Home Random Page



The king’s College of our lady of Eton beside Windsor 1 page

Kings of England


William I (1066-1087)

William II (1087-1100)

Henry I (1100-1135)

Stephen (1135-1154)

Henry II (1154-1189)

Richard I (1189-1199)

John (1199-1216)

Henry III (1216-1272)

Edward I (1272-1307)

Edward II (1307-1327)

Edward III (1327-1377)

Richard II (1377-1399)

Henry IV (1399-1413)

Henry V (1413-1422)

Henry VI (1422-1461, 1470-1471)

Edward IV (1461-1470, 1471-1483)

Edward V (9 April – 25 June 1483)

Richard III (1483-1485)

Henry VII (1485-1509)

Henry VIII (1509-1547)

Edward VI (1547-1553)

Lady Grey (10-19 July 1553)

Mary I (1553-1558)

Elizabeth I (1558-1603)

James I (1603-1625)

Charles I (1625-1649)

Charles II (1660-1685)

James II (1685-1688)

William III and Mary II (1689-1702, 1689-1694 respectively)

Anne (1702-1714)

George I (1714-1727)

George II (1727-1760)

George III (1760-1820)

George IV (1820-1830)

William IV (1830-1837)

Victoria (1837-1901)

Edward VII (1901-1910)

George V (1910-1936)

Edward VIII (20 January – 11 December 1936)

George VI (1936-1952)

Elizabeth II (1952-)



IntroductionEnglish Monarchs (400AEM603)

The history of the English Crown up to the Union of the Crowns in 1603 is long and eventful.

The concept of a single ruler unifying different tribes based in England developed in the eighth and ninth centuries in figures such as Offa and Alfred the Great, who began to create centralised systems of government.

Following the Norman Conquest, the machinery of government developed further, producing long-lived national institutions including Parliament.

The Middle Ages saw several fierce contests for the Crown, culminating in the Wars of the Roses, which lasted for nearly a century. The conflict was finally ended with the advent of the Tudors, the dynasty which produced some of England's most successful rulers and a flourishing cultural Renaissance.

The end of the Tudor line with the death of the 'Virgin Queen' in 1603 brought about the Union of the Crowns with Scotland.

Anglo SaxonsIn the Dark Ages during the fifth and sixth centuries, communities of peoples in Britain inhabited homelands with ill-defined borders. Such communities were organised and led by chieftains or kings.

Following the final withdrawal of the Roman legions from the provinces of Britannia in around 408 AD these small kingdoms were left to preserve their own order and to deal with invaders and waves of migrant peoples such as the Picts from beyond Hadrian's Wall, the Scots from Ireland and Germanic tribes from the continent.

King Arthur, a larger-than-life figure, has often been cited as a leader of one or more of these kingdoms during this period, although his name now tends to be used as a symbol of British resistance against invasion.

The invading communities overwhelmed or adapted existing kingdoms and created new ones - for example, the Angles in Mercia and Northumbria. Some British kingdoms initially survived the onslaught, such as Strathclyde, which was wedged in the north between Pictland and the new Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria.

By 650 AD, the British Isles were a patchwork of many kingdoms founded from native or immigrant communities and led by powerful chieftains or kings. In their personal feuds and struggles between communities for control and supremacy, a small number of kingdoms became dominant: Bernicia and Deira (which merged to from Northumbria in 651 AD), Lindsey, East Anglia, Mercia, Wessex and Kent.

Until the late seventh century, a series of warrior kings in turn established their own personal authority over their kings, usually won by force or though alliances and often cemented by dynastic marriages.

According to the later chronicler Bede, the most famous of these kings was Ethelberht, king of Kent (reigned c.560-616), who married Bertha, the Christian daughter of the king of Paris, and who became the first English king to be converted to Christianity (St Augustine’s mission from the Pope to Britain in 597 during Ethelberht’s reign prompted thousands of such conversions).

Ethelberht’s law code was the first to be written in any Germanic language and included 90 laws. His influence extended both north and south of the river Humber: his nephew became king of the East Saxons and his daughter married king Edwin of Northumbria (died 633). In the eighth century, smaller kingdoms in the British Isles continued to fell to more powerful kingdoms, which claimed rights over whole areas and established temporary primacies: Dalriada in Scotland, Munster and Ulster in Ireland. In England, Mercia and later Wessex came to dominate, giving rise to the start of the monarchy.

