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The Saxons

Egbert 827 – 839: First king to rule over the entire Anglo-Saxon England. He won Mercia in battle in 827. More conquests in the North and Wales earned him the title "Bretwalda", (King of Britain). At 69, just before he died he beat the Danes and Cornish armies in Cornwall. He is buried Winchester. Aethelwulf 839 – 858: King of Wessex and father of Alfred the Great. In 851 Aethelwulf beat the Danes at the Battle of Oakley while his son, Aethelstan, beat the Vikings in Kent. Some sources say it was the first naval battle in English history. In 855 Athelwulf went to Rome with his son Alfred to meet the Pope. Aethelbald 858 – 860: Second son of Aethelwulf, born in 834. He was crowned at Kingston-upon-Thames after making his father abdicate returning from Rome. His father died in 858 so he married his stepmother. The marriage was annulled a year later. He is buried Sherbourne Abbey, Dorset. Aethelbert 860 – 866: Crowned at Kingston on Thames just before the Danes invaded and sacked Winchester. The Saxons managed beat them back but in 865 the Vikings again landed in East Anglia and occupied parts of England. He is buried at Sherbourne Abbey. Ethelred I 866 – 871: Succeeded his brother Aethelbert but his reign was plagued by the Danes who in 866 established the northern kingdom of Yorvik. The Vikings moved south, a threat to Wessex, and so he and his brother Alfred battled them at Reading, Ashdown and Basing. Aethelred died of wounds from the battle of Mereton and was buried at Witchampton, Dorset. Alfred the Great 871 – 899: Born around 849 in Berkshire, Alfred was well educated and is thought to have travelled to Rome twice. He was a powerful leader and a wise ruler. He made peace with the Danes, lasting only five years, before they attacked Wessex in 877. He had to retreat to Somerset and it was here that the burning cakes story evolved. His army battled back with major victories, including London. Alfred established Christian rule over most of England. He founded a permanent army and a Royal Navy. He also began the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles. Edward (The Elder) 899 – 924: Regained the South-east of England and the Midlands from the Danes and following the death of his sister Aethelflaed of Mercia, he united Wessex and Mercia. In 923 the Anglo- Saxon Chronicles tell us that the Scottish King Constantine II called Edward the father and lord. A year later he was killed fighting the Welsh near Chester. He was buried in Winchester. Athelstan 924 – 939: Athelstan expanded his kingdom at the Battle of Brunanburh in 937 in what was one of the bloodiest battles ever fought in Britain. Athelstan beat combined army of Scots, Celts, Danes and Vikings. This declared him as King of all Britain. It was the first time Anglo-Saxon kingdoms united to create a unified England. He is buried in Malmesbury, Wiltshire. Edmund 939 – 946: He was half brother to Athelastan and became king at 18. He had fought alongside him at the Battle of Brunanburh when only 16. He regained control of the North, which had gone back to Scandinavian rule after the death of Athelstan. While at the feast of Augustine, a robber stabbed and killed him in the royal hall at Pucklechurch near Bath. He was 25 and his sons, Eadwig and Edgar, were too young to take over. Eadred 946 – 955: Son of Edward the Elder by his third wife, Eadred succeeded his brother Edmund following his death. He expelled the last Scandinavian King of York, Eric Bloodaxe, in 954. A very religious man. He had a serious stomach ailment that killed him in his early 30s. He was unmarried with no children and is buried in Winchester. Eadwig 955 – 959: Eldest son of Edmund I, he was only 16 when he became king. Crowned at Kingston-upon- Thames. Eadwig died in Gloucester when he was just 20 and there is no record of how. Edgar 959 – 975: Edgar had been in dispute with his brother Eawig about the right to the throne for some years and following Eadwig’s mysterious death he recalled Bishop Dunstan,who Eadwig had exiled, and made him Archbishop of Canterbury and personal adviser. After his coronation in Bath in 973, he led his army to Chester to meet six kings of Britain. The kings pledged their allegiance to Edgar by rowing him across the River Dee. Edward the martyr 975 – 978: Eldest son of Edgar, Edward was crowned king aged 12. Although supported by Archbishop Dunstan, His right to the throne was contested by supporters of a younger half brother Aethelred. The dispute almost caused civil war. Edward was murdered at Corfe Castle by followers of Aethelred The title ‘martyr’ was given because of his stepmother’s dreams for her son Aethelred. Ethelred II The Unready 978 – 1016: Aethelred was unable to control the Danes. This gave him the name unready. He was only 10! He escaped to Normandy in 1013 when Sweyn Forkbeard, King of the Danes invaded England. This was revenge for the St Brice’s Day massacre of Danes in England. Sweyn was made King on Christmas Day 1013. He died 5 weeks later. Aethelred returned in 1014 after Sweyn’s death. The rest of his reign was constant conflict with Sweyn’’s son Canute. Edmund Ironside 1016 – 1016: Son of Ethelred II, Edmund led the fight against Canute’s invasion since 1015. He was elected king by the people of London. The Witan (the king’s council) however elected Canute. Edmund made a pact with Canute to divide the kingdom between them. This treaty stated that when one of the kings died the other would take all England. Edmund was assassinated later that year.

