The Complete List of Kings and Queens of England

The lineage of England’s monarchy, spanning over a millennium, is a rich narrative of heroism, intrigue, and tradition that has significantly shaped the global socio-political landscape.

Starting with Egbert in the 9th century, the English monarchy’s journey through figures like Alfred the Great and Henry VIII, to Elizabeth II, illustrates a dynamic evolution amidst challenges and triumphs. The 1707 Act of Union marked a pivotal transition to the British monarchy, with the institution adapting while maintaining its captivating essence.

Below we take a look at the complete list of Kings and Queens of England in chronological order.

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Complete List of Kings and Queens of England

Complete List of Kings and Queens of England

Saxon Monarchs (802 to 1066)

Ecgberht, King of Wessex: A Truly Trailblazing Ruler

Egbert (802-839):

The first recognised King of England, Egbert, ascended to the throne in 802, marking the inception of the enduring lineage of the Kings and Queens of England. His reign not only symbolised the commencement of the English monarchy but also laid a robust foundation for a lineage that would flourish for over a millennium.

A crowning achievement of his reign was the unification of several Anglo-Saxon kingdoms under his sovereign rule, laying the cornerstone for the emergence of the illustrious Kingdom of England.

Through his visionary leadership, Egbert paved the way for the successive Kings and Queens of England, each of whom contributed to the rich tapestry of English royal history.

Aethelwulf (839-858):

Ascending the throne after Egbert, Aethelwulf, the son of Egbert and father to Alfred the Great, continued the legacy of his forebear with a reign marked by both piety and martial prowess.

In the year 851, he achieved a resounding victory against a Danish army at the Battle of Oakley, while his eldest son, Aethelstan, secured a maritime triumph against a Viking fleet off Kent’s coast, heralding the first recorded naval battle in English history.

Aethelwulf’s devout nature was exemplified by his pilgrimage to Rome in 855, where he sought the Pope’s blessing, accompanied by his young son Alfred, forging a bond between the spiritual and royal realms.

Aethelbald (858-860):

Aethelwulf’s second son, Aethelbald, born around 834, ascended to the throne through a bold move that saw his father abdicate. Crowned at Kingston-upon-Thames, his reign was brief yet tumultuous.

In a scandalous turn of events, he married his stepmother Judith following his father’s death in 858, a union that drew the church’s ire and was annulled after a mere year.

His reign, though short-lived, was a chapter of intense personal and political drama, ending with his burial at Sherborne Abbey in Dorset.

Æthelberht (860-866):

The mantle of kingship passed to Aethelbert upon the death of his brother Aethelbald. His coronation at Kingston-upon-Thames was swiftly followed by Viking incursions, including the sacking of Winchester.

Yet, under Aethelbert’s rule, the Saxons rallied and repelled the invaders. His reign was overshadowed by the looming threat of the Viking Great Heathen Army, which landed in East Anglia in 865 and ravaged England.

Aethelbert’s tenure as king was a constant battle against these formidable foes, and he too found his final resting place at Sherborne Abbey.

Aethelred I of Wessex (866-871):

The throne then fell to Aethelred I of Wessex, who succeeded his brother Aethelbert amidst an era of unrelenting conflict with the Danes. His reign was defined by the struggle to reclaim York from the Viking occupiers and the defence of Wessex from the encroaching threat.

Alongside his brother Alfred, Aethelred engaged the Danes in numerous battles, including those at Reading, Ashdown, and Basing. The Battle of Meretun in Hampshire proved pivotal, as Aethelred sustained grave injuries that led to his demise.

His death marked the end of his valiant stand against the invaders and his interment where he was laid to rest with the echoes of his battles still resounding through the land.

Alfred the Great (871-899):

Known for his valiant defence against the Viking invasion, Alfred the Great’s reign was marked by military successes and significant advancements in education, law, and culture.

His efforts in fortifying towns and establishing a standing army were instrumental in defending the kingdom, earning him the epithet, ‘the Great’.

