English Monarchy Timeline

Shakespeare’s Plays, Historical Background

English Monarchy Timeline: William the Conqueror to the Present

House of Normandy

William the Conqueror, who invaded England based on the claim that his second cousin King Edward the Confessor had left the English throne to him, was the son of Robert I, Duke of Normandy and Arlette, daughter of Fulbert. William defeated the forces of King Harold II at Hastings in October 1066.

  • William I (1066-87; Queen Matilda, d. of Count of Flanders; Timeline)
  • William II Rufus (1087-1100; Unmarried; Timeline)
  • Henry I (1100-35; Matilda, daughter of Malcolm III of Scotland; Adelicia; Timeline)

House of Blois

Stephen, the son of the Count of Blois, France and of William I’s daughter Adela, usurped the English throne from Matilda, daughter of Henry I. She invaded England in 1139 and civil war ensued. Stephen’s forces defeated hers by 1145, but in 1153, by the terms of the Treaty of Westminster after further civil war, he was constrained to acknowledge Matilda’s son Henry Plantagenet, Count of Anjou, as his heir.

  • Stephen (1135-54; Matilda, d. of Eustace III, Ct. of Boulogne; Timeline)

House of Plantagenet’s “Angevin” line

The Plantagenet line is so named in modern times due to the following lineage: Geoffrey Plantagenet, Fifth Count of Anjou, France married Matilda, daughter of English King Henry I (one of William the Conqueror’s sons). Empress Matilda’s son by Geoffrey became the English King Henry II.

  • Henry II (1154-89; Eleanor of Aquitaine; Timeline)
  • Richard I (1189-99; Berengaria of Navarre; Timeline)
  • John (1199-1216; Isabel of Gloucester; Isabella of Angoulême; Timeline)

House of Plantagenet’s main line, after the loss of Anjou)

  • Henry III (1216-72; Eleanor of Provence; Timeline)
  • Edward I (1272-1307; Eleanor of Castile; Margaret of France; Timeline)
  • Edward II (1307-27; Isabella of France, deposed him with Roger Mortimer’s aid; Timeline)
  • Edward III (1327-77; Philippa of Hainault; Timeline)
  • Richard II (1377-99; Anne of Bohemia; Isabella of Valois; Timeline)

Plantagenet branch called Lancaster

The line was descended from John of Gaunt, Edward III’s third son; Gaunt married Blanche of Lancaster, daughter of Henry of Grosmont, First Duke of Lancaster. Their son became Henry IV (born in Bolingbroke Castle, Lincolnshire, thus “Bolingbroke”).

  • Henry IV (Bolingbroke, 1399-1413; Mary de Bohun; Joan of Navarre; Timeline)
  • Henry V (victor over French at Agincourt in 1415; ruled 1413-22; Catherine de Valois; Timeline)
  • Henry VI’s two reigns (1422-61, 1470-71, murdered; Margaret of Anjou; Timeline)

Plantagenet branch called York

The line was descended paternally from Edmund of Langley, First Duke of York, who was the fourth son of Edward III. But it was the maternal descent that mattered most: Richard Plantagenet, Third Duke of York, had a very strong claim to the throne via his mother, Anne Mortimer, whose father was Lionel of Antwerp, Duke of Clarence (Edward III’s second surviving son). Richard Plantagenet was killed during the Wars of the Roses, in December 1460. His eldest son went on to take power as Edward IV, followed by the youngest son, who became Richard III.

  • Edward IV (1461-70 [Henry VI captive], 1471-83 after Henry VI’s murder; the widow Dame Elizabeth Grey, née Elizabeth Woodville; Timeline)
  • Edward V (briefly in 1483, probably killed as one of the “princes in the Tower”; Timeline)
  • Richard III (1483-85, killed at Bosworth Field by Henry Tudor’s forces; Anne Neville, widow of Edward Prince of Wales and daughter of the Earl of Warwick; Timeline). Bosworth largely ended the struggle between Yorkists and Lancastrians from 1455-87: the Wars of the Roses.[1]

The Tudor dynasty begun by Henry Tudor

Henry Tudor’s grandfather was the Welshman Owen Tudor (who fought for Henry V at Agincourt in 1415 and lived until 1461, when he was executed by Yorkists led by the future King Edward IV). Henry’s father was Edmund Tudor, First Earl of Richmond. (Edmund’s mother was King Henry V’s widow Catherine de Valois, who married Owen Tudor.) Henry Tudor’s mother was Lady Margaret Beaufort, and it is from her that he claimed his right to the throne since she was the great-granddaughter of John of Gaunt by his third wife Katherine Swynford.

