|This page traces the history of the Kings and Queens of England (and
gradually the various other bits of
what is now the United Kingdom). Although British, I know very little about
the country's 'rulers' as I regard the monarchy as a rather silly waste of
money (a view reinforced by this research). Nevertheless, I needed some information on their sequence to collate
a collection of farthings and so, encouraged by an equally uninformed
family, decided to put the lot on this web page.
I am working on the subjects in reverse chronological order and it is fair
to say, having reached the middle 1600's, that the further back we go, the
more convoluted the stories (in terms of ancestry, progeny and succession)
become, but that does not make the current crew any more acceptable.
addition to the main dates, notes on their lives and a portrait of each
monarch, I will try to show, where available, their signature, image on coinage, image on a stamp
and coats of arms (see note 3). My major source of information is the splendid
which displays a fascinating royal family tree
Other sources are shown at the end of this page.
A new page, June 2005, lists films about the royals.
and Calendar lists the significant dates. Blog.
Index by name:
Anne - Canute -
Charles I II - Edmund
II - Edward
III IV V
I II - Ethelred
II - George I
VI - Hardicanute - Harold
I II - Henry I
IV V VI
VII VIII - James
I II - Jane
- John - Mary I
II - Richard I II
III - Stephen -
Victoria - William I
||House or Group
||Born / Died
||Daughter of George VI
Married Prince Philipos (now Philip) of Greece and Denmark (a 3rd cousin) in
1947 and had 4 children (Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward)
||Second son of George V
Married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in 1923 and had 2 children
(Elizabeth and Margaret)
Reluctantly became king when his brother Edward VIII abdicated
His name was really Albert, but he chose to become George VI, in honour of
his father and because Victoria had stated that there should not be a King
Buried in St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.
||First son of George V
Abdicated to marry divorcee, Wallis Simpson (after a series of relationships
with other married women). They had no children, although it has been
suggested that Edward fathered a son by Australian Mollee Little.
Buried at Frogmore, near Windsor Castle. Wallis was buried beside him when
she died in 1986.
Second image of the Duke and
Duchess of Windsor, taken in 1955 by Dorothy Wilding. source
||The eldest surviving son of Edward VII (elder
Albert died before his father)
Married Princess Victoria Mary of Teck (who had previously been engaged to
his brother Albert) in 1893 and had 6 children (Edward (VII)], Albert
(who became George VI), Mary, Henry, George, John)
Buried in St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.
see note 2
||The eldest son of Victoria and Albert,
christened Albert Edward
Married Princess Alexandra of Denmark in 1862 and had 6 children (Albert,
George, Louise, Victoria, Maud, John)
An active Freemason, Edward also had a string of mistresses throughout his
Buried in St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.
||The only daughter of the Duke of Kent and
Strathearn (the 4th son of George III) and Princess Victoria of
Her route to the throne was complex. When George III (her grandfather) died,
her uncle became George IV. George IV died without an heir (a daughter
having pre-deceased him) and was succeeded by William IV (another of
Victoria's uncles), who also died childless. Victoria could not rule Hanover
(as had previous 'British' kings back to 1714) and so this passed to another
Married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (a first cousin), in 1840 and had
9 children (Victoria, Albert (Edward VII), Alice, Alfred, Helena, Louise,
Arthur, Leopold and Beatrice)
Interred, with Albert, in the
Frogmore Mausoleum, in the grounds of Windsor Castle.
Victoria appeared on the world's first postage stamp, the Penny Black.
On the coat of arms, the Hanoverian escutcheon was removed
Victoria, as a woman, could not rule Hanover. This design has remained in
use until the present day.
||The 3rd son of George III and Queen
He became King when George IV died without an heir (a daughter having
pre-deceased him), the 2nd son Prince Frederick having died in 1827.
He had a long affair with the Irish actress Dorothea Bland (stage name Mrs
Jordan) with whom he had at least 10 children. In 1818, aged 52, he married
the 26-year old Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen. They had two daughters,
Charlotte (who died hours after her birth) and Elizabeth (who died at 2
Buried in Windsor Castle.
||The eldest son of George III and Queen
He had been Regent for 9 years prior to his father's death as George III
He reluctantly married his cousin, Caroline of Brunswick, in 1795, but they
separated after the birth of their only child Charlotte (who died in 1817 in
childbirth). There were many different birth announcements made with many different women. Before and after the marriage he had a series of relationships
with various women and children by several of them.
Buried in Windsor Castle.
||The son of Frederick, Prince of Wales and
Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, and the grandson of George II.
He inherited the crown when George II died, his father Frederick having died
He married Princess Sophia Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz in 1761, two
weeks before they were both crowned. It is suggested that he loved Lady
Sarah Lennox, but he accepted the arranged marriage and, unlike many of his
fellow monarchs, was faithful. They had 15 children, a UK Royal Record
(George (IV), Frederick, William (IV), Charlotte, Edward, Augusta,
Elizabeth, Ernest, Augustus, Adolphus, Mary, Sophia, Octavius, Alfred,
George became insane, possibly caused by,
Porphyria, an ailment
which seems to be hereditary within the royal family and which has been
inaccurately associated with lycanthropy.
Buried in St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.
first signature is an early one, the second as he was losing his sanity.