Throughout the Anglo-Saxon period the succession was frequently contested, by both the Anglo-Saxon aristocracy and leaders of the settling Scandinavian communities. The Scandinavian influence was to prove strong in the early years.

It was the threat of invading Vikings which galvanised English leaders into unifying their forces, and centuries later, the Normans who successfully invadedtin 1066 were themselves the descendants of Scandinavian 'Northmen'.

Edward the Confessor, 1042 to 1066 Edward the Confessor was king of England from 1042 to 1066. Edward's death was to transform Medieval England and led to the reign of the Norman William the Conqueror with all that his rule meant to Medieval England - castles, the Domesday Book and feudalism. Edward the Confessor was born in about 1003. Edward's father was Ethelred the Unready and his mother was Emma of Normandy. Edward spent the first part of his life in Normandy. He grew up with deep religious views and gained the nickname "Confessor". However, away from his family and in a strange land, it is said that Edward's childhood was not a happy one.

In 1040, Edward was re-called to England by his half-brother Hardicanute who had succeeded Ethelred in the same year. Hardicanute died after a drinking party in 1042 and Edward became king of England.

According to those who compiled the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the first thing Edward did, despite his religious views, was to deprive his mother of all of her estates and reduce her to relative poverty. It is said that Edward blamed her for his miserable and lonely childhood. Edward married in 1045. His wife, Edith, was the daughter of Godwin of Wessex, the most important nobleman in England. They had no children as Edward had taken a vow of celibacy.

In 1051, a number of Normans were killed in a brawl in Dover, Kent. Edward still had influential friends in Normandy and he wanted the people of Dover punished for this. Edward ordered Earl Godwin to do this. Godwin refused and raised an army against the king instead. Two other senior noblemen, the earls of Mercia and Northumbria, remained loyal to Edward, and outnumbered, Godwin agreed to leave England and live with his family in


Between 1051 and 1052, Edward increased the number of Normans who advised him at court. This angered the Witan - a body of English advisors made up of the most important noblemen in England - and in 1052, Earl Godwin returned to England with an army. This army was commanded by his two sons, Harold and Tostig. Edward was unable to raise an army to fight Godwin as no nobleman was willing to support the king. Edward was forced to send back to Normandy his Norman advisors and he had to return to Godwin all his estates and accept him back into the kingdom. Despite being king of England, Edward had no choice but to do this.

In 1053 Godwin died. His title was taken by Harold who became known as Harold of Wessex. He was the most powerful nobleman in England.

Between 1052 and 1066, Edward contented himself with putting all of his energy into the building of Westminster Abbey in London. The Witan maintained its political and advisory power. Having 'tasted' its power once in 1052, Edward had no desire to challenge it again. Harold of Wessex commanded the king's army when it was required and gained a reputation as a skilled leader.

In January 1066, Edward died. He did not have any children and the fight for who should succeed him led to the Norman invasion of October 1066 and the Battle of Hastings.

King Harold II, 1066 Last of the Saxon Kings Harold had become the Earl of East Anglia in 1044. Upon his father's death in April 1053, he succeeded to the Earldom of Wessex and from then on, was at the right hand of the king. In 1063, supported by his brother, Tostig, Earl of Northumbria, he commanded a brilliantly conducted campaign against the Welsh. He was successful in bringing them into submission, and by doing so, solidified his reputation as an able general.

Harold acted as an emissary from Edward the Confessor to the court of William of Normandy in 1064, during which time he allegedly swore an oath of fealty to William, relinquishing any personal claim to the throne. This oath, which may have been given lightly, or possibly under duress, would figure directly in William's own claim, two years later. He would claim that the promise Harold made to him had been broken, giving William the right to challenge Harold in a battle for the crown.

While on his deathbed, the Confessor named Harold as his successor, overlooking his grandson, the rightful heir, Edgar the Atheling and ignoring a promise that he allegedly made (according to French sources) to William of Normandy. Upon Edward's death, Harold wasted no time securing ecclesiastical blessing on his claim by having himself crowned immediately.

