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Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms

Kings of England

 

 

 

MapEngland ('United Kingdom of England')

The process of creating a single, unified kingdom of England could be said to have been achieved by Æthelstan of Wessex, while the initial groundwork had been laid down by Alfred nearly a century before. The coming of the Danish in the ninth century forced the surviving free Anglo-Saxons to unite to face the common enemy and, from the moment of Alfred's ascendancy over them in 878, the process of integrating their conquered lands under Anglo-Saxon rule began. Æthelstan may not have directly ruled all of England, but he was the recognised overlord of almost all of England, Scotland and Wales.

This ascendancy remained with subsequent kings, although the Scandinavian kingdom of York proved to be a continual distraction until it fell to King Eadred in 954, who now ruled a definitively united kingdom. The early Anglo-Saxon kings still had their powerbase in Wessex, and still spent much of their time there.

Anglo-Saxon Kings
AD 954 - 1016

The Wessex-based Anglo-Saxon kings of this period were at the height of their power, ruling the 'Anglo-Saxon Empire' of a united England, with the Scots and Welsh also under their command. While Eadred was the first universally recognised king of a united England, it was not until the reign of Edgar the Peaceful that the integration of all the English regions under a single administration was completed, making it highly unlikely that the slip back into regional rule that happened during the lifetime of Edwy could be repeated.

(Additional information by Mick Baker.)

954 - 955

Eadred

First (recognised) king of a united England.

955 - 959

Edwy / Eadwig the Fair

Son of Edmund (939-946), brother to Eadred. Ruled the south.

957 - 959

A successional rift flares up between Eadred's two nephews, Edwy and Edgar. Following a battle at Gloucester in which Edwy is defeated, the two agree to divide and rule to save the country from a costly civil war. Edgar takes control of Mercia and Northumbria, while Edwy rules in the south until his death in 959. Edgar then reunites the country, becoming the third king of a fully united England. This is the Golden Age of Anglo-Saxon England, when the court rivals, and even exceeds, all of those on the Continent, and receives tribute from all other kingdoms in the British Isles and Ireland.

Eadred silver penny
A silver penny issued during the reign of Eadred

959 - 975

Edgar the Peaceful

Brother. Ruled the north in 957-959.

963

Upon the death of Oswulf, high reeve of Bamburgh and earl of York, the governance of the powerful and important province is divided, with York going to a new earl who is possibly not related to Oswulf.

973

At Easter, Edgar is ritually anointed as the head of the 'Anglo-Saxon Empire' at Bath. His reign sees a major change as local government is reorganised on the basis of shires. The church is also reorganised and coinage is reformed.

975

Edgar's unexpected death at the age of thirty-two throws the kingdom into turmoil. A period of instability and in-fighting follows. Edward is a teenager when he gains the throne, and soon proves himself to be violent, unstable and quick-tempered.

975 - 978/9

Edward the Martyr

Son. Murdered.

978/9

Retainers of Queen Ælfthryth murder Edward (although this is never conclusively proven, and no one is ever brought to justice). Ælfthryth secures the throne for her ten year-old son, Æthelred. The queen and her son are strongly supported by Ælfhere, earl of Mercia.

978/9 - 1013

Æthelred / Ethelred II Unraed (Ill-Advised)

Half-brother. Popularly known as Ethelred the Unready.

991

The Battle of Maldon on the Essex coast is lost when the Norwegian Viking forces of Olaf Tryggvason defeat those of the ealdorman of Essex, Byrhtnoth. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle criticises the lacklustre performance of the Englishmen of Lindsey, The historian Florence of Worcester explains the half-heartedness by calling the men of Lindsey 'Danes on their father's side', referring to their recent close links to York and the Danelaw. The defeat is viewed as a national tragedy, and weakens Æthelred's already shaky authority. The Vikings begin to demand heavy tribute from the Saxon lands.

1002

On St Brice's Day, Æthelred massacres Danes in the country who are not of the Danelaw. In Oxford, Danes fleeing for sanctuary break into the church of St Frideswide, but the citizenry burn it down about their heads. The number of dead across the country apparently includes the sister of King Sweyn Forkbeard. This prompts an increasing number of raids on the country by Danish forces (although Viking raids have already resumed with a vengeance since the 990s).

1013

Viking raiders kill Alphege, archbishop of Canterbury, before being bought off with a huge bribe. Allied to King Olaf of Norway, Æthelred fights the Danes in the same year, but his reign is a relative disaster, as he fails to prevent these Danish incursions into the kingdom. A Danish occupation by King Sweyn Forkbeard takes place as Æthelred seeks refuge in Normandy.

Danish axe head
There was heavy fighting around London Bridge between Danes and English during the early 1000s, and this axe head was found with many others at the bridge's north end, possibly lost in battle or thrown into the Thames in celebration (courtesy Museum of London)

1013 - 1014

Sweyn Forkbeard

King of Norway and Denmark. Died unexpectedly.

1014

Canute (Cnut) the Great

Son. Expelled.

1014

The occupation of England ends with Sweyn Forkbeard's death on 2 February 1014. Æthelred is summoned back where he fights with limited success to expel Sweyn's son, Canute. But, with rumours of betrayal in the air, and his son Edmund deciding to fight the war his own way, Æthelred retires to London and dies there on 23 April 1016. Edmund is proclaimed king.

1014 - 1016

Æthelred II Unraed (Ill-Advised)

Restored.

1016

Edmund II Ironsides

Ruled from April to November.

1017

Eadric Atheling

Brother. Claimant to the throne. Murdered by Canute in 1017.

1016

With the help of Uchtred, high reeve of Bamburh, Edmund fights strongly to prevent the Danish control of England. After a series of successes, one disastrous defeat achieved through the treachery of his Mercian ally is enough to end his resistance. A treaty is agreed with Canute, after which he dies suddenly - or is murdered. His successor, Eadric, is murdered by Canute, and another claimant, Alfred, is murdered in 1036.

Edmund's son, the rightful atheling (a noble of royal descent), is forced to flee the country, and by 1056 is to be found living in Hungary. In 1056 he is persuaded to return, along with his two sons, but dies on the way, in the hall of a Saxon thegn in 1057.

Danish Kings
AD 1016 - 1042

Canute's accession to the English throne brought England into his vast Baltic-Scandinavian empire as its southernmost province. Immediately he set about removing his competitors for control of the country, including Eadric, brother of King Edmund II, and the earls of Mercia and East Anglia, whose domains were given to the Danish nobles, Eric and Thorkell the Tall. In the north, the high reeves of Bamburgh lost their established position as the powerful earls of York. Finally, Canute married Emma of Normandy, the widow of Æthelred II, increasing the strength of his claim to the throne. However, having inherited the most intensely administered and best organised government in medieval Europe, Canute ruled the country the English way.

1017 - 1035

Canute (Cnut) the Great

King of Norway and Denmark.

1023

FeatureCanute decides to have the body of Alphege, former archbishop of Canterbury, sent from its resting place in St Paul's to his home town for interment there. The cortege lands at Seasalter, on the East Kent coast, before progressing to Canterbury.

1035

Canute's death sees his great Scandinavian empire begin to break up. By the late 1020s he had been able to claim kingship over England, Denmark, Norway, and part of Sweden. Scotland had also submitted to his overlordship, and Viking raids against the British Isles had been ended. Now his brother Harold gains England, his son Hardicanute gains Denmark, and another son, Sweyn, gains Norway.

Canute shows that he cannot stop the waves
Canute is popular in folklore for teaching his fawning courtiers that even he was not powerful enough to stop the tide's progress up the beach

1035 - 1040

Harold I Harefoot

Brother.

1036

Alfred

Son of Æthelred II. Claimant to the throne. Killed by Harold.

1036

Alfred, son of Æthelred II, makes the mistake of trusting the powerful Earl Godwine when he arrives in England to test the waters regarding his own claim to the throne. He is handed over to Harold and mutilated, with his eyes also being torn out, and is dragged off to Ely where he dies of his wounds.

1040 - 1042

Hardicanute

Half-brother, by Emma of Normandy. King of Denmark.

1041

The earl of York, Siward, manages to add Bamburgh to his territory, thereby governing the whole of Northumbria.

1042

Hardicanute dies unexpectedly, and his half-brother, Edward, son of Æthelred II, is perfectly positioned to ascend the throne, ending the dynasty of Danish kings and replacing it with a restored Anglo-Saxon dynasty.

Anglo-Saxon Kings
AD 1042 - 1066

Not all of the Wessex royal family was killed during the years of Danish rule in England. Two of the sons of Æthelred II and Emma survived in the queen's homeland of Normandy where they had been sent for their own protection. When Canute died in 1035, both Alfred and Edward had entered England to test their claims to the throne, but Edward, landing at Southampton, soon withdrew. Alfred made the mistake of trusting the powerful Earl Godwine of Wessex, and was murdered for his pains. Edward was invited back by Hardicanute in 1041, and was fortunate to be in the right place when the Danish king unexpectedly died at a wedding feast. Unfortunately, he soon discovered that Earl Godwine wielded more power than he, and devoted more of his energies towards ecclesiastic matters.

1042 - 1066

Edward the Confessor

Son of Æthelred II. Last of the West Saxon Cerdicingas to rule.

1051 - 1052

In an attempt to reign in the Viking powerbase in England, Edward has Earl Godwine removed from office. Supported by his Norman followers, Edward's power is at its height, and it is from this period that William of Normandy later bases his own claim to the throne. However, Edward's apparent favouritism of his Norman allies alienates many Anglo-Saxon nobles, most notably the powerful earls of Northumbria and Mercia. Invited to return, Earl Godwine sails into London and is not opposed by the royal fleet. Edward's position is irretrievably weakened.