The Danes

Canute 1016 – 1035: The son of Sweyn Forkbeard, he soon gained respect of the English by sending most of his army back to Denmark. In 1017, Canute married the widow of Aethelred II and divided England into the four earldoms of East Anglia, Mercia, Northumbria and Wessex. He demonstrated to the people that being king did not make him a god. He ordered the tide to go back, knowing he would fail. Harold I 1035 – 1040: Harold was an illegitimate son of Canute. He took the crown while the rightful heir, his half- brother Harthacanute, was in Denmark. Harold died three years later just before Harthacanute was about to invade England with an army of Danes. He was buried in Westminster Abbey. Harthacanute had his body dug up and beheaded, then thrown into the Thames. The parts were retrieved and buried at St. Clement Danes in London. Harthacanute 1040 – 1042: The son of Canute and Emma of Normandy. He came to England with his mother and 62 warships! He was immediately crowned king. The year before his death Harthacanute invited his half-brother Edward back from exile in Normandy. Harthacanute died at a wedding whilst toasting the bride. He was only 24 and, the last Danish king.

House of York

Edward IV 1461-1483: Son of Richard Duke of York and Cicely Neville. Not a popular king. He had many mistresses and had at least one illegitimate son. People disapproved of him. He had his brother George, Duke of Clarence, murdered in 1478 for treason. The first printing press was put in Westminster by William Caxton. Edward died in 1483 leaving two sons, 12 and 9, and five daughters. Edward V 1483 - 1483: Born in Westminster Abbey where his mother Elizabeth Woodville took sanctuary from the Lancasters during the Wars of the Roses. He took the throne at the age of 13 and reigned for 2 months, the shortest lived English monarch. He and his brother Richard were murdered in the Tower of London, maybe ordered by his uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Richard declared "The Princes in the Tower" illegitimate and named himself rightful king Richard III 1483 - 1485: Brother of Edward IV. The ruthless killing of anyone who opposed him and the murders of the princes made him very unpopular. In 1485 Henry Richmond, descendant of John of Gaunt and father of Henry IV, landed in Wales, and marched into England. At the Battle of Bosworth Field in Leicestershire he defeated and killed Richard in what was the last battle in the Wars of the Roses. In 2012, archaeologists found his skeleton under a car park in Leicester. His body was buried at Leicester Cathedral on 22nd March 2015.

The Tudors

Henry VII 1485 - 1509: When Richard III died at the Battle of Bosworth, his crown was placed on the head of Henry Tudor. He married Elizabeth of York and united the houses of York and Lancaster. Playing cards were invented during his reign and the portrait of his wife has appeared eight times on packs of cards ever since. Henry VIII 1509 - 1547: Henry VIII had six wives! The rhyme to help remember their fates goes: “Divorced, Beheaded, Died: Divorced, Beheaded, Survived”. First wife was Catherine of Aragon, his brothers widow, divorced to marry Anne Boleyn. This divorce parted Rome and Henry. He made himself head of the Church Of England. The Dissolution of the Monasteries began in 1536. Henry married four more wives to try to father a son but only one was born to Jane Seymour. He had two daughters who became Queens of England, Mary daughter of Catherine of Aragon and Elizabeth daughter of Anne Boleyn. Edward VI 1547 - 1553: Son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour. He was a sickly child, probably suffering from tuberculosis. He succeeded his father aged 9, the Regent was his uncle, Duke of Somerset. During his reign Cranmer wrote the Book of Common Prayer and turned England Protestant. After Edward’s death the succession was disputed. Mary was Catholic so Lady Jane Grey was next in line. She was made Queen but Mary came to London and Jane was put in the Tower. She reigned for 9 days and was executed in 1554 aged 17. Lady Jane Grey 1553: Reigned for only nine days before being executed by Bloody Mary Queen Mary I (Bloody Mary) 1553 - 1558: Daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. A devout Catholic, married to Philip of Spain. She trid to convert England to Catholicism. The bishops, Latimer, Ridley and Archbishop Cranmer were burnt at the stake. The place, in Oxford bears a bronze cross. The country suffered a blood bath. This is why she is known as Bloody Mary. She died in 1558 at Lambeth Palace. Queen Elizabeth I 1558 - 1603: Daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth was a wise woman. She was popular with the people and had a the best selection of advisors. Drake, Raleigh, Essex and others made England great. The Spanish Armada was defeated in 1588 and Raleigh’s Virginian colony was founded. The execution of Mary Queen of Scots was not a wise decision. She never married.