Harold's brother, Tostig, had been exiled since the autumn of 1065 and had joined with Harald Hardrada of Norway. A combined force landed in Yorkshire in September 1066. Until this time, Harold's attention had been directed toward the south and the invasion that he knew would come from Normandy. But, now, Harold had to break away and march north to meet the new threat that had come. He defeated the forces of his traitorous brother and the King of Norway decisively at the battle of Stamford Bridge on the 25th of September. Meanwhile, the favorable winds that the Normans had been waiting for had come and they had set sail across the channel, landing at Pevensey on the 28th. As soon as Harold heard this distressing news, he marched his force at top speed to the south. He reached London on October 5 and stopped to give his weary troops a rest and to gather reinforcements for the battle which lay ahead.

The story of these events and the decisive Battle of Hastings has been presented exquisitely in the Bayeux Tapestry and it need not be repeated, here. Suffice it to say that William won the day, and with it, the kingdom. The English fought fiercely and well, since they understood that not only their lives were at stake, but their country, also. Perhaps, if the English had been fresh and at full strength, they might have won easily, but they were tired and depleted after Stamford Bridge and the subsequent march south.

During his brief reign, the government continued to function as before, but there is no reliable way to judge what Harold might have been like as a king. He was certainly a capable field commander and a leader who inspired loyalty and confidence. His death has been recorded as coming in the midst of the final battle by way of a Norman arrow that penetrated his eye. Whether or not that is true, his memory lingers on as the last of the Anglo-Saxon kings and the last monarch of England to suffer defeat at the hands of a foreign invader.

King William I, the Conqueror, 1066 to 1087 King of England, was the natural son of Robert, Duke of Normandy, and was born at Falaise, in 1027. He was brought up at the court of the King of France, and succeeded to the duchy at the age of eight. But during his minority there were frequent revolts of the nobles, and his authority was not fully established for many years. On the death of Edward the Confessor, King of England, William made a formal claim to the crown, alleging a bequest in his favour by Edward, and a promise which he had extorted from Harold. His claim being denied he at once prepared for an invasion of England, effected a landing at Pevensey, September 28, 1066, while Harold was engaged in opposing the Norwegians in the north, and fortified a camp near Hastings. The decisive battle of Hastings (or, more properly, Senlac) was fought on Saturday, October 14, 1066 Harold was defeated and slain, and the Norman Conquest was commenced. William's rival, Edgar Atheling, was supported by some of the leading men for a short time, but they all made sub mission to William at Berkhampstead, and on the following Christmas-day he was crowned at Westminster by Aldred, archbishop of York, a riot occurring, in which some lives were lost and some houses burnt.

The first measures of the new king were conciliatory, but served merely for a show for a short time. The inevitable conflict was not long deferred. Early in 1067 William went to Normandy, leaving the government of his new dominions in the hands of Odo, bishop of Bayeux, and William Fitz-Osbern. Tidings of revolt in various quarters recalled him, and be was occupied through most of his reign in the conquest of the country. Of the military events the most terribly memorable is his campaign in the north in 1069 when he mercilessly devastated the whole district beyond the Humber with fire and slaughter, so that from York to Durham not an inhabited village remained, and the ground for more than sixty miles lay bare and uncultivated for more than half a century afterwards. The order established was that of death; famine and pestilence completing what the sword had begun. This campaign was followed in 1071 by the attack on the fortified camp of Hereward, the resolute and unconquered chieftain, in the Isle of Ely.

The settlement of the country was as cruel as the conquest. The English were dispossessed of their estates, and of all offices both in church and state; Winiam assumed (the feudal proprietorship of all the lands, and distributed them among his followers, carrying the feudal system out to its fullest development; garrisoned the chief towns, and built numerous fortresses; re-established the payment of Peter's-pence, indignantly refusing, however, to do homage to the Pope; and converted many districts of the country into deer parks and forests. The most extensive of these was the New Forest in Hampshire, formed in 1079. He ordered a complete survey of the land in 1085, the particulars of which were carefully recorded, and have come down to us in the 'Domesday Book'.