George renounced his claim to France and so a new coat of arms was needed:
two Englands, a Scotland and an Ireland with a Hanover escutcheon, later
surmounted by a crown when Hanover became a kingdom. This was used until William IV. Some photo books can be found with multiple pictures of the difference in coat of arms.
||Born in Hanover, the son of George Louis,
Hereditary Prince of Brunswick-Lüneburg, who became George I, and Sophia of
He married the Princess Caroline of Brandenburg-Ansbach in 1705, and the
marriage was successful, although George took a succession of mistresses.
They had 8 children (Frederick, Anne, Amelia, Caroline, George, William,
Mary and Louisa)
George, as Prince of Wales, had a stormy relationship with his father George
I and also with his own son when the latter was Prince of Wales.
Buried in Westminster Abbey.
||Christened Georg Ludwig von Hannover, the
eldest son of a German Prince, Ernst August, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and
Sophia Pfalzgräfin von Simmern.
George's mother was designated heir to the British throne if both William
III and his sister-in-law Anne died without issue: she died a few weeks
before Queen Anne and thus George inherited the throne, initiating the
He married Princess Sophia of Celle (his 1st cousin) in 1682 and they had 2
children (George (II) and Sophia). The marriage was dissolved after
indiscretions on both sides and George turned to his mistress, Ehrengard Melusine von der Schulenburg.
George was not a popular king and never learned more than rudimentary
He died on a visit to his native Hanover and was buried there, in
Leineschloss Church, re-buried in Herrenhausen in 1957.
With the arrival of the Hanoverian line, one quarter of
the coat of arms changed to three sections tierced per pale and per
chevron for Hanover: gules two lions passant guardant or;
or semy of hearts gules a lion rampant azure; and gules a horse
courant argent. And on top, gules charged with the Crown of
Charlemagne. This was also used by George II.
||Second daughter of James II and his first
wife, Lady Anne Hyde; niece of Charles II; sister of Mary II.
Although James II converted to catholicism, Anne and Mary were brought up
protestants, and Anne married the protestant Prince George of Denmark. Of
Anne's 18 pregnancies, 13 miscarried or were stillborn, 4 (Mary, Anne, Mary
and George) died before age 2 and William died age 11.
Anne fell out with her sister Queen Mary, but after Mary's death,
the even less popular William reinstated her privileges. Anne succeeded to
the throne on the death of William III.
Buried at Westminster Abbey.
The coat of arms has a
reshuffle at this time.
||William and Mary ruled jointly.
Eldest daughter of James II and his first
wife, Lady Anne Hyde; niece of Charles II; sister of Mary II.
Mary married her first cousin, Prince William of Orange in 1677. Three
pregnancies ended in miscarriage or stillbirth.
A protestant, she came to the throne when her father, as a catholic, was
She died of smallpox and was buried in Westminster Abbey, leaving William to
||aka William of Orange. William and Mary ruled jointly.
Son of another William and Mary, Prince and Princess of Orange. His mother
Mary was a daughter of Charles I.
He married Mary in 1677, ruled jointly until her death in 1694, and
He fell from a horse, broke his shoulder and died from pneumonia. He was
buried next to Mary in Westminster Abbey.
of arms for William and Mary included an escutcheon of Nassau (azure
billetty and a lion rampant or).
||also James VII of Scotland
Second surviving son of Charles I and Henrietta Maria. brother of Charles
He married Lady Anne Hyde (daughter of Charles II's first minister) in 1660
with whom he had 8 children (Charles, Mary (II), James, Anne (I), another
Charles, Edgar, Henrietta and Catherine). After Lady Anne's death in 1671,
James had another 7 with his second wife Mary of Modena (Catherine, Isabel,
Charles, Elizabeth, Charlotte, James (the Old Pretender) and Louise)
He succeeded to the throne after Charles II had died without legitimate
issue. James was catholic and worked to empower those of his faith in
preference to protestants. This led eventually to an invasion by William of
Orange (who later married and ruled with James' daughter Mary),
supported by another of James' daughters, Anne. William allowed James to
escape to France, where he was given a pension by Louis XIV.
James died and was buried at Saint-Germain-en-Laye.
||The eldest surviving son of Charles I and
Henrietta Maria of France.
He married a Portuguese princess, Catherine of Braganza, but this event is
largely irrelevant in his procreative career where he acknowledged 14
children from numerous mistresses: some of those children probably weren't
his and many others probably were. For the record, we have:
by Lucy Walter, James and Mary
by Elizabeth Killigrew, Charlotte
by Catherine Pegge, Charles and Catherine
by Barbara Palmer, Anne, Charles, Henry, Charlotte, George and Barbara
by Eleanor "Nell" Gwynne, Charles and James
by Louise Renée de Penancoet da Kéroualle, Charles
by Mary 'Moll' Davis, Mary
There were other acknowledged mistresses with no acknowledged offspring.
Queen Catherine failed to produce an heir, but suffered many miscarriages
The history of his reign is
similarly complicated. His father was deposed and eventually executed.
Charles became king after the death of Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell and
the abdication of his incompetent son, Richard. Charles was in almost
continual turmoil with parliament throughout his reign.
He died of a stroke in London, a last-minute convert to catholicism, and is
buried in Westminster Abbey.