Edward the Elder (899 – 924):

Succeeding his father, Alfred the Great, Edward the Elder took the mantle of leadership and continued the expansion and consolidation of the kingdom. His military campaigns were successful in reclaiming southeastern England and the Midlands from Danish control.

The unification of Wessex and Mercia came under his rule after the death of his sister, Aethelflaed of Mercia. Edward’s authority was recognized far and wide, with the Scottish King Constantine II acknowledging him as “father and lord” in 923.

His untimely death in battle against the Welsh near Chester in 924 brought his progressive reign to an end, and he was laid to rest in Winchester, the royal city of the West Saxons.

Æthelstan (924 – 939):

Athelstan, son of Edward the Elder, was a king of many firsts. His reign saw the boundaries of his kingdom stretch further following the pivotal Battle of Brunanburh in 937. This bloody confrontation against a coalition of Scots, Celts, Danes, and Vikings established him as the King of all Britain.

Athelstan’s victory at Brunanburh was instrumental in uniting the disparate Anglo-Saxon kingdoms into a single entity, marking the true genesis of a unified England.

His final resting place is in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, where he lies as the first king of a united England.

Edmund I (939 – 946):

At the young age of 18, Edmund ascended to the throne following his half-brother Athelstan. Having already proven his mettle at the Battle of Brunanburh, he was no stranger to conflict.

His reign was characterized by the reassertion of Anglo-Saxon dominance over northern England, which had slipped back under Scandinavian influence after Athelstan’s death.

Tragically, his reign was cut short when he was stabbed by a thief during the feast of St. Augustine at Pucklechurch. His premature death left the kingdom in the hands of his young sons, Eadwig and Edgar.

Eadred (946 – 955):

Eadred, son of Edward the Elder and his third wife Eadgifu, rose to the throne after the untimely demise of his brother Edmund.

His tenure was marked by continued conflicts with Norse invaders, culminating in the expulsion of the last Scandinavian King of York, Eric Bloodaxe, in 954. A devout man, Eadred’s reign was plagued by a severe stomach condition that ultimately led to his death in Frome, Somerset.

Dying unmarried and without an heir, he was interred in Winchester, leaving behind a legacy of religious devotion and military resilience.

Eadwig (955 – 959):

The eldest son of Edmund I, Eadwig, became king at about 16 years of age. His coronation at Kingston-upon-Thames was delayed by an infamous incident that required Bishop Dunstan to separate him from inappropriate company.

His reign was short and troubled, marked by his contentious relationship with the church, which led to the exile of Bishop Dunstan.

Eadwig’s death in Gloucester at the age of 20 is shrouded in mystery, with the details of his demise left unrecorded.

Edgar the Peaceful (959 – 975):

Edgar, the youngest son of Edmund I, ascended to the throne after the mysterious death of his brother Eadwig.

He was a ruler whose accession was long disputed but eventually solidified with the recall of Dunstan from exile and his appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury.

Edgar’s reign was ceremoniously affirmed in Bath in 973, and he demonstrated his sovereignty when six kings of Britain, including the King of Scots and various Welsh princes, rowed him across the River Dee, symbolizing their submission to his rule.

Edward the Martyr (975 – 978):

The eldest son of Edgar, Edward was crowned king at the tender age of 12. His claim to the throne was immediately contested by the faction supporting his younger half-brother Aethelred.

The ensuing power struggle threatened to plunge England into civil war. Edward’s reign was tragically cut short when he was murdered at Corfe Castle by partisans of Aethelred, after a brief rule of just two and a half years.

His death earned him the posthumous title of ‘martyr’, a testament to the political machinations that led to his demise.

Æthelred the Unready (978 – 1016):

Aethelred ascended to the throne as a child and faced the daunting task of defending his realm against Danish incursions. His inability to effectively counter these threats earned him the epithet ‘the Unready’, a king perceived as ill-advised.

