I have been writing a series of short articles (hubs) on the Kings and Queens of England. This hub is to draw them all together so that the reader has a chronological list and a brief description to enable them to explore.
I make no apology for the title. All of the Kings or Queens have ruled at least England, some have ruled many other countries from Normandy in 1066, to India in the nineteenth century. It was too difficult to delineate the territories ruled, so for that information you will have to read the individual hubs. I have included the period of the protectorship as this gives some clarity to the ascendancy of the various families.
The history of Kings and Queens in England tends to start with 1066 and William the Conqueror. I will be researching the first thousand years at the tail end of the year so look out for more hubs.
William I 1066- 1087
William I was the Duke of Normandy who attacked and repelled the English forces at Hastings on the South coast of the country. He ruled both England and Normandy and replaced the English magnates with French Barons who owned land in both England and Normandy.
William II (1087-1100)
William Rufus as he was known became King on his fathers death. His brother Robert was given the Dukedom of Normandy but he mismanaged it and became indebted to Rufus who funded him on a crusade. At the point that Robert was due to return with much wealth and a new wife to claim his Duchy, William Rufus was killed whilst out hunting , leaving a fight for the succession between his brothers, Robert and Henry
Henry 1 (1100-1135)
Henry was a man of action and a diplomat when required.He initially negotiated a settlement with his brother Robert in order to keep the English crown. When Robert resorted to attacking the King , his forces captured him and he was imprisoned for the rest of his life- some 28 years. His son and heir was to die in a shipwreck and his daughter Matilda was destined to take the throne. Matilda proved herself unpopular with the people and it was his nephew Stephen who was able to steal the throne away from her.
Stephen I 1135-1154
Stephen rushed to England from Boulogne following the death of his uncle and quickly gained the support of his brother the Bishop of Winchester and the people of London. His reign saw a civil war with Matilda setting up a rival court in Bristol. Known as "The Empress" Matilda eventually left England and returned to her husband Geoffrey Plantagenet. The couples son Henry was eventually declared heir by King Stephen and so it became the first undisputed succession for many years.
Henry II (1154-1189)
Henry II was a rich and powerful man with lands from the North of England to the Pyrenees, He consolidated his power and regained lands lost by his predecessor King Stephen, He vanquished Brittany and also took his forces into Ireland. He is perhaps best known for the death of Thomas Becket the Archbishop of Canterbury where an off the cuff remark led to some of his soldiers going to Canterbury Cathedral and murdering the Archbishop. He left two sons, Richard and Henry who both later became King.
Richard I, Richard the Lion Heart (1189-1199)
Richards father Henry wanted to split his kingdom between his two sons, Richard and John. To enforce his position Richard sought the support of the King of France and forced John to remove himself to Ireland which had been left to him by his father. Richard was a brave man who took off on the third crusade to Jerusalem where he spent large amounts of the Treasury gold on moving men and munitions across Europe. Richard was taken prisoner and whilst thus taken lost much of his territory in Europe, It was whilst he was fighting to regain that territory that he died in France in April 199.
King John I ( 1199-1216)
Richard's sudden death threw John into his much desired role as King. Having failed to regain the European territories John spent the majority of his reign in England. The country was torn apart by inflation and High taxes. The lords of the land appealed to John for reform and the Magna Carta was signed, but to John this was simply a delaying tactic. Civil war broke out with the Lords attempting to oust John in favour of the French Kings' son, Louis. John died in the middle of the civil war and the country was ruled by a minority which was soon able to win the war and reunite the country whilst it waited for King Henry to come of age.
King Henry III (1216 -1272)
King Henry was nine years old when he succeeded to his fathers throne, in the midst of a civil war inspired by his father. His minority saw governance by a successful council of magnates who rescued the country from war and maintained peace at home at the cost of European lands. Henry valued his family above the people and angered the magnates at home following his attempts to obtain Sicily as a dominion for his second son, Edmund. Plunged into war again , Henry's opponents were eventually defeated and he invested his energy into the restoration of Westminster Abbey.
Edward I 1272-1307
Edward was the son of Henry III. He returned from the crusades two years after his fathers death in 1274. He invaded Wales in 1277 and was victorious and spared many welsh rebels. A second rebellion in 1289 resulted in the death of the welsh leaders either in battle or by execution. In 1301 the first Prince of Wales was proclaimed.. Edwards need for money to wage war led to taxation increased which in turn led to the rise of the political power within parliament. He died en route to fight against the cost, Robert the Bruce.