1057

Edward the Exile

Son of Edmund Ironsides. Potential successor to the throne.

1056 - 1057

The son of Saxon king, Edmund Ironsides, an atheling (a noble of royal descent) with the best claim to the throne after Edward, has been living in Hungary. The childless Edward the Confessor sees him as a possible heir to the throne, so in 1056 he is persuaded to return, along with his two sons, but dies on the way, in the hall of a Saxon thegn in 1057. One of those sons, Edgar, presses his own claim in 1066.

1066

Harold II Godwinson

Nominated successor. January to October. Died at Senlac Hill.

1066

Harold's army defeats an attempted invasion of England by the Norwegian king, Harald Hadrada, who has sided with Harold's rebellious younger brother, Earl Tostig of Northumbria. Almost immediately afterwards, Harold has to march his tired army south to face a second invasion by William, duke of Normandy. Harold is narrowly defeated at Selnac Hill near Hastings on 14 October (commonly known as the Battle of Hastings), and the Anglo-Saxon line of kings comes to an end.

However, Harold's daughter, Gytha, had already married Vladimir II, grand prince of Kiev. Her descendants lead to Margaret of Oldenburg, who marries James III of Scotland. For this reason, all British monarchs from James I of England are descended from Harold II. Queen Isabella, consort of Edward II, is also a direct descendant of Gytha, introducing an Anglo-Saxon bloodline into the Plantagenet kings.

Battle of Hastings section of the Bayeux Tapestry
The Battle of Hastings section of the Bayeux Tapestry shows King Harold being struck in the eye by an arrow (centre). For some time many thought this to be one of his bodyguard but it is now generally accepted to be the king himself

1066

Edgar the Atheling (the Prince)

Son of Edward the Exile. King in name only, Oct-Dec. Uncrowned.

1066

The young Edgar, grandson of Edmund Ironsides, contests William's claim, but is ultimately unsuccessful. Instead, he submits to William, and then spends the following decade joining many rebellions against the Norman kings and living in exile in Scotland, until finally accepting William's position as king in about 1075. During this period of constant unrest, there is evidence for the widespread emigration of Englishman in the dark days of the late 1060s and early 1070s, as many leave for Scotland, Denmark, and even Byzantine Constantinople.

Norman Kings
AD 1066 - 1154

Despite having a shaky claim to the throne (as a second cousin, once removed), in October 1066, the duke of Normandy led a force which narrowly defeated Harold's Saxon army in battle at Senlach (to the Saxons), near Hastings, which the Normans corrupted to 'sang-lac', lake of blood. For three months, William of Normandy faced the remaining Saxon forces under the leadership of Edgar the Atheling, until the boy prince's support weakened as the nobles sought to secure their own shaky positions in the new world order. Edgar knelt in submission to William after the latter crossed the Thames, and William was crowned in Westminster Abbey in December. Revolts continued in the north, the most memorable being that of Hereward the Wake. The last of the revolts ended in 1075-1076, when the execution of Waltheof of Northumberland finished the 'Revolt of the Earls'.

(Additional information by Mick Baker and Phil Tate.)

1066 - 1087

William I the Conqueror

Duke of Normandy. Crowned in London in December. Died 9 Sep.

1066

The last native British earl of Corniu (Cornwall) is deposed by William as he tightens his grip on the newly-conquered country. At first, only the south-east can be considered as being securely held.

1086 - 1087

In the most memorable event of his reign after the Conquest itself, William orders the creation of the Domesday Book, a catalogue of all holdings in the country, so that he can judge accurately what he has won during his years of putting down constant rebellions and securing complete control of England.

1087 - 1100

William II Rufas

Son. Died in a 'hunting accident'.

1090

Norman forces under Robert Fitzhamon, lord of Gloucester, conquer the Welsh kingdoms of Gwent and Morgannwg, giving them control of all of south-east Wales.

1093

Rhys ap Tewdwr Mawr of Deheubarth has been successful in fighting off several attempts to dethrone him, but now he dies in mysterious circumstances while resisting the expansion of Norman power in neighbouring Brycheiniog. Deheubarth has apparently been conquered, and is carved up between rival Norman lords into cantrefs or lordships.

1100 - 1135

Henry I Beauclerke

Died 1 Dec of food poisoning from eating 'a surfeit of lampreys'.

1113 - 1114

Gruffydd ap Rhys of Deheubarth returns from Ireland intent on reclaiming the throne of South Wales. Henry II sends orders to have him arrested but he finds refuge with Gruffydd ap Cynan in Gwynedd. Henry destroys the impending Welsh alliance by offering Gruffydd ap Cynan gifts of tribute-free lands, and the brothers flee Ystrad Towy, from where they begin to attack Norman strongholds in Ceredigion and North Pembroke (the heartland of former Dyfed). Several castles are destroyed or severely damaged while England suffers from a plague and is unable to respond. Flemish mercenaries are offered lands in Wales, particularly in Pembroke, in return for stemming the advance, and Gruffydd is only able to restore a reduced Deheubarth, with the rest still being held by Norman lords.

1120

William Adelin

Son. Died on the White Ship in 1120.

1119

Henry I defeats an invasion of his Norman lands by Louis VI of France at the Battle of Brémule.

c.1126

FeatureDividing control of his treasury from the other main duties in his court, Henry creates the position of Lord High Treasurer in the early English Parliament. He also hands Rochester Castle to the new archbishop of Canterbury, William de Corbeil.

1135

Upon the death of Henry I, Matilda, the Lady of England, Henry's only living legitimate child, becomes de jure monarch, as stipulated in his will. In 1114 she had been married to Holy Roman Emperor Henry V, but when he died in 1125 she had been recalled to England. In 1127 she married Prince Geoffrey Plantagenet of Anjou and Maine in order to secure an heir. Unfortunately, she is in Anjou when her father dies, and her quick-moving cousin secures the throne for himself with the support of the barons, who do not relish having an Anjou baron as their king. So begins a long civil war known as the Anarchy.

1135

Matilda

Daughter of Henry I and heir, but usurped by Stephen.

1135 - 1141

Stephen

Nephew of Henry I. Captured at the Battle of Lincoln.

1139

The title of earl of Northumberland falls vacant until Stephen is pressured into appointing a new earl by David of Scotland.

1141

Matilda

Declared queen at Winchester, but uncrowned.

1141

Stephen is captured at the Battle of Lincoln in February 1141 and Matilda is declared queen, or the Lady of England, at Winchester, with the support of Nigel, the deposed First Lord High Treasurer. However, she alienates the citizens of London with her arrogant manner. She fails to secure her coronation and the Londoners join a renewed push from Stephen's queen and lay siege to the empress at Winchester.

Battle of Lincoln
The Battle of Lincoln in 1141 was a defeat for King Stephen when he was captured while fighting on foot - his axe shaft had splintered and he was struck by a stone (thrown, it seems, by the figure on the left), and he was immediately seized by his helmet - taken from Hutchinson's Story of the British Nations (about 1923)

Matilda manages to escape to the west, but while commanding her rearguard, her brother is captured by the enemy. Matilda is obliged to swap Stephen for Robert on 1 November 1141. Stephen re-imposes his authority. In 1148, after the death of her half-brother, Matilda finally returns to Normandy, leaving her son, Henry Plantagenet, to fight on in England.

1141 - 1154

Stephen

Restored.

1153

FeatureThe death of his eldest son, Eustace, knocks the fight out of Stephen, and he agrees to adopt Henry Plantagenet as his heir. The barons are very supportive of this scheme, as it ends two decades of civil war. Stephen, suddenly feeling the full weight of his approximately fifty-eight years in age, dies the following year. He is buried in Faversham Abbey, which he founded in 1147, alongside the bodies of his wife and son.

House of Plantagenet / Angevin
AD 1154 - 1399

Empress Matilda had married Prince Geoffrey Plantagenet of Anjou in 1127, uniting the French house with the very powerful Norman one. Their son, Henry Anjou, inherited the crown of England from his uncle, having already married Eleanor of Aquitaine in 1152. Following the reaching of an agreement with Stephen that Henry would succeed him, Henry came to the throne not only as the ruler of England, Anjou, and Normandy, but also of most of the rest of France through his wife. Always more interested in the Continental territories than England, it was his sons who lost most of it, so that Henry III had little more than Gascony in the south-west of France. However, all kings down to and including Edward III could claim the title duke of Aquitaine.

It was during the fourteenth century that St George, a former Roman army officer, became the patron saint of England in place of the Saxon king, Edward the Confessor. By that time, the Angevin kings had become English kings, with Edward I even bearing an Anglo-Saxon name and concentrating primarily on creating an Anglo-Norman 'empire' in the British Isles (although this was so that he could subsequently go to war against France, a plan that never came to fruition for him).

1154 - 1189

Henry II Plantagenet

Son of Matilda. Duke of Aquitaine. Lord of Ireland (1175).

1170 - 1183

Henry the Young King

Son. Co-reigned with his father 14 June-11 June. Died.

1166 - 1175

Dermot Mac Murrough, king of Leinster, is forcibly ejected. He flees to Bristol and then Normandy where he gains the support of Henry II, and Norman allies with which to return to Ireland. The main invasion takes place in 1169, with Leinster quickly being regained. The Norman commander, Richard de Clare (Strongbow), earl of Pembroke, marries Dermot's daughter and is named his heir. This development concerns Henry II so much that he arrives in 1171 to take personal control of the invasion.