His reign was marred by the St Brice’s Day massacre and subsequent Danish vengeance led by Sweyn Forkbeard.

Aethelred fled to Normandy but returned to reclaim his throne after Sweyn’s brief reign, only to spend his remaining years in a relentless state of war with Sweyn’s son, Canute.

Edmund II Ironside (1016):

Edmund II, known as Ironside for his military vigour, was the son of Aethelred II.

He led the resistance against Canute’s invasion and, upon his father’s death, was proclaimed king by the citizens of London, though the Witan recognized Canute.

After his defeat at the Battle of Assandun, he agreed to divide the kingdom with Canute, a decision that would only hold until his untimely death later that year, likely by assassination.

– Canute (Cnut the Great) the Dane (1016 – 1035):

Canute became the undisputed ruler of all England following Edmund’s death. The son of Sweyn Forkbeard, he won over his English subjects by reducing the presence of his Danish army.

His marriage to Emma of Normandy and his pilgrimage to Rome were significant events in his reign.

The legendary tale of Canute and the Tide demonstrated his wisdom in acknowledging the limits of kingly power.

Harold I – Harold Harefoot (1035 – 1040):

Known as Harold Harefoot for his hunting prowess, he was Canute’s illegitimate son and claimed the English crown upon his father’s death.

His reign was brief, and upon his death, his body faced indignities at the hands of his half-brother Harthacanute’s supporters.

He was initially buried in Westminster Abbey but later re-interred at St. Clement Danes in London.

Harthacanute (1040 – 1042):

Harthacanute, the son of Cnut the Great and Emma of Normandy, ascended to the throne with a formidable fleet and was readily accepted as king.

His reign saw the return of his half-brother Edward from exile, a move that may have been to appease his mother.

His sudden death at a wedding feast marked the end of Danish rule in England.

Edward the Confessor (1042-1066):

Edward the Confessor, taking the throne after Harthacanute, was a pious ruler who focused on religious affairs, notably the rebuilding of Westminster Abbey.

His governance was largely delegated to the powerful Earl Godwin and his son Harold.

Edward’s death without an heir precipitated a succession crisis that would lead to the end of Anglo-Saxon rule in England.

Harold II – Harold Godwinson (1066):

Harold Godwinson, chosen by the Witan and without royal lineage, became king after Edward the Confessor’s death. His reign was short-lived, as he faced challenges from William, Duke of Normandy, who claimed the throne.

Harold’s defeat at the Battle of Hastings against William’s forces marked the conclusion of Anglo-Saxon sovereignty and the commencement of Norman rule.

Norman Dynasty (1066 – 1154):

Monarch of Might: William The Conqueror
The Norman Dynasty consisted of the Kings of England who reigned from 1066-1154. Image: 12th century, Public Domain

William I, The Conqueror (1066-1087):

Ascended to the throne following the Battle of Hastings in 1066, marking the commencement of Norman rule in England. His reign saw the establishment of the feudal system and the compilation of the Domesday Book, a remarkable record of landholding in England.

William II, Rufus (1087-1100):

He is remembered for his turbulent rule marked by military campaigns and persistent conflicts with the Church. However, his reign came to an abrupt end with a puzzling death during a hunting expedition, leaving historians intrigued by the circumstances surrounding his demise.

Henry I (1100-1135):

Additionally, Henry I’s rule witnessed the strengthening of royal authority through the implementation of strict law and order measures. His reign also saw the beginning of a tumultuous struggle for the English crown, which would ultimately lead to the turbulent period of civil war known as “The Anarchy.”

Stephen (1135-1154):

Stephen’s reign from 1135 to 1154 was marked by the tumultuous era known as The Anarchy, characterized by a bitter dispute over succession with his cousin, Empress Matilda. This civil war brought great instability to England during his rule.

Plantagenet Dynasty (1154 – 1399):

Henry II (1154-1189):

He played a pivotal role in shaping the common law legal system, laying down the groundwork for its development. However, his reign is also marred by the infamous murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket, which had significant repercussions for the monarchy and the church during that era.