King Edward II (1307-1327)
King Edward II inherited a kingdom needing strong leadership, A skill he did not have. There were severe social problems and poverty caused by bad harvests and virulent disease amongst livestock. Edward II became the first monarch to abdicate this throne, which he did in favour of his son Edward III
King Edward III (1327-1377)
Edward inherited the throne at the age of 19 following the abdication of his father. Edward was a sensible King with a self confident attitude and he developed a remarkable rapport with his subjects whilst taxing them highly to pay for the war in France. By 1369 Edward was showing signs of senility and his heir, the Black Prince had died of wounds sustained in battle. King Edward died in 1377 and was succeeded by his ten year old grandson Richard II.
King Richard II (1377-99)
This was the first minority rule since 1216. This saw the peasants revolt in 1381 in south and eastern England at the introduction of a poll tax to pay for the war. The throne was seized from King Richard and he was imprisoned in an attempt to lift the cost of war from the English nation. He did not leave a son to be his heir.
King Henry IV 1399-1413
Henry was the eldest son of Edward III's third son. He managed to gain support in the country by using personal qualities of drive and determination accompanied by a conciliatory nature. He apprehended the supporters of Richard Ii and killed them at Cirencester in December 1399. Richard II died in captivity of a mysterious illness soon after this. Henry IV left four strong sons to provide for the security of his lineage.
King Henry V 1413-1422
Henry V succeeded his father, also named Henry in 1413.He fought against France, his triumph culminating at the Battle of Agincourt where he nearly succeeded in claiming the French crown. His reign was ended in 1422 following his death from dysentery.
King Henry V1 1422- 1471
Henry V1th became King on the death of his father in 1422, and was the first English King to be crowned King Of France, although England was governed by his regents until 1437. Henry married Margaret of Anjou giving in return the lands of Maine and Anjou to the French, Towards the end of his reign the monarchy was unpopular owing to a breakdown in law and order, corruption in the King's court and the poor financial situation, let alone the loss of Normandy in 1449 following a campaign by the Duke of Somerset.
Henry suffered a mental breakdown following the loss of Bordeaux in August 1453. The "War of the Roses" led to the Yorkist faction gaining power and Henry was deposed by Edward 1V ( Edward of York) . Henry wandered through the Scottish borders with his wife and was eventually captured at Ribbesdale in 1465 from where he was taken to London and imprisoned in the Tower of London.
The Earl of Warwick drove Edward 1V out and Henry was restored to the throne in 1470. His tenure on the throne would be brief as Warwick was defeated in battle and Edward again sought the crown. Henry was murdered in the Tower of London on 21st May 1471 and after a short sojourn at Chertsey Abbey was buried in St. George's chapel, Windsor.
Edward, Duke of York with the support of the powerful Earl of Warwick, “the Kingmaker” overthrew the King, Henry V1 at the Battle of Towton in 1461 and was crowned King. In 1464 Edward married Elizabeth Woodville in direct opposition to the wishes of Warwick who left the country after it became clear that the Woodville family were receiving favours from the King. Warwick conspired with the Kings brother the Duke of Clarence and Margaret of Anjou, Henry’s wife which led to an invasion from France and the return of Henry V1 to the throne. Edward returned in March 1471 from the Netherlands where he had fled with his brother the Duke of Gloucester and mounted a successful campaign killing Warwick at the Battle of Barnet and capturing the King at the Battle of Tewkesbury. Henry V1 was subsequently killed in the Tower of London. Edward’s second reign lasted until 1483 and was a time of peace. He died leaving two young sons in the case of his brother the Duke of Gloucester.
Edward V 1483
Edward V was King of England from April to June 1483, one of the Princes’ in the tower believed to have been murdered by Richard, Duke of Gloucester in his pursuit of the crown. On June 26th 1483 Parliament declared that his parents’ marriage had been invalid and therefore he was not the legitimate heir . Richard, Duke of Gloucester was subsequently crowned King. The princes lived in the Tower of London, which at that time was a royal residence as well as a prison. In August 1483 the princes disappeared from the Tower and their deaths have been attributed to Richard III. In 1674 two skeletons were unearthed in the Tower and are believed to be those of the two princes
Richard III 1483-1485
Richard III was Edward IV’s brother and guardian of his children and his realm upon his death. Following the decision on the legitimacy of Edward V he became King in late June 1483. In August 1485 the Lancastrian claimant to the throne Henry Tudor landed in South Wales and marching east fought Richard at the Battle of Bosworth Field in August 1485. During this battle Richard was killed mainly because although he had more troops some defected to Tudor’s cause as he wished to unite the factions and cease the civil war . King Richard's body was interred in the grounds of what was then St Martin's church in Leicester. Recently a team of archeaologists from the University of Leicester have found the grave and after exhaustive tests proven that he was buried in Leicester. Currently there are plans to remove his body and bury it in the nearby cathedral.
