Regnal years of English monarchs

The following is a list of the official regnal years of the monarchs of the Kingdom of England (subsequently Great Britain and the United Kingdom), from 1066 to the present day. The regnal calendar ("nth year of the reign of King X", etc.) is used in many official British government and legal documents of historical interest, notably parliamentary statutes.

Overview

For centuries, English official public documents have been dated by the regnal years of the ruling monarch. Traditionally, parliamentary statutes are referenced by regnal year, e.g. the Occasional Conformity Act of 1711 is officially referenced as "10 Anne c.6" (read as "the sixth chapter of the statute of the parliamentary session that sat in the 10th year of the reign of Queen Anne").

Regnal years are calculated from the official date (year, month and day) of a monarch's accession. For example, King George III acceded on 25 October 1760. That marks the beginning of his first regnal year. His second regnal year starts on 25 October 1761, his third regnal year on 25 October 1762, and so on. When a monarch dies, abdicates or is deposed, the regnal year comes to an end (whether the full year has run its course or not). A new regnal year begins from a new date, with a new monarch.

As different monarchs begin their reigns at different times, the exact month and day when a regnal year begins varies across reigns. For example, Elizabeth I's regnal year starts on 17 November, James I's on 24 March, Charles I's on 27 March, and so on.

Within this article English dates before the official introduction to England of the Gregorian calendar on Thursday 14 September 1752 are given using the Julian calendar with 1 January for the start of year. However the official "legal year" — that is, the calendar used for legal, civic and ecclesiastical purposes — has not always started on the same date as the start of the historical calendar year which is 1 January (see Old Style and New Style dates). Until the 13th century, the legal year began at Christmas (25 December). From the 14th century until 1752, the 'legal' year began on 25 March. It is only since 1 January 1752, the legal year was re-set to coincide with the start of the historical calendar year (see Calendar (New Style) Act 1750). [1]

This means that when the legal year began on 25 December the legal year was nearly a year behind the historical calendar. For example the first January of William the Conqueror's reign was in the legal year of 1066 but the historical calendar year of 1067. From the 13th century until the middle of the 18th century the start of some monarch's regnal year may be transposed onto different years depending on whether the transposition uses the legal year or the historic calendar. For example the reign of Charles I came to an end with his execution on 30 January 1649, but contemporary legal records such as the House of Commons Journals record this as 30 January 1648. [2]

These date differences can also be confusing when sorting dates in old documents before 1753. For example, a parliamentary statute that was passed on, say, 10 February 1585 (in normal calendar date) would be dated in the official record as 10 February 1584 (the legal year), and simultaneously said to have been passed in the 27th year of Elizabeth I (the regnal year that started on 17 November 1584). [1]

The following table gives the dates of the regnal years for Kings of England (and subsequently Great Britain), from 1066 to the present day. [3] These are official de jure dates, and may or may not coincide with whether a particular king had de facto power or not at that time. For example, as the Commonwealth era was suppressed in the official record, the regnal years of Charles II are measured from 30 January 1649 (the day his father Charles I was executed); as a result, when Charles II actually became king, on 29 May 1660, he was already in his 12th regnal year. (For the de facto tabulation of English rulers, see any conventional list of English monarchs.)