Monday, 26 September 2011

The Kings and Queens of England

A full table of the Kings and Queens of England, with their consorts. I also profiled the same for the French monarchy in an earlier post. Ordinarily, the lists start in 1066 with William I's conquest of England, a move which many academics deplore, understandably. Although that is admittedly where I also usually start my list, under the influence of "1066 and all that," this list starts at a shakier point in our royal knowledge - 802 A.D. For some reason, we British lost France's excellent ability to pick amazing sobriquets for our monarchs at precisely the time we were conquered by a French duke... Elizabeth I made a solid effort to revive the custom in her favour, though.
(802 - 1013, 1014 - 1016)

EGBERT (802 - 839). He is said to have married Redburga, a princess of the Franks and the Holy Roman Empire.

AETHELWULF (839 - 856). He married twice; firstly to Lady Osburga and after her death to Princess Judith of France. After his death, Queen Judith married the next King of England, Aethelbald.

AETHELBALD (856 - 860). He married Judith of France, Dowager Queen; after his death, Queen Judith married Baldwin I, Count of Flanders.

AETHELBERT (860 - 865). He never married.

AETHELRED (865 - 871). He married Lady Wulfthryth.

ALFRED THE GREAT (871 - 899). He married Lady Ealhswith.

EDWARD THE ELDER (899 - 924). He married three times; firstly to Lady Ecgwynna, then after her death to Lady Aelfflaeda of Wiltshire and after her death to Lady Eadgifu of Kent.

ATHELSTAN THE GLORIOUS (924 - 939). King Athelstan the Glorious never married.

EDMUND THE MAGNIFICENT (939 - 946). With perhaps the best sobriquet in British royal history, King Edmund married twice. His first wife was Lady Algifu of Shaftesbury and his second was Athelflaeda of Damerham. After the King's death, Queen Athelflaeda married the Earl of Southern Mercia.

EADRED (946 - 955). 

EADWIG (955 - 959). He married Lady Aelgifu. After his death and, not for the last time in the monarchy's history, the royal marriage was conveniently and posthumously annulled by the queen's many enemies on a flimsy technicality.

EDGAR THE PEACEFUL (959 - 975). He married twice; firstly to Lady Aethelflaeda and secondly to Lady Alfrida of Devon.

SAINT EDWARD THE MARTYR (975 - 978). He was never officially canonised by the Papacy, but regarded as a saint by Anglo-Saxon Christians for most of the Middle Ages. He never married and was murdered at the age of sixteen in 978.

AETHELRED THE UNREADY (978 - 1013, restored 1014 - 1016). Aethelred's unflattering nickname is actually a fairly lose translation of the original Saxon word which meant "without good counsel," which suggests the eleventh-century monarch wasn't quite as incompetent as the traditional legend suggests. He was married three times; firstly to Lady Aelflaeda of Northumbria. After her death, he married Lady Aelgifu of York and finally, he married Emma of Normandy. After his death, she married the future Danish king of England, Canute the Great. Aethelred the Unready was overthrown by the Danes in 1013, but restored a year later.

EDMUND IRONSIDE (1016). He married Lady Edith of East Anglia. With his death in 1016, the rule of the House of Wessex came to an end in England for the next generation.

(1013 - 1014, 1016 - 1042)

SWEYN FORK-BEARD, King of Denmark and King of Norway (1013 - 1014). He seized England by right of conquest in 1013 and was married twice. His first queen was Gunhilda of Poland and after her death, he married Sigrid the Haughty, Queen Mother of Sweden. His death in 1014 allowed the Wessex dynasty to reclaim power in England, but his son Canute reconquered the country two years later.

CANUTE THE GREAT, King of Denmark and King of Norway (1016 - 1035). He was most famous for a legend in which he held out his hands and ordered the tide to stop coming in, which, of course, it didn't. The story is probably apocryphal, but it represents an attempted by the devoutly Christian Canute to show his people that whilst kings had a responsibility to God, they were not gods themselves, as the old pagan monarchies had claimed. They were mortal. He was married firstly to Lady Aelgifu of Northampton and after her death to Emma of Normandy, Queen Mother of England, the widow of King Aethelred the Unready.

