List of the monarchs of the Kingdom of England
England was unified as a state in a series of stages between the reigns of Alfred the Great of Wessex and his grandson Athelstan. It ceased to exist as a separate kingdom following the Act of Union of 1707, when it was merged with the Kingdom of Scotland to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain (sometimes given as just the Kingdom of Great Britain - contemporary usage was not standardised).
Today, England is one of the constituent countries and nations of the United Kingdom, alongside Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; however it does not have its own separate government apart from the central government of the United Kingdom, so it is in the unique position of having no independent legal personality, despite being the dominant member of the union. In popular usage the name "England" is sometimes applied to the UK as a whole, both in England and around the world, but this is incorrect.
For the various rulers of the kingdoms within England prior to its formal unification, during the Heptarchy, see Bretwalda. It was during this period that the foundations of what became the English state were laid down, including, from the Synod of Whitby of 664, a united English Church. In 774 Offa, King of Mercia (757-796), assumed the title Rex Anglorum ("King of the English"). His personal rule over the other English kingdoms allowed him to treat on equal terms with Charlemagne in Europe, and to impose a unified currency on the whole of England that survived until 1971. Mercian dominance, however, was finally brought to an end by the Danish invasions of the 9th century, and out of the resulting chaos the Kingdom of Wessex rose to prominence.
- Alfred the Great (871-899)
- Edward the Elder (899-924)
- Ethelweard (uncrowned) (924)1
- Athelstan (924-939)
- Edmund the Magnificent (939-946)
- Edred (946-955)
- Edwy the Fair (955-959)
- Edgar the Peaceable (959-975)
- Edward the Martyr (975-978)
- Ethelred the Unready (978-1013 and 1014-1016)
- Edmund Ironside (1016)
- Sweyn Forkbeard (uncrowned) (1013-1014)
- Canute (1016-1035)
- Harthacanute (1035-1037 and 1040-1042)
- Harold Harefoot (1037-1040)
West Saxons (restored)
- Edward the Confessor (1042-1066)
- Harold Godwinson (1066)
- Edgar the Atheling (uncrowned) (1066) (abdicated, died circa 1126)2
- William I, the Conqueror (1066-1087)
- William II, Rufus (1087-1100)
- Henry I (1100-1135)
- Stephen (1135-1154)
- Matilda (uncrowned) (1141) (deposed, died 1167)3
- Henry II (1154-1189)
- Richard I, the Lionheart (1189-1199)
- John (1199-1216)
- Henry III (1216-1272)
- Edward I (1272-1307)
- Edward II (1307-1327) (deposed, died 1327)
- Edward III (1327-1377)
- Richard II (1377-1399) (deposed, died 1400)
- Edward IV (1461-1470 and 1471-1483)
- Edward V (uncrowned) (1483) (deposed, assassinated 1483)4
- Richard III (1483-1485)
- Henry VII (1485-1509)
- Henry VIII (1509-1547)
- Edward VI (1547-1553)
- Jane (uncrowned) (1553) (deposed, executed 1554)5
- Mary I (1553-1558) and Philip (1554-1558), as co-monarchs
- Elizabeth I (1558-1603)
- James I (1603-1625), also from 1567 King James VI of Scots
- Charles I (1625-1649), also King of Scots
There was no reigning monarch between the execution of Charles I in 1649 and the Restoration of Charles II in 1660. Despite this, Oliver Cromwell held monarchical powers (1653-1658) as Lord Protector, succeeded by his son, Richard Cromwell (1658-1659).
- Charles II (1660-1685), also King of Scots (backdated the start of his reign to 1649)
- James II (1685-1688) (deposed, died 1701), also King James VII of Scots
- William III (1689-1702) and Mary II (1689-1694), as co-monarchs, also King and Queen of Scotland
- Anne (1702-1714), though the English throne was replaced with that of the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707
From 1707, the titles King of England and Queen of England are technically incorrect (though still in wide usage). Hence, this list runs up to 1707.
