History Files




The History Files

About the History Files

Updated 1 October 2023

Welcome to the History Files website

We want to help you get the best from the History Files website so some basic information is necessary regarding the layout being used here.

The History Files is divided into two main sections: features and king lists.


These are added regularly, and cover various subjects across the whole time scope of human history and prehistory, as well as previous eras. These come from three main sources:

  • Firstly, and least importantly, in the past a shrinking few were drawn directly from news media sources, containing archaeology or science-based news on historical or prehistoric topics
  • Secondly, a few are reproductions of previously published material, with the permission of the author(s), and often with their active cooperation
  • Thirdly, and most importantly, many features are contributions from individuals who have an interest in, and some knowledge of, history (and quite often with a good degree of expertise).
  • Fourthly, around a decade after the site was first launched various major sub-sections began to be introduced, including 'Churches', 'Castles', 'Railway Walks', and 'Sights and Scenes', and these are published and/or updated regularly where material is available to make this possible.

    Anyone is welcome to submit material. Submitted material will be highlighted on the website's frontpage, usually as a banner feature, and quite often for at least a full calendar month, while the author will be fully credited for their work on the page in question.

    The work must be your own, and not a direct copy of something which already exists (unless that is also your own work). Get in touch here for more details.

Each feature page is split into two sections. The main body text is on the left-hand two-thirds of the page. The sidebar (established in 2002 and not related to the later Microsoft use of the name) on the right is reserved for associated images, related internal links, external links to other websites, and links to other content around the History Files website.

Features: photobox, video, and photo focus

A special type of feature page is a photobox page. This has a photo-slide application which takes up the entire width of the main body text area and sidebar combined. A basic introduction will be found beneath the photobox, along with source material and links.

A photobox feature page will look like this (tap or click on image to be taken to the page shown):

Photobox sample

More recently developed is the video player page. This uses the same page format as the photobox above, with basic introduction text, sources, and links below it.

As would be expected of any good video player, it contains all the usual options, plus the ability to switch to the same video on the History Files' very own YouTube channel if for some reason you are having trouble playing the video from the History Files server itself (tap or click on image to be taken to the video player sample page):

Videoplayer sample

Another new format is the photo focus page. This was developed especially for the 'American Lives' microsite which launched in summer 2021, to provide a more flexible method for displaying a relatively small number of large-format photos on a handy page layout (no more than twenty photos, in theory).

In essence it is a replacement for the less wieldy photobox format, although the latter's ability to handle anything above twenty photos makes it irreplaceable for the 'Railway Walks' pages.

Use of the photo focus format was extended to the main History Files site in autumn 2021, while a version also appeared at the start of 2022 in the 'large photo' page format which usually links directly to timeline photos in king list pages. The main photos focus format is shown below.

Photo Focus sample

The History Files is not responsible for the content of other websites.

King lists

These lists act as a detailed source of information to back up the features and to provide detailed information in their own right. In some instances they are even more detailed than a feature page might be.

They are ordered much as they were created, being first grouped into broad categories (continents), and then broken down wherever possible into regions which to an extent are dictated by modern national borders or long-lasting historical ones.

Where possible, continuity from one set of rulers to another in the same country or region is maintained, either down the same timeline or to the next king list page in the sequence, and frequent notes explain and expand upon the process of any changes between dynasties, regimes, or nation-creation.

Where important or prominent members of a ruling family did not actually rule themselves, they are often shown on a darkened background. In some cases, especially with the kings of Celtic Britain, semi-legendary family lineages are also shown. These are usually backed by a red tint.

A detailed breakdown of the formatting used on a king list page (including how to see the 'last modified' date) is shown here.

Sample king list

Detailed help is available to show you how to use the king lists efficiently (tap or click on image to be taken to the king list help page).

Dating conventions

In the main, conventional formats are used, including 'c' for circa, and 'fl' (flourit, the Latin verb which supplied the modern word, flourished) to indicate a specific, known date or dates for a ruler where the ruler in question must have been in power for a period longer than just that one date or the period included in those dates. There is also the occasional use of 'bef' (before) where the earliest known date for a ruler is available, but where they were probably in power before that date.

The use of 'b' and 'd' are for 'born' and 'died', so 'b.c.435' would mean born circa AD 435. This usage is diminishing in favour of writing it in full, but it still exists in some places around the site.

Care has been used to maintain the correct usage of the prefix 'AD' in these files. This is often used incorrectly, being placed after, instead of before, a date. It's fine to do that with a century, but not with a specific year.

This usage originates from the practice of teaching Latin syntax in the Augustan/Vergilian 'Silver Age' of the Roman empire, which demanded that the year preceded 'ab urbe condita' ('in the year of the city'), and this was why anno domini ('in the year of our Lord') followed the same format in English, having been used initially by members of the monasteries, often the only literate people in the country at the time.