According to tradition the 'Curfew Bell1 was introduced by the Conqueror; and the attempt was made to supersede the English by the Norman French language, which was for some time used in official documents. In his latter years William was engaged in war with his own sons, and with the King of France; and in August, 1087, he burnt the town of Mantes. Injured by the stumbling of his horse among the burning ruins, he was carried to Rouen, and died in the abbey of St. Gervas, 9th September. He was buried in the cathedral of Caen, where a monument was erected to him by his son William II. This monument perished during the Huguenot wars. William married, while Duke of Normandy, his cousin Matilda, daughter of Baldwin, Count of Flanders, by whom he had four sons, two of whom, William and Henry, became kings of England, and several daughters. The building of the Tower of London was begun by William I. about 1080. Battle Abbey was also built by him in commemoration of his victory at Hastings. A statue of William I. was erected at Falaise, in 1853. 'Domesday Book' has been recently reproduced by the photo zincographic process, under the direction of Sir H. James.(year =1867)

King William II, Rufus, 1087 to 1100 William II earned the nickname Rufus either because of his red hair or his propensity for anger. William Rufus never married and had no offspring. The manner in which William the Conqueror divided his possessions caused turmoil among his sons: his eldest son Robert received the duchy of Normandy, William Rufus acquired England, and his youngest son Henry inherited 5000 pounds of silver. The contention between the brothers may have exerted an influence on the poor light in which William Rufus was historically portrayed. Many Norman barons owned property on both sides of the English Channel and found themselves in the midst of a tremendous power play. Hesitant to declare sides, most of the barons eventually aligned with Robert due to William Rufus cruelty and avarice. Robert, however, failed to make an appearance in England and William Rufus quelled the rebellion. He turned his sights to Normandy in 1089, bribing Norman barons for support and subsequently eroding his brother's power base. In 1096, Robert, tired of governing and quarreling with his brothers, pawned Normandy to William Rufus for 10,000 marks to finance his departure to the Holy Land on the first Crusade. Robert regained possession of the duchy after William Rufus1 death in 1100.

William Rufus employed all the powers of the crown to secure wealth. He manipulated feudal law to the benefit of the royal treasury: shire courts levied heavy fines, confiscation and forfeitures were harshly enforced, and exorbitant inheritance taxes were imposed. His fiscal policies included (and antagonized) the church - William Rufus had no respect for the clergy and they none for him. He bolstered the royal revenue by leaving sees open and diverting the money into his coffers. He treated the Church as nothing more than a rich corporation deserving of heavy taxing at a time when the Church was gaining in influence through the Gregorian reforms of the eleventh century. Aided by his sharp-witted minister, Ranulf Flambard, William Rufus greatly profited from clerical vacancies. The failed appointment and persecution of Anselm, Abbot of Bee, as the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1093 added fuel to the historical denigration of William II; most contemporary writings were done by monks, who cared little for the crass, blasphemous king.

On August 2, 1100, William Rufus was struck in the eye by an arrow and killed while hunting. Whether the arrow was a stray shot or premeditated murder is still under debate. 1066 and All That, a satire on medieval government, remembers William II in a unique manner: "William Rufus was always very angry and red in the face and was therefore unpopular, so that his death was a Good Thing."

King Henry 1,1100 to 1135 Henry I, the most resilient of the Norman kings (his reign lasted thirty-five years), was nicknamed "Beauclerc" (fine scholar) for his above average education. During his reign, the differences between English and Norman society began to slowly evaporate. Reforms in the royal treasury system became the foundation upon which later kings built. The stability Henry afforded the throne was offset by problems in succession: his only surviving son, William, was lost in the wreck of the White Ship in November 1120.

The first years of Henry's reign were concerned with subduing Normandy. William the Conqueror divided his kingdoms between Henry's older brothers, leaving England to William Rufus and Normandy to Robert. Henry inherited no land but received J5000 in silver. He played each brother off of the other during their quarrels; both distrusted Henry and subsequently signed a mutual accession treaty barring Henry from the crown. Henry's hope arose when Robert departed for the Holy Land on the First Crusade; should William die, Henry was the obvious heir. Henry was in the woods hunting on the morning of August 2, 1100 when William Rufus was killed by an arrow. His quick movement in securing the crown on August 5 led many to believe he was responsible for his brother's death. In his coronation charter, Henry denounced William's oppressive policies and promising good government in an effort to appease his barons. Robert returned to Normandy a few weeks later but escaped final defeat until the Battle of Tinchebrai in 1106; Robert was captured and lived the remaining twenty-eight years of his life as Henry's prisoner.