Succession order and claimants
As an early Germanic people, the Anglosaxons exercised semi-hereditary elective monarchy. Fundamentally, the male (and only male) members, agnates, of the royal clan were allowed to ascend the throne. Despite some irregularities and some coups, the succession followed the pattern of Salic Law or Semi-Salic Law until the Norman conquest.
In later stages of that Anglosaxon regime, feudal succession patterns emerged in England in succession patterns of real estates and some hereditary territorial offices, and if it would have been necessitated by lack of male heirs, probably the royal succession would also have taken place to nearest male relative by female descent. The elective system would have allowed a larger number of potential candidates, and the result cannot be fully predicted.
Early Norman rulers practiced testamentary dispositions, as attested by successions of William II and Stephen. However, feudal primogeniture or degree of proximity was strongly as a basis of succession already then. Maud had a relatively high success when claiming the crown. From Henry II onwards, the hereditary nature of the kingship was uncontested.
Edward I promulgated acts to support the principle of primogeniture, in its cognatic form.
- The putative succession from Anglosaxon royal dynasty evolved together within the kingship of Scotland until the Bruce coup. After the Balliols, the rights, reckoned on basis of feudal primogeniture, continued to counts of Coucy and then to Bourbons of Vendome, uniting with the Navarrese crown in person of the future Henry IV of France. Currently it is held by Alice, Duchess of Calabria - as advertised in her son's website.
- The succession from Robert Curthose, eldest son of William the Conqueror, went extinct with his son William, count of Flanders.
- The heirs of king Stephen are the counts of Boulogne, which presumably continued up to Catherine Medici, queen consort of France, then to Isabella Clara Eugenia of the Low Countries and then to Savoyard ducal family, uniting in 1804 with the Jacobite claim and continuing in Sardinia-Savoy until inherited by the Austria-Este and currently the Bavarian royal family.
- The rights usurped by John the Lackland from Arthur of Brittany went legitimately to Arthur's sister, upon whose death that separate branch went extinct and rights evolved to actual kings of England.
- Richard II's heir was his cousin Mortimer, Earl of March, whose heirs ascended later the throne in persons of Yorkist claimants.
- Lancastrian succession went extinct in male line with Henry VI, but at that time kings of Portugal were the legitimate heirs of the honour of Lancaster. This means that the rights evolved through some Portuguese monarchs to dukes of Parma, whose primogenitural heirs then are the Spanish Bourbon monarchs and ultimately currently Louis Alfonso, Duke of Anjou
- if Edward IV was illegitimate or if all his children were illegitimate, the heir to George of Clarence will represent the Plantagenet right and Yorkist right to the crown - currently the earl of Loudoun
- if Henry VII's elder daughter's issue was excluded from succession due to being foreign, i.e Scottish, and/or the will of Henry VIII is applicable, the crown is in dispute between Brandon heirs, depending on whether Lord Beauchamp (Seymour) is deemed illegitimate or not. Lord Beauchamp's representative today is Beatrice Mary Grenville Freeman-Grenville, 12th Lady Kinloss (see Lord Kinloss, and Stanley representative is William Villiers, 10th Earl of Jersey.
- The Jacobite claim, based on feudal primogeniture (the prevalent English succession order) descent from Charles I, is detailed in a separate article and currently belongs to Franz, Duke of Bavaria. They happen to represent also the claim from king Stephen of England.
Pretenders to the thrones of the United Kingdom and its predecessor realms, as well as the other historical jurisdictions that are modernly England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, were essentially taken care of by making the Irish and English (and subsequently, British) monarchies purely statutory institutions.
This change was first effected in England following the accession of Henry VII, after a long series of strife and civil wars that began when Henry IV deposed Richard II. Attempts to disrupt the statutory nature of the monarchy in England were made by some of the Stuart monarchs, who had not experienced the English checks on royal power when they were in Scotland. The Act of Settlement 1701 took care of that problem, and the Act of Union 1707 essentially extended the Act of Settlement to Scotland. The Act of Union 1800 subsequently extended the Act of Settlement to Ireland, but the Irish monarchy had already been made a statutory institution when Prince Henry, Lord of Ireland (Henry VIII of England) was named King of Ireland by the Irish Parliament in 1542.
