Regnal years of English monarchs

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The following is a list of the official regnal years of the monarchs of the Kingdom of England (subsequently Great Britain and the United Kingdom), from 1066 to the present day. The regnal calendar ("nth year of the reign of King X", etc.) is used in many official British government and legal documents of historical interest, notably parliamentary statutes.

Overview[edit]

For centuries, English official public documents have been dated by the regnal years of the ruling monarch. Traditionally, parliamentary statutes are referenced by regnal year, e.g. the Occasional Conformity Act of 1711 is officially referenced as "10 Anne c.6" (read as "the sixth chapter of the statute of the parliamentary session that sat in the 10th year of the reign of Queen Anne").

Regnal years are calculated from the official date (year, month and day) of a monarch's accession. For example, King George III ascended on 25 October 1760. That marks the beginning of his first regnal year. His second regnal year starts on 25 October 1761, his third regnal year on 25 October 1762, and so on. When a monarch dies, abdicates or is deposed, the regnal year comes to an end (whether the full year has run its course or not). A new regnal year begins from a new date, with a new monarch.

As different monarchs begin their reigns at different times, the exact month and day when a regnal year begins varies across reigns. For example, Elizabeth I's regnal year starts on 17 November James I's on 24 March, Charles I's on 27 March, and so on.

Within this article English dates before the official introduction to England of the Gregorian calendar on Thursday 14 September 1752 are given using the Julian calendar with 1 January for the start of year. However the official "legal year" — that is, the calendar used for legal, civic and ecclesiastical purposes — has not always started on the same date as the start of the historical calendar year which is 1 January (see Old Style and New Style dates). Until the 13th century, the legal year began at Christmas (25 December). From the 14th century until 1753, the 'legal' year began on 25 March. It is only since 1 January 1753, the legal year was re-set to coincide with the start of the historical calendar year (see Calendar (New Style) Act 1750).[1]

This means that when the legal year began on 25 December the legal year was nearly a year behind the historical calendar. For example the first January of William the Conqueror's reign was in the legal year of 1066 but the historical calendar year of 1067. From the 13th century until the middle of the 18th century the start of some monarch's regnal year may be transposed onto different years depending on whether the transposition uses the legal year or the historic calendar. For example the reign of Charles I came to an end with his execution on 30 January 1649, but contemporary legal records such as the House of Commons Journals record this as 30 January 1648.[2]

These date differences can also be confusing when sorting dates in old documents before 1753. For example, a parliamentary statute that was passed on, say, 10 February 1585 (in normal calendar date) would be dated in the official record as 10 February 1584 (the legal year), and simultaneously said to have been passed in the 27th year of Elizabeth I (the regnal year that started on 17 November 1584).[1]

The following table gives the dates of the regnal years for Kings of England (and subsequently Great Britain), from 1066 to the present day.[3] These are official de jure dates, and may or may not coincide with whether a particular king had de facto power or not at that time. For example, as the Commonwealth era was suppressed in the official record, the regnal years of Charles II are measured from 30 January 1649 (the day his father Charles I was executed); as a result, when Charles II actually became king, on 29 May 1660, he was already in his 12th regnal year. (For the de facto tabulation of English rulers, see any conventional list of English monarchs.)

Regnal calendar table[edit]

To calculate the regnal year from a particular date, just subtract the calendar year from the first regnal year. If the month and day fall before the regnal date, do nothing; if it falls on or after the regnal date, add one.