This format was adopted later, according to the dictates of such luminaries as Swift and, most especially, Pope in the early eighteenth century. Other stylistic devices were also introduced.

It was only at this time that the split infinitive and the separation of phrasal verbs began to be frowned upon as they didn't suit the dictates of the grammarians of the time, so heavily were they immersed in the Latin models from which they drew their inspiration. With the subsequent removal of the Latin prefix, it no longer makes any sense to say (for example) 1999 anno domini (as well as being poorly constructed English), so that now anno domini (or AD) should always precede the date to which it appends.

The cultural persuasion and inherited dating system of the reader makes no difference here. If one is going to use this particular and widespread form of dating, one may as well do it correctly.

Note that the largely US-inspired and largely meaningless use of BCE and CE to replace BC and AD will not be followed anywhere on this site. The intention in their use is to remove religious connotations, but to do that properly the entire concept of counting the year from the birth of Christ must be abandoned, which is something this new system does not do and which therefore renders it pointless.

What would the best alternative be? Dating from the foundation of Rome again - a very popular system for the best part of a millennium or more? Dating from the creation of the wheel in Sumer? Only an approximate date is available there. Anyway, until a useful decision is reached, any contributed material will be edited to maintain this rule.


All measurements are given in the metric system. No allowance will be made for twentieth century adherents to outdated imperial measurement systems, other than in the American Lives pages where both systems are used (the US notably lags behind the rest of the world in updating its systems of measurements, although many Americans do use the metric system).

Compiling the king lists

The king lists were originally built up from paper notes from the mid-1980s onwards, and from sources which were only listed from the late 1990s onwards. Sources since 2012 have been shown in the relevant page itself rather than in a single and now largely defunct sources page, but the process of adding these and upgrading pages so that they are more detailed than originally is on ongoing one (and possibly a never-ending one!). The help of anyone who is interested is more than welcome. Just get in touch here.

The king lists have been compiled for a couple of reasons - the first being sheer passion for the subject. The second is more prosaic. It seems that history in modern schools is not taught in terms of dynasties and rulers any longer (and this seems to be as true of the USA as it does of the UK).

The thinking behind this appears to be that learning about rulers is elitist and irrelevant compared to understanding the lot of the average citizen at any period in time. The History Files itself has a fairly liberal inclination in many regards, but this particular bit of thinking appears ill-founded.

In fact it seems downright nonsensical. Rulers and their impact on national and international events is what frames much of human history. In the form of (usually unrecorded) tribal leaders they would have led migrations such as those of the vastly important Yamnaya horizon which saw much of the known world become dominated by Indo-European-speakers.

In the form of kings or queens and emperors and the like they led the creation and evolution of most states throughout written history, so how can one begin to understand the lot of the common man without knowing about the essential construction of his society? History without the skeletal framework of events which centre around rulers is meaningless.

So works of this nature, which lay out the framework of states and nations through their rulers, are essential before more intimate studies can be made of individuals who lived in those societies.


The very start of the king list pages on the History Files came about for one reason. One of the most interesting and consistently fascinating periods is the Late Romano-British / Early Welsh period known alternatively as sub-Roman or post-Roman, the 'Twilight of the Celts', or the beginning of the (latest of many) dark ages.

This remarkable and extremely unstable era of British history began its life in the History Files as a series of handwritten lists of rulers and kingdoms. These lists remained on paper until the early 1990s, when they were finally digitised (along with the other original lists).

Then the internet arrived and those digitised lists were placed online. Enthusiasm for this project and its subject matter spilled over into compiling further lists on all British rulers, and then spread to cover the world.

That project is ongoing. New material is constantly being added, and all contributions and submissions of data and features are highly welcome and fully credited.

Support and technical assistance

While almost everything about the History Files site(s) has been developed in-house, some external assistance has been required or offered along the way, and some credit must be given to the following people or organisations:

  • Tean, via CodeCanyon and Envato Market for fine-tuning the v2.0 videoplayer.
  • Freesound for its royalty-free sound files.

The John De Cleene Archive

In November 2022, John De Cleene of Maryland USA was kind enough to transfer his entire collection of historical data into the care of the History Files, some 11,511 WordPerfect files covering the fruits of around fifty years of research.

The History Files site is gradually integrating the information into any new and upgraded pages wherever this may be possible.

Click on the banner above for more information on the archive.

Support the site

As the site has grown it has required increasing amounts of server space for storage. Coupled with high traffic volumes, that means a premium fee is charged by the service provider to keep the site available.

Covering these costs has become increasingly vital. From 2023 the former strategy of holding a periodic donations drive has been replaced by a longer-lasting campaign which aims to cover a set contributions total for each year.

You are asked to make your contribution towards keeping this site operational by clicking on the link below or using the 'Support' link in the footer bar on every single page on the site.

Your contribution is very much needed.

Any help you care to provide is very much appreciated!


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