15 Quotes from Medieval Kings and Queens

Medieval kings and queens could say some profound or strange things. Here are fifteen quotes from monarchs of the Middle Ages.

“To have another language is to possess a second soul.” ~ Charlemagne, Holy Roman Emperor (768–814)


“Grief is not very different from illness: in the impetus of its fire it does not recognize lords, it does fear colleagues, it does not respect or spare anyone, nor even itself. Pitiful and pitied by no one, why have I come to the ignominy of this detestable old age, who was ruler of two kingdoms, mother of two kings?” ~ Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen consort of France (1137-1152) and Queen consort of England (1154-1189)

“Evil to him who thinks evil.” ~ Edward II, King of England (1307-1327)

“Burn old wood, read old books, drink old wines, have old friends.” ~ Alfonso X, King of Castile, León and Galicia (1252-84)


Speaking to his son: “I would rather have a Scot come from Scotland to govern the people of this kingdom well and justly than that you should govern them ill in the sight of all the world.”  ~ Louis IX, King of France (1226-70)

“I desired to live worthily as long as I lived and to leave after my life, to the men who should come after me, the memory of me in good works.” ~ Alfred the Great, King of Wessex (871-99)

“My liege, I know I am not good enough to be your queen, but I am far too good to become your mistress.” ~ Elizabeth Woodville, Queen of England (1464-1483)

“Let justice be done, though the world perish.” ~ Ferdinand I, King of Bohemia, Hungary, and Croatia, and Holy Roman Emperor (1521-1564)


“I would have sold London itself if I could have found a buyer.” ~ Richard I, King of England (1189-1199)

“The distance is great from the firm belief to the realization from concrete experience.” ~ Isabella I, Queen of Castile and Leon (1474-1504)

“How absurd to try to make two men think alike on matters of religion, when I cannot make two time-pieces agree!” ~ Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor (1519-58)


“He who knows not how to dissimulate, cannot reign.” ~ Louis XI, King of France (1461-1483)

“War without fire is like sausages without mustard.” – Henry V, King of England (1413-1422)

“Fear not, we are of the nature of the lion, and cannot descend to the destruction of mice and such small beasts.” ~ Elizabeth I, Queen of England (1558-1603)

“The shortest and surest way of arriving at real knowledge is to unlearn the lessons we have been taught, to mount the first principles, and take nobody’s word about them.” ~ Henry IV, King of England (1399-1413)


You can find these quotes and many more in Wit and Wisdom of Kings & Queens, by Maria Pritchard, and History in Quotations, by M.J. Cohen.

See also: Ten Phrases that Originated in the Middle Ages