  • Example: 4 July 1776. This falls in the reign of George III, whose first regnal year is 1760; so 1776 - 1760 = 16th year of his reign (4 July is before 25 October).
  • Another example: 2 May 1662. This is in the reign of Charles II, whose first regnal year is 1649. So 1662-1649 = 13, add 1 because 2 May is after 30 January, so the date falls in the 14th regnal year of Charles II.
Monarch No. of Years First regnal year Regnal year begin date Regnal year end date End of final year
William I 21 1066 14 October 13 October 9 Sep 1087
William II 13 1087 26 September 25 September 2 Aug 1100
Henry I 36 1100 5 August 4 August 1 Dec 1135
Stephen 19 1135 26 December 25 December 25 Oct 1154
Henry II 35 1154 19 December 18 December 6 Jul 1189
Richard I 10 1189 3 September 2 September 6 Apr 1199
John 18 1199 May (Ascension Day)[A] May (varied) 19 Oct 1216
Henry III 57 1216 28 October 27 October 16 Nov 1272
Edward I 35 1272 20 November 20 November [B] 7 Jul 1307
Edward II 20 1307 8 July 7 July 20 Jan 1327
Edward III 51 (England),
38 (France) [C]
1327 25 January 24 January 21 Jun 1377
Richard II 23 1377 22 June [D] 21 June 29 Sep 1399
Henry IV 14 1399 30 September 29 September 20 Mar 1413
Henry V 10 1413 21 March 20 March 31 Aug 1422
Henry VI 39 + 1 [E] 1422 1 September 31 August 4 Mar 1461
Edward IV 23 1461 4 March 3 March 9 Apr 1483
Edward V 1 1483 9 April 25 June 25 Jun 1483
Richard III 3 1483 26 June 25 June 22 Aug 1485
Henry VII 24 1485 22 August 21 August 21 Apr 1509
Henry VIII 38 1509 22 April 21 April 28 Jan 1547
Edward VI 7 1547 28 January 27 January 6 Jul 1553
Mary I 2 1553 6 July [F] 5 July 24 Jul 1554 [G]
"Philip and Mary" 5 & 6 [G] 1554 25 July 24 July 17 Nov 1558
Elizabeth I 45 1558 17 November 16 November 24 Mar 1603
James I 23 1603 25 March [H] 24 March 27 Mar 1625
Charles I 24 1625 27 March 26 March 30 Jan 1649
Charles II 37 [I] 1649 30 January 29 January 6 Feb 1685
James II 4 1685 6 February 5 February 11 Dec 1688 [J]
"William and Mary" 6 1688 13 February[K] 12 February 27 Dec 1694
William III 8
(7 to 14) [L]
1694 28 December [L] 27 December 8 Mar 1702
Anne 13 1702 8 March 7 March 1 Aug 1714
George I 13 1714 1 August 31 July 11 Jun 1727
George II 34 1727 11 June 10 June 25 Oct 1760
George III 60 [M] 1760 25 October 24 October 29 Jan 1820
George IV 11 [N] 1820 29 January 28 January 26 Jun 1830
William IV 7 1830 26 June 25 June 20 Jun 1837
Victoria 64 1837 20 June 19 June 22 Jan 1901
Edward VII 10 1901 22 January 21 January 6 May 1910
George V 26 1910 6 May 5 May 20 Jan 1936
Edward VIII 1 1936 20 January 11 December 11 Dec 1936
George VI 16 1936 11 December 10 December 5 Feb 1952
Elizabeth II (ongoing)
(2014 = 63rd)
1952 6 February 5 February ...

