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List of British Monarchs

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This is a list of British monarchs, that is, the monarchs on the thrones of the various kingdoms that have existed on, or incorporated, the island of Great Britain, namely:
  • The small kingdoms which existed prior to the formation of England, Scotland or Wales
  • England up to 1707
  • Scotland up to 1707
  • The Kingdom of Great Britain (when England & Scotland merged in 1707)
  • The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (when Great Britain and Ireland merged in 1801)
  • The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (The UK after the Irish Free State was formed and became a separate kingdom in the 1920s)

Complications over Title and Style 

Royal titles are also complicated because in some cases names of kingdoms are used that did not officially come into existence until later, or came into existence earlier without immediate adoption of the royal title. 
  • For example, in October 1604, one year after James VI of Scotland had become king of England, he decreed that the Royal Title would use the term 'Great Britain' to refer to the "one Imperiall Crowne" made up of England and Scotland. However using that title is problematical because the 'state' of Great Britain was only created in the 1707 Act of Union. Nor was the united crown generally referred to as 'imperial'. Furthermore, monarchs continued to use ordinals attached to the two previous kingdoms, for instance James VII/II. To avoid confusion, historians in general thus refer to all monarchs up to 1707 as monarchs of 'England' and 'Scotland' (so explaining their two ordinals where they existed), with the monarch's title at all times accurately following the 'official' name or names of the state or states they reigned over, where it differed from the official royal title. (Hence though many English and British monarchs claimed 'France' as part of their official title, as that had no reality in substance it isn't used.)

  •  
  • In different documents, the terms 'Kingdom of Great Britain' and 'United Kingdom of Great Britain' feature, even documents as official as the 1707 Act of Union. Most historians presume the 'United' was meant to be descriptive (indicating a union as a form of unity by marriage rather than coercion). For clarity and because the 'United' is far more strongly associated with the later name United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland produced in the 1801 Act of Union, the 1707 kingdom is generally referred to as the Kingdom of Great Britain.

  •  
  • Similarly, though the Irish Free State ceased to be part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in 1922, neither the full name of the United Kingdom nor the royal title was changed until the Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act, 1927. In this instance historians generally retrospectively date the coming into being of the modern United Kingdom to December 1922, even though in this case the formal change did not occur for another five years.
The list of monarchs below cannot be exhaustive. For succession to the many thrones often did not pass smoothly from parent to child; lack of heirs, civil wars, murders and invasions affected the inheritance in ways that a simple list does not show. The relationships that formed the basis for claims to throne are noted where we know them, and the dates of reign indicated. 

Scottish monarchs

Prior to the formation of Scotland, Dalriada, Strathclyde, Bernicia and the seven kingdoms of the Picts occupied the northern third of Britain. 
  • Kings of the Picts
  • Kings of Dalriada
  • Kings of Strathclyde
The kingdom of Scotland is taken to have begun when Kenneth mac Alpin became king of the Picts and the Dalriadan Scots. However the kingdoms of Strathclyde and Bernicia were still independent of it. Strathclyde became part of Scotland in the reign of Duncan I. 

The House of Dunkeld

The Wars of Scottish Independence

When Margaret died, there was no clear heir, and King Edward I of England took over, installing a puppet.  John Balliol rebelled, and Scotland was plunged into war. In the end, independence was secured under a new dynasty. 

The House of Bruce

  • David I's 4x(great)grandson, Robert I (1306-1329)
  • his son, David II (1329-1371)

The House of Balliol 

The House of Stewart (Stuart)

The House of Orange

  • his daughter, Mary II (1689-1694) and her husband William III (1689-1702), reigned together during Mary's life as "William and Mary"
In 1707, with the Act of Union, the thrones of England and Scotland were formally united as the United Kingdom of Great Britain, keeping the numbering system of England. See GB and UK monarchs below. 

Rulers of Wales

Prior to 1282, Wales was independent of England, consisting of a number of separate principalities. See List of rulers of Wales for full details. 

English monarchs

After the departure of the Romans and prior to the formation of England, various British, Viking and Anglo-Saxon kingdoms existed in the southern two-thirds of Britain. Between 400 and 1000 the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms gradually conquered the others, amalgamating to form England.

The Bretwalda

The Bretwalda were chosen from among the rulers of the various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England. There was not always a Bretwalda. 

The Saxon kings

By this time, the kings of Wessex had become established as kings of England. 

The Danelaw

For a period of time, both Danish and Saxon kings claimed the throne of England. 

The Saxon restoration

The Norman kings

After the Norman Conquest in 1066, numbering of kings began anew; this affected only the Edwards. 
  • Edward III's and Canute II's first cousin twice removed, William I (1066-1087)
  • his son, William II (1087-1100)
  • William I's son, Henry I (1100-1135)
  • William I's grandson, Stephen (1135-1154)

The Angevins or Plantagenets

The House of Lancaster

  • Edward III's grandson, Henry IV (1399-1413)
  • his son, Henry V (1413-1422)
  • his son, Henry VI (1422-1461 and 1470-1471)
The Houses of Lancaster and York fought the Wars of the Roses over the English crown. 

The House of York

  • Edward III's great-great-grandson, Edward IV (1461-1470 and 1471-1483)
  • his son, Edward V, uncrowned (1483)
  • Edward IV's brother, Richard III (1483-1485)

The House of Tudor

  • Edward III's 2x(great)grandson and Edward IV's son-in-law, Henry VII (1485-1509)
  • his son, Henry VIII (1509-1547)
  • his son, Edward VI (1547-1553)
  • Henry VII's great-granddaughter, Lady Jane Grey, uncrowned (1553)
  • Henry VIII's daughter, Mary I (1553-1558)
  • Henry VIII's daughter, Elizabeth I (1558-1603)

The House of Stuart

  • Henry VII's great-great-grandson, James I, also King of Scotland, (1603-1625)
  • his son, Charles I (1625-1649)

The Commonwealth and Protectorate

There was no king between Charles I's execution in 1649 and the restoration in 1660, but there were two Lords Protector during the Protectorate.

The Stuart restoration

The House of Orange

  • James II's daughter, Mary II (1689-1694) and her husband William III (1689-1702), reigned together during Mary's life as "William and Mary"

Monarchs of Great Britain

In 1707, with the Act of Union, the thrones of England and Scotland were formally united as the throne of the Kingdom of Great Britain. 

The House of Stuart

  • The daughter of James (II of England; VII of Scotland), Anne I (1702-1714)

The House of Hanover

Monarchs of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland

In 1801, the Kingdom of Great Britain and Kingdom of Ireland merged to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland

The House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha

The House of Windsor

The name of the Royal house of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was changed to Windsor in 1917 due to anti-German feelings aroused by World War I. 

Monarchs of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

The Irish Free State left the United Kingdom in 1922. The name of the UK was changed to reflect that change, becoming the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland' in 1927. Note also: from 1927, each dominion in the Commonwealth became a separate kingdom, with George V as native king in each. Hence, in 1927, he became 'King of Ireland', 'King of Australia,' 'King of Canada' etc. 


This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License, which means that you can copy and modify it as long as the entire work (including additions) remains under this license. See http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html for details. It uses material from the Wikipedia article List_of_British_monarchs

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