Henry II Plantagenet
Henry II of England and Normandy died having added half of France to his possessions, making him one of the most powerful rulers in Western Europe

1170 - 1173

Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket is murdered by four of the king's knights in Canterbury Cathedral on 29 December following a long-running dispute between him and the king over the jurisdiction of the church. The king is generally blamed for the atrocity and, accepting that he is at fault, pays public penance at Becket's tomb. It takes Henry another two years before he decides to fill the vacant position of archbishop, and he eventually selects Richard of Dover, the monk who took charge of Becket's body and arranged for its immediate burial in Canterbury Cathedral.

1175

With the High Kings of Ireland defeated, Henry II styles himself 'Lord of Ireland', although the title is handed to his son, John, as the governor of Ireland. When John becomes king of England in 1199 the control of Ireland is held directly by the crown.

1189 - 1199

Richard I Coeur de Lion (the Lionheart)

Son.

1189 - 1192

Richard leads the Third Crusade in Outremer, seizing Cyprus from the Byzantine empire along the way and gifting it to the king of Jerusalem. Unfortunately, his archbishop of Canterbury, Baldwin of Exeter, dies while in the Holy Land in 1190.

1199 - 1216

John Lackland

Brother. Daughter Joan m Llywelyn Fawr, Prince of Wales.

1202 - 1214

John becomes involved in the 'War' of Bouvines. Defeat at the Battle of Bouvines on 27 July 1214 loses John the duchy of Normandy and his other French possessions to the French crown. His return to England sees him forced to sign Magna Carta by the disaffected barons and the archbishop of Canterbury on 15 June 1215.

1216 - 1217

FeatureOn his deathbed, John persuades William Marshal to act as regent of England for his young son. With enemies all around, William takes Henry III into his care and ensures his coronation. The following year, Philip II of France sends his son, Louis, and the count de Perche to invade England via Dover (with the royal port of Sandwich being severely damaged in the process). The Battle of Lincoln sees William lead the charge, and he personally kills de Perche (accidentally, as he wants him as a prisoner for the ransom he would raise). The defeated French noblemen are led to a ship bound for France.

1216 - 1272

Henry III

Son.

1216 - 1219

William Marshal

Regent. Greatest melee tournament knight of his day.

1236

The Welsh kingdom of Deheubarth is subjugated by the Plantagenets, giving them mastery of all of South Wales. North Powys is also taken.

1272 - 1307

Edward I Longshanks

Defeated last independent Welsh. Hammer of the Scots.

1290

The 'First Interregnum' in Scotland is usually measured from the death of Margaret of Norway in 1290. With the prospect of dynastic war looming over the country, Scotland is governed by guardians while Edward I is invited to adjudicate over the succession. With no one to stand in his way, he also becomes Scotland's overlord.

1296 - 1298

Edward I invades Scotland following the formation of a council of twelve to manage the country outside the king's authority. The Scots are defeated at Dunbar in April 1296 and John Balliol formally abdicates on 10 July 1296. The 'Second Interregnum' follows, during which Edward I again rules Scotland directly. John is imprisoned in the Tower of London until allowed to leave for France in 1299. The rebel guardian of Scotland, Sir William Wallace, wins support in some quarters and is victorious against an unwary English army at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297. He is defeated at the Battle of Falkirk in July 1298.

1302 - 1305

FeatureIn his attempts to keep down William Wallace and Robert the Bruce during the Scottish Wars of Independence, Edward I builds a fortress at Linlithgow. In 1305 William Wallace is captured and is subsequently hanged, drawn and quartered at Smithfield, London. In the same year, Edward appoints his nephew, John of Brittany, as guardian of Scotland. The second son of Duke John II of Brittany, John wholeheartedly shares Edward's aims when it comes to expanding the size and influence of the English kingdom. He is trusted by the English court as a diplomat and negotiator, and his term of office as guardian witnesses no major upsets.

1307 - 1327

Edward II

First English Prince of Wales. Weak king. Died mysteriously.

1314

FeatureEdward II's defeat at Bannockburn by the Scottish under Robert the Bruce sees the start of a period in which the certainty of Scottish independence from England become more and more established. The drawing up of the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320 involves the Pope, John XXII, in negotiations. The defeat at Bannockburn, in which the lord of Glamorgan is killed, also sparks a minor revolt in Wales.

Battle of Bannockburn by William Hole
The Battle of Bannockburn by William Hole, part of a mural in three sections, from the Scottish National Portrait Museum in Edinburgh showing Robert the Bruce in the foreground

1327 - 1330

Isabella

Strong wife of Edward II. May have 'removed' her husband.

1327 - 1330

Mortimer

The queen's lover.

1328

Now that Edward II is out of the way, Isabella is able to sign the Treaty of Northampton, in which England renounces its claim to Scotland.

1330 - 1377

Edward III

Overthrew Isabella and Mortimer.

1330 - 1376

Edward

Son. Prince of Wales. Duke of Cornwall: 'The Black Prince'.

1330 - 1376

Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales, later becomes popularly known as the Black Prince (a term first used well after his time). He is the eldest son of Edward III and Philippa of Hainault, and father of Richard II. Edward is an effective military leader, and is very popular during his lifetime.

He is the first Englishman to be created a duke (of Cornwall in 1337), and he serves as a symbolic regent for periods in 1339, 1340, and 1342 while Edward III is on campaign. His early life sees a rise in fashion sense, with Edward taking a fancy to red and purple velvet cloaks and hats, and an early love for tournaments at the expense of learning, like his father. He also develops a recklessness with money and leads successful campaigns against the French in the Hundred Years War, perfecting the use of English and Welsh longbowmen.

In his later years, campaigning on behalf of Pedro the Cruel of Castile ruins Edward's health and finances, and a lingering illness causes his death one year before that of his father, and so he never rules (the first English Prince of Wales to suffer that fate). The throne passes instead to his son, a minor.

1337 - 1453

The Hundred Years War between England and France begins when France confiscates Gascony from Edward III. Edward invades France to press his own claim to the throne. In 1346, Edward crushes the army of Philip VI of France at the Battle of Crecy. The seventeen year-old King David of Scotland decides to invade England in support of his French allies, but he is defeated and captured at the Battle of Neville's Cross, near Durham, on 17 October. He is imprisoned by the English for eleven long years.

Guildhall stone shield
This stone shield from the Guildhall in London shows the royal arms of Edward III after he laid claim to the French throne (around 1340), with the fleurs-de-lis on a blue field alongside the three lions of England on a red field

1348 - 1350

The Black Death reaches Britain from the Continent. In less than two years approximately a third of the country's population is killed. In some regions, entire villages are laid waste or are abandoned. The plague causes great social changes as the reduced workforce is now in a position of negotiating power.

1377 - 1399

Richard II

Son of the Black Prince. Deposed. Died 1400.

1377 - 1386

John of Gaunt

Uncle and regent. Duke of Aquitaine.

1384 - 1386

England supplies 600 battle-hardened men to John of Portugal to help him secure his throne against the French-allied John of Castile. As a result of this, two years later England and Portugal sign the Treaty of Windsor on 9 May, the oldest alliance in Europe still in force.

House of Lancaster
AD 1399 - 1461

In 1399, the exiled Henry Bolingbroke, heir to the duchies of Lancaster and Aquitaine, returned to reclaim his lands, raising an army and marching meet the king. Despite having military intentions, Henry and his ally, archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Arundel, actually met the king to discuss the restitution of Henry's lands, but at the meeting Richard was arrested and deposed, so snatching the throne away from him in a coup. Richard's former First Lord High Treasurer was also executed as the new regime took control.

1399 - 1413

Henry IV

Cousin. Formerly the exiled duke of Lancaster.

1400

Henry and archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Arundel conspire to kill Richard II. Chaucer, author of the Canterbury Tales, is a close friend of Richard's. He is married to Henry IV's sister and had been court poet under Richard.

During the reign of Richard II there had been a flowering of English literature (despite Shakespeare's later dramatic claims to the contrary), but Henry's reign witnesses a heavy level of censorship. People who cross Arundel could find themselves burnt as a heretic. Chaucer, outspoken in his mockery of powerful prelates who covet worldly possessions (including Arundel), could well be a victim of this oppressive new order. He disappears just two months after Richard's death. None of his original works survive him, and all mention of him ceases for seven years after his probable death.

1402 - 1406

With Robert III, king of Scotland, beset by problems at home, Henry now invades the Scottish lowlands. The Scots are defeated twice, at the battles of Nesbit Moor and Humbleton Hill, and Henry seizes Edinburgh, albeit briefly. In 1406, Robert sends his ten year-old second son, James, to safety in France but his vessel is captured and he is taken prisoner by the English. The sad news may hasten Robert's death in the same year.

1403

While dealing with many rebellions throughout the kingdom, in one of his few notable victories in relation to the widespread Welsh rebellion, Henry IV defeats Henry Percy ('Harry Hotspur') of Northumberland, a rebel and ally of Owain Glyndwr, Prince of Wales, at the Battle of Shrewsbury.

1413 - 1422

Henry V

Son. Lord of Aquitaine.

1415 - 1420

Henry's much smaller army wins a startling victory at Agincourt in 1415, despite being outnumbered by the 'flower of French chivalry'. In 1420, Charles VI cedes France to Henry in the Treaty of Troyes, and following Charles' death in 1422, much of France becomes an English possession, although Henry V doesn't live to see it.

Battle of Agincourt
The victory of Henry V at the Battle of Agincourt destroyed the flower of French chivalry

1422 - 1461

Henry VI

Son. Aged 1 at accession as king of England & France. Deposed.

