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Диплом The United kingdom of Great Britain and Nothern Ireland. Kings and Queens of England. The Queens role. Queen and Commonwealth. Members of the Royal Family. The Royal Collection. The Queens Gallery, Buckingham Palace. Kensington Palace.
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The Institute of Ecology, Linguistics and Low
AND ITS INFLUENCE
UPON GOVERNMENTAL INSTITUTIONS»
The United kingdom of Great Britain and Nothern Ireland 4
Direct meaning of the word «monarchy» 6
The British constitutional monarchy 7
HISTORY OF THE MONARCHY
Kings and Queens of England 9
The Anglo-Saxon Kings 9
The Normans 23
The Angevins 30
The Plantagenets 33
The Lancastrians 42
The Yorkists 46
The Tudors 48
The Stuarts 58
The Commonwealth Interregnum 63
The Hanoverians 75
The House of Windsor 87
THE MONARCHY TODAY
The Queen's role 91
Queen's role in the modern State 91
Queen and Commonwealth 91
Royal visits 92
The Queen's working day 92
Ceremonies and pageantry 92
The Queen's ceremonial duties 93
Royal pageantry and traditions 93
Royal succession 93
The Royal Household 93
Royal Household departments 94
Royal finances 95
Head of State expenditure 2000-01 95
Sources of funding 96
Financial arrangements of The Prince of Wales 96
Finances of the other members of the Royal Family 96
Royal assets 97
National anthem 98
Royal Warrants 99
Bank notes and coinage 100
Coats of Arms 103
Great Seal 104
Crowns and jewels 105
The Royal Train 108
Royal air travel 109
THE ROYAL FAMILY
Members of the Royal Family 111
HM The Queen 111
HRH The Duke of Edinburgh 111
HRH The Prince of Wales and family 112
HRH The Duke of York 112
TRH The Earl and Countess of Wessex 112
HRH Princess Royal 112
HRH Princess Alice 113
TRH The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester 113
TRH The Duke and Duchess of Kent 113
TRH Prince and Princess Michael of Kent 114
HRH Princess Alexandra 114
HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother 115
HRH The Princess Margaret 115
Diana, Princess of Wales 115
ART AND RESIDENCES
The Royal Collection 116
UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND
About the Royal Collection 116
The Royal Collection Trust 117
Royal Collection Enterprises 117
Royal Residences 118
Royal Collection Galleries 118
The Royal Residences 119
About the Royal Residences 119
Buckingham Palace 120
The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace 120
The Royal Mews 121
Windsor Castle 121
The Palace of Holyroodhouse 122
Balmoral Castle 123
Sandringham House 123
St James's Palace 124
Kensington Palace 124
Historic residences 124
Sovereign: Queen Elizabeth II (1952)
Government: The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy, with a queen and a Parliament that has two houses: the House of Lords, with 574 life peers, 92 hereditary peers, 26 bishops, and the House of Commons, which has 651 popularly elected members. Supreme legislative power is vested in Parliament, which sits for five years unless sooner dissolved. The House of Lords was stripped of most of its power in 1911, and now its main function is to revise legislation. In Nov. 1999 hundreds of hereditary peers were expelled in an effort to make the body more democratic. The executive power of the Crown is exercised by the cabinet, headed by the prime minister.
Prime Minister: Tony Blair (1997)
Area: 94,525 sq mi (244,820 sq km)
Population (2003 est.): 60,094,648 (growth rate: 0.1%); birth rate: 11.0/1000; infant mortality rate: 5.3/1000; density per sq mi: 636
Capital and largest city (2000 est.): London, 11,800,000 (metro. area)
Other large cities: Birmingham, 1,009,100; Leeds, 721,800; Glasgow, 681,470; Liverpool, 479,000; Bradford, 477,500; Edinburgh, 441,620; Manchester, 434,600; Bristol, 396,600
Monetary unit: Pound sterling (Ј)
Languages: English, Welsh, Scots Gaelic
Ethnicity/race: English 81.5%; Scottish 9.6%; Irish 2.4%; Welsh 1.9%; Ulster 1.8%; West Indian, Indian, Pakistani, and other 2.8%
Religions: Church of England (established church), Church of Wales (disestablished), Church of Scotland (established church--Presbyterian), Church of Ireland (disestablished), Roman Catholic, Methodist, Congregational, Baptist, Jewish
Literacy rate: 99% (1978)
Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2000 est.): $1.36 trillion; per capita $22,800. Real growth rate: 3%. Inflation: 2.4%. Unemployment: 5.5%. Arable land: 25%. Agriculture: cereals, oilseed, potatoes, vegetables; cattle, sheep, poultry; fish. Labor force: 29.2 million (1999); agriculture 1%, industry 19%, services 80% (1996 est.). Industries: machine tools, electric power equipment, automation equipment, railroad equipment, shipbuilding, aircraft, motor vehicles and parts, electronics and communications equipment, metals, chemicals, coal, petroleum, paper and paper products, food processing, textiles, clothing, and other consumer goods. Natural resources: coal, petroleum, natural gas, tin, limestone, iron ore, salt, clay, chalk, gypsum, lead, silica, arable land. Exports: $282 billion (f.o.b., 2000): manufactured goods, fuels, chemicals; food, beverages, tobacco. Imports: $324 billion (f.o.b., 2000): manufactured goods, machinery, fuels; foodstuffs. Major trading partners: EU, U.S., Japan.
Communications: Telephones: main lines in use: 34.878 million (1997); mobile cellular: 13 million (yearend 1998). Radio broadcast stations: AM 219, FM 431, shortwave 3 (1998). Radios: 84.5 million (1997). Television broadcast stations: 228 (plus 3,523 repeaters) (1995). Televisions: 30.5 million (1997). Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 245 (2000). Internet users: 19.47 million (2000).
Transportation: Railways: total: 16,878 km (1996). Highways: total: 371,603 km; paved: 371,603 km (including 3,303 km of expressways); unpaved: 0 km (1998 est.). Waterways: 3,200 km. Ports and harbors: Aberdeen, Belfast, Bristol, Cardiff, Dover, Falmouth, Felixstowe, Glasgow, Grangemouth, Hull, Leith, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Peterhead, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Scapa Flow, Southampton, Sullom Voe, Tees, Tyne. Airports: 489 (2000 est.).
International disputes: Northern Ireland issue with Ireland (historic peace agreement signed 10 April 1998); Gibraltar issue with Spain; Argentina claims Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas); Argentina claims South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; Mauritius and the Seychelles claim Chagos Archipelago (UK-administered British Indian Ocean Territory); Rockall continental shelf dispute involving Denmark and Iceland; territorial claim in Antarctica (British Antarctic Territory) overlaps Argentine claim and partially overlaps Chilean claim; disputes with Iceland, Denmark, and Ireland over the Faroe Islands continental shelf boundary outside 200 NM.
DIRECT MEANING OF THE WORD «MONARCHY»
Monarchy, form of government in which sovereignty is vested in a single person whose right to rule is generally hereditary and who is empowered to remain in office for life. The power of this sovereign may vary from the absolute to that strongly limited by custom or constitution. Monarchy has existed since the earliest history of humankind and was often established during periods of external threat or internal crisis because it provided a more efficient focus of power than aristocracy or democracy, which tended to diffuse power. Most monarchies appear to have been elective originally, but dynasties early became customary. In primitive times, divine descent of the monarch was often claimed. Deification was general in ancient Egypt, the Middle East, and Asia, and it was also practiced during certain periods in ancient Greece and Rome. A more moderate belief arose in Christian Europe in the Middle Ages; it stated that the monarch was the appointed agent of divine will. This was symbolized by the coronation of the king by a bishop or the pope, as in the Holy Roman Empire. Although theoretically at the apex of feudal power, the medieval monarchs were in fact weak and dependent upon the nobility for much of their power. During the Renaissance and after, there emerged “new monarchs” who broke the power of the nobility and centralized the state under their own rigid rule. Notable examples are Henry VII and Henry VIII of England and Louis XIV of France. The 16th and 17th cent. mark the height of absolute monarchy, which found its theoretical justification in the doctrine of divine right. However, even the powerful monarchs of the 17th cent. were somewhat limited by custom and constitution as well as by the delegation of powers to strong bureaucracies. Such limitations were also felt by the “benevolent despots” of the 18th cent. Changes in intellectual climate, in the demands made upon government in a secular and commercially expanding society, and in the social structure, as the bourgeoisie became increasingly powerful, eventually weakened the institution of monarchy in Europe. The Glorious Revolution in England (1688) and the French Revolution (1789) were important landmarks in the decline and limitation of monarchical power. Throughout the 19th cent. Royal power was increasingly reduced by constitutional provisions and parliamentary incursions. In the 20th cent., monarchs have generally become symbols of national unity, while real power has been transferred to constitutional assemblies. Over the past 200 years democratic self-government has been established and extended to such an extent that a true functioning monarchy is a rare occurrence in both East and West. Among the few remaining are Brunei, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia. Notable constitutional monarchies include Belgium, Denmark, Great Britain, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and Thailand.
Constitutional monarchy: System of government in which a monarch has agreed to share power with a constitutionally organized government. The monarch may remain the de facto head of state or may be a purely ceremonial head. The constitution allocates the rest of the government's power to the legislature and judiciary. Britain became a constitutional monarchy under the Whigs; other constitutional monarchies include Belgium, Cambodia, Jordan, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and Thailand.
THE BRITISH CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY
"The British Constitutional Monarchy was the consequence of the Glorious Revolution of 1688, and was enshrined in the Bill of Rights of 1689. Whereby William and Mary in accepting the throne, had to consent to govern 'according to the statutes in parliament on."
A monarch does not have to curry favour for votes from any section of the community.
A monarch is almost invariably more popular than an Executive President, who can be elected by less than 50% of the electorate and may therefore represent less than half the people. In the 1995 French presidential election the future President Chirac was not the nation's choice in the first round of voting. In Britain, governments are formed on the basis of parliamentary seats won. In the 1992 General Election the Conservative Prime Minister took the office with only 43% of votes cast in England, Scotland and Wales. The Queen however, as hereditary Head of State, remains the representative of the whole nation.
Elected presidents are concerned more with their own political futures and power, and as we have seen (in Brazil for example), may use their temporary tenure to enrich themselves. Monarchs are not subject to the influences which corrupt short-term presidents. A monarch looks back on centuries of history and forward to the well being of the entire nation under his/her heir. Elected presidents in their nature devote much energy to undoing the achievements of their forebears in order to strengthen the position of their successors.
A long reigning monarch can put enormous experience at the disposal of transient political leaders. Since succeeding her father in 1952 Queen Elizabeth has had a number of Prime Ministers, the latest of whom were not even in Parliament at the time of her accession. An experienced monarch can act as a brake on over ambitious or misguided politicians, and encorage others who are less confident. The reality is often the converse of the theory: the monarch is frequently the Prime Minister's best adviser.
Monarchs, particularly those in Europe are part of an extended Royal Family, facilitating links between their nations. As Burke observed, nations touch at their summits. A recent example of this was the attendance of so many members of Royal Families at the 50th birthday celebrations for Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustav. Swedish newspapers reported that this this was a much better indication of their closeness to the rest of Europe than any number of treaties, protocols or directives from the European Union.
A monarch is trained from Birth for the position of Head of State and even where, as after the abdication of Edward VIII, a younger brother succeeds, he too has enormous experience of his country, its people and its government. The people know who will succeed, and this certainly gives a nation invaluable continuity and stability. This also explains why it is rare for an unsuitable person to become King. There are no expensive elections as in the US where, as one pro-Monarchist American says, "we have to elect a new ' Royal Family' every four years." In the French system the President may be a member of one party, while the Prime Minister is from another, which only leads to confused governement. In a monarchy there is no such confusion, for the monarch does not rule in conflict with government but reigns over the whole nation.
In ceremonial presidencies the Head of State is often a former politician tainted by, and still in thrall to, his former political life and loyalties, or an academic or retired diplomat who can never have the same prestige as a monarch, and who is frequently little known inside the country, and almost totally unknown outside it. For example, ask a German why is Britain's Head of State and a high proportion will know it is Queen Elizabeth II. Ask a Briton, or any Non- German, who is Head of State of Germany? , and very few will be able to answer correctly.
Aided by his immediate family, a monarch can carry out a range of duties and public engagements - ceremonial, charitable, environmental etc. which an Executive President would never have time to do, and to which a ceremonial President would not add lustre.
A monarch and members of a Royal Family can become involved in a wide range of issues which are forbidden to politicians. All parties have vested interests which they cannot ignore. Vernon Bogdanor says in ' The Monarchy and the Constitution' - «A politician must inevitably be a spokesperson for only part of the nation, not the whole. A politician's motives will always be suspected. Members of the Royal Family, by contrast, because of their symbolic position, are able to speak to a much wider constituency than can be commanded by even the most popular political leader." In a Republic, then, who is there to speak out on issues where the 'here today, gone tomorrow' government is constrained from criticising its backers, even though such criticism is in the national interest.
All nations are made up of families, and it's natural that a family should be at a nation's head.
While the question of Divine Right is now obsolescent, the fact that "there's such divinity doth hedge a King" remains true, and it is interesting to note that even today Kings are able to play a role in the spiritual life of a nation which presidents seem unable to fulfil.
It has been demonstrated that, even ignoring the enormous cost of presidential elections, a monarch as head of state is no more expensive than a president. In Britain many costs, such as the upkeep of the Royal residencies, are erroneosly thought to be uniquely attributable to the monarchy, even though the preservation of our heritage would still be undertaken if the county were a republic! The US government has criticised the cost to the Brazilian people of maintaining their president.
Even Royal Families which are not reigning are dedicated to the service of their people, and continue to be regarded as the symbol of the nation's continuity. Prominent examples are H.R.H. the Duke of Braganza in Portugal and H.R.H. the County of Paris in France. Royal Families forced to live in exile, such as the Yugoslav and Romanian, are often promoters of charities formed to help their countries.
KINGS AND QUEENS OF ENGLAND
The history of the English Crown up to the Union of the Crowns in 1603 is long and varied. The concept of a single ruler unifying different tribes based in England developed in the eighth and ninth centuries in figures such as Offa and Alfred the Great, who began to create centralised systems of government. Following the Norman Conquest, the machinery of government developed further, producing long-lived national institutions including Parliament.
The Middle Ages saw several fierce contests for the Crown, culminating in the Wars of the Roses, which lasted for nearly a century. The conflict was finally ended with the advent of the Tudors, the dynasty which produced some of England's most successful rulers and a flourishing cultural Renaissance. The end of the Tudor line with the death of the 'Virgin Queen' in 1603 brought about the Union of the Crowns with Scotland.
THE ANGLO-SAXON KINGS
In the Dark Ages during the fifth and sixth centuries, communities of peoples in Britain inhabited homelands with ill-defined borders. Such communities were organised and led by chieftains or kings. Following the final withdrawal of the Roman legions from the provinces of Britannia in around 408 AD these small kingdoms were left to preserve their own order and to deal with invaders and waves of migrant peoples such as the Picts from beyond Hadrian's Wall, the Scots from Ireland and Germanic tribes from the continent. (King Arthur, a larger-than-life figure, has often been cited as a leader of one or more of these kingdoms during this period, although his name now tends to be used as a symbol of British resistance against invasion.)
The invading communities overwhelmed or adapted existing kingdoms and created new ones - for example, the Angles in Mercia and Northumbria. Some British kingdoms initially survived the onslaught, such as Strathclyde, which was wedged in the north between Pictland and the new Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria.
By 650 AD, the British Isles were a patchwork of many kingdoms founded from native or immigrant communities and led by powerful chieftains or kings. In their personal feuds and struggles between communities for control and supremacy, a small number of kingdoms became dominant: Bernicia and Deira (which merged to form Northumbria in 651 AD), Lindsey, East Anglia, Mercia, Wessex and Kent. Until the late seventh century, a series of warrior-kings in turn established their own personal authority over other kings, usually won by force or through alliances and often cemented by dynastic marriages.
According to the later chronicler Bede, the most famous of these kings was Ethelberht, king of Kent (reigned c.560-616), who married Bertha, the Christian daughter of the king of Paris, and who became the first English king to be converted to Christianity (St Augustine's mission from the Pope to Britain in 597 during Ethelberht's reign prompted thousands of such conversions). Ethelberht's law code was the first to be written in any Germanic language and included 90 laws. His influence extended both north and south of the river Humber: his nephew became king of the East Saxons and his daughter married king Edwin of Northumbria (died 633).
