Royal Arms of England (1198-1340)

Coat of arms of England

The first person to assume the title Rex Anglorum (King of the English) was Offa of Mercia, though his power did not survive him. In the 9th century the kings of Wessex who conquered Kent and Sussex from Mercia in 825, became increasingly dominant over the other kingdoms of England. The continuous list of English monarchs traditionally begins with Egbert of Wessex in 829. Alfred the Great and his son Edward the Elder used the title "King of the Anglo-Saxons". After Athelstan conquered Northumbria in 927, he adopted the title Rex Anglorum. Starting with Henry II in 1154, the title became Rex Angliae (King of England).

The Principality of Wales was incorporated into the Kingdom of England under the Statute of Rhuddlan in 1284, and in 1301 Edward I invested his eldest son, the future Edward II, as Prince of Wales. Since that time, with the exception of Edward III, the eldest sons of all English monarchs have borne this title. After the death of Elizabeth I without issue, in 1603, the crowns of England and Scotland were joined in personal union under 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 United Kingdom of Great Britain.[1]

House of Mercia[]

According to some sources the first ruler to assume the title Rex Anglorum is said to have been Offa in 774, who had been King of Mercia since 757, but this claim is based on charters apparently forged in the 10th century.[2][3] However, on some of his coins Offa describes himself as Of Rx A, believed to stand for Offa Rex Anglorum.[4] This probably had a different meaning at the time from what it acquired later, i.e. king of the Angles, and not necessarily the Saxons.[4] Several earlier kings are called rex anglorum or some variant in surviving sources: Aldfrith of Northumbria by Aldhelm; Æthelred of Mercia in Felix's Vita sancti Guthlaci (Life of Saint Guthlac); and Æthelbald of Mercia by Saint Boniface.[5]

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death
Offa Circa 747
son of Thingfrith.
five children
29 July 796
Aged 58.

House of Wessex[]

The continuous list traditionally starts with Egbert, King of Wessex from 802, the first King of Wessex to have overlordship over much of England.[6] He defeated the Mercians in 825 and became Bretwalda in 829, although he later lost control of Mercia. Alfred the Great and his son Edward the Elder used the title "king of the Anglo-Saxons." After Æthelstan conquered Northumbria in 927, he adopted the title rex Anglorum (King of the English).

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 Athelstan, although he was not crowned.[7][8] However this is not accepted by all historians.

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death
Egbert Circa.770[9]
son of Ealhmund of Kent.[9]
three children[9]
4 February 839
Aged about 69.[10]
5 February
Æthelwulf c.795
son of Egbert and Redburga
(1) Osburga (-bef856)
six children
(2) Judith of Flanders
1 October 853
no children
13 January 858
62 or 63[6]
Aethelbald Circa.834[11]
son of Æthelwulf and Osburga (-bef856).
Judith of Flanders
no children
20 December 860
Aged 26 or 27.
21 December
King Æthelberht from All Souls College Chapel Circa.835
son of Æthelwulf and Osburga (-bef856).
no children
Aged about 30.
Coin of Æthelred Circa.837
son of Æthelwulf and Osburga (-bef856).
three children
23 April 871
Aged about 34.
Alfred the Great
24 April
Statue of Alfred the Great in Wantage Circa.849
son of Æthelwulf and Osburga (-bef856).[13]
six children[14]
26 October 899
Aged about 50.[15]
Edward the Elder
27 October
Edward the Elder c.871–877
son of Alfred the Great and Ealhswith[17]
(1) Ecgwynn (c875-)
three children
(2) Ælfflæd (c880-)
ten children
(3) Eadgifu of Kent (c902-968)
four children[18]
17 July 924
Farndon, Cheshire
aged about 50[16]
Athelstan (895-939)
3 August
King Athelstan from All Souls College Chapel 895
son of Edward the Elder and Ecgwynn (c875-).
unmarried[19] 27 October 939
Aged about 44.[19]
Edmund the Magnificent
28 October
Edmund I c.921
son of Edward the Elder and Eadgifu of Kent (c902-968)[20]
(1) Ælfgifu of Shaftesbury
three children
(2) Æthelflæd of Damerham
no children[21]
26 May 946
aged about 25 (murdered)[20]
Eadred of Wessex (c924-955)
27 May
Imaginary line engraving of Edred made by un unknown engraver after an unknown artist Circa.923
son of Edward the Elder and Eadgifu of Kent (c902-968).
Unmarried 23 November 955
Aged about 32.[23]
24 November
Line engraving of Edwy made by an unknown engraver after an unknown artist Circa.940
son of Edmund the Magnificent and Ælfgifu of Shaftesbury[25]
Ælfgifu.[24] 1 October 959
Aged about 19.[24]
Edgar the Peaceful
2 October
King Edgar of England Circa.943
son of Edmund the Magnificent and Elgiva
(1) Æthelflæd
1 son
(2) Ælfthryth
2 sons
8 July 975
Aged about 32.[27]
Saint Edward the Martyr
9 July
St Circa.962
son of Edgar the Peaceful and Æthelflæd.
Unmarried 18 March 978
Corfe Castle
Aged about 16 (Assassinated).[28]
Æthelred the Ill-Advised
(Æþelræd Unræd)
19 March
978–1013 (first reign)[29]
Image of Æthelred II with an oversize sword from the illuminated manuscript "The Chronicle of Abingdon" c.968
son of Edgar the Peaceable and Ælfthryth[30]
(1) Ælflaed of Northumbria
four children
(2) Ælfgifu of York
six children
(3) Emma of Normandy
three children[31]
23 April 1016
aged about 48[29]