1422 - 1429

England effectively rules France through Henry's brother, John of Lancaster. Elements of the French nobility refuse to accept an English king, however, and support a fight with Charles VI's son as their figurehead. The French victory at Orleans in 1429 turns the tide of the war. John, and his younger brother Humphrey, remain Henry VI's regents in England as most of the French territory is subsequently lost.

1422 - 1435

John of Lancaster, duke of Bedford

Uncle and regent, mostly in France (1422-1429).

1422 - 1447

Humphrey, duke of Gloucester

Brother and lord protector in England. Died disgraced.

1455 - 1485

The Wars of the Roses begin with Richard, duke of York's victory at the Battle of St Albans. Lancastrians are pitched against Yorkists in England for the next thirty years. Richard's son, Edward, gains the throne in 1461.

House of York
AD 1461 - 1470

With the support of his cousin Richard Neville, earl of Warwick (the 'Kingmaker'), Edward IV pressed his claim to the throne through a series of battles between 1460-1461, and managed to secure London while Henry VI and his militaristic queen were campaigning in the north. The House of York owned land predominantly in the south of England, while the rival House of Lancaster owned much of the north, including Lancashire and Yorkshire, making the civil war a north-south conflict. It would take until 1485, and several changes of ruler, before the war was concluded.

FeatureNew evidence points to Edward IV's mother, Cecily, daughter of the first earl of Westmorland, having had a liaison with a tall, well-built archer at the Rouen garrison while her royal husband was campaigning against the French. Edward was conceived at a time in 1441 when his father, Richard Plantagenet, third duke of York, was nowhere near his mother. Edward was born in April 1442, the grandson of Richard of Conisburgh, third earl of Cambridge, whose own grandfather had been Edward III. His brother, George, later the duke of Clarence, was certainly legitimate. The third child, Richard III was also legitimate, and fully resembled his slightly-built, thin-faced father in stature and appearance. However, this evidence is highly controversial, and a strong camp of defenders exists for Edward IV's legitimacy.

1461 - 1470

Edward IV

Son of Richard Plantagenet. Third cousin of Henry VI. Deposed.

1469 - 1470

Warwick is upset by Edward's marriage to Elizabeth Woodville, the widow of a Lancastrian sympathiser, and rebels against him. The Battle of Edgecote Moor in 1469 is a victory for Warwick, especially when the king is captured soon after. Elements of the nobility stage a counter-revolt which frees the king and subdues Warwick temporarily, but he and George, duke of Clarence, rebel again in 1470 and Edward flees the country.

Henry VI Part 1
An imaginative scene from Henry VI Part 1 in which the participants in the Wars of the Roses (1455-1485) select white and red roses to mark their allegiances

House of Lancaster (Restored)
AD 1470 - 1471

Queen Margaret, wife of Henry VI, came to an alliance with two of Edward VI's main supporters, Richard Neville, earl of Warwick, and George, duke of Clarence, urged on by Louis XI of France. Warwick married his daughter to Henry's son and returned to England to defeated the Yorkists in battle. Henry VI was restored to the throne on 30 October 1470, but by now, the years of hiding and captivity had taken their toll, and Warwick and Clarence held all the power.

1470 - 1471

Henry VI

Restored. Murdered in prayer at the Tower of London.

Edward

Son. Prince of Wales. Executed in 1471.

1471

Yorkist forces defeat the Lancastrians at the Battle of Barnet on 14 April 1471. Warwick is killed. A further defeat at the Battle of Tewksbury on 4 May sees Henry's son, Edward, Prince of Wales, captured and executed, while the remainder of the royal family is captured. Edward IV is restored to the throne, and Henry VI is murdered while a captive in the Tower of London.

House of York (Restored)
AD 1471 - 1485

Yorkist forces defeated the Lancastrians at the Battle of Barnet in 1471, restoring Edward IV to the throne. While the nobility of this period were busy hacking down their peers, the common population was suffering from repeated waves of plague. Although these were less severe that the Black Death of 1348, they still killed many. A bonus to the survivors was that they were often in a stronger position to be able to climb the social ladder, and even sometimes to become a class of gentry between that of the nobility and peasants. The country gentleman was born in the form of the squire.

1471 - 1483

Edward IV

Restored.

1478

George, duke of Clarence, although forgiven for his change of allegiance in 1470, leads an attempted coup against Edward. He is captured and is executed by Edward for treason (by being hung upside down in a barrel of Madeira). George is survived by two grown-up children who outlive the House of York.

They are the last of the (official) Plantagenets, and the younger of the two is later executed by Henry VIII on trumped-up charges, in order to be certain that she cannot apply her legal claim to the throne. But her own sons survive, and a modern-day descendant lives happily in Australia after emigrating in the 1960s. He is Michael, earl of Louden, and is a potential claimant to the throne. The claim has effectively been lost by right of conquest (in 1485) and later inter-dynastic marriages.

1483

Edward V

Son. Ruled in name as a 12 year-old for three months. Deposed.

1483

FeatureRichard, younger brother of Edward IV, knows that the child king has no legitimate claim to the throne, and immediately captures and imprisons the boy and his younger brother, the new Richard, duke of York. Richard III claims the throne as the only surviving legitimate son of the previous duke of York. The princes are held in the Tower of London until their eventual disappearance.

1483 - 1485

Richard III

Brother of Edward IV. Killed at Bosworth Field.

1485

From his exile in France, Henry Tudor leads a slightly underwhelming invasion of England, via Milford Haven, and is fortunate to kill Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field in Leicestershire, the final battle in the Wars of the Roses.

Richard III at Bosworth Field
Richard III, demonised during the following Tudor period, seems to have been a fair ruler who was unlucky to be defeated at the Battle of Bosworth Field

FeatureRichard's body is taken to nearby Leicester and is buried in Grey Friars Church in the town. The church is destroyed in the dissolution of the monasteries in 1538, but Richard remains buried there until he is discovered by archaeologists in August 2012. The site is now a car park, and the skeletal remains are confirmed as the king's after DNA from the bones are found to match that of a descendant of the monarch's family. Despite initial plans to rebury the king in Leicester Cathedral, the Plantagenet Alliance (which includes fifteen of the king's distant relatives) states that the king's wish was to be buried at York Minster.

House of Tudor
AD 1485 - 1603

The Tudors were descended from a Welsh noble family which originated in Gwynedd. They played an important role in transforming England from the comparatively weak European backwater that it had become following the collapse of the 'Anglo-Saxon Empire' and the Norman invasion into a powerful state that in the coming centuries would dominate much of the world. The Tudor monarchs also raised the conquered Ireland from a lordship to a kingdom (in 1541), giving them two kingdoms, plus the principality of Wales and the old French lands to claim amongst their titles.

1485 - 1509

Henry VII

Member of the House of Lancaster on his mother's side.

1485

Henry VII is the only major remaining claimant to the throne. He marries Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV and heiress of the House of Plantagenet, to legitimise his somewhat shaky claim, without knowing the question mark over Elizabeth's own royal legitimacy. Henry himself is descended from Ednyfed Fychan, chief minister to Llywelyn the Great of Gwynedd, and Owain ap Meredith ap Tewdur, a Welsh squire in Henry V's court. More practically, his marriage unites the Houses of York and Lancaster, ensuring an end to the Wars of the Roses.

1486

Henry VII's heir, Arthur, Prince of Wales, is born. His sudden death in 1502 would upset the succession.

1486 - 1487

Lambert Simnel

Pretender. Nine year-old caught up in attempt to gain throne.

1487

Henry VII defeats Lambert Simnel's forces at Stoke, in the final battle of the Wars of the Roses. The boy himself, an unwitting pawn who had been selected merely on the basis of his resemblance to the Yorkist prince, is given a lifelong job in the royal household.

1490 - 1499

Perkin Warbeck

Pretender. Hanged as a traitor at Tyburn.

1490 - 1499

Warbeck is an impostor, pretending to be Richard of Shrewsbury, first duke of York, the younger son of King Edward IV, but is in fact a Fleming born in Tournai in around 1474. He is first noted as claiming the English throne at the court of Burgundy in 1490 and in 1499 he leaves the scene of his most recent failure in Cornwall for London, where he mounts a feeble military challenge to Henry before fleeing. He is captured and imprisoned in the Tower of London alongside a genuine claimant; Edward, earl of Warwick, with whom he tries and fails to escape in 1499.

1491

Henry VII's wife, Elizabeth of York, gives birth to a son, Henry.

1502 - 1503

Prince Arthur dies at the young age of fifteen, from uncertain medical circumstances. His wife, Catherine of Aragon, is sick as well, but survives. Henry VII gains a dispensation to marry her to Arthur's younger brother, Henry. In the same year, Scotland and England agree a 'perpetual peace' when James IV and King Henry come to terms. In 1503, James marries Henry's daughter, Margaret Tudor, laying the basis for eventual union between the two crowns.

1509 - 1547

Henry VIII

King of Ireland (1541). Broke away from Roman Church.

1509 - 1533

FeatureFrom ascending the throne at the age of seventeen, Henry VIII turns out to be one of England's most colourful and pivotal rulers. He marries six times in search of a male heir (and a spare), but only fathers three surviving children, two of them girls. He first marries his brother's widow, Catherine of Aragon, and gains a daughter in Mary. After five children which don't survive and a long period without any further progeny Henry secures an annulment (Catherine dies in 1536).