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ (a) - John of England's regnal years are unusual for not starting on the same date every year, but rather on Ascension Day, a movable feast of the liturgical calendar. Start dates for John's regnal years are:[4]
    • Year 1 – 27 May 1199
    • Year 2 – 18 May 1200
    • Year 3 – 3 May 1201
    • Year 4 – 23 May 1202
    • Year 5 – 15 May 1203
    • Year 6 – 3 Jun 1204
    • Year 7 – 19 May 1205
    • Year 8 – 11 May 1206
    • Year 9 – 31 May 1207
    • Year 10 – 15 May 1208
    • Year 11 – 7 May 1209
    • Year 12 – 27 May 1210
    • Year 13 – 12 May 1211
    • Year 14 – 3 May 1212
    • Year 15 – 23 May 1213
    • Year 16 – 8 May 1214
    • Year 17 – 28 May 1215
    • Year 18 – 19 May 1216
  2. ^ Edward I's regnal years are unusual for starting and ending on the same day (20 November), rather than ending one day, and starting the next.
  3. ^ Edward III is given two different regnal years, one for England, and another for France (the only claimant for whom this is done). English years are unbroken between 1327 and 1377. French years are counted from the start date of 25 January 1340 (beginning of Year 1 France and Year 14 England), and interrupted on 8 May 1360 (end of Year 21 France); the French numbering resumes on 11 June 1369 as beginning of French Year 30, and follows the English start/end dates (25/24 January) thereafter until 21 June 1377, the end of English year 51 and French year 38.
  4. ^ From Richard II onwards, every new king's regnal year begins exactly on the day on or after the end of the previous king's reign (previous transitions often had a gap of several days, sometimes weeks). Henceforth, in official terms, "England always has a king", i.e. there will not be a day in subsequent English history without a reigning king (with the exception of the Glorious Revolution of 1688-89; see below).
  5. ^ Henry VI was deposed by Edward IV on 4 March 1461, officially bringing his reign and last regnal year to a close. However, Henry VI briefly recovered the throne in 1470-71, so he has an extra regnal year, dated from 9 October 1470 to c. April 1471, and referred to as the 49th year ("Anno ab inchoatione regni nostri") or 1st year of restoration ("Readeptionis nostrae regiae potestatis"). Henry VI's "restoration" year does not mar the continuity of Edward IV's regnal years - Edward IV's 10th Year is counted unbroken as beginning from 4 March 1470 and ending 3 March 1471, his 11th year beginning 4 March 1471, etc.
  6. ^ Lady Jane Grey, the "Nine Days Queen", who was Queen Jane from 6 July 1553 to 17 July 1553, is not present in the official record. Mary I's reign officially begins on 6 July 1553.
  7. ^ Mary I married the Hapsburg prince Philip (future Philip II of Spain) on 25 July 1554, who was promptly made co-ruler of England. Their joint reign is officially referred to as "Philip and Mary", but the numbering of their regnal years is not reset to 1 for both, but rather retained separately for each. So the first year of "Philip and Mary", which begins on 25 July 1554, is officially referred to as "1 & 2" (1st year of Philip, 2nd year of Mary). There is the complication, of course, that Mary's previous regnal year began on 6 July, a few weeks before Philip's begin date of 25 July. So the numbers between those two days are adjusted. Taken continuously, the regnal year numbers are:
    • 1 Mary : 6 Jul 1553 to 5 Jul 1554
    • 2 Mary : 6 Jul 1554 to 24 Jul 1554
    • 1 & 2 Philip and Mary : 25 Jul 1554 to 5 Jul 1555
    • 1 & 3 Philip and Mary: 6 Jul 1555 to 24 Jul 1555
    • 2 & 3 Philip and Mary; 25 Jul 1555 to 5 Jul 1556
    • 2 & 4 Philip and Mary: 6 Jul 1556 to 24 Jul 1556
    • 3 & 4 Philip and Mary; 25 Jul 1556 to 5 Jul 1557
    • 3 & 5 Philip and Mary: 6 Jul 1557 to 24 Jul 1557
    • 4 & 5 Philip and Mary; 25 Jul 1557 to 5 Jul 1558
    • 4 & 6 Philip and Mary: 6 Jul 1558 to 24 Jul 1558
    • 5 & 6 Philip and Mary: 25 Jul 1558 to 17 Nov 1558
  8. ^ By coincidence, James I's regnal years begin on the same date (25 March) as the English civil and legal year.
  9. ^ The Commonwealth era (1649–1660) is obliterated from the official record. The beginning regnal date of Charles II is 30 January 1649, the day his father was executed. However, Charles II would only become de facto king on 29 May 1660, officially regarded as the 12th year of his reign. During the Commonwealth era, public documents did not have any regnal or republican calendar, just the conventional calendar date, the "The Year of Our Lord", with normal month and day.
  10. ^ The English official record regards James II as having abdicated on 11 December 1688, the day he slipped out of London (he was captured the next day in Rochester). His formal deposition did not take instrument until 12 February 1689, by a declaration of the convention of old parliamentarians at Westminster (see "Glorious Revolution"), which backdated the "abdication" to 11 December. That declaration was entered into statute law later that year, in December 1689 (1 Will & Mar., 2nd Sess., c.2).
  11. ^ This is the exception to "England always has a King" rule, prevailing since the reign of Richard II. With James II officially deposed on 11 December 1688, and William & Mary officially beginning 13 February 1689, there is a space of nearly two months in which England, officially speaking, is without a king.
  12. ^ In regnal numbering, the relationship between "William and Mary" and "William III" is a little tricky. In the Philip and Mary I case, back in the 1550s, each monarch was given their own regnal date and stuck with it. William III and Mary II ascended as monarchs on the same date (13 February 1689), and so it was unnecessary to state it as "1 & 1 William and Mary", but simply "1 William and Mary". But Mary's death (on 27 December 1694, in the 6th year of W & M) complicated numbering. If the 1550s model had been used, then William III should have continued on his 6th year until 13 February 1695, when the new regnal year, the 7th year of William III, should have begun. However, in this instance, the regnal start day (but not the year) was reset after Mary's death, so William III's 7th year began prematurely on 28 December 1694.
  13. ^ George III was declared incapacitated on 5 February 1811, in the course of his 51st regnal year. However, the regnal dating was unaffected by the Regency, so regnal years were still measured by George III's regnal date of 25 October, until his death in 1820.
  14. ^ George IV's period as prince regent (1811–1820) for his ailing father, George III, is not counted in his regnal numbering.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Cheney, C.R.; Jones, Michael, eds. (2000). A Handbook of Dates for Students of British History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 21–47. ISBN 0521770955.