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I believe he was a French king who ruled shortly before the Renaissance, but I'm probably wrong.
The story goes like this:
A knowledgeable courtier reported to the king that there was in his kingdom a man who could tell the future: not quite an oracle, nor a wizard: merely a God-fearing fellow who had this special gift and whose fame was growing by the minute.
The King demanded that the seer be brought to him.
Shortly before the man's arrival at the palace, the King gathered his guards and told them to wait outside the chamber in which the interview was to take place and, upon the seer's exit, grab him and cut his throat.
As the guards stood waiting outside, the seer entered the chamber. After a brief exchange of greetings, the King asked:
"When am I going to die?"
The seer was an insightful man. He quickly realized what was to follow and, upon some reflection, replied:
"The week following my death, Sire."
After composing himself as best he could, the King expressed his gratitude to the seer. When the seer was on his way out, the King followed him closely, and, the moment the door opened, gestured desperately to the guards from behind the seer's back that they should stand the hell down. The guards got the point, and did.
Who was this king, and who was the seer? Any ideas?
This anecdote is from Walter Scott's novel Quentin Durward. The king is Louis XI. The guy who predicts the future is Martius (Marti) Galeotti, Italian astrologist. The guard who is supposed to kill him at the exit of king's chamber is Oliver, barber and servant of Louis.
I think Scott made it up. But possibly he read this is some historical source. Martius Galeotti (1442-1494) was a real person (see Wikipedia), as well as Oliver and Louis XI.
King.com Limited, trading as King and also known as King Digital Entertainment, is a video game developer based in St. Julian's, Malta that specialises in social games. King gained fame after releasing the cross-platform title Candy Crush Saga in 2012, considered one of the most financially successful games utilising the freemium model. King was acquired by Activision Blizzard in February 2016 for US$5.9 billion , and operates as its own entity within that company. King is led by Riccardo Zacconi, who has served in the role of chief executive officer since co-founding the company in 2003.  Gerhard Florin took over Melvyn Morris's role as chairman in November 2014. As of 2017, King employs 2,000 people. 
The reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558–1603) succeeded in imposing a high degree of uniformity upon the Church of England. Protestantism was reinstated as the official religion of England after the short reign of Mary I (1553–58), who had attempted to restore Roman Catholicism in the country. In 1604, soon after James’s coronation as king of England, a conference of churchmen requested that the English Bible be revised because existing translations “were corrupt and not answerable to the truth of the original.” The Great Bible that had been authorized by Henry VIII (1538) enjoyed some popularity, but its successive editions contained several inconsistencies. The Bishops’ Bible (1568) was well regarded by the clergy but failed to gain wide acceptance or the official authorization of Elizabeth. The most popular English translation was the Geneva Bible (1557 first published in England in 1576), which had been made in Geneva by English Protestants living in exile during Mary’s persecutions. Never authorized by the crown, it was particularly popular among Puritans but not among many more-conservative clergymen.
a late Old English contraction of cyning "king, ruler" (also used as a title), from Proto-Germanic *kuningaz (source also of Dutch koning , Old Norse konungr , Danish konge , Old Saxon and Old High German kuning , Middle High German künic , German König ).
This is of uncertain origin. It is possibly related to Old English cynn "family, race" (see kin), making a king originally a "leader of the people." Or perhaps it is from a related prehistoric Germanic word meaning "noble birth," making a king etymologically "one who descended from noble birth" (or "the descendant of a divine race"). The sociological and ideological implications render this a topic of much debate. "The exact notional relation of king with kin is undetermined, but the etymological relation is hardly to be doubted" [Century Dictionary].
General Germanic, but not attested in Gothic, where þiudans (cognate with Old English þeoden "chief of a tribe, ruler, prince, king") was used. Finnish kuningas "king," Old Church Slavonic kunegu "prince" (Russian knyaz , Bohemian knez ), Lithuanian kunigas "clergyman" are forms of this word taken from Germanic. Meaning "one who has superiority in a certain field or class" is from late 14c.