1513

Henry campaigns in France, capturing two towns and beating off the French in the Battle of the Spurs, named for the sight of the spurs of the French cavalry, as they flee at great speed. Catherine of Aragon manages England in Henry's stead. James IV of Scotland takes full advantage by invading England, but Isabella sends an army north. The two forces meet at Flodden and the Scots are annihilated, with around 10,000 casualties, including James himself.

1521

Pope Leo X grants Henry the title 'Defender of the Faith' for a tract defending Catholicism. It is a title he retains, even after his split from the Catholic church.

Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII, Defender of the Faith, in an oil portrait on wood from about 1526

1533 - 1536

Henry marries the ambitious Anne Boleyn. She immediately gives him another daughter, the red-haired Elizabeth. After three more children, none of whom survive, Henry has trumped-up charges of adultery levelled against Anne. She is beheaded on 19 May 1536.

1534

The English Reformation had gained political support when Henry VIII wanted his marriage to Catherine of Aragon annulled. Under pressure from Catherine's nephew, Emperor Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, the annulment is refused by Pope Clement VII, the latest point in an ongoing conflict of authority between England and Rome. Henry, although theologically a Catholic, decides to become Supreme Head of the Church of England to ensure the annulment of his marriage. Even so, he maintains a strong preference for traditional Catholic practices.

1535 - 1536

Feature The first English translation of the entire Bible is printed, with translations by Tyndale and Coverdale. In 1536, the dissolution of the monasteries begins, and Catholic decorations in churches are removed or whitewashed over. With the death of Anne Boleyn, a rebellion is sparked in the north, which marches under the banner of the Five Wounds of Christ, and which demands the restoration of the old ways. By December 1536, its followers number as many as 40,000, but it is defeated when the king appears to accedes to its demands, and then has the leaders dealt with in the customary fashion.

1536 - 1537

Henry marries his beloved Jane Seymour. Within a year she gives birth to Edward, but dies from an infection caused by unclean birthing instruments.

1540

The Catholic powers of France and Spain seem certain to establish an alliance with the intention of attacking England. Henry allows his chief minister, Thomas Cromwell, to arrange a marriage for him with Anne of Kleve Anglicised as Anne of Cleves), whose brother, Duke William, is the leader of the Protestant states in western Germany. Anne proves to be a huge disappointment in Henry's eyes. The marriage is never consummated, and an annulment follows within six months (Anne lives out her life in England as a private person, never remarries, and dies in 1557 at the age of forty-two, seemingly content with her lot).

1540 - 1542

Already having a poorly-kept secret affair with her while still married to Anne, Henry's fifth wife is the lady-in-waiting, Catherine Howard. She is executed soon after. During the same period, 1541-1542, Henry's sister, Margaret Tudor, dies. Her son, King James V, no longer feels tied to the 'perpetual peace' with England, and when invited he fails to meet Henry at York. Instead, he mobilises his army and prepares to invade England but his army is defeated at Solway Moss on the Scottish borders in 1542. The news of the defeat is a powerful blow, and he dies just six days after his daughter is born.

1543 - 1547

Henry's sixth wife is the twice-married Catherine Parr. She outlives him by a year, remarrying and dying in childbirth.

1547 - 1553

Edward VI

Son. Crowned 20 Feb, aged nine. Died at the age of fifteen.

1547 - 1553

Protestantism is established for the first time in England (more as a simplified form of Catholicism than the Protestantism practised in Northern Europe), and in the last battle between English and Scottish royal armies, the Scots are routed at Pinkie, Edinburgh on 10 September 1547 as Edward's uncle and Protector, Edward Seymour attempts to impose Anglican reform north of the border and force the infant Mary, Queen of Scots to marry Edward. In England, Thomas Cranmer, the archbishop of Canterbury, implements the Book of Common Prayer. Unfortunately, Edward's reign is marked by increasingly harsh Protestant reforms, the loss of control of Scotland, and an economic downturn.

Edward VI
During his relatively short reign, Edward VI showed a strong drive towards harsh Protestant reforms in England and Wales

When it becomes clear that Edward's life is to be a short one, his advisors persuade him to attempt to exclude his two half sisters from the line of succession in order to make Lady Jane Grey, the solidly Protestant daughter-in-law of the chief regent, next in line to succeed the king. Following Edward's death a disputed succession re-opens the religious conflicts. Lady Jane is queen for nine days, and reigns in name only before being deposed by Mary. Mary then seeks to undo many of Edward's Protestant reforms, issuing legislation through her Parliamentary sessions.

1553

Lady Jane Grey

Henry's grandniece. Reigned 6-15 July. Deposed, beheaded.

1553 - 1558

Mary I (Bloody Mary)

Dau. of Henry VIII. m Philip II of Spain. Childless.

1553 - 1554

Continually turning to her maternal cousin, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, for advice and support, Mary Tudor accepts his suggestion of marriage to his son, Philip of Spain. However, she makes it clear that she will be queen regnant, and following the wedding in 1554, Philip is given no lands in England, nor is he allowed to make any appointments for fear of upsetting the populace. It is stipulated that if there are no children, Philip's interest in the realm will cease with Mary's death.

1555 - 1558

Following her phantom pregnancy and a period of depression, Mary earns her nickname by having almost three hundred religious dissenters executed in her later years, including archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer. However, her brief attempt at the re-establishment of Roman Catholicism in England is reversed by her successor and half-sister, Elizabeth.

1558 - 1603

Elizabeth I

FeatureDau. of Henry VIII. Childless.

1568

Mary Stuart Queen of Scots escapes from Loch Leven Castle in Scotland but her supporters are defeated near Glasgow, at the Battle of Langside. She flees to England where she believes she will be protected and supported by her cousin, Elizabeth Tudor. Instead she is imprisoned at Fotheringay Castle, a political embarrassment to both kingdoms.

1569

Elizabeth puts down the Catholic-led Northern Rebellion, before finding a new enemy in her former brother-in-law, Philip II, King of Spain.

1571

The duke of Norfolk is executed following the failed Ridolfi Plot.

1572

Elizabeth makes an alliance with France and begins tentative marriage negotiations which go nowhere and decisively end when the younger duke of Anjou dies in 1584.

1579 - 1583

The Second Desmond Rebellion in Ireland is put down. In the same year, 1583, the first English colony in North America is founded. This later period of Elizabeth Tudor's reign sows the seeds of the British empire, and is termed 'Gloriana'.

1585 - 1598

The Anglo-Spanish War erupts as relations with Philip of Spain worsen. Mary, Queen of Scots is executed in 1587, while Francis Drake 'singes the king of Spain's beard' by attacking his fleet in the Spanish port of Cadiz. The great 130-ship Spanish Armada is destroyed at the Battle of Gravelines in 1588 while attempting to bring about an invasion of England. In 1595, forces under Francis Drake and the earl of Cumberland attack and seize Puerto Rico, holding it for several months until dysentery forces a withdrawal. The war stalls in 1598 and is only officially ended by the Treaty of London in 1604.

1594 - 1603

The Nine Years' War between England and Irish rebel Hugh O'Neill ends with the surrender of the Irish.

House of Stuart
AD 1603 - 1649

As the result of an agreement with Elizabeth Tudor in 1586, the Treaty of Berwick, the Scottish king James VI succeeded her on the English throne as James I. A descendant of Henry VII through his daughter, Margaret, James was the first ruler of the three kingdoms of 'Great' Britain (a term he coined in 1604): England, Scotland, and Ireland. It was a union that would not be made official until 1707 when the crowns were united as one. His Scottish surname, Stewart, had been altered by James' mother, Mary Queen of Scots, while she was living in France, and it was in this form that the name was largely used in England.

During James' reign, and that of his son, piracy in the Caribbean became fully established, especially targeting wealthy Spanish colonies such as Hispaniola. The first true British Colonies in North America also became established, beginning with the settlement of St John in Newfoundland in 1604.

1603 - 1625

James I

VI of Scotland (1567-1625). First king of Great Britain.

1605

FeatureCatholic plotters, unhappy with James' unsympathetic attitude towards their faith (which he also shares) decide to try and blow up Parliament at the state opening, thereby leaving the way open for a Catholic takeover of Britain. The plot is foiled.

Coronation of James I
James was crowned on the feast of St James in 1603, but the queen, a devout Catholic, refused to take Communion

1616 - 1617

Pocahontas, the daughter of Powhatan, chief of the Powhatan Confederacy of native tribes which live around the Jamestown British Colony, visits England. The visit is partly to promote the New World English colony, and Pocahontas is greeted at court by James I and attends various functions. Embarking for the return journey in March 1617, she falls ill on board ship and is taken off at Gravesend where she dies of an unspecified illness.

1620

On 21 November, the Pilgrim Fathers arrive at Cape Cod in New England on the Mayflower (formerly the Plymouth Company territory). They are leaving behind them the confused religious situation in England, hoping to found a new and better community in the New World.

1625 - 1649

Charles I

Son. King of England & Scotland. Deposed and executed.

1638

The kingdom of Mosquitia is officially recognised by England, probably during a state visit by the son of the king to the court of Charles I.

Warships of the English Civil War
Warships at the time of the English Civil War, with ninety of them mustered in Plymouth Sound in 1625 (with the kind permission of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, Library of Toronto)

1642 - 1645

Charles raises his standard, declaring war on a Parliament which is determined to force a confrontation. In 1645 the Royalists are routed at the Battle of Philiphaugh, defeating Charles I's cause in Scotland. The archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud, is beheaded at Tower Hill in the same year for his High Church stance against the radical Puritanism which is starting to take hold in the country.