Henry was drawn into controversy with a rapidly expanding Church. Lay investiture, the king's selling of clergy appointments, was heavily opposed by Gregorian reformers in the Church but was a cornerstone of Norman government. Henry recalled Anselm of Bee to the archbishopric of Canterbury to gain baronial support, but the stubborn Anselm refused to do homage to Henry for his lands. The situation remained unresolved until Pope Paschal II threatened Henry with excommunication in 1105. He reached a compromise with the papacy: Henry rescinded the king's divine authority in conferring sacred offices but appointees continued to do homage for their fiefs. In practice, it changed little - the king maintained the deciding voice in appointing ecclesiastical offices - but it a marked a point where kingship became purely secular and subservient in the eyes of the Church. By 1106, both the quarrels with the church and the conquest of Normandy were settled and Henry concentrated on expanding royal power. He mixed generosity with violence in motivating allegiance to the crown and appointing loyal and gifted men to administrative positions. By raising men out of obscurity for such appointments, Henry began to rely less on landed barons as ministers and created a loyal bureaucracy. He was deeply involved in continental affairs and therefore spent almost half of his time in Normandy, prompting him to create the position of justiciar - the most trusted of all the king's officials, the justiciar literally ruled in the king's stead. Roger of Salisbury, the first justiciar, was instrumental in organizing an efficient department for collection of royal revenues, the Exchequer. The Exchequer held sessions twice a year for sheriffs and other revenue-collecting officials; these officials appeared before the justiciar, the chancellor, and several clerks and rendered an account of their finances. The Exchequer was an ingenious device for balancing amounts owed versus amounts paid. Henry gained notoriety for sending out court officials to judge local financial disputes (weakening the feudal courts controlled by local lords) and curb errant sheriffs (weakening the power bestowed upon the sheriffs by his father). The final years of his reign were consumed in war with France and difficulties ensuring the succession. The French King Louis VI began consolidating his kingdom and attacked Normandy unsuccessfully on three separate occasions. The succession became a concern upon the death of his son William in 1120: Henry's marriage to Adelaide was fruitless, leaving his daughter Matilda as the only surviving legitimate heir. She was recalled to Henry's court in 1125 after the death of her husband, Emperor Henry V of Germany. Henry forced his barons to swear an oath of allegiance to Matilda in 1127 after he arranged her marriage to the sixteen-year-old Geoffrey of Anjou to cement an Angevin alliance on the continent. The marriage, unpopular with the Norman barons, produced a male heir in 1133, which prompted yet another reluctant oath of loyalty from the aggravated barons. In the summer of 1135, Geoffrey demanded custody of certain key Norman castles as a show of good will from Henry; Henry refused and the pair entered into war. Henry's life ended in this sorry state of affairs - war with his son-in-law and rebellion on the horizon - in December 1135.

King Stephen, 1135 to 1154 Stephen (c. 1096-1154) was king of England from 1135 to 1154. His claim to the throne was contested by his cousin Matilda, and his reign was disturbed by civil war. He eventually accepted Matilda's son Henry as his heir.

Stephen was the third son of Stephen, Count of Blois and Chartres, and Adela, daughter of William I of England. His uncle, King Henry I of England, gave him lands in England and Normandy and in 1125 arranged his marriage to Matilda, heiress of the Count of Boulogne. She brought him not only her rich and strategically important county but also large estates in England; Stephen became one of the most powerful men in England.

In December 1126 King Henry, having no legitimate male heir, made the nobility do homage to his daughter, Matilda, widow of Emperor Henry V, as Lady (Domina) of England and Normandy. Stephen was the first to swear, but on King Henry's death (Dec. 1, 1135) he hurried to England, gained the support of the citizens of London, and at Winchester, where his brother was bishop, won over the heads of the administration, the justiciar and the treasurer. On December 22 Stephen was crowned by the archbishop of Canterbury. Stephen bought, or rewarded, support by issuing a charter of liberties, promising reforms, and confirming to the bishops "justice and power" over the clergy.

