The English Monarchs

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The English Monarchs

Modern historians do not ascribe as much importance to the kings and queens of Britain as they used, say in the time of G.M. Trevelyan. Nevertheless, these tiresome but oil-annointed ladies and gentlemen (some were neither) do pop up frequently in examinations. Thus it is is better to know at least when they reigned.  Their nicknames or achievements, failures etc. are noted.

Thanks to Mr Ben Schott, a scholar, I can confirm that in the Danish Line there were six kings, all men; in the Norman Line twelve, all men; in the Lancastrian Plantagenet line there were three, while in the Yorkist Lancastrian Line there were three too. The House of Tudor (Oooer!) there were six, but the last three were women. The first Queen of England, though only for 9 days, was poor little Jane Grey.

With the disappearance of the blood-stainéd Tudors, England had the feisty Scots with the House of Stuart offering two. Here confusion can lie in wait for the student, because the first Stuart was King James I of England AND James VI of Scotland (q.v.). There was then a brief interval in the play that lasted ten years, best forgotten, until the Stuarts were restored (in ‘The Restoration) with two more kings.

The second of these restored Stuarts was fired from the job by the still-powerful (then) nobles because he preferred Mass to Matins, and Britain was then ruled by a Dutchman called Orange and his wife, who was a daughter of the sacked king.

Still in the House of Stuart Line, came Queen Anne. After that things went quite mad and SIX Germans ruled Britain as monarch, first there were four Georges, then a William, then a Victoria. These came from the Houses of Brunswick and Hanover.

Victoria reigned a very long time indeed, and then at last her Prince of Wales became King, as part of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. With the First World War came a name problem. The King decided to anglicise his surname and founded the House of Windsor. This caused merriment in the Kaiser, Emperor of Germany; thinking of Shakespeare’s famous play, he inquired if it would now be called The Merry Wives of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Students will remember that this was the time when Battenbergs became Mountbattens, and English people kicked passing Dachshunds in the park. This is the only recorded joke of Kaiser Wilhelm II, himself a grandson of Queen Victoria. It was an embarrasssing time for everybody. The student should remember that George V of England was first cousin to both The Kaiser and the Tsar of Russia, Nicholas II.

The house of Windsor remains, with Queen Elizabeth II ruling for sixty years from 1952. She is eighty-six years old, and her husband Philip six years older.

Danish Line (IIth century)                                              



Harald ‘Harefoot’


Edward ‘the Confessor’

Harold II (Arrow in the eye at Hastings)

Norman Line (11th – 14th centuries)

WilliamThe Conquerer, Battle of Hastings)

William II ‘Rufus’ (murdered)

Henry I ‘Beauclerk’

Stephen (lots of trouble with Empress Matilda)

Henry II (had Becket killed)

Richard I ‘Lionheart’

John ‘Lackland’

Henry III

Edward I ‘Hammer of the Scots)

Edward II (preferred male favourites)

Edward III (preferred mistresses)

Richard II (murdered for the throne)

Lancastrian Plantagenet Line (14th, 15th centuries)                                

Henry IV ‘Bolinbroke’ (‘Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown’)                                            

Henry V ‘Agincourt’ (married a French process, died, wife married a Tudor, producing the Tudors!)

Henry VI ‘Wars of the Roses; murdered’

Yorkist Plantagenet Line (15th century)

Edward IV

Edward V (One of the princes in the tower)

Richard III ‘Wicked Uncle’, ‘Crouchback’ etc.

House of Tudor (15,17th centuries)                      

Henry VII ‘Morton’s Fork etc.’

Henry VIII ‘Six wives – divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived’

Edward VI  (died young)

Lady Jane Grey ‘Queen for 9 days’                     

Mary I ‘Mary Tudor’’Bloody Mary’ etc.

Elizabeth I ‘I have the heart of a King!’ (The Spanish Armada etc.)

House of Stuart (17th century)

James I of England & VI of Scotland (hated tobacco and Catholics)

Charles I (lost his head to Parliament)

The Commonwealth (17th century)

Oliver Cromwell ‘The Lord Protector’

Richard Cromwell (What me! Not bloody likely!’)

House of Stuart, restored (17th C.)                   

Charles II (The Merry Monarch: no legitimate children; seventeen bastards)

James II ‘lost his throne for a Mass)

House of Orange & Stuart (17th, 18th C.)

William III & Mary II (both humourless)

House of Stuart (early 18th century)                 


House of Brunswick, Hanover (18th, 19th C.)

George I (couldn’t speak English)

George II (last English king to ride into battle)

George III (lost America)

George IV (once known as the ‘Prince Regent)

William IV ‘The Sailor King’

Victoria ‘Europe’s Grandmother’

House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (early 20th C.)

Edward VII ‘The Merry Prince of Wales’

House of Windsor (20th & 21st centuries)

George V

Edward VIII (the Abdication)

George VI ‘The King’s Speech’


By | 2012-06-11T11:24:20+00:00 June 11th, 2012|English History, Today, World History|0 Comments

About the Author:

‘Dean Swift’ is a pen name: the author has been a soldier; he has worked in sales, TV, the making of films, as a teacher of English and history and a journalist. He is married with three grown-up children. They live in Spain.

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