Protectorate
Commonwealth of Britain
AD 1649 - 1659

Parliament's cause against Charles I simmered for years while it continually blocked the king's attempts to rule absolutely as he believed was his divine right. When a crowd of apprentices rioted at Westminster in 1641 (organised by Parliament), they were dispersed by troops who called them Roundheads thanks to their close-cropped hair. After the commencement of the civil war in the following year, the term came to be applied to the Parliamentary forces, in opposition to the king's cavalier-styled gentlemen-led forces. When Parliament finally won the war, it realised it didn't know what kind of rule to offer the country, even going so far as to offer Oliver Cromwell the crown, as the Puritan (extreme Protestant) forces turned Britain into a kind of police state.

1649 - 1653

Oliver Cromwell supports the execution of the king in January 1649. The king's body is quietly buried in St George's Chapel, in Windsor Castle, after being denied a place in Westminster Abbey. He is placed with Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, but the entire vault is later lost to history. Workmen rediscover the vault by accident in 1813 and find a velvet draped coffin with the missing monarch's name on it. The casket is opened to reveal a body with a detached head and a pointy beard.

In the same year as the king is executed, Oliver Cromwell also leads an army to crush the Irish, in August. In 1650, he also crushes Scotland with his highly efficient New Model Army. In 1653, he dissolves Parliament and by the end of the year has assumed the role of Lord Protector.

1653 - 1658

Oliver Cromwell

Effectively in control of Parliament (1649). First Lord Protector.

1655

English troops take Jamaica from the Spanish colonial viceroyalty of New Spain, making it a hub for rum production and slave trading. It also allows renewed contact with the Mosquito Coast.

1657

Parliament offers Oliver Cromwell the title of king in the 'Humble Petition and Advice'. He rejects it.

1658 - 1659

Richard Cromwell

Son. Second Lord Protector. Abdicated, and died 1712.

1659

Richard Cromwell, entirely unsuited to his role, abdicates in 1659. Negotiations with Charles II are opened, and the restored king returns to Britain. The body of Oliver Cromwell, buried in Westminster Abbey, is exhumed by Charles' supporters and hanged on the scaffold at Tyburn (near modern day Marble Arch in London). It is later cut down and beheaded, with the body probably being dumped in a nearby pit. The embalmed head is eventually removed from a spike and passes from owner to owner until it is reburied at Sidney Sussex College in Cambridge in 1960.

House of Stuart Restored
AD 1660 - 1714

Charles II returned from the Netherlands on his birthday to reclaim the throne, along with his Portuguese wife, Catherine of Braganza. Parliament proclaimed him king of England on 8 May 1660. Charles received popular support as he re-opened the theatres, and introduced a relaxed, tolerant rule to a country battered by a decade of extremist Puritan rule.

1660 - 1685

Charles II

Son of Charles I. King in exile (1649-1660).

1664 - 1667

Under the leadership of the duke of York, the English attack and capture the province of New Netherland in 1664. The act leads to the Second Anglo-Dutch War the following year, which ends with the Netherlands agreeing to the English ownership of the colony in exchange for Suriname.

Second Anglo-Dutch War
The Four Days Battle in June 1666 was part of the Second Anglo-Dutch War, as depicted by Willem van de Velde the Younger

1665 - 1666

The last Great Plague sweeps through London killing 65,000 (according to official figures), although the real figure is probably closer to as much as 100,000. The following year an accidental fire which starts at a Pudding Lane bakery engulfs almost all the old Medieval city, with only a few exceptions, one of which is the Tower of London.

1670 - 1671

In a period in which adventurers seem to rule, the privateer Henry Morgan captures the port of Chagres from the Spanish viceroyalty of Peru in 1670 and goes on to destroy the city of Panama in New Granada. On 9 May 1671, the crown jewels are briefly stolen from the Tower of London by Irish adventurer Colonel Thomas Blood.

1673 - 1674

The territory of former Dutch New Amsterdam is seized by during the Third Anglo-Dutch War, but is returned to England as part of the Treaty of Westminster in 1674.

1685 - 1688

James II

Deposed. Catholic revivalist. Died in 1701 in exile.

1686

FeatureThe Mayfair district of London gets its name when King James grants royal permission for a fair to be held on the site of what is now Shepherds Market in the first two weeks of May. At this time Soho, Whitehall and the City are the addresses of choice for the wealthy aristocracy, but a gradual shift towards Mayfair starts to take place.

1688

Feeling against the blatantly anti-Protestant James flares up when his second wife, Mary of Modena, gives birth to a Catholic heir (commonly believed to be a changeling). His brother-in-law, William of Orange, lands in Britain with a Dutch army. The disaffected British army goes over to him, and a bloodless takeover is effected with the support of the British people, named the Glorious Revolution. James flees London for France on 11 December, and by this act is deemed to have abdicated. He and his supporters continue to hold a claim to the thrones of England, Scotland (where the full details of his successors are shown), and Ireland for decades to come.

1689

There is an interregnum while events are unfolding. William of Orange and his wife, Mary II, come to the throne with the Declaration of Rights being read before Parliament on 13 February, with Mary declining to be queen regnant, instead preferring to give way to her husband in all matters of state. Nevertheless, she proves to be a worthy regent in his absences.

1689 - 1694

Mary II

Dau. Ruled jointly with husband, William III.

1689 - 1702

William III

Prince of (the House of) Orange.

1690

James II has gained Irish and French support for his cause and he invades Ireland from France. However, his attempts are stopped dead at the Battle of the Boyne on 1 July (there can be some confusion over pre-1752 dating, and these days it seems to be the case to refer to historical events keeping the old day and month but updating the year. The dates used here are the accepted ones). The archbishop of Canterbury, William Sancroft, refuses to take the oath with William and Mary, and is removed from office.

1701 - 1766

James Francis Stuart 'Old Pretender'

Son of James II. Prince of Wales. Involved in 1716 rebellion.

1701

The Act of Settlement on 12 June confirms that it is illegal for a Roman Catholic, or anyone married to a Roman Catholic, to inherit the throne (as set out in the 1689 Bill of Rights). This disqualifies the Catholic Stuart Pretenders from gaining the throne after Anne's death. It also disqualifies the Catholic heirs of Charles I and his sister, Elizabeth of the Palatinate, 'Queen of Bohemia', leaving just Sophie, widow of Ernst August of Brunswig-Lüneberg, elector of Hanover, and her son, George Ludwig.

1702 - 1714

Anne

Sister of Mary II. Had 17-18 children, but all predeceased her.

1702 - 1715

While Portugal initially supports France during the War of Spanish Succession, Britain alters the situation with the signing of the Methuen Treaty with Portugal on 16 May 1703, which grants mutually beneficial commercial rights for wine and textiles from the two countries. In December 1703 a military alliance between Austria, Britain, and Portugal sees them invade Spain. British forces attack Spanish interests in the Americas, including an attack on Puerto Rico in 1702. The allied forces capture Madrid in 1706, although the campaign ends in a defeat at the Battle of Almansa.

The conclusion of the war in 1715 sees Spain giving up Milan, Naples, Sardinia, and the Spanish Netherlands (modern Belgium) to Austria, and Sicily to the duchy of Savoy. The Papal States are forced to hand over the territories of Parma and Piacenza to Austria, a definite blow to the papacy's prestige. Philip, duke of Anjou, is recognised as the Bourbon King Philip V of Spain, but only on the condition that the Bourbon crowns of Spain and France can never be united under a single ruler.

1707 - 1708

The Union of the crowns of England and Scotland is enacted. The idea had been recommended by William III and is now approved by Anne as a method of preventing the possibility of Scotland going its own way, as the Scottish Parliament refuses to endorse the Hanoverian succession. The joint kingdoms are governed from a single Parliament at Westminster in London. The following year, an attempted invasion of Scotland by James Francis Stuart at the Firth of Forth is defeated at sea.

House of Hanover
AD 1714 - 1839

The Protestant elector of Hanover was invited to take the throne after the death of his distant cousin, Queen Anne, under the Act of Settlement of 1701. The initial beneficiary was to be his mother, Sophia, but she died just days before Anne. George I was the son of the duke of Brunswick-Lüneberg, and inherited this title, along with that of the duchy of Saxe-Lauenburg. Hanoverian rule witnessed the emergence of modern Britain, and the build-up towards the British empire. It was also during the reign of George I that the position of prime minister became cemented within Parliament and a recognisably modern government began to emerge.

Rival claimants to the throne still existed, in the form of the Jacobite descendants of James II, and these are shown with a shaded background. The full list of successive claimants is shown under Scotland.

1714 - 1727

George I

Elector of Hanover. Great-grandson of James I through Sophia.

1715 - 1716

Having lost a vote to repeal the union with England in 1713, the Jacobites rise in rebellion in support of James Edward Francis Stuart, the 'Old Pretender'. Seeking to overthrow George I, they want to replace him with James III. A force of about 10,000 is assembled in Scotland, mostly made up of Highlanders, and this marches southwards after some delays which allow the Crown time to assemble a response. Reinforcements of 2,000 men are defeated at the Battle of Preston on 15 November 1715, and the main force fights the duke of Argyll's smaller force of 3,500 at Sheriffmuir on 13 November. The outcome is indecisive, but this, along with the defeat at Preston, is enough to herald the rebellion's collapse.

1716

The Whigs win an overwhelming victory in the Parliamentary general election, but several of the defeated Tories side with a new Jacobite rebellion known as 'The Fifteen'. The Jacobite pretender to the throne is James Francis Stuart, who is supported by Lord Mar in Scotland. However, with poor planning, the rebellion is a total failure. The main protagonists flee to France in February 1716.