In Old English, used for chiefs of Anglian and Saxon tribes or clans, of the heads of states they founded, and of the British and Danish chiefs they fought. The word acquired a more imposing quality with the rise of European nation-states, but then it was applied to tribal chiefs in Africa, Asia, North America. The chess piece is so called from c. 1400 the playing card from 1560s the use in checkers/draughts is first recorded 1820. Three Kings for the Biblical Wise Men is from c. 1200.
Henry was the eldest son of Henry, earl of Derby (afterward Henry IV), by Mary de Bohun. On his father’s exile in 1398, Richard II took the boy into his own charge, treated him kindly, and knighted him in 1399. Henry’s uncle, Henry Beaufort, bishop of Winchester, seems to have been responsible for his training, and, despite his early entry into public life, he was well educated by the standards of his time. He grew up fond of music and reading and became the first English king who could both read and write with ease in the vernacular tongue. On October 15, 1399, after his father had become king, Henry was created earl of Chester, duke of Cornwall, and prince of Wales, and soon afterward, duke of Aquitaine and Lancaster. From October 1400 the administration of Wales was conducted in his name, and in 1403 he took over actual command of the war against the Welsh rebels, a struggle that absorbed much of his restless energy until 1408. Thereafter he began to demand a voice in government and a place on the council, in opposition to his ailing father and Thomas Arundel, archbishop of Canterbury. The stories of Prince Henry’s reckless and dissolute youth, immortalized by Shakespeare, and of the sudden change that overtook him when he became king, have been traced back to within 20 years of his death and cannot be dismissed as pure fabrication. This does not involve accepting them in the exaggerated versions of the Elizabethan playwrights, to which the known facts of his conduct in war and council provide a general contradiction. Probably they represent no more than the natural ebullience of a young man whose energies found insufficient constructive outlet. The most famous incident, his quarrel with the chief justice, Sir William Gascoigne, was a Tudor invention, first related in 1531.
Henry succeeded his father on March 21, 1413. In the early years of his reign his position was threatened by an abortive Lollard rising (January 1414) and by a conspiracy (July 1415) of Richard of York, earl of Cambridge, and Henry, Lord Scrope of Masham, in favour of Edmund Mortimer, earl of March. On each occasion Henry was forewarned and the opposition was suppressed without mercy. Neither incident long distracted him from his chief concern: his ambitious policy toward France. Not content with a demand for possession of Aquitaine and other lands ceded by the French at the Treaty of Calais (1360), he also laid claim to Normandy, Touraine, and Maine (the former Angevin holdings) and to parts of France that had never been in English hands. Although such demands were unlikely to be conceded even by the distracted government of France under King Charles VI, Henry seems to have convinced himself that his claims were just and not a merely cynical cover for calculated aggression. Yet if “the way of justice” failed, he was ready to turn to “the way of force,” and warlike preparations were well advanced long before the negotiations with Charles, initiated during the reign of Richard II, were finally broken off in June 1415.
Martin Luther King Jr.
M artin Luther King, Jr., (January 15, 1929-April 4, 1968) was born Michael Luther King, Jr., but later had his name changed to Martin. His grandfather began the family’s long tenure as pastors of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, serving from 1914 to 1931 his father has served from then until the present, and from 1960 until his death Martin Luther acted as co-pastor. Martin Luther attended segregated public schools in Georgia, graduating from high school at the age of fifteen he received the B. A. degree in 1948 from Morehouse College, a distinguished Negro institution of Atlanta from which both his father and grandfather had graduated. After three years of theological study at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania where he was elected president of a predominantly white senior class, he was awarded the B.D. in 1951. With a fellowship won at Crozer, he enrolled in graduate studies at Boston University, completing his residence for the doctorate in 1953 and receiving the degree in 1955. In Boston he met and married Coretta Scott, a young woman of uncommon intellectual and artistic attainments. Two sons and two daughters were born into the family.
