List of English monarchs

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This article is about English monarchs until 1707. For British monarchs since the Union of England and Scotland in 1707, see List of British monarchs.

Traditionally, the Kingdom of England is usually considered to begin with Alfred the Great, King of Wessex, one of the petty kingdoms to rule the southeastern portion of Great Britain. While Alfred was not the first king to lay claim to rule all of the English, his rule represents the first unbroken line of Kings to rule the whole of England, the House of Wessex. The last English monarch was Queen Anne, who became Queen of Great Britain when England merged with Scotland to form a union in 1707. For monarchs after Queen Anne, see List of British monarchs.

Family tree of monarchs of England and Great Britain since the Norman Conquest

Arguments are made for a few different kings deemed to control enough of the ancient kingdoms of the Anglo-Saxons to be deemed the first King of England. For example, Offa, king of Mercia, and Egbert, king of Wessex, are sometimes described as kings of England by popular writers, but not by all historians. In the late eighth century Offa achieved a dominance over southern England that did not survive his death in 796. In 829 Egbert conquered Mercia, but he soon lost control of it. By the late ninth century Wessex was the dominant Anglo-Saxon kingdom. Its king, Alfred the Great, was overlord of western Mercia and used the title King of the Angles and Saxons, but he never ruled eastern and northern England, which was then the Danelaw. His son Edward the Elder conquered the eastern Danelaw, but Edward's son Æthelstan became the first king to rule the whole of England when he conquered Northumbria in 927, and he is regarded by some modern historians as the first king of England.[1][2]

The Principality of Wales was incorporated into the Kingdom of England under the Statute of Rhuddlan in 1284, and in 1301 King Edward I invested his eldest son, the future King Edward II, as Prince of Wales. Since that time, except for King Edward III, the eldest sons of all English monarchs have borne this title. After the death of Queen Elizabeth I without issue, in 1603, the crowns of England and Scotland were joined in personal union under King James VI of Scotland, who became James I of England. By royal proclamation, James titled himself "King of Great Britain", but no such kingdom was created until 1707, when England underwent legislative union with Scotland to form the new Kingdom of Great Britain, during the reign of Queen Anne.[3]

House of Wessex[edit]

For earlier monarchs of Wessex, see List of monarchs of Wessex.
Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death
Alfred the Great
(Ælfrēd; Ælfrǣd)
Alfred - MS Royal 14 B VI.jpg 849
Son of Æthelwulf (king of Wessex) and Osburh
five children
26 October 899
Aged about 50
Edward the Elder
Eadweard cyning
26 October 899–924
Edward the Elder - MS Royal 14 B VI.jpg c. 874–877
Son of Alfred and Ealhswith
(1) Ecgwynn
two children
(2) Ælfflæd
eight children
(3) Eadgifu
four children
17 July 924
Aged about 46–50

Disputed claimant

There is some evidence that Ælfweard of Wessex may have been king for four weeks in 924, between his father Edward the Elder and his brother Æthelstan, although he was not crowned.[6] However, this is not accepted by all historians. Also, it is unclear whether Ælfweard was declared king of the whole kingdom or of Wessex only: there is evidence that when Edward died, Ælfweard was declared king in Wessex and Æthelstan in Mercia.[7]

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death
c. 901[9]
Son of Edward the Elder and Ælfflæd[9]
No children
3 August 924[7]
Aged about 23
Buried at Winchester[10]

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death
King of the Anglo-Saxons 924–927
King of the English 927–939
King Athelstan from All Souls College Chapel 895
Son of Edward the Elder and Ecgwynn
Unmarried[11] 27 October 939
Aged about 44[11]
Edmund I
28 October
Edmund I - MS Royal 14 B V.jpg c. 921
Son of Edward the Elder and Eadgifu of Kent[12]
(1) Ælfgifu of Shaftesbury
two children
(2) Æthelflæd of Damerham
no children[13]
26 May 946
Aged about 25
(Killed in a brawl)[12]
27 May
Eadred - MS Royal 14 B VI.jpg c. 923
Son of Edward the Elder and Eadgifu of Kent
Unmarried 23 November 955
Aged about 32[15]
24 November
Line engraving of Edwy made by an unknown engraver after an unknown artist c. 940
Son of Edmund I and Ælfgifu of Shaftesbury[17]
Ælfgifu[16] 1 October 959
Aged about 19[16]
Edgar the Peaceful
2 October
King Edgar of England 7 August 943
Son of Edmund I and Ælfgifu of Shaftesbury
(1) Æthelflæd
c. 960
1 son
(2) Ælfthryth
c. 964
2 sons
8 July 975
Aged 31[19]
Edward the Martyr
9 July
St. Edward the Martyr c. 962
Son of Edgar the Peaceful and Æthelflæd
Unmarried 18 March 978
Corfe Castle
Aged about 16
Æthelred the Unready
(Æþelræd Unræd)
19 March
978–1013 (first reign)[21]
Image of Æthelred II with an oversize sword from the illuminated manuscript "The Chronicle of Abingdon" c. 968
Son of Edgar the Peaceful and Ælfthryth
(1) Ælfgifu of York
nine children
(2) Emma of Normandy
three children[22]
23 April 1016
Aged about 48[21]

House of Denmark[edit]

Main article: House of Knýtlinga

England came under the control of Sweyn Forkbeard, a Danish king, after an invasion in 1013, during which Æthelred abandoned the throne and went into exile in Normandy.

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death
Sweyn Forkbeard
(Svend Tveskæg)
25 December[23]
Sweyn Forkbeard, from an architectural element in the Swansea Guildhall, Swansea, Wales c. 960
Son of Harald Bluetooth and Gyrid Olafsdottir
(1) Gunhild of Wenden
c. 990
seven children
(2) Sigrid the Haughty
c. 1000
1 daughter
3 February 1014
Aged about 54

House of Wessex (restored, first time)[edit]

Following the death of Sweyn Forkbeard, Æthelred the Unready returned from exile and was again proclaimed king on 3 February 1014. His son succeeded him after being chosen king by the citizens of London and a part of the Witan,[25] despite ongoing Danish efforts in wresting the crown from the West Saxons.