HAROLD HAREFOOT (1035 - 1040). He was married to a woman called Lady Aelgifu.

HARTHACANUTE, King of Denmark (1040 - 1042). It is generally believed that Harthacanute was married, but the name of his consort is not known.

(1042 - 1066)

SAINT EDWARD THE CONFESSOR (1042 - 1066). He was married to Lady Edith of Wessex. On the grounds of his exceptional piety, he was made a saint by Pope Alexander III in 1161.

HAROLD II, sometimes known as "Harold Godwinsson" or "Harold of Wessex" (1066). He was famously defeated and killed at the Battle of Hastings. There is some confusion over King Harold's marriages, due to the shifting definition of what "marriage" meant within Christianity at the time. His first wife was the fantastically named Edith the Gracious Swan, or "Edith Swan-Neck," but whilst their marriage was recognised as legal by Scandinavian Christianity, it was not by the Romanised form prevalent in southern England and on the European continent. Harold later married Lady Edith of Mercia and that marriage was acknowledged by the Roman See. However, an ancient legend states that it was Edith the Gracious Swan who identified her husband's mutilated body on the field of Hastings and arranged for its Christian burial.

(1066 - 1154)

WILLIAM I, known as "William the Bastard" or "William the Conqueror" (1066 - 1087). He was married to Matilda of Flanders.

WILLIAM II, sometimes known as "William Rufus" (1087 - 1100).

HENRY I (1100 - 1135). He was married twice; firstly to Princess Matilda of Scotland and, after her death, to Adeliza of Louvain. Following the king's death, Queen Adeliza subsequently married William, Earl of Arundel.

STEPHEN (1135 - 1154). He seized the throne in 1154 on the grounds that a woman was unfit to rule, sparking a civil war with his cousin, the Dowager Holy Roman Empress. He was married to Matilda, Countess of Boulogne.

(1154 - 1399)

HENRY II, known as "Henry FitzEmpress" or "Henry Plantagenet" (1154 - 1189) It was during his reign that Ireland was conquered and he also ruled the largest continental empire of any English sovereign, controlling an empire which, according to an historical quip, ran from Scotland to Spain. He was married to Eleanor, Duchess of the Aquitaine, the ex-wife of King Louis VII of France.

RICHARD I, known as "Richard the Lionheart" (1189 - 1199). Immortalised as one of the heroes of the Robin Hood legend, he married Princess Berengaria of Navarre.

JOHN, known as "Bad King John," "John Lack-Land," or "John Soft-Sword" (1199 - 1216). The archetypal villain in the Robin Hood stories, John was married twice. He divorced his first wife, Isobel of Gloucester, the heiress to the earldom of Gloucester, in order to marry his second, Isabelle of Angouleme. After their divorce, Isobel subsequently married Geoffrey, Earl of Essex and after his death, she married Hubert, Earl of Kent. Following the King's death, Queen Isabelle subsequently married Hugh, comte de la Marche.

HENRY III (1216 - 1272). It was during his reign that England's possessions in Normandy were lost forever and the rise of Parliament began in England. He was married to Eleanor of Provence.

EDWARD I, known as "the Hammer of the Scots" (1272 - 1307). It was during his reign that Wales was conquered. He was married twice - firstly, to Princess Eleanor of Castile and, after her death, to Princess Marguerite of France. 

EDWARD II (1307 - 1327). Best-remembered for the dramatisation of his life by Christopher Marlowe and the grisly legend of his murder, Edward was married to Isabella, Princess of France, sometimes known as "Isabella the She-Wolf" because of the role she played in her husband's downfall. He was deposed and almost certainly murdered on his wife's orders in 1327.

EDWARD III (1327 - 1377). It was during his reign that the notorious "Hundred Years' War" with France began as Edward pressed his claim to the French throne. He was married to Philippa of Hainault.

RICHARD II (1377 - 1399). As a child, he faced down the Peasants' Revolt against his rule and married twice. His first wife was Anne of Bohemia, a princess of the Holy Roman Empire; after her death, he married Isabelle de Valois, Princess of France. After King Richard was deposed and murdered, Queen Isabelle returned to France, where she married Charles, duc d'Orléans.

