine mercy elevated him, through the priviledge of preeminance, above the common worth of men. For he had strong hands, was attractive in appearance, and like a lion, had large extremities; colossal in stature, he towered above other men, who only came up to his shoulders..."
From Legenda Ladislai

"[László] was as conspicuous for his piety as he was tall in stature. László had been raised from childhood in Poland and had almost become a Pole in his ways and life."
From the Gesta Principum Polonorum of Gallus Anonymous

Kálmán, King of Hungary, son of Géza I and Sophie of Looz, father of István II (1170-1116)
"...shrewd and learned... hairy, shaggy, squinting, hunchbacked, lame, and stuttering."
From the Chronicon Pictum Vindobonense

Béla III, King of Hungary, son of Géza II and Euphrosyne Mstislavovna of Kiev (1148-1196)
"He was a man endowed by nature with many good qualities; tall of stature, of noble contenance, possessing a combination of virtues, and worthy of the highest panegyric..."
From the Itinerary of Richard of Holy Trinity.
Analysis of Béla's skeleton shows he measured 190 cm (6'2).
Reference from Realm of St. Stephen: A History of Medieval Hungary by Pal Engel.

Jolán of Hungary, daughter of András II and Yolande de Courtenay, wife of Jaume I of Aragon (1215-1251)
"She was a very beautiful woman, and was good and pleasing to God and to her people."
From Llibre del rei en Pere of Bernat Desclot


Vlad III Dracula, Prince of Wallachia (1431-1476)
"He was not very tall, but very stocky and strong, with a cruel and terrible appearance, a long straight nose, distended nostrils, a thin and reddish face in which the large wide-open green eyes were enframed by bushy black eyebrows, which made them appear threatening. His face and chin were shaven but for a moustache. The swollen temples increased the bulk of his head. A bull's neck supported the head, from which black curly locks were falling to his wide-shouldered person."
From Niccolo di Modrussa

Kievan Rus

Svyatoslav I, Grand Duke of Kiev (died 972)
"[H]e was of medium height: neither too tall nor too short. He had bushy brows, blue eyes, and was snub-nosed; he shaved his beard but wore a long and bushy moustache. His head was shaven except for a lock of hair on one side as a sign of the nobility of his clan. His neck was thin, his shoulders broad, and his whole stature pretty fine. He seemed gloomy and savage. On one of his ears hung a gold earring adorned with two pearls and a ruby set between them. His white garments were not distinguishable from those of his men except for cleanliness."
From the Historiae libri decem of Leo Diakonus

Oleg Ingvarevich, Prince of Ryazan, son of Prince Ingvar Igorevich of Ryazan (died 1258)
"[T]he most handsome and bravest of the Ryazan princes..."
From the Tale of the Destruction of Ryazan of Anonymous.


The Hauteville rulers of Sicily

Robert Guiscard, Norman conqueror of Sicily (c.1015-1085)
"This Robert was Norman by descent, of minor origin, in temper tyrannical, in mind most cunning, brave in action, very clever in attacking the wealth and substance of magnates, most obstinate in achievement, for he did not allow any obstacle to prevent his executing his desire. His stature was so lofty that he surpassed even the tallest, his complexion was ruddy, his hair flaxen, his shoulders were broad, his eyes all but emitted sparks of fire, and in frame he was well-built ... this man's cry is is said to have put thousands to flight. Thus equipped by fortune, physique and character, he was naturally indomitable, and subordinate to no one in the world."
From The Alexiad of Anna Komnene (1083-1153).

Roger I, Norman conqueror of Sicily and brother of Robert Guiscard (1031-1101)
"He was a most handsome young man, tall and well-made, a most fluent speaker, shrewd in counsel, far-sighted in the planning of things to be done, cheerful and pleasant to everyone, strong and valiant, fierce in battle: through these qualities, in a short time he achieved general admiration."
From the Deeds Done by Count Roger of Calabria and Sicily and of Duke Robert his Brother by Geoffrey of Malaterra.

