List of English monarchs

This list of kings and queens of the Kingdom of England begins with Alfred the Great, King of Wessex, one of the seven petty kingdoms to rule a portion of modern England. Alfred styled himself King of the Anglo-Saxons and while he was not the first king to lay claim to rule all of the English, his rule represents the first unbroken line of Kings to rule the whole of England, the House of Wessex.[1] The last monarch of a distinct kingdom of England was Anne, who became Queen of Great Britain when England merged with Scotland to form a union in 1707.

The seven main Anglo-Saxon petty kingdoms to be unified as the early Kingdom of England

Arguments are made for a few different kings deemed to control enough of the seven ancient kingdoms of the Anglo-Saxons to be deemed the first King of England. For example, Offa, king of Mercia, and Egbert, king of Wessex, are sometimes described as kings of England by popular writers, but it is no longer the majority view of historians that their wide dominions are part of a process leading to a unified England, as highlighted by historian Simon Keynes stating, for example, that "Offa was driven by a lust for power, not a vision of English unity; and what he left was a reputation, not a legacy."[2] This refers to a period in the late eighth century when Offa achieved a dominance over many of the kingdoms of southern England, but this did not survive his death in 796. In 829 Egbert of Wessex conquered Mercia, but he soon lost control of it. It was not until the late ninth century that one kingdom, Wessex, had become the dominant Anglo-Saxon kingdom. Its king, Alfred the Great, was overlord of western Mercia and used the title King of the Angles and Saxons, but he never ruled eastern and northern England, which was then known as the Danelaw, having earlier been conquered by the Danes from Scandinavia. His son Edward the Elder conquered the eastern Danelaw, but Edward's son Æthelstan became the first king to rule the whole of England when he conquered Northumbria in 927, and he is regarded by some modern historians as the first true king of England.[3][4] The title "King of the English" or Rex Anglorum in Latin, was first used to describe Æthelstan by one of his charters in 928.

The Principality of Wales was incorporated into the Kingdom of England under the Statute of Rhuddlan in 1284, and in 1301 King Edward I invested his eldest son, the future King Edward II, as Prince of Wales. Since that time, except for King Edward III, the eldest sons of all English monarchs have borne this title.

After the death of Queen Elizabeth I without issue, in 1603, King James VI of Scotland also became James I of England, joining the crowns of England and Scotland in personal union. By royal proclamation, James styled himself "King of Great Britain", but no such kingdom was actually created until 1707, when England and Scotland united to form the new Kingdom of Great Britain, with a single British parliament sitting at Westminster, during the reign of Queen Anne.

House of Wessex

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death Claim Ref.
Alfred the Great
23 April 871

26 October 899
(28 years, 187 days)
Alfred - MS Royal 14 B VI.jpg 849
Son of Æthelwulf of Wessex
and Osburh
Ealhswith
Gainsborough
868
5 children
26 October 899
Aged about 50
Son of Æthelwulf of Wessex
Treaty of Wedmore
[5]
[6]
[7]
Edward the Elder
26 October 899

17 July 924
(24 years, 266 days)
Edward the Elder - MS Royal 14 B VI.jpg c. 874
Son of Alfred
and Ealhswith
(1) Ecgwynn
c. 893
2 children
(2) Ælfflæd
c. 900
8 children
(3) Eadgifu
c. 919
4 children
17 July 924
Aged about 50
Son of Alfred [8]

Disputed

There is some evidence that Ælfweard of Wessex may have been king for up to four weeks in 924 (timing itself is unclear, as he died 16 days, not 28 days, after his father), between his father Edward the Elder and his brother Æthelstan, although he was not crowned.[9] However, this is not accepted by all historians. Also, it is unclear whether—if Ælfweard was declared king—it was over the whole kingdom or of Wessex only: one interpretation of the ambiguous evidence is that when Edward died, Ælfweard was declared king in Wessex and Æthelstan in Mercia.[10]

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death Claim
Ælfweard
c. 17 July 924

2 August 924[11]
(16 days)
Does not appear No image.svg c. 901[12]
Son of Edward the Elder
and Ælfflæd[12]
Does not appear Unmarried?
No children
2 August 924[10]
Aged about 23[i]
Son of Edward the Elder

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death Claim Ref.
Æthelstan
924
King of the Anglo-Saxons (924–927)

King of the English (927–939)
27 October 939
(14–15 years)
King Athelstan from All Souls College Chapel 894
Son of Edward the Elder
and Ecgwynn
Does not appear Unmarried 27 October 939
Aged about 45
Son of Edward the Elder [14]
[15]
Edmund I
27 October 939

26 May 946
(6 years, 212 days)
Edmund I - MS Royal 14 B V.jpg c. 921
Son of Edward the Elder
and Eadgifu of Kent
(1) Ælfgifu of Shaftesbury
2 sons
(2) Æthelflæd of Damerham
944
No children
26 May 946
Pucklechurch
Killed in a brawl aged about 25
Son of Edward the Elder [16]
[17]
[18]
Eadred
26 May 946

23 November 955
(9 years, 182 days)
Eadred - MS Royal 14 B VI.jpg c. 923
Son of Edward the Elder
and Eadgifu of Kent
Does not appear Unmarried 23 November 955
Frome
Aged about 32
Son of Edward the Elder [19]
[20]
[21]
Eadwig
23 November 955

1 October 959
(3 years, 313 days)
Line engraving of Edwy made by an unknown engraver after an unknown artist c. 940
Son of Edmund I
and Ælfgifu of Shaftesbury
Ælfgifu
No verified children
1 October 959
Aged about 19
Son of Edmund I [22]
[23]
[24]
Edgar the Peaceful
1 October 959

8 July 975
(15 years, 281 days)
King Edgar of England c. 943
Wessex
Son of Edmund I
and Ælfgifu of Shaftesbury
(1) Æthelflæd
c. 960
1 son
(2) Ælfthryth
c. 964
2 sons
8 July 975
Winchester
Aged 31
Son of Edmund I [25]
[26]
[27]
Edward the Martyr
8 July 975

18 March 978
(2 years, 254 days)
St. Edward the Martyr c. 962
Son of Edgar the Peaceful
and Æthelflæd
Does not appear Unmarried 18 March 978
Corfe Castle
Murdered aged about 16
Son of Edgar the Peaceful [28]
[29]
(1st reign)[ii]
Æthelred
Æthelred the Unready
18 March 978

1013
(34–35 years)
Image of Æthelred II with an oversize sword from the illuminated manuscript "The Chronicle of Abingdon" c. 968
Son of Edgar the Peaceful
and Ælfthryth
(1) Ælfgifu of York
991
9 children
(2) Emma of Normandy
1002
3 children
23 April 1016
London
Aged about 48
Son of Edgar the Peaceful [31]
[30]
[32]
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