The British Monarchy has evolved over almost 2 millennium. This web site explores the history, chronology, and the multifarious and fascinating characters of the individual kings and queens from ad 839 until ad 2000
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Westminster July 1377. Richard II was crowned king today in splendid ceremony. Yesterday the 10-year old king rode through London from the Tower to Westminster, and the City laid on a magnificent pageant for him. Today he was led in procession to the abbey by his uncle John of Gaunt. He swore his coronation oath, and the Archbishop of Canterbury anointed him with holy oil, set the crown on his head, the ring on his finger and the sceptre into his hands.
London 15 June 1381. The king faced down the rebels at Smithfield today, saving himself and the court from massacre. The mayor of London had just killed Wat Tyler, the rebel leader, and the peasants were about to attack when the 14 year old king rode over to them crying “Sirs, would you kill your king, I am your captain and your leader”.
Westminster 3 August 1394. Queen Anne of Bohemia, who died on June 7, aged 28, was buried here today. The king has ordered a magnificent tomb for himself and his wife, with effigies of each of them. The king is devastated by the loss. The queen was his closest and most loyal friend and gave him self confidence. The Earl of Arundel arrived late for the funeral and in a moment of rage was struck to the ground by the king wielding the sceptre.
Westminster 13 October 1399. Henry Bolingbrooke was today crowned as King Henry IV by Thomas Arundel, the archbishop of Canterbury. It is the feast of the translation of St. Edward, and the coronation has been accompanied by several auspicious rituals. Yesterday in his first act of pageantry, the new king knighted 50 nobles, including his four sons who walked before him to the throne.
Wales 15 October 1400. The king’s anger with the Welsh for supporting the anti-English rebellion led by Owain Glyndwr last month knows no bounds. He feels personally insulted by the actions of this self-styled Prince of Wales and is determined to hold the Welsh nation responsible for this and any future uprising.
Westminster 20 March 1413. Henry IV the usurper king, is dead. His last years overshadowed by his debilitating disease, King Henry fainted as he made an offering before the shrine of Edward the Confessor the patron saint of King Richard II. He was carried into the so-called “Jerusalem Chamber” ion the abbot’s house for the last rites. This was appropriate, because it had been prophesied that the king would die in Jerusalem, and he was planning a crusade there.
Westminster 9 April 1413. The Prince of Wales was crowned King Henry V today, Passion Sunday, in the middle of a blizzard. He looked solemn and gloomy and did not touch the food at the coronation banquet. He was aware that many of the nobles in the abbey considered him a usurper like his father: the Earl of March has a better title to the throne, and it is popularly believed that the deposed King Richard is still alive and in Scotland. The new king is 25, athletic - it is said he can outrun a deer.
Winchester 6 July 1415. King Henry today declared war on France. After the final breakdown of negotiations over his claim to the French throne. The claim through his great-grandfather Edward III whose mother was the daughter of King Philip IV rests on not recognizing the “Salic Law” debarring the succession through women. France’s king Charles VI is intermittently mad, and there is civil war between the Armagnacs and the Burgandians.
Agincourt 25 October 1415. Terrible slaughter was inflicted on the French by King Henry’s much smaller army here today through a combination of continuous rain, bad French tactics and the skill of English archers. His 6,000 men., short of rations and weakened by dysentery, met a French force of around 20,000.
Vincennes, Paris, 31 August 1422. King Henry V will never wear the crown of France which he devoted so many years to winning. Between two and three o’clock this morning the victor of Agincourt, wasted and feeble after months of illness succumbed to dysentery., the dreaded “bloody flux” which is the curse of Europe's armies.
Windsor 21 October 1422. A ten-month old baby is king of England and France. Henry of Windsor, the only child of King Henry V and Catherine of Valois, became Henry VI when his father died suddenly. With the death today of his grandfather Charles VI of France, the infant is monarch of the two kingdoms. When he was born every bell in London rang out to greet the royal birth and in France the kings troops rejoiced.