Bohemond of Taranto, Prince of Antioch and son of Robert Guiscard, husband of Constance of France (1058-1111)
"Now [Bohemond] was such as, to put it briefly, had never before been seen in the land of the Romans, be he either of the barbarians or of the Greeks (for he was a marvel for the eyes to behold, and his reputation was terrifying). Let me describe the barbarian's appearance more particularly -- he was so tall in stature that he overtopped the tallest by nearly one cubit, narrow in the waist and loins, with broad shoulders and a deep chest and powerful arms. And in the whole build of the body he was neither too slender nor overweighted with flesh, but perfectly proportioned and, one might say, built in conformity with the canon of Polycleitus... His skin all over his body was very white, and in his face the white was tempered with red. His hair was yellowish, but did not hang down to his waist like that of the other barbarians; for the man was not inordinately vain of his hair, but had it cut short to the ears. Whether his beard was reddish, or any other colour I cannot say, for the razor had passed over it very closely and left a surface smoother than chalk... His blue eyes indicated both a high spirit and dignity; and his nose and nostrils breathed in the air freely; his chest corresponded to his nostrils and by his nostrils...the breadth of his chest. For by his nostrils nature had given free passage for the high spirit which bubbled up from his heart. A certain charm hung about this man but was partly marred by a general air of the horrible... He was so made in mind and body that both courage and passion reared their crests within him and both inclined to war. His wit was manifold and crafty and able to find a way of escape in every emergency. In conversation he was well informed, and the answers he gave were quite irrefutable. This man who was of such a size and such a character was inferior to the Emperor alone in fortune and eloquence and in other gifts of nature."
From The Alexiad of Anna Komnene (1083-1153).

Roger II, King of Sicily, son of Roger I and Adelaide del Vasto (1093-1154)
"King Roger was large of stature, corpulant, leonine of face, somewhat hoarse of voice; wise, far-seeing, careful, subtle of mind, great in counsel, preferring to use his intelligence rather than force."
From the Chronicon of Bishop Romualdo Salernitano

William, Duke of Apulia, son of Roger Borsa and Adela of Flanders, grandson of Robert Guiscard (1095-1127)
"He is described as of medium height and graceful body, but again the emphasis is on soldiering: miles audax et strenuus, in militare arte peritus. (A bold and vigorous soldier, skillful in military art)."
From The Norman Kingdom of Sicily by Donald Matthew

William I, King of Sicily, son of Roger II and Elvira of Castile, father of William II (c.1120-1166)
"King William was of fine appearance and handsome of face, stout of body and very tall. He was proud and desirous of honor, victorious in war on land and sea, hateful to his kingdom and more feared than loved..."
From the Liber de Regno Sicilie of Hugo Falcandus

William II, King of Sicily, son of William I and Margaret of Navarre (1153-1189)
"[H]e was very handsome and seemed even more handsome on that day [of his coronation] -- how I do not know -- and bore a monarchial beauty on his brow, he won the goodwill and support of everyone."
From the Liber de Regno Sicilie of Hugo Falcandus


William V, Marquis of Montferrat, husband of Judith of Austria, father of William Longsword, Conrad, and Renier of Montferrat (c.1110-1191)
"William of Montferrat, who was a Lombard, was of medium height, well-proportioned and stocky, with a round, ruddy face, and hair that was almost white. He was extremely eloquent, virtuous and wise, merry and cheerful, munificent, but not prodigal."
From the Historia Frederici I of Otto & Acerbo Morena of Lodi

William Longsword of Montferrat, Count of Jaffa and Ascalon, son of William III of Montferrat, first husband of Queen Sibylla of Jerusalem, father of Baldwin V of Jerusalem older brother of Conrad of Montferrat (c.1140-1177)
"The aforesaid Marquis was was a young man of seemly height and praiseworthy appearance, with yellow hair and manly spirit. He was irascible beyond the common measure, extremely generous, and frank of mind, who never wished to hide any of his intentions, showing openly whatever he carried in his thoughts. He over-indulged in food, and more so in drink, but never to the detriment of his wits. He was said to have had experience in the use of arms since reaching adulthood. He was so noble in worldly rank, that he was said to have no, or only the rarest, equal."
From the Historia rerum in partibus transmarinis gestarum of William of Tyre (c.1130-1185)

Conrad of Montferrat, son of William III of Montferrat, second husband of Queen Isabella of Jerusalem, younger brother of William Longsword (c.1145-1192)
"...comely and in the bloom of youth, brave and prudent beyond measure, and flourishing in vigor and bodily strength...He so excelled in bravery and sagacity that he was far-famed, not only among the Byzantines, but also celebrated among his countrymen, and Emperor Manuel was especially fond of him as one graced with good fortune, acute intelligence, and strength of arm."
From the Historia of Niketas Choniates (c.1155-1215)