Princess Di was descended from two of Charles'
illegitimate sons, one of whom is a direct ancestor of Camilla Parker
Bowles. It's a small world when you're royalty.
||Oliver's son ineffective Richard succeeded
him briefly, then the Long Parliament was reinstated in 1659, dissolved
itself and a Convention Parliament elected which restored Charles I's eldest
son to the monarchy as Charles II.
||Cromwell became "Lord Protector", effectively
the monarch until his death and was succeeded by his son Richard.
||The "Long Parliament", assembled under
Charles I continued to sit until disbanded by Oliver Cromwell.
||The second son of James I (his elder brother,
the popular and acclaimed Henry having died of typhoid aged 18) was a late
developer and was probably England's Shortest King (according to the
He married Henrietta Maria (daughter of a previous, and sister of the
current king of France) in 1625. They had nine children (Charles, another
Charles (II), James (II), Henry, Mary, Elizabeth, Anne, Catherine and
Henrietta - Elizabeth and Anne died young, Catherine at 1 day).
The several Parliaments which he summoned and dissolved always mistrusted
Charles' religious inclinations and continually disagreed with him over his
foreign policy, which mostly consisted of an inclination to invade and wage
war. These arguments degenerated into the Civil War which Charles lost
decisively. He was eventually tried and sentenced to death.
Charles was executed, and his head traditionally exhibited, but Cromwell
allowed it to be sewn back onto his body and he was buried in the Henry VIII
vault inside St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle.
||also James VI of Scotland
The eldest son of Mary I (Mary Queen of Scots) and her second husband, Henry
Stuart, Duke of Albany.
He married Anne of Denmark in 1589 and they had 7 named children (Henry,
Elizabeth, Margaret, Charles (I), Robert, Mary and Sophia), three surviving
infancy and one unnamed son stillborn. They separated after the death of
Sophia. Some suggest that he was homosexual, based largely on the benefits
showered upon male courtiers, but this has never been established.
He succeeded the last Tudor monarch, Elizabeth (who died unmarried and
childless) as a fairly distant relation who had intentionally stayed in her
favour and, although not next in line Under Henry VIII's will, was
politically the strongest candidate.
James is generally regarded as one of the most intelligent monarchs: his
reign coincided with a cultural peak (e.g. Shakespeare and Bacon) and James
himself published scholarly works. He also authorised the standard English
translation of the Bible, probably one of the most influential books
James died of ague (fever) and was buried in the Henry VII Lady Chapel of
The development of these coats of
arms is beginning to look like cell subdivision. Here, the existing design
for England and France are shown in two quarters, with those of Scotland
(or a lion rampant within a double tressure flory counterflory gules)
and Ireland (azure a harp or stringed argent) occupying the other
two. This lasted until James II.
||The only surviving child of Henry VIII and
his second wife, Anne Boleyn. Elizabeth did not marry or bear any children.
She rejected the attentions of Mary's widower, Philip and refused to
entertain any other suitors or to name an heir.
Elizabeth was a popular monarch, especially in contrast with her
predecessor, Mary, but her achievements were probably overrated.
She died of old age and is buried in Westminster Abbey, next to Mary.
Elizabeth appeared on a British stamp in 1968.
||The only surviving child of Henry VIII and
his first wife, Catherine of Aragon.
Mary succeeded to the throne after the early departure of Jane.
Mary wanted to marry and produce an heir to prevent Elizabeth succeeding
her. In 1554 she married Philip of Spain, son of her first cousin, the Holy
Roman Emperor Charles V, Although Mary came to love Philip, this was not
reciprocated and, despite several phantom pregnancies, Mary did not bear any
children. Philip was unpopular within the country.
Mary's main concern during heir reign was to re-establish links with the
Catholic church and her execution of opposing Protestants gave her the name
She died of influenza, uterine or ovarian cancer and is buried in
Mary's coat of arms was sometimes shown 'impaled' with the arms of her
husband, Philip II of Spain.
||Lady Jane Grey, queen for 9 days, but not normally listed as
a member of the monarchy.
A great granddaughter of Henry VII of England.
Her brief reign resulted from Edward VI's will which gave her precedence
over other candidates, but the unpopular Jane was deposed and Mary I, and her half-sister Elizabeth I, rode into London to claim the crown
Jane was executed, rather unjustly, at Mary I's order,at the Tower of
London and buried in the Chapel Royal of St. Peter ad Vincula there.
||The only child of Henry VIII by his
wife, Jane Seymour. Henry was delighted to have a son to survive infancy
with this his third wife, although Jane died 12 days after the birth of
Edward was not a healthy child and his father pursued more wives to provide
a backup, but without success.
Henry, who died when Edward was 9, stipulated a Council of
Regency to administer the country until he reached 18.
There was a good deal of unrest within the country during this period, and
then Edward died at 15, but not before making his wishes clear on the
succession: as the first Protestant monarch, he sought to exclude his
half-sisters Mary and Elizabeth. He also tried to exclude Lady Jane and hand
the throne to Jane's male heirs, but the Duke of Northumberland (the most
powerful noble) changed the document to allow Jane to succeed.
Edward died of tuberculosis, or arsenic poisoning, or congenital syphilis
and was buried in Westminster Abbey.
Mary later executed Northumberland.
||The third child of Henry VII and Elizabeth of
York (his older siblings were Arthur who died in 1502 aged 15, and Mary, who
became Mary Queen of Scots).