In the eighth century, smaller kingdoms in the British Isles continued to fall to more powerful kingdoms, which claimed rights over whole areas and established temporary primacies: Dalriada in Scotland, Munster and Ulster in Ireland. In England, Mercia and later Wessex came to dominate, giving rise to the start of the monarchy.
Throughout the Anglo-Saxon period the succession was frequently contested, by both the Anglo-Saxon aristocracy and leaders of the settling Scandinavian communities. The Scandinavian influence was to prove strong in the early years. It was the threat of invading Vikings which galvanised English leaders into unifying their forces, and, centuries later, the Normans who successfully invaded in 1066 were themselves the descendants of Scandinavian 'Northmen'.
HOUSE OF WESSEX AND ENGLAND
802 - 1066
EGBERT = Redburga
ETHELWULF = Osburga dau. of Oslac of Isle of Wight
ETHELBERHT ALFRED the Great = Ealhswith
ETHELBALD (860-866) ETHELRED (871-899)
Ecgwyn = EDWARD THE ELDER= Edgiva
Elgiva = EDMUND I EDRED (939-946) (946-955)
EDWY Ethelfleda = EDGAR = Elfrida, dau. of Ordgar, Ealdorman of East Anglia
(955-959) dau. of (959-975)
EDWARD THE MARTYR
Elfgifu = ETHELRED II THE UNREADY = Emma
(deposed 1013/14) married
EDMUND II IRONSIDE
Godwin = Gytha
EDWARD THE = Eadgyth HAROLD II
CONFESSOR (Edith) (Jan.-Oct.1066)
EGBERT (802-39 AD)
Known as the first King of All England, he was forced into exile at the court of Charlemagne, by the powerful Offa, King of Mercia. Egbert returned to England in 802 and was recognized as king of Wessex. He defeated the rival Mercians at the battle of Ellendun in 825. In 829, the Northumbrians accepted his overlordship and he was proclaimed "Bretwalda" or sole ruler of Britain.
ЖTHELWULF (839-55 AD)
Жthelwulf was the son of Egbert and a sub-king of Kent. He assumed the throne of Wessex upon his father's death in 839. His reign is characterized by the usual Viking invasions and repulsions common to all English rulers of the time, but the making of war was not his chief claim to fame. Жthelwulf is remembered, however dimly, as a highly religious man who cared about the establishment and preservation of the church. He was also a wealthy man and controlled vast resources. Out of these resources, he gave generously, to Rome and to religious houses that were in need.
He was an only child, but had fathered five sons, by his first wife, Osburga. He recognized that there could be difficulties with contention over the succession. He devised a scheme which would guarantee (insofar as it was possible to do so) that each child would have his turn on the throne without having to worry about rival claims from his siblings. Жthelwulf provided that the oldest living child would succeed to the throne and would control all the resources of the crown, without having them divided among the others, so that he would have adequate resources to rule. That he was able to provide for the continuation of his dynasty is a matter of record, but he was not able to guarantee familial harmony with his plan. This is proved by what we know of the foul plottings of his son, Жthelbald, while Жthelwulf was on pilgrimage to Rome in 855.
Жthelwulf was a wise and capable ruler, whose vision made possible the beneficial reign of his youngest son, Alfred the Great.
ЖTHELBALD (855-8 (subking), 858-60)
While his father, Жthelwulf, was on pilgrimage to Rome in 855, Жthelbald plotted with the Bishop of Sherbourne and the ealdorman of Somerset against him. The specific details of the plot are unknown, but upon his return from Rome, Жthelwulf found his direct authority limited to the sub-kingdom of Kent, while Жthelbald controlled Wessex.
Жthelwulf died in 858, and full control passed to Жthelbald. Perhaps Жthelbald's premature power grab was occasioned by impatience, or greed, or lack of confidence in his father's succession plans. Whatever the case, he did not live long to enjoy it. He died in 860, passing the throne to his brother, Жthelbert, just as Жthelwulf had planned.
ЖTHELBERT (860-66 AD)
Very little is known about Жthelbert, who took his rightful place in the line of succession to the throne of Wessex at around 30 years of age. Like all other rulers of his day, he had to contend with Viking raids on his territories and even had to battle them in his capital city of Winchester. Apparently, his military leadership was adequate, since, on this occasion, the Vikings were cut off on their retreat to the coast and were slaughtered, according to a contemporary source, in a "bloody battle."
ЖTHELRED I (866-71 AD)
Anglo-Saxon king of Wessex, and son of King Жthelwulf, who ruled England during a time of great pressure from the invading Danes. He was an affable man, a devoutly religious man and the older brother of Alfred the Great, his second-in-command in the resistance against the invaders. Together, they defeated the Danish kings Bagseg and Halfdan at the battle of Ashdown in 870.
ALFRED «THE GREAT» (871-899)
Born at Wantage, Berkshire, in 849, Alfred was the fifth son of Aethelwulf, king of the West Saxons. At their father's behest and by mutual agreement, Alfred's elder brothers succeeded to the kingship in turn, rather than endanger the kingdom by passing it to under-age children at a time when the country was threatened by worsening Viking raids from Denmark.
Since the 790s, the Vikings had been using fast mobile armies, numbering thousands of men embarked in shallow-draught longships, to raid the coasts and inland waters of England for plunder. Such raids were evolving into permanent Danish settlements; in 867, the Vikings seized York and established their own kingdom in the southern part of Northumbria. The Vikings overcame two other major Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, East Anglia and Mercia, and their kings were either tortured to death or fled. Finally, in 870 the Danes attacked the only remaining independent Anglo-Saxon kingdom, Wessex, whose forces were commanded by King Aethelred and his younger brother Alfred. At the battle of Ashdown in 871, Alfred routed the Viking army in a fiercely fought uphill assault. However, further defeats followed for Wessex and Alfred's brother died.
As king of Wessex at the age of 21, Alfred (reigned 871-99) was a strongminded but highly strung battle veteran at the head of remaining resistance to the Vikings in southern England. In early 878, the Danes led by King Guthrum seized Chippenham in Wiltshire in a lightning strike and used it as a secure base from which to devastate Wessex. Local people either surrendered or escaped (Hampshire people fled to the Isle of Wight), and the West Saxons were reduced to hit and run attacks seizing provisions when they could. With only his royal bodyguard, a small army of thegns (the king's followers) and Aethelnoth ealdorman of Somerset as his ally, Alfred withdrew to the Somerset tidal marshes in which he had probably hunted as a youth. (It was during this time that Alfred, in his preoccupation with the defence of his kingdom, allegedly burned some cakes which he had been asked to look after; the incident was a legend dating from early twelfth century chroniclers.)
A resourceful fighter, Alfred reassessed his strategy and adopted the Danes' tactics by building a fortified base at Athelney in the Somerset marshes and summoning a mobile army of men from Wiltshire, Somerset and part of Hampshire to pursue guerrilla warfare against the Danes. In May 878, Alfred's army defeated the Danes at the battle of Edington. According to his contemporary biographer Bishop Asser, 'Alfred attacked the whole pagan army fighting ferociously in dense order, and by divine will eventually won the victory, made great slaughter among them, and pursued them to their fortress (Chippenham) ... After fourteen days the pagans were brought to the extreme depths of despair by hunger, cold and fear, and they sought peace'. This unexpected victory proved to be the turning point in Wessex's battle for survival.
Realising that he could not drive the Danes out of the rest of England, Alfred concluded peace with them in the treaty of Wedmore. King Guthrum was converted to Christianity with Alfred as godfather and many of the Danes returned to East Anglia where they settled as farmers. In 886, Alfred negotiated a partition treaty with the Danes, in which a frontier was demarcated along the Roman Watling Street and northern and eastern England came under the jurisdiction of the Danes - an area known as 'Danelaw'. Alfred therefore gained control of areas of West Mercia and Kent which had been beyond the boundaries of Wessex. To consolidate alliances against the Danes, Alfred married one of his daughters, Aethelflaed, to the ealdorman of Mercia -Alfred himself had married Eahlswith, a Mercian noblewoman - and another daughter, Aelfthryth, to the count of Flanders, a strong naval power at a time when the Vikings were settling in eastern England.
The Danish threat remained, and Alfred reorganised the Wessex defences in recognition that efficient defence and economic prosperity were interdependent. First, he organised his army (the thegns, and the existing militia known as the fyrd) on a rota basis, so he could raise a 'rapid reaction force' to deal with raiders whilst still enabling his thegns and peasants to tend their farms.
Second, Alfred started a building programme of well-defended settlements across southern England. These were fortified market places ('borough' comes from the Old English burh, meaning fortress); by deliberate royal planning, settlers received plots and in return manned the defences in times of war. (Such plots in London under Alfred's rule in the 880s shaped the streetplan which still exists today between Cheapside and the Thames.) This obligation required careful recording in what became known as 'the Burghal Hidage', which gave details of the building and manning of Wessex and Mercian burhs according to their size, the length of their ramparts and the number of men needed to garrison them. Centred round Alfred's royal palace in Winchester, this network of burhs with strongpoints on the main river routes was such that no part of Wessex was more than 20 miles from the refuge of one of these settlements. Together with a navy of new fast ships built on Alfred's orders, southern England now had a defence in depth against Danish raiders.
Alfred's concept of kingship extended beyond the administration of the tribal kingdom of Wessex into a broader context. A religiously devout and pragmatic man who learnt Latin in his late thirties, he recognised that the general deterioration in learning and religion caused by the Vikings' destruction of monasteries (the centres of the rudimentary education network) had serious implications for rulership. For example, the poor standards in Latin had led to a decline in the use of the charter as an instrument of royal government to disseminate the king's instructions and legislation. In one of his prefaces, Alfred wrote 'so general was its [Latin] decay in England that there were very few on this side of the Humber who could understand their rituals in English or translate a letter from Latin into English ... so few that I cannot remember a single one south of the Thames when I came to the throne.'
To improve literacy, Alfred arranged, and took part in, the translation (by scholars from Mercia) from Latin into Anglo-Saxon of a handful of books he thought it 'most needful for men to know, and to bring it to pass ... if we have the peace, that all the youth now in England ... may be devoted to learning'. These books covered history, philosophy and Gregory the Great's 'Pastoral Care' (a handbook for bishops), and copies of these books were sent to all the bishops of the kingdom. Alfred was patron of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (which was copied and supplemented up to 1154), a patriotic history of the English from the Wessex viewpoint designed to inspire its readers and celebrate Alfred and his monarchy.
Like other West Saxon kings, Alfred established a legal code; he assembled the laws of Offa and other predecessors, and of the kingdoms of Mercia and Kent, adding his own administrative regulations to form a definitive body of Anglo-Saxon law. 'I ... collected these together and ordered to be written many of them which our forefathers observed, those which I liked; and many of those which I did not like I rejected with the advice of my councillors ... For I dared not presume to set in writing at all many of my own, because it was unknown to me what would please those who should come after us ... Then I ... showed those to all my councillors, and they then said that they were all pleased to observe them' (Laws of Alfred, c.885-99).
By the 890s, Alfred's charters and coinage (which he had also reformed, extending its minting to the burhs he had founded) referred to him as 'king of the English', and Welsh kings sought alliances with him. Alfred died in 899, aged 50, and was buried in Winchester, the burial place of the West Saxon royal family.
By stopping the Viking advance and consolidating his territorial gains, Alfred had started the process by which his successors eventually extended their power over the other Anglo-Saxon kings; the ultimate unification of Anglo-Saxon England was to be led by Wessex. It is for his valiant defence of his kingdom against a stronger enemy, for securing peace with the Vikings and for his farsighted reforms in the reconstruction of Wessex and beyond, that Alfred - alone of all the English kings and queens - is known as 'the Great'.
EDWARD «THE ELDER» (899-924)
Well-trained by Alfred, his son Edward 'the Elder' (reigned 899-924) was a bold soldier who defeated the Danes in Northumbria at Tettenhall in 910 and was acknowledged by the Viking kingdom of York. The kings of Strathclyde and the Scots submitted to Edward in 921. By military success and patient planning, Edward spread English influence and control. Much of this was due to his alliance with his formidable sister Aethelflaed, who was married to the ruler of Mercia and seems to have governed that kingdom after her husband's death.
Edward was able to establish an administration for the kingdom of England, whilst obtaining the allegiance of Danes, Scots and Britons. Edward died in 924, and he was buried in the New Minster which he had had completed at Winchester. Edward was twice married, but it is possible that his eldest son Athelstan was the son of a mistress.
Edward's heir Athelstan (reigned 925-39) was also a distinguished and audacious soldier who pushed the boundaries of the kingdom to their furthest extent yet. In 927-8, Athelstan took York from the Danes; he forced the submission of king Constantine of Scotland and of the northern kings; all five Welsh kings agreed to pay a huge annual tribute (reportedly including 25,000 oxen), and Athelstan eliminated opposition in Cornwall.
The battle of Brunanburh in 937, in which Athelstan led a force drawn from Britain and defeated an invasion by the king of Scotland in alliance with the Welsh and Danes from Dublin, earned him recognition by lesser kings in Britain.
Athelstan's law codes strengthened royal control over his large kingdom; currency was regulated to control silver's weight and to penalise fraudsters. Buying and selling was mostly confined to the burghs, encouraging town life; areas of settlement in the midlands and Danish towns were consolidated into shires. Overseas, Athelstan built alliances by marrying four of his half-sisters to various rulers in Western Europe.
He also had extensive cultural and religious contacts; as an enthusiastic and discriminating collector of works of art and religious relics, he gave away much of his collection to his followers and to churches and bishops in order to retain their support.
Athelstan died at the height of his power and was buried at Malmesbury; a church charter of 934 described him as 'King of the English, elevated by the right hand of the Almighty ... to the Throne of the whole Kingdom of Britain'. Athelstan died childless.
EDMUND I (939-46)
Son of Edward the Elder, succeeded his half-brother, Жthelstan, with whom he had fought at Brunanburh. Combated the Norse Vikings in Northumbria and subdued them in Cumbria and Strathclyde. He entrusted these lands to an ally, Malcolm I of Scotland. Edmund met his death when he was killed at Pucklechurch, in Gloucestershire, by a robber.
King of Wessex and acknowledged as overlord of Mercia, the Danelaw and Northumbria. A challenge to Eadred, which serves to illustrate one of his chief qualities, developed in the north, in the early 950's. Eric Bloodaxe, an aptly named, ferocious, Norse Viking who had been deposed by his own people, established himself as king of Northumbria at York, apparently with the fearful acquiescence of the Northumbrians. Eadred responded by marching north with a considerable force to meet the threat. He proceeded to ravage the Norse-held territories, then moved back to the south. He was attacked on the way home by Eric's forces. Eadred was so enraged that he threatened to go back to Northumbria and ravage the entire land.
This prospect frightened the already frightened Northumbrians into abandoning Eric Bloodaxe. It must be that they viewed Eadred as more formidable than a bloodthirsty Viking, who had been thrown out of a society known for its bloodthirstiness, because he was too bloodthirsty and tyrannical for them. In any case, according to the "AngloSaxon Chronicle", "the Northumbrians expelled Eric."
As to his personal side, William of Malmesbury provides some illumination. He says that Eadred was afflicted with some lingering physical malady, since he was, "constantly oppressed by sickness, and of so weak a digestion as to be unable to swallow more than the juices of the food he had masticated, to the great annoyance of his guests." Regarding his spiritual side, apparently the pillaging, ravaging and laying waste that he did, had no deleterious effects on him. As Malmesbury states, he devoted his life to God, "endured with patience his frequent bodily pains, prolonged his prayers and made his palace altogether the school of virtue." He died while still a young man, as had so many of the kings of Wessex, "accompanied with the utmost grief of men but joy of angels."