London 6 December 1422. The king is one year old today, but he is monarch in name only. His twin kingdoms are in the hands of two regents: his royal uncles the Dukes of Bedford and Gloucester. This was ordered by his late father and proclaimed yesterday at the first parliament of the new reign.
John of Bedford. Already Henry’s military commander in France, for which he is now responsible is his principal protector and guardian. Humphrey of Gloucester, Henry V’s youngest brother, is to rule England, although only in Bedford’s absence and will be the boy’s protector there.
Westminster, 5 November 1429. Henry of Windsor, king of both England and France from the age of ten months, was crowned today, one month short of his eighth birthday, at Westminster Abbey. Symbolically, he was carried into the abbey by his tutor, the Earl of Warwick, but he strode out on his feet, flanked by two bishops.
Paris, 16 December 1431. Two years after he was crowned King of England, Henry VI has become king of France. The ceremony of his second coronation took place today in Notre Dame. One traditionally English feature of the coronation was the ‘recognition’, a great shout throughout the cathedral acknowledging Henry’s kingship not heard in France for 150 years.
Hampshire 22 April 1445. King Henry married Margaret of Anjou at the abbey of Titchfield today, the Vigil of St. George. The new Queen only 15, was laid low by seasickness on her voyage from Cherbourg, and the king had to wait a week for her to recover. Westminster 27 March 1454. Richard, Duke of York was today appointed protector and defender of the kingdom of England. He is to hold the post while King Henry remains in the catatonic state into which he lapsed last summer.
London July 1460. The fortunes of the civil war between the Yorkist and Lancastrian branches of the Royal house of Plantagenet, have swung once again towards the Yorkists. Following the defeat of the Lancastrian army by the Earl of Warwick at Northampton, the hapless King Henry V whose madness and marriage to the hated Margaret of Anjou helped to fuel the conflict - has fallen into the hands of Yorkist nobles. Richard of York, in Ireland since his defeat at Ludlow last year, is now expected to return, his followers poised to take control of London.
Wakefield 30 December 1460. Two months ago Richard, Duke of York, forced King Henry to name him as heir to the throne. Tonight, his head cruelly adorned by a paper crown, looks down from the city gate of York. He and his son Edmund, Earl of Rutland, and many other Yorkist nobles were killed today at Wakefield. The king takes no part in events having renounced his son’s rights to the throne he has retreated into contemplation. However, Queen Margaret, who is in Scotland negotiating a military treaty is expected to march south and take control of her husband once more.
Towton 29 March 1461. Edward of York, the warrior who proclaimed himself King Edward IV earlier this month, today captured his prize after a savage battle here. He desperately needed this victory to demonstrate the justice of his cause and win more support. Now with Henry VI, Prince Edward and Margaret of Anjou in desperate flight to Scotland, he can return to London confident that he will be
Westminster 28 June 1461. Edward, all doubts about his fitness to rule banished by his victory at Towton, was crowned king of England today. The tall 18 year-old king made a fine figure in the coronation robes and was crowned with due pomp and ceremony to acclaim. Despite promising to end the factionalism that has torn England apart, he is not absolutely secure. Margaret of Anjou waits in Scotland, ready to do battle to restore Henry VI to the throne and to secure succession for their son, Edward.
Westminster 28 September 1464. The king has acknowledged today that he has secretly married Elizabeth Woodville, a widow whose husband, Sir John Grey, was killed fighting for the Lancastrians at St. Albans three years ago. This revelation has shocked the court, not so much because she is five years older than Edward and has two sons but because she is regarded as being too far beneath him in the social scale.
Kings Lynn 2 October 1470. King Edward set sail from here today with a small faithful group of men-at-arms, fleeing to exile in Burgandy after being betrayed by the Marquis of Montague, the brother of the earl of Warwick. Edward having went north to deal with troublemakers left the coast open for the Duke of Clarence to land on the south coast. The news that Montague had pledged his support to Warwick meant that there was little Edward could do but to flee.
Tower of London 6 October 1470. Warwick and Clarence entered London today to find the capital given over to rioting following the flight of the king. In the prevailing anarchy they went directly to the Tower of London and swore allegiance to the understandably bewildered Henry VI. They then released him and installed him on the throne.