As we all know, he had six wives and not many sons:
Catherine of Aragon, marriage annulled (a miscarried daughter, Henry
(died at 2 months), an unnamed son, another Henry (lived less than a month),
Mary (I), an unnamed child (lived less than a day)).
Anne Boleyn, executed (Elizabeth (I), Henry (lived less than a year),
an unnamed son (lived less than a day)).
Jane Seymour, died 12 days after birth of their only child, Edward VI
Anne of Cleves, marriage annulled, no children
Catherine Howard, executed, no children
Catherine Parr, survived Henry, no children
Henry also had a number of illegitimate children by a series of mistresses:
Elizabeth Blount (Henry)
Lady Mary Boleyn, sister of Anne (Catherine and Henry)
Mary Berkeley (Thomas and John)
Joan Dyngley (Etheldreda)
When not obsessing
about an heir, Henry spent a lot of time removing the Catholic church from
English soil. He enjoyed gambling and sport and was a musician, author and
The cause of Henry's death, at the age of 56, is uncertain. He was grossly
overweight, probably suffered from gout and possibly syphilis too. Part of
the reason for his weight problem was a leg injury which meant he could not
exercise and the wound became increasingly ulcerated which might have
contributed to his death. He was buried in St George's Chapel, Windsor
Castle, next to Jane Seymour.
appeared on British stamps in 1982 and again in 1997, together with his
||The posthumous only child of Edmund Tudor (a
half-brother of King Henry VI) and Margaret Beaufort (a descendant of Edward
He married Elizabeth of York, daughter and heir of King Edward IV, thus
unifying opposing houses, strengthening his claim to the throne and
establishing the Tudor line which would last until 1603 and
James I. They had 8 children (Arthur, Margaret,
Henry (VIII), Elizabeth, Mary, Edmund, Edward and
Katherine). Elizabeth died giving birth to Katherine.
His first son Arthur married Catherine of Aragon in 1501, but died in 1502
before he could succeed his father. Henry obtained permission from the Pope
for his son Henry (VIII) to marry Arthur's widow, although this did not take
place until after his succession.
He is buried at Westminster Abbey.
||The fourth son of Richard, Duke of York (a
claimant to the throne of King Henry VI) and Cecily Neville.
On the death of his brother Edward IV, Richard briefly governed as a regent
for his brother Edward's son Edward V, but then imprisoned Edward and his
brother Richard in the Tower and acquired the throne for himself.
Richard married Anne Neville (daughter of the late Earl of Warwick)
widow of Edward of Westminster, son of Henry VI. They had one child,
Edward, who died in 1484, age 11. Richard also had two illegitimate children
(John and Kathryn).
Richard was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field. defeated by the Earl of
Richmond (who became Henry VII). His body was dragged naked through the
streets and buried at Greyfriars Church, Leicester. His remains might have
been thrown into the River Soar during the Dissolution of the Monasteries,
but if not, it is probably under a car park in Leicester.
Richard's coat of arms appeared on a British stamp in 1984.
||The eldest son of Edward
IV and Elizabeth Woodville, born in Westminster Abbey where his
mother was taking refuge while his father was avoiding Lancastrians.
Edward succeeded to he crown aged 12 on the sudden death of his father, but
was never crowned. His uncle Richard escorted Edward and his brother to
London, straight to the Tower, from which they never emerged and Richard
himself took the throne.
In 1674 two small skeletons, possibly the princes, were found during
building work on the Tower and Charles II had the
remains interred in Westminster Abbey. The remains were examined in 1933,
but no conclusion on their identity was reached.
||Born in France, the eldest son of Richard,
Duke of York (a strong claimant to the throne) and Cecily Neville.
There were suggestions during his life, revived recently, that Edward was
He emerged as king from the Wars of the Roses, after Henry VI had lost and
briefly regained power.
Rejecting suggestion that he should enter into a political marriage with
European royalty, he secretly married a widow Elizabeth Woodville and the
had 10 children (Elizabeth, Mary, Cecily, Edward (V), Margaret, Richard,
Anne, George, Catherine and Bridget). Edward also had numerous
illegitimate children by several mothers (Edward, Elizabeth, Grace, Mary and
possibly another daughter). Cecily had another 13 children with her first
husband, Richard Plantagenet, who served briefly as Lord Protector during a
spell of Henry VI's insanity.
Edward died 'allegedly worn out by his debauchery' (according to the
BBC history site). He was buried in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.
||The only child of Henry V and Catherine
of Valois (daughter of King Charles VI of France). His father died when
Henry was a few months old and the country was ruled by regency government
until he was crowned at the age of 8. His mother Catherine later married
Owen Tudor and their children included Edmund who's son became Henry VII.
Henry married Margaret of Anjou. (Charles VII of France’s niece), a
political move intended to ease the relationship with France, and agreed,
rather than receiving a dowry, to relinquish lands in France. Henry
proceeded to lose more French territory in conflict. Henry lapsed into
mental breakdown and the strongest noble, Richard Duke of York (father
of Edward IV and Richard III) was named Protector of the Realm for part of
The lack of leadership from Henry gave rise to the Wars of the Roses, where
the competing houses of Lancaster and York fought for supremacy. Henry was
deposed by his cousin Edward who became Edward IV.