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death Claim
Æthelred the Unready
(Æþelræd Unræd)
3 February
1014–1016 (second reign)[21]
Image of Æthelred II with an oversize sword from the illuminated manuscript "The Chronicle of Abingdon" c. 968
Son of Edgar the Peaceful and Ælfthryth
(1) Aelgifu
nine children
(2) Emma of Normandy
three children[22]
23 April 1016
Aged about 48[21]
son of Edgar the Peaceful
Edmund Ironside
24 April –
30 November 1016[25]
Edmund Ironside c. 990
Son of Æthelred the Unready and Ælfgifu of York[25]
Edith of East Anglia
two children[26]
30 November 1016
Aged 26[25][26]
son of Æthelred the Unready

House of Denmark (restored)[edit]

Following the decisive Battle of Assandun on 18 October 1016, King Edmund signed a treaty with Cnut in which all of England except for Wessex would be controlled by Cnut.[27] Upon Edmund's death on 30 November, Cnut ruled the whole kingdom as its sole king.

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death
18 October 1016 –
12 November 1035[28]
Cnut.jpg c. 995
Son of Sweyn Forkbeard and Gunhilda of Poland[28]
(1) Aelfgifu of Northampton
two children
(2) Emma of Normandy
two children
12 November 1035
Aged about 40[28]
Harold Harefoot
13 November 1035 –
17 March 1040[29]
Harold H.jpg c. 1016
Son of Cnut and Ælfgifu of Northampton[29]
1 son?[30]
17 March 1040
Aged about 24
17 March 1040 –
8 June 1042[31]
Hardeknut.jpg 1018
Son of Cnut and Emma of Normandy[32]
Unmarried 8 June 1042
Aged about 24[32]
(Stroke caused by excessive alcohol consumption)

House of Wessex (restored, second time)[edit]

After Harthacnut, there was a brief Saxon Restoration between 1042 and 1066.

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Children Death
Edward the Confessor
9 June
1042 – 1066
Edward Confessor.jpg c. 1003
Islip, Oxfordshire
Son of Æthelred the Unready and Emma of Normandy
Edith of Wessex
23 January 1045
None 5 January 1066
Westminster Palace
Aged 62
Harold Godwinson
(Harold Godƿinson)
6 January – 14 October 1066
Harold2.jpg c. 1022
Son of Godwin, Earl of Wessex and Gytha Thorkelsdóttir
Edith Swannesha Godwine, Edmund, Magnus, Gunhild, Gytha 14 October 1066
Aged 44
(Died in battle)
c. 1064
Harold, Ulf
Edgar the Ætheling
(Eadgar Æþeling)
15 October – 17 December 1066
Proclaimed, but never crowned[33]
Edgar the Ætheling.jpg c. 1053
Son of Edward the Exile and Agatha
Unmarried None c. 1126
Aged about 73[33]

House of Normandy[edit]

Main article: House of Normandy

In 1066, several rival claimants to the Throne emerged. Among them were Harold Godwinson, elected king by the Witenagemot after the death of Edward the Confessor, as well as Harald Hardrada, King of Norway who claimed to be the rightful heir of Harthacnut, and William II, Duke of Normandy, descendant of Rollo, founder of the royal House of Normandy, vassal to the King of France, and first-half-cousin once-removed of Edward the Confessor. Harald and William both invaded separately in 1066. Godwinson successfully repelled the invasion by Hardrada, but ultimately lost the throne of England in the Norman conquest of England. After the Battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror made permanent the recent removal of the capital from Winchester to London. Following the death of Harold Godwinson on 14 October, the Anglo-Saxon Witenagemot elected as king Edgar the Ætheling, the son of Edward the Exile and grandson of Edmund Ironside, but the young monarch was unable to resist the invaders and was never crowned. William was crowned King William I of England on Christmas Day 1066, in Westminster Abbey, and is today known as William the Conqueror, William the Bastard or William I.

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death Claim
William I
William the Bastard
William the Conqueror
(Guillaume le Bâtard)
(Guillaume le Conquérant)

25 December
William the Conqueror depicted at the Battle of Hastings, on the Bayeux Tapestry c. 1028
Falaise Castle
son of Robert I, Duke of Normandy, and Herleva
Matilda of Flanders
Chapel Notre Dame of the castle in Eu, Normandy
ten children
9 September 1087
aged 59 after wounding himself on the saddle when his horse stumbled. Buried at Saint Etienne Abbey (Abbaye aux Hommes) of Caen
Supposedly named heir by Edward the Confessor in 1052
(de facto right of conquest)
William II
William Rufus
(Guillaume le Roux)

26 September
William Rufus depicted in the Stowe Manuscript c. 1058
son of William the Conqueror and Matilda of Flanders
unmarried 2 August 1100
New Forest
aged 42 when shot with an arrow, events still unclear.
son of William I
Henry I
Henry Beauclerc
(Henri Beauclerc)

5 August
Henry I September 1068
son of William the Conqueror and Matilda of Flanders
(1) Edith otherwise Matilda of Scotland
Westminster Abbey
11 November 1100
four children
(2) Adeliza of Louvain
Windsor Castle
29 January 1121
no children
1 December 1135
Castle of Lyons-la-Forêt (Saint-Denis-en-Lyons)
aged 67 apparently from eating a surfeit of lampreys. Buried at Reading Abbey
son of William I
(seizure of the crown)

House of Blois[edit]

Main article: House of Blois

Henry I left no legitimate male heirs, his son William Adelin having died in the White Ship disaster. This ended the direct Norman line of kings in England. Henry named his eldest daughter, the dowager Empress Matilda as his heir. Prior to naming Matilda as heir, however, he had been in negotiations to name his nephew Stephen of Blois as his heir. When Henry died, Stephen invaded England, and in a coup d'etat had himself crowned instead of Matilda. The period which followed is known as The Anarchy ,as parties supporting each side fought in open warfare on both Britain and on the continent for the better part of two decades.