In 1954, Martin Luther King became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Always a strong worker for civil rights for members of his race, King was, by this time, a member of the executive committee of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the leading organization of its kind in the nation. He was ready, then, early in December, 1955, to accept the leadership of the first great Negro nonviolent demonstration of contemporary times in the United States, the bus boycott described by Gunnar Jahn in his presentation speech in honor of the laureate. The boycott lasted 382 days. On December 21, 1956, after the Supreme Court of the United States had declared unconstitutional the laws requiring segregation on buses, Negroes and whites rode the buses as equals. During these days of boycott, King was arrested, his home was bombed, he was subjected to personal abuse, but at the same time he emerged as a Negro leader of the first rank.
In 1957 he was elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization formed to provide new leadership for the now burgeoning civil rights movement. The ideals for this organization he took from Christianity its operational techniques from Gandhi. In the eleven-year period between 1957 and 1968, King traveled over six million miles and spoke over twenty-five hundred times, appearing wherever there was injustice, protest, and action and meanwhile he wrote five books as well as numerous articles. In these years, he led a massive protest in Birmingham, Alabama, that caught the attention of the entire world, providing what he called a coalition of conscience. and inspiring his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, a manifesto of the Negro revolution he planned the drives in Alabama for the registration of Negroes as voters he directed the peaceful march on Washington, D.C., of 250,000 people to whom he delivered his address, “l Have a Dream”, he conferred with President John F. Kennedy and campaigned for President Lyndon B. Johnson he was arrested upwards of twenty times and assaulted at least four times he was awarded five honorary degrees was named Man of the Year by Time magazine in 1963 and became not only the symbolic leader of American blacks but also a world figure.
At the age of thirty-five, Martin Luther King, Jr., was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize. When notified of his selection, he announced that he would turn over the prize money of $54,123 to the furtherance of the civil rights movement.
On the evening of April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony of his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers of that city, he was assassinated.
Adams, Russell, Great Negroes Past and Present, pp. 106-107. Chicago, Afro-Am Publishing Co., 1963.
Bennett, Lerone, Jr., What Manner of Man: A Biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. Chicago, Johnson, 1964.
I Have a Dream: The Story of Martin Luther King in Text and Pictures. New York, Time Life Books, 1968.
King, Martin Luther, Jr., The Measure of a Man. Philadelphia. The Christian Education Press, 1959. Two devotional addresses.
King, Martin Luther, Jr., Strength to Love. New York, Harper & Row, 1963. Sixteen sermons and one essay entitled “Pilgrimage to Nonviolence.”
King, Martin Luther, Jr., Stride toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story. New York, Harper, 1958.
King, Martin Luther, Jr., The Trumpet of Conscience. New York, Harper & Row, 1968.
King, Martin Luther, Jr., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? New York, Harper & Row, 1967.
King, Martin Luther, Jr., Why We Can’t Wait. New York, Harper & Row, 1963.
“Man of the Year”, Time, 83 (January 3, 1964) 13-16 25-27.
“Martin Luther King, Jr.”, in Current Biography Yearbook 1965, ed. by Charles Moritz, pp. 220-223. New York, H.W. Wilson.
Reddick, Lawrence D., Crusader without Violence: A Biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. New York, Harper, 1959.
From Nobel Lectures, Peace 1951-1970, Editor Frederick W. Haberman, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1972
This autobiography/biography was written at the time of the award and first published in the book series Les Prix Nobel. It was later edited and republished in Nobel Lectures. To cite this document, always state the source as shown above.
* Note from Nobelprize.org: This biography uses the word “Negro”. Even though this word today is considered inappropriate, the biography is published in its original version in view of keeping it as a historical document.
Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1964
To cite this section
MLA style: Martin Luther King Jr. – Biography. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2021. Thu. 17 Jun 2021. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/peace/1964/king/biographical/>
Nobel Prizes 2020
Twelve laureates were awarded a Nobel Prize in 2020, for achievements that have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind.
Their work and discoveries range from the formation of black holes and genetic scissors to efforts to combat hunger and develop new auction formats.
Becoming a civil rights leader
In 1954, when he was 25 years old, Dr. King became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. In March 1955, Claudette Colvin—a 15-year-old black schoolgirl in Montgomery—refused to give up her bus seat to a white man, which was a violation of Jim Crow laws, local laws in the southern United States that enforced racial segregation. Dr. King was on the committee from the Birmingham African-American community that looked into the case. The local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) briefly considered using Colvin's case to challenge the segregation laws, but decided that because she was so young—and had become pregnant—her case would attract too much negative attention.
Nine months later on December 1, 1955, a similar incident occurred when a seamstress named Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a city bus. The two incidents led to the Montgomery bus boycott, which was urged and planned by the President of the Alabama Chapter of the NAACP, E.D. Nixon, and led by Dr. King. The boycott lasted for 385 days.
Dr. King’s prominent and outspoken role in the boycott led to numerous threats against his life, and his house was firebombed. He was arrested during the campaign, which concluded with a United States District Court ruling in Browder v. Gayle (in which Colvin was a plaintiff) that ended racial segregation on all Montgomery public buses. Dr. King's role in the bus boycott transformed him into a national figure and the best-known spokesman of the civil rights movement.
Purpose of the King James Version
King James intended for the Authorized Version to replace the popular Geneva translation, but it took time for its influence to spread.
In the preface of the first edition, the translators stated that it was not their purpose to make a new translation but to make a good one better. They wanted to make the Word of God more and more known to the people. Before the KJV, Bibles were not readily available in churches. Printed Bibles were large and expensive, and many among the higher social classes wanted the language to remain complex and only available to the educated people of society.
Historical Context for King Lear by William Shakespeare
Henry VIII by Hans Holbein the Younger, c. 1537-1547 (Wikimedia Commons)
The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were a time of tumult and great social upheaval, both in England and in Europe as a whole. Some fifty years before Shakespeare’s birth, the Reformation had swept through the continent, challenging longstanding religious practices and institutions, and resulting in the establishment of a number of alternatives to the Catholic Church of Rome, including Lutheranism and Calvinism. While this movement was initially resisted in England, Henry VIII’s decision to divorce his first wife Catherine of Aragon in favor of Anne Boleyn in 1527, and the pope’s subsequent refusal to allow it, led to a break from the Church of Rome and the eventual founding of a Protestant Church of England in 1536, with the king as its head. The crown seized the properties and wealth of the monasteries, and England was thrown into a kind of religious identity crisis over the next few decades, as successive monarchs shifted the country back and forth from Catholicism to Protestantism several times. Each of these shifts was accompanied by danger, persecution, and death.
After the death of Henry’s daughter Mary, a staunch Catholic like her mother Catherine, her half-sister Elizabeth, a Protestant, became queen in 1558, a succession by no means assured given the political implications of Henry’s marital relations. Elizabeth I, last of the Tudor monarchs, reigned until 1603, presiding over an extraordinary rise in England’s fortunes. After the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, the country (along with its Protestant religion) had established itself as a political power within Europe, and embarked upon a process of imperial expansion. Simultaneously, there was a great flowering in literature, classical studies, historiography, geography and philosophy, which has made the Elizabethan era practically synonymous with the English Renaissance. Any doubts—and they were expressed often—about the capacity of a female monarch to rule effectively were, if not put to rest, at least exposed as unfounded by the multiple achievements of her long reign.