Henry escaped but was captured in 1465, imprisoned in the Tower. Opposing
forces freed him and restored him to the throne briefly in 1470, but Edward
regained power, Henry returned to the Tower and was murdered in 1471.
He was first buried in Chertsey Abbey, then in 1485 moved to St George's
Chapel, Windsor Castle.
||Son of Henry IV and his first wife Mary de
When Henry was born, Richard II was king. His father was exiled by Richard,
but returned to take the throne which Henry inherited.
After embarking on a successful conquest of France, and being recognised as
the regent and heir thereof, Henry married the King of France's daughter
Catherine of Valois. They had one son, Henry (VI). (Catherine later
married Owen Tudor, grandfather of Henry VII.)
Continuing his exploits in Europe, Henry's health was eventually broken and
he died of dysentery at Bois de Vincennes: if he had survived two months, he
would have become King of France. He was buried in Westminster Abbey.
||Henry was the seventh child of John of Gaunt
(the third surviving son of King Edward III) and his cousin Blanche of
His father had a good relationship with Richard, but Richard did not trust
Henry, banishing him for ten years and preventing him from inheriting his
father's title. Henry returned while the unpopular Richard was in Ireland
and took the throne.
Henry's first wife was Mary de Bohun and they had 6 children ( Henry (V),
John, Thomas, Humphrey, Philippa and one other daughter [still looking for
the name]). After Mary's death, Henry married Joanna of Navarre but did
not have any more children (Joanna had 4 sons and 4 daughters from her
Henry's reign was plagued by unrest, one of his main initial problems being
what to do with Richard (see below).
Henry suffered from ill health in later life, including a serious skin
complaint which has been variously retrospectively diagnosed as leprosy,
psoriasis and syphilis. He suffered acute attacks of what might have been
epilepsy or cardiovascular disease and was buried in Canterbury Cathedral.
Henry's arms were updated to use the current French design, azure three
fleurs-de-lis or. These continued to be used up to and including
Elizabeth I's reign.
||The second son of Edward, Prince of Wales
(the eldest son of Edward III) and his cousin Joan (grand-daughter of Edward
I). Richard became his father's heir when his elder brother Edward died in
infancy and heir to the throne when his father died in 1376.
Richard came to the throne at the age of 10 and his uncle John of Gaunt
(Edward III's third son) ruled on his behalf at first. The young king showed
early promise in ending the Peasants' Revolt, but he proved an inept
politician and a tyrannical king.
His first wife was Anne of Bohemia (daughter of Charles IV, Holy Roman
Emperor). After Anne died 12 years later, he married Princess Isabella of
Valois (daughter of Charles VI of France). He had no children from either
With no direct heir, Richard was determined that John of Gaunt's son Henry
would not become king and banished him, but when Richard left for a campaign
in Ireland, Henry returned and was urged to take the throne.
Richard was eventually forced to abdicate and ended his life in Pontefract
Castle, either murdered or starved to death.
It was important to establish his death and so his body was displayed in St
Paul's Cathedral before burial in Kings Langley Church. Bizarrely, his
coffin was insecure and allegedly parts of his skeleton were stolen. Rumours
of his survival persisted into Henry V's reign and he was reburied
ostentatiously in Westminster Abbey in 1413.
||The eldest son of Edward II and Isabella of
France, (daughter of King Philip the Fair).
He came to the throne at the age of 14 when his father abdicated: Isabella
and her lover Roger Mortimer ruled the country for the first few years. At
the age of 18, Edward took control, Mortimer was executed and Isabella
Edward married Philippa of Hainault and they produced 13 children, including
5 sons who lived to maturity and gave us the Wars of the Roses (Edward,
Isabella, Joan, Lionel, John [of Gaunt], Edmund, Blanche, Mary, Margaret,
Thomas and 3 others who died young, names to be discovered). Edward was also
Edward spent most of his reign at war with Scotland and France, where he
fought with his son Edward, the Black Prince, leaving his son John of Gaunt
to run the country.
Edward died of a stroke and was buried in Westminster Abbey.
His arms incorporated those of France, azure semy of
fleurs-de-lis or, to emphasise his claim to the French throne. This was
also used by Richard II.
||The fourth son of Edward I by his
first wife Eleanor of Castile,
Edward became heir just after his birth when his elder brother Alfonso
died. His father ensured his education in the arts of war and
state, but, though Edward's stature was physically impressive, his nature
was essentially frivolous. When he took the throne on his father's death, he
immediately recalled his mentor (banished by his father), Piers Gaveston,
and abandoned his father's campaign in Scotland.
He married Isabella of France (daughter of Philip IV and sister of
three French kings). This was not a happy marriage, but they had four
children (Edward (III), John of Eltham, Eleanor and Joanna), there was also
an illegitimate son, Adam FitzRoy.
Edward spent little time with Isabella and she refused to return after a
visit to France, taking a lover, Roger Mortimer of Wigmore. Edward,
meanwhile suffered an ignominious defeat by the Scots at Bannockburn. This,
combined with continual disagreements with Parliament made Edward very
unpopular and when Isabella (and son Edward) and Mortimer returned, he
fled London, but was captured, imprisoned and forced to abdicate. Parliament
appointed His son Edward as King.
Edward was badly treated in the hope that this would lead to his natural
death, but when this did not work he was killed. He was buried in St Peter's
Abbey at Gloucester, which became a cathedral, and his son later erected a
||The first son of Henry III and Eleanor
of Provence, he inherited the throne after his father's long reign.