EADWIG (EDWY) (955-59 AD)
On the death of Eadred, who had no children, Eadwig was chosen to be king since he was the oldest of the children in the natural line of the House of Wessex. He became king at 16 and displayed some of the tendencies one could expect in one so young, royalty or not. Historians have not treated Eadwig especially well, and it is unfortunate for him that he ran afoul of the influential Bishop Dunstan (friend and advisor to the recently deceased king, Eadred, future Archbishop of Canterbury and future saint), early in his reign. An incident, which occurred on the day of Eadwig's consecration as king, purportedly, illustrates the character of the young king. According to the report of the reliable William of Malmesbury, all the dignitaries and officials of the kingdom were meeting to discuss state business, when the absence of the new king was noticed. Dunstan was dispatched, along with another bishop, to find the missing youth. He was found with his mind on matters other than those of state, in the company of the daughter of a noble woman of the kingdom. Malmesbury writes, Dunstan, " regardless of the royal indignation, dragged the lascivious boy from the chamber and...compelling him to repudiate the strumpet made him his enemy forever." The record of this incident was picked up by future monastic chroniclers and made to be the definitive word on the character of Eadwig, mainly because of St. Dunstan's role in it.
Dunstan was, after that incident, never exactly a favorite of Eadwig's, and it may be fair to say that Eadwig even hated Dunstan, for he apparently exiled him soon after this. Eadwig went on to marry Жlgifu, the girl with whom he was keeping company at the time of Dunstan's intrusion. For her part, "the strumpet" was eventually referred to as among "the most illustrious of women", and Eadwig, in his short reign, was generous in making grants to the church and other religious institutions. He died, possibly of the Wessex family ailment, when he was only 20.
Edgar, king in Mercia and the Danelaw from 957, succeeded his brother as king of the English on Edwy's death in 959 - a death which probably prevented civil war breaking out between the two brothers. Edgar was a firm and capable ruler whose power was acknowledged by other rulers in Britain, as well as by Welsh and Scottish kings. Edgar's late coronation in 973 at Bath was the first to be recorded in some detail; his queen Aelfthryth was the first consort to be crowned queen of England.
Edgar was the patron of a great monastic revival which owed much to his association with Archbishop Dunstan. New bishoprics were created, Benedictine monasteries were reformed and old monastic sites were re-endowed with royal grants, some of which were of land recovered from the Vikings.
In the 970s and in the absence of Viking attacks, Edgar - a stern judge - issued laws which for the first time dealt with Northumbria (parts of which were in the Danelaw) as well as Wessex and Mercia. Edgar's coinage was uniform throughout the kingdom. A more united kingdom based on royal justice and order was emerging; the Monastic Agreement (c.970) praised Edgar as 'the glorious, by the grace of Christ illustrious king of the English and of the other peoples dwelling within the bounds of the island of Britain'. After his death on 8 July 975, Edgar was buried at Glastonbury Abbey, Somerset.
EDWARD II «THE MARTYR» (975-979)
The sudden death of Edgar at the age of 33 led to a succession dispute between rival factions supporting his sons Edward and Ethelred. The elder son Edward was murdered in 978 at Corfe Castle, Dorset, by his seven-year-old half-brother's supporters.
ETHELRED II «THE UNREADY» (979-1013 AND 1014-1016)
Ethelred, the younger son of Edgar, became king at the age of seven following the murder of his half-brother Edward II in 978 at Corfe Castle, Dorset, by Edward's own supporters.
For the rest of Ethelred's rule (reigned 978-1016), his brother became a posthumous rallying point for political unrest; a hostile Church transformed Edward into a royal martyr. Known as the Un-raed or 'Unready' (meaning 'no counsel', or that he was unwise), Ethelred failed to win or retain the allegiance of many of his subjects. In 1002, he ordered the massacre of all Danes in England to eliminate potential treachery.
Not being an able soldier, Ethelred defended the country against increasingly rapacious Viking raids from the 980s onwards by diplomatic alliance with the duke of Normandy in 991 (he later married the duke's daughter Emma) and by buying off renewed attacks by the Danes with money levied through a tax called the Danegeld. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in 1006 was dismissive: 'in spite of it all, the Danish army went about as it pleased'. By 1012, 48,000 pounds of silver was being paid in Danegeld to Danes camped in London.
In 1013, Ethelred fled to Normandy when the powerful Viking Sweyn of Denmark dispossessed him. Ethelred returned to rule after Sweyn's death in 1014, but died himself in 1016.
The son of a Danish king, Sweyn 'Forkbeard' began conquering territory in England in 1003, effectively devastating much of southern and midland England. The English nobility became so disillusioned with their existing king, Ethelred 'The Unready', that they acknowledged Sweyn as king in 1013. Sweyn's reign was short, as he died in 1014, but his son Canute the Great soon returned and reclaimed control of England.
EDMUND II, IRONSIDE (1016)
Edmund was King of England for only a few months. After the death of his father, Жthelred II, in April 1016, Edmund led the defense of the city of London against the invading Knut Sveinsson (Canute), and was proclaimed king by the Londoners. Meanwhile, the Witan (Council), meeting at Southampton, chose Canute as King. After a series of inconclusive military engagements, in which Edmund performed brilliantly and earned the nickname "Ironside", he defeated the Danish forces at Oxford, Kent, but was routed by Canute's forces at Ashingdon, Essex. A subsequent peace agreement was made, with Edmund controlling Wessex and Canute controlling Mercia and Northumbria. It was also agreed that whoever survived the other would take control of the whole realm. Unfortunately for Edmund, he died in November, 1016, transferring the Kingship of All England completely to Canute.
CANUTE «THE GREAT» (1016-1035)
Son of Sweyn, Canute became undisputed King of England in 1016, and his rivals (Ethelred's surviving sons and Edmund's son) fled abroad. In 1018, the last Danegeld of 82,500 pounds was paid to Canute. Ruthless but capable, Canute consolidated his position by marrying Ethelred's widow Emma (Canute's first English partner - the Church did not recognise her as his wife - was set aside, later appointed regent of Norway). During his reign, Canute also became King of Denmark and Norway; his inheritance and formidable personality combined to make him overlord of a huge northern empire.
During his inevitable absences in Scandinavia, Canute used powerful English and Danish earls to assist in England's government - English law and methods of government remained unchanged.
A second-generation Christian for reasons of politics as well as faith, Canute went on pilgrimage to Rome in 1027-8. (It was allegedly Christian humility which made him reject his courtiers' flattery by demonstrating that even he could not stop the waves; later hostile chroniclers were to claim it showed madness.)
Canute was buried at Winchester. Given that there was no political or governmental unity within his empire, it failed to survive owing to discord between his sons by two different queens - Harold Harefoot (reigned 1035-40) and Harthacnut (reigned 1040-42) - and the factions led by the semi-independent Earls of Northumbria, Mercia and Wessex.
HAROLD HAREFOOT (1035-1040)
Harold Harefoot was the son of Canute and his first wife, Elfgifu. The brothers began by sharing the kingdom of England after their father's death - Harold Harefoot becoming king in Mercia and Northumbria, and Harthacanute king of Wessex. During the absence of Hardicanute in Denmark, his other kingdom, Harold Harefoot became effective sole ruler. On his death in 1040, the kingdom of England fell to Hardicanute alone.
Harthacnut was the son of Canute and his second wife, Emma, the widow of Ethelred II. His father intended Hardicanute to become king of the English in preference to his elder brother Harold Harefoot, but he nearly lost his chance of this when he became preoccupied with affairs in Denmark, of which he was also king. Instead, Canute's eldest son, Harold Harefoot, became king of England as a whole. In 1039 Hardicanute eventually set sail for England, arriving to find his brother dead and himself king.
EDWARD III, THE CONFESSOR (1042-66 AD)
The penultimate Anglo-Saxon king, Edward was the oldest son of Жthelred II and Emma. He had gone to Normandy in 1013, when his father and mother had fled from England. He stayed there during the reign of Canute and, at his death in 1035, led an abortive attempt to capture the crown for himself. He was recalled, for some reason, to the court of Hardicanute, his half-brother.
Canute had placed the local control of the shires into the hands of several powerful earls: Leofric of Mercia (Lady Godiva's husband), Siward of Northumbria and Godwin of Wessex, the most formidable of all. Through Godwin's influence, Edward took the throne at the untimely death of Hardicanute in 1042. In 1045, he married Godwin's only daughter, Edith.
Resulting from the connections made during Edward's years in Normandy, he surrounded himself with his Norman favorites and was unduly influenced by them. This Norman "affinity" produced great displeasure among the Saxon nobles. The anti-Norman faction was led by (who else?) Godwin of Wessex and his son, Harold Godwinsson, took every available opportunity to undermine the kings favorites. Edward sought to revenge himself on Godwin by insulting his own wife and Godwin's daughter, Edith, and confining her to the monastery of Wherwell. Disputes also arose over the issue of royal patronage and Edward's inclination to reward his Norman friends.
A Norman, Robert Champart, who had been Bishop of London, was made Archbishop of Canterbury by Edward in 1051, a promotion that displeased Godwin immensely. The Godwins were banished from the kingdom after staging an unsuccessful rebellion against the king but returned, landing an invasionary force in the south of England in 1052. They received great popular support, and in the face of this, the king was forced to restore the Godwins to favor in 1053.
Edward's greatest achievement was the construction of a new cathedral, where virtually all English monarchs from William the Conqueror onward would be crowned. It was determined that the minster should not be built in London, and so a place was found to the west of the city (hence "Westminster"). The new church was consecrated at Christmas, 1065, but Edward could not attend due to illness.
On his deathbed, Edward named Harold as his successor, instead of the legitimate heir, his grandson, Edgar the Жtheling. The question of succession had been an issue for some years and remained unsettled at Edward's death in January, 1066. It was neatly resolved, however, by William the Conqueror, just nine months later.
There is some question as to what kind of person Edward was. After his death, he was the object of a religious cult and was canonized in 1161, but that could be viewed as a strictly political move. Some say, probably correctly, that he was a weak, but violent man and that his reputation for saintliness was overstated, possibly a sham perpetrated by the monks of Westminster in the twelfth century. Others seem to think that he was deeply religious man and a patient and peaceable ruler.
HAROLD II (1066)
On Edward's death, the King's Council (the Witenagemot) confirmed Edward's brother-in-law Harold, Earl of Wessex, as King. With no royal blood, and fearing rival claims from William Duke of Normandy and the King of Norway, Harold had himself crowned in Westminster Abbey on 6 January 1066, the day after Edward's death. During his brief reign, Harold showed he was an outstanding commander.
In September, Harald Hardrada of Norway (aided by Harold's alienated brother Tostig, Earl of Northumbria) invaded England and was defeated by Harold at the Battle of Stamford Bridge near York. Hardrada's army had invaded using over 300 ships; so many were killed that only 25 ships were needed to transport the survivors home.
Meanwhile, William, Duke of Normandy (who claimed that Harold had acknowledged him in 1064 as Edward's successor) had landed in Sussex. Harold rushed south and, on 14 October 1066, his army of some 7,000 infantry was defeated on the field of Senlac near Hastings. Harold was hit in the eye by an arrow and cut down by Norman swords.
An abbey was later built, in 1070, to fulfil a vow made by William I, and its high altar was placed on the spot where Harold fell. The ruins of Battle Abbey still remain with a stone slab marking where Harold died.
The Normans came to govern as a result of one of the most famous battles in English history, the Battle of Hastings in 1066. From 1066 to 1154 four kings ruled. The Domesday Book, that great source of English landholding, was published, the forests were extended, the Exchequer was founded and a start was made on the Tower of London. In religious affairs, the Gregorian reform movement gathered pace and forced concessions, while the machinery of government developed to support the country while Henry was fighting abroad. Meanwhile, the social landscape was altered, as the Norman aristocracy came to prominence. Many of the nobles struggled to keep a hold on both Normandy and England, as divided rule meant the threat of conflict.
This was the case when William the Conqueror died. His eldest son, Robert, became Duke of Normandy, while the next youngest, William, became king of England. Their younger brother Henry would become king on William II's death. The uneasy divide continued until Henry captured and imprisoned his elder brother.
The question of the succession continued to weigh heavily over the remainder of the period. Henry's son died, and his nominated heir Matilda was denied the throne by her cousin, Henry's nephew, Stephen. There then followed a period of civil war. Matilda married Geoffrey Plantagenet of Anjou, who took control of Normandy. The duchy was therefore separated from England once again.
A compromise was eventually reached whereby the son of Matilda and Geoffrey would be heir to the English crown, while Stephen's son would inherit his baronial lands. All this meant that in 1154 Henry II would ascend to the throne as the first undisputed King in over 100 years - proof of the dynastic uncertainty of the Norman period.