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death Claim
Stephen of Blois
(Estienne de Blois)

22 December
Stephen c. 1096
son of Stephen, Count of Blois, and Adela of Normandy
Matilda of Boulogne
five children
25 October 1154
Dover Castle
aged about 58
grandson of William I
(appointment/ usurpation)

Disputed claimants

Empress Matilda was declared heir presumptive by her father, Henry I, after the death of her brother on the White Ship, and acknowledged as such by the barons. However, upon Henry I's death, the throne was seized by Matilda's cousin, Stephen of Blois. The Anarchy ensued, with Matilda being a de facto ruler for a few months in 1141—the first woman so to be—but she was never crowned and is rarely listed as a monarch of England.[35]

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death Claim
Empress Matilda
(Mathilde l'emperesse)

7 April 1141–
1 November 1141
Title disputed
Matilda 7 February 1102
Sutton Courtenay
daughter of Henry I and Edith of Scotland[36]
(1) Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor
6 January 1114
no children
(2) Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou
Le Mans Cathedral
22 May 1128
three children
10 September 1167
Notre Dame du Pré in Rouen
aged 65
daughter of Henry I
(seizure of the crown)

Count Eustace IV of Boulogne (c. 1130 – 17 August 1153) was appointed co-king of England by his father, King Stephen, on 6 April 1152, in order to guarantee his succession to the throne (as was the custom in France, but not in England). However, the Pope and the Church would not agree to this, and Eustace was not crowned. Eustace died the next year aged 22, during his father's lifetime, and so never became king in his own right.[37]

House of Anjou[edit]

Stephen came to an agreement with Matilda in November 1153 with the signing of the Treaty of Wallingford, where Stephen recognised Prince Henry, son of Matilda and her second husband Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou, as the heir-apparent to the throne in lieu of his own son, who had died that August. The royal house descended from Matilda and Geoffrey is widely known by two names, the House of Anjou (after Geoffrey's title as Count of Anjou) or the House of Plantagenet, after his sobriquet. Some historians prefer to group the subsequent kings into two groups, before and after the loss of the Angevin Empire, although they are not different royal houses.

The Angevins ruled over the Angevin Empire during the 12th and 13th centuries, an area stretching from the Pyrenees to Ireland. They did not regard England as their primary home until most of their continental domains were lost by John. Though the Angevin Dynasty was short-lived, their male line descendants included the House of Plantagenet, the House of Lancaster and the House of York.

The Angevins formulated England's royal coat of arms, which usually showed other kingdoms held or claimed by them or their successors, although without representation of Ireland for quite some time. Dieu et mon droit has generally been used as the motto of English monarchs since being adopted by Edward III,[38] but it was first used as a battle cry by Richard I in 1198 at the Battle of Gisors, when he defeated the forces of Philip II of France, after which, he made it his motto.[38][39]

Name Portrait Arms Birth Marriages Death Claim
Henry II
Henry Curtmantle
(Henri Court-manteau)

19 December
Henry II Royal Arms of England (1154-1189).svg 5 March 1133
Le Mans
son of Geoffrey V of Anjou and Matilda, daughter of Henry I
Eleanor of Aquitaine
Bordeaux Cathedral
18 May 1152
eight children
6 July 1189
aged 56. Buried at Fontevraud Abbey
grandson of Henry I
(Treaty of Wallingford)
Henry the Young King
(Henri le Jeune Roy)
(co-ruler with his father)
14 June
Henry Royal Arms of England (1154-1189).svg 28 February 1155

son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine

Margaret of France
Winchester Cathedral
27 August 1172
one child
11 June 1183
Martel, Limoges
aged 28. Buried at Rouen Cathedral (Notre-Dame)
son of Henry II
(coronation as junior king)
Richard I
Richard the Lionheart
(Richard Cœur de Lion)

3 September
Richard the Lionheart, an illustration from a 12th-century codex Royal Arms of England (1198-1340).svg 8 September 1157
Beaumont Palace
son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine
Berengaria of Navarre
12 May 1191
no children
6 April 1199
aged 41 from an arrow wound in the shoulder that became infected. Buried: Heart at Rouen Cathedral. Body at Fontevraud Abbey
son of Henry II
(Jean sans Terre)

27 May
King John Royal Arms of England (1198-1340).svg 24 December 1166
Beaumont Palace
son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine
(1) Isabel of Gloucester
Marlborough Castle
29 August 1189
no children

(2) Isabella of Angoulême
Bordeaux Cathedral
24 August 1200
five children

19 October 1216
aged 49. Buried at Worcester Cathedral
brother of Richard I
(proximity of blood)

Disputed claimant

Louis VIII of France briefly ruled about half of England from 1216 to 1217 at the conclusion of the First Barons' War against King John. On marching into London he was openly received by the rebel barons and citizens of London and proclaimed (though not crowned) king at St Paul's cathedral. Many nobles, including Alexander II of Scotland for his English possessions, gathered to give homage to him. However, in signing the Treaty of Lambeth in 1217, Louis conceded that he had never been the legitimate king of England.

Name Portrait Arms Birth Marriages Death Claim
The Lion
22 September 1217
Title disputed
Louis8lelion.jpg France Ancient Arms.svg 5 September 1187
son of Philip II of France, and Isabella of Hainault
Blanche of Castile
23 May 1200
13 children
8 November 1226
aged 39
Right of conquest

House of Plantagenet[edit]

Main article: House of Plantagenet

The House of Plantagenet takes its name from Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou, husband of the Empress Matilda and father of Henry II. The name Plantagenet itself was unknown as a family name per se until Richard of York adopted it as his family name in the 15th century. It has since been retroactively applied to English monarchs from Henry II onward. It is common among modern historians to refer to Henry II and his sons as the "Angevins" due to their vast continental Empire, most of the Angevin kings prior to John spent more time in their continental possessions than in England. It is from the time of Henry III, after the loss of most of the family's continental possessions, when the Plantagenet kings became more English in nature. The Houses of Lancaster and York are cadet branches of the House of Plantagenet.

