Kings and Queens – The rulers of the land; Kings and Queens have governed England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland for centuries. Some were very successful, powerful, and expanded their kingdoms well, where others only lasted days (in some cases) and quickly abdicated or were murdered, to be replaced by a preferred ruler.
The line to the throne has been responsible for many feuds and battles. Some trying to prove their worthiness as heir to the throne, whilst others trying to prove their legitimate rights as heir. Not all who seek power, can handle the position once reached.
Kings and Queens of England
Kings and Queens have ruled England alone from 757 to 1272, when they also started ruling Wales too. They hailed from a number of royal houses, Mercia, Wessex, Denmark, Normandy, Blois, Angevin and Plantagenet in this time. The Anglo-Saxon dominance from the house of Wessex, and King Alfred the Great (the only king to be called Great), dominated over Mercia, and became the first King of the English. From this time, in 871 relative stability was achieved throughout England, apart from a few wars with the Danish, which resulted in the rule of England by the house of Denmark.
Then the Normans came, with William (the Conqueror) Duke of Normandy, leading the invasion. Changing England forever, of which much of today’s England continues to show. William passed down the throne to his sons, and after some squabbling and some battles between them, Henry I (William’s 4th son) became King. After Henry, the houses change again to the House of Blois, with Stephen, Henry’s nephew, after trying to declare his daughter Matilda should rule as Queen.
Stephen then ruled through a bitter civil war, and with no heirs alive, handed rule back to the grandson of Henry I. Here begins the rule of the house of Angevin and then with Henry II, the House of Plantagenets. (Some historians are divided whether Henry II is the first Plantagenet King of England, or alternatively whether Henry III is).
Kings and Queens of Scotland
Kings and Queens have ruled Scotland alone from 843 to 1603, until the union of the crowns between England and Scotland. Scottish Houses included Alpin, Dunkeld, Canmore, Balliol, Bruce, Balliol, Stewart and Stuart respectively. Kenneth McAlpin was seen to be the first King of Scotland, and the crown was alternated between members of the Aplin house (as was custom), which caused violent clashes, where monarchs were killed in battle! This eventually led to Duncan I, who was the first King of Scotland from the house of Dunkeld. He was succeeded by his cousin (or so we think), Macbeth, known as being the subject of Shakespeare’s famous play. The House of Dunkeld ended with Lulach, and then the reign of the house of Canmore began with Malcom III. From Malcolm, came Donald III, who spent 17 years in Ireland escaping Macbeth, as a boy. More Kings followed from the House of Canmore, until a Queen eventually succeeded in 1286, although she was never crowned.
Margaret was Norwegian, and the granddaughter to Alexander II of Scotland, and never set foot in Scotland. Following her death 4 years later, John Balliol, from the house of Balliol submitted his claim to the Scottish throne as he was the great-great-great-grandson of King David I. Following Balliol, came Robert the Bruce, renowned for leading the Scots against the English in the Wars of Scottish independence. Robert’s grandson then took the throne, hailing from the House of Stewart, as Robert’s son died without an heir.
The house of Stewart reigned through Robert’s and James’ until another Queen of Scotland succeeded. Mary, the only legitimate child of James V of Scotland. She was only 6 days old when she became Queen. She spent most of her early life in France, and married Francis, who became King of France until his death in 1560. Mary returned to Scotland, where she married her first cousin, Henry Stuart. Thus beginning the house of Stuarts. All was not well with this new marriage, forcing Mary to take exile to England, under the protective wing of her first cousin once removed, Elizabeth, Queen of England. As Mary had once tried to claim the English throne as her own, however, Queen Elizabeth had her confined to castles and stately homes until after 18 years, she was found guilty of plotting to murder Elizabeth, and was subsequently executed.
Kings and Queens of Wales
Kings have ruled Wales alone from 825 to 1282, hailing from the Kingdom of Gwynedd.
Kings and Queens of England and Wales
Kings and Queens have ruled England and Wales together from 1272 to 1509. Starting with the ruthless Edward I Longshanks right up to Henry VII of the House of Tudor.
Kings and Queens of England, Wales and Ireland
Kings and Queens have ruled the 3 countries from 1509 to 1603. Henry VIII was the first king to rule England, Wales and Ireland together. As he fell out with the Catholic church, the only way he could get Ireland under his reign was to push protestant values into Ireland, and then hope they would follow his church. Then in order for Irish nobles to get their land back they had to declare their allegiance to Henry.
Kings and Queens of England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland (United Kingdom)
Kings and Queens have ruled the United Kingdom from 1603 to present day. The uniting of the English and Scottish crowns in 1603, saw a new United Kingdom being made. From here onward the period moves too far ahead of the middle ages, so we’ll stop here!