(1399 - 1461)
They were a cadet branch of the House of Plantagenet

HENRY IV (1399 - 1413). He married twice. His first wife, who died before he seized the throne, was Lady Mary de Bohun, the heiress of the earldom of Hereford. As king, Henry married Joanna of Navarre, Dowager Duchess of Brittany. 

HENRY V (1413 - 1422). Certainly famous today because of Shakespeare's play about his military triumphs, Henry married Catherine de Valois, Princess of France, a younger sister of Richard II's queen, Isabelle. After King Henry's death, Queen Catherine married Owen Tudor.

HENRY VI (1422 - 1461, 1470 - 1471). Henry's reign ended during the War of the Roses, a crisis provoked in part by his mental breakdown. He was deposed twice and, on the second occasion, almost certainly murdered on the orders of his cousin and rival, Edward IV. He was married to Marguerite of Anjou, a princess of the Naples.

(1461 - 1470, 1471 - 1483)
A cadet branch of the House of Plantagenet

EDWARD IV (1461 - 1470, 1471 - 1483). He seized the throne during the War of the Roses and married Lady Elizabeth Grey (more often known by her maiden name, "Woodville.") After Edward's death, Queen Elizabeth's marriage to him was posthumously (and conveniently) declared invalid by those seeking to disinherit her sons. It was later declared valid again in the reign of Henry VII.

EDWARD V, one of the "Princes in the Tower" (1483). He never married and was deposed by his uncle, Richard III. He was almost certainly murdered in the Tower of London, along with his younger brother, in the autumn of 1483.

RICHARD III (1483 - 1485). He seized the throne in 1483 and was defeated and killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. He was married to Anne, Dowager Princess of Wales (more often known by her maiden name of "Neville," or as "Anne of Warwick.")

(1485 - 1603)

HENRY VII (1485 - 1509). He married Elizabeth of York, Princess of England, the eldest daughter of King Edward IV.

HENRY VIII (1509 - 1547). It was during his reign that the title of the monarchy in Ireland was elevated to that of "king" rather than "lord" and that the great Anglican schism with the Vatican occurred. Henry VIII famously married six times and his first wife was his brother's widow, Katherine of Aragon, Dowager Princess of Wales. He divorced her in order to marry Anne Boleyn, Marchioness of Pembroke, a union which was authorised by the archiepiscopal See at Canterbury but retrospectively prohibited by the Vatican. After Queen Anne's execution, the King married Jane Seymour. Following her death, he married Anne of Cleves, whom he divorced in order to marry Catherine Howard. Subsequent to her execution, the King married for a sixth and final time to Katherine, dowager baroness Latimer (more often known by her maiden name, "Parr.")

EDWARD VI (1547 - 1553). He never married and died at the age of fifteen. It was during his reign that the English monarchy became recognisably Protestant for the first time.

JANE, known as "Lady Jane Grey" or "the Nine Days' Queen" (1553). Famously the shortest-reigning monarch in British history, she was married to Lord Guildford Dudley. She was deposed and both she and her husband were executed in 1554.

MARY I, known as "Bloody Mary" or "Mary Tudor" (1553 - 1558). It was during her reign that England lost Calais, the last of its continental possessions, and during which the first wave of the new plantations of Ireland were ordered. She married Philip II, King of Spain and the Naples.

ELIZABETH I, known as "Good Queen Bess," "the Virgin Queen" or "Gloriana" (1558 - 1603). Perhaps one of the most famous monarchs in England's history and still one of the most popular, she did not marry and died childless.

(1603 - 1714)
They had already ruled as the royal family of Scotland since 1371

JAMES I, James VI in Scotland (1603 - 1625). He had ruled as King of Scots following his mother's deposition in 1567. He was married to Anne, Princess of Denmark and Norway. He authorised the translation of the King James Bible that bears his name.

CHARLES I, sometimes known as "Charles I, King and Martyr" or "Saint Charles I" (1625 - 1649). He was defeated and executed by a rebel parliament at the end of the Civil War in 1649; he was subsequently canonised as a martyr by the Church of England in 1660, thereny becoming the only Protestant to be canonised by a Protestant church in the post-Reformation era. He married Henrietta-Maria, Princess of France and Navarre.