Richard I, The Lionheart (1189-1199):

Celebrated for his exceptional bravery on the battlefield, his reign, however, was marked by extensive foreign ventures, primarily his active participation in the Crusades. His leadership during these campaigns left a lasting legacy of valour and determination.

John (1199-1216):

John presided over a tumultuous reign marked by his clash with barons, leading to the sealing of the Magna Carta in 1215. This historic document laid the groundwork for the development of constitutional monarchy in England, significantly shaping the course of political history.

Henry III (1216-1272):

During Henry III’s lengthy reign from 1216 to 1272, England witnessed the nascent stages of parliamentary tradition taking root. However, his rule was not without its challenges, as it was marred by frequent political strife and persistent rebellions.

Edward I (1272-1307):

Edward I is remembered as a formidable monarch due to his military prowess and influential legal reforms. His determination to consolidate the British Isles led to the subjugation of Wales and his relentless pursuit of Scotland, leaving a lasting impact on the history of the United Kingdom.

Edward II (1307-1327):

Edward II’s reign, which lasted from 1307 to 1327, was marred by a series of military defeats and persistent political strife, ultimately culminating in his compelled abdication in 1327. His inability to effectively govern and his controversial personal life further contributed to the turbulence of his rule.

Edward III (1327-1377):

Edward III’s reign marked a pivotal period in English history with notable military triumphs in the Hundred Years’ War against France. Additionally, he established the prestigious Order of the Garter, a chivalric order that continues to hold great significance in British royal tradition. Edward III’s leadership left a lasting impact on England’s political and cultural landscape during his time on the throne.

Richard II (1377-1399):

Richard II ascended to the throne at a tender age, facing a tumultuous reign characterized by internal strife within the kingdom. Ultimately, his rule ended with his deposition by Henry Bolingbroke, marking a pivotal moment in English history.

This period encapsulated a blend of military conquests, legal innovations, and political intrigues, laying substantial groundwork for the evolution of the Kings and Queens of England and the nation’s legal and political systems. The transition from Norman to Plantagenet rule marked shifts in the power dynamics and governance approaches that significantly impacted the realm, setting the stage for the dynasties that would follow in the centuries to come, further enriching the narrative of the Kings and Queens of England.

House of Lancaster (1399 – 1461):

Henry IV (1399-1413):

Henry IV’s rule was characterized by his efforts to maintain control over a turbulent kingdom, facing challenges from various noble factions and uprisings. His reign also saw significant developments in English parliamentary traditions and the consolidation of the Lancastrian dynasty’s power.

Henry V (1413-1422):

Henry V celebrated for his remarkable military achievements, most notably his decisive victory at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. His reign marked a significant period in English history characterized by his prowess as a warrior king and his efforts to strengthen the English monarchy.

Henry VI (1422-1461):

Henry VI’s tumultuous reign marked a turbulent period in English history characterized by the protracted Hundred Years’ War and the devastating War of the Roses, a bitter struggle for the English crown. These conflicts tested the kingdom’s stability and left a lasting impact on the country’s political landscape.

House of York (1461 – 1485):

Edward IV (1461-1483):

Edward IV played a crucial role in achieving a brief respite from the turbulent War of the Roses. His reign was characterized by not only maintaining stability but also for his astute financial management and the promotion of trade, which contributed to the economic prosperity of his era. Edward IV’s leadership left a lasting legacy in the form of a more stable England and a flourishing economy.

Edward V (1483 – 1483):

Remembered primarily for his enigmatic disappearance and presumed murder, famously known as the Princes in the Tower mystery. His sudden vanishing, surrounded by intrigue and suspicion, has fueled countless historical debates and theories about his fate, making his reign one of the most intriguing and enduring mysteries in English history.