Henry VII 1485- 1509
Henry VII was the first Tudor monarch whose coronation ended the warring between the rival yorkist and Lancastrian factions. Henry VII gained support from the Yorkist family by marrying Elizabeth of York whose brothers were the young princes murdered in the Tower. Henry’s claim to the throne was suspect, he was not of direct royal blood, yet his financial acumen increased the wealth of the country and he was able to unite England with Spain with the arrangement of marriage for his eldest son Arthur to Catherine of Aragon. Henry instigated the Star chamber which dealt with judicial matters and took steps to control Wales. He granted more power to Justices of the Peace and instilled the notion of Royal power and rule within the country. He left the country in a solid position both financially and politically.
Henry VIII 1509- 1547
Henry inherited the throne from his father, his brother Arthur having died unexpectedly. Henry’s reign is perhaps best known for the fact that he wed six women, divorced two and had two beheaded! Henry’s difficulties in obtaining divorces, his first wife was his brothers late wife ( although the marriage was believed not to be consummated) led to a separation of the church from Rome and Henry becoming Head of the church in England or Defender of the Faith , a title which still remains with the English crown. Ill health marred his later life, probably caused by syphilis and he was prone to gout. He was a large dominant man and his girth grew to match his height.
- Catherine Parr- sixth wife of King Henry VIII
- Katherine Howard- the King's Fifth wife
- Anne of Cleeves- Henry VIII's "Good Sister"
- King Henry's third wife- Jane Seymour
- Anne Boleyn - beheaded by King Henry
- Catherine of Aragon
- Henry VIII- the Wolsey years
Edward VI 1547- 1553
Edward was the only son and aged 10 years old when his father died. Edward’s mother died after his birth and the child was never a strong boy. His minority became the rule of the Duke of Somerset and with the aid of Cranmer they issued the Common Book of Prayer to ensure that Protestantism was the religion in the country. The prayer book caused rebellion in the west and Kett’s rebellion in Norfolk, weakening the state so that the French declared war. In this difficult situation Somerset received no support and was executed for usurping his powers. The Earl of Dudley became Lord Protector in all but name and the 1552 Act of Uniformity made Protestantism the religion of the land. Edward became ill with tuberculosis and one of his dying acts was to make a new Act of succession appointing his cousin Lady Jane Grey as heir over his sister Mary
Lady Jane Grey
Jane Grey was never crowned Queen. She was ousted by supporters of Henry VIII’s daughter Mary who claimed the throne. Lady Jane Grey was beheaded at the Tower of London on her cousins’ orders
Queen Mary I 1553- 1558
Mary was a catholic who never recognised her father’s position as Head of the church. She gained the crown on a tide of popular support and immediately set about her two polices, one to return the country to the catholic faith and the second to marry Philip of Spain. Neither of these policies were popular. In 1554 the Wyatt Rebellion against Catholicism was quashed and Mary married Philip. She took a robust stand against the protestant faith and there followed a period where protestant martyrs were burned at the stake. War against France went badly with the loss of Calais, England’s final possession in France and the deterioration in her relationship with Phillip who neither liked her nor could hide his disdain that Mary had been unable to bear him a child.
Elizabeth I 1558- 1603
Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII, her mother Anne Boleyn had been beheaded by her father. A devout Christian one of her first acts was to return the country to the Protestant faith. She was the head of a truly renaissance court that saw the expansion of overseas trade and the work of Shakespeare and Marlowe lead a movement in English literature. There were many catholic plots against her many involving her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots whom she imprisoned for twenty years until persuaded to execute her in 1587. In 1588 Elizabeth united her forces to defend the country against the Spanish Armada assembled by Philip of Spain. Philip was not well regarded in the country following his marriage to Mary and Elizabeth provided a focus for the common man to unite behind against Spain. Elizabeth never married, although she was urged to do so and leaving no heir the throne went to the son of her cousin Mary Queen of Scots, whom she had beheaded.