Nevertheless, there have been some great pretenders over the centuries. A few famous ones are noted here, and a few passive claims are still made.
James Francis Edward Stuart was the Roman Catholic son of the deposed King James VII and II, forever eclipsed in the succession to the throne by the Act of Settlement 1701. Notwithstanding the Act of Union 1707, he claimed the separate thrones of Scotland, as James VIII, and of England and Ireland, as James III, until his death in 1766.
James's sons carried on their own claims. The would-be Charles III, still famously known as "Bonie Prince Charlie" (there is only one 'n' in 'bonie' because he's male; 'bonnie' would make him female; the Scots word 'bonie/bonnie' being a translation of the French 'bon/bonne'), died in 1788. He is unquestionably the most famous pretender in British history, if not world history.
His younger brother, Henry, took up the mantle after his death, if only symbolically, as the would-be Henry IX of England. He died in 1807.
James VIII & III was commonly called "the King over the water," because he was resident in France (across the Channel) and is also known as The Old Pretender. (As no Jacobite monarch since has resided in Britain, Jacobites ever since have toasted 'the King/Queen over the water'.) Bonie Prince Charlie is also called The Young Pretender. See Jacobitism and the related category for more information including the current Jacobite "pretender".
A note on titles
The standard title for all monarchs from Alfred until the time of King John was Rex Anglorum. In addition, many of the pre-Norman kings assumed extra titles, as follows:
- Alfred - Rex Angulsaxonum and Rex Anglorum et Saxonum
- Athelstan - Rex Anglorum per omnipatrantis dexteram totius Bryttaniæ regni solio sublimatus
- Edmund - Rex Britanniae and Rex Anglorum caeterarumque gentium gobernator et rector
- Edred - Regis qui regimina regnorum Angulsaxna, Norþhymbra, Paganorum, Brettonumque
- Edwy - Rex nutu Dei Angulsæxna et Northanhumbrorum imperator paganorum gubernator Breotonumque propugnator
- Edgar - 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. Matilda styled herself Domina Anglorum. From the time of King John onwards all other titles were eschewed in favour of Rex Anglie (or Regina Anglie 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, which has been held, along with other titles, by all his successors to the present day.
1Ethelweard was appointed as King of Wessex only, and died after sixteen days.
2Edgar the Atheling was proclaimed king following the death of Harold at Hastings. He submitted to William a few weeks later.
3Matilda, claimed by some to be the rightful heir, was briefly proclaimed Lady of the English during a period of civil war.
4Edward V, one of the Princes in the Tower, was kept a prisoner during his reign of little more than two months.
784-Ealhmund (770-785), King of Kent I 802-Egbert (770-839), King of Wessex I 839-Ethelwulf (800-871), King of Wessex I 871-Alfred the Great (849-899), first to call self I King of England, until death. I 899-Edward the Elder (874-924), king until death. I 911 – Rollo, Viking, I settles Normandy, France I with treaty with King I Charles III, The Simple. I_________________________________________ I I I I 924- Ethelweard (904-924), king until death. I I _________________________________________I I I I 924-Athelstan (895-939) king until death. I I 928- William I, of Normandy I (? - 942) I I 942- Richard I, of Normandy I (935-96) The Fearless I I Started feudal system I I There I 939-Edmund I (921-946), king until death. I I I 946-Edgar I (942-975), king until death. I I I 975- Edward the Martyr, Eadweard II, (962-978) I I I 978-Ethelred II, the Unready (968-1016), king England I I until death except for interlude. I I 1013 Danish invasion of England, wife I I Emma of Normandy fled to Normandy. I I____________________________________________________ I I I I 1016-Edmund II (988-1016), Ironside, King England I I X until death. I I ____________________I_______I I I I 1016-Canute I (995-1035), Cnut, m. Emma of I I Canute the Great, Normandy I I son of Svend I + Aelgifu I I "Forkbeard.” I Concubine I I Denmark king. Throne ceded I I I I to him on Edward’s death. I