House of Denmark[]

England came under the rule of Danish kings during and following the reign of Æthelred the Unready.

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death
Sweyn Forkbeard
(Svend Tveskæg)
25 December[32]
Sweyn Forkbeard, from an architectural element in the Swansea Guildhall, Swansea, Wales c.960
son of Harald Bluetooth and Gyrid Olafsdottir[34]
(1) Gunhild of Wenden
seven children
(2) Sigrid the Haughty (c964-)
1 daughter[34]
3 February 1014
aged about 54[34]

House of Wessex (restored, first time)[]

Following the death of Sweyn Forkbeard, Æthelred the Unready returned from exile and was again proclaimed king on 3 February 1014.[35] His son succeeded him after being chosen king by the citizens of London and a part of the Witan,[36] despite ongoing Danish efforts in wresting the crown from the West Saxons.

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death
Æthelred the Ill-Advised
(Æþelræd Unræd)
3 February
1014–1016 (second reign)[29]
Image of Æthelred II with an oversize sword from the illuminated manuscript "The Chronicle of Abingdon" c.968
son of Edgar the Peaceable and Ælfthryth[30]
(1) Ælflaed of Northumbria
four children
(2) Aelgifu
six children
(3) Emma of Normandy
three children[31]
23 April 1016
aged about 48[29]
Edmund Ironside
24 April –
30 November 1016[36]
Edmund Ironside c.993
son of Æthelred the Unready and Ælflæd of Northumbria[36]
Edith of East Anglia
two children[37]
30 November 1016
aged about 23[36][37]

House of Denmark (restored)[]

Following the decisive Battle of Ashingdon on 18 October 1016, King Edmund signed a treaty with Canute in which all of England except for Wessex would be controlled by Canute.[38] Upon Edmund's death on 30 November, Canute ruled the whole kingdom as its sole king.

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death
Cnut the Great
30 November
Cnut c.995
son of Sweyn Forkbeard and Gunhilda of Poland [39]
(1) Aelgifu of Northampton
two children
(2) Emma of Normandy
two children
12 November 1035[40]
aged about 40[39]
Harold Harefoot
13 November
Harold1 Harefoot 02 c.1016/7
son of Cnut the Great and Ælfgifu of Northampton.[41]
1 son[42]
17 March 1040
Aged about 23 or 24.[41]
17 March 1040 –
8 June 1042[43]
Hardeknut 1018
son of Cnut the Great and Emma of Normandy.[42]
Unknown 8 June 1042
Aged about 24.[42]

House of Wessex (restored, second time)[]

After Harthacanute, there was a brief Saxon Restoration between 1042 and 1066. After the Battle of Hastings, a decisive point in British history, William I of Normandy became king of England.