THE CONTINENTAL DYNASTIES
1066 - 1216
King of Denmark
Gunhilda of = SWEYN FORKBEARD Styrbjorn = Thyra
Poland Richard I, Duke of Sweden
Elgiva of (1) = CANUTE = (2) Emma, widow of Judith = Richard II,
Northampton (1016-1035) ATHELRED II daughter of Duke of Gytha = Godwin,
Conan I Normandy Earl of
HAREFOOT (1040-1042) Robert I = Herlиve
(1035-1040) Duke of
HAROLD II EDWARD THE=Eadgyth
WILLIAM I = Matilda, dau. of
THE CONQUEROR Baldwin V, Count
(1066-1087) of Flanders
WILLIAM II Adela = Stephen, Adela of = HENRY I,
(1087-1100) Count of Louvain (1100-1135)
STEPHEN Matilda = Geoffrey, Count
(1135-1154) of Anjou and Maine
HENRY II = Eleanor of
(1154-1189) Aquitaine, divorced
wife of LOUIS VII,
King of France
RICHARD I JOHN = Isabella, dau. of
(1189-1199) (1199-1216) Count of
WILLIAM I «THE CONQUEROR» (1066-1087)
Born around 1028, William was the illegitimate son of Duke Robert I of Normandy, and Herleve (also known as Arlette), daughter of a tanner in Falaise. Known as 'William the Bastard' to his contemporaries, his illegitimacy shaped his career when he was young. On his father's death in 1035, William was recognised by his family as the heir - an exception to the general rule that illegitimacy barred succession. His great uncle looked after the Duchy during William's minority, and his overlord, King Henry I of France, knighted him at the age of 15. From 1047 onwards, William successfully dealt with rebellion inside Normandy involving his kinsmen and threats from neighbouring nobles, including attempted invasions by his former ally King Henry I of France in 1054 (the French forces were defeated at the Battle of Mortemer) and 1057. William's military successes and reputation helped him to negotiate his marriage to Mathilda, daughter of Count Baldwin V of Flanders. At the time of his invasion of England, William was a very experienced and ruthless military commander, ruler and administrator who had unified Normandy and inspired fear and respect outside his duchy. William's claim to the English throne was based on his assertion that, in 1051, Edward the Confessor had promised him the throne (he was a distant cousin) and that Harold II - having sworn in 1064 to uphold William's right to succeed to that throne - was therefore a usurper. Furthermore, William had the support of Emperor Henry IV and papal approval. William took seven months to prepare his invasion force, using some 600 transport ships to carry around 7,000 men (including 2,000-3,000 cavalry) across the Channel. On 28 September 1066, with a favourable wind, William landed unopposed at Pevensey and, within a few days, raised fortifications at Hastings. Having defeated an earlier invasion by the King of Norway at the Battle of Stamford Bridge near York in late September, Harold undertook a forced march south, covering 250 miles in some nine days to meet the new threat, gathering inexperienced reinforcements to replenish his exhausted veterans as he marched. At the Battle of Senlac (near Hastings) on 14 October, Harold's weary and under-strength army faced William's cavalry (part of the forces brought across the Channel) supported by archers. Despite their exhaustion, Harold's troops were equal in number (they included the best infantry in Europe equipped with their terrible two-handled battle axes) and they had the battlefield advantage of being based on a ridge above the Norman positions. The first uphill assaults by the Normans failed and a rumour spread that William had been killed; William rode among the ranks raising his helmet to show he was still alive. The battle was close-fought: a chronicler described the Norman counter-attacks and the Saxon defence as 'one side attacking with all mobility, the other withstanding as though rooted to the soil'. Three of William's horses were killed under him. William skilfully co-ordinated his archers and cavalry, both of which the English forces lacked. During a Norman assault, Harold was killed - hit by an arrow and then mowed down by the sword of a mounted knight. Two of his brothers were also killed. The demoralised English forces fled. (In 1070, as penance, William had an abbey built on the site of the battle, with the high altar occupying the spot where Harold fell. The ruins of Battle Abbey, and the town of Battle, which grew up around it, remain.) William was crowned on Christmas Day 1066 in Westminster Abbey. Three months later, he was confident enough to return to Normandy leaving two joint regents (one of whom was his half-brother Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, who was later to commission the Bayeux Tapestry) behind to administer the kingdom. However, it took William six years to consolidate his conquest, and even then he had to face constant plotting and fighting on both sides of the Channel. In 1068, Harold's sons raided the south-west coast of England (dealt with by William's local commanders), and there were uprisings in the Welsh Marches, Devon and Cornwall. William appointed earls who, in Wales and in all parts of the kingdom, undertook to guard the threatened frontiers and maintain internal security in return for land. In 1069, the Danes, in alliance with Prince Edgar the Aetheling (Ethelred's great-grandson) and other English nobles, invaded the north and took York. Taking personal charge, and pausing only to deal with the rising at Stafford, William drove the Danes back to their ships on the Humber. In a harsh campaign lasting into 1070, William systematically devastated Mercia and Northumbria to deprive the Danes of their supplies and prevent recovery of English resistance. Churches and monasteries were burnt, and agricultural land was laid to waste, creating a famine for the unarmed and mostly peasant population which lasted at least nine years. Although the Danes were bribed to leave the north, King Sweyn of Denmark and his ships threatened the east coast (in alliance with various English, including Hereward the Wake) until a treaty of peace was concluded in June 1070. Further north, where the boundary with Scotland was unclear, King Malcolm III was encroaching into England. Yet again, William moved swiftly and moved land and sea forces north to invade Scotland. The Treaty of Abernethy in 1072 marked a truce, which was reinforced by Malcolm's eldest son being accepted as a hostage. William consolidated his conquest by starting a castle-building campaign in strategic areas. Originally these castles were wooden towers on earthen 'mottes' (mounds) with a bailey (defensive area) surrounded by earth ramparts, but many were later rebuilt in stone. By the end of William's reign over 80 castles had been built throughout his kingdom, as a permanent reminder of the new Norman feudal order. William's wholesale confiscation of land from English nobles and their heirs (many nobles had died at the battles of Stamford Bridge and Senlac) enabled him to recruit and retain an army, by demanding military duties in exchange for land tenancy granted to Norman, French and Flemish allies. He created up to 180 'honours' (lands scattered through shires, with a castle as the governing centre), and in return had some 5,000 knights at his disposal to repress rebellions and pursue campaigns; the knights were augmented by mercenaries and English infantry from the Anglo-Saxon militia, raised from local levies. William also used the fyrd, the royal army - a military arrangement which had survived the Conquest. The King's tenants-in-chief in turn created knights under obligation to them and for royal duties (this was called subinfeudation), with the result that private armies centred around private castles were created - these were to cause future problems of anarchy for unfortunate or weak kings. By the end of William's reign, a small group of the King's tenants had acquired about half of England's landed wealth. Only two Englishmen still held large estates directly from the King. A foreign aristocracy had been imposed as the new governing class. The expenses of numerous campaigns, together with an economic slump (caused by the shifts in landed wealth, and the devastation of northern England for military and political reasons), prompted William to order a full-scale investigation into the actual and potential wealth of the kingdom to maximise tax revenues. The Domesday survey was prompted by ignorance of the state of land holding in England, as well as the result of the costs of defence measures in England and renewed war in France. The scope, speed, efficiency and completion of this survey was remarkable for its time and resulted in the two-volume Domesday Book of 1086, which still exists today. William needed to ensure the direct loyalty of his feudal tenants. The 1086 Oath of Salisbury was a gathering of William's 170 tenants-in-chief and other important landowners who took an oath of fealty to William. William's reach extended elsewhere into the Church and the legal system. French superseded the vernacular (Anglo-Saxon). Personally devout, William used his bishops to carry out administrative duties. Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1070, was a first-class administrator who assisted in government when William was absent in France, and who reorganised the Church in England. Having established the primacy of his archbishopric over that of York, and with William's approval, Lanfranc excommunicated rebels, and set up Church or spiritual courts to deal with ecclesiastical matters. Lanfranc also replaced English bishops and abbots (some of whom had already been removed by the Council of Winchester under papal authority) with Norman or French clergy to reduce potential political resistance. In addition, Canterbury and Durham Cathedrals were rebuilt and some of the bishops' sees were moved to urban centres. At his coronation, William promised to uphold existing laws and customs. The Anglo-Saxon shire courts and 'hundred' courts (which administered defence and tax, as well as justice matters) remained intact, as did regional variations and private Anglo-Saxon jurisdictions. To strengthen royal justice, William relied on sheriffs (previously smaller landowners, but replaced by influential nobles) to supervise the administration of justice in existing county courts, and sent members of his own court to conduct important trials. However, the introduction of Church courts, the mix of Norman/Roman law and the differing customs led to a continuing complex legal framework. More severe forest laws reinforced William's conversion of the New Forest into a vast Royal deer reserve. These laws caused great resentment, and to English chroniclers the New Forest became a symbol of William's greed. Nevertheless the King maintained peace and order. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in 1087 declared 'he was a very stern and violent man, so no one dared do anything contrary to his will ... Amongst other things the good security he made in this country is not to be forgotten.' William spent the last months of his reign in Normandy, fighting a counter-offensive in the French Vexin territory against King Philip's annexation of outlying Normandy territory. Before his death on 9 September 1087, William divided his 'Anglo-Norman' state between his sons. (The scene was set for centuries of expensive commitments by successive English monarchs to defend their inherited territories in France.) William bequeathed Normandy as he had promised to his eldest son Robert, despite their bitter differences (Robert had sided with his father's enemies in Normandy, and even wounded and defeated his father in a battle there in 1079). His son, William Rufus, was to succeed William as King of England, and the third remaining son, Henry, was left 5,000 pounds in silver. William was buried in his abbey foundation of St Stephen at Caen. Desecrated by Huguenots (1562) and Revolutionaries (1793), the burial place of the first Norman king of England is marked by a simple stone slab.
WILLIAM II (KNOWN AS WILLIAM RUFUS) (1087-1100)
Strong, outspoken and ruddy (hence his nickname 'Rufus'), William II (reigned 1087-1100) extended his father's policies, taking royal power to the far north of England. Ruthless in his relations with his brother Robert, William extended his grip on the duchy of Normandy under an agreement between the brothers in 1091. (Robert went on crusade in 1096.)
William's relations with the Church were not easy; he took over Archbishop Lanfranc's revenues after the latter's death in 1089, kept other bishoprics vacant to make use of their revenues, and had numerous arguments with Lanfranc's popular successor, Anselm. William died on 2 August 1100, after being shot by an arrow whilst hunting in the New Forest.
HENRY I (1100-1135)
William's younger brother Henry succeeded to the throne. He was crowned three days after his brother's death, against the possibility that his eldest brother Robert might claim the English throne. After the decisive battle of Tinchebrai in 1106 in France, Henry completed his conquest of Normandy from Robert, who then (unusually even for that time) spent the last 28 years of his life as his brother's prisoner. An energetic, decisive and occasionally cruel ruler, Henry centralised the administration of England and Normandy in the royal court, using 'viceroys' in Normandy and a group of advisers in England to act on his behalf when he was absent across the Channel. Henry successfully sought to increase royal revenues, as shown by the official records of his exchequer (the Pipe Roll of 1130, the first exchequer account to survive). He established peaceful relations with Scotland, through his marriage to Mathilda of Scotland. Henry's name 'Beauclerc' denoted his good education (as the youngest son, his parents possibly expected that he would become a bishop); Henry was probably the first Norman king to be fluent in English. In 1120, his legitimate sons William and Richard drowned in the White Ship which sank in the English Channel. This posed a succession problem, as Henry never allowed any of his illegitimate children to expect succession to either England or Normandy. Henry had a legitimate daughter Matilda (widow of Emperor Henry V, subsequently married to the Count of Anjou). However, it was his nephew Stephen (reigned 1135-54), son of William the Conqueror's daughter Adela, who succeeded Henry after his death, allegedly caused by eating too many lampreys (fish) in 1135, as the barons mostly opposed the idea of a female ruler.
STEPHEN AND MATILDA (1135-1154)
Though charming, attractive and (when required) a brave warrior, Stephen (reigned 1135-54) lacked ruthlessness and failed to inspire loyalty. He could neither control his friends nor subdue his enemies, despite the support of his brother Henry of Blois (Bishop of Winchester) and his able wife Matilda of Boulogne. Henry I's daughter Matilda invaded England in 1139 to claim the throne, and the country was plunged into civil war. Although anarchy never spread over the whole country, local feuds were pursued under the cover of the civil war; the bond between the King and the nobles broke down, and senior figures (including Stephen's brother Henry) freely changed allegiances as it suited them. In 1141, Stephen was captured at Lincoln and his defeat seemed certain. However, Matilda's arrogant behaviour antagonised even her own supporters (Angevins), and Stephen was released in exchange for her captured ally and illegitimate half-brother, Earl Robert of Gloucester. After the latter's death in 1147, Matilda retired to Normandy (which her husband, the Count of Anjou had conquered) in 1148. Stephen's throne was still disputed. Matilda's eldest son, Henry, who had been given Normandy by his father in 1150 and who had married the heiress Eleanor Duchess of Aquitaine, invaded England in 1149 and again in 1153. Stephen fought stubbornly against Henry; Stephen even attempted to ensure his son Eustace's succession by having him crowned in Stephen's own lifetime. The Church refused (having quarrelled with the king some years previously); Eustace's death later in 1153 helped lead to a negotiated peace (the treaty of Wallingford) under which Henry would inherit the throne after Stephen's death.
Henry II, the son of Geoffrey Plantagenet and Henry I's daughter Matilda, was the first in a long line of 14 Plantagenet kings, stretching from Henry II's accession through to Richard III's death in 1485. Within that line, however, four distinct Royal Houses can be identified: Angevin, Plantagenet, Lancaster and York.
The first Angevin King, Henry II, began the period as arguably the most powerful monarch in Europe, with lands stretching from the Scottish borders to the Pyrenees. In addition, Ireland was added to his inheritance, a mission entrusted to him by Pope Adrian IV (the only English Pope). A new administrative zeal was evident at the beginning of the period and an efficient system of government was formulated. The justice system developed. However there were quarrels with the Church, which became more powerful following the murder of Thomas а Becket.
As with many of his predecessors, Henry II spent much of his time away from England fighting abroad. This was taken to an extreme by his son Richard, who spent only 10 months of a ten-year reign in the country due to his involvement in the crusades. The last of the Angevin kings was John, whom history has judged harshly. By 1205, six years into his reign, only a fragment of the vast Angevin empire acquired by Henry II remained. John quarrelled with the Pope over the appointment of the Archbishop of Canterbury, eventually surrendering. He was also forced to sign the Magna Carta in 1215, which restated the rights of the church, the barons and all in the land. John died in ignominy, having broken the contract, leading the nobles to summon aid from France and creating a precarious position for his heir, Henry III.
HENRY II CURTMANTLE (1154-1189)
Henry II ruled over an empire which stretched from the Scottish border to the Pyrenees. One of the strongest, most energetic and imaginative rulers, Henry was the inheritor of three dynasties who had acquired Aquitaine by marriage; his charters listed them: 'King of the English, Duke of the Normans and Aquitanians and Count of the Angevins'. The King spent only 13 years of his reign in England; the other 21 years were spent on the continent in his territories in what is now France. Henry's rapid movements in carrying out his dynastic responsibilities astonished the French king, who noted 'now in England, now in Normandy, he must fly rather than travel by horse or ship'. By 1158, Henry had restored to the Crown some of the lands and royal power lost by Stephen; Malcom IV of Scotland was compelled to return the northern counties. Locally chosen sheriffs were changed into royally appointed agents charged with enforcing the law and collecting taxes in the counties. Personally interested in government and law, Henry made use of juries and re-introduced the sending of justices (judges) on regular tours of the country to try cases for the Crown. His legal reforms have led him to be seen as the founder of English Common Law. Henry's disagreements with the Archbishop of Canterbury (the king's former chief adviser), Thomas а Becket, over Church-State relations ended in Becket's murder in 1170 and a papal interdict on England. Family disputes over territorial ambitions almost wrecked the king's achievements. Henry died in France in 1189, at war with his son Richard, who had joined forces with King Philip of France to attack Normandy.
RICHARD I COEUR DE LION ('THE LIONHEART') (1189-1199)
Henry's elder son, Richard I (reigned 1189-99), fulfilled his main ambition by going on crusade in 1190, leaving the ruling of England to others. After his victories over Saladin at the siege of Acre and the battles of Arsuf and Jaffa, concluded by the treaty of Jaffa (1192), Richard was returning from the Holy Land when he was captured in Austria. In early 1193, Richard was transferred to Emperor Henry VI's custody. In Richard's absence, King Philip of France failed to obtain Richard's French possessions through invasion or negotiation. In England, Richard's brother John occupied Windsor Castle and prepared an invasion of England by Flemish mercenaries, accompanied by armed uprisings. Their mother, Queen Eleanor, took firm action against John by strengthening garrisons and again exacting oaths of allegiance to the king. John's subversive activities were ended by the payment of a crushing ransom of 150,000 marks of silver to the emperor, for Richard's release in 1194. Warned by Philip's famous message 'look to yourself, the devil is loosed', John fled to the French court. On his return to England, Richard was recrowned at Winchester in 1194. Five years later he died in France during a minor siege against a rebellious baron. By the time of his death, Richard had recovered all his lands. His success was short-lived. In 1199 his brother John became king and Philip successfully invaded Normandy. By 1203, John had retreated to England, losing his French lands of Normandy and Anjou by 1205.
John was an able administrator interested in law and government but he neither trusted others nor was trusted by them. Heavy taxation, disputes with the Church (John was excommunicated by the Pope in 1209) and unsuccessful attempts to recover his French possessions made him unpopular. Many of his barons rebelled and in June 1215 they forced the King to sign a peace treaty accepting their reforms. This treaty, later known as Magna Carta, limited royal powers, defined feudal obligations between the King and the barons, and guaranteed a number of rights. The most influential clauses concerned the freedom of the Church; the redress of grievances of owners and tenants of land; the need to consult the Great Council of the Realm so as to prevent unjust taxation; mercantile and trading relationships; regulation of the machinery of justice so that justice be denied to no one; and the requirement to control the behaviour of royal officials. The most important clauses established the basis of habeas corpus ('you have the body'), i.e. that no one shall be imprisoned except by due process of law, and that 'to no one will we sell, to no one will we refuse or delay right or justice'. The Charter also established a council of barons who were to ensure that the Sovereign observed the Charter, with the right to wage war on him if he did not. Magna Carta was the first formal document insisting that the Sovereign was as much under the rule of law as his people, and that the rights of individuals were to be upheld even against the wishes of the sovereign. As a source of fundamental constitutional principles, Magna Carta came to be seen as an important definition of aspects of English law, and in later centuries as the basis of the liberties of the English people. As a peace treaty Magna Carta was a failure and the rebels invited Louis of France to become their king. When John died in 1216 England was in the grip of civil war.
The Plantagenet period was dominated by three major conflicts at home and abroad. Edward I attempted to create a British empire dominated by England, conquering Wales and pronouncing his eldest son Prince of Wales, and then attacking Scotland. Scotland was to remain elusive and retain its independence until late in the reign of the Stuart kings. In the reign of Edward III the Hundred Years War began, a struggle between England and France. At the end of the Plantagenet period, the reign of Richard II saw the beginning of the long period of civil feuding known as the War of the Roses. For the next century, the crown would be disputed by two conflicting family strands, the Lancastrians and the Yorkists.
The period also saw the development of new social institutions and a distinctive English culture. Parliament emerged and grew. The judicial reforms begun in the reign of Henry II were continued and completed by Edward I. Culture began to flourish. Three Plantagenet kings were patrons of Geoffrey Chaucer, the father of English poetry. During the early part of the period, the architectural style of the Normans gave way to the Gothic, in which style Salisbury Cathedral was built. Westminster Abbey was rebuilt and the majority of English cathedrals remodelled. Franciscan and Dominican orders began to be established in England, while the universities of Oxford and Cambridge had their origins in this period.
Amidst the order of learning and art, however, were disturbing new phenomena. The outbreak of Bubonic plague or the 'Black Death' served to undermine military campaigns and cause huge social turbulence, killing half the country's population. The price rises and labour shortage which resulted led to social unrest, culminating in the Peasants' Revolt in 1381.