Elizabeth, known as the Virgin Queen, died without issue, having spent her reign skillfully playing various suitors and factions against each other for political gain while remaining unmarried throughout—on her deathbed in 1603 she appointed James VI of Scotland as her successor, and he was crowned James I of England, the first English monarch of the Stuart dynasty, ruling until his death in 1625. The Jacobean era saw the country continue to emerge as a colonial and trading power, both westwards in Ireland and North America, and eastwards in Asia. The so-called ‘Golden Age’ of English Renaissance writing continued—the Authorized King James Version of the Bible was published in 1611, and James himself was known to be a writer, and composed works on poetry, witchcraft, and on political theory and kingship. In the latter texts, he articulated his belief in an absolutist theory of monarchy and the divine right of kings, desiring to command not only complete obedience but also complete devotion, which would lead to difficulties in his relations with the Parliament. These difficulties would eventually lead to the English Civil War (1642–1651), and ultimately to the execution of James’ son and heir Charles I in 1649.
Sir Francis Walsingham by John de Critz, c. 1585. (Wikimedia Commons) As Elizabeth’s spymaster, Walsingham uncovered several plots against Elizabeth’s life, including one that led to the execution of her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots. That civil war broke out fewer than thirty years after Shakespeare’s death suggests the extent to which England, despite the advancements and triumphs of the Tudor-Stuart period, was still a troubled society. While both monarchs were to some extent popular and inspired the devotion of their subjects, the changes set in motion by Henry VIII continued to have far-reaching effects. While Elizabeth’s accession may have confirmed England as a Protestant nation, the next decades continued to be marked by religious tension, not only between England and Catholic Europe, but also within a populace for whom religious faith and identity had become a life-and-death matter—Catholics were persecuted and tolerated to varying degrees depending on the political climate and monarchical whim, and schisms within English Protestantism developed as well. At the same time, political pressures continued both from outside and within, with anxieties about foreign espionage and expansion, and internal treachery and power games. The social structure and geography of the country as a whole was being reorganized, and the possibilities for social advancement opened up, through a combination of factors, including the dissolution of the monasteries and their land-holdings, along with increased opportunities resulting from the expansion of trade and exploration, and the rise of London as a commercial center.
Early modern drama & ‘Shakespearean tragedy’
While Shakespeare is indeed one of the great writers of the Western canon—and one of the best-known—it’s important to avoid uncritically endorsing portrayals that render him as a near-mythical kind of universal genius, without considering the particular historical contexts not only of the period in which he lived and worked, but of the nearly 400 years after his death. He was undoubtedly a product of his age: not only of the flourishing literary world of early modern England along with writers such as Edmund Spenser, Mary Sidney Herbert and John Donne, but also of a vibrant theatrical world together with playwrights like Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, Thomas Heywood and John Webster. This latter world, while it featured writers with literary aspirations, was distinctly separate from the world of literature: theater was a commercial venture that sought to entertain as many people as possible, and to turn a profit for its participants. The momentous transformation of the rich theatrical traditions of England into the commercial theatre of the late 1500s was closely linked to the transformation of London into a commercial center, and the attendant population explosion (from c. 50,000 in 1530 to c. 225,000 in 1605). Shakespeare was deeply involved in this theatrical world, as playwright, as actor and eventually as shareholder in one of the premier stage companies of the period, the Lord Chamberlain’s (later known as the King’s) Men.
If Shakespeare is considered one of the greatest writers, then King Lear is often considered one of his greatest works. Along with plays such as Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Othello, and Macbeth, Lear has established its creator not only as one of the great tragedians, measured alongside the ancient Greeks, but as the foremost representative of a great age of tragedy, comparable again to fifth-century Athens. Again, such a view is worth considering closely—it is not to diminish the power and artistry of these works to acknowledge their differences both from Athenian tragedy and from our later conceptions of tragedy.