Renier of Montferrat, son of William III of Montferrat, brother of William Longsword and Conrad, husband of Maria Porphyriogeneta Komnene (1162-1183)
"[F]air of face and pleasant to look upon; his well-groomed hair shone like the sun and he was too young to grow a beard..."
From the Historia of Niketas Choniates (c.1155-1215)

Sophia of Montferrat, wife of John VIII Palaiologos, Byzantine Emperor
"Poor Sophia was quite shatteringly plain: her figure, it was unkindly said, looked like Lent in front and Easter behind."
From A Short History of Byzantium by John Julius Norwich


Beatrice of Savoy, daughter of Tomasso I of Savoy, wife of Ramon Berenguer V of Provence (c.1208-1265)
"[A] woman of remarkable beauty, by name Beatrice."
From Matthew Paris

Bonifacio, bishop of Basle, son of Tomasso I of Savoy (died 1270)
"[A] man of tall stature and handsome figure..."
From Matthew Paris

Carlo I, Duke of Savoy, son of Amadeo IX and Yolande de France (1468-1490)
"The young duke was as beautiful as a cypress tree, one for whom you would give your soul. He had no equal in the garden of beauty, and he was not yet fourteen."
From the Tacu-i-tevarih of Saddudin


Charles of Anjou, King of Naples, son of King Louis VIII of France and Blanche of Castile, brother of Louis IX of France, husband of Beatrice of Savoy and father of Carlo II of Naples (1226-1285)
"This Charles was wise and prudent, and valiant in arms... speaking little and doing much. He laughed but little, was chaste as a monk... large and muscular in person, with an olive complexion and a large nose, and looked the king more than any other lord. He sat up late at night and slept little, and was in the habit of saying that a great deal of time was lost in sleeping."
From Villani


Guido, Count of Biandrate, son-in-law of Renier I of Montferrat
"Count Guido of Biandrate was short in stature, thick of chest and limbs, with a swarthy complexion, black hair, slightly balding. He was an excellent soldier, cautious in war, wondrously eloquent, extremely bold, able in council, with great endurance, and served the Emperor so faithfully that he favoured him more than many others."
From the Historia Frederici I of Otto & Acerbo Morena of Lodi

The Papacy

Innocent VIII, Giovanni Battista Cibo (1432-1492)
"He was above middle height, strongly built, his face was full, his complexion strikingly fair, and his eyes weak."
From the memoirs of Sigismondo de Conti

Alexander VI, Rodrigo Borja (1431-1503)
"He is handsome, with a most cheerful countenance and genial bearing. He is gifted with a honeyed and choice eloquence. Beautiful women are attracted to him and excited by him in a quite remarkable way, more strongly than iron is drawn to a magnet."
From Gaspare da Verona

"He is tall, in complexion neither fair nor dark; his eyes are black, his mouth somewhat full. His health is splendid and he has the marvellous power of enduring all sorts of fatigue. He is eloquent in speech and gifted with an innate good breeding, which never forsakes him."
From Sigismondo de Conti

Cesare Borgia, Duke of Valentinois and Romagna, illegitimate son of Alexander VI and Vannozza Catanei, brother of Lucrezia (1475-1507)
"He is a man of great talent and an excellent nature; his manners are those of the son of a great prince; above everything he is joyous and light-hearted. He is very modest, much superior to and of much finer appearance than his brother the Duke of Gandia, who also is not short of natural gifts."
From Gianandrea Boccaccio

Lucrezia Borgia, illegitimate daughter of Alexander VI and Vannozza Catanei, sister of Cesare (1480-1519)
"She is of medium height, delicate of appearance, her face rather long as is her finely cut nose; her hair golden, the eyes greyish, the mouth rather large with brilliantly white teeth; the throat smooth and white yet becomingly full. Her whole being breathes laughing good humor and gaity."
From Niccolo Cagnolo


Flavius Aëtius, who defeated Attila in 451 (c.396-454)
"[O]f middle height... manly in appearance and well-made, neither too frail nor too heavy; he was quick of wit and agile of limb, a very practiced horseman and skillfull archer; he was unbeatable with the spear. A born warrior, he was renowned for the arts of peace."
From the partial history of Renatus Frigeridus

Theodora, wife of Emperor Justinian I (c.500-548)
"She had a lovely face and was otherwise attractive, but short, and while not completely pale, at least somewhat sallow; her glance was always keen and sharp."
From the Secret History of Prokopios (died 565)