CHARLES II, sometimes known as "The Merry Monarch" (de jure 1649 - 1685; de facto 1660 - 1685). He spent the first eleven years of his de jure reign in exile, but was restored with the monarchy in 1660. He married Catherine of Braganza, Princess of Portugal.

JAMES II, James VII in Scotland. (1685 - 1688). He was deposed by Act of Parliament during the Glorious Revolution, but continued to claim the throne until his death in exile in 1701. He was married twice. Prior to becoming king, he married Lady Anne Hyde and after her death, Maria-Beatrice of Modena. 

WILLIAM III and MARY II, sometimes known as "William of Orange" or "King Billy" (1689 - 1694). The only case of a co-ruling, married royal pair in British royal history. After Mary's death from smallpox in 1694, her widowed Dutch husband ruled alone until his death from a riding accident in 1702.

ANNE (1702 - 1714). During her reign, the nation was legally referred to as "Great Britain" for the first time. She married Prince George of Denmark and Norway, Duke of Cumberland.

THE HOUSE OF HANOVER (1714 - 1901)
Between 1714 and 1837, Britain and Hanover were united under one monarchy

GEORGE I (1714 - 1727). Had been Elector of Hanover from 1698. He was married to Sophia-Dorothea of Celle, whom he divorced prior to becoming monarch.

GEORGE II (1727 - 1760). He was married to Caroline of Ansbach and was the last King of England to lead his troops into battle.

GEORGE III (1760 - 1820). It was during his reign that the thirteen American colonies were granted independence and that the country was legally referred to as "the United Kingdom" for the first time in its history. He was married to Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. 

GEORGE IV (1820 - 1830). He was married to Caroline of Brunswich, whom he unsuccessfully attempted to divorce. There is some evidence that prior to becoming king, he entered into a secret marriage with a Roman Catholic commoner called Mrs Maria FitzHerbert.

WILLIAM IV (1830 - 1837). The last king to rule in both Germany and Britain, he was married to Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen.

VICTORIA (1837 - 1901). Thus far, the longest-reigning monarch in British history, she was the first monarch to bear the title "Empress of India," "Queen of Canada" and "Queen of Australia." She married Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, the Prince Consort.

THE HOUSE OF WINDSOR (1901 - Present)
Known as "the House of Saxe-Coburg" between 1901 and 1917.

EDWARD VII (1901 - 1910). The first monarch to bear the title "King of New Zealand," he married Alexandra, Princess of Denmark.

GEORGE V (1910 - 1936). It was during his reign that the First World War occurred and the Partition of Ireland was legalised, marking the creation of Northern Ireland. He married Mary of Teck.

EDWARD VIII (1936). The only monarch in British history to voluntarily abdicate, he subsequently married Mrs Wallis Simpson. He was subsequently known as the Duke of Windsor.

GEORGE VI (1936 - 1952). The last monarch to bear the title "Emperor of India" and "King of Ireland"; the former was abolished with Indian independence in 1947 and the former altered to reflect the existence of Northern Ireland. He married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.

ELIZABETH II (1952 - present). The current Sovereign, she is married to Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, Duke of Edinburgh.


  1. A fine work, Gareth.

    Do you own a Kindle? I got one as a gift. I've got my eye out for a few free ebook downloads, if toy can recommend any you think I might be capable of reading LOL.


  2. Thank you, Tim.

    A Kindle is something I do not possess. Although given the overflowing state of my library, it's bound to be something I should invest in eventually!

    Some of the classics are available on Kindle - a lot of the Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. L. Frank Baum's twenty fantasy books set in Oz are also available, which I think are all underrated and quite fun. 'Don Quixote' and G.K. Chesterton are free for Kindle too and so are the writings of quite a few of the saints. And the three hilarious Ws - Wodehouse, Warton and Wilde, might be fun!


  3. Interesting that Jane Grey is on the table, as Mary I is generally regarded as England’s first Queen.

    Historian Eric Ives argues that Jane was a legitimate monarch. But as she had the bad luck of being deposed, she’s not included in the lists. The winners are the ones who write history, so to speak.

    Because of the ambiguity about Jane Grey’s status, if in the future, someone named ‘Jane’ became Queen, would she be ‘Jane I’ or ‘Jane II”?

    Opinion anyone?


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