Richard III (1483-1485):

Richard III’s brief and tumultuous reign, which lasted from 1483 to 1485, concluded with his fateful defeat at the Battle of Bosworth Field. This pivotal battle not only marked the end of Richard’s rule but also brought an end to the War of the Roses and the Yorkist era in English history.

The Tudors (1485-1603)

The House of Tudors
The Tudor Dynasty resulted in some of the most well-known Kings and Queens of England. | Image: Lucas de Heere, Public domain.

The Tudor Dynasty, marked by the emergence of the House of Tudor, heralded a new era in the English monarchy, bringing with it a period of religious transformation, exploration, and the flourishing of the arts. This epoch saw notable monarchs who left indelible marks on the historical and cultural landscape of England, intertwining the legacy of the House of Tudor with the broader narrative of the Kings and Queens of England.

Henry VII (1485-1509):

Henry VII played a pivotal role in English history by establishing the Tudor dynasty, bringing stability to the throne after years of turmoil. His reign also saw significant economic improvements and the cessation of the private wars that had plagued the nobility, ushering in a more peaceful and prosperous era for England.

Henry VIII (1509-1547):

Is infamous for his six wives and his pivotal role in the English Reformation. His desire to annul his first marriage to Catherine of Aragon ultimately led to the establishment of the Church of England, marking a significant break from the Roman Catholic Church’s authority in England.

Edward VI (1547-1553):

His reign marked a significant period of religious transformation in England as the country continued to embrace Protestantism. His policies and influence played a pivotal role in shaping the religious landscape of the time. This period witnessed the dissolution of monasteries and the establishment of more Protestant practices within the Church of England.

Mary I (Bloody Mary) (1553-1558):

Zealously pursued her goal of reversing the English Reformation by fervently championing Catholicism. Her ruthless persecution of Protestants during her reign led to the enduring moniker “Bloody Mary.” Her tumultuous rule remains a dark chapter in English history, marked by religious strife and intolerance.

Elizabeth I (1558-1603):

During Elizabeth I’s reign, referred to as the Elizabethan Era, English drama flourished with the works of playwrights like William Shakespeare.

Additionally, her leadership played a pivotal role in the historic defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, securing England’s position as a dominant naval power.

The transition from the turbulent period of the War of the Roses to the relatively stable reign of the Tudors marked a significant shift in the political and cultural landscape of England. Each monarch during this period left a distinct mark on the nation, shaping the course of history and the evolution of the English monarchy.

Stuart Dynasty (1603-1714)

The Stuart Dynasty heralded a period of significant political and religious turbulence, coupled with monumental events that had enduring repercussions on the English monarchy and the broader British realm.

James VI and I (1603-1625):

James VI and I, the inaugural Stuart monarch who ruled from 1603 to 1625, notably accomplished the unification of the English and Scottish crowns. His tenure was characterized by religious strife and the pivotal development of the King James Version of the Bible, which remains a significant English translation to this day.

Charles I (1625-1649):

His reign marked a turbulent period in English history, characterized by mounting conflicts between the monarchy and Parliament that eventually erupted into the English Civil War. The ultimate consequence of this strife was his execution in 1649, which resulted in the temporary abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of the Commonwealth of England.

– Interregnum (1649-1660):

The Interregnum (1649-1660) marked a significant chapter in English history characterized by republican rule under Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector, following the execution of King Charles I. During this time, the monarchy was abolished, and England experienced a unique experiment in governance, with Cromwell exercising significant authority until the eventual restoration of the monarchy in 1660, bringing an end to this period of interregnum.

– Charles II (1660-1685):

Notable for the restoration of the monarchy after the English Civil War and the Commonwealth era. During his rule, he engaged in intricate political strategies while overseeing the growth of trade and the expansion of British colonies, shaping the course of the British Empire’s development.

– James II and VII of Scotland (1685-1688):

James II’s reign from 1685 to 1688 was marked by his Catholic faith and efforts to promote religious tolerance, which ultimately triggered the Glorious Revolution, culminating in his removal from the throne. His deposition paved the way for the Protestant William of Orange to assume the English throne and solidify the constitutional monarchy.