The Stuarts

James I (VI of Scotland) 1603 - 1625: Son of Mary Queen of Scots and Lord Darnley. The first king to rule both Scotland and England. In 1605 the Gunpowder Plot was foiled, with Guy Fawkes and others trying to blow up the Houses of Parliament. James’s reign saw the Authorised Version of the Bible. Charles I 1625 - 1649: Son of James I and Anne of Denmark. He believed he ruled by Divine Right. His differences with Parliament led to the the English Civil War in 1642. The war lasted four years and after his defeat by Oliver Cromwell he was imprisoned. Parliament tried him for treason and he was condemned to death. He was beheaded on 30th January 1649 and the monarchy was abolished. The "Commonwealth" was to last 11 years

The Commonwealth

Oliver Cromwell. Lord Protector 1653- 1658: Born in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire in 1599, the son of a small landowner. He entered Parliament in 1629. He organised the New Model Army and led it to victory over the Royalists at the Battle of Naseby in 1645. He was a member of a Special Commission that tried and sentenced the king to death in 1649. He declared Britain a republic and eventually became Lord Protector in 1653. He crushed the Irish clans and Scots loyal to Charles II between 1649 and 1651. In 1653 he expelled the corrupt parliament and became Lord Protector. Richard Cromwell. Lord Protector 1658- 1659: Third son of Oliver Cromwell, he was the second Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland, for just months. He lacked military experience and failed to get support from his New Model Army. Richard was persuaded to resign and exiled himself to France until 1680, when he returned.

The Restoration of the


Charles II 1660 - 1685: Son of Charles I and known as the Merry Monarch. The Protectorate collapsed after the death of Oliver Cromwell and the flight of Richard The Army and Parliament asked Charles to take the throne. He was a weak king and his foreign policy was inept. He had 13 known mistresses (Weak?)! Nell Gwyn was one. He fhad many illegitimate children but no heir to the throne. The Great Plague in 1665 and the Great Fire of London in 1666 took place during his reign. James II 1685 - 1688 (VII of Scotland): Son of Charles I and younger brother of Charles II. He had been exiled after the Civil War and joined both the French and Spanish Armies. He Converted to Catholicism in 1670 but his two daughters were raised as Protestants. He was unpopular because of his persecution of the Protestants and was detested by people. After the Monmouth uprising and the Bloody Assizes of Judge Jeffries, Parliament asked the Dutch prince, William of Orange to take the throne. William was married to James’s daughter Mary. He came to England and James fled to France where he died in 1701. The Monarchy Continued >>

Return of The Saxons

Edward the Confesser 1042-1066: Restored the the House of Wessex to the throne. A deeply religious man, He presided over the rebuilding of Westminster Abbey. while Earl Godwin and his son Harold helped run the country. Edward died eight days after Westminster Abbey was finished with no heir. Harold II 1066: Harold Godwin was elected king by the Witan. William, Duke of Normandy, claimed that Edward promised the throne to him. Harold defeated the invading Norwegian army at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire. He then marched south to battle William, who had landed in Sussex. The death of Harold at the Battle Of Hastings ended the Anglo Saxon kings.

The Normans

William I (The Conquerer) 1066 - 1087: Known as William the Bastard, he was the illegitimate son of Robert the Devil, who he succeeded as Duke of Normandy in 1035. He claimed that his second cousin Edward had promised him the throne. He defeated Harold at the Battle of Hastings on 14th October 1066. In 1085 the Domesday Book was created. He died at Rouen after falling from his horse. William Rufus 1087 - 1100: Not a popular king. He was extravagant and cruel. He was killed by an arrow while hunting in the New Forest maybe assassinated on the order of his younger brother Henry. Walter Tyrrell, one of the hunters was blamed. The Rufus Stone in The New Forest marks where he fell. Unmarried, he left no heir. Henry I 1100 - 1135: Fourth son of William I. He founded a zoo at Woodstock, Oxfordshire to study animals. He was called the ‘Lion of Justice’. His two sons drowned in the White Ship so his daughter Matilda became his successor. She married to Geoffrey Plantagenet. Henry died of food poisoning and the Council thought a woman should not rule and made Stephen king. He was a grandson of William I. Stephen 1135 - 1154: A weak king who caused the country to be almost destroyed by endless raids by Scotland and Wales. During his reign the Norman barons gained great power. They extorted money and looted everywhere. Ten years of civil war known as "The Anarchy" happened when Matilda invaded from Anjou in 1139. The solution was the Treaty of Westminster, which made Matilda’s son Henry Plantagenet king, when Stephen died.