THE PLANTAGENET DYNASTIES
1216 - 1485
HENRY III = Eleanor, dau. of Count of Provence
Eleanor, = EDWARD I
dau. of (1272-1307)
King of Castile
EDWARD II = Isabella, dau.
(1307-1327) of PHILIP IV,
King of France
EDWARD III = Philippa, dau. of Count
(1327-1377) of Hainault and Holland
Edward, Prince = Joan, dau. of Earl Lionel, Duke = Elizabeth Blanche of = John, Duke = Katharine Swynford,
of Wales, of Kent (son of Clarence de Burgh Lancaster of Lancaster dau. of Sir Roet
The Black Prince of EDWARD I) of Guienne
RICHARD II Edmund, = Philippa Mary = HENRY IV John Beaufort,
(1377-1399) Earl of March Bohun (1399-1413)
Roger, Earl = Eleanor HENRY V (1) = Katherine, dau. John Beaufort,
of March Holland (1413-1422) of CHARLES VI, Duke of Somerset
King of France
Richard, Earl = Anne HENRY VI Margaret Beaufort = Edmund Tudor,
of Cambridge Mortimer (1422-1461, Earl of Richmond
Richard, Duke = Cecily Elizabeth of York, = HENRY VII
of York Neville dau. of EDWARD IV (1485-1509)
EDWARD IV = Elizabeth, dau. RICHARD III
(1461-1470, of Sir Richard (1483-1485)
EDWARD V Elizabeth = HENRY VII
HENRY III (1216-1272)
Henry III, King John's son, was only nine when he became King. By 1227, when he assumed power from his regent, order had been restored, based on his acceptance of Magna Carta. However, the King's failed campaigns in France (1230 and 1242), his choice of friends and advisers, together with the cost of his scheme to make one of his younger sons King of Sicily and help the Pope against the Holy Roman Emperor, led to further disputes with the barons and united opposition in Church and State. Although Henry was extravagant and his tax demands were resented, the King's accounts show a list of many charitable donations and payments for building works (including the rebuilding of Westminster Abbey which began in 1245). The Provisions of Oxford (1258) and the Provisions of Westminster (1259) were attempts by the nobles to define common law in the spirit of Magna Carta, control appointments and set up an aristocratic council. Henry tried to defeat them by obtaining papal absolution from his oaths, and enlisting King Louis XI's help. Henry renounced the Provisions in 1262 and war broke out. The barons, under their leader, Simon de Montfort, were initially successful and even captured Henry. However, Henry escaped, joined forces with the lords of the Marches (on the Welsh border), and Henry finally defeated and killed de Montfort at the Battle of Evesham in 1265. Royal authority was restored by the Statute of Marlborough (1267), in which the King also promised to uphold Magna Carta and some of the Provisions of Westminster.
EDWARD I (1272-1307)
Born in June 1239 at Westminster, Edward was named by his father Henry III after the last Anglo Saxon king (and his father's favourite saint), Edward the Confessor. Edward's parents were renowned for their patronage of the arts (his mother, Eleanor of Provence, encouraged Henry III to spend money on the arts, which included the rebuilding of Westminster Abbey and a still-extant magnificent shrine to house the body of Edward the Confessor), and Edward received a disciplined education - reading and writing in Latin and French, with training in the arts, sciences and music. In 1254, Edward travelled to Spain for an arranged marriage at the age of 15 to 9-year-old Eleanor of Castile. Just before Edward's marriage, Henry III gave him the duchy of Gascony, one of the few remnants of the once vast French possessions of the English Angevin kings. Gascony was part of a package which included parts of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the King's lands in Wales to provide an income for Edward. Edward then spent a year in Gascony, studying its administration. Edward spent his young adulthood learning harsh lessons from Henry III's failures as a king, culminating in a civil war in which he fought to defend his father. Henry's ill-judged and expensive intervention in Sicilian affairs (lured by the Pope's offer of the Sicilian crown to Henry's younger son) failed, and aroused the anger of powerful barons including Henry's brother-in-law Simon de Montfort. Bankrupt and threatened with excommunication, Henry was forced to agree to the Provisions of Oxford in 1258, under which his debts were paid in exchange for substantial reforms; a Great Council of 24, partly nominated by the barons, assumed the functions of the King's Council. Henry repudiated the Provisions in 1261 and sought the help of the French king Louis IX (later known as St Louis for his piety and other qualities). This was the only time Edward was tempted to side with his charismatic and politically ruthless godfather Simon de Montfort - he supported holding a Parliament in his father's absence. However, by the time Louis IX decided to side with Henry in the dispute and civil war broke out in England in 1263, Edward had returned to his father's side and became de Montfort's greatest enemy. After winning the battle of Lewes in 1264 (after which Edward became a hostage to ensure his father abided by the terms of the peace), de Montfort summoned the Great Parliament in 1265 - this was the first time cities and burghs sent representatives to the parliament. (Historians differ as to whether de Montfort was an enlightened liberal reformer or an unscrupulous opportunist using any means to advance himself.) In May 1265, Edward escaped from tight supervision whilst hunting. On 4 August, Edward and his allies outmanoeuvred de Montfort in a savage battle at Evesham; de Montfort predicted his own defeat and death 'let us commend our souls to God, because our bodies are theirs ... they are approaching wisely, they learned this from me.' With the ending of the civil war, Edward worked hard at social and political reconciliation between his father and the rebels, and by 1267 the realm had been pacified. In April 1270 Parliament agreed an unprecedented levy of one-twentieth of every citizen's goods and possessions to finance Edward's Crusade to the Holy Lands. Edward left England in August 1270 to join the highly respected French king Louis IX on Crusade. At a time when popes were using the crusading ideal to further their own political ends in Italy and elsewhere, Edward and King Louis were the last crusaders in the medieval tradition of aiming to recover the Holy Lands. Louis died of the plague in Tunis before Edward's arrival, and the French forces were bought off from pursuing their campaign. Edward decided to continue regardless: 'by the blood of God, though all my fellow soldiers and countrymen desert me, I will enter Acre ... and I will keep my word and my oath to the death'. Edward arrived in Acre in May 1271 with 1,000 knights; his crusade was to prove an anticlimax. Edward's small force limited him to the relief of Acre and a handful of raids, and divisions amongst the international force of Christian Crusaders led to Edward's compromise truce with the Baibars. In June 1272, Edward survived a murder attempt by an Assassin (an order of Shi'ite Muslims) and left for Sicily later in the year. He was never to return on crusade. Meanwhile, Henry III died on 16 November 1272. Edward succeeded to the throne without opposition - given his track record in military ability and his proven determination to give peace to the country, enhanced by his magnified exploits on crusade. In Edward's absence, a proclamation in his name delcared that he had succeeded by hereditary right and the barons swore allegeiance to him. Edward finally arrived in London in August 1274 and was crowned at Westminster Abbey. Aged 35, he was a veteran warrior ('the best lance in all the world', according to contemporaries), a leader with energy and vision, and with a formidable temper. Edward was determined to enforce English kings' claims to primacy in the British Isles. The first part of his reign was dominated by Wales. At that time, Wales consisted of a number of disunited small Welsh princedoms; the South Welsh princes were in uneasy alliance with the Marcher lords (feudal earldoms and baronies set up by the Norman kings to protect the English border against Welsh raids) against the Northern Welsh based in the rocky wilds of Gwynedd, under the strong leadership of Llywelyn ap Gruffyd, Prince of Gwynedd. In 1247, under the Treaty of Woodstock, Llywelyn had agreed that he held North Wales in fee to the English king. By 1272, Llywelyn had taken advantage of the English civil wars to consolidate his position, and the Peace of Montgomery (1267) had confirmed his title as Prince of Wales and recognised his conquests. However, Llywelyn maintained that the rights of his principality were 'entirely separate from the rights' of England; he did not attend Edward's coronation and refused to do homage. Finally, in 1277 Edward decided to fight Llywelyn 'as a rebel and disturber of the peace', and quickly defeated him. War broke out again in 1282 when Llywelyn joined his brother David in rebellion. Edward's determination, military experience and skilful use of ships brought from England for deployment along the North Welsh coast, drove Llywelyn back into the mountains of North Wales. The death of Llywelyn in a chance battle in 1282 and the subsequent execution of his brother David effectively ended attempts at Welsh independence. Under the Statute of Wales of 1284, Wales was brought into the English legal framework and the shire system was extended. In the same year, a son was born in Wales to Edward and Queen Eleanor (also named Edward, this future king was proclaimed the first English Prince of Wales in 1301). The Welsh campaign had produced one of the largest armies ever assembled by an English king - some 15,000 infantry (including 9,000 Welsh and a Gascon contingent); the army was a formidable combination of heavy Anglo-Norman cavalry and Welsh archers, whose longbow skills laid the foundations of later military victories in France such as that at Agincourt. As symbols of his military strength and political authority, Edward spent some Ј80,000 on a network of castles and lesser strongholds in North Wales, employing a work-force of up to 3,500 men drawn from all over England. (Some castles, such as Conway and Caernarvon, remain in their ruined layouts today, as examples of fortresses integrated with fortified towns.) Edward's campaign in Wales was based on his determination to ensure peace and extend royal authority, and it had broad support in England. Edward saw the need to widen support among lesser landowners and the merchants and traders of the towns. The campaigns in Wales, France and Scotland left Edward deeply in debt, and the taxation required to meet those debts meant enrolling national support for his policies. To raise money, Edward summoned Parliament - up to 1286 he summoned Parliaments twice a year. (The word 'Parliament' came from the 'parley' or talks which the King had with larger groups of advisers.) In 1295, when money was needed to wage war against Philip of France (who had confiscated the duchy of Gascony), Edward summoned the most comprehensive assembly ever summoned in England. This became known as the Model Parliament, for it represented various estates: barons, clergy, and knights and townspeople. By the end of Edward's reign, Parliament usually contained representatives of all these estates. Edward used his royal authority to establish the rights of the Crown at the expense of traditional feudal privileges, to promote the uniform administration of justice, to raise income to meet the costs of war and government, and to codify the legal system. In doing so, his methods emphasised the role of Parliament and the common law. With the able help of his Chancellor, Robert Burnell, Bishop of Bath and Wells, Edward introduced much new legislation. He began by commissioning a thorough survey of local government (with the results entered into documents known as the Hundred Rolls), which not only defined royal rights and possessions but also revealed administrative abuses. The First Statute of Westminster (1275) codified 51 existing laws - many originating from Magna Carta - covering areas ranging from extortion by royal officers, lawyers and bailiffs, methods of procedure in civil and criminal cases to freedom of elections. Edward's first Parliament also enacted legislation on wool, England's most important export at the time. At the request of the merchants, Edward was given a customs grant on wool and hides which amounted to nearly Ј10,000 a year. Edward also obtained income from the licence fees imposed by the Statute of Mortmain (1279), under which gifts of land to the Church (often made to evade death duties) had to have a royal licence. The Statutes of Gloucester (1278) and Quo Warranto (1290) attempted to define and regulate feudal jurisdictions, which were an obstacle to royal authority and to a uniform system of justice for all; the Statute of Winchester (1285) codified the policing system for preserving public order. Other statutes had a long-term effect on land law and on the feudal framework in England. The Second Statute of Westminster (1285) restricted the alienation of land and kept entailed estates within families: tenants were only tenants for life and not able to sell the property to others. The Third Statute of Westminster or Quia Emptores (1290) stopped subinfeudation (in which tenants of land belonging to the King or to barons subcontracted their properties and related feudal services). Edward's assertion that the King of Scotland owed feudal allegiance to him, and the embittered Anglo-Scottish relations leading to war which followed, were to overshadow the rest of Edward's reign in what was to become known as the 'Great Cause'. Under a treaty of 1174, William the Lion of Scotland had become the vassal to Henry II, but in 1189 Richard I had absolved William from his allegiance. Intermarriage between the English and Scottish royal houses promoted peace between the two countries until the premature death of Alexander III in 1286. In 1290, his granddaughter and heiress, Margaret the 'Maid of Norway' (daughter of the King of Norway, she was pledged to be married to Edward's then only surviving son, Edward of Caernarvon), also died. For Edward, this dynastic blow was made worse by the death in the same year of his much-loved wife Eleanor (her body was ceremonially carried from Lincoln to Westminster for burial, and a memorial cross erected at every one of the twelve resting places, including what became known as Charing Cross in London). In the absence of an obvious heir to the Scottish throne, the disunited Scottish magnates invited Edward to determine the dispute. In order to gain acceptance of his authority in reaching a verdict, Edward sought and obtained recognition from the rival claimants that he had the 'sovereign lordship of Scotland and the right to determine our several pretensions'. In November 1292, Edward and his 104 assessors gave the whole kingdom to John Balliol or Baliol as the claimant closest to the royal line; Balliol duly swore loyalty to Edward and was crowned at Scone. John Balliol's position proved difficult. Edward insisted that Scotland was not independent and he, as sovereign lord, had the right to hear in England appeals against Balliol's judgements in Scotland. In 1294, Balliol lost authority amongst Scottish magnates by going to Westminster after receiving a summons from Edward; the magnates decided to seek allies in France and concluded the 'Auld Alliance' with France (then at war with England over the duchy of Gascony) - an alliance which was to influence Scottish history for the next 300 years. In March 1296, having failed to negotiate a settlement, the English led by Edward sacked the city of Berwick near the River Tweed. Balliol formally renounced his homage to Edward in April 1296, speaking of 'grievous and intolerable injuries ... for instance by summoning us outside our realm ... as your own whim dictated ... and so ... we renounce the fealty and homage which we have done to you'. Pausing to design and start the rebuilding of Berwick as the financial capital of the country, Edward's forces overran remaining Scottish resistance. Scots leaders were taken hostage, and Edinburgh Castle, amongst others, was seized. Balliol surrendered his realm and spent the rest of his life in exile in England and Normandy. Having humiliated Balliol, Edward's insensitive policies in Scotland continued: he appointed a trio of Englishmen to run the country. Edward had the Stone of Scone - also known as the Stone of Destiny - on which Scottish sovereigns had been crowned removed to London and subsequently placed in the Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey (where it remained until it was returned to Scotland in 1996). Edward never built stone castles on strategic sites in Scotland, as he had done so successfully in Wales - possibly because he did not have the funds for another ambitious castle-building programme. By 1297, Edward was facing the biggest crisis in his reign, and his commitments outweighed his resources. Chronic debts were being incurred by wars against France, in Flanders, Gascony and Wales as well as Scotland; the clergy were refusing to pay their share of the costs, with the Archbishop of Canterbury threatening excommunication; Parliament was reluctant to contribute to Edward's expensive and unsuccessful military policies; the Earls of Hereford and Norfolk refused to serve in Gascony, and the barons presented a formal statement of their grievances. In the end, Edward was forced to reconfirm the Charters (including Magna Carta) to obtain the money he required; the Archbishop was eventually suspended in 1306 by the new Gascon Pope Clement V; a truce was declared with France in 1297, followed by a peace treaty in 1303 under which the French king restored the duchy of Gascony to Edward. In Scotland, Edward pursued a series of campaigns from 1298 onwards. William Wallace had risen in Balliol's name and recovered most of Scotland, before being defeated by Edward at the battle of Falkirk in 1298. (Wallace escaped, only to be captured in 1305, allegedly by the treachery of a fellow Scot and taken to London, where he was executed.) In 1304, Edward summoned a full Parliament (which elected Scottish representatives also attended), in which arrangements for the settlement of Scotland were made. The new government in Scotland featured a Council, which included Robert the Bruce. Bruce unexpectedly rebelled in 1306 by killing a fellow counsellor and was crowned king of Scotland at Scone. Despite his failing health, Edward was carried north to pursue another campaign, but he died en route at Burgh on Sands on 7 July 1307 aged 68. According to chroniclers, Edward requested that his bones should be carried on Scottish campaigns and that his heart be taken to the Holy Land. However, Edward was buried at Westminster Abbey in a plain black marble tomb, which in later years was painted with the words Scottorum malleus (Hammer of the Scots) and Pactum serva (Keep troth). Throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the Exchequer paid to keep candles burning 'round the body of the Lord Edward, formerly King of England, of famous memory'.