I_______ I I I I I I _______________________________I I I I I I I I 1035-Hartha-canute (1018-1042), King England I I I I also of Denmark. Bastard half brother I I I I Harold ruled England as regent until he I I I I took it over in 1037. I I I I_______________________________________ I I I _______________________________________I_______I I I I I I I 1037-Harold I, Harefoot (1012-1040), King I I I England until death. I I I _______________________________________I I I I I I 1040- Hartha-canute (1018-1042), Resumed throne I I until death.No children. I I ____________________________________________________I I I I I I I Richard II, of Normandy I I I Richard III, of Normandy I I I Robert I, the Magnificent I I I I 1042-Edward the Confessor (1004-1066), Last house I X Wessex Anglo-Saxon king. Died without I Heirs. Mother Emma, father Ethelred. I the Unready I ___________________________________________________________I I 1066- William I, The Conqureor (1027-1087), king of. I England after won Battle of Hastings I Bastard child of Robert, The Magnificent. I Died of pommel internal injury I Begins house of Normandy. I_____________________________________________________ I I I I 1087-William II (1056-1100), king until death, I Robert I arrow in chest hunting accident I Adela ________________________________________I I 1100-Henry I, Beauclerc, Lion of Justice (1068-1135), king I until death. Took throne from older brother I Robert II, Curthose, who was on crusade. I 1135-Stephen (1096-1154), King til death.Last Norman King I 1154-Henry II, (1133-1189), King England, Duke of I Normandy, Count of Anjou until death. I First of the Plantagenet or Angevin Kings. I M. France’s Elenor of Aquetaine. I Outs Becket to Louis VII over dispute over I king power over church. Denies role in I murder of Becket in Canterbury Cathedral. I But as penance sent money to Knights I Hospitaller and Templar for crusade. I Had affair with Alys, daughter Louis VII. I___________________________________________________________ I I I I Henry, The Young King (1155-1183) I 2 other I King 1170 but never ruled. I legit boys, I Died of dysentery. I 3 girls I ______________________________________I I I I 1189- Richard I, The Lion Heart (1157-1199), King until I death. Spoke no English. I Died of gangrene from crossbow bolt. I __________________________________________________________I I 1199-John of England, Lackland, Soft Sword (1166-1216), I King until death. Signed I Magna Carta 1215 making king subject to law, I paving way to constitution. I Lost French lands to Philip II, Augustus, I hence ‘Lackland”. I 1216-Henry III of England (1207–1272), King until death. I 1272-Edward I, Longshanks (1237-1307), King until death. I 1307-Edward II (1284-1327), King until deposed. I 1327-Edward III (1312-1377), King until death. Claimed I French throne in 1340 when King Charles IV I of France died. Ed III’s mother, Isabel, was I Charles IV’s sister. Starts 100 Years War. I____________________________________________________ I I I I I 1377-Richard II Edward, 1 other I Edmund of L (1367-1400) Black Prince boy I I King until (1330-76) 8 girls I I Deposed. I I Died without I Richard of C heirs starting I I War of Roses I I for succession I I Friend of Chaucer I Richard Plan. John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster I _______________________________________I ___ I I I I 1399- Henry IV, of Bolingbroke, I I I (1367-1413), King until I I I death. First since 1099 to I I I speak English. Imprisoned I I I King Richard who I I I died there. House of I I I Lancaster. I I I __________________________________ I I I I I I I (King Charles VI of France) I I I I I I I I 1413-Henry V + Catherine of Valois 3 boys, I I (1387-1422) + 4 girls I_______I____ King until death. Owen Tudor I I I I________________________ I I I I I I 1422-Henry VI (1421-1471), King until I I I deposed 1461 by cousin Edward I I I of York in War of Roses. Married I I I Margaret of Anjou, Charles VII’s I I I niece. I I I 1450: Aquitaine retaken by French I I I c Joan of Arc. I I I __________________________________________________I___I I I I I I 1461-Edward IV (1442-1483), King until I I I I death. Interrupted when Queen I I I I Margaret enlists Richard, Earl I I I I of Warwick and King Louis XI I I I I to reinstate Henry VI 1470. I I I I__________________________ I I I I I I I I 1483-Edward V (1470-1483) 2 other boys, I I I King until death. 