William III and Mary II (1689-1702, 1689-1694):

William III and Mary II ascended to the throne following the Glorious Revolution, marking a pivotal moment in British history. During their reign, which spanned from 1689 to 1702 for William III and 1689 to 1694 for Mary II, significant constitutional changes took place, ultimately shifting power from the monarchy to Parliament. This transformative period laid the foundation for the modern constitutional monarchy in Britain.

– Anne (1702-1714):

The last of the Stuart monarchs, that saw Parliament’s authority continued to strengthen, marking a pivotal moment in British history. Additionally, her reign witnessed the historic union of England and Scotland in 1707, forming the Kingdom of Great Britain.

Hanover Dynasty (1714-1901)

The Hanover Dynasty commenced with the Act of Settlement 1701, which ensured Protestant succession to the throne, marking a new era of political stability and expansion.

George I (1714-1727):

The inaugural Hanoverian ruler ascended the throne in 1714. During his reign, a significant transition of authority occurred, with power gradually moving from the monarchy to the emerging influence of the Cabinet. This pivotal period laid the foundation for the constitutional changes that would shape the British monarchy in the centuries to come.

– George II (1727-1760):

During his reign, the British Empire underwent significant expansion, with new territories added to its dominion. Additionally, his rule saw the ongoing development of the Cabinet government, solidifying its role in British politics.

– George III (1760-1820):

George III, who reigned from 1760 to 1820, is primarily remembered for his role during the American Revolutionary War and his subsequent struggles with mental illness. His period of madness eventually resulted in the Regency era when his son, the future George IV, acted as regent. This tumultuous time in British history marked significant changes in politics and society.

George IV (1820-1830):

George IV was characterized by his extravagant lifestyle, epitomizing the Regency era’s opulence. In addition to his lavish personal expenditures, he also made significant contributions to architecture and fashion, leaving a lasting impact on the aesthetics of his time.

– William IV (1830-1837):

William IV is remembered for his unassuming lifestyle in stark contrast to his extravagant predecessor. His reign is particularly notable for the pivotal Reform Act of 1832, which significantly expanded the electoral franchise and laid the foundation for modern British democracy.

– Victoria (1837-1901):

Queen Victoria’s lengthy reign, spanning from 1837 to 1901, is famously referred to as the Victorian Era. During this period, the United Kingdom witnessed significant transformations across industries, culture, politics, and science, coinciding with the remarkable growth of the British Empire.

The transition from the Stuart to the Hanover Dynasty represents a shift from religious conflict and political tumult to a period of relative stability and expansion, setting the stage for modern constitutional monarchy in Britain. Each monarch brought forth unique challenges and contributions, weaving the complex tapestry of English royal history.

House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

– Edward VII (1901-1910):

His reign saw the end of the Victorian Era and the commencement of the Edwardian Era, marked by a more relaxed social atmosphere and notable diplomacy efforts, including the Entente Cordiale with France.

House of Windsor:

– George V (1910-1936):

His reign witnessed the tumult of World War I and the consequential socio-political changes. In 1917, he changed the royal family’s surname to Windsor amidst anti-German sentiment.

– Edward VIII (1936):

His brief reign is remembered for his abdication, choosing love over duty, to marry Wallis Simpson, an American divorcee.

George VI (1936-1952):

Ascended to the throne following his brother’s abdication. His reign saw World War II and the beginning of the decolonisation of the British Empire.

– Elizabeth II (1952-2022):

The longest-reigning current monarch, her reign has seen significant societal changes, the decolonisation of Africa and the Caribbean, and the acceleration of devolution powers within the UK.

– Charles III (2022-present):

Ascended to the throne following his mother’s death. His reign marks a continuation of the Windsor dynasty into the 21st century, reflecting the enduring legacy of the British monarchy.

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