EDWARD II (1307-1327)
Edward II had few of the qualities that made a successful medieval king. Edward surrounded himself with favourites (the best known being a Gascon, Piers Gaveston), and the barons, feeling excluded from power, rebelled. Throughout his reign, different baronial groups struggled to gain power and control the King. The nobles' ordinances of 1311, which attempted to limit royal control of finance and appointments, were counteracted by Edward. Large debts (many inherited) and the Scots' victory at Bannockburn by Robert the Bruce in 1314 made Edward more unpopular. Edward's victory in a civil war (1321-2) and such measures as the 1326 ordinance (a protectionist measure which set up compulsory markets or staples in 14 English, Welsh and Irish towns for the wool trade) did not lead to any compromise between the King and the nobles. Finally, in 1326, Edward's wife, Isabella of France, led an invasion against her husband. In 1327 Edward was made to renounce the throne in favour of his son Edward (the first time that an anointed king of England had been dethroned since Ethelred in 1013). Edward II was later murdered at Berkeley Castle.
EDWARD III (1327-77)
Edward III was 14 when he was crowned King and assumed government in his own right in 1330. In 1337, Edward created the Duchy of Cornwall to provide the heir to the throne with an income independent of the sovereign or the state. An able soldier, and an inspiring leader, Edward founded the Order of the Garter in 1348. At the beginning of the Hundred Years War in 1337, actual campaigning started when the King invaded France in 1339 and laid claim to the throne of France. Following a sea victory at Sluys in 1340, Edward overran Brittany in 1342 and in 1346 he landed in Normandy, defeating the French King, Philip IV, at the Battle of Crйcy and his son Edward (the Black Prince) repeated his success at Poitiers (1356). By 1360 Edward controlled over a quarter of France. His successes consolidated the support of the nobles, lessened criticism of the taxes, and improved relations with Parliament. However, under the 1375 Treaty of Bruges the French King, Charles V, reversed most of the English conquests; Calais and a coastal strip near Bordeaux were Edward's only lasting gain. Failure abroad provoked criticism at home. The Black Death plague outbreaks of 1348-9, 1361-2 and 1369 inflicted severe social dislocation (the King lost a daughter to the plague) and caused deflation; severe laws were introduced to attempt to fix wages and prices. In 1376, the 'Good Parliament' (which saw the election of the first Speaker to represent the Commons) attacked the high taxes and criticised the King's advisers. The ageing King withdrew to Windsor for the rest of his reign, eventually dying at Sheen Palace, Surrey.
RICHARD II (1377-99)
Edward III's son, the Black Prince, died in 1376. The King's grandson, Richard II, succeeded to the throne aged 10, on Edward's death. In 1381 the Peasants' Revolt broke out and Richard, aged 14, bravely rode out to meet the rebels at Smithfield, London. Wat Tyler, the principal leader of the peasants, was killed and the uprisings in the rest of the country were crushed over the next few weeks (Richard was later forced by his Council's advice to rescind the pardons he had given). Highly cultured, Richard was one of the greatest royal patrons of the arts; patron of Chaucer, it was Richard who ordered the technically innovative transformation of the Norman Westminster Hall to what it is today. (Built between 1097 and 1099 by William II, the Hall was the ceremonial and administrative centre of the kingdom; it also housed the Courts of Justice until 1882.) Richard's authoritarian approach upset vested interests, and his increasing dependence on favourites provoked resentment. In 1388 the 'Merciless Parliament' led by a group of lords hostile to Richard (headed by the King's uncle, Gloucester) sentenced many of the King's favourites to death and forced Richard to renew his coronation oath. The death of his first queen, Anne of Bohemia, in 1394 further isolated Richard, and his subsequent arbitrary behaviour alienated people further. Richard took his revenge in 1397, arresting or banishing many of his opponents; his cousin, Henry of Bolingbroke, was also subsequently banished. On the death of Henry's father, John of Gaunt (a younger son of Edward III), Richard confiscated the vast properties of his Duchy of Lancaster (which amounted to a state within a state) and divided them among his supporters. Richard pursued policies of peace with France (his second wife was Isabella of Valois); Richard still called himself king of France and refused to give up Calais, but his reign was concurrent with a 28 year truce in the Hundred Years War. His expeditions to Ireland failed to reconcile the Anglo-Irish lords with the Gaels. In 1399, whilst Richard was in Ireland, Henry of Bolingbroke returned to claim his father's inheritance. Supported by some of the leading baronial families (including Richard's former Archbishop of Canterbury), Henry captured and deposed Richard. Bolingbroke was crowned King as Henry IV. Risings in support of Richard led to his murder in Pontefract Castle; Henry V subsequently had his body buried in Westminster Abbey.
The accession of Henry IV sowed the seeds for a period of unrest which ultimately broke out in civil war. Fraught by rebellion and instability after his usurpation of Richard II, Henry IV found it difficult to enforce his rule. His son, Henry V, fared better, defeating France in the famous Battle of Agincourt (1415) and staking a powerful claim to the French throne. Success was short-lived with his early death.
By the reign of the relatively weak Henry VI, civil war broke out between rival claimants to the throne, dating back to the sons of Edward III. The Lancastrian dynasty descended from John of Gaunt, third son of Edward III, whose son Henry deposed the unpopular Richard II. Yorkist claimants such as the Duke of York asserted their legitimate claim to the throne through Edward III's second surviving son, but through a female line. The Wars of the Roses therefore tested whether the succession should keep to the male line or could pass through females.
Captured and briefly restored, Henry VI was captured and put to death, and the Yorkist faction led by Edward IV gained the throne.
HENRY IV (1399-1413)
Henry IV was born at Bolingbroke in 1367 to John of Gaunt and Blanche of Lancaster. He married Mary Bohun in 1380, who bore him seven children before her death in 1394. In 1402, Henry remarried, taking as his bride Joan of Navarre. Henry had an on-again, off-again relationship with his cousin, Richard II. He was one of the Lords Appellant, who, in 1388, persecuted many of Richard's advisor-favorites, but his excellence as a soldier gained the king's favor - Henry was created Duke of Hereford in 1397. In 1398, however, the increasingly suspicious Richard banished him for ten years. John of Gaunt's death in 1399 prompted Richard to confiscate the vast Lancastrian estates; Henry invaded England while Richard was on campaign in Ireland, usurping the throne from the king. The very nature of Henry's usurpation dictated the circumstances of his reign - incessant rebellion became the order of the day. Richard's supporters immediately revolted upon his deposition in 1400. In Wales, Owen Glendower led a national uprising that lasted until 1408; the Scots waged continual warfare throughout the reign; the powerful families of Percy and Mortimer (the latter possessing a stronger claim to the throne than Henry) revolted from 1403 to 1408; and Richard Scrope, Archbishop of York, proclaimed his opposition to the Lancastrian claim in 1405. Two political blunders in the latter years of his reign diminished Henry's support. His marriage to Joan of Navarre (of whom it was rumored practiced necromancy) was highly unpopular - she was, in fact, convicted of witchcraft in 1419. Scrope and Thomas Mawbray were executed in 1405 after conspiring against Henry; the Archbishop's execution alarmed the English people, adding to his unpopularity. He developed a nasty skin disorder and epilepsy, persuading many that God was punishing the king for executing an archbishop. Crushing the myriad of rebellions was costly, which involved calling Parliament to fund such activities. The House of Commons used the opportunity to expand its powers in 1401, securing recognition of freedom of debate and freedom from arrest for dissenting opinions. Lollardy, the Protestant movement founded by John Wycliffe during the reign of Edward III, gained momentum and frightened both secular and clerical landowners, inspiring the first anti-heresy statute, De Heritico Comburendo, to become law in 1401. Henry, ailing from leprosy and epilepsy, watched as Prince Henry controlled the government for the last two years of his reign. In 1413, Henry died in the Jerusalem Chamber of Westminster Abbey. Rafael Holinshed explained his unpopularity in Chronicles of England: "... by punishing such as moved with disdain to see him usurp the crown, did at sundry times rebel against him, he won(himself more hatred, than in all his life time ... had been possible for him to have weeded out and removed." Unlikely as it may seem (due to the amount of rebellion in his reign); Henry left his eldest son an undisputed succession.
HENRY V (1413-1422)
Henry V, the eldest son of Henry IV and Mary Bohun, was born in 1387. As per arrangement by the Treaty of Troyes, he married Catherine, daughter of the French King Charles VI, in June 1420. His only child, the future Henry VI, was born in 1421.
Henry was an accomplished soldier: at age fourteen he fought the Welsh forces of Owen ap Glendower; at age sixteen he commanded his father's forces at the battle of Shrewsbury; and shortly after his accession he put down a major Lollard uprising and an assassination plot by nobles still loyal to Richard II . He proposed to marry Catherine in 1415, demanding the old Plantagenet lands of Normandy and Anjou as his dowry. Charles VI refused and Henry declared war, opening yet another chapter in the Hundred Years' War. The French war served two purposes - to gain lands lost in previous battles and to focus attention away from any of his cousins' royal ambitions. Henry, possessed a masterful military mind and defeated the French at the Battle of Agincourt in October 1415, and by 1419 had captured Normandy, Picardy and much of the Capetian stronghold of the Ile-de-France.
By the Treaty of Troyes in 1420, Charles VI not only accepted Henry as his son-in-law, but passed over his own son to name Henry as heir to the French crown. Had Henry lived a mere two months longer, he would have been king of both England and France.
Henry had prematurely aged due to living the hard life of a soldier. He became seriously ill and died after returning from yet another French campaign; Catherine had bore his only son while he was away and Henry died having never seen the child. The historian Rafael Holinshed, in Chronicles of England , summed up Henry's reign as such: "This Henry was a king, of life without spot, a prince whom all men loved, and of none disdained, e captain against whom fortune never frowned, nor mischance once spurned, whose people him so severe a justicer both loved and obeyed (and so humane withal) that he left no offence unpunished, nor friendship unrewarded; a terror to rebels, and suppressor of sedition, his virtues notable, his qualities most praiseworthy."
HENRY VI (1422-61, 1470-71 AD)
Henry VI was the only child of Henry V and Catherine of Valois, born on December 6, 1421. He married Margaret of Anjou in 1445; the union produced one son, Edward, who was killed in battle one day before Henry's execution. Henry came to the throne as an infant after the early death of his father; in name, he was king of both England and France, but a protector ruled each realm. He was educated by Richard Beauchamp beginning in 1428. The whole of Henry's reign was involved with retaining both of his crowns - in the end, he held neither.
Hostilities in France continued, but momentum swung to the French with the appearance of Joan of Arc in 1428. The seventeen year old was instrumental in rescuing the French Dauphin Charles in 1429; he was crowned at Reims as Charles VII, and she was burned at the stake as a heretic. English losses in Brittany (1449), Normandy (1450) and Gascony (1453) led to the conclusion of the Hundred Years' War in 1453. Henry lost his claim to all French soil except for Calais.
The Wars of the Roses began in full during Henry's reign. In 1453, Henry had an attack of the hereditary mental illness that plagued the French house of Valois; Richard, Duke of York, was made protector of the realm during the illness. His wife Margaret, a rather headstrong woman, alienated Richard upon Henry's recovery and Richard responded by attacking and defeating the queen's forces at St. Albans in 1455. Richard captured the king in 1460 and forced him to acknowledge Richard as heir to the crown. Henry escaped, joined the Lancastvian forces and attacked at Towton in March 1461, only to be defeated by the Yorks. Richard's son, Edward IV, was proclaimed king; Margaret and Henry were exiled to Scotland. They were captured in 1465 and imprisoned in the Tower of London until 1470. Henry was briefly restored to power in Settember 1470. Edward, Prince of Wales, died after his final victory at Tewkesbury on May 20, 1471 and Henry returned to the Tower. The last Lancastrian king was murdered the following day.
The Yorkist conquest of the Lancastrians in 1461 did not put an end to the Wars of the Roses, which rumbled on until the start of the sixteenth century. Family disloyalty in the form of Richard III's betrayal of his nephews, the young King Edward V and his brother, was part of his downfall. Henry Tudor, a claimant to the throne of Lancastrian descent, defeated Richard III in battle and Richard was killed. With the marriage of Henry to Elizabeth, the sister of the young Princes in the Tower, reconciliation was finally achieved between the warring houses of Lancaster and York in the form of the new Tudor dynasty, which combined their respective red and white emblems to produce the Tudor rose.
EDWARD IV (1461-1470 and 1471-1483)
Edward IV was able to restore order, despite the temporary return to the throne of Henry VI (reigned 1470-71, during which time Edward fled to the Continent in exile) supported by the Earl of Warwick, 'the Kingmaker', who had previously supported Edward and who was killed at the Battle of Barnet in 1471. Edward also made peace with France; by a shrewd display of force to exert pressure, Edward reached a profitable agreement with Louis XI at Picquigny in 1475. At home, Edward relied heavily on his own personal control in government, reviving the ancient custom of sitting in person 'on the bench' (i.e. in judgement) to enforce justice. He sacked Lancastrian office-holders and used his financial acumen to introduce tight management of royal revenues to reduce the Crown's debt. Building closer relations with the merchant community, he encouraged commercial treaties; he successfully traded in wool on his own account to restore his family's fortunes and enable the King to 'live of his own', paying the costs of the country's administration from the Crown Estates profits and freeing him from dependence on subsidies from Parliament. Edward rebuilt St George's Chapel at Windsor (possibly seeing it as a mausoleum for the Yorkists, as he was buried there) and a new great hall at Eltham Palace. Edward collected illuminated manuscripts - his is the only intact medieval royal collection to survive (in the British Library) - and patronised the new invention of printing. Edward died in 1483, leaving by his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville a 12-year-old son, Edward, to succeed him.
EDWARD V (April-June 1483)
Edward V was a minor, and his uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester, was made Protector. Richard had been loyal throughout to his brother Edward IV including the events of 1470-71, Edward's exile and their brother's rebellion (the Duke of Clarence, who was executed in 1478 by drowning, reputedly in a barrel of Malmsey wine). However, he was suspicious of the Woodville faction, possibly believing they were the cause of Clarence's death. In response to an attempt by Elizabeth Woodville to take power, Richard and Edward V entered London in May, with Edward's coronation fixed for 22 June. However, in mid-June Richard assumed the throne as Richard III (reigned 1483-85). Edward V and his younger brother Richard were declared illegitimate, taken to the Royal apartments at the Tower of London (then a Royal residence) and never seen again. (Skeletons, allegedly theirs, found there in 1674 were later buried in Westminster Abbey.)
RICHARD III (1483-1485)
Richard III usurped the throne from the young Edward V, who disappeared with his younger brother while under their ambitious uncle's supposed protection. On becoming king, Richard attempted genuine reconciliation with the Yorkists by showing consideration to Lancastrians purged from office by Edward IV, and moved Henry VI's body to St George's Chapel at Windsor. The first laws written entirely in English were passed during his reign. In 1484, Richard's only legitimate son Edward predeceased him. Before becoming king, Richard had had a strong power base in the north, and his reliance on northerners during his reign was to increase resentment in the south. Richard concluded a truce with Scotland to reduce his commitments in the north. Nevertheless, resentment against Richard grew. On 7 August 1485, Henry Tudor (a direct descendant through his mother Margaret Beaufort, of John of Gaunt, one of Edward III's younger sons) landed at Milford Haven in Wales to claim the throne. On 22 August, in a two-hour battle at Bosworth, Henry's forces (assisted by Lord Stanley's private army of around 7,000 which was deliberately posted so that he could join the winning side) defeated Richard's larger army and Richard was killed. Buried without a monument in Leicester, Richard's bones were scattered during the English Reformation.
The five sovereigns of the Tudor dynasty are among the most well-known figures in Royal history. Of Welsh origin, Henry VII succeeded in ending the Wars of the Roses between the houses of Lancaster and York to found the highly successful Tudor house. Henry VII, his son Henry VIII and his three children Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I ruled for 118 eventful years.
During this period, England developed into one of the leading European colonial powers, with men such as Sir Walter Raleigh taking part in the conquest of the New World. Nearer to home, campaigns in Ireland brought the country under strict English control.