7 girls claimed I I I No children illegit I I I __________________________________________________I___I I I _________________________I_______I I I I I John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset I I I I I John Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset I I I I I Margaret Beaufort + Edmund Tudor I I 1483-Richard III (1452-1485), King until death I Last Plantagenet king. I X Son Edward, Prince of Wales died 1484. I __________________________________________________I I 1485-Henry VII (1457-1509), King until death. Starts I Tudor Dynasty. I ________________________________________________ I I I 1509-Henry VIII (1491-1547), King until death. I I I Wives: One died, one lived, I I I two annuled, two beheaded" I I I ____________I I I I I I Margret Tudor I I Gr.grandson is I I James VI of Scotland I I + I I Henry Stuart, Duke of Albany I I I__________________I_____ I _________________________I I I I I I Mary Tudor + King Louis XI I I + Charles Brandon I I I__________ I I____________________________________________ I I I I I I I 1547-Edward VI (1537-1553), King until I I I I death. First Protestant king. I I I I I I I I _______________________I___I___I I I I I I Lady Frances Brandon I I I _______________I I I I I I I I 1553- Jane Grey,(1537-1554) Queen 9 days. I I I executed. I I I ________________________________________I I I I I I 1553- Mary I (1516–58), Mary Tudor, Queen I I until death. ‘Bloody Mary’ I I executed 300 trying to return I I England to Catholicism. Died I I without heirs. I I _______________________________________________I I I I 1558-Elizabeth I (1533-1603), Queen until death. I Died without heirs. Last Tudor I Mother Anne Boleyn beheaded. I __________________________________________________________I I 1603-James I of England/James VI Scotland (1566-1625), I King until death. First House of Stuart. I I_________________________________________________________ I I I 1625-Charles I, (1600-1649), 2 boys, Elizabeth Stuart I King until executed. 3 girls I I Cromwell ‘king’ I I 1649-60 I I___________________________________ I I I I I 1649-Charles II (1630-1685) I Mary Stuart I King 1649-d I (1631-1660) I ____________________________I I I I I I 1685-James II/VII (1633-1701), I I I King 1685-89 (Revolution) I I I__________________________________I_________ I I ___________I I I I I I I I I 1689- Mary II ----+--- William III I James Francis I I III/VIII I (1662-1694) (1650-1702) I I Queen 1689-94 King 1689-92 I Sophia Stuart ______________________________________I I I I 1702-Anne (1665-1714) Queen until succeeded. I by George. 7 children died I X I _____________________________________________________I I 1702- George I of Hanover (1660-1727), king until death. I 1727-George II (1683-1760) I___________________________________________________ I I I Frederick (1707-1751) Anne William I 1760-George III (1738-1820), King Britain 1760 until death. I Had porphyria and was incapacitated. I George IV was regent from 1811. I________________________________________________ I I I I 1820- George IV (1762-1830) I 4 other boys, I Had 1 daughter. I 6 girls I ____________________I I I I 1830- William IV (1765-1837), King until death. I Had no legitimate living children at death . I ___________________I I Prince Edward Augustus ______________________________I I 1837-Victoria (1819-1901), Queen of UK until death. I Reigned over Industrial Revolution. I_________________________________________________ I I I 1910-Edward VII (1841-1910) 3 other boys, Alice, Princess I King until death. 4 girls I I I 1910-George V (1910-1936), Victoria, Princess I King until death I I_____________________________________ I I I I I 1936-Edward VIII (1894-1972) I 3 other boys, I King 236 days, abdicated I 1 girl I ___________________________I I I I 1936-George VI (1895-1952), Alice, Princess I King until death I I I 1952-Elizabeth II, (1926- ) m Philip, Duke of Edinburgh Queen I __________________I_______________ I I I I Charles Anne Andrew Edward I____________________________ I I William Henry