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Children Death
Saint Edward the Confessor
9 June
Edward Confessor Circa.1003
Islip, Oxfordshire
son of Æthelred the Unready and Emma of Normandy.[44]
Edith of Wessex
23 January 1045.[44]
None. 5 January 1066
Westminster Palace
Aged about 60.[44]
Harold Godwinson
(Harold Godwinesson)
6 January-14 October 1066[44]
Harold2 Circa.1020
son of Godwin, Earl of Wessex and Gytha Thorkelsdóttir.[44]
Edith Swannesha.[44] Godwine, Edmund, Magnus, Gunhild, Gytha. 14 October 1066
Aged about 46 (Died in battle).[44]
Harold, Ulf.
Edgar the Ætheling
(Eadgar Æþeling)
15 October–17 December 1066.
Proclaimed, but never crowned[45]
Edgar the Ætheling Circa.1053
son of Edward the Exile and Agatha.[46]
Unmarried.[46] None. Circa.1125
Aged about 72.[45]

House of Normandy[]

In 1066 the Duke of Normandy, William II, a vassal to the King of France and cousin once-removed of Edward the Confessor, invaded and conquered England in the Norman Conquest of England, and made permanent the recent removal of the capital from Winchester to London. Following the death of King Harold II in the decisive Battle of Hastings on 14 October, the Anglo-Saxon witan elected Edgar the Ætheling king in Harold's place, but Edgar was unable to resist the invaders and was never crowned. William was crowned King of England on Christmas Day 1066, and is today known as William the Conqueror, William the Bastard or William I.

It was only from the reign of William and his descendents that monarchs took regnal numbers in the French fashion, though the earlier custom of distinguishing monarchs by nicknames did not die out by consequence.

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[47]
Matilda of Flanders
Chapel Notre Dame of the castle in Eu, Normandy
ten children[47]
9 September 1087
aged about 59 after wounding himself on the saddle when his horse stumbled.[47] 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.1060
son of William the Conqueror and Matilda of Flanders[47]
unmarried 2 August 1100
New Forest
aged about 40 when shot by an arrow, events still unclear.[47]
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[48]
(1) Edith otherwise Matilda of Scotland
Westminster Abbey
11 November 1100
four children
(2) Adeliza of Louvain
Windsor Castle
29 January 1121
no children[48]
1 December 1135
Castle of Lyons-la-Forêt (Saint-Denis-en-Lyons)
aged 67.[48] Buried at Reading Abbey
son of William I;
(seizure of the crown)
Stephen of Blois
(Étienne de Blois)

22 December
Stephen c.1096
son of Stephen, Count of Blois, and Adela of Normandy[48]
Matilda of Boulogne
five children[48]
25 October 1154
Dover Castle
aged about 58[48]
grandson of William I

Disputed Claimants

Empress Matilda was declared heir presumptive by her father, Henry I, 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 followed, with Matilda's being a de facto ruler for a few months in 1141, but she was never crowned and is rarely listed as a monarch of England.

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

7 April 1141–1 November 1141[50]
Title disputed
Matilda 7 February 1102
Sutton Courtenay
daughter of Henry I and Edith of Scotland[51]
(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[50]
daughter of Henry I
(seizure of the crown)

Prince Eustace (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 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.[52]

House of Plantagenet[]

Stephen came to an agreement with Matilda in November 1153 with the signing of the Treaty of Wallingford, where Stephen recognised Henry, son of Matilda, as his heir to the throne in lieu of his own son.

Rather than ruling among the Normans, the Plantagenets ruled from Aquitaine — lands which were acquired through Henry II's marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine, but did not regard England as their primary home until after most of their French possessions were lost by King John. This long-lived dynasty is usually divided into three houses: the Angevins, the House of Lancaster and the House of York.

The Plantagenets 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.