Herakleios, Emperor of Byzantium (c.575-641)
"Handsome, tall, braver than others and a fighter."
From the Chronicon of Fredegarius (seventh century)

"Robust, with a broad chest, beautiful blue eyes, golden hair, a fair complection, and a wide thick beard."
From the Historia of Leo Grammatikos

Nikephoros II Phocas, Emperor of Byzantium (912-969)
"[A] monstrosity of a man, a pygmy, fat-headed and like a mole as to the smallness of his eyes; disgusting with his short, broad, thick, and half hoary beard; disgraced by a neck an inch long; very bristly through the length and thickness of his hair; in color an Ethiopian; one whom it would not be pleasant to meet in the middle of the night; with extensive belly, lean of loin, very long of hip considering his short stature, small of shank, proportionate as to his heels and feet; clad in a garment costly but too old, and foul-smelling and faded through age; shod with Sicyonian shoes; bold of tongue, a fox by nature, in perjury, and lying a Ulysses."
From the Relatio of Luitprand of Cremona (c.922-972)

Basil II, Bulgar-Slayer, Emperor of Byzantium, son of Romanos II and Theophano, brother of Constantine VIII (958-1025)
"[His] eyes were light-blue and fiery, the eye-brows not overhanging nor sullen, nor yet extended in one straight line, like a woman's, but well-arched and indicative of his pride. The eyes were neither deep-set (a sign of knavishness and cunning) nor yet too prominent (a sign of frivolity), but they shone with a brilliance that was manly. His whole face was rounded off, as if from the centre into a perfect circle, and joined to the shoulders by a neck that was firm and not too long... As for height, he was of less than normal stature, but it was proportionate to the separate parts of his body, and he held himself upright... In his old age the beard under his chin went bald, but the hair from his cheeks poured down, the growth on either side being thick and very profuse, so that wound round on both sides it was made into a perfect circle and he appeared to possess a full beard. It was a habit of his to roll it between his fingers, a gesture to which he was particularly prone when roused to anger or giving audience, or when he was engaged in deep thought. That was a frequent habit; another was to put his fingers on his hips, arms akimbo. He was not a fluent speaker. The phrases were not rounded off, nor were they lengthened out into periods. In fact, he clipped his words, with little pauses between them, more like a peasant than a man of good education. He had a loud laugh, which convulsed the whole of his body."
From the Chronographia of Michael Psellos (c.1017-c.1080)

Konstantinos VIII, Emperor of Byzantium, brother of Basil II, son of Romanos II and Theophano, father of Zoe and Theodora (960-1028)
"He was a man of enormous size, standing up to nine feet in height. His constitution, moreover, was more than usually robust, and his digestive powers were extraordinary, with a stomach naturally adapted to assimilate all kinds of food with ease. He was especially expert in the art of preparing rich savoury sauces, giving the dishes character by combinations of colour and perfume, and summoning all Nature to his aid-- anything to excite the palate. Being dominated by his gluttony and sexual passions, he became afflicted with arthritis, and worse still, his feet gave him such trouble that he was unable to walk. That is why, after his accession, no one saw him attempt to walk with any confidence: he used to ride on horseback, in safety."
From the Chronographia of Michael Psellos (c.1017-c.1080)

Zoe, Empress of Byzantium, daughter of Emperor Constantine VIII, wife of Emperors Romanos III, Michael IV, and Constantine IX (978-1050)
"[She was] naturally more plump, although she was not strikingly tall. Her eyes were large, set wide apart, with imposing eyebrows. Her nose was inclined to be aquiline, without being altogether so. She had golden hair, and her whole body was radiant with the whiteness of her skin."
From the Chronographia of Michael Psellos (c.1017-c.1080)

Konstantinos IX Monomachos, Emperor of Byzantium (1000-1055)
"[He was] ruddy as the sun, but all his breast, and his lower parts down to his feet, together with their corresponding back parts, she colored the purest white all over, with exquisite accuracy. When he was in his prime, before his limbs lost their virility, anyone who cared to look at him closely would surely have likened his head to the sun in its glory, so radiant was it, and his hair to the rays of the sun, while in the rest of his body he would have seen the purest and most translucent crystal."
From the Chronographia of Michael Psellos (c.1017-c.1080)

