Kings and Queens of England

Author: Lawrence Chard - Chairman and CEO

Published: 30 Oct 2018

Last Updated: 21 Sep 2022


History of the Kings and Queens of England. From Norman Dynasty (1066-1154) to the present monarch of England, Charles III. Each King and Queen can be seen with a short biography and links to blogs about the king or queen you wish to know more about.


Norman Dynasty
1066 - 1154

· William I · William II · Henry I · Stephen and Matilda



William I
1066 - 1087


Known primarily as the victor of one of the most important events in English history, the Battle of Hastings, William, Duke of Normandy, would go on to found a whole new era in English history. One which would see the end of native English rule and the imposition of a new and foreign ruling class which would consider itself such for centuries afterwards.



William II
1087 - 1100


William Rufus (the 'Red Haired') was the third son of William the Conqueror. He endured a poor reputation during his lifetime and afterwards, and his death in a hunting accident in 1100 was widely believed to have been an assassination.



Henry I
1100 - 1135


Henry was the most intellectually gifted English monarch to sit on the throne since Alfred the Great. Unusually for a Norman Monarch, Henry spoke fluent English, and made concerted attempts to reconcile the English people with their Norman rulers.



Stephen and Matilda
1135 - 1154


The Anarchy was a period of civil war between two rival contenders for the English Throne, Empress Matilda, daughter of Henry I and Stephen of Blois, his nephew. The end of this period would see the end of the Norman era and the rise of the Plantagenet Dynasty.


Plantagenet Dynasty
1154 - 1399

· Henry II · Richard I · John · Henry III · Edward I · Edward II · Edward III · Richard II



Henry II
1154 – 1189


Henry II is best known to history for his role in the murder of Thomas Becket, the martyred Archbishop of Canterbury. However, he was also made some important administrative and legal reforms which shaped the constitutional development of England. His reign was a tempestuous one. The first of the fiery-tempered Plantagenet Kings of England, Henry II managed to fall out with his wife and sons, who all rose in armed rebellion against him on several occasions.



Richard I
1189 - 1199


Better known as 'Richard the Lionheart', Richard has gone down in history as a chivalrous warrior king and one of England's greatest heroes. He is best known for his exploits as a crusader in the Holy Land, Richard spent more time abroad than in England during the course of his relatively short reign.



1199 – 1216


John's historical reputation is one of the poorest amongst any King or Queen of England. Known amongst his contemporaries as 'Softsword' and 'Lackland' for his lack of military prowess and land prior to his accession, he is perhaps best known in the popular imagination as the villain in the Robin Hood legend.



Henry III
1216 – 1272


Henry of Winchester, as he was known to his contemporaries, was born in 1307, the son of King John. Coming to the throne at the age of 9, Henry III was one of the longest-reigning monarchs in English history. His reign was marked by conflict with the barons, and by his devotion to Saint Edward the Confessor, for whom he named his son.



Edward I
1272 – 1307


Edward I was one of England's most formidable kings. He conquered Wales and came within an ace of doing the same to Scotland. Thanks to the film 'Braveheart', he has acquired a reputation as a tyrannical psychopath, but as with many, many other aspects of that film, this portrayal is somewhat inaccurate, although his reign certainly had its darker aspects.



Edward II
1307 - 1327


Edward II, the son of Edward I and his wife, Eleanor of Castile, was born in 1284. He became heir apparent aged only a few months when his elder brother Alphonso died at the age of 11. Edward II's reign as King was largely ineffectual and faced enormous opposition from the English barons. He was eventually deposed and murdered in favour of his son by his own wife, Isabella and her lover, Roger Mortimer.



Edward III
1327 - 1377


Edward III was born in 1312, son of Edward II and Isabella of France. Edward III was one of only five monarch in English history to reign for more than 50 years, and outlived his own son, Edward the Black Prince. The defining events of his reign were the beginning of the Hundred Years War and the emergence of the Black Death in 1348.