1717 - 1720

The Moghul emperor allows the British East India Company to purchase duty-free trading rights in Bengal, although so weak is his authority that the governor of Bengal ignores him and continues to collect duty tax.

In Europe of 1717, King Philip V of Spain is unhappy with the arrangements set at the end of the War of Succession and occupies Sardinia and Sicily, triggering the War of the Quadruple Alliance. The war begins with Philip's first actions of 1717, and is formally declared in 1718. Austria, Britain, France, and Holland unite to defeat Spain, and peace is again declared with the Treaty of The Hague which is signed in 1720.

1727 - 1760

George II

Son.

1727

George II is the last British monarch to have been born outside the confines of the kingdom, and his early years see him effecting little control over policy, as he is dominated by Sir Robert Walpole's Whig Parliament.

One notable snippet regarding the king is that he is great-grandfather of Duchess Augusta of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. She marries the future Duke Frederick III of Württemberg in 1780, and in 1805 their son, Paul, fathers Karolina von Rothenburg, the great-great-great-grandmother of Boris Johnson, mayor of London (2008-2012).

1766 - 1788

Charles Edward Stuart 'Young Pretender'

Son of James Francis Stuart. Also 'Bonnie Prince Charlie'.

1739

FeatureDick Turpin, probably the famous most English highwayman, is hanged for horse theft at York Knavesmire. At around the same time, a formalised system of mail coaches is being brought onto existence, while Europe is plunged into the War of Jenkins' Ear against Spain. That descends into the War of the Austrian Succession, and in 1743 George II enthusiastically leads his troops into battle at Dettingen, the last British monarch to do so.

1745 - 1746

In 1745, Bonnie Prince Charlie lands at Eriskay in the Hebrides, Scotland, to lay claim to the British throne. He is backed by the French, who are at present heavily embroiled in the Austrian War of Succession against Britain. Fighting in his still-living father's name, he raises his standard at Glenfinnan, Scotland on 19 August, igniting the Second Jacobite Rebellion. On 21 September, his Jacobite forces defeat English forces at the Battle of Prestonpans. The following year, in the last battle fought on British soil, the Jacobites are routed by the duke of Cumberland at Culloden. The Jacobite cause effective dies, but Charles Edward's claim is passed on, first through his brother, Henry, in 1788, and then the Savoyard kings of Sardinia from 1807.

The Battle of Culloden
The Battle of Culloden saw the destruction of the clans in Scotland at the hands of Britain's modern army

 

Frederick Louis

Son of George II. Prince of Wales. Died 1751.

1752

Britain switches from the outdated Julian calendar to the Gregorian one, 'losing' twelve days in the process and moving the start of the year from 25 March to 1 January (except for the tax office, which refuses to budge, up to and including the present day).

1756 - 1763

The Seven Years' War - the first truly 'global' conflict - erupts as Britain declares war on France. In 1759, General James Wolfe claims the Canadian territories for Britain with a victory over the French near Quebec. In 1762 the Spanish colony of Cuba is captured by Britain and held for a year before being handed back as part of the peace settlement, in exchange for Florida. Britain also formally gains New France from the French, renaming it the province of Quebec as part of their colonies in the Americas.

1757

The British East India Company is victorious over the nawab of Bengal, an ally of the French, which signals the end of any serious French ambitions in what was Moghul India. Instead, the Company's Bombay presidency begins to assume more and more authority.

1760 - 1820

George III

FeatureSon of Frederick. The 'Mad' King.

1765

John III, the final 'King of the Isles of Man' is pressured by the Crown into relinquishing the title in return for a substantial payment. Direct authority passes to the Crown, and the rampant smuggler trade which has made the most of the island's independence is suppressed by governors.

1770

British navigator and explorer Captain James Cook becomes the first European to discover Australia. In the same year, the Boston Massacre takes place in the American colonies.

1775 - 1783

Revolutionaries in the American colonies begin a war with the intention of driving out English rule. It takes the revolutionaries over seven years to force Britain to declare that it will cease hostilities and withdrawn its troops and Hessian allied units. The United States of America are formed from the liberated thirteen colonies, but the British Colonies continue to be formed of territories to the north.

1787

The 'First Fleet' carrying convicts sets sail for Australia, where it will set up the first penal colony.

1788 - 1807

Henry Benedict Cardinal Stuart

Son of James Francis Stuart. Last Jacobite claimant to throne.

1789

Fletcher Christian leads a successful mutiny aboard the HMS Bounty against the captain, William Bligh.

1793 - 1797

FeatureFollowing the French Revolution, Britain is at war with France almost continuously until 1815. As part of the First Coalition, Great Britain, Naples, the Netherlands, and Spain join Austria and Prussia in attacking France, but the coalition is peppered with self-interests. Prussia withdraws in 1795, along with Spain, and the coalition is ended in 1797, although Austria has already benefited from the partitions of Poland-Lithuania. In that same year a British attempt to capture Puerto Rico is defeated.

1798

The British East India signs a treaty with the sultans of Oman & Zanzibar. In the same year, the United Irishmen rebel against British rule in Ireland, but despite French help they are defeated.

1801

The Act of Union with Ireland is passed by Parliament, creating the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The Irish Parliament is dissolved (1801-1923).

1804 - 1805

Napoleon Bonaparte is crowned emperor of France in 1804 and king of Italy in 1805. In that same year, the naval Battle of Trafalgar proves once and for all Britain's supremacy at sea, pounding the French and their Spanish allies in a crushing defeat.

Britannia between Death and the Doctors
Britannia between Death and the Doctors shows an ailing Britannia being approached by Death in the guise of Napoleon, while her politicians squabble (LC-USZC4-8794)

1807 - 1811

France defeats the Austrians and Russians at Freidland in 1807, and goes on to occupy Portugal. The following year, Spain falls. An Anglo-Portuguese army is formed in Lisbon, eventually under the command of General Wellesley, and by 1811 Portugal has been liberated.

1814 - 1816

The Anglo-Nepalese War culminates in a treaty which establishes Nepal's modern boundaries in 1816. In the middle of all this, on 18 June 1815, Arthur Wellesley, the duke of Wellington, leads an Anglo-Dutch-German army to victory over Napoleon's French army at the Battle of Waterloo in co-operation with the Prussian army, ending twenty-five years of war in Europe.

Also in 1814-1815, troops are landed on Corsica by Lord William Bentinck, the commanding officer for British operations in Italy. They take control of the island from French Napoleonic troops, and Bentinck foresees the recreation of the Anglo-Corsican kingdom. The Treaty of Bastia is agreed between him and Corsica's post-Napoleonic representatives, with the Corsicans agreeing to Britain having sovereignty over the island. Foreign Secretary Lord Castelreagh subsequently insists that Corsica should be returned to the restored French monarchy.

1820 - 1830

George IV

Son of George III. Prince Regent (1810-1820).

1830 - 1837

William IV

Brother. Childless.

1831

Russia puts down the First (November) Insurrection in partitioned Poland and many Polish soldiers involved in the uprising chose to seek protection in Prussia, where they are disarmed and not particularly welcome. Eventually the surviving 212 Poles are placed on board a ship at Gdansk and deported. The ship is bound for the USA, but a storm forces it to seek shelter in Portsmouth in Britain. The Poles settle, mainly in London where they form the country's first Polish community (Lennard Goodman, a judge on the BBC tv show, Strictly Come Dancing, is descended from one of their number).

1833

Britain reassumes control of the Falkland Islands following a short-lived attempt by the Argentine confederation to settle people there. The islands remain part of Britain's overseas possessions from this point onwards, based both on this reoccupation and the initial formal claim of ownership of 1765 which had not been opposed by the Spanish authorities of the time. Settlers create a capital at Port Stanley and the islands' population remains almost completely British.

1835

FeatureLondon is excluded from the 1835 Municipal Corporations Act, and various attempts are made thereafter to create a unitary entity.

House of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha
AD 1839 - 1917

Victoria was the daughter of Edward, duke of Kent, a younger brother of George IV and William IV who had died within a couple of years of her birth. Her mother was Victoire, the sister of Leopold of Saxe-Coburg (who had been married to Charlotte, daughter of George IV until she died in childbirth). Victoria was to be named after her mother but the name, which was otherwise unknown in Britain, had to be Anglicised first. Victoria acceded to the throne a few weeks after her eighteenth birthday; her uncle, William IV, held onto life just long enough for that, so her controlling mother would not be regent. However, as a woman, Victoria was prevented by Salic Law from also inheriting Hanover, so that passed to the next in line; her uncle, Ernest Augustus, duke of Cumberland. Leopold became the first king of the Belgians in 1831.

1837 - 1901

Victoria

FeatureQueen-Empress of India (1876).

1839 - 1840

Although born of the House of Hanover herself, her proposal of marriage to Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha forms a new alignment. The ceremony takes place on 10 February 1840.

Victoria discovers she is queen
The moment when young Victoria discovered she was queen, as Lord Conyngham (left) and William Howley, archbishop of Canterbury, kneel before her

Also in 1839, Britain invades Afghanistan, intent on creating a buffer state between India and the threat posed by Persian and Russian intrigues.

1840 - 1849

In 1840, Britain unites with Ottoman Turkey to overthrow the amir of Lebanon, while the protectorate of Basutoland is recognised by Britain in 1843. In the same year, Britain and France are forced to go to war against Argentina for blocking their access to Paraguay during the Great War in South America. While that war progresses, in 1845 the USA triggers the Mexican-American War, hoping to annexe all of Texas. Britain, which still holds much of the disputed territory of Oregon, is persuaded not to intervene by an agreement which divides the territory along the 48th parallel. Britain keeps Vancouver to the north of the line (British Columbia), while the US gains Seattle to the south (Washington and Oregon). In 1849, a peace deal is agreed between Argentina and Britain.