Name Portrait Arms Birth Marriages Death Claim
Henry III
Henry of Winchester
28 October
Henry III Royal Arms of England (1198-1340).svg 1 October 1207
Winchester Castle
son of King John and Isabella of Angoulême
Eleanor of Provence
Canterbury Cathedral
14 January 1236
five children
16 November 1272
Westminster Palace
aged 65
son of King John
Edward I
20 November
Edward I of England Royal Arms of England (1198-1340).svg 17 June 1239
Westminster Palace
son of Henry III and Eleanor of Provence
(1) Eleanor of Castile
Abbey of Santa Maria la Real de Huelgas
18 October 1254
16 children

(2) Margaret of France
10 September 1299
three children

7 July 1307
Burgh by Sands
aged 68
son of Henry III
Edward II
Edward of Caernarfon
7 July 1307 –
25 January 1327
Edward II - British Library Royal 20 A ii f10 (detail).jpg Royal Arms of England (1198-1340).svg 25 April 1284
Caernarfon Castle
son of Edward I and Eleanor of Castile
Isabella of France
Boulogne Cathedral
25 January 1308
five children
21 September 1327
Berkeley Castle
aged 43 (murdered)[40]
son of Edward I
Edward III
25 January
Edward III of England (Order of the Garter).jpg Royal Arms of England (1340-1367).svg 13 November 1312
Windsor Castle
son of Edward II and Isabella of France
Philippa of Hainault
York Minster
24 January 1328
14 children
21 June 1377
Sheen Palace
aged 64
son of Edward II
Richard II
21 June 1377 –
29 September 1399
Richard II of England.png Royal Arms of England (1395-1399).svg 6 January 1367
son of Edward, the Black Prince and Joan of Kent
(1) Anne of Bohemia
14 January 1382
no children

(2) Isabella of Valois
4 November 1396
no children

14 February 1400
Pontefract Castle
aged 33 probably from starvation
grandson of Edward III

House of Lancaster[edit]

Main article: House of Lancaster

This house descended from Edward III's third surviving son, John of Gaunt. Henry IV seized power from Richard II (and also displaced the next in line to the throne, Edmund Mortimer (then aged 7), a descendant of Edward III's second son, Lionel of Antwerp).

Name Portrait Arms Birth Marriages Death Claim
Henry IV
30 September
Henry IV Royal Arms of England (1340-1367).svg 3 April 1367[41]
Bolingbroke Castle
son of John of Gaunt and Blanche of Lancaster
(1) Mary de Bohun
Arundel Castle
27 July 1380
seven children

(2) Joanna of Navarre
Winchester Cathedral
7 February 1403
no children

20 March 1413
Westminster Abbey
aged 45[41]
grandson and heir male of Edward III
(usurpation/ agnatic primogeniture)
Henry V
The Star of England
20 March
Henry V Royal Arms of England (1399-1603).svg 16 September 1386[42]
Monmouth Castle
son of Henry IV and Mary de Bohun
Catherine of Valois
Troyes Cathedral
2 June 1420
one son
31 August 1422
Château de Vincennes
aged 36
son of Henry IV
(agnatic primogeniture)
Henry VI
31 August 1422 – 4 March 1461
Henry VI Royal Arms of England (1470-1471).svg 6 December 1421
Windsor Castle
son of Henry V and Catherine of Valois
Margaret of Anjou
Titchfield Abbey
22 April 1445
one son
21 May 1471
Tower of London
aged 49
son of Henry V
(agnatic primogeniture)

House of York[edit]

Main article: House of York

The House of York inherited its name from the fourth surviving son of Edward III, Edmund, 1st Duke of York, but claimed the right to the throne through Edward III's second surviving son, Lionel of Antwerp.

The Wars of the Roses (1455–1485) saw the throne pass back and forth between the rival houses of Lancaster and York.

Name Portrait Arms Birth Marriages Death Claim
Edward IV
4 March 1461 – 2 October 1470
Edward IV Royal Arms of England (1399-1603).svg 28 April 1442
son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and Cecily Neville
Elizabeth Woodville
Grafton Regis
1 May 1464
ten children
9 April 1483
Westminster Palace
aged 40
great-great-grandson and heir general of Edward III
(seizure of the crown/cognatic primogeniture)

House of Lancaster (restored)[edit]

Name Portrait Arms Birth Marriages Death Claim
Henry VI
30 October 1470 – 11 April 1471
Henry VI Royal Arms of England (1470-1471).svg 6 December 1421
Windsor Castle
son of Henry V and Catherine of Valois
Margaret of Anjou
Titchfield Abbey
22 April 1445
one son
21 May 1471
Tower of London
aged 49 (murdered by the York brothers).
son of Henry V
(seizure of the crown)

House of York (restored)[edit]

Name Portrait Arms Birth Marriages Death Claim
Edward IV
(second reign)
11 April 1471 – 9 April 1483
Edward IV Royal Arms of England (1399-1603).svg 28 April 1442
son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and Cecily Neville
Elizabeth Woodville
Grafton Regis
1 May 1464
ten children
9 April 1483
Westminster Palace
aged 40
great-great-grandson and heir general of Edward III
(seizure of the crown/cognatic primogeniture)
Edward V
9 April – 25 June 1483[43]
Edward V Royal Arms of England (1399-1603).svg 2 November 1470
son of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville[43]
unmarried c. 1483
aged about 12 (probably murdered)
son of Edward IV
(cognatic primogeniture)
Richard III
26 June
Richard III Royal Arms of England (1399-1603).svg 2 October 1452
Fotheringhay Castle
son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and Cecily Neville
Anne Neville
Westminster Abbey
12 July 1472
one son
22 August 1485
Bosworth Field
aged 32 (killed in battle). Re-interred Leicester Cathedral, 26 March 2015
great-great-grandson of Edward III
(Titulus Regius);
brother of Edward IV

House of Tudor[edit]

Main article: Tudor dynasty

The Tudors descended matrilineally from John Beaufort, one of the illegitimate children of John of Gaunt (third surviving son of Edward III), by Gaunt's long-term mistress Katherine Swynford. Those descended from English monarchs only through an illegitimate child would normally have no claim on the throne, but the situation was complicated when Gaunt and Swynford eventually married in 1396 (25 years after John Beaufort's birth). In view of the marriage, the church retroactively declared the Beauforts legitimate via a papal bull the same year (also enshrined in an Act of Parliament in 1397). A subsequent proclamation by John of Gaunt's legitimate son, King Henry IV, also recognised the Beauforts' legitimacy, but declared them ineligible ever to inherit the throne. Nevertheless, the Beauforts remained closely allied with Gaunt's other descendants, the Royal House of Lancaster.

