Kings and Queens of England and Great
Overview and Family Trees
prepared by Skylar Hamilton Burris
Here is an overview of the Kings and Queens of England and Great Britain, from William the Conqueror (who defeated King Harold II in 1066 at the Battle of Hastings) to Elizabeth II (the present Queen). Family trees are outlined, interspersed with explanations and occasional historical events. Parts of the trees are often repeated in other trees because these families are intricately intertwined, and the repetition should enable you to see who is related to whom, and where their claims to the throne originate. You may want to print out these pages for further reference.
William I "The Conqueror" (House of Normandy)
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William II Henry I daughter
1087-1100 1100-35 |
| Stephen (House of Blois)
Henry II (House of Plantagent) + Eleanore of Aquitaine
Richard I John I
(Coeur de Lion) (Lackland)
Henry III (1216-1272)
Edward I (1272-1307)
Edward II (1307-1327)
Edward III (1327-1377)
Edward, Prince of Wales, "The Black Prince"
(dies before his father, so he never reigns)
Richard II (1377-1399)
Okay, here's where it gets really complicated. Read on.
Edward III had four other surviving sons (besides the Prince of Wales): (1) Lionel, Duke of Clarence (2) John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster (3) Edmund of Langley, Duke of York, (4) Thomas of Woodstock (Gloucester).
John of Gaunt's son, Bollingbroke, defeated Richard II and became Henry IV.
John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster + Blanche
Henry IV (House of Lancaster)
Henry V (1412-1422) + Katherine (of France)
Henry VI (1422-1461)
Prince Edward + Anne Neville
During the reign of Henry VI, the War of the Roses was in full force. Richard Plantagent (grandson of Edmund Langely, Duke of York, and great-grandson of Edward III) laid claim to the throne, but did not succeed. After his death, his son succeeded and became Edward IV. It was called the War of the Roses because the Lancasters had a red rose for their emblem and the Yorks had a white rose.
Edmund Langley, Duke of York
Richard of Cambridge
Edward IV Richard III + Anne Neville
| | (House of York)
Elizabeth Edward V
After Edward IV died, Richard III (in Shakespeare's version of history) had Edward's two sons imprisoned and killed, including Edward V (who was never actually crowned). Richard III married Anne Neville after her first husband, Edward, son of Henry VI, died. The Earl of Richmond, who married Edward IV's daughter Elizabeth, made a claim for the throne. It was a weak claim. He was descended, through his mother, from John of Gaunt and his third wife Catherine Swynford (Geoffery Chaucer's sister-in-law, incidentally). However, John and Catherine's children were born before they were married. These children were made legitimate by law, but with the specific stipulation that no descendant of theirs would sit on the throne. Nevertheless, Richmond defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, becoming King Henry VII.
John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster + Catherine Swynford
John 3rd Earl of Somerset
Henry VII (House of Tudor) + Elizabeth
Katherine + Henry VIII + Anne Boleyn + Jane Seymour
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Mary I Elizabeth I Edward VI
1553-1558 1558-1603 1547-1553
Henry VIII led the Anglican church to break from Rome in order to (1) get
a divorce from his first wife Katherine and (2) to regain the lands which had been willed
to the Catholic church. His son by his third wife, Jane Seymour, ruled as Edward
VI. When Edward died, Mary I, his first daughter by Katherine, became Queen. Katherine was
Catholic, and consequently so was Mary. Mary tried to restore Catholicism, and became
known as "Bloody Marry." (She was fought in part because restoring
Catholicism would mean that those lands which Henry VIII took from the church and gave to
various noblemen would have to be given back to the Church.) When she died, childless, her
sister Elizabeth (daughter of Henry VIII by Anne Boleyn) became Queen. She, like her
mother, was Protestant. Meanwhile, Mary Queen of Scots was trying to capture the English
throne. She was descended through her mother, Margaret, from Henry VII. Mary Queen
of Scots was forced by her subjects to abdicate the throne in Scotland because she was
implicated in the murder of her husband. (Lord Darnely, her husband, was murdered by Lord
Bothwell, whom Mary then married. Elizabeth was faced with a similar possibility, but
acted more wisely. She was apparently in love with the Duke of Leicester, whose wife
died--suspiciously but probably accidentally--by falling down the stairs. Had Elizabeth
married him, she may have aroused suspicion and may have seemed a party to murder. But
Elizabeth never did.) Elizabeth, believing that by killing Mary she would only be
teaching others to kill her, had her imprisoned. But after repeated plots from prison,
Elizabeth finally had her beheaded. Elizabeth never had any children, but she stipulated
that Mary Queen of Scotts's son, James VI of Scotland, should succeed her to the throne.
He did, becoming James I of England.
Margaret + James IV of Scotland
James V of Scotland
Mary Queen of Scots
James VI of Scotland and
James I of England (House of Stuart)
Charles I (1625-1649)
Charles I was beheaded in 1649 after the English Civil War. The commonwealth/protectorate then ruled until 1660, when Charles II was restored to the throne. Oliver Cromwell was Lord Protector from 1653-1658, and his son Richard Cromwell, "Tumble-down Dick," was Lord Protector from 1658 until he resigned in 1660.
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Charles II James II daughter
1662-1685 1685-1688 |
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Anne Mary II + William III
Charles II died without a legitimate heir, and so his Catholic brother, James II, assumed the throne. The English did not like that he was Catholic, so Parliament deposed him in favor of William of Orange (a grandson by a daughter of Charles I) and Mary (the Protestant daughter of James II) in the so called "Glorious Revolution" or "Bloodless Revolution." They ruled jointly as Mary II and William III. When they died without an heir, Anne, another Protestant daughter of James II, became Queen. When she died, the great grandson of James I (through his mother) became King George I. At this time, James II's son, who was in exile in Scotland, made a failed bid for the throne. He was called "The Old Pretender," and this is referred to as the First Jacobite Rebellion. Later, in 1745, his son, "Bonnie Prince Charles" made another failed bid for the throne, and this is called the Second Jacobite Rebellion.
George I (House of Hanover)
George II (1727-1760)
George III (1760-1820)
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George IV William IV some son
1820-1830 1830-1837 |
Edward VII (1901-1910)
(House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha)
George V (House of Windsor)
Edward VIII (abdicates) George VI (1936-1952)
Elizabeth II (1952 - )
George IV actually began ruling in 1811, in a period called The Regency, when George III was still alive but had been declared incurably insane. During George V's reign, the name of the House was changed to Windsor, because the English were in the midst of World War I, and the old name was too German sounding. Edward VIII abdicated in order to marry a divorced American woman.
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