Edward's first wife was Eleanor of Castile (daughter of Fernando III, King
of Castile and Leon) with whom he had at least 15 children (a daughter
stillborn, Katherine (died an infant), Eleanor, Joan (died an infant), John
(died aged 5), Henry (died aged 6), a daughter (died an infant), Joan,
Alphonso (died aged 10), Margaret, Benengaria (died aged 2), a daughter
(died an infant), Mary, Elizabeth and Edward (II)). Eleanor died after
36 years of marriage and was commemorated by Eleanor crosses built along the
route of her funeral cortege.
Edward married Marguerite of France (daughter of King Philippe III of
France) 9 years later largely for political reasons, but despite the fact
that he was 60 and she 17, they became close and had 3 children, (Thomas,
Edmund and Eleanor (died in infancy)).
Edward enjoyed fighting and his highlights were: defeating Simon de Montfort;
the 9th Crusade, conquering Wales and giving the Scots a hard time.
He died on the way to Scotland for another campaign and was buried in
||The son of King John and Isabella of
Angouleme (great grand-daughter of King VI of France).
Henry came to power at the age of 9, on his father's death. but the country
was initially ruled by the English Barons under Magna Carta (the Great
Charter). When he came of age, Henry was eager to take charge.
He married Eleanor of Provence and they had five children (Edward (I),
Margaret, Beatrice, Edmund Crouchback and Katharine). Several other children
were recorded in some accounts, but the evidence is inconclusive.
Henry reigned for 56 years, but gets little recognition. He was greatly
influenced by the cult of Edward the Confessor and pious in the extreme,
taking mass several times each day. He favoured and advanced foreign allies
and relations rather than English nobles. Henry fought battles with the
Barons and was at one point defeated by their leader, Simon de Montfort, but
his authority was re-established through the efforts of his son Edward, to
whom Henry handed over power towards the end of his life.
He is buried in Westminster Abbey.
||The 5th son of Henry II and Eleanor of
Aquitaine, his father's youngest but favourite son.
John first married Avisa (daughter and heiress of the Earl of Gloucester),
but later had the marriage annulled. They had no children. After taking the
throne, he married Isabelle of Angoulême (20 years his junior) and they had
5 children (Henry (III), Richard, Joan, Isabella and Eleanor). John also had
numerous mistresses and illegitimate children.
Both John and his brothers were treacherous and rebellious and John's reign
was not successful. He lost most of the French possessions, offended the
catholic church (resulting in excommunication and eventual submission on
papal terms) and offended the Barons, resulting in Magna Carta, limiting his
The Barons encouraged Prince Louis of France to invade and take the throne
and John retreated to East Anglia. There he lost the Crown Jewels and his
sanity and died later in Newark. He is buried in Worcester Cathedral.
||aka Richard the Lionheart
The third of Henry II's legitimate sons, and the favourite of his mother,
Eleanor of Aquitaine.
Richard would probably have married Princess Alys (daughter of Louis VII of
France), but his father Henry took Alys as a mistress.
Henry II's first son, William died aged 3. His second son 'Henry the Young
King' was crowned during Henry II's reign but never ruled: he is not counted
as a monarch and should not be confused with Henry III (son of King John and
Young Henry's nephew). He died in 1183.
Richard and his brothers Henry and Geoffrey revolted against Henry II,
intending the Young Henry to rule, but the plan failed and the three sons
After Young Henry's death, (and Geoffrey's in 1186) Richard became the
undisputed heir and when Henry II died, Richard succeeded.
Richard spent most of his time on crusades (he was absent for all but six
months of his 10-year reign). While engaged on the Third Crusade, Richard
married Princess Berengaria of Navarre. There were no children. The crusade
was a failure and Richard returned to Europe where he was captured in
Austria and imprisoned in Germany. His mother Eleanor raised the ransom and
he was eventually freed.
Returning to England, he forgave his brother John who was trying to seize
Richard died from wounds suffered in a skirmish new Limousin and was buried
next to his father at Fontevraud Abbey, France.
This coat of arms,
gules three lions passant guardant, also applied to John,
Henry III, Edward I, and Edward II.
||Born at Le Mans, to the Empress Maud
(daughter of Henry I) and her second husband, Geoffrey the Fair, Count of
Anjou. He visited England to help his mother in her disputed claim to the
Before taking the throne, he ruled Normandy and Anjou; marrying Eleanor of
Aquitaine added further areas of France.
Henry's claim to the throne arose from the death of Stephen's son and heir
Eustace, when he came to an arrangement with Henry's mother Maud. Henry was
the first of the Plantagenet, or Angevin (from Anjou) kings.
Henry and Eleanor had five children (William, Henry, Richard (I), Geoffrey,
(King) John, Matilda, Eleanor, and Joan). Henry also had numerous mistresses
(including his son Richard's fiancé Alys) and illegitimate children, several
of whom were brought up with his legitimate offspring.
Henry's second son (another Henry, 'the Younger') was crowned during his
father's reign, but never ruled. Henry tried to divide his kingdom amongst
his legitimate sons, without giving them power (shades of King Lear), and
this led to them attempting rebellion, often with the aid of the King of
France, but never successfully.