Skleraine, first name unknown, mistress of Constantine IX and grandmother of Vladimir Monomakh, Grand Duke of Kiev (died 1045)
"In appearance Skleraine was not specially remarkable. On the other hand, she was certainly no easy target for insult or raillery. As for her character and intellectual ability, she could charm a heart of stone, and she was extraordinarily adept in her interpretation of any matter whatever. Her speech was wonderful. It had a delicate beauty of expression, the rhythmic perfection of a scholar. There was in her conversation an unaffected sweetness of diction, an inexpressible grace in her manner of telling a story."
From the Chronographia of Michael Psellos (c.1017-c.1080)

Theodora, Empress of Byzantium, daughter of Emperor Constantine VIII and sister of Empress Zoe (981-1056)
"Theodora, on the other hand, was taller, more tapered of form. Her head was small, and out of proportion with the rest of her body. She was more ready with her tongue than Zoe, as I have said, and quicker in her movements. There was nothing stern in her glance on the contrary, she was cheerful and smiling, eager to find any opportunity for talk."
From the Chronographia of Michael Psellos (c.1017-c.1080)

Alexios I Komnenos, Emperor of Byzantium (1048-1118)
"Alexios indeed was not especially tall but rather broad, and yet his breadth was well proportioned to his height. When standing he did not strike the onlookers with such admiration, but if when sitting on the imperial throne, he shot forth the fierce splendour of his eyes, he seemed to be a blaze of lightning, such irresistible radiance shone from his face, nay from his whole person. He had black arched eyebrows, from beneath which his eyes darted a glance at once terrible and tender, so that from the gleam of his eyes, the radiance of his face, the dignified curve of his cheeks and the ruddy colour that suffused them, both awe and confidence were awakened. His broad shoulders, muscular arms, mighty chest, in fact his generally heroic appearance, evoked in the multitude the greatest admiration and pleasure. From his whole person emanated beauty and grace and dignity, and an unapproachable majesty. And if he entered into conversation and let loose his tongue, you would have realized from his first words that fiery eloquence dwelt on his lips."
From The Alexiad of Anna Komnene, his daughter.

Irene Dukaine, Empress of Alexios I (1066-1123)
"She stood upright like some young sapling, erect and evergreen, all her limbs and the other parts of her body absolutely symmetrical and in harmony one with another. With her lovely appearance and charming voice she never ceased to fascinate all who saw and heard her. Her face shone with the soft light of the moon; it was not the completely round face of an Assyrian woman, nor long, like the face of a Scyth, but just slightly oval in shape. There were rose blossoms on her cheeks, visible a long way off. Her light-blue eyes were both gay and stern: their charm and beauty attracted, but the fear they caused so dazzled the bystander that he could neither look nor turn away...Generally she accompanied her words with graceful gestures, her hands bare to the wrists, and you would say it was ivory turned by some craftsman into the form of fingers and hand. The pupils of her eyes, with the brilliant blue of deep waves, recalled a calm, still sea, while the white surrounding them shone by contrast, so that the whole eye acquired a peculiar lustre and a charm which was inexpressible."
From The Alexiad of her daughter, Anna Komnene

Andronikos I Komnenos, Emperor of Byzantium, grandson of Alexios I and Irene Dukaina (c.1118-1185)
"The condition of his body was excellent, of venerable aspect, of heroic stature, and even in old age he had a youthful face. His body was outstandingly healthy because he was neither voloptuous nor gluttonous nor a drunkard, but like the Homeric heroes he lived simply and modestly."
From the Historia of Niketas Choniates (c.1155-1215)

Isaakios II Angelos, Emperor of Byzantium, great-grandson of Alexios I, brother of Alexios III, father of Alexios IV (1156-1204)
"[H]e smelled of sweet perfumes and was sprinkled with oils of myrrh...the dandy strutted about like a peacock and never wore the same garment twice..."
From the Historia of Niketas Choniates (c.1155-1215)

Cilician Kingdom of Armenia

Levon II, King of Armenia, father of Zabel I (1150-1219)
"King Levon was a wise and capable man, comely in appearance, with a heart that was generous to all..."
From the Chronicle of Smbat Sarapet (d. 1276)

Levon III, King of Armenia, son of Hetum I and Zabel I, father of Hetum II, Toros III, Sempad, Constantine III, and Oshin (c.1236-1289)
"Levon was one of the most amiable of all his race who swayed the spector of Cilicia. In person he was beautiful even to effeminancy, and in manners mild even to weakness."
From History of Armenia by Michael Chamich

