List of monarchs in the British Isles

This is a list of the monarchs of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, that is, the monarchs on the thrones of some of the various kingdoms that have existed in the British Isles, namely:

In 1328, on the death of the French king, Charles IV, Edward III (nephew of Charles IV) claimed the French throne. English monarchs, and subsequently British monarchs, then styled themselves King of France or Queen of France until the Act of Union 1800, which led to the creation of the United Kingdom in 1801. By then France had been a republic for ten years. Since 1559 English monarchs, and subsequently British monarchs, have also had the title Supreme Governor of the Church of England. Note that the numbering of English monarchs starts afresh after 1066 (although this affects only the Edwards).

All Scottish monarchs held the title King of Scots or Queen of Scots, with the exception of the last three: Mary II, William III and Anne I used the style "of Scotland" rather than "of Scots".

To see the rulers of the small kingdoms which existed before the formation of England, Scotland or Wales, see:

See also: Bretwalda

Complications over Title and Style

James VI of Scotland and I of England, united the Crowns of England, Scotland and Ireland in a personal union, later merged into a single Kingdom of Great Britain by the Act of Union 1707.

Royal titles are complicated because in some cases names of kingdoms are used that did not officially come into existence until later, or came into existence earlier without immediate adoption of the royal title.

  • For example, in October 1604, one year after James VI of Scotland had become King of England, he decreed that the Royal Title would use the term Great Brittaine to refer to the "one Imperiall Crowne" made up of England and Scotland. However using that title is problematic because the 'state' of Great Britain was not created until the Act of Union 1707. Nor was the united crown generally referred to as 'imperial'. To avoid confusion, historians in general thus refer to all monarchs up to 1707 as monarchs of England and Scotland. Thus James II of England was also James VII of Scotland; and William III of England was also William II of Scotland. Many English and British monarchs also claimed France as part of their official title, though this had no reality in substance. After the Union, the ordinal has been the English number (for "George", "Edward" and "Elizabeth") and, until recently, there was no formal rule.
  • In different documents, the terms Kingdom of Great Britain and United Kingdom of Great Britain feature, even documents as official as the Act of Union 1707. Most historians presume the United was meant to be descriptive, indicating a union as a form of unity by marriage rather than coercion. For clarity and because the United is far more strongly associated with the later name United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland produced in the Act of Union 1800, the 1707 Kingdom is generally referred to as the Kingdom of Great Britain.

The list of monarchs below cannot be exhaustive. Succession to the many thrones often did not pass smoothly from parent to child; lack of heirs, civil wars, murders and invasions affected the inheritance in ways that a simple list does not show. The relationships that formed the basis for claims to throne are noted where we know them, and the dates of reign indicated.