Culturally and socially, the Tudor period saw many changes. The Tudor court played a prominent part in the cultural Renaissance taking place in Europe, nurturing all-round individuals such as William Shakespeare, Edmund Spenser and Cardinal Wolsey. The Tudor period also saw the turbulence of two changes of official religion, resulting in the martyrdom of many innocent believers of both Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. The fear of Roman Catholicism induced by the Reformation was to last for several centuries and to play an influential role in the history of the Succession.
1485 - 1603
HENRY VII = Elizabeth of York,
(1485-1509) dau. of EDWARD IV
Catherine of (1) = HENRY VIII = (2) Anne Boleyn, = (3) Jane, dau. Margaret (1) = JAMES IV,
Aragon, dau. (1509-1547) dau. of Earl of Sir John King of Scotland
of FERDINAND V, of Wiltshire Seymour (1488-1513)
first King of Spain
ELIZABETH I EDWARD VI JAMES V, = Mary of
MARY I (1547-1553) (1558-1603) King of Scotland Lorraine,
(1553-1558) (1513-1542) dau. of Duke
MARY, = Henry, Lord
THE STUARTS 1603 - 1714 Anne, dau. of = JAMES VI OF SCOTLAND
FREDERICK II, AND I OF ENGLAND
King of Denmark (1567-1625)
Elizabeth = Frederick V, CHARLES I = Henrietta Maria,
Elector Palatine (1625- dau. of HENRY IV,
ex.1649) King of France
Sophia = Ernest Augustus,
Elector of Hanover
CHARLES II Mary = WILLIAM II JAMES II = Anne Hyde,
(1649-1685) of Orange (1685- dau. of Earl of
GEORGE I deposed 1688) Clarendon
WILLIAM III = MARY II ANNE
(1689-1702) (1689-1694) (1702-1714)
HENRY VII (1485-1509 AD)
Henry VII, son of Edmund Tudor and Margaret Beaufort, was born in 1457. He married Elizabeth of York in 1486, who bore him four children: Arthur, Henry, Margaret and Mary. He died in 1509 after reigning 24 years.
Henry descended from John of Gaunt, through the latter's illicit affair with Catherine Swynford; although he was a Lancastrian, he gained the throne through personal battle. The Lancastrian victory at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 left Richard III slain in the field, York ambitions routed and Henry proclaimed king. From the onset of his reign, Henry was determined to bring order to England after 85 years of civil war. His marriage to Elizabeth of York combined both the Lancaster and York factions within the Tudor line, eliminating further discord in regards to succession. He faced two insurrections during his reign, each centered around "pretenders" who claimed a closer dynastic link to the Plantagenets than Henry. Lambert Simnel posed as the Earl of Warwick, but his army was defeated and he was eventually pardoned and forced to work in the king's kitchen. Perkin Warbeck posed as Richard of York, Edward V's younger brother (and co-prisoner in the Tower of London); Warbeck's support came from the continent, and after repeated invasion attempts, Henry had him imprisoned and executed.
Henry greatly strengthened the monarchy by employing many political innovations to outmaneuver the nobility. The household staff rose beyond mere servitude: Henry eschewed public appearances, therefore, staff members were the few persons Henry saw on a regular basis. He created the Committee of the Privy Council ,a forerunner of the modern cabinet) as an executive advisory board; he established the Court of the Star Chamber to increase royal involvement in civil and criminal cases; and as an alternative to a revenue tax disbursement from Parliament, he imposed forced loans and grants on the nobility. Henry's mistrust of the nobility derived from his experiences in the Wars of the Roses - a majority remained dangerously neutral until the very end. His skill at by-passing Parliament (and thus, the will of the nobility) played a crucial role in his success at renovating government.
Henry's political acumen was also evident in his handling of foreign affairs. He played Spain off of France by arranging the marriage of his eldest son, Arthur, to Catherine of Aragon, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella. Arthur died within months and Henry secured a papal dispensation for Catherine to marry Arthur's brother, the future Henry VIII; this single event had the widest-ranging effect of all Henry's actions: Henry VIII's annulment from Catherine was the impetus for the separation of the Church of England from the body of Roman Catholicism. The marriage of Henry's daughter, Margaret, to James IV of Scotland would also have later repercussions, as the marriage connected the royal families of both England and Scotland, leading the Stuarts to the throne after the extinction of the Tudor dynasty. Henry encouraged trade and commerce by subsidizing ship building and entering into lucrative trade agreements, thereby increasing the wealth of both crown and nation.
Henry failed to appeal to the general populace: he maintained a distance between king and subject. He brought the nobility to heel out of necessity to transform the medieval government that he inherited into an efficient tool for conducting royal business. Law and trade replaced feudal obligation as the Middle Ages began evolving into the modern world. Francis Bacon, in his history of Henry VII, described the king as such: "He was of a high mind, and loved his own will and his own way; as one that revered himself, and would reign indeed. Had he been a private man he would have been termed proud: But in a wise Prince, it was but keeping of distance; which indeed he did towards all; not admitting any near or full approach either to his power or to his secrets. For he was governed by none."
HENRY VIII (1509-47 AD)
Henry VIII, born in 1491, was the second son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. The significance of Henry's reign is, at times, overshadowed by his six marriages: dispensing with these forthwith enables a deeper search into the major themes of the reign. He married Catherine of Aragon (widow of his brother, Arthur) in 1509, divorcing her in 1533; the union produced one daughter, Mary. Henry married the pregnant Anne Boleyn in 1533; she gave him another daughter, Elizabeth, but was executed for infidelity (a treasonous charge in the king's consort) in May 1536. He married Jane Seymour by the end of the same month, who died giving birth to Henry's lone male heir, Edward, in October 1536. Early in 1540, Henry arranged a marriage with Anne of Cleves, after viewing Hans Holbein's beautiful portrait of the German princess. In person, alas, Henry found her homely and the marriage was never consummated. In July 1540, he married the adulterous Catherine Howard - she was executed for infidelity in March 1542. Catherine Parr became his wife in 1543, providing for the needs of both Henry and his children until his death in 1547.
The court life initiated by his father evolved into a cornerstone of Tudor government in the reign of Henry VIII. After his father's staunch, stolid rule, the energetic, youthful and handsome king avoided governing in person, much preferring to journey the countryside hunting and reviewing his subjects. Matters of state were left in the hands of others, most notably Thomas Wolsey, Archbishop of York. Cardinal Wolsey virtually ruled England until his failure to secure the papal annulment that Henry needed to marry Anne Boleyn in 1533. Wolsey was quite capable as Lord Chancellor, but his own interests were served more than that of the king: as powerful as he was, he still was subject to Henry's favor - losing Henry's confidence proved to be his downfall. The early part of Henry's reign, however, saw the young king invade France, defeat Scottish forces at the Battle of Foldden Field (in which James IV of Scotland was slain), and write a treatise denouncing Martin Luther's Reformist ideals, for which the pope awarded Henry the title "Defender of the Faith".
The 1530's witnessed Henry's growing involvement in government, and a series of events which greatly altered England, as well as the whole of Western Christendom: the separation of the Church of England from Roman Catholicism. The separation was actually a by-product of Henry's obsession with producing a male heir; Catherine of Aragon failed to produce a male and the need to maintain dynastic legitimacy forced Henry to seek an annulment from the pope in order to marry Anne Boleyn. Wolsey tried repeatedly to secure a legal annulment from Pope Clement VII, but Clement was beholden to the Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and nephew of Catherine. Henry summoned the Reformation Parliament in 1529, which passed 137 statutes in seven years and exercised an influence in political and ecclesiastic affairs which was unknown to feudal parliaments. Religious reform movements had already taken hold in England, but on a small scale: the Lollards had been in existence since the mid-fourteenth century and the ideas of Luther and Zwingli circulated within intellectual groups, but continental Protestantism had yet to find favor with the English people. The break from Rome was accomplished through law, not social outcry; Henry, as Supreme Head of the Church of England, acknowledged this by slight alterations in worship ritual instead of a wholesale reworking of religious dogma. England moved into an era of "conformity of mind" with the new royal supremacy (much akin to the absolutism of France's Louis XIV): by 1536, all ecclesiastical and government officials were required to publicly approve of the break with Rome and take an oath of loyalty. The king moved away from the medieval idea of ruler as chief lawmaker and overseer of civil behavior, to the modern idea of ruler as the ideological icon of the state.
The remainder of Henry's reign was anticlimactic. Anne Boleyn lasted only three years before her execution; she was replaced by Jane Seymour, who laid Henry's dynastic problems to rest with the birth of Edward VI. Fragmented noble factions involved in the Wars of the Roses found themselves reduced to vying for the king's favor in court. Reformist factions won the king's confidence and vastly benefiting from Henry's dissolution of the monasteries, as monastic lands and revenues went either to the crown or the nobility. The royal staff continued the rise in status that began under Henry VII, eventually to rival the power of the nobility. Two men, in particular, were prominent figures through the latter stages of Henry's reign: Thomas Cromwell and Thomas Cranmer. Cromwell, an efficient administrator, succeeded Wolsey as Lord Chancellor, creating new governmental departments for the varying types of revenue and establishing parish priest's duty of recording births, baptisms, marriages and deaths. Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, dealt with and guided changes in ecclesiastical policy and oversaw the dissolution of the monasteries.
Henry VIII built upon the innovations instituted by his father. The break with Rome, coupled with an increase in governmental bureaucracy, led to the royal supremacy that would last until the execution of Charles I and the establishment of the Commonwealth one hundred years after Henry's death. Henry was beloved by his subjects, facing only one major insurrection, the Pilgrimage of Grace, enacted by the northernmost counties in retaliation to the break with Rome and the poor economic state of the region. History remembers Henry in much the same way as Piero Pasqualigo, a Venetian ambassador: "... he is in every respect a most accomplished prince."
EDWARD VI (1547-1553 AD)
Edward VI, son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, was born in 1537. He ascended the throne at age nine, upon the death of his father. He was betrothed to his cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, but deteriorating English-Scot relations prohibited their marriage. The frail, Protestant boy died of consumption at age sixteen having never married. Edward's reign was beset by problems from the onset. Ascending the throne while stillin his minority presented a backdrop for factional in fighting and power plays. Henry VIII, in his last days, sought to eliminate this potential problem by decreeing that a Council of Regency would govern until the child came of age, but Edward Seymour (Edward VI's uncle) gained the upper hand. The Council offered Seymour the Protectorship of the realm and the Dukedom of Somerset; he genuinely cared for both the boy and the realm, but used the Protectorship, as well as Edward's religious radicalism, to further his Protestant interests. The Book of Common Prayer, the eloquent work of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, was instituted in 1549 as a handbook to the new style of worship that skated controversial issues in an effort to pacify Catholics. Henrician treason and heresy laws were repealed, transforming England into a haven for continental heretics. Catholics were pleased with the softer version of Protestantism, but radical Protestants clamored for further reforms, adding to the ever-present factional discord. Economic hardship plagued England during Edward's rule and foreign relations were in a state of disarray. The new faith and the dissolution of the monasteries left a considerable amount of ecclesiastical officials out of work, at a time when unemployment soared; enclosure of monastic lands deprived many peasants of their means of subsistence. The coinage lost value as new coins were minted from inferior metals, as specie from the New World flooded English markets. A French/Scottish alliance threatened England, prompting Somerset to invade Scotland, where Scottish forces were trounced at Pinkie. Then general unrest and factional maneuvering proved Somerset's undoing; he was executed in September 1552. Thus began one of the most corrupt eras of English political history. The author of this corruption was the Earl of Warwick, John Dudley. Dudley was an ambitious political survivor driven by the desire to become the largest landowner in England. Dudley coerced Edward by claiming that the boy had reached manhood on his 12th birthday and was now ready to rule; Dudley also held Edward's purse strings. Dudley was created Duke of Northumberland and virtually ruled England, although he had no official title. The Council, under his leadership, systematically confiscated church territories, as the recent wave of radical Protestantism seemed a logical, and justifiable, continuation of Henrician reform. Northumberland's ambitions grew in proportion to his gains of power: he desperately sought to connect himself to the royal family. Northumberland was given the opportunity to indulge in king making - the practice by which an influential noble named the next successor, such as Richard Neville during the Wars of the Roses - when Edward was diagnosed with consumption in January 1553. Henry VIII named the line of succession in his will;next in line after Edward were his sisters Mary and Elizabeth, followed by the descendants of Henry's sister, Mary: Frances Grey and her children. Northumberland convinced Edward that his Catholic sister, Mary, would ruin the Protestant reforms enacted throughout the reign; in actuality, he knew Mary would restore Catholicism and return the confiscated Church territories which were making the Council very rich. Northumberland's appeal to Edward's radicalism worked as intended: the dying lad declared his sisters to be bastards and passed the succession to Frances Grey's daughter, Lady Jane Grey, one of the boy's only true friends. Northumberland impelled the Greys to consent to a marriage between his son, Guildford and Lady Jane. Edward died on July 6, 1553, leaving a disputed succession. Jane, against her wishes, was declared queen by the Council. Mary retreated to Framlingham in Suffolk and claimed the throne. Northumberland took an army to capture Mary, but bungled the escapade. The Council abandoned Northumberland as Mary collected popular support and rode triumphantly into London. Jane after a reign of only nine days, was imprisoned in the Tower of London until her 1554 execution at the hands of her cousin Mary. Edward was a highly intellectual and pious lad who fell prey to the machinations of his powerful Council of Regency. His frailty led to an early death. Had he lived into manhood, he potentially could have become one of England's greatest kings. Jane Austen wrote, "This Man was on the whole of a very amiable character...", to which Beckett added, " as docile as a lamb, if indeed his gentleness did not amount to absolute sheepishness."
LADY JANE GREY (10-19 July 1553)
The Accession of Lady Jane Grey was engineered by the powerful Duke of Northumberland, President of the King's Council, in the interests of promoting his own dynastic line. Northumberland persuaded the sickly Edward VI to name Lady Jane Grey as his heir. As one of Henry VIII's great-nieces, the young girl was a genuine claimant to the throne. Northumberland then married his own son, Lord Guilford Dudley, to Lady Jane. On the death of Edward, Jane assumed the throne and her claim was recognised by the Council. Despite this, the country rallied to Mary, Catherine of Aragon's daughter and a devout Roman Catholic. Jane reigned for only nine days and was later executed with her husband in 1554.
MARY I (1553-1558)
Mary I was the first Queen Regnant (that is, a queen reigning in her own right rather than a queen through marriage to a king). Courageous and stubborn, her character was moulded by her earlier years: an Act of Parliament in 1533 had declared her illegitimate and removed her from the succession to the throne (she was reinstated in 1544, but her half-brother Edward removed her from the succession once more shortly before his death), whilst she was pressurised to give up the Mass and acknowledge the English Protestant Church.
Mary restored papal supremacy in England, abandoned the title of Supreme Head of the Church, reintroduced Roman Catholic bishops and began the slow reintroduction of monastic orders. Mary also revived the old heresy laws to secure the religious conversion of the country; heresy was regarded as a religious and civil offence amounting to treason (to believe in a different religion from the Sovereign was an act of defiance and disloyalty). As a result, around 300 Protestant heretics were burnt in three years - apart from eminent Protestant clergy such as Cranmer (a former archbishop and author of two Books of Common Prayer), Latimer and Ridley, these heretics were mostly poor and self-taught people. Apart from making Mary deeply unpopular, such treatment demonstrated that people were prepared to die for the Protestant settlement established in Henry's reign. The progress of Mary's conversion of the country was also limited by the vested interests of the aristocracy and gentry who had bought the monastic lands sold off after the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and who refused to return these possessions voluntarily as Mary invited them to do.
Aged 37 at her accession, Mary wished to marry and have children, thus leaving a Catholic heir to consolidate her religious reforms, and removing her half-sister Elizabeth (a focus for Protestant opposition) from direct succession. Mary's decision to marry Philip, King of Spain from 1556, in 1554 was very unpopular; the protest from the Commons prompted Mary's reply that Parliament was 'not accustomed to use such language to the Kings of England' and that in her marriage 'she would choose as God inspired her'. The marriage was childless, Philip spent most of it on the continent, England obtained no share in the Spanish monopolies in New World trade and the alliance with Spain dragged England into a war with France. Popular discontent grew when Calais, the last vestige of England's possessions in France dating from William the Conqueror's time, was captured by the French in 1558. Dogged by ill health, Mary died later that year, possibly from cancer, leaving the crown to her half-sister Elizabeth.