John Beaufort's granddaughter Lady Margaret Beaufort was married to Edmund Tudor. Tudor was the son of Welsh courtier Owain Tudur (anglicised to Owen Tudor) and Catherine of Valois, the widowed queen consort of the Lancastrian King Henry V. Edmund Tudor and his siblings were either illegitimate, or the product of a secret marriage, and owed their fortunes to the goodwill of their legitimate half-brother King Henry VI. When the House of Lancaster fell from power, the Tudors followed. By the late 15th century, the Tudors were the last hope for the Lancaster supporters. Edmund Tudor's son became king as Henry VII after defeating Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, ending the Wars of the Roses. King Henry married Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV, thereby uniting the Lancastrian and York lineages.

With Henry VIII's break from the Roman Catholic Church, the monarch became the Supreme Head of the Church of England and of the Church of Ireland. Elizabeth I's title became the Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

Name Portrait Arms Birth Marriages Death Claim
Henry VII
22 August
Henry VII, by Michel Sittow, 1505 Royal Arms of England (1399-1603).svg 28 January 1457
Pembroke Castle
son of Edmund Tudor and Lady Margaret Beaufort
Elizabeth of York
Westminster Abbey
18 January 1486
eight children
21 April 1509
Richmond Palace
aged 52
great-great-great-grandson of Edward III
(right of conquest)
Henry VIII
21 April
Henry VIII, by Hans Holbein, c.1536 Royal Arms of England (1399-1603).svg 28 June 1491
Greenwich Palace
son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York
Catherine of Aragon
11 June 1509
one daughter
28 January 1547
Whitehall Palace
aged 55
son of Henry VII
Anne Boleyn
Westminster Palace
25 January 1533[45]
one daughter
Jane Seymour
Whitehall Palace
30 May 1536
one son
Anne of Cleves
Greenwich Palace
6 January 1540
Catherine Howard
Hampton Court Palace
28 July 1540
Catherine Parr
Hampton Court Palace
12 July 1543
Edward VI
28 January
Edward VI, by Hans Eworth Royal Arms of England (1399-1603).svg 12 October 1537
Hampton Court Palace
son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour
unmarried 6 July 1553
Greenwich Palace
aged 15
son of Henry VIII

Disputed claimant

Edward VI named Lady Jane Grey as his heir presumptive, overruling the order of succession laid down by Parliament in the Third Succession Act. Four days after his death on 6 July 1553, Jane was proclaimed queen—the first of three Tudor women to be proclaimed queen regnant. Nine days after the proclamation, on 19 July, the Privy Council switched allegiance and proclaimed Edward VI's Catholic half-sister Mary. Jane was executed in 1554, aged 16. Many historians do not consider her to have been a legitimate monarch.

Name Portrait Arms Birth Marriages Death Claim
10–19 July 1553
Title disputed
Streathamladyjayne.jpg Arms of Grey Family.svg October 1537
Bradgate Park
daughter of Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk, and Lady Frances Brandon
Lord Guildford Dudley
The Strand
21 May 1553
no children[46]
12 February 1554
Tower of London
aged 16 (beheaded)
great-granddaughter of Henry VII
(Devise for the succession)

Name Portrait Arms Birth Marriages Death Claim
Mary I
19 July
Mary I, by Antonius Mor, 1554 Royal Arms of England (1554-1558).svg 18 February 1516
Greenwich Palace
daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon
Philip II of Spain
Winchester Cathedral
25 July 1554
no children
17 November 1558
St. James's Palace
aged 42
daughter of Henry VIII
(Third Succession Act)
25 July 1554 –
17 November 1558
(jure uxoris)
King Philip of England Royal Arms of England (1554-1558).svg 21 May 1527
Valladolid, Spain
son of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, and Isabella of Portugal
(2) Mary I of England
Winchester Cathedral
25 July 1554
no children
three other marriages
and seven children
13 September 1598
El Escorial, Spain
aged 71
husband of Mary I
(Act for the Marriage of Queen Mary to Philip of Spain)
Coat of arms of Mary I

Under the terms of the marriage treaty between Philip I of Naples (Philip II of Spain from 15 January 1556) and Queen Mary I, Philip was to enjoy Mary's titles and honours for as long as their marriage should last. All official documents, including Acts of Parliament, were to be dated with both their names, and Parliament was to be called under the joint authority of the couple. An Act of Parliament gave him the title of king and stated that he "shall aid her Highness ... in the happy administration of her Grace's realms and dominions"[48] (although elsewhere the Act stated that Mary was to be "sole queen"). Nonetheless, Philip was to co-reign with his wife.[49] As the new King of England could not read English, it was ordered that a note of all matters of state should be made in Latin or Spanish.[49][50][51] Coins were minted showing the heads of both Mary and Philip, and the coat of arms of England (right) was impaled with Philip's to denote their joint reign.[52][53] Acts which made it high treason to deny Philip's royal authority were passed in England[54] and Ireland.[55] In 1555, Pope Paul IV issued a papal bull recognising Philip and Mary as rightful King and Queen of Ireland.