Monarchs

Monarchs of England Monarchs of Scotland
Name Reign Notes
The West Saxons
Alfred the Great 871899 Recognised as leader of all free Englishmen under the Treaty of Wedmore, 878
Edward the Elder 899924 Alfred's son
Ethelweard 924 Edward's son, king of Wessex only
Athelstan 924939 Edward's son, the first de facto king of all England
Edmund I 939946 Edward's son
Edred 946955 Edward's son
Edwy the Fair 955959 Edmund's son
Edgar the Peaceable 959975 Edmund's son
St Edward the Martyr 975978 Edgar's son
Ethelred the Unready 9781013
10141016
Edgar's son
Edmund Ironside 1016 Ethelred's son
The Danish Kings
Both the Saxon and Danish royal houses claimed the English throne, 1013 to 1016. Denmark and England had the same king from 1016 to 1042.
Sweyn Forkbeard 10131014  
Canute 10161035 Sweyn's son
Harold Harefoot 10351040 Canute's son
Harthacanute 10401042 Canute's son
The West Saxon Restoration
St Edward the Confessor 10421066 Ethelred's son
Harold Godwinson 1066 Edward the Confessor's brother-in-law
Edgar the Atheling 1066 Grandson of Edmund Ironside
The Normans
After the Norman Conquest in 1066, numbering of kings (a French tradition never used by the English prior to that date) begins.
William I, the Conqueror 10661087 Distant kinsman of Alfred the Great
William II, Rufus 10871100 William I's son, descendant of Alfred the Great
Henry I 11001135 William I's son, descendant of Alfred the Great
Stephen 11351154 William I's grandson
The Angevins or Plantagenets
The Royal House name changed to reflect Matilda's marriage to Geoffrey Plantagenet.
Matilda (Empress Maud) 1141 Henry I's daughter, Edmund Ironside's great-great-granddaughter
Henry II 11541189 Matilda's son
Richard I, the Lionheart 11891199 Henry II's son
Monarchs of England and Ireland
In 1199, John, already Lord of Ireland, inherited the English throne. The title "Lord of Ireland" was used until it was replaced by "King of Ireland" in 1542.
John "Lackland" 11991216 Henry II's son
Henry III 12161272 John's son
Edward I "Longshanks" 12721307 Henry III's son
Edward II 13071327 Edward I's son
Edward III 13271377 Edward II's son
Richard II 13771399 Edward III's grandson
The House of Lancaster
Henry Bolingbroke deposed Richard II, and the Royal House name came to reflect Henry's father's title, Duke of Lancaster.
Henry IV 13991413 Edward III's grandson
Henry V 14131422 Henry IV's son
Henry VI 14221461
14701471
Henry V's son
The House of York
The Houses of Lancaster and York had fought the Wars of the Roses, and the Yorkists took the throne.
Edward IV 14611470
14711483
Edward III's great-great-grandson
Edward V 1483 Edward IV's son
Richard III 14831485 Edward IV's brother
The House of Tudor
The Lancastrian Henry Tudor reclaimed the throne from the Yorkists.
Henry VII 14851509 Edward III's great-great-great-grandson
Henry VIII 15091547 Henry VII's son, Edward IV's grandson
Edward VI 15471553 Henry VIII's son
Jane 1553 Henry VII's great granddaughter. Proclaimed Queen on 10 July 1553 but deposed by Mary I 9 days later.
Mary I 15531558 Henry VIII's daughter
Elizabeth I 15581603 Henry VIII's daughter
Name Reign Notes
The House of Alpin
Kenneth I 843858 First "King of Scots and Picts"
Donald I 858862 Kenneth I's brother
Constantine I 862877 Kenneth I's son
Aedh 877878 Kenneth I's son
Eochaid 878889 Aedh's nephew
Jointly with Giric
Giric 878889 Aedh's first cousin
Jointly with Eochaid
Donald II 889900 Constantine I's son
Constantine II 900943 Aedh's son
Malcolm I 943954 Donald II's son
Indulf 954962 Constantine II's son
Dub 962966 Malcolm I's son
Culen 966971 Indulf's son
Kenneth II 971995 Malcolm I's son
Constantine III 995997 Culen's son
Kenneth III 9971005 Dub's son
Malcolm II 10051034 Kenneth II's son
Duncan I 10341040 Malcolm II's grandson
Macbeth 10401057 Malcolm II's possible grandson, Kenneth III's granddaughter's husband
Lulach 10571058 Kenneth III's great-grandson, Macbeth's step-son and cousin
The House of Dunkeld
Malcolm III 10581093 Duncan I's son
Donald III 10931094
10941097
Duncan I's son
Jointly with Edmund
Edmund 10931094
10941097
Malcolm III's son
Jointly with Donald III
Duncan II 1094 Malcolm III's son
Edgar 10971107 Malcolm III's son
Alexander I 11071124 Malcolm III's son
David I 11241153 Malcolm III's son
Malcolm IV 11531165 David I's grandson
William I 11651214 David I's grandson
Alexander II 12141249 William I's son
Alexander III 12491286 Alexander II's son
Margaret, "The Maid of Norway" 12861290 Alexander III's granddaughter
The House of Balliol
When Margaret died, there was no clear heir. King Edward I of England took over and installed a puppet, John Balliol.
John Balliol 12921296 David I's great-great-great-grandson
The House of Bruce
When John Balliol rebelled, the Wars of Scottish Independence commenced, during which Robert the Bruce became King.
Robert I 13061329 David I's great-great-great-great-grandson
David II 13291371 Robert I's son
The House of Balliol
For a period of time, both Edward Balliol and David II claimed the throne.
Edward Balliol 13321336 John Balliol's son
The House of Stuart
Engaged to the Dauphin at age five, Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots was thus brought up in the French court where she became "Marie Stuart, Reine de l'Écosse," etc., to render the sound of 'Stewart' into French as accurately as possible. Mary kept the French spelling on her return to Scotland in 1560.
Robert II, King of Scots 13711390 Robert I's grandson
Robert III, King of Scots 13901406 Robert II's son
James I, King of Scots 14061437 Robert III's son
James II, King of Scots 14371460 James I's son
James III, King of Scots 14601488 James II's son
James IV, King of Scots 14881513 James III's son
James V, King of Scots 15131542 James IV's son
Mary, Queen of Scots 15421567 James V's daughter
James VI, King of Scots 15671625 Mary I's son
ACT OF UNION: Monarchs of England, Scotland and Ireland
In 1603, James VI of Scotland inherited the English throne upon the death of Elizabeth I. From then until 1707, England, Scotland and Ireland had shared monarchs.
The House of Stuart
Name Reign Notes
James I (England)
James VI (Scotland)
16031625 Son of Mary, Queen of Scots; great-great-grandson of Henry VII of England; first to be styled "King of Great Britain" (1604)
Charles I 16251649 James VI & I's son
The Period of Interregnum, (Commonwealth and Protectorate)
England had no king from 1649 to 1660, but was a Republic until 1653. Oliver Cromwell then dissolved Parliament and ruled alone as Lord Protector to his death.
Name Reign Notes
Oliver Cromwell 16531658  
Richard Cromwell 16581659 Oliver Cromwell's son
Monarchs of England, Scotland and Ireland
In 1659, Richard Cromwell abdicated. Anomie existed until the Stuart Restoration in 1660.
The House of Stuart
Name Reign Notes
Charles II 16601685
16491685 (de jure)
Charles I's elder son (crowned at Scone, in Scotland, 1651)
James II (England)
James VII (Scotland)
16851689 Charles I's younger son
Mary II 16891694 James II's elder daughter
Joint sovereign with her husband, William III, II and I
William III (England)
William II (Scotland)
William I (Ireland)
16891702 Charles I's grandson
Jointly with his wife, Mary II
Anne 17021707 James II's daughter
Monarchs of Great Britain and Ireland
In 1707, the Act of Union merged the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain.
The House of Stuart
Name Reign Notes
Anne 17071714 James II's daughter
The House of Hanover
Under the Act of Settlement 1701, the English (thus, the successor British) throne could only be held by a Protestant. Sophia of Hanover, the nearest such relative, thus became the next heir. She died shortly before Anne, and her place was taken by her son, who thus founded the House of Hanover (aka Guelph and Brunswick).
George I 17141727 James I's great-grandson
George II 17271760 George I's son
George III 17601801 George II's grandson
Monarchs of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
In 1801, the Act of Union combined the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland into the United Kingdom.
The House of Hanover
Name Reign Notes
George III 18011820 George II's grandson
George IV 18201830 George III's son
William IV 18301837 George III's son
Victoria 18371901 George III's granddaughter
The House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
The Royal House name was changed to reflect Victoria's marriage to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, but she herself remained a member of the House of Hanover.
Edward VII 19011910 Victoria's son
George V 19101917 Edward VII's son
The House of Windsor
The name of the Royal House changed from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor in 1917 due to anti-German sentiments during World War I.
George V 19171927 Edward VII's son
Monarchs of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
In 1922, the Irish Free State left the United Kingdom. The name of the Kingdom was amended in 1927 to reflect the change.
The House of Windsor
Name Reign Notes
George V 19271936 Edward VII's son
Edward VIII 1936 George V's son; abdicated
George VI 19361952 George V's son
Elizabeth II 6 February 1952- George VI's daughter; also queen of 31 other sovereign kingdoms. However, it should be noted that Queen Elizabeth II did not take up her official title at her coronation which should have been Queen Elizabeth I of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Mnemonics