  • Henry VII (i.e. Henry Tudor; 1485-1509; Elizabeth of York, Edward IV’s daughter; Timeline)
  • Henry VIII (1509-47), Catherine of Aragon through 1533; Anne Boleyn; Jane Seymour; Anne of Cleves; Catherine Howard; Catherine Parr; Timeline)
  • Edward VI (1547-53, never married; Timeline)
  • Mary I (1553-58, co-ruler Philip of Spain; Timeline)
  • Elizabeth I (1558-1603; never married; Timeline)

The Stuarts

The Stuarts’ claim to the English throne was initiated when in 1503, Scottish King James IV married English King Henry VII’s daughter Margaret Tudor, and they had a son who became Scottish King James V. His daughter Mary became Queen of Scots; Mary’s son by Lord Darnley (Henry Stuart) became English King James I.

  • James I, (1603-25; Anne, daughter of Frederick II of Denmark and Norway; Timeline)
  • Charles I (1625-49; Henrietta Maria, daughter of Henri IV of France; Timeline), beheaded by Oliver Cromwell’s Puritan forces during the English Civil War (1642-51).

The Puritan Interregnum

  • Council of State for the English Commonwealth (1649-53; ECW Timeline)
  • Oliver Cromwell (1653-58, Lord Protector of the Commonwealth)
  • Richard Cromwell (1658-59, Lord Protector of the Commonwealth)

The Stuart Restoration of 1660

  • Charles II (1660-85, the Restoration; Catherine of Braganza; Timeline)
  • James II (1685-88; deposed by William of Orange; Timeline)
  • William III and Mary II (1688-1702, the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688; Timeline)
  • Anne (1702-14; George, son of Frederick III of Denmark; Timeline)

The Hanoverians

In 1714, Queen Anne (daughter of King James II) died childless, and her Protestant second cousin, George of Hanover, became King George I. (George was also the great-grandson of England’s King James I through his mother Sophia of Hanover, wife of the Elector of Hanover, Ernest Augustus. James I’s daughter Elizabeth Stuart had married Frederick V, King of Bohemia and Elector Palatine, and their daughter was George’s mother the Electress Sophia, herself heir to the British throne thanks to the 1701 Act of Settlement barring Catholics from the succession. Sophia pre-deceased Queen Anne, so that is how her son George became King George I.)

  • George I (1714-1727; Sophia Dorothea of Celle (whom he divorced in 1694); Timeline)
  • George II (1727-60; Caroline, daughter of Margrave of Brandenburg; Timeline)
  • George III (1760-1820; Charlotte, daughter of Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz; Timeline)
  • George IV (1820-30; Caroline, daughter of Duke of Brunswick; Timeline)
  • William IV (1830-37; Adelaide, daughter of Duke of Saxe-Meinigen; Timeline)
  • Victoria (1837-1901; Albert, son of Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha; Timeline)[2]

House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha

This brief dynastic name stems from Queen Victoria’s husband Albert, son of the Duke of Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha, a duchy in existence from 1826-1918 in today’s Thuringia and Bavaria, Germany. Early in the twentieth century, sovereigns from the line associated with the place name ruled in Belgium, Portugal, and Bulgaria as well as the United Kingdom and Saxe-Coburg Gotha itself.

  • Edward VII (1901-10; Alexandra, daughter of Christian of Denmark; Timeline)

House of Windsor

The change from Saxe-Coburg Gotha to “Windsor” was made by George V in 1917 because of anti-German sentiment during the First World War. Technically, Elizabeth II’s descendants bear the surname “Mountbatten-Windsor.”

  • George V (1910-36; Mary, daughter of Duke of Teck; Timeline)
  • Edward VIII (1936; Ms. Wallis Simpson; Timeline)
  • George VI (1936-52; Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon; Timeline)
  • Elizabeth II (1952-2022; Philip Mountbatten; Timeline)
  • Charles III (2022-present; Diana Spencer, then Camilla Parker Bowles; Timeline)

[1] The Yorkist emblem was a white rose and Lancastrian a red rose. See “White and Red Roses“ on warsoftheroses.com. Accessed 2/23/2024.

[2] Elizabeth II (1952-2022) has the distinction of being the longest-reigning British monarch, followed by Queen Victoria (1837-1901) and King George III (1760-1820).

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