Hetum II, King of Armenia, son of Levon III and Kiran de Lampron(1266-1307)
"[Hetum] looked pale, having grown a thick beard."
From al-Yunini, repeating a report of Ibn Taymiyya

The Kingdom of Jerusalem


Godfrey of Bouillon, leader of the First Crusade and ruler of Jerusalem, son of Eustace II of Boulogne and Ida of Hainault (c.1060-1100)
"[T]all of stature, not extremely so, but still taller than the average man. He was strong beyond compare, with solidly-built limbs and a stalwart chest. His features were pleasing, his beard and hair of medium blond... This man, with an elegant expression, tall in stature, sweet in his eloquence, was outstanding both in his character and his military skills."
From the Historia rerum in partibus transmarinis gestarum of William of Tyre (c.1130-1185)

Baldwin I, King of Jerusalem, son of Eustace II of Boulogne and Ida of Hainault, brother of Eustace III and Godfrey of Bouillon (c.1062-1118)
"He is said to have been very tall and much larger than his brother. He was of rather light complexion, with dark-brown hair and beard. His nose was aquiline and his upper lip somewhat prominent. The lower jaw slightly receded, although not so much that it could be considered a defect. He was dignified in carriage and serious in dress and speech. He always wore a mantle hanging from his shoulders... [He] was neither stout nor unduly thin, but rather of a medium habit of body. Expert in the use of arms, agile on horseback, he was active and diligent whenever the affairs of the realm called him."
From the Historia rerum in partibus transmarinis gestarum of William of Tyre (c.1130-1185)

Fulk of Jerusalem, see Fulk V, Count of Anjou

Amaury I, King of Jerusalem, son of Fulk and Melisende of Jerusalem, husband of Agnes of Edessa and Maria Komnene, father of Baldwin IV and Isabella (1136-1174)
"He was a man endowed with worldly experience, very shrewd and circumspect in his deeds. He had a slight impediment of the tongue, not so much that could be considered a defect, but so that he had no elegance in spontaneous, flowing speech... His body was of pleasing stature, as if it had been measured proportionally so that he was taller than the average, but smaller than the very tall... His face was attractive... His eyes were bright, and somewhat protruding; his nose, like his brother's, aquiline; his hair yellow, and slightly receding; his beard covered his cheeks and chin with pleasing fullness. However, he had an uncontrollable laugh, which made him shake all over... He was fat beyond measure, in such a way that he had breasts like a woman, hanging down to his belt..."
From the Historia rerum in partibus transmarinis gestarum of William of Tyre (c.1130-1185)

Baldwin IV, King of Jerusalem, son of King Amaury I and Agnes of Edessa, grandson of Joscelin II of Edessa, and Fulk V of Anjou (1161-1185)
"I cannot keep my eyes dry while speaking of it. For as he began to reach the age of puberty it became apparent that he was suffering from that most terrible disease, leprosy. Each day he grew more ill. The extremities and the face were most affected, so that the hearts of his faithful men were touched by compassion when they looked at him. Baldwin was adept at literary studies. Daily he grew more promising and developed a more loving disposition. He was handsome for his age and he was quick to learn to ride and handle horses -- more so than his ancestors. He had a tenacious memory and loved to talk. He was economical, but he well remembered both favors and injuries. He resembled his father, not only in his face, but in his whole appearance. He was also like his father in his walk and in the timbre of his voice. He had a quick mind, but his speech was slow. He was, like his father, an avid listener to history and he was very willing to follow good advice."
From the Historia rerum in partibus transmarinis gestarum of William of Tyre (c.1130-1185)

"[A] blue-eyed, freckled, leprous evil-doer."
From the correspondence of al-Qadi al-Fadil.

Conrad, see Conrad of Montferrat

Isabella of Jerusalem, daughter of Amaury I and Maria Komnene, wife of Humphrey of Toron, Conrad of Montferrat, Henri II of Champagne, and Amalric de Lusignan (1172-1205)
" of the daughters of heaven; her face, shining white, appeared like the morning in the night of her very black hair."
From the Conqu阾e de la Syrie et de la Palestine par Saladin of Imad ad-Din al-Isfahani.