A useful rhyme for memorising the names of the English and UK monarchs since the Norman Conquest in chronological order (by year ruled) as well as a version was featured in part in the movie King Ralph:

Mnemonics Popular variation
Willy Willy Harry Steve,
Henry Dick John Henry three;
Then three Edwards Richard two,
Henry Four, Five Six then who?
Edward four five, Dick the bad,
Two more Henries, Ned the lad;
Bloody Mary she came next,
Then we have our Good Queen Bess.
From Scotland we got James the Vain;
Charlie one, two, James again.
William and Mary, Anna Gloria,
Four Georges, William, and Victoria.
Edward, George, the same again,
 
 
 
Now Elizabeth - and the end.
Willy, Willy, Harry, Steve,
Harry, Dick, John, Harry Three;
One, two, three Neds, Richard Two,
Henries Four Five Six, then who?
Edwards Four Five, Dick the Bad,
Harries (twain) Ned Six (the lad);
Mary, Bessie, James ye ken,
 
 
Then Charlie, Charlie, James again
Will and Mary, Anna Gloria
Georges four, Will Fourth, Victoria
Edward Seven next, and then
Came George the Fifth in nineteen ten
Ned the Eighth soon abdicated
Then George the Sixth was coronated
After which Elizabeth
And that's all folks until her death

Notes

 

 

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