Richard II
1377 - 1399


Born in 1367 to Edward the Black Prince and Joan of Kent, Richard II is one of 7 English monarchs since the time of the Conquest to have been ejected from the throne and replaced by another head of state. Other than his forcible removal, he is most famous as the King who put down the Peasant's Revolt of 1381, probably one of the most important, if understated, events in English History.


Lancaster and York

· Henry IV · Henry V · Henry VI · Edward IV · Richard III



Henry IV
1399 - 1413


Born at Bolingbroke Castle in 1367 and created Earl of Derby, Henry of Bolingbroke was the grandson of Edward III by his third son John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and Blanche, Duchess of Lancaster (the Dukedom of Lancaster was acquired via her father). Henry would go on to found the Lancaster dynasty, a branch of the Plantagent family that would vie with its rival branch, the House of York for the right to reign in England during the 15th Century in the conflict that would later be known as the 'War of the Roses'.



Henry V
1413 - 1422


Henry V is one of the most famous Kings in English history, immortalised in Shakespeare's famous play of the same name as a warrior king who defeated a numerically superior army against huge odds at Agincourt, and who came within an ace of taking the throne of France. However, amongst historians, his reputation is mixed, as some of his actions, on and off the battlefield, demonstrate that there was darker side to the man considered one of England's greatest heroes.



Henry VI

1422 – 1461 (1st Reign)

1470 -1471 (2nd Reign)

Henry VI was born in the year of his accession, 1422 to Henry V and Catherine of Valois. Henry VI's illustrious father died of dysentery whilst on campaign in France. Henry VI was not the ruthless and effective warrior king his father was, and his reign saw some of the bloodiest fighting of the dynastic struggle between the Houses of Lancaster and York, which would lead to the virtual annihilation of Henry's Lancaster house.



Edward IV

1461 – 70 (1st Reign)

1471 – 1483 (2nd Reign)

Edward was born on the 28th of April 1442 to Cecilly Neville and and, Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York. He would later go on to wrest the Crown of England not once, but twice from Henry VI.



Richard III
1483 – 1485


Richard III was the youngest brother of Edward IV and was his most faithful Lieutenant in the Yorkist cause against the Lancastrian Dynasty. However, following his brother's death, he would go on to usurp the throne for himself at the expense of his nephews. Ultimately, this action would lead to the final downfall of the Yorkist cause.


Tudor Dynasty
1485 - 1603

· Henry VII · Henry VIII · Edward VI · Mary I · Elizabeth I



Henry VII
1485 - 1509


Henry Tudor was born at Pembroke Castle in Wales in 1457, the son of the already deceased Edmund Tudor (Henry VI's half-brother via Catherine of Valois, widow of Henry V) and his 13 year old widow, Margaret Beaufort. At the time, no one expected that Henry would ever become King. However, during this turbulent period, when the throne was violently contended by the rival houses of Lancaster and York, with an unprecedented level of savagery on both sides, anything was possible.



Henry VIII
1509 - 1547


Henry was born in 1491, the son of Henry VII and his consort, Elizabeth of York. Henry had an older brother, Arthur, who had been expected to inherit the throne, but Arthur died of a fever in 1502, leaving the 11 year old Prince Henry to take Arthur's place as heir to the throne. Henry even married his brother's widow, Catherine of Aragon, upon his accession to the throne in 1509. Henry VIII is chiefly known for introducing the reformation to England, founding the Church of England and for having six wives, two of whom he had beheaded.



Edward VI
1547 - 1553


Edward VI was the only legitimate son of Henry VIII. His mother, Jane Seymore, died soon after giving birth to him. During much of his childhood, Edward VI was protected to an almost obsessive degree by his father, who had tried to produce a legitimate son for many years and who had failed in subsequent attempts to produce a 'spare'. Nevertheless, the young prince was very well educated, and showed great promise as a scholar, particularly as a theologian. Even at a young age, Edward was a devout protestant by conviction and produced very informed written arguments justifying his position as a reformist.



