Kings and Queens


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.

In 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 Wikipedia, which displays a fascinating royal family tree here. 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 I II III IV V VI VII VIII- Elizabeth I II - Ethelred II - George I II III IV V VI - Hardicanute - Harold I II -  Henry I II III IV V VI VII VIII - James I II - Jane - John - Mary I II - Richard I II III - Stephen - Victoria - William I II III IV


  Name House or Group Born / Died Reign Comments

Elizabeth II Windsor 1926- 1952-date 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)

George VI Windsor 1895-1952 1936-1952 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 Albert.
Buried in St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.

Edward VIII Windsor 1894-1972 1936-1936 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 Williamson

George V Windsor

see note 1

1865-1936 1919-1936 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.

Edward VII Saxe-Coburg

see note 2

1841-1910 1901-1910 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 adult life.
Buried in St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.

Victoria Hanover 1819-1901 1837-1901 The only daughter of the Duke of Kent and Strathearn (the 4th son of George III) and Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld.
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 uncle.
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 because Victoria, as a woman, could not rule Hanover. This design has remained in use until the present day.

William IV Hanover 1765-1837 1830-1837 The 3rd son of George III and Queen Charlotte.
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 months).
Buried in Windsor Castle.

George IV Hanover 1762-1830 1820-1830 The eldest son of George III and Queen Charlotte.
He had been Regent for 9 years prior to his father's death as George III became insane.
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.

George III Hanover 1738-1820 1760-1820 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 in 1751.
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, Amelia).
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.

The 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.   

George II Hanover 1683-1760 1727-1760 Born in Hanover, the son of George Louis, Hereditary Prince of Brunswick-Lüneburg, who became George I, and Sophia of Celle.
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.

George I Hanover 1660-1727 1714-1727 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 Hanoverian dynasty.
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 English.
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.

Anne Stuart 1665-1714 1702-1714 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.

Mary II Stuart 1662-1694 1689-1694 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 deposed.
She died of smallpox and was buried in Westminster Abbey, leaving William to reign alone.

William III Stuart 1650-1702 1689-1702 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 thereafter alone.
He fell from a horse, broke his shoulder and died from pneumonia. He was buried next to Mary in Westminster Abbey.

The coat of arms for William and Mary included an escutcheon of Nassau (azure billetty and a lion rampant or).

James II Stuart 1633-1701 1685-1688 also James VII of Scotland
Second surviving son of Charles I and Henrietta Maria. brother of Charles II.
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.
Charles II Stuart 1630-1685 1660-1685 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 and stillbirths.

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.

        1658-1659 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.
      1653-1658 Cromwell became "Lord Protector", effectively the monarch until his death and was succeeded by his son Richard.
        1649-1653 The "Long Parliament", assembled under Charles I continued to sit until disbanded by Oliver Cromwell.

Charles I Stuart 1600-1649 1625-1649 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 Guinness BofR)
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.

James I Stuart 1566-1625 1603-1625 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 (without qualification).
James died of ague (fever) and was buried in the Henry VII Lady Chapel of Westminster Abbey.

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.

Elizabeth I Tudor 1533-1603 1558-1603 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.

Mary I Tudor 1516-1558 1553-1558 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 Bloody Mary.
She died of influenza, uterine or  ovarian cancer and is buried in Westminster Abbey.
Mary's coat of arms was sometimes shown 'impaled' with the arms of her husband, Philip II of Spain.
Jane Tudor 1537-1554 1553-1553 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.

Edward VI Tudor 1537-1553 1547-1553 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 puerperal fever.
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. Briefly.
Edward died of tuberculosis, or arsenic poisoning, or congenital syphilis and was buried in Westminster Abbey.
Mary later executed Northumberland.

Henry VIII Tudor 1491-1547 1509-1547 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 poet.
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.

Henry has appeared on British stamps in 1982 and again in 1997, together with his wives.  Signature source

Henry VII Tudor 1457-1509 1485-1509 The posthumous only child of Edmund Tudor (a half-brother of King Henry VI) and Margaret Beaufort (a descendant of Edward III).
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.
Richard III York 1452-1485 1483-1485 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.

Edward V York 1470-1483 1483-1483 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.
Edward IV York 1442-1483 1461-1483 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 illegitimate
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.

Henry VI Lancaster 1421-1471 1422-1461 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 1454.
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.
Henry V Lancaster 1387-1422 1413-1422 Son of Henry IV and his first wife Mary de Bohun.
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 IV Lancaster 1367-1413 1399-1413 Henry was the seventh child of John of Gaunt (the third surviving son of King Edward III) and his cousin Blanche of Lancaster.
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 previous marriage).
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.

Richard II Plantagenet 1367-1400 1377-1399 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 union.
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.

Edward III Plantagenet 1312-1377 1327-1377 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 spared.
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 a womaniser
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.

Edward II Plantagenet 1284-1327 1307-1327 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 splendid tomb.
Edward I Plantagenet 1239-1307 1272-1307 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 Westminster Abbey.
Henry III Plantagenet 1207-1272 1216-1272 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.
John Plantagenet 1166-1216 1199-1216 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 power.
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.

Richard I Plantagenet 1157-1199 1189-1199 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 were humbled.
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 the throne
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.

Henry II Plantagenet 1133-1189 1154-1189 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 English throne.
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).

Stephen Norman 1096-1154 1132-1154 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 Westminster).
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 him.
Stephen, the last Norman king, died at Dover and was buried in Faversham Abbey.
Henry I Norman 1068-1135 1100-1135 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.
William II Norman 1056-1100 1087-1100 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 buried.
William I Norman 1027-1087 1066-1087 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 history.
William married Matilda of Flanders and they had 10 children (Robert, Adeliza, Cecilia, William (II), Richard, Adela, Agatha, Constance, Matilda, Henry (I)).
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 II Saxon 1022-1066 1066-1066 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

Saxon 1004-1066 1042-1066 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 Confessor.
Hardicanute Danish 1018-1042 1040-1042 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.

Harold I Danish 1016-1040 1035-1040 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 fen.

Again, this is the only image I have found.

Canute Danish Kings 995-1035 1016-1035 aka Cnut.
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.
Edmund II Saxon 989-1016 1016 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.
Ethelred II Saxon 968-1016 979-1016

(deposed 1013-1014)

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 here.
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 Vertue (1684-1756).'

Thanks to these sites for source material:
BBC history pages
Coin Rarities
Nigel Tooley's Coin Cabinet
Michael A. Stecker's Portraits of British Monarchs
Autographs of Royals
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.