1852 - 1856

Britain annexes lower Burma, including Rangoon, following the Second Anglo-Burmese War in 1852-1853. Between 1854-1856, Britain and France join the Ottoman empire in the Crimean War to halt Russian expansion. The war ends with the signing of the Treaty of Paris, a severe setback to Russian ambitions, although the Prime Minister is blamed for British failings in the war.

1857 - 1858

The Indian Mutiny over British rule erupts, but after some hard fighting in places it is suppressed. The last Moghul emperor is deposed and India is placed under direct control of the British empire's viceroys, whilst subject or allied princes govern various small states.

1859 - 1860

The British begin the building of the Suez Canal in Egypt. In 1860, British troops occupy Beijing, effectively ending the Second Opium War and humiliating the Chinese Ch-ing dynasty. In the same year Britain also cedes the Bay Islands to Honduras.

1867 - 1868

Upper and Lower Canada are united with Nova Scotia and New Brunswick on 1 July under the Britain North America Act. By enacting this, the British Parliament creates the dominion of Canada. The following year, Basutoland becomes one of Britain's High Commission Territories.

1878 - 1882

In 1878, Britain leases Cyprus from the Ottoman empire as a result of the Cyprus Convention, which grants control of the island to Britain in return for its support in the Russo-Turkish War. The following year, the war against the Zulu Nation ends in British victory. Zululand is annexed in 1887. In North Africa, the British occupation of Egypt begins in 1882.

1888 - 1899

Kuwait is taken from the Ottoman empire and a protectorate is created.

1890 - 1893

A British Protectorate is created for Zanzibar in 1890. Between then and 1893 Britain also conquers the Bornu empire of Chad.

Alfred

Son. Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (1893-1900).

1897 - 1898

Direct colonial rule of the former Benin empire begins and lasts until 1960. The following year Sudan is gained under joint Anglo-Egyptian governance.

1900

The Zobier Dynasty in Chad is defeated and Britain gains Borno while Chad goes to France. British troops under Robert Baden-Powell relieve Mafeking in South Africa, after a Boer siege of 215 days. In 1902 The Second Boer War ends with the Treaty of Vereeniging, which gives Britain sovereignty in South Africa.

1901 - 1910

Edward VII the Peacemaker

Son.

1910

The Union of South Africa is formed, ending British control of South Africa and Zululand.

1910 - 1917

George V

Son. Changed family name to Windsor (1917).

1913

Britain and the Ottoman government sign a treaty recognising the independence of Bahrain, but the country remains under British administration. Britain also annexes Cyprus, removing it from the Ottoman empire.

1914

Having jointly guaranteed in 1839 to support the neutrality of Belgium, when the country is invaded by Germany, Britain and all its territories and colonies (including Canada), France and Russia are forced to declare war at midnight on 4 August. The First World War (variously called World War I, or the Great War), has begun.

1916 - 1918

The Arab Revolt liberates much of the Middle East from Ottoman control, with Britain and the Hashemite Arabs taking control in Iraq, Kuwait, Palestine, and Syria.

1917

With the First World War against Germany seemingly in stalemate, George takes the politically astute decision to sever all familial links with his Teutonic cousins (his cousin in Belgium soon follows suit). The Royal Family's name is changed to Windsor.

House of Windsor
AD 1917 - Present Day

In 1917 the First World War was still raging, and the armies on the Western Front seemed to have fought each other to a standstill. Back in Britain, anti-German sentiment was strong, with shops and people bearing German names being attacked, even though many of the targets were born-and-bred Englishman. The king, himself bearing the German family name of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, was advised that the time had come to sever all links with his European enemy. On 17 July 1917, George V made the proclamation that the name would change to Windsor, one of the monarch's main residences to the west of London, and all German titles throughout the family would be exchanged for British peerages.

1917 - 1936

George V

First monarch of the House of Windsor.

1918

A ceasefire is agreed with the remnants of the Austro-Hungarian empire by British, French, and Italian forces on 3 November. Germany, now alone, sees its emperor abdicate on 9 November, and an armistice is agreed to come into effect on the eleventh hour of 11 November, signalling the end of the war, although many less widespread wars continue as a result of the upheavals caused by it. In the Middle East, a British mandate governs the Palestine area of the Middle East, which Britain had played a large part in liberating from the Ottoman empire, and this lasts until 1948.

Portrait of George V
George V steered Britain through the First World War and also ensured that the House of Windsor would survive at a time when most of Europe's grand monarchies were falling

1920 - 1932

Under the British Mandate, the kingdom of Greater Syria is created, and then destroyed by France. Then the Hashemite kingdom of Iraq is created to administer that region. In 1932 the kingdom achieves full independence from Britain.

1923

Southern and central Ireland are given independence. The north, predominantly Protestant in faith, remains within the Union.

1931

Canada becomes a separate kingdom from Britain under the terms of the Statute of Westminster.

1936

Edward VIII

Son. Abdicated 11 December.

1936 - 1952

George VI

Brother.

1937

Britain separates Burma from India and makes it a crown colony.

1939

The Nazi German invasion of Poland on 1 September is the trigger for the Second World War. With both France and Britain, under Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, pledged to support Poland, both countries have no option but to declare war on 3 September.

1942

Britain takes temporary control of the French Madagascar Colony.

1946 - 1947

Between 1946-1947, Britain pulls out of Palestine, while India is handed independence on 15 August 1947. Also, on 20 November 1947, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, heir to the throne, marries Prince Philip, duke of Edinburgh, earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich, born Prince of Greece and Denmark in Corfu in 1921, and paternal grandson of King George I of Greece. When Philip becomes a naturalised British subject in 1947, he renounces his Greek royal title.

1948

Britain grants Burma independence. This is the beginning of a period in which most of the various territories of the British empire either gain a level of independence or are handed back entirely, although many of them opt to retain the British monarch as their own head of state. The Commonwealth of Nations is born. In this year, Britain's mandate in Palestine also ends, and British troops are withdrawn.

1950 - 1953

North Korea's forces attack South Korea on 25 June 1950. A multinational force made up primarily of troops from the USA, and Britain and the Commonwealth nations (including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and India), goes in to support the south. The Korean War lasts until a ceasefire is agreed in July 1953.

The coronation of Queen Elizabeth II 1953
Elizabeth II and Philip, duke of Edinburgh, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace following the queen's coronation on 2 June 1953

1952 - Present

Elizabeth II

Daughter. Christened Elizabeth Alexandra Mary.

1953 - 1971

Britain's imperial territories gain independence, beginning with Egypt (1954), and then Sudan (1956), Ghana, formed from Gold Coast and British Togoland (1957), the former Benin empire (Nigeria) and Cyprus (1960), Kuwait (1961), Zanzibar (10 December 1963), Basutoland (granted autonomy in 1965, with full independence following in 1966), Oman (where the British Protectorate comes to an end in 1967), and Bahrain (which declares independence on 15 August 1971 and signs a new treaty of friendship with Britain).

1982

Canada's last constitutional ties with the United Kingdom, apart from sharing the same monarch, are severed under Parliament's Constitution Act.

2003

An Anglo-American-led action leads to the collapse of Iraq's dictatorial regime after just twenty-one days of fighting.

2008

On 10 December 2008 voting gets underway on the Channel Island of Sark, with the outcome bringing to an end the western world's last remaining feudal society.

2011

At a summit in Perth in Australia, the heads of the sixteen Commonwealth countries of which Queen Elizabeth II is head of state unanimously approve changes to the royal succession. Sons and daughters of any future monarch of the United Kingdom will have equal right to the throne, bringing to an end the use of three hundred year-old succession laws. Perhaps equally momentous, the ban on the monarch being married to a Roman Catholic is also lifted. The succession changes require a raft of historic legislation to be amended, including the 1701 Act of Settlement, the 1689 Bill of Rights, and the Royal Marriages Act 1772. The change to the Royal Marriages Act will end a position in which every descendant of George II is legally required to seek the consent of the monarch before marrying. In future, the requirement is expected to be limited to a small number of the sovereign's close relatives.

2012

Queen Elizabeth celebrates her Golden Jubilee with a four-day public holiday containing a Thames river pageant the likes of which have not been seen since the eighteenth century, a concert at the palace end of The Mall, and a service in St Paul's which is rounded off by a popular balcony appearance and three cheers from the Coldstream Guards and amassed crowd alike.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip about to join the Royal barge
Queen Elizabth and Prince Philip as they were being ferried across to the Royal Barge, Spirit of Chartwell, for the river pageant

Later in the same year, the rumbling discontent by Argentina over the ownership of the Falkland Islands sparks further controversy. Argentine President Cristina Kirchner has long been known to be using the issue to mask her growing unpopularity at home during the thirtieth anniversary of the war to expel Argentine troops from the island. Despite repeated assurances by the islands' residents themselves that they are quite happy to remain British, Kirchner ignores them completely, instead attempting to score political points and garner support amongst likeminded governments. She even goes so far as to attempt to 'handbag' Prime Minister David Cameron at a conference. However, Argentina's military power is so weak after years of cut-backs and purges that it is unable to offer a convincing military threat to the islanders' independence.

Charles III / George VII
 

Son. Christened Prince Charles Philip Arthur George. Prince of Wales, heir apparent to the throne.

Prince William

Son. Born 21 June 1982. Duke of Cambridge.

Prince George Alexander Louis

Son. Born 22 July 2013.