Mary I
1553 - 1558


Mary was born to King Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon at Greenwich Palace near London in 1516. A devout catholic during a time of profound religious change in England, Mary attempted to resist the tide of protestantism that was washing over England prior and during her reign.



Elizabeth I
1558 - 1603


Elizabeth, known affectionately as 'Good Queen Bess' has gone down in history as one of England's greatest monarchs. Her reign is most famous for the expeditions of Sir Francis Drake and the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. Throughout her reign, Elizabeth was forced to walk a tightrope between competing religious denominations, and faced plots against her throne and person, both from within and outside her Kingdom.


Early Stuart Dynasty
1603 -1649

· James I · Charles I



James I (VI of Scotland)

1567 - 1625 (Scotland)

1603 - 1625 (England)

Born in 1566, James became King at 13 months old when his mother, Mary Queen of Scots was ousted by an alliance of protestant nobles. With his mother exiled and imprisoned in England, and his father Lord Darnley dead (allegedly killed on the orders of Mary), James was left in the care of the zealously protestant Scottish Kirk and nobility, which was determined to see that the infant king was moulded into their idea of what a king should be.



Charles I
1625 - 1649


The reign of Charles I saw one of the defining moments in English History, the Civil War. The Civil War saw the bloodiest conflict in English history since the Wars of the Roses two centuries before, the scale of which would not be seen again until the First World War. The bitterness of the struggle, which saw towns and cities all accross the islands ravaged and left hundreds of thousands of people dead (in a country which at the time only had a population of a few million) led to an event that was once thought unthinkable, the trial and execution of an annointed King. Although the Republic that succeeded Charles I was relatively short-lived, the relationship between the monarchy and its subjects would never be the same again.


Commonwealth Period
1649 - 1660


The Commonwealth of England
1649 - 1660


Following the execution of Charles I and the abolition of the monarchy, the newly founded Commonwealth replaced the Monarchy with a Council of State, which attempted to rule in place of the Crown alongside the Rump Parliament. Over the next four years however, this form of government proved to be deficient, especially in the eyes of the Army, and so in 1653, Oliver Cromwell marched into Parliament accompanied by soldiers (much like Charles I had done a decade before) and forcibly dissolved Parliament.


Stuart Dynasty (Post Restoration)
1660 - 1714

· Charles II · James II · William III · Mary II · Anne



Charles II
1660 - 1685


Charles II was born in 1630 to Charles I and Henrietta Marie of France. As he grew up, storm clouds were gathering as opposition to his father in Parliament grew. When these tensions exploded into Civil War in 1642, the young Prince of Wales accompanied his father on campaign, and was present at the Battle of Edgehill. Too young to take an active commanding role during the First Civil War, the young prince nevertheless demonstrated a reckless courage on at least one occasion when he had to be restrained from charging at the Parliamentary army with a pistol in his hand. By 1646 however, the war was turning decisively against the Royalist side, and the Prince was compelled to flee into exile so that he could be kept out of the hands of the Parliamentarians and be ready to assume the role of King should anything happen to his father



James II (VII of Scotland)
1685 - 1688


The last of the male Stuarts to sit on the throne, James II proved to be one of the most controversial monarchs in British history. A convert to catholicism in a fiercely protestant nation, his religious beliefs, and his policies would eventually lead to the downfall and exile of the Stuart Dynasty.




William III (1688 - 1702)

Mary II (1688 - 1694)


William and Mary were first cousins, and shared Charles I and Henrietta Marie as grandparents. They were married at Parliament's insistance in order to cement an alliance between England and the House of Orange. At first, the 15 year old Mary was horrified at the prospect of marrying her 27 year old cousin, but the marriage became a loving and successful one. They reigned as co-regnal monarchs from 1688 onwards until the death of Mary in 1694, whereupon William reigned alone for a further 8 years.