Name Portrait Arms Birth Marriages Death Claim
Elizabeth I
17 November
Elizabeth I, by Darnley Royal Arms of England (1399-1603).svg 7 September 1533
Greenwich Palace
daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn
unmarried 24 March 1603
Richmond Palace
aged 69
daughter of Henry VIII
(Third Succession Act)

House of Stuart[edit]

Main article: House of Stuart

Following the death of Elizabeth I in 1603 without issue, her cousin, James VI, King of Scots, succeeded to the English throne as James I in the Union of the Crowns. James was descended from the Tudors through his great-grandmother, Margaret Tudor, the eldest daughter of Henry VII. In 1604, he adopted the title King of Great Britain. However, the two parliaments remained separate until the Acts of Union 1707.[56]

Name Portrait Arms Birth Marriages Death Claim
James I
24 March
James I, by Paulus van Somer Royal Arms of England (1603-1707).svg 19 June 1566
Edinburgh Castle
son of Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, and Mary I, Queen of Scots
Anne of Denmark
23 November 1589
seven children
27 March 1625
Theobalds House
Aged 58
great-great-grandson and heir general of Henry VII
Charles I
27 March
Charles I, by Anthony van Dyck Royal Arms of England (1603-1707).svg 19 November 1600
Dunfermline Palace
son of James I and Anne of Denmark
Henrietta Maria of France
St Augustine's Abbey
13 June 1625
nine children
30 January 1649
Whitehall Palace
aged 48 (beheaded)
son of James I (cognatic primogeniture)


No monarch reigned between the execution of Charles I in 1649 and the Restoration of Charles II in 1660. Between 1649 and 1653, there was no single English head of state, as England was ruled directly by the Rump Parliament during a period known as the Commonwealth of England. After a coup d'etat in 1653, Oliver Cromwell forcibly took control of England from Parliament. He dissolved the Rump Parliament at the head of a military force and England entered a period known as The Protectorate, under the direct control of a single individual known as the Lord Protector. While not officially monarchs, the holder of the office of Lord Protector wielded great, almost absolute and dictatorial power over England, and the office became de facto hereditary when it passed from Oliver Cromwell to his son Richard. Richard lacked both the ability to rule and confidence of the Army, and he was forcibly removed by the English Committee of Safety under the leadership of Charles Fleetwood in May 1659. England again lacked any single head of state during several months of conflict between Fleetwood's party and that of Charles Monck. Monck took de facto control of the country in December 1659, and after almost a year of anarchy, the monarchy was formally restored when Charles II returned from France to accept the throne of England following the Declaration of Breda and an invitation to reclaim the throne from the Convention Parliament of 1660.

Lords Protector
Name Portrait Arms Birth Marriages Death
Oliver Cromwell
Old Ironsides
16 December
Oliver Cromwell Arms of the Protectorate (1653–1659).svg 25 April 1599
son of Robert Cromwell and Elizabeth Steward[58]
Elizabeth Bourchier
in St Giles[59]
22 August 1620
nine children[57]
3 September 1658
aged 59[57]
Richard Cromwell
Tumbledown Dick
3 September 1658
– 7 May 1659[60]
Richard Cromwell, c.1650 Arms of the Protectorate (1653–1659).svg 4 October 1626
son of Oliver Cromwell and Elizabeth Bourchier[60]
Dorothy Maijor
May 1649
nine children[60]
12 July 1712
aged 85[61]

House of Stuart (restored)[edit]

Following the restoration of the Monarchy, England came under the rule of Charles II whose reign was relatively peaceful domestically, given the tumultuous time of the Interregnum years. Tensions still existed between Catholics and Protestants however, and with the ascension of his son, the openly Catholic James II, England again was sent into a period of political turmoil. James II was ousted by Parliament less than three years after ascending to the throne, and the throne was offered jointly to his daughter Mary and her husband (also his first cousin once removed) William during the Glorious Revolution. While James and his descendants would continue to claim the throne, all Catholics (such as James and his son Charles) were barred from the throne by the Act of Settlement 1701, enacted by Queen Anne, another of James' Protestant daughters. After the Acts of Union 1707, England as a sovereign state ceased to exist, replaced by the new Kingdom of Great Britain.

Name Portrait Arms Birth Marriages Death Claim
Charles II
29 May 1660–1685[62]
Recognised by Royalists in 1649
Charles II of England.jpeg Royal Arms of England (1603-1707).svg 29 May 1630
St. James' Palace
son of Charles I and Henrietta Maria of France
Catherine of Braganza
21 May 1662
no children
6 February 1685
Whitehall Palace
aged 54
son of Charles I (cognatic primogeniture; English Restoration)
James II
6 February 1685 –
23 December 1688 (deposed)
James II (Gennari Benedetto).jpg Royal Arms of England (1603-1707).svg 14 October 1633
St. James' Palace
son of Charles I and Henrietta Maria of France
(1) Anne Hyde
The Strand
3 September 1660
eight children

(2) Mary of Modena
21 November 1673
seven children

16 September 1701
Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye
aged 67
son of Charles I (cognatic primogeniture)
Mary II
13 February
Mary II - Kneller 1690.jpg Royal Arms of England (1689-1694).svg 30 April 1662
St. James' Palace
daughter of James II and Anne Hyde
St. James' Palace
4 November 1677
no children
28 December 1694
Kensington Palace
aged 32
grandchildren of Charles I (offered the crown by Parliament)
William III
William of Orange
13 February
Portrait of William III, (1650-1702).jpg Royal Arms of England (1694-1702).svg 4 November 1650
The Hague
son of William II, Prince of Orange, and Mary, Princess Royal[63]
8 March 1702
Kensington Palace
aged 51 after breaking his collarbone from falling off his horse
8 March
1702–1 May 1707[64]
Queen of Great Britain and Ireland
1 May 1707–1 August 1714
Anne1705.jpg Royal Arms of England (1603-1707).svg 6 February 1665
St. James' Palace
daughter of James II and Anne Hyde
George of Denmark
St. James' Palace
28 July 1683
5 children
1 August 1714
Kensington Palace
aged 49
daughter of James II (cognatic primogeniture; Bill of Rights 1689)
Monarchs after 1707 See List of British monarchs

Acts of Union[edit]

The Acts of Union 1707 were a pair of Parliamentary Acts passed during 1706 and 1707 by the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland to put into effect the Treaty of Union agreed on 22 July 1706. The Acts joined the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland (previously separate sovereign states, with separate legislatures but with the same monarch) into the Kingdom of Great Britain.[65]

England, Scotland, and Ireland had shared a monarch for more than a hundred years, since the Union of the Crowns in 1603, when King James VI of Scotland inherited the English and Irish thrones from his first cousin twice removed, Queen Elizabeth I. Although described as a Union of Crowns, until 1707 there were in fact two separate Crowns resting on the same head. There had been attempts in 1606, 1667, and 1689, to unite England and Scotland by Acts of Parliament, but it was not until the early eighteenth century that the idea had the support of both political establishments behind it, albeit for rather different reasons.