James I of England and V1 of Scotland 1603-1625
Despite the death of his mother at the hands of Elizabeth, James remained loyal to the English throne and was rewarded by being named by Elizabeth as her successor. There was a smooth transition with the unity of the two crowns and James established his court in London. Perhaps this reign is best known for the production of the Authorised King James Version of the Bible in 1611. In 1605 a catholic led plot to blow up the King and Parliament was discovered. Thus every November 5th fireworks are let off and bonfires are lit and dummies of the plots leader Guy Fawkes are burned, in every town and city in the United Kingdom. James found peace with Spain and his rule was defined by his belief in the Divine Right of Kings.
Charles I 1625- 1649
Charles married a catholic wife Henrietta of France and this along with his taste for High church inflamed the Protestant Puritanism movement in the country. He was intolerant of Parliament, dissolving it three times between 1625 and 1629 and after the last dissolution he vowed to rule alone. This was accompanied by direct measures to raise taxation revenue and a crackdown on individual puritan members which meant that large numbers were unhappy and some even immigrated to the New Worlds which were being discovered. Civil war began in 1642 after Charles had increased tensions to boiling point by assembling parliament to increase taxes to fight the Scots and Irish. When opposed he had 5 members of the Parliament arrested which precipitated the Civil War. Charles was defeated in 1646 and escaped to the Isle of Wight where he tried to obtain support from the Scots and was defeated again in battle in 1647. Charles was executed in 1649 on charges of Treason but in reality the Puritans knew that their rule would not be safe whilst he was alive.
Oliver Cromwell 1650-1658
Oliver Cromwell, leader of Parliaments New Model Army was one of the main campaigners that Charles be charged with treason. In 1651 Cromwell defeated the forces of the Kings son, also named Charles, at Worcester and ended the Civil War. In 1653 he made himself Lord Protector and reorganised the church, establishing the Puritan religion and allowing the admission of Jews into the country. He was not neglectful of foreign policy ending wars with Portugal and Holland and making an alliance with France against Spain who were defeated in 1658 at the Battle of the Dune. Cromwell died in 1658 and stories are told of how after his burial the body was dug up and hung by supporters of Charles II
Richard Cromwell 1658-9
Richard was named Lord Protector on the death of his father. He could not keep the various strands of government going and soon lost the support of the army on which his power depended. He abdicated his role and the monarchy was restored. After a brief sojourn in France Richard returned to England and lived quietly until his death in 1712.
Charles II 1660- 1685
Charles spent many years in exile until being invited to reclaim his father’s throne in 1660. On his return he punished those men still alive who had signed his father’s death warrant, but on the whole his reign was politically tolerant and he pursued a policy of power sharing. The Kings’ reign saw The Great Plague (1665) and the Great Fire of London (1666) which resulted in much of the City of London being rebuilt. Continued wars against the Dutch led to Charles making a secret treaty with France to obtain money and support from the French in return for his personal conversion to Catholicism. In order to reclaim his protestant bearing Charles married his niece Mary to the protestant William of Orange. Charles had no legitimate sons and his brother James (Mary’s father) was his heir. Charles died in 1685 and converted to Catholicism as he lay dying.
- Charles II and his escape from England and certain d...
- King Charles II of England and his mistresses
James II 1685-1689
James had converted to Catholicism in 1669 but this was not seen as an obstacle to him inheriting the throne. He had been a brave soldier and supported his brother Charles in his attempts to regain the crown by force. James faced rebellion in his first year led by his brother’s illegitimate son, the Duke of Monmouth. This rebellion was easily quashed but it was the savage punishments given out by Judge Jeffery’s at the assizes that caused so much hatred of James. James antagonised parliament by wanting to give equal rights to protestant and catholic dissenters and resolved to rule on alone and appointed Catholics into positions of power in his government. In June 1688 James’ second wife gave birth to a boy and appeals were made to William of Orange, James son in law, as the majority of the country did not want a catholic king. William landed in 1688 and James who had been deserted by his army, fled the country. In 1869 Parliament decided that James flight had been an abdication and William and Mary were crowned as joint monarchs
William III and Mary II 1689- 1702
Williams’s mother was Mary daughter of Charles I. He married his cousin Mary daughter of James in 1677 in an attempt to form an alliance against the French with England. William and Mary accepted a Bill of Rights from Parliament which stated their grievances against King James but also limited the power of the King and gave rights and power to Parliament. In 1690 King James landed in Ireland which was mainly Catholic and was met and beaten by Williams’s forces in the Battle of the Boyne. Once James was no longer a danger William turned his attention to France and like a medieval king led his troops into battle against the French. Mary died of smallpox in1694 and William in 1702 after a riding accident. The couple did not have any children.