1702 - 1714


Anne was the younger daughter of James (James II) Duke of York via his first marriage. As the second daughter of Charles II's younger brother, her acsension seemed unlikely at the time of her birth, however, events would later see her reign as the first sole Queen Regnant since Elizabeth I a century earlier.


Hanoverian Dynasty
1714 - 1901

· George I · George II · George III · George IV · William IV · Victoria 



George I
1714 - 1727


The German-born George I was descended from James I of England via his grandmother Elizabeth of Bohemia, James' eldest daughter. In 1714, George I was the closest protestant relation to the British Royal Family, and on this basis, he became George I of Great Britain. His reign was not a popular one, due to his foreign origins and frequent absences from Britain, but he was seen as the least worst alternative to the return of the Catholic Stuarts.



George II
1727 - 1760


George II was the second Hanoverian monarch to reign over Great Britain. He is primarily known for his poor relationship with his father and with his own son and heir, Frederick, Prince of Wales. His reign was also notable as a time of imperial expansion for Britain.



George III
1760 - 1820


George III was one of Britain's longest serving monarchs, and sat upon the throne for nearly 60 years. He was however, one of the most unfortunate ones, and spent most of his final years in poor mental health, for which he is sadly, best known.



George IV
1820 - 1830


George IV is perhaps most famous for his role as the Prince Regent in the latter part of his father's reign. He was a great patron of the arts and set the fashion trends of the early 19th century (known as the 'Regency Period'), he was however, unlike his father a deeply unpopular profligate spender with an unhappy family life, and his rotundity came to define him in the popular image much as his father's insanity had done for his own image.



William IV
1830 - 1837


The future king William IV was born in 1765 at Buckingham House (later Buckingham Palace). He was the third son of George III. William's reign was short, but eventful, and saw the abolition of slavery throughout the British Empire as well as the Great Reform Act of 1832, which expanded the franchise.



1837 - 1901


Victoria had presided over some of the greatest social and technological change of any monarch in British History, with the possible exception of our present Queen, Elizabeth II. Victoria had presided over some of the greatest social and technological change of any monarch in British History, with the possible exception of our present Queen, Elizabeth II. 


Saxe-Coburg Gotha/Windsor Dynasty
1901 - present

· Edward VII · George V · Edward VIII · George VI · Elizabeth II · King Charles III



Edward VII
1901 - 1910


Born in 1841 to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Prince Albert Edward was to prove the longest serving Prince of Wales in British History up until that point. His reign was relatively short, as he was already an old man by the time his mother the Queen had died, but like his mother, he lent his name to an age that preceded the First World War.



George V
1910 – 1936


Prince George Frederick Ernest Albert was born on the 3rd of June 1865, the second Son of Albert Edward Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) and Alexandra of Denmark. George V's reign was one of great social and political change, in Britain, but especially in Europe, where most other monarchies collapsed in the wake of the First World War.



Edward VIII


Famous for being the King who abdicated the throne before his coronation in order to marry Wallis Simpson, the episode is one of the most controversial in the history of the British Monarchy, and is one which continues to haunt it down to the present day.



George VI
1936 – 1952


Numismatically, the legacy of George VI saw the final removal of precious metal from Britain's circulation coinage when, in 1947, all previously silver denominations (0.500) were struck with a cupro-nickel alloy. In recognition of the independence of India in 1947, the legend 'Ind Imp' (India Imperator) was removed from George VI's coins.



Elizabeth II
1952 - 2022


HM Queen Elizabeth II, our present Queen, is, at the time of writing, the third longest-serving British monarch in history, and the longest lived. Queen Elizabeth II has, throughout the course of her reign, seen some of the biggest changes in Britain's long history, and this is particularly true with regard to its coinage.


King Charles III
2022 – Present


King Charles III otherwise known as (Charles Phillip Arthur George) when born, was the second in line to the throne behind his mother Queen Elizabeth II. At 73 years old, Charles is the oldest person to ascend to the British throne and longest serving heir apparent in British history.

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