At first Stephen appeared secure. His rival, Matilda, seems to have been unpopular, and she was now married to Geoffrey, Count of Anjou, a hereditary enemy of the Normans. Stephen marched against Geoffrey in 1137, but his army was demoralized by the defection of the powerful Earl of Gloucester, illegitimate son of King Henry, who soon declared openly for Matilda, his half sister. Stephen left Normandy, and it was conquered piecemeal by Geoffrey.

In 1138 King David I of Scotland, Matilda's uncle, launched an attack on England; though defeated at the Battle of the Standard in August, he remained a rallying point for the opposition. In 1139 Stephen arrested (by trickery) the heads of the royal administration: Roger, Bishop of Salisbury, his son, and his two nephews. The Church was upset by the incident because three of the four were bishops; the nobility, because it made the King seem untrustworthy.

On Sept. 30, 1139, Matilda landed at Arundel, and Stephen quixotically gave her safe conduct to the Earl of Gloucester's castle at Bristol. She had little success until, in February 1141, Stephen was captured by the earl in battle at Lincoln. Matilda was recognized by the Church as Lady of England, but she was driven from Westminster before her intended coronation, and in September the earl was captured. The earl and the King were then exchanged, and from that time a stalemate was established. The southwest was controlled by the earl for Matilda; most of the rest of England was ruled by Stephen. But everywhere new castles were built from which landowners could defend their property and defy authority, and there were pockets of resistance throughout the country which Stephen could not eliminate; Wallingford was held for Matilda during the whole of his reign, and Framlingham from 1141 onward. Though the royal chancery functioned and the Exchequer may have met, orders could not always be enforced or money collected. Traitors could not be punished or violence controlled.

In these circumstances, the decisive factor was the conquest of Normandy by the Count of Anjou, who made over the duchy to his son Henry in 1150. The nobles of England were mostly Normans; they were anxious for a negotiated peace so that they could preserve their Norman properties. At the same time the bishops refused to consecrate Stephen's elder son Eustace as cornier and heir to the throne unless they had permission from the Pope, and the Pope was hostile. After the death of Eustace (Aug. 17, 1153) Stephen met Henry at Winchester and on November 6 recognized his hereditary right to the throne of England, retaining the kingdom for himself for life. He adopted Henry as his "son and heir," thus excluding his younger son from the succession. Stephen died on Oct. 25, 1154, and Henry took peaceful possession of England (as Henry II).

Empress Matilda, 1141 to 1142 Empress Matilda born in 1101, the only surviving legitimate child of King Henry I was betrothed to the German Emperor, Henry V, when she was only eight. They were married on 7th January 1114. She was twelve and Henry was thirty two. Upon his death in 1125, the couple had remained childless and Matilda was summoned to her father's court.

Matilda's only brother had been killed in 1120 and she was now her father's only hope for the continuation of his empire. The barons swore an oath of allegiance to the young Princess and promised to make her queen after her father's death. In April of 1127, Matilda married the thirteen year old Prince Geoffrey of Anjou and Maine. It was not a happy marriage but the relationship had born Matilda three sons in four years.

In 1135, Matilda's father passed away while she was absent from his court. Seeing an opportunity her Cousin, Stephen, seized the throne away from Matilda in her absence. With encouragement from her husband and supporters in England, Matilda set about reclaiming what was rightfully hers with the help of her half-brother, Robert of Gloucester.

In February of 1141, Empress Matilda at last gained the upper hand over Stephen at the Battle of Lincoln where he was captured. Matilda was declared Queen or "Lady of the English" at Winchester and immediately began to isolate and alienate the people of London with arrogant manner.

Date: 2015-12-11; view: 1068

<== previous page | next page ==>
For each question in this section, select the best answer from among the choices given. | The king’s College of our lady of Eton beside Windsor 2 page
doclecture.net - lectures - 2014-2024 year. Copyright infringement or personal data (0.01 sec.)