For monarchs after 1707, see List of British monarchs.

Timeline of English monarchs[edit]

Anne, Queen of Great Britain Mary II of England William III of England James II of England Charles II of England Richard Cromwell Oliver Cromwell Charles I of England James VI and I Elizabeth I of England Philip II of Spain Mary I of England Lady Jane Grey Edward VI of England Henry VIII of England Henry VII of England Richard III of England Edward V of England Edward IV of England Henry VI of England Edward IV of England Henry VI of England Henry V of England Henry IV of England Richard II of England Edward III of England Edward II of England Edward I of England Henry III of England John, King of England Richard I of England Henry the Young King Henry II of England Empress Matilda Stephen, King of England Henry I of England William II of England William I of England Edgar the Ætheling Harold Godwinson Edward the Confessor Harthacnut Harold Harefoot Cnut the Great Edmund Ironside Æthelred the Unready Sweyn Forkbeard Æthelred the Unready Edward the Martyr Edgar the Peaceful Eadwig Eadred Edmund I Æthelstan Commonwealth of England House of Stuart Tudor Dynasty House of York House of Lancaster House of Plantagenet Angevin kings of England Normans House of Knýtlinga House of Wessex


The standard title for all monarchs from Æthelstan until the time of King John was Rex Anglorum ("King of the English"). In addition, many of the pre-Norman kings assumed extra titles, as follows:

  • Æthelstan: Rex totius Britanniae ("King of the Whole of Britain")
  • Edmund the Magnificent: Rex Britanniæ ("King of Britain") and Rex Anglorum cæterarumque gentium gobernator et rector ("King of the English and of other peoples governor and director")
  • Eadred: Regis qui regimina regnorum Angulsaxna, Norþhymbra, Paganorum, Brettonumque ("Reigning over the governments of the kingdoms of the Anglo-Saxons, Northumbrians, Pagans, and British")
  • Eadwig the Fair: Rex nutu Dei Angulsæxna et Northanhumbrorum imperator paganorum gubernator Breotonumque propugnator ("King by the will of God, Emperor of the Anglo-Saxons and Northumbrians, governor of the pagans, commander of the British")
  • Edgar the Peaceful: Totius Albionis finitimorumque regum basileus ("Autocrat of all Albion and its neighbouring realms")
  • Canute: Rex Anglorum totiusque Brittannice orbis gubernator et rector ("King of the English and of all the British sphere governor and director") and Brytannie totius Anglorum monarchus ("Monarch of all the English of Britain")

In the Norman period Rex Anglorum remained standard, with occasional use of Rex Anglie ("King of England"). The Empress Matilda styled herself Domina Anglorum ("Lady of the English").

From the time of King John onwards all other titles were eschewed in favour of Rex or Regina Anglie.