Three Daughters of King Lear by Gustav Pope, c. 1875. (Wikimedia Commons) These plays were not produced in conjunction with religious festivals, and they were in competition with each other only insofar as the companies that staged them sought to maximize their share of the theatrical audience. The theater of early modern London was however similar to that of ancient Athens in terms of the interrelationships between playwrights who were composing as part of a complex dramatic community that existed both synchronically and diachronically. Shakespeare was not a solitary genius, composing plays in isolation, but both influenced and was influenced by other playwrights such as Kyd, Marlowe, Jonson, Middleton, and Webster, sometimes working for the same company, sometimes for competing companies, sometimes collaborating on the same play, a common practice at the time.
In this kind of rich environment, where the demand for entertainment led to ever-increasing numbers of plays, where audience tastes could shift from one week to the next, and where theatrical companies thus had to remain flexible in order to maintain their edge, dramatic genres such as tragedy or comedy were never fixed or unified as they would later become. The range of influences on early modern tragedy includes classical tragic theories and texts alongside medieval dramas and moral philosophy, and any notion of what tragedy consisted of as a genre was pretty much worked out in practice on the stage, rather than in theory.
King Lear in historical context
As its title suggests, King Lear is a play about kingship, written during a period when the monarchy was of central importance, and the role of the monarch was under constant scrutiny and subject to endless theorization. James VI & I, on the throne when Lear was written and performed, himself extensively theorized the political role of the monarch as absolute ruler with divine right. The preceding reign of Elizabeth I was itself marked by continued efforts to justify her rule—both as a result of her gender and of her uneasy familial claim to the throne—including through the theory of the ‘king’s two bodies’, whereby her person was understood to be divided between her mortal body natural and the immortal body politic of the kingship. These theories were not just abstractions, but had a very real effect on life in Shakespeare’s England, and in early modern Europe as a whole. In the 1600s, both country and continent were still feeling the world-shattering impact of Henry VIII’s decision to separate from the Catholic church nearly a century earlier. The far-ranging political, spiritual and societal consequences of such an event exemplified the degree to which the monarch’s personal desires and actions could affect the destiny and structure of an entire country, seemingly on a whim.
In the 1590s, Shakespeare often dwelt on the nature of monarchy, and the history plays of the period can be read not just as historical narratives featuring kings, but also as meditations on monarchical rule. The two Richard plays explore the limits and abuses of such rule and the possibilities for its overthrow, the Henry IV plays deal with the issue of succession, while Henry V focuses on the role of king as national figurehead. In Lear, we see Shakespeare tackle the issue of patriarchal monarchy, where the king is figured as head of both his own family and of the state, a staple of Jacobean understandings of the relationship between monarch and country that saw in it an analogy to the relationship between a patriarch and his household. While Lear may have been a ruler of almost mythical status from ancient Britain, King Lear articulates pressing contemporary concerns about the power of early modern kings.
Written by Frederick Bengtsson, Department of English & Comparative Literature, Columbia University
The Norton Shakespeare, ed. Stephen Greenblatt, Walter Cohen, Jean E. Howard, & Katherine Eisaman Maus
The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare, ed. Michael Dobson & Stanley Wells
King Arthur was likely inspired by several different historical figures
Likely the first written account to mention the figure we now know as King Arthur was composed in the sixth century by Welsh monk named Gildas, in a work about the Roman conquest of Britain and its aftermath. In his account, a Roman-British military leader named Ambrosius Aurelianus wins a series of battles against the invading Saxons, most notably at Badon Hill.
Some 200 years later, Arthur appears again, this time in the work of ninth-century historian Nennius, who compiled a series of works called the History of the Britons. According to Nennius, Arthur won 12 surprising victories over the Saxons, including at Badon. But while he was a masterful military leader, Nennius does not say that he was a king. Historians and archaeologists have also struggled to identity the present-day locations where Arthur is presumed to have fought, leading many to believe that even at this early stage much of Arthur’s story had taken on mythical tones — thanks in part to Nennius’ claims that Arthur singlehandedly killed more than 900 Saxons at the Battle of Badon.