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

19 December
Henry II 5 March 1133
Le Mans
son of Geoffrey of Anjou and Matilda[53]
Eleanor of Aquitaine
Bordeaux Cathedral
18 May 1152
eight children[53]
6 July 1189
aged 56.[53] 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 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 8 September 1157
Beaumont Palace
son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine[53]
Berengaria of Navarre
12 May 1191
no children[53]
6 April 1199
aged 41 from an arrow wound that became infected.[53] Buried: Heart at Rouen Cathedral. Body at Fontevraud Abbey
son of Henry II
(Jean sans Terre)

27 May
John Lackland, an illustration from a 12th century codex 24 December 1166
Beaumont Palace
son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine[54]
(1) Isabel of Gloucester
Marlborough Castle
29 August 1189
no children

(2) Isabella of Angoulême
Bordeaux Cathedral
24 August 1200
five children[54]

19 October 1216
aged 49, probably from dysentery.[54] Buried at Worcester Cathedral
brother of Richard I

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 Birth Marriages Death Claim
The Lion
1216–22 September 1217
Title disputed
Louis8lelion 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

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death Claim
Henry III
Henry of Winchester
28 October
Henry III 1 October 1207
Winchester Castle
son of John and Isabella of Angoulême[55]
Eleanor of Provence
Canterbury Cathedral
14 January 1236
nine children[55]
16 November 1272
Westminster Palace
aged 65[55]
son of John
Edward I
20 November
Eduard1 korunovace 17 June 1239
Westminster Palace
son of Henry III and Eleanor of Provence[56]
(1) Eleanor of Castile
Abbey of Santa Maria la Real de Huelgas
18 October 1254
17 children

(2) Margaret of France
10 September 1299
three children[56]

7 July 1307
Burgh by Sands
aged 68[56]
son of Henry III
Edward II
7 July 1307 –
25 January 1327[57]
Modern depiction of Edward II 25 April 1284
Caernarfon Castle
son of Edward I and Eleanor of Castile[57]
Isabella of France
Boulogne Cathedral
25 January 1308
five children[57]
21 September 1327
Berkeley Castle
aged 43 (murdered, probably 'with a hoote brooche putte thro the secret place posterialle' according to a Confessor of one of the Jailers)[57][58]
son of Edward I
Edward III
25 January
Edward III 13 November 1312
Windsor Castle
son of Edward II and Isabella of France[59]
Philippa of Hainault
York Minster
24 January 1328
14 children[59]
21 June 1377
Sheen Palace
aged 64[59]
son of Edward II
Richard II
21 June 1377 –
29 September 1399[60]
Richard II, the so-called 'Westminster Portrait', painted by an unknown artist working in the International Gothic style, 1390s 6 January 1367
son of Edward, the Black Prince and Joan of Kent[60]
(1) Anne of Bohemia
14 January 1382
no children

(2) Isabella of Valois
4 November 1396
no children[60]

14 February 1400
Pontefract Castle
aged 33 probably by being starved[60]
grandson of Edward III

House of Lancaster[]

This house descended from Edward III's third surviving son, John of Gaunt.

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Children Death Claim
Henry IV
30 September
Henry IV 3 April 1366/7
Bolingbroke Castle
son of John of Gaunt and Blanche of Lancaster.[61]
Mary de Bohun
Arundel Castle
27 July 1380.
Henry, Thomas, John, Humphrey, Blanche, Philippa. 20 March 1413
Westminster Abbey
Aged 45 or 46 from a disease.[62]
Grandson and heir male of Edward III
(usurpation/agnatic primogeniture).
Joanna of Navarre
Winchester Cathedral
7 February 1403.
Henry V
20 March
Henry V 16 September 1386 or
9 August 1387[63]
Monmouth Castle
son of Henry IV and Mary de Bohun.[61]
Catherine of Valois
Troyes Cathedral
2 June 1420.
Henry. 31 August 1422
Château de Vincennes
Aged 35,[61] From dysentery.
Son of Henry IV
(agnatic primogeniture).
Henry VI
(first reign)
31 August 1422 – 4 March 1461[64]
Henry VI 6 December 1421
Windsor Castle
son of Henry V and Catherine of Valois.[64]
Margaret of Anjou
Titchfield Abbey
22 April 1445.
Edward. 21 May 1471
Tower of London
Aged 49 (murdered),[64] by being stabbed.
Son of Henry V
(agnatic primogeniture).

