This sub-section of the site will survive the clearance of Stirnet Histories.

Kings & Queens

The sovereigns of England : pre-conquest

The sovereigns of England : post-conquest

The sovereigns of Scotland : pre-competition

The sovereigns of Scotland : post-competition

The monarchs of Great Britain

Early kings in Ireland

The princes of Wales


In modern times, we are used to being led by politicians who have been elected to power, who have some contraints put to the amount of power they can exercise, and who are themselves subject (to some extent at least) to the Rule of Law. It was not always so. At one stage in England, not least after Henry VIII took over as Head of the Church, the status of the Monarch reached almost that of a deity, someone whose word was effectively Law. For most of the last thousand years, however, the powers that the Kings & Queens were actually able to use depended on their individual personalities & talents, on what other personalities were around, and on the circumstances of the time. When one of Henry VIII’s successors overplayed his hand, it led to rebellion & revolution.

There are some significant differences between the historical roles of the Sovereign in (post Conquest) England and the roles in Scotland and (before the imposition of English rule) Ireland. Having originally derived their powers by conquest, the Kings & Queens of England owned the country and everything in it, including the people. This gave them what was...

The sovereigns of Scotland : post-competition

When Queen Margaret, the Maid of Norway, died in 1290 on her return to Scotland, there was no clear succession to her throne. She was the only child of her parents, her (Scots) mother's siblings had died without issue, and there were no surviving legitimate issue from the generation before that or the generation before that. That left a number of 'Competitors', 13 (some say 14) in all, although some registered a claim without much expectation (such as Margaret's father, King Eric of Norway, and the descendants of various illegitimate royal offspring). Arguably, the strongest claims were by: 1. John Baliol - son of Devorgilla daughter of Margaret, 1st daughter of David (Earl of Huntingdon), younger brother of King William 'the Lion'. 2. Robert Bruce - son of Robert son of Robert son of Isobel, 2nd daughter of David (Earl of Huntingdon). 3. John Hastings - son of Henry son of Ada, 3rd daughter of David (Earl of Huntingdon). His claim failed because he was a feudal subject of King Edward. 4. Floris, Count of Holland - son of William son of Floris son of William son of Ada, sister of David (Earl of Huntingdon). This claim was later withdrawn. 5. John 'the Black' Comyn - son of John son of Richard son of William son of Hextilda daughter of Bethoc dau of King Donald III 'Bane'. [He married a sister of King John Baliol and had a son, John 'the Red'.]

King Edward (I) of England...

The sovereigns of Scotland : pre-competition

Over the period from the mid-11th century to the mid-14th century, Scotland changed its method of appointing its High Kings from the rules of tanistry (election from a shortlist of people of royal blood) to the rules of primogeniture (automatic inheritance of the title by the eldest direct heir). It was a gradual change which (arguably) started when the sons of Malcolm Canmore by his second marriage (to Margaret Atheling, whose influence on the country was profound in the way that she brought new cultural influences into the country) took their turn in being King. It was (arguably) completed following the untimely death of Margaret, the Maid of Norway, after whom there was no clear successor. Edward I of England was called in to adjudicate on who her successor should be. There is no need to report here on the way that he exploited his position to his advantage but the experience of that exploitation completed the lesson that (in Medieval times at least) it was better to have a clear succession even if that meant a weak sovereign rather than having disputes each time a reign ended.

  Commenced reign Age Years Birth-Death Relationship with predecessor & Notes   note 1 note 2       House of Alpin         Kenneth I MacAlpin 839 . c20 -860 note 3 Donald I 860 . c3 -863 Brother Constantine II 863 . 14 -877 Nephew (son of Kenneth I) Aedh 877 . 1 -878 Brother Eocha 878 . 11 -889 Nephew (son of Aedh's sister) Donald II 889 . 11 -900 Cousin (son of Constantine II) Constantine III 900 . 42 -942 Cousin (son of Aedh) Malcolm I 942 . 12 -954 1-1-Cousin (son of Donald II) - see note 4 Indulf 954 . 8 -962 2-Cousin (son...

The sovereigns of England : post-Conquest

Willie Willie Harry Stee Harry Dick John Harry3 1 2 3 Neds Richard2 Henry 4 5 6 then who? Edward 4 5 Dick-the-bad Harry twice then Ned-the-lad Mary Bess James-the-vain Charlie Charlie James again William & Mary Anna-Gloria 4 Georges William Victoria Ed George Ed George once more Now its Beth whom we adore.

Except when Stephen grabbed the throne in place of Matilda, the heir to England's throne was normally decided by the rules of primogeniture which meant that the heir was the eldest son or, if there was no son, the eldest daughter or, if there was no daugher, the most senior relative on a collateral line. However, as shown in the following list, there were exceptions.

Commenced reign Age Years Birth-Death Relationship with predecessor & Notes note 1 note 2 House of Normandy William I 'the Conqueror' 25.12.1066 c41 20+ 1027-1087 Conqueror William II 'Rufus' 09.09.1087 30 13- 1056-1100 Son Henry I 'Beauclerk' 02.08.1100 c32 35+ 1068-1135 Brother . House of Blois Stephen 01.12.1135 c31 19- 1104-1154 Nephew - Supported by many barons against his cousin Matilda, dau of Henry I, but Matilda's son succeeded (not his own) - see note 3 below . House of Anjou - 'the Plantagenets' Henry II 25.10.1154 21 34+ 1133-1189 Cousin (1st, removed) - Grandson of Henry I Richard I 'Coeur de Lion' 06.07.1189 c32 9+ 1157-1199 Son John 'Lackland' 06.04.1199 c32 17+ 1166-1216 Brother - see note 4 below Henry III 19.10.1216 9 56+ 1207-1272 Son Edward I 'Longshanks' 16.11.1272 33 34+ 1239-1307 Son Edward II 07.07.1307 23 19+ 1284-1327 Son - Deposed by Parliament / Abdicated Edward III 07.01.1327 14 50+ 1312-1377 Son Richard II 21.06.1377 10 22+ 1367-1400 Son - Deposed by Parliament Henry IV 'Bolingbroke' 13.10.1399 32 c13 1366-1413 Cousin - Usurper Henry V 20.03.1412/3 25 9+ 1387-1422 Son Henry VI 31.08.1422 infant c38 1421-1471 Son - Deposed - Returned to throne 1470-1 - Deposed Edward IV 28.06.1461 19- c21 1441-1483 Distant cousin - Conqueror - Deposed for a time by Henry VI Edward V 09.04.1483 12 - 1470-1483 Son - Murdered in the Tower Richard III 23.06.1483 30 2+ 1450-1485 Uncle - Defeated in battle (Bosworth) . House of Tudor Henry VII 22.08.1485 28 23+ 1455-1509 Distant cousin - Conqueror Henry VIII 21.04.1509 17 c38 1491-1547 Son Edward VI 28.01.1546/7 9 6+ 1537-1553 Son Mary I 06.07.1553 37 5+ 1515-1553 Half-sister - see note 5...