ELIZABETH I (1558-1603)
Elizabeth I - the last Tudor monarch - was born at Greenwich on 7 September 1533, the daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn. Her early life was full of uncertainties, and her chances of succeeding to the throne seemed very slight once her half-brother Edward was born in 1537. She was then third in line behind her Roman Catholic half-sister, Princess Mary. Roman Catholics, indeed, always considered her illegitimate and she only narrowly escaped execution in the wake of a failed rebellion against Queen Mary in 1554.
Elizabeth succeeded to the throne on her half-sister's death in November 1558. She was very well-educated (fluent in six languages), and had inherited intelligence, determination and shrewdness from both parents. Her 45-year reign is generally considered one of the most glorious in English history. During it a secure Church of England was established. Its doctrines were laid down in the 39 Articles of 1563, a compromise between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. Elizabeth herself refused to 'make windows into men's souls ... there is only one Jesus Christ and all the rest is a dispute over trifles'; she asked for outward uniformity. Most of her subjects accepted the compromise as the basis of their faith, and her church settlement probably saved England from religious wars like those which France suffered in the second half of the 16th century.
Although autocratic and capricious, Elizabeth had astute political judgement and chose her ministers well; these included Burghley (Secretary of State), Hatton (Lord Chancellor) and Walsingham (in charge of intelligence and also a Secretary of State). Overall, Elizabeth's administration consisted of some 600 officials administering the great offices of state, and a similar number dealing with the Crown lands (which funded the administrative costs). Social and economic regulation and law and order remained in the hands of the sheriffs at local level, supported by unpaid justices of the peace.
Elizabeth's reign also saw many brave voyages of discovery, including those of Francis Drake, Walter Raleigh and Humphrey Gilbert, particularly to the Americas. These expeditions prepared England for an age of colonisation and trade expansion, which Elizabeth herself recognised by establishing the East India Company in 1600.
The arts flourished during Elizabeth's reign. Country houses such as Longleat and Hardwick Hall were built, miniature painting reached its high point, theatres thrived - the Queen attended the first performance of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. The image of Elizabeth's reign is one of triumph and success. The Queen herself was often called 'Gloriana', 'Good Queen Bess' and 'The Virgin Queen'. Investing in expensive clothes and jewellery (to look the part, like all contemporary sovereigns), she cultivated this image by touring the country in regional visits known as 'progresses', often riding on horseback rather than by carriage. Elizabeth made at least 25 progresses during her reign.
However, Elizabeth's reign was one of considerable danger and difficulty for many, with threats of invasion from Spain through Ireland, and from France through Scotland. Much of northern England was in rebellion in 1569-70. A papal bull of 1570 specifically released Elizabeth's subjects from their allegiance, and she passed harsh laws against Roman Catholics after plots against her life were discovered. One such plot involved Mary, Queen of Scots, who had fled to England in 1568 after her second husband's murder and her subsequent marriage to a man believed to have been involved in his murder. As a likely successor to Elizabeth, Mary spent 19 years as Elizabeth's prisoner because Mary was the focus for rebellion and possible assassination plots, such as the Babington Plot of 1586. Mary was also a temptation for potential invaders such as Philip II. In a letter of 1586 to Mary, Elizabeth wrote, 'You have planned ... to take my life and ruin my kingdom ... I never proceeded so harshly against you.' Despite Elizabeth's reluctance to take drastic action, on the insistence of Parliament and her advisers, Mary was tried, found guilty and executed in 1587.
In 1588, aided by bad weather, the English navy scored a great victory over the Spanish invasion fleet of around 130 ships - the 'Armada'. The Armada was intended to overthrow the Queen and re-establish Roman Catholicism by conquest, as Philip II believed he had a claim to the English throne through his marriage to Mary.
During Elizabeth's long reign, the nation also suffered from high prices and severe economic depression, especially in the countryside, during the 1590s. The war against Spain was not very successful after the Armada had been beaten and, together with other campaigns, it was very costly. Though she kept a tight rein on government expenditure, Elizabeth left large debts to her successor. Wars during Elizabeth's reign are estimated to have cost over Ј5 million (at the prices of the time) which Crown revenues could not match - in 1588, for example, Elizabeth's total annual revenue amounted to some Ј392,000. Despite the combination of financial strains and prolonged war after 1588, Parliament was not summoned more often. There were only 16 sittings of the Commons during Elizabeth's reign, five of which were in the period 1588-1601. Although Elizabeth freely used her power to veto legislation, she avoided confrontation and did not attempt to define Parliament's constitutional position and rights.
Elizabeth chose never to marry. If she had chosen a foreign prince, he would have drawn England into foreign policies for his own advantages (as in her sister Mary's marriage to Philip of Spain); marrying a fellow countryman could have drawn the Queen into factional infighting. Elizabeth used her marriage prospects as a political tool in foreign and domestic policies. However, the 'Virgin Queen' was presented as a selfless woman who sacrificed personal happiness for the good of the nation, to which she was, in essence, 'married'. Late in her reign, she addressed Parliament in the so-called 'Golden Speech' of 1601 when she told MPs: 'There is no jewel, be it of never so high a price, which I set before this jewel; I mean your love.' She seems to have been very popular with the vast majority of her subjects.
Overall, Elizabeth's always shrewd and, when necessary, decisive leadership brought successes during a period of great danger both at home and abroad. She died at Richmond Palace on 24 March 1603, having become a legend in her lifetime. The date of her accession was a national holiday for two hundred years.
The Stuarts were the first kings of the United Kingdom. King James I of England who began the period was also King James VI of Scotland, thus combining the two thrones for the first time.
The Stuart dynasty reigned in England and Scotland from 1603 to 1714, a period which saw a flourishing Court culture but also much upheaval and instability, of plague, fire and war. It was an age of intense religious debate and radical politics. Both contributed to a bloody civil war in the mid-seventeenth century between Crown and Parliament (the Cavaliers and the Roundheads), resulting in a parliamentary victory for Oliver Cromwell and the dramatic execution of King Charles I. There was a short-lived republic, the first time that the country had experienced such an event. The Restoration of the Crown was soon followed by another 'Glorious' Revolution. William and Mary of Orange ascended the throne as joint monarchs and defenders of Protestantism, followed by Queen Anne, the second of James II's daughters.
The end of the Stuart line with the death of Queen Anne led to the drawing up of the Act of Settlement in 1701, which provided that only Protestants could hold the throne. The next in line according to the provisions of this act was George of Hanover, yet Stuart princes remained in the wings. The Stuart legacy was to linger on in the form of claimants to the Crown for another century.
JAMES I (1603-25 AD)
James I was born in 1566 to Mary Queen of Scots and her second husband, Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley. He descended from the Tudors through Margaret, daughter of Henry VII : both Mary Queen of Scots and Henry Stewart were grandchildren of Margaret Tudor. James ascended the Scottish throne upon the abdication of his mother in 1567, but Scotland was ruled by regent untilJames reached his majority. He married Anne of Denmark in 1589, who bore him three sons and four daughters: Henry, Elizabeth, Margaret, Charles, Robert, Mary and Sophia. He was named successor to the English throne by his cousin, Elizabeth I and ascended that throne in 1603. James died of a stroke in 1625 after ruling Scotland for 58 years and England for 22 years.
James was profoundly affected by his years as a boy in Scottish court. Murder and intrigue had plagued the Scottish throne throughout the reigns of his mother and grandfather (James V) and had no less bearing during James's rule. His father had been butchered mere months after James' birth by enemies of Mary and Mary, because of her indiscretions and Catholic faith, was forced to abdicate the throne. Thus, James developed a guarded manner. He was thrilled to take the English crown and leave the strictures and poverty of the Scottish court.
James' twenty-nine years of Scottish kingship did little to prepare him for the English monarchy: England and Scotland, rivals for superiority on the island since the first emigration of the Anglo-Saxon races, virtually hated each other. This inherent mistrust, combined with Catholic-Protestant and Episcopal-Puritan tensions, severely limited James' prospects of a truly successful reign. His personality also caused problems: he was witty and well-read, fiercely believed in the divine right of kingship and his own importance, but found great difficulty in gaining acceptance from an English society that found his rough-hewn manners and natural paranoia quite unbecoming. James saw little use for Parliament. His extravagant spending habits and nonchalant ignoring of the nobility's grievances kept king and Parliament constantly at odds. He came to the thrown at the zenith of monarchical power, but never truly grasped the depth and scope of that power.
Religious dissension was the basis of an event that confirmed and fueled James' paranoia: the Gunpowder Plot of November 5, 1605. Guy Fawkes and four other Catholic dissenters were caught attempting to blow up the House of Lords on a day in which the king was to open the session. The conspirators were executed, but a fresh wave of anti-Catholic sentiments washed across England. James also disliked the Puritans who became excessive in their demands on the king, resulting in the first wave of English immigrants to North America. James, however, did manage to commission an Authorized Version of the Bible, printed in English in 1611.
The relationship between king and Parliament steadily eroded. Extravagant spending (particularly on James' favorites), inflation and bungled foreign policies discredited James in the eyes of Parliament. Parliament flatly refused to disburse funds to a king who ignored their concerns and were annoyed by rewards lavished on favorites and great amounts spent on decoration. James awarded over 200 peerages (landed titles) as, essentially, bribes designed to win loyalty, the most controversial of which was his creation of George Villiers (his closest advisor and homosexual partner) as Duke of Buckingham. Buckingham was highly influential in foreign policy, which failed miserably. James tried to kindle Spanish relations by seeking a marriage between his son Charles and the Spanish Infanta (who was less than receptive to the clumsy overtures of Charles and Buckingham), and by executing Sir Walter Raleigh at the behest of Spain.
James was not wholly unsuccessful as king, but his Scottish background failed to translate well into a changing English society. He is described, albeit humorously, in 1066 and All That, as such: "James I slobbered at the mouth and had favourites; he was thus a bad king"; Sir Anthony Weldon made a more somber observation: "He was very crafty and cunning in petty things, as the circumventing any great man, the change of a Favourite, &c. inasmuch as a very wise man was wont to say, he believed him the very wisest fool in Christendom."
CHARLES I (1625-49)
Charles I was born in Fife on 19 November 1600, the second son of James VI of Scotland (from 1603 also James I of England) and Anne of Denmark. He became heir to the throne on the death of his brother, Prince Henry, in 1612. He succeeded, as the second Stuart King of England, in 1625.
Controversy and disputes dogged Charles throughout his reign. They eventually led to civil wars, first with the Scots from 1637 and later in England (1642-46 and 1648). The Civil Wars deeply divided people at the time, and historians still disagree about the real causes of the conflict, but it is clear that Charles was not a successful ruler.
Charles was reserved (he had a residual stammer), self-righteous and had a high concept of royal authority, believing in the divine right of kings. He was a good linguist and a sensitive man of refined tastes. He spent a lot on the arts, inviting the artists Van Dyck and Rubens to work in England, and buying a great collection of paintings by Raphael and Titian (this collection was later dispersed under Cromwell). His expenditure on his court and his picture collection greatly increased the crown's debts. Indeed, crippling lack of money was a key problem for both the early Stuart monarchs.
Charles was also deeply religious. He favoured the high Anglican form of worship, with much ritual, while many of his subjects, particularly in Scotland, wanted plainer forms. Charles found himself ever more in disagreement on religious and financial matters with many leading citizens. Having broken an engagement to the Spanish infanta, he had married a Roman Catholic, Henrietta Maria of France, and this only made matters worse. Although Charles had promised Parliament in 1624 that there would be no advantages for recusants (people refusing to attend Church of England services), were he to marry a Roman Catholic bride, the French insisted on a commitment to remove all disabilities upon Roman Catholic subjects. Charles's lack of scruple was shown by the fact that this commitment was secretly added to the marriage treaty, despite his promise to Parliament.
Charles had inherited disagreements with Parliament from his father, but his own actions (particularly engaging in ill-fated wars with France and Spain at the same time) eventually brought about a crisis in 1628-29. Two expeditions to France failed - one of which had been led by Buckingham, a royal favourite of both James I and Charles I, who had gained political influence and military power. Such was the general dislike of Buckingham, that he was impeached by Parliament in 1628, although he was murdered by a fanatic before he could lead the second expedition to France. The political controversy over Buckingham demonstrated that, although the monarch's right to choose his own Ministers was accepted as an essential part of the royal prerogative, Ministers had to be acceptable to Parliament or there would be repeated confrontations. The King's chief opponent in Parliament until 1629 was Sir John Eliot, who was finally imprisoned in the Tower of London until his death in 1632.
Tensions between the King and Parliament centred around finances, made worse by the costs of war abroad, and by religious suspicions at home (Charles's marriage was seen as ominous, at a time when plots against Elizabeth I and the Gunpowder Plot in James I's reign were still fresh in the collective memory, and when the Protestant cause was going badly in the war in Europe). In the first four years of his rule, Charles was faced with the alternative of either obtaining parliamentary funding and having his policies questioned by argumentative Parliaments who linked the issue of supply to remedying their grievances, or conducting a war without subsidies from Parliament. Charles dismissed his fourth Parliament in March 1629 and decided to make do without either its advice or the taxes which it alone could grant legally.
Although opponents later called this period 'the Eleven Years' Tyranny', Charles's decision to rule without Parliament was technically within the King's royal prerogative, and the absence of a Parliament was less of a grievance to many people than the efforts to raise revenue by non-parliamentary means. Charles's leading advisers, including William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Earl of Strafford, were efficient but disliked. For much of the 1630s, the King gained most of the income he needed from such measures as impositions, exploitation of forest laws, forced loans, wardship and, above all, ship money (extended in 1635 from ports to the whole country). These measures made him very unpopular, alienating many who were the natural supporters of the Crown.
Scotland (which Charles had left at the age of 3, returning only for his coronation in 1633) proved the catalyst for rebellion. Charles's attempt to impose a High Church liturgy and prayer book in Scotland had prompted a riot in 1637 in Edinburgh which escalated into general unrest. Charles had to recall Parliament; however, the Short Parliament of April 1640 queried Charles's request for funds for war against the Scots and was dissolved within weeks. The Scots occupied Newcastle and, under the treaty of Ripon, stayed in occupation of Northumberland and Durham and they were to be paid a subsidy until their grievances were redressed.
Charles was finally forced to call another Parliament in November 1640. This one, which came to be known as The Long Parliament, started with the imprisonment of Laud and Strafford (the latter was executed within six months, after a Bill of Attainder which did not allow for a defence), and the abolition of the King's Council (Star Chamber), and moved on to declare ship money and other fines illegal. The King agreed that Parliament could not be dissolved without its own consent, and the Triennial Act of 1641 meant that no more than three years could elapse between Parliaments.
The Irish uprising of October 1641 raised tensions between the King and Parliament over the command of the Army. Parliament issued a Grand Remonstrance repeating their grievances, impeached 12 bishops and attempted to impeach the Queen. Charles responded by entering the Commons in a failed attempt to arrest five Members of Parliament, who had fled before his arrival. Parliament reacted by passing a Militia Bill allowing troops to be raised only under officers approved by Parliament. Finally, on 22 August 1642 at Nottingham, Charles raised the Royal Standard calling for loyal subjects to support him (Oxford was to be the King's capital during the war). The Civil War, what Sir William Waller (a Parliamentary general and moderate) called 'this war without an enemy', had begun.
The Battle of Edgehill in October 1642 showed that early on the fighting was even. Broadly speaking, Charles retained the north, west and south-west of the country, and Parliament had London, East Anglia and the south-east, although there were pockets of resistance everywhere, ranging from solitary garrisons to whole cities. However, the Navy sided with Parliament (which made continental aid difficult), and Charles lacked the resources to hire substantial mercenary help.
Parliament had entered an armed alliance with the predominant Scottish Presbyterian group under the Solemn League and Covenant of 1643, and from 1644 onwards Parliament's armies gained the upper hand - particularly with the improved training and discipline of the New Model Army. The Self-Denying Ordinance was passed to exclude Members of Parliament from holding army commands, thereby getting rid of vacillating or incompetent earlier Parliamentary generals. Under strong generals like Sir Thomas Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell, Parliament won victories at Marston Moor (1644) and Naseby (1645). The capture of the King's secret correspondence after Naseby showed the extent to which he had been seeking help from Ireland and from the Continent, which alienated many moderate supporters.
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