House of York[]

The House of York was descended from the fourth surviving son of Edward III, Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York.

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

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death Claim
Edward IV
(first reign)
4 March 1461 – 2 October 1470[65]
Edward IV 28 April 1442
son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and Cecily Neville[65]
Elizabeth Woodville
Grafton Regis
1 May 1464
ten children[65]
9 April 1483
Westminster Palace
aged 40[65]
great-great-grandson and heir general of Edward III
(seizure of the crown/cognatic primogeniture)

House of Lancaster (restored)[]

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death Claim
Henry VI
(second reign)
30 October 1470 – 11 April 1471[64]
Henry VI 6 December 1421
Windsor Castle
son of Henry V and Catherine of Valois[64]
Margaret of Anjou
Titchfield Abbey
22 April 1445
1 son[64]
21 May 1471
Tower of London
aged 49 (murdered)[64]
son of Henry V
(seizure of the crown)

House of York (restored)[]

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death Claim
Edward IV
(second reign)
11 April 1471 – 9 April 1483[65]
Edward IV 28 April 1442
son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and Cecily Neville[65]
Elizabeth Woodville
Grafton Regis
1 May 1464
ten children[65]
9 April 1483
Westminster Palace
aged 40[65]
great-great-grandson and heir general of Edward III
(seizure of the crown/cognatic primogeniture)
Edward V
9 April – 25 June 1483[66]
Edward V 2 November 1470
son of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville[66]
unmarried c. 1483 (?) according to many sources smothered.
aged about 12[67]
son of Edward IV
(cognatic primogeniture)
Richard III
26 June
Richard III 2 October 1452
Fotheringhay Castle
son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and Cecily Neville[69]
Anne Neville
Westminster Abbey
12 July 1472
1 son[69]
22 August 1485
Bosworth Field
aged 32 (killed in battle)[69]
great-great-grandson of Edward III
(Titulus Regius)

House of Tudor[]

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 recognized 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 Tewdr (anglicised to "Owen Tudor") and Katherine 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. 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.

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 Birth Marriages Death Claim
Henry VII
22 August
Henry VII, by Michel Sittow, 1505 28 January 1457
Pembroke Castle
son of Edmund Tudor and Lady Margaret Beaufort[70]
Elizabeth of York
Westminster Abbey
18 January 1486
eight children[70]
21 April 1509
Richmond Palace
aged 52[70]
great-great-great-grandson of Edward III
(right of conquest)
Henry VIII
21 April
Henry VIII, by Hans Holbein, c 28 June 1491
Greenwich Palace
son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York[71]
Catherine of Aragon
11 June 1509
one daughter
28 January 1547
Whitehall Palace
aged 55[71]
son of Henry VII
Anne Boleyn
Westminster Palace
25 January 1533
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 12 October 1537
Hampton Court Palace
son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour[72]
unmarried 6 July 1553
Greenwich Palace
aged 15[72]
son of Henry VIII

Disputed claimant

Edward VI named Lady Jane Grey as his heir presumptive. Four days after his death on 6 July 1553, Jane was proclaimed queen. 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. Few historians consider her to have been a legitimate monarch.

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death Claim
The Nine Days Queen
10–19 July 1553[73]
Title disputed
Streathamladyjayne October 1537
Bradgate Park
daughter of Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk, and Lady Frances Brandon[73]
Lord Guildford Dudley
The Strand
21 May 1553
no children[74]
12 February 1554
Tower of London
aged 16 (beheaded)[73]
great-granddaughter of Henry VII
(Devise for the succession)

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death Claim
Mary I
Bloody Mary
19 July
Mary I, by Antonius Mor, 1554 18 February 1516
Greenwich Palace
daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon[72]
Philip II of Spain
Winchester Cathedral
25 July 1554
no children[72]
17 November 1558
St. James's Palace
aged 42[72]
daughter of Henry VIII
(Third Succession Act)
25 July 1554 –
17 November 1558
(in the right of his wife)
King Philip of England 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, 1554–1558

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"[76] (although elsewhere the Act stated that Mary was to be "sole queen"). Nonetheless, Philip was to co-reign with his wife.[77] 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.[77][78][79] 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.[80][81] Acts which made it high treason to deny Philip's royal authority were passed in England[82] and Ireland.[83] In 1555, Pope Paul IV issued a papal bull recognising Philip and Mary as rightful King and Queen of Ireland.