Anne I 1702-1714
Anne was the second daughter of James II and sister to Queen Mary II. Anne was raised as a protestant and married Prince George of Denmark by whom she had a number of failed pregnancies and children who died in infancy. In 1707 the treaty of unification saw the thrones of England and Scotland united into one kingdom and Anne became the first Queen, and sovereign of Great Britain. Under this treaty parliamentary power was centred in London and a common flag and coinage were established; but Scotland kept its system of law, education and religion. This is still the same today although some power has been devolved to the Scottish parliament. The political parties in parliament of the Whigs and Tories became established during Anne’s reign. Anne died in 1714, her only son William had predeceased her in 1710. In 1701 Parliament had passed the Act of Succession which had designated Anne’s heir as Sophia of Hannover, their closest living Protestant relative. Closer ties with catholic relatives were overlooked to ensure a Protestant succession.
George I 1714- 1727
Anne’s heir, the Electress Sophia of Hannover died shortly before Anne herself and so she was succeeded by Sophia’s son, Prince George of Hannover. In 1715 there was a rebellion in Scotland from the Jacobites, supporters of the catholic James Stuart who had closer claims to the throne. This and a subsequent rebellion in 1719 was easily quelled. In 1720 the South Sea Company collapsed. The crown and the King had invested huge amounts and were in a real financial crisis. In 1721 Robert Walpole was appointed First Lord of the Treasury and effectively became the country’s first Prime Minister. George was never really liked as he was unable to speak English and took little interest in the running of the country leaving it to his Prime Minister and Parliament.
- King George 1- the first Hanoverian King of England
King George 1 was the chosen successor of Queen Anne despite his Germanic upbringing Prince of Hanover and King Of England but it was clear to most that his first love was Hanover where he was buried..
George II 1727-1760
George married Princess Caroline of Brandenburg-Ansbach and had nine children! King George had a volatile relationship with his father and his court was the centre of opposition. The Prime Minister Robert Walpole had mediated between the two men and on the accession of the new King, cemented his position in his court by obtaining for the King a large civil allowance and the support of influential men as there were rumours concerning his legitimacy. The Jacobite rebellion of 1745 saw a united country expel the Young Pretender, who was defeated at the Battle of Culloden, ending the Stuart challenge to the monarchy. The country became involved in the Austrian War of succession and George II became the last monarch to lead an army into battle at the Battle of Dettingen against the French. George died in 1760, he was predeceased by his son and therefore his grandson George III was heir to the throne.
George III 1760-1820
George was the third Hanoverian King but the first to use English as his main language. He was married to Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and the couple had fifteen children. George’s first minister was the Earl of Bute who was an unpopular choice and isolated an vilified the King. In 1770 George appointed Lord North as his chief minister. The government was dominated by North’s attempts to revive the country’s economic situation by taxing the American colonies. War with America began in 1775 and continued until 1781 when the colony was lost, forcing Lord North to resign. In 1801 Ireland was taken into the union and the United Kingdom was born. King George had several bouts of illness which resulted in him becoming completely deranged in 1810; when his son, also called George took the role of Prince Regent. George never recovered his sanity, dying insane in 1820.
George IV 1820-1830
As Prince of Wales George enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle which resulted in only contempt from his father. It is believed that George illegally married his mistress Maria Fitzherbert in 1785. It was an illegal marriage as Mrs Fitzherbert was a catholic and the King could not marry a catholic without Parliament’s permission. In 1795 in exchange for parliament paying his enormous debts, the Prince was married to Caroline of Brunswick. The marriage was not successful and on his accession to the throne, George tried to divorce her, but could not get permission. George’s interest in politics and government was limited, although he was the first king to visit Scotland since 1650. In 1829 George agreed after much pressure to the Emancipation of Catholics Act. George was a patron of the Arts, perhaps his greatest creation was the building of the Royal Pavilion in Brighton which is luxurious with a Chinese and Indian theme. George retired to Windsor and when he died the Crown passed to his brother William