The only time when there was no King or Queen in Britain was when the country was a republic between 1649 and 1660. ( In 1649 King Charles I was executed and Britain became a Republic for eleven years. The monarchy was restored in 1660.)
Until 1603 the English and Scottish Crowns were separate.
The Normans King William I, the Conqueror 1066 - 1087
Invaded England from Normandy. Defeated King Harold at the Battle of Hastings.
In 1085 the Domesday Survey was begun and all England was recorded so William knew exactly what his new kingdom contained. The Domesday Book was, in effect, the first national census.
When William died his lands were divided between his eldest two sons. Robert inherited Normandy, while William became king of England.
King William II, Rufus 1087 - 1100
Son of William I. He was called William Rufus or William the Red because of the reddish colour of his hair and complexion. He was killed in the New Forest by a stray arrow while out hunting, maybe accidentally, there is some doubt about this. The Rufus Stone in The New Forest marks the spot where he fell.
King Henry I 1100 - 1135
The fourth and youngest son of William I. Henry's two sons were drowned so his daughter Matilda was made his successor. When Henry died the Council considered a woman unfit to rule so offered the throne to Stephen, a grandson of William I.
King Stephen 1135 - 1154
Nephew of Henry I and grandson of William l. The Welsh and Scots invaded. Civil war followed between King Stephen and Matilda, Henry I's daughter. A compromise was decided, Matilda's son, Henry Plantagenet, was to be king when Stephen died.
Empress Matilda 1141
Daughter of Henry I.
England's first female monarch. She was called the Empress because her dead husband had been the German Emperor. She had a very bad temper and wasn't very popular.
The Plantagenets were a huge powerful family not just in England but throughout Europe.
King Henry II 1154 - 1189
Son of Matilda and grandson of Henry I. Came to the throne at just 21. He ruled for thirty-four years, but spent only fourteen of them in England. He controlled more of France than the King of France.
Thomas Becket was Henry II's Chancellor before the king made him Archbishop of Canterbury, even though he had never been a priest. Henry is mostly remembered for his quarrel with Thomas A Becket, and Becket's subsequent murder in Canterbury Cathedral on 29th December 1170.
Henry's eldest son, also called Henry, died before his father so in 1189 his second son, Richard, succeeded to the throne.
King Richard I the Lionheart 1189 - 1199
Third and eldest surviving son of Henry II. He was in England for only ten months, spending the other time fighting in the *Crusades. He spoke very little English.
Richard had no children, so the next king was his brother John.
*The Crusades were a series of nine religious wars waged from 1095 to liberate the Holy Land from Islamic rule.
King John 1 1199 - 1216
Fourth child of Henry II and brother of Richard l.
Responsible for the Magna Carta (Great Charter) giving justice to all.
King Henry III 1216 - 1272
Eldest son of John I. Henry was 9 years old when he became king. His reign lasted fifty-six years, making it the longest of any English monarch (NB not British monarch)
In 1264 Henry was captured during a civil war and was forced to set up a 'Parlement' (from the French "parler", to talk) at Westminster, the start of the House of Commons.
He rebuilt Westminster Abbey.
King Edward I 1272 - 1307
Eldest son of Henry III. Edward 'Longshanks' (so called because he was over 6ft tall) fought wars against the Scots King Robert the Bruce and was called 'the hammer of the Scots'. Edward formed the Model Parliament in 1295, bringing together the knights, clergy, nobility and burgesses of the cities, bringing Lords and Commons together for the first time.
King Edward II 1307 - 1327
Son of Edward I. He was called Edward of Carnarvon after his birthplace in Wales. Edward's wife raised an army to take over the Kingdom. He was murdered in gaol.
King Edward III 1327 - 1377
Son of Edward II. Edward came to the throne at the age of 14. He fought many battles against the Scots and the French. Set up the Order of the Garter. The outbreak of bubonic plague, the 'Black Death' in 1348-1350 killed half the population of England.
The Black Prince
Edward's lll's eldest son was also called Edward. He was known as the Black Prince because of the colour of his armour.
Richard II 1377 - 1399
Son of Edward the Black Prince and grandson of Edward III. Richard ruled at the time of Chaucer the poet.
His cousin, Henry IV, had him murdered in prison to take over the throne.
Henry was eldest son of John of Gaunt (fourth son of Edward III) and grandson of Edward III. He came to the English throne by force. He made his cousin Richard ll, abdicate, and then seized the crown himself. This started a dispute between the House of Lancaster and the House of York.
Henry died of leprosy in 1413.
Henry's coronation on 13 October 1399 was the first occasion after the Norman Conquest when the monarch made an address in English.
Henry V 1413 - 1422
Son of Henry IV. He was the first English king who could read and write easily in English.
Henry was 14 years old when he fought his first battle.
He fought the French in the battle of Agincourt and won. Died at the age of 35.
Henry VI 1422 - 1461, 1470 - 1471
Henry succeeded the throne when he was only 9 months old.