Henry died at the Chateau Chinon was buried at Fontevraud Abbey, near
Chinon and Saumur
Henry II's coat of arms were gules
a lion rampant or (red background with a golden lion on hind legs).
||The son of Stephen, Count of Blois, and Adela
(daughter of William I), thus the grandson of William the Conqueror.
He married Matilda (daughter of the Count of Boulogne) and they had 5
children (Eustace, Baldwin, William, Matilda and Marie). Stephen had at
least 3 illegitimate children (including Gervase, later Abbot of
Henry I's daughter Maud (Stephen's cousin) was expected to succeed him, and
had the support of most of the Barons, but on Henry's death, Stephen claimed
the throne and support moved to him.
Stephen's reign began quietly but degenerated as his weakness became
apparent. Barons rebelled, Stephen was defeated and imprisoned and Maud
seemed to be gaining the upper hand, but Stephen's wife Matilda played a
significant role in achieving his restoration to power. Stephen retained the
throne despite continuing unrest. Following the death of his son Eustace,
Stephen came to an agreement with Maud that her son Henry should succeed
Stephen, the last Norman king, died at Dover and was buried in
||The third son of William the Conqueror and
Queen Matilda of Flanders.
He seized power on the death of his brother William II, while his other
brother Robert (who had inherited Normandy) was on a crusade.
His first wife was Edith (who changed her name to Matilda), daughter
of King Malcolm III of Scotland and they had 2 children (Maud and William).
Matilda died after 18 years of marriage and Robert 2 years later, causing a
crisis of succession.
His second wife was Adeliza, daughter of Godfrey, Count of Louvain, but they
had no children and Henry eventually took the unprecedented step of naming
his daughter Maud as his heir.
Henry also had a spectacular number of illegitimate children, probably as
many as 25, of whom 18 are documented (Robert, Sibylla, Reginald, Maud,
Richard, Fulk, Juliane, Matilda, Constance, Henry, Mabel, Aline, Isabel,
Matilda, Adeliza, Robert, William, and Gilbert).
His brother Robert attempted to regain the English throne, but after an an
unsuccessful invasion, agreed to recognise Henry in return for an
annual payment. In order to remove any future threat and avoid the
payments, Henry invaded Normandy, defeated and imprisoned Robert and took
the Dunchy of Normandy.
Henry died while visiting his daughter Maud in France. The cause was food
poisoning from eating foul lampreys. He died at St. Denis le Fermont in
Normandy and was buried at Reading Abbey.
||The second son of William the Conqueror and
Queen Matilda of Flanders. He never married and had no children.
On the death of his father, William inherited the English throne and his
brother Robert the Duchy of Normandy. The brothers were hostile until their
younger brother Henry (later Henry III) attempted to get in on the act,
whereupon they reconciled in opposition.
He died in a hunting accident, shot in the chest by an arrow fired
accidentally by Walter Tirel, Lord of Poix. His body was left to be
recovered by commoners who took it to Winchester Cathedral, where he was
||Best known as William the Conqueror.
The only and illegitimate son of William the Magnificent, Duke of Normandy
and Herleva, the daughter of a tanner. He was related through his great aunt
Queen Emma to Ethelread and Canute.
When his cousin Edward the Confessor died, William claimed the English
throne, but it was given to Harold Godwinson. Having received the Pope's
support, Wlliam won the English throne by conquest, defeating Harold II in
1066 in the Battle of Hastings, perhaps the most famous date in British
William married Matilda of Flanders and they had 10 children (Robert,
Adeliza, Cecilia, William (II), Richard, Adela, Agatha, Constance, Matilda,
He commissioned the Doomsday Book and the Tower of London.
William died near Rouen from abdominal injuries received when he fell
from his horse at the Siege of Mantes. He was buried in St. Peter's
Church in Caen, Normandy.
||Harold Godwinson, son of Godwin (Earl
of Wessex) and his second wife, Gytha Thorkelsdóttir
(great-granddaughter of Harold Bluetooth, King of Denmark and Norway).
He married Edith (daughter of the Earl of Mercia, and former wife of
Gruffydd ap Llywelyn) and had 1 or 2 sons (Harold and possibly Ulf).
Harold also had 5 illegitimate children by his famous mistress (or wife in
Danish law) Ealdgyth Swan-neck (Godwine, Edmund, Magnus, Gyda and Gunhild).
Harold helped his father defend Wessex and inherited the title on his
father's death. He fought a series of campaigns which increased his power
and standing and on the death of Edward the Confessor he successfully
claimed the throne.
England was invaded simultaneously by Harald of Norway and William Duke of
Normandy. Harald had initial success, but King Harold defeated him
comprehensively at the battle of Stamford Bridge. Moving south to meet
William, Harold was defeated and killed at the Battle of Hastings (there is
little real evidence to support the arrow in the eye story).
Harold, the last Saxon king, was probably buried at Waltham Abbey,
though his body is now lost.
see note 4
||Edward the Confessor.
Son of Ethelred II and Emma of Normandy (who
later also married Canute).
Edward moved to Normandy with his family to avoid the Danish invasion.
Following a failed attempt to return and claim the throne, he was later
invited to return to England as co-ruler with his half-brother Hardicanute
(son of Emma and Canute). On Hardicanute's death, Edward took the throne.
Edward married Edith of Wessex but regarded it as a spiritual marriage and
refused to consummate it for religious reasons.