Jean de Brienne, King of Jerusalem by right of his wife Maria of Montferrat, also Emperor of Constantinople, son of Erard II de Brienne and Agnes de Montfaucon, husband of Maria of Montferrat and Berenguela of Castile (c.1170-1237)
"King Jean was a huge man, tall and stout and of great stature, strong and brave and skilled in war..."
From Salimbene di Adam


Raymond III, Count of Tripoli, grandson of King Baldwin II of Jerusalem (1142-1187)
"He was lean and slender of body and fairly tall. He had a handsome face and slightly large nose; brown hair that hung down straight; beautiful eyes and fairly broad shoulders. He was moderate in all things, as much in drinking and eating as in his speech, which was very reasoned. He was wise and showed foresight in time of need, without arrogance. He was more generous to strangers than to his own. In the Saracen's prison, he learned a little of letters. When he wanted to find the answer to something, he would freely consult the written word. In the year that he was called to be regent of the Kingdom, he married a lady named Eschive, who had been the wife of Gautier, Prince of Galilee. This lady was very wealthy; she had had several children by her first lord, but by the Count she had none. Nevertheless he loved her as tenderly as if all these children had been his own."
From the Historia rerum in partibus transmarinis gestarum of William of Tyre (c.1130-1185)


Joscelin II, Count of Edessa, father of Agnes of Edessa, and grandfather of King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem and Queen Sibylla of Jerusalem
"[S]mall of body but well formed of limbs and very strong; his flesh was swarthy, his hair black. His face showed that he had had smallpox; he always bore the scars of it. He had bulging eyes and a big nose. He was stocky, and able with arms. But he overindulged in food and drink and luxury, to a shameful extent"
From the Historia rerum in partibus transmarinis gestarum of William of Tyre (c.1130-1185)


Bohemond VI, Prince of Antioch and Count of Tripoli, son of Bohemond V and Luciana di Segni, and a great-nephew of Pope Innocent III (1237-1275)
"He was good-looking and pleasant in appearance. I myself saw him in Ba'albakk in the year 658 (1260)".
From the Dhayl mir'at al-zaman of al-Yunini


Humphrey IV, son of Humphrey III and Stephanie of Milly, first husband of Isabella of Jerusalem (c.1166-c.1196)
"I saw this young man on the day when the peace was concluded. He was indeed beautiful to look at, but he had his beard shaved in accordance with the fashion of his nation."
From Saladin, Or What Befell Sultan Yusuf by Beha-ed-Din

"[M]ore like a woman than a man, with soft mannerisms and halting speech, and that line of poetry fits him: While nature wonders whether to make a man or girl/You were born, O beauty, a boy that's almost girl."
From the Itinerarium Peregrinorum et Gesta Regis Ricardi

The Muslim World

Yahya ibn Tamim, ruler of Ifriqya (d. 1116)
"He was handsome, blue-eyed, and rather tall."
From Ibn al-Athir (1160-1233)

Zengi, atabeg of Aleppo and Mosul (1084-1146)
"[G]oodlooking, brown-skinned, with beautiful eyes. Old age had turned his hair gray. He was harsh, resolute, courageous, bold, ambitious, and proud."
From the Mufarril al-kurub of Ibn Wasil (died 1298)

Nur ad-Din, ruler of Syria, son of Zengi (1118-1174)
"[A] tall, swarthy man with a beard but no moustache, a fine forehead and a pleasant appearance enhanced by beautiful, melting eyes."
From Ibn al-Athir (1160-1233)

As-Salih Ismail, ruler of Aleppo, son of Nur ad-Din (d.1181)
"And the sons of Aleppo mourned him greatly, for he was glorious in the beauty of his body, and excellent in spiritual and mental faculties."
From Chronographia of Bar Hebraeus

The Selcuk Dynasty

Alp Arslan, ruler of Persia, father of Malikshah (c.1033-1072)
"In appearance he was tall, with moustaches so long that he used to tie up their ends when he wished to shoot; and never did his arrows miss the mark. He used to wear a very high kulah on his head, and men were wont to say that from the top of this kulah to the ends of his moustaches was a distance of two yards."
From the Rahat al-sudur (1202/3)

Malikshah, ruler of Persia, son of Alp Arslan, father of Toghrül (1053/4-1092)
"Sultan Malikshah had a fair face, a full stature, was broad-shouldered and slightly inclined to be stout. He had full whiskers and was light-skinned, with color in his cheeks. He squinted slighty with one eye..."
From the Saljuq-nama of Nishapuri (c.1270)