He was crowned King of France at Notre Dame in Paris on 16 December 1431. He lost the English claim to all French soil except for Calais.
He was very ill during his reign.
The war of the roses began between the House of Lancaster and the House of York.
He founded Eton College in 1440.
He was murdered in the Tower of London a few days after the Yorkist' victory in the Wars of Roses at Tewkesbury.
The House of York King Edward IV 1461 -1470, 1471 - 1483
Came to the throne in 1461 after defeating Henry Vl at the Battle of Towton, in Yorkshire. He was just 19 years old. Tried to bring peace to the country. During his reign the first printing press was established in Westminster by William Caxton.
King Edward V 1483 - 1483
Elder son of Edward IV. He reigned for only two months. He and his brother Richard were murdered in the Tower of London. He was only about 12 years old when he died.
Tower of London
King Richard III 1483 - 1485
Younger brother of Edward IV and prime suspect to the suspected murders of the two princes, Edward and Richard.
He was killed in battle against Henry Tudor (Henry VII) ending the Wars of the Roses. He was the last English King to die on the Battlefield.
The Tudors King Henry VII 1485 - 1509
Henry gained the throne when he defeated and killed Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. The battle ended the War of the Roses, a dispute between the House of Lancaster and the House of York.
Kept England peaceful and brought riches to the crown and country.
King Henry VIII 1509 - 1547
Second son of Henry VII. Henry succeeded to the throne because his elder brother Arthur died in 1502. His first wife, Catherine of Aragon, was Arthur's wife.
The best known fact about Henry VIII is that he had six wives!
Argued with the Pope and made himself the head of the new 'Church of England'.
Most school children learn the following rhyme to help them remember the fate of each wife: "Divorced, Beheaded, Died: Divorced, Beheaded, Survived".
King Edward VI 1547 - 1553
Son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour.
He was never a healthy King and died aged only 15 years.
After Edward's death there was a dispute over the succession. As Mary was Catholic, LADY JANE GREY was named as the next in line to the throne. She was proclaimed Queen but Mary entered London with her supporters and Jane was taken to the Tower. She reigned for only 9 days. She was executed in 1554, aged 17.
Queen Mary I (Bloody Mary) 1553 - 1558
Daughter of Henry VIII and Katharine of Aragón.
Married Philip II of Spain. Wanted to make England Catholic again. Killed many who opposed her which is why she is remembered as Bloody Mary.
Queen Elizabeth I 1558 - 1603
Daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.
During her reign great adventurers discovered many new lands. Fought off the Spanish Armada.
Named James VI of Scotland her heir, uniting the two countries Scotland and England.
Elizabeth I was the last ever Queen of England. From now on the monarch, although living in England, would be known as the Monarch of the United Kingdom.
The Stuarts were the first kings of the United Kingdom.
James I 1603 - 1625
When James became King of England, he was already a king - King James VI of Scotland. He was the first monarch to rule both countries and the first to call himself 'King of Great Britain'. However it was not until 1707 that an act of Parliament formally brought the two countries together.
James was the son of Mary, Queen of Scots. He had been King of Scotland for twenty-nine years when he acceded to the English throne.
James married Anne of Denmark.
In 1605 the Gunpowder Plot was hatched: Guy Fawkes and his friends, Catholics, tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament, but were captured before they could do so.
The Gun Powder Plot
James authorised the translation of the King James Bible. He also had Sir Walter Raleigh executed
Charles I 1625 - 1649
Second son of James I.
He was not brought up to be king, but his elder brother, Henry, died of Typhoid at the age of 18.
Married Henrietta Maria of France.
Fought against the Parliament leading to civil war.
Was executed as a result on 30 January 1649.
The English Civil War (1642 - 51)
The war began in 1642 when, after seeing his rights as king slashed by Parliament, Charles miscalculated by swarming into the Palace of Westminster with several hundred soldiers to arrest five Members of Parliament and a peer he accused of treason. They all escaped, but London was scandalized and the king was forced to flee the city.
The war between the Roundheads (supporters of parliament) and the Cavaliers (supporters of the King) began.
The Civil War led to the trial and execution of Charles I, the exile of his son Charles II, and the replacement of the English monarchy with first the Commonwealth of England (1649–1653) and then with a Protectorate (1653–1659), under the personal rule of Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector.
England became a Republic for eleven years from 1649 - 1660.
At first England was ruled by Parliament, but in 1653, Oliver Cromwell, commander of the army, became Lord Protector of England. He held his post until his death in 1658 (when his son briefly took over). Cromwell did not want to be king and refused the crown when it was offered to him.
The Commonwealth - declared May 19th 1649
Oliver Cromwell (1653-58)
Richard Cromwell (1658-59)
The Stuarts line Restored (The Restoration)
Charles II 1660 - 1685
Son of Charles I. He was crowned King of Scotland in 1651. When Richard Cromwell lost the confidence of Parliament and abdicated, Charles returned to London in time for his thirtieth birthday and to rule Great Britain (Scotland, England and Wales).