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death Claim
Elizabeth I
The Virgin Queen
17 November
Elizabeth I, by Darnley 7 September 1533
Greenwich Palace
daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn[72]
unmarried 24 March 1603
Richmond Palace
aged 69[72]
daughter of Henry VIII
(Third Succession Act)

House of Stuart[]

Following the death of Elizabeth I in 1603 without issue, the Scottish king, James VI, 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.

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death Claim
James I
The Peacemaker King
24 March
James I, by Paulus van Somer 19 June 1566
Edinburgh Castle
Son of Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, and Mary I, Queen of Scots
Anne of Denmark
23 November 1589
7 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 19 November 1600
Dunfermline Palace
son of James I and Anne of Denmark[85]
Henrietta Maria of France
St Augustine's Abbey
13 June 1625
nine children[85]
30 January 1649
Whitehall Palace
aged 48 (beheaded)[85]
son of James I (cognatic primogeniture)


There was no reigning monarch between the execution of Charles I in 1649 and the Restoration of Charles II in 1660. Instead, from 1653 the following individuals held power as Lords Protector, during the period known as the Protectorate.

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death
Oliver Cromwell
Old Ironsides
16 December
Oliver Cromwell 25 April 1599
son of Robert Cromwell and Elizabeth Steward[87]
Elizabeth Bourchier
St Giles[88]
22 August 1620
nine children[86]
3 September 1658
aged 59[86]
Richard Cromwell
Tumbledown Dick
3 September 1658
– 7 May 1659[89]
Richard Cromwell, c 4 October 1626
son of Oliver Cromwell and Elizabeth Bourchier[89]
Dorothy Maijor
May 1649
nine children[89]
12 July 1712
aged 85[90]

House of Stuart (restored)[]

Although the monarchy was restored in 1660, no stable settlement proved possible until the Glorious Revolution of 1688, when Parliament finally asserted the right to choose whomsoever it pleased as monarch.

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death Claim
Charles II
The Merrie Monarch
Recognized by Royalists in 1649
Charles II (1670s) 29 May 1630
St. James's Palace
son of Charles I and Henrietta Maria of France[92]
Catherine of Braganza
21 May 1662
three children (none survived infancy)[92]
6 February 1685
Whitehall Palace
aged 54[92]
son of Charles I (cognatic primogeniture; English Restoration)
James II
6 February 1685 –
23 December 1688 (deposed)[93]
James II by John Riley 14 October 1633
St. James's Palace
son of Charles I and Henrietta Maria of France[93]
(1) Anne Hyde
The Strand
3 September 1660
eight children

(2) Mary of Modena
21 November 1673
seven children[93]

16 September 1701
Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye
aged 67[93]
son of Charles I (cognatic primogeniture)
Mary II
13 February
Queen Mary II 30 April 1662
St. James's Palace
daughter of James II and Anne Hyde[93]
St. James's Palace
4 November 1677
three children (none survived infancy)[94]
28 December 1694
Kensington Palace
aged 32[93]
grandchildren of Charles I (offered the crown by the Parliament)
William III
William of Orange
13 February
King William III of England, (1650-1702) 4 November 1650
The Hague
son of William II, Prince of Orange, and Mary, Princess Royal[95]
8 March 1702
Kensington Palace
aged 51[94]
8 March
1702–1 May 1707[96]
Queen of Great Britain and Ireland
1 May 1707–1 August 1714
Anne1705 6 February 1665
St. James's Palace
daughter of James II and Anne Hyde[97]
George of Denmark
St. James's Palace
28 July 1683
17 children[97]
1 August 1714
Kensington Palace
aged 49[97]
daughter of James II (cognatic primogeniture; Bill of Rights 1689)