The Plantagenets

Henry II 1154 - 1189: Henry of Anjou was a great king. A soldier who ended up ruling most of France. He created English Jury System and raised taxes rich from the landholders to pay for the military. Henry is most remembered for his quarrel with Thomas Becket and Becket’s murder in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170. His sons all turned against him. Richard The Lion heart 1189 – 1199: Third son of Henry II. At 16 he had his own army putting down rebellions in France. Although King of England he only spent 6 months of his reign in England. He was the leading Christian commander of the Third Crusade. On his way back from Palestine Richard was captured and held to ransom. His safe return almost bankrupted the country. He died abroad from an arrow- wound. He had no children. John 1 1199 - 1216: John Lackland was fourth child of Henry II. he was jealous of his brother Richard.. He was a cruel, self-indulgent man and the raising of taxes turned all against him. Even the Pope excommunicated him. in 1215 at Runnymede the barons compelled John to sign the Magna Carta which reinstated the rights of all his subjects. He died from dysentery. He has been called the worst English king. Henry III 1216 - 1272: 9 years old when he became king. Very religious and educated. He was not a strong man, dominated by the church and his wife’s French relations. In 1264 He was captured during the rebellion of barons led by Simon de Montfort and forced to set up a Parliament at Westminster. He ordered the rebuilding of Westminster Abbey. Edward I 1272 - 1307: Edward Longshanks. He formed Parliament in 1295, bringing knights, clergy and nobility together. Hoping to unite Britain, he defeated the Welsh and made his son Prince of Wales. He defeated Scotland and brought the coronation stone to Westminster. When his wife Eleanor died he brought her body from Lincolnshire, setting up Eleanor Crosses at every resting place. He died travelling to fight Robert Bruce. Edward II 1307 - deposed 1327 An incompetent king. Beaten by the Scots at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. He was deposed by his wife and her lover Mortimer and they ordered his murder in Berkley Castle by having a red-hot poker shoved up his arse! His tomb is in Gloucester Cathedral. Edward III 1327 - 1377: He reigned for 50 years. His plan to conquer Scotland and France caused the Hundred Years War, beginning in 1338. Two victories at Crecy and Poitiers made Edward and his son the Black Prince, famous warriors in Europe. The bubonic plague, the Black Death in 1348-1350 killed half the population of England. Richard II 1377 - 1399: Son of the Black Prince. In 1381 The Peasants Revolt led by Wat Tyler began. The revoly was ended with brutality. His first wife, Anne of Bohemia, died suddenly and affecyed him badly and his extravagance, acts of revenge and tyranny turned the people against him. In 1399 Henry of Lancaster deposed Richard and became King Henry IV. Richard was murdered in Pontefract Castle in 1400.

House of Lancaster

Henry IV 1399 - 1413: Son of John of Gaunt (third son of Edward III). Returned from exile in France to take back estates taken by Richard II. Parliament allowed him the crown. His reign was spent avoiding plots and assassination. Owen Glendower declared himself Prince of Wales and led a rebellion against English rule. Henry struggled to keep the support of clergy and Parliament. Between 1403-08 the Percy family launched rebellions against him. He died with leprosy, at the age of 45. Henry V 1413 - 1422: Son of Henry IV. His battle skills put down many rebellions against his father. He was knighted when aged 12. He pleased the nobles by going to war with France in 1415. Against all odds he won the Battle of Agincourt losing only 400 men with over 6,000 French dead. He captured Rouen, and married Catherine, daughter of the mad French king. He died of dysentery before taking the French throne. His 10-month old son was now King of England and France! Henry VI 1422 - 1461: He was a baby! The Hundred Years War ended in 1453 with French lands lost except Calais. He became mentally ill in 1454 and Richard Duke of York became Protector of the Realm. The House of York disputed his reign and so, civil war. His son Edward was killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury a day before Henry was murdered in the Tower in 1471.
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