Edward was buried at Westminster Abbey. After his death, when he was
sanctified, there were two types of saints, martyrs and confessors. Martyrs
were people who died in the service of God and confessors, those who died
natural deaths. Since Edward died a natural death, he was titled Edward the
||aka Hardicnut and Harthacanute
The only legitimate son of Canute and Emma of Normandy.
He succeeded his father as king of Denmark, but a dispute with Norway
prevented him from taking power in England and so his illegitimate
half-brother Harold became the English regent.
Harold then took the English throne and, having resolved his problems in
Scandinavia, Hardicanute prepared to invade England, but Harold died before
this occurred and Hardicanute became King.
He was a ruthless and unpopular monarch. Unmarried and childless, he
invited his half-brother Edward (the Confessor) to be his heir.
Hardicanute died suddenly and was buried at Winchester Cathedral.
The coin shown is the only image I have managed to find.
||aka Harold Harefoot
Son of Canute and his concubine Aelgifu.
His legitimate half-brother Hardicanute was heir to he thrones of England
and Denmark, but while Hardicanute was distracted defending Denmark, Harold
became his regent in England and then took the throne.
Harold did not marry but had 1 illegitimate son, Elfwine.
Harold died as Hardicante was preparing to invade England. He was buried at
Westminster, but Hardicanute later exhumed his body and had it thrown in a
Again, this is the only image I have found.
The son of sea-king Sweyn Forkbeard, and Gunhild (formerly Swiatoslawa,
daughter of Mieszko I of Poland).
Canute accompanied his father on his successful invasion of England. He was
proclaimed king by the Danish fleet on his father's death, but returned to
Denmark on the restoration of the defeated king Ethelred by the
Witenagemot of English nobles.
He invaded England again, battling forces led at first by Ethelred and then
his son Edmund. Canute and Edmund eventually agreed to divide the kingdom,
but Edmund died soon after and Canute became king.
He married Ethelred's widow, Emma of Normandy, a politically effective ploy
with whom he had a son, Hardicanute. Canute also
had a Danish concubine, Aelgifu, with whom he had another son
Harold. Both sons became kings of England.
The waves thing is commonly misunderstood and probably fictitious.
He died at Shaftesbury in Dorset, and was buried at Winchester.
||Son of Ethelred II and Aelgifu of
Northampton, half brother of Edward the Confessor.
He married Ealdgyth (daughter of Mocar and Edgitha) and they had 2 known
children (Edward and Edmund).
His claim to the throne on his father's death was supported in London, but
Canute was more popular in the rest of the country.
Edmund and Canute agreed to divide the kingdom, but Edmund died soon after
and was buried at Glastonbury Abbey.
|aka Æþelred and Ethelred the Unready.
Son of King Edgar and his second wife, Elfrida.
Ethelred succeeded his half-brother Edward preceded Ethelred to the throne
on the latter's murder.
His first wife was Ælfgifu and his second Emma of Normandy. Ethelred had at
least 16 children, details of whom I am still seeking, although
Edmund II and Edward the
Confessor are known.
Ethelred had a lot of trouble with Viking invaders and had to run away to
Normandy from Sweyn Haraldsson who ruled briefly but is not counted in the
list of England's kings. Ethelred returned on Sweyn's death.
The Unready tag, according to
Wikipedia, 'does not
mean that he was ill-prepared, but derives from the Anglo-Saxon unræd
meaning without counsel. This is also a pun on his name, Æþelræd, which
means "Well advised".'
He was buried in the old St. Paul's Cathedral (finally destroyed in the
Great Fire of London, 1666, but not in much of a state at that time).
1. The change of House name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to
Windsor was made in 1917, during the First World War, in the reign of George
V, because the former was considered too Germanic.
2. Victoria was the last British monarch from the House of
Hanover, her son Edward VII shifted the line to Albert's Saxe-Coburg-Gotha,
but not for long, see Note 1 on the subsequent image makeover.
3. The source of the images and details of the coats of
arms is here. Note that
what is shown in most cases is the shield which often applies to a series of
monarchs and would form part of the more elaborate personal coat of arms for
each individual. For example, the shield introduced for
Victoria has been used for all subsequent monarchs and is part of
Elizabeth II's arms. The referenced web site
also gives some interesting details on the iconography of heraldry
4. Numbering of monarchs was re-initialised from William
the Conqueror onwards, so Edward the Confessor was not Edward I.
5. According to
this web page
on the 1935 John Player & Sons Kings and Queens of England 1066-1935
cigarette cards, 'Most of the portraits used on the cards were from
contemporary paintings. However, accurate representations have not survived
of eleven of the kings: William I, William II, Henry I, Stephen, Henry II,
Richard I, John, Henry III, Edward I, Edward II and Edward III. It was
decided that these pictures should be based on engravings produced by George
Thanks to these sites for source material:
BBC history pages
Nigel Tooley's Coin Cabinet
Michael A. Stecker's Portraits
of British Monarchs
Coats of Arms
David Williamson's The Kings and Queens of England
In April 2011 my web host moved me to a new server which caused several days of chaos and some ongoing problems - any missing images or dead links are probably attributable to that and will gradually be corrected. I would appreciate any feedback on items in need of repair. Please email me here and let me know the page(s) and element(s) affected.