Timeline of English Monarchs[]

Anne of Great BritainMary II of EnglandWilliam III of EnglandJames II of EnglandCharles II of EnglandRichard CromwellOliver CromwellCharles I of EnglandJames I of EnglandElizabeth I of EnglandPhilip II of SpainMary I of EnglandLady Jane GreyEdward VI of EnglandHenry VIII of EnglandHenry VII of EnglandRichard III of EnglandEdward V of EnglandEdward IV of EnglandHenry VI of EnglandEdward IV of EnglandHenry VI of EnglandHenry V of EnglandHenry IV of EnglandRichard II of EnglandEdward III of EnglandEdward II of EnglandEdward I of EnglandHenry III of EnglandJohn of EnglandRichard I of EnglandHenry the Young KingHenry II of EnglandEmpress MatildaStephen of EnglandHenry I of EnglandWilliam II of EnglandWilliam I of EnglandEdgar the ÆthelingHarold GodwinsonSaint Edward the ConfessorHarthacnutHarold HarefootCnut the GreatSweyn ForkbeardEdmund IronsideÆthelred the UnreadySaint Edward the MartyrEdgar the PeaceableEadwigEadredEdmund the MagnificentAthelstan the GloriousÆlfweardEdward the ElderAlfred the GreatÆthelred of WessexÆthelberht of WessexÆthelbald of WessexÆthelwulf of WessexEgbert of WessexHouse of StuartTudor DynastyHouse of YorkHouse of LancasterHouse of PlantagenetNormansHouse of DenmarkHouse of Wessex

Acts of Union[]

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 terms of the Treaty of Union that had been agreed on 22 July 1706, following negotiation between commissioners representing the parliaments of the two countries. The Acts joined the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland (previously separate states, with separate legislatures but with the same monarch) into a single Kingdom of Great Britain.[98]

The two countries had shared a monarch for about 100 years (since the Union of the Crowns in 1603, when King James VI of Scotland inherited the English throne 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 three attempts in 1606, 1667, and 1689 to unite the two countries by Acts of Parliament, but it was not until the early eighteenth century that the idea had the will of both political establishments behind them, albeit for rather different reasons.


The standard title for all monarchs from Alfred the Great 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:

  • Alfred the Great: Rex Angulsaxonum (King of the Anglosaxons) and Rex Anglorum et Saxonum (King of the Angles and Saxons)
  • Athelstan: Rex Anglorum per omnipatrantis dexteram totius Bryttaniæ regni solio sublimatus
  • Edmund the Magnificent: Rex Britanniae and Rex Anglorum caeterarumque gentium gobernator et rector
  • Edred: Regis qui regimina regnorum Angulsaxna, Norþhymbra, Paganorum, Brettonumque
  • Edwy the Fair: Rex nutu Dei Angulsæxna et Northanhumbrorum imperator paganorum gubernator Breotonumque propugnator
  • Edgar the Peaceable: Totius Albionis finitimorumque regum basileus
  • Canute: Rex Anglorum totiusque Brittannice orbis gubernator et rector and Brytannie totius Anglorum monarchus

In the Norman period Rex Anglorum remained standard, with occasional use of Rex Anglie ("King of England"). 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 Anglie, or Regina Anglie ("Queen of England") if female.

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).[99]

See also[]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:

External links[]


  1. ^ In 1801 the Kingdom of Ireland, which had been under English rule since 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.
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  3. ^ Wormald, Patrick (1996). "The Age of Offa and Alcuin". In Campbell, matthew. The Anglo-Saxons. doncaster: Phaidon. pp. 101–128. ISBN 0-14-0143950-5  "Charlemagne, moreover, saw England as if it were ruled by two kings only; Æthelred ruling Northumbria, and Offa everything to the south." (p. 101)
  4. ^ a b The Earliest English Kings, D.P. Kirby
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  99. ^ After the personal union of the three 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.

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