Toghrül, grandson of Alp Arslan (died 1134)
"Red-cheeked, wide forehead, long beard, thin forelocks, tall stature, well-proportioned across the shoulders..."
From the Saljuq-nama of Nishapuri (c.1270)

Shahs and Sultans of Persia

Jalal ad-Din Manguberdi, sultan of Persia (died 1231)
"Jalal ad-Din was of medium stature. He had a Turk face, his complexion was very dark, for his mother was from India. He was brave to excess, calm, grave, and silent, never laughing except at the points of his lips. He spoke Turkish and Persian."
From Muhammad of Nessa

Abaqa Khan, see Mongol Empire.

Ismail I, Shah of Persia, son of Haidar Sultan and Halima, a maternal great-grandson of Ioannes IV of Trebizon (1487-1524)
"[Ismail] is fair, handsome, and very pleasing; not very tall, but of a light and well-framed figure; rather stout than slight, with broad shoulders. 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

Sultans of Turkey

Murat II, Ottoman Sultan, father of Mehmet II (1404-1451) From Bertrandon de La Brocquiere, c. 1442/3.
Mehmet II, the Conqueror, Ottoman Sultan (1432-1481)
"...was of medium height, fat and fleshy; he had a wide forehead, large eyes with thick lashes, an aquiline nose, a small mouth with a round copious red-tinged beard, a short thick neck, a sallow complexion, rather high shoulders, and a loud voice. He suffered from gout in the legs."
From the Historia Turchesa of Gian Maria Angiolello

Cem Sultan, son of Mehmet II and Cicek (1459-1495)
"He is quite tall and his health is excellent. His expression is fierce. His blue eyes are aligned obliquely and his brows almost touch the root of his nose; the right eyebrow turns up towards his forehead, the left eyebrow turns down towards his eye. His mouth is small and his thick lips are almost always twisted to the left by a twitch...His aquiline nose, somewhat salient towards the middle, is diverted at its tip to the left. His chin is small and his skin chesnut-colored."
From the Obsidionis Rhodiae Urbis Descriptio of Guillaume Caoursin

Selim I, Ottoman Sultan, son of Beyazit II (1465-1520)
"...his stern countenance, his fierce and piercing eyes, his Tartar-like pale color, his long moustachios on his upper lip....he seemed to the beholder to have nothing in him but mischief and cruelty..."
From Lives of the Othoman Kings and Emperors by Richard Knolles

Süleyman the Magnificent, Ottoman Sultan, son of Selim I and Hafsa Hatun (1494-1566)
"...tall but wirey, and of a delicate complexion. His neck is a little too long, his face thin and his nose aquiline. He has a shadow of a moustache and a small beard; nevertheless, he has a pleasant mien, though his skin tends to pallor."
From Bartolomew Contarini

The Mongol Empire

Genghis Khan (Tem¨ąjin), Khan of the Mongols (1162-1227)
"Trustworthy persons have related that Genghis Khan, at the time he came into Khurasan, was sixty-five years old, a man of tall stature, of vigorous build, robust in body, the hair on his face scanty and turned white, with cat's eyes..."
From the Tabakat-i-Nasiri of Minhaj al-Siraj Juzjani (d. c. 1260)

Abaqa Khan, Il-Khan of Persia, son of Hulegu Khan, great-grandson of Genghis (1234-1282)
"Abaqa was the handsomest in appearance, and best built of his thirty brothers..."
From the Patmutiun Tatarats of Grigor Aknertsi (d. aft 1273)

Timur-i-lang (Tamerlane), Mongol warlord and founder of Timurid dynasty (1336-1405)
"Timur was tall and lofty of stature... big of brow and head, mighty in strength and courage, wonderful in nature, white of color, mixed with red but not dark, stout of limb, with broud shoulders, thick fingers, long legs, perfect build, long beard, dry hands, lame on the right side, with eyes like candles... a powerful voice..."
From the Aja'ib al-Maqdur of Arabshah
A Soviet analysis of Timur's skeleton in 1941 found that he measured about 5'7, with an injured right leg that was shorter than the left.


Roger de Flor, corsair and leader of the mercenary Catalan Company, grandson-in-law of Andronikos II (c. 1268-1305)
"[I]n the prime of life, with fierce eyes, quick reflexes, and hot after adventure."
From the Corpus scriptorum hist. byzantinae of Georgios Pachymeres

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