Hertfordshire 14 April 1471. Edward IV settled his quarrel with Montague and Warwick at Barnet, north of London this Easter Sunday, in a three hour battle which ended with Warwick and his brother Montague lying dead on the battlefield and their army defeated.
Tewksbury 7 May 1471. King Edward has crowned his dazzling progress his return from exile in Burgandy by outmanoeuvring and utterly defeating the army of Margaret of Anjou here two days ago. Today after her army paused by the banks of the Severn, she was captured by Edward’s troops. She has lost everything, her beloved son The Prince of Wales, was killed as he tried to flee from the battlefield.
St. Pauls, London 24 May 1471. Henry VI lies in state here his face uncovered to the people. He died in the Tower three days ago, a few hours after Edward returned in triumph to London with the captured Margaret of Anjou.
Saumur, 25 August 1482. Margaret of Anjou, the queen who many blame for the fall of the house of Lancaster, has died aged 53. She spent her last years in obscurity living off a pension provided by Louis XI.
Windsor 9 April 1483. The king is dead after being struck down by a mystery illness two weeks ago. His sudden death has come as a great shock.
Ludlow Castle 24 April 1483. The death of Edward IV at 40 has left the succession of his 12-year-old son Edward V in some doubt. His mother, the unpopular and grasping Queen Elizabeth, immediately asked her elder brother Anthony Woodville, Earl Rivers, to take him to London with an armed escort of 2,000 men to be crowned as soon as possible. The heir to the throne is a lively adolescent good looking like his father, with precocious charm and intelligence.
In his will, Edward IV is thought to have nominated his brother Richard, The Duke of Gloucester, as protector and guardian of the young king, but he is in Yorkshire and is unaware of this. Instead the queen and the Marquis of Dorset have taken the royal treasure from the Tower to the Palace of Westminster. They plan to hold a coronation on the 4th May.
London August 1483. It is being openly said in London that the two princes confined in the Tower have been done away with, though no one knows their fate for certain. The princes were believed to have been moved to the White Tower, where many of the upper rooms are used to house prisoners. No one has seen them at any of the windows. Nothing has been heard of or from them since King Richard rode from the Tower to Westminster to be crowned.
Northampton 30 April 1483. A dramatic reversal of fortune has removed the young King Edward from the hands of his uncle Earl Rivers and put him in the charge of his Plantagenet uncle Richard of Gloucester.
London 26 June 1483. An assembly of lords who had come to London for the coronation of the boy king. Edward V, today requested the Lord Protector, Richard the Duke of Gloucester to assume the throne himself. After hesitation, Richard accepted the proposal and rode with the lords to Westminster Hall where he took his seat upon the marble king’s bench. Previously Gloucester had accused the Queen and the late king’s mistress of practising sorcery on the young king all of whom are currently living in the royal apartments within the Tower. After this the archbishop of Canterbury was sent to plead with the queen to release her younger son, the Duke of York, who is in the sanctuary of the abbey with her, to attend his brothers coronation. The abbey was surrounded by armed men, and the nine-year-old duke joined his brother in the Tower.
Salisbury 2 November 1483. Henry, the Duke of Buckingham, who aided Richard of Gloucester all through the coup which brought him to the crown, was beheaded here today, after leading an unsuccessful rebellion against him. The king refused to see the man who had betrayed his friendship. Buckingham had written to Henry Tudor, who is in Brittany, inviting him to join his revolt when it began on October 18. Henry was already being urged by his mother, Margaret Beaufort and the queen Elizabeth Woodville, to return and march against Richard.
Market Bosworth 22 August 1485. King Richard slept badly last night on the eve of his battle with Henry Tudor, although he had the advantage in numbers, battle experience and command of the high ground at Bosworth Field, near here. The king told his intimates that he had bad dreams and looked ‘pale and death-like’ according to witnesses. In the end he lost the battle through his own rashness when his army still had superiority. As son as his troops saw the king was dead they surrendered. Richard had declared that his days battle would decide his and England’s future and that he would fight wearing the crown.
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