In 1604 James I, who had inherited the English throne the previous year, adopted the title (now usually rendered in English rather than Latin) King of Great Britain. The English and Scottish parliaments, however, did not recognise this title until the Acts of Union of 1707 under Queen Anne (who was of course Queen of Great Britain rather than king).[66]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ E. B. Fryde et al, eds. (1996). Handbook of British Chronology (3rd ed.). Royal Historical Society. p. 25. ISBN 0-521-56350-X. 
  2. ^ Keynes, Simon (2001). "Rulers of the English, c.450–1066". In Michael Lapidge, John Blair, Simon Keynes and Donald Scragg. The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Anglo-Saxon England. Blackwell Publishing. p. 514. ISBN 978-0-631-22492-1. 
  3. ^ In 1801, the Kingdom of Ireland, which had been under English rule since King Henry II, became part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland following the Act of Union, which lasted until the secession of Ireland in 1922 and the subsequent renaming of the state to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
  4. ^ "Kings and Queens of England". 
  5. ^ Pratt, David (2007). "The political thought of King Alfred the Great". Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought: Fourth Series 67. Cambridge University Press, p. 106. ISBN 978-0-521-80350-2.
  6. ^ Yorke, Barbara. Bishop Æthelwold: His Career and Influence. Woodbridge, 1988. p. 71
  7. ^ a b Simon Keynes, 'Rulers of the English, c 450–1066', in Michael Lapidge et al ed., The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Anglo-Saxon England, 2001, p. 514
  8. ^ Sean Miller, Æthelstan, in Michael Lapidge et al ed., The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Anglo-Saxon England, 2001, p. 16
  9. ^ a b Simon Keynes, 'Edward, King of the Anglo-Saxons', in N. J. Higham & D. H. Hill eds., Edward the Elder, Routledge, 2001, pp. 50–51
  10. ^ Alan Thacker, 'Dynastic Monasteries and Family Cults', in N. J. Higham & D. H. Hill eds., Edward the Elder, Routledge, 2001, p. 253
  11. ^ a b c Aethelstan @ Retrieved 15 March 2007.
  12. ^ a b c EADMUND (Edmund) @ Retrieved 17 March 2007.
  13. ^ English Monarchs – Kings and Queens of England – Edmund the Elder. Retrieved 17 March 2007.
  14. ^ EADRED (Edred) @ Retrieved 17 March 2007.
  15. ^ BritRoyals – King Edred. Retrieved 17 March 2007.
  16. ^ a b c EADWIG (Edwy) @ Retrieved 17 March 2007.
  17. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia: Edwy. Retrieved 17 March 2007.
  18. ^ EADGAR (Edgar the Peacemaker) @ Retrieved 17 March 2007.
  19. ^ Family of Edgar +* and Aelfthryth +* of DEVON. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
  20. ^ a b EADWEARD (Edward the Martyr) @ Retrieved 17 March 2007.
  21. ^ a b c d Æthelred the Unready was forced to go into exile in the summer of 1013, following Danish attacks, but was invited back following Sweyn Forkbeard's death. AETHELRED (the Unready) @ Retrieved 17 March 2007.
  22. ^ a b English Monarchs – Kings and Queens of England – Ethelred II, the Redeless. Retrieved 17 March 2007.
  23. ^ "English Monarchs". Retrieved 27 October 2007. 
  24. ^ "Sweyn (Forkbeard) -". Retrieved 27 October 2007. 
  25. ^ a b c d EADMUND (Edmund the Ironside) @ Retrieved 17 March 2007.
  26. ^ a b English Monarchs – Kings and Queens of England – Edmund Ironside. Retrieved 17 March 2007.
  27. ^ Edmund II (king of England) @ Retrieved 25 March 2010.
  28. ^ a b c d CNUT (Canute) @ Retrieved 21 March 2007.
  29. ^ a b Harold was only recognised as regent until 1037, when was recognised as king. "Harold (Harefoot) -". Retrieved 27 October 2007. 
  30. ^ "Harold I". Oxford Online Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  31. ^ "Harthacnut -". Retrieved 28 October 2007. 
  32. ^ a b "Harthacnut". Oxford Online Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  33. ^ a b After reigning for approximately 9 weeks, Edgar the Atheling submitted to William the Conqueror, who had gained control of the area to the south and immediate west of London ("Eadgar (the Ætheling) -". Retrieved 26 October 2007. ).
  34. ^ "STEPHEN (of Blois) -". Retrieved 25 October 2007. 
  35. ^ Matilda is not listed as a monarch of England in many genealogies within texts, including David Carpenter's A Struggle for Mastery (2003) pg. 533, W.L. Warren's Henry II (1973) pg. 176, and John Gillingham's The Angevin Empire (1984) pg. x.
  36. ^ "MATILDA (the Empress) -". Retrieved 27 October 2007. 
  37. ^ Ashley, Mike (1999). The Mammoth Book of British Kings and Queens, London: Robinson Publishing Ltd. p. 516. ISBN 1-84119-096-9
  38. ^ a b Pine, Leslie Gilbert (1983). A Dictionary of mottoes. Routledge. p. 53. ISBN 978-0-7100-9339-4. 
  39. ^ Norris, Herbert (1999). Medieval Costume and Fashion (illustrated, reprint ed.). Courier Dover Publications. p. 312. ISBN 0-486-40486-2. 
  40. ^ The date of Edward II's death is disputed by Ian Mortimer in his book "The Perfect King: The Life of Edward III, Father of the English Nation," which argues that he may not have been murdered, but held imprisoned in Europe for several more years: ISBN 0-09-952709-X
  41. ^ a b Mortimer, Ian (2007). "Henry IV's date of birth and the royal Maundy". Historical Research (University of London) 80 (210): 567–576. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2281.2006.00403.x. ISSN 0950-3471. 
  42. ^ Allmand, Christopher (September 2010). "Henry V (1386–1422)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford, England, UK: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/12952. 
  43. ^ a b Edward V was deposed by Richard III, who usurped the throne on the grounds that Edward was illegitimate. "EDWARD V -". Retrieved 25 October 2007. 
  44. ^ "RICHARD III -". Retrieved 25 October 2007. 
  45. ^ Edward Hall and Raphael Holinshed both record an earlier secret wedding between Henry and Anne, which was conducted in Dover on 15 November 1532.
  46. ^ "Lady Jane Grey: Marriage". Retrieved 25 October 2007. 
  47. ^ Philip was not meant to be a mere consort; rather, the status of Mary I's husband was envisioned as that of a co-monarch during her reign. See Act for the Marriage of Queen Mary to Philip of Spain. However the extent of his authority and his status are ambiguous. The Act says that Philip shall have the title of king and "shall aid her Highness ... in the happy administration of her Grace's realms and dominions," but elsewhere says that Mary shall be the sole Queen.
  48. ^ "Act for the Marriage of Queen Mary to Philip of Spain (1554)". 
  49. ^ a b Louis Adrian Montrose, The subject of Elizabeth: authority, gender, and representation, University of Chicago Press, 2006
  50. ^ A. F. Pollard, The History of England – From the Accession of Edward VI. to the Death of Elizabeth (1547–1603), READ BOOKS, 2007
  51. ^ Wim de Groot, The Seventh Window: The King's Window Donated by Philip II and Mary Tudor to Sint Janskerk in Gouda (1557), Uitgeverij Verloren, 2005
  52. ^ Richard Marks, Ann Payne, British Museum, British Library; British heraldry from its origins to c. 1800; British Museum Publications Ltd., 1978
  53. ^ American Numismatic Association, The Numismatist, American Numismatic Association, 1971
  54. ^ Treason Act 1554
  55. ^ Robert Dudley Edwards, Ireland in the age of the Tudors: the destruction of Hiberno-Norman civilisation, Taylor & Francis, 1977
  56. ^ Article 3 of the Act of Union 1707
  57. ^ a b c d "Oliver Cromwell 1599–1658". Retrieved 25 October 2007. 
  58. ^ "Oliver Cromwell – Faq 1". Retrieved 25 October 2007. 
  59. ^ "New Page 1". Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 25 October 2007. 
  60. ^ a b c "Richard Cromwell, Lord Protector, 1626–1712". Retrieved 25 October 2007. 
  61. ^ "CROMWELL, Richard -". Retrieved 25 October 2007. 
  62. ^ "Oliver Cromwell (1649-1658 AD)". 
  63. ^ "WILLIAM III -". Retrieved 25 October 2007. 
  64. ^ "Anne (England) -". Retrieved 25 October 2007. 
  65. ^ Welcome Retrieved 7 October 2008.
  66. ^ After the personal union of the crowns, James was the first to style himself King of Great Britain, but the title was rejected by the English Parliament and had no basis in law. The Parliament of Scotland also opposed it. Croft, p67; Wilson, pp249–252. See also the early history of the Union Flag.

External links[edit]