Charles saw London recover from the Plague (1665) and Great Fire (1666). Many new buildings were built at this time. St. Paul's Cathedral was built by Sir Christopher Wren and also many churches still to be seen today.
The Great Fire of London
James II 1685 - 1688
Younger brother of Charles II. James was 15 when his father was executed. He escaped to France in 1648, disguised as a girl.
Whilst king, James tried to force people to follow his Roman Catholic faith. He was very unpopular because of his persecution of the Protestants, and he was hated by the people. He was forced to give up the crown in the Glorious Revolution of 1688.
Parliament asked William of Orange to take the throne.
William III 1688 - 1702 and Queen Mary II 1688 - 1694
Mary, daughter of James II and her Dutch husband were invited to be King and Queen following James abdication.
Queen Anne 1702 - 1714
Sister of Mary II, the second daughter of James II.
Married George of Denmark.
All of her 17 children died.
1707 Act of Union between Scotland and England formed Great Britain.
Last Stuart sovereign.
After Anne's death the succession went to the nearest Protestant relative of the Stuart line. This was Sophia of Hanover, daughter of Elizabeth of Bohemia, James I 's only daughter.
The House of Hanovarians
Anne died without leaving an heir, succession to the throne passed to Sophia's son George of Hanover.
King George I 1714 - 1727
Son of Sophia and great-grandson of James I.
The first German king of England made little effort to learn the language and customs of the country and communicated with his ministers in French. He spent much of his reign in Hanover.
Sir Robert Walpole became England's first Prime Minister.
King George II 1727 - 1760
Son of George I
Preferred Germany to England, but learned to speak English, unlike his father. He was the last English King to appear on the battlefield - against the French at the Battle of Dettingen in 1743.
King George III 1760 - 1820
George III was the first Hanoverian monarch to be born in England. He was the son of Frederick Louis, Prince of Wales, and grandson of George II.
George III ruled for 50 years and fathered 15 children. Australia was colonised. His reign was the age of some of the greatest names in English literature - Jane Austen, Byron, Shelley, Keats and Wordsworth. It was also the time of great statesmen like Pitt and Fox and great captains like Wellington and Nelson.
In 1773 the 'Boston Tea Party' was the first sign of the troubles that were to come in America. The American Colonies proclaimed their independence on July 4th 1776.
The 1790s saw the French Revolution. The wars with France continued until Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo in 1815.
King George IV 1820 - 1830
Eldest son of George III.
He became Prince Regent while his father was very ill.
Built Brighton Pavilion.
King William IV 1830 - 1837
Third son of George III
Became known as the "Sailor King" after joining the navy from just 13 years old. During his reign England abolished slavery in the colonies in 1833.
Queen Victoria 1837 - 1901
She married Albert of Saxe - Coburg Gotha. Ruled during the industrial revolution. The British Empire became powerful, rich and confident. When Victoria died in 1901, after the longest reign in English history, the British Empire and British world power had reached their highest point. She had 9 children, 40 grand-children and 37 great-grandchildren, scattered all over Europe.
The House of Saxe - Coburg Gotha
The name Saxe-Coburg-Gotha came to the British Royal Family in 1840 with the marriage of Queen Victoria to Prince Albert, son of Ernst, Duke of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha. Queen Victoria herself remained a member of the House of Hanover.
King Edward VII 1901 - 1910
The eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Edward was created Prince of Wales almost immediately after his birth.
He married Alexandra of Denmark and kept Europe at peace during his life. He was known as Edward the Peacemaker. He enjoyed fine food and horse racing.
The House of Windsor
Name changed in 1917
When George V came to the throne, he changed the family name to Windsor because of the anti-German feeling at the time.
King George V 1910 - 1936
During his reign women were allowed to vote for the first time.
Sinn Fein Easter Rising in 1916 led to independent Parliament in Ireland in 1918.
King Edward VIII June 1936 - abdicated December 1936
Eldest son of George V. Ruled for just 325 days.
Abdicated to marry Mrs Wallis Simpson, as he was not able to marry a divorced woman and become King. Mrs. Simpson was an American, a divorcee and had two husbands still living.
King George VI 1936 - 1952
Second son of George V and the shy brother of Edward VIII.
He didn't expect to become King. Ruled during World War Two and refused to leave London during the blitz. The two Princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret, spent the war years at Windsor Castle.
The post-war years of his reign were ones of great social change and saw the start of the National Health Service. The whole country flocked to the Festival of Britain held in London in 1951
Queen Elizabeth II 1952 - present day
Elder daughter of George VI.
On Nov. 20, 1947, she married Philip Mountbatten, duke of Edinburgh. They were in Kenya (en route for a tour of Australia and New Zealand) when the king died (Feb. 6, 1952) and Elizabeth succeeded to the throne. Her coronation, on June 2, 1953, was the first to be televised.
Queen Elizabeth II is the 40th monarch (King or Queen) since William the Conqueror obtained the crown of England in 1066.